After months of starting every Raw and Smackdown with a long promo in the ring that gets interrupted by the main event competitors until 6-person tag match is set, it was reffreshing to see anything different.
We got a dramatic narration and recap of Ellsworth and Carmella’s tainted MitB win, setting up the return of Daniel Bryan and how he will address the situation.
The girls argue amongst themselves with Charlotte getting the best line of “you’re the one that started the Welcoming Committee in the first place!”.
Bryan gives the girls nothing, telling them he’ll deal with Carmella and Ellsworth first.
Carmella and Ellsworth promo
Carmella calls the internet trolls pathetic for complaining about her win enough that Daniel Bryan has to come back and make a decision on her Briefcase reign.
Even though this seemed like the perfect opportunity for each girl to come down and eventually end up in a 6-woman tag match, it didn’t happen!
Ellsworth is great at screaming his malarkey without sounding grating. Carmella is not at championship level yet but still managed to draw a few strong reactions from the crowd. Perhaps anyone in that situation would have, but at least she’s carrying her weight.
The trick will be seeing how far she can evolve this angle.
Charlotte confronts Bryan
Bryan tells Charlotte about the medical team inspecting her neck, but all she cares about is getting justice for Ellsworth’s transgression.
Bryan says it was a ‘no-DQ’ and Charlotte counters with the fact that Ellsworth was not one of the licensed competitors for the match.
Cheating in a no-DQ is actually an interesting topic. They could milk this storyline heavily and lead up to a precedent being set. Charlotte and Daniel both had valid points and acted logical.
Big E vs Jimmy Uso
The New Day showed a slideshow of the Usos cheating to avoid a pin and leaving the match to retain their titles. They pronounce Big E as the police of their playpen, calling him Deput-E.
They immediately go to commercial for the beginning of the match but on USA at least, they show the match in a silent window. It’s nice to see the action, but really drives home how much of the match is lost to commercials. Seems strange that the actual wrestling is the lowest priority on a wrestling show. How about telling stories in the ring instead of with poorly acted segments?
The Usos try to leave once again but Kofi takes out Jay with a Trust Fall, allowing him and Xavier to push Jimmy back towards the ring. Big E pulled Jimmy back into the ring and eventually hit his finisher, picking up the pin.
The match gave The New Day a bit of revenge but made the aggressive and dangerous Usos look like weak champions. I’m fine with the New Day winning, but enjoy the danger the Usos bring and want to see that side of their personality highlighted.
Natalya and Tamina confront Daniel Bryan
We missed half of the tag-match for segments like this. Natalya sucks up to Bryan, asking about his kid and talking about her cat. Luckily, Tamina cuts her off and says he better do something about it.
More matches, less of this. We learned nothing, it wasn’t funny, and no feud was furthered.
Lana confronts Naomi
Lana interrupts Naomi to insult her ‘tacky neon glow’ and ask for a rematch. Naomi calls her thirsty and although she doesn’t deserve it, will give her a rematch next week because she’s a fighting champion.
If the girls were pissed about Money in the Bank, they should be even angrier about Lana getting multiple title shots without earning them.
Orton says he lost his cool when the Singhs attacked his dad, causing him to lose the match. The interview was incredibly boring until Orton said he might go to India and rain RKOs on Jinder’s Uncles.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Dolph Ziggler
I was ready to write this match off as meaningless repeat but these two tore the roof off. They sacrificed physically and showed a ton of innovation. Interestingly, the two took turns playing the face and heel role, with Ziggler even generating some sympathy while taking a few of Naka’s brutal strikes and holds. Ziggler made up for it by poking Nakamura’s eyes to get out of a dangerous submission situation.
Nakamura won after an exiting and creative exchange of finishers and submission holds.
These two could have phoned it in but they went above and beyond to deliver a stellar performance.
Kevin Owens vs Chad Gable
KO’s Open Challenge for residents of Dayton Ohio was eventually answered by Chad Gable of American Alpha. Gable claimed he moved there Tuesday morning, stating his address was on the highway.
He surprised Owens with several consecutive german suplexes before they went to commercial.
Gable hit a moonsault for a near-fall, but Owens retaliated by tossing him hard into the post. Gable is full of impressive moves, adding a roll-up to the german but couldn’t get the win.
KO rallies with a pop-up-powerbomb to secure the win.
Styles getting in Owens face should make for a decent feud soon. Gable impressed in his underdog role, looking like a believable contender and conveying how precious the chance was.
Owens is back to looking mean while still mixing in his trademark humor. A good segment alll around. The WWE should have more matches like this, keeping the main-eventers apart until PPV and showing off other stars at the same time.
Daniel Bryan’s MitB Decision
The crowd erupts for Bryan’s music, chanting his name before he speaks. He’s joined in the ring by the Women’s MitB competitors.
Bryan says the situation is tricky because it was no-DQ and there was no rule governing the situation.
Ellsworth gets in his face, saying that looking after his vegan hippy daughter made him soft.
Bryan gets angry and this leads to him telling Carmella she’ll be the first female MitB winner to hand the briefcase back. He takes it from her and sets up a redo of the match for next week’s Smackdown.
The outcome made sense, and it was fun to see Bryan get in Ellsworth’s face. The finish of next week’s match needs to be handled with grace. Another cheating incident could work, but needs to be thought through to avoid making Bryan and the other women look like fools.
Jinder Mahal vs Luke Harper
Luke Harper is great in the ring, but I’m not sure how his terrible win-loss record of late qualifies him for a title match.
Near the end of the match, Corbin’s music hits and he comes stomping towards the ring with the briefcase. He pulls a Carmella however, and goes right backstage without cashing it in. Harper tries to capitalize but Mahal gets the win after yet another Singh Brother distraction.
I like the idea of having the bigger stars wrestle mid-carders in-between PPVs, but it would be even better if Harper had his own storyline building towards the no.1 contender spot. Putting him through a mini tournament over a few weeks time would lend much more weight to the match, build Harper’s character, and give Mahal more reaction for beating a better built Harper.
Orton raises hell
Orton plays old-school Austin, storming the ring, hitting a Lou Thesz Press and beating the heck out of Mahal outside the ring. The Singhs sacrifice themselves and Mahal gets away.
A great show full of memorable matches and a consistent storyline. Smackdown had a great swagger tonight and feels like it’s gearing up after the post-Mania lull.