Money In The Bank is this Sunday, but you wouldn’t have known that by the lacklustre approach from Raw and Smackdown. The creative team and superstars put as much energy into it as one would a testimonial.
Here’s the Top 10 things that happened on Raw and Smackdown this week:
- Jerry Lawler Interviewed AJ Styles.
I loved this. Nostalgia always gets me. It’s so awesome seeing Jerry Lawler in all his King garb in his hometown of Memphis, milking the cheers for all they were worth. His interview with WWE Champion AJ Styles didn’t exactly do much to set the stage for MITB, but it was still a cool throwback to a lost era in WWE. The only complaint I have is they should’ve done more with Lawler. I know it’s cheap heat, but have someone brutalise him in his hometown. Well, not even brutalise. Shinsuke Nakamura would’ve drawn huge heat from a simple low blow. It would’ve worked perfectly. WWE have to use every trick in the book to get Nakamura over as a heel, and this would’ve been another easy way of doing that.
Back to Styles, and I still don’t believe he’s exceptionally good on the mic. I believe he tries too hard to memorize the script given to him instead of letting the words flow freely. He basically sounds like a robot out there, much like Roman Reigns does. These scripted promos should be banished to room 101. They serve no purpose, hinder character development and make the superstars look like idiots. Just give them a direction and a topic to speak about. That’s what they did with Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock and Triple H, and look how they turned out.
- Rusev Def. Samoa Joe With The Miz As Special Guest Referee
I did not expect Rusev to win this one. I know he was helped by The Miz, but even so this was a huge victory for The Bulgarian Brute, and on Rusev Day no less. The New Day getting involved also spiced things up ahead of Sunday. Samoa Joe will be raging and gunning for The Miz, which should be fun. It’s nice that WWE are finally giving Rusev the push he deserves, but it’s still sad to see how far he’s fallen since tumbling to John Cena. No one ever recovers from a prolonged feud with The Face That Runs The Place. Just ask Bray Wyatt.
Money In The Bank should be a solid PPV if nothing else. You have some potential show-stealers, the MITB Ladder Matches are always fun, plenty of women’s action, and to top it off you have Roman Reigns wrestling Jinder Mahal. I mean, what more could you want? Probably, not to see Roman Reigns wrestle Jinder Mahal.
- Roman Reigns Def. Sunil Singh.
At least we didn’t get The Great Khali. Small mercies. Although it would’ve been fun to see what Roman Reigns could’ve got out of the Punjabi Giant. Reigns ploughing through poor Sunil Singh was fun, but I was expecting more. This wasn’t to the level of demolition executed by Randy Orton on the same opponent last year. Jinder Mahal leaving Reigns laying afterwards once again telegraphs the MITB result, as if it was in any doubt anyway. I’m guessing WWE can’t wait to dethrone Brock Lesnar of the Universal Championship and crown Roman as their prince now that CM Punk’s title record has been conquered by The Beast. Maybe Punk will return to cost Lesnar at SummerSlam. Stranger things have happened. Okay, maybe not that strange.
- Jeff Hardy Def. Shinsuke Nakamura Via Disqualification.
Jeff Hardy didn’t look in the best of condition here, did he? Something tells me all is not right with the Intercontinental Champion. He could just be beat up from all the travelling as the WWE juggernaut really takes it out of you. Just ask Wade Barrett. He was slow, plodding and looked pained throughout. Having said that, he still delivered a passable bout with Nakamura here, which is no easy feat in the world of WWE. Nakamura getting himself disqualified with a low blow was great. He’s managed to really get that move over. So simple, yet so effective. It will definitely come into play this Sunday, but I have a sneaking suspicion WWE will call another double count out between the pair, setting up a final showdown at Extreme Rules.
- Ronda Rousey Made Nia Jax Tap Out.
Seriously, this story keeps getting more silly as the weeks go by. How can anyone have messed up something so simple? Their narrative (which was wrong to begin with) was to portray Ronda Rousey as a vulnerable rookie who is out of her depth against the monster Nia Jax. Fair enough, if that’s the way they wanted to go. However, they completely changed that narrative this week by having Rousey make Jax tap out to the armbar. Now what? Absolutely ridiculous booking. They’ve booked Rousey so poorly since WrestleMania that she’s in danger of becoming just another member of the roster. Now, I might be wrong and everything will make sense come Sunday but I highly doubt that. It annoys me because the story was there for them, all they had to do was follow it. Instead they’ve managed to make everyone involved look like fools.
- Seth Rollins Got Payback On Elias.
Some may not have liked this segment but I thought it was quirky fun. The artwork alone on the guitar gets my thumbs up. Elias continues to be the most entertaining thing on the roster. His songs are so much fun, this week’s one may have been his best yet. I do hope Elias comes out on top Sunday because Rollins needs to jump back into the main event playing field before he gets stuck in the mid card mud. They have the potential to easily steal the show at Money In The Bank, and I genuinely believe they will. Elias is something special. Let’s hope WWE don’t mess it up.
4. Braun Strowman Def. Kevin Owens, Finn Balor and Bobby Roode In A Fatal Four Way Match.
This was a fun main event from the Raw crew ahead of Money In The Bank. Braun Strowman is not winning on Sunday, but I don’t think any of us really expected him to even though it would be awesome to see him carry around that briefcase. Kevin Owens is a real dark horse to win on Sunday and not just because he lost on Raw. It’s either him or The Miz to take the contract for me. I’m edging towards Miz, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s KO.
Finn Balor won’t win it. Vince McMahon personally vetoing Balor’s Championship match with Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble has sealed the Irishman’s fate unfortunately. He is not a main event level player in the eyes of the most important man of all. That’s a shame because he’s got all the talent in the world. Bobby Roode is an interesting one. We know he is capable of headlining. He can cut great promos, has a tremendous look, good in the ring, fun entrance. He just needs to turn heel. I can definitely see him with that briefcase if WWE wanted to take a left turn.
- Asuka, Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Lana & Naomi Def. Carmella, The Icconics, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville In A 10-Woman Tag Team Match.
The main event on Smackdown this week was all about the women. Literally, WWE threw every woman at their disposal into the ring and said, “let’s see what happens.” As it turns out, it was actually pretty good. Especially towards the end where the action really picked up. Asuka was the standout performer once again, getting the victory for her team by making MITB opponent Carmella tap out.
The aftermath which saw Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Naomi and Lana circle Asuka before staring up at the briefcase was a cool visual. It also kind of telegraphs that either Asuka isn’t winning the Women’s Championship, or a Smackdown woman isn’t winning Money In The Bank. My opinion is that neither thing will happen. I can see The Icconics costing Asuka, allowing Carmella to brag that she defeated the undefeatable Asuka. And I can also see Alexa Bliss taking home the briefcase, unless WWE want to swerve us and give it to Lana. That’s possible of course. Highly unlikely, but certainly possible.
- Daniel Bryan Def. Shelton Benjamin.
This one was fun. It certainly didn’t reach the heights one would expect from two of the finest workers in the world, but it did the job nonetheless. Shelton has been so underrated his entire career, and it’s simply because he can’t cut a good promo. I truly believe that if he was good on the mic he’d have scaled to the very top of WWE many times over. He is the Gold Standard, after all.
Back to Bryan, and he continues to ease himself back into the rigours of the WWE lifestyle. His program with Big Cass is a non-starter, but unfortunately it’s going to continue long after Money In The Bank because WWE love their trilogies so much. It’s rather interesting to see that Bryan has still yet to sign a new deal with the company, which adds to the speculation that he’s not satisfied there and wants to showcase his skills elsewhere all over the world. Some have even hinted he may follow in CM Punk’s footsteps and try his hand at UFC. I truly hope he doesn’t, because it’s not a sport for guys in their mid to late thirties with no MMA background, as proven by the so-called Best In The World.
- Natalya Def. Alexa Bliss, Ember Moon and Sasha Banks In A Fatal Four Way Match.
WWE sure do enjoy telegraphing their own PPV results, don’t they? None more so than Money In The Bank winners. Just from this one outcome we can safely rule out Natalya retrieving that briefcase on Sunday. Thank God. We can also safely confirm that Alexa Bliss will come out on top after she did the duties here. Why do WWE think booking their eventual winners like such losers beforehand is best for business? It literally makes no sense. Then again, nothing in WWE makes sense anymore. Some could say the same about the Attitude Era, but at least that was always entertaining. This might be controversial but I watch PPVs for the classic long in-ring battles, I watch the weekly shows as soaps, for entertainment value. I’m not getting that anymore, and that’s why so many fans have walked away, and it’s a shame because the potential is there.