Hello hello hello, it is I: your SmackDown reviewer David Spain. And I sit here with my coffee and bubbly water, desperately trying to ignore any and all news about tomorrow’s General Election, because every time I hope for things to get better I just hurt again.
So, today I’ll be burying my head in the sands of WWE and fulfilling whatever contractual obligations I have to the fine institution of Inside Pulse. Let’s get to some SmackDown.
We kick things off with a recap of the awesome brawl between the Women’s Division from last week and the announcement of the very first Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder match. I am so amped up for this that I’m damned insulted by being expected to wait two more weeks.
Naomi was kind of a jerk to someone who just wanted to compete
When we finish the recap, the five competitors are in the ring as Shane makes his way down the ramp. He says that it’s his privilege to introduce all five competitors in the match, and even manages to make Tamina sound like a successful wrestler: that’s some impressive public speaking by itself.
Shane asks for a drum roll and lowers the covered briefcase down so that he can uncover it. Hot damn, it’s not even pink. Shane says that whilst this match carries risks, there are also great rewards: the ability to almost certainly win the Women’s Championship.
Ellsworth then accuses Shane of mansplaining, which technically is a fitting definition as everyone knows the rules of the Money in the Bank Ladder match, especially the competitors. He says that Carmella is obviously going to win, and Carmella starts shooting her mouth off about how awesome she is before Charlotte interrupts and tells her to keep it zipped. Everyone basically piles in to yell at each other, and I say let them fight again. A brawl a week until Money in the Bank sounds good to me.
Naomi finally makes her entrance to a good reception from the crowds, dancing her way into the ring. She says that she wishes that she could be in this historic match, though she pities anyone who has to face her. And suddenly the lights go down and Lana makes her SmackDown debut! Is she getting put into the match? That’d be a damn twist.
Shane welcomes Lana, who gets a hell of a greeting from the audience. He says that this isn’t the right time and it doesn’t work for him right now. She promises that she can make what works for her work for him, and then says that she wants to compete in the match. Naomi laughs, despite the crowd damn sure wanting to see it. She asks if she can really handle a Money in the Bank Ladder match, and then asks who Lana has ever even beaten. Lana says that she can beat Naomi, and Becky and Charlotte’s joint “oh shit son” reaction to that is just beautiful.
Shane gets between the two of them and tells Lana that she needs to earn a match. Lana then storms off in a rage, and fuck all of that: give her a match with Naomi tonight to earn a spot in the Money in the Bank match. If she’s not up to being the match, then don’t put her in the segment.
That’ll teach Naomi
When we come back, it’s to a six-woman tag team match. You may recognise it as one we’ve already seen a couple of times already.
Charlotte starts off against Natalya, who takes her over and locks the arm. Both women exchange holds and counters, showing their mat and chain wrestling skills before Charlotte runs into a shoulder tackle. Natalya runs the ropes, winding up on the receiving end of a couple of chops and a knee drop. Becky tags in, hitting a double axe-handle to Natalya’s arm before Nat tags out.
Carmella comes in, gets rolled up a few times by Becky, who then rolls her the whole way around the ring before slamming into her with a pair of forearms. Carmella sends Becky into the corner and is able to counter a kick from Lynch to send the Irishwoman out of the ring to eat a huge Discus Clothesline from Natalya to knock her right into a commercial break.
When we come back, Natalya is in control. holding Becky in a sleeper hold. Becky manages to fight her way back, but Nat is able to drive her into the Welcoming Committee’s corner and tag in Tamina to beat down Becky and keep her in a sleeper of her own. Again, Becky reaches her feet and escapes the hold, but runs into a brick wall named Tamina.
Natalya re-enters the match, slamming Becky’s head back off the mat. She is distracted momentarily by Charlotte, almost gets rolled up by Lynch and then puts Becky back down on the mat. Sit-out bodyslam from Natalya rattles Becky, but an enzuigiri creates separation! Natalya tags in Carmella, who blasts Charlotte off the apron; Naomi ducks a blow from Carmella, who then gets rolled up by Becky. Carmella kicks out and Naomi gets the tag.
Naomi goes off on Carmella, then hits a volley of roundhouse kicks to Tamina who tags in next. Tamina is able to drive her into the corner, but takes another kick to send her reeling. Naomi heads out onto the apron and almost wins the match with a springboard crossbody! Charlotte runs into Carmella, then gets taken to task by Tamina and Natalya.
Meanwhile, Lana is making her way down to the ring. Naomi kicks Natalya and Tamina to the mat then gets on the apron to yell at Lana, pausing to catch Tamina with an offhand roundhouse kick. Lana grabs Naomi’s leg, spilling her onto the apron. Tamina hits a superkick to Naomi, because let’s see how she fucking likes it, and that wins the match.
Great match, and I like that we’re apparently pushing this Lana thing. This Money in the Bank match is what I’m most looking forward to from the upcoming PPV because of stuff like this. 3 Stars.
Shane is backstage when he suddenly sees the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal trophy. Oh shit, I sense Mojo. Sure enough, Rawley is there. He says that since winning the tournament, he’s been a ghost. He says all he’s asking for is an opportunity, and reminds Shane that he’s beaten the current World Champ.
Shane says that he’s made some good points, and says that Rawley can get into the Money in the Bank match if he can beat Jinder Mahal again. Tonight. Would have made more sense to have him face Baron Corbin, a previous Memorial Battle Royal winner, but this works too.
A second match ending via superkick might have been a little odd
AJ Styles is making his entrance, here for a rematch against the man who beat him clean last week, Dolph Ziggler. A surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one. Dolph shows up too, and let’s get this going.
Dolph goes after Styles’ leg, rolling him up early. Styles takes control back and then both men are jockeying for position, exchanging holds before Styles opens hostilities with some blows. Dolph levels him with a standing dropkick, taking us into a commercial break. When we come back, Dolph has Styles’ head in his grasp but loses hold of it as AJ rocks him with a jawbreaker.
Both men engage in a slugfest with Styles finally putting Ziggler down with a clothesline. Styles gets Dolph on his shoulders, but then gets rolled up with Ziggler getting his feet up on the ropes. The referee catches Dolph, stopping the count, and then Ziggler puts Styles down again with a Fame-Asser, getting two.
Dolph sets Styles up on the top, looking to superplex him. Styles slips down to the mat, and counters Ziggler’s tornado DDT attempt. He gets on the apron, readying himself for the Phenomenal Forearm, counters Dolph’s attempt to jerk the ropes, then flips over Ziggler into a sunset flip which Dolph counters into a pin of his own. Styles kicks out and goes for another pin, transitioning from that into the Styles Clash for the win!
Nice if short match. These two rarely ever disappoint, and didn’t tonight. 3 Stars.
Another Fashion Files episode. I hope Breeze and Fandango are enjoying this. I certainly enjoyed the classic picture of Billy Kidman. According to their noticeboard, Enzo Amore is “out of their jurisdiction”. Seems wise. Also the New Day guest-star, in case you needed any more reason to watch it.
Who can Jinder Mahal beat fairly?
Here’s Mojo Rawley, all set to get his ass handed to him. Unless he beats Jinder Mahal. I mean, Jinder beat Randy Orton and is now World Champion, so clearly our rules mean nothing to this angry new God.
Dear Lord, the Singh Brothers’ music is jarring. It’s like Bollywood and bagpipes making violent, hate-fuelled love. They introduce Jinder Mahal, who thankfully has less awful entrance music. I’d say that it’s amazing how they’re building a feud for the World Championship without Mahal and Orton having much interaction at all, but that would imply that I thought they were actually building a feud in any way.
Bell rings and Mojo and Jinder lock up, with Mahal backing Rawley into the corner. Mahal throws a punch, but Mojo ducks it and opens up on the guy, smacking him around and hip tossing him before Jinder scrambles under the ropes. He comes back into the match and starts beating on Rawley before he gets knocked down by a flying shoulder tackle. He rolls out of the ring again and yells at the Singh Brothers for a while before getting back onto the apron. Mojo accuses Jinder of not being hype, which infuriates the Champ enough to get back into the ring.
Mahal eats a Pounce from Rawley, who is making a terrifying argument for becoming our new World Champion. Rawley goes for his forearm, but gets distracted by the Singh Brothers, allowing Jinder to boot Rawley right into face. Jinder goes to work on Mojo, beating him down into a sleeper hold. Rawley back suplexes his way free, knocks Jinder down with shoulder tackles and a clothesline. He squashes Jinder in the corner with a splash and gets him up on his shoulders, but Mahal rakes Mojo’s eyes and hurls him shoulder-first into the steel post before pinning him off the Khallas.
Not bad, although Jinder looked like a serious bitch here. If he’s going to be World Champ, at least give him some dominant wins. Right now, every member of the male Money in the Bank match look like they could annihilate him. 2 Stars.
Jinder gets on the microphone and says that he just destroyed Rawley’s dreams and he’s going to destroy Orton’s dreams too. Randy is a disease and Jinder is the cure. He practically actually says that. Then he speaks in Punjabi, though doesn’t translate the phrase “Money in the Bank”. Seem like odd words not to have in Punjabi.
Meanwhile, Randy Orton is backstage doing literally nothing interesting. Renee interviews him, I guess in an attempt to cure his recent apathy. He says that he had a bunch of WWE Legends call him after last week’s show to support him, which is a weird thing to do for the man once known as the Legend-Killer. Time really does cure all wounds. And…that’s it. Jesus, this feud is just so FUCKING EXCITING.
Stop giving the Usos goddamn microphones
The Colóns are in the ring, awaiting the arrival of the New Day. The New Day make their way down to the ring, with Xavier Woods and Big E taking the active role tonight. Primo starts off against Woods, backing him into the corner. Woods leapfrogs over him, runs the ropes and then headscissors him before dropkicking him into the bottom rope.
Primo manages to tag Epico in, who takes a forearm from Woods. Big E tags in and hits a shoulder thrust and a clothesline to Epico. Synchronised abdominal stretches and spankings to the Colóns as we go to a commercial break!
When we come back, the Colóns have managed to stop being useless somehow. Primo clotheslines Woods in the corner, then takes him up to the second rope. Woods fights him back down to the floor, then hits a missile dropkick from the top rope and tags in Big E. Big E tees off on Epico with an avalanche of suplexes, before sending Primo over the top rope and having Woods dive out onto him!
Primo tries to roll up Big E, hits him with a jawbreaker and then runs into a kick from Xavier who got the blind tag. The Midnight Hour strikes and the New Day win!
Nothing stellar, but a fun match. 2 Stars.
Christ alive, the Usos are here to talk. I refuse to listen to this. Who told them that they could have microphones? Who told them that they could deliver promos? Whoever it was was not looking out for their best interests.
Dasha is backstage with Sami Zayn, who is talking about his prep for the Money in the Bank Ladder match. He says that he can’t figure out Shinsuke Nakamura, even though he knows exactly how dangerous the guy is. He wants to get a closer look at the man, so is going to be on commentary for his match tonight.
Baron Corbin arrives, punches Sami Zayn in the face, hits him with a ladder and throws him into two more ladders. He says he’s taking Zayn’s commentary position, and this is exactly how they should decide who gets to be on commentary. It’s also why I love Baron Corbin.
Shane is backstage, talking on the phone about how sick he is of Baron Corbin jumping people. Naomi shows up and demands a match against Lana at Money in the Bank. Shut the fuck up, Naomi: she needs to be in the Ladder match. She puts the belt on the line, and gets a match. Goddamn it.
Roll on Money in the Bank
It’s main event time, and it’s Kevin Owens vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, featuring Baron Corbin on commentary, who earned that spot via trial by combat.
Owens is cautious approaching Nakamura, who tries to strike him whenever possible. Finally, Owens latches on a front facelock then goes after the arm, immediately getting aggressive. Nakamura cartwheels out of it, then frustrates Owens with his antics before kicking the crap out of him, knocking Owens out of the ring and into a commercial.
When we come back, Owens his managed to take control again and is kicking and stomping Shinsuke. Corbin continues to be genuinely charming and disarming on commentary, which is a nice touch for a savage, asskicking villain. Owens has Shinsuke in a headlock, then hits Nakamura with a DDT and takes him back down to the mat with a facelock.
Shinsuke works his way to his feet, starting to hit strikes to Kevin Owens. Owens gets Nakamura on his shoulders, but the Rockstar slides out of it and boots Owens dead in the face. Strikes lace KO as Nakamura builds momentum, hitting a hard knee lift to Owens’ gut.
Nakamura tries to back suplex Owens, who fights back and headbutts Shinsuke in the face. Owens brings Shinsuke up onto the second rope and tries for a superplex, but Nakamura fights Owens away. KO drags Nakamura off the ropes and hits him with the Cannonball! Shinsuke counters the Pop-Up Powerbomb attempt, has his kick caught by Owens and catches him with a second kick!
Reverse exploder suplex catches Owens, and then the Kinshasa strikes to get Nakamura another win over Owens!
Good match, though it seemed too short. Nakamura continues to impress and wins over Owens aren’t easy to come by. 2.5 Stars.
Post-match, Corbin plants Nakamura with the End of Days and walks away. Badass.
So, the bad: lot of matches which could have benefited from more time. Lana’s not in the Money in the Bank Ladder match. The Usos and their mouth words.
The good: the Women’s opening segment and match were both good. Fashion Files is still awesome. They’re making everyone in the Money in the Bank Ladder matches look like likely contenders, which is really conducive to a tense match. All in all, I give tonight 7/10.
Tags: AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Becky Lynch, byron saxton, Carmella, charlotte, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, James Ellsworth, jbl, Jinder Mahal, Kevin Owens, naomi, Natalya, Randy Orton, sami zayn, Shane McMahon, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown, smackdown live, tamina, The New Day, The Singh Brothers, the usos, Tom Phillips