Courtesy of wwe.com

While Raw left many questions about what would happen come Sunday’s Money In The Bank pay-per-view, Smackdown took the time to not only give the MITB match itself a HUGE push, but to set up future storylines once the PPV is over. All eight men involved in MITB participated during the show in one way or another. The World Heavyweight Championship match, however, got no such push. Let’s take a look at Friday’s Smackdown.

WWE Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston v. “Dashing” Cody Rhodes

For the first time in a long time, Raw and/or Smackdown started with an actual match. Kingston and Rhodes put on an entertaining five-minute match with the usual spots and bumps. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but it was still good. Kingston did a great job selling the effects of Nexus’ beatdown from Tuesday’s NXT. I would love to see these two feud at some point, especially with the IC Title at stake.

The match ends in a no contest when Kane intervenes, chokeslams both men, and tells the WWE Universe that there will be a bludgeoning later. Yikes. A great opening segment that gave us both a quality contest, MITB hype and a reason to stick around until the end of the show.

Rey Mysterio backstage promo

Mysterio is being worked on by a doctor in the back when Josh Mathews enters to ask Mysterio about his condition for this Sunday. Mysterio tells Mathews that he can’t go and will forfeit his title tonight to Jack Swagger. Mysterio stands up and tells Mathews that there is no way he will forfeit his championship. This reminded me of what Sheamus did after Fatal 4 Way when he considered handing the WWE Championship to Mr. McMahon, but ultimately revealed that he was kidding. While that instance was more of a heel tactic, Mysterio’s built sympathy and added to his “Ultimate Underdog” persona. The ankle will play a big part on Sunday.

Speaking of Swagger, he is on the phone with whoever has his evidence. I liked these segments because it teased the end of the show while also giving significance to whatever Swagger’s alibi is. It should be important because, you know, he will get killed if he doesn’t get it.

Drew McIntyre v. Christian

This was another solid mid-card match to promote MITB. This was as even as a contest as you could imagine. Each man expertly scouted the other, countering several big moves, including each man’s respective finishers. McIntyre and Christian kept looking at the briefcase, which makes sense and shows its importance. McIntyre wins with an eye rake and Future Shock DDT, much like he defeated John Morrison at TLC last winter. While this would make for a good feud, I don’t think it will become one. Check out my MITB prediction column for more insight.

Alberto Del Rio vignette

The word of the day is “education.” I want to see him in the ring already.

Straight Edge Society/Big Show promo

This was the highlight of the night for me. With Swagger dealing with Kane and the other six competitors facing off, the Big Show had to be involved in some way. Show interrupts C.M. Punk and uses his newly found time to show the WWE Universe how he would climb a ladder this Sunday. He takes one step onto the normal ladder and breaks it. After thinking about a step ladder, Show brings out a350lb ladder that can hold up to 2000lbs. Look for that ladder to make some sort of appearance Sunday and in a big spot, too. Anyways, C.M. Punk has Luke Gallows and the Masked Man (who you can totally tell is Joey Mercury up close, even though we knew that already) jump the Big Show. Show fights back and Punk is all alone on top of the ladder. Show catches him and pulls Punk’s mask off! You should have seen the look on his face. Here it is!

Merry Christmas from the WWE

I didn’t expect Punk’s mask to be removed this way, but it was a nice surprise. I guess we can assume that Punk and Show will start feuding after MITB. It seems that any teased tension among the SES was just that: teased. Show/Punk should be an interesting one to say the least. Stay tuned.

Trent Baretta & WWE Co-Women’s Champion Layla El (with Caylen Croft) v. Chris Masters & Kelly Kelly (with Tiffany)

I know I have said this before, but I love when the WWE uses WWE Superstars (the show) to push mid-card feuds that wouldn’t have time to blossom on Smackdown or Raw. While the focus on this match were on the Divas (and Rosa Mendes’ jump rope skills), the Dudebusters and Chris Masters got to face each other once again after the Masterlock Challenge from Superstars two weeks ago. Kelly goes over, which makes me feel that Layla might win Sunday (even though I picked Kelly). Only time will tell.

Matt Hardy v. Dolph Ziggler (with Vickie Guerrero)

Hardy says before the match that if he wins Sunday, he will cash in that very night against the WHC. Good move by Hardy to show confidence and a possible outcome to the show Sunday. Hardy and Ziggler work very well together. There were two spots I especially liked: Hardy’s counter of Ziggler’s leg lariat into a powerbomb and Ziggler using his finger to break the count. Ziggler gets the win when Guerrero distracts Hardy enough for Ziggler to hit the Zig Zag. I hope Ziggler learns not to depend on Guerrero or his push will be marked with an *.

Jack Swagger/”Mr. Swagger”/Kane promo

I know that “Mr. Swagger” wasn’t his actual dad, but you can’t tell me that they didn’t look alike. I liked the Mr. Swagger character; I don’t normally like these decoys (see: Momma Benjamin), but Swagger’s dad worked out pretty well and I would love to see him again.

Swagger claims that he and his father were competing all Memorial Day and had pictures to prove it, even though almost none of them had time stamps. Kane doesn’t believe Swagger and attacks him, but Swagger gets the upper hand and puts Kane in the Ankle Lock. For some reason, Mysterio makes the save. Why would he save Kane, someone who has accused him of hurting the Undertaker? Kane gets Mr. Swagger and Swagger decides to get out of dodge. It was a good heel tactic and a good way to end the show.

Check out my prediction column at Bleacher Report and right here later today!

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