SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
MIZ QUALIFIES FOR MONEY IN THE BANK…
Recap: The show opened with Paige in the ring hyping the success of Backlash. She recapped the show and then immediately announced the beginning of a Money in the Bank Qualifying match between Jeff Hardy and the Miz.
During the match, the announcers continually put over Miz very strongly. Referring to Backlash, Corey Graves even said that Miz was a rare superstar to lose a title match and still come out better for it on the other side.
At the end of a well-fought match that went over twenty minutes, the Miz won by reversing a Jeff Hardy cover into a cover of his own following a Swonton Bomb.
Evaluation: The Miz tends to elicit very polarizing opinions from wrestling fans. Typically, you’re either a Miz guy or you aren’t. While it’s absolutely true that Seth Rollins had a lot to do with Sunday’s performance, between Sunday and tonight even the Miz’s strongest doubters should at least give him some credit.
The crowd booed Paige’s touting of Backlash as a “success”, to a slightly surprised look from Paige.
Forecast: The clean win combined with the announcers strongly putting him over would seem to indicate that WWE has substantial plans for Miz going forward. I would definitely consider winning the briefcase a possibility. Even absent a briefcase win, the Miz’s recent performances should enhance his feud with Daniel Bryan when it finally begins.
RUSEV QUALIFIES FOR MONEY IN THE BANK…
Recap: In the main event between Daniel Bryan and Rusev, Rusev was announced into the ring by a rapping Aiden English. English went out of his way to insult the local sports teams, acting more heelish than normal.
During the match itself, there were dueling Rusev Day and Daniel Bryan chants.
Bryan sold his ribs throughout the match. Rusev picked up the victory with a knee to Bryan’s ribs followed by a Matchka kick. After the match, the camera lingered on Daniel Bryan in the ring, looking very disappointed.
Evaluation: I see both positives and negatives here.
On the positive side, Rusev gaining a clean victory over Daniel Bryan is a big step for a guy that has gotten way over with the fans.
On the negative side, English’s intro tonight combined with last week’s segment with Lana very much hint that Rusev will be remaining heel despite the overwhelmingly positive fan reaction.
Also on the negative side, Daniel Bryan took a clean loss. While Bryan did get a convincing win on Sunday, having to feud with Big Cass at all was a step down for him. Having his first feud be against Cass followed by a clean loss to Rusev doesn’t foretell big plans for him in the near future.
Forecast: With Miz qualifying for Money in the Bank and Daniel Bryan not qualifying, it seems their impending feud will be put off again, at least until after the Money in the Bank pay per view. Cass didn’t appear at all tonight, but based on his attack on Bryan after the match on Sunday, it would seem to be a good bet that the Bryan-Cass feud will unfortunately continue through the pay per view. Hopefully after MITB Miz will be freed up for a much more interesting feud for Bryan.
ONLY INTERVIEWS FOR AJ AND SHINSUKE…
Recap: In a backstage interview, Shinsuke Nakamura again told Renee that he did not speak English. When she questioned his prior use of English, he indicated that he knew English at one point, but had forgotten. When Renee asked for any comment to AJ Styles, Nakamura said that he and AJ are both nuts, and they’re not finished.
In a later backstage interview, AJ told Renee that he didn’t like stooping to Shinsuke’s level on Sunday, but that he’d do it if necessary for the title.
We didn’t see either wrestler after the two interview segments. In both segments, Renee did indicate that neither were cleared to compete tonight.
Evaluation: Yet again, Shinsuke’s promo was good while AJ’s seemed a little cranky. The fans had a strong positive reaction to Shinsuke’s cocky sarcasm with Renee.
Forecast: This feud seems really tired from all of the bad finishes, despite the fans having much such positive reactions to Shinsuke’s new persona. There will obviously be a rematch at Money in the Bank, likely a Last Man Standing Match or some other “extreme” stipulation. Between this feud being kind of a dud and the positive fan reaction for Shinsuke, I would at least slightly worry that the crowd could be behind Shinsuke at the next PPV.
Corey Graves: “You put too much faith in social media. I put cool stuff on social media all the time; it doesn’t mean I live by any of it….”
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – SMACKDOWN 5/1: Joe Freshens Things Up, Paint by Numbers for the US Title, Cass Continues His Obsession with Height