In one of the biggest surprises in recent memory, Otis became Mr Money in the Bank. This week’s SmackDown was the first time we’ve seen him since last Sunday’s PPV, and he was in celebratory mode despite others trying to rain on his parade. Charlotte Flair also appeared as part of the newly announced Brand to Brand Invitational and had a few choice words for Sasha Banks and Bailey. The other main focus of the evening was who the new Intercontinental Champion would be after Sami Zayn was stripped of the title. With that, let’s delve into what went down.

Quick Results

Elias def. King Corbin via pinfall

Dana Brooke def. Naomi via pinfall

Daniel Bryan def. Drew Gulak via submission

Otis & Braun Strowman def. The Miz & John Morrison via pinfall

The Uncrowned

During the week, it was announced that Sami Zayn had been stripped of the Intercontinental Championship. Whilst those who follow SteelChair will know, it was down to Zayn not wanting to compete during the Coronavirus pandemic, leaving WWE with no choice but to place the title on somebody else. Over the next month, eight Superstars will be competing in a tournament to crown a new champion. The first two matches in the tournament took place on this week’s SmackDown, and both were great for different reasons.

Elias vs King Corbin

It’s clear how much these two hate each other. Corbin was responsible for pushing Elias from the rafters of the Performance centre weeks ago, then Elias smashed his guitar across Corbin’s back at Money in the Bank. Tonight was not only an opportunity for the two to take a step closer to becoming the new Intercontinental Champion, but also to gain some retribution.

Both guys used their strength to try and outdo each other, with Corbin’s power often proving too much for Elias. Although a nice aerial assault on Corbin took him down early on, Elias took a considerable amount of punishment throughout. Although King Corbin kept bringing the punishment, Elias showed great resilience. He took clotheslines, spinebusters, and chokeslams, yet still managed to stay in the match. Corbin thought it would be a great idea to smash Elias’ guitar on the ring post, and as a result took a big knee to the face, followed by an inside cradle, giving Elias the win.

Daniel Bryan vs Drew Gulak

Their match at Elimination Chamber was a technical spectacle, and the fact we got to see a repeat of it was a Gift from the Gods. This match didn’t disappoint, with both Bryan and Gulak putting on a fantastic display of well-executed submissions. Bryan managed to find a weakness in Gulak’s left leg, and continually tried to weaken it.

Through a series of dragon screws and ankle locks, Bryan showed why he is indeed the teacher in this relationship. Drew Gulak wasn’t a pushover by any means, but after a superb release German suplex and a devastating heel hook, Gulak has no choice but to tap out.

The Tournament Continues…

Next week, we’re getting the pleasure of AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura. These two has a classic at NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 10 back in 2016, garnering a 4.75 rating from Dave Meltzer, and have since come face to face in a WWE ring. This has the potential to be great, and I hope they get the opportunity to prove why they’re two of the best in the world today. Elias will be going up against one of the two legends, and it would be a major upset if he managed to advance to the final. We’re also getting Jeff Hardy vs Sheamus, and this could be a brilliant too, with Daniel Bryan facing the winner. Next week is already shaping up to be fantastic, and although Sami Zayn deserves the title, the show must go on.

The Afterthought

WWE’s need to have RAW and SmackDown Superstars appearing on both shows will always baffle me. After the Wild Card rule, I thought we’d be seeing the last of this novelty, but alas, the Brand to Brand Invitational made it possible once again. Although – like many fans – I was not in love with the idea, having Charlotte Flair appear on SmackDown this week was a big success. Whilst Flair is still a part of the RAW roster despite being NXT Women’s Champion seems ridiculous, she lit a huge fire under Sasha Banks and Bayley’s relationship.

Flair came out to the ring and said she understood why FOX invited her to SmackDown. She’s blonde, a superior athlete, and her last name is Flair. Bayley’s music hit and out came the SmackDown Women’s Champion, accompanied by Sasha Banks. It’s almost a certainty Banks will eventually lash out against Bayley, and Flair tried her best to open Sasha Banks’ eyes to how Bayley was treating her. The Queen called Banks an “afterthought” and a “lackey,” and you could see the cogs in Banks’ head start to turn. Bayley wasn’t impressed at all, challenging Flair to a match.

Charlotte Flair made her debut on NXT against Bayley, and over the years, their paths have crossed multiple times, with Bayley taking the SmackDown Women’s Championship from Flair back in October last year being the last time they fought. On next week’s show, Bayley will face Charlotte Flair in a Champion vs Champion match. We could very well see something happen between the SmackDown Women’s Champion and Sasha Banks, leading to a feud that would give us some amazing matches between the two so-called “best friends.”

The Briefcase

Otis was probably the last of the six competitors that anyone thought would come out with the briefcase at last Sunday’s men’s Money in the Bank match. He’s become a fan favourite over recent months for a multitude of reasons, and his storyline involving Mandy Rose and Dolph Ziggler was the cherry on top. He’s great inside the ring, but he’s also funny. With all the misery around the world, WWE fans need someone like Otis, and I’m glad he’s been given such a huge opportunity.

At the start of SmackDown, Miz TV introduced Otis to the ring, and it was just an opportunity for The Miz and John Morrison to mock him. Despite all the mocking and insults, Otis remained positive. M & M took a brief look at Otis’ past, bringing up his mother and his size in an attempt to make fun of him. After various fat jokes and attempts to upset Otis, The Miz started to get annoyed, claiming that Otis won the briefcase through sheer luck. He asked for a tag team match with Heavy Machinery, but was informed that Tucker wasn’t there. Frustrated that it wasn’t going to happen, The Miz asked Otis to find another tag team partner for the main event.

Otis bumped into Sheamus and asked if he would team up with him, but was emphatically refused. Otis’ peach Mandy Rose gave him the idea that Braun Strowman would be the perfect partner, and with that, he went looking for the Monster Among Men. When he did find him, Strowman was unsure, saying that he doesn’t entirely trust Otis not to cash in on him. Regardless, he said he’d think about it.

Otis & Braun Strowman vs The Miz & John Morrison

Of course, Strowman accepted. It wasn’t a particularly long match, but we got to see two of SmackDown’s most powerful men team up, making Heavy Machinery even heavier. Otis managed to get Strowman to do the worm, and as ugly as it was, it was pretty funny. Although The Miz and John Morrison managed to subdue Otis for a while, the Blue Collar Solid Otis dropped them both with a double suplex. Strowman entered the match and rolled The Miz down with the Strowman express outside the ring, followed by an epic slam on John Morrison for the victory.

After the match, Mandy Rose came to the ring in what looked like an attempt to distract Braun Strowman. Otis looked as though he was going to try and cash in, but Strowman turned around. Otis claimed he was only joking, and the two celebrated, but we could see Otis try it on again in the weeks to come. Whatever happens, Otis has earned this accolade, and he deserves to be the main focus of WWE’s attention right now.

Highs And Lows From The Rest Of The Show

Highs

The mysterious hacker returned in another vignette where he watched various camera feeds, observing every SmackDown Superstar on multiple screens. Although we may be no closer to finding out who he is, it’s starting to heat up. I’d love to see him continue to meddle in the SmackDown roster’s lives again, just like he did with Sonya Deville, Mady Rose, Dolph Ziggler and Otis.

A video package aired that mixed Becky Lynch’s huge announcement on RAW with important moments from her career. I thought I’d done crying over this, but the floodgates opened once again, thanks to the superb job WWE did with the editing here. All the best to Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins!

Sonya Deville is clearly not done with Mandy Rose. She delivered a promo towards the end of SmackDown, and it was fantastic. She talked about how she’s still got plenty left in store for Mandy Rose, and that next week, both her and Dolph Ziggler would destroy Otis and Rose in their mixed tag team match.

Lows

Naomi and Dana Brooke had one of the weakest matches I’ve seen recently, but it could have been so good. It started off strong, suddenly ending after Brooke got a sneaky pinfall for the victory. Despite Naomi performing well at Royal Rumble, it seems her time on the rise is well and truly over.

The Forgotten Sons delivered a promo about how they returned from their time in the army, not as heroes but as outcasts. They weren’t welcomed with open arms upon their return, so they would now be welcoming others with closed fists. It fell flat, and their run on SmackDown might fizzle out quicker than Sanity’s, however, I could be wrong.

Final Thoughts

This week’s SmackDown belonged to Otis. He keeps going from strength to strength, proving his stock in the ring and on the microphone. It was an interesting dynamic between him and Braun Strowman, likely playing out more as the weeks roll on. One thing I am interested in is seeing how Tucker plays into this storyline. Is he really happy that Otis won the men’s Money in the Bank, or will jealousy seep in? Otis has got the girl and now the opportunity to become Universal Champion, but where does that leave his tag team partner?

The way Charlotte Flair was used tonight made a lot of sense. She has huge ties to both Bayley and Sasha Banks, and having her highlight how Banks was no more than a glorified manager looked to have got her thinking. The Intercontinental tournament has already given us two great matches, and with AJ Styles taking on Shinsuke Nakamura and Jeff Hardy going up against Sheamus, we could be in for another great show next week.

It seems like Sonya Deville and Dolph Ziggler will continue to be a big focus for Mandy Rose and Otis. I’ll be interested to see if their mixed tag team match next week will involve inter-gender wrestling. These four have had quite the feud so far, and with this match being made, it looks as though their rivalry is far from over.

All images and videos courtesy of WWE