This Week in Wrestling

ThisWeekInWrestling

MITB

Winners: Winners: The Hype Bros, Carmella, The New Day, Naomi, Jinder Mahal, Fabreeze, and Baron Corbin.

The Hype Bros kicked things off with a solid win over perpetual jobbers, the Colons. While we didn’t see any signs of a heel turn from Mojo Rawley or teasing of a split between these two, in many ways that’s a good thing as SmackDown! Live is pretty thin on the ground for tag teams. With this win, perhaps we’ll see a longer story being played out where the Hype Bros go on to face (maybe even defeat) the SmackDown! Live Tag Team Champions before splitting apart after dropping the belts.

The world has been divided due to the result of the first-ever Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match; in a controversial turn of events, the briefcase was retrieved by James Ellsworth and literally dropped into Carmella’s lap. While I agree that this is not a good look for the women because a man grabbed their briefcase, it’s a great move to garner Carmella and Ellsworth some real heel heat and make people hate her. I think she definitely deserved, and is the best person to carry, the briefcase but, at the same time, this was a pretty shitty way to end the first-ever Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match.

The New Day defeated the SmackDown! Live Tag Team Champions, Jimmy and Jey Uso, when the Usos walked out and got themselves counted out right as the match was picking up steam. I guess we’re going to see this feud be dragged out a bit longer, maybe to give people enough time to give a damn when the belts inevitably change hands.

Despite Carmella teasing a cash-in, Naomi successfully retained the SmackDown! Live Women’s Championship by making Lana tap out. The real story here is that Lana was able to hold her own as a wrestler, which is a genuine surprise. I still don’t have any urge to see her wrestle, or even really understand why she’s being pushed into an active role like this; is having a heat-generating female manager really such a bad thing? People, even women, are allowed to just be managers and valets, you know; not everyone is made to be an active competitor.

Impact Wrestling’s Mike Bennet and Maria Kanellis (now billed as “Mike and Maria Kanellis”) made their debut with an in-ring promo. I’ve never quite seen the appeal of Bennett but these two could make a decent counterpart to Mix and Maryse on Raw. Jinder Mahal successfully retained the World Championship against Randy Orton after Orton got a bit too distracted beating up the Singh Brothers. Mahal spent a decent amount of time in control and dominating Orton with aggressive offence, though the ending stretch was quite similar to their last match. Either way, wins over Orton and looking strong, and winning without looking like a chickenshit, really works for Mahal and that’s far more important at this time.

Fandango and Tyler Breeze won an impromptu match against the Ascension. Remember the Ascension? Well, this match did them no favours, that’s for sure. They’ll probably win the belts by the end of July now.

Finally, Baron Corbin seized his destiny and grabbed the Money in the Bank briefcase in the main event. He got some major heat to start with by beating the snot out of Shinsuka Nakamura and made a major impression throughout the match. In the end, it came down to Nakamura and AJ Styles in a lovely little tease of the inevitable clash they’ll have, only for Corbin to topple them over and grab the briefcase. Honestly, as I said, anyone of these guys would be able to do great things with the briefcase but they’re all involved in other storylines and none of them need the push and the exposure as much as Corbin. Imagine it, some super popular guy (Nakamura, maybe even Sami Zayn) takes the belt from Jinder only for Corbin to cash-in, End of Days the hell out of him, and steal the belt for himself to nuclear heat! He’s got a great look and is a great competitor so I have high hopes for this win.

Raw

Roman Reigns opened the show with a massively heel promo bragging about how he is “unbeatable” and listing all of the names he has beaten; he also declares himself the number one contender following Great Balls of Fire, which pisses Samoa Joe off. Joe comes out, headbutts Roman, and then kicks the crap out of him to remind us all who the true number one contender is. Great look for Joe here; however, given the reception Reigns got and the arrogant, entitled heel vibes he gave off, does this make Joe a face now? Personally, I love asshole, shit-eating Roman so the more of that the better!

The Hardy Boys defeated Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson in what was a decent, competitive match but, again, what the hell is the point of having Gallows and Anderson around? Sure, they’re a reliable heel team but they never win anything and have had their balls completely cut off. The only positive here is that the match was good and it kept the Hardys away from Shemaus and Cesaro for a moment.

In a similar vein, though far more beneficial, Finn Balor got a win over Bo Dallas, who has reappeared out of nowhere it seems. This is the kind of thing I’m talking about; with a roster the size that the WWE has, there’s no reason for their mid-to-top level guys take wins over lesser guys or jobbers now and then to rack up wins and keep matches fresh.

Seth Rollins then came out to play to the crowd now that he’s the cover star of the upcoming WWE 2K18 videogame, only for Bray Wyatt to take exception and edge their feud along with his usual shtick. Rollins ended up taking him out with a big dive though, although he busted himself open. What is it with the WWE and having Bray face the Shield guys in some endless loop? First he fought all three alongside his family, then he feuded with Dean Ambrose, then Roman Reigns, not Seth. I mean, Bray is never coming out of this looking good; Seth is the new golden boy, he’s going to look strong and cement his new face run and Bray’s going to be left directionless and behind. He needs followers, a stable, and a direction back towards the Universal Championship through faces that can afford to lose to him and not lose their heat.

Akira Tozawa beat TJP in cruiserweight match that went longer than ten minutes! This was all to set up Tozawa as the next challenger to Neveille’s Crusierweight Championship and further Titus O’Neil’s courtship of Tozawa for his less-than-successful “brand”. Why do I get the feeling that we’re going to turn around in a few weeks and find Titus has a stable of clients and Bray doesn’t? sure, they’ll all be jobbers but,,,you know, it’s a stable with a common direction.

Spinning off from the opening promo, Samoa Joe ended up making Roman Reigns choke out in a really hard-hitting, brutal match that made Reigns look double-tough for taking Joe’s unique and stiff offence and Joe continue to build his momentum towards Great Balls of Fire. Sure, the return of Braun Strowman played a part in Roman’s loss, but both men looked very well-matched and competitive and could main event for the Universal Championship any day. After the match, Roman got punked out by Strowman, which is necessary to set Braun up as Brock Lesnar’s next-next challenger but…the only way Reign’s looks good here is that he’s embracing the hate, takes as much as he gives out, and looks like an underdog. Still, though, I’d also like to see him rack up dominating wins of his own sometime; it’s not too great a look for him to be bitched out by Joe, punked out by Braun, choke out, and then get decimated by Braun especially considering her pinned the Undertaker at WrestleMania. But this kind of hazing is probably exactly what Reigns needs, and should have gone through a while ago, to get the crowd behind him…well, in a perfect world.

Furthermore, the Miz got the upper hand on Ambrose when his new entourage, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel, beat the hell out of him. This is great news for the Miz, who gets two lackeys, and for Axel and Dallas, who now get to share TV time with the Miz and maybe even bolster Raw’s basically non-existent tag team division. Following this, the Raw Tag Team Champions Sheamus and Cesaro defeated Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews. This was a bit daft as Titus was building up some brand exposure earlier with Tozawa and now he loses a match, meaning that his “brand” looks even weaker than it already is. Again, though, it’s good for the tag team division that Titus and Apollo are finally working as a team but…what’s the point when they lose, and are perceived as losers, and no one gives a damn about them?

Right at the last minute, Nia Jax beat Sasha Banks by disqualification after Emma, Alexa Bliss, Dana Brooke, Mickie James, and Bayley all get involved and have a big brawl. Again, I’d rather see Nia tear through them all in this kind of situation to look dominant and strong; instead, she got dumped and it descended into a mess of a melee.

Finally, Kurt Angle came out and claimed to have solved the mystery of who’s been attacking Enzo Amore and Big Cass. His suspect, the Big Show, gets all offended at such a claim and walks off, only for Corey Graves to reveal that Cass faked being attacked and has been behind it all! Cass admitted it with a hell of a tirade against his now-former best friend, punctuated with him kicking Enzo’s teeth down his throat! Okay, well, this is a great look for Cass; he actually reminds me a bit of Test, who totally should’ve been pushed further than he was, and he really held his own on the mic and in exuding malice. In just one segment he has more personality and heat than Roman Reigns gets a chance to show. The only downside is this means that Raw’s most popular tag team has now split apart so…who’s left to fill that void? I’d actually have rather seen both guys turn and have Enzo take on more of a managerial role to Cass. I hope this means a change in direction (and name, can he go back to Colin Cassidy? Or adopt simply Cassidy? Big Cass sounds too face-y to me). However, I fear that Cass may get lost in the shuffle on Raw; the main event scene is already too cluttered as it is and the WWE seems hell-bent on keeping the Intercontinental Championship on the Miz, who’s also a heel, so I guess we may see Cass steamroll through Enzo for a while and maybe some other faces to establish his new heel turn.

SmackDownLive

Carmella and James Ellsworth opened the show to address and shut up the haters, totally spitting in the faces of those who have been criticising the result at Money in the Bank. This opening segment was a great way to turn that hatred into real heat on Carmella, the right kind of heat that would help carry her newly-one briefcase win on to higher levels of hatred.

In a change of pace, and to help mix things up, Big E defeated Jimmy Uso that allowed all of their team-mates to play a part that told a definitive (if now-played out) story: the New Day can win if the Usos are not able to run away like cowards. Still far from a supporter of either of these teams, or this feud, but singles matches are always a good way of keeping tag team feuds fresh and interesting without killing the momentum or perception of the actual team and their teamwork.

Shinsuke Nakamura then defeated Dolph Ziggler in an energetic, hard-fought, competitive match. Although we’ve seen these guys fight before, they took it to another level here and showed why they both deserve main event spots in the WWE. I feel bad for Ziggler, though; since he turned heel, he’s done nothing but lose, which is exactly what he was doing as a face so….what was the point of that? I’d like to see him step back into more of a tweener role but he sure looks great when matched up against opponents like Nakamura and AJ Styles. As ever, this was primarily to sell Nakamura as SmackDown! Live’s top face and they’re doing a surprisingly good job of keeping him strong.

United States Champion Kevin Owens announces an open challenge for the belt that AJ Styles answers (Christ, that match will be great when it happens!) only for Owens to refuses and fight Chad Gable instead. Remember Chad Gable? You know, from American Alpha? That tag team that was supposed to be hot shit on SmackDown! Live? Well, he’s back and…well, he lost here, but he gave a good effort and losing to an opponent of Owens’ calibre is nothing to be ashamed of. Would it have been better to redebut American Alpha as a tag team with a win to put some focus on that division? Sure, but I’m all for the United States Championship open challenge being a “thing” (it should totally be a prerequisite of holding the belt) and for allowing guys you wouldn’t expect to have these kinds of matches get involved.

SmackDown! Live co-general manager Daniel Bryan then comes out to make Money in the Bank completely worthless and piss away all of the heat from Carmella’s opening segment by taking the briefcase away from her and announcing that they’ll do another Money in the Bank ladder match next week, which will see Ellsworth banned from ringside. I do, honestly, hate this as they should just go with what they’ve done. I’d rather have seen Bryan decree that Carmella has to face the other women one at a time to defend the briefcase and prove she deserves it, but whatever. I do hope she wins it “legitimately” next week, though, and they just carry on but….wow, way to tuck your balls between your legs, WWE.

Jinder Mahal then beat Luke Harper in the main event, in a non-title match. Talk about the night or random returns; first Gable and now Harper has crawled his way out of obscurity into a non-title match against the World Champion! How’d he earn it? Why’s he spitting at the crowd when he’s a face? Who knows. Either way, although Corbin teased a cash in, it was a distraction from the Singh Brothers that took Harper out of the match long enough to fall to the Khallas. Afterwards, Randy Orton attacked Mahal and his buddies to totally stamp on the momentum and heat that Mahal just got. I preferred it when Orton wasn’t punking out Mahal like that but at least he looked strong in victory before that. Maybe this whole thing is leading to a big man feud between Corbin and Harper? Although I have no interest in Harper, it might help him impress me a bit and would get him back on TV rather than just…not there.

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