By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,177)
Live from Birmingham, Alabama at Legacy Arena
Aired March 11, 2022 on Fox
Footage was shown of the WWE House Show at MSG from last week. Roman Reigns stood triumphantly over Brock Lesnar with both Universal and WWE Championships after interference from both Usos and Paul Heyman and the use of a chair.
Michael Cole welcomed the TV audience to Birmingham, Alabama. Brock Lesnar’s music hit, and Pat McAfee piped up to say the beast was in Birmingham. Lesnar walked out with a cowboy hat on and his blue flannel. Lesnar was pissed off, and told Roman Reigns that he had changed the rules and the game. He said for the last six days he dragged his ass out of bed to look in the mirror, and pointed to his eyebrow. He said you don’t draw first blood on Brock Lesnar and live to tell about it.
He said he didn’t care about WrestleMania contracts, or WWE titles, and threw the belt out of the ring. Lesnar said he was out for blood, and it was blood for blood. Lesnar screamed for Roman to get his ass out there, because tonight he was out for blood.
Paul Heyman walked out on the stage, and told Lesnar to take it down a notch. He then teased Reigns and told Lesnar that he wasn’t there tonight. Lesnar smiled and asked him if what he said was true…Heyman interrupted and said it was for his protection. Lesnar asked Paul who was going to protect him. Lesnar immediately ran and gave chase. He pummeled several security guys backstage as Heyman jumped into a waiting car. Lesnar was frustrated and fired up.
Cole and McAfee then took over and showed some footage of Sheamus and Ridge Holland destroying the New Day’s ATV from last Friday. Megan Morant interviewed Sheamus and Holland backstage. She asked them about the destruction of Big E’s ATV, and Sheamus replied that they made it faster by removing weight. They both carried sledgehammers, and said it was child’s play compared to who they brought along with them tonight. They called their new friend by his nickname “Butch”, but it was actually Pete Dunne.
Big E and Kofi Kingston made their entrance in the arena. They will face Sheamus and Ridge Holland next…[c]
My Take: Pete Dunne now dresses like a Chimney Sweep and is named Butch. Just like everybody expected.
Sheamus’ music hit and he made his way to the ring with Ridge Holland and “Butch” Pete Dunne. Kofi and Big E jumped Sheamus as soon as he got in the ring. He got fired up at ringside with Holland and Butch.
1. Sheamus and Ridge Holland (w/Butch) vs. Big E and Kofi Kingston: Ridge Holland and Kofi started the match. Kofi used his speed early on to evade Holland, and found some success with a dropkick for a two count. Big E tagged in and Holland immediately ran away to tag Sheamus. He jumped in the ring and was immediately pummeled by Big E. Sheamus replied with a lariat, but was put back down with an elbow. Sheamus escaped to the apron, and landed some right hands to Big E’s ribs.
He then landed clubbing blows to the chest, and climbed up top. Sheamus jumped into a belly to belly overhead suplex for a one count. Holland tried to interfere on the outside, but Kofi took him out. Big E then attempted a splash on the apron, but Sheamus got out of the way. Sheamus then landed a running knee strike out on the floor…[c]
McAfee said “You might know him by another name, but to Ridge and Sheamus he’s always been Butch.” Kofi got a hot tag and took out Sheamus with a flying forearm and a kick. He then landed a Boom Drop and called for Trouble in Paradise. Holland provided a distraction, but Kofi landed SOS. Holland broke up the pin. Ridge tried to suplex Big E on the floor, but dropped him right on his head. Kofi took out Ridge and Sheamus. Butch provided a distraction, and Sheamus landed a Brogue Kick quickly and got the pin.
Sheamus and Ridge Holland defeated Kofi Kingston and Big E at 8:49
After the match, Butch assaulted Kofi Kingston, and had to be pulled off by Ridge and Sheamus. The announce team then threw to a video package that highlighted Kevin Owens challenge to Steve Austin…[c]
My Take: Dear God I hope Big E isn’t seriously hurt. That was horrific and I couldn’t focus on anything else after it happened. Update: Big E released a video from the hospital to announce that while he can move his extremities, he suffered a broken neck.
A longer video package of KO’s challenge to Austin aired, along with Austin’s response. The KO Show with Stone Cold Steve Austin was confirmed for Night One of WrestleMania. Cole and McAfee then tossed to a different video that showed Ricochet defeat Sami Zayn last week for the Intercontinental Championship after an appearance by Johnny Knoxville.
Sami Zayn was interviewed backstage by Kayla Braxton. She showed some footage of Johnny Knoxville from TMZ. He said Sami Zayn had gotten his phone number and had been harassing him. In response he flew his phone number over Los Angeles on a message flying behind a plane. Zayn said he had gotten thousands of calls and messages, and wasn’t able to focus today. Sami said he was part of the vast conspiracy against him, but he wasn’t there in Alabama, so he would steamroll Ricochet later and reclaim his InterContinental Championship.
Drew McIntyre made his entrance in the arena with his giant sword. Drew will team with the Viking Raiders again Happy Corbin, Mad Cap Moss, and Jinder Mahal…[c]
My Take: I saw on Social Media that Big E was stretchered out. I hope that was precautionary and not an indication of how severe his injury is, but that is no guarantee. Update: Big E released a video from the hospital to announce that while he can move his extremities, he suffered a broken neck.
The Viking Raiders music hit, and they cut backstage to find Corbin, Moss, Mahal, and Shanky kicking the crap out of them. McIntyre started towards the back, but all four men appeared to ambush McIntyre. He quickly took out Shanky, Moss, and Mahal, and then turned towards Corbin. Mahal grabbed McIntyre by the ankle, and Corbin jumped him. All four men then beat down Corbin and dragged him into the ring. McIntyre made a comeback and cleared the ring. Corbin ran away before he could take any damage. Drew grabbed his sword and pointed towards the WrestleMania sign, and told Corbin that his ass belongs to him at WrestleMania.
We then got another video package that focused on Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair’s ongoing feud, and the involvement of Sonya Deville. The sweetening of the audio for Rousey in the video package was a bit over the top. After the video, Ronda Rousey made her entrance in street clothes…[c]
My Take: This whole McIntyre situation at WrestleMania is so corny that it’s hard to watch. Everything from the awful Corbin and Moss characters to Drew waving his sword around has me cringing from second hand embarrassment.
Rousey said we are less than one month away from the biggest match of her career on WrestleMania Saturday. She said last week Charlotte revealed her ignorance by calling her a one trick Pony that can only win with an arm bar, but that’s like calling Mike Tyson a one trick pony because he can only win by punching people. She said he has 1000 ways to apply and arm bar, but she hasn’t only been raising kids and cows the past few years, she’s been perfecting the ankle lock taught to her by first WWE mentor Kurt Angle. She could think of no better way to honor Kurt than by tapping out Charlotte with it again at Wrestlemania.
Charlotte Flair then made her way out with full pyro. She corrected Ronda and called it “our” match at WrestleMania. She then told her she didn’t tap her out last week, because she blindsided her when they weren’t competing. She told her to focus on winning when it matters, and that she won’t be tapping her out. Ronda said that she already did. The crowd started some “You Tapped Out” chants. Charlotte said this wasn’t funny, but there’s no bigger opportunity than facing Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania.
Charlotte told Ronda she didn’t care if she had some new fancy Ankle Lock. Charlotte said she would embarrass her and tap her out at WrestleMania. Ronda said she’d like to see it, and told her she’d give her time to take off her heels this time. Charlotte then left the ring and taunted the crowd as she made her way to the back. Ronda said fine, but at WrestleMania she would either go home with her arm, or she would tap out.
Cole then introduced the video from earlier where Lesnar chased Heyman backstage. They updated that neither Roman or Lesnar were in the building any longer. Sasha Banks made her entrance with Naomi for a tag team match. They will face Natalya and Shayna Baszler up next…[c]
My Take: Ronda still delivers promos like she’s reading off her grocery list. She was slightly better than when she started after the Rumble, but she’s not delivering enthusiasm like you’d hope from a babyface challenger. Charlotte is playing her part well, to her credit, but it’s very much the same Charlotte that she’s been for months. No new wrinkles to the performance.
2. Naomi and Sasha Banks vs. Natalya and Shayna Baszler: Naomi started the match and was quickly isolated by Natalya and Shayna. They gave her a wishbone split and then Natalya landed a Michinoku Driver for a two count. Shayna tagged in and started working over her ankle. Naomi escaped from Shayna and made a tag out to Sasha, who cleaned the heels from the ring. Zelina and Carmella were at ringside, and Sasha danced in their faces.
Zelina jumped on the apron, and Sasha was able to send Natalya into her to knock her too the floor. She then dropped Natalya with a head scissors facebuster and got the win.
Naomi and Sasha defeated Natalya and Shayna at 3:40
After the match, video was shown of Jimmy and Jey Uso attacking Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Bugez last week, along with the Usos defeating The Viking Raiders. The Usos then made their entrance. They will unveil their WrestleMania plans next…[c]
My Take: Lots of interviews and video packages on this show. It wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t feel like so much of it was being phoned in, but this hasn’t been a very newsworthy episode other than for the wrong reasons earlier. The crowd has been very receptive to the major acts, though.
The Usos said they had been champions for 226 days, and Roman had been champions for 556 days. They complained that management had no worthy challengers for them, because they are the ones. Boogs and Nakamura made their entrance and declared themselves the next Smackdown Tag Team Champions. The Usos laughed and asked if they seriously wanted to face them at WrestleMania. Jimmy called Boogs peg leg Pete, and said if he can beat the Jey Uso tonight they can have their match. He accepted, and the referee walked down.
3. Rick Boogs vs. Jey Uso: Jey charged and immediately went after the bad knee of Boogs, but he stuffed him. He then took off his knee bandage and showed that he was fine. Boogs picked up Jey for a delayed vertical suplex and a press slam. Jimmy jumped on the apron, and Nakamura pulled him down. Boogs got distracted by the action, and Jey rolled him up for two. Boogs caught Jey with a Boogs Cruise a moment later and got the win.
Rick Boogs defeated Jey Uso at 2:25 to earn a Smackdown Tag Title match at WrestleMania
After the match, Jimmy immediately broke Boogs guitar over his back. Nakamura cleared The Usos, and then pointed at the WrestleMania sign. We then got a video package that showed Ricochet win the InterContinental Championship. Samy Zayn then made his ring entrance…[c]
My Take: I wouldn’t be surprised to see more teams added to the Tag Title match at WrestleMania.
Michael Cole confirmed Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns will both be at Smackdown next week. Ricochet made his ring entrance for his rematch with Sami Zayn. Austin Theory then walked out with his phone. He sat next to McAfee on commentary. Theory got to his feet and slapped McAfee, who immediately jumped him. Pat slammed his head on the commentary table and then threw him over the top of it. WWE Officials got in between them and Cole told Pat to calm down. Theory left pissed off. McAfee was escorted to the back by WWE officials. Theory tried to get after him again, but was held back by security…[c]
My Take: McAfee punked him out week 2. I’m guessing Theory gets his revenge next week.
4. Ricochet vs. Sami Zayn for the InterContinental Championship: Cole made it sound like McAfee crossed the line in the previous segment, even though Theory hit first. Ricochet got the early advantage with a series of dropkicks. He then landed a series of chops. Ricochet went up for a huracanrana, but Sami reversed into a powerbomb for a near fall. He then followed up with mounted punches and boots to the face.
They traded chops and strikes on their feet, and then Ricochet landed a flying head scissors, followed by a springboard flying forearm. Sami struggled to his feet. Ricochet went for a knee strike, but it was blocked. He then landed a fireman’s carry into a kick. Ricochet went up top, but Sami quickly got to his feet and sent him into the barricade on the outside…[c]
Video was shown of the Theory and McAfee confrontation. Cole again made it sound like McAfee’s commentary job might be in jeopardy. Apparently he’s not able to hit Theory, even after he smacks him first. The match continued with Zayn in control. He landed some elbows. Sami attempted a vertical suplex, but Ricochet reversed into a huracanrana pin for a near fall. Ricochet followed up with a side kick. Sami charged at Ricochet in the corner, but was shoved away. Ricochet then charged, and got caught with a blue thunder bomb for a near fall.
Both men ended up battling on the top rope. Ricochet sent Zayn down with a chop. Zayn quickly recovered and t-bone suplexed Ricochet off the top. He then called for a Helluva Kick, but Ricochet caught him with a Recoil instead. He then went up top and landed a 630 and covered for the win. The landing was rough and Zayn was clearly in pain after the match.
Ricochet defeated Sami Zayn at 12:59 to retain the Intercontinental Championship
Ricochet celebrated after the match. Zayn was able to roll to ringside thankfully, so hopefully he’s ok. Backstage, Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair brawled backstage near what I assume was a rental car. WWE struggled to keep them separated and were assaulted in the process. Rousey got dumped onto the hood of the car by a suplex. She then pulled on Rousey’s neck and choked her on top of the car. Officials eventually got them apart, and Rousey recovered angrily.
My Take: A solid main event, though not as good as the match from last week. Ricochet needs a challenger for WrestleMania. Could that be the newly introduced Pete “Butch” Dunne? Rousey and Charlotte’s feud needed some more animosity, so hopefully the final moment of the show will help ignite something in Rousey’s character, who has just felt like she was going through the motions thus far. My audio review of this episode will be available for Dot Net Members on Saturday. Jason Powell’s same night audio reviews will resume next week.