By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,197)
Live from Atlanta, Georgia at State Farm Arena
Aired July 29, 2022 on Fox
[Hour One] The broadcast team of Michael Cole and Pat McAfee opened the show and hyped the “good old fashioned Donnybrook” match…
Drew McIntyre made his entrance without the stupid sword. Sheamus ran out and attacked McIntyre and ended up running him into the ring post. Sheamus threw McIntyre inside the ring and joined him. The referee rewarded Sheamus’s attack by immediately calling for the bell to start the match…
1. Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus in a Donnybrook match for a shot at the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship at WWE Clash at the Castle. Sheamus grabbed a shillelagh and swung it at McIntyre, who ducked and suplexed him. McIntyre picked up the weapon, but Sheamus kicked him and knocked it out of his hand.
The match spilled to ringside where barrels, a small bar, and other objects were set up. There were also flags on the ringside barricade and small flags on one of the ring posts. Sheamus grabbed another shillelagh and ended up delivering his clubs to McIntyre’s chest with it.
Sheamus tried to suplex McIntyre through a table that was leaning against the barricade. McIntyre reversed it and suplexed Sheamus onto the floor. McIntyre ran Sheamus into barrels that were set up in the entryway. Sheamus knocked over one of the barrels and was down heading into a commercial break. [C]
Sheamus set up for White Noise, but McIntyre countered into a Future Shock DDT onto a pile of chairs that had been placed inside the ring. Ridge Holland showed up and hit McIntyre over the back with a shillelagh. Sheamus dropped McIntyre with a knee to the head and covered him for a close near fall. McIntyre ended up running Holland into the ring post and then suplexed him through the table leaning against the ringside barricade. [C]
McIntyre set up for a superplex, but Sheamus cut him off, crotched him, and put him in a tree of woe. McIntyre sat up and tossed Sheamus back inside the ring. McIntyre went for a Claymore Kick that Sheamus avoided. Sheamus put McIntyre down with an Alabama Slam for a two count. At ringside, Shemaus tried to run McIntyre into the small bar, but McIntyre reversed it.
Butch appeared on top of the Irish Whiskey barrels and dove onto McIntyre. Sheamus broke a bar stool over the back of McIntyre. Back inside the ring, Sheamus hit White Noise from the second rope for another near fall. Butch passed a giant shillelagh to Sheamus. McIntyre ducked it and put Sheamus down with a Glasgow Kiss. Butch ran in and then McIntyre hit him with the Shillelagh.
McIntyre put Butch down with a Claymore Kick. Sheamus immediately blasted McIntyre with a Brogue Kick. Sheamus covered McIntyre for a close near fall and then acted stunned by McIntyre kicking out of his finisher. A “this is awesome” chant broke out. Sheamus went for another Brogue Kick, but McIntyre caught him and powerbombed him through a table inside the ring.
McIntyre looked conflicted as he watched Sheamus crawl over to a shillelagh and pick it up. McIntyre blasted Sheamus with a Claymore Kick and then pinned him.
Drew McIntyre defeated Sheamus in 25:30 in a Donnybrook match to earn a shot at the Undisputed Universal Championship at WWE Clash at the Castle.
After the match, Kayla Braxton entered the ring and interviewed McIntyre. He told Sheamus that it didn’t have to be this way. He said somebody has to take the title off the part-time champion. Theory showed up and slammed the Money in the Bank briefcase over McIntyre’s head and then beat him with it…
Powell’s POV: Change has arrived. When is the last time that Smackdown opened with a 25-minute match? The question remains whether there’s a storyline reason the creative forces opted to determine the No. 1 contender before the Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar match at SummerSlam. For instance, will McIntyre stop Theory from cashing in the Money in the Bank contract at SummerSlam following that attack and because his character wants to face the Reigns vs. Lesnar winner? On a side note, I want to be excited about McIntyre not bringing the stupid sword to the ring, but he may have left it behind this week because of the pre-match Sheamus attack. Unfortunately, Cole mentioned the sword during the match, so we may not have seen the last of it.
The broadcast team set up footage of last week’s angle involving McAfee and Happy Corbin. As they were talking, Corbin showed up holding up a sign with an old photo of McAfee that had “Loser” written on it. Corbin showed off his ticket and took a seat behind the broadcast table… [C]
Corbin continued to taunt McAfee coming out of the break. Cole told McAfee to ignore Corbin, then recapped the angle from Raw that saw Seth Rollins take out Riddle to explain their SummerSlam match being postponed. McAfee continued to get annoyed by Corbin, who tossed popcorn at him. Cole and McAfee ran through some of the SummerSlam lineup.
McAfee stood up and jawed with Corbin, who tossed his popcorn at him. Adam Pearce, Shawn Daivari, and Jamie Noble came out and tried to talk McAfee down. Corbin hopped the barricade and kicked McAfee in the balls… [C]
Theory was interviewed backstage by Braxton. Theory said he attacked McIntyre because he’s tired of everyone treating him like a punching bag. He said he can’t help it that Dolph Ziggler, Bobby Lashley, and Madcap Moss are all jealous of him. He said that won’t stop him from cashing in his MITB contract. Theory said he will walk into Cardiff, Wales and make McIntyre his punching bag. Theory walked away and Paul Heyman was waiting for him. Heyman started to speak to Theory, but there was no microphone…
Cole and McAfee were shown at ringside. McAfee was holding his own balls…
2. Aliyah vs. Shotzi. Cole said Lacey Evans was not medically cleared to compete in her scheduled match against Aliyah. Cole said Shotzi despises everything Aliyah is about and lobbied Adam Pearce to get a spot in this match. Aliyah performed a meteora onto Shotzi at ringside. When they stood up, Shotzi shoved Aliya into the ring post. Back inside the ring, Shotzi hit her Never Wake Up finisher and scored the pin…
Shotzi defeated Aliyah in 3:20.
Powell’s POV: I like the way Cole tried to give the match purpose by talking abut how much Shotzi dislikes the Aliyah character. I’m beginning to think that we may never actually see Aliyah vs. Lacey Evans at the rate thing are going.
Highlights aired of Raquel Rodriguez beating Sonya Deville, followed by Deville cutting a post match promo in a segment that did not air on the show. Ronda Rouey ran out and put Deville down with a Piper’s Pit and then put her in an armbar…
Backstage, Liv Morgan and Ronda Rousey were taking part in a photo shoot when Natalya showed up and mouthed off. Deville also appeared and talked smack. Rousey walked away.
In the ring, Shotzi was laughing over the mic when Rousey’s entrance music silenced her. Rousey walked to the ring and told Shotzi to give her the mic and leave. “Oh, hey, Ronda,” Shotzi said. Rousey put her down and then said, “Hey, Shotzi.” Rousey told a fan to shut up and said the fan’s mom failed the person. Rousey called for Liv Morgan to come out and show why they are fighting for the title at SummerSlam and not the others… [C]
Nashville imagery was shown while Cole hyped SummerSlam. He also announced that Paul Heyman would deliver a special address later in the show…
[Hour Two] Smackdown Women’s Champion Liv Morgan made her entrance. Cole said the tag match was booked by Adam Pearce. Sonya Deville and Natalya made their entrances…
3. Smackdown Women’s Champion Liv Morgan and Ronda Rousey vs. Sonya Deville and Natalya. Rousey and Morgan worked together to start. Natalya suplexed Morgan at ringside. [C] Morgan was isolated until she put Natalya down with a Codebreaker. Morgan could have made the tag, but she opted to cover Natalya for a two count instead.
Deville tagged in and worked over Morgan, who eventually put her down with a step-up enzuigiri. Morgan crawled to the corner and once again opted against tagging out. Morgan went for her Oblivion finisher on Deville and didn’t get it. Natalya checked in and put Morgan down with a discus clothesline. Morgan avoided a charging Natalya and went to her corner.
Rousey reached in and tagged herself into the match. Rousey put Deville down with Piper’s Pit. She looked to the crowd while setting up for her finisher. Natalya hit Rousey from behind. Morgan hit Oblivion on Natalya. Rousey then forced Deville to submit to her armbar finisher.
Smackdown Women’s Champion Liv Morgan and Ronda Rousey beat Sonya Deville and Natalya in 11:30.
After the match, Rousey and Morgan went face to face with Rousey making her mean face and Morgan smiling…
The Street Profits made their entrance… [C]
Powell’s POV: Yes, Cole called it a Codebreaker for those keeping track of changes. They told more of a story than usual in that match and Cole did a good job of relaying into the television audience. The idea was that Morgan wanted to prove that she could get the job done without Rousey, but she actually looked like a dope for staying in the ring longer than she needed to and nearly costing her team the match. More importantly, it’s the eve of her title defense against Rousey, so when you think about it, her character put her pride ahead of keeping herself fresh for her title defense.
Unified WWE Tag Team Champions Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso made their entrance while Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins were already in the ring. Jeff Jarrett made his entrance wearing his referee gear. Jarrett said he had some words for both teams.
Jarrett entered the ring and said he thought it would be a good idea “for the four of us” to get together and get some things straight before SummerSlam. Jarrett said he wanted them to know how serious he takes his job as special referee.
Both teams took turns asking if it would be a disqualification if they did certain things to one another. Eventually, Jarrett said the two teams have some creative imaginations. Jarrett said he wasn’t there to contain the teams, he was there to let them run wild. Jarrett said his only job is to count to three when there are two shoulders on the mat.
Jarrett said that was tomorrow, but as far as tonight goes, it’s obvious they have outstanding issues. “If one you feel froggy, why don’t you jump?” Dawkins said there wouldn’t be any jumping. He started to ask if it would be a DQ, then the Profits started a brawl with the Usos. Jey accidentally superkicked Jarrett. Jimmy wasn’t pleased with what his brother did.
The Usos tried to help Jeff to his feet, but he shoved them both. Dawkins ran over and shoved the Usos out of the ring. Ford ran the ropes and executed a flip dive onto the Usos at ringside…
Powell’s POV: I doubt it really tips off anything as far as Jarrett siding with the Profits tomorrow, but it’s a good idea to make it seem like the champions are even more at risk of losing their titles after pissing off the special referee.
A sponsored clip spotlighted the Viking Raiders and their recent interactions with the New Day… Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston made their entrance for their tag match… [C]
Maxxine Dupri introduced herself while standing next to Mace and Mansoor. The Maximum Male Models beachwear video aired. When they cut back to the trio, Max Dupri was with them. “What?” McAfee said on commentary. Max said they were still seeking clients who embody the essence, the creed of Maximum Male Models…
Powell’s POV: I’m happy to see Max Dupri back after missing last week’s show. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be just fine with him transitioning back into LA Knight, but he’s the most entertaining aspect of the Maximum Male Models’ act thus far.
4. “The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar vs. “New Day” Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods. The Viking Raiders’ entrance was televised. Early in the match, Ivar stood on the apron and pulled Kingston to ringside and then splashed him against the barricade. [C]
Kingston was isolated until he hit Ivar with an SOS. Both men tagged out. Woods had an offensive flurry and got the better of both Viking Raiders. Woods performed a tornado DDT on Erik for a near fall. Kingston tagged in and performed a top rope splash on Erik, but Ivar broke up the pin.
A short time later, Kinston rolled Erik into a pin for another two count. Erik came back and blasted Kingston with a knee to the face and tagged out. Ivar did a sit-down spot in the corner, and then the Viking Raiders hit a double powerbomb on Kingston that led to Ivar pinning him.
“The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar beat”New Day” Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods in 9:15.
After the match, Woods charged at Erik, who hit him with a shield and then dumped Kingston to ringside. Ivar wrapped a chair around Woods’ leg. Erik and Ivar slammed their shields onto the chair and Woods sold it like he was in absolute agony. Adam Pearce and trainers ran out to check on Woods…
Cole hyped Paul Heyman for the final segment… [C]
Powell’s POV: Unfortunately, they are still called “the new, vicious Viking Raiders.” But the duo are still being booked strong and Woods did a terrific job of selling the attack on his leg.
Paul Heyman delivered an in-ring promo about the Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar main event of SummerSlam. Heyman spoke about Reigns potentially holding the championship for 700 days. He said no one in 35 years has gotten to that mark.
Heyman said Lesnar would be the spoiler on Saturday “over my damn dead body.” Heyman said Reigns won’t pin or just smash Lesnar. He said Reigns would stand over Lesnar for ten seconds and then we will also be done with Lesnar once and for all.
Brock Lesnar’s entrance music played. Lesnar walked onto the stage with a big smile on his face while Heyman looked terrified in the ring. Cole said Heyman was frozen in fear. Lesnar took his lap around the ring and then entered the ring and walked toward Heyman, who smiled and offered him the mic. Heyman cowered in the corner as Lesnar continued to walk toward him.
Suddenly, Theory hit Lesnar from behind with the MITB briefcase. Lesnar immediately recovered and destroyed Theory with the briefcase and two German suplexes while Heyman fled the ring. Theory also escaped to ringside and was hit out of nowhere by a Drew McIntyre Claymore Kick. McIntyre and Lesnar looked at one another while Cole hyped the possibility of the two meeting in Cardiff. Cole plugged SummerSlam to close the show…
Powell’s POV: Any concern that some folks still had about Lesnar’s status for SummerSlam had to be eased by his unadvertised appearance. Overall, this was an interesting show that delivered plenty of SummerSlam hype even if some of the matches and segments don’t seem to factor into the event. I will have more to say about Smackdown in my weekly same night audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).
Join me for my live reviews of SummerSlam and the Ric Flair’s last match event this weekend.