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SmackDown Redux (June 20th, 2017): A silver lining

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After a controversial finish for a milestone moment at Money In The Bank, all eyes were on the SmackDown Live women’s division. From start to (almost) finish, the women of the blue brand were on the screen – and it was definitely a treat, for the most part.

The night starts off with Natalya, Charlotte Flair, Tamina and Becky Lynch waiting outside of returning General Manager Daniel Bryan’s office. The group demand that Bryan do something about the controversy, but he insists that he must hear from Carmella and James Ellsworth before anybody else.

Cue the music!

‘Mella (accompanied by Ellsworth) skip to the arena to a roar of boos (finally!!!). The new Miss Money In The Bank then takes ahold of the mic and makes sure the entire crowd really gets what she’s saying. She states that when Kane helped Seth Rollins win, nobody demanded a rematch. And when Bray Wyatt pushed Roman Reigns off of the ladder and thus assisted Sheamus’ win, the complaints were still not there. Yet when she did a similar tactic, fans demanded the match to be redone. She then addressed the reasons that people were mad… and that was because of the “historic” moment. The Princess of Staten Island then states that whilst the other ladies were focused on making history, she was focused on her future. Carmella states that she does not care about making history.

She then leaves us with the fact that she does not care about the controversy because in a match with no rules – how can one break them?

Charlotte soon interrupts Bryan in his office to discuss the scenario. He tries to bring up her “injured” neck, but she doesn’t want to discuss it. Daniel then tries to insist that Carmella is somewhat right as she did not break any rules, but Flair refuses to listen. She states that he must “do the right thing”, and then leaves him to be.

Natalya and Tamina soon enter Bryan’s office to also discuss the controversy. The Queen of Black Harts attempts to beat around the bush by wishing Bryan a happy Father’s Day, whilst comparing the sleepless nights he has because of his child to the sleepless nights Natalya’s cat is having. Tamina then has enough of Nattie’s comments so steps in, and demands Bryan to put an end to Carmella and her “sock puppet”.

Lynch is then the next woman to approach Bryan, and she gets really emotional. She reiterates her words from the Money In The Bank fallout clip, stating that no matter what she does, somebody else will always outshine her through cheating.

Later on in the night, Bryan brings out all of the women to discuss the controversy. He announces that the rule book states that the first woman to grab the briefcase is the winner – so that is Carmella. And like the Princess of Staten Island said earlier on, former participants have also had people help them win. However, nobody has had somebody grab the briefcase for them. Ellsworth then interrupts Bryan, saying that he’s gotten soft because of his “vegan baby” – and this sets Daniel off. The new father gets in Ellsworth’s face and insists that if he brings up Birdie one more time, he will be punched in the face and fired. Yikes!

Bryan then brings the conversation back to the topic at hand. He tells Carmella that she is now the first woman to have to hand in her briefcase – to the crowd’s pleasure. We then find out that a Money In The Bank rematch is going to happen next week, including all five women from last Sunday’s event! And before leaving, Bryan snatches the briefcase out of James’ hands and Carmella is fuming! Carmella then pushes Becky Lynch, forcing a brawl to take place. Carmella is shoved to the ground and then chaos occurs. Charlotte smashes Natalya’s head to the ground, sending her to the outside, and then Lynch implements a Bex-Plex on Tamina, doing the same. Charlotte and Becky then have a vulnerable Carmella on her knees begging the pair to leave her alone. But this only results in a Natural Selection from Miss Flair, and then a Dis-Arm-Her from Miss Lynch!

On Talking Smack, Carmella shows up with an ice pack on her shoulder and Ellsworth by her side, both gloomy as ever. Carmella quickly begins to cry (no, really) stating that her family watched her get stripped off of the briefcase – and questioned Bryan on whether he would do that to his daughter. Ellsworth then insists he has a plan, but Daniel announces that James is very much banned from ringside. So of course, the pair leave in frustration.

At another point in the night, Naomi is interviewed about the Money In The Bank situation. She says that she finds it unfair, but doesn’t care who wins, because she’ll be ready. The only question is whether the other women will be ready for her. Before she can continue, Lana interrupts her, demanding a rematch.

Naomi is then taken aback by this, of course, but agrees to it. So I guess we’re redoing the entire pay-per-view for the women? Why did I even tune in on Sunday!?

In an unaired clip, Maria Kanellis and her husband Mike Kanellis come out to the stage to address the WWE Universe. Maria tells us all that everybody wants love, but unlike them, we can’t all have it. And the closest we’ll ever get to it is looking at the power couple that is the Mike and Maria – here’s to the greatest!

Thoughts: So tonight was pretty controversial. But, what we have to admit is that the ladies of SmackDown were truly the stars of the show. From the start they had the crowd invested and carried the entire show with their feud. Regardless of how messed up last Sunday was, tonight really panned out, and the story is truly intriguing.

Whilst the story is still problematic (we’ll get onto that later) I can’t help but applaud SmackDown for making me so intrigued with the programme.

Throughout the night, we’re left thinking what will Bryan do? Will he listen to Carmella? Will he cave in to the peer pressure of the other women? And in the end, it’s a pretty exciting thing – though, not the best option altogether.

The issue with the redo is that it doesn’t fix anything. The first Money In The Bank match happened, and there’s nothing that can change that. Literally nothing. There will never be another one, so what’s done is done. WWE should have owned up to their mistake, maybe even apologised, and kept it going. This now feels like a bit of a cop out, and doesn’t actually solve the problem.

But here’s how it might work:

When the women performed on Sunday, a lot of the actual highlights were missing. There were no jumps from the top of the ladder, no big moves using the weapon at hand, and no memorable moments (minus the finale). Instead we got a decent match that let a ton of fans down. The obvious cause of this is that WWE did not want the women to outshine the male main event, which in itself creates a whole other issue. But this may have been the plan the entire time.

In order to give the women a good Money In The Bank match whilst not overshadowing their male counterparts, having a better contest performed on another night may be a way to do this. It’s problematic, for sure. Women shouldn’t constantly have to tone down their work just to make the men look good. And with last Sunday being the first Money In The Bank for the women, they should have gotten the upper hand. But at the end of the day they’re still getting a chance to have a better match. It may not be ideal. The first match is definitely soiled forever. But, at the very least, we may see a stellar Money In The Bank Ladder match with our favourite wrestlers!

The outcome however, may not be so great. If the match is mediocre and Carmella still wins, then the rest of the division will look weak. However, if another woman wins, regardless of match quality, then Carmella’s heat could really fall to the pits and make her be forgotten. The best case scenario is for the women to be allowed to knock it out of the park again and again throughout the match, and for Carmella to cheat – though used loosely in these circumstances – her way to victory. Whether it be via distraction,  use of a weapon or some other dirty tactic, she needs to do it. Carmella needs to be a part of a five star match so that we get what was promised, but she needs to take advantage of her heel heat by using a dirty manoeuvre.

WWE will never make up for what happened on Sunday, but the best option from now on would be to push Carmella as SmackDown’s it girl, and give us great matches.

The title picture is also somewhat interesting. As we’re seeing both Money In The Bank matches repeated, it’s almost obvious that at least one will end differently. And my money is on the title match.

It means almost nothing to have Naomi fight against Lana yet again for her title for the same outcome to take place. Naomi winning does nothing for her as it’s a guaranteed win, whilst Lana will be made to look even weaker and more pathetic – and not in the heel way that The Miz is good at portraying. As much as I dislike Lana and as bad as she is in the ring, giving her title may be the better option here.

If Naomi loses she will be able to overcome the odds with a new opponent. Her feud with Lana can be something fresh and will give us a new character to take seriously. Because if we’re gonna see Lana every week, I’d rather her look like a proper threat, rather than one that loses every week.

I adore Naomi, and think she is a great champion. But with WWE setting up this match, she needs to lose for it to make sense. Or, if the Ladder match happens before, then the briefcase needs to be cashed in after Naomi’s win.

If the above scenario isn’t the case, then I’m not entirely sure what the angle is. Naomi is a wonderful champion, and Lana is pretty dull in the ring. But if it’s going to be a rematch, it doesn’t make sense for the same scenario to take place as Lana, Naomi and the championship will gain absolutely nothing from the bout.

On a final note, I have to discuss the Kanellis’. Their segment wasn’t necessary, so having it on the Fallout kind of makes sense. If all they’re going to do is walk out to the stage to say the same thing every week, then it makes sense to not waste precious time on a two hour programme. But this shouldn’t be the case. Give them something to discuss. Let them call people out. Allow them to discuss their actual goals. We need to see more from them!

Overall, SmackDown was great. The rematches may not make too much sense, but they can do so if the right follow-up takes place. We’ll just have to wait and see, my friends!

What did you think of last night’s show? Who are you rooting for in the Ladder match? Are you team Lana or Naomi? And what should Maria do in the coming weeks? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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