It’s my birthday. 34 Gold Medals.
Paige announces a number one contender gauntlet match tonight. Hopefully it’s awesome.
OPENING SEGMENT: CARMELLA
I keep saying it: ‘Mella is money on the mic. She’s one of if not the best talker on the roster, especially among the heels. I laughed really hard at “no one was ready for Ellsworth.” I really want to see Asuka destroy him, as I’m sure most people do. The real Asuka comes out and Ellsworth is gonna get his ass beat. Unfortunately Asuka turns away for a moment and Carmella gets her kick in. Best heel work in the business right now.
For such good heel work, Carmella gets: Ten Roddy Pipers
BILLIE KAY VS. BECKY LYNCH
The Iconics are obnoxious and grating and…sigh…great heels. I really want to continue calling them worthless and pointless but they’re character work is so much better on the main roster than it was in NXT. Becky Lynch needs to be in the main event soon. It’s not a huge stretch to call her a female Daniel Bryan in the sense that the WWE Universe is clamoring for her to be the face of the division, at least on SmackDown. Both Becky and Billie are extremely athletic, but we may see Billie wrestle a slowed-down style here with rest holds in a traditional heel style. Becky starts out the match like STRAIGHT FIRE but Billie is able to slow her down through the commercial break. Becky has to be fired up after the way The Iconics ran her down before the match. Becky is able to neutralize Peyton Royce and roll through Billie’s suplex attempt into the Dis-Arm-Her for the win. I see a huge push for her upcoming after her crowd reactions at MITB. Good match.
Match Rating: Six Gold Medals
Sounds like we’re getting a woken/broken Jeff Hardy. Or Brother Nero? I don’t know, I didn’t watch TNA.
I love when Daniel Bryan insults the Miz. He’s so good at it. I would not be upset if the gauntlet match took up the entire second hour of the show. It was awesome when they did that on Raw.
SANITY VS. THE USOS
The Usos are really good on the mic but the “Uso penitentiary” line has gotten old. I think it’s because they’re toeing the heel-face line so people aren’t really sure how exactlly to react to them right now. I’d say they’re more on the face side but that’s more of a heel thing to say.
We finally get Sanity’s debut. I was a big fan of them in NXT. Is this even a match? It’s 3-on-2 to start as Sanity demolishes the Samoan brothers. I don’t think the actual match is ever going to happen, and I’m totally ok with that, because that’s a terrific way to introduce Sanity to the main roster crowd.
Match/Segment Booking Rating: Eight Dustys
Another good promo from Shinsuke. He has brought his character to great new levels since his heel turn.
SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: LUKE GALLOWS & KARL ANDERSON VS. THE BLUDGEON BROTHERS
With their MITB performance, despite coming up short, Gallow & Anderson have earned themselves another title shot. Gallows will have to be the one to win this one. Anderson’s job will be to give him breathers and not try not to get killed if the “good brothers” are going to have any chance of winning. Or, Anderson’s job will be to regain consciousness after being smashed face first on the ring apron. I really can’t see any scenario in which the Bludgeon Brothers don’t win this match. Gallows can’t get anything going. He valiantly fights his way back into the match as Anderson recovers and hits a beautiful spine buster on Harper. Anderson barely survives Harper’s side slam, then Rowan takes out Gallows, and that spells the end of this one. It wasn’t as good as their MITB kickoff show match, but it was still a really good match.
Match Rating: Seven Gold Medals
Looks like I get my wish and we get just under an hour of a gauntlet match! Daniel Bryan might have pooped a little as the Bludgeon Brothers stared him down.
MATCH ONE: DANIEL BRYAN VS. BIG E
It’s likely that they pull a Seth Rollins with Daniel Bryan and have him wrestle for most of this hour. I think he’ll take quite a bit of punishment from Big E before he moves on. I have no idea why Bryan would have a “test of strength” in the middle of the ring with Big E. I also have no idea why Big E would run the ropes against a guy half the size of him who is known for his speed and technique. Both of these guys would be stupid to wrestle the other’s type of match. Bryan is smart to try to wear E down with submissions and body manipulation, while E continues the mistake of running the ropes. If I’m Big E, I wouldn’t even worry about too many suplexes because we know how Daniel Bryan often lands on his feet. Even though DB is a technical master, E should keep the match on the mat and wear Bryan down. Bryan likes to run and gun in the ring and you take away a major weapon if you keep him grounded. There was no reason for Big E to run at Bryan in the corner and let himself get taken down with that drop toe hold, leading to a set of Yes! kicks and a Frankensteiner. Now Bryan starts to ramp it up and the pace is in his favor until E catches him with a massive clothesline. Now E does exactly what he should be doing, slowing things down at putting Bryan in the Stretch Muffler. But somehow, Bryan nearly counters it into a Yes! lock and breaks the hold. Then, for some reason, Bryan stands toe to toe and throws punches with E in the middle of the ring. A frantic sequence ends with E spearing Bryan through the ropes to the outside. That had to fucking hurt. Bryan slips out of the Big Ending and hits the Knee Plus for the win. This was a near masterpiece and the people in the crowd was on the edge of their seats. Big E wrestled most of the match exactly how he should have and Bryan still managed to defeat the much larger man, and it was perfectly believable. That’s a testament to how truly gifted Daniel Bryan is between the ropes.
Match Rating: Nine Gold Medals
MATCH TWO: DANIEL BRYAN VS. SAMOA JOE
Joe does the smart thing and jumps all over the guy who just spend 20 minutes wrestling a guy twice his size. Bryan gets in some good strikes but Joe hits maybe the nastiest powerslam I’ve ever seen. Normally going into a match you need to wear your opponent down before a finisher is effective, but in this match, Joe should be looking for finishers quickly because DB is already at least partially worn down from the previous match. If you try to drag it out and beat him down some more, it’s much more likely that Bryan is gonna have more left in the tank than the much larger Samoa Joe. Joe doesn’t look like his conditioning is that great, and everyone knows Daniel Bryan can last a long, long time in the ring and still be effective. Joe needs to be much more aggressive than he’s being for that reason. He’s hitting moves and going for covers but his moves need to show more of a sense of urgency to end the match now. Once again, Bryan for some reason stands in the middle of the ring and strikes with a much larger man. That Bryan comes out on the winning end of that exchange is not believable at all. We can already see that Bryan’s endurance has outlasted Joe’s, and that’s on Joe for not doing more to end this match earlier. We can also see nasty welts on Bryan’s chest from Joe’s chops. Bryan is able to escape the Coquina Clutch and slide back into the ring at 10 to get a countout win. The Bludgeon Brothers, apparently insulted by Bryan stepping on their win, or something, show up to powerbomb Bryan after a really good match.
Match Rating: Eight Gold Medals
MATCH 3: DANIEL BRYAN VS. THE MIZ
Miz brilliantly takes advantage and hits the carcass of Daniel Bryan with his finisher, picking up the heel win of the night. The psychology of this and the heat it gets is perfect.
Match/Booking Rating: Ten Dustys
MATCH 4: THE MIZ VS. RUSEV
I really like having Rusev come out immediately after The Miz takes advantage of the screwed-over Daniel Bryan. I think it tells us what the company thinks of Rusev right now, and that a face turn is likely imminent. Either that or they already see him as a face without a definitive turn moment or angle. I’m happy to say that I really have no idea who will win here. The logic says WWE would have Styles vs. Miz because Miz is a former world champion, he has the new reality show, and a feud between him and Styles makes sense with the heel-face dynamic. However, if WWE sees Rusev as a heel or a face depending on the circumstances, he can definitely play a very good heel in a feud with Styles, and it’s likely you’ll still have a lot of the fan base behind him (or more accurately, a large portion just won’t want to stop chanting “Rusev Day”). Also, don’t put it past them to put Rusev against Styles to try to kill the chant. Aiden English still does it but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it phased out.
This is a really good back-and-forth match, which really surprises me. Rusev is the better athlete and the better wrestler, and with no Miztourage or anyone else in his corner, Miz should not be able to hang with Rusev. He’s a smart ring tactician but he’s actually out-wrestling Rusev instead of just out-thinking him. But Rusev changes all that in an instant, catching Miz with a Machka Kick and locking in the Accolade for the win!
I’m very, very interested to see how this feud develops. Like I mentioned in the above paragraphs, there’s a few ways they can go with this. They can have face vs. face, face vs. tweener, or face vs. heel. English acts a fool and gets smacked. At least in this instance it seems there’s mutual respect here, and we’ll see where this goes over the coming weeks.
Match Rating: Six Gold Medals
Full Gauntlet Match Rating: Eight Gold Medals
Overall Show Rating: Eight Gold Medals