By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
John Cena vs. Jinder Mahal: An entertaining match. WWE doubled down on making Mahal look vulnerable. Last week, Randy Orton pinned him clean. This week, John Cena essentially pinned him clean, only Baron Corbin raced in broke up the pin at the last second. We’ll get to the post match in the Misses section, but the actual match between Cena and Mahal was solid.
Jinder Mahal and Shinsuke Nakamura opening: The Indian Independence Day celebration felt a bit too similar to Jinder’s championship celebration. And it was uncomfortable watching WWE go for foreign menace heat given the events that occurred over the weekend. Fortunately, they have a fellow foreigner in the babyface challenger role, and the live crowd gave Nakamura one of the better reactions of the night.
AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, and Shane McMahon: Shane threatening to respond to any physicality with physicality combined with the perplexed look that Styles gave in response made the SummerSlam match more interesting. Ultimately, I assume Shane plays it straight at SummerSlam and ends up feuding with Owens coming out of the show, but the last two weeks of television have made Shane an interesting part of the SummerSlam U.S. Title match as the guest referee.
Natalya vs. Becky Lynch: Lynch dominated the match, but Natalya picked up the win heading into her title match at SummerSlam. It was nice to see Natalya pick up a clean win off a missed top rope leg drop by Lynch rather than picking up a cheap win. All of that said, WWE didn’t do enough to generate interest in the Naomi vs. Natalya match. In fact, they placed more emphasis on the possibility of Carmella cashing in the Money in the Bank contract than the actual title match.
Rusev vs. Chad Gable: A minor Hit in that I’m hopeful that Gable will come looking for revenge after SummerSlam. Perhaps I’m being too optimistic. The RKO out of nowhere got the live crowd fired up, but it did nothing to spice up the meaningless Rusev vs. Randy Orton match at SummerSlam.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
Baron Corbin cashes in unsuccessfully: This was poor use of the Money in the Bank contract. I’m actually fine with Corbin cashing in unsuccessfully, but the lame rollup finish to the seconds-long match was a horribly anticlimactic way to have him lose. It also added nothing to SummerSlam, and actually shifted the focus away from Sunday’s event during the closing moments of the show.
Go-Home Show: A minor Miss. Smackdown spotlighted each of their SummerSlam matches, but the only segment that left me more excited about a particular match was the Styles, Owens, and McMahon segment. So while the show held my interest and closed with a surprise failed cash-in by Corbin, it was not nearly as strong as Raw when it came to providing final hype for SummerSlam.
Lana and Tamina: If Lana is going to help someone crush, I’d prefer it be with Rusev than Tamina. We’ll see where it goes, but their partnership is off to a flat start.
The Usos vs. Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods: A minor Miss. The earlier hype for this feud with the Usos attacking New Day followed by New Day’s heated revenge assault provided good hype for their SummerSlam match. However, another match between the teams on the go-home show was overkill and failed to recapture the tension those previous segments possessed.
Breezango: Here’s hoping the duo’s next spoof will be of a television show that I actually watch. Perhaps I missed some fun moments here because I’m not a Twin Peaks viewer, but it’s not like I heard much laughter from the live crowd that popped when the video started to air.