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WWE SmackDown Live recap & reactions (May 22, 2018): Scorched Cerebrum

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WWE SmackDown Live returned last night (May 22) from the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts. You can find all of the results at the live blog so good it will change your life right here.

All the Dream Matches

It feels like Daniel Bryan has had a bunch of dream matches since he’s come back. He’s faced AJ Styles. He’s faced Rusev. He faced Jeff Hardy last night. And he’ll face Samoa Joe next week.

Then again, just two months ago, I didn’t think we’d see Daniel wrestle in a WWE ring again so in that sense any match is a dream match.

As mentioned, last night he faced Jeff Hardy for the first time ever. The right to face Samoa Joe for a Money in the Bank spot next week was on the line. In the end, Bryan tapped out Hardy with a heel hook submission. It’s that very submission that even gave Bryan and Jeff a second chance to earn a spot. It was initially supposed to be Big Cass vs. Samoa Joe for that final place in the ladder match. But the beating Daniel put on the big man last week, ending with a heel hook submission, hobbled the big man. It was bad enough that Cass wasn’t cleared for this match. (Honestly, the most interesting part of the Cass thing right now is trying to figure out what’s going on behind the scenes: Is he a bit injured? Is this booking due to the rumored backstage heat? Is it all a work?)

Even though it was a first time meeting, Jeff and Daniel meshed very well and had themselves a good match. Next week won’t be a first time meeting as Joe and Bryan have fought plenty of times before. It’ll still be a good match.

Pillow Fight Last Man Standing

Shinsuke Nakamura revealed his stipulation for the WWE title match at Money in the Bank: A last man standing match.

First he played coy when Styles asked him what it was going to be. Nakamura played his mind games and screwed around with Styles. Hell, he revealed that a pillow fight as his initial stipulation. When AJ tried to joke back, Nakamura told AJ that he jokes because he has the upper hand while Styles does so because he’s scared. The champion responded by stating the fact that it doesn’t matter the stipulation because Shinsuke can’t win when it counts. And he’s not wrong.

Personal words turned to a personal fight as the men had a short but brutal brawl outside the ring. It was when AJ couldn’t respond to a ten count after a Kinshasa that Nakamura revealed the stipulation.

Even their brief fight on the outside clicked, which bodes well for one more good bout between these two at Money in the Bank. I do find it a bit funny that this stipulation won’t prevent another smoz finish as if they both kick each other in the nuts and can’t beat a ten count, there still won’t be a winner.

That pillow fight would have been neat though.

Who? Who? Who?

The Miz is underestimating the New Day. He had them on MizTV trying to find out which of the trio is going to take part in the Money in the Bank match. At the same time, he tried to drive a wedge between them. But he couldn’t. Their bond is too strong. In fact, the most disagreement they had was when they were arguing for another member to be in the match. The New Day are a rare beast. A selfless trio. Let’s hope it stays that way.

What’s Miz’s overall plan here? Is he trying to cause some issues in the New Day so they’re not a strong unit during the Money in the Bank match, a match that is a no DQ ladder match. If the New Day are acting as a unit despite only one of them participating, they could be unstoppable.

Miz was able to pick up a victory over Big E later on when the Bar offered some distraction by attacking Xavier Woods and Kofi on the outside of the ring. They’ll team with the Miz next week against the New Day. Let’s not forget the last time they were on a team with the Miz, they all tried to murder Braun Strowman.

All the Rest:

Singin’ & Squashin’ - Lana defeated Billie Kay in no time at all to win a spot in the Money in the Bank match. Due to shenanigans on the outside with the IIconis and Aiden English, who was brandishing a “Lana Day” sign, Lana capitalized on a distracted Kay and beat her with a kick and an X Factor. More time was spent on Aiden and the Billie & Peyton Royce singing prior to the bout than the match itself. Which is fine I suppose. Lana is the better choice to win here because of the “Mr. and Mrs. Money in the Bank” tease if she and Rusev and win. And the pre-match theatrics were likely going to be better than an extended match.

Taller Competition - Zelina Vega and Andrade “Cien” Almas weren’t impressed with the caliber of competition on their debut last week. So this week, they got a taller jobber! And Almas owned him like he did the guy last week.

MITB Qualifier - Naomi defeated Sonya Deville to claim a Money in the Bank spot. This was fine. Deville hasn’t been doing this for long, but I think she has potential to be really good in time.

Good Brothers vs. Real Brothers - Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows beat the Usos to earn a right to challenge the Bludgeon Brothers for the titles at Money in the Bank. In case you had forgotten, Harper and Rowan are the tag team champions. Prior to the match, which was short but fun, both teams got a chance to cut a promo on each other. Both teams acquitted themselves well and it added a bit of heat to a match that was about fighting for the right to lose to the Bludgeons in a month.

This was a pretty underwhelming offering this week. Nothing was outwardly bad (no one brought out their opponent’s sisters), but nothing really had a spark either. The Styles/Nakamura brawl was good and the main event lived up, but most of this show felt skippable.

Grade: C+

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