- Smackdown Live Episode #929 is coming incredibly late (under the weather this week, my apologies), from Rochester, NY. Tom Phillips, John "Bradshaw" Layfield, and Byron Saxton are calling the action, unless otherwise noted. Advertised ahead of time for tonight is a Non-Title Match between U.S. Champion, Kevin Owens, and Shinsuke Nakamura.
- We open the show with Shane McMahon, here to hype the upcoming (and HISTORIC!) 1st-ever Women's Money in the Bank Ladder Match, due to last week's #1 Contender's Match ending before it could officially begin. All the participants of that match are already in the ring, but Paper Champion Naomi comes out because that's all she's good at. Seriously, Naomi is nothing without her entrance, and she's had a two-month reign with maybe one title defense, and that was the night after WrestleMania. Shane calls Tamina a "two-time Superstar, second generation", whatever that means. The crowd at least reacts appropriately for the heel/face dynamics. He reveals the briefcase, which is thankfully not bedazzled, but is a little too plain looking, all things considered. Lana interrupts to make her Smackdown Live Debut and gets a heroes-welcome for being an attractive woman that we're told is an attractive woman. She wants in the match, but Shane says no. Naomi heels it up, taunting her for never beating anybody, and makes a JEOPARDY reference (and hey, a Looney Tunes reference! Maybe she can say "Suffering Succotash" too!). That's up there with her unbelievably drawing inspiration from George Foreman as far as being material she'd come up with herself. I don't know what's worse, Naomi's matches or her scripted promos.
We return from commercial (I'm ignoring the picture-in-picture commercial breaks), with Natalya in control of a chin-lock. Becky escapes, but a dive into the corner goes unsuccessful. Tamina in to work another chin-lock. Becky escapes, but runs into a diving forearm. Natalya wastes time jaw jacking and gets rolled up for two. Natalya with a Michinoku Driver for two. Naomi finally gets the hot tag and runs wild on Carmella, including one of the world's worst jaw breakers. Tamina gets caught with a roundhouse kick and even the slap of the leg is done poorly. Springboard cross body press gets two. Things break down, and out comes Lana. She distracts Naomi on the apron and sweeps the leg out from under her. Back inside, and Tamina finishes her with the Island Kick at 7:31 (shown). *1/2 Same simple formula tag team match, and the Champion has now done pin-fall jobs to Carmella (twice) and Tamina. Paper Champion!
- Shane McMahon comes across Mojo Rawley backstage. Ever since he won the Battle Royal at WrestleMania, he feels like a ghost riding the bench. He doesn't want a favor, just an opportunity, to be in the MITB Ladder Match, and points out he's the only man to pin Jinder Mahal on Smackdown Live. Tonight, Shane gives him his opportunity: defeat Jinder Mahal, and he earns a spot in the MITB Ladder Match.
We return from commercial (without a split-screen break), with Styles breaking out of a chin-lock with elbows to the midsection. They trade blows with styles getting the better of the exchange. Dolph with a knee to the midsection, but the Famouser misses and Styles lays him out with a clothesline. Ziggler escapes a fireman's lift and rolls him up, with feet on the ropes, for two. Famouser attempt #2 connects for two. Dolph sets up for a Super-Plex, but Styles slips between the legs. He counters the counter to the Phenomenal Forearm and comes in with a sunset flip, but Dolph sits down on it for two. Styles with a rolling bridge into the Styles Clash for three at 4:23 (shown). ** Too short, but the work was fine. 50/50 booking, indeed, made an appearance in Rochester.
- The Fashion Files: Dumb on Arrival. There's a collage of Michael Hayes, labeling him a repeat offender. Fandango took the bottle of cologne down to the boys in the lab, but there's no lab and no boys, and we get a run-around with the Colon/Cologne pun. The New Day show up, looking for some dirt on the Usos, but seem puzzled why everything has suddenly turned into black-and-white. Breeze and Fandango think to themselves, but the New Day can't hear them, and call attention to that. "Maybe that's why they communicate by clapping." They dig into Big E's tights to offers ROMPERS as a payoff, but they don't take bribes, or at least, shouldn't, but Breeze sports one to continue his "dressing up as a goof." Fandango says he's a dirty dancer, but he's not a dirty cop. They have three boxes filled with evidence, including the "Day One is H" shirt. They do their "thinking to themselves" bit again, with "New. Case Rocks" as the New Day leave, befuddled.
- John Cena returns on July 4th! The ratings are going to be a dumpster fire that day anyway, so why not bring him back a week sooner or later?
- Renee Young interviews Randy Orton backstage. He's incredibly confident with Money in the Bank approaching.
We return from commercial (with the split-screen), with Primo in control of Xavier. During the break, Woods took a bump into the bottom rope. Whip to the corner and Primo comes in hard with a clothesline. Woods fights him down from the top rope and connects with a missile dropkick. Big E. with the hot tag. He throws Epico with a series of belly-to-belly suplexes. He comes off the ropes with the Big Splash and dumps Primo to the floor. Woods with a somersault plancha to Primo on the floor, while Epico rolls up Big E. for two. Woods with a kick from the apron to Epico, and the Midnight Hour finishes at 4:58 (shown). *1/2 Short match to give New Day a win heading into Money in the Bank.
- Post-match, The Usos come out for their usual trash talking, making fun of Kofi's hair style, Woods' boots, and the line of the night on Big E: "Is that your initials, or your bra size?" How long until we get a t-shirt that says "Uso Penitentiary"?
- Dasha Fuentes is backstage with Sami Zayn. He says he's going to join the commentary team for tonight's Main Event, but Baron Corbin attacks from behind, leaving him a broken mess, again, and decides he's going to take Sami's spot.
- Naomi is mad about what happened earlier tonight, so Shane McMahon relents and makes Naomi vs. Lana for the Women's Title at Money in the Bank. That might be the worst possible match for a title in Pay-Per-View in a LONG time. Lana is incredibly green and Naomi has a hard time keeping up with good workers, let alone being able to carry someone.
We return from commercial (yup), with Owens in control with rights and kicks. He hooks a chin-lock as we see what happened during the commercial, including a fall-away slam into the barricade. Shinsuke with elbows, but Owens takes him down with a DDT for a two count. Nakamura escapes another chin-lock and they trade forearms. Owens scoops him up, but Nakamura slips out and comes off the ropes with a single-leg dropkick. Nakamura with kicks to the midsection. Whip to the corner and a running knee. He sets Owens across the top and hits a running knee lift for two. Owens fights out of an Exploder attempt and connects with a headbutt. He sets Nakamura across the top turnbuckle, but Shinsuke fights him down with an axe-handle across the chest. Owens sweeps him off to prevent a further attack and follows with a Cannonball. Nakamura avoids the Pop-Up Powerbomb and hits a roundhouse heel kick. Exploder Suplex connects, and the Kinshasa finishes at 6:22 (shown). ** Another match that was too short to go anywhere, and never had much momentum to build to anything much better than what we got. Post-match, Baron Corbin lays out Nakamura with the End of Days, no doubt pissing some people off.
Final Thoughts: With the amount of matches featured this week, you'd think something would get some time to develop, but everything seemed rushed, and we got a bunch of so-so performances instead. They've done a good job hyping up Money in the Bank, even with the handicap of trying to create interest for a Ladder Match where the only storyline is "briefcase" and not any particular rivalries. The Usos vs. New Day isn't a division saving feud, but at least there's a challenger with credibility with American Alpha MIA (are they the ones behind trashing the Fashion Police office?!). Lana finally debuted and got the biggest babyface response among the women, and they continue to make Naomi a worse Champion than Jinder Mahal, who has eased into his role better than I'm sure anybody expected.