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WWE SmackDown recap & reactions (April 22, 2022): The running man

I actually loved how they told the show long story on Friday Night SmackDown this week.

Jey Uso wrestled Riddle as the whole feud between the two tag team champions from Raw and SmackDown, respectively heats up. Riddle came out ahead, angering both The Usos and Roman Reigns, who, as we know, is none too fond of seeing his family failing.

Meanwhile, Riddle helped mend fences between Orton and Drew McIntyre backstage, something a sneaky Sami Zayn overheard while he was camping around the corner, for whatever reason. Sensing an opportunity, he sought out Reigns himself and made a pitch to him.

With a Lumberjack match against McIntyre looming in the main event, Zayn made up some trash talk he overheard before asking Reigns for assistance from The Bloodline in said match in exchange for his own services as necessary at a later time. The “Head of the Table” went for it and demanded The Usos handle business.

That led us to the main event, where Jimmy & Jey were out as Lumberjacks along with RK-Bro. Naturally, they put Orton and Riddle down before heading out. The Lumberjacks broke into chaos shortly after, with everyone brawling with everyone else. That left the door open for Zayn to run away yet again!


Adam Pearce showed up and lamented the fact that Zayn managed to figure out a way out of actually having to finish a match with McIntyre once more and then booked a steel cage match for next week. Surely he won’t be able to escape then!

The show ended with McIntyre putting Jinder Mahal down with a Claymore as Zayn looked on from the crowd, scared to death that the same fate awaits him.

This was a really slick way to set up Zayn getting out of the match again while involving the main event players and getting yet another match out of this Zayn/McIntyre ordeal. Really well played all around.

Ronda Rousey is actually improving on the microphone in terms of her delivery. Gone was the monotone, robotic reciting of a script, replaced with some inflection and, I’ll be damned, the ability to get across a bit of passion.

This is good!

Not so good: she still badly needs to speak up. My ears are admittedly damaged but I constantly have a hard time even hearing what she’s saying. That is, quite obviously, very bad! If she figures that part out, or if WWE just turns her mic up, she’d be golden.

Meanwhile, I continue to be impressed by Charlotte Flair’s ability to be the kind of heel who annoys the ever loving shit out of you with that shit eating grin while she’s repeatedly saying “I beat you at WrestleMania.” Because there is no good comeback for it. Even the truth, that she tapped and got lucky with the referee down, falls short.

That’s why it works so well.

But it also works beautifully to make you want Rousey to shut her up. To that end, they had their contract-signing-that-turns-into-fisticuffs segment on Friday Night SmackDown this week, and they got that across good and proper. Said segment ended with a really forced moment where Rousey signed the contract while giving poor Drew Gulak — who is now interning to be Adam Pearce’s assistant — an armbar.

I get what they were going for, that she got the chance to send a message via Gulak like Flair did last week, but it fell flat in front of this audience.

Still, the build here remains solid overall.

All the rest
  • BUTCH, the hilarious cartoon character who can’t control his anger and just wants to fight all the time, cannot for the life of him defend a small package. His weakness has been revealed within a month of his main roster run. Tough scenes.
  • GUNTHER scored another win over a local athlete, as they continued to establish that this is a baaaaad dude. Nothing much to say about it, but it’s a great way to do just what they’re doing. Rock on.
  • Xia Li has been repackaged, or at least given a slight character change. She says she used to be the protector but now she sees no one worth protecting so she’s just going to protect herself. I guess this is their way of saying she’s doing her own thing now? We’ll have to stay tuned.
  • I continue to be amazed that whatever RK-Bro is doing on a given night tends to be one of if not the most exciting thing that happens on whatever show they’re on. That was the case again here, as Riddle defeated Jey Uso in a really fun singles match. That’s consecutive victories for the Raw tag team champions over the SmackDown tag title holders.
  • Sasha Banks & Naomi have done an outstanding job showcasing just how good the women’s tag team division can be when it’s given time and showcased. That’s why it’s unfortunate that WWE hasn’t done much of anything to actually build off that and instead are going right back to the likes of the thrown together team of Shayna Baszler & Natalya as the next title contenders. They just lost at WrestleMania 38, and Nattie is off doing NXT 2.0 things, but there are no other options. It reeks of apathy. It’s a shame because genuine effort could give us a lot of good television.
  • Remember when I said Madcap Moss was a goober who had some charm to him that was kind of endearing? Yeah, he’s rapidly losing his charm as it’s revealed there isn’t really much to him at all. Happy Corbin tried to get him to come back and when that failed, attacked him after his match. Then he stole The Andre trophy. It’s just not that interesting.
  • Lacey Evans told her story again, this being chapter three, and it featured the same themes of the past couple chapters. It still feels exploitative and remains so at odds with how she was presented before that it’s hard to reconcile but it’s at least worth seeing how it plays out once she’s actually back on TV.

This show is still missing Roman Reigns in a more prominent role but it’s nice that he doesn’t have to completely carry the load and the show’s are still entertaining enough.

Grade: B-

Your turn.

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