By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Smackdown Hits
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jeff Hardy in a non-title match: Jeff’s last two promos left me concerned (and not just because this week’s show opening promo was lackluster). He spoke about reaching new heights last week and then this week he said he’s a daredevil with no fear. I hope whatever big Hell in a Cell stunt is safe. It was sad to hear just how little reaction Nakamura received during his entrance. He’s the U.S. Champion and yet he hasn’t been showcased in anything meaningful lately. Fortunately, the fans got into the match, which ended with the logical Randy Orton attack on Hardy. The post match battle between Hardy and Orton was well done and served as good final hype for their HIAC match.
Brie Bella vs. Maryse: The dream match of the century turned into the expected angle designed to put more heat on Miz and Maryse heading into the mixed tag match on Sunday. Or at least I thought it was going to. The angle was effective until it kept going and they felt the need to end the show on a happy note with the babyfaces standing tall. I enjoyed the angle and all, but it seemed like it would have been better if fans were left waiting to see Brie and Daniel Bryan get revenge on Sunday.
AJ Styles and Samoa Joe: The unique setting of the empty arena with Styles sitting on the ring steps and looking right into the camera was attention grabbing. Styles was intense and believable. The production crew got even more creative with the Samoa Joe storybook approach later in the show. The idea of Joe getting personal by mentioning AJ’s family was clunky heading into SummerSlam, but they found the creative groove and things have heated up nicely going into Hell in a Cell.
Charlotte Flair vs. Sonya Deville in a non-title match: A minor Hit. Deville continues to impress. It’s nice to see she has transitioned away from wearing the MMA gear while maintaining a similar look in general. The post match angle with Becky Lynch was fine if you’re willing to turn your brain off and not wonder what Lynch’s plan was if Charlotte didn’t stop to pose for a photo with the fans right next to her.
Kramer Kingsman: Play your cards right, kid, and maybe someday you can follow in Renee Young’s footsteps.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Rusev and Aiden English vs. Sheamus and Cesaro: More of an in the middle than a true Miss. There was nothing wrong with the match. It was just hard to take it seriously when they previously announced that Sheamus and Cesaro would get a shot at the tag titles at the WWE Super Show-Down event. So The Bar lost in the finals of the tag tournament heading into SummerSlam, and they lost in the finals of the latest mini tournament heading into Hell in a Cell, and yet they get a title shot anyway.
Andrade Almas vs. R-Truth: A minor Miss. The Truth and Carmella pairing is a strange one, but the live crowd seem to be having some fun with it. It was nice to see Almas get a win, but this felt like filler in that it didn’t have anything to do with HIAC unless they opt to go with a rematch on the Kickoff Show.