Considering how absolutely crazy this week has been in terms of news in the wrestling world, I was quite surprised to realise that it had been less than a week since the Money in the Bank PPV. I swear we’ve had so many developments lately that it feels a good few weeks since that ever happened. After a strong show, we had an exciting RAW where Nikki A.S.H. cashed in her briefcase to win the RAW Women’s Championship, Jeff Hardy finally got No More Words back and even beat Karrion Kross on his RAW debut – the less I say about that the better really. Let’s hope SmackDown makes me slightly less angry.

The main highlights from the blue side of the Money In The Bank event were The Usos winning the tag titles from the Mysterios, Big E got his hands on the men’s briefcase and Roman Reigns retained his Universal Championship (with the help of Seth Rollins) only to be confronted by the legend that is John Cena. We’d heard rumblings for many weeks that the leader of the Cenation would be returning to WWE again soon and it was just a case of when. That trigger has now been pulled and it looks like we’re full steam ahead to SummerSlam. Let’s see how the Tribal Chief responds, as well as the SmackDown debut of Toni Storm and some action from Miami’s Rolling Loud festival too.

Do dodo dooooo

The champ is here! Hopefully, Pat McAfee can see him this time, or else this is going to get pretty confusing every week. The energy that John Cena brings to an arena is second to none and seeing him return in front of fans at Money in the Bank was something truly special. I was pretty sure Michael Cole was going to explode with excitement at that point but thankfully he’s still with us now. Say what you want about legends coming back and stealing the spotlight or whatever else but I do genuinely think there’s a time and a place for it, and Cena working with this version of Roman Reigns is going to deliver something really special for returning crowds. Love him or hate him you can’t argue that he’s up there with the best and that he loves WWE.

After a few moments sucking up to the crowd like only John can, it was down to business – he wants Roman Reigns at SummerSlam and he was hoping Reigns would come out and accept the challenge. Obviously not because we all know Roman works on his own time and instead we got Paul Heyman. Paul doesn’t believe John is worth listening to and he just wanted to let him know that the Head of the Table will answer him in his own time. Then we got to hear arguably the best thing in months which was Heyman singing John Cena’s theme and it might just be better than Rick Boogs doing Shinsuke Nakamura’s entrance. It’s a close call. Long story short – Cena wants Roman but Roman’s all about the mind games. And so we wait.

Finn Balor vs Sami Zayn

After a surprise move to SmackDown last Friday night interrupting another one of Zayn’s paranoid promos, we got straight down to business this week instead of dragging it out for another 6 weeks which was nice. A good reminder on commentary that not only are both men former NXT champions but Finn was the first Universal champion and Sami did actually win the Intercontinental Title at some point in between all of his documentary madness too. I’m liking the little highlights they give for superstars every so often which actually reminds us of how capable they are. I’m guessing we’re back to the full-face version of Finn now we’re doing the posing entrance again, rather than the cocky gun pointing version we were getting more recently in NXT.

Zayn had his working boots on this week rather than just complaining and trying to escape his opponent. Balor has a lot to prove on the main roster and I hope he manages to keep what made his recent NXT run such a success and transfer that to SmackDown. For me, that means keeping his character more legit and not sinking back into The Demon just for some random cosplay every few weeks. Both guys showed their technical skills this week and had a good wrestling match which could have gone either way but there’s only ever one winner. Despite Sami’s best efforts, Finn caught him with a couple of shotgun dropkicks followed by a Coup de Grace for the huge win. He really needed the victory to remind everyone how good he is and it’ll be interesting to see what his next move is. Intercontinental contender? Or go straight for the Universal Title?  One thing we all know about Finn is that he’s not scared of a challenge.

You Deserve It!

While I was disappointed that Liv Morgan didn’t manage to win the Money In The Bank briefcase for the SmackDown side, it was nice to see Nikki A.S.H. get that opportunity and she certainly made it count on Monday night. Hopefully, Morgan can get right back on track and earn a title shot herself. Thankfully my pick for the men’s side, Big E, came through and I’m all sorts of excited about the potential of him dethroning Roman Reigns somewhere along the line. It shouldn’t be John Cena. It shouldn’t be The Rock. It should be a star-making performance and they’ve got enough time to build Big E as a legitimate threat. As long as they keep him away from Apollo.

Oh. That lasted about 30 seconds before they managed to cross paths again. Great. The joy of seeing Big E with the briefcase and the crowd going wild all died because we had to bring Apollo out. Why? The only thing worse would be if they brought out Dolph Ziggler. Oh. They did that too. To be honest, I’m not sure what this segment was about because the Dirty Dawgs came out, then Boogs and Nakamura and then Cesaro, and they just had a little fight and then that was it. I’m assuming there was something for the live crowd while they cut to the festival but it was a bit weird, to be honest. Anyway if it involved Big E and Apollo wrestling again then we were probably lucky to miss it.

Rolling Loud – Angelo Dawkins (with Montez Ford) vs Chad Gable (with Otis)

No, we didn’t get Otis crowd surfing so this was a waste of time really. Although saying that, if there’s anyone that can get a festival hyped then it’s the Street Profits. I do wonder how many were there for the wrestling and how many were just absolutely confused about what was going on. I liked it though. They need to do more random things like this and change things up a bit. As much as the technology and everything impresses me these days, I do miss when they used to do different places and different entranceways and things like that. It’s all very samey samey now isn’t it? At least NXT has tried to adapt a few themes over the past few years. I appreciate their efforts.

Anyway, I’m sure the Rolling Loud crowd were eager to see a continuation of the Profits feuding with Alpha Academy. It won’t be talked about in any Match of the Year lists at the end of the year, or probably ever mentioned again, but Dawkins beat Gable and that was about it really. I wish it could’ve been something more eventful or more interesting but it wasn’t. If this is Vince’s idea of winning over a new crowd let’s just say I’m not exactly expecting a ratings bump next week from this match. Let’s hope Bianca Belair and Carmella get a little more time to get the crowd on side.

Rolling Loud – SmackDown Women’s Championship – Bianca Belair (c) vs Carmella

I’m not really sure why Carmella is getting a rematch but there you go. It’s SmackDown and I suppose that’s enough reason to have a rematch right? It’s great to see Bianca get such an opportunity and Carmella’s a natural heel so she should be able to get any crowd to hate her, not that it’s probably that difficult to get the Rolling Loud audience to hate you. Belair does look every inch the superstar and right at home in situations such as this. I really hope she has a long reign that not only gives importance to the title but also raises her own profile because she deserves it. She’s a great wrestler and athlete, growing in confidence on the mic and even makes her own gear. What’s not to love?

With no Nikki A.S.H. to worry about, both women settled down and had a solid match in front of the unusual crowd. Carmella tried to make the most of the opportunity and took it to Bianca but the EST of WWE had an answer for everything thrown at her. Her speed and strength are unmatched and Carmella struggled to find a real opening to beat the champion, and while she gave it a good shot she made one too many mistakes and got caught with a KOD to lose once again. The result was never in doubt and now surely we’ll move on to find out who is stepping up to take on Belair for the title at SummerSlam. Could it be Naomi? Or a returning Sasha Banks? Or even a triple threat? I’d be okay with all three women getting the spotlight.

Grandpa Edge

For a guy that just lost his one on one opportunity at the Universal Championship at the last PPV, Edge seemed pretty damn excited as he made his way out in front of the fans. I don’t blame him really. Every time he comes out must feel like a dream come true. He never thought this was going to happen. He never thought this was going to be possible. I really feel like he takes in every single roar from that crowd and loves every second of it. Good for him. Of course, he’s angry though because Seth Rollins ruined his moment and it’s time for revenge. Does Rollins really know who he’s dealing with? Edge brought up his history with The Brood and The Ministry Of Darkness to show what dastardly things he’s capable of. He didn’t mention anything about live sex celebrations though. Weird that.

Unsurprisingly Rollins joined Edge in the ring, mocking his age and all the usual stuff while still rocking the suit and laughing every five seconds. I hope he has it in his contract that he gets paid per laugh and that’s why he can afford such lavish attire every week. Their history was brought up where Rollins threatened to break Edge’s neck years ago pre-return and now Seth will not be showing any mercy. It looks like we’re heading to SummerSlam with these two guys and I’m pretty excited for it. It feels more personal than the Edge and Roman feud and I’m all for watching someone destroy Seth as much as possible. And it even means we don’t need to see another Cesaro and Rollins rematch so it’s a win-win all round.

Toni Storm vs Zelina Vega

Oh no. Zelina is already in the ring and didn’t even get an entrance. I bet people kicked off on Twitter about that. She’s probably being buried or whatever else people want to call it. They do realise that not every wrestler can win every match all the time, right? I do wonder sometimes. I think a lot of people would enjoy wrestling a lot more if they didn’t analyse every last little detail. Some of it can be fun but there’s definitely a lot of overthinking from people. Vega is a heel. A sneaky heel. Sometimes it’s good to see a face one-up the sneaky heels. It’s not as damaging as some believe it is.

Anyway – Toni Storm. How exciting. She’s been awesome in NXT UK and NXT and now she gets an opportunity on the main roster on SmackDown and I think she’ll smash it. It’s a bit weird seeing her debut as a face when she’d been putting in a good shift as a heel lately on NXT but there you go, sometimes they just want us to believe that NXT doesn’t exist. Vega wasn’t impressed by the shiny new toy and took it to Storm but it was Toni Time this week and she wasn’t having any of it. Vega pulled off Storm’s belt by accident and this was enough for Toni to hit the Storm One on her opponent for a successful SmackDown debut. A few more high-profile wins and she’ll be in that title contender discussion too.

Jimmy Uso (with Jey Uso) vs Dominik Mysterio (with Rey Mysterio)

Ah yes, of course, we need a rematch of sorts. Here it is. I bet Dominik is loving being in front of the crowds after so much of his WWE career was in the ThunderDome era. He’s still a little sloppy in places and was again this week, but he’s got a good career ahead of him and the talent he’s working with must teach him so much week in week out. As impressive as the Performance Center is, there’s surely no comparison with learning from the best on the main roster so Dominik is very lucky in that respect. The Usos are finally bringing gold to the family table, although Roman never really looks that impressed about it. It’ll be interesting to see what happens if he loses the title and suddenly they’re the most successful ones in the family. He’d probably ask them to give him the belts.

I like how Dominik never backs down for a fight. He doesn’t rely on his dad. He’s more than happy to step up and make a success of himself. The Usos on the other hand are dirty cheating bastards and will do anything to keep those titles I’m sure. They showed it at Money in the Bank and they showed it again this week on SmackDown. Dominik was looking like he might steal a win but instead, Jimmy came out victorious after Jey interfered with some leverage outside. How dare they. I’m sure cousin Roman was super proud though, assuming he bothered to watch it which he probably didn’t if we’re being honest. Now give me The Usos and Street Profits at SummerSlam and I’ll be a happy bunny.

Time To Answer The Challenge

Instead of opening SmackDown with his super long entrance, as usual, Roman decided this week to close the show. Obviously, I’m not going to argue with him because he’d probably kick the crap out of me but he could do with speeding up the entrance a teeny tiny bit. That’s all I’m saying and I hope he doesn’t read this. If he ever asks then obviously I acknowledge him as my Tribal Chief and whatever the hell he wants. Apparently, he wanted everyone in the crowd to acknowledge him but they were pretty rude with the booing and all that, and I’m sure everyone at home was doing something similar too.

Roman dropped some harsh words this week on John Cena before refusing his SummerSlam challenge. He said that he thought Hollywood had changed him but he came back in 2005 John Cena mode just like he always does. He compared Cena to doing missionary position every single night and no one wants that. Damn that one must have hurt. And just when we were all expecting Cena to come out and try to convince Reigns otherwise, instead we were greeted by Finn Balor again. If Roman isn’t interested in Cena’s challenge then would he be interested in one from him? The crowd tried to bait Roman by calling him scared, and of course, he’s not, so he accepted right on the spot. Is it for SummerSlam or a SmackDown or what? We don’t know, but what an unexpected end to this week’s show. It looks like we’re getting down and dirty Balor style soon.

The best of SmackDown

  • John Cena – always a win no matter what show he appears on
  • Finn Balor – a great in-ring performance and an epic challenge
  • Paul Heyman – who knew he could sing so well?
  • Toni Storm – a successful debut
  • Baron Corbin – he got shot in the balls

The worst of SmackDown

  • Apollo and Big E – never again, please
  • Chad Gable – a great job with Otis but needs to work on his own achievements soon
  • Zelina Vega – needs to find a way to win again

In summary…

Things are definitely heating up on the way to one of the biggest PPVs of the year and I’m really looking forward to SummerSlam already. Cena has brought an energy with him that is like no other and it’s great to see everyone be able to perform in front of crowds again. As much as I appreciate everyone’s efforts in the ThunderDome, it’s nice to be able to get a better idea of what’s really working and what isn’t in front of a real crowd. I’m very curious to see where this Roman, Cena, and Balor stuff goes and I’m glad Finn has injected himself right at the top straight away. He’s a fresh face that they could work wonders with at that level. Big E is another guy that they can build up to that level but they need to keep him away from Apollo, so I’m sure I’ll see you all here again next week where they have their 2000th match or something.

All images and videos courtesy of WWE

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