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WWE SmackDown recap & reactions (Sept. 9, 2022): Another number one contender

We’ve basically made it a point to praise Pat McAfee on a weekly basis around these parts but even I could not possibly know how much he would be missed when he’s gone. This week’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown was the first with Pat Mac away, off to his College Football gig with ESPN, and I am here to say the show is far worse off in his absence.

Corey Graves is solid. I’m not here to say anything negative about his work. He just isn’t Pat McAfee. This show felt distinct with McAfee’s voice over it. Now, it sounds just like any other WWE show.

It’s fine.

But damn.

I just cannot stress enough how lame I think it is that WWE continues going back to the tired trope of booking a multi-person match to determine the next top contender to any given championship title.

In this case, we got a Fatal 5-Way Elimination match to determine who would wrestle Liv Morgan for the SmackDown women’s championship at the upcoming Extreme Rules pay-per-view (PPV) early next month in Philadelphia. Ronda Rousey, Sonya Deville, Natalya, Xia Li, and Lacey Evans were the five wrestlers involved.

Based on that list alone, you already know who won.

You could maybe argue Natalya belongs based on legacy, but even then your argument is weak. None of those wrestlers has any business being in a top contender’s match.

Here are their TV records so far in 2022, and keep in mind it’s September:

Xia Li: 1-6
Sonya Deville: 1-14
Natalya: 6-19
Lacey Evans: 2-2

I understand wanting to use as many wrestlers as possible and get them as much action as possible in meaningful matches but booking like this just flat out devalues the title. What does it say about the belt Morgan is carrying around that you can do nothing but lose and still find yourself in multiple top contender matches? I don’t need AEW style rankings and record keeping but I sure would like a little more attention being paid to things like this going forward.

In the time it took me to write this, WWE has already announced a Fatal 4-Way for SmackDown next week that will be a number one contender match for the tag team titles.


All the rest
  • I can’t be the only one who wants Imperium to get their old music back, right? Meanwhile, WWE deserves some scorn here for this six-man tag match that started the show. They perfectly build to Sheamus tagging in to square off with GUNTHER, and it was so unbelievably hype, with the Brawling Brutes and Imperium cheering on their respective leaders from their two corners of the ring, and then they went to commercial before the two ever locked up. Boooo! Can’t be too upset, however, because they ended up having a really fun TV match that Imperium emerged victorious in.
  • Man, I just adore Sami Zayn. Watching him try to fit in with The Bloodline has been entertaining every single week, without fail. The guy is an incredible performer.
  • Solo Sikoa debuted on this show, and he felt every bit like a top level star. The crowd responded to him like one and he was every bit the presence WWE hoped he would be. It was clear he was destined for something more while he was doing his thing in NXT 2.0 but he genuinely fit right in here, so well it was like he’d simply always been there. He also looked great in the main event match against Drew McIntyre.
  • Toxic Attraction was back on the blue brand to face off against WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Raquel Rodriguez & Aliyah. They were soundly beaten. This was done to heat up the champs for their rematch with Damage CTRL next week on Monday Night Raw. Was it a call up for TA? We shall see, but they haven’t had a great start on the main roster either which way.
  • The Street Profits & Hit Row defeated Los Lotharios & Maximum Male Models in a brief but fun TV match. There isn’t much to say about it otherwise.
  • Has WWE ever gone to Seattle and not had a heel made a dig about the Supersonics skipping town all those years ago? This time it was Chad Gable, who showed up with Otis just to be the guys Braun Strowman would beat up in his return to SmackDown. He did just that, ending it with an impressive powerbomb of the big fella.
  • We mentioned Solo Sikoa’s main event match with Drew McIntyre earlier. Yeah, that match ended with Karrion Kross showing up out of nowhere and slapping a chokehold on that he held all the way up through the end of the show. I actually really liked how they held it until McIntyre seemed to fade out gradually and the show itself faded to black equally as slow. You could still hear commentary screaming about getting him help for a short time and then even that sound faded out too. A pretty damn good execution of an even better idea.

I enjoyed this show.

Grade: B

Your turn.

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