A sombre start to this week’s review as I dedicate the piece to the late Vader. A man that, like a lot of talent on the SmackDown roster, was overlooked and underused during his tenure with WWE. A true behemoth that deserves to be in the WWE Hall of Fame for his achievements in WCW and Japan. What time?… The SmackDown Review time, of course.

Leon White/Vader/Big Van Vader (1955 – 2018)

Opening the show, Carmella celebrated beating Asuka at Money in the Bank before she was confronted by Asuka… but wait, it wasn’t Asuka, it was James Ellsworth dressed up as Asuka. Just as the Chinless of Tomorrow was singing Carmella’s praises, the real Asuka hit the ring and took out Ellsworth before Carmella nailed her with a superkick. Carmella and Ellsworth celebrated while escaping up the entrance ramp.

The middle bits (and SAnitY):

– Becky Lynch defeated Billie Kay in singles action despite Peyton Royce’s attempts to help her IIconic partner.

– Jeff Hardy featured backstage in a darkened room covered in face paint and wearing white contacts. Calling out Shinsuke Nakamura, Hardy said that his “eyes are now open”.

Jeff Hardy “sees” Shinsuke Nakamura.

– We were finally treated to the debut of SAnitY who attacked The Usos before their scheduled match could start. Sadly, they were not joined by Nikki Cross.

– In an interview with Renee Young, Shinsuke Nakamura blamed the referee counting too quickly and not in Japanese for his loss to AJ Styles in the Last Man Standing match at MITB.

– Paige announced that Anderson and Gallows would have a second chance at the SmackDown Live tag team championships tonight. The Bludgeon Brothers defeated The Good Brothers after Rowan made a blind tag on Harper and the duo hit a double powerbomb on Anderson for the win. Hopefully, SAnitY will also enter the fray for a chaotic match at Extreme Rules.

Happy Rusev Day:

At the start of the show, Paige declared there would be a 5-man Gauntlet match to determine the No. 1 Contender for AJ Styles’ WWE Championship at Extreme Rules. In the match would be Daniel Bryan, Big E, Samoa Joe, Miz and Rusev.

Joe fails to meet the 10-count.

Starting the match – and once again having a mountain to climb – was Daniel Bryan who was starred down by the Bludgeon Brothers as he made his way to the ring. Bryan defeated his first opponent Big E after hitting the running knee. Next up was Samoa Joe who came close to eliminating Bryan after he locked in the Coquina Clutch outside the ring to trigger the referee’s 10 count. As the ref approached the count of 10, Bryan reversed Joe by rolling back and slid into the ring, leaving Joe to be counted out.

Just as it looked as though we would finally be treated to a showdown between The Miz and Daniel Bryan, the Bludgeon Brothers attacked Bryan and hit a double powerbomb, setting the A-lister up for a Skull Crushing Finale and the elimination. This left Rusev and The Miz as the final two. It was the Bulgarian (yes, you read correctly) who would claim the victory after he locked in the Accolade and Miz tapped out.

It’s Rusev Daaaaaaaaay!

Styles came out and shook hands with Rusev. Aiden English also stuck his hand out but pulled it away as Styles went to reciprocate. For his disrespect, English earned himself a smash in the face from Styles before the WWE Champion would take his belt and head out of the ring.

All pics courtesy of wwe.com

By Bradley Tiernan

"Wrestling is better than the things you like" - John Oliver