All the Money in the Bank ladder match competitors open Raw, sitting atop and standing on ladders (because, you know…Money in the Bank!), to hype up their match at Money in the Bank. All this ladder-jerking is interrupted by Constable Baron Corbin, who has totally stolen my hair style, and everyone just ends up arguing for no apparent reason.
Anyways, the first match of the night saw Alexa Bliss, Natalya, Sasha Banks, and Ember Moon tear into each other in a fatal four-way match. This was actually a pretty chaotic match, in a good way, that saw Ember almost kill Sasha, and herself, by driving Sasha into the barricade with a Suicide Dive. The match was mostly all Ember Moon but got tossed off the top rope when going for the Eclipse, which allowed Natalya to take advantage, lock Alexa into the Sharpshooter, and randomly get the victory. Again, this seems to be another attempt to push that anyone can win the ladder match.
Another tag team match followed as Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler took on Fandango and Tyler Breeze…again (pretty sure they fought last week)…and got a pretty quick win after their Claymore/Zig-Zag combination finisher. Afterwards, Roman Reigns squashed Sunil Singh but got laid out with the Khallas from Jinder Mahal after the match.
More tag team match came next as Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas take on Heath Slater and Rhyno, which saw the B-Team pick up another win following their as-yet-unnamed Neckbreaker finisher-thing. After the match, Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt vowed to DELETE~!! Them, which would probably be a much greater threat if I actually gave two shits about the B-Team and their random, out of nowhere push.
Bayley fought with Ruby Riott after some shenanigans between Elias and Seth Rollins, which resulted in an awkward and less-than-stellar match and yet another loss for Bayley as the numbers game (Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan were at ringside) contributed to her falling to the Riott Kick. Ronda Rousey and Nia Jax had a face off after the Riott Squad were finished kicking the piss out of Bayley, which ended with Nia being tied up in, and tapping out too, Rousey’s Arm Bar.
Despite masquerading as one of his conga line, Curt Hawkins failed to defeat No Way Jose. Following up this tripe, Sami Zayn put Bobby Lashley through his paces in an obstacle course, which showcased Lashley’s power and stamina but made him look like a complete idiot as he wasted time going through the course and got kicked in the face for his trouble.
Another fatal four-way finished the night as Bobby Roode, Finn Balor, Braun Strowman, and Kevin Owens went all-in one last time before their Money in the Bank ladder match. Everyone tried to pile in on Strowman, but he powered them off and cleared house. That was pretty much the thrust of the match – guys tried to take it to Strowman but he attempted to murder them each in turn. Eventually, Owens (who has apparently gotten over his fear of heights since last week), managed to hit a Frog Splash onto Strowman off a ladder; Strowman kicked out of the pin, shrugged off some ladder shots, and hit the Running Powerslam onto Owens…onto a ladder…to get the win.
Not to be outdone, Paige gathers all of her women participants together to hype up the Money in the Bank ladder match. Slightly less shouty and chaotic than Raw’s opening segment, this nonetheless devolved into all of the women mouthing off about how they will win and the others won’t. Riveting stuff.
Slightly more interesting was another of these dream matches for Daniel Bryan, this time against the criminally-underused Shelton Benjamin. This was purely to showcase Bryan’s technical skill, as he worked a fast face and locked Shelton up first in the Yes! Lock and, finally, his new as-yet-unnamed Knee Bar to get the victory ahead of his match against Big Cass and, at the same time, help put over Shelton as a real future prospect. Too bad I have my doubts that the WWE will ever put any real effort back into a big-time push for the former Gold Standard.
AJ Styles came to the ring for an interview segment with, of all people, Jerry “The King” Lawler, which basically amounted to AJ vowing to man Shinsuke Nakamura up and retain the WWE Championship. Also slightly more interesting was the big hoss match between Samoa Joe and Rusev which, though solid and hard-hitting, was hampered by time. The Miz was, for some reason, acting as the special guest referee, which almost resulted in him getting his hand broken when he tried to get in Joe’s face. This was enough of a distraction to allow Rusev to hit the Machka Kick and get a huge win; it seems that being booked into multi-man ladder matches for a shot at the top belt actually results in singles victories for Rusev, who would’ve guessed it!
Nakamura also earned his own form of momentum ahead of Sunday but, as could be expected, at the cost of screwing over United States Champion Jeff Hardy. Honestly, considering hardy isn’t even defending the belt on TV or on Sunday, I almost forgot that he even was the champion! Nakamura worked the body, resulting in Jeff (occasionally) selling his back; it wasn’t enough to stop him hitting the Swanton Bomb and the Twist of Fate but it mattered very little as Nakamura simply hit the Low Blow! for the disqualification.
Following the gang-bang from the opening segment, SmackDown! Live ended with the traditional multi-man tag team match, this time a ten woman affair pitting Asuka, Charlotte Flair, Naomi, Becku Lynch, and Lana against Carmella, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Mandy Rose, and Sonya Deville. The faces got the win after Asuka put the Asuka Lock on Carmella and forced her to tap out and, afterwards, all of the faces gazed longingly at the briefcase to create teeeennnnssssiiioooon!
Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass
Following their match at Backlash, the story has been that Cass believes he is super because he’s tall and Bryan has been showcased as a plucky technical expert who can strike from anywhere. I, however, see massive potential in Big Cass and think it’s very smart to pit him against universally-beloved Daniel Bryan; the heat he will get for decimating Bryan should push him towards the top (either of the mid-card or the main event) so, again, I am picking Big Cass to win.
Sami Zayn vs. Bobby Lashley
So, I figured the build up to this match would be Sami striking from behind, interfering in Lashley’s matches, and being a chickenshit heel who constantly riles Lashley up. Instead, Sami has trotted out Lashley’s “sisters”, questioned his army service, and made him run an obstacle course. I’d like to think that this will be a pretty short squash match where, with nowhere to run, Zayn gets absolutely dominated by Lashley but, knowing the WWE, Sami Zayn will roll Lashley up or otherwise cheat to steal a victory and keep the horror going a bit longer.
Roman Reigns vs. Jinder Mahal
The only match on the card the stands to have the worst build than Zayn/Lashley and worse than Nia Jax/Ronda Rousey, the feud literally nobody asked for, I am not looking forward to this match. Everybody hates Reigns, so I half expect them to cheer Jinder despite him also being quite universally hated, and his matches are nothing but spam-fests, while Jinder is dull and clumsy in the ring and little more than his physique and his finisher. However, it’s obvious that Roman Reigns will win this to build momentum towards his next undeserved shot at Brock Lesnar.
Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder match: Ember Moon vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Lana vs. Sasha Banks
I still cannot believe that Lana is in this match but, given the way they’re pushing her lately, I’m gonna go with Ember Moon for the win but, honestly, I’ll take anyone other than Sasha and Natalya.
Men’s Money in the Bank ladder match: Braun Strowman vs. Finn Balor vs. The Miz vs. Rusev vs. Kevin Owens vs. Bobby Roode vs. Samoa Joe vs. one of the New Day
The New Day member will be named at the event but, apparently, it’ll be Big E. before this match was literally a few days away, I was sure that this would be the time and place to get Balor back on track towards the main event. I still don’t think that Strowman will win, despite him looking too be the favourite; I imagine he’ll go mental but eventually be buried under ladders or half killed. The Miz is also a good pick to win and, in a perfect world, someone like Joe or Rusev but I’m gonna stick to my guns and pick Finn Balor to win.
WWE Intercontinental Championship match: Seth Rollins (c) vs. Elias
Again, I am not a big fan of Elias but at least he’s building his stock in the mid-card and not clogging up the Money in the Bank ladder match like he did at Elimination Chamber. This feud has actually been pretty good so far, largely due to Elias’ charisma and the fact that everyone loves Rollins, and I could honestly see Elias stealing the win but I’m gonna go with Seth Rollins to retain.
Raw Tag Team Championship match: Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy (c) vs. The B-Team
Yep, Curtis-fucking-Axel and Bo-fucking-Dallas get a shot at the belts over the Revival, what a world we live in! I am glad to see them finally be used as a tag team but, surely, this is too much too soon? And for them to win the belts? But, then again, Matt and Bray are literally doing nothing but surely it’s too soon for them to lose and I just don’t want to let go of my fantasy booking for seeing the Ascension be rebuilt as a monster team and tearing it up in increasingly over-the-top matches with Matt and Bray so I’m picking Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt to retain.
SmackDown! Live Tag Team Championship match: The Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
Again, I am very happy to see the Club get a title shot but there’s no way they’re winning the belts this soon, with this lacklustre a build, right? I’m disappointed that the Bludgeon Brothers also haven’t been doing a lot since winning the belts and, again, would rather see the Club dethrone them after a length reign so I’ll pick the Bludgeon Brothers to keep the gold.
SmackDown! Live Women’s Championship match: Carmella (c) vs. Asuka
Rumour is that James Ellsworth might be coming back on Sunday, which is honestly hope doesn’t come to pass and, if it does, that it doesn’t play into this match. I am torn here because of the Raw Women’s Championship match but I think I’ll go with Asuka to win the belt and start a length dominant reign.
Raw Women’s Championship match: Nia Jax (c) vs. Ronda Rousey
As I said, this seems too soon for Ronda to get the shot; surely the WWE want to crown her champion on a big stage like SummerSlam? But, with Ronda due to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, it’s possible that she’ll win the belt here. however, it still feels too soon and I reckon, by hook or by crook, Nia Jax will retain.
WWE Championship Last Man Standing match: AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
My God there are a lot of matches on this card! Anyway, I hope AJ finally learned to wear a cup for his fourth outing against Shinsuke. However, I feel like Shinsuke should have taken the belt ages ago and I’m sick of picking him now so I reckon AJ Styles will outsmart and out wrestle Nakamura and get the win.