By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,182)
Live from Worcester, Massachusetts at DCU Center
Aired April 15, 2022 on Fox
A video summary was shown of the ongoing story of Roman Reigns ordering The Usos to capture the Raw Tag Team Championships, and the show closing moment of them holding all the gold at the end of Raw.
Cole and McAfee welcomed the crowd to the arena, and RK-Bro’s music hit to start the show. Riddle and Orton made their way to the ring to a strong reaction. The crowd chanted for Randy, and he jumped on the ropes one more time to salute the crowd after they had initially settled down. Riddle said he was stoked to be back on Smackdown with his best friend Randy. He said they didn’t come all the way here to hang out. Riddle rattled off a fun fact about Worcester, England being the origin of the name Worcestershire Sauce, and that he read it on a Snapple Cap one time.
Orton said that’s not why they are there, and said The Usos invaded their show and kicked him in the mount. He said they are there to give it right back to them, and demanded they come to the ring. He asked Riddle if he had anything to add, but he declined. The Usos headed to the ring. Jey Usos grabbed a microphone and said they were behind enemy lines, because this is Smackdown Live where the bloodline resides. Jimmy said they issues their challenge on Monday, and now they want to show up in their show. He demanded an answer from Orton, who attempted to respond, but The Usos interrupted to do a call and response.
They hyped each other up by listing off some facts about themselves and their title reign. They called Orton and Riddles the Twos, because they are the ones. Orton said he loved their entire family, and spent his youth hanging out with his Uncles and Cousins, but they were a pair of assholes. He said they want to talk about their record setting title reign, but he’s been setting records for 20 years and they must have forgotten who he is. He reintroduced him and his partner as the three most dangerous letters in WWE R-K-Bro. Riddle then accepted their challenge, and they had a staredown with all the gold.
The Usos retreated to the floor, and that caused Orton and Riddle to jump on the turnbuckles to celebrate. As Orton looked away, The Usos pulled Riddle down and dropped him onto the top rope.
Backstage, Naomi and Sasha were chatting inaudibly, and were then confronted by Liv Morgan and Rhea Ripley. Liv asked Sasha to finish her sentence about what Naomi needed to do against Rhea tonight, and she replied that she just needed to be Naomi. Liv looked unamused, and Naomi said that The Glow always outshines the Nightmare….[c]
My Take: The crowd was fired up for the confrontation between RK-Bro and The Usos. Orton showed some good fire for his promo and the crowd ate it up. I don’t get the feeling we’ve seen the last of anybody involved. Rhea and Naomi have the potential to give us a good match if they get time. The feud still leaves something to be desired with the 50/50 booking.
Backstage, Riddle and Orton spoke to Adam Pearce, and he couldn’t give them the unification match tonight, but he did book Riddle vs. Jimmy Uso later tonight. Rhea made her entrance in the arena with Liv Morgan. Naomi and Sasha made their entrance before the break. Cole confirmed the Women Tag Title defense will happen on Monday’s Raw.
1. Rhea Ripley vs. Naomi: Rhea showed off her power early by rejecting Naomi as she charged into the corner, and then followed up with a shoulder block. She then applied an arm twist and paint brushed Naomi across the face. Naomi recovered and sent Ripley to the floor, and then kicked her in the face as she returned to the ring. They battled as Rhea remained on the apron. Naomi was knocked back, and Rhea climbed to the top rope. Naomi kicked her and sent her back to the floor. She then attempted a baseball slide, but Rhea avoided it and landed a lariat on the outside…[c]
Naomi escaped an arm hold and landed an Axe Kick as the show returned. She then went up top and landed a cross body for a near fall. She the planted Rhea with a headscissors DDT for another near fall. Ripley replied with a Northern Lights Suplex with a bridge for a near fall of her own. Rhea climbed to the second rope and slapped herself to try and shake off the cobwebs. Naomi met her on the turnbuckles. Rhea attempted a riptide from the second rope, but Naomi blocked it. Ripley landed a missile dropkick instead and covered for a near fall.
Naomi attempted a roll up and got a two count. She then landed a springboard knee strike, and then landed a Bubba Bomb and rolled up Rhea with her legs for a near fall. Rhea then fired back with a Riptide and stacked up Naomi for the pin.
Rhea Ripley defeated Naomi via Pinfall at 9:04
After the match, Liv and Rhea stared down Sasha, who looked intimidated. Backstage, Kayla Braxton asked The Usos for a response to their match later, and they just walked into Roman Reigns locker room. Madcap Moss is up next…[c]
My Take: A very enjoyable match with the right finish to set up the title Challenge on Monday. I still think Rhea is destined to be a singles wrestler very soon, so I don’t expect a title change, but I do look forward to seeing what these four women put together on Monday.
McAfee announced that Riddle vs. Jimmy Uso will be the main event. We then got a video package that recapped Madcap Moss and Happy Corbin’s confrontation last week. Happy Corbin was interviewed backstage. Corbin called Moss a minion or a gopher, and not anywhere near on his level. He said he was fun to laugh at, but then he became an anchor around his neck and his career. Corbin said he cut the dead weight, and now he’s trying to make a name for himself. He said he would fall flat on his face and become the laughing stock of Smackdown.
Drew Gulak was backstage auditioning to be an interviewer, and asked Madcap Moss for his response. Moss said he felt sorry for Corbin, because people liked him better as a bum. He did give him credit for teaching him how to tell jokes, and that’s why they were so terrible. Moss said the first rule of comedy is to know your audience, and his audience was a slow, bald man who likes puns, and he’s happy he can move on. Gulak asked him about facing Humberto of Los Lotharios. Moss said he was tough, but if he thinks he’s going to make him a laughing stock, he can take the kiss cam and point it right at his ass. He then posed for the kiss cam frame and put his butt in position. Moss then made his entrance in the arena…[c]
My Take: Here’s hoping they ease Moss into a more serious character. He said he was happy to move on, but he still told some corny jokes.
Los Lotharios made their entrance, and did their kiss cam bit with a plant.
2. Madcap Moss vs. Humberto: Angel gave an immediate distraction so Humberto could get some shots in on Moss. He pummeled and choked him with his foot in the corner. Angel got a few shots in too when Humberto was pulled off Moss by referee Jessika Carr. The assault continued with more strikes, and then a rear chinlock. Moss battled to his feet and landed a shoulder tackle.
Moss caught Humberto coming off the second rope, and tossed him with a Fallaway Slam. He then went to spear Humberto in the corner, but hit Angel instead when Humberto moved. He then followed up with another spear for Humberto, and landed his Punchline finisher for the win.
Madcap Moss defeated Humberto at 2:46
After the match, Moss celebrated next to his Andre the Giant Trophy and screamed like Howard Dean at a political rally.
Backstage, Charlotte Flair approached Adam Pearce. She asked him who accepted Ronda’s challenge for an I Quit Match. Pearce looked to answer, but Drew Gulak walked in and asked how he did in his audition. Charlotte asked him who he thought he was, and said she’d give him an evaluation after he interviews her in the ring. She then told him not to be nervous, and walked off…[c]
My Take: Not much to the Moss and Humberto match. I hope the Lotharios get a shot in the tag division, because they are talented. Hard to escape being the utility jobbers, unfortunately.
A Winner Take All Unification Match for all the Tag Team Championships was confirmed for WrestleMania Backlash. McAfee tossed to Gulak, who gave Charlotte Flair an introduction for their interview. Charlotte made her entrance as the I Quit Match graphic was shown on the screen. Gulak held the ropes for Charlotte so she could get in the ring.
She soaked up a mixed reaction of Woos and Boos. Gulak said Charlotte had rejected Ronda’s Challenge last week, but WWE management had made the match anyway. Gulak asked Charlotte if she was concerned about Ronda’s submission game. Charlotte said she never refused the match, and that she was worried about how Ronda would react if she lost again given what happened after WrestleMania. Gulak said he watched the match at WrestleMania and he believes Ronda made her tap out.
Charlotte said she never tapped out, and she was merely adjusting her bra. Drew insisted that if the referee had been in position, Ronda would be the Smackdown Women’s Champion. Charlotte asked him if he quit being a competitor so he could ask her stupid questions. She then told the crowd that they probably quit at the gym, their jobs, and their relationships. She told Gulak that he didn’t deserve to interview her, and that she was a submission master.
She then directed Gulak to leave the ring. As he left, she chop blocked him from behind and applied the Figure Eight Submission. He tapped, and then she slapped him repeatedly and told him to say I Quit. He did that repeatedly as she sunk back into the Figure Eight. Referees and officials eventually intervened to pull them apart.
Charlotte celebrated afterward. Video was then shown of Sami Zayn and Drew McIntyre’s story from last week. Drew made his entrance to a strong reaction. He will have a rematch with Sami Zayn next…[c]
My Take: Gulak played his role well there. I don’t know if they plan on using him in a broadcast role going forward, but it was a good showing for him regardless. Charlotte couldn’t quite get the Figure Eight fully applied, but Gulak covered for her in a way that made it look credible anyways.
Cole and McAfee put over WWE’s statistics about WrestleMania as obnoxiously as possible. Gunther was shown on screen with Ludwig Kaiser. Ludwig said to them the mat was sacred, and Gunther protects the institution and dolls out punishment to the weak and unworthy. Gunther said you will obey the Ring General.
In the arena, Sami Zayn walked out with a microphone. He said since WrestleMania that his reputation took a major hit, and people are under the impression that he ran away from his match with Drew McIntyre. Sami insisted he did not run away, he is not afraid of anything or anyone. He called himself a master strategist, and he always has a plan. Sami addressed Drew and said he wouldn’t run or hide, and he would beat Drew in the middle of the ring.
3. Sami Zayn vs. Drew McIntyre: Sami rolled to the floor immediately. Drew followed and slammed him into the barricade and the ring apron. Sami escaped again and climbed over the announce desk. He hid behind Pat McAfee, who duked as McIntyre punched Zayn in the face. Zayn continued on the run, and managed to choke Drew on the ropes. He then slapped Drew and told him he wasn’t scared of him. Drew tossed Sami across the ring, and then landed the Glasgow Kiss.
McIntyre set up for a Claymore Kick, but Zayn tried to run away again. McIntyre dragged him back and went for another kick, but he escaped again. Zayn finally escaped and ran into the crowd, ending the match in a count out.
Drew McIntyre defeated Sami Zayn via countout at 2:39
After the match, McIntyre pursued Zayn, who ran off screen into the concourse. McIntyre posed in the crowd. Backstage, Kayla Braxton interviewed Ricochet. She said people called him flawless (they do?) and asked him about facing Jinder Mahal. Ricochet said Jinder can’t match him in the ring, and that he’s another tree trunk to chop down. He said people call him flawless not because he’s perfect, but because he makes it look perfect. Ricochet then said the title isn’t going anywhere, and made his ring entrance…[c]
My Take: McIntyre and Zayn are very entertaining together. I’m guessing this leads to a cage match, or some kind of falls count anywhere match at Backlash that allows Zayn to steal a win.
A WWE Make-A-Wish ad was shown. Sami was still on the run backstage, and was approached by Adam Pearce. Pearce said he would have a rematch next week in a Lumberjack Match. Jinder Mahal made his entrance with Shanky for the next match.
4. Ricochet vs. Jinder Mahal for the InterContinental Championship: Jinder threw Ricochet down with a scoop slam, and then stomped on Ricochet near the ropes, He then pulled Ricochet up by his legs and threw him down in a Powerbomb Position. Jinder continued to use his power advantage, but Ricochet fired back with a shotgun dropkick. He then landed a springboard crossbody for a near fall. Mahal went for the Khallas, but Ricochet avoided it and landed Recoil. He then went up top for the 630, but Shanky pulled Jinder to the floor.
Ricochet then dove on both men on the floor, and sent Mahal back into the ring. He performed a Shooting Star Press and scored the win.
Ricochet defeated Jinder Mahal at 3:37
After the match, Ricochet celebrated and climbed the corner. Backstage, Sheamus was interviewed, along with Butch and Ridge Holland. Footage was shown of Butch attacking Sheamus and Holland after his loss last week. Sheamus said they had bigger fights over the remote control at the house. He then said they all agreed that they needed to better harness his aggression, and they agreed that the enemy is who……and Butch yelled New Day into the microphone.
Sheamus continued talking, and Ridge interrupted to tell him that they had lost Butch. They both looked concerned…[c]
My Take: Ricochet seems to have transitioned into a Shooting Star Press as a finisher. Perhaps he’s more consistent with it than the 630. I can’t say his title reign has increased his stock much, but he really needs the right opponents. Going back to Sami Zayn may be a solution. I’m not sure if losing Butch is really a problem. Maybe Pete Dunne can come back?
We got a Smackdown Classic moment of John Cena’s first match against Kurt Angle. Backstage, Butch found The New Day signing posters and attacked them. Sheamus and Ridge joined in, and refs immediately separated all of them. Next up, we have the next chapter in the story of Lacey Evans.
She said her father found her and her Mother in Texas. He taught her his values, but the way he did so scarred them for life. She described his violence and abuse as a result of his mental illness, addiction, and violence. She said they went on the run, and she learned how to fight and survive in camps. Lacey said Child Protective Services couldn’t get her out of that life, and she learned to survive on her own. She said she learned to find the positives in the worst situations, and made her the woman she is today.
Lacey said she is now a confident, careful daughter, wife, sister, mother, friend and WWE Superstar. She said her life doesn’t make her any better than anyone else, but they aren’t better than her either. Backstage, Natalya reacted to Lacey’s promo sarcastically. She said they have these new people in the locker room that are turning their space into a playground. The camera panned to Raquel Rodriguez, who wanted to get her shirt back from Natalya. She introduced herself, and Natalya and Shayna walked away with one of her shirts.
Randy Orton made his entrance in the arena…[c]
My Take: It’s interesting that WWE is choosing to define the Lacey Evans character through her trauma. I hope they have another chapter to this story where she speaks a bit about how she refused to let that dark period in her life define who she was forever. Otherwise it’s hard not to see this as somewhat exploitative.
Madcap Moss vs. Angel and Sami Zayn vs. Drew McIntyre in a Lumberjack Match was advertised for next week. The Usos made their entrance for the Main Event. RK-Bro vs. The Usos was confirmed again for WrestleMania Backlash.
5. Riddle vs. Jimmy Uso: They tied up immediately, and Riddle went for an RKO. Jimmy escaped to the floor, and then jumped Riddle as he gave chase back into the ring. He then tossed Riddle hard into the corner, and talked some trash. Jimmy applied a chinlock. Riddle fought to his feet, but Jimmy landed a back elbow after being shoved into the ropes. Riddle replied with a kick, and a gutwrench throw.
The action spilled outside again, where Jimmy caught a Riddle kick and pulled him to the floor. He then tossed Riddle into the steps and superkicked him into the timekeeper’s area…[c]
Jimmy Landed an enziguri and covered for a two count. Riddle replied with a kick and an overhead suplex throw. He then landed a soccer kick, and Go To Sleep, and a German Suplex into a bridge for a near fall. Riddle went up top, but Jimmy got the knees up on a twisting moonsault attempt. Jimmy landed a baseball slide on Orton on the floor. Chaos broke out as distractions kept both guys from landing a killing blow. Orton dropped Jey Uso on the announce table on the outside.
Jimmy vaulted Riddle into the air, and he caught him with an RKO on the way down and got the win.
Riddle defeated Jimmy Uso at 8:32
Orton popped into the ring and counted along with the referee to show how impressed he was. They celebrated on the turnbuckles to close the show a few minutes early.
My Take: A crowd pleasing match and finish. The crowds love Riddle and Orton, and I could see them placing the Tag Team Titles on them before moving them back to the Usos later on. I have to believe the Orton and Riddle breakup program will be a major Summerslam Match, and they’ve shown good patience in getting there. Roman Reigns’ absence was felt, but it wasn’t as enormous as it once was with the increased star power.