Written By: Mark Armstrong
(Read the original version on Pro Wrestling Journal at http://prowrestlingjournal.com/index.php/2018/05/30/wwe-smackdown-review-analysis-05-29-2018/.)
With an announced main event of Daniel Bryan vs. Samoa Joe for the last spot in the men’s Money In The Bank Ladder match, expectations were high going into this episode of SmackDown, as the very slow road to MITB rolled on.
Samoa Joe Promo
Samoa Joe came out and retrieved a ladder, climbing it and unhooking the men’s MITB briefcase. After confirming his intentions to win, he bad-mouthed Daniel Bryan’s wife and daughter, which of course brought out an angry Bryan. Before they could scrap, though, Big Cass care out on crutches to say that he, not Bryan, would face Joe when he was medically cleared from a knee injury (Bryan was replacing an injured Cass), and that he was now cleared. Cass then whacked Joe with one of the crutches, and threw Bryan into the aforementioned ladder.
Ahead of facing Tye Dillinger, Shinsuke Nakamura dropped numbered cards from 1 to 10 backstage, tearing the final card up. It’s not just because of Dillinger’s fascination with 10; it referred to Nakamura facing AJ Styles under Last Man Standing rules at Money In The Bank (in case you missed last week’s show).
Also, Paige told Mandy Rose that she would face Asuka later on, and she confirmed to Renee Young that it would now be Cass-Joe-Bryan in the main event.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Tye Dillinger
Given that Tye is nowhere near a title feud right now, the result of this match was never in doubt. It was still a fun bout though, with Shinsuke trying to count down Tye for ten multiple times; on one occasion, Dillinger got up and mimicked Shinsuke’s “COME ON!” taunt. This hardly helped Tye’s chances, and a Kinshasa claimed the win. Nakamura hit another Kinshasa afterwards, and successfully counted Tye down for ten, sending a message to AJ Styles.
Backstage, AJ Styles discussed how he has defeated larger opponents in underdog situations before, and vowed to defeat Shinsuke Nakamura at MITB.
Naomi vs. Lana
Who else had flashbacks to the Divas era for this? The Usos and Rusev Day accompanied the ladies, who showed off their dance moves and even worked together on one dance, only for Lana to drill Naomi with a neckbreaker. This of course led to a six-person brawl, with the babyfaces coming out on top. Methinks we get a match involving said six next week.
The New Day vs. The Miz & The Bar
Beforehand, we saw Miz swatting away pancakes being thrown by Sheamus and Cesaro to warm up for this match, which was a funny sight. New Day took turns in beating down Miz as the match began, though an undetected shot on Kofi Kingston by Miz allowed the heels to take control. It was then Kingston being isolated by Miz, Sheamus and Cesaro, with the threesome trying to stop a hot tag at all times. Ultimately, Kingston did finally manage to tag out to Xavier Woods, who unleashed aerial assaults onto all of New Day’s adversaries.
From there, we had some great near-falls, including a Big E uranage into a Woods backstabber on Cesaro. As Kofi leapt off the ropes onto the post and onto The Bar at ringside, Big E caught a running Miz and swung him into a Big Ending for the win. This was a great six-man match, and I’d be up for seeing a rematch. Post-match, each New Day member comically intimated that they would like to get the MITB spot which remains reserved for only one of them.
A backstage promo with Gallows and Anderson was interrupted on the, erm, small screen by their opponents at Money In The Bank, The Bludgeon Brothers. Watching this made me wonder: aside from the new team name, are Harper and Rowan really that different from when they were in The Wyatt Family?
Asuka vs. Mandy Rose
Carmella was a guest commentator for this match (incidentally, Mandy still has her entrance whereby everything bar her looks blurred). Sonya Deville attacked Asuka from behind as The Empress made her way to the ring, which only seemed to make her even more determined. With Asuka weakened, Rose fancied her chances, and contrary to expectations, she dominated the majority of the exchanges in this bout. Even when the momentum swung in Asuka’s favour, Rose surprisingly managed to hold her own. Asuka did seal the submission win with the Asuka Lock, and Carmella raised her SmackDown Women’s Championship in her face afterwards, but Mandy’s performance stood out much more than Asuka’s did here.
Backstage, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch debated who would win the women’s Money In The Bank Ladder match. Paige later made a match between the two for next week, along with Jimmy Uso and Naomi vs. Aiden English and Lana. Well, I was close.
Also, there was a minor confrontation between Andrade “Cien” Almas, Zelina Vega and Sin Cara, which presumably means we get Almas vs. Cara.
Money In The Bank Qualifying Match
Daniel Bryan vs. Samoa Joe vs. Big Cass
Both Bryan and Joe targeted Cass at the beginning, before they inevitably then battled each other. There was a nervy moment when Bryan slipped as he looked to execute his top rope backflip; thankfully, Joe ensured that Bryan didn’t hurt himself upon landing. Given Bryan’s long lay-off and the nature of that spot, it might be a good idea for Bryan to retire that particular move.
After a commercial break, Joe began to exert control by pounding both Cass and Bryan with his signature offence. In what was supposedly his first three-way match since WrestleMania XXX (not sure about that), Bryan was thrown across the announcers table by Cass, but it didn’t stop him returning to the ring, sending Cass to the floor and drilling Joe with a top rope hurricanrana and his corner dropkicks, before Cass cut his comeback off with a huge clothesline.
Another commercial followed, after which Joe and Cass would go back and forth on the offence. From there, the near-falls kicked in for all three, with Bryan in particular getting some close calls. In the end, Bryan nailed Cass with a Running Knee, but Joe pulled him away and locked him in the Coquita Clutch for the win by stoppage. Post-match, Cass hit Bryan with a Big Boot (meaning that Bryan vs. Cass 2 is likely for MITB).
I thought this was a good show. A fair few will be disappointed that we didn’t get the one-on-one encounter between Bryan and Joe (though I’m confident we’ll see it on PPV later this year), and I didn’t understand why Mandy Rose looked so strong against the once-invincible Asuka. Otherwise, though, there was plenty to like here, as SmackDown is slowly and quietly regaining its spot as WWE’s most enjoyable weekly show.