– Tonight’s WWE SmackDown on FOX opens live from the PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina as Michael Cole welcomes us. He’s joined at ringside by Pat McAfee.
WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles Tournament: Aliyah and Raquel Rodriguez vs. Xia Li and Shotzi
We go right to the ring for tonight’s first round match in the tournament for the vacant WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles. Out first comes Raquel Rodriguez as Samantha Irvin does the introductions. Her partner Aliyah is out next. We see the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles on display at ringside. Out next comes Xia Li for her team, followed by Shotzi. The winners of this match will go on to face the winners of Natalya and Sonya Deville vs. Nikkita Lyons and Zoey Stark over the next few weeks. We see how Iyo Sky and Dakota Kai defeated Tamina Snuka and WWE 24/7 Champion Dana Brooke on Monday’s RAW. Next week’s RAW will feature Alexa Bliss and Asuka vs. Nikki A.S.H. and Doudrop, and the winners of that will advance to face Sky and Kai.
The bell rings and Raquel launches Shotzi into the corner, then goes to work. Shotzi fights back and traps Raquel on the ropes with a modified Octopus submission. Shotzi rakes the eyes and uses the ropes for leverage but Raquel kicks out at 2. Raquel blocks a submission and drops Shotzi hard with a bad landing.
We see Natalya and Deville scouting the match from ringside. Aliyah tags in and flies off the top with a crossbody for Li after she came in. Li kicks out at 2 due to Shotzi breaking the pin up. Aliyah ends up nailing a crossbody from the apron to Li, right at the feet of Deville and Natalya. Shotzi goes after Deville and a brawl breaks out at ringside. Raquel and Shotzi take out Li and Aliyah, but then they start brawling with each other. All four competitors then brawl at ringside as we go to commercial.
Back from the break and Li is in control of Aliyah. Li with shoulder thrusts in the corner. Shotzi tags in for the double team inverted DDT. Shotzi covers for 2. Li tags back in for another double team as Shotzi nails a Bulldog and Li delivers a kick to the face. Li seems a bit confused before covering for 2 in the middle of the ring. Li grounds Aliyah as Raquel rallies for a tag now.
Aliyah gets an opening but Shotzi stops the tag attempt. Li tags in and misses a cheap shot to Raquel on the apron. Aliyah fights off both opponents out of their corner. Li stops her from getting to Raquel. Li with a long vertical suplex but Li counters and turns it into a neckbreaker for a big pop. Raquel finally tags in and unloads on Shotzi, delivering a big fall-away slam, and another as fans cheer her on.
Raquel with the second rope corkscrew elbow splash. Raquel looks to finish Shotzi but Li distracts from the apron. Shotzi sends Raquel face-first into the middle turnbuckle. Shotzi keeps control and levels Raquel out of the corner for a close 2 count.
Shotzi shows some frustration now. Li tags back in but Aliyah stops the double team by hitting a Spear on Shotzi. Li and Raquel tangle now. Raquel is all smiles as she hits the Texana Bomb to Li in the middle of the ring for the pin to win and advance.
Winners: Raquel Rodriguez and Aliyah
– After the match, Rodriguez and Aliyah stand tall as the music hits and fans cheer them on. Raquel and Aliyah will now face the winner of next Friday’s Natalya and Deville vs. Lyons and Stark match.
– Cole sends us to a video package that shows how Drew McIntyre confronted The Bloodline last week, only to be destroyed by the returning Karrion Kross. We also see how Kross and Scarlett taunted Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns and Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos. We get a backstage promo from Kross now, and Scarlett is with him. Kross says in the midst of chaos, opportunity tends to present itself. Kross says last week that is exactly what happened – the rebirth of a darkened soul. Kross says Drew and Reigns, the chosen ones… it must be nice. He and Scarlett were cast out of paradise, disregarded like a broken toy to be forgotten but they never forgot. They prepared and waited for the perfect time to strike… for vengeance. He says everyone knows about The Bloodline but now he wants to show us the new timeline… no matter how or where the time is told, in the end, everybody pays the toll. Tick, tock… we see Kross look around a corner at McIntyre making his entrance to the ring.
– The music hits as Drew McIntyre makes his way out to pyro. McIntyre hits the ring and poses in the corner, without his sword Angela, as fans cheer him on. We go back to commercial.
Back from the break and Drew gives a shout-out to Raleigh. He says it’s an exciting time for WWE as new faces are returning, and he was attacked from behind by Karrion Kross last week. Drew goes on about how Kross has been waiting for an opportunity, and what better opportunity than attacking the #1 contender last week while he faced off with Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns. He says the one problem is the man Kross attacked and left laying like a piece of garbage was Drew McIntyre. Drew says he was going to get up and say this message to Kross last week – Drew has his hands a little full right now, buddy, but when the time is right, we will play a little game. Drew says it will be multiple choice and Kross has three options – knockout, the hospital, or the graveyard. Drew says he will send Kross back to the dungeon he crawled out of.
Drew also tells Kross to check out his match with Reigns at Clash at The Castle. Drew has some bad news – Reigns is not here tonight, Reigns is not at work. Drew says he will be honest with Reigns, since he surrounds himself with Yes-Men and believes his own hype… Drew says Reigns’ last two matches with Brock Lesnar, it took weapons, his family, and more to get the job done, but Drew walked into a WrestleMania main event and beat Brock with his bare hands. Drew says Reigns is delusional, The Island of Relevancy is not a real place. The music interrupts and out comes Scarlett to the stage.
Scarlett marches to the ring as the screen goes grayscale. Scarlett enters the ring and Drew looks at her, but Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos suddenly attack Drew from behind. They beat him down as color returns to the screen. Scarlett watches from the apron as Drew fights The Usos off. However, they get the upperhand and superkick Drew, then lay him out with the 1D. The Usos taunt Scarlett now, telling her to tell her man to step up to the plate now but if he does, they will take him down, and that this is The Bloodline’s territory. Scarlett smiles at The Usos and says that’s funny, and she goes on talking some trash, which is hard to make out. The Usos’ music starts up as Scarlett exits the ring, stopping at ringside to look back at The Usos in the ring. We go to replays. Drew slowly recovers as The Usos exit the ring and Scarlett stares them down from the stage. Back to commercial.
– Back from the break and we get a video package on the legacy of the WWE Intercontinental Title. Megan Morant is backstage with #1 contender Shinsuke Nakamura now. She brings up champion Gunther but Nakamura interrupts and tells Gunther to come on.
Ivar vs. Kofi Kingston
We go back to the ring and out comes The Viking Raiders – Ivar with Erik. Kofi Kingston suddenly attacks from behind on the stage with a kendo stick. Kofi unloads on Erik and Ivar, then raises the kendo stick in the air for a pop.
The Vikings then block kendo stick shots with a shield, and level Kingston with a sword shot. Erik and Ivar destroy Kingston on the stage now. Fans try to rally for Kingston but Erik launches him through the air, into Ivar’s shield, face-first. Ivar then stands on top of the barrier and delivers a big flying splash onto the stage.
A referee checks on Kofi as fans boo, and The Vikings stare down at the fallen member of The New Day. We get a replay of Ivar’s big splash as The Vikings head to the back. A medic and a referee tend to Kingston as we go back to commercial.
– Back from the break and Sami Zayn is hesitating outside of The Bloodline’s locker room suite door. The Usos come out and Sami says he’s been doing a lot of thinking – The Usos were right in everything they said last week. Drew McIntyre suddenly rushes over and attacks. Drew destroys The Usos and lays them out. Drew kneels down and says every chance he gets, he’s beating The Usos’ asses. We see Zayn running away in the background.
Hit Row vs. Brandon Scott and Trevor Irvin
We go back to the ring and two local enhancement talents are in the ring – Brandon Scott and Trevor Irvin. Out next comes Hit Row making their WWE returns – Ashante “Thee” Adonis and “Top Dolla” AJ Francis, led to the ring by “B-Fab” Briana Brandy.
Fans pop for Hit Row as we get the bell. Dolla levels Scott with a big shoulder, and then knocks the other opponent off the apron for a pop. Francis with a big running knee to the face in the corner while Scott is down. Adonis tags in and levels Scott in the face. Hit Row then poses for the crowd.
Adonis plants Scott face-first into the mat. Trevor Irvin ends up coming in but Dolla catches both opponents at once, and then slams them in the middle of the ring. Adonis then tags in and they hit the double team dropkick finisher, the Heavy Hitter, for the pin to get the easy win.
Winners: Hit Row
– After the match, Hit Row stands tall as the music hits. We go to replays. B-Fab takes the mic and asks if the fans missed them. She re-introduces herself, she’s B-Fab because she “be fab.” Dolla re-introduces himself and raps a bit, and Adonis also re-introduces himself. B-Fab says they are the OG-3 and if you didn’t know, now you know. Hit Row continues dancing around the ring to end the segment.
– We get a look at how Shayna Baszler became the new #1 contender to SmackDown Women’s Champion Liv Morgan. Their contract signing for Clash at The Castle is coming up. Back to commercial.
– Back from the break and Ludwig Kaiser is with WWE Intercontinental Champion Gunther backstage. They’re speaking in German. Kayla Braxton approaches for comments but Gunther interrupts and says tonight Shinsuke Nakamura will suffer at the hands of The Ring General.
– The ring is set up for a contract signing to make Shayna Baszler vs. SmackDown Women’s Champion Liv Morgan official for WWE Clash at The Castle. Ronda Rousey suddenly comes through the crowd and hops over the barrier. Rousey is carrying a duffel bag full of money.
Rousey says she knows she’s not supposed to be here because she was suspended for her actions at SummerSlam. A loud “Ronda!” chant starts up. Rousey says she was also fined a lot of money, so she doubled it – she dumps out a bunch of money on the table. Rousey says it won’t be the last time, and being The Baddest gets expensive, but she can afford it. Security comes down and Rousey says she was just about to leave, but they’re sending security out after her. Rousey taunts security and exits the ring. She approaches security and a female guard grabs her by the arm. Rousey tosses her with a judo throw at ringside. A male guard pleads with Rousey as she teases snapping the arm of the female guard. Rousey steps away as referees try to get her to leave. The male guard escorts Rousey to the back as some fans boo.
Baszler comes out and tells Rousey she can’t do that, she has to play by the rules if she wants to get what she wants. Rousey tells her former best friend she used to be a killer. Baszler watches as Rousey storms off to the back. Baszler enters the ring and flips through some of Rousey’s money on the table. Baszler recalls how she won a Gauntlet to become the #1 contender last week. She says Morgan just happens to be the next one on the list, and she will be the next one to fall. Baszler signs the contract for Clash at The Castle. She brings up Morgan’s injured arm and the target on her, and calls her out to make the title match official. Baszler can’t wait for Cardiff so she can rip Morgan limb by limb, or maybe put her to sleep. Baszler goes on with the trash talking about how she will win the title at Clash at The Castle. The music interrupts and out comes the SmackDown Women’s Champion with the brace on her arm.
Morgan hits the ring and declares that Baszler will not beat her, calling her kind of like a bootleg Ronda Rousey. Liv knows that because she beat the real deal twice, and in Cardiff, she’s going to beat Baszler also. Liv tosses the mic and signs the contract. Liv then raises the title in Baszler’s face, and kisses it. A “you tapped out!” chant starts up. Baszler grabs Liv’s arm and smashes it into the table. Baszler then bends Liv’s injured arm back and puts a foot down on her face as Liv screams out in pain. Baszler twists the arm again and stomps down on it. Baszler grabs Liv from the corner and continues working on the injured arm as some fans boo. Baszler goes for Liv again but Liv counters and puts Baszler through the table with a big Bulldog. Liv grabs the title and stands tall as her music starts up. We go to replays. Baszler is laid out in the table debris while Liv raises the title in the air.
– Sami Zayn is backstage looking worried. The Usos walk up and taunt Sami for walking away from Drew McIntyre’s attack earlier. Sami makes excuses but The Usos don’t want to hear it. They remind him what was said last week – if Sami doesn’t step up, he will get left behind. The Usos walk off and say they’re going to the ring to call out McIntyre. Sami is left speechless and looking concerned as we go back to commercial.
– Back from the break and we see footage from Thursday’s WrestleMania 38 Launch Party at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. Cole says WWE just had the highest first-day ticket sales for a WrestleMania event.
Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos vs. Drew McIntyre and Madcap Moss
We go back to the ring and out come Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos – Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso. They take the mic and challenge Drew McIntyre to bring any tag team partner he wants for this non-title match. The music hits and out comes McIntyre by himself.
Jey starts off with Drew and they brawl as the bell hits. Drew gets the upperhand and knocks Jimmy off the apron. Drew sends Jey out on the other side of the ring, and keeps control. Drew sends Jimmy into the announce table and yells out. Drew with a big chop to Jey now, bringing him back into the ring. Dre works Jey around the ring now. Jimmy ends up turning it around and now The Usos go to work on Drew as fans do dueling chants. The Usos take turns on Drew and stomp away while he’s down near their corner now.
The music suddenly interrupts and out comes Madcap Moss. Moss rushes the ring and unloads on both of The Usos, running over them with shoulders. Moss catches Jimmy with a big fall-away slam, then hits Jey with a shoulder thrust, then drops Jimmy again. Drew sees Moss and says why not. They team up and clear the ring, sending The Usos to the floor. Moss and McIntyre stand tall in the middle of the ring as we go back to commercial.
Back from the break and Jey is in control of Moss. Jey with the big Rikishi splash in the corner for a pop. Moss comes back with a neckbreaker and they’re both down now as fans begin to rally. McIntyre and Jimmy tag in at the same time. Drew drops Jimmy and launches him across the ring from the corner. Jey runs in but Drew nails a neckbreaker, then a neckbreaker for Jimmy. Drew kips-up for a big pop.
Drew calls for the Claymore Kick to Jimmy but Sami Zayn hits the ring and gets in the way. Sami rolls to the floor but Jimmy takes advantage and drops Drew. Jey tags in and hits the top rope Uso Splash on Drew for a close 2 count. Sami can’t believe it as he throws a fit at ringside. Sami gets back on the apron to argue with the referee now. The Usos are disappointed. Sami cheers The Usos on from ringside now. Jimmy tags back in and they raise their fingers in the air, as does Sami from ringside.
The Usos prepare for the 1D but Moss pulls Jey to the floor and launches him into the barrier. Moss charges but Jey ducks and sends Moss into the timekeeper’s area. Drew and Jimmy tangle in the ring now and Drew blocks a Samoan Drop. Drew comes back with a Glasgow Kiss headbutt to Jimmy. Jimmy superkicks Drew but Drew is still on his feet. He charges and levels Jimmy with a Claymore for the pin to win.
Winners: Drew McIntyre and Madcap Moss
– After the match, Moss and McIntyre stand tall as the music hits. Jey tries to sneak attack but Drew counters and drops him with a Future Shock DDT. Drew then kips-up for another big pop. McIntyre prepares for a Claymore as fans count along with him. Sami rushes in and pushes Jey out of the way, sacrificing himself and taking the Claymore. Drew kneels down and shrugs his shoulders over the fallen Zayn. The Usos retreat with their titles as Drew points at them from the ring, saying he just sent a message to The Bloodline. Moss stands with Drew as we go to replays. They continue their celebration as fans cheer them on.
– We get a graphic in memory of the legendary “Judo” Gene LeBell, who passed away at the age of 89 on Tuesday. The announcers lead us to a video package on LeBell.
– We go backstage to a Maximum Male Models photo shoot. Max Dupri and Maxxine Dupri are yelling at the photographer while ma.çé and mån.sôör pose for photos. Los Lotharios interrupt and have some words with Max. Angel and Humberto say they should be signed to the group if they want Maximum Male Models to take off, because they are the most handsome tag team. Max gets in their faces and says he’s sorry but they’re just not Maximum Male Models material. They step around Max and say they weren’t talking to him, they were talking to Maxxine. They tell her to give them a call. Max isn’t happy but Maxxine seems flattered. Max orders the photo shoot to continue because they’re wasting time and money.
– We get a video package for tonight’s main event. McAfee is excited to see the match and support Shinsuke Nakamura. We go back to commercial.
– Back from the break and Kayla Braxton is backstage with Ricochet. They talk about his low blow to Happy Baron Corbin. Kayla says that led to this… we see a replay of how Pat McAfee was involved in Ricochet’s win over Corbin last week. Ricochet agrees that he was in the zone and says he’s now more locked in than he’s been in a long time, and it feels like he’s been shot out of a cannon, which feels so good. Ricochet is ready to go full speed for whatever lays ahead. He goes on and says it doesn’t matter who wins tonight, Shinsuke Nakamura or Gunther, because they both need to know he’s coming for the WWE Intercontinental Title and he will be waiting in line. Happy Baron Corbin suddenly attacks and drops Ricochet. Corbin taunts Ricochet and says they’re just getting started. Corbin laughs and walks away as officials tend to Ricochet, who is furious. McAfee knocks “Bum Ass Corbin” on commentary.
– Announced for next week is The Viking Raiders’ funeral for The New Day, a face-off between Drew McIntyre and Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns, plus Nikkita Lyons and Zoey Stark vs. Natalya and Sonya Deville in a first round match in the tournament for the vacant WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles. Cole sends us to a video package on Lyons and Stark, representing WWE NXT.
WWE Intercontinental Title Match: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Gunther
We go back to the ring for tonight’s main event and out first comes Shinsuke Nakamura to a pop. Ludwig Kaiser then appears on the stage under a spotlight. He introduces WWE Intercontinental Champion Gunther and out comes The Ring General. We get formal ring introductions from Samantha Irvin. Gunther raises the strap in the air as Nakamura looks on and we go back to commercial.
Back from the break and the champion faces off with the challenger as the bell hits. They tangle and Nakamura takes it to the corner, then backs off as the referee warns him. They trade holds in the middle of the ring now. Kaiser looks on from ringside as Gunther takes it to the corner but misses a strike. Nakamura stuns Gunther a bit with kicks. Nakamura kicks at Gunther’s knees now.
Nakamura drops Gunther after several kicks to the knee. Nakamura with a side headlock. They run the ropes and Gunther leaps over Nakamura, then levels him with a big boot. Gunther with big European uppercuts now. Gunther drops Nakamura with a big chop and looks out at the crowd. Gunther with a Boston Crab now as the referee checks on the challenger. Gunther turns this into a STF submission but Nakamura gets the bottom rope to break the hold.
Gunther talks some trash and rocks Nakamura with another uppercut. Nakamura yells back and fights back with strikes of his own in the middle of the ring. Gunther levels Nakamura to stun him but Nakamura takes Gunther down into an armbar. Gunther kicks out at 1. Gunther stomps on Nakamura but Nakamura rolls him into a pin attempt for 2. Nakamura drops Gunther again and then works him over with strikes, and a kick to the back of the neck. Nakamura focuses on the right arm now and softens the champion up. Nakamura drops Gunther with an enziguri but Gunther kicks out at 2.
Gunther gets back up and levels Nakamura with a huge chop. Gunther lays Nakamura over the top turnbuckles and delivers another big chop. Gunther turns Nakamura upside down in the corner and stretches him with the ropes, then knocks him out to the floor. Gunther sells his hurt arm but stands tall in the ring as we go back to commercial.
Back from the break and Gunther immediately launches Nakamura with a big German suplex. Gunther grounds Nakamura as fans rally now. Gunther drops Nakamura with a big boot. Gunther goes to the top as Kaiser cheers him on. Gunther flies with a big splash but Nakamura catches him with a Triangle off the bad landing. Gunther powers up out of the submission but Nakamura keeps the Triangle locked in.
Gunther pounds on Nakamura and turns the submission into a big one-arm suplex. Gunther works on Nakamura as fans chant for the challenger. Nakamura is standing now as he kicks Gunther back. Nakamura gets the upperhand and levels Gunther with a knee to the chin as Gunther charges in. Gunther goes down but kicks out at 2. Nakamura drives knee strikes into Gunther while he’s down. Nakamura with big kicks in the corner now.
Nakamura with Good Vibrations in the corner for a big pop from the crowd. Nakamura takes Gunther tot he apron, kicks him int he back of the head, then hits the big sliding German suplex. Nakamura comes out in Kaiser’s face off the sliding German, and taunts him. Nakamura returns to the ring but Gunther is waiting with a big dropkick. Gunther tries for the powerbomb in the middle of the ring but Nakamura lands on his feet, hits Gunther’s hurt arm, then kicks him in the back of the head for a big pop. Nakamura readies for the Kinshasa from the corner but Gunther cuts him off with a big lariat. Nakamura still kicks out just in time. Fans chant for Nakamura now but Gunther delivers a big chop. Gunther applies a Sleeper. Nakamura stays on his feet as the hold is tightened.
Nakamura rams Gunther back into the turnbuckles but the hold is still applied. Nakamura finally gets free but Gunther nails a huge standing missile dropkick to the back. Gunther then follows up with the powerbomb in the middle of the ring out of nowhere, covering for the pin to win and retain.
– After the match, Gunther stands tall in the middle of the ring as the music hits. Kaiser brings the WWE Intercontinental Title belt into the ring and hands it to The Ring General as we go to replays. Nakamura looks on from the ramp as Kaiser helps put the title around Gunther’s waist. Gunther embraces Kaiser and then they pose together in the middle of the ring. SmackDown goes off the air with Gunther and Kaiser standing tall.