This week’s WWE Smackdown featured a rare Roman Reigns TV match as he defended the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Riddle while Mr. McMahon made an appearance as well.
It’s been a very busy couple of days in WWE land with the news that WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon is being investigated for an affair with a woman that he hired as a paralegal. Vince is still married to Linda McMahon, but they aren’t together so the issue isn’t about cheating on Linda. The issue is with the money involved. The story goes that Vince gave her a promotion while also paying her “hush money” that was around $3 million after she left the company. In addition to that, WWE Executive and Head of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis was involved as well. Anyway, a friend of the woman involved contacted some people within WWE, so that’s how it became a public story. As I woke up on Friday, WWE issued a statement saying Vince was stepping down as WWE Chairman & CEO on a temporary basis while the investigation continues. Meanwhile, Vince’s daughter Stephanie McMahon-Levesque is the interim Chairwoman & CEO during the process. On Friday morning, WWE also announced Vince would appear on Smackdown, so that is probably going to lead to more interest in this week’s show from Minneapolis. The statement from WWE also noted that Vince was still in charge of the creative process in WWE, so that won’t change. It’s certainly one of the biggest stories in WWE in a very long time because, while it’s only an interim thing with Stephanie in control, it’s still a scandal against Vince leading to a lot of negative press for the company. Some people might view it as no big deal because Vince is still probably going to work out of the office when he’s not at TV shows. I would consider it pretty big although as I said, with Vince in creative control, I doubt there are any noticeable or significant changes on screen. I also think the 76-year-old grandfather Vince McMahon probably needs to make smarter decisions moving forward as it relates to his company.
From the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, this is Smackdown for episode #1191. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.
Let’s Hear from Vince McMahon
Vince McMahon made his entrance in a suit with a loud reaction from the crowd. I think there was some singing of the theme song, some people cheering for sure and maybe some boos in there. He was introduced only as “Mr. McMahon” and not the title of CEO or Chairman.
Vince: “It is a privilege as always to stand before you here tonight, the WWE Universe. Especially a privilege to stand here in this ring in Minnesota. I’m here simply to remind you of the four words we just saw in the, what we call, WWE signature. Those four words are then, now, forever, and the most important word is together.” After a bit of a pause he said: “Welcome to Smackdown!” That was it. He tossed the microphone out of the ring and left.
Analysis: It was brief. If you thought he was going to address allegations, that’s not what happened. I think in Vince’s eyes (and probably his lawyers) the best thing to do is to deal with it privately and not address it publicly, so he kept it private while everybody was hanging on his every word. He kept it about the show and wanting to entertain the fans in Minneapolis. It’s what I expected. I didn’t expect anything monumental from Vince there. My opinion is he shouldn’t have even made an appearance at all, but he likes attention as well as trying to create a buzz even though he likely planned on saying nothing the whole day. He’s always going to be a worker (or some may say a carny). That’s who he is.
The Smackdown “Are You Ready?” opening video aired.
Let’s Hear from Riddle
Riddle made his entrance to a good pop. He spoke briefly about how he was going to beat Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Title later in the show. Riddle called for a video package showing the history between himself and Roman Reigns. That led to a video about Roman and The Usos taking out Randy Orton & Riddle many weeks ago, which has led to Orton being out of action. Riddle beat Sami Zayn last week to set up this title shot against Reigns.
Riddle talked about how he knows he has his family, friends and fans behind him. Riddle mentioned his best friend Randy Orton talking about how he had an operation coming up (I believe it’s a back surgery) and we want him back. Riddle said he didn’t care what kind of shape he was in, Riddle said he loved Randy. Riddle talked about how Randy did so many amazing things for 20 years and even lit The Undertaker on fire. Riddle said for the last 20 years, you sacrificed everything to entertain us. Riddle said “thank you Randy” so the fans chanted that too. Riddle said he’s dedicating this match to his best friend Randy Orton. Riddle said that he’s going to play something we haven’t heard in a long time and we’ll hear it soon when Randy Orton returns…it was Randy’s theme song. The fans popped as Riddle marked out for the song a bit. That ended it.
Analysis: Good job by Riddle showing confidence ahead of his title match while also paying attention to his best friend Randy. The Orton injury is considered serious and it’s a back injury, so we wish Orton the best with that. We have a report up on TJRWrestling noting that Randy could be out for the rest of the year or longer. Riddle got a bit emotional talking about Randy because it’s a legit injury and we all hope Randy can come back next year or whenever he’s able to return.
The commentary team of Michael Cole and Pat McAfee were at ringside to welcome us to the show while hyping what’s coming up.
A Progressive Match Flo replay video aired showing the rivalry between Madcap Moss and Happy Corbin. It led to several matches between them as well as injury angles for both. This week’s match is supposed to be the end of the rivalry.
Madcap Moss got a louder than usual ovation because he’s from Minneapolis, so the fans popped for him. It makes sense that they would have the final match of the feud in Madcap’s hometown.
A commercial aired for Money in the Bank on Saturday, July 2.
Happy Corbin made his entrance to boos from the crowd.
Last Laugh Match: Madcap Moss vs. Happy Corbin
They did not specify what a “Last Laugh Match” is so I think it just means the end of the rivalry rather than a stipulation match. Corbin worked over Moss with punches. Cole claimed Corbin is 6’8” which is a lie by about three inches, but that’s wrestling. Moss hit a shoulder block off the ropes followed by a hard whip into the turnbuckle. Corbin choked Moss across the top rope while some fans chanted “Corbin sucks” at Corbin. Corbin grabbed a headlock while taking Moss down to the mat. Moss broke free, Corbin missed a clothesline, Moss ran the ropes and Moss hit a shoulder tackle. Moss caught Corbin in his arms leading to a fallaway slam across the ring. Moss wanted a neckbreaker, but Corbin shoved him into the ring post. Corbin clotheslined Moss over the barricade at ringside leading to a break.
I missed a bit coming back from the break, but saw Moss getting a sunset flip for two. Corbin hit a Deep Six Slam. Corbin went for a move, Moss got out of it and Corbin hit a Chokeslam. Moss ended up rolling out of the ring after that, Corbin met him on the floor and sent Moss into the ring post. Moss sent Corbin into the announce table. Corbin made it back in at the count of nine and Moss hit the Punchline neckbreaker. Moss hit the Punchline neckbreaker again for the pinfall win. It went about ten minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Madcap Moss
Analysis: **3/4 It was just an average match like most of their matches together. Moss won in a decisive manner with his finisher two times in a row, so there was no doubt that he was dominant in this matchup. Corbin got some offense, but I don’t think you could call him a threat to win the match. This was about putting over Moss to win the feud.
Moss celebrated the win with McAfee noting that Moss went 3-0 against Corbin, so that’s the end of the rivalry. Moss grabbed the microphone, did some obnoxious laughing like when he was associated with Corbin and Moss left.
The Street Profits, who are normally on Raw, were in the locker room doing a promo. They hyped up Riddle facing Reigns later tonight. They also delivered a message to The Usos saying they want their babies meaning they want their titles back.
The announcers were shown on camera, but Corbin interrupted them with a promo. Corbin talked about how he’s known Pat for a long time. Corbin said he heard Pat making jokes while mentioning that when Corbin was at the bottom, Pat called him “Bum Ass Corbin.” Happy ripped on Pat for criticizing Corbin all the time while Corbin told him to watch himself or else he’ll throw Pat into that ring and kill him dead. Corbin walked away a bit, so Pat did a promo. Pat led the crowd in a “Bum Ass Corbin” chant. Pat said that what they were all expecting when they heard about a Last Laugh Match was for Corbin to be laughed out of the arena after losing. Pat sucked up to the fans doing a “Minnesota” chant, then he got the crowd to laugh at Corbin and told Corbin that he sucked. Corbin walked towards the back looking angry.
Analysis: This could certainly lead to something between Corbin and McAfee perhaps having a match at some point. McAfee was very impressive at WrestleMania against Theory (not so much against old man Vince), so WWE might want to see more of Pat in the ring and put him against Corbin at Money in the Bank or maybe SummerSlam. I don’t know if it’s the plan right now, but it’s certainly possible based on that interaction.
The New Day duo of Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods made their entrance. They laughed at Corbin walking by them. The New Day were in tag team action after a break.
A classic Smackdown moment was shown of Hulk Hogan & Edge winning the Tag Team Titles on Smackdown on July 4, 2002. They beat Billy & Chuck. There was a huge ovation from the crowd.
They showed last week’s Smackdown when Natalya attacked Ronda Rousey from behind and put her in the Sharpshooter.
Natalya was interviewed by Megan Morant. Natalya gets to challenge Ronda Rousey for the Smackdown Women’s Title in two weeks at Money in the Bank. Natalya said she’s going to beat some respect in Rousey. Natalya talked about how we saw Ronda screaming in pain and begging for mercy. Natalya said she showed that the Sharpshooter is the most painful submission move on Smackdown. Natalya noted that we could ask Ronda how it felt, but she’s not there because she’s at home licking her wounds. Natalya talked about how her Sharpshooter is part of her legacy, she said she’s done the most “first-ever” moments of any woman in WWE history, she’s going to be the first-ever woman to make Ronda tap out and become the Smackdown Women’s Champion.
Analysis: Good interview from Natalya showing confidence while putting over her Sharpshooter finishing move and how she’s a threat to Rousey. Do I expect a title change? No, but Natalya will always be one of my favorite women on the roster.
Jinder Mahal and Shanky entered for a tag team match. The New Day guys had to wait several minutes in the ring to start the match.
The New Day – Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods vs. Jinder Mahal & Shanky
I forgot to mention it before the commercial, but “sky-scraping” Shanky loves to dance. Mahal with a body slam on Woods. Woods avoided some clothesline attempts and hit a springboard dropkick for two. Kofi tagged in for a double team bulldog on Mahal. After Mahal hit a knee to the ribs, Shanky tagged in and Kofi hit a dropkick, but Shanky hit Kofi with a hard chop. Shanky with a clothesline leading to Kofi doing a flip jump. Shanky with a back elbow on Shanky in the corner and a toss across the ring. Woods played the trombone, so Shanky did some dancing leading to some cheers from the crowd. Mahal managed to tag back into the match since Shanky was near him while he danced. Mahal told Shanky to get to the apron, so Kofi recovered and hit a Trouble in Paradise kick on Jinder (who was yelling at Shanky, so he wasn’t prepared for Kofi’s move) for the pinfall win after four minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The New Day – Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods
Analysis: *3/4 It was a match to further the story of Shanky being a guy that loves to dance. Shanky was dominant with some power moves when he first got in there, but then the trombone of Woods played and Shanky only cared about dancing. That led to Kofi recovering and hitting Jinder with Trouble in Paradise for the win. It’s mostly comedy stuff here. I don’t know what the end game is other than to put Shanky on his own and I doubt he will do well.
A video aired showing the Viking Raiders in action while also talking about being vikings. They are back on Smackdown next week.
Drew McIntyre made his entrance with Angela the sword in his hands. Good pop for Drew as usual. Drew was in a black tank top and jeans, so he wasn’t in wrestling gear. It was promo time after a break.
This Monday on Raw: Becky Lynch vs. Asuka in a Money in the Bank qualifying match, plus Elias is back for a concert.
Sheamus was shown backstage talking to Ridge Holland and Butch with Sheamus telling Ridge to “put a leash” on Butch because this is a chance for Sheamus to bring some gold to the Brawling Brutes. Sheamus made his entrance.
Money in the Bank Promo Time
Drew McIntyre was in the ring with Adam Pearce. Sheamus joined them. Pearce said that they both failed to make the Money in the Bank, but they both demanded inclusion. Drew cut off Pearce mentioning the 85% success rate. Drew didn’t seem to care about the numbers while adding that if he’s not included in that Money in the Bank Ladder Match then he’ll beat somebody’s ass tonight. Sheamus said that putting Drew in that match would be a mistake. Sheamus talked about how he has successfully cashed in his WWE contract while noting that Drew has been cashed in on. Pearce said that Seth “Freakin” Rollins already qualified for Money in the Bank and Pearce mentioned they both had an opportunity last week.
They showed what happened last week when Sheamus faced Drew when they each used steel chairs for the double disqualification finish.
Pearce said he refused the footage and consulted with management. Pearce said that it is official that Sheamus is in. Sheamus celebrated that announcement while mocking Drew because Sheamus was going to Money in the Bank while Drew was sitting on his arse. Drew responded with a clothesline, then some punches and a clothesline over the top to the floor. Pearce said that his next sentence was that Drew McIntyre is also in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. The fans cheered while Drew was happy about it. Sheamus ran back into the ring, Drew was ready for him and Drew hit a Claymore Kick on Sheamus. Drew celebrated that with the fans cheering. Drew posed on the turnbuckle while they showed the Money in the Bank briefcases above the ring.
Analysis: It’s rare to see two guys rewarded for a double disqualification, but they just did it. It’s not a complaint by me because I’m a big fan of both guys, especially Drew, so I think their presence in the match will help a lot. I think Drew or Rollins would be a great choice as the winner. I doubt Sheamus has much of a shot to win. There could be other options who haven’t been WWE Champion before, but I’m fine with either Drew or Rollins winning.
Sami Zayn was interviewed by Kayla Braxton with Sami near the dressing room of Roman Reigns. Kayla wondered if there was any ill-will because Sami was the reason that Riddle gets a title match. Sami said that everything is fine here. Instead of knocking on the door, Sami said he had to go to the bathroom and left.
Raquel Rodriguez made her entrance for a Money in the Bank qualifying match. Raquel did a promo saying that winning the Money in the Bank contract will get her to the promised land. That match is next.
Women’s Money in the Bank Qualifying Match: Raquel Rodriguez vs. Shayna Baszler
Lacey Evans was on commentary since she is in Money in the Bank already. Both women are former long-term NXT Women’s Champions, but they don’t really mention that on Smackdown. Baszler and Raquel battled on the apron with Baszler kicking the left knee while Raquel’s leg was against the turnbuckle. Baszler with a running kick to the left leg. Shotzi and Aliyah were watching. They have a match next week for a MITB spot. Raquel with a back elbow along with a running boot to the face. Raquel wanted a powerslam, Baszler slipped out of it and Baszler hit a chop block to the left leg. Baszler with a running knee. Raquel backed out of Shayna’s attempt at a submission, then Raquel got a hold of Baszler and hit the lifting Powerbomb finisher called the Tejana Bomb for the pinfall win after four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Raquel Rodriguez
Analysis: *1/2 Easy win for Raquel after overcoming some offense from Baszler, but there was never a point where it looked like Raquel might lose. Baszler has been booked in the past like she’s unbeatable. It’s not like that now. Raquel has been impressive as a face on Smackdown.
The win meant that Raquel Rodriguez has qualified for the Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match along with Lacey Evans, Alexa Bliss and Liv Morgan.
Riddle was shown getting ready backstage. Shinsuke Nakamura walked up to Riddle, gave him a fist bump and left.
There was an introduction for Max Dupri of Maximum Male Models, but he was not in the ring.
Max Dupri was backstage talking to WWE Official Adam Pearce with Dupri complaining about how the lights weren’t good enough, the sound wasn’t good enough and so on. Durpi told Pearce to make things better.
Analysis: They have mentioned the introduction of this group for multiple weeks now, but they still haven’t debuted. I guess it’s a WWE way to piss off the fans by not debuting what you said you are going to debut.
A replay was shown of last week’s Smackdown when Gunther beat Ricochet to win the Intercontinental Title.
Gunther, the Intercontinental Champion, was shown backstage with Ludwig Kaiser in the interview area. Ludwig said that Gunther’s victory was inevitable. Ludwig talked about how the greatest IC Champions were champions from different countries. Ludwig spoke about how Ricochet embodied everything that was wrong about America with lots of flash and very little substance. Ludwig said that the title wouldn’t be held by an American again. Ludwig said that the title is held by the “Ring General” Gunther, who simply said he is the new Intercontinental Champion.
Analysis: It was a confident heel promo by Kaiser and Gunther talking about how dominant Gunther is. The shots at America are a simple way of getting cheap heat. I look forward to Gunther’s title reign.
Riddle made his entrance for the main event. Good pop for him again.
Roman Reigns made his entrance as the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion with Special Counsel Paul Heyman by his side and The Usos joining Reigns. When Reigns got into the ring, he posed with his titles and the main event was up next with a lot of time left in the show.
Next week on Smackdown:
* Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn in a Money in the Bank Qualifying Match.
* Shotzi vs. Aliyah in a Money in the Bank Qualifying Match.
* Gunther defends the Intercontinental Title against Ricochet.
The wrestlers stood in the ring for the championship introductions from ring announcer Samantha Irvin, who does a great job.
Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Riddle
This is the first time Reigns has defended his two titles on television since WrestleMania, so it’s been over two months. They started the match with over 20 minutes left.
Riddle started with punches and kicks, but Reigns came back with an uppercut punch. Reigns sent Riddle into the turnbuckle followed by punches. Riddle avoided charging Reigns, then he kicked Reigns in the body and Riddle hit a suplex. Riddle kicked Reigns while Riddle was on the apron and Riddle hit the Floating Bro splash off the ropes. That led to a break.
They exchanged punches until Reigns decked Riddle with punches. Reigns punched Riddle repeatedly. Reigns set up Riddle by the apron leading to the Drive By dropkick by Roman. Reigns applied a chlnlock, Riddle came back with punches/slaps to the face and Riddle hit an upkick. Riddle with two running forearms. Riddle with an elbow to stun Reigns a bit and Riddle jumped off the ropes with a Floating Bro for the two count. Riddle went for a jumping punch, but Reigns avoided it and hit a Uranage slam like a Rock Bottom for two. Riddle left the ring, Reigns followed him and Reigns slammed Riddle onto the hood of the commentary like Randy Orton did in his career. Reigns spoke to the camera giving a message to Orton to try to come for him.
A John Cena return video aired for his Raw return on June 27. There were about ten minutes left in the show.
Reigns was in control after a leaping clothesline. Reigns wanted a Superman Punch, but Riddle hit a knee to the face. Reigns ran the ropes and Riddle hit an Orton-like powerslam. Riddle was looking for the draping DDT off the ropes, Reigns went off the apron and then Riddle followed with his own slam onto the hood of the announce table. Reigns sent Riddle into the ring post. The fans chanted “Randy” to distract Reigns, so Riddle hit a draping DDT off the ropes to a big pop. Riddle wanted an RKO, but Reigns blocked it with a slam to the mat. Reigns with a Superman Punch, he covered and Riddle kicked out with his right arm up. The Superman Punch is not Roman’s finisher, so getting a two count is common for that move. The fans chanted “this awesome” for them. Reigns set up in the corner, he charged with a Spear and Riddle caught Reigns for the one…two…and no. Huge crowd reaction for that nearfall. Riddle jumped off the ropes with a twisting splash. Riddle ran the ropes, he jumped off the ropes and Reigns hit him with a Spear for the pinfall win after 17 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Roman Reigns
Analysis: **** A great match with an exciting finish. That nearfall after the RKO was tremendous. The fans really bought into it while Reigns did a great job by getting the right shoulder up at the last possible moment. Riddle was great in that match and has constantly gotten better from when he was in NXT to being on Raw/SD. He’s a talented guy that the fans love. Reigns winning was the obvious result, so it made it tough to get into some parts of the match, but I like that they went nearly 20 minutes and Riddle got a couple of big moves in there to look like he could compete with Reigns. It was also good to see Reigns win clean. Nothing cheap about it. I enjoyed the match.
Roman Reigns celebrated the win with Heyman and The Usos joining him in the ring. Riddle was down at ringside looking frustrated.
Reigns got the microphone saying there’s no one left. Reigns said that there is no one left. Reigns said that over two years ago that he was here to wreck everyone and then he’s leaving. Reigns said that’s what he did tonight since they wrecked Riddle and now they’re leaving. Reigns said there’s one thing left to do: “Minneapolis, acknowledge me!” The fans booed, cheered and reacted to that as The Usos held up their fingers to let us know they are The Ones.
Just as Reigns was leaving, some familiar music hit…Brock Lesnar. Huge pop for Brock back in Minnesota where he starred in college wrestling and he used to live there. That led to Lesnar making his entrance wearing a cowboy hat. Lesnar walked down to the ring with a purpose and got in the ring with Reigns. Lesnar took off his cowboy hat while extending his hand for a shake. Reigns went to shake the hand, but Brock picked him up and hit an F5 on Reigns. Lesnar hit the F5 on Jimmy Usos and an F5 on Jey Usos as well. Lesnar put his cowboy hat back on. End show.
Analysis: I’m not a huge fan of doing Reigns vs. Lesnar again even though I like both guys. I just think it’s happened so many times over the last year. I assume it’s the plan for SummerSlam (Reigns is not expected to wrestle at Money in the Bank) with Reigns probably finding a way to win the match again. After that, then they can do Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre at Clash at the Castle in September in Wales, which is when Reigns might actually lose his titles. Anyway, the crowd reaction for Lesnar was strong. That music is still so popular with the fans. The fans in Minnesota loved it. Brock was a huge college wrestling star there, so it was a good place to bring him back. I thought this was executed very well as a show-ending segment.
A few minutes after Smackdown ended, WWE announced Reigns vs. Lesnar at SummerSlam for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship in a Last Man Standing Match.
— WWE (@WWE) June 18, 2022
Three Stars of the Show
- Roman Reigns
- Brock Lesnar
7 out of 10
Last week: 7.75
A good show for the most part that was particularly strong at the end with the Reigns/Riddle match carrying the last half hour until Lesnar showed up to confront Reigns. The first hour was mostly average, but then it got better from there.
The next WWE Premium Live Event is Money in the Bank from Las Vegas on Saturday, July 2nd. Here’s what we know so far.
* Men’s Money in the Bank Contract Ladder Match: Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus and others to be announced.
* Women’s Money in the Bank Contract Ladder Match: Lacey Evans vs. Liv Morgan vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Raquel Rodriguez and others to be announced.
* Raw Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair (c) vs. Rhea Ripley
* Smackdown Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Natalya
* Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships: The Usos (c) vs. The Street Profits
You can watch WWE Money in the Bank, streaming live Saturday, July 2, at 8 ET/5 PT on Peacock in the United States and on WWE Network everywhere else.
Thanks for reading. Please check out my reviews of every WWE PPV ever listed in order. Go Toronto Blue Jays. My contact info is below.