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WWE SmackDown preview (July 22, 2022): Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns is running on empty

SmackDown airs tonight (July 22) with a live show from TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. This is the third SmackDown episode during the four week build towards SummerSlam, coming up on July 30.

Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns is running on empty

Brock Lesnar will challenge Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal championship at SummerSlam. It will be a Last Man Standing match, and WWE is promoting it as the epic conclusion to their longstanding rivalry.

That rivalry is running on empty and probably should have ended earlier this year at WrestleMania 38. WWE is struggling to come up with new ideas for Lesnar and Reigns at this point, and these part-timers are hardly even interacting with each other on television. Let’s check out their attendance on Raw and SmackDown television during this month’s build to SummerSlam:

  • July 4 (Raw): Both men were absent from this show
  • July 8 (SD): Reigns was present, Lesnar was absent
  • July 11 (Raw): Reigns was absent, Lesnar was present
  • July 15 (SD): Both men were absent from this show
  • July 18 (Raw): Both men were absent from this show
  • July 22 (SD): Reigns is not advertised, Lesnar is scheduled
  • July 25 (Raw): Reigns is scheduled, Lesnar is not advertised
  • July 29 (SD): Not sure about Reigns, Lesnar is scheduled

This list shows that following the Money in the Bank pay-per-view on July 2, Lesnar and Reigns have yet to share the same ring together; it looks like next Friday’s episode of SmackDown might be the only time it could happen.

It’s been almost one full year since Lesnar returned to WWE at SummerSlam 2021 to confront Reigns. Both men (especially Brock) rarely wrestle on television, and they’ve run through all the non-wrestling things you can do in a WWE feud. During the last year they’ve had multiple face-to-face confrontations, a contract signing, surprise returns, bloody ambushes, a suspension, an authority figure crossing the line, a managerial betrayal, a forklift attack, plenty of mic time, and steamrolling the rest of the WWE roster. Brock and Roman even redid their tug-of-war over the belt last year at Crown Jewel when Paul Heyman tossed the Universal championship between both men.

Without Roman and Brock directly interacting with each other this month, secondary players like Heyman, Theory, Madcap Moss, and Sami Zayn have had to carry the load of this story, with Alpha Academy also chipping in by taking an ass kicking from Lesnar.

The Beast is in the building tonight, but Roman isn’t advertised. So you can expect to see more of the same; Heyman and Theory will flap their gums and a heel or three will get their asses kicked by Lesnar. It’s fine, but we’ve seen it many times already.

WWE needs to come up with a new idea for Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. Let’s see if they can surpass my expectations and deliver a fresh angle tonight. It won’t be easy if both men aren’t in the building.

The rest of the title scene

SmackDown Women’s Champion Liv Morgan will have a face-to-face confrontation with Ronda Rousey tonight. Despite being champion, Morgan is the clear underdog heading into their rematch at SummerSlam. This has been reiterated over the last two weeks, with Rousey beating Natalya in a couple of minutes, whereas Morgan had to exert quite a bit more effort to defeat Nattie.

Intercontinental Champion Gunther has recently been chopping the hell out of Ludwig Kaiser’s chest. Kaiser is his underling, and his failings are met with swift punishment. Kaiser is facing even more failure tonight when he has a rematch against Shinsuke Nakamura. It looks like all of this is leading towards a title match between Gunther and Nakamura, which has potential for greatness.

The Usos and the Street Profits will have a rematch for the WWE tag team titles at SummerSlam. WWE referees are rather incompetent, so Jeff Jarrett was chosen to be the special ref for their PPV match. Adam Pearce described Jarrett as the “perfect” man for the job. I suppose that means Adam didn’t watch Jeff’s recent screwjob as a referee for NWA.

Vacant still has an ironclad grip on the WWE women’s tag team titles. Would these belts be better off if they were instead thrown in the trash?

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- mån.sôör and ma.çé plan to titillate the juices of your guilty pleasures tonight by showing off their beachwear collection. Max Dupri will also introduce his sister Maxxine to Maximum Male Models. Will Kevin Owens show up and falsely accuse these siblings of being the same person?

- WWE is using The Brawling Brutes to drag out the eventual announcement of Drew McIntyre as the number one contender to the WWE Universal championship at Clash at the Castle. Drew made quick work of Butch and Ridge Holland over the last couple weeks. Sheamus is the only brute left standing, but he’ll probably find another way to avoid a fight with Drew. For example, maybe Drew will have to beat Butch and Holland in a handicap match tonight.

- Lacey Evans says wrestling fans can go to hell. She refused to wrestle against Aliyah last week when the live fans didn’t show enough appreciation for her heroic presence.

- Pat McAfee cut a promo on Bum Ass Corbin last week. He explained their history together as roommates before saying that Corbin is an insufferable douchebag. Corbin responded by talking trash via satellite. I bet more violence will break out between these two men before they fight at SummerSlam.

- The New Day dressed up as The New Vicious Viking Raiders and impersonated them last week. Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston typically excel at comedy bits, but this one was mostly a dud. Once the talking was over, the babyfaces lured Erik & Ivar into an ambush from Jinder Mahal and Skyscrapin’ Shanky. Jinder Mahal refused to join Shanky, Kofi, and Xavier in dancing afterwards. Let’s hope Jinder has a change of heart soon enough.

- Raquel Rodriguez and Ricochet have both seemingly vanished from WWE television during the build to SummerSlam.

What will you be looking for on SmackDown tonight?

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