By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,198)
Live from Greenville, South Carolina at Bon Secours Wellness Arena
Aired August 5, 2022 on Fox
[Hour One] Smackdown opened with a lengthy SummerSlam recap video package… Roman Reigns and The Usos were shown arriving in separate SUVs outside the building…
Michael Cole and Pat McAfee checked in on commentary and spoke from their desk. McAfee said it was an honor to be on the SummerSlam card. He stood up and had a replay of the closing moments of his SummerSlam match. He used a telestrator for the footage on him kicking Happy Corbin in the balls. “I’ve never been more proud of myself,” McAfee said.
Happy Corbin was shown watching on a backstage monitor while several wrestlers stood behind him and laughed. Ricochet said karma is a beautiful thing. Corbin said he would wipe the smile off Ricochet’s face. Ricochet said he would like to see him try, then challenged him to meet in the opening match on Smackdown…
Powell’s POV: I figured Ricochet would benefit from Paul Levesque taking over as the head of creative, but who knew he’d have the power to book his own matches?!?
1. Happy Corbin vs. Ricochet. Ring announcer Samantha Irvin handled the introductions for both wrestlers. There was a brief McAfee chant at one point during the match. Ricochet went for a moonsault off the apron and landed on his feet when Corbin avoided it. Corbin launched Ricochet into the ring post heading into a break. [C]
Corbin seated Ricochet on the top rope. Ricochet fought back and went for a powerbomb, but Corbin didn’t budge. Corbin pulled Ricochet back onto the ropes and then tossed him onto the ring apron. Corbin looked at McAfee, who stood up and asked if he wanted some. Ricochet recovered and crotched Corbin. Ricochet put Corbin down with the Recoil. Ricochet went up top and performed a Shooting Star Press for the win…
Ricochet defeated Happy Corbin in 11:50.
After the match, McAfee threw a Nerf football to Ricochet, who tossed it back to him. McAfee signed the football and kicked it into the crowd…
Powell’s POV: A good match that had a lot of the fans on the floor standing for the finish. Corbin was protected in that he chose to focus on McAfee and it cost him. Cole labeled Corbin’s losing ways a “bum rush” so apparently the Corbin character is in for another downward spiral.
Cole narrated footage of the Liv Morgan vs. Ronda Rousey finish at SummerSlam, then hyped the gauntlet match to determine Morgan’s next challenger…
Sami Zayn was shown smiling while knocking on Roman Reigns’ locker room door… [C] SummerSlam still shots were shown…
The Usos answered the door. Jimmy looked happy to see Zayn, while Jey looked annoyed. Jimmy said Paul Heyman needed a few days at home after taking an F5 at SummerSlam. Zayn said he wanted to speak with Reigns. Jey told him it wan’t a good time and blocked his path. Jimmy said he would text Zayn…
The broadcast team walked viewers through highlights of the Morgan vs. Rousey finish, and of Rousey attacking referee Dan Engler afterward (Engler tweeted that he was not “medically cleared” and would not be at Smackdown to sell the angle)…
Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance for his match against Ludwig Kaiser. McAfee danced on the table while Cole plugged the show’s insurance company sponsor… [C]
A sponsored recap showed Steve Austin using a crane to drop a cement slab (or something) onto the DX Express tour bus while Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Shane McMahon were inside the ring…
Powell’s POV: Vince McMahon was also part of that segment, but it looked like they went out of their way not to include him in this clip, which is the right move at this time.
2. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Ludwig Kaiser (w/Gunther) for a shot at the Intercontinental Championship. Nakamura had Kaiser draped over the top turnbuckle and kicked him so that he fell to the floor. Kaiser returned to the ring and there was an awkward spot where Kaiser leapfrogged Nakamura, who then held onto the ropes while Kaiser seemed to be waiting for something else to happen. Nakamura threw a clunky kick and then Kaiser powered him up for a unique slam heading into a break. [C]
Kaiser performed a late suplex for a near fall. Gunther showed frustration at ringside. Kaiser set up for another move, but Nakamura countered into an armbar. Kaiser escaped and caught Nakamura in a pin for a two count. Nakamura threw a spin kick at Kaiser, then hit him with his Kinshasa finisher and pinned him.
Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Ludwig Kaiser in roughly 8:45 to earn a shot at the Intercontinental Championship.
After the match, Gunther entered the ring. Nakamura tried to touch the title belt around his waist, but Gunther shoved his hand away. Nakamura did the “come out” bit and then had a staredown with Gunther…
Powell’s POV: Cole made it clear that only Nakamura could earn the title shot by winning this match. He also said that match will take place on next week’s Smackdown. It’s nice that Kaiser’s chest received a one week break from being chopped by Gunther. Well, maybe. The night is young. Either way, I feel like they should still be showing Gunther destroying enhancement wrestlers and some of the low men on the Smackdown roster.
Footage aired of The Viking Raiders destroying Xavier Woods last week…
Backstage, Kofi Kingston was interviewed by Megan Morant. Kingston said Wood was recuperating and it was only a matter of time before he returned to Smackdown. Kingston said that no matter how many times the Viking Raiders put them down, they will always get back up. Kingston said it’s been a long time since it was just him on Smackdown. He said it was almost time to make the Viking Raiders pay for what they did to Woods. Kingston closed with the “New Day Rocks” routine…
Powell’s POV: I know New Day are the positivity trio, but the situation called for him to sell the Viking Raiders attacking Woods, not just shrug it off and make it seem like it wasn’t a big deal.
Cole said Liv Morgan would address her controversial win over Ronda Rousey after the break… [C] Cole and McAfee spoke while mainstream headlines regarding SummerSlam were shown…
Sami Zayn knocked on Roman Reigns’ dressing room again. The Usos came out. Zayn said he wasn’t sure if they got his text. Jimmy said he was just about to text him. Jimmy said Paul Heyman usually takes care of making sure that Roman’s entrance is perfect. Jimmy asked if they could take care of that for him. Zayn said it’s not really his job. Jimmy said it would mean a lot to Roman. Zayn said he would do it…
Powell’s POV: I continue to hope that WWE will make a Bloodline t-shirt with Zayn photobombing in the background.
Kayla Braxton stood in the ring and introduced Smackdown Women’s Champion Liv Morgan, who made her entrance. Morgan had her left arm in a brace to sell Ronda Rousey’s armbar finisher. There were “you tapped out” chants. She said she wanted to address the elephant in the room.
[Hour Two] Morgan was censored for saying that she appreciated the fans calling her out on her shit (they’re still not in TV-14 mode). Morgan said she survived Rousey’s armbar three times. She said she tapped out, but only after she saw the referee count Rousey’s shoulders down.
Sonya Deville made her entrance. Deville said some of the fans were biased because they are dumb, but they both know that she should not be the champion. She entered the ring while saying this was all a testament to how much Adam Pearce sucks at his job. Deville said she would take away Morgan’s title at Clash at the Castle. Aliyah made her entrance…
3. Raquel Rodriguez vs. Aliyah vs. Shotzi vs. Xia Li vs. Shayna Baszler vs. Natalya vs. Sonya Deville in a gauntlet match for a shot at the Smackdown Women’s Championship at WWE Clash at the Castle. Deville and Aliyah started the match while Morgan sat in a chair at ringside. There was a faint Ronda Rousey chant while other fans followed with “sucks.” Deville put Aliyah away with her Deville’s Advocate finisher.
Aliyah was eliminated by Sonya Deville in roughly 2:30.
Raquel Rodriguez was the next entrant. Rodriguez threw a big boot that Deville ducked away from prematurely. Rodriguez performed a second rope elbow splash, then performed the Texana Bomb and pinned her.
Sonya Deville was eliminated by Raquel Rodriguez in roughy 5:15.
Shotzi made her entrance. A WrestleMania 39 ad aired… [C] Footage aired of Shotzi hitting a tornado DDT for a two count during the break. Rodriguez came back with a fallaway slam and then performed another elbow drop. Rodriguez performed another Texana Bomb and scored the pin.
Shotzi was eliminated by Raquel Rodriguez in roughly 9:05.
Xia Li was the next entrant. Li got the better of Rodriguez with kicks and strikes to start. Li applied a half crab, then released it to slam Rodriguez’s left knee onto the mat. Li threw palm strikes at Rodriguez, who got upset, blocked two more strikes, and then headbutted Li. Rodriguez performed a fallaway slam and another spinning elbow drop. Rodriguez put Li down with another Texana Bomb and scored the pin.
Xia Li was eliminated by Raquel Rodriguez in roughly 12:00.
Natalya was the next entrant and she targeted Rodriguez’s left knee. Rodriguez rallied and suplexed Natalya for a two count. Natalya put Rodriguez in the Sharpshooter. Rodriguez crawled to the ropes to break the hold. Natalya stood over Rodriguez in the corner and threw punches at her. Rodriguez powered up Natalya and slammed her to the match before pinning her.
Natalya was eliminated by Raquel Rodriguez in roughly 14:40.
Shayna Baszler made her entrance as the final entrant. [C] Baszler dominated the action coming out of the break while the broadcast team played up Rodriguez’s knee being an issue. Rodriguez went for her spinning elbow from the middle rope, but Baszler caught her in the Kirifuda Clutch. Rodriguez got back to her feet and pushed off the ropes to roll Baszler into a pin for a two count. Baszler came right back with a bridging pin for the win…
Shayna Baszler defeated Raquel Rodriguez in roughly 21:05 to win the gauntlet match to earn a shot at the Smackdown Women’s Championship at Clash at the Castle.
After the match, Morgan stood up and held up her Smackdown Women’s Championship with her good arm while Cole played up her bad arm being a target for Baszler…
Powell’s POV: The gauntlet match wasn’t very good. It was a bunch of brief matches and the format was obviously to make Rodriguez look good before she bowed out. On the bright side, I’m all for Baszler getting a meaningful push. Paul Levesque did great job of booking her as a badass in NXT and unfortunately it didn’t carry over to the main roster. The Morgan promo was interesting. She comes off heelish by claiming that she didn’t tap out until the referee made the three count when the footage clearly shows otherwise. As much as I would like to see Rousey turn, I’m not opposed to the idea of Morgan being the heel in their feud because I just don’t get the feeling that she’s truly connected with the masses as the new babyface champion.
Backstage, Zayn knocked on Roman Reigns’ locker room door again. The Usos came out. Zayn said he went to the production truck and took care of everything. Zayn said he had to talk to Reigns. Jimmy said it wasn’t going to happen. Zayn got upset and asked if he’s part of the team or not. Jey barked at Zayn and told him he would have to start pulling his weight or they would make him take his Bloodline shirt off… [C]
SummerSlam still shots were shown… The Viking Raiders made their entrance while their opponents were already in the ring…
4. “The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar vs. Jim Mulkey and Tommy Gibson. Erik and Ivar destroyed their opponents. They put Gibson down and then slammed Mulkey onto him before scoring the pin.
“The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar beat Jim Mulkey and Tommy Gibson in 1:35.
After the match, McAfee said Gibson and Mulkey should consider making this the last night that they wrestle (he emphasized “wrestle” since it’s allowed to be said post Vince McMahon). Kofi Kingston ran out and attacked the Viking Raiders with a kendo stick and cleared them from the ring. “You’re a dead man,” Erik said repeatedly… [C]
Powell’s POV: A long lost Mulkey Brother!!! Or perhaps a long lost Mulkey grandson at this point. Randy and Bill Mulkey were a beloved jobber team in Jim Crockett Promotions and it was a huge deal when they picked up their first win back in the day. The match was a total squash. The Kingston post match attack was over big with the live crowd.
5. Kofi Kingston vs. Erik (w/Ivar). Kingston attacked Erik to start, but Erik dropped him with a big knee to the face. Erik slammed Kingston to the mat a short time later and got a near fall. Erik drilled Kingston with a knee to the back of the head and got another two count. Kingston rallied and sent Erik to the floor and then hit him with a trust fall dive over the top rope. Kingston avoided Ivar swinging the kendo stick, but Erik used the distraction to hit Kingston. Back in the ring, Kingston slipped out of an Erik move attempt and rolled him up for the win…
Kofi Kingston beat Erik in 3:45.
Powell’s POV: Meh. The match was well worked, but I can’t say that I’m happy to see one of the Viking Raiders pinned at a time when they seemed to be getting reframed as a dominant badass duo.
Cole announced that a tournament will start on Monday’s Raw to determine the new WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions…
Powell’s POV: Will Sasha Banks and Naomi be in the tournament? Will they show up and beat the hell out of whoever wins the tournament? I think there’s more money in Banks as a singles wrestler, but perhaps the women’s titles will become more meaningful with Levesque booking the shows.
The Bloodline entrance played while Roman Reigns, Jimmy Uso, and Jey Uso made their entrance. Cole said Reigns has been champion for 705 days, while the Usos have been tag team champions for 382 days. He called The Bloodline the most dominant force in the history of WWE. Footage aired of the trio piling things onto Brock Lesnar in the Last Man Standing match. [C]
A Gunther video package aired and then Cole hyped his Intercontinental Title defense against Shinsuke Nakamura for next week’s Smackdown…
Powell’s POV: That was a nice, quick reminder that Gunther is a dominant badass.
Reigns and the Usos held up their title belts in the ring and then pyro shot off on the stage. Reigns told Greenville to acknowledge him. There seemed to be more cheers than boos. Reigns said they crowd knows the deal. They defend their titles and then come back to Smackdown to brag about what they accomplish.
Reigns said there were things that needed to be addressed first. Reigns brought up Brock Lesnar and there were some boos. Reigns said he hates Lesnar too. “But I respect that man,” Reigns said. “But I still hate Brock Lesnar.” Reigns said they hate Lesnar because he tried to kill the Wise Man (Paul Heyman).
Reigns said they weren’t sure when Heyman would return. Reigns said that when you take an F5 through the broadcast table, you’re going to go to the hospital, so he said he wanted to send his prayers to the wise man.
Drew McIntyre made his entrance (without his stupid sword!) and said the people have heard enough. McIntyre said he can’t wait to take down Reigns at the Clash at the Castle. McIntyre told the crowd to scream if they wanted to see him take apart the Bloodline.
Music played and a woman (Scarlett) stood on the stage. Karrion Kross (with hair) attacked McIntyre at ringside. Kross slammed McIntyre’s head into the ring steps several times. Kross blasted McIntyre with a shot to the back of the head. Cole acknowledged that Kross is a former NXT Champion. Scarlett placed an hourglass on the apron and looked up at The Bloodline. Kross and Scarlett stared the trio down while standing over McIntyre. Kross pointed to his imaginary watch while Cole said the clock is ticking on Smackdown…
Powell’s POV: Levesque and his crew went all in on Kross and Scarlett in NXT. They had the most elaborate entrance in NXT history, and Kross was quickly pushed as a dominant NXT Champion before he was called up to the main roster. Kross came up without Scarlett, was saddled with a ridiculous new, and was look booked terribly. There was a lot of talk about holes in Kross’s game being exposed, but obviously Levesque feels strongly about him and I’m anxious to see how his second main roster stint goes.
Overall, this was a solid episode. Aside from the closing angle, the creative shakeup didn’t feel as noticeable as it did during Monday’s Raw. Levesque is to be putting some of his favorites in bigger roles and I consider that to be a positive thus far. I will have more to say about the show in my weekly same night audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).
Is the crowd going to force Liv to be a heel? Will a HHH led WWE go with that reaction if it happens a few more times instead of fighting it?
There’s a Mulkey with ridiculous bleach blonde hair wrestling on TV in 2022. The Gibson in the ring just led Cole to make a Hoot reference. This is amazing.
I love you HHH!
Didn’t see that ending coming. I don’t buy Kross at all, but maybe they can make his in ring work 1000x more interesting this time around.
Crazy how people that were well utilized in developmental can also be well utilized on the main roster. What a concept.
Now that’s how you make a star
Kross wrestles like he’s scared he’s going to hurt the other guy. I hope he improves on that.
This is really interesting with the women’s division. I am guessing if Vince and Johnny had been removed a few months earlier, Liv Morgan would never have been champion, but a lot of people do like her. I assume Baszler is also going to dominate and then get screwed out of the title somehow. In any case it certainly is great to see the talented Baszler get more to do.
If they go with another finish like the Rousey match, does the crowd stay split against Liv or even fully turn? Could they possibly have her do all the old plucky/vulnerable babyface stuff but have her also doing stuff like the visible tap and reposition her as a heel?
1. I read Kayla Braxton’s tweet saying the fans booing Liv was “disrespectful”. Odd, no one suggested that when Reigns was booed while portrayed as a face. Equality again actually means hypocrisy.
2. I like Kross, but he’s not going to move the needle.
If the intent is to quell the unfavorable reaction for Liv by sending out a tweet and talking down to the audience it is only going to get her jeered more heavily. If they actually want her to get booed however and that tweet was a subtle method to egg it on then that might be effective.