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NEW ORLEANS - Well whaddya know? Enzo Amore has apparently played a tune with Francesca II. Muscles Marinara was left singing a sad song, along with Big Cass and The New Day, when they teamed up against Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson & The Vaudevillains in advance of their Fatal 4-Way clash for the WWE Tag Team Titles Sunday.
Despite bickering among the fan-favorites over whether Kofi Kingston’s Steph Curry kicks were old-man footwear, their alliance held strong in the early goings against the gentlemen and the goons, thanks to a Kingston plancha over the turnbuckle(!). A Gallows clothesline to Big E behind the ref’s back swung the match, though. Even a last-ditch brawl couldn’t deter Gallows & Anderson from executing a sneaky tag and dropping Kingston with the Magic Killer.
With the great Teddy Long experiment in the rearview and Stephanie McMahon officially making a power play for SmackDown, tensions between the McMahon siblings are at an all-time high. But true to the phrase “anything can happen in WWE,” the brother-sister headbutting was cut off at the pass by the return of Kane. Corporate Kane, that is, with résumé and references in hand (including one by The Undertaker, apparently) and ready to make his own case as a candidate to run the blue brand come July 19, much to the McMahons’ collective horror.
Titus O’Neil is set to challenge for the U.S. Title on Sunday, largely because he refused to stop demanding Rusev for the match. That’s a bold strategy, Cotton, but The Bulgarian Brute can be just as incorrigible as his opponent, as he showed on Raw by bum-rushing O’Neil from behind before The Big Deal’s planned match. In lieu of a verbal response to O’Neil’s bravado, Rusev simply locked his No. 1 contender in the Accolade while officials tried in vain to separate the two. Oh, now it’s personal.
All the talk has been, understandably, about Roman Reigns’ long-brewing battle with Seth Rollins over the WWE World Heavyweight Title at Money in the Bank. But perhaps the real X-factor of the match is … Dean Ambrose? Yep, Dean Ambrose. In one “Ambrose Asylum,” The Lunatic Fringe went from genial middleman among the reunited Shield members to a potential dark horse in Reigns and Rollins’ title match.
He did so in the most Ambrose way possible, casually interrupting the champion and challenger’s talking points. Per Reigns, Rollins is a pretender to the throne and a sell-out; per Rollins, he never lost the title and Reigns is a paper champion. But Ambrose added the observation that he could win Money in the Bank and snatch the title from under both their noses. As if to punctuate his point, the ensuing brawl between the estranged Hounds of Justice ended with Ambrose standing tall after a Dirty Deeds to Reigns, signifying that the inmate may well run the asylum very, very soon.
Dana Brooke reaffirmed her allegiance to Charlotte last week on Raw by helping beat down Natalya and Becky Lynch, but the partnership between the WWE Women’s Champion and her new protégée (assistant?) hasn’t been sailing so smoothly since then. Not only did Dana lose to Becky on SmackDown, but now Charlotte has also taken an “L,” this time to Paige and this time as a direct result of Dana’s inability to properly police the bout.
Well, that might be putting it lightly. After Charlotte got tossed in front of Natalya and Becky at commentary, Dana hoisted her mentor up and threw her back into the ring … face-first into a Paige superkick, which was quickly followed up by a Ram-Paige. Good luck with that tag match, ladies.
New Era or not, enough people in the WWE Universe still “Woo Woo Woo” enough that Zack Ryder, the miracle kid of WrestleMania 32, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. That, of course, didn’t sit well with freshly minted box-office topper Sheamus on Raw, who’s been a little bitter over the lack of deference by his fellow Superstars lately.
And true, Sheamus’ beef has mainly been with Apollo Crews, but Ryder, who has jaw-jacked with The Celtic Warrior a bit over the last week, proved incredibly difficult for the Irishman to put away, landing two Broski Boots and an El-Bro Drop. Ryder finally went down for the three after Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick, but even then, Sheamus refused to let up and kept kicking The Ultimate Broski while he was down. Enter Crews for the save, which sent Sheamus scurrying for higher ground until Sunday’s deciding showdown.
Let’s try this again: Zayn-Cesaro V devolved quickly into a brawl a few weeks back. But the sixth lock-up between The Underdog from the Underground and The King of Swing was the kind of true-blue battle of wills the two have having for years now … right down to a somewhat surprising conclusion, given the series’ history.
“Somewhat surprising” was sort of the name of the game for Zayn all night long, actually. Cesaro dared Zayn to prove he belonged on the big stage, so Zayn came ready to show The Swiss Superman he wasn’t to be trifled with before the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Given his slide last week, it was an edge Zayn needed, and one that ultimately paid off during a series of reversals on reversals when Zayn landed a Canadian Destroyer for the one-two-three. Olé!
Ever since John Cena was confirmed to face AJ Styles on Sunday, the 15-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion has taken issue — to put it lightly — on Styles’ reliance of Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson to bolster his chances in a match. Cena has already called on Styles to ditch his buddies and make their “Dream Match” a one-on-one affair Sunday, to which Styles responded with a hearty “thanks but no thanks” that he once again reiterated during the pair’s contract signing for their years-in-the-making battle.
But give Cena credit where it is due: The Cenation leader can be very persuasive. Or perhaps he’s just persistent. Either way, despite being offered a version of the contract that added Gallows & Anderson to his side, Cena’s goading led The Phenomenal One to decide that, to truly supplant The Face that Runs the Place, he’d have to do so on his own. Cena vs. Styles it is.
Kevin Owens’ pre-Raw trick on Alberto Del Rio — he reported The Pride of Mexico to TSA and got him detained for five hours — left The Essence of Excellence spitting nails, which meant they hadn’t even laced up their boots before they were at each other’s throats. Unfortunately, they had to coexist anyway, because thanks to a Corporate Kane “team-building exercise,” they were forced to unite and defend their spots in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match against The Lucha Dragons.
As it turns out, necessity is the mother of invention, or in this case cooperation. Owens & Del Rio fought the entire way, but they came together when it counted, with Owens saving Del Rio from a count-out and a Sin Cara senton before tagging himself in and hitting the Pop-up Powerbomb while The Pride of Mexico disposed of Kalisto. Their partnership over, Del Rio then kicked Owens in the face. Sounds about right.
Last Thursday on SmackDown, Chris Jericho finally got his win against Dean Ambrose … and just like that, the honeymoon is over for “The Best in the World at What He Does.” The Lunatic Fringe knocked Jericho off in their rematch on Raw, but the presence of Cesaro as the ring announcer, Alberto Del Rio as the timekeeper and Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens on commentary made the bout a veritable pressure-cooker for the Money in the Bank Ladder Match participants.
Well whaddya know, that pressure did, in fact, boil over. Everyone was civil enough to wait until after Ambrose reversed the Codebreaker into Dirty Deeds, but then it was “go time” as soon as Owens rushed Ambrose. And the rest followed, instigating a Pier-Six brawl that ended with Jericho making the symbolic grab of the contract. Oh and as for our pal Corporate Kane? It turns out he’s not getting the SmackDown job. But Shane McMahon officially turned the tables on Stephanie and named himself the man to run the blue-brand ship come July 19. Now that’s money.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- The Club (Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows) & The Vaudevillains (Aiden English and Simon Gotch) defeated The Realest Guys (Big Cass and Enzo Amore) & The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) (w/ Xavier Woods) (13:30)
- Paige defeated Charlotte (w/ Dana Brooke) (2:30)
- Sheamus defeated Zack Ryder (1:55)
- Sami Zayn defeated Cesaro (8:10)
- Kevin Owens & Alberto Del Rio defeated Lucha Dragons (Sin Cara & Kalisto) (8:25)
- Dean Ambrose defeated Chris Jericho (11:55)
Other on-screen talent