By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Aired live from San Diego, California at Valley View Casino Center
The show began with a video package about opportunity. It spend some time focused on the Women’s Money in the Bank Match, Baron Corbin and Randy Orton hunting Jinder Mahal, The Hype Bros going after the Tag Champions, and Lana shooting for Naomi. In he building, Daniel Bryan made his way down to the ring. He got a great reaction, per usual. He asked the crowd if they are ready for a great night tonight, before saying he was proud of the Women’s revolution on Smackdown. He said there were two Women’s matches tonight. Lana would get a rematch against Naomi, and they would have the make good match for the Women’s Money in the Bank match.
Carmella interrupted him and go booed loudly. She said he claimed this was the land of opportunity, but it was rather a land of injustice. She claim he unjustly took her briefcase from her, and that she won the MITB match fair and square. Carmella then claimed that the rules say there are no disqualifications, and the first woman to obtain possession of the contract wins the match. She called him a hypocrite, because she wasn’t the first person to have help to win the Money in the Bank contract, and she had done nothing wrong. She told Bryan that her briefcase is now hanging above the ring.
Bryan said that while she made good points about the lack of disqualifications and the fact that others had gotten help, nobody had ever had someone else grab the briefcase and hand it to them. He then polled the crowd about whether or not they should have the match, and they went nuts. Ellsworth piped up and called the crowd idiots. An Ellsworth sucks chant broke out. He told Bryan he was just as pathetic as the crowd. He asserted that Bryan didn’t have the grapefruits to cut it in the ring anymore, so he made up some hokey injury.
Bryan looked serious for a moment before laughing. He told Ellsworth that tonight wasn’t about him, it was about the real superstars of Smackdown Live. Bryan said he knows he banned him from ringside later, but he changed his mind, he was going to ban him from the entire arena. He then called for security, which grabbed Ellsworth and dragged him kicking and screaming from the building. After Ellsworth was gone, Bryan wished Carmella a sarcastic good luck later. Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin was hyped for later, along with Lana vs. Naomi. The Hype Bros are up next…[c]
My Take: The crowd is very active tonight, which bodes well for the Ladder Match if they can hold their interest. If nothing else, the Ladder match should make the way forward for the Women’s division pretty clear. They need to shake up a few characters to keep things interesting.
They Hype Bros made their entrance, followed by The Usos.
1. The Hype Bros vs. The Usos: Zack and Jimmy Uso started the match. Ryder hit a few arm drags and covered for a one count. Mojo tagged along with Jey, tossed him out of the ring. Ryder then tagged and then got an assist from Mojo for a tope con hilo. After a distraction from Jimmy, Jey was able to recover in the ring and they both settled in taking shots at Ryder…[c]
Jimmy Uso came off the top with a splash and got the victory right after the break.
The Usos defeated The Hype Bros at 6:48.
New Day made their entrance right after the match and looked to be wearing new shirts. Woods congratulated the Usos on winning a match instead of running away in the middle of it. Big E laid down a challenge for Battlegrounds, and riffed on Booker T’s famous “we coming for you” gaffe from years ago.
The Usos replied that the New Day didn’t deserve another shot, and they could go run back to Shane and whine and complain. Jey then said they should be careful on what they wish, because it’s not about New Day no more, it’s about this Day One Ish. Kofi replied that they were underdogs like Rudy, but The Usos were under drawers like booty. They then had a brief staredown to finish the segment.
My Take: I like The Usos and New Day pairing, but I hope WWE has enough discipline to keep the feud going until Summerslam until they pull the trigger on any kind of title change. The Usos are the best they’ve ever been right now, and it would be a steep drop in quality for the next feud partners for New Day.
Fashion Vice was next, and there was a picture of Big Bossman on the wall. The Ascension were seated at a table, and Fandango showed them a picture of two stick figures, which they denied were them. He then offered them some Eddie Money tickets in exchange for information about who attacked Tyler. Breeze then walked up and set some squirt guns on the table, and looked to be playing the bad cop until he set some iced tea and cheese plates on the table in effort to sweeten the deal for information.
There was a loud noise in the next room, and they walked in to see their office turned upside down again. It occurred to them that The Ascension might not be lying about not attacking Tyler. The last moment of the segment was Ascension taking the Eddie Money tickets, after initially refusing them because they only listen to thrash metal. In the arena, Naomi made her entrance…[c]
My Take: The Fashion Vice jokes have been better on average than the take on film noir. I got a legit laugh out of Tyler setting up the bad cop shtick and then offering them tea and a cheese plate. That said, they should wrap this up and get to an actual feud with these two fairly soon. There just aren’t enough successful jokes per minute to make these skits worth spending this much time on.
2. Lana vs. Naomi: Lana hit a few shots and then a sit out facebuster for a near fall. Naomi responded with a head kick and a split legged moonsault and got the win.
Naomi defeated Lana at 1:04.
Lana was angry and dejected after the match, and Naomi celebrated. Becky Lynch was interviewed backstage and was asked about her second chance at the briefcase tonight. She spoke about how close she was to grabbing the briefcase two weeks ago, and thanked Daniel Bryan for doing the right thing and giving her a fair chance at being the first legitimate female Money in the Bank winner.
In the arena, Aiden English sang for about 10 seconds before being interrupted by Randy Orton…[c]
My Take: And thus ends the Lana experiment for now? Her first match was pretty far below par, and they didn’t give her much of an opportunity to make mistakes here. Does she continue as a wrestler or go back to managing a returning Rusev?
During the break, Orton gave English an RKO. Orton sat on a chair in the ring and said he wasn’t leaving until he gets what he wants. He said he tore into the WWE Champion on Smackdown last week, and threw to a video package of him beating up the Singh’s last week. He demanded a rematch for the WWE Title. He said if he didn’t get what he wanted, he’s going to beat him up in locker rooms, parking lots, airports, and arenas until he gets what he wants. He started heading to the back to beat some ass, when Shane McMahon made his entrance.
The crowd gave Shane a big reaction, and said we can’t have people threatening the safety of people outside the ring. Orton said he didn’t care if Shane fired him, if he got arrested, or if Jinder took him for all he’s worth, Jinder assaulted his family and he had to pay the consequences. Shane mentioned that Orton had used similar tactics in the past on his family, but he empathized with him and his family, and said that he would have his rematch at Battleground. But, in deference to Jinder Mahal, he would decide the stipulation for that match.
Mahal then walked out and told Orton that he didn’t deserve another rematch, and that both management and the crowds were prejudiced against him. He spoke quite a bit in Punjabi, but that was the jist of it. He chose a stipulation that was created by his “hero” The Great Khali, a Punjabi Prison match.
Backstage, AJ Styles walked up to Daniel Bryan, and asked how Kevin Owens could call what he does an open challenge if the first person who answers doesn’t get to compete? Owens walked up and Owens said it was for people who he hadn’t already beaten, and tol Styles to accept that he’s a loser. Styles told him to accept that he was Ron Burgundy’s definition of San Diego. Owens said he didn’t know what that meant, but Bryan said he had an idea. He said since Owens is the US Champion and next week is July 4th, they would have an Independence Day Battle Royal to determine his challenger at Battleground. Owens was pissed and Styles thought it was fantastic…[c]
My Take: Part of me thinks this whole Jinder Mahal title run was created so Vince could break out the Punjabi Prison from moth balls. Orton’s promo was ok, but when he tries to bring some babyface fire he just comes across as a sociopath. I’m not sure there is anyway to fix it. It’s just his personality.
Mike and Maria were on the stage, and they introduced themselves to the crowd. They were immediately interrupted by Sami Zayn, and Maria was offended. He quickly headed to the ring and brushed them off. Baron Corbin followed with his entrance.
3. Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn: Corbin hit some right hands, but Sami fired back with a headscissors and some punches of his own. Corbin escaped to the floor, and Sami dove at him, but Corbin caught him and tossed him into the barricade…[c]
Corbin controlled Sami with strikes until Sami responded with a big lariat. They then both got to their feet and traded punches. Corbin went shoulder first into the post and Sami hit a crossbody from the top for a near fall. Corbin got back into things with a big right hand and two lariats as Shinsuke Nakamura was shown watching backstage. Sami snuck in a rollup, but only got two. Corbin placed Sami on top and then both men traded blows on the top rope. Sami took a leap at Corbin, but he avoided it and snapped up Sami for End of Days for the win.
Baron Corbin defeated Sami Zayn at 8:14.
Backstage, Shinsuke Nakamura was interviewed backstage. He was asked about whether or not he’d like to face Baron Corbin one on one. He said Corbin is dangerous, but he’s motivated by fear. Nakamura said he fears what Nakamura can do in the ring, and perhaps he’s right to be afraid.
My Take: Corbin getting a win here was necessary, but I was surprised we didn’t see Mike and Maria get involved at the conclusion. Maybe they’ll extract revenge for Sami’s sleight some other time. Nakamura’s promo was decent, but his facial expressions thus far don’t really match up with the words coming out of his mouth.
Charlotte made her entrance for the main event. She was followed by Natalya, Tamina, Becky Lynch, and Carmella.
4. Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch vs. Tamina vs. Natalya vs. Carmella in a Money in the Bank Match: Early on, everyone but Carmella rolled to the outside and brawled. Carmella tried to sneak a ladder in the ring and climb, but she got caught and beaten down. Tamina tried next, but she was pulled down immediately as well. Becky Lynch hit a series of Bexploder Suplexes to Natalya and Charlotte, and then set up a ladder. Tamina quickly caught her and hit a Samoan Drop, followed by a top rope splash. All five women were laid out at this point…[c]
Natalya suplexed Charlotte in the ring. Carmella landed some right hands on Tamina on the outside, before getting dumped over the announce table. Charlotte hit some chops on Natalya, and then tossed her to the floor. Becky then hit a suplex on Nattie out on the floor. Tamina and Charlotte fought over a ladder in the ring, which resulted in it standing straight up. Becky ran in and climbed the ladder, but was then dumped onto the ropes.
Charlotte kicked the ladder into Tamina, but was then clobbered by Natalya with a discus clothesline. Nattie then set up a ladder in the ring, but Charlotte tipped another ladder into hers and met her at the top. They traded punches at the top of the ladder before Carmella tipped them over. Becky suplexed Carmella out of the ring and tried to toss a ladder at Nattie on the outside, but missed. She then turned around into a spear from Tamina.
Nattie, Charlotte, Tamina, and Becky all ended up near the top of the ladder and traded punches. The ladder ended up tipping and all four women crashed and burned. Carmella then set the ladder back up and climbed to grab the briefcase. She got to the top and grabbed at the carabiner, but all four competitors picked up the ladder and moved her away. She then dove on Natalya and Becky, who rolled to the floor.
Charlotte got back in the ring and pinned Tamina under the ladder, and slammed it onto her several times. She then positioned the ladder on top of her and climbed it, but Carmella met her up there. Tamina eventually pushed the ladder up from underneath and knocked Charlotte off. She then hit Charlotte with a superkick and set up the ladder for herself. Nattie and Becky both got back in the ring and gave her a double powerbomb. Nattie hit one of her own on Becky after that. Nattie applied the sharpshooter on Carmella for some reason, with Charlotte breaking it up with a boot.
Charlotte and Natalya both brawled out to the floor and out to ringside, which gave Ellsworth an opening. He entered the ring and went to climb the ladder again, but Becky stopped him and tipped over the ladder and crotched him on the top rope. Becky then set up the ladder and climbed it, but Carmella pulled her down. Becky kicked her away, but looked to have hurt her knee. Carmella used a chair to smash Becky on the knee and over the back, and grabbed the briefcase.
Carmella defeated Becky Lynch, Charlotte, Nattie, and Tamina to win the Money in the Bank contract at 26:44.
Carmella celebrated on top of the ladder to close the show…
My Take: I think Carmella was the right call here. She has a lot to gain from key victories like this, and she’s exactly the kind of character that can make a cash in seem really dastardly. The Ellsworth interference was predictable, but I think this may be the end of the road for him. Carmella just proved that she doesn’t need him, and she’s much more interesting on her own in any case. Overall, the match was well paced, and managed to keep the crowd while not taking any insane risks. The choice to have Charlotte and Natalya suddenly decide to brawl into the crowd was a bit of a giveaway late in the match, but it didn’t ruin the match for me. I hope this result further pushed Becky down the road of developing a mean streak, because I think she could be a successful heel, or even an anti-hero if they decide to go that route.
Jason Powell and Jake Barnett co-host the Dot Net Weekly and Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast combo show and discuss Raw Underground and other WWE concepts, The Rock's group buying the XFL, the Marty Jannetty story, AEW Dynamite and NXT TV, and more...