This week’s edition of WWE Smackdown Live followed Sunday’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view event that was a mix of great wrestling and some controversial booking decisions. To WWE’s credit, the main focus on this show was righting one of the wrongs from the first-ever women’s Money in the Bank ladder match when James Ellsworth grabbed the briefcase and handed it to Carmella.
The show began with the return of Smackdown general manager Daniel Bryan outside of his office. This was Bryan’s first time on Smackdown in two months because his wife Brie Bella gave birth to a baby girl named Birdie last month, so he was given time off. Bryan was greeted by Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Natalya and Tamina as they all wondered what Bryan might do.
Carmella, the Money in the Bank briefcase winner, did a show-opening promo with her buddy James Ellsworth. I thought she did a great job of not apologizing for how she won. Carmella said there was nothing wrong with how she won because there was no rule about somebody else grabbing the briefcase, which was true. The fans hated her for showing no remorse for what happened and she let them know Bryan would have a decision later.
Bryan had backstage segments throughout the show with Charlotte, Natalya, Tamina and Becky. All of them wanted him to do the right thing, especially Becky thickly laying on the routine about how she’s frustrated with things.
There was an in-ring segment with Bryan inviting the five women in the MITB match plus James Ellsworth. Everybody spoke up to plead their case again with Bryan noting that Carmella was right in saying that there were no disqualifications in Sunday’s match. However, Bryan didn’t like what happened.
Bryan announced that they would make history again because he stripped Carmella of the briefcase. She is the first Money in the Bank winner who had the briefcase taken away. Bryan left the ring, the faces cleared the ring of the heels, Charlotte hit a Natural Selection on Carmella and Lynch put the Disarmer armbar submission on her.
Now that we know there’s a second Money in the Bank match next week, who will win?
My pick last week was Charlotte Flair because I feel like WWE wants to have a face winner in the first-ever women’s MITB ladder match. Since the first match ended in commentary, it makes even more sense to have a face like Charlotte win. Becky Lynch is a good choice as well, since she is the one who nearly got the briefcase on Sunday when Ellsworth got involved.
Carmella may win it again but if she does, then she has to do it on her own. On Talking Smack on WWE Network after Smackdown, Daniel Bryan banned James Ellsworth from ringside for the match. I don’t think they should have Carmella win because it’s a better story to have her whine about the loss from the PPV match.
Natalya would be a great choice to win because she’s a very good worker who could use a boost that the MITB briefcase would provide. I’m less interested in Tamina winning since she’s the worst of the five wrestlers. Plus, as I said earlier I think a face winning is the better choice.
I’m going with Charlotte as my official pick in what will likely be the main event of next week’s show.
This Week’s Smackdown Live Matches
There were four matches on Smackdown this week with one of them standing out the most.
Big E defeated Jimmy Uso
It was a short match that went about four minutes. The story was that Jimmy wanted to walk out on the match like The Usos did at Money in the Bank on Sunday, but Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston were there to prevent it. When Jimmy went back in the ring, Big E finished him off quickly with his Big Ending finisher.
There will probably be another Tag Team Title match between these teams at Battleground next month. It’s not official yet.
Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Dolph Ziggler
This was a fantastic television match that was given about 17 minutes and better than their match at Backlash. It looked a lot more physical than that bout too. Some of Nakamura’s matches on Smackdown have been toned down a lot compared to what he was doing in NXT. It’s about keeping him fresh and working a safer match. In this case, Nakamura looked amazing doing his strong style offense that includes the best knee strikes and kicks in the business. He’s more than just a striker, though. Nakamura sells moves very well and Ziggler came close to winning multiple times with moves like the Fameasser and the Zig Zag each drawing a good crowd reaction.
Nakamura made the big comeback after Ziggler tried a sleeper and Nakamura hit this nasty-looking running kick to the back of the head. Nakamura followed up with his Kinshasa running knee strike for the clean win. It sounded like it really hurt Ziggler, but there are no reports of injury. That’s the greatness of Nakamura. He makes everything look real. The best ones have that incredible ability to do stuff like that. The announcers did a great job of putting over as a big move with Ziggler selling like he was knocked out.
I thought Nakamura/Ziggler and Joe/Reigns from Raw were both elite-level TV matches. If each show can do two matches of that quality every week, that would be awesome.
I think Nakamura may feud with Baron Corbin because of Corbin’s attack on him before Sunday’s match again. Kevin Owens and AJ Styles look like they will restart their feud, so Nakamura matching up with Corbin makes sense. A reason WWE may not do it is because they may not want Nakamura to beat Corbin, who is holding the Money in the Bank briefcase. Nakamura hasn’t lost a singles or tag match on the main roster yet.
Kevin Owens defeated Chad Gable to retain the United States Championship
Owens issued an open challenge to anybody from Dayton, Ohio (where Smackdown was Tuesday night). AJ Styles answered the challenge and Owens said it can’t be him. Chad Gable of American Alpha accepted the challenge while Owens pointed out that he wasn’t from Dayton. Gable said he just moved there and was obviously lying as he made up an address that drew cheers. The match started from there with Styles on commentary.
Gable got in a fair bit of offense on Owens including this incredible rolling German Suplex spot. How can WWE ignore American Alpha for two months? It’s ridiculous. Anyway, Gable got a few near-falls, but Owens came back to win with the Popup Powerbomb.
It appears as though Styles will renew his rivalry with Owens heading into Battleground. Owens beat him by countout at Backlash, so they could be in line for another US Title program with Owens trying to hold onto his gold.
Jinder Mahal defeated Luke Harper; Randy Orton attacked post-match
This was a non-title match. Harper is a very good performer who has been lost in the shuffle on Smackdown since he’s not on television every week. I hope they find something for him to do soon. They had a competitive match for about eight minutes with Harper showing off his athleticism and power well.
Baron Corbin, Mr. Money in the Bank, walked down to ringside to tease cashing in his briefcase for a WWE Title shot. He didn’t do anything, though. Corbin just walked around the ring with the briefcase and walked to the back. Harper tried to capitalize on the distraction, but failed to get the win. Harper went after one of the Singh Brothers on the apron, the brother ducked and Harper walked right into a kick to the face from Mahal. That led to Mahal hitting his Cobra Clutch slam that he calls The Khallas for the win.
After the match was over, Randy Orton walked down to the ring with a purpose. He whipped both Singh Brothers in the barricade and took down Mahal in the ring. When Mahal left the ring, Orton knocked him down with a clothesline followed by his draping DDT on the floor. Orton wanted a RKO in the ring, but the Singh Brothers attacked and Mahal left through the crowd. Orton hit both Singh Brothers with RKOs and then stared at Mahal.
I liked that attack by Orton. I thought he should have been that aggressive after he lost the WWE Title at Backlash, but they spent the whole month with him being silent. Orton is at his best when he’s angry and the crowd absolutely loved him during this segment.
Other Key Items From Smackdown
1. Randy Orton said his rivalry with Jinder Mahal is personal
Orton did a sit-down interview with Tom Phillips saying that Mahal has crossed the line because he and the Singh Brothers went after Orton’s father at Money in the Bank. Orton said he’s going to hurt Mahal and it’s more than just about the WWE Title – it’s personal. Orton claimed the feud was far from over. Orton ended the interview by saying Mahal made a mistake and now there’s no turning back.
I liked the intensity shown by Orton. This was done to show that this feud isn’t over and making it a more personal feud should make it better.
2. Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley will face The Usos next week to try to earn a title match
— WWE (@WWE) June 21, 2017
Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley, aka the Hype Bros, had a backstage segment with GM Daniel Bryan. They mentioned that when Ryder hurt his knee in the ring six months ago it was in a match where he earned his team a shot at the Smackdown Tag Team Titles. The Hype Bros wanted Bryan to give them a title shot. Bryan said a lot has changed since then, but if they can beat The Usos non-title next week, then they can face The Usos for the championship.
I don’t expect the Hype Bros to earn the title shot or to win the belts. I think it’s more likely that they come up short and Ryder ends up turning heel as a result because he’s mad they can’t seem to break through as a team.
3. Lana gets another Smackdown Women’s Title match against Naomi next week
— WWE (@WWE) June 21, 2017
Naomi was doing a promo and Lana interrupted it. Lana talked about how close she came to winning the Smackdown Women’s Championship while blaming Carmella for distracting her. Lana wanted another title match, so Naomi agreed to give it to her next week. I think Naomi will keep the title in the match, but you never really know.
A segment like this also makes you wonder why the women in the Money in the Bank ladder match don’t just ask Naomi for a title shot since she seems willing to defend against anybody any time as a fighting champion.
4. Mike & Maria Kanellis didn’t appear on the show, but they did appear in front of the crowd
The duo of Maria and Mike Kanellis (Mike Bennett) didn’t appear during Smackdown Live, which was a bit of a surprise after their debut at Money in the Bank. Instead, they did a promo in front of the live crowd that WWE put on their YouTube channel that I posted above. It sounded like the same promo from Money in the Bank almost word for word as well. I’m only sharing it because people might wonder if they did anything on the show. The answer is no, but at least they were there.
Looking Ahead to WWE Battleground
The next Smackdown pay-per-view is Battleground on July 23 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
No matches have been announced yet, but based on Smackdown this week it’s likely that Orton will get another WWE Title match against Mahal. Why would Orton get another WWE Title match when he lost the title to him at Backlash and the rematch at Money in the Bank? No idea yet. I just hope it makes sense. There are rumors it may be a Punjabi Prison match with the idea that it would prevent the Singh Brothers from interfering.
It was another good edition of Smackdown with no wasted segments, an excellent long match between Nakamura and Ziggler, Orton was at his best chasing after Mahal, and it was nice to get a resolution to the women’s Money in the Bank situation. Next week’s show seems like a big deal already.
Here is what is scheduled for next week’s Smackdown in San Diego:
– Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match Part Two: Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Carmella vs. Tamina vs. Natalya
– Smackdown Women Championship Match: Naomi vs. Lana
– Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn
– Non-Title Match: The Usos vs. Hype Bros (Hype Bros get tag title shot with win)
I’ll be back next week for a review of Raw and Smackdown. Things are heating up in WWE as the road to SummerSlam continues.