Welcome to the penultimate edition of the things WWE subtly told us about SmackDown ahead of Money in the Bank 2022. It’s going to be one of the most important shows of the calendar year, and this SmackDown episode week saw the surge towards that.
So what happened this week? Thanks to Pat McAfee for calling Happy Corbin for SummerSlam when another match was made official. There was nothing subtle about his challenge, so we can’t add it separately. Anyway, these interesting things were subtly hinted at this week on the blue brand:
#5. Adam Pearce’s Subtle Character Change
Adam Pearce has been an authority figure since the summer of 2020. This week on SmackDown, he had two major segments.
The first saw him being forced to reverse his previous decision to place Sheamus and Drew McIntyre in the Men’s Money in the Bank match. Due to strings pulled by Paul Heyman and Roman Reigns, the duo had to defeat undisputed tag team champions The Usos in a tag team bout to qualify – which they did in the main event.
In another segment, Sonya Deville quietly moved to SmackDown and slammed Pearce, calling her in-ring career a failure. The seeds for a change in character seem to have been planted, and it could happen in early summer.
This August will mark two years since Pearce first stepped into an on-screen role. Does a heel turn in the right direction for him?
#4. Who became a quiet favorite to win the Men’s Money in the Bank ladder match?
So far, five men have qualified for the Money in the Bank match. On RAW we have Seth Rollins and Omos, while on SmackDown we have Drew McIntyre, Sheamus and Sami Zayn.
Omos will likely have a filler role; Sheamus has already won the briefcase, as has Seth Rollins. Drew McIntyre is set to face Roman Reigns at Clash at the Castle in September. So does that leave Sami Zayn as a potential favorite to win the briefcase? That could be the case this year.
Sami Zayn’s angle as an honorary member of Bloodline is essentially setting him up for a Money in the Bank win, which could result in one of the best stories of the year and lead to a big push.
#3. What is WWE doing to escalate the rivalry for the SmackDown Women’s Title?
The Ronda Rousey vs. Natalya feud isn’t exactly the best. The outcome of the match is already known, but at the same time, WWE doesn’t have too many opponents for the SmackDown Women’s Champion.
We’re guessing that’s basically going to be used to set up Charlotte Flair’s return. She and Rousey can then feud before SummerSlam 2022.
However, WWE is subtly trying to make the feud between Natalya and Rousey bigger than it is by adding all the personal elements to it, including comments about each other’s bodies and political views.
#2. The Viking Raiders are back and they could become a force to be reckoned with
The Viking Raiders are back! They returned to SmackDown for the first time in months to take down Shanky and The New Day. They interrupted a monotonous dance segment and confirmed their status as heels.
This time, it looks like WWE is planning to seriously push the Raiders. Don’t be surprised to see them in the mix for the undisputed SummerSlam tag team titles. They could even become favorites to dethrone The Usos if The Street Profits fail to do so at Money in the Bank 2022.
#1. WWE let it be known how they plan to handle Gunther
Gunther reaps the rewards of his hard work after being told to lose weight. He did everything right and was rewarded with an Intercontinental title early in his senior career.
With its dominating victory over Ricochet this Friday, WWE made it clear that no one will be touching the Intercontinental Title anytime soon. Hopefully Gunther’s push on SmackDown can restore the title’s lost prestige.
We interviewed two former WWE editors about removing Vince McMahon from the company. Click here.