Date: June 12, 2018
Location: Fed Ex Forum, Memphis, Tennessee
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
It’s the final show before Money in the Bank so the focus is of course on Money in the Bank. You know, in case you haven’t had your fill of that just yet. Hopefully we get a few things other than just the ladder match in focus, which is something that Smackdown has done far better than its Monday counterpart. Let’s get to it.
We open with Paige in the ring with the four women in the Money in the Bank ladder match. After introducing them and listing everyone from Raw in the same match, Paige says she doesn’t care who wins as long as they’re from Smackdown. Lana (now with no accent at all) says she’ll win but Naomi brings up winning the Wrestlemania battle royal.
Since that has nothing to do with winning a battle royal, Charlotte says she’s done everything there is to do around here. Becky says she’s just that good and starts bickering with Charlotte. Cue the Iconics to make fun of Becky’s accent and Billie mocks Charlotte being the Queen who says WOO a lot. Next up, a recreation of the dance contest between Lana and Naomi but here are Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, triggering a big brawl.
We look back at Occupy Raw, which took place here four years ago.
We look at Sunil Singh costing Randy Orton a match two months ago.
Daniel Bryan vs. Shelton Benjamin
Now this is a good idea: take two people who can get a good match and let Bryan look impressive without the usual methods of setting up a match. Bryan flips over him in the corner to start and takes him down by the arm, even stepping on the other arm to really put in the pressure. A kick to the leg sends Bryan outside and Shelton drops him knee first onto the announcers’ table. Back with Shelton working on a half crab until Bryan fights up. A dragon screw legwhip takes Shelton down and there are the YES Kicks for good measure. Another half crab is broken up and Bryan slaps on the heel hook for the tap at 10:07.
Rating: C. The match didn’t have much time to go anywhere but they’re doing a good job of setting up Bryan as more of a submission master, which was always a part of his character but not really something focused on in his big run to the top. If you can make the heel hook another weapon in his arsenal, it’s a good thing for Bryan’s future.
Asuka comes up to Paige in the back and says she wants Carmella tonight. Paige makes a ten woman tag tonight with the two of them plus the eight earlier. That’s fine with Asuka and she leaves, only to be replaced by the Miz, in a referee shirt. He’s planning to be in a movie about a dog who referees the main event of Wrestlemania so tonight he wants to be guest referee for Rusev vs. Samoa Joe. Paige…actually gives him what he wants.
We recap Styles vs. Nakamura.
Here’s Jerry Lawler to interview Styles before Sunday’s Last Man Standing match. Jerry asks about AJ slapping Nakamura like Lawler slapped Andy Kaufman. AJ says Nakamura just got underneath his skin but he probably should apologize. It should have been a fist instead of an open hand because this isn’t a playground. Nakamura can keep acting like a child but AJ will be a man. The last man standing. Other than a quick pop, Lawler added nothing here.
Anderson and Gallows vs. the Bludgeon Brothers is on the Kickoff Show.
Samoa Joe vs. Rusev
Miz is guest referee. Rusev wins an early slugout and clotheslines Joe out to the floor. They switch places and Joe hits the big suicide elbow. Back from a break with Joe working on an armbar…and here’s a split screen MITB ad. Rusev fights up and hits a spinwheel kick as he’s more than holding his own with Joe so far. Aiden English offers a distraction to break up the Koquina Clutch and Joe runs into Miz in the corner. Miz won’t count a cover off the Rock Bottom out of the corner so Joe bends his finger back. The Machka Kick gives Rusev the pin at 9:45.
Rating: B-. This was a very fun power brawl with both guys beating the heck out of each other. Rusev winning is perfectly fine as these matches don’t mean anything, but at least the guest referee thing added enough flavor to keep them from being monotonous. Rusev isn’t going to win on Sunday but it’s nice to have him win something for a change.
Post match Rusev grabs a ladder but gets caught in a Skull Crushing Finale. Miz pulls down the briefcase….which is full of pancakes. He actually falls to his knees and screams NEW DAY, as the trio (with Kofi and Woods sharing a single shirt) laughs hysterically in the back.
Jeff Hardy vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Non-title of course. Nakamura wastes no time in taking Hardy into the corner for the swinging arms so Hardy sends him outside. That means a COME ON so Jeff hits Whisper in the Wind off the barricade and we take a break. Back with Jeff hitting the legdrop between the legs but Nakamura snaps off some knees. Jeff scores with a Twist of Fate but the Swanton bangs up his back, allowing Nakamura to get his foot on the rope at two. That’s enough for Nakamura, who hits Jeff low for the DQ at 8:08.
Rating: C+. This didn’t have time to go anywhere but thank goodness they didn’t have Jeff take another pinfall loss. Hardy has already lost almost all of his momentum since his return and I’m not sure why they didn’t just put him in the ladder match instead of, say, Rusev or the New Day member. At least Nakamura looks like a jerk here and Hardy doesn’t get pinned, so they’re improving, I guess?
Carmella isn’t worried about anyone in the match tonight and doesn’t want Renee Young on her Instagram. She’s ready for Asuka because Mella is money.
Big Cass was at the Memphis County Fair earlier today and has taken the height requirement for a rollercoaster, which Bryan can’t go on. See, Cass is big and Bryan isn’t so Cass is better.
Pay per view run down.
Special Olympics video.
Charlotte/Naomi/Lana/Becky Lynch/Asuka vs. Iconics/Mandy Rose/Sonya Deville/Carmella
The selling point here? It’s the biggest women’s tag match in Smackdown history. Carmella kicks Sonya around to start but misses the Bronco Buster on Lana. Instead it’s off to Becky for some clotheslines and a leg lariat as we take a break. Back with Billie grabbing a cravate on Becky….and let’s go to the split screen. Just in case you didn’t know Money in the Bank was on Sunday I guess.
Back to full screen with Charlotte getting the hot tag to clean house. Charlotte slips out of a double suplex and brings Asuka in to a very nice reaction. A missile dropkick drops Rose and the Asuka Lock goes on with the Iconics making a save. Everything breaks down and Carmella kicks Asuka in the head for two, only to get caught in the Asuka Lock for the tap at 11:57.
Rating: C. Not terrible, though nothing that hasn’t been done in various combinations before. I do like the idea of mixing in another feud, again just for some extra flavor. It makes me worried that we’re going to see Carmella retain as Asuka is wasted for another month, but that might suggest that Money in the Bank isn’t the ultimate game changer so they might not want the most recent person to cash in lose so soon.
Post match the winners all look at Asuka, realizing what they might be in for if they win the briefcase.
Overall Rating: C-. If the only benchmark is to beat Raw, Smackdown was a major success tonight. While the extra hour really hurts Raw, it’s almost remarkable how much better Smackdown comes off, just by adding in a little personal animosity to their feuds. It’s still all about the ladder matches for the most part, but the people involved have a reason to dislike each other and that’s a big help. Not a great show, but it was watchable and I’ll take that in recent weeks.
Daniel Bryan b. Shelton Benjamin – Heel hook
Rusev b. Samoa Joe – Machka Kick
Jeff Hardy b. Shinsuke Nakamura via DQ when Nakamura hit him low
Charlotte/Naomi/Lana/Becky Lynch/Asuka vs. Iconics/Mandy Rose/Sonya Deville/Carmella – Asuka Lock to Carmella
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