The final shows before Money in the Bank are a thing of the past, and it’s time to have a look at which brand performed better on the final stop before Chicago, in the eighth edition of Raw vs. SmackDown.
As always, we do this by sectioning each show into three categories, those being the ‘Quality of Matches’, the ‘Storyline Progression/Pay-per-view Build’, and any ‘Fun’ moments that made us feel all happy inside because that’s what it’s all about.
Quality of Matches
In this section, we only focus on what happens bell-to-bell, and in the interest of fairness, only on the quality of the matches, while trying not to account for the quantity.
Natalya defeated Alexa Bliss, Ember Moon and Sasha Banks – Fatal Four-way Match
This match started with Natalya, Moon and Banks all teaming up on Bliss, following her fake injury stunt last week. I don’t want to be too harsh, but Natalya’s selling of her injury last week was more inconsistent than a Liverpool FC goalkeeper. One minute she was limping, the next she was doing flips and landing perfectly fine.
Ember Moon pulled off a suicide dive on Sasha Banks that very nearly squashed the ‘Boss’ between Moon and the barricade. Being the heel in the equation, Bliss spent some time working over Natalya’s “injured” knee, before the ‘War Goddess’ hit her with an Eclipse, but Banks broke up Moon’s pin attempt. Alexa then cleared the four-time Raw Women’s Champion from the ring, before Natalya locked the ‘Goddess’ in the Sharpshooter for the win.
Fatal Four-ways are always hard to review because they’re often a bit messy, but this one was pretty fine. Natalya’s selling really did bug me, though.
Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre defeated Breezango (Tyler Breeze and Fandango) – Tag Team Match
This was just a quick squash win for Ziggler and McIntyre to avenge their early elimination from last week’s Battle Royal.
Roman Reigns defeated Sunil Singh
Originally, the ‘Big Dog’ was meant to take on Jinder Mahal, but the ‘Maharaja’ threw Singh in there instead. Another squash. Superman Punch. Spear. Death.
The B-Team (Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel) defeated Rhyno and Heath Slater – Tag Team Match
Another quick squash match as the B-Team picked up momentum for their WWE Raw Tag Team Championship match, which will take place at some point soon, probably next week on Raw.
Ruby Riott defeated Bayley
This match was fine but not nearly as good as some of Riott’s recent showings. Bayley started on top, but Riott took over during the commercial break. Bayley’s comeback was cut short when she missed an Elbow Drop, and a Riott Squad distraction allowed their leader to land a Riott Kick and pick up the win.
No Way Jose defeated Curt Hawkins
Hawkins was disguised as one of Jose’s many conga-line members, but following an ambush from behind, couldn’t capitalize, and Jose won with the Fastball Punch.
Braun Strowman defeated Kevin Owens, Finn Bálor and Bobby Roode – Fatal Four-way Match
The story of this match was essentially “Mission: Kill the biggest man here, so we might have a chance of surviving”. Strowman attempted a Running Powerslam on Kevin Owens through the announce table, but Bálor and Roode cut him off, allowing Owens to land a Bullfrog Splash from a ladder, through the table.
This took both him and the ‘Monster Among Men’ out of the equation, and it became a one-on-one contest between Roode and Bálor. This continued for a short while, but just as the Irishman was looking for the Coup de Grâce, Owens intervened.
Shortly after, Strowman was back on his feet and marched back to the ring. He dominated temporarily but the numbers game caught up again. He kicked out of a Coup de Grâce, Glorious DDT and a Bullfrog Splash, before landing a Running Powerslam on a ladder to pin KO.
Strowman is a lot of fun, but sometimes his protection can be detrimental to his matches, as was the case here.
Match of the Show
This was a weak week for Raw in terms of the quality of the in-ring action. I’ll give it to the main event because of the announce table spot, but no match on the show really did anything for me.
Daniel Bryan defeated Shelton Benjamin
Benjamin started this one by working over Bryan’s left knee. The former ‘American Dragon’ managed to use his technical ability to turn the tide and focus his offense on the left knee of his opponent. Bryan won with the Heel Hook in a match that achieved what it intended to but could have been a lot better.
Rusev defeated Samoa Joe – The Miz as Special Referee
This one was very hard-hitting and a little bit slow, in all honesty. Things ramped up towards the end though as Aiden English distracted Miz, but Samoa Joe inadvertently ran into the ‘A-Lister’. This led to a confrontation between the two, and Rusev capitalized landing a Machka Kick for the win. Again, fine, but could have been so much better.
Jeff Hardy defeated Shinsuke Nakamura via Disqualification
There’s a theme here, isn’t there. This match was kept quite short with both men getting in their signature offense early. Hardy landed a Swanton Bomb but gave Nakamura enough time to recuperate enough to get his foot on the bottom rope during the pin. The United States Champion’s attempt at a second Twist of Fate was prevented by a ‘low blow’, and Hardy was awarded the victory. Again, it could have been a barn-burner had they been allowed the time and freedom.
Asuka, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Lana & Naomi defeated Carmella, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville & The IIconics (Peyton Royce & Billie Kay) – 5-on-5 Tag Team Match
The heels worked over Becky Lynch before things began to pick up, Flair came in off the ‘hot tag’, but her offense was cut short when Royce prevented the Moonsault. Asuka was then tagged in, and following a really fun ending sequence locked Carmella in the Asuka Lock to submit the SmackDown Women’s Champion.
Match of the Show
Given the lineup, I really wouldn’t have predicted this, but ‘Match of the Show’ goes to the women’s main event. The last few minutes were very chaotic and made for engaging viewing for the main event of SmackDown – a time when I usually can’t really be bothered watching anymore.
This one’s a tough one. I’m going to give it to SmackDown Live, this week. There were far too many squash matches on Raw and I’m not a massive fan of Fatal Four-ways either.