Reviews

The John Report: WWE Smackdown 05/20/22 Review

wwe smackdown may 20 tag team titles

This week’s WWE Smackdown featured RK-Bro facing The Usos in a Tag Team Title unification match, Xavier Woods vs. Butch, Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and more.

Here’s a preferred read banner for this week. I just thought I should use RK-Bro vs. Usos again even though I used it last week too.

wwe smackdown may 20

From the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan, this is Smackdown for episode #1187. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.

The opening video package focused on the main event between the Raw Tag Team Champions RK-Bro and Smackdown Tag Team Champions The Usos in the Tag Team Championship Unification Match.

The commentary team of Michael Cole and Pat McAfee welcomed us to the show talking about the big tag team match main event. Good crowd in Grand Rapids this week.

Let’s Hear from Roman Reigns and The Bloodline

It’s time to do some acknowledging because the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns made his entrance with the Smackdown Tag Team Champions The Usos and “Wise Man” Special Counsel Paul Heyman. They showed a clip from last week when the Tag Team Title Unification Match was made official, which ended with Riddle doing a knee strike to Reigns. The Bloodline took several minutes to get to the ring as usual. Reigns has been Universal Champion for 629 days and The Usos have been Smackdown Tag Team Champions for 305 days, which is the record for those titles.

Reigns: “Grand Rapids…acknowledge me.” That led to cheers and boos, which also meant a lot of noise. Reigns said that tonight is a special night because you’re not just acknowledging The Tribal Chief, but you also acknowledge The Usos, which means you also acknowledge The Bloodline. Reigns wanted Heyman to tell us why.

Heyman welcomed us to the single biggest night in the history of tag team wrestling. Heyman said that this is the moment of truth. Heyman said that Reigns is the GOAT, the Undisputed Greatest of All Time. Heyman mentioned Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, The Rock, Brock Lesnar, John Cena and if you stacked them all up, that’s what would happen if they faced Roman Reigns. Heyman said that they would be stacked up and pinned by the Greatest of All Time, Roman Reigns. Heyman said that you have to acknowledge that Reigns defends the position of being the Greatest of All Time. Heyman asked what does it take for The Usos to be the greatest tag team of all time? Heyman said that he says that while standing in the ring with the descendants of Afa & Sika. Heyman told The Usos to be the only tag team ever to be the Smackdown and Raw Tag Team Champions at the same time. Heyman said that to do so, The Usos have to defeated RK-Bro. Heyman said that they are the best tag teams on Smackdown and on Raw, perhaps the best team ever on Raw. Heyman said it’s not enough for The Usos just to be the cousins of The Tribal Chief. Heyman said that The Usos will come home as the Unified Tag Team Champions or they won’t come home at all. Heyman said that The Usos will be the greatest tag team of all time and the undisputed champions of the world. Heyman said that is not just a prediction, that is a spoiler.

Reigns addressed The Usos: “You know what I want. And I expect you to deliver. The only reason I have these expectations is because I love you.” Reigns hugged both Usos at the same time. Roman’s music played to end it.

Analysis: A strong promo from Heyman as usual while Reigns made it clear that he expects his cousins The Usos to win the titles. It was an effective way of setting up the main event for later in the show.

Sami Zayn was shown watching on a TV while wearing “The Bloodline” shirt. Sami was showing support for The Bloodline because he likes to suck up to them.

Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance for yet another match against Zayn. Nakamura had a bit of a staredown with The Bloodline on his way to the ring. That match was after a break.

(Commercial)

Sami Zayn made his entrance to face a long-term rival. Zayn was greeted by boos as he wore “The Bloodline” shirt. Zayn beat Nakamura by countout a few weeks ago.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn

Nakamura with a shoulder tackle, Zayn tried a leapfrog and Nakamura avoided that with kicks to the body. Nakamura with a roundhouse kick to the head. Nakamura stepped on Zayn’s chest followed by a knee drop. Zayn did a hair pull to yank Nakamura to the mat. Zayn with a running clothesline for two. Zayn with double knees to the back while Nakamura was against the ropes. Zayn went up top, Nakamura met him with some punches and Zayn blocked a superplex attempt with elbows to the head. Zayn went up top, Nakamura tripped him up so that Zayn was crotched and Nakamura hit an elbow. Nakamura went for a kick, Zayn blocked it and sent Nakamura over the top to the floor.

(Commercial)

Zayn remained in control with forearms, elbows and a chinlock. Nakamura broke free, ran the ropes and hit a jumping side kick to the chest. Nakamura with a kick to the back of the neck, a sliding kick and then Shin did the German Suplex off the ropes. Nakamura with another kick for a two count. Zayn tried a punch, Nakamura ducked it and hit a spin kick to the head. Nakamura set up for a Kinshasa, Zayn bailed to the floor and Nakamura charged at Sami, who hit a Michinoku Driver on the floor. Nakamura got back in at nine to beat the ten count, so no countout win by Zayn this time. They left the ring again with Nakamura sending Zayn into the ring post and Nakamura tossed Zayn over the barricade. Zayn was back in at nine to beat the ten count, but just as he got back in, Nakamura hit the Kinshasa knee strike for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Shinsuke Nakamura

Analysis: ***1/4 This was a great match with some fun spots and nearfalls as well as some near countout endings as well. I like how the ending was booked as well with Zayn beating the ten count, then he walked into the ring and Nakamura beat him with the Kinshasa. While I would love to see Zayn booked in a more serious way, they really don’t book him that way. I am happy that they got the time for a good match, though. Nakamura getting the win and a push is fine with me.

A video package aired highlighting the career of The Usos with highlights of their success as a team. They are seven-time tag team champions that won the Smackdown Tag Team Titles at Money in the Bank last year.

Happy Corbin made his entrance and he was booed by the crowd. There’s yet another “Happy Talk” show after the break.

(Commercial)

Happy Talk with Happy Corbin

Corbin said that this was the happiest he’s ever been while standing beside the Andre the Giant trophy. Corbin said he was wearing a $12,000 hat and a $70,000 watch while bragging about how he got rid of Madcap Moss. Corbin said he also got himself a souvenir – the Andre trophy.

They showed what happened last week when Happy Corbin did a cheap attack on Moss with a steel chair. Corbin used the Andre trophy to hit a chair that was around Madcap’s neck. Moss did a stretcher job.

Corbin said he got fined a lot of money for that while adding it was a lot for most people and he claimed it was like a work of art. Corbin wanted to watch it again, so they showed it again three more times.

Corbin said we should all learn from that because we should appreciate the things we have and show your boss total respect. Corbin said you shouldn’t try to improve your position in life. Corbin said that Moss flew in private jets with him, he had wagyu beef and Corbin paid for it all. Corbin said that Moss wanted to get out of Corbin’s show while rising to the top of WWE. Corbin called Moss a big shot. Corbin said that Moss didn’t appreciate every great thing that Corbin did for him. Corbin said that Moss thought that Corbin could be the butt of his jokes while saying that Moss called him the “big bald wolf” so the fans chanted that. Corbin said that he’s the one laughing now. Corbin said that maybe he’s the “big bad wolf” because he huffed, puffed and put Madcap Moss in an ambulance. Corbin’s music played.

Corbin grabbed the Andre trophy from ringside, he picked it up and tossed it into the steel steps. Corbin tossed the bottom part of the trophy into the steel steps a few times, so it was busted up. Corbin held the Andre figure that was on top of the trophy. The fans booed.

Analysis: Is “Happy Talk” the worst “talk show” in WWE history? It might be. There have been some bad ones like Café du Renee hosted by Renee Dupree and The Electric Chair hosted by Corey Graves, but they were done after one week. This show continues to bore us every week. At least the trophy breaking got some cheap heat. I just think if I wasn’t watching this live, I’d hit fast forward during these Corbin segments.

They showed Drew Gulak talking to Ricochet last week with Drew showing confidence against Gunther, but that didn’t end well because Gunther saw Drew and chopped him hard.

Gunther made his entrance with Ludwig Kaiser doing the introductory promo. Ludwig: “Show your utmost respect and honor to the ring general…Gunther.” That led to Gunther doing his slow walk to the ring in a red coat. Gulak has to face Gunther again this week.

(Commercial)

Drew Gulak vs. Gunther

Gunther set up Gulak in the corner going for a chop, Gulak moved out of the way and hit his own chop, but Gunther came back with a boot to the face. Gunther with two hard chops to the chest along with another hard chop. Gunther hit a Powerbomb for the pinfall win in a match that went about one minute.

Winner by pinfall: Gunther

Analysis: 1/2* It was another dominant win for Gunther as usual for him.

Post match, Gunther applied a Boston Crab submission on Gulak. Ricochet made the save by going to the ring while Gunther and Ludwig left.

Analysis: That should probably lead to Gunther facing Ricochet for the Intercontinental Title. I expect Gunther to win that to become the Intercontinental Champion.

There was a backstage scene with WWE Official Adam Pearce with Max Dupri (former LA Knight) going up to him saying he had a male modeling agency. Max said that WWE Official Sonya Deville hired him while Adam Pearce said that this is the first he heard of this while saying that Sonya was fired from that job. Max said that they had a signed contract. Max said his name a few times, Pearce said it and Max said he was so close.

Analysis: Welcome the former LA Knight to Smackdown. I liked the LA Knight name, but WWE loves changing names when people go to the main roster. They are using him as a manager instead of a wrestler even though he’s solid in the ring. He’s a great talker.

RK-Bro will be interviewed after a break.

(Commercial)

RK-Bro were interviewed as the Raw Tag Team Champions with Kayla Braxton saying that The Usos are convinced they will win. Riddle said that he’s been beating The Usos week after week and they can’t beat RK-Bro. Riddle did the “RK-Bro 420 says we just smoked your asses” line. Orton said that The Usos are sweating bullets while adding that Roman Reigns will be disappointed looking at The Usos. Orton said that The Usos will be hit by the dangerous letters – RK-Bro. They left.

Analysis: A basic promo by the faces spewing some catchphrases while showing a lot of confidence.

A Progressive Match Flo video aired about Raquel Rodriguez challenging Ronda Rousey to a match last week. It was a competitive match with Rousey winning, but Raquel earned some respect. They shook hands after the match.

Shotzi was standing backstage watching on a TV with Aliyah going up to Shotzi about how Shotzi attacked Aliyah last week. Raquel Rodriguez walked up to them with Shotzi complaining that Raquel stole her moment last week. Shotzi insulted Raquel a few times calling her “six feet of disappointment” among other things. Raquel just smiled at her and made her entrance.

As I have mentioned in the past, Raquel smiles a lot on her way to the ring. Shotzi is heelish, so he has an attitude going into the match. That match is after a break.

(Commercial)

They showed a tweet from Drew McIntyre talking about the Clash at the Castle event in Wales on September 3. Tickets on sale with Drew noting that 40,000 tickets were sold already. Drew was in the UK on a promotional tour and is back on Smackdown next week.

Raquel Rodriguez vs. Shotzi

Raquel picked up Shotzi and drove her into the turnbuckle. Raquel wrenched on the arm, but Shotzi came back with a couple of kicks. They showed some superstars watching on a TV backstage. Raquel sent Shotzi into the turnbuckle, but Shotzi used her legs to choke Raquel against the ropes. Shotzi with a few more kicks. Shotzi jumped off the top, Raquel caught her and Raquel hit an impressive fallaway slam. Raquel hit another fallaway slam. Raquel hit a corkscrew elbow drop off the middle rope. Raquel hit the Chingona Bomb for the pinfall win after three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Raquel Rodriguez

Analysis: * An easy win for Raquel as expected. Shotzi got a couple of kicks in there, but it’s not like she had a chance to win. They are going to keep booking Raquel strong.

Xavier Woods was interviewed by Kayla Braxton near the entrance area. They showed a replay of Butch beating Kofi Kingston last week on Smackdown. Woods said it was obviously the biggest win of Butch’s career or does he need help? Woods said that Kofi Kingston wasn’t there because he was on some New Day business. Woods invited Butch to face Woods one on one so we can see what kind of man Butch is.

Xavier Woods made his entrance alone for his match against Butch.

(Commercial)

Butch was shown backstage with Sheamus & Ridge Holland. They told Butch to dance all over his head. Sheamus wanted a high five, but Butch slapped him in the face instead! They are calling the group “The Brawling Brutes” now.

Xavier Woods vs. Butch

Woods hit a forearm that knocked Butch out of the ring. Woods hit a running dropkick that knocked Butch down on the floor. Back in the ring, Butch stomped on the hands followed by a forearm. Butch pounded away on Butch with punches. Butch pulled back on Xavier’s arm while stomping on the ribs. Butch applied a tight headlock. Butch with a hard slap to the face, Woods got a boot up and hit the Honor Roll clothesline for a two count. Woods lifted up Butch, who did an eye rake and a stiff forearm. Butch with a jumping kick to the head. Butch delivered some rapid kicks to the head followed by an attempted move off the ropes, but Woods kicked him. Woods went for a move off the ropes, Butch stopped that with an elbow and delivered punches. The referee made Butch back away, so Woods got the Backwoods (inside cradle) for the pinfall win after five minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Xavier Woods

Analysis: **1/4 It was an entertaining short match with Butch getting plenty of offense, but Woods keeps getting wins with that Backwoods pinning move. Butch beat Kofi and now he loses to Woods, so that 50/50 booking pattern strikes again.

Post match, Butch left through the crowd while they showed replays. Woods celebrated by the entrance area, so then Sheamus & Ridge Holland showed up. Butch attacked Woods from behind. Ridge and Sheamus pulled Butch off.

Analysis: The feud just keeps going without any kind of resolution. I like everybody involved, but it needs to progress in a more interesting way in the future.

A video package aired about the two-time Raw Tag Team Champions RK-Bro. They won the titles for a second time earlier this year.

Randy Orton and Riddle were shown getting ready. That main event tag team match was next.

(Commercial)

Xavier Woods was interviewed by Megan Morant and mentioned wanting to face Sheamus’ crew in a six-man tag team match. They didn’t say who would team with Woods and Kingston.

They addressed Sasha Banks and Naomi. Cole was speaking for the company saying, “they let us all down.” Cole talked about Sasha Banks & Naomi walking out of Raw when they were supposed to be part of a Six-Pack Challenge. They were the Women’s Tag Team Champions that left the titles in the office of Head of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis. Cole said that Sasha & Naomi have been suspended indefinitely and WWE will have a future tournament to crown the new Women’s Tag Team Champions. McAfee didn’t speak, so it was just Cole for about one minute.

Analysis: I am not surprised by the decision to suspend Sasha & Naomi indefinitely. I hope both women come back soon, but I don’t know if they will. I doubt WWE knows if they will at this point, so they have to try to move forward with a women’s tag team tournament. They might need to get some NXT women for it, but I guess they might have enough women on Raw and Smackdown.

The Raw Tag Team Champions RK-Bro made their entrance as Randy Orton and Riddle posed for the appreciative crowd. The Usos made their entrance as the Smackdown Tag Team Champions with Paul Heyman walking out with them holding the WWE Title and Universal Title held by Roman Reigns. The teams stood in the ring for the championship introductions by ring announcer Samantha Irvin. I probably don’t mention this enough, but Samantha has done a great job since becoming the regular ring announcer on Smackdown. They went to break before the match began.

(Commercial)

This Monday on Raw: Bobby Lashley has an All Mighty Challenge for MVP and Omos. Plus, Cody Rhodes faces The Miz.

Winners Take All Tag Team Championship Unification Match: RK-Bro (Randy Orton & Riddle) vs. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso)

Paul Heyman joined commentary for this match. Riddle got a waistlock takedown on Jimmy, Orton tagged in and kicked Jimmy in the ribs. Orton stomped on Jimmy’s hand. Riddle tagged in and he jumped off of Orton’s hands for a twisting splash. Jimmy got some offense going with a hard whip into the turnbuckle. Jimmy did a bit of a hair whip for a takedown. The referee Dan Engler checked on Riddle doing the “X” sign with his hands to signify an injury. The doctor checked on Riddle and they went to break.

(Commercial)

Riddle was fine since he was still in the ring as The Usos hit a double spinebuster. Cole said that the doctor told them it was a bruised hip after taking a hard whip into the turnbuckle. Jimmy got a cheap shot on Riddle while Jimmy was not the legal man. Jimmy tagged in and stomped on Riddle’s back a few times. Jimmy got a waistlock on Riddle, who was near the ropes, but Jimmy hit a belly-to-back suplex on Riddle. Jimmy was silencing the crowd. Jey tagged in going for a move, but Riddle avoided it and hit a jumping knee to the face. Orton got the tag to a huge pop against Jimmy. Orton with two clotheslines, a scoop slam on both Usos and Orton hit a draping DDT on Jimmy. Orton hit an RKO on Jimmy for two because Jey was back in to break up the pin attempt. Jey pulled his brother to the corner, Jey tagged himself in, Jey shoved Orton into the corner, Riddle tagged in and Jey hit a superkick on Orton. Riddle with a jumping kick on Jey, then two forearms and an overhead suplex. Riddle went for a broton, Jey got the knees up and Jey hit a popup neckbreaker for two. Riddle hit a back elbow on Jey, but when Riddle went up top, Jey hit his legs and Riddle bounced off the top turnbuckle to the mat. Heyman left commentary. Jey went up top, Riddle met him up there, Heyman distracted the referee and Roman Reigns held onto Jey to save him from a move. Riddle bumped off the top to the mat. Jey jumped off the top with an Uso Splash on Riddle for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.

Winners by pinfall and NEW WWE Undisputed Tag Team Champions: The Usos

Analysis: ***1/2 A great match with a cheap finish. Kudos to Riddle working through a hip injury that appeared to be a legit thing that they were concerned about, but he got through it fine and worked most of the match. Orton nearly got the win with that RKO, but it wasn’t meant to be because there was a save. I’m not surprised by Reigns interjecting himself to help The Usos win because it was a smart way to book a cheap ending. I admit I didn’t expect a title change and thought that they might go for a DQ. However, I’m happy they went with The Usos winning because they are the long term tag team. Plus, it fits the story better for The Usos to be the team holding the titles.

Post match, The Usos celebrated with the Raw and Smackdown Tag Team Titles. Reigns beat up Riddle with punches while The Usos hit a double superkick on Orton. The Usos hit Orton with the steel steps repeatedly. Reigns choked out Riddle with the guillotine choke. Reigns put Riddle on the commentary table. Jey went up top and hit an Uso Splash onto Riddle through the table. That was an impressive leap! Reigns gave Orton a guillotine choke to take care of him at ringside. There were officials all around ringside.

Reigns and The Usos all went into the ring together holding up their six titles over their heads. The Bloodline celebrated in the middle of the ring and that was the end of the show.

Analysis: There was a report in the Wrestling Observer that Roman’s next three title defenses are against Riddle at Money in the Bank, Orton at SummerSlam and McIntyre at Clash of the Titans, so the post match attack continues that story. Plus, it was Riddle who delivered that knee to the face of Roman last week on Smackdown, which is another sign that they are going to go with that as a WWE Universal Title match between Reigns and Riddle. Anyway, this was fine as a way to have The Bloodline look dominant like they have done many times in the last two years.

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. The Usos
  2. Randy Orton & Riddle
  3. Sami Zayn/Shinsuke Nakamura

 

The Scoreboard

7 out of 10

Last week: 7.75

 

Final Thoughts

A pretty good show with a big main event that saw The Usos become the Unified Tag Team Champions. It wasn’t clean, but I think they were the right choice while RK-Bro are likely to get title matches against Roman Reigns in the months ahead.

I liked Nakamura’s match with Zayn a lot too. The other matches were kept shorter and it’s easy to see why they put over the likes of Raquel Rodriguez and Gunther in dominant matches.

One of Smackdown’s problems is they do too many matches. I like the roster a lot. Just freshen things up a bit in terms of doing different matches once in a while.

The next WWE Premium Live Event is Hell in a Cell on Sunday, June 5th. Here’s what we know so far.

wwe hell in a cell 2022 cody rhodes seth rollins

Hell in a Cell Match: Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Rollins

Raw Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair (c) vs. Asuka

You can watch WWE Hell in a Cell, streaming live Sunday, June 5, at 8 ET/5 PT on Peacock in the United States and on WWE Network everywhere else.

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Thanks for reading. Please check out my reviews of every WWE PPV ever listed in order. Go Toronto Blue Jays. My contact info is below.

John Canton

Email mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport