WWE once again emanated from Canada as Smackdown Live edged closer to The Biggest Party of the Summer. The women’s division was strongly featured with two big matches, James Ellsworth returned, we learnt what sin store for John Cena at Summerslam and Randy Orton once again took on WWE Champion Jinder Mahal.
John Cena opened the show by giving props to and congratulating Shinsuke Nakamura, putting The King of Strong Style over verbally this week as opposed to physically last week. Baron Corbin interrupted inspired by the actions of last week saying that because he is Mr Money in the Bank he does what he wants when he wants. General Manager Daniel Bryan came out to make official a match between the two at Summerslam. This was lazy and quite boring, Corbin’s promo was incredibly bland, it seemed he had next to nothing to say and Cena who usually is fire on the mic was very uninspiring. This is not the way to begin hype for what should be an incredibly high-profile match at the second biggest PPV of the year between WWE’s biggest star John Cena & MR Money in the Bank Baron Corbin.
The first match of the night saw The Usos vs the team of Sami Zayn & Tye Dillinger. Zayn took the majority of the beating before Dillinger came in like a house of fire, but the Usos expert targeting of the knee allowed them to pick up a win and build momentum heading into their Summerslam match for the tag titles. The Usos cut a promo on their opponents in Brooklyn but as Big E’s voice sounded out Kofi & Woods attacked the Usos from behind, but the number one contenders were able to escape before any real damage was done. A nice fresh way to extend their feud, very well done by all involved.
Fashion Peaks saw Tyler Breeze find Fandango who revealed he was taken by Aliens. Another hilarious segment with both men’s execution perfect, with a number of references that weren’t exactly PG, but were hilarious! The only problem here is the role of the Ascension; these two should be absolute killers, not joking around with the Fashion Police tyring to be funny, it’s killing any credibility the once dominant team may have had.
Charlotte Flair answered Lana’s challenge from last week and met the Ravishing Russian in a match. After being seemingly toyed with early, Lana slapped Charlotte only to fall victim to a big boot and the figure 8. This was a great way to once again feature Charlotte (admittedly not close to her potential), while also further developing the intriguing story of Lana and her place in the Smackdown women’s division.
AJ Styles and Kevin Owens met in the ring mediated by Special Guest Referee Shane McMahon to discuss their US Championship match at Summerslam. Shane swore to call the match down the middle with tension between the commissioner and Kevin Owens continuing to build after the last few weeks. Owens brilliantly ran down (his home country) of Canada saying he’d rather win the title in America. Owens took a cheap shot at Styles and then pushed McMahon in the way causing Shane to get caught by Styles’ Pele Kick. While until this point Shane McMahon’s part in this story was his tension with Owens, this was a brilliant way to create tension between Shane & Styles while keeping both men the clean babyfaces, particularly when including their history going back to Wrestlemania 33. Genius booking here and wonderful work by all involved once again.
The return of James Ellsworth allowed Miss Money in the Bank Carmella to pick up a non-title victory over Smackdown Women’s Champion Naomi. Ellsworth returned to push Naomi off the top rope allowing The Princess of Staten Island to get the upper hand and pick up a huge win. This did wonders to protect Naomi while featuring her in-ring prior to her Summerslam defence against Natalya, but even more so it brilliantly reintroduced Ellsworth and once again Carmella is highlighted before her eventual cash in as incredibly smart, deceiving and dangerous. Another perfectly booked segment. The only downfall here was the lack of build for Naomi vs Natalya at Summerslam, Natalya backstage told Carmella to stay out of her business at Summerslam, but this feud needs much more considering it only came about form Natalya shocking winning a number one contenders match. This match may very well be bumped to the pre-show.
Renee Young gave a sit down interview with Shinsuke Nakamura who said what a privilege it was to wrestle and defeat John Cena, and that it is his destiny to become WWE Champion.
The main event saw WWE Champion Jinder Mahal (I still can’t believe I’m actually writing that) vs Randy Orton for what seemed like the hundredth time, however this was by far their best match together. The two had a nice back and forth match, with Randy Orton getting a shocking clean win, countering the Khallas brilliantly into an RKO out of nowhere (the spot so many had been waiting to see). After the match Rusev appeared to superkick Orton leading into and reminding the fans of their match at Summerslam. While good, this made absolutely no sense anywhere. Randy Orton just beat the WWE Champion clean, isn’t he now deserving of another title shot? Why would you have not only the WWE Champion, but a champion that many still are struggling to accept, lose clean on free TV only a few weeks away from a title defence at the second biggest show of the year against someone of the magnitude of Shinsuke Nakamura. This was contradictory, silly, and left a sour taste in the mouth in what was otherwise (mostly) a brilliantly booked show.