By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Alberto Del Rio Staked Their Claim at Winning Money in the Bank
We'll be seeing segments like this one in the weeks leading up to Money in the Bank with the Ladder match participants talking about why they're going to win, so I'm surprised they gave one away so early. I suppose it was WWE's way of getting these guys on the show, but on the bright side, everyone played their role well and I'll never complain about hearing from Owens on the mic. I specifically enjoyed his verbal exchange with Zayn and I'm glad their feud is still at full force heading into the event. Del Rio's involvement at the end basically gave away the outcome of the next match, but at least Zayn talked up Zack Ryder as a potential threat by bringing up his WrestleMania upset victory.
Alberto Del Rio def. Zack Ryder in a Money in the Bank Qualifying Match
Del Rio and Ryder worked well together and I was happy Ryder scored as much offense as he did (going so far as to hit his finisher on Del Rio before he rolled out of the ring), but again, the ending outcome was never in doubt after what we saw in the opening segment. I know Del Rio is a former Mr. Money in the Bank and world champion, but honestly, I would have rather seen Ryder appear in the Ladder match over Del Rio. At least he has attempted to rejuvenate his character recently, which is more than what can be said for Del Rio at the moment.
The Dudley Boyz Interrupted Enzo Amore and Big Cass
All of Enzo's promos are entertaining, but dare I say this was better than the promo he cut upon his return on Raw. The crowd seemed to be more receptive, but that could have very well been the taped nature of the audience (which thankfully won't be a factor anymore once the show goes live starting in July). They might be starting to run out of fresh material, but leave it to Enzo to come up with something creative during their next encounter. As I noted on Monday, I'm glad this feud is picking up where it left off last month and should last long enough before Enzo and Cass enter the WWE Tag Team Championship picture.
United States Champion Rusev def. Kalisto
This was along the same lines as their Extreme Rules match, not any better but not any worse, either. It was a decent match while it lasted. It's not that they don't have good in-ring chemistry, it's that Kalisto feels dead in the water right now and Rusev is starting to build momentum. Having him go over decisively was the right move and I hope his reign isn't cut short when John Cena returns next week. If anything, it looks like Rusev might be moving into a feud with Titus O'Neil based off their interaction afterward. O'Neil hasn't done anything as a singles competitor since returning from suspension, so it will be interesting to see if this is the program they go with at Money in the Bank.
Natalya def. Dana Brooke by Disqualification
This was a logical match to do following Brooke's interference in Sunday's Submission match between Natalya and Charlotte, but the bout was over before it began with Charlotte attacking Natalya and causing the contest to be thrown out. It didn't make Charlotte or Brooke look too strong, so hopefully this partnership won't end up backfiring. I'm also ready for Charlotte to move on to a fresh challenger that isn't Natalya.
Breezango def. The Golden Truth
I can't believe this awful angle is continuing. I mean, I can believe it, which is even worse. Breezango is a fine pairing, and while I want to be happy that Breeze is winning more matches, I can't knowing the babyfaces will bounce back and win the rematch. The crowd sat in silence during this match and it's hard to blame them. I'm hoping the upcoming Brand Split will benefit Breeze and make him more of a player in the midcard on whatever brand he ends up on, as opposed to being relegated to this garbage.
Seth Rollins Addressed the WWE Universe
Well, this was a disappointment. I was excited for Rollins to be back on SmackDown, but this was essentially a repeat of his Raw appearance. However, the biggest difference was that it was cut short by several minutes. He came out and thanked the crowd for welcoming him back with open arms, only to turn on them and then leave. It's always great to see Rollins, but this was a waste of time, sadly. And WWE wonders why fans don't take SmackDown seriously.
Intercontinental Champion The Miz def. Cesaro
It's awesome that the Intercontinental Championship has become the top prize on SmackDown and I would be all in favor of that being the case post-Draft. I loved how Cesaro's win over Miz in the Money in the Bank qualifying match on Raw earned him one last title shot on SmackDown, and they once again produced a very enjoyable championship clash. I didn't expect a title change to take place, so while I didn't buy into all the nearfalls, the storytelling was strong with Miz working over the injured shoulder of Cesaro and that ultimately playing a part in the finish. Cesaro loses nothing because Miz cheated and Miz had a successful title defense that didn't end in disqualification, so this was smart booking all around.
There's been plenty of talk this past week about SmackDown starting to mean something again once it goes live on Tuesdays this July, and while that will undoubtedly boost the profile of the blue brand, I'd argue SmackDown has felt much more important since the start of the year. I've been saying that almost in every review for the past five months, but this was another example of how fun the show can be, especially from an in-ring standpoint. The women's match was worthless as was Rollins' brief promo, but this was as newsworthy of an edition of SmackDown that we have received in a while and gets a thumbs up from me.