WWE 'SmackDown Live': Rusev Beats Daniel Bryan Clean To Seal 'MITB' Spot, And The Miz Defeats Jeff Hardy

During Tuesday's SmackDown Live, WWE superstars Rusev and Miz won their respective matches to seal their spots in the Money in the Bank ladder match. On SmackDown, The Miz faced WWE United States champion Jeff Hardy, and Rusev squared off against Daniel Bryan in the main event. The four wrestlers are some of the most popular superstars in the WWE, and the live audience in Baltimore, Maryland, were heavily interested in both contests.

The Miz has been on an impressive run in the WWE, and his match against Randy Orton at Backlash was arguably the best of the night. In a non-title contest, Jeff Hardy and "The A-Lister" had the opening match for SmackDown. The two wrestled for the better part of 20 minutes, and the match had all the main-event-like spots that you would expect from these two talented athletes.

At the end of the contest, after several high-spots, counters, and false finishes, Jeff Hardy successfully hit his Swanton bomb. But just as the referee began counting, The Miz reversed it into a crucifix pin to win the match. The crowd looked surprised and popped big over the finish, and The Miz once again finds himself in an "MITB" ladder match.

"Rusev Day" is seemingly the new version of "The Yes Movement," and the outcome of the SmackDown main event further illustrates that theory. Surprisingly, Daniel Bryan was announced first, and the fan-favorite was sporting numerous welts from his recent BackLash match against Big Cass. Rusev followed and received a roar of approval from the crowd.The Baltimore audience was on fire for both Rusev and Daniel during this contest, and the match was the basic formula: brief shine, heat, false comeback, and shine-comeback into the finish. The two veterans told a great story in the ring as chants of "Rusev Day" and "Daniel Bryan" echoed over the arena. While Bryan was being pummeled by Rusev, in a work, the announcers pointed out that Daniel's ribs are injured from his match with Big Cass.

During the climax of the contest, Bryan was delivering his yes kicks, "The Lion of Bulgaria" countered it, and he launched Daniel into the air and delivered a knee to his ribcage. This was followed by a machka kick to the face for the three-count. It was "Rusev Day" in Baltimore, and the audience gave the WWE superstar a standing ovation.

While SmackDown faded to black, Daniel sat in the ring, and in Cena-like-fashion, looked frustrated and saddened over the loss. Part of the crowd chanted his name as the show ended.

Years ago, it would have been hard to imagine a crowd being pleased with a match where Daniel didn't win (much less losing to a supposed heel). This is likely to be a good thing for both superstars; new angles can be created in the story of Daniel Bryan, and Rusev can capitalize on his popularity.

Thus far, The Miz and Rusev join two other WWE superstars in the men's "MITB" ladder match: Finn Balor and Braun Strowman. Balor and Braun won their respective Raw "MITB" qualifying matches, and four other members will be decided over the coming weeks.

Poster of WWE Money in the Bank.

Money in the Bank airs live on pay-per-view and the WWE Network on June 17, 2018.