Will Otis make it to Money In The Bank?

The show opens with Corey Graves and Michael Cole going over tonight’s Money in the Bank qualifying matches, before announcing a new Firefly Fun House segment for later.

Can I Take The Elevator…?

Daniel Bryan faces one of his opponents for Money in the Bank, King Corbin, next. He cuts a promo in the ring about his excitement for the most unique MITB match in WWE history. He seemingly confirms that both MITB matches will occur at the exact same time, with both the women and the men. He states that he doesn’t yet know the rules, “Can I take the elevator all the way to the roof? Is there going to be catering?” He says he’s most excited about the opportunity, talking about his past before he won the MITB match which led to his first world championship win. Bryan wants to face Corbin due to his win over Gulak to qualify, thanks to the help of Nakamura and Cesaro.

Corbin comes out to his music with a mic in hand, he plays a recap of his win last week. Corbin states that he’ll stand tall at MITB as King Money In The Bank. Bryan brings up the last time Corbin won MITB, in which he squandered his opportunity to cash in and become a champion, “that doesn’t make you a king man, that makes you a loser.” Corbin calls Bryan tired and desperate, referring to himself as stronger and smarter.

When the show returns, Corbin versus Bryan commences. Corbin gets Bryan in the corner and delivers multiple blows before being told to back off by the referee, leading to Bryan returning the favour and taking Corbin down. Corbin manages to get up and tackle Bryan to the ground, though Bryan gets back up and focuses on the leg on Corbin, taking him down multiple times and delivering stiff kicks to the back of the knee.

Bryan puts on a Knee Bar, but Corbin gets to the ropes. The match resets with some grappling in the ring, with both swapping holds on the mat. Bryan continues to work on the leg of the King, but Corbin turns it around and delivers some right hands to Bryan’s face. Corbin trash talks, calling Bryan a disappointment and washed-up. Bryan starts to come back, striking him in the corner before Corbin fights back.

Corbin knocks Bryan out of the ring with a right hand, throwing him straight into a ring post before a break. The show returns with Corbin in control in the ring. He holds onto control until Bryan gets a Crucifix Pin attempt, leading to a second roll-up. Corbin slides out of the ring and back in, delivering a Clothesline, for a cover of two. The pair trade blows, but Corbin stays on top; his offence comes to an end when Bryan delivers a dive to the outside. Bryan hits a Missile Dropkick from the top rope, then going back to delivering kicks to the legs, before placing Corbin in an Ankle Lock and stomping on his ankle. Bryan goes for three covers in a row after a kick to the head, however, Corbin keeps kicking out.

Bryan is in control until Corbin hits a Deep-Six, leading to a near fall. Bryan launches himself outside the ring, is caught by Corbin, though he escapes and delivers a devastating kick to the face. Corbin stumbles to a nearby ladder and throws it at Bryan, leading to a DQ win.

Daniel Bryan defeats King Corbin via Disqualification – Grade: B

Corbin shows his frustration at the referee’s decision and angrily confronts him. He slides the ladder into the ring along with Bryan, blaming the official for what he’s about to do. He attempts an End of Days on the ladder but Bryan escapes, wrestling Corbin down into the Yes Lock on the ladder.

Nakamura runs in and delivers a knee to the back of the head, as Cesaro checks on Corbin. Cesaro then picks up the ladder and charges at Bryan, knocking him out of the ring. Corbin drags Bryan up to the top of the stage and throws him directly into the ladders on the side, as the heels stand tall to end the opening segment.

Time For A Story!

Strowman and Alexa Bliss are shown backstage ahead of Strowman’s entrance to the ring. He cuts a promo on Wyatt, which is swiftly cut off by the Firefly Fun House. Wyatt says it’s storytime, this time it’s about “The Black Sheep”, referring to Braun’s time in the Wyatt Family; Wyatt refers to himself as the Shepherd in this story.

The promo gets more intense after the story ends, with Wyatt talking about taking the Black Sheep straight to the slaughterhouse before Braun cuts him off. Strowman tells Wyatt that if he has something to say, come down to the ring and say it to his face, but Wyatt waves at him and says bye as the segment ends.

Grade: B

Short and sweet, I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen next week in the lead up to their match, and I hope the match itself is a fun one.

So. Will. I.

Sheamus is out next to square off in yet another squash match. He stares down Cole as he makes his entry, due to previous weeks’ events. Leon Ruff is this week’s victim. Ruff starts off with some Dropkicks which are swatted aside by Sheamus. The Celtic Warrior no-sells Ruff’s offence, before performing a Backbreaker, staring down Cole and performing two more Backbreakers.

He throws Ruff outside the ring, but pulls him back on the apron and hammers his chest ten times. The match ends with a Brogue Kick for the dominant Sheamus victory.

Sheamus defeats Leon Fuff via Pinfall – Grade: C

Sheamus really needs to sink his teeth into something new, and hopefully, that’ll happen soon with Hardy returning next week. Sheamus walks over to commentary and confronts Cole again, asking if he’s going to talk about his “best friend” Jeff Hardy again. Sheamus prompts them to show “The Comeback” of Jeff Hardy, which is chapter four of the recent Hardy documentary.

The documentary plays out and discusses the moment when he was injured after the Hardy Boyz won the tag titles after Wrestlemania last year. It follows on nine months later during his return to the ring and references to his recent issues behind the scenes. Cole confirms that Jeff Hardy will return to SmackDown next week. Sheamus is still at commentary, stating, “So Jeff Hardy will be here next… good, so will I”, before walking away.

Kayla Braxton is backstage in an interview with Otis and Mandy Rose, discussing their MITB qualifying matches, against Ziggler and Carmella respectively.

Sonya Gets The Upper Hand!

Carmella is out first in her match against Mandy Rose to decide the final contender in the MITB ladder match. Mandy grounds Carmella, but the two swap positions before Mandy performs a kip-up to escape the hold. Carmella performs a Snapmare Takedown, then evades Mandy who swipes at her feet. She moonwalks away as the match resets; the two show off their athleticism, but Mandy is met with a Superkick by Carmella for a cover.
Mandy gets some control back, getting a cover and holding Carmella in a Chin Lock before Sonya’s music plays. Sonya stands at the top of the ramp, cutting a promo as the two fight in the ring. She attempts to distract Mandy, who still manages to perform a Backbreaker and get a cover on Carmella. Carmella gets a slight comeback, but Mandy manages to knock her down with a right hand. Sonya begins to shout on the mic, provoking Mandy, who gets distracted and is hit with a Superkick by Carmella who gets the win.

Carmella defeats Mandy Rose via Pinfall – Grade: B-

After Carmella leaves the ring, Sonya runs in and attacks Mandy, shouting, “you will never be better than me, I am going to ruin every ounce of this pretty face.” She throws her outside the ring, into the ring post, then the steel stairs. Sonya then hits a running knee strike to the back of Mandy, with Mandy colliding into the steel stairs again. Sonya is forced to leave by the referees and security outside the ring; Mandy is shown on the ground being talked to, while Sonya attempts to run back, but is held by the referee while she maniacally shouts, “I will end you, Mandy… I will ruin your life, do you understand me?”

I was a big fan of Sonya here; she works well in this newfound slightly maniacal role, and she’s irritating, but in the right way. I’m excited for a blow-off match between the two which hopefully elevates both Sonya and Mandy.

A backstage segment is shown after the break where Mandy is shown getting treatment as Otis checks on her. As Otis walks away, Ziggler walks up to him backstage and asks if Mandy is okay, Otis stares back angrily and breathes heavily without answering.

Forgotten No More!

The New Day are out now to face The Forgotten Sons, SmackDown’s newest trio from NXT, hopefully, they are used better than Sanity was. A highlight is shown regarding last week’s events in the tag team scene. The Miz & John Morrison make an entrance despite not being involved in this match. They make their way to commentary and take a seat with headsets on. Big E and Steve Cutler start off in the ring as both Miz and Morrison are on commentary. The two grapple in the ring with Big E eventually gaining the upper hand and tagging in Kofi.

The focus here is heavily on commentary, as Cole brings up both the Miz & Morrison’s title loss and their loss last week to the Lucha House Party; they make multiple Tiger King references too. Wesley Blake is now in the ring with Kofi, but the champs stay in control with Kofi pummelling Blake in the corner. Blake slams Kofi back on the mat and tags in Cutler who takes advantage of a downed Kingston. Blake and Cutler tag again, performing a double team move that ends with Kofi escaping, diverting Cutler into diving outside the ring and getting to Big E, who hits multiple Belly to Belly’s on Blake.
Big E hits a Splash on the apron is the match goes to a break.

SmackDown’s return sees Big E and Kofi performing a double team move on Cutler for a cover. The Miz states that The New Day don’t look or act like champions, they instead, “act like a bunch of cartoons.” Cutler and Big E walk around the ring, with Cutler quickly getting back in and tagging Blake. Big E takes down Blake but is pushed to the outside by Cutler, followed by a dive from Blake.

The Sons perform a double-team slam which leads to a near fall on Big E. Blake and Cutler continue to control the match as Miz & Morrison argue with Cole who asks Morrison how he feels, having defended the title alone at Mania only to lose it when The Miz lost in a triple threat two weeks ago. Blake isolates Big E in the corner until E hits a Uranage. Kofi and Cutler are now legal in the match, with Kofi being the hit tag and running wild in the Sons. After a short distraction by Blake, Cutler gets Kofi up and hits a Backbreaker for a two-count. Kofi attempts a move from the top rope, missing but eventually hitting a Double Foot Stomp anyway for a two-count.

Blake tags in and the two hit a devastating looking Backstabber/Elbow Drop combination for a near fall, which Morrison refers to as a lucky kick out on commentary. Kofi manages to escape their next joint move, knocking both out of the ring, with Big E finally getting back in after a tag and launching Kofi onto the Sons on the outside.

The New Day go for their finisher, though Cutler saves Blake. Big E takes out Blake, followed by Cutler taking Kofi off his feet on the top rope. Big E dumps Cutler to the outside and goes for his Running Spear, missing and landing on the ground. He is grabbed by Jason Ryker, who has been watching at ringside, who drives Big E into the post. The two other Forgotten Sons’ members hit multiple tag team moves, including their finisher, to get the pinfall victory over The New Day.

The Forgotten Sons defeat The New Day via Pinfall – Grade: B+

The Forgotten Sons have beaten the tag team champions, as Miz & Morrison mock the champions on commentary. As the segment fades to black, Ryker seems to indicate to Miz & Morrison that they want to break them, but the show goes to a break before anything can develop there.

I went into this match believing an interference by Miz & Morrison would end it without a conclusive winner. I was wrong. I’m enjoying the Sons and I can see them taking the titles from The New Day. The tag division really needed an injection of life, especially with The Revival gone, and I think one of NXT’s more under-utilised teams was the correct way to go. I enjoyed them during the NXT Takeover Ladder Match and it’s nice to see they haven’t been “forgotten” any more. New Day losing is a shock, but it does a lot more for the Sons who really needed a win against some top opposition; let’s not make the same mistake as Sanity with these guys.

Cole and Graves confirm what we learned earlier in the night, that both MITB matches will occur at the same time. Shots of the roof of the building are shown, with both briefcases shown hanging above a ring.

All Aboard The Tamina Train!

A recap of the Lacey Evans/Sasha Banks/Tamina/Bayley feud is shown, before Kayla interviews Tamina backstage. They discuss Tamina’s match with Bayley coming up at MITB before Sasha Banks walks up. Instead of acting heelish, Sasha seems rather calm and sympathetic here, talking about her debut with Tamina by her side.

She says that she knows she has a match against Bayley, and despite the fact that she loves her, “you also know that me and you can carry ourselves as strong, proud, kick-ass women I know that we are, instead of resulting to name-calling and cheap shots”… But it’s all a ruse! Tamina quickly turns around and grabs Bayley who had snuck up on her, before Sasha hits her from behind and the two beat her down. They throw Tamina into the backstage containers before Lacey joins in, followed by referees and security who attempt to separate the four of them.

Grade: B-

A nice backstage segment which will lead into next week, as we find out a little later on. I initially thought that this would be Sasha showing a slight face turn, but clearly, WWE are waiting a little longer to fully pull the trigger on this Sasha Banks & Bayley feud.

Ziggler and Sonya are shown backstage, still working together, with Sonya stating that she’s gonna keep hurting Mandy while Ziggler hurts Otis. “They cheer on Otis because they can see themselves in him… they think they’re witnessing greatness, you and I both know guys like that don’t ever really win,” Dolph states. He is sure that he’s going to win tonight, then he’s going to win, again, at MITB, and he’s going to cash in and become champion… again.

Do It For Her!

Main event time as Otis makes his way to the ring ahead of his MITB qualifying match against Dolph Ziggler. Graves and Cole announced a six-man tag match for next week, pitting Corbin, Cesaro and Nakamura against Bryan, Gulak and a mystery partner. They also announce Tamina & Lacey Evans vs Sasha Banks & Bayley, while Braun and Wyatt will have a face to face ahead of MITB.

Ziggler finally makes his entrance. As the bell rings, Otis immediately bulldozes Ziggler, forcing him to roll out of the ring. Ziggler attempts to takedown Otis but is thrown across the ring. Otis holds Ziggler up in a Vertical Suplex position for around 5 seconds before slamming him to the mat, getting a cover of two. Commentary actually focuses on Otis’ wrestling accomplishments before he made his way to WWE. Otis continues his dominance by catapulting Ziggler into the middle turnbuckle.

Ziggler finally gets some offence in when Otis charges straight into the ring post, followed by Ziggler throwing him into the crowd barricade. After the break, Ziggler maintains his momentum, dragging Otis’ head across the top rope. Ziggler knocks him down with multiple Dropkicks before using the ropes to put pressure on his neck with his boots.

Ziggler grounds Otis and places him in a headlock, which he manages to escape from. Ziggler grasps on a Sleeper Hold but Otis throws him off and starts to fire up. He takes down Ziggler multiple times with some forearms, Ziggler attempts to fight back but to no avail. Otis attempts the Caterpillar, with Ziggler rolling out of harm’s way. He attempts the Famouser but is caught on the shoulders of Otis: Dolph escapes by raking the face of Otis before hitting the Zig-Zag… but only for a two-count.

Ziggler sets up for the Superkick but is caught by Otis who throws him over his shoulders and goes for the Caterpillar, earning him the win and a place in the MITB ladder match.

Otis defeats Dolph Ziggler via Pinfall – Grade: B+

I expected Ziggler to win this, not just to continue the feud, but to add another heel to a match that currently has only one (maybe two after Apollo’s removal). However, I’m very glad Otis won, he deserves the push he’s received and hopefully this elevates him even further up the card.

Overall Grade: B

A decent SmackDown this week, with a feel-good win to cap it off and a lot of setup for Money In The Bank. I’m looking forward to the event itself next week and I’ll be looking forward to Raw to see who will take Crews’ spot in the match.

By Jimmy Ioannou

Images provided by WWE.com

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