The Miz Hosted Miz TV with The New Day
Similar to Stephanie McMahon on Monday's Raw during the Raw Women's Championship match contract signing, Miz tried to stir the pot between the members of New Day. Unlike Stephanie, however, he was unsuccessful in his efforts. The whole purpose of this segment was supposed to be New Day announcing which one of them is going to compete in the men's Money in the Bank Ladder match, and although that never happened, this was still a solid segment that set up Miz vs. Big E for after the commercial break.
The Miz def. Big E
It's interesting Big E was chosen to go one-on-one with Miz and not Kofi Kingston or Xavier Woods, if only because it has been rumored for a while that Big E will be pushed as a singles star before long. He had a good showing here and the crowd was behind him throughout the bout. It helped that he lost nothing in defeat due to the interference from Sheamus and Cesaro, and sure enough, that six-man tag team match will take place on next week's show.
Lana def. Billie Kay to Qualify for the Women's Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Well, this wasn't much of a match, now was it? Honestly, that might have been for the better because I feared for the worst when this was advertised. And as much as I don't like Lana beating Kay in the matter of a minute, she does make more sense considering Rusev is in the men's version. Lana in a Ladder match genuinely terrifies me, but with seven other women in the match, perhaps they'll find a way to limit what she does and she won't kill herself in the process.
Andrade "Cien" Almas def. Local Athlete
Almas once again shined in hitting all of his signature spots and making quick work of his unknown opponent. He comes across like a star every time he steps inside the ring, and with Zelina Vega acting as his mouthpiece, these two are the complete package. Speaking of Vega, it was interesting she said that Almas could just take what he feels he deserves if it isn't given to him. With that in mind, I could certainly see him targeting Jeff Hardy and the United States Championship in the foreseeable future.
Shinsuke Nakamura Attacked WWE Champion AJ Styles
I haven't been super enamored with the verbal battles these two have had over the past few months, but this was great with both men displaying intensity and making this feel personal for a change beyond Nakamura's low-blows. Nakamura laying out Styles in brutal fashion before announcing that their match at Money in the Bank will be contested under Last Man Standing rules made total sense. Please don't tell me that will end in a draw, too. Chicago would likely riot.
Luke Gallows and Karl anderson def. The Usos in a SmackDown Tag Team Championship No. 1 Contender's Match
You probably forgot SmackDown Live even had a tag team division considering neither of these teams have been featured on the program in a month. Seriously, that is absolutely ridiculous. Both of these tandems are terrific and deserve more creative attention. On the bright side, their pre-match promos were well done and it made the match more meaningful as a result. It was a fun little match while it lasted and Gallows and Anderson are fresh challengers for The Bludgeon Brothers.
Naomi def. Sonya Deville to Qualify for the Women's Money in the Bank Ladder Match
I guess Deville got an another opportunity at qualifying for Money in the Bank because she wasn't pinned in last week's Triple Threat? Mandy Rose didn't seem to be too bothered by that, and apparently they're still friends based off how Rose was in Deville's corner here. At any rate, this was a decent match at best. Their chemistry was not strong whatsoever, but at least Naomi won as she should have.
Daniel Bryan def. United States Champion Jeff Hardy to Earn the Right to Face Samoa Joe Next Week (Non-title)
It sucks for Big Cass that he got injured at a recent live event, but it did give us this extremely entertaining, first-time-ever main event, so I can't complain. In fact, I'm happy things turned out the way they did. Bryan and Hardy are so over that the crowd didn't need to take sides because they were hot for both men. It very well could have gone either way, so the nearfalls and counters down the stretch were suspenseful. Bryan vs. Joe next week should be a blast.
Whereas Raw bored me to tears this week, SmackDown was a vast improvement with an overall enjoyable episode. It was bookended by high quality matches, not to mention that the Money in the Bank card continues to take shape. The tag team division was showcased for a change, the women received some time, Almas squashed another jobber, and Nakamura and Styles effectively furthered their feud. All in all, I'd call that a thumbs-up show.
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