By Jake Barnett
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WWE Smackdown on the USA Network
Taped on Tuesday in Norfolk, Virginia at the Norfolk Scope
[Q1] Video was shown that recapped the Money in the Bank qualifying matches from Monday’s Raw. Mauro Ranallo welcomed everyone to the arena after the regular Smackdown intro. Rusev vs. Kalisto was announced, as well as Miz vs. Cesaro. Michael Cole was in the ring with the Money in the Bank briefcase, and spoke about it being on the line in a few weeks. He then said his guest was one of the men who qualified for the match on Monday, and introduced Dean Ambrose.
Ambrose spoke briefly about breaking Chris Jericho this past Sunday. He said when the going gets tough, he gets comfortable. Cole then asked him what he was willing to do in order to win the Money in the Bank contract. Ambrose contemplated his answer for a few seconds, but Kevin Owens interrupted before he got a chance to answer. Owens asked Michael Cole what he was doing there. He said it was bad enough that he had to tolerate him on Raw every week, but he wouldn’t allow him to be on Smackdown.
Owens spoke in the ring about how he would go into Money in the Bank and do what he should have done at WrestleMania and Payback, and that’s take what was his. He said he would have won his championship at WrestleMania, but….then Sami Zayn interrupted. Sami said that he let Owens get into his head too many times, but that wouldn’t be the case this time, and that Dean better think twice about stopping him, because he won’t and if he thinks he will he should check himself back into his little asylum.
Alberto Del Rio interrupted and said a few words about claiming his second Money in the Bank briefcase, but Sami told him that he’s not even in the match yet. Sami then said that he had to defeat Zack Ryder, and he was the guy who beat the odds and walked out of WrestleMania with the Intercontinental Championship. Owens took a cheap shot at Zayn at this point, and then Ambrose brawled with him. Sami lined up to hit Owens with a Heluva Kick, but Owens moved and Zayn put on the brakes before hitting Ambrose. He and Ambrose tussled a bit but didn’t get into a full out brawl…[c]
My Take: Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens have become two of my favorite people on the microphone. They manage to be entertaining without being too campy or getting too wordy. Del Rio makes sense to enter this match, and I hope it’s the first of many steps towards some character rehabilitation.
Zack Ryder made his ring entrance for the Money in the Bank qualifier. We got a picture in picture promo from Ryder about always being the right place at the wrong time. He said he’s not supposed to be there, but he deserves to be there and he will make the most of his opportunities.
[Q2] 1. Zack Ryder vs. Alberto Del Rio: Del RIo started out in control. He hit some strikes and took Ryder down with a suplex for a two count. He then pulled Ryder to the outside of the apron and rolled out to the floor to hit a kick to the head. Ryder fired back with a flapjack and then sent Del Rio out to the floor. He then hit a neckbreaker on the outside….[c]
Ryder hit a facebuster and climbed the ropes for a missile dropkick, but Del Rio moved out of the way. Del Rio then kicked him in the face when he tried to get up, and covered for a near fall. Ryder recovered and hit a Broski Boot a moment later, but couldn’t put Del Rio away with it. Ryder went for the Rough Ryder, but Del Rio launched him over his head and into the turnbuckle. Del Rio then placed Ryder in a tree of woe, but Ryder avoided the stomp. Ryder was then able to hit the Rough Ryder, but couldn’t capitalize as Del Rio rolled out to the floor.
Ryder tossed Del Rio back into the ring, but was quickly pulled into a Cross Arm Breaker and was forced to tap.
Alberto Del Rio defeated Zack Ryder
The announce team showed the people who have qualified for the Money in the Bank match, and King asked who would be the last man without attempting to answer it. Video footage was shown of Roman Reigns retaining the WWE Championsip at Payback, along with Seth Rollins return and appearance on Raw…[c]
My Take: This match didn’t really light my fire. The action was pretty mediocre, and I didn’t really buy any of the hope spots from Ryder. Both guys are talented and would be good additions to the Money in the Bank match, but their characters have so little momentum that a match between them didn’t generate any suspense either way.
[Q3] Enzo and Cass made their entrance and got a great reaction. They did their usual shtick before entering the ring. Enzo started into a promo, but was immediately interrupted by The Dudley Boyz. Enzo told Bubba that he lost on Monday, so both of them must be lost. He said you can call him Google Maps, because he has no problem addressing anybody anytime anywhere. Cass then said they both must have a real problem with them, so they’ll take care of it by taking them out of the equation.
D-Von responded and asked if they really wanted a piece of them. Enzo and Cass wanted the match, but Bubba stopped short and said they would do it Monday on Raw. Bubba asked D-Von if they could get out of this stinking town, and they started to leave. Cass called them Sawft, and spelled it out, like you do.
Backstage, Lana and Rusev were interviewed by Renee Young. She asked him about Kalisto’s rematch, and Lana told her to address him as the Greatest United States Champion of all time. Rusev said that America is land for second chances, but this second chance would end the same way as the first. He called Kalisto a mosquito, and said he would crush him so he’d never fly again…[c]
My Take: Enzo and Cass were fun as usual, but I can’t help feeling that they are running out of jokes to call the Dudleyz. Rusev deserves to continue this push indefinitely. He’s a lot of fun as a monster heel Champion. We’ll see if they send Cena after him right away. I hope not.
[Q4] We got a Miz video package that recapped him retaining his title at Payback and his MITB qualifier on Monday vs. Cesaro.
Lana was in the ring and then gave an introduction to Rusev. Video was shown of Rusev bending Kalisto in half to win the United States Championship. Eden Stiles gave ring introductions, and Rusev stopped her and demanded to be introduced first.
2. Kalisto vs. Rusev: Kalisto attempted to hit a springboard move from the apron, but Rusev hit a shoulder block in mid air to his ribs and hit crashed hard to the mat…[c]
Kalisto went for a slam for some reason and collapsed under the weight. The announce team mentioned he went into the match with a bad back. Rusev dominated with strikes and a clothesline. Kalisto fired back with a spike rana, and took Rusev over the top rope with a head scissors. He then hit a moonsault from the apron and pushed Rusev back into the ring and covered for a near fall.
[Q5] Kalisto went for Salida del Sol, but Rusev tied him in a tree of woe instead. Kalisto avoided Rusev’s diving headbutt and freed himself. Rusev recovered and slammed him off the top rope. He then hit a big head kick and then stomped on his back. He then bent him in half with the Accolade for the win.
Rusev defeated Kalisto and retained his Championship
Rusev went to attack Kalisto after the match, but he was interrupted by Titus O’Neill. There was a USA chant as Titus told him he wanted to fight right now, but Rusev backed away and retreated to boos. The announce team cut in and threw to a video package that focused on Charlotte and Ric Flair. There were various superstars interviewed that came down on both sides of the issue about how she treated her Dad. Charlotte then made her entrance into the arena to join on commentary…[c]
My Take: That was far too similar to their Extreme Rules match to really be interesting. I’m glad Rusev can move on from Kalisto at this point because he’s been pretty one note since this feud started. Titus O’Neill doesn’t thrill me as Rusev’s next opponent, but here’s to hoping it’s better than I expect. The Charlotte and Ric video package was interesting in that they had other Superstars make their case for and against her behavior, and also removed all the horribly awkward moments of the promo.
Dana Brooke was shown in the ring, and then Natalya made her entrance.
3. Natalya vs. Dana Brooke: Jerry Lawler objected to Charlotte’s behavior, and she told him that was funny coming from someone who spent his whole life away from home. Natalya got Dana into a sharpshooter almost immediately, and Charlotte interfered to cause a DQ.
Natalya defeated Dana Brooke by DQ
[A6] Nattie got the best of both Charlotte and Dana Brooke for about a minute, but the numbers game caught up and they beat her down and dumped her out onto the floor. After that was over, a photo stills were shown of the AJ Styles and Roman Reigns match from Extreme Rules.
AJ was interviewed backstage by Renee Young. She said it had been a tough week for him, and asked what was next. AJ said it had been an uphill battle ever since he got to WWE. He said he had won some respect, but lost some pride and some friends. He said he hangs his hat on being damn close to being WWE World Heavyweight Champion, and as for what’s next, he’ll have to think of something.
My Take: This Charlotte mess is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. The positive coming out of Monday is that Ric Flair was going to be out of the picture, but it seems the narrative is still going to depend on him because of how offended everyone was by her behavior. I honestly don’t understand why they’d go down this road, because if Charlotte was so wounded by her Dad’s life on the road, would she have dedicated her life to pursuing the same path for herself? I can understand her getting upset by stealing her spotlight, but to drag up childhood demons just makes the story more confused than WWE is capable of navigating deftly. They don’t deal with subtlety well.
Golden Truth made their entrance, followed by Breezango.
4. Golden Truth vs. Breezango: Despite the betrayals the last time these teams met, Truth and Breeze started with a collar and elbow tie up. Fandango tagged in quickly and Breeze threw Truth into a dropkick. Truth fired back at Fandango with a leg lariat and crawled over towards Goldust. Fandango quickly shoved Goldust off the apron and got reprimanded by the ref. Breeze entered and hit a superkick on Truth while the ref was distracted, and then Fandango covered Truth for the win.
Breezango defeated Golden Truth
Seth Rollins was hyped for next…[c]
My Take: Meh. Not much going on here. Neither of these teams feel like they matter, and I continue to be completely befuddled by Truth and Goldust getting six months of TV build up so they could start a losing streak.
[Q7] Backstage, Goldust tried to console Truth about their losses. Breezango walked up and made bad jokes about them being losers.
Seth Rollins made his ring entrance and asked the crowd if they missed him. He then did it a few more times after he wasn’t happy with the initial result. After he got the cheers he wanted, he said he wished he could say the same about the crowd and left up the ramp laughing his head off..[c]
My Take: I hope Rollins had some other reason to be in the building on Tuesday.
Cesaro made his entrance, followed by The Miz. Their match is for the Intercontinental Championship.
5. Cesaro vs. The Miz: Cesaro hit a nice standing dropkick that sent Miz to the floor, and then hit a rolling senton onto Miz from the apron to the floor…[c]
Miz dumped Cesaro on his shoulder during the break to take control. He catapulted Cesaro’s throat into the bottom rope, and then hit an arm ringer on the top rope on Cesaro’s bad shoulder. Miz attempted a backslide, but Cesaro kicked out and started on an uppercut party. After a couple uppercuts, Miz got a foot up into Cesaro’s shoulder to derail things. Miz charged at Cesaro, but got tossed into the air and landed on an uppercut for a near fall.
Miz hit a DDT and covered for his own near fall. He told the ref to check on Cesaro, and then tried to untie the turnbuckle pad. The ref caught him, but Maryse was able to finish the job. The ref attempted to tie the turnbuckle back on, but as a result couldn’t count the cover on a Cesaro roll up on time and he didn’t get a pinfall. Miz got caught in a Sharpshooter a moment later and was able to make the ropes after a few moments.
Cesaro attempted a Cesaro Swing, but Miz quickly got to the ropes and tried to bail by rolling outside and leaving up the ramp. Cesaro wouldn’t have it and hit a running uppercut on the outside and hit a cross body for another near fall. Miz recovered and fooled Cesaro by baiting him into colliding with the exposed turnbuckle on his bad shoulder and then hit a Skull Crushing Finale for the win.
The Miz defeated Cesaro to retain the Intercontinental Championship
Miz celebrated as the show went off the air.
My Take: This match was entertaining, but the finish never really felt in doubt. I like that they introduced the exposed turnbuckle in the middle of the match and then delivered a payoff that paid off that bit of storytelling later on. Cesaro loses a bit of momentum with the loss, but I think they covered it well enough with the tainted win. It’s good for heels to outsmart babyfaces when it’s clever, and Cesaro didn’t look like an idiot here.