The build to Clash at the Castle continues on tonight's WWE SmackDown from the PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina.
WWE Intercontinental Champion Gunther defends against Shinsuke Nakamura, who earned the shot by defeating Ludwig Kaiser last week.
A follow-up is expected from last week's show-closing surprise return from Karrion Kross and Scarlett. The duo made an appearance as Drew McIntyre was approaching WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns and The Usos in the ring. Kross beat down McIntyre, followed by Scarlett putting the hourglass in the ring to intimidate Reigns.
WWE SmackDown Women's Champion Liv Morgan and Shayna Baszler will meet in a contract signing for their Clash title match. Baszler earned her opportunity last week after winning a number one contender's gauntlet match.
Raquel Rodriguez & Aliyah take on Shotzi & Xia Li In a WWE Women's Tag Team Championship tournament match with the winners advancing to the semifinals.
Our live coverage begins at 8 PM Eastern.
WWE Women's Tag Team Championship Tournament: Raquel Rodriguez & Aliyah defeated Shotzi & Xia Li (9:34)
This was a fine match with some rough spots. The fans were into the match and popped big for Rodriguez's comeback and the finish.
They recapped Dakota Kai & Iyo Sky vs. Tamina & Dana Brooke on Raw in a first-round tournament match.
Sonya Deville and Natalya watched the match from ringside.
The faces had the early advantage. Rodriguez press slammed Aliyah onto Li for a near fall. Shotzi recovered and broke up the pin with a senton. Aliyah then hit a flying cross body off the apron to the floor.
Aliyah and Li ended up in front of Natalya and Deville. Rodriguez and Shotzi ended up brawling with Deville and Natalya. Eventually, Deville and Natalya ran off.
Back from the break, the heels isolated Aliyah on their side of the ring. In a scary-looking spot, Li held Aliyah on her shoulder, and Shotzi hit a running neck breaker. They dropped her on her head, but she seemed fine.
Li attempted a suplex, but Aliyah reversed into a neck breaker. Rodriguez got the hot tag and ran wild. The fans popped for Rodriguez's come back. She hit a fall-away slam on both heels.
Li distracted Rodriguez, and the heels regained control. The heels set up for a double-side Russian leg sweep. Instead, Aliyah speared Shotzi and Rodriguez hit the powerbomb for the win. The fans popped for the finish.
Rodriguez and Aliyah advance to the semi-finals. They take on the winner of next week's tournament match, Natalya & Deville vs. Zoey Stark & Nikkita Lyons.
They showed a video package recapping Karrion Kross and Scarlett showing up last week.
In the back, Karrion Kross and Scarlett discussed their return last week. Kross noted they were cast away but returned. He's not worried about The Bloodline because he's introducing a new timeline. Kross looked around the corner and could see Drew McIntyre warming up.
McIntyre's music started to play, and he walked to the ring.
Drew McIntyre Segment
This was a good segment.
Back from the break, McIntyre addressed Kross attacking him last week. The fans gave McIntyre a great reaction. McIntyre understood Kross' reasons for attacking him last week. McIntyre promised to deal with Kross after Clash at the Castle.
McIntyre turned his attention to Roman Reigns. He mocked Reigns for not showing up to work. Suddenly, Kross' music hit and Scarlett walked out. Michael Cole called her Kross' oracle.
Scarlett stood in the corner and distracted McIntyre. Suddenly, The Usos jumped McIntyre from behind. He tried fighting back, but the Usos rocked him with a superkick. They then hit the 1 D.
The Usos looked over at Scarlett and gave her a message from Reigns. Scarlett laughed and said Kross as the same message for Reigns.
Cole and McAfee noted McIntyre got jumped from behind two weeks in a row.
They showed an excellent video package looking at the history of the Intercontinental Championship ending with Gunther vs. Shinsuke Nakamura tonight.
In the back, Megan Morant interviewed Nakamura. He cut her off and told Gunther to "come on."
Kofi Kingston attacked The Viking Raiders with a kendo stick as they made their entrance. The Raiders recovered and gave Kingston a vicious beat down on the ramp. Ivar gave Kingston a splash off the guardrail. Referees and officials ran out to check on Kingston.
Back from the break, Sami Zayn approached The Usos at Roman Reigns' locker room. Suddenly, Drew McIntyre attacked The Usos, and Zayn ran off.
Hit Row (w/B-Fab) defeated Brandon Scott & Trevor Irving (1:38)
Hit Row returned to a good reaction from the fans. Scott and Irving were standing in the ring as McAfee noted they were about to regret this moment. Hit Row then made their surprise return.
This was a squash match. Top Dolla hit a running shoulder tackle and running knee in the corner on Scott. Top Dolla and Ashante Thee Adonis hit heavy hitter for the win.
After the match, Hit Row cut a good promo re-introducing themselves. They called themselves the OG three.
Cole and McAfee discussed the passing of Gene Lebell. McAfee mentioned he trained Chuck Norris, Roddy Piper, and Ronda Rousey.
They recapped Shayna Baszler winning the number one contender's gauntlet last week.
Back from the break, Kayla Braxton tried interviewing Gunther and Ludwig Kaiser. Gunther promised to defeat Nakamura later.
Ronda Rousey Segment
Ronda Rousey made a surprise appearance in a good segment.
They showed a shot of the ring with the table and chairs set up for the contract signing. Suddenly, Ronda Rousey walked out through the crowd to a huge pop. The fans broke into a loud "Ronda" chant.
Rousey noted she's not supposed to be there because she got fined and suspended. She has no problem paying the fine. Rousey had a bag with her and dumped cash onto the table.
Security and referees tried to make her leave. She threw down one of the guards but agreed to leave. The fans erupted in boos.
As Rousey walked to the back, Shayna Baszler walked out. Baszler told her that she was wrong and needed to earn the title shot. Rousey was disappointed in Baszler and noted that she used to be a killer.
Contract Signing: WWE SmackDown Women's Champion Liv Morgan and Shayna Baszler
This was another good segment.
Baszler walked to the ring for the contract signing. She promised to beat Liv Morgan at Clash at the Castle for the title. She signed the contract and called out Morgan.
Morgan came to the ring with her arm in a brace. She called Baszler a bootleg Ronda Rousey. That line got a huge reaction. She promised to beat Baszler. The fans broke into a "You tapped out" chant.
Morgan signed the contract, but Baszler attacked her. She targeted Morgan's arm and beat her down. Morgan recovered and gave Baszler a bulldog through the table.
In the back, The Usos yelled at Sami Zayn for running off. They headed to the ring to call out Drew McIntrye.
Back from the break, The Usos walked to the ring and demanded McIntyre find a partner for a match.
Non-title match: Drew McIntyre & Madcap Moss defeated The Usos (9:04)
This was a good match. It started with McIntyre against The Usos without a partner. Before the break, Madcap Moss ran out to be McIntyre's partner.
McIntyre walked out without a partner. He was briefly in control until Jey hit a superkick. The Usos took over and beat him down.
Suddenly, Madcap Moss' music hit, and he ran to the ring. He ran wild on The Usos. McIntyre and Moss worked together to clear the ring.
Back from the break, The Usos were back in control. They isolated Moss on their side of the ring. Moss fought back and tagged McIntrye. McIntyre ran wild and hit a neck breaker on Jimmy. He set up for the claymore, but Sami Zayn ran into the ring.
McIntyre went after Zayn, but that allowed Jimmy to hit a superkick. Jey followed up with the diving splash for a close two-count. The Usos set up for the 1 D, but Moss pulled Jey out of the ring. They brawled around ringside and fell over the barricade.
In the ring, McIntyre caught Jimmy with the Glasgow Kiss. Jimmy responded with a superkick, but McIntyre recovered. He then hit the claymore for the win.
After the match, McIntyre tried to give Jey the claymore. Zayn jumped in the way and took the claymore instead.
In the back, Maximum Male Models were in the middle of a photo shoot. Maxine Dupri was directing them to flex their muscles. Max Dupri yelled at the photographer when Los Lotharios approached them.
Los Lotharios noted they should be the models. Max got in their faces and told them they were not good enough.
Angel noted they weren't talking to him and approached Maxine. They told her to give them a call. Max yelled at them to leave.
SmackDown flashback moment was the Arnold Schwarzenegger-Triple H confrontation in 1999.
Back from the break, Kayla Braxton interviewed Ricochet. They recapped Ricochet beating Happy Corbin last week because he kept looking over at Pat McAfee.
Ricochet wants to take on the winner of Gunther vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. Suddenly, Corbin attacked Ricochet. McAfee was disgusted by Corbin's attack.
They aired a Zoey Stark & Nikkia Lyons video package introducing them ahead of their tournament match next week.
Intercontinental Champion Gunther (w/Ludwig Kaiser) defeated Shinsuke Nakamura to retain the title (13:25)
Gunther and Nakamura had a good hard-hitting match.
They did the special introduction and cut to a commercial. Cole and McAfee pushed the importance of the Intercontinental title.
Gunther had the early advantage. He backed Nakamura in the corner but missed a chop. Nakamura briefly took over and rocked Gunther with hard kicks. Gunther avoided Nakamura with a leapfrog and hit a boot to the face to regain control.
Gunther locked on the Boston crab and switched to the STF. Nakamura escaped and fought back with kicks. Gunther responded with a hard slap. Nakamura locked on an armbar, but Gunther broke free. Nakamura continued to target Gunther's injured arm.
Gunther destroyed Nakamura with a vicious chop and sent him to ringside.
Back from the break, Gunther and Nakamura traded stiff shots. Gunther regained control with a German suplex. He went for a diving splash, but Nakamura caught him in an armbar.
Gunther broke free with a suplex. The fans broke into a loud "Nakamura" chant. Nakamura rocked Gunther with a knee to the face. He followed up with a sliding German suplex in the ropes. Gunther quickly recovered and hit a shotgun dropkick.
Nakamura fought back with a knee. He set up for the Kinshasa, and the fans got to their feet and started cheering. Instead, Gunther destroyed Nakamura with a clothesline for a near fall. The fans broke into a loud "This is awesome" chant. Gunther locked on the sleeper, but Nakamura broke free.
The finish came when Gunther hit the shotgun dropkick to Nakamura's back. He then hit the powerbomb for the win.
Gunther and Kaiser posed to end a good SmackDown.
Next week: WWE Undisputed Universal Champion Roman Reigns and Drew McIntyre meet in a face-to-face segment.
Plus, Natalya & Sonya Deville take on Zoey Stark & Nikkita Lyons in a WWE Women's Tag Team Championship tournament match. Also, The Viking Raiders hold a Viking funeral for the New Day.