On a show emanating from the MVP Arena, was it too much to hope for an appearance by MVP?  Well, yes. But was it too much to expect the feud between Drew McIntyre and Sami Zayn to end with a definitive win? Also, yes. But a lot of other stuff happened on Friday night, as the blue brand continues its build towards WrestleMania Backlash.


Women’s Championship contract signing

Adam Pearce was in the ring to start the show. He introduced Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair and then Ronda Rousey to join him for the contract signing for their I Quit match at WrestleMania Backlash. Drew Gulak – who is apparently in training to be Pearce’s stooge – ran to the ring with the contract, since they weren’t sitting on the table. They ran down the rules of the I Quite match – like the rules of the drag race in Grease, the rules are there ain’t no rules. Charlotte and Ronda argued about which one of them would have the advantage in that situation, and both said they’d make the other say “I Quit.” After Charlotte signed the contract, she flipped over the table and grabbed a Singapore cane that she’d had hidden under it. She whacked Ronda with it a few times, until Ronda took it away from her. Before she could unleash on Charlotte, Gulak yanked the cane out of her hands, allowing Charlotte to bail. Ronda then took her frustration out on Gulak, dropping him in Piper’s Pit, and then clamping on an Armbar, which she held onto while signing the contract.

This was a fine segment. Ronda still doesn’t seem 100% at ease with being a smiley babyface, and has really lost some of the aura that she had during her first run. But the stuff with Gulak getting beaten up by both women over the past two weeks has been funny.

They recapped the issues between the New Day and Ridge Holland, Sheamus, and Butch. Butch is portrayed like a Scrappy Doo type of character, which, poor Pete Dunne.


Match 1: Xavier Woods (w/ Kofi Kingston) vs. Butch (w/ Ridge Holland and Sheamus)

Woods dominated Butch early on, but a big forearm to the face dropped Woods, and then Butch took over. He blasted Woods with some ground-and-pound, and then used some Dunne-like joint manipulation to punish Woods’ wrist, arm, and fingers. Woods sent Butch through the ropes but when he went after him, he got distracted by Sheamus and Holland, and Butch nailed him with a flying axe handle off the ring steps, leading to a pull-apart to head to the commercial break.

Back from the ads, and Butch had Woods grounded again. Woods tried to fight back, but Butch cut him off with a big Release Suplex Bomb for a two-count. Woods rolled out to the apron, and when Butch tried to bring him in the hard way, Woods surprised him with the Backwoods, which is a Springboard DDT into a rollup cradle, for the pin. After the match, Butch threw a tantrum and beat up one of the ringside security team before stomping off through the crowd.

Winner: Xavier Woods

In the back, Aliyah was gushing over Ricochet’s successful Intercontinental Championship reign. Jinder Mahal and Shanky walked up to him, leading to Shanky challenging him to a title match. Ricochet accepted, and Jinder seemed upset that Shanky had made the challenge, as it seemed Jinder was hoping to get the title shot himself.

Ludwig Kaiser introduced GUNTHER, who marched menacingly to the ring before the show headed to a break. He’s no Ricardo Rodriguez.


Match 2: Gunther (w/ Ludwig Kaiser) vs. Teddy Goodz

Goodz might as well have been named Jaw Burr, because he was basically a training dummy against Gunther. After a series of smashes, chops, and pummeling, Gunther ended the beatdown with a Powerbomb.

This was about as dominant a win as you’ll ever see. If Gunther isn’t being groomed as the guy to beat Roman Reigns, he should be.

Winner: Gunther… flawless victory.

They recapped the ongoing feud between the Usos and RK-Bro who will be competing to unify the RAW and Smackdown Tag Team Championships at WrestleMania Backlash.

Backstage, RK-Bro were discussing Riddle’s strategy for his match against Jey Uso tonight. Drew McIntyre came up to them, and Riddle told him that he hoping Drew and Randy would let bygones be bygones and put their past friction behind them, and to help, he and Randy would be Lumberjacks during Drew’s match against Sami Zayn tonight. Drew and Randy said they were good and apparently have reached some level of détente. Next week, Riddle heads to Russia to talk some sense into Putin. After everyone left, Sami Zayn popped up from behind some boxes, having eavesdropped on the entire conversation. He seemed strangely excited by what he’d seen, so clearly has some evil plot up his sleeve.

Hey, did anyone remember that Xia Li is on this show? She cut a promo, saying that she used to be the Protector, but realized that nobody deserves her protection. So now she’s going to protect herself. Well, that was an apparent heel turn that nobody saw coming or cares about.


Match 3: Riddle (w/ Randy Orton) vs. Jey Uso (w/ Jimmy Uso)

Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman were shown in Reigns’ dressing room watching this match on TV. Riddle tried to lock on a Sleeper right at the bell, and that looked to be his main plan early on. But Uso used his power advantage to thwart those attempts. Riddle mixed things up and started using some strikes and kicks, but he got caught going for a Flying Dive to the floor and Uso battered him around the ringside area, even dropping him on the table with an Orton-esque Back Suplex. Riddle fired up, and rocked Uso with some more huge strikes and a big Judo Throw. Riddle dropped Uso with more strikes and hit a Floaty Bro for a close 2-count. Jimmy tried for a distraction, but Orton planted him on the announce table with a Back Suplex. A series of neat counters and reversals saw Uso get 2-and-three-quarters after a Pop-Up Neckbreaker  that looked good. Another series of counters saw Riddle eat a Superkick, but when Uso tried to end it with a Superfly Splash, Riddle got his knees up. Uso crashed hard and was easy pickings for a rollup pin.

This was a good match that had some exciting sequences. The crowd really got into this in the second half and the finish.

Winner: Matt Riddle


The Women’s Tag Team Champions address the WWE Universe

They recapped the Women’s Tag Team Championship match from RAW, where champs Naomi and Sasha Banks beat Liv Morgan and Rhea Ripley. The champs made their way to the ring for an interview with Kayla Braxton.

Sasha and Naomi complimented each other and said that they have no competition. This brought out Natalya and Shayna Baszler. Angry words were exchanged, threats were made, and Shayna even shoved Sasha down to the mat at one point. But that was it as far as physicality, and after she got back up, the four of them stared menacingly at each other.

This wasn’t great. It’s likely the plan wasn’t for Sasha to fall, but when she did, they should have improvised something, because the ways she just took it without any comeback made her seem weak as if she was backing down from a fight. As an aside, aren’t Alexa Bliss and Bayley sitting in catering somewhere? Couldn’t they be added to the mix to at least freshen things up a little in this division?


Madcap Moss was working out backstage when Happy Corbin walked up to him. Corbin condescendingly tried to get Madcap to come back as his sidekick, but Moss insulted him and refused.

They showed a hype video for Raquel Rodriguez, who makes her Smackdown debut next week.


Match 4: Madcap Moss vs. Angel (w/ Humberto)

Moss used his power on Angel, but also surprisingly out-quicked his smaller opponent, using that to send Angel over the top and right onto his partner Humberto on the floor. Back in the ring, Moss used a frenzied offence to blast Angel with a Full Body Block – and even Humberto tasted the pain when he jumped into the ring only to get Mossed right out of there just as quickly. Moss whooped it up and hit the Punchline (a Reverse Standing Neckbreaker) to get the pin.

After the match, Happy Corbin ran into the ring and sucker-smashed Moss from behind, then dropped him with End of Days. Corbin then picked up Moss’ Andre the Giant Battle Royal trophy and walked out with it.

This was another relative squash. Moss could benefit from a gimmick change. He has some great tools, but is hampered by his lame bad joke guy persona. After his feud with Corbin ends, they should consider dropping that aspect of his character.

Winner: Madcap Moss

Sami Zayn was shown in the back. He approached Roman Reigns’ dressing room door and knocked on it while the announcers were dumbfounded by his antics.

A Make-A-Wish video aired. Go to wish.org/WWE to help with their ongoing campaign.

In his dressing room, Roman Reigns was questioning the Usos on Jey’s loss to Xavier Woods earlier tonight. He didn’t look pleased. He looked even less pleased when Heyman told him that Sami Zayn had come into their room.

Zayn told Reigns that he’d seen Drew McIntyre buddying up to RK-Bro earlier on, and that they had said some disparaging things about the Bloodline. Zayn asked for their help in beating Drew in the Lumberjack match, and said that if they did, he could be a great help to them. After he left, Reigns told the Usos that he wasn’t thrilled that people were talking about him, and told the Usos to take his name out of all of their mouths.


The Lacey Evans story continues

Lacey continued telling the story of her hardship-filled life. She said that growing up without a mom left her without a female role model from whom she could learn about feminine power and pride. She said she found some of that in high school wrestling, and found her inner strength there. But that strength was tested when she would go home to her drug-addicted father. She said that her life has built her into being a confident woman, mother, and WWE Superstar. And that while she may not be better than any other WWE Superstar, none of them are better than she is.


Match 5: Drew McIntyre vs. Sami Zayn – Lumberjack Match

The Lumberjacks came to the ring, followed by the competitors. Before the bell, the Usos music hit and they came down to the ring to join the rest of the Lumberjacks, much to Sami’s delight.

Sami tried to run away immediately, but the babyface Lumberjacks kept throwing him back in the ring. Of course, when Drew got thrown to the floor, the heel Lumberjacks beat him up on the floor, leading to standoffs between the two sides.

In the ring, Drew threw Sami around like he was a sack of… well, something lighter than potatoes, because whoever came up with that saying doesn’t realize how heavy a sack of potatoes really is, or else I’m just really weak.

Drew threw Sami to the floor, but when RK-Bro went to do their Lumberjack duties, they ate simultaneous Superkicks from the Usos for their troubles. The Lumberjacks all started brawling, and during the fray, Zayn tried again to skedaddle, but Drew caught him and rolled him back into the ring. Sami ran out again and got lost in the fracas on the floor, so Drew hit a big Flying Front Flip onto everyone, knocking them over like bowling pins. But as everyone recovered from that, Sami popped up unscathed on the other side of the ring, and then headed for ze hills, running through the audience to get away.

Adam Pearce came out and told Sami that he may have gotten away with it this time, but next week he’ll have no escape, since he will be facing Drew in a Steel Cage.

In the ring, Jinder Mahal attacked Drew from behind (aw, man, where’s the 3MB love?) and then he and Shanky clumsily beat up Drew. Sami could only consider what his fate next week will be as he watched Drew take Jinder out with the Claymore to end the show.

This was a pretty typical Lumberjack match. The non-finish leading to a steel cage match is Booking 101 – but it works only to the extent you care about the feud. Hopefully this ends next week with a definitive win by Drew.

Winner: None


WWE Smackdown - April 22nd, 2022

MVP Arena - Albany, NY

Overall, this was a decent episode, with a couple of good matches. But there was nothing particularly must-see about it. What’s apparent from an episode like this is how hurting the men’s roster is in terms of having any stars that could be a credible challenger for Roman Reigns. At this point, the only person who seems to be a possibility is Gunther, but that’s more because of his NXT legacy. In terms of the women, this brand seems to have some roster depth. But the men? Smackdown needs a shakeup.