WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: Women highlight, Styles-Nakamura push falls flat
The women were front and center for the final Money in the Bank go-home show
With just five days to go until the annual Money in the Bank pay-per-view that airs live this Sunday in Chicago, the go-home edition of SmackDown Live on Tuesday went down in Memphis, Tennessee. The final main roster offering prior to this weekend's festivities featured some intriguing dream matches on the men's side of the roster, but it was the women who were given the time to shine entering one of the most anticipated shows of the year.
Women take the spotlight before MITB
SmackDown kicked off with the advertised "Women's Money in the Bank Summit," moderated by general manager Paige. After all four women -- Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Naomi and Lana -- took turns shooting verbal jabs at one another, The IIconics then interrupted the little get-together. Billie Kay and Peyton Royce proceeded to roast every woman in the ring before they, too, were interrupted. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville made their way out, and shortly thereafter, the four women in the ring bolted to the ringside area upon the instruction of Lynch to brawl with the women who failed to qualify for this Sunday's women's ladder match.
Following commercial, an eight-woman tag team match was announced for later in the show, and then a few moments later backstage, Paige added Asuka and Carmella to the mix after the challenger asked to get her hands on the champion six days before their title match on Sunday. A simple women's summit suddenly turned into a 10-woman tag bout -- one hell of an homage to Teddy Long.
Asuka, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Naomi & Lana def. Carmella (via submission), The IIconics, Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville: Ahead of one of the top shows of the year, the plethora of women were given the main event spotlight on SmackDown. Asuka got the win for the babyface team by making Carmella tap to the Asuka Lock five days before they meet for the SmackDown women's championship. Afterwards, the members of the victorious squad stared at one another, and then the women's briefcase hanging above them.
It's always nice to see the talented women get the main event shine, especially heading into one of the marquee shows of the year. Not to mention, the crowded match was an enjoyable way to end this week's show. As for the finish, with Carmella tapping, that could be evidence that she'll be stunning everyone by walking out of Chicago with that title still around her waist. That victory may require some assistance against someone as dominant as Asuka, but that help might be on the way come Sunday. Grade: B+
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Final WWE title match push falls flat
Utilizing the side of the stage for the second week in a row, Jerry "The King Lawler" made his way out to his beloved Memphis crowd to interview the WWE champion Styles ahead of his Last Man Standing match on Sunday against Shinsuke Nakamura. Lawler asked about the slap Styles dealt to Nakamura last week during their contract signing, and the champ teased apologizing before simply saying he's sorry he didn't knock his head off with the blow. Styles ended the brief interview segment by reiterating that SmackDown is the house that he built and that he plans on walking out of Chicago on Sunday still the WWE champion -- the same message he's been sending since prior to WrestleMania. Nakamura's final rebuttal later in the night came in the form of a match against United States champion Jeff Hardy.
Jeff Hardy def. Shinsuke Nakamura via disqualification: Take a wild guess how Hardy was victorious. If you guessed it was due to a low blow from Nakamura, then of course you are correct. Following the shot to the groin, the WWE championship challenger on Sunday nailed Hardy with a Kinshasa, then loudly counted to 10 to symbolize how he envisions his match with Styles playing out come Sunday.
Both of these men need to go their separate ways after Sunday because there's no more salvaging this feud, and Tuesday's go-home show was one last perfect example. The interview segment was done for no other reason than to get Lawler in front of the Memphis crowd. He simply asked one question and Styles provided the same recycled answers -- house that he built, walk out as champ still, etc. -- he has given since prior to WrestleMania. Namakura's bout with Hardy wasn't a disaster, but it was given a predictable finish to allow the challenger to count to 10 in front of the crowd one last time. It's disheartening how a feud featuring these two for the WWE championship was flubbed, but thankfully (hopefully), it mercifully ends at Money in the Bank. Grade: D+
What else happened on SmackDown?
- Daniel Bryan def. Shelton Benjamin via submission: After an enjoyable WWE dream match between these two, Bryan locked in the heel hook to make Benjamin tap out. Surprisingly, there was no sign of Big Cass to either interfere during the bout or blindside Bryan prior to their Money in the Bank match on Sunday.
- Rusev def. Samoa Joe via pinfall: Miz served as special guest referee for the bout. Rusev earned the pinfall following a Machka Kick while Joe was distracted by inflicting pain on Miz. After the match, Aiden English went under the ring and provided a ladder to Rusev, who proceeded to nail Joe with it for good measure. Miz recovered to hit Rusev with the Skull-Crushing Finale, before the former intercontinental champion climbed the ladder, secured the briefcase and took it to the announce table. The briefcase was opened at the table, but only to reveal it was filled with ... pancakes. New Day was shown backstage enjoying their troll job on the monitor.
- Big Cass promo: Cass took some time backstage to tell everyone he was at the fair earlier in the day where he was paid $25,000 just to show his face. He stole a height requirement sign from the fair, so naturally some jokes were made at the expense of Bryan's height. Along with the WWE championship feud, this is another one that should meet its demise at Money in the Bank.
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