OPENING SEGMENT: MONEY IN THE BANK SUMMIT (?)
Lana’s accent is gone tonight, so I’m sure it’ll be back next week. At least all the MITB competitors aren’t perched on ladders like on Raw. God damn that was stupid. Interestingly, three of the four SmackDown female MITB competitors are faces, and you could even argue that Lana is a face as well with the cheers she gets now. The Iconics come out, pretty much ensuring there’s going to be an eight-woman tag team match tonight, the four in the ring vs. The Iconics, Sonya DeVille, and Mandy Rose. The Iconics do their awful impressions to garner some heat. And on cue, here come DeVille and Rose. Just call me Teddy Long playa. Looks like Lana IS a face, at least tonight. It’s sad to admit that the best mic work of this whole segment came from Billie and Peyton.
Segment Rating: Four This Is Your Lifes
Daniel Bryan stops in the middle of exercising to do a Yes! chant? Weird.
The eight-woman tag team match I announced in the previous paragraph is officially announced. Just put me in creative.
Graves: “We have never seen this level of intensity and anger out of Daniel Bryan.”
DANIEL BRYAN VS. SHELTON BENJAMIN
I enjoy DB’s innovative pinning attempt based on body manipulation. So many things these guys do look like there’s no way it can avoid injury, such as DB getting dropped shin/knee first on the announce table. I know that’s the point, it’s supposed to look real, but damn, how do they get through that just fine and then it’s the innocuous moves that cause the really serious injuries? Bodies are weird. I learned that in sex ed. Back from break, Benjamin smartly continues to attack Bryan’s knee. Bryan sells it for a short time but then all of a sudden he’s fine to use it for kicks and to run the ropes. We need better storytelling there, especially from a veteran. If we’re to believe his knee is really hurt here it should have more of an adverse effect on his offense, but he’s obviously fine. The announcers continue to play up the attack on DB’s knee, but the visuals don’t match the narrative. It really took away from the match for me.
Match Rating: Four Gold Medals
Asuka and Carmella are added to the women’s tag team match. I guess that means I didn’t correctly predict the match. I did for a little while. Whatever. Fuck off.
INTERVIEW SEGMENT: JERRY “THE KING” LAWLER INTERVIEWS AJ STYLES
Well that was… pointless. Get King on camera for 20 seconds in Memphis and have AJ say nothing.
Segment Rating: Five Katie Vicks
RUSEV VS. SAMOA JOE W/THE MIZ AS SPECIAL GUEST REFEREE
This match barely holds my interest. Also, unfortunately, Rusev is much less over than people think. It’s the phrase “Rusev Day” that’s over because crowds need something to chant to try to hijack segments and matches. I’m willing to bet most people who chant it aren’t about to explain what they like about Rusev. That’s not to say Rusev doesn’t deserve to be over, but I think he’s actually a victim of the chant and smarky crowds, if that makes sense. This match is more exciting than I expected. It’s entertaining to see two powerhouses knock the shit out of each other. Miz takes a bump and refuses to make a three count for Samoa Joe, then counts the pinfall following a Rusev superkick. I thought that was an odd booking decision until Miz then hits Rusev with the Skull Crushing Finale following the match. I was really hoping Miz would grab the women’s briefcase by accident. The match was decently entertaining and although Paige’s decision to make Miz the ref made no sense, he made the most of the opportunity. The kicker is that the briefcase is filled with pancakes, and then for some reason, Kofi and Xavier are both in one shirt. Okay then.
Segment/Match Booking Rating: Seven Dustys
JEFF HARDY VS. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA
Early on Jeff is a step quicker than Shinsuke. Shinsuke is obviously trying to goad Jeff into moves that he can counter or evade, but Jeff is quick enough and seasoned enough to get his licks in. Jeff doesn’t get suckered in very often. He may get caught or countered at times, but he’s a damn smart wrestler. Shinsuke needs to realize he underestimated Jeff if he’s going to avoid a crushing loss. He does a terrible sell of the twist of fate, and Jeff hits the Swanton Bomb but has an injured back and can’t make the cover right away, allowing Shinsuke to get his foot on the rope once Jeff finally makes the pin. Shinsuke finally has had it with this shit and says “fuck it I’m done” with a nut shot. This is the most logical booking for this match, extremely well done. Jeff as United States Champion should not be saddled with a clean loss, nor should Shinsuke take one heading into his big match, though I feel like it would have been less of an issue had Jeff gotten a pin. The face dominates most of the match until the heel punches him in the balls to get DQ’d. Simple and logical after a terrific wrestling match.
Match Rating: Eight Gold Medals
‘Mella is money on the mic. She is the best talker in the division right now.
CARMELLA, SONYA DeVILLE, MANDY ROSE, & THE ICONICS VS. ASUKA, CHARLOTTE, BECKY LYNCH, NAOMI, & LANA
These women have spent so much time in the ring together the past two months they’ve probably started to cycle together. Lana seems to have gone from “ravishing” to “skanky”. Do you ever notice that in matches like these that the heels smartly try to keep the face in their corner of the ring and make frequent tags to keep the fresh person in, while the faces generally keep the action in the middle or let themselves get taken over to the heel corner? Why do faces generally wrestle like idiots? Setting up a hot tag doesn’t really excuse what comes before it. You hardly ever see the faces keep the heel in their corner and tag in and out frequently. Then again, it doesn’t make sense when a face gets a hot tag and the heel keeps running into clothesline after clothesline with seemingly no plan of attack, so both sides are guilty of something. Charlotte hits her moonsault about as often as Spike Dudley would hit the Dudley Dog, maybe even less so. Mandy Rose holds her own with Asuka in the ring, then all hell breaks loose on the outside. I’m not sure I ever thought I’d type Lana saves Asuka from Carmella’s pin attempt. Amidst the chaos, Asuka gets Carmella in the Asuka lock at taps her out, and the faces hug and celebrate together as Carmella backs up the ramp alone. That togetherness lasts just a short time as all four MITB competitors eye the briefcase and their possible future prey, Asuka. Good match, good storytelling, good finish.
Match Rating: Seven Gold Medals
Overall Show Rating: Six Gold Medals