The IIconics, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville Crashed SmackDown General Manager Paige's Women's Money in the Bank Ladder Match Summit
I'm all for the women kicking off the show for the second straight week, but it seemed somewhat lazy for SmackDown Live to open basically the same way Raw did on Monday night: with the Money in the Bank Ladder match combatants talking about why they should win on Sunday. Everyone did well with their promos, but it was a fairly formulaic segment that set up the eight-woman tag team match for later in the night.
Daniel Bryan def. Shelton Benjamin
Fun fact: I once saw Bryan battle Benjamin in a Waterbury, CT high school at a Northeast Wrestling show in October 2010. Fast forward eight years later and they're facing off in a WWE for the first time. Benjamin is a just good hand at this point on the blue brand, but he plays his role well and I thought he and Bryan produced a very nice match. I liked that it was a competitive contest even though the outcome was never in doubt. Bryan forcing Benjamin to tap out with the heel hook was a nice touch given that's been a focal point of the program between Bryan and Big Cass lately.
Jerry Lawler Interviewed WWE Champion AJ Styles
Anyone could have done what Lawler did here, but I have no issues with him making an appearance in his native Memphis. Styles' promo on his upcoming match at Money in the Bank against Shinsuke Nakamura was short, sweet and straight to the point. On a side note, the platform on the side of the stage where Lawler interviewed Styles was cool. That was where Renee Young interviewed Cass last week as well. It's different from the ring setting, and I'm all for them switching things up every once in a while.
Rusev def. Samoa Joe (The Miz Served as Special Guest Referee)
Yes, this featured all heels and that usually doesn't work, but the match was hard-hitting enough to keep me engaged. Miz's antics were also entertaining, but you had to know he was going to factor into the finish somehow. Rusev winning surprised me slightly, but I suppose he needs a boot of momentum, too. Miz posing with the Money in the Bank briefcase afterward was interesting if only because that could rule him out as a potential victor on Sunday, despite him being the favorite in the minds of many.
United States Champion Jeff Hardy def. Shinsuke Nakamura by Disqualification (Non-title)
Even as he enters the twilight of his career, Hardy is still very much capable of contesting above-average matches. This was an enjoyable affair from him and Nakamura and the story was that Hardy could have won after hitting the Swanton Bomb if he wasn't hurt. I was totally fine with the non-finish since Hardy shouldn't be losing another non-title match and Nakamura shouldn't be losing before he contends for the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank. Plus, Nakamura laying out Hardy during the post-match played nicely into Sunday's Last Man Standing stipulation.
Asuka, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Naomi and Lana def. SmackDown Women's Champion Carmella, The IIconics, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville
Ah, the classic multi-woman match that's strategically placed on the go-home show prior to a pay-per-view. Needless to say, this hardly did anything to make more excited for the women's matches at Money in the Bank than I was before, but it was well-wrestled and effectively ate up a significant chunk of television time in the main event slot. The Money in the Bank combatants were able to coexist long enough to pick up the victory while Asuka and Carmella furthered their feud, so this succeeded in what it set out to do.
Although the build to Money in the Bank has left a lot to be desired, SmackDown did a better job of selling me on the event than Raw did this week. This was also a more tolerable show on the whole with a handful of quality/fresh matches and solid hype for most matches on the Money in the Bank card on the SmackDown side. The two hours flew by per usual, so all things considered, this edition of SmackDown was an easy thumbs-up.