By Jake Barnett, Prowrestling.net Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Smackdown Live on USA Network
Live from Baltimore, Maryland at Royal Farms Arena
As promised on Twitter, Paige opened the show and headed towards the ring. Jeff Hardy vs. The Miz was announced as a MITB qualifier, followed by Charlotte vs. Peyton Royce. Bryan vs. Rusev was also announced as a qualifier.
Paige welcomed the crowd to the and then lied to them by calling Backlash a Smashing Success. She talked up Daniel Bryan’s first singles victory, and Carmella’s upset of Charlotte. She then turned her attention to the WWE Title situation, and said she didn’t forsee the double KO situation, and that we’d heard from both men tonight. She then turned her attention to Money in the Bank, and said it would have two ladder matches, one for the men and one for the women.
She said that whichever superstars grab the briefcases will take them back to their respective brands, so she needs the best that Smackdown has to offer. She said we would see who the best is in qualifying matches, starting right now. Jeff Hardy then made his entrance, followed by The Miz.
1. Jeff Hardy vs. The Miz in a MITB Qualifier: They traded holds early on working towards gaining an advantage. Hardy hit a shoulder block and covered for a two count. Miz picked his leg as he made his way up, but Jeff escaped and Miz slipped out of the ring. Hardy followed and hit a splash that sent Miz into the barricade. Jeff attempted to get ready for a Swanton right away, but Miz snapped back into awareness and got out of the way…[c]
After some back and forth, Miz landed a lariat ad covered for a near fall. He then grabbed a chin lock, but Hardy escaped quickly. Miz quickly adjusted and hit a neckbreaker for another near fall. Hardy attempted a back suplex, but Miz avoided it and went for a Skull Crushing Finale. Hardy slipped and sent Miz out to the floor. Miz dropped Hardy groin first on the barricade. Miz was unable to capitalize, as Hardy climbed on top of the barricade and hit a flying body block.
With both men back in the ring, Hardy hit a inverted atomic drop followed by a leg drop. He then hit a low dropkick and covered for two. Hardy waited for Miz to get to his feet, and went for a Twist of Fate, but it was reversed and they both fought for leverage in a backslide position. Hardy hit a Twist of Fate a moment later, and lined up for a Swanton, but he was too slow and Miz avoided it. Hardy attempted to follow Miz out to the floor, but got pulled through the ropes and took a neckbreaker on the apron…[c]
They did some yay/boo punches, and Hardy got the better of it. Hardy went for a pinfall attempt and got a near fall. Miz took a cheap shot at Hardy when the ref was out of position, but Hardy recovered and hit Whisper in the Wind for another near fall. Hardy hung Miz up on the top rope, and then used a baseball slide to send him to the floor with a thud. Hardy then hit a somersault over the rope onto Miz, and tossed him back in the ring for a Swanton.
Miz caught Hardy on the top rope, and went for a Superplex. Jeff blocked it, and hit a sunset flip powerbomb for a close near fall. Hardy went for his corner dropkick, but Miz avoided it and got his feet up. He then went for a Skull Crushing Finale, and Jeff slipped out into a pinfall attempt for a near fall. Hardy then hit a Twist of Fate, and finally hit a Swanton, but Miz turned his pin attempt into a crucifix pin for the win.
The Miz defeated Jeff Hardy at 19:22
Miz celebrated, and the show went to the back and focused on Sheamus, who was eating lucky charms by the handful. Cesaro asked what he was doing, and he said it was eating to make himself feel better for losing to Xavier Woods last week. Sheamus said he would have had him if it weren’t for Kofi and Big E, and Cesaro implied that if it were him in the ring, Woods wouldn’t have gotten away that easy. Sheamus said he should face Woods this week, and he said it was a great idea. They both opened their gear bags to find them full of pancakes, and got hot about it. Bryan vs. Rusev, and Charlotte vs. Peyton were hyped for later…[c]
My Take: A very entertaining opening match, and the right guy won. Miz needed a big win, showing toughness while outsmarting Jeff Hardy for making a lazy cover made for a fun finish. I don’t think Hardy loses much either, as he’s been on a roll lately and looked very good throughout the match. The pancakes bit is out of steam, but I like it better as a prank than just having Kofi and Big E toss them around.
Backstage, Shinsuke Nakamura said he had forgotten how to speak english in a joking manner. Renee asked if he had anything to say to AJ Styles. He said AJ Styles was nuts (har har), but they are not finished. The announce team showed some photos of the finish of Carmella and Charlotte. We then got a selfie promo from Carmella, where freaked out a little about beating Charlotte before saying it was time to party. She said it wouldn’t be in Baltimore, it would be in London next week. Mella is money and all that. Charlotte made her entrance in the arena for her MITB qualifier…[c]
My Take: Carmella is very good at being annoying, but she’s going to have to put together some decent matches to really leave a lasting impact with her title reign.
Backstage, we got a selfie promo from Tye Dillinger where he tried to make Perfect 10 analogy to the MITB match, and it didn’t really work. We then got the same thing from Naomi, who said she would grab the briefcase and make us all feel the glow. In the arena, Peyton and Billie made their entrance. They said they were sorry for her loss, but she was still an inspiration. Billie told a story about her Uncle, who apparently fell off the couch laughing at Charlotte’s face after seeing Charlotte’s face after losing on Sunday. She then said she wanted to bottle her agony and sell it as a fragrance called Disappointment.
Peyton then tried to imitate her face, but failed, and said she’d just have to make her do it again right now. They said the briefcase belonged to the future, and the future is Iconic.
2. Charlotte vs. Peyton Royce: Charlotte hit a couple of waistlock takeovers and held on for a third. Peyton broke free momentarily, but Charlotte chopped her down and threw her to the outside…[c]
The middle of the match was dominated by a lot of selling by Charlotte. She started a comeback, but Peyton slipped out of a back suplex attempt and sent her into the second turnbuckle. Peyton used the ropes to tie up Carmella in a Pretzel Hold of sorts, and then applied a chin lock. Charlotte kicked Peyton after a telegraphed back drop, and then got the best of a strike exchange. Peyton oversold the chops a bit, but I guess it’s better than the opposite.
Charlotte tripped up Peyton and covered for a two count. She then followed up with a back suplex, but Billie pulled Peyton out to the floor. Charlotte splashed Billie, but Peyton was able to recovery and hit a neckbreaker out on the floor. Back in the ring, Peyton covered for a near fall and sold frustration. Charlotte hit a chop, but Billie snapped her backwards over the top rope while the ref was out of position. Peyton hit a roundhouse kick and covered for a near fall.
Charlotte recovered and hit a bit boot. She went for a moonsault, but Peyton got the knees up and rolled her up for a near fall. She then targeted the knee again for another near fall. Charlotte was able to hit a spear for another close fall. Peyton reversed out of a Figure Four attempt into a rollup for another close fall. Charlotte managed to apply the Figure Eight a moment later for the tap out victory.
Charlotte defeated Peyton Royce at 9:33.
After the match, Charlotte looked at the hard camera and celebrated. They announce team showed some stills of Daniel Bryan tapping out Big Cass, and the post match attack. Bryan was shown backstage. Dasha Fuentes walked up and asked if he had recovered from Cass’s attack on Sunday. He said he would have to work through the pain, because he wanted to cash in Money in the Bank a second time. He said last time he cashed in on Big Show, right here in Baltimore, and tonight he would prove that the bigger they are, the faster they tap…[c]
My Take: I liked that match between Peyton and Charlotte, but I don’t know why Charlotte had to win. It would be more interesting for her if she lost, as she needs a change of pace and legitimate struggle as a character. Daniel Bryan continues to be written like WWE has no idea what made him popular in the first place.
A selfie promo from Shelton Benjamin was shown, where he talked about all his career highlights in Money in the Bank and how he was looking to add more. Asuka got the same treatment, and said nobody was ready for Asuka. She’s really been lost since WrestleMania. What a shame. In the arena, Xavier Woods made his entrance, followed by Cesaro.
3. Xavier Woods (w/ New Day) vs. Cesaro (w/Sheamus): Cesaro threw Woods at the referee early on, and Woods avoided the collision, but left himself open for a shot from behind. Cesaro then hit a gutwrench suplex…[c]
Both men traded chops, but Woods got the advantage and hit a running knee lift. Woods then hit a slingshot kick using the ropes and covered for a near fall. Cesaro retreated to the apron, and used the space to ring up Woods on the ropes. Woods hit a facebuster from a wheelbarrow position, but Cesaro recovered and went for a cover using the ropes. Things broke down as all the outside wrestlers got involved. Kofi knocked Cesaro’s feet off the ropes. Sheamus went after Big E, and Kofi then took him down.
Woods attempted to put aside the distractions and hit an elbow from the top, but Cesaro hit him with an Uppercut and got the win.
Cesaro defeated Xavier Woods at 8:32.
The Bar celebrated as Xavier Woods bled from the mouth. Backstage, AJ Styles was interviewed by Renee Young and was asked if he was done with Shinsuke Nakamura. Styles agreed with Shinsuke that it wasn’t over, and that he would prove that this was the House AJ Styles built by putting Shinsuke away once and for all…[c]
My Take: I’m not that into the Bar vs. New Day feud. The matches aren’t bad, and I don’t dislike either act, but it seems odd that this feud has been featured, while the Tag Team Champions and Challengers haven’t been featured acts on TV a while.
The camera panned over a Big E action figure, and eventually landed on the Bludgeon Brothers. They said they had their own toys, and they were waiting for someone to come play with them. In the arena, Becky Lynch made her entrance. Backstage, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville hyped themselves up and said they both can end up in the Money in the Bank ladder match. Paige walked up and banned Sonya from ringside, saying that Absolution is dead. Mandy made her entrance, and had some kind of soft camera focus and weird porny music.
4. Becky Lynch vs. Mandy Rose: Becky hit a couple of hip tosses, but Mandy came back with a dropkick and Sheamus like jumping single leg kick. Mandy took over for a moment, but Becky quickly fired up and hit a flurry of strikes. She went for the disarmer, but Mandy escaped. Becky went for a kick in the corner, but Mandy hung her up on the top rope and rolled her up for the win.
Mandy Rose defeated Becky Lynch at 4:38.
Becky looked frustrated as Mandy walked to the back to her softcore porn music. The announcers then showed some historical footage of Daniel Bryan winning and cashing in the Money in the Bank Briefcase. Bryan then made his entrance in the arena…[c]
My Take: WWE made an ass out of me immediately by showing The Bludgeon Brothers right after I complained about their absence. Oh well. I think they’ve finally went a bridge too far with using Becky Lynch as the woman that fresh heels can pin every week and gain a bit of credibility. Becky hasn’t had any major wins since she beat Charlotte on TV almost a year ago, it’s been a shitfest for her ever since. She needs a heel turn or some kind of attitude change in a major way, as crowds like her but are clearly losing faith in her. Mandy winning got very little reaction, and not the kind of surprised upset that people were looking for.
The commentary team announced New Day vs. The Bar for next week, with one member of the winning team getting entered into MITB. They also plugged next week’s Mellabration, and Andrade “Cien” Almas’ debut for London. Aiden English sang an entrance for Rusev, who then made his way out for the Main Event.
5. Rusev (w/Aiden English) vs. Daniel Bryan: The announce team started in with the concern trolling for Daniel Bryan’s health almost immediately. Rusev got in an early shoulder block, but Bryan picked the leg went after Rusev’s limbs with some stomps to hamstrings and a kick to the elbow. Rusev hit some kicks and took a charge at Bryan, but Bryan low bridged him. Bryan went for a dive to the outside, but Rusev caught him and sent him over the announce table…[c]
Bryan was dominated during the break and fired up for his comeback as the show came back. He hit a big flying clothesline and several dropkicks in the corner. He then placed Rusev on the top rope and pulled him down with a hurricanrana. Bryan then lined up for Yes Kicks, but Rusev ducked the last one and went for the Accolade. Bryan slipped out, but Rusev eventually put him down with a lariat.
Rusev setup for the Accolade again, but Bryan slipped out and went for the Yes Lock, but Rusev was close to the ropes and broke the hold. Bryan hacked away at the arm of Rusev with kicks, but Rusev kicked Bryan’s injured ribs. Rusev went for a Suplex, but Bryan landed on his knees and got quickly to his feet. He hit a kick to the head of Rusev, and lined up for the Flying Knee, but English pulled him out of the ring.
Bryan hit a kick through the ropes and then a knee off the apron on Rusev. Bryan hit a missile dropkick off the ropes, and sold his ribs. He got to his feet and went for another Flying Knee, but Rusev launched him into the air and hit a knee to the ribs. He followed up with a machka kick to the ribs.
Rusev defeated Daniel Bryan at 14:22
After the match, Rusev celebrated as Bryan was left recovering holding his ribs. Bryan got some friendly chants as the show faded.
My Take: A very good match, but the way WWE is using Daniel Bryan is wasteful. He’s healthy and back full time, and they are doing everything they can to make him feel ordinary and boring in his first month back. I’m not even mad that Rusev won, but the overall presentation of Bryan has been lackluster and it just shows me that they want to make him an underdog again, which NO ONE IS GOING TO BUY anymore. That ship has sailed.