By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Smackdown Live on USA Network
Aired live from Columbus, Ohio at Schottenstein Center
Michael Cole was in the ring, and welcomed Kofi Kingston down to the ring. Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton joined on commentary. Cole introduced Kofi as being a guy who had to wait a long time for an opportunity for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania, and showed some footage from Elimination Chamber and his gauntlet match on Smackdown Live back in March. Cole asked if he ever thought he would receive a WrestleMania Moment like that, and Kofi replied that something he learned along the way is to never stop pushing. He told the he was proud to have had that moment with his brothers at WrestleMania, and told the crowd to never give up on their dreams.
Cole said he had known Kofi for his entire career in WWE, and was happy for him, because everyone doesn’t get that kind of magical moment at WrestleMania. Cole framed it as possibly the greatest WrestleMania Moment of all time. They showed the footage of his title win, and both Cole and the crowd told him he deserved it. Kofi said next to the birth of his children and his marriage, that might have been the greatest moment of his life. Cole said the problem with reaching that moment was that he now has a target on his back, and the first guy to step up was Kevin Owens.
Footage was shown of Kevin Owens betrayal from last week, and the apron powerbomb to Xavier Woods. Kofi said a lot of people told him he should have seen it coming, and he puts the blame on himself, because maybe they are right. He said New Day believes in giving people second chances when they want to change, but at the end of the day, Kevin Owens is going to be Kevin Owens. He then said that all Kevin Owens had to do was ask.
Kofi said that as he was standing on his head, Owens told him he did it for the WWE Championship. He then laid down a challenge for Money in the Bank, and said he didn’t fear Kevin Owens. This brought out KO, who told him challenge accepted. Owens then said that Kofi then got his moment at WrestleMania, and moments don’t get any bigger than that, but none of the people in the crowd actually believe he’s Championship material. He said Kofi doesn’t believe he’s Championship Material either…
Xavier Woods jumped Kevin Owens from behind, but quickly ate a superkick to the jaw. Kofi chased up to the stage, but Owens ran backstage. Kofi checked in on Woods, who sold the kick. Kofi got Woods to his feet, and the announce crew said Roman Reigns will address the crowd about punching Mr. McMahon. The Hardy Boyz will address the crowd about the Tag Team Championships later as well. Bayley then made her entrance in the arena…[c]
My Take: Cole did a nice job of guiding Kofi through that interview, and Kofi held up his end when he was asked to get fired up. Kofi seemed to be staring at the ground a bit trying to recall and deliver his lines, rather than looking at the crowd, but that’s nitpicking. KO attempting to insert some self doubt into Kofi’s head is good heel strategy, but I think they missed the boat on having him complain about not being able celebrate his own WrestleMania moment with his family. It seemed like they were building to it, but never quite got there.
Bayley was announced for the Women’s Money in the Bank match. The briefcase was hanging above the ring. Becky got a fancy Greg Hamilton ring introduction for being Becky 2 Belts and making history at WrestleMania. She got a very energetic reaction. The announce team plugged Becky defending both of her championships at WrestleMania.
1. Becky Lynch vs. Bayley: Becky hit a hip toss out of the gate, but Bayley got right back in her face. They traded some offense before having a bit of a staredown mid ring…[c]
Becky sold her left knee after tweaking it during the commercial break. Bayley hit a clothesline to the back and covered for a near fall. She then hit a knee to the side of Becky’s head, and some rapid fire punches on the apron. Becky fired back with a kick, and then a dropkick from the top for a near fall. Both women traded shots and talked trash. Becky hit a Bexploder Suplex, and hit a running forearm in the corner.
Both women collided with a double clothesline and were laid out. Bayley hit a surprise rollup for a near fall. She then hit a back suplex and headed up top. Becky went for a top rope elbow, but Becky got the knees up and applied the Disarmher for the win.
Becky Lynch defeated Bayley at 8:39
After the match, Charlotte gave Becky a Big Boot and sent Bayley into the post. She then celebrated and said it was too easy. Becky sold on the floor.
A pre-taped interview aired from Aleister Black. He said that fear is a powerful and paralyzing tool. Black said that it’s in our nature to fear what we don’t understand. He claimed his opponents try to figure him out, but by the time they do, his opponents hear the ref count 1-2-3 in his favor. Black said any chance of extinguishing that fear leaves the earth. Black said his opponents look into his eyes and see the abyss, and it shows them something about themselves they don’t want to see, and they fade to black.
The Hardy Boyz made their entrance in the arena. Jeff was walking with a crutch…[c]
My Take: A solid match from Becky and Bayley. I was hoping they’d get a bit longer to work together, but it was a nice tease of what could be a much better match given double the time. Charlotte assaulting both women after the match was pretty paint by numbers. They desperately need to give her something interesting to say. She seems like she’s on character autopilot whether she’s going for cheers or boos at this point.
Jeff was asked what the extent of his leg injury was by Kayla Braxton. He said it would be easier to show her, and then introduced a video package of Lars Sullivan destroying a bunch of people, including the Hardyz. Jeff said he’s unable to walk on his own because of Lars Sullivan, and he has to have surgery. He also said he would be out for an extended period of time. Matt and Jeff relinquished the titles. Both of them said they would be back better than ever.
Lars Sullivan walked out and tossed Matt Hardy from the ring. He approached a helpless Jeff, but Matt made a save. Lars charged him into the corner, and followed up with his side slam. Jeff Hardy positioned his crutch like a baseball bat. R-Truth approached from behind and hit Lars with a chair, and got it didn’t phase him. He punched the chair out of Truth’s hand and he hit a running powerbomb on him. Roman Reigns was plugged for later, along with the Kevin Owens show with guest Xavier Woods. The MITB participants will be announced for the men’s match will be announced next…[c]
My Take: Lars could use somebody to talk for him. It would help to ascribe some kind of mission to his madness. As is, it’s physically impressive, but it’s missing something. The Hardyz relinquishing their championships is a bummer, as it probably means we are going to have a tournament with a bunch of cold teams to determine who the next champions are.
Smackdown’s Money in the Bank competitors are Ali, Finn Balor, Andrade, and Randy Orton. They join Ricochet, Braun Strowman, Drew McIntyre, and Wedding Singer Baron Corbin. A match was announced for the main event between Ali/Finn and Orton/Andrade. In the arena, Kairi Sane and Asuka made their entrance. The IIconics were already on commentary. Some local talent were in the ring.
2. Asuka and Kairi Sane vs. Local Jobbers: Kairi Sane started the match with a much taller opponent, and immediately chopped her down. Asuka tagged in and continued the assault. The other local talent, who resembled DC Villain Poison Ivy, tagged in and slapped Asuka. That didn’t go well. Asuka dropped her with a reverse DDT. Kairi hit the Insane Elbow and got the win.
Asuka and Kairi Sane defeated Local Jobbers at 2:49
Kairi and Asuka jawed at The IIconics after the bell. Backstage, Sonya Deville watched the match on the monitor. Mandy Rose approached, and said one of them could be in the MITB match. Mandy tried to flatter Sonya to try and get her to offer Mandy the match, and despite seeing through the deception, Sonya told her she could have it anyways. She said she almost had the Smackdown Women’s Championship earlier this year, and she should finish the job…[c]
My Take: I don’t believe WWE actually announced the names of the local talent used in the match. I presume Kairi and Asuka get a shot at Money in the Bank, but it almost seems too soon. Maybe we’ll see some kind of cheap finish. Sonya just giving Mandy the spot in Money in the Bank despite the attempted deception makes me wonder if there is a larger plan at work, but there probably isn’t.
Roman Reigns made his way to the ring. He soaked in cheers and grabbed a microphone. He said you only get one shot at making a first impression, so he figured he’d do exactly that on his first night by knocking out Vince McMahon. Roman said that wasn’t the plan, it could have been anybody, but he wanted to get the message across that he was the big dog and this was his yard now.
Shane McMahon interrupted and demanded Greg Hamilton give him an introduction. He said everybody knows he’s the best in the world, so he won’t go into detail. He then reminded Roman that it might be his yard, but the McMahon Family owns all the land. Roman said when Vince was in his yard, Roman was on his feet and Vince was laying on his back. Shane said everyone is aware he attacked National Treasure Vince McMahon, but reminded him that it was him that was laying on his back last week.
Roman said he had Elias’s help, and asked Shane if he could come down there and do it without him. Shane said he was busy, and had to get on the jet to go talk to “Coach Harborough” up in Michigan. He said there were others on Smackdown looking to prove themselves, and he brought out the B-Team. He said they would be facing Roman in a handicap match. Roman asked if he wanted to blindfold him or tie his arm behind his back. Shane said he was on the right track, and was surprised by his cleverness. He then introduced Elias as a special guest Enforcer…[c]
My Take: Roman getting mixed up with Shane and his merry band of low-mid carders isn’t very inspiring thus far. Maybe they’ll surprise us.
3. Roman Reigns vs. The B-Team in a Handicap Match: Elias was at ringside in his tank top ref shirt. Bo Dallas started the match and grabbed a headlock. B-Team worked their numbers advantage and used distractions to stay on the offensive. Roman got back in the match with some punches as a Samoan Drop, and got a near fall on Axel. Elias distracted the ring ref, and set up some double team offense for Dallas and Axel. He then hit Roman with a lariat on the outside while B-Team distracted the ref…[c]
Elias told the time keeper to be ready to ring the bell if he calls for it. Roman broke free of a headlock and hit Dallas with a big forearm. Axel tagged in and Roman sent him into the post. He then hit clotheslines to both Axel and Dallas. He then hit a combo Samoan Drop and DDT onto both men simultaneously. Roman fired up for a Superman Punch. He then hit Dallas on the apron. Axel rolled him from behind, but he kicked out and hit Axel with a Superman Punch as well.
He covered and Elias pulled the original ref from the ring. Roman gave chase to Elias, and hit a drive by on Dallas on the outside. Elias then grabbed Roman and tossed him into the post, and then back into the ring. Axel hit a Perfect Plex, but Elias made a fair count and Roman kicked out. Elias went to grab a guitar, but Roman hit him with a Superman Punch when he got back in the ring. He then hit a spear on Axel and got the win.
Roman Reigns defeated The B-Team at 11:14
After the match Roman celebrated, and Xavier Woods will be on the Kevin Owens show later. Finn Balor was shown with Ali backstage preparing for their match with Andrade and Orton…[c]
My Take: Elias looks like a dipshit there for not making a fast count. I don’t understand why you don’t let the heels get one over on Roman here. Now they just look like the jokes that everyone assumed they were. This kind of booking becomes even more egregious when you are dealing with true main event talent. There’s no reason for Roman to look this strong at this point.
The Firefly Fun House segment that aired on Monday’s Raw was repeated here. Sociopath is the word of the day. Ali was in the ring. Finn Balor then made his entrance, followed by Randy Orton and Andrade. Randy got an inset promo where he spoke about winning Money in the Bank and showing the world about the dangers of the letters RKO. Zelina had a microphone, and said the best part of everyone’s night was when the ring got graced with the presence of Andrade. He then grabbed the mic, and said he didn’t respect Balor or Ali. He then told Orton and any time he wanted to get in the ring with him, he’d teach him respect too.
4. Ali and Finn Balor vs. Randy Orton and Andrade: Orton quickly sent Ali out to the apron, and then knocked him out to the floor…[c]
My Take: Orton didn’t seem to understand Andrade, and neither did the announce team. Zelina should be doing more of the talking.
Ali broke free of Orton with a thrust to the throat, and tagged in Balor. Andrade also tagged in, and Balor cleaned house on both heels. Andrade climbed to the top, but Balor sent him to the floor with a kick. Ali and Balor both splashed their opponents on the floor. Zelina Vega interfered on Andrade’s behalf and pulled Balor from the top rope. Andrade then hit double knees and covered for a near fall.
Ali made a blind tag, and Balor hit Andrade with a slingblade. Ali then hit a 450 splash and got the win.
Ali and Finn Balor defeated Randy Orton and Andrade at 8:32
After the match, Orton hit Balor with an RKO. Ali then superkicked Orton out of the ring.
Backstage, Ember Moon was announced as the third Smackdown Woman announced for the Money in the Bank Match. She said she would seize the opportunity and become the Smackdown Women’s Champion. Carmella then walked up, and said the Briefcase was hers as she had won the first and technically the second Women’s Money in the Bank match. She said everyone would find out that Mella is Money.
In the arena, Kevin Owens walked to the ring for the Kevin Owens Show…[c]
My Take: The tag match never really got into a groove. There were some fun spots, but they weren’t put together in a way that built any real suspense. Ember and Carmella getting added to Money in the Bank really makes the talent look lopsided in Smackdown’s favor, which means Alexa probably wins.
Kevin Owens welcomed the crowd to the Kevin Owens show. There were no signs, desks, or banners for the show. He said it was something the New Day would do, but he doesn’t need it because he is the show. Owens said he wanted to finish his point from earlier. He said he meant it when he said Kofi wasn’t Championship Material, and he was ready to relieve him of his burden at Money in the Bank. He said he was “positive” he would take the WWE Championship from him.
Owens said everyone has been hearing about Kofi Kingston for months, so he wanted to invite Xavier Woods on his show to hear his story himself. He called out Woods from the back, and he didn’t show up. Owens then pulled out a Woods action figure, and then a Big E figure out of his pocket. He said the real Big E and Woods weren’t there to tell him what’s on their mind, but he thinks he knows exactly what they’re thinking.
Kofi Kingston appeared on the stage, and made a run to the ring. He hit a double leg takedown and the action spilled outside. They brawled over the announce table, until Owens raked Kofi’s eyes and ran away. Kofi climbed in the ring and stood on the ropes and talked trash to close the show.
My Take: A bit of a let down from a promo perspective, as Owens didn’t have much to say. Kofi interrupting and the brawl got a much smaller reaction than their segment did to open the show. I’m not sure if this was a case of the crowd being a big burnt out, or just not enough interesting material to keep their interest alive. I think if Owens had been able to garner more of a reaction with his promo, there may have been a better response for the interruption and the brawl.