Hey everyone! It’s @TheMagnumDA with this week’s edition of the Smackdown Live TV report. There’s a lot of news coming out of Money in the Bank, although it’s not all good news for the blue brand. First off, two Raw superstars (Braun Strowman and Alexa Bliss) won MITB briefcases. This means Smackdown needs a new #1 Contender, as AJ Styles retained the WWE Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura. The other news? Big Cass was released hours before Smackdown went live on the air. If you would have told me at WrestleMania XXXIII that Enzo and Cass only have 14 months left with WWE, I would have been shocked. Life goes on!
ON WITH THE SHOW!
Opening Promos: Paige kicked off the show by recapping MITB. She also announced a Gauntlet Match in the main event, with the winner facing AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at Extreme Rules. The participants are Daniel Bryan, Samoa Joe, Rusev, Big E., and The Miz. After this, Carmella comes down to the ring to celebrate her title win over Asuka at MITB. She teases the crowd by talking about having issues with self-esteem and self-confidence growing up. Then she turns it around by laughing and saying that she’s NEVER had confidence issues. She talks about beating both Charlotte and Asuka, going on to brag that she did it on her own. This brings out…definitely not Asuka. After another looooooong reveal, we find out that it’s James Ellsworth! The chinless wonder is back!
He brags that Carmella is better than every woman that ever lived, and then we were treated to quite the list: Carmella is better than Charlotte, Lita, Trish Stratus, Mother Teresa (!!), Beyoncé (!!!!), Ronda Rousey and Asuka. When he finished, we hear Asuka’s music and she is PISSED. She storms into the ring and completely levels Ellsworth with one of the hardest back-leg round kicks you will see all year. The kick landed FLUSH in Ellsworth’s ribs. Of course, this allowed Carmella to return serve by drilling Asuka right in the face with her signature kick. Carmella and Ellsworth leave together as Asuka looks on from the ring. Not as good as last night’s opening promo, but it was entertaining.
Match #1: Becky Lynch defeated Billie Kay (w/Peyton Royce). (*1/2) Oh no, The IIconics are doing more impressions. It’s not natural heel heat, ladies…it’s “change the channel” heat. Billie Kay had the advantage early on, but Becky made a comeback and took Royce out of the equation. From there, Becky locked in the Disarmer for the quick submission!
Jeff Hardy Promo: Jeff Hardy calls out Shinsuke Nakamura for what he did last week. Hardy channels his 2009 run with the facepaint and crazy contact lenses. Tonight’s contacts, in particular, are rather creepy. Maybe he’ll bring back “No More Words” as his theme song!
Daniel Bryan Interview: Renee and Bryan are together backstage. Renee congratulated Bryan on his win at MITB, and then asked him about his chances as the first entrant in tonight’s Gauntlet Match. Bryan says that tonight, he’ll have to go through three of the best wrestlers in the world (Rusev, Joe, and Big E.) to become #1 Contender. Renee reminded Bryan that he forgot to mention Miz, and Bryan reiterated, “the best.” BURN!
Match #2: The Usos vs. SAnitY did not take place. (No stars) The Usos called out SAnitY and asked if they have what it takes to make a name for themselves in this business. So SAnitY (Killian Dain, Alexander Wolfe, and Eric Young) makes their long-awaited debut, and wouldn’t you know…they get no reaction. I feel bad for the blokes! They destroy both Jimmy and Jey, forcing each brother to watch as they get destroyed with finishing moves.
Shinesuke Nakamura Interview: Nakamura is backstage with Renee. He insists that he did not lose at MITB, because the referee counted too quickly and he did not count in Japanese. I laughed out loud at that one. Renee asked about Jeff Hardy’s comments from earlier. Shinsuke responds by saying that Jeff’s eyes might be open, but if you cross Nakamura…they’ll be closed for good. Sinister.
Match #3: SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Bludgeon Brothers defeated Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson. (*3/4) Not a terrible match, but there wasn’t much heat at all. Gallows should not be playing the “Ricky Morton” role in this match. Anderson got the hot tag, and hit a spinebuster on Harper for two. With Gallows still knocked down outside the ring, Harper and Rowan hit their team Power Bomb on Anderson for the 1-2-3!
After the match, Daniel Bryan makes his entrance down to ringside for the upcoming Gauntlet Match. He is confronted by both Harper and Rowan. It’s almost as if you can already see where this is going…
Main Event Gauntlet Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Big E. vs. Samoa Joe vs. The Miz vs. Rusev
Daniel Bryan defeats Big E. (**) Good start to this match. Big E. missed a huge charge in the corner, allowing Bryan to hit the Knee+ for the clean victory.
Daniel Bryan defeats Samoa Joe by Count-Out (***) Interesting booking for the finish. Samoa Joe locks Bryan in the Cocquina Clutch outside the ring, but starts to panic as the ref counts to seven. With Joe distracted, Bryan amazingly backflipped off the barricade to escape the hold. The weight of Bryan sends Samoa Joe crashing to the floor, allowing Bryan to get back in the ring by the count of ten. As far as matches go that end in a countout, this had one of the more clever finishes that you’ll ever see.
At this point, Bryan has been beaten to a pulp. His chest looks like a beet patch. Before his next opponent arrives, we see the return of the Bludgeon Brothers! They pulverize Bryan and then drill him to the mat with their tandem Power Bomb. Cue the music, and of course you hear, “AWESOME…” You know what that means!
The Miz defeats Daniel Bryan (No stars) Bryan is motionless in the ring. Ever the opportunist, Miz splatters him with the Skull-Crushing Finale for the 1-2-3.
Rusev (w/Aiden English) defeats The Miz (**1/2) I would not have expected these two at the end, but they had a pretty good match! Short, but still…the fans were going wild for Rusev. The finish came when Miz continued to taunt Bryan by using the “It Kicks” and the running drop kick in the corner. Unfortunately for Miz, Rusev delivered a Machka Kick, followed by a massive stomp on the spine and the Accolade! Miz taps out within seconds!
The fans continue to go crazy, as Rusev is now the #1 Contender to AJ Styles’ WWE Championship. AJ comes down to the ring to shake hands with Rusev, which goes surprisingly well. At this point, English sticks his hand out as well, and AJ is about to oblige when English pulls his hand away. AJ drops him with a right hand as Rusev looks down at his fallen comrade. Credits!
JULY 15TH – RUSEV DAY! I cannot think of a more deserving #1 Contender for the WWE Championship than Rusev. I had no idea that he’s never had a WWE Championship match in his career – that’s amazing! Rusev deserves the chance, though. He’s crazy over with the fans, and the AJ Styles vs. Rusev matchup is a fresh one. Personally, I hope this isn’t some vehicle that leads us to Rusev vs. English, because I fear that’s where we are headed.
The Return of the Enigma: Jeff Hardy might have looked like a juggalo with alien eyes, but I am willing to give him another chance. This is especially true after seeing him in that WWE24 documentary. The guy was in a dark place. That doesn’t absolve him from the DUI earlier this year, but if he can stay clean and sober, he can still contribute at this stage of his career. I’m also glad that he’s got a new dance partner in Nakamura.
Bryan’s Singles Push on Hold: Bryan is one hell of a company man. Colin (Editor of WO) is convinced that Bryan must have pissed someone off, but I’m certain that Bryan came back to Smackdown with full intentions of facing as many different opponents as possible. The ironic thing is…Bryan has been given nothing but big men. After dispatching of Big Cass, he’s now moving on to the Bludgeon Brothers. I get the feeling we’re going to see Harper and Rowan vs. Bryan and a mystery partner in the near future. Could this be the return of Kane? We never did find out what happened with him after the Superstar Shake-up. It’s entirely possible that he’s on the Smackdown brand, and it’s only a matter of time before he’s revealed as Bryan’s partner. Time will tell!
The IIconics: Okay, they’re not that ugly. In fact, they are quite easy on the eyes. That said…the mute button is my best friend when they cut an in-ring promo. It feels like each promo becomes even more grating on the ears as the weeks go on. Maybe it’s just me.
That’s going to do it for me! I’ll see you next week for the Raw report. Don’t forget that Extreme Rules is July 15th on the WWE Network! @TheMagnumDA signing off.