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WWE SmackDown Live recap & reactions (May 15, 2018): Round Four... Fight!

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SmackDown Live sidled up to us last night (May 15) from the O2 Arena in London, England. You can find all the results at the live blog that some historian’s consider the eight wonder of the ancient world here.

Round Four

Shinsuke Nakamura defeated AJ Styles to earn the right to choose the stipulation for their championship match at Money in the Bank. He chose an Iron Nads Match, where the man who punches the other man in the nuts the most in an hour wins the match and championship. (Editors Note: This is factually inaccurate. Nakamura did not choose any stipulation on SmackDown Live tonight.)

It feels like every match of theirs is getting better. Their match at WrestleMania didn’t click but their next three certainly did. Turning Nakamura heel and building this as a rivalry instead of a dream match certainly did the trick to find that chemistry.

The finish to the match was very clever as well. There were no low blows, which was certainly appreciated, but when the referee got knocked out of position, Nakamura clutched his crotch, pretending AJ hit him below the belt. This led to AJ making his case to the official, and Shinsuke taking that opportunity to hit the reverse exploder and Kinshasa to win the match. It was well executed.

Despite all of that, there is a part of me that wishes it didn’t happen at all. This is the forth time that Nakamura and Styles has faced each other in a course of a month and a half. Talk about taking the shine off of how special a match is. Plus, I’ve always felt it very lazy to build to a match by having said match. Though we should know that WWE definitely likes to do something to death. (If the Greatest Royal Rumble didn’t exist as part of this story, it probably wouldn’t feel so overdone.)

Given that gripe, this was an enjoyable bout this week. And it’s probably how they’re going to get Nakamura a win in this feud. (I figure the loser here is the winner at Money In the Bank.) And I can understand wanting to get Shin that win before this feud is up.

Anyway, Iron Nads Match is coming! Get pumped! (Editors Note: No, it is not. Do not get pumped.)

True Babyface

Man, how good is it to have a babyface that everyone just loves? It just makes everything work better.

That was on display the opening segment between Daniel Bryan and Big Cass. The entire crowd was completely behind Bryan and no one was behind Cass. The perfect heel/face reactions.

The seven footer interrupted an interview between Bryan and Renee Young (Man, I still miss Talking Smack) where Daniel stated he’s happy to be back, but now that’s not enough. He needs to reclaim the title that was once his.

That’s when the big man came out. And he proceeded to completely run his mouth. From claiming to be Bryan’s first setback since returning to taking credit for Rusev’s win last week to claiming he tapped out at Backlash just so he could continue to beat up Bryan some more (which was a fantastic excuse), he just didn’t stop.

All the while, Daniel just watched him from inside the ring. Then when Cass was about to get in the ring, Bryan struck. He attacked the repaired knee of Cass and went to work. The officials tried to hold him back, but he escaped them unleashed more punishment. He finished up with a heel hook, leaving his foe writhing in pain.

Fired up Daniel Bryan is a sight to behold. He’s humble until someone screws with him and then he becomes a dangerous man, even for a man a foot taller than him.

The crowd ate all of this up because they love Bryan and they don’t like Big Cass for messing with him. (Credit also goes to Cass for doing a really good job portraying such an ass.) For awhile, WWE didn’t have a top babyface everyone loved and sometimes that limits the stories that can be told. But now they have many: Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, Braun Strowman, & Seth Rollins are all popular with almost all crowds. That’s a really great thing.

Ruined Mellabration

Carmella had her Royal Mellabration and unfortunately, it fell flat. I thought she had a couple pretty good heat seeking lines but the crowd did not care. And in the end, that’s a failure of a segment. If you can’t get the rowdy British crowd to boo you, you didn’t do your job.

She was interrupted by England’s own Paige, who announced that Carmella has to defend her title at Money in the Bank... against Asuka.

I love me some Asuka, but I don’t see why she deserves a title match. She has one tag win and one tag loss since losing to Charlotte at WrestleMania and moving to the blue brand. What makes her more deserving than say Naomi?

Carmella already picked up a clean win over Charlotte. Is Asuka next to help solidify Carmella as the top female heel on the brand? As of now, I think that’d be a pretty bad move, but let’s see where we are after a month of a build.

Meet Andrade

Andrade “Cien” Almas made his debut, defeating some local talent. That match wasn’t nearly long enough to give people a teaser what he’s about. What did give them a teaser was the promo Zelina Vega cut post match. She claimed they were unimpressed with SmackDown Live and its locker room. She let everyone know they’re not there to place nice but to take over.

I’m always interested in how they roll out NXT stars on the main roster. Because even though NXT viewers like myself know the long story of Almas and Vegas, most main roster fans don’t. So it’s important to show as much character as possible or risk ending up with a very tan man with catchy entrance music.

Choose One

The New Day defeated the Bar to win the right to choose someone to represent them in the Money in the Bank ladder match. Miz sat at ringside and the story they tried to put over was that the New Day should all want this opportunity, which could cause issues within the group. However, the story the New Day always set forward is they want to work to see Kofi win the big one. If that’s the case, there should be no question at all who they choose.


Becky Lynch won a match!

It was a triple threat match against Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville that earned her a spot in the women’s Money in the Bank ladder match.

About time.

It was a decent show overall. The main event was good, though I wish they’d pace the amount of matches Nakamura and Styles have had. The Bryan/Cass stuff worked very well. The Mellabration was a bit of a dud. Everything else you could take or leave.

Grade: B-

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