SmackDown General Manager Paige Addressed the Audience
I said it last month when the move was made, but I like Paige in the role as SmackDown General Manager and she has taken to it well so far. I'm happy she still has a presence on WWE TV despite being retired from the ring. Raw General Manager Kurt Angle kicked off Monday's show, so Paige doing something similar seemed to make sense. That said, Paige calling Backlash a "smashing success" was comical considering how awful that event was.
The Miz def. United States Champion Jeff hardy to Qualify for the Men's Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Non-title)
Hardy is uber popular and Miz is the quintessential heel, so I loved the dynamic these two had and that they received so much time. They surely made the most of it and produced a highly entertaining encounter. The finish was especially excellently executed with Hardy connecting with the Swanton Bomb and Miz rolling him up for the victory at the last possible second. Miz as Mr. Money in the Bank again would be tremendous, and Hardy will be just fine given he's still the United States Champion.
Charlotte Flair def. Peyton Royce to Qualify for the Women's Money in the Bank Ladder Match
I'm a fan of The IIconics, but you had to know Charlotte was winning here given the current "underdog" story they're telling with Charlotte and her recent back-to-back losses to Carmella. I'm convinced she will capture the MITB briefcase and eventually take back the SmackDown Women's Championship from Carmella. After all, it would only be logical, but we'll see if that's the direction they're headed in. Anyway, this was a decent match with one good nearfall down the stretch for Royce. She and Billie Kay lack in-ring credibility at this point, but at least she went down swinging.
Cesaro def. Xavier Woods
Apparently this program between The Bar and The New Day is about... pancakes. Okay then. If nothing else, the Baltimore ate up the pancake shtick here (no pun intended, of course), and this was a nice little match between Cesaro and Woods. Cesaro and Sheamus have been subtly teasing tension for the past two weeks, so it will be interesting to see if Cesaro's victory here will add to that at all. I wouldn't mind him breaking off into singles competition again.
Mandy Rose def. Becky LYnch
I'm glad it appears Rose and Sonya Deville will finally be getting a chance to showcase their skills in one-on-one action, so it remains to be seen whether they'll sink or swim on their own. This was a fine enough showing from Rose, whose entrance looked like it was straight out of a porno. Her upset victory definitely gets her solo career off to a solid start, but I'm more curious what the loss means for Lynch. The commentators reiterated that she has been in a slump lately, giving me hope a heel turn might be on the horizon.
Rusev def. Daniel Bryan to Qualify for the Men's Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Bryan always works well against opponents bigger than him, and unsurprisingly, they delivered a quality main event. The pace was perfect and the audience was engaged in everything they did. I know Big Cass attacked Bryan following their Backlash bout on Sunday night, but Rusev beating Bryan clean still shocked me. That isn't a bad thing, though, because this is huge for Rusev if the follow-up is there. I doubt he'll become Mr. MITB, but this was a major momentum booster, nonetheless.
Much like Monday's Raw, tonight's edition of SmackDown was effective in moving quickly past Backlash (and thank the lord for that) and setting the stage for Money in the Bank, which isn't for another month a half. More men and women were confirmed for the Ladder matches in some enjoyable outings and the two hours seemed to fly by more than usual, so this show gets a thumbs-up from me. I also appreciated that several segments and matches were set up for next week's episode in England such as New Day vs. The Bar, Carmella's celebration, and the long awaited debut of Andrade "Cien" Almas.