Lafayette, Louisiana, was the penultimate stop on the road to Money in the Bank as WWE presented this week's SmackDown tapings.
World heavyweight champion Seth Rollins was humiliated Monday night as he lost to J&J Security in a handicap match. Tuesday night, the Architect was determined to makeup for the embarrassing defeat, either by getting his hands on Dean Ambrose and his physical championship or by defeating whichever Superstar was unlucky enough to share the ring with him.
Tuesday was also the last big opportunity for the competitors in the Money in the Bank Ladder match to assert their dominance. Which of the seven men involved in Sunday's marquee bout would stand tall, sending a message to his fellow competitors?
And what about the stars in the undercard? How would they fare in their last opportunity to leave a mark on fans and their opponents ahead of Sunday's show?
The WWE Universe in Louisiana got their answer Tuesday night, and now you can too, thanks to our friends at WrestlingInc.com.
Venue: Cajundome in Lafayette, Louisiana
Broadcast Team: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton and Jerry Lawler
- Dean Ambrose kicked off the show with a promo. Seth Rollins interfered, demanding his title back. Ambrose fooled him, handing over a replica title before revealing the title was left somewhere in New Orleans. Ambrose left, and Kane made his way to the ramp. He announced Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler for later in the night.
- Ryback defeated The Miz. After the match, Big Show appeared and cut a promo on The Big Guy.
- Bad News Barrett defeated Jack Swagger. R-Truth was on commentary.
- Michael Cole interviewed Lana. Rusev interrupted, telling the Ravishing Russian he wants her back. Lana said it was over, leaving Rusev to erupt in anger.
- Seth Rollins defeated Dolph Ziggler with a rollup while holding the tights.
- Paige defeated Alicia Fox by submission.
- Roman Reigns, Randy Orton and Neville defeated Kane, Sheamus and Kofi Kingston via disqualification. As everyone else brawled around him, Neville climbed the ladder and retrieved the Money in the Bank briefcase, leaving it lying in the center of the ring and walking off to end the show.
The focus on Neville at the end of the broadcast is most interesting.
The overlooked competitor in Sunday's match, the fact that WWE Creative took the opportunity to shine the spotlight on him suggests he may play a bigger role in the match than simply "that high-flying guy." Everyone else involved has issues with someone else in the match, issues that may preoccupy them. Neville does not, which may free him up to secure the briefcase, something that was portrayed nicely here.
The Ambrose-Rollins feud has lost a ton of momentum heading into what should be their biggest match to date. Instead, it feels like a midcard rivalry that just so happens to include the biggest prize in the industry. In fact, it is as if their match is the third-most important on Sunday's card, behind the Money in the Bank match and the showdown between John Cena and Kevin Owens.
Speaking of which, it is a bit curious that neither Cena nor Owens appear on SmackDown so close to their second monumental showdown. The interactions between the two Monday were strong, but one would have assumed WWE Creative would take the time to put some emphasis on that feud with just three days until the contest.
SmackDown is typically a show fans turn to if they want to watch an unoffensive two hours of wrestling that neither furthers a feud nor overstays its welcome, as Raw is oftentimes guilty of. That appears to be the case again this week.
The key players are all here, sans the aforementioned Cena and Owens, and this should serve as a nice cap on the build to Money in the Bank. Take some time out of your schedule and catch the show if at all possible, if for no other reason than to see Neville in what could be his first great moment in WWE.