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With less than two weeks to go until the WWE Money in the Bank pay-per-view in Chicago, Tuesday night’s edition of SmackDown Live emanated from Corpus Christi, Texas. Heading into Tuesday, the main storyline being pushed on the blue brand was the contract signing, moderated by SmackDown general manager Paige, that was to take place between WWE champion AJ Styles and challenger Shinsuke Nakamura ahead of their upcoming Last Man Standing match at the event. A contract signing on television? Here comes the in-ring segment where someone is going through a table one way or another and unbridled chaos ensues, right? 

That didn’t exactly turn out to be the case. 

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Styles and Nakamura have a … unique signing 

The contract signing between Styles and Nakamura actually took place backstage as opposed to in the ring as usual. Paige began the segment by stating that with the Last Man Standing stipulation, we will finally be guaranteed a winner. Styles told Nakamura that he now realizes why he does what he does, and no matter what dirty tricks Nakamura has up his sleeve, Styles is walking out of Money in the Bank with his title. The champion then signed the deal. 

Nakamura was next up to offer his signature, but he was leading everyone to believe that he was having pen issues. Believing — rightfully so — that Nakamura was playing games, Styles became so infuriated that he slapped the challenger. The champion was led away by officials, and Nakamura signed his portion of the contract after revealing he had a pen in his coat pocket all along. The segment ended with Nakamura staring at Paige and simply uttering the words: last man standing. 

Initially, it seemed odd that they would go through with the contract signing backstage. But I’ll admit, I ended up enjoying the different point of view. We’re so used to the in-ring contract signings turning into chaos in front of the live crowd, so it was slightly enjoyable seeing it take place in this manner. This feud has been run into the ground between these two to this point, and we’re quick to point that out nearly on a weekly basis. They do deserve some creative points for this week — and Nakamura deserves even more credit for continuing the fantastic smarmy heel work. Grade: C+

What else happened on SmackDown?

  • Asuka def. Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose via submission in a handicap match: Carmella’s advertised attempt to “unmask” Asuka went completely off the rails to begin this week’s show when Asuka interrupted her following a video package featuring her loss at WrestleMania 34 to Charlotte Flair and defeat during her first appearance on SmackDown in a tag team match in which she didn’t suffer the pin. Rose & Deville made their way out next, followed by Paige, eventually, who set up a handicap match after Asuka proclaimed she wanted to face both. After a lengthy bout, Asuka submitted Deville with the Asuka Lock. Following the match, Carmella entered the ring and ended up nailing Asuka with the title to stand tall following a distraction from Rose. 
  • New Day troll Miz backstage: All three members of New Day met up with The Miz backstage and they told him that he could pick which member of the team would represent in the Money in the Bank match by picking a name out of a hat. When Miz was blindfolded, they switched the papers with pancake batter and the former intercontinental champion was less than pleased with the trolling. 
  • Karl Anderson def. Luke Harper via pinfall: In one of the most shocking upsets we’ve seen in WWE all year, Anderson pulled a fast one on Harper with a roll-up after avoiding a kick in the corner. Anderson & Luke Gallows face off with the Bludgeon Brothers for the tag team championship at Money in the Bank. 
  • Jimmy Uso & Naomi def. Aiden English & Lana via pinfall: Uso earned the win for he and his wife after a superkick to the throat of English, who was selling his precious vocal chords being damaged afterwards. 
  • Becky Lynch def. Charlotte Flair via submission: In a result that some may deem a stunner, Lynch got the clean win over Flair when she was able to slap on the Dis-Arm-Her to make her best friend tap out. Following the match, the two showed each other respect. Entertaining match, as expected, and it’s nice to see them giving Lynch some credibility back on SmackDown. 
  • Big Cass promo: Renee Young brought out Cass for a promo off to the side of the stage, reminiscent of the promos conducted in WWE during the early-1990s. Cass simply cut the same promo he’s been cutting for weeks about Bryan being much smaller than he is, before finishing up the cringe-worthy segment by stating how he was going to tear Bryan’s limbs off in their match at Money in the Bank.
  • Andrade “Cien” Almas attacks Sin Cara: Backstage, Sin Cara said that he doesn’t understand why Almas, a man he’s known since he was 14 years old, would snub him. Zelina Vega approached Sin Cara, ran him down verbally and revealed that Almas went to Paige to request a match between the two next week. Almas then ambushed Sin Cara from behind. 
  • New Day def. Samoa Joe, The Miz & Rusev via pinfall: Things went south for the heel team when Miz accidentally threw a platter of pancakes in the face of Rusev and Joe. Both took him out in the ring, then left him for dead in the ring where Kofi Kingston and Big E nailed the Midnight Hour for the win in the main event of this week’s show. Fun match as usual from New Day, though not much developed from a storyline perspective.
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