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June 04, 2015

WWE SmackDown rundown: The field for the Money in the Bank Ladder Match is now complete

Wrestling WWE
060415_Smackdown_WWE Smackdown/WWE

SmackDown took place this week from the Toyota Center in Houston.

The Toyota Center in Houston, Texas was the scene for Thursday night’s SmackDown, and I think it was one of the better SmackDowns of the year so far.

It feels like the last month has been a whirlwind in WWE simply because we will have seen three pay-per-view quality events in the span of four weeks – something that has never occurred in the company until now. 

Some might say the product would become stale and burnt out with that many big events so close to each other, coupled with the two weekly wrestling shows on cable television, but WWE hasn’t fallen too far off in their product. 

That used to be the company’s downfall – too many shows in too short a time period, and the product on television would severely lack in entertainment. SmackDown has been consistently entertaining, and while not being the “second A show” that Vince McMahon reportedly wanted it to be back in the beginning of the year, the move to the USA Network next year should help the quality of the show moving forward.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that WWE announced its July 4th live event from Tokyo will be broadcast live on the WWE Network, beginning at 6:30 a.m. EDT. So get up very early and celebrate America’s independence by watching a WWE event from Japan.

Brock Lesnar will be wrestling, as well as Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, John Cena, Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens, Finn Balor and a whole lot more. This could be a huge show in the making, so if you haven’t subscribed to the WWE Network, I suggest you do so now.

Speaking of the Network, June is now free for new subscribers. If you haven’t subscribed yet and would like to try it out, click here. WWE will also be running a show in Toyko on July 3rd, but that won’t be available on the Network.

Here are some of the main stories coming out of SmackDown:

Rollins opened the show with a sit-down promo in the middle of the ring and went over the events that occurred over the last year, including him dismantling The Shield and beginning his track to becoming the very best in the wrestling industry. That track hit a climax when Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase and won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 31. And he’s successfully defended that championship twice before the creative team got cute and decided to have some schmozz finish at Elimination Chamber.

And speaking of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Dean Ambrose interrupted Rollins and explained how he and Reigns had to help Rollins with his luggage while they were members of The Shield because Rollins was a “rich girl with daddy issues.” Ambrose admitted he was a sc**bag just like Rollins, much to the delight of the crowd, who let out a big cheer when those words left Ambrose’s mouth.

Ambrose went on to say that he was the rightful champion after pinning Rollins clean at Elimination Chamber last Sunday. With no intention of giving the WWE World Heavyweight Championship belt back to Rollins, Ambrose finished by saying he was walking into the Ladder Match at Money in the Bank with the championship, and he’s walking out with it.

I think WWE has built this feud tremendously, and the way they’ve really hammered home the hatred and animosity between the two almost acts as a flashback to how feuds were built in the early days of wrestling through the 1980s and some of the 90s. This is a feud you want to see play out on TV because it’s well-booked and makes sense. It’s honestly pretty refreshing compared to the usual stuff we have to see week after week.

Speaking of usual stuff, we’re still stuck with seeing Kane at least for the immediate future, as he announced he would be the final participant in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match at the end of SmackDown. As it sits right now, that’s seven superstars in the ladder match when the usual count is at least eight, so we may see someone added to the match within the next week. However, with Kane saying he’s the “final” participant, I think that warrants assuming nobody else will be added to the match.

Kevin Owens being given a mic is always a good thing, and he was given the opportunity to talk a little bit before his NXT Championship Open Challenge. He said how he would defeat John Cena at Money in the Bank just like he did Sunday night at Elimination Chamber. I love the way Owens used his son in the promo, who is a big Cena supporter, and saying how he doesn’t know any better because he’s only seven-years-old. Then calling out Cena for his “fairy tale garbage” was easily the best part of the promo, so make sure you watch it above.

Owens went on to basically destroy Zack Ryder. So there’s that.

Renee Young interviewed Paige on the stage instead of the middle of the ring for some reason. There was some real-life spice added to this promo after highlights of her Divas Championship match against Nikki Bella were shown. Paige said the Bellas were holding back the other Divas and they have been for years because they don’t want to give up the spotlight. She then said a change was coming, “if you don’t like the world that you live in, then you have the power to change it. So, I guess I’m gonna have to change it.”

Lana was a guest on MizTV, as a highlight package recapped the ongoing saga between Lana and the Bulgarian Brute who now has a broken ankle, Rusev. This clearly was the end game for the Lana/Rusev pairing, but I still think they did it too soon. A year might be plenty of time nowadays to run angles and storylines, but Rusev was still a monster before being fed to Cena three times in a row, so I guess if that was the main objective of the creative team and/or Vince McMahon, I can’t fault them for that.

Miz played the heel perfectly in this segment, asking Lana how she could abandon Rusev in his biggest time of need. Lana’s response? “He does not respect me, so he does not deserve me.” Good stuff. At least according to Miz. He didn’t believe her, saying she thought that losing to Cena damaged Rusev so much that he was of no need to her anymore. Some good back-and-forth went on, with Lana even threatening to slap Miz, and then the Hollywood star introduced his surprise guest, Rusev!

With a walking boot and crutches, Rusev walked down to the ring courageously, up the steps, and got into the ring. Physically and emotionally exhausted, Rusev explained that he’s a broken man and just wants a second chance with her. “Nope.” – Lana. Rusev loses it and calls her a pathetic, stupid woman about 50 times in a row, then Dolph Ziggler’s music hit as he made his way down to the ring, picked up Lana, and headed to the back. Good segment here.

We finally had a Harper and Rowan sighting! Buried into the C shows the last few weeks, Harper and Rowan were given a backstage segment in which they officially announced they were a family, and they were back together. They warned the entire roster it was time for them to pay for their sins. If only this is foreshadowing to a Wyatt Family reunion…

Match rundown

     • No. 1 Contenders Triple Threat Tag Team Match: Prime Time Players vs. Lucha Dragons vs. The Ascension. Titus O’Neil d. Viktor by pinfall via a pump-handle slam. The Prime Time Players are now the #1 contenders for The New Day’s WWE Tag Team Titles.

     • Non-Title: Ryback (c-IC) d. Stardust by pinfall via Shell Shocked.

     • NXT Championship Open Challenge: Kevin Owens (c) d. Zack Ryder by pinfall after hitting him with the pop-up powerbomb.

     • Neville d. Kofi Kingston by pinfall via a rollup.

     • Roman Reigns d. Sheamus by disqualification after Kane interfered and attacked Reigns. Kane declared himself as the final participant in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match for the briefcase.