It’s the last edition of Smackdown before SummerSlam with Jinder Mahal vs. John Cena as the main event.
Live from Providence, Rhode Island this is Smackdown Live for episode #938. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks Melo Man for the banner up top.
The opening video package hyped up the main event of the show, which is Jinder Mahal vs. John Cena in a non-title match. The voiceover guy called it an “epic” one on one match. Pretty sure that’s an overuse of the word epic.
There was a live shot of the arena with Tom Phillips calling Mahal vs. Cena “arguably the biggest match in Smackdown history,” which is a ridiculous statement to make.
Analysis: Saying a Jinder Mahal match is one of the biggest matches in Smackdown history is an insult to so many amazing performers like Steve Austin, The Rock, Kurt Angle, Triple H, Brock Lesnar and so many others. I know why WWE says it because Mahal is the current WWE Champion, but let’s not pretend like he’s lighting the world on fire or making a lot of money for WWE. It is one of those things WWE says to try to overhype the current product. I’m not trying to hate on Mahal. I’m talking more about how WWE presents their show.
Let’s Hear From Jinder Mahal
The Singh Brothers introduced their buddy, the WWE Champion Jinder Mahal. Lots of boos for Mahal. The announce team of Tom Phillips, John Bradshaw Layfield and Byron Saxton.
Mahal said that today is Independence Day for the great nation of India. The ring had a rug in it as Mahal said they celebrate India and the reign of the “greatest WWE Champion of all time,” who he claims is himself. There was a group of Indian dancers that were on the stage and then they made their way down the ramp. The fans booed.
Mahal had a woman named Madu in the ring and she sang the national anthem of India. The crowd booed that. Somebody get Nikolai Volkoff to sing the Russian national anthem too. It’s not 1987, but it sure feels like it with the way Mahal is presented. The dancers did some more dancing and the crowd booed.
Mahal said the booing reaction was what he expected and that the people should expect him to beat John Cena later tonight. Fans chanted “USA” while Mahal was trying to speak. Mahal said he makes WWE the “global superstar” and then corrected himself to say “global phenomenon.” Mahal claimed he’s the reason people subscribe to WWE Network. Mahal talked about Cena facing Shinsuke Nakamura two weeks ago in a dream match and that he’s going to beat Cena on Smackdown and Nakamura at SummerSlam. Mahal spoke in Punjabi and the crowd booed some more until Nakamura’s music hit to change their reaction to cheers.
Analysis: It was the typical cheap heel heat promo by Mahal. If you’ve watched Smackdown in the last three months it’s the same thing Mahal has done every time without changing much at all. It’s a simple way to get heat like he was a 1980s heel that I referenced earlier.
Nakamura got a huge ovation as the crowd hummed along with his song. Nakamura entered the ring with Mahal.
Mahal got mad at Nakamura for disparaging his people on their day. The fans chanted “Nakamura” before Shinsuke could reply. Nakamura said today in Indian it’s Indian Independence Day and Nakamura said today in Japan they commemorate those who died in war and pray for peace. Nakamura said on Sunday it’s America it’s SummerSlam, which drew cheers. Nakamura told Mahal that it will be the day he loses the WWE Title. Fans chanted “yes” for that as Nakamura sang “to me.” Nakamura’s music played to end it. The Singh Brothers yelled at Nakamura as the Mahal vs. Nakamura graphic for SummerSlam was shown again.
Analysis: I thought there might be some physical action between them, but Nakamura just left. This feud could have used more than Nakamura saying that Mahal is going to lose the title to him. Like I keep saying with Mahal, they are booking him as the most simplistic, boring champion in a long time and segments like that make me say “that’s it?” rather than wanting more. I sure hope WWE has the sense to put the WWE Title on Nakamura soon because the Mahal reign has been boring and needs to end.
Later tonight, AJ Styles apologizes for the errant kick that hit Shane McMahon last week.
Natalya and Becky Lynch were shown walking backstage in separate parts of the arena.
The announce team talked about how Ric Flair had surgery on Monday and he’s resting comfortably in critical condition. Keep fighting, Nature Boy. We love ya.
Becky Lynch entered first to a good pop. Natalya was booed. Natalya faces Naomi for the Smackdown Women’s Championship at SummerSlam. Naomi made her entrance to join commentary. It took about a minute for Naomi to get out there and she has more bright colors than anybody in the history of wrestling.
Becky Lynch vs. Natalya
Lynch with a shoulder block and a pin attempt. Natalya slapped her hard in the face, so Lynch fired back with forearms. Natalya bailed to the floor and Lynch hit a dropkick to the back. They went to break one minute into it.
Back from break, Natalya slapped on the abdominal stretch in the center of the ring. Naomi was shown on commentary with all of her glow makeup and the neon green top. Lynch fought out of the stretch and hit a Bexploder suplex. Lynch hit her straight fire forearm for a two count. The crowd thought that might be it even though she never wins with that. Lynch went for the Disarmer, Natalya escaped and went for the Sharpshooter, so Lynch took her down and went for the Disarmer again. Natalya got a rollup for two, so Lynch came back with an enziguri kick to the head. Lynch went up top, jumped off the top rope and missed a leg drop because Natalya moved. Natalya slapped on the Sharpshooter submission and Lynch tapped out for the loss at around eight minutes.
Winner by submission: Natalya
Analysis: ** Solid match to put over Natalya less than a week before her SummerSlam match. It’s the proper way to book a challenger heading to a title match. It’s not how WWE always books the contender, but that’s the right way to do it. Natalya and Lynch have wrestled many times in the last few years. They’ve had better matches that got more time. This was fine, though.
Post match, Natalya stared at Naomi as replays aired to show what happened.
Natalya stomped on Lynch after the match and applied the Sharpshooter again. Naomi went into the ring, so Natalya left the ring to avoid a fight.
Carmella’s music hit as Carmella was on the ramp with James Ellsworth and her Money in the Bank briefcase. Carmella did a promo about the Smackdown Women’s Champion Naomi and her SummerSlam opponent Natalya. Carmella reminded us she’s Miss MITB. Carmella wished both women the best of luck on Sunday and from the bottom of her heart, may the best woman. Ellsworth: “And to whoever wins, you lose.” Ellsworth pointed to the briefcase while he said that. Carmella’s music ended it.
Analysis: More staring and talking like with the WWE Title situation. Why are there a lack of physical attacks? I understand not wanting to give things away, but having these stories where people just stare at eachother really isn’t that exciting. I’m leaning towards a Naomi win on Sunday and I don’t think Carmella will cash in.
The announcers plugged things to come including Fashion Peaks and Cena vs. Mahal.
Coming up is an apology from AJ Styles.
Lana was in the locker room and Tamina wondered why she didn’t have a match. Why is she asking Lana? Lana told her that she’s not ready and Tamina said as if Lana was ready when she got back to back to back title opportunities. Lana said they look past her and they don’t fear her. Tamina asked what she means. Lana said they don’t fear Tamina yet, but if Tamina follows her lead they will because Lana will use her ravishing beauty and cunning to manipulate her way to helping Tamina. Lana said that Tamina will be the most destructive force with the single purpose to crush and together they will become unstoppable. Lana said then and only then Tamina will become Smackdown Live Women’s Champion. Tamina just stared as it ended.
Analysis: It’s smart to pair them up because they have different strengths as performers, so it’s one of those odd couple duos. The acting from Tamina was bad like usual. Why is she asking Lana about booking her in matches? I keep waiting for Lana to use her normal voice to ditch the Russian accent, but WWE seems to want to keep her in that role.
The Usos showed up in Smackdown General Manager Daniel Bryan’s office. Bryan said he’s been working on his rap beat sand they are “sick.” The Usos asked Bryan what New Day members they are facing at SummerSlam. Bryan said at SummerSlam, they will face Big E and Xavier Woods with Kofi Kingston in the corner. The Usos said they wanted Kofi and Woods tonight. Bryan said he can hook them up tonight. Usos stuck out their fists, Bryan put his palms on their fists because he’s the awkward white guy GM. The Usos were confused by it and left. Bryan did a silly dance.
Analysis: It’s good seeing Daniel Bryan, but they fly him in for one-minute segments most weeks. I wish he had a bigger role. Putting him on commentary instead of Saxton would be nice, but I doubt Bryan would want to do that even though he did well at it last year in the Cruiserweight Classic.
Rusev entered for a match. He attacked Randy Orton last week to end Smackdown. Rusev vs. Orton is set for SummerSlam. Show went to break after his entrance.
Chad Gable made his entrance to a good pop although it was mild. These two had a fun match a few weeks ago.
Rusev vs. Chad Gable
Rusev attacked Gable with punches to start the match. Gable came back with an overhead belly to belly suplex. Rusev went to the floor, Gable went after him and Rusev sent Gable into the steel steps. Rusev sent Gable into the steel steps three times. Rusev launched Gable over the announce table and into the chairs because the announcers moved. The referee called for the bell for the double countout. The match went barely over a minute.
Match Result: Double countout
Analysis: 1/2* That was quick. It was just done to put over Rusev’s aggressiveness. Since it wasn’t a win in the ring it doesn’t hurt Gable that much although Gable was beat up easily.
Rusev cleared off the announce table. Rusev put Gable on the table and applied the Accolade submission on the table as if it hurts more on there. Gable was tapping out immediately. The ref told Rusev to let go, but Rusev held on for about 20 seconds. Fans chanted “Randy” for Orton.
Analysis: That didn’t make Gable look good. I always find it weird when they put submission finishers on the announce table like Paige did a few times in the past. I assume they did it that way because it’s a better visual than doing it on the floor. Fans can see it easier on the table.
Rusev had a microphone in the ring. Rusev said “Randy” and Orton snuck into the ring to hit him with a RKO to a huge ovation from the crowd. The camera was close on Rusev’s face so you couldn’t see Orton coming in the ring. Orton was in his ring gear. Orton’s music played to end it as he posed on the turnbuckles while Rusev was out in the ring. Replays aired of what happened while Orton did more posing. Rusev was motionless in the ring for about two minutes, which is pretty ridiculous, but it also puts over the RKO as deadly.
Analysis: Short and simple. That’s all it needs to be with the RKO. There isn’t much of a storyline here, but they have done the cheap shots on eachother in back to back weeks and that’s enough. I hope Rusev wins on Sunday. Orton rarely loses clean, though, and after three straight PPV losses for Orton he might get the win at SummerSlam.
The announcers shilled SummerSlam and the point that it’s only four times per year where Raw and Smackdown get together for a pay-per-view event. They also promoted NXT Takeover Brooklyn III on Saturday, which should be great. The Kickoff Show on Sunday at SummerSlam starts at 5pmET and SummerSlam is four hours with a 7pmET start time.
Still to come: Cena vs. Mahal.
AJ Styles was shown walking backstage because he’s up next at the top of hour two.
There was a mention of SummerSlam returning to Brooklyn in 2018 at Barclays Center for the fourth straight year. That means that Barclays Center will host NXT Takeover Brooklyn IV, Raw and Smackdown next year too.
AJ Styles Wants To Apologize
AJ Styles, the United States Champion, made his entrance for a promo. The crowd gave him a good reaction like usual. There was a clip from last week when Styles accidentally kicked Smackdown Commissioner Shane McMahon in the head because Kevin Owens pushed Shane into it. Styles defends the US Title against Owens at SummerSlam with Shane as the referee.
The crowd was hot for Styles chanting his name. Styles tried to calm them down and called out Smackdown’s Commissioner Shane McMahon.
Shane-O-Mac entered to a big ovation from the crowd. Shane paused for the “Shane O Mac” chant from the crowd and thanked Providence for the love.
Shane said that there is no reason for an apology from Styles with Shane saying he was appointed as the referee as somebody that can take a hit and keep going. Shane: “No apology necessary.” Styles told Shane what happened was an accident. Styles asked Shane if he’s going to use this as some new excuse to screw him over. Shane said what happened last week was inadvertent and was in the heat of the battle. Shane said normally most officials you have to respect their authority (hi Cartman) and you can’t touch a referee. Shane said if you push or shove him then that’s a whole different story. Shane: “If you put your hands on me again, I’m going to put mine all over you.” Styles asked if that was a threat. Shane said he’s not threatening him. Shane said “what’s going to happen this Sunday” and then turned his head as he paused…and here’s Kevin Owens.
Analysis: It looked like Shane either forgot a line there or was waiting for the interruption from Owens as planned and it didn’t happen right away, but there was Owens.
Owens walked down towards the ring saying that if AJ says it’s an accident that’s fine, but he’s not sure about that. Owens wondered what Styles was getting upset about. Owens said that he loved those rules by Shane and they sound great to him.
Owens entered the ring. Owens said that unlike AJ Styles, who seems like he has something planned, if Owens hit Shane it would be an accident that was completely involuntary. Owens said he’s thrilled that Shane is the referee because he’s the man that will call it down the middle. Owens extended his hand for a shake. Shane said with all due respect it wouldn’t be appropriate to shake his hand and suggested that Owens shakes Styles hand.
Owens extended his hand for a shake with Styles. That led to Styles getting in his face. They argued. Shane tried to keep them separate. The wrestlers shoved eachother. Styles punched Owens, Styles went for another punch on KO, Owens ducked and Shane caught Styles’ hand. Shane told Styles he told him about that. Owens went for an attack from behind, Styles moved and Owens accidentally hit Shane with a superkick. Crowd reacted to it in a big way. Styles was laughing about it. Owens was mad about it, said “I’m sorry” and walked up the ramp. Shane was slow to recover in the ring as replays aired. Fans chanted “AJ Styles” to end it. Styles left and Shane was the last to leave.
Analysis: It was a good segment similar to last week where it was Styles accidentally hitting Shane and this week it was Owens in that spot. It would be nice if Styles was in a match because the show is always better when Styles is in a more significant role. What’s most likely at SummerSlam is Styles will retain the title and Owens will blame it on Shane leading to an eventual Shane vs. Owens match.
Up next is New Day vs. The Usos.
The New Day trio of Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods made their entrance. Big E did his usual routine of dumping cereal on fans at ringside. It’s New Day defending the Smackdown Tag Team Titles against The Usos at SummerSlam.
Analysis: I was hoping there would be a stipulation match of some kind at SummerSlam, but it’s just a regular match. A Ladder Match could have been special.
The New Day did a promo about how they face The Usos at SummerSlam and how The Usos begged for a match on Smackdown.
The Usos made their entrance for this match against Woods and Kingston, which were the two guys that beat The Usos for the Tag Team Titles.
The New Day’s Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods (w/Big E) vs. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey)
There was a fast start to the match with Kingston and Woods each hitting splashes and leg drops to take care of the heels. Double dropkicks by the New Day guys on the floor as the show went to break one minute into it.
They returned from break with The Usos in control. Body slam by Jimmy on Kingston followed by another slam. Kingston hit a back body drop on Jimmy to create some space. Hot tag to Woods against with Woods hitting forearms and a dropkick to the back. Jimmy was the legal Uso and Woods hit a leaping kick to the head. Double kick to the leg by Usos and a double superkick earned a two count as Jey made the save. Woods forearm knocked Jey to the floor and Jimmy sent Woods to the floor. Kingston sent Jimmy into the corner followed by a backbreaker. Jey knocked Woods off the top rope. Jimmy clipped the back of the knee of Kingston. Jey got the tag and the Usos hit a double superkick on Kingston for the pinfall win. It went about eight minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Usos
Analysis: **1/2 Quality tag match as usual from these teams although getting under ten minutes is disappointing. I’m not surprised by the clean loss since that’s a booking pattern WWE loves to do where the champions lose non-title. I don’t think it’s a smart finish to do because they are doing the title match on Sunday, so why give away the match on Smackdown? It’s just like on Raw when they did two matches that are happening on SummerSlam. It takes away the intrigue of the PPV matches when you do them on TV. I guess in this case the difference is Big E will be in the match on Sunday and Kingston won’t, which is why they had Kingston get the pin. I did like how the finish was set up with The Usos working so well together to get the win.
Mahal vs. Cena coming up later.
Fashion Peaks finale is up next.
Nice pic of fake Razor Ramon and fake Diesel on their board in the office. Fandango was talking into his phone saying he was probed and then added he was mentally probed. Fandango showed up in a blonde wig like he’s done in the past. Fandango had a rock that he said they left in his…uh…back pocket. He threw the rock because he said it would catch the culprits. The rock hit somebody standing there and it was The Ascension of course. The Ascension were there again to return some pie. Fandango found some hair in the pie along with a bandaid and gluten, so Viktor yelled about how they are gluten free. Konnor took him away. Fandango found a note that said “Two B” in the pie. Breeze said that it’s happening again. Fandango licked the paper that had some pie on it. They gazed into the distance. A graphic said: “Breezango will return in 25 years.” Then it said: “Breezango will return in two weeks.” The fans cheered.
Analysis: I like these segments just fine for the jokes they do once in a while, but there really wasn’t a purpose to any of this stuff. At least that’s what it feels like. I’m not sure what the “TWO B” thing means at the moment.
This part was pretty funny.
When you can laugh at your own stupidity it makes things funnier.
Mahal vs. Cena is up next.
Jinder Mahal, the WWE Champion, made his entrance along with the Singh Brothers. He was booed, but it was not much of a reaction.
John Cena entered to mostly cheers and it was a huge reaction like he always gets.
Mahal defends WWE Title against Shinsuke Nakamura at SummerSlam while Cena faces Baron Corbin.
Jinder Mahal (w/Samir & Sunil Singh) vs. John Cena
This is not for Mahal’s WWE Title.
They started with a test of strength spot. Phillips put over Mahal packing on 16 pounds of muscle since his return to WWE. It’s like they are trolling the people that question how Jinder put the muscle on. I don’t really care about the methods. Good for him getting in good shape. Mahal choked Cena by the ropes and Samir jumped on the apron to get in a cheap shot punch on Cena. Mahal dumped Cena to the floor as the Singh Brothers taunted Cena and the show went to break.
Back from break, Cena got some momentum as he hit the shoulderblocks and a spinning suplex. Cena with the Five Knuckle Shuffle, so the Singh Brothers pulled Mahal out of the ring. Mahal ran away from Cena, the Singhs grabbed Cena’s leg and Mahal got a cheap kick. The ref saw the Singhs interfering and ejected them from ringside. Mahal was mad about it. Cena capitalized with a STF, but Mahal was able to get to the ropes shortly after the hold was applied. Mahal slowed down Cena with a neckbreaker using the ropes for an assist. Running high knee by Mahal got a two count. Mahal wanted The Khallas, but Cena fought out of it and Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment. Cena covered for a two count as Mahal got his left shoulder up. Mahal went to the turnbuckle. Cena followed him up there and Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment off the top rope. Cena covered for the win and Baron Corbin broke up the pin at two leading to the disqualification. It went ten minutes.
Winner by disqualification: John Cena
Analysis: ** The match was very average until the predictable DQ finish. Mahal’s style in the ring continues to be pretty boring and comes across like a midcard talent rather than somebody that wows me with main event talent skills. I thought it was cool that Cena felt like he had to go for the Super AA off the top rope to get the win. Having Mahal kick out of the regular AA makes Mahal looks credible since so many wrestlers have kicked out of that move in the past. To the shock of no one, this did not feel like the “greatest match in Smackdown history” or whatever bullshit WWE said all night long.
Post match, Corbin hit Cena in the head with the Money in the Bank briefcase that knocked Cena out of the ring. Corbin was going to walk away, but he realized Mahal was down in the ring. Corbin went down to the ring and told the ref he was cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase.
Mahal was out in the ring. The referee kept Corbin back and told him to wait until Mahal got back to his feet. Mahal got back to his feet and the bell rang.
WWE Championship: Jinder Mahal vs. Baron Corbin
Corbin was distracted by Cena on the apron, so Corbin punched Cena off the apron. Cena didn’t touch him. Mahal did the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Corbin and that won the match for Mahal in about five seconds. The crowd reacted to it in a big way.
Winner by pinfall: Jinder Mahal
Analysis: Wow. That was a huge surprise. The ROLLUP OF DEATH~! strikes again in a WWE Title match on a MITB cash-in. Did not see that coming. I’m not sure if it means WWE has soured on Corbin or if he’s going to win it from Nakamura (or even Mahal in a multi-man match) down the road if WWE tries to build him up.
Corbin was furious after the loss. He ripped apart part of the announce table. Cena was laughing about it and this female fan wasn’t happy to see Cena.
Cena tweeted a reply this morning.
— John Cena (@JohnCena) August 16, 2017
Cena went up the ramp. Corbin walked towards him, but Cena left. Cena told Corbin to use his head. There was another replay of what happened as JBL said it was there, but you don’t have to do it if you’re Corbin. There were more replays of what happened.
The show ended with Corbin looking pissed off at ringside.
Analysis: Surprise ending this week. Did I expect any of that on this show? Absolutely not. I don’t think it’s a bad thing and I’m not going to complain about Corbin losing either. It’s okay to wait things out and see how it goes. Just because most people that held MITB usually win a title doesn’t mean every guy has to. It’s an intriguing storyline to have a character getting laughed at by people for being the stupidest MITB cash-in failure ever. I hope it adds depth to the Corbin character and that he becomes better for it. Plus, it was unpredictable and that’s a good thing.
The failed cash-in by Corbin means he is the third man to fail at cashing in Money in the Bank. There have been 18 men’s Money in the Bank ladder matches, so that means 15 successful cash-ins and three failures. Cena was the first failure in 2012 when he challenged CM Punk at Raw 1000 and Big Show showed up for the lame disqualification finish. Cena won, but the failed title win makes him a failure in that case. In 2013 on Raw, poor Damien Sandow cashed in on Cena, they had a competitive match and Sandow lost clean.
I think this loss by Corbin was the worst of them all in terms of hurting a guy by failing to win the title. I saw a lot of angry fans on social media after Smackdown too. I don’t think there’s a reason to be angry. Just because 15 of 18 have cashed in doesn’t mean everybody has to leave with the title. Try something else and see how it goes. I’m all for it mainly because Corbin doesn’t impress me that much. Corbin is fine as a performer, but I don’t see him being the top guy as being any better or worse than Mahal in that spot. I’d rather go in a different direction.
My hope is that Shinsuke Nakamura wins the WWE Title at SummerSlam and with no threat of a cash in, he can have a long reign as champion. My prediction was the Corbin cash in after the Nakamura win, but that’s out the window now. I think Mahal’s reign has been boring and a change with Nakamura as the champion would be good for Smackdown. Long term, I would book the story of AJ Styles winning the Royal Rumble, Nakamura holds the WWE Title until WrestleMania and we get Styles vs. Nakamura in a WWE ring for the first time ever. Sounds good to me.
Three Stars of the Show
- The Usos
- The New Day
- John Cena
5 out of 10
Last week: 5
2017 Average: 6.92
Average Post Brand Split (July 26, 2016): 6.72 – Raw is at 5.88
Last 5 Weeks: 5, 8.5, 8, 5.5, 5.5
2017 High: 8.5 (April 11, August 1)
2017 Low: 5 (May 16, July 18, August 8, August 15)
It gets a 5 out of 10.
It looks like an average score, but it’s about two points lower than the usual Smackdown average. Same score as last week with a 5 out of 10. It was going to be lower than that because it wasn’t that exciting all night long, but at least the ending brought something different with the failed cash in attempt.
They did a decent job of building up some of the SummerSlam matches, but nothing really stood out as being great. I think it’s fair to say that Smackdown has lost some of the magic it had earlier in the year, that’s for sure.
The next pay-per-view is SummerSlam this Sunday, August 20. Here’s what we know so far.
WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe vs. Braun Strowman
WWE Championship: Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
United States Championship: AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens (Shane McMahon is the referee)
John Cena vs. Baron Corbin
“The Demon” Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt
Randy Orton vs. Rusev
Raw Tag Team Championships: Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins
Big Show vs. Big Cass (Enzo Amore is in a shark cage above the ring)
Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks
Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The New Day vs. The Usos
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Naomi vs. Natalya
Cruiserweight Championship: Akira Tozawa vs. Neville
That’s it for official matches. We will have a preview up on Friday.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.