Intercontinental Champion Gunther took over WWE SmackDown this week as he defended his title against Ricochet. The Ring General looked to prove his dominance by making a successful defense and kicking off his title reign in grand fashion.
A couple of Money in the Bank ladder match qualifiers were also booked for this week's SmackDown. Tamina and Shotzi competed for a spot in the women's ladder match, while Shinsuke Nakamura took on Sami Zayn in the men's qualifier.
Additionally, a tag team made their return and destroyed former champions to make a big impact. Natalya also tried to get under Ronda Rousey's skin ahead of their big SmackDown Women's Championship match at Money in the Bank.
It was a decent episode that had its ups and downs. Take a look at the five things WWE SmackDown got right on this week's show.
#5. The Viking Raiders made their return to destroy former WWE Tag Team Champions New Day
Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods entered the WWE SmackDown ring for a promo. The members of New Day claimed that they were sick of competing in the same matches every week. Instead, the two men wanted to see Shanky dance.
The big man obliged and danced in front of the WWE Universe despite Jinder Mahal not being happy about it. The former WWE Champion left the ring, and Shanky continued to dance with New Day before The Viking Raiders struck.
Erik and Ivar attacked the men from behind and targeted New Day. The returning superstars laid waste to Kofi and Woods and hit their combined finishers to make a bold statement on SmackDown.
It was great to see the Viking Raiders back on SmackDown this week, and their return will only help strengthen the blue brand's tag team division. Surprisingly, the two men lost their match to the Creed Brothers on NXT not too long ago.
Hopefully, the creative team will give them a dominant run this time around. They will likely work as heels and take on New Day in a few matches before progressing to the title scene.
#4. Sami Zayn defeated Shinsuke Nakamura to qualify for the Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Honorary Uce Sami Zayn fought against Shinsuke Nakamura with a spot in the Money in the Bank ladder match on the line. Zayn seemed ready to take down The Artist but got caught in an armbar early on.
Nakamura hit Zayn with some kicks before hitting a sunset bomb to knock the wind out of The Conspiracy Theorist. Zayn fought back and hit an exploder suplex at ringside in hopes of getting Nakamura counted out.
The two men kept hitting their best moves to keep the action ticking. Zayn tried to get a pin with his foot on the ropes, but the referee caught him. The King of Strong Style took advantage of the situation and nearly pinned Zayn.
Zayn dodged a Kinshasa inside the ring but ate one outside of it. Back in the ring, he lined up Nakamura and finished him off with a Helluva Kick for the win.
The chemistry between Zayn and Nakamura is unmatchable when it comes to high-stakes matches. The two men put on another great show, and the right superstar picked up the win. The Honorary Uce tried to convince Paul Heyman that he would never cash in his Money in the Bank contract on Roman Reigns after he wins it in the ladder match.
#3. Shotzi qualified for the Women's Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Aliyah was unable to compete against Shotzi on this week's WWE SmackDown. Tamina filled in for the injured superstar in the Money in the Bank qualifying match on the show.
Tamina started strong and hit a powerslam early in the match for a near fall. Shotzi fought back and locked in a submission hold. She hit Tamina with a dropkick and stayed on top of the competition.
The second-generation superstar fired back and countered a top rope move with a superkick. Shotzi sent her into the ring post and finished her off with a modified DDT for the victory.
Shotzi is one of the better wrestlers in the SmackDown women's division. It was good to see her pick up the win and progress on to the big match. She will be one of the dark horses in the Money in the Bank ladder match. WWE could pull off a surprise and award her the win at the show.
After the match, Pat McAfee got hold of a mic. He challenged Happy Corbin to a match at SummerSlam to the delight of the fans. McAfee has already competed in three great matches in the ring. He will likely put on a good showing against Corbin at The Biggest Party of the Summer.
#2. Gunther humbled Ricochet to retain his Intercontinental Championship
Gunther ran through Ricochet a couple of weeks ago to win the Intercontinental Championship. The One and Only wanted a rematch for his title and took on the big man in hopes of winning it back.
This match was more of a squash than the last one, as Gunther punished Ricochet with some hard-hitting moves early on. The One and Only fired back with a kick to the head, but he could not retain control for long.
He tasted a lariat before meeting Gunther's big boot. The champion locked in a submission maneuver, and his challenger only broke free by reaching the bottom rope. Gunther wasn't ready to slow down as he hit a German suplex and a jaw-dropping shotgun dropkick before finishing off Ricochet with a powerbomb.
The match was booked to showcase Gunther's dominance and nothing else. He was in control throughout the contest and ran through one of the biggest babyfaces on the SmackDown roster.
It was a good match for the former NXT UK Champion, who is looking impressive on the main roster. Meanwhile, it looks like Ricochet lost the push he received from the creative team just three months ago.
#1. Drew McIntyre and Sheamus put down The Usos to make a statement on SmackDown
Adam Pearce announced earlier on WWE SmackDown that Drew McIntyre and Sheamus were no longer part of the Money in the Bank ladder match. He said that the two men must team up and defeat The Usos if they want to get back into the match.
The two teams met in the main event of SmackDown for the big match. Sheamus and McIntyre struggled to stay on the same page as WWE booked the classic team-up between two bitter enemies.
Jey Uso and McIntyre kicked off the match, after which the latter isolated Jimmy Uso. The Scottish Warrior wiped out Butch at ringside after Jey dodged a Claymore attempt. Sheamus and McIntyre started to brawl before they got back to working together.
The Usos took advantage of the situation and got the upper hand in the match. They continued to work well together as the match went on and gave their opponents a tough time. Sami Zayn also tried to interfere in the match, but the Street Profits took him out.
After a few failed Claymore attempts, McIntyre landed one to pick up the win for his team. It was an entertaining match that had some expected spots. McIntyre and Sheamus eventually made it back into the Money in the Bank ladder match.
Suggested: Watch Sportskeeda Wrestling's Smack Talk as Dutch Mantell & SP3 discuss storylines and matches from WWE Friday Night Smackdown!
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