By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,187)
Live from Grand Rapids, Michigan at Van Andel Arena
Aired May 20, 2022 on Fox
A video package aired that highlighted the Bloodline vs. RK-Bro conflict, and hyped their Tag Title Unification match for tonight’s Smackdown. In the arena, Michael Cole and Pat McAfee welcomed the TV audience to the show. Roman Reigns music blared and the Bloodline made their way to the ring with Paul Heyman. Video was shown of the Unification Match being accepted last week, along with Riddle landing a knee to the face of Roman Reigns.
Roman soaked things in for a moment before asking Grand Rapids to acknowledge him. He said tonight is a special night because they were not only acknowledging him, they were acknowledging his cousins The Usos and The Bloodline. He told Heyman to tell them why. Paul said this was the single biggest night in the history of Tag Team Wrestling. He called Roman Reigns The Goat, and mentioned Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, The Rock, and John Cena, and said they would all be stacked and pinned if they got in the ring with the WWE Unified Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns.
Heyman said every night Roman Reigns defends the position of being the greatest of all time on the Island of Relevancy. What would it take for The Usos to be the greatest of all time? He called them the direct descendants of the Wild Samoans, and to take the mantle of the greatest they would have to do something that even Afa and Sika couldn’t do, and that’s unify the Tag Team Championships. Heyman gave credit to RK-Bro, but said the Usos had to earn their place in the Island of Relevancy.
He then said that they would either beat RK-Bro, or they wouldn’t come home at all. He said they would beat RK-Bro, they would Unify the Tag Team Championships, and they would be crowned the greatest Tag Team of all time. And that wasn’t a prediction, it was a spoiler. Roman grabbed the microphone and told The Usos that they know what he wants, and he expects them to deliver. He said the reason he has those expectations is that he loves them. They then shared a hug, and Roman smirked at the camera when The Usos couldn’t see his face.
They all threw up the one finger to end the segment. Sami Zayn was shown backstage watching and cheering on the monitor. Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance in the arena. He stared down Roman and The Usos as they walked by. He will face Sami Zayn next…[c]
My Take: A solid opener to frame the unified tag match. Roman is still a manipulative snake, and it works very well for his character. Heyman is still one of the best promos in wrestling, and he did a nice job here. The Bloodline soaked up the minutes on screen, and it might have dragged a little long, but the crowd loved it.
Sami Zayn made his entrance after the break.
1. Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura: Sami wore a bloodline shirt during the match and grabbed an early rear chinlock. Nakamura got to his feet and landed a shoulder block. He faked out Sammy by hitting the brakes against the ropes, and then kicked him in the chest. He followed up with stomps in the corner. Sami grabbed the hair to climb back in the match and landed some mounted punches.
He then landed a running lariat and covered for a near fall. Sami choked Nakamura on the second rope until a count of four. He then climbed to the top, but Shinsuke met him up there. Zayn blocked a Superplex and elbowed Nakamura down into the ring. He and Zayn traded blows, and then Shinsuke went back to the top rope. Sami dumped him to the floor and collected himself…[c]
Zayn landed some elbows and applied a rear chinlock on Nakamura. Shinsuke fought to his feet and landed a single leg dropkick. Both men were down, and both got back to their feet at similar times. Shinsuke landed a combo of strikes, and then placed Sami in the ropes for a sliding German Suplex. He then landed a second rope knee to the back of the neck for a near fall. Nakamura landed a rebound kick, and set up for Kinshasa.
The action spilled outside, and Zayn landed a Michinoku Driver on the floor hoping for a countout victory. Nakamura reached the ring at 9. Zayn went back outside and Nakamura threw him into the post and the timekeeper’s table. Zayn struggled to beat the count, but was met with a Kinshasa for the win.
Shinsuka Nakamura defeated Sami Zayn at 10:28
Nakamura celebrated his win. We got another video package that hyped The Usos vs. RK-Bro for later in the show. Back in the arena, Happy Corbin made his entrance…[c]
My Take: A fun match from Nakamura and Zayn. It wasn’t a PPV caliber masterpiece or anything, but it was a nice turnabout from their last match where Sami was able to pull one over on Shinsuke with the count out.
Baron Corbin bragged about his wealth, and took credit for getting rid of that moron Mad Cap Moss. He was standing next to the Andre Trophy, and said he acquired this trophy for his collection. He then introduced a video package of his assault on Mad Cap Moss and the stretcher job he did last week.
Corbin said that the people should learn from that and appreciate what they have. He told the people they should do everything their boss says, and never attempt to improve their station in life. Corbin said Moss rode on private jets and ate fancy meals, and did it on his dime, and didn’t appreciate every great thing that he did for him. He then said he thought Corbin would be the butt of his jokes, and called him the big bald wolf. He asked who is laughing now? Corbin said maybe he is the big bald wolf, because he huffed and puffed and put Moss in an ambulance.
He dropped the mic and went outside. He picked up the Andre the Giant trophy and shattered it on the steps. The Andre figure stayed together, and Corbin picked it up and held it over his head.
Footage was shown from last Friday where Drew Gulak told Ricochet he would put Gunther in his place, and then immediately got chopped back in time 20 years…
Back in the arena, Ludwig Kaiser introduced Gunther for the next match. He faces Drew Gulak next…[c]
My Take: Corbin’s comments about obeying your boss and never improving your station in life seemed a bit…topical. Here’s hoping Moss is a completely different guy when he gets back. Retrograde Amnesia would be an improvement over the suspenders gimmick.
2. Drew Gulak vs. Gunther: The match was joined in progress as Gunther chopped down Gulak repeatedly. He landed another hard chop and got the win.
Gunther defeated Drew Gulak
After the match, Gunther grabbed Gulak and applied a Boston Crab. Ricochet came to bail out Gulak, and Gunther collected himself and left.
Backstage, the former LA Knight approached Adam Pearce under the name Max Dupri. He claimed to be the CEO of a Modeling Agency called Maximum Male Models. He said he would begin the search for a new generation of WWE Superstars that can headline both Paris Fashion Week and WrestleMania. Pearce was confused and asked why he was there since he didn’t hire him.
Max said that he was hired by Sonya Deville. Pearce said this was awkward, because she had been relieved of her duties and it was unlikely his services would still be needed. He said he had a signed contract, and Pearce said he would have to talk to his legal team. Max insisted his name be pronounced a very specific way, and then walked off. Riddle and Orton were shown getting ready for an interview with Kayla Braxton…[c]
My Take: Well, that’s an interesting way to introduce “Max Dupri”. We’ll see who his models are soon enough, but I hope they put him in the ring eventually. Gunther capturing the InterContinental Title can’t be far off.
Kayla interviewed RK-Bro backstage. Riddle said the Usos can’t beat them, and did his RK-Bro 420 catchphrase. Orton then said that Roman would look down on the Usos in disappointment later after they get hit with the three most dangerous letters in WWE RK-Bro. He was wearing an RK-Bro 420 sweatshirt.
A video package was shown that recapped Ronda Rousey vs. Raquel Rodriguez from last week. Shotzi and Aliyah were arguing backstage about the open challenge from last week. Raquel Rodriguez walked up and Shotzi stood up to her and called her out. She said she had all the physical tools, but didn’t know how to use them. She called her weak, and said she would have beaten Ronda Rousey last week. Raquel told her she was dead, and made her ring entrance. Shotzi followed. They are in action next…[c]
My Take: I assume Ronda must not be at Smackdown this week? I assume the big Raquel push will continue here. With Sasha and Naomi’s situation putting plans for Hell in a Cell in disarray, Ronda may be without an opponent unless they go right back to Raquel.
3. Raquel Rodriguez vs. Shotzi: Raquel showed off her power immediately by tossing Shotzi around. Shotzi got in a bit of offense with a kick and a sleeper attempt. She landed a few more kicks, but couldn’t get Rodriguez off her feet. Shotzi attempted a top rope head scissors, but Raquel held on and pulled her down into a fallaway slam. She landed another one, and then landed a corkscrew vader bomb out of the corner.
Raquel picked up Shotzi and landed a Chingona Bomb for the win.
Raquel Rodriguez defeated Shotzi at 2:46
She celebrated after the match and said she was there to stay. Backstage, Kayla Braxton interviewed Xavier Woods. He challenged Butch to face him one on one without their backup. Kofi Kingston wasn’t present, Woods then made his entrance alone…[c]
My Take: Raquel went over strong here, so I have to assume she’ll be challenging for the title again sooner than later. They are very short on built up stars on Smackdown right now.
Butch got hyped up by Sheamus and Ridge backstage.
4. Xavier Woods vs. Butch: Woods dominated the early going with a kick that sent butch to the floor. He then dove at him on the floor, and landed an honor roll lariat back in the ring for a near fall. Butch made a comeback and pummeled Woods with punches, but he got rolled up with the backwoods for the win.
Xavier Woods defeated Butch at 3:28
After the match, Woods walked up the ramp. Sheamus and Ridge appeared behind him. Butch then flew in from out of nowhere and jumped him on the stage. We then got a video package for the Tag Team unification match…[c]
My Take: This feud is spinning its wheels terribly.
Cole recapped the situation with Sasha Banks and Naomi, and said that they let them all down. It was then announced that they have been suspended indefinitely, and that a tournament would be arranged to crown the new Women’s Tag Team Champions.
RK-Bro made their entrance, followed by The Usos. The Tag Team Unification Match will be up next…[c]
My Take: I wasn’t sure what to expect regarding a Sasha and Naomi announcement. I guess an indefinite suspension leaves the door open for things to work out down the road.
5. Smackdown Tag Team Champions Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso vs. Raw Tag Team Champions “RK-Bro” Randy Orton and Riddle to unify the tag titles: Paul Heyman sat in on commentary. Riddle and Orton got off to a fast start on Jimmy Uso. Riddle got thrown hard into the corner by Jimmy Uso and appeared to be shaken up. Jey Uso applied a weak rear chinlock, and then got the attention of the referee. A doctor was brought into the ring to check on him…[c]
Riddle reportedly has a bruised rib, and was able to continue. The Usos had Riddle cut off in their corner. He recovered with a knee strike and made a tag out to Orton. Orton entered like a house of fire and landed an RKO on Jimmy Uso. Jey broke up the pin and managed to drag Jimmy to the corner to tag in. Riddle tagged himself in as Orton was superkicked by Jey Uso.
Riddle and Jey battled back and forth. Jey went to the top rope. Riddle met him up there and got set up for an RKO from the top. Heyman and Jimmy took out Orton and distracted the referee, which allowed Roman to intervene and prevent the RKO. Riddle crashed back into the ring. Jey then performed an Uso Splash and got the pin.
Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso defeated “RK-Bro” Randy Orton and Riddle to unify the WWE Tag Team Championships at 13:13
After the match, The Usos celebrated. Roman beat on Riddle and tossed him to ringside. The Usos delivered a double superkick to Orton. Roman cleared the announce table and choked out Riddle with the Guillotine. He placed him on the announce table. The Usos slammed the steel steps into Orton. Jimmy Uso splashed Riddle through the announce table. Orton then choked out Orton with the Guillotine. They held up all the titles to close the show. Children were shown quite distraught throughout the arena.
My Take: A good but not great match, but the angle afterwards had the crowd fired up. They got booed out of the building as the show closed and they held up all the gold. Thankfully Riddle wasn’t hurt worse than he was. WWE did a nice job of heralding the significance of the show closing segment throughout the night, and I think going through with the unification and putting heavy heat on the heels was the right call here. It sets up some satisfying comeuppance for both The Usos and Roman eventually. Hopefully WWE has a plan to pay it all off in a satisfactory way. Let us know what you thought of Smackdown by grading it below.