After a disappointing loss to Rusev in a Money-in-the-Bank Qualifying Match last week, Daniel Bryan would kick off SmackDown LIVE for an in-ring interview conducted by Renee Young. When asked about his loss to Rusev, Daniel says that no one likes losing and, for the past month, he’s just been “happy to be back”. Bryan then says that it’s no longer good enough to just be back, he wants to be back on top. Daniel continues, vowing that he knows it will be a difficult time but, when it’s all said and done, he will be the WWE Champion. Bryan is then interrupted by the man Daniel made tap out at Backlash, Big Cass, saying that he knows the “real truth”, saying that he was Daniel’s first “major setback”. Cass then says that he is the reason that Daniel Bryan lost to Rusev last week before claiming that he didn’t tap out at Backlash because he was in pain, he tapped out so he could get out of the hold quickly. Big Cass continues, saying that, no matter what Daniel does in WWE, there will always be a “seven-foot shadow” following him around.
The seven-footer then says that he proved at The Greatest Royal Rumble that Daniel Bryan is a “loser” before saying that Daniel should be a “stay-at-home dad” and let his wife, Brie, wear the pants in the family. Big Cass then gets on the ring apron before getting in the ring and this is when Daniel Bryan would unload on the big man, targeting the surgically repaired knee of Big Cass, hanging Cass up in the ropes before relentlessly stomping on Cass’ left knee! Referees then rush out to try and break it up but Bryan would slam Big Cass’ knee into the steel ring post before getting back into the ring and locking in a heel hook on Big Cass, making the seven-footer scream in pain and tap frantically until agents and referees are able to pull Daniel off of Cass. Big Cass then hobbles up the ramp as Daniel chants “yes” in unison with the fans.
Having qualified for the Men’s Money-in-the-Bank Ladder Match last week, The Miz would be a guest on commentary for the opening match of the night as The New Day’s Big E & Xavier Woods, with Kofi Kingston in their corner, facing Cesaro & Sheamus in a Money-in-the-Bank Qualifying Match with the winning team getting to pick a member of their team to compete in the Men’s Money-in-the-Bank Ladder Match. In the end, it was Xavier Woods taking to the air, hitting Cesaro with the Up, Up, Down, Down, pinning Cesaro to pick up the win for The New Day, meaning that The New Day will have to decide amongst themselves which New Day member will be a part of the Men’s Money-in-the-Bank Ladder Match.
London would then be witness to the much-anticipated debut of former NXT Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas as Almas, with Zelina Vega in his corner, would face local competitor Jake Constantino. Andrade “Cien” Almas would make quick work of the London native, planting Jake Constantino with the hammerlock DDT, pinning Constantino for the win. After the match, Zelina Vega says that they were expecting “more” from SmackDown LIVE, calling Jake Constantino “pathetic” and saying that they came to SmackDown LIVE to “take over”.
Then it was time for SmackDown Women’s Champion Carmella to take over the O2 Arena with her own Royal ‘Mellabration. Complete with a royal introduction and royal guards, the SmackDown Women’s Champion would make her way to the ring, carefully placing her title belt down on a leopard print pillow. Carmella orders the fans in London to “bow down” before her before saying that she is better than every woman on the WWE roster as well as Trish Stratus and Lita “combined”. This brings out SmackDown LIVE General Manager and England’s own Paige, who says that she has a “royal declaration” of her own, announcing that Carmella will be defending the SmackDown Women’s Title at WWE Money-in-the-Bank and her opponent will be “The Empress of Tomorrow” Asuka! Asuka then makes her way to the ring to confront the champion, smiling at Carmella before the SmackDown Women’s Champion takes her title, leaving the ring.
Friends would then be forced to battle on SmackDown LIVE as, with five spots left in the Women’s Money-in-the-Bank Ladder Match, Becky Lynch, Mandy Rose, and Sonya Deville would compete in a Triple Threat Money-in-the-Bank Qualifying Match as the first Superstar to score a pinfall or submission would earn a spot in the Women’s Money-in-the-Bank Ladder Match. During the match, the friendship between Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville would fall to the wayside and, after Mandy accidentally knees Sonya in the face, Mandy’s shock would lead to her downfall as Becky Lynch would trap Mandy in the Dis-Arm-Her, making Mandy tap out to pick up the win, joining Ember Moon, Charlotte Flair, and Alexa Bliss in the Women’s Money-in-the-Bank Ladder Match.
Then it was time for the main event as, for the first time on SmackDown LIVE, WWE Champion AJ Styles would go one-on-one with “The Artist” Shinsuke Nakamura in a non-title match with the winner getting to pick the stipulation for their WWE Title rematch at WWE Money-in-the-Bank. During the match, Shinsuke Nakamura would connect with the Kinshasa, but AJ Styles would kick out. The WWE Champion then avoids a second Kinshasa before AJ goes for the Phenomenal Forearm but Nakamura ducks out of the way and Styles has to stop himself from taking out the referee, causing the referee to briefly cower in the ring. When the referee gets back to his feet, Nakamura decides to try and trick the referee by acting like AJ hit him with a low blow behind the back of the referee! This would lead to a brief argument between Styles and the referee and Nakamura would take advantage, hitting the WWE Champion with a reverse exploder suplex, following it up with the Kinshasa and pinning Styles to win the match, meaning that “The Artist” gets to pick the stipulation for the WWE Title rematch at WWE Money-in-the-Bank!
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