This week's episode of SmackDown aired on the USA Network on May 26, 2016, originating from Norfolk, Virginia. The WWE is building towards the WWE Money in the Bank pay-per-view (PPV). For full results and the live blog, click here.
Dinero en el Banco
The show kicks off with Michael Cole in the ring with the Money in the Bank briefcase on a podium. He told the crowd about how many WWE Superstars qualified to be in the match on RAW, one of whom was his guest, Dean Ambrose. Small tip, Mauro, this is NOT Ambrose's first MITB match, mmkay?
Ambrose spoke about his Asylum cage match against Jericho. Dangerous is the environment Ambrose thrives in. When things get dangerous, Ambrose is only getting started. Cole went on to ask Ambrose what he is willing to do to win the contact for a WWE WHC match whenever he wants.
Before Ambrose could answer, Kevin Owens, who actually will be in the match for the first time, interrupted. KO went on in Cole and threatened him to get out the ring before he entered. Of course, Cole immediately ran for the hills. KO got into the ring and told Ambrose that he will win the MITB contact, just like he should have won the IC Ladder match at WrestleMania.
Sami Zayn came out and interrupted Owens, egging him on and saying that he does not care what KO has to say. Ambrose agreed. Owens called Zayn a joke. Zayn went on to say that becoming Mr. MITB is his focus and neither Ambrose or Owens will stand in his way.
Then Alberto Del Rio came out and things began to feel a little like RAW. Anyway, ADR said that he has won the contract before, unlike the other three. As Zayn reminded Del Rio that he had to beat Zack Ryder later in the night to qualify in the match, KO attacked Zayn from behind then went after Ambrose. KO took a powder while Zayn and Ambrose had a stare down after almost eating the other's finisher.
After the commercial break, Del Rio's scheduled qualifying MITB match against Ryder started. Before the match, an inset video of Ryder talking about his Intercontinental Championship win at WrestleMania 32. Ryder is eager to prove his win was not a fluke and saying he belongs in the WWE.
Ryder brought the fight to Del Rio early as Del Rio attempted to dominate the pace of the match in his usual vicious style. Ryder did not retreat and instead was able to counter Del Rio's strategy, taking him out with a neckbreaker to the floor outside of the ring.
Back from another commercial break, Del Rio has reversed the Ryder's flurry of offense. A replay is shown of Del Rio stomping Ryder from the barrier. Del Rio got a near fall from his side kick to the face (the kick that won him a championship and beat John Cena). Del Rio calls for the armbar but Ryder reversed the momentum and hits the Broski Boot for a near fall.
After a little back and forth, Del Rio caught Ryder with a vicious kidney kick in the corner. He went for his corner stomp but Ryder got out of it and was able to hit a Ruff Ryder. Del Rio wisely rolled out of the ring. By the time Ryder got Del Rio back into the ring, Del Rio recovered enough to hook in a cross armbar for the submission win.
Alberto Del Rio joined Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Dean Ambrose, Cesaro, and Chris Jericho as a participant in the Money in the Bank ladder match. Only one spot is up for grabs.
Welcome Back, I guess?
The former WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Seth Rollins, made his return to the blue brand after being out for seven months with a knee injury. Rollins soaked up the love from the crowd during his entrance, a big smile on his face. He declared that he was back and said he wanted to cap off the best week of his life to come to SmackDown.
Rollins claimed that he was surprised that fans were happy to see him on Monday. Then he riled the crowd up, asking if they missed him, which they responded positively to, even breaking out a "Yes!" chant.
Rollins laughed and said, "Well, I wish I could say the same to you."
Then dropped the microphone and left.
Honestly, I am not one of these fans Rollins is referring to. Yes, I did criticize him all the time last year. I became increasingly disappointed with his in-ring promos and matches from February 2015 until the time of his injury in November. I was not anxious for his return. I was dreading it. Mostly because I felt his character took a turn for the worse after winning the championship and I do not wish to see him portrayed the way he was last year. It was painful for me to watch and, oftentimes, I did not watch him.
Yet I am a fan of this man and I am a big believer in constantly reevaluating my opinion on the entertainment value of a certain wrestler. Seth and I are in a rebuilding stage. It is great to see him back and I am eager to give him this second chance.
Win Like an A-lister
A very well done video package of the Miz and Cesaro's feud was shown earlier in the show to hype their main event match of the Intercontinental Championship. Cesaro made his entrance first, doing his whole James Bond suit tear-away gimmick that came straight from my dreams. The Champion was next, red carpet and all, with his wife, Maryse. Eden Stiles made her last TV match announcement for this title match. Somebody remember that for trivia's sake.
Cesaro started off by slapping the taste out of the Miz's mouth then taking him out with a rolling canon ball from the apron. Miz got the advantage by focusing on Cesaro's taped shoulder, which is still not fully healed. Whenever Cesaro would try to use his strength, Miz would go after his injury. His plan worked well enough that Cesaro showed some using uppercuts with the other arm.
I have always enjoyed the chemistry between the Miz. Cesaro has a way of making Miz seem like a threat to him while clearing showing he is so much better at wrestling. Miz became frustrated and went to expose a turnbuckle. As the referee admonished him, Maryse removed the cover. While Cesaro fought back against the Miz, the referee was busy covering the turnbuckle again. This caused him to be late on a roll up by Cesaro that could have won him the match.
After a few reversals, the Miz found himself in the Sharpshooter but he found refuge with a rope break. Miz takes a powder out of the ring and tries to leave with his wife and the title but Cesaro catches him with a running uppercut. He hits a crossbody from the top rope for a two count. Miz sends Cesaro into the exposed turnbuckle shoulder first then immediately hits the Skull Crushing Finale for a pin fall victory.
After the match, the Miz celebrated on the ramp with Maryse, holding his championship high.
- Enzo and Big Cass/Dudley Boys: Enzo and Big Cass battled the Dudley Boys on the microphone, setting up a match between the two teams on RAW. I liked the wordplay by Enzo when he talked smack to the Dudleys. I feel like this segment was mostly about hearing Enzo speak than anything else and I don't have a problem with that.
- Rusev and Lana backstage promo: The new United States Champion promised that he would squash the little mosquito Kalisto and, after tonight, he will not have to deal with him.
- United States Championship-Rusev (c) versus Kalisto: Rusev continued his gimmick of insisting that he be announced first for his title defenses. Also, hi, Eden! Anyhow, Kalisto came out with his flippy moves and Rusev quickly swatted him down like an insect, taking the wind out him. Rusev threw Kalisto around while Lana watched him admiringly. Kalisto tried. He really did. He even bodyslammed the Bulgarian Brute and got a few near falls. His offensive sequence near the end of the match was great. But in the end, it was not enough to win the title again. Maybe next time, buddy. Rusev won the match with an Accolade. After the match, Rusev went to attack Kalisto and Titus O'Neil made his SmackDown return to confront Rusev to chants of "USA! USA!" but Rusev left the ring, along with Lana, saying, "I'm the champion!" among other things I did not understand.
- Charlotte video package: Not to air personal laundry, but I feel Charlotte. Been through something similar and there is no way in the World I am going to say what she did is wrong. It makes me get behind her more than I already was. So, good job, WWE. I'll probably never boo Charlotte ever again.
- Natalya versus Dana Brooke: The WWE Women's Champion was on commentary for the match. It was a quick affair as Charlotte attacked Nattie while she had the Sharpshooter on Dana. Nattie won the match by disqualification. Natalya gets the upper hand for a while but Charlotte and Dana soon get the advantage and beat Nattie down. Seems like the Nature Girl is more vicious and evil than ever. I can dig it.
- AJ Styles interview: After his
burial byloss to Roman Reigns at Extreme Rules and failing to qualify for the Money in the Bank ladder match, the Phenomenal One is not sure of what to do next. He will have to come up with something. Interesting . . . .
- Golden Truth versus BreezeDango: Now that Golden Truth have finally agreed to be a team, they have problems gelling as a team in the ring. Breeze lands a Supermodel Kick to R-Truth behind the referee's back and Fandango picks up the pin fall victory.
- Golden Truth/BreezeDango backstage segment: It amazes me how much TV time this angle continues to receive.
Final Opinions and Thoughts:
The first confrontation between MITB ladder match participants went down on this show. As was the case with the last WWE ladder match, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn play major roles in building towards the show. Del Rio's inclusion in the match is welcomed by me as I enjoy wrestlers with all different styles in matches like this. Although I am not thrilled with Charlotte/Natalya continuing, I am very interested in seeing how much further into the darkside the Champ goes.
The main event was great. But I have enjoyed most/all Miz-Cesaro matches since their feud over the United States Championship a few years ago. If you do not at least respect the Miz as the Intercontinental Champion, I simply cannot understand. The man is doing impressive work as a terrible person with a much better life than you. If Cesaro is allowed to tap into the hard working side of his personality, I could get behind these two eventually having another go at each other, this time with Cesaro as the victor. Until then, he was Money in the Bank to worry about.
Rating: 9 out 10
That is all for this week, Cagesiders! As always, your opinion matters just as much as mine, so make sure to leave a comment on what you thought of the show!