Liam Hoofe reviews this week’s SmackDown…
Paige is out to open this week’s SmackDown. She says that Backlash was a huge success (not sure what show she was watching) and begins to build hype for Money in the Bank. She says tonight we will see three qualifying matches, two for the Men’s, and one for the Women’s, which is following the pattern set by Raw last night. She introduces the night’s first match- Jeff Hardy Vs The Miz.
Both of these men had very different nights on Sunday, The Miz took part in the match of the night against Seth Rollins, while Jeff took part in a fairly dull encounter with Randy Orton. This was one hell of an opening match-up, though, and it’s a shame Jeff can’t replicate his form on weekly television at the show’s big events. Both men are great in ladder matches, and it’s a shame we won’t get to see both of them in the Money in the Bank match. The match told a great story as well, with The Miz working on Jeff’s mid-section, which led to Jeff reversing the Swanton into a roll-up after Hardy had taken a little too long climbing up. (Rating: ****) This was an excellent way to open the night, and The Miz has to be considered one of the favourites to win the briefcase next month.
Shinsuke Nakamura is backstage doing his ‘No speak English’ routine. Naks has been golden as a heel, and despite the terrible finishes at The Greatest Royal Rumble and Backlash, his work still manages to keep me interested in this feud.
We see Carmella doing one of these new phone promos next. Carmella is at her irritating best here, celebrating like a child over the fact that she beat Charlotte Flair. She says that there will be a Mellabration next week in England.
— WWE (@WWE) May 9, 2018
Talking of Charlotte Flair, she is out next for her Money in the Bank qualifying match against Peyton Royce. The Iiconics do a little promo before the match, which is fun, and they taunt Flair about her defeat at Backlash. The action in the ring, though, was average at best. Flair picked up a victory with the figure 8, but this match could have been so much better had it been given a little more time and there was a little more to invest in. (Rating: ** 1/2) Flair being in the Money in the Bank match is a good move, as it adds some star-power to proceedings.
The New Day’s feud with The Bar takes centre stage next as Cesaro meets Xavier Woods. This was a really fun match, and these two teams should put on a great match when they meet to settle this feud. It’s easy to forget how good these guys are as single wrestlers, especially Cesaro, and if anything, the tag team shenanigans actually added to the fun of this match. Cesaro picked up the victory in the end, and his celebration with Sheamus on the ramp was hilarious. (Rating: ***)
Mandy Rose is out next. Looks like she may be going solo now that Absolution is finished, and she her character was different on this week’s show. Her opponent is Becky Lynch. The worst thing about this match, is that once Lynch came out, it was obvious she was going to lose. I seriously don’t get why the WWE is so insistent on making Becky Lynch look weak. Rose picked up the victory with a roll-up. The match was quick but it was fine, largely due to Lynch’s talent. (Rating: **)
The main event of the night and the final qualifying match of the week saw two of the brand’s most over superstars in the same ring- Daniel Bryan and Rusev. This was an excellent main event, and the crowd were red hot throughout, with duelling chants dominating the encounter. Their in-ring work was excellent as well, and Rusev picking up the win with a Machka kick was a pleasant surprise. Does the defeat harm Bryan? Not at all. They sold the fact that he was tired out really well, and Rusev getting a big win on SmackDown is never a bad thing. Both men looked great here, and it would be amazing, as unlikely as it is if Rusev could win the briefcase next month. (Rating: *** 3/4)
Overall, this was a really solid addition of SmackDown. The men’s qualifying matches were excellent, and while the women continue to be booked poorly on SmackDown, this was still an excellent episode of the show.
Photo credits: WWE