This week’s edition of WWE Smackdown Live focused on their next pay-per-view event, which is Money in the Bank on June 18. It’s one of my favorite PPVs of the year because the Money in the Bank Contract Ladder Match is always great and there’s a lot of interest in who might leave with the contract. There was also a big celebration for the new WWE Champion Jinder Mahal, who won the title at this past Sunday’s Backlash event. But first, let’s focus on the opening of the show and the main event.

Smackdown began with Commissioner Shane McMahon taking care of some business. If you’re wondering about Smackdown general manager Daniel Bryan’s whereabouts, he’s been off TV for the last month because his wife Brie Bella gave birth recently and WWE has allowed him to stay home to be with his daughter. Shane announced that at Money in the Bank, new WWE Champion Jinder Mahal will defend the title against former champion Randy Orton. The event is in St. Louis, which is Randy’s hometown. Could there be a title change again? It’s possible, but I doubt it.

Money in the Bank Ladder Match Announcement

Shane talked about the Money in the Bank Contract Ladder Match. He introduced four names for the match: AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Sami Zayn and Dolph Ziggler. Before Shane could announce the fifth man, US Champion Kevin Owens interrupted and complained about not being in the match. Shane introduced Shinsuke Nakamura as the fifth man in the match. It was only going to be five guys, according to Shane.

Owens complained about how Shane was a dictator and correctly pointed out that he should be in the match since he actually won at Backlash along with Zayn and Nakamura, but Corbin, Ziggler and Styles all lost. Shane ended up putting Owens into the match.

Why was Owens not originally in it? That didn’t make much sense. If they had Shane say that he wanted Owens to defend the US Title at that show and that’s why he’s not in it, then I would get it. However, they didn’t go that route. They offered no explanation for Owens not being in it. As fans, we are supposed to hate the bad guys like Owens. What this did was made us feel sympathetic towards Owens because Shane was being mean by not including him. That’s not how it should be. Come on, WWE. It’s not that difficult.

That means the Money in the Bank match will include Styles, Zayn, Nakamura, Corbin, Zayn and Owens. It’s going to be an outstanding match featuring five guys that I really like and Corbin, who I don’t mind at all. He’s just not a favorite. The guy I want to win is Zayn because I think it would really elevate him the most. I think Corbin’s a favorite because WWE management has high hopes for him as a main event talent. I’d be perfectly fine with any of them winning, really. It’s going to be one of the best Money in the Bank matches ever.

Anyway, the segment ended with Shane setting up Zayn vs. Corbin in a rematch from Backlash and Nakamura & Styles vs. Owens & Ziggler in what would be Nakamura’s first Smackdown match.

Shinsuke Nakamura & AJ Styles defeated Kevin Owens & Dolph Ziggler

Before I get to the match, it’s important to know that WWE has chosen to market Nakamura as the “Rockstar” now. They were calling him “The Artist” for weeks and this week they shoved the “Rockstar” nickname down our throats. I’m not sure why they feel they need to give him a label like that, but it’s what WWE does. They love to try to brand people whether it’s a nickname or a catchphrase. It’s the same way that Ziggler is the Show Off, Styles is the Phenomenal One (he had that before WWE) and now Owens is the Face of America.

It just sounds awkward hearing them call Nakamura the “Rockstar” so much. They’ve also dropped the “King of Strong Style” name that he used before WWE and in NXT. Once Vince McMahon gets his hands on a guy, things change.

This one got a lot of time. I don’t remember a tag match on television or even pay-per-view getting 25 minutes like this. Normally, if you told me guys of this caliber were in a long match like that I’d be really excited, but it dragged on a bit too much for my liking. The majority of the match featured the heel team working over Nakamura for about 10 minutes. It may have even been longer than that. Styles got the hot tag, was on offense for a bit and then the heels isolated him from his partner.

Nakamura tagged back in and they went into the finishing sequence with Nakamura and Owens as the legal men. Owens went after Nakamura, so Styles hit Owens with a Pele Kick and Ziggler nailed Styles with a superkick. Jumping kick to the head by Nakamura on Ziggler sent him out of the ring. Nakamura hit the Kinshasa running knee strike on Owens for the victory.

It makes sense to have Nakamura win since it was his first match on television after being on Smackdown for nearly two months. The sight of Nakamura teaming with Styles is also pretty cool. The story is that they can be allies for now, but at Money in the Bank it will be every man for himself.

This Week’s Smackdown Live Matches

Here is the other action from Tuesday night’s show.

Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair defeated Natalya & Carmella

The face team of Lynch and Charlotte got the win after about 10 minutes with Lynch forcing Carmella to tap out to the Disarmer. The result isn’t surprising because the heel side won at Backlash, so of course the face side got their win back here. I always talk about 50/50 booking and there it is once again.

I’m mildly surprised Charlotte didn’t get the win for her team because she has yet to look dominant on Smackdown since being moved there. Lynch needed the win, though, because it’s been a while since she won anything meaningful.

Sami Zayn defeated Baron Corbin

The bell rang, Corbin tossed Zayn across the ring and Zayn rolled him up to win in about 20 seconds. Match of the year! Okay, so it wasn’t that. The real story was that Corbin beat up Zayn after the match by tossing him into barricades all around the arena and hitting him with stiff forearm shots to the head. Zayn was taken away on a stretcher.

Zayn beat Corbin at Backlash and on Smackdown, so it makes sense for Corbin to be really mad about it. Some heels get cheered, but Corbin doesn’t because he’s good at being a jerk. Zayn is the perfect underdog babyface. It’s a rivalry that works for both guys.

Tyler Breeze defeated Jey Uso

Fandango sprayed Jey with a water gun and Breeze rolled up Jey for the pinfall win in less than 20 seconds.

Fandango defeated Jimmy Uso

Jey chased Breeze outside the ring, they went towards the ring and Jimmy was distracted by it, so Fandango rolled up Jimmy to win in about 30 seconds. That’s three matches in a row with rollup finishes. I think WWE’s creative team really loves that finish. Too much for my liking.

After the match was over, Breezango asked for a title shot and The Usos granted it with the approval of Shane McMahon.

The Usos defeated Breezango to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Titles

This was such a fun match and it only got four minutes. I was so entertained by it. The heels worked on Breeze for a bit, Fandango got the hot tag and the crowd was into all of it. The fans really believed Breezango was going to win the titles, which is obviously the reaction you’re looking for in a title match. We want people to buy into a possible title change. It works. The finish was great with Jey making a blind tag into the match and Fandango hit his flying leg drop off the top rope onto Jimmy. Jey jumped off another turnbuckle with a Superfly Splash and pinned Fandango to allow The Usos to retain the titles.

It would have been better if this match got about 10 minutes and the main event was around 18 minutes. I think it would have helped both matches. 

Other Key Items From Smackdown

1. Jinder Mahal had a Punjabi WWE Championship Celebration

Jinder Mahal had a celebration as the new WWE Champion. His buddies the Singh Brothers were with him, along with some drummers and dancers. Mahal did his usual slow talking promo reminding the people that they hate him because he looks different and also saying he represented the 1.3 billion people in India. What about the ones who aren’t in India anymore because he’s from Calgary? I guess they can’t address that. Anyway, it was just a simple heel promo.

It was also notable that WWE had announcer John Bradshaw Layfield react to everything in an over-the-top way. He kept pointing out that India has 1.3 billion people because WWE wants to remind us that every time he is out there. It’s as if WWE just realized India has over one billion people. We get it, Vince.

I kept waiting for Randy Orton to attack him. He would have been cheered massively if he dropped Mahal with a RKO. Instead, no sign of Orton. I think that’s lame considering Orton was screwed out of the title win on Sunday. Shouldn’t he be seeking revenge? Yes, he should. I don’t get what WWE was thinking with this booking.

2. Women’s Fatal 5-Way Elimination Match announced for next week’s Smackdown

Good job by WWE already announcing a match for next week with five women in an 5-Way Elimination match to determine the No. 1 contender for Naomi’s Smackdown Women’s Title.

I hope Natalya wins that match and wins the title. She hasn’t held a title since 2010. She’s long past due for another reign.

3. The New Day debuted on Talking Smack instead of Smackdown

The much hyped Smackdown debut of The New Day took place this week on…Talking Smack? What? That’s not the best way to debut them. I assume they’ll be on TV next week, but if you expected them on TV this week, you had to watch Talking Smack. I think they’ll feud with The Usos immediately.

Looking Ahead to WWE Money in the Bank

The next Smackdown pay-per-view is Money in the Bank on Sunday, June 18 in St. Louis, Missouri. Here’s what we know so far.

WWE Championship: Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton

Money in the Bank Contract Ladder Match: AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin vs. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn

We also know Naomi will defend her title there, but don’t know who the opponent is yet.

In Closing

I thought it was a pretty good show that was better than Raw. The main event was probably too long, but still a very good tag match. I liked the announcement of the Money in the Bank ladder match. Do we really have to wait one month for it? I want to see it now. The women’s match was fine. The guys in the tag title match situation did a great job of making the most of their time even though it was limited.

I’ll be back for more WWE action next week with Raw advertising Balor vs. Wyatt vs. Joe and Reigns vs. Rollins while Smackdown has the women’s 5-Way match.

About John Canton

John has been writing about WWE online since the late 1990s. He joined The Comeback/Awful Announcing team in 2015. Follow John Canton on Twitter @johnreport or email him at with any comments or questions. For more of his wrestling opinions, visit his website at Cheap pop!