WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from July 2 – Bleacher Report

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The march toward Money in the Bank on July 18 continued Friday on WWE SmackDown with a Last Man Standing match between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn to determine the latest competitor in the PPV’s high-stakes namesake.

    That match headlined a show that also promised the fallout from Edge‘s return a week ago and the subsequent revelation that The Rated R Superstar will challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship at the upcoming spectacular.

    Who emerged from the marquee bout and what answer did The Head of the Table have for the blue brand’s resident Iconoclast?

    Find out now with this recap of the July 2 episode.

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    Slated for Friday’s show are:

        

  • The fallout from Edge’s return on last week’s broadcast
  • Last Man Standing, Money in the Bank Qualifier: Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn

    

Coverage begins at 8 p.m.

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    Credit: WWE.com

    “You think you know me” engulfed the arena and Edge made his way to the ring, kicking off this week’s show and marking his first interview since his return seven days earlier. 

    The Iconoclast admitted his disappointment with the way WrestleMania went, then listed the number of complaints he had with the way things went down in that main event Triple Threat Match against Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan for the Universal Championship.

    Edge wrapped up his promo by expressing confidence in his ability to beat Reigns at Money in the Bank and vowing to dethrone him two weeks from Sunday night.

        

    Grade

    B

        

    Analysis

    Edge suffered a devastating loss at WrestleMania and used his downfall in that bout to build confidence and assuredness ahead of his match with Reigns at Money in the Bank. It’s an easy story to follow and one fans can get behind.

    What was interesting, though, was him suggesting he wasn’t going to make excuses for WrestleMania, then proceeding to do just that. The tone also suggested that we may not have seen the end of heel Edge, particularly after he expressed hostile feelings toward Bryan.

    He may have earned praise for his return, and might be targeting a more hated heel than he, but that does not at all mean he is a full-fledged babyface.

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    Credit: WWE

    A despondent Baron Corbin teamed with Intercontinental champion Apollo Crews to battle Big E and Shinsuke Nakamura in the night’s opening match, the former king unable to focus early until a clothesline at ringside allowed him and his partner to seize control of the bout.

    Corbin and Crews punished Big E for a large portion of the match until Rick Boogs, accompanying Nakamura, revealed the former United States champion’s G Wagon was being repossessed. Corbin, distraught, left himself open for the Big Ending as Big E earned the win for his team.

        

    Result

    Big E and Nakamura defeated Corbin and Crews

        

    Grade

    C-

        

    Analysis

    This was not good.

    Not that the effort wasn’t there from the workers themselves, but it felt entirely unnecessary when the Corbin character development could have been accomplished just about any other way. Why drag down Big E and Crews, even Nakamura, with it when Corbin could have cut a promo with Kayla Braxton that was interrupted by the revelation?

    That Corbin still sported the King Corbin graphics and music when he entered the arena suggests this was thrown together without much thought. Unfortunately, it adversely affected an entire segment and the Superstars involved.

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    Credit: WWE

    Bayley cut a promo on Bianca Belair, claiming her loss last week is not a good omen for her young title reign. The EST made her way to the ring and offered a retort, admitting Bayley is in her head. So, at Money in the Bank, she wants an I Quit Match for the SmackDown Women’s Championship.

    Bayley said that if she ever said “I quit,” she would probably quit wrestling altogether. Belair has no chance of winning the match, she said before accepting the challenge. Belair offered a laugh and said she cannot wait to hear Bayley say those two words at Money in the Bank.

        

    Grade

    C

        

    Analysis

    This feud continues, for reasons that escape this writer and despite questionable creative from day one. Still, the matches have been very good and the idea of an I Quit Match, one of the few gimmick bouts not beaten into the ground by a creative team looking for any way to polish its lackluster booking, is appealing.

    Belair and Bayley beat the hell out of each other back at Hell in a Cell and without having to play up the gimmick of the cage, they should be freer to tell the story they want instead of the one the match type demands.

    How many times can Bayley possibly lose before her credibility takes a hit, though, because it’s highly unlikely WWE officials are taking the title off The EST this early in her run.

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Kevin Owens obliterated Sami Zayn, punishing his best friend throughout a commercial break and appearing well on his way to victory in Friday’s Last Man Standing Match for an entry in to Money in the Bank. An ill-fated attempt at a superplex from the top rope, through two tables at ringside allowed Zayn to turn the tide in his favor.

    Owens fought back with a fisherman suplex but Zayn shoved KO from the top rope and through the aforementioned tables as the show headed to a second break. 

    Zayn dominated the action for several minutes until frustration set in, leaving him to take drastic measures. A re-energized Owens fought back into the match, unleashed hell, and drove his opponent through two tables before putting him away with an apron powerbomb for the win.

         

    Result

    Owens defeated Zayn

       

    Grade

    A

        

    Analysis

    This was a pay-per-view quality match that, hopefully, brought this chapter of the Owens-Zayn feud to a close.

    Owens, summoning all of the anger, frustration and rage caused by his former best friend in recent months, unloaded late in the match, turning in one of those signature KO performances that reminds the audience he should be doing so much more on these shows.

    Kudos to Zayn, too, who was equally as great as his opponent, using facial expressions and body language late to put over his disbelief that Owens would not stay down.

    The right guy went over if this is, indeed, the conclusion of the story. While Owens may not be the flashiest choice to win Money in the Bank, he has unfinished business with Roman Reigns and it is one of the few accomplishments he has yet to accomplish. Perhaps this could be the start of a renewed push.

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Sonya Deville made her way to the ring, introducing the latest entry into the Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match: the returning Zelina Vega! Liv Morgan took exception and challenged Vega to a match right here, right now and Deville appeared to grant it heading into the break.

    With Carmella watching on from backstage, Vega took the fight to Morgan, seizing control early on. The resourceful Morgan, looking to prove herself, scored the win with a schoolgirl roll-up while holding the tights.

    Backstage, Seth Rollins seethed over Deville and Adam Pearce’s decision to give Edge the Universal Championship Match against Roman Reigns at Money in the Bank. Deville revealed he can have an opportunity to win the ladder match at the PPV…if he can beat Cesaro in a qualifying match next week.

         

    Result

    Morgan defeated Vega

        

    Grade

    C+

        

    Analysis

    The match was rather nondescript as much of it either took place during the commercial break or was rushed through after. The return of Vega, though, is a welcome one. Long one of the more underutilized talents on the roster, she showed her value during Paul Heyman’s brief run as the creative director of Raw and had a solid championship encounter at last year’s Clash of Champions.

    Now on SmackDown, with an opportunity to make a big splash in the Money in the Bank match, she could be a game-changer as a potential challenger to Bianca Belair. Especially considering the lack of depth on the roster at this point.

    Rollins still expressing his desire to challenge Reigns for the Universal Championship will ultimately pay off if, and when, he turns babyface and can cut that inevitable promo about being held down while the company’s top officials protected their golden boy.

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    Credit: WWE

    The rivalry between The Street Profits and Alpha Academy continued Friday as Angelo Dawkins sought to avenge the injuries suffered by partner Montez Ford at the hands of the massive Otis and his partner, Chad Gable.

    Otis, sporting a new look as Gable’s “No. 1 guy,” squashed Dawkins, defeating him in short and decisive fashion. He finished him off with a Vader Bomb, much to the delight of Gable.

        

    Result

    Otis defeated Dawkins

       

    Grade

    A

        

    Analysis

    The match was a designed squash and it worked perfectly. Otis looked like an unstoppable machine and while some may not be that excited about the prospects of another push for the former Money in the Bank winner, he certainly has the talent to benefit the company in an expanded role.

    Hopefully, Gable also benefits from the renewed interest in Alpha Academy because he is too damn good to be ignored and underutilized to the extent that he has been.

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    Credit: WWE

    Jimmy Uso made his way to the ring and called out Edge, claiming Roman Reigns isn’t there tonight. The Rated R Superstar appeared, asking what happened to Uso. Where did his backbone go? When did he become one of Roman’s bitches?

    Edge claimed Reigns laid the perfect trap, but not for him. For Jimmy. Edge attacked the former tag team champion, beating him down until a picture-perfect superkick stunned the Hall of Famer. Edge fought back, pounded away at Jimmy and trapped him in the crossface, forcing a tapout.

    The Iconoclast broke off a piece of chair and reapplied the hold, torturing Jimmy and exclaiming “I don’t stop!” to close out the show.

        

    Grade

    A

        

    Analysis

    When one of the Usos needed Reigns, The Head of the Table left them hanging out to dry. There was no help, no support from the Big Dog. He essentially sacrificed Jimmy’s well being, leaving him to go it alone against a vengeful Edge.

    It is yet another wrinkle in the Universal champion’s story that elevates its already high quality.

    The question now is whether Jimmy will revisit his vendetta against Reigns, especially since Edge planted the seeds with his pre-beatdown promo.

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