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By Jason Powell
WWE Money in the Bank Hits
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin vs. Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler in a Money in the Bank ladder match: The most entertaining match of the night saved the show for me. The match lived up to my own expectations, and angle with Nakamura returning late in the match after being attacked during the introductions worked great in terms of the fans going crazy for his offensive flurry. The highlight of the match was the Nakamura and Styles showdown. The low point was the finish. I have no problem with Corbin winning, and I pegged him as the favorite the moment they announced the MITB entrants. However, the finish with Corbin tipping over the ladder and Styles and Nakamura taking the same tame bump into the ropes we saw repeatedly during the women’s match just wasn’t a strong finish. I’m all for wrestler safety, but this felt anticlimactic and unoriginal. Even so, the overall match was well done and I was especially impressed by the hard work of Ziggler and Zayn in their supporting roles.
Jinder Mahal (w/The Singh Brothers) vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship: An entertaining match with the hometown crowd hot for Orton. I’m still waiting to be wowed by something Mahal does, but this was a passable title match that was slotted in the semi main event position. The finish felt a little too similar to their last pay-per-view finish, but I like the way the Singh Brothers were incorporated into the match. Now that MITB is over, here’s hoping that Mahal and the WWE Championship will be featured at the center of the Smackdown universe. I want WWE to go all in with Jinder for the next month to assess whether they have something or if SummerSlam is the place to pull the plug on the experiment of him being WWE Champion. Turn the Singhs into actual characters rather than two guys who are bonded with Mahal solely out of ethnicity, and let’s hear some promos from Jinder that stray from the formula of accusing fans of being racist and then speaking a few lines in Punjabi. Meanwhile, where does the Orton character go from here after losing in his hometown in front of his father and his father’s Hall of Fame friends?
Mike and Maria Kanellis: A solid introduction of the dominant Maria and the husband who took her last name. I came away assuming idea is to portray Mike as henpecked given that he took his wife’s last name. Perhaps they will be lovey dovey when things are good, yet she’ll freak out on him the moment things don’t go their way. Maria was terrific in her role as the First Lady of TNA, and Mike Bennett made the most of his year away from Ring of Honor. They are quality additions to the Smackdown roster and I look forward to seeing how these characters develop.
Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso vs. Big E and Kofi Kingston for the WWE Smackdown Tag Titles: A good match to start what should be a lengthy feud. Kingston shined with his tumble over the top rope and blind reverse dives. The finish was not satisfying and felt poorly placed in terms of occurring in the match that followed with the lousy women’s MITB match finish. That said, I’m fine with the idea of the cocky Usos tag team taking the cheap path toward retaining their tag titles in the first title match with New Day. The Usos often come off as babyface-like because their promos are so entertaining. The finish made it seem like the cocky duo bit off more than they could chew and took the heelish route by walking out. It wasn’t an enjoyable finish, but it casts the Usos as heels and sets the stage for a SummerSlam rematch.
Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder vs. The Colons: A minor Hit in that this was fine for the Kickoff Show. The babyfaces going over is the usual formula on the pre-show. I was actually hoping we would see a rare heel win on the Kickoff Show to help start Rawley and Ryder on the path to a breakup, but the match was fine in terms of getting the crowd warmed up. And on a show filled with heel wins in the big matches, I guess they had to get their babyface wins in wherever they could.
WWE Money in the Bank Misses
Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Tamina vs. Natalya vs. Carmella in a Money in the Bank ladder match: A lousy finish to the first women’s Money in the Bank match. Will Pruett summed it up very well in his blog earlier today. I’m not sold on this being an intentional act of sexism. I simply saw it as a poor match finish with creative being more concerned about setting up Daniel Bryan’s return promo and perhaps a potential rematch on Smackdown than delivering a satisfying payoff to the “historic” women’s MITB match. Of course, I could be misreading this. Perhaps WWE wants to the outraged reactions they are getting because they believe it puts heat on Ellsworth and Carmella and/or they feel that a potential make good effort on Smackdown will trump what they did on Sunday. Either way, this was disappointing and fans have every right to expect more from heavily hyped WWE pay-per-view (a/k/a network specials) matches.
Naomi vs. Lana for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: Lana’s accent and ring work serve as an odd preview of the GLOW TV series that premieres on Netflix on Friday. Anyway, while it would be interesting to see what type of match Becky Lynch or Charlotte could get out of Lana, this was not an pay-per-view title match worthy performance in 2017.
Tyler Breeze and Fandango vs. The Ascension: It took me a moment to realize that Breeze and Fandango were doing a Miami Vice spoof and not just dressing up like Dolph Ziggler. In all seriousness, this was just a flat buffer match between the WWE Championship match and the main event.