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WWE SmackDown preview (July 8, 2022): The hardest part for Liv Morgan comes next

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SmackDown airs tonight (July 8) with a live show from Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. This is the first SmackDown episode during the four week build towards SummerSlam, coming up on July 30.

The hardest part for Liv Morgan comes next

The biggest story coming out of Money in the Bank is that Liv Morgan cashed in the Money in the Bank contract and defeated Ronda Rousey to become the new SmackDown women’s champion. After Ronda lost the title, she remained a babyface and congratulated the new champ with a hug. The rumor mill has since indicated that a championship rematch between Morgan and Rousey is planned for SummerSlam.

If that’s true, then the rematch will tell us more about where Liv stands in WWE’s eyes than her win at Money in the Bank does. Anybody can challenge a wrestler who is hobbling around on a bad leg and get a fluke win. But can Liv beat a fresh Ronda Rousey in a singles match? Very few women in WWE have been able to accomplish that feat.

Big E was in the same position as Liv last year after he cashed in Money in the Bank on the damn near invincible Bob Lashley. Lashley was compromised after a long battle with Randy Orton, and Big E picked the bones. Lashley got his rematch inside a steel cage later that month, and Big E beat him there too. That’s when it became clear that Big E’s booking was different than it had been in the prior months.

Similarly, a rematch between Morgan and Rousey will tell us if WWE really wants the audience to regard Liv as a top star in the women’s division, or if she is just this year’s Nikki A.S.H. If you recall, Nikki successfully cashed in Money in the Bank on Charlotte Flair last year only to drop the title back to her one month later at SummerSlam. Nikki was booked like a joke and wasn’t elevated in the process. It can be argued that the fluky title reign actually hurt Nikki in the long-term sense. Just look where she is now.

With Charlotte Flair and Bayley still not back on WWE television, perhaps Liv’s title reign is also destined to be a one month thing just for the sake of giving Ronda a SummerSlam match. WWE’s revenue is no longer significantly affected by which wrestlers are holding the titles, so Liv is far from a made woman at this moment. She’ll have to beat Ronda again in order to establish herself as a top women’s wrestler in WWE. That’s the hard part of this entire thing.

Rousey is expected to appear on SmackDown tonight and react to what happened at Money in the Bank. Natalya already confronted Morgan on Raw and made it clear that the only reason she’s the champ is because Natalya weakened Ronda’s knee with the Sharpshooter. It looks like the babyfaces will have to get rid of Natalya first before they can focus on a potential one-on-one rematch at SummerSlam.

The rest of the title scene

WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns returns to television tonight. The part-time champ has a Last Man Standing match coming up with Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam, so he’ll grace us with his part-time presence a few times this month. Brock Lesnar is not expected to be in the building tonight. What stunt will Honorary Uce and Canadian Alpha Male Sami Zayn have planned in order to suck up to Roman and The Bloodline some more?

Gunther holds the Intercontinental title and has vowed that no American will ever win the title again. To help prove his point, he beat up R-Truth’s version of Uncle Sam on the USA’s Independence Day earlier this week. There’s no word yet on whether or not Gunther will be targeting Jeff Goldblum or Will Smith next. Drew McIntyre has nothing to do right now and isn’t American, so maybe he’s the perfect guy to step up and take the title from Gunther at SummerSlam.

The Usos and the Street Profits had a hell of a match for the WWE tag team titles at Money in the Bank. Jimmy and Jey escaped with their belts intact, but it wasn’t without controversy. It makes sense to book a rematch for SummerSlam.

Vacant still has an ironclad grip on the WWE women’s tag team titles.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Max Dupri’s Maximum Male Models titillated the juices of your guilty pleasures last week during their SmackDown debut. ma.çé and mån.sôör will be back tonight to model their tennis wear collection. I’m sure that no babyfaces will dare interrupt their glorious walk down the runway.

- Pat McAfee and Happy Corbin will go to war at SummerSlam. Corbin left McAfee in a neck brace after an ambush at Money in the Bank, so violence is already upon us.

- The New Vicious Viking Raiders and New Day were supposed to have a match last week, but it quickly devolved into a brawl where no bell ever rang to make it official. Erik & Ivar used their New Vicious Viking Shields to leave Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods in a heap.

- Sonya Deville slapped Adam Pearce in the face last week. To be fair, he needed some sense slapped into him after booking a Battle Royal for no reason at the very beginning of the show. Deville filed a formal complaint against Pearce after he put her in a handicap match two weeks ago, so this story is far from over.

- Madcap Moss and Raquel Rodriguez are both getting babyface pushes right now. Where do they fit into plans for SummerSlam, if anywhere at all?

- There’s been a ton of crossover lately between the Raw and SmackDown rosters, because nobody bothers to enforce the rules of the brand split. It makes for better television when more of the top stars are around, so I say bring it on.

What will you be looking for on SmackDown tonight?