SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE SMACKDOWN TV REPORT
MAY 20, 2022
GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. AT VAN ANDEL ARENA
AIRED ON FOX
Commentators: Michael Cole, Pat McAfee
Ring Announcer: Samantha Irvin
-A narrated video package set the stage for the Tag Team Title Unification match between RK-Bro and the Usos.
-The camera panned the crowd as Michael Cole talked about there being a buzz in the arena that is indicative of momentous occasions. Pat McAfee said when they tell the story of WWE, this night will be in the documentary.
(Keller’s Analysis: Man, they better deliver, right? That said, it’s not like the tag titles have been separate since the 1960s or anything. But I admire WWE amplifying whatever they’re doing to a maximum level without being ridiculous.)
-The Bloodline made their ring entrance. Paul Heyman presented Roman Reigns with the Universal Title. Reigns was already wearing the WWE Title. The Usos held up their Smackdown Tag Team Titles. Cole threw to a video recap of last week’s challenge issued by RK-Bro to have this unification match tonight.
Back live in the ring, Reigns asked the crowd to acknowledge him, but also acknowledge the Usos and the Bloodline. Reigns asked Heyman to explain to fans why it’s so special. Heyman said tonight is the biggest night in the history of tag team wrestling. He said Reigns is the GOAT. He said you can take Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, The Rock, Brock Lesnar, and John Cena and stack them all up and that’s what would happen if you put them in the ring at the same time with Reigns. “They would be stacked up and smashed and pinned by the undisputed GOAT,” he said. He said Reigns defends the position of being the GOAT. He said the Usos aim to be the Greatest Tag Team of All Time. He said they are direct descendants of Afa & Sika, so they have to accomplish something Afa & Sika never did – unify the tag team titles. (They couldn’t. There were only one set of belts in their time.)
Heyman said it’s the best tag team on Smackdown vs. the best tag team on Raw, perhaps the best team in Raw history. He said the Usos have to earn their spot and not be yesterday’s news. He said it’s not enough to be cousins of the Tribal Chief. He said the Usos will come home the Undisputed Tag Team Champions or they won’t come home to the Island of Relevancy at all. He said the Usos will succeed in their task tonight. “And that’s not just a prediction, that – ladies and gentleman – is a spoiler,” he said. Reigns held out his hand for the mic. Heyman planted it in his palm. “Usos!” Reigns yelled. “Twins, you know what I want. And I expect you to deliver it. The only reason I have these expectations is because I love you.” He hugged them and slapped their hands in an encouraging way.
-Cole said the Usos “are expected to deliver.”
(Keller’s Analysis: There wasn’t excessive yelling. There wasn’t any catering to the Internet fans. There wasn’t anything that “broke kayfabe” or would generate a social media buzz. What that was was selling a faction, hyping a match, and elevating the value of titles. It was entertaining, in character, and I think really effective at maximizing the match they were hyping. Heyman talked more than usual in this segment and it was a reminder of how excellent he can be when he is given the space to talk like that. I do wonder how Bret Hart, Bob Backlund, Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle, and Ric Flair feel, if you believe any of them belong on the list instead of or in addition to those Heyman mentioned as GOATS. I don’t disagree with the list or the cutoff point, when focusing on WWE-based accomplishments, but it’s gotta sting a little if you’re one of those who didn’t quite make the cut in WWE’s telling telling of the great champions in their history. Fortunately, it didn’t feel political; it just felt accurate.)
-Backstage, Sami Zayn was watching on a monitor and he was all hyped up. He strutted away toward the entrance.
-Shinsuke Nakamura made his ring entrance. Cole told McAfee he was worried the chair McAfee was standing on would collapse. Cole hyped Sami vs. Nakamura as Nakamura crossed paths with the Bloodline in the aisle. [c]
(1) SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs. SAMI ZAYN
Cole sent best wishes to Rick Boogs, who is recovering from his surgery. McAfee said Nakamura might be an alien. He said he looks better than ever, has been excellent for 20 years, and hasn’t lost a step. Sami wrestled in a Bloodline t-shirt, sucking up to them. Cole noted that Sami says he is trying to rebuild his reputation after losing to Johnny Knoxville at WrestleMania. Nakamura knocked Sami off balance on the top rope. He set up a Kinsasha, but Sami moved. Nakamura sat on the top turnbuckle, but Sami shoved him over. When Nakamura crashed to the floor, they cut to a break at 4:00. [c]
Nakamura hit a flying knee to the back of Sami’s head for a two count at 9:00. Sami rolled out of the ring when Nakamura signaled for a Kinsasha. At ringside, Sami caught a charging Nakamura with a Michinoku Driver. Sami returned to the ring. Nakamura barely beat the countout. Sami went after Nakamura at ringside, but Nakamura reverse-whipped him into the ringpost and then into the time keeper’s area. Nakamura returned to the ring. Cole said he was trying to beat Sami at his own game. Sami barely beat the countout. Nakamura, though, met him with a Kinsasha.
WINNER: Nakamura in 10:00.
-A brief vignette aired on the Usos reigns as tag champs.
-Happy Corbin made his ring entrance. [c]
-Happy Talk: Corbin stood at ringside. Corbin talked about the high life that Moss lived with him. “I paid for it all,” he said. He said now if Moss wants to eat steak, his nurse has to cut it up for him first. He said Moss called him the Big Bald Wolf. He said maybe he is because he huffed and he puffed and he put Madcap Moss in an ambulance. Corbin then picked up the Andre trophy and threw it into the ringside steps a few times until it was broken into pieces. McAfee called him a piece of trash. Corbin held up the Andre statue that was on top of the now-destroyed trophy.
-They went to Cole and McAfee at ringside. They threw to Drew Gulak telling Ricochet last week that he was going to put Gunther in his place, only to end up shoved against a wall and chopped hard in the chest by Gunther.
-Gunther’s ring entrance took place. [c]
(2) GUNTHER vs. DREW GULAK
Gunther destroyed Gulak from the start with hard chops and finished him quickly with a powerbomb.
WINNER: Gunther in 1:00.
-When Gunther attacked Gulak after the match, Ricochet made the save.
-Max Dupree (a/k/a L.A. Knight from NXT) introduced himself to Adam Pearce. He said he’s the CEO of the hottest new male modelling agency called Maximum Male Models. He said the discovery begins of a new generation of Superstars who can headline both WrestleMania and Paris Fashion Week. Pearce said he’s hearing about this for the first time. “I heard you were really excited to have me here,” Dupree said. Pearce asked who told him that. He said Sonya Deville. Pearce broke the news to him that she’s out of power. Pearce said this isn’t a good idea. Dupree said he and his agency have a signed contract. Dupree explained how to pronounce his name, with an emphasis on the “pree!”
-They showed Kayla Braxton standing by with Riddle and Randy Orton in the backstage interview ring set. [c]
-Cole and McAfee hyped the main event.
-Braxton interviewed RK-Bro backstage. Riddle said he heard what the Bloodline said earlier. He said the Usos cannot beat RK-Bro. He said he’s been beating them one at a time. He said, “RK-Bro 420 says we just smoked your ass!” Orton said the Usos are going to have to explain to Reigns that they got hit by the three most dangerous letters in sports entertainment, RK-Bro. They fist bumped and left. Kayla smiled and nodded.
-They went to Cole and McAfee who threw to a sponsored recap of Racquel Rodriguez answering Ronda Rouesy’s challenge last week.
-Backstage, Shotzi and Aliyah were bickering over what went down last week. When Racquel walked in, Shotzi said she has all the physical tools but she doesn’t know what to do with them. She said she’s weak, a choker, soft, and too nice. “You are six feet of disappointment,” she said. She vowed to make her pay for costing her the chance to face Rousey last week. “You absurd Amazon,” she said.
-Rodriguez made her entrance first. Shotzi made her entrance second. [c]
-McAfee said Drew McIntyre hyped that 40,000 tickets were already sold for Clash at the Castle. They said Drew will be back at Smackdown next week.
(3) SHOTZI vs. RACQUEL RODRIGUEZ
Cole said Rodriguez took Ronda to the limit last week and she’s surely watching this week. (That gave away that Rousey isn’t at Smackdown this week.) They showed Humberto Carrillo, Angel Garza, Natalya, Shayna Baszler, Aliyah, and Xia Li watching the match on a monitor. Cole said everyone wants to know what Rodriguez is all about. Rodriguez overpowered Shotzi early. Shotzi shifted off Rodriguez’s shoulders into a attempted sleeper, but Rodriguez powered out. Shotzi landed several kicks, but Rodriguez brushed them off and then gave Shotzi a fallaway slam (the set-up was quite the adventure). She did another. Then she landed a corkscrew splash followed by a one-armed slam for the win.
WINNER: Rodriguez in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s hard to tell if Shotzi wasn’t taking things smoothly or Rodriguez was just shaky on the execution, but things looked like they were about to go off the tracks a couple times there in her set-up to power moves.)
– A clip aired of Butch beating Xavier Woods.
-Kayla interviewed Xavier who said that was a big win for Butch last week, but he wants to face Butch one-on-one without him getting help from Sheamus and Ridge Holland.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was a good, basic promo. When you remove the amped up cartoonish nonsense and trombone and King stuff, he’s really likable and feels more relatable.)
-Xavier made his ring entrance. [c]
(4) BUTCH vs. XAVIER WOODS
Butch caught Xavier mid-air with a punch and then pounded away at him on the mat. The ref counted to four before he broke. When Butch moved in to resume the attack, Xavier surprised him with a small package for the win. Cole said Butch acts like a petulant child when he loses. As Xavier was celebrating his win in the entry area, Butch attacked him. Sheamus and Holland pulled him off and held him back.
WINNER: Xavier in 4:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Brief, but fierce battle start to finish.)
-A vignette aired on RK-Bro.
-They showed RK-Bro warming up backstage. [c]
-Backstage, Xavier said Kofi Kingston will be back next week. He said Big E is still on the mend, but he has a partner in mind for a six-man tag match against Butch, Sheamus, and Holland.
-They went to Cole and McAfee. Cole said he wanted to talk about how Sasha Banks and Naomi “let us all down” on Monday when they walked out on the show. He said they took the tag team championship belt to the V.P. of Talent Relations and put them on his desk, then left the arena. He said their actions disappointed millions of fans and their fellow “Superstars.” He said they have been suspended indefinitely and there will be a tournament to crown new tag team champions.
(Keller’s Analysis: No surprise there given everything we’ve been hearing about that. McAfee looked uncomfortable having to sit here and hear the statement. He didn’t comment.)
-RK-Bro made their ring entrance. The Usos made their entrance next. [c]
(5) RK-BRO (Randy Orton & Riddle) vs. THE USOS (Jey & Jimmy) – Raw and Smackdown Tag Team Titles Unification match
Heyman joined McAfee and Cole on commentary. The match began 42 minutes into the hour. Heyman said he is the Warden of the Uso Penitentiary. Riddle led the crowd in an early “Randy! Randy!” chant. Riddle tagged in. Orton launched Riddle into the air, and Riddle landed a corkscrew senton onto Jimmy. Jimmy took over and whipped Riddle hard into the corner. Riddle said something afterward that might have indicated he took an odd bump in the corner that hurt. They cut to an early break. [c]
The Usos controlled as they returned from the break. They replayed Riddle hitting the corner turnbuckle hard. Cole said Riddle was checked on by the doctor after the break and diagnosed a bruised hip. They showed Heyman sitting at ringside, clutching the Smackdown Tag Team Title belts. Riddle tried to hot-tag in Orton, but Jimmy blocked it and then tagged in Jey. Riddle landed a knee strike and leaped to hot-tag in Orton. Orton snap powerslammed both Usos one after another. Orton then hit a draping DDT. He pounded the mat and signaled for an RKO. He then hit Jimmy with it. Jey broke up the cover. Cole noted they are trending no. 1 in the United States. Riddle tagged back in and rallied. Cole said during the break they weren’t even sure if he could continue the match, but look at him now. Jey countered with a pop-up neckbreaker for a two count. Cole noted how Heyman had gone quiet. Riddle climbed to the top rope, but Jey knocked him off balance and Riddle crashed to the mat.
Riddle set up a top rope RKO on Jey. Jey resisted. Heyman distracted the ref. Reigns then appeared and held onto Jey’s legs as Riddle tried to execute the RKO, so Riddle crashed to the mat. Jey then splashed Riddle for a three count.
WINNERS: The Usos to unify the Raw and Smackdown Tag Team Titles in 12:00.
-The Usos attacked Riddle after the match. Orton crawled back onto the ring apron, but the Usos superkicked him back to the floor. The Usos then smashed Orton with the ringside steps as Reigns gave Riddle a guillotine at ringside. Reigns smashed Riddle onto the announce desk. Jey then leaped off the top rope onto Riddle, breaking the table. They showed a mom plugging the ears of a crying boy at ringside. The showed two other boys, all around age 8 or 9, crying or distraught at the finish and the post-match attack. They also showed some grown men looked dismayed. (These were really effective crowd cutaways.) Cole called it “Wreckage of humanity.” He added, “The Usos make history.” McAfee said the Bloodline is the greatest faction in the history of this business.