SmackDown sizzled in the wake of WWE Payback, featuring World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio against Chris Jericho, a tough-as-nails Intercontinental Championship Rematch and a personal showdown for respect between The Viper and WWE's submission specialist.
Still frustrated that his match against Randy Orton was stopped on Raw, Daniel Bryan expressed his belief that the WWE officials responsible did so not because of injury, but because they felt he was the “weak link.” Still, he placed the greatest blame on Orton himself, believing that WWE's Apex Predator had pitied him like a “little dog.”
The Viper emerged to make it clear that their match had been stopped because people were worried about Bryan's safety. He explained that he hadn't pitied the submission specialist, but respected him for how hard he fought.
When Bryan made it clear that he would shove the “respect” that the nine-time World Champion claimed to have for him down his throat in their SmackDown main event match, the fed-up Orton said he would hurt his opponent so bad that he would have to be carried out.
After tasting a post-match Brogue Kick from Sheamus on Raw, Cody Rhodes was poised to get even in a one-on-one SmackDown match against the Irish Superstar.
In the height of the action, Sheamus stopped the outside interference of Damien Sandow by ramming Rhodes into him. And though the skilled grandson of a plumber readjusted to avoid White Noise, that didn't stop The Celtic Warrior from making him tap out to the Cloverleaf.
Before the smoke could even clear, however, Sandow attacked the three-time World Champion, getting the last laugh as he left his adversary reeling on the canvas.
In a feverish back-and-forth slugfest, Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel successfully defended his title against former titleholder Wade Barrett. As The Miz looked on from the SmackDown announce table, the newest “Paul Heyman Guy” convincingly turned back The Barrett Barrage with a swinging neckbreaker.
After the bell, The Awesome One stepped into the ring, intent on mixing it up with Axel. But before they could do so, Paul Heyman talked his Superstar out of the confrontation.
Once a mentor to AJ Lee, Natalya emerged to take on the recently crowned Divas Champion on SmackDown. Though the third-generation Diva looked to punish the new titleholder for her recent acts of humiliation against Kaitlyn and her disrespect of the entire Divas division, AJ ultimately made Natalya tap out to the Black Widow.
While a still-distraught Kaitlyn watched the match from the back, Aksana interrupted her with attitude and paid for it in a “trashy” Divas brawl.
With controversy still running wild over the ruthless methods by which he recaptured the World Heavyweight Championship from Dolph Ziggler at WWE Payback, Alberto Del Rio took on six-time World Champion Chris Jericho in a classic showdown.
When Y2J avoided the Cross Armbreaker and locked in The Walls of Jericho, Ricardo Rodriguez climbed onto the ring apron – prompting Jericho to put the Lion Tamer version of his dreaded finishing maneuver on the ring announcer. As he did, Dolph Ziggler stormed into the ring looking for retribution on Del Rio and bringing an end to the contest by disqualification.
While Del Rio headed for the hills, Jericho – frustrated over Ziggler's involvement – hit The Showoff with a Codebreaker. With his bleach-blond adversary down, Del Rio returned to the ring and delivered another fierce kick to Ziggler's head.
For the first time in nearly a year, Christian returned from a shoulder injury to SmackDown, overcoming Drew McIntyre and the interference of his 3MB “band mates” with the Killswitch.
But, as the former World Heavyweight Champion was expressing how wonderful it was to be back on the blue brand in front of his Peeps, The Shield suddenly attacked Captain Charisma and hit him with a Triple Powerbomb as a welcome back present.
With the WWE Universe still scratching their heads as to why Brock Lesnar hit CM Punk with an F-5 on Raw, Renee Young attempted to ask Paul Heyman the hard questions. She's probably sorry she did.
Obsessed with showing he was not a “weak link,” Daniel Bryan set out to definitively conquer Randy Orton in a feverous rematch from Raw. For his part, The Viper was fed up with his opponent's fixation and was out to hurt his bearded prey. A highly personal main event conflict ensued between two of the most dangerous Superstars in WWE as Orton and Bryan left it all on the canvas.
After the battle had expanded through the ropes, Bryan was able to jump back into the ring before the referee reached the 10-count, while Orton could not do the same – resulting in a count-out victory for the “goat-faced” warrior.
Rather than being satisfied with his victory, though, Bryan was left absolutely outraged as SmackDown went off the air, begging the referee to restart the match.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Sheamus defeated Cody Rhodes (w/ Damien Sandow) (5:34)
- Curtis Axel (c) (w/ Paul Heyman) defeated Wade Barrett to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship (4:32)
- AJ Lee (w/ Big E. Langston) defeated Natalya (5:54)
- Alberto Del Rio (w/ Ricardo Rodriguez) defeated Chris Jericho by DQ (10:34)
- Christian defeated Drew McIntyre (w/ Heath Slater & Jinder Mahal) (3:54)
- Daniel Bryan defeated Randy Orton by Count Out (14:48)
- Dark match: Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton & Sheamus defeated The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins)
Other on-screen talent
Things heat up between Bryan & Orton
Sheamus v Cody Rhodes
Curtis Axel v Wade Barrett
AJ Lee v Natalya
Alberto Del Rio v Chris Jericho
Christian v Drew McIntyre
Daniel Bryan v Randy Orton
- WWE Smackdown #722 at CAGEMATCH.net
- [Smackdown #722 on WWE Network]