The WWE Smackdown Live brand continued to focus on their next pay-per-view event, Money in the Bank on June 18. I thought that there would be a lot of focus on the new WWE Champion Jinder Mahal and his opponent Randy Orton.
Instead, they were only featured for a few minutes without any kind of physical interaction. That left plenty of time to build up the Money in the Bank ladder match as well as announce two more big matches for the show.
Kevin Owens started the show hosting the Highlight Reel, which he took over after injuring Chris Jericho. Shinsuke Nakamura was the guest and he barely said anything because Baron Corbin showed up to interrupt the festivities. Corbin called Owens “Cartman,” which is what AJ Styles called Owens last week, so I guess that will be a regular thing with people poking fun at Owens’ weight. The heel duo of Owens and Corbin double-teamed Nakamura, so Sami Zayn made the predictable save. Zayn suggested a tag match, so that started after the break.
I write about the formulaic start of every WWE show all the time. Raw began with a promo leading to a six-man tag match. Smackdown started with a promo leading to a regular tag match. I understand why WWE does it because it fills 10-15 minutes, the crowd may get into the promos and it builds to a match naturally, but when you do it nearly every week it gets too repetitive. Change would be good in this case.
Shinsuke Nakamura & Sami Zayn defeated Baron Corbin & Kevin Owens
This match got about 10 minutes (the promo was longer) with the heel side predictably working over Zayn for most of it before Nakamura got the hot tag. There were also issues with Corbin/Owens since they are both egotistical heels that don’t work well with others. After Zayn shoved Owens into Corbin, Owens shoved Corbin and Corbin punched Owens. Zayn took out Corbin with a clothesline that sent them out of the ring, which led to Nakamura hitting the Kinshasa knee strike to win. Good match. Also felt like that opener on Raw except they had a six-man tag and this was a regular tag.
Last week, it was Nakamura and Styles over Owens and Ziggler, so the names changed, but the result was the same with Nakamura pinning Owens.
It was also announced that Nakamura would face Owens on next week’s Smackdown. I expect Nakamura to win that match and give him three straight wins over Owens.
Dolph Ziggler defeated AJ Styles
I was surprised by the result, but I enjoyed the match. Both guys showed a lot of athleticism, which is not a shock considering what they can do in the ring. One of the coolest spots was when Styles was sitting on the top rope and Ziggler jumped up with an incredible DDT off the ropes. Normally when Ziggler does that spot it’s from a standing position, but in this case he jumped up because Styles was athletic enough to bump off the turnbuckle and sell it perfectly.
They did a lot of good counter wrestling. Styles looked like he was going to win with the Calf Crusher submission. I thought that was going to be it, but Ziggler got out of it by gouging the eyes. Ziggler hit his Zig Zag move (a finisher for him at one time) and got a two-count with that. Styles came back with the Phenomenal Forearm attempt off the top rope, but Ziggler tripped him up. Ziggler hit a Superkick and covered for the win after 12 minutes. Styles was close to the ropes during the pin although he wasn’t touching the ropes because Ziggler hooked the legs. It was a clean win by Ziggler.
— WWE Network (@WWENetwork) May 31, 2017
Ziggler needed that win. He lost to Nakamura a few weeks ago at Backlash and it’s important to make people believe he has a shot to win the Money in the Bank. I don’t think he has a chance because I know better, but for the average fan they can point to Ziggler beating Styles clean as a credible victory for him.
My current pick to win the Money in the Bank match is Baron Corbin. I just think WWE wants to push him hard at some point and all the losing he’s done is typical WWE booking to set him up for a big win. It’s not what I want because I’d prefer Zayn or Owens. I just think Corbin is who WWE will go with. Can my opinion change before Money in the Bank? Absolutely. It’s WWE. Things are always changing.
This Week’s Smackdown Live Matches
There were two other matches on Tuesday’s card, one which ended up being an angle.
The Women’s 5-Way Match Never Happened
Last week, WWE advertised a Fatal 5-Way women’s elimination match between Charlotte Flair, Natalya, Becky Lynch, Tamina and Carmella. During this week’s show, they all made their entrance at the start of hour two and started brawling before the ref could ring the bell to start the match.
The fight spilled to the floor with the heel women like Tamina and Natalya working together against Charlotte Flair, but that didn’t end up well. Becky Lynch brawled with Carmella. They did some cool spots by the barricade with Lynch hitting Carmella with a clothesline and later a Bexploder suplex on the floor. Charlotte took care of the heels by hitting a moonsault off the top rope onto Natalya and Tamina on the floor. Charlotte also hit a Powerbomb on Natalya through the announce table (Tamina cleared the table off earlier) in a big spot that drew a big reaction.
The brawl was well done. It was a chaotic scene with all five women showing a lot of intensity. This is the kind of thing that Raw needs to do more to make people care about their women’s division. Instead, we get crap like that “This is Your Life” segment.
After the brawl was over, Smackdown Commissioner Shane McMahon got into the ring and suggested they have a historic match. Shane announced the first-ever Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match between Charlotte Flair, Natalya, Becky Lynch, Tamina and Carmella. The winner gets a briefcase just like in the men’s match and gets a SD Women’s Title match any time they want for a year.
— Charlotte Flair (@MsCharlotteWWE) May 31, 2017
The Women’s MITB match was rumored for a few weeks. I wasn’t sure how they were going to get there, but it ended up working out and making sense. I have a bit of a concern that some of them may try spots that are too risky, but I think they are smart enough to have a good match too. It’s a first time ever match, so there’s a lot of unknown. But it certainly beats having a card full of rematches.
I’m picking Natalya to win the women’s Money in the Bank. Put it on a heel like her and I hope she wins the title too. Carmella would be my second choice.
Breezango defeated The Colons
There was another Fashion Files video about Fandango and Tyler Breeze. Their office was destroyed during it, so they decided to seek revenge against who did it.
It was a comedy match with Breeze dressed “undercover” as a woman in a dress again while Fandango used a water gun since they aren’t real cops, so he had a water gun. The match went about seven minutes with a commercial in it, so only about four minutes aired. Breeze got the win for his team with the Unprettier that Christian used to use.
I’m glad Breezango are still being featured after losing the tag title match at Backlash. It would be nice if American Alpha wasn’t forgotten the way they have been. Come on, WWE. Please use American Alpha better because they’re too good to be doing nothing.
Other Key Items From Smackdown
1. Randy Orton talked about his legacy while Jinder Mahal claimed he is the future
Randy Orton did a promo in the ring talking about how Money in the Bank is in his hometown of St. Louis and he’s going to win the title back. He mentioned his father Bob Orton Jr. being a legend in the business while adding that if his grandfather was still with us, he’d tell him to get his title back. That’s not the kind of promo that Orton usually does, but it was fine.
Jinder Mahal interrupted it on the video wall with the Singh Brothers with him. Mahal didn’t say much other than Orton was about the past while Mahal was the future.
I thought it was an underwhelming segment. Mahal didn’t appear in front of the crowd and only spoke about one minute with a generic promo. They should have a brawl or do something exciting next week because this feud needs it.
2. The New Day confronted The Usos to set up a Tag Team Title match
The Usos, Smackdown’s Tag Team Champions, did an in-ring promo bragging about how they’re the best team in WWE and nobody can beat them. They were interrupted by The New Day trio of Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods. It was their first time on Smackdown since the Superstar Shake-up earlier last month.
The New Day talked about how much they wanted the SD Tag Team Titles. They also revealed that they are getting a Tag Team Title match at Money in the Bank. That was the end of the segment. It was a simple promo that went about five minutes.
My only gripe here is that I’d prefer it if New Day won a match to get a title shot. I know they are the longest reigning tag team champions in the history of WWE, but we want to people earn title shots. When wrestlers are just given title shots, it’s not as interesting. It should be an awesome match and I’m excited about it. I just think it would be better if New Day beat American Alpha or Breezango or somebody else to earn their way to a title shot.
Looking Ahead to WWE Money in the Bank
The next Smackdown pay-per-view is Money in the Bank on Sunday, June 18 in St. Louis, Missouri. Here’s what we know so far.
WWE Championship: Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton
Money in the Bank Contract Ladder Match: AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin vs. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Usos vs. The New Day
Women’s Money in the Bank Contract Ladder Match: Natalya vs. Carmella vs. Tamina vs. Becky Lynch vs. Carmella
There should be another two or three matches added as well.
It was an enjoyable show with two quality matches at the start of the show and the main event. In addition to that, I liked how the women’s Money in the Bank match was set up and it was good to see The New Day confronting The Usos as well. The story with Orton and Mahal wasn’t done very well, though. It’s a WWE Title feud, yet it feels like a midcard title and a secondary match when it should be more of a focus.
I’ll be back on Friday with a preview of WWE Extreme Rules, which takes place this Sunday night on WWE Network.