With his monumental Money in the Bank Qualifying Match against Daniel Bryan scheduled for later in the evening, Samoa Joe kicked off SmackDown LIVE by stomping down the ramp, tossing a ladder in the ring, climbing it, grabbing the Money in the Bank briefcase and letting everyone know that him officially holding the Money in the Bank contract would equate to a reign of fear and destruction on the blue brand.
Joe promised to send Bryan home to his wife Brie Bella and daughter Birdie as a broken man full of failure and regret — claims that provoked Daniel and made him want to have their high-stakes showdown immediately. Joe and Bryan seemed ready to throw down, but before fists could fly, Big Cass arrived with one crutch under his arm. The seven-footer continued to insult Bryan and said that he spoke with SmackDown LIVE General Manager Paige, who told him it would not be Bryan vs. Joe tonight, but The Samoan Submission Machine vs. himself since he was cleared for competition.
In one swift motion, Cass then swung his crutch at The “Yes!” Man, but Bryan ducked, and Big Cass connected with Joe instead. From there, chaos broke out with Bryan assaulting Cass with a barrage of “Yes!” Kicks, but Cass stopped his momentum by throwing Bryan into the ladder and using the Money in the Bank briefcase to take down both Joe and Bryan before standing tall with the Money in the Bank briefcase.
Due to the commotion, Paige clarified Cass’ statement and declared that tonight’s Money in the Bank Qualifying Match would now be a Triple Threat between Samoa Joe, Big Cass and Daniel Bryan!
Fresh off announcing that he and WWE Champion AJ Styles would be competing in a Last Man Standing Match at WWE Money in the Bank with the title on the line, Shinsuke Nakamura had to prepare for a collision with Tye Dillinger tonight after the two Superstars had gotten into it on Twitter over the weekend, primarily over Dillinger’s “Perfect 10” moniker that, of course, is the pivotal number in the Last Man Standing Match on June 17.
Dillinger gave it all against The King of Strong Style, but it seemed that Nakamura was just too much for The Perfect 10. With his impending battle against The Phenomenal One on his mind, Nakamura got Tye down and began to start counting to 10. This repeated several times, as Dillinger would simply not stay on the canvas. After three times, Tye lifted himself off the mat at the count of 10 and brazenly flashed his trademark “Perfect 10” hand gesture, then mimicked Nakamura’s “come on” gesture and began to rattle off a flurry of strikes on Nakamura.
However, that surge would not be enough, as WWE’s Rockstar claimed the victory after getting Dillinger down and then finishing him off with the Kinshasa. After the match, Nakamura connected with another Kinshasa to the back of Dillinger’s neck and then counted to 10 as his opposition lay motionless, clearly sending a major statement to the WWE Champion.
With both women set to compete in the Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match, Naomi and Lana would first battle it out in a Dance-Off on SmackDown LIVE as The Usos and Rusev Day observed.
The Glow and The Ravishing Russian strutted their stuff in a competition where the winner would be determined by the WWE Universe. However, it appeared everyone would be winners when Lana and Naomi started dancing together… only for Lana to lull Naomi into a false sense of security and drop her with a neckbreaker. From there, a massive brawl broke out between both sides, with The Usos taking out Rusev & Aiden English with superkicks that knocked them from the ring apron to the floor and Naomi getting a measure of retaliation on Lana with the Rearview.
After The Miz defeated Big E last week following The Bar’s ambush of The New Day, Paige decreed that the two sides could settle the score in a Six-Man Tag Team Match.
The action was high-octane as Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods used their explosive attacks, while The Miz, Cesaro and Sheamus attempted to keep the pancake-lovers neutralized. Eventually, the pace picked up, and both sides connected with some jaw-dropping double-team maneuvers.
In the pivotal moments, Kingston pulled off an absolutely incredible leap from the top rope onto The Bar on the outside. It was so awe-inspiring that it even caught The Miz off-guard for a moment, and Big E caught him in the Big Ending for the thrilling win. After the match, The New Day celebrated, but with all three members of the trio taking turns pointing to the Money in the Bank briefcase hanging above them, perhaps they were still unsure as to who would claim the coveted slot in the career-changing contest.
SmackDown Women’s Champion Carmella joined the commentary team, preparing to watch her challenger at WWE Money in the Bank, Asuka, take on Mandy Rose. However, during The Empress of Tomorrow’s entrance, Asuka was blindside attacked by Rose’s cohort Sonya Deville, who sent her crumbling to the ramp. Insisting on continuing, Asuka proceeded with the match despite clearly being in pain.
God’s Greatest Creation immediately pounced on Asuka as soon as the bell rang, trying to capitalize on Deville’s attack. However, despite Deville’s pre-match assault and Rose’s vigilant attack, Asuka rallied and defeated Mandy with the Asuka Lock for a mightily impressive tapout victory.
Asuka would not have too long to celebrate, however, as Carmella boldly walked right into the ring and raised her championship directly in the face of The Empress of Tomorrow.
Mella’s message? She ain’t scared.
The path to the eighth and final slot for the Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match had been nothing short of a whirlwind, but clarity would finally be reached tonight as Daniel Bryan, Samoa Joe and Big Cass threw fists in a nail-biting Triple Threat Match.
From the get-go, the intensity was through the roof as all three Superstars unleashed their pent-up aggression on one another, which had been building for weeks.
Bryan carried out massive assaults on Cass and Joe, even delivering a hurricanrana to Joe off of the top rope. Given the unpredictable nature of the contest, however, it was never possible for one Superstar to stay in firm control for too long due to always having to look out for the third man.
Bryan seemed to be closing in on the victory when he took out Joe on the outside and then connected with the Running Knee on Big Cass. However, right as Daniel was going for the pin onto the seven-footer, Samoa Joe reentered the fray and applied the Coquina Clutch on Bryan from behind, eventually causing his opponent to pass out to obtain the victory and become the eighth Superstar in the Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match.
As Samoa Joe celebrated up the ramp, Big Cass took the opportunity to blindside Bryan yet again, this time connecting flush with a big boot while The “Yes!” Man was attempting to get to his feet. Neither Bryan nor Cass had qualified for the Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match, but it was very clear that their conflict was far from over.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Dark Match: Jeff Hardy (c) defeats Shelton Benjamin to retain the WWE United States Championship
- Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Tye Dillinger (8:44)
- The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) defeated The Miz & The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro) (10:32)
- Asuka defeated Mandy Rose by submission (7:42)
- Samoa Joe defeated Daniel Bryan & Big Cass by submission in a Triple Threat Money in the Bank Qualifying match (19:33)
Other on-screen talent
Big Cass interjects himself
Nakamura vs. Dillinger
Naomi & Lana have a dance-off
The New Day vs. The Miz & The Bar
Asuka vs. Mandy Rose
MITB Qualifying Match
- WWE Smackdown Live #980 at CAGEMATCH.net
- WWE Smackdown Live #980 at WWE.com
- [Smackdown #980 on WWE Network]