An Intercontinental Championship match is set for tonight's SmackDown from the Raising Cane's River Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Ricochet defends his title against Gunther tonight. A few weeks ago, Ricochet convinced Drew Gulak to confront Gunther. The following week, Gunther & Ludwig Kaiser defeated Ricochet & Gulak to set up this match.
The field for Money in the Bank will also begin to take shape as the first two qualifying matches are held tonight. Drew McIntyre faces Sheamus in a men's qualifier, while Lacey Evans returns to action against Xia Li in a women's qualifying match.
Over the past two weeks, McIntyre and Sheamus have faced off in six-man tag bouts. McIntyre, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods defeated The Brawling Brutes (Sheamus, Ridge Holland & Butch) two weeks ago before losing to them in a rematch the next week.
This will be the first time Evans has wrestled since going on maternity leave in 2021.
Plus, Max Dupri will reveal the first client of his Maximum Male Models agency.
Our live coverage begins at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
Michael Cole and Pat McAfee were standing by ringside and ran down tonight's lineup. Cole called it one of the most historic nights in SmackDown history.
Riddle takes on Sami Zayn in the main event. If Riddle wins, he earns a Universal title shot. If Zayn wins, then Riddle's banned from SmackDown.
McIntyre was heading to the ring when Butch got in his face. They had a brief confrontation.
Money In The Bank Qualifying Match: Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus (w/Butch) ended via double DQ (12:28)
McIntyre and Sheamus had a good hard-hitting match until the finish. It was a nice change to start with a match instead of a long promo.
McIntyre and Sheamus traded stiff shots in the corner. McIntyre took over with a hard clothesline. Sheamus fought back, but McIntyre hit a Michinoku Driver for a one-count.
McIntyre ended up on the apron, and Sheamus gave him the ten beats of bodhran. McIntyre recovered and gave Sheamus the ten beats of bodhran as well. Butch interfered to help Sheamus gain control. Sheamus then hit white noise on the apron.
Back from the break, Sheamus hit the Alabama Slam for a near fall. He slowed the pace down with a chin lock on McIntyre. McIntyre broke free and fired up. He caught Sheamus with a belly-to-belly suplex and a neck breaker. Sheamus briefly fought back, but McIntyre hit a spinebuster for a near fall. The fans broke into a "Let's go, Drew" chant.
Sheamus recovered and hit McIntyre's future shock DDT for a close two-count. McIntrye regained control after hitting Sheamus' white noise off the top. He went for the Claymore, but Sheamus rocked him with a knee to the face.
Sheamus went for the Brogue kick. McIntyre countered into a powerbomb for a close near fall. Butch tried to interfere again, but McIntyre took him out with the Claymore. Sheamus got back to his feet and sent McIntyre over the top rope.
Sheamus hit a clothesline from the top rope to the floor. They started brawling around ringside as the referee continued his count. He was almost at ten when McIntyre and Sheamus hit each other with chairs for the double disqualification.
After the match, Sheamus and McIntyre continued to brawl over the announce table. Cole wondered which one qualified for the ladder match.
Back from the break, McIntyre and Sheamus continued to fight each other all over ringside. Referees and officials tried to break them up as they brawled into the crowd. The fans broke into a loud "Drew" chant. Sheamus ran off through the crowd to end the segment.
Cole and McAfee discussed Seth Rollins attacking Cody Rhodes on Monday's Raw. They showed a video package recapping the angle. Cole noted Rhodes had his surgery and is out for roughly nine months.
In the back, Kayla Braxton interviewed Lacey Evans behind the curtain. She promised to defeat Xia Li tonight and qualify for the Money in the Bank ladder match. Braxton actually called Evans SmackDown's newest superstar. For the time being, she appears to be a babyface.
Earlier today, Xia Li mocked Evans and promised to become Ms. Money in the Bank.
Money In The Bank Qualifying Match: Lacey Evans defeated Xia Li (2:28)
This was a pretty bad match. The fans were quiet for most of it, and the finish came out of nowhere.
Li had the early advantage with a suplex for a near fall. She slowed the pace down with a chin lock. Evans broke free and hit an uppercut to gain control. She followed up with a bronco buster for a two-count. Suddenly, Evans hit the Woman's right for the win.
Evans qualifies for the women's Money in the Bank ladder match.
In the back, Drew McIntyre approached Adam Pearce in his office. He demanded that Pearce put him in the Money in the Bank ladder match. Pearce pointed out that he didn't win earlier. McIntyre didn't care.
Later, Sheamus and Butch walked into Pearce's office. Sheamus demanded to be in the ladder match. Pearce mentioned speaking with McIntrye, and Sheamus assumed they were working together. He demanded Pearce make a decision.
Ronda Rousey made her way to the ring.
They showed a Viking Raiders video package.
Ronda Rousey Segment
This was a fine segment. Rousey only spoke for a few minutes before Shotzi interrupted.
They announced Rousey defending against Natalya at Money In The Bank. Rousey discussed her upcoming match. She compared their submission holds and noted her mom taught her the arm bar. Rousey added that Natalya stole the sharpshooter from Bret.
Shotzi's music hit, and she made her way to the ring. She mocked Rousey and demanded a match. If she wins, she wants a future title shot. Rousey asked the fans if they think Shotzi should get a title shotzi. They faced off.
Championship Contender's Match: SmackDown Women's Champion Ronda Rousey defeated Shotzi (7:24)
This was an okay match. The fans seemed quiet for most of it again.
Shotzi took over with a snap mare and a kick to the back. Rousey briefly gained control. Shotzi fought back with a submission in the ropes. Rousey escaped and reversed into an ankle lock, but Shotzi broke free. Rousey stalked Shotzi around ringside. Shotzi then hit a tornado DDT off the apron for a near fall.
Shotzi caught Rousey with a vicious kick to the face. She slowed the pace down and worked over the arm. Rousey escaped, but Shotzi hit a suplex for a two-count. The fans broke into a "Let's go, Ronda" chant.
Shotzi hit a series of strikes until Rousey caught her leg. She threw Shotzi across the ring with a suplex to take over. Rousey struggled to get Shotzi up but hit Piper's Pit anyway.. She then locked on the armbar for the win.
After the match, Natalya jumped Rousey from behind and locked her in the sharpshooter. Rousey refused to tap out.
Later, Rousey refused help in the trainer's room. Kayla Braxton noted Rousey's injury is serious, and she might not get cleared to compete at Money In The Bank.
In the back, Megan Morant interviewed Riddle. Riddle mentioned The Bloodline injuring Randy Orton. He promised to defeat Sami Zayn tonight and earn a Universal title shot.
Gunther (w/Ludwig Kaiser) defeated Ricochet to win the Intercontinental Championship (8:32)
Gunther and Ricochet had an awesome match for the time they had.
They showed a tale of the tape to emphasize the size difference.
Ricochet tried locking up, but Gunther was too strong. Ricochet tried using his speed to mount an offense. Gunther quickly recovered and rocked Ricochet with a vicious chop to take over. He put Ricochet in the corner and stepped on his head.
Back from the break, Gunther rocked Ricochet with a boot to the face. He went for a powerbomb, but Ricochet reversed into a sunset flip for a near fall. Ricochet took over and sent him into the corner.
Ricochet went for a springboard, but Gunther caught him with the sleeper. Ricochet broke free. Gunther recovered and destroyed Ricochet with a clothesline. He went for the sleeper on the apron, but Ricochet broke free again.
Ricochet rocked Kaiser with a superkick. He followed up with a moonsault off the middle rope and a standing shooting star press on Gunther. The finish came when Ricochet did a kick-up, and Gunther rocked him with a shotgun dropkick. He then hit the powerbomb to win the Intercontinental Championship.
In the back, Sami Zayn was warming up for his match. Paul Heyman approached Zayn. He noted that if Zayn wins, he can get him in The Bloodline. But if Zayn loses...Heyman trailed off and looked at Zayn as his music started playing. Zayn slowly walked to the ring. This was good. Heyman and Zayn have a lot of chemistry in these segments.
Michael Cole told the story of a young boy with down syndrome, Misha, and his mother fleeing Ukraine. She promised him that he would meet John Cena if they made it to the Netherlands. Cena heard the story and visited them this past weekend.
The Classic SmackDown moment of the week was Steve Austin attacking Booker T in the supermarket.
McAfee and Cole briefly discussed the classic moment. McAfee mentioned seeing clips of Booker puking on Cole and Jim Ross dumping BBQ sauce on Cole.
They recapped Riddle & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. The Usos from last week.
They recapped Madcap Moss beating Happy Corbin at Hell in a Cell.
Cole and McAfee ran down the lineup for next week. Cole noted Max Dupri got stuck in Europe, so he couldn't reveal his new client tonight. Instead, Dupri's new client debuts next week.
Riddle defeated Sami Zayn (13:09)
Riddle and Zayn had a great match with a good finish. They worked hard and told a good story. The fans were solidly behind Riddle's comeback and popped for the finish. Riddle challenges Roman Reigns for the Universal title next week.
The stipulations were If Riddle won, he would get a Universal title shot. If Zayn won, Riddle's banned from SmackDown.
Heyman joined Cole and McAfee on commentary. McAfee pushed that Heyman got Zayn the match. Cole speculated that Reigns doesn't even know about it.
Riddle had the early advantage with a gut wrench suplex and a powerbomb. He followed up with a bro-ton. Zayn lured Riddle out of the ring and took over. He sent Riddle to the announce desk. Back in the ring, Zayn slowed the pace down with a chin lock.
Riddle fired up with a running forearm, but Zayn got a near fall with a small package. Zayn took over when he shoved Riddle off the top into the barricade.
Back from the break, Zayn hit a brainbuster for a two-count. They seemed to have a brief miscommunication. Zayn was firmly in control and tried to win by countout, but Riddle jumped back in. Zayn slowly climbed to the top rope. Riddle ran up and went for the super RKO. Zayn pushed him off and went for a crossbody. Riddle rocked Zayn with a jumping knee in mid-air.
Zayn regained control and mocked Randy Orton. He then hit the draping DDT and set up for the RKO. Riddle snapped and rocked Zayn with a knee to the face. He followed up with a running kick off the apron. Riddle then hit the floating bro to a big reaction.
Riddle hit a power slam and a draping DDT. In a great spot, Riddle went for the RKO, but Zayn countered into the blue thunder bomb for a near fall. Riddle went for Bro Derek, but Zayn escaped. The finish came when Zayn went for the helluva kick, but Riddle hit the RKO for the win.
Riddle earns a Universal title shot against Roman Reigns next week.
After the match, The Usos ran out and beat down Riddle. Their music played, and they celebrated.
However, Riddle recovered and beat down The Usos with a kendo stick. He cleared the ring and celebrated to his music. The fans broke into a "Bro" chant to end SmackDown.
Next week: WWE Undisputed Universal Champion Roman Reigns defends against Riddle. Also, Madcap Moss takes on Happy Corbin in a Last Laugh match. Plus, Max Durpi reveals his first client.