Live from Corpus Christi, Texas, this is Smackdown Live for episode #980. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top.
Smackdown began with a rundown of what’s to come during the show: New Day vs. Miz, Rusev and Samoa Joe plus Jimmy Uso and Naomi vs. Aiden English and Lana plus the best friend battle with Becky Lynch facing Charlotte Flair.
Let’s Hear From Carmella
Carmella, the Smackdown Women’s Champion, made her entrance in her street clothes, so I guess she’s not going to be put in a match. Carmella defends the SD Women’s Title vs. Asuka at Money in the Bank on June 17.
Carmella wanted the crowd to shower her with praise. They booed her. Carmella said tonight isn’t about her, it’s about her Money in the Bank opponent…Asuka. Carmella said that Asuka isn’t who we think she is, but before that he’s a video of the Asuka we know and respect.
A video package aired about Asuka showing all of her success in the ring including winning the NXT Women’s Title and winning the Royal Rumble this past January. It stopped there.
Carmella said that was incredible. She said it showed poise, confidence and an incredible performer that Asuka is. Carmella said this is the real Asuka.
Another video aired, which showed highlights of WrestleMania 34 when Charlotte beat Asuka to retain the Smackdown Women’s Title. It was Asuka’s first loss in WWE after 914 days of being undefeated. They also showed when Royce and Kay beat Asuka and Lynch in a tag team match on Smackdown. Lynch got pinned when Royce got her feet on the ropes. Clips also aired of Mandy Rose hitting moves on Asuka last week.
Carmella said that Asuka’s loss at WrestleMania shattered her, which is why Carmella has no fear. Carmella said that “Mella is Money” and the “Age of Asuka” is over. Carmella laughed about how everybody is ready for Asuka and asked the fans if they are ready for Asuka. That led to Asuka making her entrance.
Asuka got a nice ovation for her entrance. Asuka entered the ring with Carmella and took off her robe ready for a fight. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville interrupted the fun.
Mandy said that Carmella didn’t have to go through all that trouble with that presentation. Mandy said that Asuka beat her last week, but Mandy knows that she can beat Asuka tonight. Sonya said that Mandy did what she was supposed to do because she left enough of Asuka for Sonya. Carmella asked the “defeated” Asuka who is it going to be and then suggested that Asuka get the hell out of there.
Paige, the Smackdown General Manager, entered the arena to settle this. Paige said that she’s the one that makes the matches around here. Paige told Asuka she has unfinished business with Rose and Deville. Asuka took Carmella’s microphone: “Give me both.” Paige said that’s the Asuka we all know and love. Paige set up the handicap match up next.
Analysis: It’s the typical WWE opening segment where they do a promo to set up a match either after the break or later in the show. We have seen this done so many times. Carmella’s promo was fine although she didn’t really say that much other than Asuka might be more vulnerable now since she lost at WrestleMania. Asuka only spoke at the end. Mandy, Sonya and Paige all did fine with their promos. The whole thing was okay, but once again it’s just the usual stuff they do every week.
The bell rang after the break. Carmella joined the announce team of Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton and Corey Graves for the match.
Asuka vs. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville
Deville took down Asuka with a waist lock and Asuka slapped on a knee lock submission. Carmella told Saxton to shut up while adding that nobody listens to Saxton, which means Carmella is awesome in my book. Asuka with a running dropkick on Deville and Deville came back with a punch. Rose tagged in with stomps on Asuka against the ropes. Deville worked over Asuka with shoulder tackles and Rose got in some slaps on Asuka. Rose with a chinlock followed by a hair whip slam for two. Saxton tried asking a question, then Graves cut in with his question and the ignoring of Saxton continued. Rose hit a shoulder tackle, Asuka no sold it and hit two running hip attacks. Asuka up top and she connected with a missile dropkick on Rose. Carmella taunted Asuka, Deville tagged in and Deville hit Asuka in the back with a forearm. Carmella did a moonwalk on the announce table. The show went to break there.
The show returned with Asuka in control with a spin kick on Rose, a knee to Deville and a hip attack on Deville for a two count with Rose breaking up the pin. Asuka dumped Rose out of the ring, Deville rollup and Asuka/Deville did a kick at the same time, so both of them were down. They did a spot where they ran the ropes and Deville hit an impressive Spear for a two count. That looked great. Deville went for a running attack, Asuka caught her and slapped on the Asuka Lock. Deville tapped out to give Asuka the win after about 11 minutes.
Winner by submission: Asuka
Analysis: **3/4 That was pretty good. Asuka was her awesome self with incredible offense and great selling like she always does. Rose and Deville got in a lot of offense. They looked competitive in the match even though it was obvious Asuka was going to win since she’s getting the title match at Money in the Bank.
After the match, Carmella went into the ring to taunt Asuka by holding the title in the air. Rose attacked Asuka in the back with a forearm. That allowed Carmella to hit Asuka from behind and Carmella hit a superkick to lay out Asuka. Carmella posed over Asuka to end it.
Analysis: It was a solid way to build up to their Money in the Bank match. I think it’s possible Asuka will win the SD Women’s Title, but I’m probably going to pick Carmella.
The Miz was in his locker room doing his Karate Kid training. A guy walked in with a plate of pancakes, who is apparently “Mr. Butterworth” according to New Day. The New Day trio showed up with Big E saying that they admit they play around too much. Kofi Kingston said that Miz gave them a reality check and Woods mentioned the hard truth that Miz revealed to them. Big E said they would reveal their member…Miz asked them to rephrase and they told Miz that in the hat was a paper that will tell them which New Day member will be in Money in the Bank. Kingston put The Miz headband over his eyes to prevent peaking. Woods switched the hat out with a hat that was full of pancake batter. Miz put his hand in the pancake batter, New Day laughed, Miz took off the headband and yelled at them about their match later. Miz rubbed his pancake batter hand on the dude holding the pancakes in the room and he left.
Analysis: That was funny. Some New Day segments are misses, but this one was pretty good.
Later on Smackdown: The New Day vs. Rusev, The Miz and Samoa Joe. AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura are going to have a contract signing as well.
The Bludgeon Brothers, Smackdown’s Tag Team Champions, made their entrance for a singles match. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows were already in the ring.
Harper (w/Rowan) vs. Karl Anderson (w/Luke Gallows)
Harper with a jumping kick to start the match. Harper with three forearms to the back of Anderson for a two count. Harper worked over Anderson with a hard chop followed by a stomp to the head. Harper hit a spinning slam on Anderson. Kick to the knee by Anderson, Harper missed a kick and Anderson did ROLLUP OF DEATH~! for the pinfall win after two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Karl Anderson
Analysis: * A quick match to put over the idea that Anderson and Gallows could win since Anderson won with the dreaded ROLLUP OF DEATH~! The crowd was dead for the match and didn’t react to the finish at all. I don’t expect a title change at Money in the Bank.
There was a video of Lana’s dance off with Naomi last week that led to a brawl.
Naomi was shown backstage with husband Jimmy Uso. Naomi said that she’s going to snatch Lana bald and climbs that ladder to get that Money in the Bank briefcase. Jimmy said they’ll prove they’re the true husband/wife team on Smackdown and they ended it by welcoming us to the Uso penitentiary.
A commercial aired for Money in the Bank hyping up Nia Jax vs. Ronda Rousey for the Raw Women’s Title.
Jimmy Uso made his entrance first followed by his wife Naomi with her glow entrance.
Aiden English did one of his great songs while fans chanted “Rusev Day” for him and English sang the “Lana is the best, Lana number one” song that isn’t that creative, but it’s catchy. Lana’s entrance music is catchy.
Analysis: The reason Lana’s husband Rusev isn’t teaming with her is because Rusev is in the six-man tag match later. Lana and Naomi are both in the women’s Money in the Bank ladder match. It seems like WWE has dropped the angle from over one month ago when Lana suggested to Rusev that English was a problem.
Aiden English and Lana vs. Jimmy Uso and Naomi
Jimmy nailed English with a punch to the throat. English yelled at him: “It’s the money maker, Uce!” True. Lana went in for her team, but that failed because Jimmy and Naomi each nailed enziguri kicks. Naomi hit a dive over the top to take out Aiden and Lana. Good catch by English because Naomi almost had a rough landing there. The show went to break there.
Back from break, the women were in the ring with Naomi hitting a knee to the face. English distracted, so Lana hit Naomi in the back with a forearm followed by a kick to the face for two. Lana hit a double knee attack to the back for two. Lana grounded Naomi with an armbar. Naomi hit a dropkick on Lana and Lana kept Naomi from tagging out. Lana hit some weak looking elbows for a two count. Naomi got a rollup for two. The women did a double clothesline spot leading to the men tagging in or at least Jimmy did, which meant English had to go in. Jimmy with a punch to the throat and a spinning kick to the head. Jimmy with a running butt splash on English for a two count with Lana making the save. Lana slapped Jimmy. Jimmy launched Naomi into the air with a takedown of Lana. English knocked Jimmy into the corner. English went for a corner charge, but Naomi hit a cross body block off the top onto English. Jimmy hit a superkick to the throat of English and pinned him. It went about 11 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Jimmy Uso and Naomi
Analysis: **1/4 The match was okay with some fun moments in there. The mixed tag dynamic doesn’t work that well when they are going for the hot tag and the other side can just go in at the same time. They did the best they could, though. Lana has improved in the ring as well, so give her credit for working hard to get better. I thought Naomi and Lana should have been involved in the pinfall since they are in the women’s Money in the Bank match while the men are not, but that’s not a big deal I guess.
Post match, English was selling a throat injury since he’s a gifted singer. Jimmy and Naomi celebrated the win.
WWE Championship Contract Signing
Paige was backstage moderating the contract signing with the challenger Shinsuke Nakamura and the champion AJ Styles. They were seated at a table. Also seated at the table were agents Dean Malenko and Adam Pearce. Paige mentioned that their match is Last Man Standing at Money in the Bank per the stipulation choice from Nakamura. Paige assured them that there will be a winner.
Styles told Nakamura that they have been at this war forever with Nakamura pushing him to the edge and now he understands why. Styles said he thinks Nakamura acts that way because Nakamura can’t beat him. Styles said that’s why Nakamura picked a stipulation where you can do anything to keep somebody down for a two count. Styles said it’s not going to work because he’s walking out of Money in the Bank as the WWE Champion. Styles signed the contract.
Nakamura grabbed a pen and said it was out of ink. Heels lie. Nakamura wanted to borrow the pen that Styles used to sign the contract. Nakamura said the pen was broken and he tossed it down. Styles yelled at Nakamura telling him to be a man. Styles slapped Nakamura in the face. Styles left. Nakamura took a pen out of his own pocket and signed the contract. Nakamura just said: “Last Man Standing.” He left.
Analysis: It was a different way of doing a contract signing. I assume they did it backstage because it was shorter than the usual contract signing segment and Nakamura isn’t strong as a talker. The problem with Styles saying Nakamura can’t beat him is that a few weeks ago on Smackdown, Nakamura did beat him in a regular match. That’s why Nakamura got to pick the stipulation in this match. It would be nice if they mentioned that, but instead WWE chooses to ignore it. I’m not sure what my pick is for MITB yet. I think Nakamura might win the WWE Title, but keeping it on Styles is fine with me. I haven’t decided yet.
Lynch vs. Flair up next.
Charlotte Flair made her entrance to a big ovation. She is part of the women’s Money in the Bank match along with her opponent. Becky Lynch made her entrance to a good ovation as well.
Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch
Charlotte dumped Lynch to the floor early on. Back in the ring, they countered a bunch of moves and Charlotte hit a headscissors takedown. Lynch broke free with a rollup for two. They did a “tea time” hand gesture. They each went for a kick, they each grabbed the foot and they put the foot down at the same time. They ran the ropes and hit a double cross body block to knock each woman down.
Back from break, they exchanged forearms. Lynch avoided a slam, she went for the Disarmer, Charlotte got out of it and Charlotte connected with three chops. Lynch with two uppercuts and Charlotte got a backslide for two. Charlotte hit a belly to back suplex followed by a kip up. Lynch with a boot to the face, but Charlotte caught her off the turnbuckle with a backbreaker like move for two. Lynch with a punch and a forearm took down Charlotte. Lynch up top and she hit a leg drop off the top for a two count. Charlotte got a rollup for two. They ran the ropes and Charlotte hit a huge Spear that knocked Lynch out of the ring. Charlotte hit a slingshot dive onto Lynch out of the ring. Charlotte sent Lynch back in the ring. Charlotte went up top and she went for the moonsault, but Lynch got her knees up to block. Lynch got a rollup for two. Charlotte went for the Figure Four Leglock, but Lynch kicked her away and Lynch slapped on the Disarmer (I know they say “Dis-harm-her” but I like saying Disarmer) submission on the left arm and Charlotte tapped out for the loss after about nine minutes.
Winner by submission: Becky Lynch
Analysis: *** That was a good match by two women that know eachother very well. It would be nice if they got more time in a PPV style match, but it was kept under ten minutes and that prevented it from becoming a memorable match. I liked the way they were each going for their submission finishers the entire match and Lynch was the one that applied hers, which led to the win. Lynch winning gives her momentum, which is the phrase WWE loves to say repeatedly, but it doesn’t make her more of a favorite in MITB than Charlotte. I think a Raw woman is going to win that match anyway.
Post match, Charlotte was holding her arm while sitting up against the ropes. Lynch helped her to her feet. The fans cheered as they shared a big hug. Lynch celebrated the win while pointing at the Money in the Bank briefcases above the ring.
Analysis: Both women are locked in as faces. I don’t see either of them turning heel any time soon although I liked Charlotte a lot more as a heel. She’s fine as a face, though.
Samoa Joe was interviewed by Dasha Fuentes. Joe talked about how he wants people to see him as a man who keeps his promise. Joe pointed out how he put Daniel Bryan to sleep and qualified for Money in the Bank, which is what he did. Joe said he also climbed the ladder and grabbed the Money in the Bank briefcase. Joe said that the superstars saw the future. Joe pointed out that any man who can call himself WWE Champion will become a marked man. Joe said what you see is what you get and very soon everybody will get it.
Analysis: Great promo from Joe as usual. He’s very believable in everything that he says.
A six-man tag is still to come.
Next week on Smackdown: A Women’s Money in the Bank summit hosted by Paige with Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Naomi and Lana. That’s a promo segment where each woman is going to talk about how they are going to win.
Big Cass was interviewed on the stage by Renee Young. Cass was in a suit. That kind of interview is something WWE used to do back in the day with Mean Gene interviewing people on the staging area. I like that they brought it back at least for this week.
Cass talked about his Money in the Bank match against Daniel Bryan. Cass pointed out that he’s a big man that’s 7 feet tall unlike Bryan, who is like an inch taller than Renee. Cass said that years ago when he was in NXT, he was backstage at WrestleMania 30 and after it ended, he walked down the long hallway and he was walking behind Daniel Bryan, who won the WWE Title in the main event. Cass said he pointed out that Bryan was a pathetic little man and he was shocked that Bryan was WWE Champion. Cass said that Bryan’s victory was a fluke just like Bryan’s victory over Cass at Backlash. Cass claimed that Bryan packed a heck of a punch for a man with a petite, little stature. Cass said a good big man will always beat a good little man. A clip aired of last week’s Smackdown when Cass beat up Bryan after the triple threat they were in with Samoa Joe.
Cass took the microphone from Renee and she left. Cass said that Bryan brought that upon himself. Cass said that Bryan asked to get back into WWE and get back in the ring. Cass said Bryan didn’t know that he would have a 7 foot shadow following him. Cass claimed that Bryan hasn’t been in the ring with somebody as big as him (Big Show?), as smart as him and with somebody that holds a grudge like Cass. Cass said that’s why at Money in the Bank he’ll do everything he can to embarrass Bryan. Cass said he’s going to take Bryan’s scrawny little arms, rip them off his body and beat him over the head. Cass told Bryan to take his ball and go home. Cass told Bryan to go home to play a garden gnome on Total Bellas. Cass said that Bryan is going to come to the slow realization that a pathetic little man like him will never survive in this big man’s world. Cass held his hand up to end it.
Analysis: It was the same promo Cass has done for weeks about how a big guy can beat a little guy. I was bored of it then and bored by it again this week. Cass’ delivery is okay, but it’s not that interesting. I don’t think he comes across as a big star either. He’s just a tall guy. I was bored by most of this and thought it went on for too long.
BONUS Analysis: The above promo from Daniel Bryan wasn’t on Smackdown this week. It was only on Youtube, WWE.com and social media. It should have been on TV because it’s an awesome promo from Bryan showing a lot of intensity while ripping on Cass for his work ethic. Also, I think “Shinbone to the dome when yo mama ain’t home” is a creative line by Bryan.
Sin Cara was interviewed by Dasha Fuentes. Cara said that he’s known Andrade Almas since he was 14 years old and he considered him like a brother, but then something happened. Zelina Vega showed up to say that she is the best thing to happen to Almas. Vega said that Cara made Almas hide behind a mask. Vega taught him that he doesn’t have to hide or respect anybody especially Cara. Vega said that Almas had her request a match from Paige. That led to Almas attacking Cara from behind with a punch. Almas whipped Cara into a box that was backstage. Referees showed up to check on Cara, so Almas and Vega left.
Analysis: Nice cheap attack by Almas and Vega. I’m a fan of them as a heel act that can become big stars on Smackdown.
The New Day trio made their entrance with pancakes in their hands. There was a nice ovation for them as the show went to break. It is still not known what New Day member will be in the Money in the Bank ladder match.
The heel team made their entrance individually. Samoa Joe was first for his team. Rusev made his entrance alone. The Miz was up last for the team. Miz isn’t living in Hollywood, California as is announced because he moved to Austin, Texas, but it’s not like WWE is going to change the city where he’s announced from. Those are usually done to fit a character and often are just a work.
The New Day (Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods) vs. The Miz, Rusev and Samoa Joe
Woods started with Miz with a forearm to the face. Kingston tagged in with a running kick on Miz, Woods hit an elbow drop off the turnbuckle and Big E with a running splash for two. Joe tagged in for his team to face off with Big E with Big E hitting a belly to belly suplex. Woods tagged in, he was distracted by Miz, so Joe splashed Woods against the turnbuckle and Joe hit a leaping kick to the head on Woods as the show went to break.
The match returned with Woods as the face in peril while Miz grounded him with a headlock. Graves said his Money in the Bank pick is Braun Strowman or Samoa Joe. Same picks as me, but I’ll pick Joe if I must pick just one. Woods got back up, Miz with a knee to the ribs and Miz wanted a superplex, but Woods held on, Woods punched Miz down and Woods hit a missile dropkick on Miz. Joe tagged in, Rusev pulled Big E off the apron and whipped Big E into the steps. Woods with a knee and kick to the face of Joe. Kingston tagged in against Miz with a chop off the top rope. Kingston with a dropkick, Miz avoided a clothesline and Kingston nailed a sweet cross body block off the top for two. Kingston with a leaping clothesline followed by the boom drop leg drop. Joe on the apron, Kingston punched him down and Miz hit a DDT for two. Good nearfall even though Miz never wins with that move. Rusev tagged in, he went for a suplex, Kingston landed on his feet and Big E tagged in. Big E with an overhead belly to belly suplex on Rusev. Knee to the face by Rusev followed by a kick. Joe tagged with a uranage slam on Big E for two as Woods made the save. Woods pulled down the top rope to send Rusev out of the ring. Woods hit a somersault dive onto Rusev on the floor. Miz tagged back in, Big E sent Joe out of the ring and Kingston nailed a back first dive onto Joe on the floor. Big E with a Spear that took out Miz on the floor. Kingston got the tag, Joe pulled Woods down with the Coquina Clutch and Rusev hit Kingston with a Machka kick. Miz sent Big E shoulder first into the ring post. Miz told his partners to get in the ring with him. Miz got the tray of pancakes. Miz threw the pancakes and accidentally hit Rusev and Joe with them. Rusev nailed Miz with a Machka Kick while Joe hit Miz with a senton splash. Joe and Rusev left their partner alone. Miz was out in the ring. Big E got the tag from Kingston. Big E held up Miz and Kingston jumped off the top for the Midnight Hour double team move. Big E covered Miz for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The New Day
Analysis: ***1/2 That was a lot of fun with the teamwork of The New Day prevailing while the heel side fell apart due to Miz tossing the pancakes at his partners by mistake. Great work by six pros that know how to put on an entertaining tag match. Those dives by the New Day guys late in the match really got the crowd into it too. The crowd was into it earlier, but when Woods, Kingston and Big E hit those moves in succession that really got the fans into it. It helped take the match to the next level. I enjoyed this main event.
The New Day celebrated the win as Smackdown ended while the announcers wondered which New Day member will be in the Money in the Bank ladder match.
Analysis: I think it will be Big E. I would be surprised if it was Kingston or Woods. I think it’s Big E’s time to get a singles run.
Three Stars of the Show
1. The New Day
2. The Miz
3. (tie) Rusev
3. (tie) Samoa Joe
That’s six people. I can cheat sometimes.
7 out of 10
Last week: 8
2018 Average: 6.35
Last 5 Weeks: 8, 6, 7, 7, 6
2018 High: 8 (April 10, May 29)
2018 Low: 4.5 (January 2, January 9)
Smackdown gets a 7 out of 10 this week.
It was another very good episode of Smackdown this week thanks mainly to the in-ring action. I thought the main event was awesome, the two women’s matches were pretty good and even the mixed tag had some fun moments. Anderson over Harper was just a quick match.
The promos were fine although the Cass promo felt repetitive and Carmella’s bit dragged on a bit too much. I like that the contract signing was kept short rather than dragging it out for too long. The lack of Daniel Bryan hurt this week’s show a bit.
I think Smackdown has been consistently been better than Raw since the Superstar Shake-up. Last week’s show was the best one in a while and this week showed how consistently good Smackdown can be.
— 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), Samoa Joe (SD), One member of The New Day (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
Intercontinental Championship: Seth Rollins vs. Elias
Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass
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 that Hardy/Wyatt vs. Dallas/Axel will be added as well, but it’s not official yet.
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