Welcome back to Wrestling With Words’ coverage of SmackDown! You may notice that it’s not Trask covering SmackDown this week, but don’t adjust your monitors. I will be taking the reigns of SmackDown going forward, and with the announcement by WWE earlier this week of the impending WWE Draft and the brand separation, it sounds like I’ll have my hands full. Nevertheless, as WWE continues down the road to the Money In The Bank pay-per-view, there’s no shortage of combustible elements being showcased tonight. Seth Rollins, following his return to WWE at Extreme Rules, will be making his first appearance on SmackDown since being injured. In addition, Rusev will defend his newly won United States Championship versus the former champion, Kalisto. Even better than that, we’ll see Cesaro go one on one with The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship as well.
SmackDown starts off this week with the usual fanfare and a special appearance by Michael Cole. Dean Ambrose is in the ring along with the Money in the Bank briefcase, and talks up a storm about how he’s going to be the guy who wins this year. This prompts not only an interruption from Kevin Owens, but Sami Zayn as well. The three men bicker back and forth about who’s going to win the match until none other than Alberto Del Rio interrupts, claiming he will win the match. A brawl erupts and we cut to commercial. Riveting stuff, per usual out of WWE.
Alberto Del Rio comes out hot as fire to start the match, taking it straight to Zack Ryder. The two trade back and forth momentum before Ryder connects with a huge suplex on the outside, sending us to another commercial break. Back from break, Del Rio is brutalizing Ryder, hammering him with stiff strikes again, which seems to be just how ADR works lately. Ryder connects with a bulldog and tries to follow up with a missile drop kick, but is slapped down onto the mat and hit with a superkick for his troubles. Del Rio sets up for the Crossarm Breaker, but his attempt is reversed into a Broski Boot, which does not net Ryder the victory. Ryder tries to connect with the Rough Ryder, but is put up in a tree of woe and narrowly avoids the double knee stomp, instead connecting with the Rough Ryder on second attempt. Del Rio sneaks out of the ring, and locks in the Crossarm Breaker, giving him the victory and the right to be in this year’s Money in the Bank ladder match.
Alberto Del Rio just doesn’t do it for me anymore. I was pretty hyped about his return when he came back last year, but there’s just not any more emotional investment in the character of Del Rio for me. Aside from that, his ring work has been, well, shoddy, at best. Not an offensive match, but Del Rio knocked it down a few pegs in my book. We get a look back at the events of RAW, including Rollins’ return at both Extreme Rules and on the flagship show of WWE.
Enzo and Big Cass are in the ring, about to begin mouthing off per usual on the Dudley Boyz, but they aren’t given the chance. The Dudley Boyz immediately interrupt, and the two exchange words and eventually agree on a match this upcoming Monday night on RAW. Nothing really else to say about that. From one segment to another, we join Rusev and Lana backstage, where Rusev says that Kalisto is a baby, and that milk is for baby’s, not championships. What a wonderful line. Rusev vs. Kalisto for the United States Championship is up after the break.
Kalisto starts off with some acrobatics, getting the match off to a lightning quick pace. Rusev slows things down to a hault with what appeared to be a headbutt to the ribs. Rusev is dominating the much smaller Kalisto, keeping the King of Flight grounded with punishing strikes. Kalisto escapes his grasps if only for a moment, but winds up back in the danger zone by trying to suplex Rusev. Kalisto tries again, and this time succeeds in slamming the Bulgarian Brute, shocking Lana and Rusev in the process as well as hurting his back even further. Kalisto cranks up the adrenaline and connects with a springboard corkscrew elbow followed by a spike hurricanrana. The coup de grace of his comeback comes with a springboard moonsault to the outside. Kalisto looks to seal the deal with the Salida Del Sol, but Rusev catches him, ties him up in a tree of woe and goes for a diving headbutt, but Kalisto is able to use his agile nature to his advantage. An ill-advised 450 on the part of Kalisto lands him in trouble as he lands on Rusev’s knees, and is locked into The Accolade.
Very nice match by both Kalisto and Rusev. Kalisto is incredibly good at playing the underdog role, and Rusev has always been entertaining since day one for me. He’s a highly athletic big man who has no problem changing gears on a whim. How can you not love Rusev, honestly? Post match, Rusev attempts to add injury to insult, but Titus O’Neil comes out to make the save, demanding a United States Championship match from the Bulgarian Brute who backs down.
This may be the one time I’m going to obey the old adage of “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all”. I’ll let others make their judgments about this horror show of a segment. Anyhow, AJ Styles is backstage with Renee Young, and the question has been asked: What’s next for AJ Styles? He gives us a rundown of his time in WWE thus far, saying he wants respect, he’s loss some friends, and he failed in trying to capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. What’s next for AJ? He doesn’t know, but he’ll think of something.
Imagine if WWE spent as much time building up most things as they have done and continue to do with Golden Truth? R-Truth is the punching bag for Breezango for this match, with Fandango taking Goldust off the apron and R-Truth eating a Supermodel Kick for the three count. I’ve got nothing to say about this, really. Let’s just get on the next thing, which is thankfully Seth Rollins returning to SmackDown! Even with Seth being positioned as a heel, the entire WWE fanbase can’t help but cheer the guy. He’s a phenomenal athlete, and I’m confident that Seth and Roman can have an excellent match at Money in the Bank. Seth plays around with the crowd a little bit before mic-dropping them by saying he isn’t happy to see them.
Cesaro is holding absolutely nothing back in this match, bringing the fight to The Miz immediately with a huge cannonball senton off the ring apron. Returning from commercial break, The Miz has domination of Cesaro’s upper body, focusing mostly on the shoulder. The resourceful Swiss Superman switches off to his good arm though and still manages to levy multiple uppercuts to the A-lister. Miz charges at Cesaro but is hurled into the air and hit with a stiff European Uppercut for his troubles. Cesaro gives Miz far too much breathing room, and receives a DDT for his troubles. Maryse and Miz unveil the turnbuckle, and Cesaro connects with an uppercut off the ring ropes. Cesaro looks to connect with the Neutralizer, but it’s reversed into a Figure Four attempt which is then reversed into a roll up! Cesaro rolls through another roll-up attempt and locks in the Sharpshooter in the center of the ring. Miz tries to take the money and run, so to speak, and walk out on Cesaro. Cesaro connects with an uppercut, tosses Miz back in the ring and hits a crossbody. Miz resorts to using the exposed turnbuckle to his advantage, shoving Cesaro shoulder first and connecting with the Skull Crushing Finale for the victory.
Fantastic main event, but it’s a shame that Cesaro’s losing more and more momentum by the day in WWE since returning. He returned to absolutely huge fanfare and now he’s been reduced little by little until there’s nothing left. I hope that he eventually gets a good run with either the United States or Intercontinental Championship, as he will almost definitely not be winning the Money in the Bank ladder match. With the impending brand split, WWE Draft, and more upon us, there’s certainly a chance that Cesaro may very well see brighter days in his future. Until then, it’s been real everyone. Thanks for reading my first of many SmackDown reviews!