By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Smackdown Hits
Jeff Hardy vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in a non-title match: I’m not big on WWE randomly throwing out dream matches without an actual build. Perhaps the finish of the match explained why this didn’t get any attention before it was announced on Tuesday. This was more about reestablishing Nakamura’s love of nut shots or something. I’m not really sure why it needed to be Hardy’s nuts rather than a mid-card babyface’s nuts, but the point is that it was an entertaining match while it lasted and the DQ finish means they can revisit this again at some point.
Daniel Bryan vs. Shelton Benjamin: A very good match that once again left me wondering why this company was never able to do more with Benjamin. He’s never been a great talker, but you’d think they would have found a way to play to his strengths and feature him prominently during his peak years. Anyway, the knee injury that Bryan suffered during the match might be their way of setting him up for a loss a Money in the Bank. As dull as the Big Cass feud has been, I suspect that they will drag it out and deliver the blowoff match at Extreme Rules. I just wish they were doing something to whet our appetite’s for Bryan’s eventual feud with Miz.
Charlotte, Asuka, Becky Lynch, Lana, and Naomi vs. Carmella, Mandy Rose, Sonya Devlle, and The Iiconics: An entertaining show closing match that surprisingly put more focus on the Smackdown Women’s Championship match more than any issues involving the Money in the Bank participants. The finish felt similar to Ronday Rousey forcing Nia Jax to tap to her armbar on Monday, but at least one of the Smackdown singles matches featured quality final hype.
Rusev vs. Samoa Joe with The Miz as special referee: It was fun to see Joe toss Rusev around with some of his standard offense. Joe didn’t lose anything since he scored the visual pinfall, yet Rusev got another win heading into the pay-per-view. Here’s hoping the mindset was that Joe could afford to lose since he’ll win the Money in the Bank contract on Sunday (and perhaps even cash in successfully). Either way, Miz has issues with both Rusev and Joe heading into the pay-per-view.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Overall show: A minor Miss in that it was a go-home show that failed to leave me more excited about the pay-per-view than I was going in. Most of the pay-per-view singles matches failed to be portrayed as reaching their boiling point in that only Carmella and Asuka shared the same camera shot. It felt like a filler show more than a strong final broadcast before a pay-per-view.
Paige’s summit with the MITB women: The best thing I can say about the segment is that the women’s weren’t standing on ladders (see Raw). The actual summit was par for the course hype with each woman predicting victory. Things took a turn for the worse when the Iiconics came out and it’s tough to write that because I really enjoyed their work in NXT. The big brawl at the end of the segment was made to feel pointless and tame when the broadcast team chuckled over the chaos of the women’s division. Somehow I don’t think they would be directed to approach a big brawl involving the top men in the company in the same manner.
Jerry Lawler interviews AJ Styles: It was nice to see The King in Memphis, but otherwise it was a brief, formula promo. I was actually surprised when AJ’s music played to end the segment so quickly.
Big Cass promo: The amusement park height limit sign was a nice touch and Cass’s delivery was better. The problem is that despite the cute prop it was just the same ol’ “a good man always beats a good little man” promo from Cass that once again failed to address why Bryan beat at the last pay-per-view.