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WWE SmackDown Live Recap & Reactions (June 27, 2017): Bad ladder matches are bad

Carmella is finally, truly, Ms. Money in the Bank, as SmackDown Live keeps getting back on track despite a subpar main event.

Ms. Money in the Bank Carmella

One night after Raw put on a main event women’s gauntlet match, SmackDown Live had a chance to steal the show with a rerun of its controversial Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match when it hit San Diego yesterday (June 27, 2017).

For full results and the best live blog in the business from the exceptional Reverend Kain, click here.

A roundabout way to the right spot

The good news coming out of last night’s historic angle is that Carmella is still a great promo, she again won the Women’s Money in the Bank briefcase, and James Ellsworth remains a valuable toady.

That bad news is that the match itself was ... not good, and ultimately WWE just ran the finish they should have in the first place.

If the entire controversy was a designed ratings ploy, hopefully it does indeed work out and continues to pay dividends going forward. Because the match itself was worse than the prior version in St. Louis, and somehow featured even less spots and violence. It’s a bad sign when the most exciting spots in a ladder match are innovative ways to climb.

Particularly grating was seeing what must have been close to a dozen suplexes in the ring, and not have one of them be directed onto one of the multiple ladders just laying around.

The entire concept of a ladder match, and especially a multi-person one, requires (admittedly dumb and dangerous) violent bumps involving the furniture for it to have any value whatsoever. Without those, it quickly becomes a nonsensical bore, which is kind of what last night’s main event was.

We even saw bizarre things like Natalya dumping Charlotte Flair into the crowd, and then FOLLOWING HER INTO THE CROWD DESPITE BEING IN THE MIDDLE OF A LADDER MATCH.

No, just, no.

To open the show, General Manager Daniel Bryan explained again why they were rerunning the match only to be interrupted by Carmella and Ellsworth. When The Big Hog gave Bryan lip, the general manager banned him from the arena entirely.

Honestly, the less said about the actual contest itself, the better. Carmella won again, this time pulling down the briefcase herself. This happened after James Ellsworth returned to the arena—WWE security is so bad in storyline that it’s almost kind of charming, and Bryan immediately bringing up the problem on Talking Smack was great—and was crotched on the top rope when Becky Lynch tipped over the ladder. But in the process, Carmella was able to recover from being temporarily down, initially struggle with The Lasskicker, and finally pull a chair out from under the ring and use the weapon to her advantage before ascending the summit.

There are some good things to take from the entire ordeal. Becky coming up short—again—is really working to develop the audience’s emotional attachment for her character. And Carmella has indeed been elevated into a prominent player, and she has the mic skills to keep herself in that spot.

(None of which required the infamous and braindead first finish, but regardless. Hopefully this was a teachable moment, and WWE can be smarter going forward... maybe?)

Charlotte powerbombed Natalya through a table just in the build to the match, and then neither ladder match provided a spot of remotely that much violence or impact. Utterly bizarre.

That being said: Look at Carm with her baby!

Life given

As unconvincing and disappointing the ladder match was, the SmackDown Women’s Championship rematch between Naomi and Lana was the exact opposite.

This was wholly terrific. A Match of the Year candidate, in all honesty, in terms of the statement it made. It’s quite clearly the female equivalent of last December’s WWE Championship match between AJ Styles and James Ellsworth, in which The Phenomenal One geeked Ellsworth out in seconds to definitively prove he was streets ahead of his opponent.

Lana has now been established in kayfabe as undeserving of future opportunities—she got two only because of the generosity of the champion—and it makes sense in the real world as well, as what little heat she had a few weeks back has rapidly evaporated. Truly this GIF says it best:

Snatched, dragged, etc. Glow City, SmackDown Live.

The house that Daniel Bryan built

There’s an argument that the blue brand’s general manager is the most important character on SmackDown Live.

There’s simply no argument that the blue brand’s general manager is the most important character on Talking Smack—because it’s wholly and unequivocally true.

On just his second week back, Bryan helped bring out the best in Kevin Owens, The Usos—my God, the bars!—and Carmella. Owens’ performance was particularly inspiring, and yet more proof that the United States Champion is saddled with a boring, 1980s midcard gimmick despite being one of the best performers in the world.

OWENS BROUGHT UP BEING PIED IN THE FACE LAST FOURTH IN JULY! That sort of dedication to small bits of continuity is just beautiful work.

Regardless, the energy that Bryan brings and the positive attitude he instills in the crowd is literally irreplaceable for the blue brand.


Look. Sami Zayn interrupting Maria and Mike Kanellis and then him awkwardly apologizing for walking right between them during his entrance was inspired television programming and a wonderfully petty way to start a feud.

That someone had THE GALL to interrupt their display of love will surely prove wildly aggravating for the First Lady of SmackDown Live and her beau. And Zayn is simply the perfect person to square off opposite the couple.

If there isn’t, at some point in the near future, an agonizingly long slow dance sequence between Maria and Mike after Maria cheats to help beat Zayn, then what is even the point of professional wrestling?

Mr. Money in the Bank Baron Corbin beat Zayn in their match, which presumably closes the chapter on their feud and allows Corbin to play around more both with Shinsuke Nakamura—who watched the match backstage and later gave an interview noting The Lone Wolf should be fearful of him—and the main event scene, while Zayn and the Kanellis’ get their bloody wonderful feud going.

Can’t wait!

All the rest

The Fashion Files, now Fashion Vice, is truly a creative idea for the ages. Last night’s segment, “Under Pressure,” managed to make The Ascension more entertaining and interesting than they’ve been in literally their entire main roster run, with Konnor’s line of “We only listen to grindcore thrash metal, remember?” when Viktor was about to take Fandango’s bribe of Eddie Money tickets—which they later did indeed grab!—was delightful.

The Ascension have now also been ruled out as being the ransackers of Breezango’s office—given that the office was again raided during the interrogation session—which leaves seemingly only one tag team that remains an option...

SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos vanquished The Hype Bros—nearly during commercial, as the pinfall was recorded literally seconds after the break ended—to squelch any chance that Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder had of getting a tag team championship shot.

The champions were interrupted, however, by The New Day, who proceeded to trade bars back and forth with the champions. This prompted the announcement on Talking Smack that next week will see a rap battle between The Usos and The New Day.

We are blessed.

AJ Styles and other members of the SmackDown Live roster will compete next week, on July 4, in an Independence Day Battle Royal to determine the number one contender for Kevin Owens’ United States Championship.

Aiden English’s singing was interrupted by Randy Orton, who eventually grabbed a chair and demanded an appearance by WWE Champion Jinder Mahal. When none was forthcoming, Orton began to head to the back so that he could find and beat the champion wherever he found him, but was stopped by Commissioner Shane McMahon. Shane told Randy that he’d get another title match at Battleground, but that Mahal would get to set a stipulation.

Finally the champion arrived, and flanked by The Singh Brothers announced that Orton’s title opportunity would be a Punjabi Prison match.

The entire segment was pretty forgetful, but Cageside’s number two, Sean Rueter, brought up a very good point on Twitter:

This was a tremendous show headed into the ladder match. It flew by, provided lots of really great little moments despite perhaps not hitting the heights of peak-SmackDown Live, and advanced many stories in logical fashion. Unfortunately, despite the correct result—and, frankly, the right method to get that result—the main event match itself was a dud.

But there was too much good beforehand to dock the show that much, and thankfully Talking Smack brought the Sweet Beetz (Beatz? Can we get a ruling on this?) back after a subpar main event.

Man. Daniel Bryan makes Tuesday nights so, so, so much better.

Grade: 60

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