Live from Baltimore, Maryland, this is Smackdown Live for episode #976. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top. Thank you for reading and remember you can always pick up a TJRWrestling t-shirt to support the site as well.
There was a shot of the crowd in Baltimore and the music of Smackdown GM Paige hit as she walked out to the ring looking great. Graphics were shown for the key matches of the night: Miz vs. Jeff Hardy, Charlotte Flair vs. Peyton Royce and Rusev vs. Daniel Bryan.
Let’s Hear From GM Paige
Paige welcomed us to the show and she said that Backlash was a success…to a mild reaction. I would say no. Paige mentioned Daniel Bryan’s victory leading to the “yes” chants. Paige talked about Carmella’s surprising win over Charlotte Flair, which drew boos. Paige mentioned the WWE Title situation and the draw between AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura. Paige talked about their low blow confrontation and she didn’t see that happening when she put the match together. Paige mentioned Styles and Nakamura are on SD later.
Paige talked about how Money in the Bank will have two ladder matches: one for the men and one for the women featuring stars from Raw and Smackdown. Paige said she needed the best that Smackdown Live has to offer. Paige mentioned the qualifying matches starting…right now.
Jeff Hardy made his entrance for the first MITB qualifier. He is the US Champion and his title is not on the line in this match.
The Miz was up next wearing his ridiculous red robe along with the headband and glasses. At least it’s a unique look that sets him apart, so that’s why he does it. A clip aired of Miz winning MITB in 2010 and four months later he cashed in to become WWE Champion when he beat Randy Orton for the title. The angry Miz girl was shown. Classic reaction right there.
Money in the Bank Qualifier: The Miz vs. Jeff Hardy
The Miz was in control early with an armbar. Hardy broke free and kicked him out of the ring. Hardy nailed a running attack outside the ring where he kicked Miz into the barricade. Phillips noted that MITB winners end up winning the title on the cash in 84% of the time. That's how you sell the importance of the match. They went back in the ring, Hardy went up top and Miz backed into the corner. The show went to break there.
They returned from break with Hardy in control with an armbar. Miz came back with a punch followed by a knee lift for a two count. Miz slapped on a headlock. Miz hit his backbreaker into a neckbreaker combo for two and he stared up at the Money in the Bank briefcase above the ring. Hardy was sent out of the ring, Miz missed a dropkick attempt and Miz dropped Hardy groin first onto the barricade. Hardy fought back with a headbutt, Hardy ran across the barricade and nailed a clothesline on Miz on the floor. Back in the ring, Hardy with a running forearm on Miz, atomic drop, double leg drop to the ribs a low dropkick got two for Hardy. Miz avoided the Twist of Fate and they fought over a backslide pin attempt. Hardy managed to connect with the Twist of Fate leading to Miz landing on his back near the turnbuckle. Hardy went up top and Miz rolled over to the apron. Miz with a kick followed by a neckbreaker on the ring apron. They went to break there.
Back to the match, the battle continued with both guys throwing punches. Hardy with a side Russian legsweep followed by a double leg drop into a pin attempt for two. Miz slapped on a sleeper, but Hardy countered by sending him to the turnbuckle. Hardy up top and he connected with the Whisper in the Wind for a two count. That drew a good reaction from the crowd. Hardy tripped up Miz on the apron followed by a dropkick that knocked Miz out of the ring. Hardy with a slingshot attack over the top to the floor. They went back in the ring, Hardy up top and Miz tripped up Hardy on the top rope. They battled on the top with Hardy hitting a sunset flip Powerbomb for a two count. Fans were chanting “this is awesome” for them. Miz got his boots up to avoid a corner attack. They each went for moves, counters by both and Hardy got a rollup for two. Hardy with the dropkick into the turnbuckle. Hardy hit another Twist of Fate near the turnbuckle. Hardy was slow to climb, he jumped off and connected with the Swanton Bomb, but Miz countered by hooking his arms down and Miz got the win after 22 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: The Miz
The win by The Miz means he is a part of the Money in the Bank ladder match.
Analysis: ***3/4 That was an awesome match with an outstanding finish. I thought Miz was going to get the win going into it, but when Hardy hit the Swanton I didn’t know what they might do because people rarely kick out of that. Miz countering it perfectly by hooking the arms was exactly the kind of crafty finish that fits the kind of wrestler that Miz is. The match was slow in the first half, but they really got going and the crowd was into it with the “this is awesome” chant that was well deserved. I think the right guy went over because Miz is a top heel on Smackdown that’s also a former MITB winner, so his presence will help sell the importance of the match. He has a lot of credibility going into this match that most guys on the roster don’t have. This was one of Jeff’s best matches since he’s been back in WWE especially as a singles wrestler. The Miz is rolling because his match with Seth Rollins was terrific at Backlash (the only real highlight of that show) and this was very good too. It’s rare for a Smackdown match to get over 20 minutes. I like it a lot. More of that please.
After the match was over, Miz rolled out to the floor selling the attack and was happy with the win. Hardy was checking if he lost a tooth. They look fine.
Sheamus and Cesaro were in the locker room. Sheamus was eating a bag of Lucky Charms because they make him feel better after losing to Xavier Woods last week. Sheamus complained about it and Cesaro said if it was him, Woods wouldn’t have won the match. Sheamus suggested that Cesaro faces Woods and Cesaro said that’s a great idea. Cesaro opened his back to find that his gear bag was full of pancakes. Sheamus’ bag was full of pancakes too. Sheamus: “I hate pancakes.” They were mad.
Analysis: It sounds like we have a match for later. I like pancakes, but I think waffles are better. How’s that for analysis? You’re welcome.
The MITB qualifying matches were hyped for later.
There was a commercial for Sanity coming to Smackdown.
The announce team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton were shown on camera talking about the Styles vs. Nakamura draw at Backlash.
Shinsuke Nakamura was shown outside of his locker room. Renee Young showed up to mention that Nakamura wasn’t cleared to wrestle due to his injury at Backlash. Nakamura said “no speak English” and when she pressed him, he said he did speak English, but he forgets. Renee asked if he had anything to say to AJ Styles. Nakamura: “AJ Styles nuts, but so am I…were are not finished.” Nakamura went into the room.
Analysis: The “no speak English” bit is still funny to me. The crowd laughs for it too.
Images were shown of Carmella beating Charlotte Flair at Backlash.
Carmella did a cell phone promo talking about how next week she’s going to have a royal celebration (a Royal Mellabration) in London, England and she bragged about beating Charlotte Flair. She claimed it would be better than the Royal Wedding. Carmella ended it with her “Mella is Money” line.
Charlotte Flair made her entrance for her MITB qualifying match.
Tye Dillinger did a cell phone promo about possibly winning the Money in the Bank contract. He’s barely on the show, so good luck winning that.
Naomi did a cell phone promo talking about how she’s going to climb the ladder, snatch the Money in the Bank contract and cash in on the champion.
Peyton Royce and her Iiconics buddy Billie Kay entered wearing their new t-shirt. Billie did a promo laughing about how Charlotte lost at Backlash and her expression after the loss made her uncle laugh. Billie said they could sell it as a fragrance called “Disappointed” by Charlotte. Peyton imitated the face of Charlotte, which was on the screen. Peyton said she’ll make Charlotte do that face again. Billie and Peyton said Money in the Bank and the future would be iconic.
Money in the Bank Qualifying Match: Charlotte Flair vs. Peyton Royce (w/Billie Kay)
Charlotte was in control early with waistlock takedowns. Charlotte nailed Royce with an overhead suplex. Charlotte dumped Royce out of the ring. They went to break about one minute into the match.
The match returned with Royce putting Charlotte in a headlock. Charlotte broke free, but Royce sent her face first into the middle turnbuckle for a two count. Royce worked over Charlotte by putting her foot against Charlotte’s neck. Royce with a knee to the ribs. Charlotte started her comeback with forearms, five chops to the chest, a Flair strut and another chop. Royce avoided a running kick and Charlotte got a rollup for two. Charlotte with a belly to back suplex followed by a kip up. Royce got to the ropes and left the ring. Charlotte with a slingshot plancha on Kay on the floor. Royce capitalized with a neckbreaker on Charlotte on the floor. Royce rolled Charlotte back in and got a two count. Charlotte with an elbow, Royce went into the ref, who was distracted for a moment, Kay hit a neckbreaker using the top rope for an assist and Royce nailed a spin kick for a two count. Good nearfall there. Charlotte got a rollup for two. Royce went for the spin kick, Charlotte avoided it and Charlotte nailed a big boot to the face. Charlotte went up top and went for a moonsault, but Royce got her knees up. Charlotte favored her knees a bit. Royce covered for two. Royce hit a knee to the face for two. Some fans were chanting “let’s go Charlotte” although it wasn’t that loud. Charlotte came back with a Spear for two. Royce countered a figure four attempt into a rollup for two. Charlotte rollup got two. Charlotte slapped on the Figure Eight submission and Royce tapped out for the loss. Charlotte wins by submission after 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Charlotte Flair
The win means that Charlotte Flair has qualified for the women’s Money in the Bank match on June 17.
Analysis: **3/4 It was a good match that went a few minutes longer than I expected because I thought this might be a quicker win for Charlotte. Royce was in control for most of it. Some of her offense doesn’t look that great, but after that spot where Kay interfered and Royce got the nearfall that’s when the pace of the match really picked up. The moonsault block by Royce was a big move as well. I’m not a fan of the way Charlotte does that move sometimes because she lands on her feet rather than laying out for it. I know I’m being picky. I’m just saying it doesn’t look great all the time as well as an injury risk spot landing right on her knees like that. Charlotte winning this match was no surprise. She’ll be one of the favorites in the women’s Money in the Bank next month.
Images were shown of Daniel Bryan beating Big Cass at Backlash and then Cass attacked Bryan after the match.
Bryan was interviewed by Dasha Fuentes backstage. Bryan said that any pain that you’re in, you have to fight through it. Bryan said that Cass attacked him because he made him tap out. Bryan talked about how tonight is his first step to becoming champion by qualifying for Money in the Bank and the last time he had MITB he cashed in to become champion right there in Baltimore. Bryan said he’ll continue to prove that the bigger they are, the faster they tap.
Analysis: Good promo from Bryan like always showing he’s confident about his match later.
Cesaro vs. Xavier Woods is up next.
A commercial aired for Camp WWE season 2 on WWE Network. New episodes every Sunday.
There was a cell phone promo from Shelton Benjamin talking about how MITB was a match that he made famous. Benjamin said the biggest highlight of his career is still to come.
Asuka did a promo talking about how she wants to win Money in the Bank and nobody is ready for Asuka. She will be a favorite to win that match.
The New Day trio of Xavier Woods, Big E and Kofi Kingston made their entrance. The crowd was loud for their entrance. Big E dumped some pancakes on a kid in the aisle and then gave him the box after, so that was nice.
Cesaro made his entrance with his buddy Sheamus, who hates pancakes.
Xavier Woods (w/Big E and Kofi Kingston) vs. Cesaro (w/Sheamus)
The fans chanted “we want pancakes” leading to Big E tossing some pancakes into the crowd. Woods with a headscissors takedown on Cesaro. There was a moment where Woods almost ran into the ref, so Cesaro punched him in the back to knock him down. Woods with a gutwrench suplex that sent Woods across the ring.
The match returned from break with Woods nailing a running knee to the face of Cesaro. Woods with a leaping kick to the face followed by a springboard kick off the middle ropes for a two count. Cesaro went to the rope, then sent Woods throat first into the middle rope. Woods ran the ropes nailed a flip into a face first slam for two. That was an incredible spot like a reverse sunset flip into a powerbomb style move. Sheamus jumped on the apron, Woods was distracted, Cesaro wit ha rollup and his feet on the ropes, but Woods knocked his feet off the ropes. Woods with a rollup for two. Woods with a Shining Wizard running knee on Cesaro. Sheamus was on the apron, so Big E tossed pancakes at him. Woods took down Sheamus with a forearm off the apron. Woods jumped off the top, Cesaro nailed an uppercut and Cesaro pinned Woods to win. The match went about seven minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Cesaro
Cesaro and Sheamus celebrated the win. Woods had a bloody mouth, so one of his teeth may have been chipped or caused a bloody mouth due to that forearm.
Analysis: **1/4 It was good as expected with a clever finish by having Cesaro win with the uppercut to counter Woods jumping off the top rope. Cesaro usually doesn’t win with that spot, but it was well done and Woods sold it great, so it was believable as a finish. Woods got the win over Sheamus last week. This was a way to have Cesaro get the win back for his team and he can talk trash a bit with his buddy Sheamus as well.
AJ Styles, the WWE Champion, was interviewed by Renee Young backstage. Styles had a big red mark on his left cheek from the Backlash match. She noted that Styles isn’t cleared to compete like Nakamura. Styles said that it’s convenient that Shinsuke speaks English again by saying that they are not done. Styles said if Nakamura has the guts to get in the ring with him again, Styles will finish him. Styles said Nakamura may be the king of low blows, but this is the house that AJ Styles built.
Analysis: There are six weeks until Money in the Bank, so I assume that’s where they have their next WWE Title match. It will probably be a match with a stipulation like Last Man Standing or maybe even a Steel Cage. Something like that.
Becky Lynch and Mandy Rose with Sonya Deville were shown walking backstage in a split screen because they are up next.
There was a video of action figures of WWE tag teams that were dismantled. The camera panned over to show the Bludgeon Brothers. Rowan said they had their own set of toys and invited us to come play with them. Harper said: “We’re waiting.” They smashed their hammers into the camera to end it.
Analysis: They have not been used much since WrestleMania even though they are the Smackdown Tag Team Champions.
Becky Lynch made her ovation. The crowd always likes her even though she isn't booked to win as often as a lot of fans would want to see.
Mandy Rose was shown talking to her buddy Sonya Deville behind the curtain. Rose told Deville they can both be in the Money in the Bank match. Paige showed up to tell them that Absolution is over and Mandy said she’s always going to be with Sonya. Paige told them that Sonya is barred from ringside.
Mandy Rose made her entrance alone. They used a lot of video effects to make the screen blurry and it stood out a lot almost like a Goldust entrance. Graves was excited about it and told Phillips and Saxton to shut up and to just enjoy it. I enjoyed it as well.
Mandy Rose vs. Becky Lynch
Lynch with an arm drag and Rose bailed to the floor. Rose came back by sending Lynch into the corner. Rose nailed Lynch with a jumping knee to the face. Rose slapped on a headlock. They exchanged strikes with Lynch nailing an uppercut and Lynch wanted her armbar, but Rose got into the ropes. Lynch with a Bexploder suplex followed by the forearm smash in the corner and kick off the ropes. Rose countered Lynch out of the corner by sending Lynch’s throat into the ropes and Rose did the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! for the pinfall win after about two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Mandy Rose
Analysis: *1/4 That was quick. It’s tough on any superstar to only get a few minutes to have a match, but they did the best they could. Mandy wins her first match on Smackdown. I think both of them should be in Money in the Bank and maybe that’s what will happen, which is why this wasn’t a MITB qualifier. The loss sucks for Becky. I don't think it's a big deal, though. The rollup finish is used to show it's a close match. It was so quick that it's not going to hurt Lynch much.
There was a clip of Daniel Bryan winning Money in the Bank in 2011 and then five months later he cashed in Money in the Bank on Big Show to become World Heavyweight Champion for the first time.
Daniel Bryan entered to a thunderous ovation with the crowd chanting “yes” for him like they always do.
Next week on Smackdown in London, England: The New Day vs. Cesaro and Sheamus where the winning team gets to have one member added to the men’s Money in the Bank ladder match.
Also next week is Carmella’s “Royal Mellabration.” Also, Andrade Cien Almas and Zelina Vega debut on Smackdown. That’s great.
Aiden English did his opening song for Rusev with the crowd chanting “Rusev Day” for it even though he insulted Baltimore. Rusev entered with his Happy Rusev Day shirt.
Money in the Bank Qualifying Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Rusev (w/Aiden English)
It started at 9:47pmET. The fans were loud early on as they chanted “Daniel Bryan/Rusev Day” in support of both guys. Bryan tripped up Rusev, stood on Rusev’s calves and then kicked the arm. Rusev came back with a body slam. Rusev charged, Bryan ducked and Rusev went over the top to the floor. Bryan went for a suicide dive, Rusev caught Bryan and tossed Bryan onto the announce table with Bryan bumping over the announce table and crashing into the barricade. They went to break two minutes into it.
The show returned with Rusev in control with a suplex. The crowd was chanting “Daniel Bryan/Rusev Day” again. Bryan ran the ropes to begin his comeback with a running clothesline. Bryan with a running dropkick against the turnbuckle and then he did it again. Bryan set up Rusev on the top rope and Bryan hit a hurricanrana off the top rope. Bryan connected with the yes chicks to the chest, Rusev got back up and Bryan got a rollup for two. Rusev nailed a roundhouse kick to the back of the neck for a two count. Rusev tried the Accolade, but he was selling a left wrist injury after Bryan worked on it. Bryan slapped on the Yes Lock on the left arm, but Rusev grabbed the bottom rope to break the hold. Bryan worked over Rusev with kicks to the back and Rusev kicked Bryan in the gut. Rusev with a suplex, but Bryan landed on his feet and Bryan hit a roundhouse kick to the head. English pulled Rusev out of the ring. Bryan nailed a running dropkick to take out Rusev and English. Bryan with a running knee off the apron onto Rusev on the floor. Bryan rolled Rusev back in and Bryan hit a missile dropkick off the top. Fans chanted “yes” as Bryan charged in, but Rusev nailed a knee to the ribs followed by a Machka Kick for the pinfall after 11 minutes of action.
Winner by pinfall: Rusev
Analysis: *** A good match with a surprising finish. If you would have told me that Rusev was going to win I would have been fine with it, but I thought it would have been a cheap win for him thanks to Big Cass interfering or a distraction from English. Instead, it was clean. There was a point where English pulled Rusev out of the ring, but it’s not like that was the reason why Rusev won. Bryan putting over Rusev clean is a sign that maybe WWE is going to finally believe in Rusev. I’d love to see Rusev win Money in the Bank as well although it may be tough to do with so much talent in there. Big win for Rusev and for those of us that have wanted WWE to give him a serious push to the main event. It might happen with Money in the Bank.
Post match, Rusev and English celebrated the big win.
Bryan was shown sitting on the apron holding his ribs that he was selling for most of the match. Smackdown ended with Bryan looking sad on the apron and the fans chanting “Daniel Bryan” for him.
Analysis: I kept waiting for Big Cass to show up to attack Bryan, but he wasn’t on the show at all. I assume there will be another Bryan vs. Cass match at Money in the Bank unless there’s another heel for Bryan to wrestle there. Samoa Joe is a possibility. Maybe Andrade Almas will feud with Bryan. I think Miz vs. Bryan will be the plan for SummerSlam. I’m just saying there are plenty of rivals for Bryan.
Three Stars of the Show
1. The Miz
2. Jeff Hardy
3. (tie) Daniel Bryan
3. (tie) Rusev
7 out of 10
Last week: 6
2018 Average: 6.21
Last 5 Weeks: 6, 6, 6.5, 8, 6.5
2018 High: 8 (April 10)
2018 Low: 4.5 (January 2 and January 9)
It gets a 7 out of 10.
I enjoyed this week’s Smackdown quite a bit because it was all about the in-ring action. There wasn’t a lot of action. The matches were good, at least those matches that were given time. Some people weren’t on and that’s an issue sometimes with Smackdown, but I’d rather get a 20+ minute match on the show than have a bunch of short matches that mean nothing.
Best match was Miz vs. Jeff Hardy and The Miz continues to be on a roll in terms of awesome matches. He’s doing awesome work on a consistent basis.
— WWE (@WWE) May 9, 2018
The next WWE PPV is Money in the Bank in Chicago on June 17. Here’s the lineup so far.
Men’s Money in the Bank Match: Braun Strowman (Raw), Finn Balor (Raw), The Miz (Smackdown), Rusev (Smackdown) and four more men.
Women’s Money in the Bank Match: Ember Moon (Raw), Charlotte (Smackdown) and three more from Raw along with three more from Smackdown.
There's more to come in the weeks ahead.
Thanks for reading. My contact info is below. Go Toronto Blue Jays even though they were no hit tonight. Go Los Angeles Rams. I know their first game is four months away, but they are my best chance for sports happiness now.