By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,194)
Live from Fort Worth, Texas at Dickies Arena
Aired July 8, 2022 on Fox
[Hour One] Smackdown opened with footage of Theory losing the U.S. Title to Bobby Lashley, and then going on to win the Money in the Bank ladder match…
Michael Cole and Corey Graves checked in on commentary from ringside and said they would have details on why Pat McAfee was off. Samantha Irvin was the ring announcer…
“The Bloodline” Roman Reigns, Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, and Paul Heyman made their entrance. They have new CGI images with Reigns still appearing to demonstrate how COVID-19 spreads, yet his CGI monster is now accompanied by the Usos.
Unbeknownst to Reigns, Theory walked onto the stage holding his MITB briefcase heading into a commercial break. [C]
Powell’s POV: It’s a hook that works even though it defies logic. Fans will keep watching, but it really is strange that a live show would cut to a commercial break at such a key moment. By the way, WWE ran a local ad for the October 3 Raw with Seth Rollins vs. Riddle as the show’s dark main event. Here’s hoping that match isn’t as cursed as the dark main event that kept changing and then never happened when WWE was in Minneapolis last month.
Reigns told Fort Worth to acknowledge him. He said business picks up when the Tribal Chief is in the house. Reigns said that as long as God wakes him up, he can handle anything. He said it’s a great day, he’s breathing, he’s healthy, happy to be at work, and happy to be on his show. Reigns said it was a privilege to see his Bloodline.
Reigns pointed to a stressed Heyman and asked the fans what they did to him. Reigns asked Heyman why he looked so concerned. Reigns said Heyman should feel very confident because he’s smashed them all. Reigns told Heyman to put his hand out. Heyman looked nervous, but Reigns told him to indulge him.
Heyman stuck has hand out. Reigns put the mic in his trembling hand and then told him to say what’s wrong. Heyman said he loves Reigns and the Usos. “But we have a problem and that problem’s name is Brock Lesnar,” Heyman said.
Heyman said that in an era where no one can hold on to a championship, Reigns has held onto both titles. Heyman said the problem is that Lesnar doesn’t respect what Reigns has accomplished and he has one last shot against Reigns. Heyman said that when Lesnar is cornered, that’s when he’s at his most dangerous.
Heyman recalled a 24 year-old Lesnar beating The Rock. He recalled Lesnar ending Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak. Heyman played up the possibility that Lesnar could end Reigns’ reign. Heyman said he’s scared because now we have to see a violent Reigns, and spoke about how putting Lesnar down for a three count is one thing, but now he has to put him down for a ten count. Heyman got fired up while talking about Reigns retaining.
Theory’s music interrupted The Bloodline’s theme. Theory ran to ringside and took a lap around the ring. Reigns looked slightly annoyed. Theory went to the stage and looked at his briefcase while the broadcast team played up the idea that the winner of Reigns vs. Lesnar could be vulnerable to a cash-in…
Powell’s POV: A gem of a performance from Heyman. He essentially cut Lesnar’s promo for him, then essentially turned it into a promo for Reigns at the end. Great stuff.
A sponsored recap spotlighted The Viking Raiders attacking Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods last week… “The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar made their entrance for a match against Jinder Mahal and Shanky… [C]
1. “The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar vs. Jinder Mahal and Shanky. A portion of Mahal and Shanky’s entrance was televised. Erik and Ivar dominated Mahal and knocked Shanky off the apron. They picked up Mahal and slammed him to the mat, and then Ivar covered him for the pin.
“The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar beat Jinder Mahal and Shanky in 1:15.
After the match, Erik and Ivar put the boots to Mahal and then did the same to Shanky when he tried to help. The New Day entrance theme played. Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods came out with microphones. Kingston said the Viking Raiders kicked their butts the last two weeks. Kingston and Woods turned around. “These are our butts and our butts are still here,” Kingston said.
Kingston and Woods held up “officially sanctioned ass beating tickets.” Kingston said it was time for he and Woods to give the Viking Raiders the whooping that they deserve. Kingston and Woods entered the ring and were quickly beaten down by the Viking Raiders. Erik handed Kingston to Ivar, who then slammed him from them middle rope…
Powell’s POV: “The new vicious Viking Raiders” line that the broadcast team has to go with is really lame, but the heel Viking Raiders are a big improvement over the jolly cosplayer babyface act. Any team that beats the hell out of Jinder and Shanky, and then destroys New Day after an annoying promo is okay in my book.
Cole and Graves spoke at ringside. Cole set up footage of Happy Corbin attacking Pat McAfee after Money in the Bank went off the air. Cole said the Corbin vs. McAfee match is official for SummerSlam. Corbin showed up and joined the broadcast team. Cole said the medical personnel didn’t want McAfee to be at Smackdown, then acknowledged that he was playing golf (he’s at a celebrity golf event). Cole said McAfee would return next week…
Intercontinental Champion Gunther and Ludwig Kaiser made their entrance. Cole said Gunther would hold an Intercontinental Championship open challenge… [C]
Gunther and Kaiser stood in the ring. Kaiser said there was no competitor worthy of standing in the ring with, let alone competing with Gunther. Kaiser said it is their personal opinion that the fans are also unworthy of watching Gunther compete. Kaiser brought up the open challenge and then passed the mic to Gunther, who received the what treatment while saying that someone had to prove that they deserve the opportunity to face him.
Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance. Corbin freaked out on commentary and impersonated Pat McAfee’s dance. Graves climbed onto the broadcast table and joined him in playing air guitar. Cole said it was like watching a cheap cover band. Nakamura got in Gunther’s face and said that Gunther doesn’t accept his challenge, so he challenged Kaiser to a match to prove himself…
2. Ludwig Kaiser (w/Gunther) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. Nakamura slid under Kaiser and slammed him to the mat. Kaiser attacked Nakamura when he tried to return to the ring and sent him to ringside where Gunther stood over him. [C] Nakamura dominated the action coming out of the break with a series of kicks and an enzuigiri. He eventually put Kaiser down with a Kinshasa and pinned him.
Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Ludwig Kaiser in 6:40.
After the match, Gunther scolded Kaiser. A “USA” chant broke out. Gunther threw a hard chop to the chest of Kaiser, who dropped to his knees. Gunther dropped him with a second chop to the chest and then barked at him. A “one more time” chant broke out. Kaiser stood up and then Gunther dropped him with another chop…
Powell’s POV: Gunther missed his true calling as a 1980s high school football coach. If Tokyo Dome Nakamura makes a return for one night, his match with Gunther could be amazing. Corbin and Graves playing air guitar was very comical. I could see Kaiser eventually becoming a sympathetic figure and becoming a challenger for Gunther somewhere down the road.
Highlights aired of Liv Morgan winning MITB and then successfully cashing in on Ronda Rousey, who hugged her afterward…
New Smackdown Women’s Champion Liv Morgan made her entrance and high-fived some fans on her way to the ring. Cole called her “the underdog, the miracle kid, and the courageous Smackdown Women’s Champion.” Cole said she would celebrate with the fans after the break… [C]
Fort Worth imagery was shown and then Graves hyped the Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus match for later in the show…
Michael Cole interviewed Liv Morgan inside the ring. Cole paused for the obligatory “you deserve it” chant.
[Hour Two] Cole said she did and etched her name in history when she won MITB and then cashed in less than two hours later. Cole recalled the Ronda Rousey suffered a knee injury while successfully defending the title against Natalya. Cole assumed Rousey would be looking for a rematch, perhaps at SummerSlam.
Morgan said bring it. She spoke about the title win being the culmination of years of hard work. She said she’s willing to work ten times as hard to keep the title and said one one wants the belt more than she does. Cole asked Morgan what it means to be Smackdown Women’s Champion. She said it means everything to her and she’s dreamed of it her entire life. Morgan borrowed a line from John Cena by saying never give up.
Natalya made her entrance with a mic in hand. Natalya said she can dream to and she’s dreaming of Morgan finally shutting up. Natalya said she’s the only reason that Morgan is holding the championship. She said the clock will strike midnight at SummerSlam and it will all be over because there’s no way that Morgan can beat a healthy Rousey. Natalya entered the ring and said she may have lost the match to Rousey, but she enjoyed the hell out of hurting her.
Ronda Rousey made her entrance and walked with a limp to sell her knee injury. Cole departed the ring and Rousey entered it. Rousey told Morgan to savor the moment because she will learn at SummerSlam that winning the title is easier than defending it. Rousey took issue with Natalya’s comments and played to the crowd by asking if they wanted to see her beat up her up.
Natalya blindsided Rousey and knocked her out of the ring. Morgan cleared Natalya from the ring. Rousey reentered the ring heading into a break…
Powell’s POV: Please tell me the SummerSlam match in’t going to be a Triple Threat with Natalya taking the predictable loss. That match would be fine for a B level pay-per-view, but I hope they go with the singles showdown match for SummerSlam.
An ad for Monday’s Raw hyped Brock Lesnar appearing, Bobby Lashley holding an open challenge for the U.S. Championship, and Theory vs. Riddle… [C]
3. Ronda Rousey vs. Natalya. Rousey worked in non-wrestling attire and continued to limp. Rousey targeted Natalya’s knee. Natalya tried to leave, but Rousey caught up to her and ended slamming her onto the apron. Rousey applied an ankle lock on the apron and had to break the hold due to the referee’s count. Back inside the ring, Natalya slammed Natalya and then put her in an ankle lock for the submission win…
Ronda Rousey defeated Natalya in 2:15.
Powell’s POV: Good. It’s nothing against Natalya, who is a terrific in-ring performer, but she just hasn’t been positioned as a realistic threat to win the championship.
Megan Morant interviewed Drew McIntyre on a backstage set. McIntyre said the Clash at the Castle is going to be huge. He played up the possibility of facing Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, or even Theory. He said he couldn’t care less who he faces. McIntyre shifted the focus to hyping his match with Sheamus and contending with Ridge Holland and Butch. McIntyre indicated that he would put Sheamus down with a Claymore Kick…
The production team set up a podium with turf on it. They placed a basket of tennis balls on the podium. Max Dupri walked out and smiled while standing on the podium… [C]
Dupri was introduced by Samantha Irvin. Dupri stood in the ring and introduced Mace, who walked out in tennis gear and posed on the podium while Durpi ran through his credentials. Photographers were snapping shots from the floor. Mace went to the back.
Dupri introduced Mansoor, who did his runway walk in tennis gear while Dupri spoke. Dupri told anyone who feels like they have what it takes to submit their photos to maximummalemodels.com, but warned not to bother if you don’t have what it takes…
Powell’s POV: This is one of those over the top sports entertainment gimmicks that cracks me up now and yet there’s a pretty good chance that I will end up despising it six weeks from now. Either way, Dupri is doing a fantastic job and hopefully he will be rewarded even if this thing crashes and burns once it’s time for Mace and Mansoor to actually wrestle.
Theory was interviewed on the backstage ring set by Kayla Braxton. Theory said he wanted to show Roman Reigns that he’s always watching. He said he would love to cash in on Brock Lesnar, but he also got to see how arrogant Reigns is up close and wouldn’t mind cashing in on him. Theory worked in a plug for his U.S. Title shot at SummerSlam, then went back to threatening to cash in on the winner of Reigns vs. Lesnar.
Madcap Moss showed up after Theory walked away. Moss said that Theory had a big briefcase, but he thinks he can shove it in his mouth and would like to try…
Aliyah made her entrance. Cole hyped that she would team with Lacey Evans to face Shayna Baszler and Shotzi… [C] Lacey Evans was introduced. She didn’t like the reaction she received from the crowd, so she turned around and had her music play a second time. She ran out and tried to pump up the crowd, then decided to try one more time. Evans made it to ringside and didn’t look pleased.
Evans got a mic and entered the ring. The crowd booed her. Evans said she just wanted to take a minute to say how disgusted she was by the fans. “That’s the reaction that I get?” Evans asked. “Don’t you know who I am? Don’t you know what I’ve been through?” Evans said she knows the fans know what she’s been through because she poured her heart out and shared her life story.
Evans said said a woman like her kills the fans because of how weak they are because they know that they can’t go through half of what she did and can’t be half the woman that she is. Evans told the fans that they are disgusting. A loud “you suck” chant broke out. Evans said she’s an American hero who put her life on the line “for the likes of you.” Evans said the fans can go to hell until she gets the respect that she deserves.
Evans started to leave the ring. Aliyah stopped her and acted peppy about their match. Evans dropped her with a Woman’s Right punch and then left the ring…
The broadcast team hyped McIntyre vs. Sheamus…
Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso made their entrance or a championship contenders match. The broadcast team recapped highlights of their win over The Street Profits at MITB. Cole questioned whether the Usos actually won the match. Los Lotharios were listed as their opponents…
Powell’s POV: I guess we are in for a couple of quick matches considering that there’s only twenty minutes remaining. I like this approach with Evans. I really thought her story would win people over, but they ran it into the ground, perhaps even intentionally. Either way, she’s in a good place as a heel. I guess Shayna Baszler and Shotzi were in a good mood and just didn’t feel like exploiting the two-on-one advantage?
4. Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso vs. “Los Lotharios” Angel and Humberto in a championship contenders match. The match was joined in progress. Jimmy took out Angel with a superkick at ringside, then Jey dropped Humberto with a superkick in the ring. Jimmy tagged in. The Usos hit 1D on Humberto, and then Jimmy pinned him.
Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso beat “Los Lotharios” Angel and Humberto in a championship contenders match in roughly 2:00 of on-air time.
After the match, Kayla Braxton interviewed the Usos in the ring and replayed the end of their MITB match with the Street Profits from the angle that showed Montez Ford’s shoulder was up during the pinfall. Braxton said it appeared that they got away with cheating. Jimmy said that’s not on them, that’s on the referee. Braxton said there are rumors of a special referee for the rematch at SummerSlam.
Drew McIntyre made his entrance for the main event while the Usos were still in the ring… [C]
Powell’s POV: But did Los Lotharios find a woman for the kiss cam?!? Anyway, I usually enjoy Braxton calling the heels on their shit, but Jimmy’s character was totally right in saying that the Usos didn’t cheat, the referee just missed Ford’s shoulder being up during the pin.
The broadcast team announced Liv Morgan vs. Natalya in a championship contenders match, and Madcap Moss vs. Theory for next week’s Smackdown…
Sheamus made his entrance along with Ridge Holland and Butch. Sheamus cut a promo and acted like he was unable to get through his promo without coughing. He said he was unable to compete until he gets tested for COVID. Sheamus said he had a backup plan. Sheamus said Butch was dying to get his hands on McIntyre…
5. Drew McIntyre vs. Butch (w/Sheamus, Ridge Holland). McIntyre dominated Butch. Holland climbed onto the apron and was punched off by McIntyre. Butch hit a distracted McIntyre, but then missed him with a top rope move. McIntyre put him down with a neckbreaker and then put him away with a Claymore Kick.
Drew McIntyre defeated Butch in 1:30.
Holland attacked McIntyre afterward, but McIntyre dropped him with a Future Shock DDT. Sheamus climbed onto the apron. McIntyre swung his stupid giant sword at him. Sheamus dropped off the apron and McIntyre’s sword cut through the top rope and the Kane style pyro shot off from the ring posts…
Powell’s POV: No dark main event for you, Fort Worth! WWE did their best to avoid mentioning COVID-19 in most cases, but now Sheamus is citing it as a reason for ducking out of a match. Weird. The last twenty minutes of the show were just plain weird with the partial Usos match followed by the lame main event change. It’s too bad because I enjoyed the bulk of the show before then. I will have more to say about Smackdown in my weekly same night audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons). Have a great weekend.