WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from July 22
Just eight days before the biggest party of the summer, WWE SmackDown hit the Fox airwaves off the back of the shocking retirement of Vince McMahon as CEO and head of creative, which was announced mere hours before SmackDown.
As well as reacting to that news, the episode was also dedicated to the continued hyping of July 30's SummerSlam, headlined by a face-to-face confrontation between blue brand women's champion Liv Morgan and former titleholder Ronda Rousey.
What went down Friday when the underdog champion shared the same ring with The Baddest Woman on the Planet, and how does it affect the build to their hotly anticipated title clash in Nashville?
Find out now with this recap of Friday's explosive broadcast.
- Face-to-face: Liv Morgan and Ronda Rousey ahead of their SummerSlam title clash
- Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Ludwig Kaiser
- The debut of Maxxine Dupri and Maximum Male Models beachwear line
Stephanie McMahon Kicked Off SmackDown; Street Profits Promo
Stephanie McMahon kicked off the night's show by referencing her father's retirement earlier in the day, discussing his contributions to the industry and leading the fans in a chant of "Thank you, Vince."
.<a href="https://twitter.com/StephMcMahon?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@StephMcMahon</a> addresses the WWE Universe to kick off Friday Night <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SmackDown?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SmackDown</a>! <a href="https://t.co/7PgqTuqSi8">pic.twitter.com/7PgqTuqSi8</a>
The brief appearance by the new chairwoman of WWE ended with The Street Profits making their entrance. A quick promo from Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins gave way to interruptions from Theory and the Undisputed WWE tag team champions The Usos before Madcap Moss made the save and set up the inevitable six-man tag team match.
An in-ring promo to set up a match later in the show? Some things never change.
At least the resulting match should be damn fun and continue highlighting the tag title feud between the Profits and Usos while subsequently showcasing the underrated Moss.
Oh, and something, something Theory.
In all seriousness, kudos to Stephanie and those in power for keeping things short at the top of the show before conceding the floor to the performers.
- The reaction for the former Chairman of the Board was somewhat different than expected but in tune with what he received the last time he appeared on television.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Ludwig Kaiser
Two weeks after a defeat that earned him a punishing barrage of chops from intercontinental champion Gunther, Ludwig Kaiser sought to avoid that same treatment as he battled Shinsuke Nakamura in a rematch.
A longer, more competitive match saw Kaiser control a large portion of it before The Artist sparked a late-match comeback. His momentum was cut off by Gunther, who physically interfered while Kaiser had the official distracted, then watched as his sidekick earned the tainted victory.
Afterward, Gunther goaded Kaiser into another chop to the chest, clearly dissatisfied with having to get involved to ensure the victory.
.<a href="https://twitter.com/wwe_kaiser?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@wwe_kaiser</a> still has some work to do.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SmackDown?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SmackDown</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/Gunther_AUT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Gunther_AUT</a> <a href="https://t.co/aDHW2tnam5">pic.twitter.com/aDHW2tnam5</a>
This was a better match than their previous encounter, but the post-match events continued to point to an eventual blow-up between Gunther and Kaiser. Gunther is relentless in his pursuit of perfection and even the slightest hiccup will result in discipline. At some point, though, Kaiser will defy him and stand up for himself.
When that happens, the former NXT tag team champion will be the most unlikely breakout star in recent memory.
Kaiser pinned Nakamura
- Gunther suckered Kaiser into thinking he had escaped punishment, only to chop the ever-living heck out of him on the stage.
Liv Morgan and Ronda Rousey Face-to-Face; Happy Corbin Attacked Pat McAfee
Ronda Rousey quickly dismissed Kayla Braxton and came face-to-face with SmackDown women's champion Liv Morgan, as advertised, and said she will not only beat her for the title in Nashville, but she also expects Morgan to shake her hand afterward.
Just like Rousey did at Money in the Bank.
Morgan answered by claiming to have more passion and determination than anyone in the locker room, to which Rousey applauded her. "That's why everyone loves you, Liv. You have more passion than anyone in the locker room. Except me."
It's clear that there's a mutual respect between <a href="https://twitter.com/YaOnlyLivvOnce?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@YaOnlyLivvOnce</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/RondaRousey?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RondaRousey</a>, but the question heading into <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SummerSlam?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SummerSlam</a> is: who wants to be the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SmackDown?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SmackDown</a> Women's Champion more? <a href="https://t.co/mYCV4rKHOv">pic.twitter.com/mYCV4rKHOv</a>
Back in the arena, Happy Corbin attacked Pat McAfee at the announce table, igniting a brawl that continued backstage.
This is chaos! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SmackDown?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SmackDown</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/PatMcAfeeShow?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@PatMcAfeeShow</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/BaronCorbinWWE?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BaronCorbinWWE</a> <a href="https://t.co/GAAGS2gfJX">pic.twitter.com/GAAGS2gfJX</a>
After a commercial break, McAfee cut a promo in which he detailed his plans to whup his former Indianapolis Colts teammate.
The promos from Rousey and Morgan were solid, perhaps the best of the former's run thus far. Each woman cited passion as their driving motivation, and that should make for, if nothing else, an interesting championship clash between babyfaces.
McAfee's promo was that of a fired-up, angry babyface tired of the garbage assaults by the cowardly Corbin. Their match in Nashville at SummerSlam may well steal the show through little more than personality and McAfee's intensity.
- "I'm going to beat you because I love this more than you," Morgan explained to Rousey.
- McAfee ending his promo with "bitch" might seem cheap, but in this instance, it added emphasis, popped the crowd and let the world know that the fun-loving color commentator was over the Corbin nonsense. Joke about WWE's reliance on it to show edge from time to time, but in the hands of a talented talker, it served its purpose here.
The (New and Vicious) Viking Raiders in Action; Shillelaghs and Shenanigans
The new and vicious Viking Raiders battled Jinder Mahal and Shanky while New Day's Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods sat in on commentary.
The match never really got started as Erik and Ivar dominated, tossing Mahal into Kingston and Woods at ringside and winning via countout. They retreated rather than fighting New Day, despite having dominated that team every time they have encountered them in recent weeks.
Launched into the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NewDay?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NewDay</a>!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SmackDown?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SmackDown</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/JinderMahal?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JinderMahal</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/Ivar_WWE?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Ivar_WWE</a> <a href="https://t.co/wzpWUr7GPh">pic.twitter.com/wzpWUr7GPh</a>
This was not good, nor was it productive. It was also too short to matter.
After the break, The Brawling Brutes and Drew McIntyre met in the ring for a promo segment in which The Scottish Warrior denounced undisputed WWE universal champion Roman Reigns before adding "the other option isn't much better."
Verbal back-and-forth gave way to the announcement of a "good, old-fashioned Donnybrook" between the two on next week's show, with the winner to challenge for the top prize in the sport at Clash at the Castle in Cardiff, Wales, on September 2.
It's official! Next week <a href="https://twitter.com/WWESheamus?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WWESheamus</a> will take on <a href="https://twitter.com/DMcIntyreWWE?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DMcIntyreWWE</a> in the first ever: Shillelagh Match! <br><br>Winner gets a shot at the Undisputed WWE Universal Title at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WWECastle?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WWECastle</a> <a href="https://t.co/0uXQs379xb">pic.twitter.com/0uXQs379xb</a>
McIntyre and Sheamus are going to have a hell of a match, but it cannot come soon enough. This feud has been dragged out entirely too long, and the result has been diminishing returns.
The introduction of shillelaghs is unlikely to make things any better. Just let them beat the hell out of each other and the result will be the superb match we have long anticipated between them.
The Viking Raiders defeated Mahal and Shanky, newly and viciously, via countout
D- for the match, C for the promo
- Woods brought up Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro-Wrestling when discussing the Viking Raiders' success over the years.
- McIntyre's knock on Brock Lesnar on the same day he reportedly walked out of the show was interesting, to say the least.
Raquel Rodriguez vs. Sonya Deville; Lacey Evans Definitely Did Not Wrestle Aliyah
The product of another backstage confrontation with Adam Pearce, Sonya Deville battled Raquel Rodriguez in singles action.
Rodriguez fended off a game Deville and put her down for the count with her newly renamed Tejada Bomb.
The match was fine for what it was, featured some great intensity from Deville and continued the side story between The Pride Fighter and Pearce. It would just hit differently if there was any semblance of direction to speak of.
Ditto for Rodriguez, who is wallowing in creative purgatory since making the jump to the main roster.
Speaking of creative purgatory...
Lacey Evans again failed to wrestle Aliyah, cutting another promo about disrespect from fans before laying her fellow NXT alum out with a cheap shot and standing tall.
This was more of the same thing we have seen countless times over the last few week, with no advancement to speak of, nor any real reason for it to exist.
Either Evans and Aliyah are going to wrestle or the latter is going to look real foolish standing around, waiting to be punched every week. (Update: They will compete next week on SmackDown. Maybe.)
Rodriguez defeated Deville
C+ for the match; D for the Evans-Aliyah segment
- Jeff Jarrett joined Kayla and hinted at accepting bribery ahead of the SummerSlam tag team title match between The Usos and The Street Profits.
- In a brief pretaped promo, the artist formerly known as Sofia Cromwell in NXT 2.0 debuted as Maxxine Dupri and cut a promo while flanked by Maximum Male Models' Mace and Mansoor. It was an interesting twist given the company has Jinny from NXT UK right there and her character is literally akin to Dupri.
Six-Man Tag Team Match: Madcap Moss and The Street Profits vs. The Usos and Theory
The Street Profits and Madcap Moss were on the defensive midway through Friday's show, forced to overcome a focused attack by The Bloodline's tag team champions and Mr. Money in the Bank.
Montez Ford turned the tide back in the favor of the babyfaces, but the heels cut off his momentum and sent him crashing into the timekeeper's position heading into the final commercial break of the night.
The heels resumed their control of the match until a hot tag to Moss sparked another comeback. The former jester powered through the competition and scored a quality near-fall on Jimmy Uso.
Jimmy attempted to tag in Theory, who jumped off the apron. Jey rocked Theory with a superkick and appeared poised to walk out on him when Ford wiped out the twins and his own partner, Angelo Dawkins, with a plancha.
Back in the ring, Theory showed considerable power in hoisting Moss up but could not keep him down for the three count. As Moss launched his own offensive, Theory used the briefcase to blast him in the head, drawing a disqualification. He pummeled Moss until Brock Lesnar made his advertised appearance and obliterated him with the F-5.
The Beast blasted Theory repeatedly with the briefcase, then delivered another F-5 to a deafening ovation.
And with that, the mood changed.
Earlier in the day, there was real concern about the future of Lesnar in WWE. By night's end, he was the biggest star on the show, drawing the loudest ovation, and top executives could rest easy after a day of turmoil.
Lesnar's arrival all but ensures that he will battle Roman Reigns in the main event of SummerSlam. Given the hype and the short turnaround time in which to find a replacement, it is probably for the best.
Are we looking at the next Undisputed WWE Universal Champion? <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SmackDown?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SmackDown</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SummerSlam?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SummerSlam</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/BrockLesnar?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BrockLesnar</a> <a href="https://t.co/8jPjgsSeoo">pic.twitter.com/8jPjgsSeoo</a>
While a cloud of uncertainty hangs over WWE right now, one thing is for sure: Lesnar's appearance at the end of this show ended things with the exclamation point it desperately needed.
Moss and The Street Profits defeated Theory and The Usos via disqualification
- The air Ford got on the plancha that wiped out both tag teams was hella impressive and the sort of raw athleticism that has fans excited about his future.
- Theory dropping off the apron, attempting to preserve himself so he can cash in at SummerSlam, suggests he knew The Usos had been tasked by Paul Heyman with beating him down and wanted to beat them to the punch.
- The roar for Lesnar was awe-inspiring.