Smackdown Live featured two huge matches with the dream, first time ever match of John Cena vs Shinsuke Nakamura more than living up to its potential, as well as AJ Styles defending his US Championship against Kevin Owens. This week definitely saw the Smackdown side of the Summerslam card start to take shape.
The show opened with Kevin Owens getting his rematch for the United States Championship against AJ Styles. After a pretty good match, similar to what they have produced in the past but still not near what they are capable of, a ref bump lead to Styles getting the roll up victory despite Owen’s shoulder clearly up. Another finish that will build Owens frustration. After the match backstage Owens lost his mind brilliantly at the referee, Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon, Owen’s had a legitimate gripe here and his anger and aggression was fantastic. Booked for Summerslam was AJ Styles defending against Kevin Owens with Shane McMahon as the Special Guest Referee. The conflict and interaction between Owens & Shane is intriguing and could all be leading to a match together somewhere down the line.
The Usos came out brilliantly imitating the New Days entrance after their attack last week. The Usos doing Big E’s signature opening to their entrance was brilliant and hilarious.
Lana backstage challenges Charlotte to a match next week. Surely in the lead up to Summerslam, Charlotte is capable of more than a feud with the fantastic and ravishing, but still very green, Lana.
Aiden English not only put on another impressive performance with his voice, but also scored a pinfall victory over Sami Zayn. While this does wonders for building English (and his uniqueness means he has some potential) this does nothing for Sami Zayn who one can’t help but feel is being horribly wasted. After the match Maria & Mike Kanellis came out to rub salt into the wound, indicating that feud is far from over.
Becky Lynch and Smackdown Women’s Champion Naomi defeated Miss Money in the Bank Carmella & Number One Contender Natalya. While the match wasn’t all that special, the story here is Carmella letting her selfishness get in the way of Natalya’s victory. Naomi & Natalya are going to need a real shot in the arm and this did little for their feud.
Rusev got some momentum back after his loss to John Cena ta Battleground with a victory over Chad Gable in a fantastic, fun and energetic matchup. Gable looked fantastic early on out wrestling Rusev, hitting him with some splendid suplexes, but the Bulgarian Brute was able to ground his opponent and score the win with the Accolade. After the match Rusev demanded more competition, and was answered by Randy Orton, and the match was seemingly made for Summerslam with the Viper sealing the deal with an RKO out of nowhere. Hopefully this isn’t just Orton’s way to get some momentum back at the expense of Rusev, but it’s hard to see this as anything else.
Shinsuke Nakamura became the new number one contender for the WWE Championship at Summerslam with a clean pinfall win over John Cena. A hot back and forth match with Nakamura dominating and Cena making his standard comeback, Nakamura kicked out of the AA, and when Cena went for a second consecutive AA Nakamura was able to counter and get the win with the Kinshasa. This was an incredible match, one of the best in recent memory on TV and only makes us wasn’t to see these two go at it once more.
On a side note, Cena seemed to ‘botch’ Nakamura’s exploder suplex, landing right on his head just before the finish; a really scary spot where Cena could have been seriously hurt, he finished his job and seemed to be okay, but here’s hoping all is alright. Nakamura with a clean win now looks like the favourite to dethrone Jinder Mahal at Summerslam and become WWE Champion, Jinder Mahal vs Shinsuke Nakamura at Summerslam for the WWE Championship, what a world we live in.
After Smackdown went off the air, Baron Corbin jumped Nakamura who was celebrating, only for Cena to make the save. Cena put Corbin through the announce table with an AA, and then again showed respect and seemingly ‘put over’ Shinsuke to end the show. It seems like John Cena vs Baron Corbin is in the works for Summerslam.