Hola everyone. David Spain here with a hot cup of coffee and some real stake in seeing a woman win a Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder match. And with that in mind, let’s get right to the heart of this thing.
The opening promo doesn’t focus on one feud or programme too much, instead using “opportunity” as a theme and looking over everything that’s going on. That’s a nice introduction to the night.
The Passion of James Ellsworth
Daniel Bryan kicks off the show proper, heading down to the ring in his untucked shirt and his sleeves rolled, because he’s just a regular blue-collar working man who’d not be caught dead wearing a suit like some rich elitist bastard. He asks if people are ready for a great night, and a year or so ago it would have been super-easy to make jokes about someone asking that at a SmackDown show.
Bryan runs down the list of awesome shit that women will be doing tonight, to wit: a title match and a Money in the Bank Ladder match. He doesn’t get too far into it before the titantron spells “fabulous” and Carmella and Ellsworth invade, dressed like people you’d tack five minutes onto your journey to avoid. Carmella starts up with the traditional “this is the biggest violation of human rights in the history of the world” argument from page one of the Wrestling Heel Bible.
Carmella goes through the list of all the interference in Money in the Bank match history, ignoring the far richer history of General Managers and other authority figures fucking wrestlers over with a total lack of consequences since Bret Screwed Bret. Bryan admits that she’s not talking complete nonsense, but points out that this definitely qualifies as a special case. He suggests he take this to the WWE Universe, and I still cringe at the thought of giving an uninformed population that much agency in a yes-or-no referendum because what the fuck is going on in my country.
Ellsworth mics up and tells everyone to shut it. He says that the crowd are the villains because they control the stupid puppet that is Daniel Bryan, and then doubles down by calling Bryan a pathetic, gutless, spineless coward who is too afraid to step into the ring anymore. Goddamn: I wouldn’t say that shit to Bryan via video package if I was on the International fucking Space Station.
Bryan stares at Ellsworth like he’s imagining chewing on his tendons for a few seconds, and then suddenly gets all jolly. But not nice jolly: this is fucking creepy jolly. This is your uncle who everyone knows strangled a hooker putting his hand on your knee varieties of creepy. He says that he should just fire Ellsworth, but tonight’s not about him. He says that he’s not even going to ban Ellsworth from ringside; instead he’s going to ban him from the entire arena.
Security arrives and grabs Ellsworth, dragging him out of the ring. Ellsworth tries to run a couple of times, ending up getting fully carried out of the ring. Even JBL is on Bryan’s side, which is pretty much the closest thing you get to total universal approval, and then Bryan wishes Carmella good luck because he’s an ice cold bearded bitch.
This ain’t Hype
It’s time to Get Hype, because the motherfucking Hype Bros are back. Anything to get Mojo away from that fucking Andre the Giant statue. The Usos show up, thankfully not holding microphones. This is a number one contenders match, where if the Hype Bros win we get to see a replay of this match at a PPV.
Ryder starts off against one of the Usos; you know I’m just going to mix them up. Byron tells me his name is Jimmy, and I have no idea whether he’s right, but whichever one he is he’s getting worked over good by Ryder. Mojo tags in, as does probably-Jey, and Mojo declares that the Uso is most verily not hype. He then tosses Jey out of the ring and sends Ryder out on top of him, because not-hype people are subhuman and deserve such treatment. Ryder is distracted getting back into the ring and an enzuigiri knocks him out onto the floor and into a commercial.
When we come back, the Usos have probably traded places a load of times so I’ve no idea who’s who and I could not care less. According to the commercials you can now get voice controllers for your TV. I don’t know if I’ll be buying that; there’s a lot of ways “erotic European art movies” could be mistranslated. And in a matter of several seconds post-commercial, an Uso hits the Samoan Splash to Ryder and…that’s it?
Odd commercial placement, but I guess if the match was this empty here then the title rematch wouldn’t have been much better. 1.5 Stars.
The New Day arrive immediately post-match, because don’t dwell on what might have come to pass. Woods congratulates the Usos for actually winning a match, and Big E channels Booker T in demanding another title shot because they want the gold, sucka. The Usos mock their challenge and then accept it anyway because who looks for logic in a wrestling world? Me: I do. That’s who.
Woods says that the Usos aren’t aware of with whom they are messing, and then Kofi drops what could probably be considered a rap promo and it’s settled: Battleground will feature the Usos vs. the New Day for the titles.
We check in with an episode of Fashion Vice where Breezango interrogate the Ascension. I have no idea why the Ascension is playing along with this, but it’s way better than anything else they’ve done since getting to the WWE. Hell, you could say the same about Breezango. Anyway, it seems like the Ascension didn’t do it, and then Breezango’s office is trashed again whilst the two prime suspects are in interrogation. It should just turn out to be Big Cass again. Anyone investigating any WWE mystery should bring in Cass for questioning.
Wham, bam, thank-you ma’am
But now it’s time for a title match as Naomi takes on Lana. Post-entrance announcements (#BigMatchFeel), and then Lana jumps Naomi before the bell rings. The ref pulls Lana away, checks whether Naomi is okay after that vicious volley of three light stomps, and then Lana hits her with the Sit-Out Powerbomb with the Champ only just getting the shoulder up.
Naomi then beans Lana with a kick to the skull, hits the split-legged moonsault and gets the win.
That’s about how a match between Naomi and Lana should go, and I’m very much in favour of Naomi being portrayed as a strong Champion so no real complaints. 2 Stars.
Dasha is backstage with Becky Lynch, asking her about the Money in the Bank Ladder match tonight. Becky says that she almost got it done last time and got screwed over; all she needs tonight is a fair chance.
In other news, Aiden English is still employed and therefore alive. Unfortunately he’s also still doing his singing shtick instead of, you know, something that will get him the slightest bit over.
Randy Orton’s music interrupts English, and the commentators sell it like Orton was last seen covered in blood and eating a child. We cut to commercial and when we come back, Orton is sitting in a chair in the centre of the ring and English is gone. We are forced to assume that Orton violently fucked him to death and then swallowed his corpse until we’re shown the footage from during the commercial break and it turns out that he just hit him with an RKO.
Anyway, Orton’s sitting in a chair in the centre of the ring, manspreading for all he’s worth. He says that he’s not leaving until he gets what he wants, and then doesn’t say what he wants. Presumably Bryan’s backstage, frantically ordering cakes, new entrance music, dynamic offence, promo skills, Daddy’s love and Ric Flairs to be delivered to the arena, because those would be the top few guesses on my list.
Orton says that last week he tore into Jinder Mahal, and shows us a clip to prove it. It’s odd that he hates Jinder so much when the Singh Brothers’ assault on his father seemed to be so spur-of-the-moment. If you were cynical, you could say that Orton cares more about World Championships than his father, and if you were me you would say that Orton just hates ethnic minorities.
Randy says that if he doesn’t get a rematch for the Championship, then he’s going to murder Jinder Mahal in front of witnesses. I’d say that this was setting a dangerous precedent, but the man once got given a title match for burning someone’s house down and desecrating a grave so I assume a hate crime nets you at least the same thing. He is about to make good on his promise when Shane McMahon arrives.
Shane says that he and Orton go way back, though neglects mentioning that Randy’s assaulted his father and his sister. He says that he can’t allow this sort of lawless activity, or at least not all the time. Randy says that Shane can fire him and Jinder can sue him, but he’ll still show up to every show and try to punt the World Champion into a brain-damaged tomorrow. Man, looks like Aiden English got off pretty fucking lightly; Randy sounds deranged.
Shane finally calls Orton out on beating up other wrestlers’ fathers (including his own), often for far less than a World Championship. He then gives Orton the match, thus proving that Randy Orton can do anything he wants without any fear of consequences and with expectation of a reward. I mean, it’s like he’s John Cena.
The kicker is that Jinder gets to choose what kind of match it is, and I swear if anyone fucking thinks “Punjabi Prison Match” then I am going to travel to where you live and ritualistically drown your pets. Orton says he’s cool with that; all he wants to do is hurt Jinder.
In light of all of this, I wonder how Orton would react if someone burned his house down and desecrated his family member’s grave.
Jinder shows up then and says that this is what’s wrong with SmackDown. I mean…he is absolutely right. Unfortunately, Mahal gives his reasons for this in Punjabi, so only a hundred or so million people can vigorously agree with him. The crowd chants “USA”, which is a shitty way to treat a Canadian.
Jinder says that his match was once chosen by a former World Champion and a man he regards as his hero: the Great Khali. What? Jinder slapped Khali around! Jinder’s nailed Khali’s sister! Khali and Jinder have beaten the shit out of each other! Anyway, Jinder says that they’re having a Punjabi Prison match and I sigh deeply and pour myself a scotch at 12:15 in the afternoon. We also instantly get shown a video package of the Punjabi Prison match, because the people in charge of video just profiled the shit out of Jinder Mahal.
Backstage, Daniel Bryan is already dealing with the fallout of how fucking racist this match looks. Styles and Owens then arrive to bitch at each other with Bryan in the middle because they demand an audience. Styles references Anchorman in order to call Kevin Owens a whale’s vagina, and I really wish I was making that one up.
Bryan comes up with the idea for an Independence Day Battle Royal for next week, with the winner facing Kevin Owens at Battleground for the United States Championship.
We get a first look at WWE 2K18 and what I really want from this game is the semblance of a fucking story mode, because so far the only story I’ve been able to make happen on 2K17 is the one where my custom character spends an uncomfortable amount of time crippling Brock Lesnar on live television.
Also, I feel like a “first look” should involve some in-game footage. I mean…a commercial involving Seth Rollins smashing up the WWE Hall of Fame is not exactly getting me keen.
Sami is the biggest face ever
Oh great, Mike and Maria Kanellis are here to annoy everyone. Sami Zayn then makes his entrance in the middle of their conversation, making him way more deserving of a WWE Championship match than Randy Orton. Baron Corbin follows him out there, briefcase in hand. Will he begin following the tradition of using it as a weapon tonight? We shall see.
Corbs and Sami lock up with Baron starting out strong and rough. Sami’s able to leapfrog over his head and hit him with the headscissors before smacking Corbin around, hitting a flurry of punches to the face. Baron fucks out of the ring, smartly avoiding a dive attempt by Zayn. Sami tries another dive, and this time Baron catches him and dumps him right onto the guard rail as we go to the commercial.
According to Experian’s commercials, they monitor the dark web in order to protect me from identity theft. I feel like there is no possible way that can be true. Anyone? Anyway, when we come back Sami kicks out of a clothesline. Corbin locks Zayn in a bearhug, but Sami punches his way free. Corbin stays on him, railing him with forearms to the spine. Suddenly Sami catches Baron with a huge clothesline, bringing the big man down to the mat.
Zayn’s sent into the corner, dodges out of the way of Corbin for a few passes and then hits a flying crossbody that puts Mr Money in the Bank down for two. We’re shown Nakamura watching this match on a screen for some reason, and then Zayn runs right into a massive right hand from Corbin before getting fucked up by clotheslines in the corner. Sami ducks the last clothesline, almost rolls Baron up but gets taken up to the top rope.
Sami fights his way out of a superplex, headbutting Corbin to the mat before leaping over him and running right into the End of Days!
Baron probably needed to get at least one win back from Zayn, especially now he has the briefcase. Nice, smooth match that could have lasted longer. 2.5 Stars.
Dasha interviews Shinsuke backstage and asks him whether he’d like to fight Corbin. Nakamura says that Corbin is dangerous, but that he’s afraid of what Nakamura can do to him, and he should be.
Sometimes a second chance is warranted
It’s main motherfucking event time, and twenty minutes still to go! The ladies make their entrance to the ring, ready for the second ever women’s Money in the Bank Ladder match. Carmella enters last, sans Ellsworth, and it’s on.
Everyone brawls, with Carmella rolling out of the ring after a punch from Becky and immediately shoving a ladder inside. Tamina and Charlotte are going at it on the outside, as are Becky and Natalya. Carmella actually gets the ladder set up, and then everyone dashes into the ring. Carmella’s brought back down and the ladder’s knocked over as the fight continues. Becky counters a double suplex from Natalya and Charlotte before hitting a Bexploder to Nat, and then she and Charlotte lock eyes.
Lynch Bexploders Charlotte right out of the ring before setting the ladder up. Tamina smashes Becky’s face into the ladder and hits her with a Samoan Drop. Superfly Splash hits Becky, and everyone is down: even Tamina. When we come back from the commercial break, everyone is still strewn around the ring and arena. Charlotte tries to set up the ladder, but Natty catches and suplexes her.
Carmella catches Tamina with a couple of nice right hands on the outside, but Snuka catches her superkick and dumps her over the announce table. Natalya kicks Tamina over, and then eats chops from Charlotte before being thrown right into a Bexploder on the outside. Charlotte and Tamina are left in the ring, swapping between brawling and trying to set up the ladder. Neither can gain the advantage and then Becky climbs up the vertical ladder they’re holding! She’s not able to reach the briefcase, and the ladder is dropped onto the ropes.
Tamina kicks Becky off the ladder and into Charlotte, but Charlotte returns the favour by booting the ladder right into Tamina’s face. Natalya takes Charlotte out with a Discus Clothesline and traps Charlotte under a ladder in the corner. I mean…for a given value of “trapped”. Charlotte sets up the second ladder as a ramp up to Natalya’s ladder and climbs up, throwing hands with Neidhart up top before Carmella topples the ladder over!
Becky grabs Carmella and suplexes her out of the ring before throwing a ladder at Natalya! Tamina suddenly spears Becky out of nowhere, and everyone’s down again as we head to our last break! When we come back everyone’s down but for Natalya, who is shoving a ladder into the ring and setting it up. She starts up the ladder, with no-one there to stop her, and Charlotte manages to sprint into the ring along with Becky! Charlotte’s on top of Natalya and Tamina is right behind Becky, all on the ladder! The ladder topples and everyone’s down!
Carmella dashes into the ring and sets up the ladder. She takes a moment to make sure it’s in the right spot, climbs up and has one hand on it before all four other women carry the ladder away from the briefcase! Everyone brawls and then Carmella leaps from the ladder onto Natalya and Becky, taking them out of the ring! Carmella and Tamina are still in the ring, but then Charlotte slides in too, and plants the ladder on Tamina’s face again and again!
Charlotte starts to climb the ladder again, but Carmella’s right behind her. Charlotte kicks her away, but Tamina benchpresses the ladder, Charlotte and Carmella off her and sends both women to the mat! Charlotte’s up, but Tamina superkicks her head off and looks up at the briefcase! Tamina climbs, but Natalya and Becky catch her before powerbombing her off the ladder! Natalya hits a sit-out powerbomb of her own to Becky, and then locks Carmella in a Sharpshooter, making sure that she can’t get the briefcase again!
Charlotte blasts Natalya with a kick to the back of the head and then takes Carmella out with Natural Selection. Natalya recovers and spears Charlotte right through the ropes before taking her over the barricade and dumping her into the crowd! And suddenly Ellsworth is in the arena! Where is the footage of him killing and escaping the security: I need to see it!
Ellsworth pulls Carmella up and tosses her into the ring before setting up the ladder. He starts to climb again when Becky storms into the ring, kicks Carmella in the face and shoves the ladder over, crotching Ellsworth on the ropes! Becky starts climbing the ladder, gets caught by Carmella and kicks her away, but Carmella is relentless. She drags Becky down, tweaking her knee, and then smacks her with a steel chair. Carmella climbs up the ladder and retrieves the briefcase!
Great match, and what the original should have been without all of the dumb shit. Becky’s almost-win carried on the emotion from last week and there were lots of stand-out moments otherwise. Flawless really: 5 Stars.
So, the bad: the Hype Bros vs. the Usos was pretty quick and seemed like a big “fuck you” to Zack Ryder; we’ll see if a heel turn’s on the way. And I’m none too wild about another Punjabi Prison match, but I guess that’s happening.
Everything else was honestly pretty great: the Money in the Bank Ladder match was awesome, the Sami and Corbin match was done well and the opening with Bryan worked well. Tonight gets 9/10.
Tags: AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Becky Lynch, Breezango, byron saxton, Carmella, charlotte, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Hype Bros, James Ellsworth, jbl, Jinder Mahal, Kevin Owens, Lana, Mojo Rawley, naomi, natalya neidhart, Randy Orton, sami zayn, Shane McMahon, shinsuke nakamura, smackdown live, Tamina Snuka, The Ascension, The New Day, The Singh Brothers, the usos, Tom Phillips, zack ryder