SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE SMACKDOWN TV REPORT
JUNE 17, 2022
MINNEAPOLIS, MN AT THE TARGET CENTER
AIRED ON FOX
REPORT BY ALEX McDONALD, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Michael Cole, Pat McAfee
-The show opened with Vince McMahon’s music playing and a crowd shot. He made his entrance and the crowd cheered. A large portion of the crowd also sang along with his theme song. He got a huge pop after his introduction from the announcer. McMahon took the mic and said it was a privilege to be in Minnesota. He said he wants to remind everyone of the four words in the WWE signature. Then, now, forever, and most importantly, together. He then said “welcome to Smackdown”, dropped the mic and walked off.
(McDonald’s Analysis: Are you kidding me? I can’t believe that bait and switch. He didn’t say anything of note, unless that was an odd metaphor about how we’re all in this together. Also, what’s with the crowd showering this guy with cheers after all the news in the last day or two? Am I overreacting here?)
-WWE cut to the Smackdown opening video. Afterwards, Michael Cole welcomed the audience to the show as they showed a wide crowd shot. Riddle’s music played and he made his entrance. Cole said tonight, Riddle will have the biggest match of his career. They then showed a graphic for the Roman Reigns and Riddle main event. Cole hyped the match. Pat McAfee said that Riddle is fighting for his friend Randy Orton and for himself and everything he’s ever wanted. Riddle took the mic. He said before he kicks Reigns in the head and takes the title, he wants to take a stroll down memory lane and look at the history between himself and Reigns. They then played a recap video of the feud between the Bloodline and RK-Bro. After the video, Riddle looked serious in the ring. The crowd chanted “bro, bro”. Riddle took the mic again and said he’s waited a long time for this opportunity. He said his friends and family are watching at home. He said more importantly, his best friend and “our friend” Randy is watching at home. He said Orton as an operation coming up and everyone wishes him the best of luck. He said he knows that Orton is wondering if he’ll be able to recover. Riddle said we all miss him. He said that he doesn’t care what kind of shape Orton is in, he loves him. Riddle said that for twenty years Orton has been killing legends, won a bazillion titles, had RKO videos go viral, and set the Undertaker on fire. He said Orton sacrificed everything to entertain us. He said he speaks for everyone when he says thank you, Randy. The crowd then chanted “thank you, Randy”. Riddle said that tonight, he challenges Reigns for the Undisputed title. He said he’s dedicating the match to his best friend Orton. Riddle said he’s going to get ready for his match and strut like a viper and play something we haven’t heard in a long time. They then played Orton’s theme music and Orton mouthed the words as he blew kisses to the fans.
(McDonald’s Analysis: I think he went a little heavy with the Orton stuff, but otherwise, this promo was really good. I still think that Riddle is the hottest thing they have right now. I don’t think it’s the right time to put the title on him, but he’s been my pick as the babyface to beat Reigns for a long time now. Unfortunately, I think the push and momentum may be coming a little too soon. You can’t deny that either way, Riddle is set up to be a major player for the next few months and I hope he makes the most of he opportunity and solidifies himself as a true main eventer.)
-Cole and McAfee were at ringside. They hyped the main event. Cole then threw to a video package on the Madcap Moss and Happy Corbin feud. After the video, Moss’ music hit and he made his entrance. Cole hyped his “Last Laugh” match against Corbin for after the break. [c]
-They showed a graphic for Riddle and Reigns. Cole said that Riddle dedicated the match to Orton.
-Corbin’s music hit and he made his entrance. Cole said if you lose, you’re embarrassed and laughed out of the arena.
(1) MADCAP MOSS vs. HAPPY CORBIN – Last Laugh Match
Corbin attacked Moss but Moss took him down. They battled into the corner, but Corbin got the upper hand with right hands. Moss countered with a big knee followed by a flying shoulder tackle. Moss kicked at the gut of Corbin in the corner, then whipped him to the opposite corner. Corbin crumpled to the ground. Corbin recovered and choked Moss on the top rope. The crowd chanted “Corbin sucks”. Corbin sent Moss into the ropes, then took him down with a modified chinlock. The crowd cheered Moss on as he fought up. Moss took over and ran the ropes before taking Corbin down with a shoulder block. Moss hit a big fallaway slam on Corbin. Moss went for the neckbreaker, but Corbin countered and tossed Moss into the ring post. Corbin followed Moss to the outside and clotheslined Moss over the barricade and into the timekeeper’s area.
Corbin and Moss battled on the apron. Corbin clotheslined Moss over the top rope and back into the ring. Corbin followed Moss into the corner and lifted him to the top turnbuckle. Moss recovered with right hands. Moss sunset flipped Corbin for a near fall. Corbin recovered and hit the Deep Six for a near fall of his own. Corbin looked upset. The crowd cheered for Moss. Corbin went for a powerbomb, but Moss slipped out. Corbin caught him and delivered a chokeslam. Moss rolled to the outside. Corbin followed, but Moss fought back. Moss tried to beat the count and get back in the ring, but Corbin pulled Moss out and threw him into the post. Corbin tried to beat the count, but Moss recovered and threw Corbin into the announce table. Both men beat the count. In the ring, Moss hit the Punchline on Corbin. Moss pumped himself up and stalked Corbin. He hit another Punchline and covered Corbin for the win.
WINNER: Madcap Moss in 12:00
-Moss took the mic at ringside. Moss laughed hysterically at Corbin. Cole said that Moss deserved and he had the last laugh.
-The Street Profits were in the back. Montez Ford said that the hometown Moss won, so Corbin didn’t get the last laugh after all. Angelo Dawkins then hyped the main event. Ford asked him who was going to win. Dawkins said it’s always “bro’s before Ro’s”. The Profits then challenged the Usos for the Undisputed Tag Team titles at Money in the Bank. They said they want their babies back.
-Corbin approached Cole and McAfee at ringside. Corbin said that he and McAfee have known each other for a long time. He said McAfee makes jokes about him all the time. He said when he was at rock bottom, McAfee called him “broke ass Corbin”. Corbin then said that even since he’s hit it big, McAfee still cracks on him. He said McAfee needs to stop. Corbin said if he doesn’t, he will throw his skinny ass in the ring and make him wish he were dead. McAfee asked Cole if he minded, Cole said no. McAfee then rose from the table. He sang “bum ass Corbin” and the crowd cheered. McAfee led the crowd in spelling Minnesota. McAfee said we all hoped that we would see Corbin get laughed out of the arena. McAfee said with the help of Minnesota, they can give Corbin what he deserves. McAfee fake laughed and said “you suck”. The crowd laughed along. As Corbin walked up the ramp, the New Day made their entrance and laughed at Corbin as he walked by.
(McDonald’s Analysis: Well, that really wasn’t what I thought the stipulation meant. Another solid win for Moss. The match was nothing special, but it wasn’t their worst outing. I assume this is finally over now. No idea where they go with either guy from here, though. I liked the interaction with Corbin and McAfee. It’s cool that Corbin finally acknowledged what McAfee has said about him for months. It makes sense. I wonder if this will lead to some sort of character change for Corbin now? Also, if Moss is done with the jokes, why did he bring back the fake laugh for after this match? Is he back to being the same guy as before, just without the suspenders now?)
-They showed a graphic for the New Day against Jinder Mahal and Shanky. Cole hyped the match for after the break. [c]
-They showed a classic Smackdown moment. It was Edge and Hulk Hogan’s Tag Team Championship victory from July 4, 2002.
-Cole and McAfee hyped the main event again as a graphic was shown. Afterwards, they cut to a recap of Ronda Rousey’s win over Shotzi last week, and the subsequent attack by Natalya. After the video, Megan Morant welcomed Natalya in the back. She said we all saw Rousey in pain last week. She said that Rousey was in pain and the Sharpshooter is the most devastating submission in WWE history. Natalya said Rousey isn’t there tonight. She said that Rousey has had some success with the armbar, but the Sharpshooter is legendary. Natalya said that Rousey brags that she’s never quit, but she will be the first to make Rousey tap out. Natalya said she will be a two time Smackdown Women’s Champion.
-Back in the arena, Mahal and Shanky’s music played and they made their entrance. Shanky danced behind Mahal’s back on their way down the ramp. They again showed a graphic for the match. Cole hyped it again as they cut to break. [c]
(2) THE NEW DAY (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) vs. JINDER MAHAL & SHANKY
Mahal started against Woods. Woods got a headlock, but Mahal sent him off the ropes and delivered a powerslam. Mahal then took Woods to the corner and stomped at him. Woods recovered and hit a springboard off the second rope and dropped Mahal with a dropkick. Kingston tagged in. New Day took down Mahal with a double team. Mahal retreated and tagged in Shanky. Kingston dropkicked Shanky. Shanky then hit Kingston with a big chop. Then a big clothesline that turned Kingston inside out. Shanky took Kingston to the corner and slammed him out of it. Shanky taunted in the ring. Woods then played the trombone. Shanky started dancing to the trombone music. Mahal looked upset on the apron, then tagged himself in. He ordered Shanky out of the ring. Kingston hit Mahal with Trouble in Paradise and got the win.
WINNER: The New Day in 4:00
-Woods played the trombone again and Shanky danced again. Mahal looked up at him upset. Cole said the Tag Team Division has been heating up. He said the Viking Raiders will return next week. They then showed a video package for the Viking Raiders.
-Drew McIntyre’s music played and he made his entrance, sword in hand. Cole said that tonight, Adam Pearce will decide who will advance to Money in the Bank after the controversial finish between McIntyre and Sheamus last week. McIntyre posed as his pyro went off. They showed a graphic for “McIntyre or Sheamus”. Cole hyped Pearce’s decision for after the break. [c]
-They showed shots of Minnesota and talked up the sports teams in the area.
-Pearce was in the ring with McIntyre as the Smackdown theme played in the background. Sheamus was shown in the back with Butch and Ridge Holland. Butch tried to run to the ring. Sheamus told Holland to watch Butch. Holland held Butch back as he tried to get away. Sheamus walked through the curtain and made his entrance in the arena. Pearce took the mic. He said that both McIntyre and Sheamus failed to qualify, but they both demanded inclusion. Pearce then mentioned what’s in the briefcases and that the winner has an eighty-five percent success rate. McIntyre cut him off. He said if he doesn’t get in, there’s a “100% chance he’s going to whip someone’s ass tonight.” Sheamus then said he’s won Money in the Bank and cashed in successfully, whereas McIntyre has been cashed in on. Pearce then said that Seth Rollins qualified on Raw, then he threw to a video recap of McIntyre and Sheamus’ match from last week. Pearce said he reviewed the footage and consulted with WWE Management. He said they’ve made a decision. Pearce then said Sheamus is in, and it’s official. Sheamus celebrated and taunted McIntyre. Sheamus said he’s going to Money in the Bank and McIntyre’s going to be sitting on his ass. McIntyre attacked Sheamus and knocked him to the floor at ringside. Pearce tried to separate them. Pearce then said that McIntyre is also in the Money in the Bank match. Sheamus got back in the ring and McIntyre took him out with a Claymore.
(McDonald’s Analysis: That was anti-climactic and predictable. What was the point of them having a match last week, then? Don’t get me wrong, I want to see both guys in the match and it makes sense from that standpoint, but why not just have both of them beat someone else to get in, if this is where we’re going anyway? With all of that said, I really like the Money in the Bank field so far. The rest of the field is kind of hard to call, but they’re off to a good start with Rollins, Sheamus, and McIntyre. Unfortunately, Sheamus has no shot, but he’s a good worker and will have some cool spots in the actual match.)
-Sami Zayn was outside Roman Reigns’ locker room. Kayla Braxton approached. She said it was Zayn’s fault that Riddle has a title shot tonight. She asked if Zayn has spoken to anyone in the Bloodline. Zayn said no, not yet. Kayla asked if there were any problems. Zayn said that he’s an honorary Uce, and he’s the only one. He said that everything is all good and fine. Zayn then told Kayla he had to go to the bathroom and walked off.
(McDonald’s Analysis: Sami is a treasure. He’s been the most consistently good performer on this show for a long time now. This segment was no exception. I love that he’s almost trying to convince himself instead of Kayla. I love the slow burn of this storyline and I can’t wait to see where we end up. After this, I wonder if he will get involved in the title match tonight to make up for his transgression.)
-Raquel Rodriguez made her entrance. They showed a pretaped interview. She said she almost beat Rousey in only her second match. Rodriguez said that winning Money in the Bank will get her to the promised land. Cole hyped a Money in the Bank qualifier between Rodriguez and Shayna Baszler for after the break. [c]
-Lacey Evans was on commentary. Shayna Baszler made her entrance. They showed a pretaped interview with her. She said she’ll make Rodriguez feel physical pain when she beats her, and emotional pain when she wins Money in the Bank.
(3) RAQUEL RODRIGUEZ vs. SHAYNA BASZLER – Money in the Bank Qualifying Match
Rodriguez powered out of a submission attempt by Baszler. Rodriguez whipped Baszler hard into the corner. McAfee called Evans an inspiration. Cole thanked Evans for sharing her story. They talked about how Evans can inspire a lot of people by cashing in and becoming Women’s champion. Baszler delivered a big kick to Rodriguez. Shotzi and Aliyah were watching the match together in the back. Cole said they will wrestle next week in another qualifying match. Rodriguez got a near fall in the ring. Rodriguez went for a slam on Baszler, but Baszler slipped out and chopped Rodriguez’s knee. Baszler then hit a running knee and got a near fall. Baszler went for a Coquina Clutch, but Rodriguez backed her into the corner. Rodriguez then hit her Tahana Bomb and covered Baszler for the win.
WINNER: Raquel Rodriguez in 3:00 to qualify for the Money in the Bank Ladder Match
(McDonald’s Analysis: Yawn. This was more about Evans on commentary than the action in the ring. That’s a shame. Both of the women in this match deserve better than that and deserve better than a three minute qualifying match. I wish they would stop with the short qualifying matches with the women. It doesn’t help anybody.)
-Riddle was shown warming up in the back. Shinsuke Nakamura walked up to him and wished him luck. Cole hyped the main event as being up next. [c]
-Max Dupri was introduced in the arena. He was then shown in the back with Pearce instead. He said he won’t send his men down to the ring in this condition. Dupri complained about the lighting. He said that Pearce won’t see their hard bodies until he fixes this. Dupri said that Pearce is depriving the audience of seeing his men.
-Cole threw to a video recap of Gunther’s win over Ricochet last week. Kayla then welcomed Gunther in the back. Ludwig Kaiser cut her off. He said that the Intercontinental Championship belongs with Gunther. He ran down the history of the title and said it’s been held by great international Superstars. He said Ricochet was a poor champion and the embodiment of America, a lot of flash with little substance. He said the title won’t be held by another American again. He said Gunther is going to restore prestige to the title. Gunther then said that he is the Intercontinental Champion.
(McDonald’s Analysis: I hope this doesn’t become a recurring theme with the Dupri character. I was honestly slightly disappointed that they didn’t show his proteges. On to Gunther, that was a perfect way to remind everyone of his victory last week without overdoing it. I loved the promo by Kaiser. The comment about Ricochet being all flash and no substance may hit a little too close to home though. I actually bought it when Kaiser said that Gunther is going to restore prestige to the IC title. We can only hope.)
-Riddle’s music hit and he made his entrance. The crowd chanted “bro, bro” loudly as he walked down the ramp. Roman Reigns’ music played. McAfee said welcome to the Island of Relevancy. Reigns emerged with Paul Heyman and the Usos in tow. The Bloodline posed with the titles as pyro went off at the top of the stage. Cole touted the length of Reigns’ title reign. Cole said that it’s the first time Reigns has defended the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship since winning it at Wrestlemania. Cole talked about Reigns’ post on Twitter earlier today. Reigns posed again with the titles in the ring as more pyro exploded. Riddle looked on from the corner. Cole hyped the match one last time. [c]
-Cole and McAfee hyped matches for next week’s Smackdown. Nakamura against Zayn in a Money in the Bank qualifier, Shotzi against Aliyah in a Money in the Bank qualifier, and Ricochet challenging Gunther to an IC title rematch.
-Championship introductions took place in the ring.
(5) ROMAN REIGNS (c) (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. RIDDLE – Undisputed WWE Universal Championship Match
Riddle attacked Reigns immediately. Reigns retreated to the corner and covered up. Riddle fired away, but backed off for a second. As he came back in Reigns hit him with a big right hand. Reigns then pummeled Riddle in the corner himself. Riddle recovered and hit a fisherman’s suplex on Reigns. Reigns rolled to the outside. Riddle went to the apron and hit Reigns with a running kick from the apron. Riddle then hit a corkscrew moonsault and took out Reigns on the outside. Cole asked if Riddle could beat Reigns as they cut to break. [c]
Riddle punched at Reigns, but Reigns recovered and took Riddle down with a big punch. Reigns mounted Riddle and rained down elbows on the head of Riddle. Reigns choked Riddle with the bottom rope. Reigns dropped to the outside and delivered a drive by to Riddle. Reigns rolled back in the ring and covered Riddle for a near fall. Reigns locked in a chinlock. Riddle fought to his feet. Riddle punched at Reigns, but Reigns punched back. Riddle ducked a shot from Reigns, dropped to his back and delivered a kick. Riddle kipped up and hit Reigns with running forearms in the corner followed by a suplex. Riddle went for a senton, but Reigns got his knees up. Reigns came after Riddle in the corner but Riddle caught him with an elbow. Riddle then hit a Floating Bro and covered Reigns for a near fall. Reigns caught Riddle coming in as both men got to their feet. Reigns hit a standing Rock Bottom for a near fall of his own. The action spilled to the outside. Reigns hit a back suplex on Riddle on the announce table. Reigns then looked into the camera and asked Randy Orton where he was at. Reigns said that Orton doesn’t want any. [c]
Reigns posed to the crowd as Riddle laid in the ring in pain. They showed a big clothesline from Reigns during the break. Reigns went for a Superman Punch but Riddle countered with a knee to the face followed by a powerslam. Reigns dropped to the apron, but Riddle set him up for a Draping DDT. Reigns got away but Riddle hit him with a kick. Riddle followed Reigns outside and hit him with a back suplex on the announce table. Reigns recovered and tossed Riddle into the post. The crowd chanted “Randy, Randy”. Reigns tossed Riddle back into the ring. As Reigns tried to enter the ring Riddle caught him with a Draping DDT. Riddle measured Reigns. Riddle went for an RKO but Reigns shoved him off. Reigns then hit a Superman Punch for a near fall. Reigns taunted the crowd. They booed. Reigns measured Riddle and went for a spear but Riddle caught him with an RKO. Riddle covered Reigns and got a very close near fall. Riddle climbed to the top rope and hit a Floating Bro. Riddle got back up and measured Reigns. He went for another RKO but Reigns shoved him off. Riddle tried to springboard off the middle rope but Reigns caught him with a big Spear and covered Riddle for the win.
WINNER: Roman Reigns in 17:00 to retain the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship
-The Bloodline entered the ring and celebrated with Reigns. Riddle looked upset as he sat at ringside. They showed a replay of the finish. The Usos clapped for Reigns. Heyman handed Reigns the mic. The crowd booed. Reigns said there was no one left. He screamed at Heyman that there’s no one left. Reigns said that he told them two years ago he’s going to wreck everyone, then he’s leaving. He said tonight, he wrecked Riddle, and now he’s leaving. He said before he leaves, there’s one thing left to do. Reigns asked Minneapolis to acknowledge him. Reigns posed in the ring as the crowd booed. Brock Lesnar’s music hit and he appeared at the top of the stage. Reigns looked horrified. Lesnar laughed on the ramp. He started to walk towards the ring. The Usos exited the ring with Heyman. Lesnar entered the ring as Reigns stood alone. He walked up to Reigns and they stood face to face. Lesnar smiled and removed his hat. He then extended his hand to Reigns. Reigns contemplated it, then went to shake Lesnar’s hand. Lesnar grabbed Reigns and delivered an F-5. The Usos hit the ring and Lesnar delivered an F-5 to each of them. The Bloodline retreated up the stage as Lesnar posed in the ring.
(McDonald’s Analysis: In case of fire, break the glass. That’s what just happened with Brock there. No way they had that planned for a long period of time. This is clearly the response to the injuries suffered by Cody Rhodes and Randy Orton. I would assume WWE doesn’t believe in Bobby Lashley or someone similar as an opponent for Reigns at Summerslam so bringing back Brock was their only viable option, in their eyes. It’s a shame they did this here because it really took away from how hard Riddle fought and how great he looked in this match. As I stated earlier, he’s the hottest healthy act this company has right now, but it’s not the right time to give him the title. Riddle looked great here. This was a great TV main event and showed that Riddle belonged in the upper echelon with the big boys. If anyone was questioning or doubting that, they need to stop now. He’s proven he can hang. I really wish WWE would have focused more on that in the short aftermath. There’s nothing wrong with Riddle just getting caught and losing to a guy who hasn’t lost in over two years in a kayfabe sense. I really hope they emphasize that in the coming weeks. Riddle can’t challenge Reigns again, per the stipulations, but that’s no reason to put him on the back burner. There’s plenty of viable things he can do between now and then. At this point, I would say he’s a great Money in the Bank idea, even if it takes a while for him to cash it in.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: This episode had solid moments, but other than the main event, was a nothing show. They advertised a Vince McMahon appearance. And that’s all it was. An appearance. No explanation, no speech, nothing. Just some company jargon that’s probably got a hidden message in it somewhere that we’re all going to speculate about for days on end now. They advertised Max Dupri’s new protege. We didn’t get that at all. Just a lame excuse from Dupri, which works with the character, but is still a bait and switch. They advertised a “Last Laugh” match and never told us what that was. When they did tell us, they barely delivered on that. With all of that said, they also advertised a title match. We got that and it was excellent. Reigns and Riddle delivered a quality main event and they got the time to do so. I wish they could work out a “commercial free” period for matches like this, but I understand why that can’t happen. Besides that, there’s nothing to complain about with this main event. Both guys did a good job and the finish was solid. Brock’s appearance was a shock to pretty much everybody, which is a good thing. The only negative from it is yet another rematch between the two. It felt like Mania was a definitive final chapter, but it seems we’re getting a bonus chapter here due to all the injuries. I wish WWE would continue the track of new opponents for Reigns when faced with adversity that alters their plans. I can’t say I don’t understand, or blame them, for turning to Lesnar with the hand they’ve been dealt. Let’s see where it goes.