SmackDown in 2022, much like RAW, saw several unprecedented changes. Top star Roman Reigns’ appearance became less frequent. The unceremonious departure of Sasha Banks and Naomi from WWE put a major dent in the women’s tag team division. The biggest change for SmackDown, however, came on the creative front. After a series of nasty sex allegations involving Vince McMahon rocked WWE, the billionaire stepped down from his position as head booker – giving the charge to son-in-law Paul Levesque aka Triple H.
The Game would soon introduce sweeping changes to the product, putting emphasis on in-ring action and long-term storytelling. He’d also bring back several stars that’d previously been released under his father-in-law’s regime. While SmackDown did deliver some quality wrestling in the first half of 2022, the work rate exponentially increased in the second half – leading to some great wrestling.
With that being said, here are the five best SmackDown matches of 2022.
Imperium vs. The Brawling Brutes (September 9, 2022)
A week after delivering a five-star classic at Clash at the Castle, Sheamus and Gunther met in another high-octane multi-man bout on SmackDown. The match brought their factions, Brawling Brutes and Imperium, to war against each other.
Moreover, it served as the perfect opener to the first SmackDown after Clash at the Castle. It saw the slow build to The Brawling Brutes face turn, who, even in defeat, gained a tremendous reaction from the crowd.
Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre (Good Old Fashioned Donnybrook Match – July 29, 2022)
Drew McIntyre and Sheamus have a reputation for beating their opponents to a pulp. They also have a storied history of not shying away from delivering punishment on each other. This was the case when the real-life best friends squared off against each other in a Good Old Fashioned Donnybrook Match.
The stakes of the match couldn’t be higher than they were because it guaranteed the winner a shot at the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. The Scottish Warrior and the Celtic Warrior put on an all-time classic as they put foreign objects to efficient use.
In the end, a Claymore to Sheamus, who was on his knees, confirmed McIntyre’s ticket to Clash at the Castle.
Roman Reigns vs. Matt Riddle (WWE SmackDown – June 17, 2022)
Roman Reigns only wrestled two televised matches in 2022, and one of them came against Matt Riddle. This bout came nearly a month after The Bloodline put Riddle’s RK-Bro partner Randy Orton on the shelf.
This match was excellent from bell to bell. Riddle looked superb in showcasing his athleticism and MMA background. Reigns, meanwhile, delivered some of the best facial expressions in this match. Plus, his in-ring psychology was spot-on from bell to bell.
The RKO out of nowhere and spear in midair put the crowd on their feet. This was another match that should’ve been on PPV but, nonetheless, looked spectacular on free TV.
The Usos vs. The New Day (November 11, 2022)
There’s no hyperbole in saying that The Usos ruled WWE’s tag team division in 2022. Jimmy and Jey made history by beating RK-Bro in their Winners Tag All tag team title unification match on the May 20, 2022, episode of SmackDown.
The brothers defended the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship months later against archrivals The New Day. The two teams let their incredible chemistry do the work in front of the packed Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods put up a valiant effort to take the titles away from the twins, but ended up losing the match. This was one of the best tag team matches of the year that had PPV quality written all over it.
Gunther vs Ricochet (WWE SmackDown – December 16, 2022)
Gunther won the WWE Intercontinental Championship at the expense of Ricochet on SmackDown in June 2022. The pair ran it back six months later, and absolutely tore the house down with their performance.
The One and Only’s incredible high-flying offense forced the ever-reliable Ring General to bring out some creative moves of his own. The brilliant action lasted for nearly 22 minutes before Gunther put away his opponent for the win – extending his incredible title reign in the process.