SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
SAMOA JOE QUALIFIES FOR MONEY IN THE BANK…
Recap: The show began with Samoa Joe entering the ring. He recounted the biblical story of Jacob’s Ladder, then stated that unlike in the Bible there would be no angels at Money in the Bank. He promised to win the contract and unleash a campaign of anxiety and fear on SmackDown and its champion that would shake the roster to its core. He then addressed Daniel Bryan, stating that there are things far worse than forced retirement. He instructed Bryan, if his tree-hugging instincts would allow it, to phone Brie Bella and tell his daughter that he would not return home the same man.
Bryan then appeared, telling Joe he crossed a line by mentioning his wife and daughter. He threatened to break Joe’s leg. Bryan then indicated that their match should start immediately.
Big Cass then came down the ramp in a suit on a crutch. He referred to Bryan and Joe’s antics as juvenile before calling them “the shrimp and the blimp.” He claimed the MITB opportunity should belong to him, not Bryan. Cass stated he had spoken to General Manager Paige, and that the Joe-Bryan match was canceled, to be replaced by a Joe-Cass match for the final MITB slot. Cass said the match would take place when Cass is cleared. Cass then surprise attacked Joe with the crutch, stating he was already cleared. Cass proceeded to take out Joe and Bryan with the briefcase.
Later backstage, Renee asked Paige if Daniel Bryan had really lost his chance to qualify for MITB. She expressed disapproval at Joe and Cass’ tactics, while appreciating their intensity. She said the only fair thing to do was to make the qualifying match a Triple Threat.
In the main event, Joe pulled Bryan off of a pin attempt on Cass, putting him into the Coquina Clutch. This led to Bryan passing out, giving Joe the victory. After the match, Cass hit Bryan with a Big Boot.
Evaluation: Joe’s opening promo was great as usual. Unlike most of WWE television, Joe’s promos sound believable and less like corporate-speak. In some ways they remind me of the best promos from the Crockett era.
It’s probably a good thing to not have Daniel Bryan in a ladder match after his history of head and neck injuries. He doesn’t need a ladder match to get over at this point.
Forecast: Since Joe is headed to the MITB match, it would appear Bryan will have a match with Cass at the pay per view. Hopefully it will be the final match of their feud so that Bryan can move onto the Miz or some other more interesting feud.
LANA LOOKS HEELISH AGAIN…
Recap: Lana and Naomi were scheduled for a dance-off tonight. After each took their turn, Lana extended a hand to Naomi. They shook hands and danced together for a while, however when Naomi’s guard was down Lana hit her with a cutter.
Rusev and Aiden English pulled Lana off of Naomi, but Lana slipped away and slapped Jimmy Uso. Naomi then slapped Lana. The Usos then hit Rusev Day with superkicks, followed by a Rear View from Naomi to Lana.
Evaluation: Last week it seemed like Lana may be a face going forward, but after tonight’s heelish sneak attack that seems doubtful. Rusev and English played faces in the segment, but my guess would be that heel Lana will slowly corrupt Rusev into turning on English.
The whole thing is somewhat bizarre, as Rusev Day was never really turned face despite being made faces by the crowd. WWE appears to be finally accepting that the crowd turned Rusev Day face, only to immediately write in a heel turn. It’s almost like the fans are being punished for liking someone they’re not supposed to like.
Forecast: Lana will be the Yoko Ono of Rusev Day, whispering in Rusev’s ear until he turns on English.
DISSENSION BETWEEN CHARLOTTE AND BECKY…
Recap: Charlotte and Becky watched the Mandy Rose-Asuka match from backstage. After assuming Asuka would win the title at the pay per view, Charlotte gazed into the camera as if she could see her own future and said she would win MITB. Becky disagreed, reminding Charlotte how close she had come to winning MITB last year. There was tension between the two. Paige was creeping around in the back of the camera shot.
Becky said she’d be “making like Han and flying solo” in the ladder match. Paige then came into the conversation, stating she hoped one of them would bring the briefcase to SmackDown. Paige then reminded them of Team PCB, and made the “tea time” hand signal before leaving.
Becky vs Charlotte was announced for next week.
Evaluation: This segment made total sense and helped to build tension for the match. The only odd part was Paige’s contribution. I couldn’t figure out where they were going with Paige’s tea time reference.
Forecast: It’s possible that this interaction was designed as the first stage of a heel turn for Charlotte. If that’s the case, it would be welcome.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – SMACKDOWN 5/22: New Day Play Coy, Last Man Standing, Bryan Earns His MITB Slot