WWE SmackDown Results: Samoa Joe Money in the Bank Favorite and Top Takeaways
The May 29 edition of WWE SmackDown was built around one huge match: Samoa Joe vs. Daniel Bryan for the first time in a WWE ring. However, Big Cass ruined that dream bout quickly by forcing his way into the contest.
Still, in the end, this was Joe's night, and he now walks into Money in the Bank as an absolute favorite among his SmackDown peers while leaving the door open for a bout with Bryan on a grander stage down the line.
Meanwhile, Tye Dillinger pulled out an unlikely gutsy performance against Shinsuke Nakamura to prove he is still an underused gem. Rusev, another untapped talent, looked to be losing his momentum as his wife Lana pulled him into her spotlight in an awkward dance-off.
Finally, Asuka once more proved she is an elite among the women of WWE by showing she can pull a good performance out of just about anyone in her match against Mandy Rose.
These were the defining moments of an action-heavy SmackDown Live that cemented one star and reminded fans of the potential of a few others.
Samoa Joe Emerges as SmackDown's Favorite for Money in the Bank
Going through both Daniel Bryan and Big Cass this week, Samoa Joe walked out with the final place in the men's Money in the Bank ladder match. It took him longer than anyone else to get that spot, but he already comes off as a clear favorite, certainly on the SmackDown side.
Joe has made multiple declarations since coming to SmackDown, including promising to win the WWE Championship and knock out Bryan. He accomplished one of his goals this week, causing The Beard to pass out to the Coquina Clutch. That's a huge spot against a star near the top of the division.
His next mission to challenge the WWE champion has to be on the horizon. While that may not come after earning the Money in the Bank briefcase, The Destroyer would be the perfect man to hold it, constantly threatening to knock someone out and cash-in on them.
He and Braun Strowman are the clear front-runners now as the two men most ready for a world title run this year. The Samoan Submission Specialist is walking into one of the biggest matches of his WWE career as a major favorite with the potential to quickly become SmackDown's ace.
Daniel Bryan vs. Samoa Joe Is in the Cards for a Much Later Date
The biggest selling point for SmackDown this week was the promise of the first-ever clash in WWE between Joe and Bryan, and many were disappointed to find out after the opening segment that we would not be getting a battle of veteran submission specialists.
The two did end up fighting, but it was in a triple threat with Cass playing spoiler. While the immediate reason for this decision was to continue the feud between Bryan and Cass, it also worked to save a money match for a later date.
The American Phoenix vs. The Destroyer is a pay-per-view main event clash in the making. If Joe wins the WWE Championship in the summer and Bryan earns an opportunity at the title soon after, it will make a singles match between the two all the more special.
For now, fans will wait with bated breath and watch Joe and Bryan rise up the ranks on SmackDown.
Anyone who just cannot wait should check out the past epics the two had over a decade prior. Losing this first opportunity will only make the future payoff sweeter.
Tye Dillinger Remains an Underused Gem
When it was announced Shinsuke Nakamura would face Tye Dillinger as a warm-up for AJ Styles at Money in the Bank, it was easy to assume The Perfect 10 would get quickly destroyed by the Japanese to make a statement. However, the contest was far more competitive than expected.
Dillinger took Nakamura's best shots and mocked The Artist, refusing to be a mere stepping stone. The Perfect 10 put on a memorable gutsy performance that revealed what he could be on this roster. He lost in the end to a Kinshasa, but he clearly frustrated The Rockstar.
One of NXT's most popular stars, the Canadian has the potential to take on the same midcard underdog role he had in the developmental program on a card desperately in need of depth. He has the experience and natural character to help SmackDown thrive.
His booking has already almost killed off the "10" chants, and if he again disappears from TV following this performance, he may be forgotten entirely. That would be a waste of a star who has so effectively rebuilt himself for this moment.
Lana's Return to Rusev's Side Has Already Lowered His Status
WWE has finally committed to the Rusev Day craze but not in the way most expected.
Since Rusev earned a spot in the men's Money in the Bank ladder match, the whole focus of his story has been on Lana. This week, that meant he played backup and hype man for his wife's dance-off against Naomi.
While it is refreshing to see WWE changing up the dynamics on the roster with husbands supporting wives, Lana's limited ability in the ring is never going to allow her to make much impact on the women's roster. Rusev cannot come off as a main event star if he's not the star of his own family.
Naomi's dynamic with Jimmy and Jey Uso works far better because all three can stand out in their own divisions without comparison. Lana cannot stand out in her own division without feeding off the energy and excitement that Rusev has built up with Aiden English.
The Ravishing Russian is certainly charismatic, and she can build her own popularity. In fact, she has always been fairly popular, outshining her husband for long stretches of their alliance. She shouldn't have to take any energy from Rusev Day, but she is doing just that right now at an important juncture in Rusev's career.
Asuka Has the Ability to Bring At Least a Competent Perfomance Out of Anyone
Mandy Rose had the best match of her career this week on SmackDown. It wasn't all that impressive a showing, but it was a complete effort that made her look like a threat. Rose has Asuka to thank for bringing the best out of her and letting her show off.
Only Lana can compete with The Golden Goddess for the title of least experienced performer on the roster, and it typically shows in both of their matches. For The Empress of Tomorrow to make Rose look this good is a testament to Asuka's comfort in the ring.
This is important going into a big match at Money in the Bank with Carmella. While The Princess of Staten Island is a fantastic trash talker, her in-ring work has been sloppy at best and even looked off against Charlotte Flair, who rarely puts on a bad performance.
Asuka may be the woman who can finally make Carmella look as capable in the ring as she sounds on the mic. The two have similar styles, focusing on their striking ability with a signature submission finishing move, but the Japanese is obviously far more comfortable in that style.
It would be nice to see Asuka pull the best performance possible out of Carmella, but it would be even better if the American can learn from The Empress of Tomorrow and improve for the long haul.