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WWE SmackDown recap & reactions (April 15, 2022): SAY IT LOUDER

This was fantastic.

Charlotte Flair came into Friday Night SmackDown this week good and pissed off that someone at WWE went ahead and approved Ronda Rousey’s wish for an “I Quit” match at WrestleMania Backlash. She went to Adam Pearce about it but Drew Gulak interrupted hoping for an evaluation on his tryout as a broadcaster for the blue brand. Flair turned her ire on him, telling him to hit the ring to interview a true star, her, in front of everyone.

“Don’t be nervous,” she told him as she walked off.

My man Gulak hit the ring, wasn’t nervous at all, and started it off with “are you ready for a hard hitting interview?” He’s got the look down, and certainly has the moxie for the role. I thought he was fantastic overall.

He played the protagonist antagonizing the antagonist beautifully, cloaking it in journalistic integrity while propping up Rousey and getting Flair so riled up she turned on everyone, screaming at the crowd that they’re all quitters and Gulak is a quitter too for bailing on a wrestling career to hold a mic and talk to stars like her. She proceeded to kick him out of the ring but here’s where I loved it most.

Before he could leave, she dove at his legs. Once he was down, she slapped on the Figure Four, made it a Figure Eight, and didn’t stop when he tapped. No, she sat back up and slapped him hard in the face, screaming at him to “say ‘I quit!’” Referees hit the scene to separate them but the message was sent, loud and clear.

You can not like Flair all you want, but hot damn is she good at this. She absolutely deserves to be right where she is — the SmackDown women’s champion, at the top of the card.

There was a time not long ago that I would have never believed someone telling me a Randy Orton/Riddle tag team would be one of the more entertaining things WWE has going for it, but I’ll be damned if that isn’t the case now.

Orton is wildly entertaining when he gets good and pumped up knowing he’s playing into the reactions from the crowd, who give it right back to him because he’s doing that. Riddle is the perfect goofy support guy.

I don’t know, something about it all just works beautifully.

Meanwhile, I love the decision to unify the tag team titles, something they should have done long ago, and there’s probably no better time to do it. The brand split has slowly withered into the big stars appearing on both shows anyway, and they’ve long given up on bothering explaining it. It hardly matters. Let ‘em all mix and match, and make the titles mean a whole lot more than they do now.

Are we going to start talking about unifying the women’s titles soon too…?

All the rest
  • Rhea Ripley def. Naomi in a pretty damn good TV match previewing next week’s tag team championship match pitting Ripley & Liv Morgan against Naomi & Sasha Banks. We’ll see if it actually happens, considering it was planned and never occurred a week ago. There were no hints of dissension between Ripley & Morgan here, for whatever it’s worth.
  • Our first look at Madcap Moss sans Happy Corbin saw him making jokes about Los Lotharios putting his ass on their kiss cam. He’s still rolling around with the Andre the Giant Battle Royal trophy sitting on the outside of the ring for his matches, by the way. He beat Humberto in a singles match, acting like a big ol’ goober all along the way. He was fine. It was fine. More notable here was Angel yelling at Humbert about “losing to a joke.”
  • Did Vince McMahon just fall in love with getting photos of wrestlers on the steps amidst a sea of people? To be fair, Drew McIntyre did look pretty badass surrounded by folks taking pictures of him looking up to him. Meanwhile, Sami Zayn remains awesome in anything he does.
  • Ricochet def. Jinder Mahal to retain the Intercontinental championship in a relatively short match that seemed designed to get Ricochet over, giving him an impressive win as champion. They should do matches like this more often! It’s fun watching Ricochet do impressive things while winning matches, which establishes credibility as champion and solidifies his title reign. More of this, please.
  • I don’t know why I laughed so hard when Ridge Holland frantically told Sheamus “we’ve lost BUTCH” and Sheamus responded with “he’s not a set of bleedin’ car keys, is he?” I also love that they “lost” him because he just walked away while they were doing an interview. But what I love most is that you can’t even pat BUTCH too hard on his back because he might respond to it by viciously attacking you. These three are cartoon characters, and I mean that in the best way possible.
  • Does anyone else feel some kind of strange way about this Lacey Evans thing? She’s telling this brutally rough story of her life growing up, tears in her eyes, and it’s being used as a way to get her over as a babyface while she’s dressed in a see through bodysuit. It feels a little, I don’t know, exploitative? I don’t know, we’ll see where it goes.

I enjoyed this show, despite the absence of its top star. I will say Roman Reigns not being around leaves a gaping hole but they filled it well enough.

Grade: B+

Your turn.

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