An eventful and effective episode of Smackdown Live featuring the debut of Lana, AJ Styles vs Dolph Ziggler in a rematch from last week and Main Evented by Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kevin Owens.
Smackdown Live GM Shane McMahon came to the ring with the five women who will compete for the Women’s Money in the Bank on June 18. Nothing really was said that hadn’t been said already, but the big talking point was the debut of the Ravishing Russian Lana. Initially Lana wanted to be entered into the Money in the Bank Ladder Match but then turned her attention to the Champion Naomi who was making fun of her. Lana then suggested that she could beat Naomi & should receive a championship match. GM Shane McMahon was having none of this though saying that title matches need to be earned. Later in the show backstage Naomi told McMahon that she wants to face Lana and even put her title on the line, so the match was made for the Money in the Bank PPV. A very effective opening segment. It seems the other women do not believe Lana can actually wrestle and compete, let alone win. Lana’s performance on Talking Smack was no where near as efficient, usually so sharp on the microphone, Lana seemed a little lost here, but that will be okay. There are obviously big plans for Lana in the Smackdown Live Women’s Division, don’t be surprised if WWE goes all in with Lana and has her win the title in her first match. Stranger things have happened…I mean look at Jinder Mahal.
The tag team match that followed between the faces and heels was the same thing we have seen many times before now, but was still effective. Tamina got the pin and so has some momentum heading into Money in the Bank, but Lana’s involvement in distracting the champion allowing for her loss; which ultimately lead to Naomi demanding the match was the focus of the match.
AJ Styles defeated Dolph Ziggler in a rematch of last week. While the two’s ring work was good, any momentum Ziggler may have had from beating the Phenomenal One in his hometown last week was just reversed. Unfortunately, this is just another example of 50/50 booking, and two weeks on neither man seems any more credible than they were before.
The WWE Champion, Jinder Mahal, had to cheat to beat Mojo Rawley. This was bad. Mojo had to win this match to be entered into the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. This was a renewing of a rivalry dating back a few months, just in case anyone forgot how much of a jobber Jinder Mahal was before winning the title. Yes, Jinder Mahal is a heel and that makes it okay for him to cheat to win, but if you can’t beat Mojo Rawley clean, how you are WWE Champion I have no idea after the match Jinder cut another promo, much the same as what has been said in recent weeks.
Fashion Files this week saw perhaps the most underwhelming instalment of the popular segment, with the New Day trying to get Breezango to give them information on their opponents at Money in the Bank. Hopefully this was just a kink in the road.
The New Day returned to in-ring action defeating the Colon’s comfortably. The highlights here came after the match, the Uso’s delivered another brilliant promo; with the perfect mixture of comedy running insults to each member of the New Day, along with the seriousness their gimmick and to an extend the Smackdown Tag Titles requires. Very effective, magnificent work by all involved.
Backstage Baron Corbin once again jumped Sami Zayn, leading to Corbin being on commentary for the main event. Zayn continues to be portrayed as quirky and annoying which really is not the right way to be handling Zayn at the moment.
The Main Event saw a dream match for any wrestling fan. Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kevin Owens. Yes, we know this isn’t the first time these two have wrestled, we know they have battled in Ring of Honor before, but we know WWE won’t acknowledge that and this is the first time on WWE programming; so please don’t use that as an excuse to complain. While a good match as expected from two of the very best in the world today, this was nothing but a teaser of what these two men are capable of producing together; which is smart for a match on free television. These two will eventually meet in a proper feud on PPV, and it will be every bit as special as you’d expect. While Nakamura winning is of course the correct result, having Owens lose so often is puzzling, especially as US champion. The show ended with Corbin jumping in the ring and hitting Nakamura with the End of Days to stand tall to close the show, reminding the fans of the threat that he poses at Money in the Bank. It was also noted that Kevin Owens has broken his thumb, but thankfully will not miss any time due to the injury.