By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Aired live from Providence, Rhode Island at Dunkin Donuts Center
A video plugged this weekend’s Summerslam, followed by a preview of Cena vs. Mahal for tonight’s Smackdown Main Event.
The Show opened with the Singh Brothers introducing Jinder Mahal, who got some loud boos. He made his way to the ring and spoke about today being Independence Day in India, as well as a celebration of the greatest WWE Champion of all time, Jinder Mahal. He then directed attention to the stage, where a troupe of performers danced and played instruments in traditional Indian dress. There was also an older woman in the ring, who he introduced as Madhu (sic), and she sang the Indian National Anthem. He called the crowd jingoistic as the dance troupe started back up, and the singh brothers and Mahal joined in briefly in the ring.
He told the crowd that their reaction is exactly what he expected, and he told them he was their new hero. Jinder said John Cena had carried the company on his shoulders for years, but there was a new hero in town. Mahal continued and said that Nakamura and Cena had a dream match a few weeks ago, but he would beat John Cena more convincingly than Nakamura ever could. He said it was Nakamura’s destiny to lose to the Maharaja at Summerslam. He then started speaking in Punjabi, but he was interrupted by Nakamura. Oddly enough, one of the dancers at ringside started reacting to his music positively and smiling.
Mahal accused Nakamura of disparaging his people on their day. Nakamura said that today in India it’s independence day, and today in Japan it is a day they commemorate (indeciperable) and pray for peace. He said on Sunday in America, it’s Summerslam, the day he loses the WWE Title to meeeeeee. He kind of sang the last part.
Video showed Shane McMahon getting kicked by AJ Styles last week. AJ will apologize later. Becky and Natalya were shown heading to the ring for a match next…[c]
My Take: Nakamura looked loose and confident, but the promo was a bit rough. It wasn’t bad, and he showed good energy, but he still mutters a bit trying to get out English words. Mahal was once again boilerplate, and it’s pretty obvious he’s hit his ceiling at this point. He’s had plenty of opportunity and promo time, but has yet to show he can get a reaction for much besides yelling about Americans being dull witted racists. But, given recent events, he may have a point…
Becky Lynch made her entrance, followed by Natalya. Naomi then made an unannounced entrance prior to the start of the match to join on commentary.
1. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya: They traded headlocks to start. Becky made a quick cover and got a one count. Nattie slapped her across the face, and that prompted them to trade strikes until Nattie had to retreat to the floor…[c]
Natalya held on to an abdominal stretch hit clubbing blows to Becky’s abs. Becky fired up and elbowed out of the hold, and hit a series of clotheslines and a side kick. She then hit an exploder suplex and fired up to hit a running forearm for a near fall. Becky went for the disarmer, but Natalya reversed into a sharpshooter attempt. They traded reversals until Becky hit a kick and went up top to miss a leg drop. Nattie then applied the sharpshooter and got the tapout victory.
Natalya defeated Becky Lynch at 7:32.
Naomi said on commentary that it wouldn’t happen to her on Sunday, because she’s got the glow. Nattie attempted to apply the sharpshooter again, but Naomi ran her off. Carmella ran out and basically explained who was out in the ring, as if everyone forgot. She called herself Miss Money in the Bank, and wished both Natalya and Naomi good luck on Sunday. Ellsworth jumped in and said no matter who wins on Sunday, they can still lose, while he held up the briefcase. The announce team plugged the main event as the most significant in Smackdown history….[c]
My Take: A decent match that didn’t make any real attempt to do anything ambitious or overstay it’s welcome. It accomplished making Natalya look strong headed into Sunday, and Becky’s loss will be quickly forgotten if and when she gets involved in an actual story. She’s one of the better workers and talkers in the Smackdown women’s division. I have no earthly idea why Jinder Mahal and John Cena gets the “most significant main event ever” treatment when Nakamura vs. Cena got none of it.
The announce team mentioned AJ Styles apologizing to Shane McMahon later. Backstage, Tamina asked Lana why she didn’t have a match tonight, because she thought they had an understanding. Lana explained that no one feared her…yet. But, with her ravishing good looks and ability to manipulate, she will get her into a position to crush and inspire fear in her enemies. She said if they work together they would be unstoppable.
Elsewhere, Daniel Bryan was approached by the Usos. He asked if they wanted him to join their rap group, because he’s been working on his beats and hooks. They told him they’d consider it, but wanted to know which New Day Members they’d face at Summerslam. Bryan said it would be Big E and Xavier Woods. The Usos asked for Kofi and Woods tonight, since they jumped them last week. Bryan agree and said he could hook them up. They did an awkward fist bump/handshake thing and The Usos walked away. Bryan was in total lame Dad mode. Rusev made his entrance for a match against Chad Gable next…[c]
My Take: Lana and Tamina could work together from a personality perspective, but I’m still not sold on either of them in the ring. Tamina is better obviously, but she’s got like 3 effective moves and doesn’t move around well at this point. Lana is much more effective as a manager though, so this is a good move on that front. Daniel Bryan being a lame white guy fits on him like his favorite old sweater.
Chad Gable made his entrance for the next match.
2. Chad Gable vs. Rusev: It was all Rusev to start until Gable hit an overhead belly to belly. Things spilled outside where Rusev wore out Gable on the steps and then chucked him over the announce table into one of the desk chairs. The ref called for the bell as Rusev tore apart the announce table.
The match ended in an apparent no contest at 1:20.
After the match, Rusev applied The Accolade on the announce table and left Gable laying there. Rusev grabbed a microphone and walked back in the ring. Before he could finish his first couple of words, Orton popped in from out of frame and hit an RKO that put Rusev down. He celebrated with the crowd and did some posing. The announce team then put over the various events over Summerslam weekend. AJ Styles is next…[c]
My Take: I was hoping for a solid match there, so the quick no contest was a bit disappointing. I hope they have a solid plan for Gable post Summerslam. Orton being the guy who hits RKO’s out of nowhere made for a popular internet meme for a while, but it remains to be seen what kind of shelf life it’ll have as his actual wrestling character.
AJ Styles made his entrance and called Shane McMahon out to the ring. Shane told AJ there was no apology necessary, as we was placed as referee because he can take a hit and keep on going. AJ asked him man to man if he was going to use it as a reason to screw him over at Summerslam. Shane told AJ that normally referees cannot be touched under any circumstances, but if he puts his hands on him on Sunday, he’s going to give it right back. AJ asked him if that’s a threat, and Shane said no. What it means for Sunday…..and Kevin Owens interrupted.
Owens walked and talked and told Shane that he likes the rules because it means AJ can’t hit the ref and keep his title. Kevin said he likes Shane as the ref because he knows he’ll call it right down the middle, and offered his hand for a handshake. Shane told him he should shake his opponent’s hand instead, because it would be inappropriate of him to do so. Kevin offered his hand, but AJ got in his face and told him he’d still be the US Champion on Sunday. They got into a scuffle, which resulted in AJ nearly punching Shane McMahon. Shane and AJ argued, and Owens tried ti capitalize with a kick, but AJ moved and Shane got blasted. Owens left angrily and AJ looked at him and cracked a smile. Shane recovered and they all glowered at one another. New Day vs. The Usos are next…[c]
My Take: Not a home run segment by any means, but the promos were better than last week between the three men. It was essentially a turnabout from last week, with Owens getting duped this time, and it worked in the sense that it feels like either man could potentially get the wrath of Shane depending on how the action plays out.
New Day made their entrance and Kofi said that they have a very important title match this Sunday. But against who????? They clowned on the Usos for wanting to catch their hands, and said they could to it tonight, at Summerslam, at Foxboro Stadium, or when the White Walkers invade Westeros and they will bend the knee. Because New Day Rocks. The Usos then made their entrance.
3. The Usos vs. The New Day: Woods and Kofi hit multiple jumping attacks on Jimmy Uso, while the commentators talked about how this is the faster New Day lineup that beat The Usos for the Tag Team Championships. They hit repeated elbow drops, leg drops, and sentons that forced Jimmy to roll out to the floor…[c]
Kofi went face first into the post during the break, which turned the tide of the match. Jey Uso hit a bodyslam on him in the ring, and then Jimmy talked trash to him form the apron. Kofi broke free with a back body drop and made a tag to Xavier Woods. Woods ht a dropkick to the back of the neck in Jimmy, but he fired back with a big right hand. Kofi made a blind tag, and Jimmy got hit by a superkick from both men.
Kofi tried for Trouble in Paradise, but Jimmy avoided it. Jey shoved Xavier Woods off the ropes and got a distraction from Jimmy, which allowed him to hit a chop block on Kofi. They then hit him with a double superkick for the win.
The Usos defeated New Dat at 8:11.
The New Day celebrated after the match. The Fashion Peaks finale is next…[c]
My Take: This wasn’t my favorite of their encounters, and it seems a bit counterintuitive to have another match here. It would have been nice to see the Usos escalate the violence even further as revenge for last week, rather than have a rather tame standard match. These two should have some serious animosity by this point, and it doesn’t come across as personal as it would like.
Fashion Peaks had Fandango as Cooper and Breeze as Diane. Fandango said he was abducted by aliens and was probed. Mentally probed, he meant. He was talking into a phone, but Breeze walked up and asked why he needed that if he was standing right there. Fandango pulled a rock out of his pocket and said it was a space rock that the aliens left in his….back…pocket. He threw it, saying it would help solve the case. They mentioned they didn’t want people to think they were making this up as they went along. He hit Konnor of the ascension, who returned the pie from last week saying it was gross. Fandango found hair, a bandaid glue, and a note in it. Viktor freaked out about the glue for some reason, saying they led a glue free lifestyle.
The note said “Two B”, which Breeze said presented a grave threat to the tag team division. They said they must return to confront it. Writing on the screen said Breezango would return in 25 years (Peaks reference), but then changed to two weeks, and thus ends the saga of these skits.
My Take: Well, this is the end. I guess if Breeze and Fandango won you over with their silly humor, then this experiment was worthwhile. If you were hoping it led somewhere, you are probably disappointed. I think it was clear several weeks ago they were just amusing themselves.
The show came back in the midst of Jinder Mahal’s entrance. He was followed by John Cena, who entered to a majority positive reaction.
4. John Cena vs. Jinder Mahal: They opened with a test of strength, which Mahal got the better of, and moved Cena into the corner. The ref pulled Mahal away, and Samir Singh took a cheap shot at Cena when the ref’s back was turned. Jinder then dumped Cena out to the floor…[c]
Mahal hit a vertical suplex, but Cena rebounded and hit some moves of doom. He hit a five knuckle shuffle, but Mahal was pulled out to the floor by the Singh Brothers. Cena gave chase, and they grabbed a hold of him as he got back in the ring. The ref saw it and the Singh Brothers were ejected to the back. Mahal was exasperated, and Cena locked on the STF as he turned around. Jinder reached the ropes, and Cena broke on four. Cena went for an AA but Jinder slipped out and hit a big knee for a near fall.
Mahal called for the Khallas, but Cena powered out and hit an AA for a near fall. Cena went for a second rope Super AA, and hit it, but Baron Corbin broke up the pin.
The match ended via no contest at 8:44.
Corbin hit Cena with the briefcase and walked back up the ramp. Corbin took a look at Mahal and cashed in his briefcase for the WWE Championship. The referee checked on the champ, and the bell rang.
5. Baron Corbin vs. Jinder Mahal: Corbin was immediately distracted by John Cena on the apron, and got rolled up by Jinder Mahal for the win.
Jinder Mahal defeated Baron Corbin at 0:10.
After the match, Cena had a big smile on his face as Corbin freaked out at ringside. Cena looked at Corbin at the bottom of the ramp as he sulked over his lost opportunity.
My Take: Well, that was unexpected. I liked Corbin as a looming threat, and this felt like a cheap stunt to try to add some steam to his match with Cena at SummerSlam. Makes you wonder what’s going on with him after SummerSlam, and if they can somehow spin this into a positive for his character. Cena and Mahal was a passable match, but they took a lot of shortcuts to get to that point. I’m wondering if we may see a Nakamura title win on Sunday now, given that the briefcase is out of play. It was the one thing hanging over the match that made me think they might go in Corbin’s direction. Fall is normally a down period for WWE, so getting experimental with someone like Nakamura as champion could make for better overall television if they can find him interesting opponents to have matches with.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features ODB discussing the fire that destroyed her food truck, the fundraising drive to help her buy a new truck, her appearance on the latest Impact Wrestling television show, Triple H telling her to go to TNA, and much more...