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After a tumultuous week off, “Tribal Chief” Roman Reigns returns to SmackDown with several topics to address, including the status of his cousin Jimmy Uso and Money in the Bank opponent Edge.
What will The Head of the Table have to say as he prepares for the Hall of Fame challenger to his Universal Championship on July 18? What might he have in store for Uso following an embarrassing week for the family?
Elsewhere, who will qualify for the final spots in the men’s and women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Matches and who will challenge Bianca Belair at the pay-per-view after Friday’s somber announcement of Bayley’s untimely injury?
Find out now with this recap of the July 9 broadcast.
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Announced for Friday’s show are:
- Roman Reigns returns
- Money in the Bank Qualifier: Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins
- Money in the Bank Qualifier: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin
- The latest on Bayley after WWE.com’s announcement of a knee injury that will keep her sidelined for up to nine months
Coverage begins at 8 p.m.
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Universal champion Roman Reigns kicked off the evening’s broadcast, almost immediately taking exception to Edge’s claims from a week ago that he is afraid of the Hall of Famer or that The Iconoclast is in his head. He isn’t. He dominated at WrestleMania, won the match and printed a shirt based on it.
The topic of conversation turned to family and Jimmy Uso made his way to the ring. After insinuating Reigns was on vacation, The Head of the Table said he was busy doing what his cousin could not. Jey Uso made his way to the ring and said he was back for all of them.
Jey vowed to always have his brother’s back and Reigns reiterated the fact that no one can touch them when they’re all together. The Big Dog embraced the Usos, putting their family drama behind them and presenting a united front for any babyface challenger to overcome.
Anyone wondering if WWE was going to acknowledge Jimmy’s legal troubles of this week got their answer fairly early as Jey vowed to stick by his brother through all the darkness. An emotional Jimmy could be caught after the mid-ring embrace with Reigns.
The actual segment itself reunited The Bloodline and presented a nearly insurmountable obstacle for Edge to overcome if he hopes to capture the Universal Championship that has eluded him throughout 2021.
As has been the case throughout the family drama, though, the potential exists for further dissension sooner than later. It only takes one Uso screwup to earn the wrath of Reigns and put the relationship back on the rocks. Until that happens, though, the creative team has created a hell of a heel act for the babyfaces of SmackDown to try and overcome if they want to unseat The Head of the Table.
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With Big E and commentator Pat McAfee watching at ringside, enjoying pedicures at the same time, Shinsuke Nakamura and Baron Corbin continued their never-ending feud in a Money in the Bank qualifier.
Corbin shook off shots about his financial status and loss of the King of the Ring crown to dominate his opponent early. Nakamura fought back and had the former Arizona Cardinal reeling but Corbin drove the new king into the announce table as the show headed to break.
Corbin survived a triangle choke from a resurgent Nakamura and turned him inside out with a big clothesline. The king answered with a Kinshasa and scored the pinfall victory to advance to Money in the Bank.
Nakamura defeated Corbin
This was the best of their recent matches but for the love of all things good, can we please never, ever book this match again? It’s been overdone, the wrestlers involved don’t have much in the way of in-ring chemistry and the pairing’s overexposure this last month has made it incredibly difficult to ever want to see it again.
Corbin as the broken heel after a solid year and a half of bragging and celebrating his status as the King of the Ring is a great touch. The downfall will, hopefully, breed a new persona for the underrated big man who has quickly developed into one of the unsung workhorses of WWE.
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Women’s tag team champions Natalya and Tamina made their way to the ring and addressed the idea of a new team debuting on SmackDown to try and threaten their reign as the top tag team in women’s wrestling. Shotzi Blackheart and Tegan Nox (apparently recognized as Shotzi and Nox) exploded through the curtain on the former’s tank, announcing to the world their call-up to the main roster.
The NXT exports dominated the match, completely catching the champions off guard and earning an upset victory following Blackheart’s Ballpit finisher on The Queen of Harts.
Shotzi and Nox defeated Natalya and Tamina
This was a glorified squash, a win aimed solely at creating challengers for Nattie and Tamina while simultaneously adding depth to a SmackDown women’s division that suddenly and inexplicably found itself devoid of stars following the injury to Bayley that will take her out of the Money in the Bank pay-per-view.
Shotzi and Nox looked great in their brief outing, more importantly looking like they belong. Now, it will be up to them to build on the momentum they have and for WWE Creative to move forward with what appears to be a fairly substantial push right out of the gate.
If both sides can hold up their end of the deal, the result will be two new stars poised to do big things in a company eager to find new faces to carry it into the future.
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Sonya Deville officially announced the injury suffered by Bayley before throwing to a prerecorded video in which the Role Model blamed fans for her misfortune. From there, the Pride Fighter and WWE official revealed that Bianca Belair will defend her SmackDown Women’s Championship next week against Carmella.
The Most Beautiful Woman in the World entered the ring and thanked Deville, only to be cut off by Liv Morgan, who took exception to what she considered favoritism. Deville told Morgan she was replacing Carmella in the Money in the Bank, to which the former Riott Squad member vowed to win and cash in on her rival.
Belair appeared and questioned Bayley’s injury before promising to beat Carmella next week.
A video package aired promising the upcoming debut of Toni Storm on the main roster.
If there is one positive of the segment, it was continuity.
Deville has repeatedly shown questionable bias toward Carmella and this decision continues that storyline, allowing Morgan to crusade for fairness. Now that she got it, there is a very real opportunity to advance that story with Carmella stealing her spot back if she loses to Belair a week from tonight.
In what universe would it make sense for Bayley to feign an injury and miss out on her title opportunity? It was a silly claim by Belair that was meant to attack Bayley’s integrity but landed with a thud.
The impending debut of Toni Storm will be great for the SmackDown women’s division but the key to success will be, as always, her creative. Here’s hoping her immense talent is backed up by adequate booking because the division as a whole will benefit exponentially from having her in it.
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Cesaro and Seth Rollins wrote the latest chapter in their rivalry in a Money in the Bank qualifier, their championship aspirations at stake.
The back-and-forth match saw both men seize control at different points until The Swiss Cyborg spun Rollins repeatedly. The Architect fought back, busting open his opponent’s forehead as Kevin Owens, sitting in on commentary, alerted the viewer to an exposed turnbuckle.
Cesaro, slowed by his head injury, repeatedly found himself fighting the referee’s count on the floor until Rollins delivered a wicked DDT on the entrance ramp. Cesaro fought through the blood pouring into his and beat the ref’s count back into the ring, only to fall prey to the stomp as Rollins cashed his ticket to the July 18 pay-per-view.
Rollins defeated Cesaro
Rollins and Cesaro are always going to deliver in these sort of longer matches and this did not disappoint. What did was WWE’s sudden abandonment of Cesaro’s main event push.
After losing to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania Backlash, The Swiss Superman was the biggest babyface the blue brand had. The unnecessary continuation of the feud with Rollins and a lack of dedication to continuing his run at the title cooled him down.
Now, after losing this match, it appears as though he is completely out of the title picture and his spot near the top of the card is also in jeopardy.
Why? He did everything you could possibly want someone in that position to do. He performed up to the moment, had a Match of the Year candidate with Reigns, and was the talk of the internet wrestling world. Now, what?
Does he slink off into the midcard? Does WWE shove him back into a tag team?
Maybe someone should send him over to Raw, where he could benefit from feuding with Bobby Lashley as a hot new challenger.
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Edge made his way to the ring to wrap up Friday’s show, prepared to call out Roman Reigns ahead of their Universal Championship Match in nine nights at Money in the Bank.
The Rated R Superstar doubled down on the idea that Reigns fears him and vowed to take the Universal Championship at Money in the Bank. He threw down the proverbial punk card and called Reigns out. The Tribal Chief, watching in the locker room, rose and ordered his cousins to stay backstage.
Reigns made his way to the ring, only for the Usos to make their way to his side, Jey citing his concerns of a trap. The Head of the Table entered the ring without his cousins and exchanged rights and lefts with Edge before Rey and Dominik Mysterio returned, wiping out The Usos at ringside.
Jimmy and Jey fought back but not before Edge planted Reigns with an impaler DDT. The Iconoclast set up for a spear but The Usos took him down. The Mysterios made the save, but Reigns escaped up the ramp. Edge, with the assistance of the tag champs, applied the chair-assisted crossface to Jey as The Tribal Chief watched from the stage.
The Mysterios were off television just long enough that you forgot about them, making their return in the show-closing segment a nice surprise. That Rey and Dominik have established issues with The Usos and Reigns only make it that much better. Their involvement in this segment, in particular, not only made sense but it also set up a potential six-man tag team match that could serve as a huge main event match for next week’s episode of SmackDown in front of a live audience if the creative team wanted to head that way.
Edge looked like a man unhinged, hellbent on sending a message to Reigns while inflicting pain and punishment on one of the men responsible for him not currently holding the Universal Championship.
Reigns watching as his cousins endured a beating will inevitably cost him, especially when Jimmy and Jey get tired of taking ass-whoopings in his name. No matter how many dream matches WWE throws around, it still feels very much like the only suitable end to Reigns’ title run is at the hands (or foot) of Jey Uso.