By Steven Flora
This week's edition of Smackdown Live features two championship matches and the second-ever Women's Money in the Bank Ladder match. With the Hype Bros and Lana gearing up for the biggest matches of their lives, a forgotten stipulation awaits Randy Orton and WWE World Champion Jinder Mahal.
Money in the Bank briefcase is officially F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S
Smackdown Women’s MITB Match: Carmella def. Becky Lynch, Charlotte, Tamina & Natalya
The biggest story of the night was Carmella winning the Money in the Bank briefcase and becoming the first-ever (officially) Miss Money in the Bank.
Carmella bails and everyone else brawls to begin. Carmella slides in a ladder and looks to climb already. The others all slide back in the ring and pull her down and kick her ass, sending her to the floor. Tamina gets tosses and it is down to Charlotte vs. Becky. Becky hits an XPLODER, sets up a ladder but Tamina stops that and hits a Samoan drop. Tamina then hits a rough looking splash off the top and everyone is down. I always find it interesting that they burn the screen in screen gimmick before the main event, seems like the wrong call. Post break, we see Tamina toss Carmella over the announcer’s table. Charlotte and Natalya battle back and forth in the ring, Natalya gets tosses and Becky hits an XPLODER on the floor. Charlotte sets the ladder on a downed Tamina and slams it on her and then repositions the ladder and climbs. Carmella tries to cut her off, and Tamina shoves the ladder over from the ground. Superkick to Charlotte by Tamina, end Tamina climbs but Becky and Natalya pull her off and powerbomb her. Natalya then hits a sitout powerbomb on Becky, works the sharpshooter on Carmella but Charlotte breaks it up and she and Natalya brawl to the floor and into the crowd. Ellsworth returns and helps Carmella into the ring and urges her to climb. He sets up the ladder and he climbs for her. Becky is back, takes out Carmella and then shoves over the ladder and takes him out. Becky climbs, and Carmella cuts her off; Becky tweaks her knee but tries to climb but Carmella takes her out with chair shots and climbs. Carmella wins.
Side Note: The deserved winner had to be Carmella, I mean imagine if she lost, the uproar on social media would be crazy! The women once again put on a great match, not as good as their match at the MITB PPV but it was still a strong showing. Carmella winning puts even more heat on her and builds her up to be a top heel on Smackdown Live. I expect Carmella to win the Smackdown Women's title in the near future but for now the briefcase should help build herself up as a credible threat to the champion, whoever that may be.
The Punjabi Prison match returns at Battleground
Aiden English is alive and is here to sing. Randy Orton is alive, likely assuming that English is somehow related to Mahal and figuring he’d save himself a trip to India. After the commercial break, Orton is alone. During the break, Orton told English to leave; he refused, so Orton hit an RKO. Orton won’t leave until he gets what he wants. Orton tore into Mahal last week and we get some footage. Orton wants a rematch for the WWE Title, he says he deserves a rematch, because if he doesn’t get one, he will beat down Mahal in the locker room, in the parking lot and in the airport. So he “deserves” a title shot because he will commit assault and battery? Better than burring down someone’s house I suppose. Shane says that Mahal & The Singhs crossed the line, similar to what Orton has done himself in the past. Shane says he understands and will give him a rematch, at Battleground for the WWE title in a match that Mahal will choose. Jinder Mahal then arrives, runs down Orton and how Smackdown is run. While he feels Orton doesn’t deserve a title shot, he will defend the title and says that the match will be one that his hero the Great Khali created, the returning Punjabi prison match.
Side Note: Firstly, I find it ironic Orton is annoyed at how Jinder made this feud personal by attacking his family, when Orton has made a career out of attacking superstars family members' (e.g. Cena, Shane etc). The Punjabi Prison match is a pretty complex match that wasn't as popular ten years ago; probably due to The Great Khali (worst WWE superstar ever). I hope Mahal and Orton can put on a great match and with the absence of the Singh Bros interfering, we'll be able to see once and for all if Jinder Mahal is truly WWE Championship material.
Naomi thwarts Lana's attempts to make history
Smackdown Women's Championship Match: Naomi (c) def. Lana
Lana with the sneak attack during the introductions, she hits the hammerlock spinebuster and Naomi kicks out at 2. Naomi fires back with a head kick and hits the split legged moonsault and wins. Winner: Naomi (c).
Side Note: I was a bit perplexed with the ending to this short match. Essentially this was a squash match and while I admit Lana isn't ready, I find it odd that they would build up Lana to be a credible threat to Naomi; then have her get squashed by Naomi two weeks later. Hopefully Lana will improve more in the ring and build up her skills but in the meantime, Naomi needs another credible contender to help legitimise her as champion.
The Usos halt the momentum of the Hype Bros
Non-Title Match (If The Hype Bros Win They Get a Tag Title Shot): The Usos (c) def. Hype Bros
Ryder into begin, he hits arm drags and a flapjack, covering for 2. Mojo tags in, they work some double teams and then Mojo no sells some chops and hits a shoulder bock and tags in Ryder and tosses him to the floor onto the Usos. The Usos cut off Ryder as we head to a screen in screen commercial break. The Usos take the heat on Ryder, working quick tags and grounding Ryder. Ryder slowly fights back, tags in Mojo and he runs wild with shoulder blocks and a slam, covering for 2. Ryder gets tossed to the floor and Mojo scores with the pounce. Ryder in and works over an Uso, missing the broski boot as we go full screen, big splash to Ryder and the Usos win. Winner: The Usos (c).
Side Note: This was a perfectly solid and fun match, used to keep the Usos strong and set up the next tag title match while selling the importance of the screen in screen commercial gimmick. They also held off on the expected heel turn from one of the Hype Bros, which is interesting.
Other Notable Moments
We get a new installment of Fashion Vice. Fandango & Breeze interrogate the Ascension, who deny doing anything wrong. Fandango tries to bribe them with Eddie Money tickets. Konnor wanted to accept, Breeze arrives, offering iced tea and a cheese platter. Fandango realises they were both playing good cop and during the interrogation their office was trashed again. The Ascension enjoys the cheese plate and sneakily take the Eddie Money tickets.
Baron Corbin took on Sami Zayn in yet another match, *yawn*. Corbin takes control and works Sami over and takes him back into the ring. Corbin slowly beats down Sami, cuts off a springboard attempt and then works the bear hug. Sami hits a boot, but Corbin hits a big clothesline and then goes back to the bear hug. Sami escapes, and hit the desperation lariat and follows with rights. Corbin then posts himself, Sami hits a high cross and covers for 2. Corbin kills Sami with a big right and corner clothesline. Corbin misses another attempt, Sami rolls him up and gets 2. Corbin rushes him back to the corner, sets Sami up top but Sami fights back and head butts Corbin to the mat. Back down and Sami runs into an end of days and is finished. Winner: Baron Corbin.
New Day arrives and challenges the Usos to a match at Battleground. The Usos say they don’t deserve a shot since they already took care of them. They will take a pass as whooping that as tonight, but at Battleground, they accept. Kofi says that the Usos are getting moody, and calls them booty. I’m not a big fan of New Day essentially booking themselves in a rematch, when the Hype Bros lost a shot that they legit earned months ago because reasons.
Overall Smackdown Live Rating: B-
Things to look forward to next week
How will Orton respond to the Punjabi Prison Match stipulation at Battleground?
How will the Smackdown Women respond to Carmella's victory?
Who will be the next contender to Naomi's Smackdown Women's Championship?
What's next for Mike & Maria Kanellis?
Where is the 'Perfect 10' Tye Dillinger?