WWE SmackDown Recap: May 22, 2018
S18 episode 21 Aired on May 22, 2018

On an explosive SmackDown LIVE, Daniel Bryan took on United States Champion Jeff Hardy for the first time, with a Men's Money in the Bank Qualifying Match against Samoa Joe hanging in the balance. Plus, Lana and Naomi both qualified for the Women's Money in the Bank Ladder Match, and Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson earned an opportunity to battle SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Bludgeon Brothers on June 17.

With Xavier Woods on commentary, this impromptu match got underway with Big E coming out hot, clearly fuming after Miz’s attempted mind games from earlier. While Big E dominated, The New Day refueled him by wiping his brow and giving him a nice sampling of maple syrup. From there, Xavier and Kofi switched places at the commentary desk as the match raged on. When the match appeared to be at a standstill, The Bar rushed out and attacked Woods from behind. This prompted Kingston to come to his aid, and Kofi caught a thunderous Brogue Kick during the chaotic bedlam. With Kofi and Xavier down, The Bar got to the apron, which caused Big E to try and swiftly take him out. However, this allowed The Miz the opening to take down the distracted Big E with the Skull-Crushing Finale for the victory.

Following his victory over WWE Champion AJ Styles last week, Shinsuke Nakamura earned the right to decide the stipulation for his title bout against The Phenomenal One at WWE Money in the Bank.

Nakamura first played coy with Styles, suggesting that they were going to have a pillow fight, but then, getting very serious, Nakamura boldly stated that he knew that he was better than Styles. AJ retorted by reminding Shinsuke that he “can’t beat him when it counts,” and the two began brawling.

The fight spilled into the WWE Universe, and The Phenomenal One began to tee up a Phenomenal Forearm off the barricade, but Nakamura stopped the attack with a steel chair, connecting flush with Styles’ body in mid-air. The King of Strong Style then continued the assault, tossing Styles onto the announce table with a front suplex and nailing him with a Kinshasa on the outside.
After that, as Styles laid motionless, Nakamura began to count to 10, then announced that at WWE Money in the Bank, the two would compete in a Last Man Standing Match for the WWE Championship.

Daniel Bryan squared off with Jeff Hardy for the first time ever, and, boy, was it a show.

With Samoa Joe (who will face the winner in a Money in the Bank Qualifying Match next week) doing guest commentary, Bryan and Hardy absolutely enthralled the WWE Universe, laying it all on the line.

As the match continued, the two pushed each other to their absolute limits, with Bryan going for the Flying Knee off the apron, only for Hardy to evade it and connect with a Flying Clothesline. After The Charismatic Enigma dropped his opponent with Whisper in the Wind for a two-count, Bryan struck back quickly with the “Yes” Kicks.

Hardy seemed to be closing in on the victory when he executed the Twist of Fate, but Bryan got his knees up when Hardy went for the Swanton Bomb, keeping himself alive in the contest. Hardy then fended off Bryan’s Flying Knee, but Bryan torqued Hardy’s leg and locked him in the heel hook for the submission victory.

The “Yes!” Man could not celebrate for too long after earning another chance at qualifying for the Men’s Money in the Bank Match because Samoa Joe entered the ring to remind Bryan that they would square off next week.
Joe looked ready, Bryan looked ready, and you can bet that the WWE Universe is ready as well.

In other action … The New Day joined “Miz TV” … Lana def. Billie Kay in a Women’s Money in the Bank Qualifying Match … Andrade “Cien” Almas def. local competitor … Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson def. The Usos to earn the opportunity to contend for the SmackDown Tag Team Titles at WWE Money in the Bank … and Naomi def. Sonya Deville in a Women’s Money in the Bank Qualifying Match.

Season 18 episode guides