Hola SmackDown fans and welcome to this week’s SmackDown Redux! It’s Josue once again and I’ll be covering SmackDown for Abir this week and my what an eventful SmackDown it was! There was the long awaited debut of Lana, the unveiling of the Women’s Money in the Bank briefcase (don’t worry guys, it isn’t pink!), a six woman tag match and the announcement of a Women’s Title match for Money in the Bank. Let’s jump in and see how everything unfolded.
Our night starts off with Shane McMahon gathering the five participants to the first-ever Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder match to reveal the briefcase they’ll all be climbing for in less than two weeks. Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Carmella, Natalya and Tamina all huddle around the unveiled the white briefcase with gold trims around it. Bravo WWE!
Shane goes on to warn of the dangers that comes with this high risk style match but as the saying goes: “With great risk comes great reward.” That reward being a guaranteed shot at the SmackDown Women’s Title. Cue to the Women’s Champ Naomi!
Naomi says she wishes she could be part of this ladder match because she knows it’s going to be lit! Just as Naomi begins to declare that she is ready to defend her championship against the winner of the Money in the Bank ladder match, jazzy music blasts throughout the arena and out comes Lana in a glittery blue dress.
The WWE Universe fully welcome Lana to cheers and “We want Lana!” chants, I’m a bit surprised to be honest, giving how long we’ve waited for this moment. Lana begins to lay out some bold demands, the first being an entrant to the Money in the Bank Ladder match – I mean hey, there are traditionally six participants in this match anyway?
Naomi calls out Lana, arguing she has no business to take part in this match as she has yet to even win a singles match. Lana shifts gears and claims she can beat Naomi but Shane interjects, restoring some order in the ring and informs Lana, with all due respect, that the Women’s Title is something she has to earn first. Naturally, this angers Lana who storms out the ring.
During the six woman tag match that saw Naomi, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch taking on the Welcoming Committee (didn’t we see this match happen at Backlash already?), Lana her presence felt once again. Just as a fired up Naomi is able take down Carmella with a running jaw breaker and then slow down the muscle of the group Tamina with bolting high kicks, Lana would return at ringside and trip Naomi from the ring apron.
Tamina capitalizes on Lana’s interference, hits a super kick and lays out the champion for the three count. Jeez another lost for Naomi? Lana is all smiles, the Welcoming Committee celebrates and Naomi glares at her new appointed rival.
During SmackDown Live’s Fallout, Tamina is interviewed on how it felt on getting the big win for her team by pinning the SmackDown Women’s Champion. Tamina says ever since Shane made the announcement of the Women’s Ladder match, she has been ready and will stay ready come Money in the Bank where she will look over all of her opponents laid out on the ground as she climbs the ladder and grabs the briefcase. Make those statements Tamina!
We find Naomi one more to meet up with Shane backstage where she demands to have a match against Lana at Money in the Bank. Naomi wants to see if Lana can truly take her on. Shane tries to reason with Naomi, saying she is under no obligation to have a match with Lana but the SmackDown Women’s Champion insists that this something she wants to do… and is even willing to put her title on the line!
Shane takes this proposition in and makes the match official! In closing, Naomi asks Shane to deliver a few words to Lana on her behalf: Lana may want to invest in one of those Russian fur hats because Naomi is planning to snatch her bald!
During Talking Smack, Lana takes a moment to address all of those who have and still doubt her. Lana says she comes from a “small pathetic village in Russia” but was able to cross the ocean to become the Ravishing Superstar she is today. She plans on making history at Money in the Bank and become the new face of the SmackDown Women’s division. Well this was certainly a side of Lana we normally don’t see.
Thoughts: SmackDown continues to feature their entire Women’s division but truth be told, this entire episode was about Lana and her leaving her mark on the blue brand.
On the positives, I really appreciated the show’s opening segment and unveiling of the briefcase. This is a historic match that we will witness after all and I’m glad that the WWE are making it feel important by having these segments and emphasizing the risks and rewards that come with this match.
It’s a relief in knowing that we don’t have to wait as long as we did with Emmalina and Lana was greeted a very warm welcome. Up to this point, we’ve know Lana as Rusev‘s manager, so this is now a chance for Lana to really shine on her own; something beyond the dancing gimmick we’ve seen from those video packages.
However, throwing Lana into the title picture this soon seems rushed. This was pointed out throughout the show, with the acknowledgement that Lana has yet to compete (or winning) single matches and she didn’t exactly “earn” her way to this title shot. Had it not been for the story set-up of Naomi wanting to get some payback and her fair of blows to Lana by any means, this would’ve title would’ve felt more out of place with the Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder match already in place.
While Lana has yet to compete on WWE television, she has worked a few NXT house shows and if you recall, made her in-ring debut at WrestleMania 32 as part of the Team Total Divas vs. Team B.A.D. That being said, I’m not expecting a five-star classic match but I am rooting for both a decent match and for Naomi to pull out a victory. Sadly, the champion has has suffered from a string of losses already and really needs to come out on top at Money in the Bank, more so if she is the one issuing the challenge and since there will be a guaranteed challenger waiting for the SmackDown Women’s Champion.
So overall a pretty memorable SmackDown with a few question marks in between. Hopefully next week’s show can give us some hype heading into Money in the Bank; perhaps even something outside the usual multi-women tag match scenario!?
What did you think of this week’s episode of SmackDown? Excited to see Lana wrestle? What do you think will happen on next week’s Money in the Bank go-home show? Let us know in the comments below!