This show's focus was on three qualifying matches, which immediately gave it a certain urgency that comes from having tangible stakes. The most talkworthy of the three qualifiers was the main event, where Rusev beat Daniel Bryan, cleanly. I mean, okay, Aiden English interfered at one point, but it didn't really play into the finish. It's not all doom and gloom for D-Bry, though, commentary protected him throughout the match by focusing on the damage Cass (who was afk) did to him at Backlash. The long, lingering shots of disappointed Bryan, along with the crowd chanting encouragement at him, should suggest that this will be worked into storyline. On the other side of the spectrum, Rusev got that big win he has been sorely lacking. Is it a sign of a buy-in from management into Rusev Day? There was no Lana on this show, so it's possible the breakup story is on the backburner. Time will tell.
The show opened with the best match of the night, the qualifier between Jeff Hardy and The Miz, which the Miz won by rolling through a Swanton Bomb. This match was awesome, and a much better showcase of what Jeff Hardy can offer in the ring in 2018 against a motivated and talented opponent. I thought Miz was absolutely the right decision to move into MitB here, Jeff will most likely be defending his US Title at the PPV anyway. If Jeff is to get another world title run, he can easily slot in on short notice, as long as he is relevant week in and week out.
The last of the qualifiers was between Peyton Royce and Charlotte, and the Queen took it pretty convincingly, after surviving a couple of nearfalls. The real highlight was the short Iiconics promo right before the match. Billie and Peyton feel like one of the most complete mic products to emerge out of NXT, probably up there with KO and Alexa Bliss. They've got their shtick down to a T and are very, very good at making you want to see their asses get kicked.
In the other women's match, Becky Lynch lost to Mandy Rose and her bizarre entrance music. Becky doesn't seem capable of beating Minesweeper on Easy difficulty right now, so this came as no surprise. Graves' obsession of Rose was probably way over the top and incredibly distracting. Cesaro beat Xavier Woods in a singles match, to avenge(?) Sheamus's loss. There seemed to be some backstage tension between the Bar, heightened by New Day filling their training bags with pancakes *--insert Randy Orton joke here--*. The Bludgeon Brothers invited the rest of the roster to "come play" (youtu.be) with them. Based on the creepy vignettes, the Bludgeons don't seem to be great playmates, though.
Paige tried to sell Backlash as a great night, and got rightly booed for it. She also expressed surprised at the nutshot bonanza that happened between AJ and Nakamura - which just doesn't paint her in a good light. Nakamura's line about how "I learned English, but now I've forgotten it" was the line of the night. Both the champ and his challenger made no apologies for their actions and promised that their issues are far from settled. How this ends is anybody's guess: last man standing? Extreme rules? Cage? None of the stips is particularly logical.
Baltimore was a far better, far more engaged crowd than Long Island, but then they got a far better, far more engaging show than Monday.
(edited by used2bcool on 9.5.18 0838) In a coat of gold or a coat of red, a lion still has claws And mine are long and sharp, my lord, as long and sharp as yours!
Originally posted by used2bcoolNakamura's line about how "I learned English, but now I've forgotten it" was the line of the night
I always liked Nakamura as a face, but he is just so, so good as a heel. This was the best episode of Smackdown in ages, letting the ringwork do the talking for them. Miz/Hardy was the best, but I really liked just about all the matches.