Live from Raleigh, North Carolina, this is Smackdown Live for episode #979. 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 live crowd and then the announcers plugged the matches coming up this week: The New Day vs. The Miz, Cesaro and Sheamus, Lana vs. Naomi in a Dance Off and Samoa Joe vs. Daniel Bryan in the Money in the Bank qualifying match. The announce team is Tom Phillips, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton.
Let’s Hear From Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe entered the arena with some “Joe” chants for his song. The announcers acted as if he wasn’t supposed to be out there yet because he’s in the main event. Joe pulled out a ladder from under the ring, he set it up in the ring, climbed up the ladder and pulled down the green Money in the Bank briefcase, which contains the contract.
Joe said there is no salvation, there are no smiling angels, but after Money in the Bank he’ll be smiling just like he is right now. Joe said he will have secured his championship opportunity and taken down the Money in the Bank briefcase. Joe said he’ll put fear into the champion that will shake Smackdown Live down to its core. Joe said he’ll prove to Daniel Bryan that there are things far worse than forced retirement. Joe said he wanted Bryan to tell his wife Brie to tell his daughter that daddy will be home for Money in the Bank, but he won’t be the same man. Joe said Bryan will be drenched in regret, failure and missed opportunity. Joe said he wants Bryan’s wife to tell his daughter that it was a very bad man and his name was Samoa Joe.
Daniel Bryan showed up in his ring gear with a microphone in his hand. His music didn’t play as Bryan walked down to the ring. Bryan said if Joe mentions Bryan’s wife and daughter one more time, he will break his leg. Bryan said they don’t have to wait because they can fight right now. Joe cleared the ring by putting the ladder against the turnbuckle. There was no referee in sight.
Big Cass’ music hit. He had a crutch and was wearing a suit. Cass had the crutch on his right arm. Cass is fine and wrestled at the live event on Monday night, so he’s fine. Cass limped his way down to the ring saying that what they are doing is very juvenile, but what else would he expect from “The Shrimp” and “The Blimp.” Cass said it should be his Money in the Bank opportunity, not Bryan’s and said that this second chance crap has got to stop. Cass slowly got into the ring.
Cass said he spoke to Smackdown’s General Manager Paige and he claimed that this match between Daniel Bryan and Samoa Joe will not happen. Cass said what will happen is Samoa Joe will take on Big Cass for the final spot in the Money in the Bank ladder match…when Cass is cleared. Cass said he already is cleared, he swung the crutch, Bryan ducked it and Cass hit Joe wit the crutch. Bryan attacked Cass, but Cass threw Bryan into the ladder that was against the turnbuckle. Cass hit Joe with the MITB briefcase and he hit Bryan with the MITB briefcase as well. Cass walked around the ring holding the MITB briefcase up in the air.
Analysis: That was an interesting opening promo. I was all set for Joe vs. Bryan and then Cass had to ruin it, which means he is a heel that got genuine heat from the crowd as well me. I thought Joe’s promo was excellent as a true heel that shows that he doesn’t care about another man’s family and is only there to win matches. Bryan stood up for his family as he should as an honorable face. Cass was a jerk that got the cheap heat by faking an injury and also managed to stand tall at the end of it.
Shinsuke Nakamura was shown backstage counting to ten to tease Last Man Standing at Money in the Bank and he’s up next.
The commercial aired for Total Bellas. Poor Daniel Bryan.
A clip aired from Big Cass’ attack on Daniel Bryan and Samoa Joe in the opening segment.
Paige, the Smackdown GM, was shown walking backstage. She talked to some dude and told him to talk to her if there are any issues. The duo of Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville showed up to complain about Asuka. Mandy pointed out that Asuka lost at WrestleMania and lost her first match on Smackdown. Paige put Mandy in a match with Asuka for later on Smackdown.
Paige was interviewed by Renee Young in the backstage as Paige kept walking. Paige said she did not expect Samoa Joe to do what he did to start the show. Paige said that Big Cass is cleared, but Daniel Bryan did earn another opportunity, so she made the match: Big Cass vs. Samoa Joe vs. Daniel Bryan.
Analysis: It was obvious that they were heading in the direction of a triple threat. I’m not a fan of it because I wanted Bryan vs. Joe, but I can understand why they are doing it this way since it was originally Cass vs. Joe as the qualifying match. I was really looking forward to Bryan vs. Joe for the first time in a WWE ring.
Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance for a match. Tye Dillinger made his entrance to lose this match since he rarely gets to appear on television. They showed tweets from both guys that set up this match.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Tye Dillinger
They exchanged strikes early on. The action spilled to the floor with Nakamura working over Dillinger with knees to the ribs. Nakamura on the apron, Dillinger back in the ring and Dillinger dropkicked Nakamura to the floor. Dillinger went for a diving attack, but Nakamura kicked him to stop that and the show went to a break.
The show returned with Nakamura slapping grounding Dillinger with an armbar and Dillinger hit a jawbreaker to break it. Nakamura with a running knee to the ribs of Dillinger. Nakamura with a kick to the back. Nakamura did a count down of Dillinger on the mat as a preview of Money in the Bank, but Dillinger got back up. Nakamura worked over Dillinger with knees to the ribs. Nakamura with a running knee to the ribs while Dillinger was on the top rope. Nakamura counted down Dillinger again as a symbolic message to Styles and Dillinger got up at nine even though the referee wasn’t even counting. Dillinger did the “ten” hand gesture and said “come on” like Nakamura did. Dillinger worked over Nakamura with punches, a chop to the chest and Dillinger hit a running clothesline. Dillinger with a knee to the side of the face of Nakamura. Nakamura was on the apron and hit a kick to the face. Nakamura with a knee strike off the middle ropes. Nakamura hit the Kinshasa knee strike for the pinfall win after about eight minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Shinsuke Nakamura
Analysis: **1/4 It was a solid match for the time given with a predictable outcome since Nakamura is in the WWE Title picture and Dillinger is barely on television. There wasn’t a point in the match where anybody would have thought Dillinger would get the win. Booking Nakamura strong by giving him a win on the road to MITB is the right way to book him.
After the match was over, Nakamura hit Dillinger with a knee to the back of the neck. Nakamura grabbed the microphone and counted Dillinger down from 1 to 10 as a preview of the Last Man Standing Match with AJ Styles at Money in the Bank.
Analysis: I liked that as a way to show how focused Nakamura is going into Money in the Bank next week.
AJ Styles was interviewed backstage by Dasha Fuentes. Styles said he feels like Nakamura is more dangerous than he’s ever been in and Nakamura picks a match that benefits Nakamura. Styles said he’s the WWE Champion and that people always seem to underestimate him, but he fights smarter and harder than the guy that is clearly bigger and stronger than him. Styles said he’s the last man to leave the gym, last man to leave the arena and last man to back down from a challenge. Styles said when it’s all said and done, the Last Man Standing will be “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles.
Analysis: Good promo by Styles talking about how he’s a smaller guy that is always fighting against bigger guys and finding ways to beat them.
There was a shot of Lana preparing for her dance with Rusev and Aiden English. She’s up next.
PLUG TIME: I have been focusing a lot on retro WWE reviews lately. Two of the most recent reviews I posted were Vengeance 2005 (an outstanding Raw PPV) and Great American Bash 2005, which was a terrible Smackdown brand show. I should have a SummerSlam 2005 review up by the weekend as I continue to go through 2005 PPV events.
Thee was a Figure Four Flashback sponsored by Popeyes that showed clips of Ric Flair putting the Figure Four Leglock on various opponents during his career.
Rusev and Aiden English were on the stage. English sang about Lana’s dance, then mentioned Rusev Day at Money in the Bank and then Rusev sang “Lana is the best, Lana number one.” Lana made her entrance with the crowd cheering the lovely blonde.
Naomi made her feel the glow entrance to a nice ovation from the crowd. The Usos joined Naomi to support her. Jimmy Uso is married to Naomi. Ring announcer Greg Hamilton said the fans would get to decide who wins the dance contest by their reactions.
Lana danced first. Rusev was broadcasting this on his Instagram, so check that out for his perspective from inside the ring. Lana danced for one minute while the announcers pointed out that Lana has a dance background. Lana did a good job.
Naomi did a dance with the crowd cheering her while Phillips pointed out that Naomi was a background dancer, a cheerleader and she definitely won over the crowd based on their reactions. Saxton: “Lana just got served.” Graves: “Shut up Saxton.”
Naomi and Lana did a dance together as they held hands, hugged and went back to back leading to Lana hitting a neckbreaker. Lana attacked Naomi with punches. Lana slapped Jimmy. The Usos hit superkicks on Rusev and English to knock them out of the ring. Naomi hit her jumping Rear View move on Lana, which led to Lana bailing from the ring. That ended it.
Analysis: There was no winner even though they said the crowd was going to determine the winner. It’s not like it matters. Naomi did a better job and got a better reaction. Lana is cheered a lot, but she was booked to be heelish with the neckbreaker attack. This should lead to a six-person tag between them next week.
The New Day were shown backstage with their pancakes. The Miz was in the locker room with Cesaro and Sheamus as they tossed pancakes at Miz and Miz was blindfolded while chopping pancakes like Karate Kid. Alrighty then!
The New Day trio of Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods made their entrance. Big E dumped some pancakes on a kid in the aisle. One of these three men is in the Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match on June 17. No announcement yet about what New Day guy it will be.
Cesaro and Sheamus made their entrance first for their team followed by The Miz. It was Miz beating Big E in singles action last week thanks to help from Sheamus and Cesaro, so that’s why we have this match.
The Miz, Cesaro and Sheamus vs. The New Day (Big E, Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston)
Big E with a belly to belly suplex on Cesaro. Kingston hit a splash off the ropes on Cesaro. The heels managed to take control by driving Kingston in the corner and Miz pulled Kingston out of the ring. The show went to break one minute into the match.
The match returned with the heels still in control. Cesaro hit a running uppercut on Kingston. Sheamus knocked Woods off the apron. Cesaro tagged in with an elbow drop off the ropes for two. Cesaro whipped Kingston into the ropes, he charged, Kingston moved and Cesaro bumped to the floor. Kingston sent Miz out of the ring. Miz grabbed Big E ‘s leg and Big E chased after him. The heels managed to overwhelm Big E by sending him into the barricade. Kingston had no partners on the apron as Kingston got a rollup for two. Sheamus with a knee to the face of Kingston for two. Miz tagged in, he went for a Skull Crushing Finale, Kingston slipped out of it and hit the SOS. Woods got the hot tag against Sheamus with Woods hitting knees to the face followed by a headscissors. Kingston with a kick to the face of Miz. Sheamus charged at Woods, but Woods moved and Sheamus hit the ring post. Woods jumped off Sheamus’ back and over the top onto Cesaro. Woods with a DDT off the ropes for two. Kingston hit a diving attack out of the ring, but Cesaro knocked him down. Cesaro tagged back in with a double axe to the ribs of Woods for two. Woods back body drop, Big E got the hot tag and hit the Uranage into the backstabber by Woods at the same time, which was good for a two count on Cesaro. The crowd chanted “this is awesome” and “New Day rocks” as well. Miz made a blind tag, Cesaro with a kick to Big E and Miz hit a DDT for two as Kingston made the save on the pin. Sheamus sent Kingston out of the ring. Woods knocked Sheamus out of the ring. Woods jumped onto Sheamus and Cesaro, but Sheamus and Cesaro sent Woods into the barricade. Kingston ran the ropes and jumped off the top with a dive onto Sheamus and Cesaro. Miz charged at Big E, who caught Miz and Big E hit the Big Ending to pin Miz after 12 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods
Analysis: ***1/2 This match was awesome. I loved it. The heels were great in terms of controlling the action, preventing the tags from the faces and then when guys like Woods and Big E got in there they put on some great moves that the crowd was into. The finish was set up so well. Putting Big E over was the smart move because the expectation is that he will be in Money in the Bank, so they can say that he has momentum after beating Miz clean in the tag team match. The crowd was into this a lot. It was just a fun match to watch with all six guys playing their parts well.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson were interviewed by Renee Young backstage. Gallows put over Anderson’s abs and Anderson pointed out that his Hot Asian Wife loves them. Anderson said that they have their work cut out for them, but they will beat the Bludgeon Brothers like they are a couple of…pause…but then the Bludgeon Brothers appeared on a TV screen nearby. Harper said the depraved will affect the decent. Rowan said bodies liquified and Harper warned them to prepare themselves for…The Bludgeon Brothers.
Analysis: That was a unique message from the Bludgeon Brothers, who are the Smackdown Tag Team Champions.
The announcers talked about how we got to tonight’s main event. They showed images from two weeks ago with Daniel Bryan injuring Big Cass’ leg and now Big Cass is cleared.
Asuka was shown backstage getting ready because she’s up next.
A commercial aired for the season finale of Camp WWE.
Carmella, the lovely Smackdown Women’s Champion, made her entrance to join commentary for this match. Carmella faces Asuka for the SD Women’s Title at Money in the Bank.
Mandy Rose made her wonderful entrance, which is officially my favorite entrance in WWE today. Phillips was talking and Graves said that he didn’t hear anything he said because of Mandy’s entrance. Carmella spoke up, so Graves was all flustered.
Asuka made her entrance and got a nice ovation. Sonya Deville attacked Asuka in the back with a forearm that knocked Asuka down. The ref told Deville to go to the back. Asuka slowly got down to the ring and crawled in under the bottom rope to get in the ring. Asuka told the ref to ring the bell.
Asuka vs. Mandy Rose
Rose worked on Asuka with punches and kicks. Rose nailed a nice overhead suplex for a two count. Carmella was ripping on Saxton because he didn’t know what he was talking about and that’s a true statement. Carmella talked about her Mella is Money bandwagon. Rose whipped Asuka into the turnbuckle followed by a dropkick. Rose nailed a running knee that was good for a two count. The show went to break.
The match returned with the women exchanging strikes. Asuka hit a knee to the face followed by a running butt splash against the turnbuckle. Asuka hit a missile dropkick off the top rope for a two count. Rose avoided an attack and hit a clothesline. Asuka got a rollup for two. Rose got a pinning combination for two. Asuka slapped on the Asuka Lock submission on the arm of Rose and Rose tapped out. That makes me sad. Asuka won after about 7 minutes.
Winner by submission: Asuka
Analysis: **1/2 It was a competitive match with Asuka getting the expected win. I was impressed with how good Rose looked and I don’t just mean physically. Rose was given a lot of offense, which is important because it shows that Rose belongs in there with Asuka while looking like a credible wrestler that can be a bigger star down the road. I am excited about Mandy’s future. As for Asuka, it was her first TV match in a while and she looked impressive as usual. Once again it was a match outcome that was obvious with Asuka winning since she’s getting the title shot at MITB.
After the match was over, Carmella went into the ring with her title to get in Asuka’s face. Carmella held the title in the air. Asuka just stared at it. Carmella’s music hit, she moonwalked out of the ring and that was it.
Analysis: It was just a staredown. There was not much to it.
Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch were shown watching the TV backstage. Charlotte said Asuka will win the Smackdown Women’s Championship and Charlotte will win Money in the Bank to set up a WrestleMania match. Lynch told her to look more to the left because she will be the actual winner of Money in the Bank. Lynch said they had to make like Han and fly solo. Charlotte said she knows how much Lynch wants to win. Paige was shown walking behind them. Charlotte said because she’s in this match, she is going to win. Lynch said not this time and this is her win. Paige walked into the scene. Paige said this reminds her of Team PCB. Paige said it’s tea time and told them to keep this up. Paige walked away.
Analysis: I figured it was going to lead to Paige setting up a match between Charlotte and Becky for next week and that's what happened after the break.
The main event of Bryan vs. Joe vs. Cass is next.
There was a commercial for 205 Live this week with Cedric Alexander defending the Cruiserweight Title against Buddy Murphy.
Next week on Smackdown: The Usos and Naomi vs. Rusev, Aiden English and Lana. Also, Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair.
Andrade “Cien” Almas walked out of the men’s locker room and he walked out in a suit. Sin Cara walked up to him. Zelina Vega showed up. Sin Cara was friendly with Almas and said that he has known Almas for years. Vega said Almas is a star and he doesn’t know a nobody like Sin Cara. Almas told Cara something and left. Graves said that Almas told Cara not to touch him.
Analysis: That will probably set up an Almas vs. Cara match next week with Almas getting another victory. I would like more Almas on the show because he’s great.
Samoa Joe was already in the ring. Big Cass finished his entrance. Daniel Bryan made his full entrance to a loud ovation and a lot of “yes” chants.
Money in the Bank Qualifying Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Samoa Joe vs. Big Cass
The first pinfall or submission wins. There are no countouts or disqualifications in a triple threat.
It started at 9:37pmET, so they have a lot of time. Joe and Bryan worked together on Cass to knock him out of the ring. Joe flipped Bryan over and kicked him hard in the back. Joe worked over Bryan with chops. Bryan avoided a Joe attack and Bryan hit a dropkick that sent Cass into the barricade. Joe hit a suicide dive forearm that knocked down Cass. Bryan went up top and he jumped off with a cross body block onto both guys on the floor as the match went to break two minutes into it.
Cass missed a corner attack on Joe, who moved and Joe hit a leaping kick to the head. Joe hit an atomic drop on Bryan followed by a kick to the head and a senton splash for two. Joe and Cass exchanged punches. Bryan got back into it with kicks on Cass. Punch to the head by Cass and Cass dumped Bryan out of the ring. Cass tossed Bryan over the announce table. Bryan went back in the ring and kicked Cass out of the ring. Bryan had Joe set up on the top rope and hit a hurricanrana off the top that sent Joe across the ring. Bryan hit two running kicks on Joe against the turnbuckle, Cass got back in the ring and hit Bryan with a huge clothesline that was good for a two count. Cass worked over Bryan with punches. The ref and Cass talked to eachother, so there was some time cue instruction there. Bryan made the comeback on Cass with kicks, but Cass hit Bryan with a knee to the ribs as the show went to break again.
A commercial aired for Bruce Prichard’s Something Else to Wrestle With show on WWE Network with John Cena as the topic this Wednesday. I enjoy the show.
The match returned with Joe and Cass exchanging punches in the corner. Bryan was out of the ring as Cass hit Joe in the back with a clubbing blow. Joe charged, Cass picked him up and hit a spinebuster. Cass with an elbow drop and Bryan was there to break up the pin. Bryan worked over Cass’ left knee with more kicks. Cass hit the East River Crossing spinning slam on for a two count. Bryan was back in control with dragon screw leg whips for both guys. Bryan hit yes kicks to the chest of both guys as well as roundhouse kicks to the head for a two count on Cass. Bryan with an uppercut on Cass. Bryan took down Cass with another dragon screw leg whip. Joe slapped on the Coquina Clutch on Bryan, but Bryan countered into a pin for two. Joe charged, Bryan ducked and Joe went over the top to the floor. Cass missed a kick attempt on Bryan and Bryan tried for the Yes Lock submission. Bryan locked in the Yes Lock, but Joe pulled Bryan out of the ring. Bryan hit a running knee attack on Joe on the floor. Bryan climbed to the top rope and he connected with a missile dropkick on Cass. Bryan did his shaking routine and he kipped up back to his feet with the crowd doing the “yes” chants for Bryan. Running knee to the face by Bryan on Cass in to a cover. Joe broke up the pin and slapped on the Coquina Clutch on Bryan. Joe had it locked in tight with his legs wrapped around Bryan’s waist. Bryan passed out as the ref raised his hand and Joe won by submission. It went 21 minutes.
Winner by submission: Samoa Joe
Analysis: ***3/4 It was an excellent main event match with Daniel Bryan’s energy carrying most it while Joe was great as the villain that capitalized on the situation to make Bryan pass out in the Coquina Clutch submission. Cass is not at the level of Bryan and Joe in terms of his work in the ring, but Cass looked fine for most of this match. Cass came close to winning a few times as well. It’s rare to see a Smackdown main event getting over 20 minutes, so that makes me happy. Joe getting the win was what I expected going back weeks ago when it was supposed to be Joe vs. Cass. I think that was the right call. It also means that Bryan put over Rusev and Samoa Joe in MITB qualifiers, so it makes Bryan look like a bit of a loser, but it’s not going to hurt him in terms of crowd support because he’s so popular. I liked the way this was booked.
The win by Joe means that he has qualified for the men’s Money in the Bank as the eight and final man in that match.
Analysis: I think Joe has a legit chance of winning Money in the Bank. He might be my pick, but I’m not even sure what my pick is right now.
Post match, Bryan stumbled back to his feet. Cass set up across the ring and Cass hit a running big boot to Bryan’s face to knock him down. Cass stood over a fallen Bryan to end Smackdown.
Analysis: That should lead to Big Cass vs. Daniel Bryan at Money in the Bank as expected.
Three Stars of the Show
- Daniel Bryan
- Samoa Joe
- Big Cass
8 out of 10
2018 Average: 6.31
Last 5 Weeks: 6, 7, 7, 6, 6
2018 High: 8 (April 10, May 29)
2018 Low: 4.5 (January 2 and January 9)
Smackdown gets a 8 out of 10 this week.
This was one of the better Smackdowns of the year and my score represents that because it is tied for the highest score of the year. It was similar to how good this show was in late 2016 into early 2017.
The main event was a great match that got over 20 minutes, the 6-man tag was a lot of fun, the other matches on the show were good, the dance off was a bit of a waste of time, but it wasn’t that bad. There wasn’t any filler on the show. It was well booked, the right matches got time and it was a hot crowd for most of the night too.
— WWE (@WWE) May 30, 2018
The next WWE PPV is Money in the Bank in Chicago on June 17. Here’s the lineup so far.
WWE Championship Last Man Standing Match: AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Raw Women’s Championship: Nia Jax vs. Ronda Rousey
Men’s Money in the Bank Contract Ladder Match: Braun Strowman (Raw), Kevin Owens (Raw), Finn Balor (Raw), Bobby Roode (Raw), The Miz (SD), Rusev (SD), One member of The New Day (SD), Samoa Joe (SD)
Women’s Money in the Bank Contract Ladder Match: Ember Moon (Raw), Alexa Bliss (Raw), Natalya (Raw), Sasha Banks (Raw), Charlotte Flair (SD), Becky Lynch (SD), Lana (SD), Naomi (SD)
Roman Reigns vs. Jinder Mahal
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Carmella vs. Asuka
Bobby Lashley vs. Sami Zayn
Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Bludgeon Brothers vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
I assume Seth Rollins vs. Elias for the IC Title gets added as well. Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass is likely. The Raw Tag Team Title match may be set up next week too.
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