By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
Kevin Owens, Shane McMahon, and AJ Styles segment: A great segment thanks to the performance of Owens. The bit with him pulling out footage of Styles attacking Shane earlier this year to stir the pot, and then showing the footage of Shane screwing Steve Austin nearly 20 years ago was great. The highlight of the segment was Owens declining to face Styles on the spot because he wanted to do it in the United States in a city that actually mattered. That was a tremendous heat drawing line coming from the Canadian born wrestler turned Face of America. Shane serving as a special referee didn’t do much for me when it was announced last week, but this segment made it more compelling.
Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton in a non-title match: A more enjoyable match that some of their pay-per-view encounters. It was somewhat surprising to see the WWE Champion lose clean to a guy he is no longer feuding with. However, one of the strengths of Mahal in this role is that the crowd sees him as a vulnerable champion and this loss plays into that.
John Cena promo: It was refreshing to hear Cena put over Shinsuke Nakamura by acknowledging his loss to him last week. Cena has shrugged off a lot of losses in the past, and while he rarely shows the agony of defeat, it still packs a punch when he stands in the middle of the ring and praises a guy who beat him clean. The angle with Baron Corbin was made by the crowd getting into the dumpster fire chant more than anything the wrestlers did. Even so, it’s always fun to see Cena take a crowd that was mostly against him and have them cheering along with him by the end of a promo.
The Usos vs. Sami Zayn and Tye Dillinger: A good match with the experienced tag team beating the team made up of singles wrestlers. The post match angle with New Day coming out and showing a mean streak was a nice touch in terms of making their feud with the Usos feel like a blood feud.
Charlotte Flair vs. Lana: A minor Hit for being entertaining while it lasted. Still, I can’t help but wonder if Lana is more valuable to the company in a non-wrestling role with Rusev than she is as a glorified enhancement wrestler. I guess we’ll see where her oddball storyline with Tamina goes from here.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
Naomi vs. Carmella in a non-title match: The triumphant return of James Ellsworth is a big Hit in my book. That said, it was hard to ignore the obvious flaw that Carmella could have simply cashed in the Money in the Bank contract and won the championship. I was hopeful that it would be explained somehow in the backstage segment with Natalya, but instead it was used as a reminder that Carmella could cash in at SummerSlam.
Shinsuke Nakamura interview: The interview didn’t make me more interested in his WWE Championship match at SummerSlam. In fact, it felt like this was as much about Nakamura being awestruck by being in the ring with and beating John Cena than anything.