WWE Smackdown is in Providence, RI as the road to SummerSlam makes it’s final stop before Sunday’s pay-per-view. Already announced is John Cena vs. Jinder Mahal in a non-title match, plus Natalya takes on Becky Lynch, and AJ Styles apologizes to Shane McMahon.
All of this plus much more starting at 8:00pm Eastern Time. We will have full coverage of the show as it happens. Be sure to tune in here, and on Twitter @RingRap!
The show opens up with a preview of tonight’s events, including Mahal vs. Cena – their first outing. We go to the arena, and Tom Phillips hypes the match further. JBL says it’s one of the biggest matches he’s ever seen.
The Singh Brothers walk onto the stage to boos. They introduce “The Modern Day Maharaja, Jinder Mahal.” Mahal walks out in a suit and tie. He stands in the middle of the ring, WWE Championship held high. He says we have nothing to celebrate, but for his people it’s Independence Day. He says his inspiration, strength and pride comes from his people. They celebrate their independence and the reign of the “Greatest WWE Champion of all time” Jinder Mahal. He cues up his own personal performers, and on the stage we see a traditional Indian dance. He passes the mic to a woman who begins signing, and the boos continue.
Two of my best friends are from India, and the way this character is portrayed makes me feel bad as a wrestling fan.
Mahal continues talking, saying he made the WWE a global phenomenon, and he’s the reason people worldwide subscribe to the WWE Network – to see him dominate at SummerSlam. He says two weeks ago it was a dream match when Cena faced Shinsuke Nakamura, but tonight he’ll make Cena’s dream a reality when he beats him. At SummerSlam he’ll ensure that Nakamura loses at SummerSlam as well. He starts to speak in Punjabi, when Shinsuke Nakamura interrupts.
The fans sing along with Nakamura’s theme as he enters. Nak stares down Mahal, who says he’s disparaging his people. Nakamura says it’s Indian Independence Day, but today in Japan it is a day they commemorate those who have died in war, and pray for peace. And Sunday, in America, it’s SummerSlam! He says it’ll be the day Mahal loses the “WWE Title… to me!” His music hits and he leaves the ring without challenge, minus some tough talk from the Singh Brothers.
WWE continues to have Nakamura speak in sound bytes, but the fans don’t seem to care. They’re all in on his act. I have a hard time feeling like there’s going to be a title switch though. Nakamura could be hotter and it leaves Jinder in a weird spot – plus he’s a heat magnet right now.
Natalya vs. Becky Lynch is up after the break!
Back from the break, Tom Phillips acknowledges that Ric Flair underwent successful surgery yesterday, but remains in critical condition. He, JBL and Byron Saxton send their well wishes…
Becky Lynch vs. Natalya
Before the match can begin, Naomi’s music hits. She comes out and joins in on commentary.
The Action: Natalya and Lynch trade headlocks early on. Lynch goes for an early roll-up. They trade slaps back and forth. Lynch goes for the arm, Nattie bails out and is distracted by Naomi’s presence. Lynch hits a baseball slide and we go to commercial, picture-in-picture style.
Natalya stalls for time outside the ring. On the apron, Lynch slams her face-first into the turnbuckle, then follows up with a springboard side kick. The two brawl outside the ring, Natalya getting the advantage by sending Lynch into the barricade, and following it up with a suplex on the floor. Nattie goes for a pin attempt, then locks in a headlock. Lynch starts to fight out, but Natalya cuts her off.
As the break ends, Natalya cinches the rest hold. Lynch fights free and fires up with clotheslines and a dropkick. She hits a back kick and a Becksploder Suplex. Straight Fire elbow into the corner is worth two. Natalya recovers and sets up a Sharpshooter. Lynch counters and goes for her armbar. Natalya rolls her for two. Lynch hits an enzuigiri and heads up top, but misses a leg drop. Natalya goes for the Sharpshooter once more, staring Naomi down as she rolls it over. Lynch taps out.
After the match, Natalya locks the Sharpshooter on once more. Naomi hits the ring to defend Lynch, and Natalya bails out. Out of nowhere, Carmella and James Ellsworth come out to the ramp. Carmella draws attention to Naomi and Natalya, mocking both of them. She reminds us that she’s Ms. Money in the Bank. She wishes both of them the best of luck in their match. Ellsworth says whoever wins, they lose, and he points at the Money in the Bank briefcase.
An expected victory Natalya heading into the pay-per-view. I’m glad they didn’t just roll it into another sudden tag match. Natalya has some good traction right now, and there’s a chance she could walk out champion.
Back from the break, the announcers set the scene for AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens at SummerSlam. They hype up AJ Styles’ apology later tonight.
Backstage, Lana is looking rather ravishing. Tamina approaches her and is pissed she doesn’t have a match. She says Lana promised her she’d use her “ravishing ambition” to help her get the title. Lana says Tamina isn’t ready. Tamina sees that as hypocritical. Lana says they don’t fear her… yet. She says if Tamina follows her lead, they will. Lana will use her cunning and manipulative ways to help her. “And then you will become the most destructive force – with one single purpose: To Crush.” She says together they will be unstoppable, and then she will be ready to become Smackdown Live Women’s Champion.
Moving along, Daniel Bryan is approached by The Usos. They want to ask him a question, and Bryan assumes they want him to join their rap group – he’s been working on his beats and they’re sick! The Usos say they’ll think about it, but they really want to know who from The New Day they’ll be facing at SummerSlam. Bryan says it’ll be Big E and Xavier Woods, with Kofi Kingston in the corner. The Usos then ask to face Kofi and Woods tonight. Bryan plays it cool and says he can hook them up with that tonight. The three share a moment and Bryan dances after they leave.
Rusev makes his way to the ring for a match. The announcers show a highlight of his attack on Randy Orton last week. We go to break.
When we return, Chad Gable makes his entrance.
Rusev vs. Chad Gable
The Action: Rusev goes on the offense early on. He lays in strikes in the corner. Gable hits a surprise overhead belly to belly, and follows Rusev out of the ring. Rusev sends Gable into the ring steps repeatedly. He launches Gable over the announcers’ desk into the chairs as the referee finishes his count.
Winner: Double Count-Out
Rusev tears apart the announcer’s table and picks up Gable. He stomps on Gable’s back and locks in The Accolade. Gable taps but Rusev refuses to break the hold. The fans chant for Randy Orton.
Rusev grabs the mic and enters the ring. He starts to speak, and literally from out of nowhere Randy Orton enters the ring and nails Rusev with an RKO. The fans go crazy. They replay the RKO a number of times as Orton poses and paces in the ring, Rusev laid out cold.
All angle, no match here. In that, they sort of protected Gable somewhat, which I’m happy about.
The announcers hype up NXT Takeover: Brooklyn III and SummerSlam, this weekend. AJ Styles heads to the ring to apologize to Shane… next!
Out of the break, the announcers hype that WWE is returning to Brooklyn for SummerSlam weekend next year as well.
AJ Styles makes his entrance as we see a replay from last week, when he and Kevin Owens came to blows. We see Shane McMahon try to break up the action, and AJ fires off a Pele Kick that connected with Shane in error. AJ grabs the mic and asks for Shane to come out. Almost right on cue, “Here comes the money!”
Shane hypes the crowd and then says there’s no reason for an apology. He says there’s one reason to be guest referee – to have one person that can get in between he and Kevin Owens, take a hit, and keep going. So again, no apology necessary. AJ insists the kick was an accident. He wants to know, man to man, between him and AJ (and everyone else) is he going to use this as a way to screw him over at SummerSlam? Shane says what happened was inadvertent. It was in the heat of battle, and he was in the way. But on Sunday, he’s wearing the stripes, and as an official, you cannot touch a WWE official. Shane says he’s a little different – if you push or shove him, it’s a whole different story. He’ll chalk up last week as an accident, but if Styles puts his hands on him again he’ll put his hands all over him.
Styles asks if it was a threat, because it sounded like one. Shane says there’s no threat whatsoever. What he’s saying is “AJ, what’s going to happen this Sunday…” Shane pauses for an extended period of time, and then Kevin Owens’ music hits, off cue.
Owens walks onto the stage and says Styles claims last week was an accident, but Owens isn’t so sure. Owens is happy with Shane’s rules because Styles can’t get DQ’d by hitting Shane. He ensures that if he were to hit Shane it would be completely an accident and involuntary. He’s thrilled Shane is the referee on Sunday because he is the man to call it down the middle. He offers Shane a handshake, but Shane declines as it’s not appropriate. He suggests Owens shakes Styles’ hand instead.
Owens offers a hand, but the two eventually come to blows. Styles takes a swing at Owens, Owens ducks, and he nearly hits Shane. The two start to argue. Owens goes for a superkick to Styles from behind. Styles moves and Owens takes out McMahon instead. Owens looks on in shock before leaving the ring.
A good angle that evens out the playing field for the champ. I can’t shake the idea that the match has become more about Shane and less about Styles and Owens however. I feel like whatever happens on Sunday is a setup for something down the road.
Out of the break, The New Day head to the ring. Kofi says at SummerSlam, they have a very important title match. Against Who? Who? Who? The Usos. Woods says they want to catch these hands tonight, or at SummerSlam, or at Gillette Stadium, and then they make a Game of Thrones reference that I didn’t completely get because I don’t watch the show. They will still be WWE World Tag Team Champions, because New Day Rocks!
The Usos make their entrance.
The New Day (Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston, w/ Big E) vs. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso)
The Action: Early rapid tags for New Day, who hit a series of tandem moves. There’s definitely some illegal maneuvers here but the referee doesn’t seem to be bothered. The action spills outside the ring as we go to break.
It’s picture-in-picture time, and The Usos gain control of things. They keep Kofi in trouble with various rest holds and send him face first into the ring post. Out of the break, Kofi’s in a headlock. Kofi hits a back body drop to pick up some steam. Hot tag is made, and Woods is on fire. He kicks Jimmy Uso in the gut and follows it with a dropkick to the back of the neck on the ropes. He takes out Jey, and lands on the apron while dealing with Jimmy. Enzuigiri on the apron, tag to Kofi and they hit a series of superkicks for two, broken by Jey.
Jimmy sends Woods out of the ring. Kofi misses Trouble in Paradise, but hits a back breaker. Jey knocks Woods off the ropes and makes the tag, hitting a tandem superkick for the win.
Winners: The Usos
Give these two teams enough time on Sunday and you could have your match of the night (again). This was a little frantic towards the end, but with enough time to tell the story, I feel we’ll be in for a real treat with these five men.
Fashion Peaks is up next! Boy, I can’t wait to mess this explanation up.
Fandango is speaking into his phone, saying he was abducted by aliens that probed him. Things got deep and uncomfortable, then clarifies it was mental probing. Breeze walks in wearing a wig and a blouse, and asks why he’s talking into the phone when he’s right in front of him. He wants Fandango to focus on the remaining mysteries. They solved a big case last week and they don’t want people thinking they’re making it up as they go along. Breeze grabs a donut and asks what’s in the future. Fandango says “Diabetes” and Breeze spits it out. He holds up a rock or shell, and says the aliens left it in his….. back pocket. He calls it a space rock and it will help catch the culprits. He throws it and it hits The Ascension. They came to return the pie. There’s a bunch of hair in it. Fandango digs around and finds a used Band Aid, and gluten? They freak out and say they lead a gluten free lifestyle before leaving. Fandango finds a note – “Two B.” Fandango senses danger, a dark presence, and says the whole tag team division is in danger. He licks the note and looks off into the distance. The screen fades out to text that says “Breezango Will Return in 25 Years” and then corrects to say “In Two Weeks.” Funny.
Out of the break, Jinder Mahal makes his entrance. John Cena follows shortly thereafter.
Jinder Mahal vs. John Cena
The Action: Shockingly, it’s a split crowd as the fans chant Let’s Go Cena/Cena Sucks. Mahal begs for a test of strength. I haven’t seen one of these in ages. Mahal starts to get the better of the exchange. He breaks the hold with a kick to the gut. Cena counters with a shoulder block. In the corner, Mahal connects with a fist to the face, and on a distraction Samir attacks Cena on the apron.
Referee Mike Chioda looks at them, aware something was up, but the match continues. Mahal tosses Cena out of the ring. The Singh Brothers taunt Cena as we go to break. We return and Mahal is still in control. Cena fires back with a pair of shoulder blocks for the Five Moves of Doom. He connects with the Five Knuckle Shuffle. The Singhs pull Mahal out of the ring. Cena follows out of the ring. They hold onto Cena’s leg and give Mahal the opening to attack. Chioda catches them this time and ejects both Singh Brothers from ringside.
Cena locks in an STF. Mahal makes it to the ropes. He goes for an AA, but Mahal grabs the ropes and breaks the hold, hanging Cena on the top rope. He hits a running knee for two. Mahal positions for the Khallas. Cena powers out. Cena hits the AA, Mahal kicks out. He sets Mahal on the top turnbuckle and sets up another AA. It connects. He goes for the pin, but Baron Corbin runs in, briefcase and all. He attacks Cena with the Money in the Bank briefcase. as the referee calls for the bell.
Winner: No Contest
Corbin starts to head up the ramp, but looks at the briefcase. He has a second thought and decides to cash it in as Mahal is laid out. Mahal stirs as Corbin readies. Chioda keeps Corbin away as Mahal makes it to his feet. He rings the bell!
Baron Corbin vs. Jinder Mahal (c) for the WWE Championship
The Action: The bell rings. Cena is on the apron and Corbin moves to attack him, as Mahal charges Corbin and rolls him up on a distraction. The roll-up is good for the quick win.
Winner: Jinder Mahal to retain the WWE Championship
Corbin is livid that he just lost his contract on this cash-in. He tears off his shirt and throws it in fury. Mahal backs away, desperately clutching his title. Meanwhile, Cena laughs at Corbin, saying “You can’t see me!” Corbin tears up the announcer’s table in fury. JBL sells the loss as a major deal, saying Corbin joins an elite group of losers in the process. Corbin paces at ringside as the show goes off the air.
Wow, so that was unexpected. I wasn’t surprised we didn’t get a clean win for Cena vs. Mahal, and the Corbin interference makes sense, but the cash-in came out of nowhere and I’m even more surprised he lost. Granted, it would’ve caused some major issues going into SummerSlam had he won (and for that I’m glad he didn’t) but I also felt that this was an opportunity to make Corbin.
That said, I’m not convinced this is a bad thing. Corbin is at his best when he is complaining, and this will give him something to complain about. He’s facing John Cena in a few days in one of the biggest shows of the year. Clearly, WWE still sees something in him. I don’t think this is a demotion, but rather another step in his journey towards the gold – something I still think he will achieve one day.
Outside of this newsworthy ending, the rest of the show was pretty much formula go-home style. I’m looking forward to seeing the Smackdown side of things come SummerSlam. That said, they could be doing a lot more with Shinsuke Nakamura to build him. They just haven’t.
I will be covering SummerSlam come Sunday, but in the meantime Bill and I need your Favorite Things in Wrestling. Hit us up with the hashtag #FTIW on Twitter, @RingRap. Keep an eye out for the SummerSlam scorecard as well! Thanks for reading folks!