WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from July 8

Erik BeastonJuly 8, 2022

WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from July 8

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    Jason Mendez/WireImage

    The Tribal Chief returned to SmackDown on Fox. Undisputed WWE Universal champion Roman Reigns made his first appearance since defeating Riddle to retain his title a month earlier.

    On the same night that Drew McIntyre and Sheamus battled for the right to challenge for the top prize in all of WWE at Clash at the Castle on September 3, what did The Head of the Table have in store for the brand he has championed since August 2020?

    Find out now with this recap of a show that also featured Liv Morgan's first appearance as new SmackDown Women's champion.

Match Card

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    • Roman Reigns' SmackDown Return
    • Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus for a shot at the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship at Clash at the Castle
    • Maximum Male Models unveil their 2022 Tennis Collection
    • Appearance from SmackDown Women's champion Liv Morgan

The Bloodline Kicked Off SmackDown

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    Undisputed WWE Universal champion Roman Reigns returned to SmackDown Friday night, the recipient of a massive ovation from fans as he was flanked by Undisputed WWE Tag Team champions The Usos, but it was his special counsel Paul Heyman who stole the show.

    Heyman went on a red-faced rant about the danger Brock Lesnar poses on July 30 at SummerSlam when he challenges The Tribal Chief in a Last Man Standing match, recalling all of The Beast's accomplishments along the way.

    WWE @WWE

    .<a href="https://twitter.com/WWERomanReigns?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WWERomanReigns</a> is here!<a href="https://twitter.com/HeymanHustle?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@HeymanHustle</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/WWEUsos?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WWEUsos</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SmackDown?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SmackDown</a> <a href="https://t.co/sAcYnII5pg">pic.twitter.com/sAcYnII5pg</a>

    He admitted his fear was not over the damage Lesnar can do in the match, but the fact that Reigns will have to "go savage" to keep the challenger down for a 10 count.

    Theory, who made his presence felt earlier, once again arrived and teased the idea that he will cash in Money in the Bank on Reigns at any given moment. He did not, at this time, though.

    It is always nice to see Reigns back, and the charismatic, feel-good approach to his promo was the perfect antithesis of Heyman's approach. He appeared unfazed by the idea of Lesnar beating him and even joked that he was not going through the whole "where do Heyman's allegiances lie" thing again.

    WWE @WWE

    You okay <a href="https://twitter.com/HeymanHustle?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@HeymanHustle</a>? <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SmackDown?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SmackDown</a> <a href="https://t.co/mKfTzY4Qzz">pic.twitter.com/mKfTzY4Qzz</a>

    It was a great dichotomy before Heyman ended his anxiety-filled promo by warning Reigns that he will have to go to levels he has not in a long time to retain his title. Great stuff from two virtuoso performers who bring a certain gravity to the show that others simply do not.


    Grade

    A+


    Top Moments

    • In a hell of a tease heading into the night's first break, Theory appeared at the entranceway, staring down Reigns as he basked in the roar of the WWE Universe.
    • "We been through this before. I know we ain't going back there," Reigns said to Heyman, referencing the special counsel's wavering between him and Lesnar from earlier this year.
    • "Brock Lesnar has one last chance," Heyman said, attempting to hammer home the idea that SummerSlam is the last time he will battle Reigns. It is an idea no one actually believes. 

The New and Vicious Viking Raiders vs. Shanky and Jinder Mahal

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    The New and Vicious Viking Raiders—trademarked by Michael Cole, probably—made their first in-ring appearance since returning two weeks ago as they battled Shanky and Jinder Mahal.

    It went about as well as one would expect, with the dancing big man leaving his partner high and dry as Erik and Ivar rolled to a squash match victory.

    WWE @WWE

    There may be no choice but to Join the Raid. 😳<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SmackDown?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SmackDown</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/Erik_WWE?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Erik_WWE</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/Ivar_WWE?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Ivar_WWE</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/TrueKofi?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TrueKofi</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/AustinCreedWins?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AustinCreedWins</a> <a href="https://t.co/8IlTimLyNO">pic.twitter.com/8IlTimLyNO</a>

    After the match, New Day entered the arena, and Xavier Woods offered up ass-kicking tickets for the dominant heels. They, too, suffered as the Raiders left him and Kofi Kingston lying in a heap to conclude the segment.

    At least the writers are trying with the Raiders. That is not the case with talent elsewhere on the roster.


    Result

    The Viking Raiders defeated Mahal and Shanky


    Grade

    C


    Top Moments

    • The ass-kicking tickets were funny, I guess.
    • A video package recapping Happy Corbin's post-Money in the Bank beatdown of Pat McAfee gave way to the former King of the RIng joining Corey Graves and Michael Cole at ringside.  

Gunther's Open Challenge Leads to Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Ludwig Kaiser

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    Intercontinental champion Gunther teased an open challenge for his title before revealing that any prospective challenger must first earn such an opportunity. This brought out Shinsuke Nakamura, who accepted, and a match with the Austrian's right-hand man, Ludwig Kaiser, was underway.

    Nakamura defeated Kaiser with Kinshasa, setting up a dream match of sorts between two of the greatest NXT stars in that brand's history.

    The bigger takeaway, though, was not The Artist's victory but, rather, the post-match confrontation with Kaiser. The brutal trio of chops he unleashed on his spokesman seemingly planted the seeds of two different elements of their relationship. First, Gunther does not accept failure.

    WWE @WWE

    Do not disappoint <a href="https://twitter.com/Gunther_AUT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Gunther_AUT</a>.<a href="https://twitter.com/wwe_kaiser?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@wwe_kaiser</a> will NEVER forget those chops.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SmackDown?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SmackDown</a> <a href="https://t.co/ajnNI8qrxv">pic.twitter.com/ajnNI8qrxv</a>

    Second, it is only a matter of time before Kaiser eventually stands up for himself.

    Hopefully, WWE is playing the long game there, because that is a story fans can absolutely get behind. It is one that could elevate Kaiser to stardom and set up an eventual showdown between the champion and his closest confidant.

    It is just as likely that WWE Creative uses this newly introduced element to put over the ruthlessness of Gunther and that, too, could work. It just seems like, eventually, Kaiser will become a sympathetic figure and potentially set up the most unexpectedly hot program on the brand.

    Oh, and Nakamura vs. Gunther is going to be all kinds of awesome when it finally happens.


    Result

    Nakamura defeated Kaiser


    Grade

    C+


    Top Moments

    • Corbin popping, then rocking out on the air guitar while mocking Pat McAfee's love for Nakamura, was great television and popped this writer.
    • Cole attempted to knock Corbin's NFL career during his stint with the Indianapolis Colts, only to be shut down by Happy, who reminded him of his offensive line career with the Arizona Cardinals.
    • Gunther berated Kaiser after the match, then chopped him repeatedly as punishment for his defeat. 

Ronda Rousey, Natalya Interrupt Liv Morgan; Money in the Bank Rematch

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    New SmackDown Women's champion Liv Morgan addressed the WWE Universe in an in-ring promo hosted by Michael Cole that was interrupted by Natalya, who took exception to the babyface's success.

    WWE @WWE

    "I promise you, no one wants this championship more than me." - <a href="https://twitter.com/YaOnlyLivvOnce?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@YaOnlyLivvOnce</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SmackDown?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SmackDown</a> <a href="https://t.co/xEjTpxQGw6">pic.twitter.com/xEjTpxQGw6</a>

    Former champion Ronda Rousey joined the fray and issued a challenge to The Queen of Harts for a rematch tonight.

    After a brief commercial break, Rousey wasted little time putting Natalya away, trapping her in an ankle lock and forcing a tapout.

    The Morgan promo was another feel-good moment for the young star this week, even if it is obvious that she needs more reps on the mic before she can be relied upon to carry talky segments.

    The "match" between Rousey and Natalya was hardly one; little more than an excuse to get them on TV and Rousey a win back after her defeat Sunday on Peacock. Her dominance here was a message loud and clear to Morgan, despite still carrying herself as a babyface.

    Rousey vs. Morgan will take place at SummerSlam, and as surreal as that match would have been two weeks ago, it is evidence of WWE's trust in the latter in that spot.

    WWE @WWE

    "At <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SummerSlam?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SummerSlam</a>, you're going to learn that challenging for the title, is a whole lot easier than defending it." <a href="https://twitter.com/RondaRousey?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RondaRousey</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/YaOnlyLivvOnce?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@YaOnlyLivvOnce</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SmackDown?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SmackDown</a> <a href="https://t.co/cqaW3PCsYH">pic.twitter.com/cqaW3PCsYH</a>

    It will be up to her to back that trust up with one of the best performances of her career.


    Result

    Rousey defeated Natalya


    Grade

    C+


    Top Moments

    • The crowd's chants of "you deserve it" had Morgan noticeably emotional.
    • Cole will not get the credit he deserves for guiding the still relatively inexperienced Morgan on the mic. He was a total pro, keeping her on task and making sure things went according to plan while she continues to find her footing and build confidence consistently as a talker. 
    • Rousey said, "You want me to beat the credit out of Natalya...or some other 'cr' word," as her promos get somehow worse with every passing week.

Maximum Male Models' 2022 Tennis Collection

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    Sigh.

    Max Dupri returned Friday night to introduce the world to his Maximum Male Models' 2022 Tennis Collection. Mace and Mansoor modeled the athletic wear while Dupri narrated in what someone backstage probably thought was the most hysterically hilarious segment in the history of professional wrestling.

    WWE @WWE

    Another round of applause for ma.çé and mån.sôör!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SmackDown?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SmackDown</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/MaxDupri?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MaxDupri</a> <a href="https://t.co/gF9fTDfcly">pic.twitter.com/gF9fTDfcly</a>

    For everyone else, the segment landed with a thud.

    It was neither as humorous as last week, nor as warmly received, as the fans in Fort Worth, Texas, reacted with chants of, "boring." Those chants were ultimately dubbed over with canned boos as Dupri announced open applications to be the latest Maximum Male Model.


    Grade

    D


    Top Moments

    • Um, Graves called Cole out for an untimely tennis reference. That was...something.

Lacey Evans Demands Respect

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    Lacey Evans finally unleashed weeks of frustration, launching into a disgusted, angry promo on the fans in Fort Worth. She took exception to the boos that accompanied her entrance and told the fans to go to hell.

    The scheduled match, in which she was slated to team with Aliyah, never occurred as the Marine veteran flattened the babyface with the Women's Right.

    WWE @WWE

    .<a href="https://twitter.com/LaceyEvansWWE?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@LaceyEvansWWE</a> demands the respect that she deserves! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SmackDown?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SmackDown</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/WWE_Aliyah?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WWE_Aliyah</a> <a href="https://t.co/3ZvSfeiV9k">pic.twitter.com/3ZvSfeiV9k</a>

    Evans came across so much more naturally as a heel than she did as a babyface. Taking exception to the idea that the fans did not appreciate the struggles she endured or the journey to the top that she has taken, she denounced and insulted them, and generated some quality heat while doing so.

    Is this a character that has long-term potential? Probably not, but within it, she may well find the edge that she has been missing over the course of her career. It may not happen quite as everyone involved expected, but this could have been the start of the most fruitful part of Evans' career.


    Grade

    C+


    Top Moments

    • Evans entered the arena three times in a row, unsatisfied by the reaction, the jeers growing louder with each try at cheers.

The Usos vs. Los Lotharios

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    The Usos vs. The Street Profits, this was not.

    Jimmy and Jey Uso squashed Los Lotharios in a brief, action-packed match that started during the commercial break, indicating just how seriously WWE Creative wanted you to take Angel and Humberto.

    After the match, Kayla Braxton stirred the pot, claiming some say The Usos got away with one at Money in the Bank by winning the match against the aforementioned Profits despite Montez Ford's shoulder being up during the pinfall. She also claimed the match will have a special guest referee.

    WWE @WWE

    When you get told you might have Special Guest Referee for you match at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SummerSlam?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SummerSlam</a>..<a href="https://twitter.com/WWEUsos?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WWEUsos</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SmackDown?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SmackDown</a> <a href="https://t.co/JPosLiAQDm">pic.twitter.com/JPosLiAQDm</a>

    Unfazed, The Usos spouted their "we the ones" catchphrase, and Drew McIntyre entered the arena for the main event.

    This really did not need to happen. This easily could have been saved for a backstage interview spot that accomplished everything this did, without risking whatever credibility Los Lotharios had left in the process.

    We get it: The Usos are the best tag team in WWE. They have a match with The Street Profits upcoming at SummerSlam. Throw in the referee tidbit in a pre-taped promo and you have literally the same thing that we got here, without Angel and Humberto needlessly jobbing out in two minutes.


    Result

    The Usos defeated Los Lotharios


    Grade

    C-


    Top Moments

    • Braxton as the (insert poop emoji) stirrer in relation to The Bloodline is one of those low-key great characters. She always seems to have bad news or speculation regarding Roman Reigns and The Usos, and she startles the hell out of Paul Heyman at just the right moment. It's a great, consistent bit and one that has allowed the excellent on-screen personality to gain some spotlight. 

Drew McIntyre vs. Definitely Not Sheamus

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    Despite advertising Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre to determine who will challenge for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship at Clash at the Castle in Cardiff, Wales, on September 3, SmackDown pulled the old bait-and-switch, booking a ridiculous angle at the end of the show to prevent producing said bout.

    Sheamus, fighting a "tickle" in the throat, claimed to possibly have COVID-19 and stated the need to be tested. As a result, Butch would be replacing him.

    WWE @WWE

    Is <a href="https://twitter.com/WWESheamus?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WWESheamus</a> okay?! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SmackDown?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SmackDown</a> <a href="https://t.co/tLLzvym1WS">pic.twitter.com/tLLzvym1WS</a>

    McIntyre squashed the artist formerly known as Pete Dunne, finishing him off with the Claymore before using his sword, Angela, to cut the top rope in a spot that would have meant more if it had not been done as recently as WrestleMania 38.

    First, in what realm are we supposed to believe Sheamus could go through the entire day potentially having COVID-19 and be allowed to go to the ring before coughing all over the microphone and those around him?

    Assuming they expect fans to know it is a facade and that this was the first time the cowardly heel had any symptoms and was merely trying to get out of the match, it is still as ridiculous and unsatisfying a way possible to get out of a match that had been advertised all day.

    Book an injury angle. Have Sheamus working out backstage only to pull his back or strain a quad. Something that hits harder than, and does not make light of, a worldwide pandemic.

    As for McIntyre chopping the rope in half, it has been done before, and even then, it was not all that impressive. What was, though, was the pyro that exploded from the ring post as McIntyre has apparently adopted the supernatural powers of everyone's favorite demon, Kane.

    WWE @WWE

    🔥⚔️🔥<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SmackDown?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SmackDown</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/DMcIntyreWWE?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DMcIntyreWWE</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/WWESheamus?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WWESheamus</a> <a href="https://t.co/AfhHivAeD2">pic.twitter.com/AfhHivAeD2</a>

    None of this was good and single-handedly managed to cool off what could, and should, have been a great main event to close out a show that underwhelmed significantly the moment Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman exited the ring.


    Result

    McIntyre defeated Butch


    Grade

    D


    Top Moments

    • Sheamus returning to Ridge Holland as "Ridge the Fridge" is just ridiculous enough to accidentally get over with the audience.
    • McIntyre summoning pyro like he's Kane or The Undertaker circa 1998 is certainly something. Had he developed those abilities two years earlier, he might still be WWE champion. 
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