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WWE SmackDown recap & reactions (June 24, 2022): A long way to the top

Roman Reigns now has a date with Brock Lesnar in a Last Man Standing match at SummerSlam late next month in Nashville, so he wasn’t even around on Friday Night SmackDown this week. Instead, we got a bunch of guys itching to get to the main event scene arguing over how they’re going to go about getting there.

Like Drew McIntyre making claims about Reigns ducking him so he’ll just have to win the Money in the Bank contract to book himself in a match. Meanwhile, Sheamus made note of the fact that he’s won the Money in the Bank contract once before and when he cashed in to win the title, he did so against Reigns.

Good points!

That just led to Paul Heyman hitting the scene with Adam Pearce with word that actually McIntyre and Sheamus aren’t in the Money in the Bank ladder match cause they didn’t earn it by winning a qualifier. You remember, they had that double disqualification. But they could still make it in by teaming up and defeating The Usos in the main event of the evening.

This is the kind of writing you get when they’re trying to service all masters with no real firm plans in place from week to week. You put your unified tag team champions in a match against a duo who aren’t a team, who you know are going to be in the match and therefore have to win, while having commentary explain that the tag team titles aren’t on the line and The Usos winning wouldn’t put them in the Money in the Bank ladder match.

The idea that The Usos would try to block them both from the contract is fine, it just feels uninspired. What’s more, why not have them support Zayn and try to get him in the ladder match when he was saying he wanted to win the contract not to cash in on Reigns but to protect him? That’s an actually compelling angle! Thankfully, Zayn won anyway and they can maybe lean into this but it sure looks a lot more like they’re just trying to put an obstacle in the road for McIntyre to overcome en route to a September title shot.

Sure enough, McIntyre pinned Jimmy after a Claymore to win the match to keep the big fellas in the Money in the Bank ladder match. There were shenanigans involved, so it wasn’t entirely clean, considering Zayn got involved (notice him trying to help out!) and The Street Profits were there to equalize, but the show went off the air with Drew and Sheamus celebrating.

Take it for what you will.

The match was really fun, though, no doubt about that.


See, this is more in line with how Ronda Rousey should be presented.

Natalya gets goofy, dressing up like Rousey with a baby stroller and trolling her about tapping out and being “the saddest woman on the planet” and what not. It’s silly, it’s dumb, it’s all those things but it’s by design. It’s a nice set up for Rousey to knock down and look good doing it.

Whether or not she did that is up to your interpretation and tastes as a fan. I’m not sure how I feel about the zingers about not recognizing Nattie “without your rack out” and the knocks against her for getting plastic surgery to conform to impossible beauty standards or whatever, but she did have one strong line near the end:

That’s pretty damn good.

Rousey is getting more and more comfortable on the microphone and it shows in her delivery here. I’m not saying she’s suddenly The Rock, but she’s worlds better than she was even just a couple months ago. Say what you will about her run in WWE this time around, there’s been marked improvement, and this segment showed that.

I also liked the absurdity of Rousey straight up stealing Natalya’s jacket — cause it’s Ronda’s, get it — and Nattie responding by attacking her with the stroller. Pro wrestling, y’all, you gotta love it.


All the rest
  • Sami Zayn beat Shinsuke Nakamura to qualify for the men’s Money in the Bank ladder match in what was an incredibly fun opening bout on this show. I went over a little why it was somewhat disappointing in one regard earlier in this here review but on its own, it was a damn fun match and there’s real potential for Zayn to win the contract. This makes me, for one, far more interested. Zayn’s interaction with Heyman backstage later in the show is every reason why he deserves all the airtime he’s getting these days.
  • The New Day were supposed to wrestle Shanky and Jinder Mahal, but the former played a chune and the overwhelming urge to dance ended any idea of conflict. That was until The Viking Raiders returned, with a fresh coat of paint, and attacked the three from behind. They’re back from their trip to NXT and looking like the same old, same old.
  • Sonya Deville is back and taking Adam Pearce to task for such issues like the state of the women’s division on SmackDown. I badly wanted her to mention the tag team division but something tells me that’s just never going to happen. As it turns out, she, along with Shayna Baszler and Xia Li, were used to put over Lacey Evans and Raquel Rodriguez on their way to Money in the Bank. That’s fine, but Deville is a million times more interesting than either of those two.
  • GUNTHER beat down Ricochet in an Intercontinental championship rematch. It wasn’t all that interesting, which is unfortunate considering their first match-up was outstanding. There’s a lot of potential in GUNTHER but we’ll see if they do anything to unlock it.
  • I continue to be wildly entertained by Max Dupri not ever debuting his models because Adam Pearce can’t get the conditions for it exactly right.
  • Pat McAfee is going to wrestle again, this time at SummerSlam, and I couldn’t be happier that he’s getting involved in more angles/matches. He’s arguably the best performer on the entire damn roster. I can’t wait to watch him beat Bum Ass Corbin in front of a stadium full of people.

This was a pretty good show overall.

Grade: B-

Your turn.