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WWE SmackDown live results: AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Date: May 15, 2018
Location: The O2 Arena in London, England

The Big Takeaway --

Shinsuke Nakamura beat AJ Styles in a non-title match and will now get to decide the stipulation for their title match at Money in the Bank.

Daniel Bryan beat the crap out of Big Cass in the opening segment. Bryan looked like a superstar. Cass has a MITB qualifying match against Samoa Joe next week, and has a built-in excuse if he loses after Bryan went after his surgically repaired leg.

Becky Lynch qualified for the women’s ladder match, and one member of the New Day qualified for the men’s match. Next week, Lana faces Billie Kay in another qualifier. Carmella must defend the title at MITB against Asuka.

Show Recap -- 

No intro again. The crowd chanted “Rusev Day” before the announcers ran down the history between AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura and plugged their match for tonight.

Renee Young is in the ring and introduced Daniel Bryan. Gigantic reaction for Bryan, who has a bruise on his nose. Renee tried to ask Bryan a question but the crowd loudly chanted over her. She eventually gave up and let them go. Bryan got them going for a bit then moved on to the question.

Bryan said it sucked to lose and nobody likes losing. When he returned, he was just happy to be back, but now that isn’t enough. The crowd began chanting for him again, but he continued and said he wants to get back to the top. He said he would scratch and claw his way back there and will become WWE Champion. The crowd chanted “Yes.”

Big Cass interrupted (without his music/entrance). Cass rambled for a while and claimed Rusev wasn’t Bryan’s first big setback, it was him. The crowd chanted “Rusev Day.” Cass said he tapped out just to get out of the hold so he could beat-down Bryan. He said Bryan would have a seven-foot shadow following him around. More chants for Bryan.

Cass mocked people celebrating Bryan’s 75-minute performance at the Greatest Royal Rumble and said at least the little person from Montreal took his beating with some dignity. Cass went on forever as Bryan began pacing around.

Cass got in the ring and mocked the Yes chant when Bryan attacked him. Bryan hit him with punches and kicks, then kicked the crap out of Cass’ previously injured leg. Referees ran down to stop it, but Bryan then slammed Cass’ leg against the ring post. Bryan followed with a chop block, then applied a heel hook as Cass tapped wildly.

More referees and officials ran down to pull Bryan off Cass and he eventually let go. Bryan was seething as Cass escaped the ring. The crowd chanted for Bryan and he led them in a Yes chant.

Bryan tearing people apart is great, so yeah, this was fun. You can read whatever you like into Cass tapping immediately to a move Bryan rarely even uses. 

Big E & Xavier Woods (w/Kofi Kingston) defeated Sheamus & Cesaro (9:21)

They went to commercial 90 seconds into the match. The Miz was on commentary. He put over Cesaro as being the most underrated superstar and gave Woods some credit too. Miz thought New Day were holding each other back because they’ve done everything they can as a team.

Cesaro tried putting Big E in a Sharpshooter, but he’s too damn big, so Cesaro actually fell over. He eventually got it in on. Wood made a blind tag and used a tornado DDT. Big E sent Sheamus out of the ring and hit his running spear through the ropes, which the crowd popped for. Woods followed with a ropewalk elbow drop on Cesaro for the pinfall win. Nice pop for the finish.

One member of New Day qualified for the Money in the Bank ladder match, but they did not announce who it would be. 

Bludgeon Brothers promo. “Family is for the weak. Friendship is an abscess waiting to be pierced. Joy is a disease. The cure is to bludgeon. We’re waiting. Time’s up.”

Paige was shown backstage and she got a big reaction. She was on the phone with Carmella and told her she can’t have a horse-drawn carriage for her celebration. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville interrupted.

Rose was excited about being in MITB, but Paige reminded her that her match with Becky Lynch last week was not a qualifier. Paige gave them a qualifying match tonight against Lynch. They were excited thinking it was a handicap match, but Paige informed them it was a triple threat and they were no longer excited. 

Renee interviewed AJ Styles backstage. The crowd chanted for Styles as Renee asked her question. Styles paused for a bit to let them chant. Styles joked he might pick a Pole on a Pole match or a Bull Rope Hell in a Cell Inferno match. Renee asked if the referee could be dressed as Elvis but Styles thought that was too much, which was funny. Anyway, Styles said Nakamura can’t beat him in the house that he built. 

Andrade “Cien” Almas (w/Zelina Vega) defeated Jake Constantino (1:19)

Almas won quickly with the Hammerlock DDT. I don’t mind it, but it seems like a lot of wrestlers have DDT finishers now (especially whenever Dean Ambrose gets back).

Vega was unimpressed with Smackdown and said they were expecting more. She called Almas’ opponent pathetic and called the rest of the locker room pathetic too. Vega said they were there to take over. It sounded like they piped in fake booing.

Almas wore all white and Vega wore all black. During his entrance, one of the facts shown for Almas was that he was in the Royal Rumble. Not that he was NXT Champion (though the announcers did talk about it). 

Backstage, Rusev was happy to have a room decorated with all his stuff, although he thought Aiden English could’ve done better for him after he beat Bryan last week. English had a new song for him. Rusev was excited to hear it but Lana interrupted.

She asked English to save his beautiful voice because he won’t be the only one celebrating. Lana had a qualifying match against Billie Kay next week and said they would become the first Mr. & Mrs. Money in the Bank. English said it would happen on Rusev Day and they were all happy. 

Carmella’s Royal ‘Mellabration

Carmella demanded the fans cheer and bow for her, but they didn’t. She said they reminded her of the rest of the women’s roster because none of them thought she deserved it. She said “Mella is money” and that made her better than everyone, including Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax, Ronda Rousey, Trish Stratus and Lita. Paige interrupted.

Paige was happy to be home and the fans gave her a big reaction, including a “This is your house” chant. Paige thought it was interesting that Carmella thought she was better than everyone and let her know she would be defending the title at MITB. Carmella said no, but Paige introduced her opponent anyway.  

Asuka came out. The crowd chanted “Asuka’s gonna kill you” as she stared at Carmella. Asuka seemed amused by the chant. Carmella was pissed and left. 

Renee interviewed Nakamura and asked what his chances were tonight. Nakamura asked what she meant by “chance” and “possibility.” Renee thought he didn’t know what the words meant, but he said he knew exactly what it meant. It wasn’t about chance, it was a certainty that he would beat Styles. He would give Styles a knee-to-face over and over until his nose was smashed, cheeks broken, chin shattered, and his face was gone. He said he would take Styles’ title. 

Becky Lynch defeated Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville in a triple threat match to qualify for Money in the Bank (7:55)

Rose and Deville came out separately. The crowd chanted for Lynch to start the match. Rose and Deville worked together momentarily but just a minute into the match, Rose tried a schoolgirl on Deville for a two count. Deville was upset, then Lynch tried a schoolgirl of her own but they went to commercial as Deville broke it up.

After the break, Lynch gave Deville an Exploder. Deville followed with a knee drop and Rose tried to steal the cover, but Lynch kicked out. Rose used a double underhook facebuster and Deville tried to steal that cover, but Lynch kicked out again.

There was a spot where Rose had Deville on her shoulders and Lynch knocked them both down with a missile dropkick, which didn’t look great. Deville broke up a Disarmer attempt, kicked Rose in the chest, then hit a sliding knee on Lynch for a two count.

Lynch sidestepped a knee from Rose which caught Deville instead. Lynch then countered a rollup by Rose into a Disarmer for the submission win. This was kind of clunky but still a fine match considering who was in there. The crowd liked Lynch. 

Next week, Samoa Joe will face Big Cass in a MITB qualifier. The announcers reminded us that Cass might have a bad leg thanks to Bryan. Lana vs. Kay in a qualifier was confirmed as well.

Joe cut a selfie promo on Cass. Joe said the only thing big about Cass was his mouth and called him a fake tough guy. He said guys like Cass always come up short. Joe said his ambition demands he beats Cass and wins MITB. He said he would put Cass to sleep. This was very good.

The IIconics also did a selfie promo. They played a word association game and said the future was iconic. This was… something.

Non-title match: Shinsuke Nakamura defeated WWE Champion AJ Styles (17:51)

The announcers put this over as a WrestleMania-level main event. Nakamura is back to red pants with no stripes. The crowd still tried to sing his theme during his entrance. Most of the crowd chanted for Styles early on but others chanted for Nakamura.

Styles hit a springboard forearm to the outside early in the match. He tried a sliding knee on the apron but Nakamura caught him first with a knee of his own. He tried a cover but Styles kicked out at one. There were loud dueling chants as they went to commercial.

During commercial, there was a great spot where Nakamura nailed a hard kick to Styles’ chest which bounced him off the ropes. Nakamura was in control after the break and hit a nice flying kick for a two count. Nakamura applied a dragon sleeper and yelled, “Ask him, ref! Ask him!” Styles escaped and later hit a Pele kick.

Styles hit a series of strikes, sliding forearm, jumping clothesline and facebuster for a two count. They traded counters leading to Nakamura hitting a spinning heel kick and Samoan driver for two. Styles set up for a springboard move but Nakamura knocked him off the ropes. Nakamura then hit a jumping knee off the middle rope for two.

Styles tried countering a Kinshasa into Styles Clash, but Nakamura avoided it, leading to Styles hitting a fireman’s carry neckbreaker. Nakamura countered a sliding forearm with a kick, then suddenly hit what looked like a Kinshasa, but it didn’t really land, and Styles kicked out. (They added some fake crowd noise here, too.)

Styles went for a Phenomenal forearm but stopped short when he almost hit the referee. After the ref was temporarily distracted, Nakamura feigned like Styles gave him a low blow. As Styles reasoned with the referee, Nakamura gave him a forearm to the back of the head, followed by a reverse exploder and Kinshasa for the pinfall win. Really good match.

Nakamura will now get to decide the stipulation for their title match, though we’ll have to wait to find out what it is. 

Final Thoughts --

The main event stipulation made no sense whatsoever for a lot of reasons. Ignoring that, this was a pretty fun show throughout.