SETUP FOR CARMELLA VS ASUKA II…
Recap: After a brief opening segment where Paige recapped Sunday’s pay per view, Carmella came to the ring. She started the promo in the style of feel-good empowerment messages, stating that she grew up with self-confidence issues but overcame them with hard work to build the life she wanted. She said she had a message for all of the girls out there who lacked self-confidence. Her message was: “Mella is Money. Psyche!” She then hit her trademark laugh, finding it absurd that anyone could think she ever had self-confidence issues. She said she had been trash talking and moon walking since she was in diapers, and that her message to everyone else was to simply give up, because even if one were to work twice as hard, she would only be half as good as Carmella.
Asuka’s music hit and James Ellsworth made his way to the ring dressed in full Asuka gear. Once in the ring, Ellsworth removed the mask to reveal his identity to all, despite it being obvious. He announced that he’s back and is back to serve the greatest woman in the world, claiming that Carmella is better than everyone including Charlotte Flair, Lita, Trish Stratus, Mother Teresa, Beyoncé, Ronda Rousey and Asuka.
Asuka had heard enough and came to the ring. Ellsworth got between Asuka and Carmella before taking a kick from Asuka. Carmella used the distraction to hit Asuka with a kick to the head before grabbing Ellsworth and leaving the ring.
Evaluation: I’m like a broken record, but Carmella’s promos really stand out as excellent in 2018 WWE where promos often seem so fake. Carmella seems to truly relish playing her character and makes the persona entirely believable.
I loved Carmella making a mockery of all the empowerment narratives that are so overdone on all of television nowadays.
Carmella has gotten better since Ellsworth was last around. She certainly doesn’t “need” him as part of her act, however he likely will be a nice addition.
Asuka did here what Asuka does best: act tough and kick butt. Carmella got the best of her in the end, but it was clearly only due to Ellsworth interference. Ellsworth’s interference a second time helps build the anticipation of Asuka’s revenge at Extreme Rules.
Forecast: The plan here seems to be a rematch at Extreme Rules. Since Carmella won via chicanery on Sunday, at Extreme Rules I would expect Asuka to overcome Ellsworth interference to take the title.
SETUP FOR MIZ VS BRYAN…
Recap: In a backstage segment, Renee Young interviewed Daniel Bryan. She asked him how he would survive being the first of five entrants in a gauntlet match to determine the Number One Contender for the WWE Title. Bryan said he wouldn’t survive, he’d win. Byran claimed that in the gauntlet he’d beat three of the best Superstars in WWE: Big E, Samoa Joe, and Rusev. Renee asked, “What about Miz?” Bryan said he was listing three of “the best” Superstars, a clear dig at Miz.
The gauntlet began after a match between the Bludgeon Brothers and the Good Brothers. The Bludgeon Brothers stared down Bryan on the ram as he made his way to begin the gauntlet.
After defeating Big E in a long match to start the gauntlet, Bryan faced Samoa Joe. Joe dominated a tired Bryan early. Eventually, the fight made it outside of the ring. Joe hit the Coquina Clutch as the referee counted. Just before the 10-count, Bryan flipped off of the barricade to escape, making it into the ring before the count. Joe could not move as quickly and was counted out.
After defeating Joe, the Bludgeon Brothers entered the ring and powerbombed Bryan. Miz then ran down and hit a Skull Crushing Finale to eliminate Bryan.
Evaluation: I liked the fact that the backstage promo reminded us of the prior heat between Miz and Bryan. Having Miz spoil Bryan’s long run in the gauntlet was a good way to set up their feud.
Using the Bludgeon Brothers worked in terms of tainting Miz’s victory, causing fans to root for Bryan to get a fair shake next time.
Forecast: With Big Cass gone, it appears we will finally get the long-anticipated Bryan-Miz feud. It will be interesting to see if the Bludgeon Brothers are a factor in the feud in some way.
RUSEV IS NUMBER ONE CONTENDER…
Recap: After Miz’s elimination of Daniel Bryan, Rusev entered the gauntlet as the final competitor. Rusev won with the Accolade.
After the match, AJ Styles came to the ring and shook hands with Rusev. Aiden English entered the ring, and also acted as if he wanted to shake AJ’s hand. Aiden pulled his hand at the last moment, however. An angry AJ then attacked English before leaving the ring.
Evaluation: In a shocking turn of events, it appears that WWE is actually giving the fans something they have organically rooted for. I don’t think many people would’ve pegged Rusev to win this match.
Forecast: I don’t expect Rusev to win the WWE Title. I am interested to see where Aiden English goes. It had previously been teased that Rusev and Lana would break away from English as heels. But after tonight, it seems like WWE is listening to the huge pops for Rusev and Lana, and have English play the heel in the breakup.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – SMACKDOWN 6/12: Women’s Summit, Bryan Looks Intense, A New Low for Pancake Jokes