SmackDown started well, then fizzled

By: 
Joshua Waddles
Staff Writer

I’m a Jinder Mahal fan. There, I said it. Even though his push was obviously a marketing venture to sell the WWE Network overseas (and my favorite guy, Bray Wyatt’s title reign was probably cut short for this reason), Jinder Mahal is just such an interesting character that I can’t help but love him.

Although he came out sneering like a heel (bad guy) at the opening of SmackDown, he didn’t do anything villainous this episode. He brought some people out to celebrate the Indian Independence Day and one woman, who he introduced as his mother (I don’t know if she really was or not) sang India’s national anthem.

The WWE has been criticized (not much because WWE fans don’t offend easy) for still using that old “evil foreigner” gimmick. Jinder Mahal had fun with that and may end up subverting that trope. There were so many things going on with this opening that it’s hard to write down the impression I got. For starters, he was sort of teasing the fans by having that lady sing in Indian in front of a crowd that wanted to see someone fight. He also humanized himself by bringing out his cute old mother; she was so small and precious that the fans even clapped for her.

The crowd had fun with this opening. The only time they booed was when Mahal said he was the reason WWE Network sold so well overseas (expertly acknowledging the most common complaint about his push and making it a part of his character). I feel that most fans, at the end of that segment, probably said, “I kind of like this guy.”

 

Natalya vs Becky Lynch

The SmackDown Women’s Title number one contender, Natalya, got a solid clean win over Becky Lynch before her Title Match at SummerSlam. Lynch is an established contender and it’s good to finally see Natalya getting a good push. I’m pretty sure she’s been wrestling with the WWE longer than any woman wrestler currently on the roster.

 

Rusev vs Chad Gable

Poor Chad Gable. His old partner, Jason Jordan, is getting a heavy push on Raw while Gable jobs to Rusev.

This match ended in a disqualification victory in favor of Gable, which is mostly a technicality because Rusev beat the tar out of him.

This squash match made Rusev look like a beast. Randy Orton then came out of nowhere to put Rusev in an  RKO, again reminding everyone how quick The Viper is.

After seeing this whole segment, I really hope Rusev wins at SummerSlam. Orton is already over (credible) with the fans and a loss won’t hurt that. Rusev is a great, underrated heel.

 

Kevin Owens, AJ Styles and Shane McMahon

The United States Championship Feud looks at least as good as the World Title Feud right now. Not too long ago, the WWE seemed to struggle to make this belt look like more than just a “B-List” belt, but the feuds with AJ Styles, Kevin Owens and (previously) Chris Jericho have elevated The United States Championship in the eyes of the fans.

Shane McMahon will be acting as special guest referee as Styles defends his title against Owens at SummerSlam. Last week, Styles accidentally hit Shane. This week, it was Owens who did that. This leaves a question hanging over this feud: “Will Shane McMahon take revenge against one of these two at SummerSlam?”

 

 

The New Day vs The Usos

This is another one of those matches that some fans say gave away the pay per view early. That’s true, but it’s hardly the first time we’ve seen The New Day fight The Usos. The main danger here is that fans might be getting tired of seeing these two teams face each other.

The New Day will be defending the SmackDown Tag Team Titles using the “Free Bird Rule.” They’re a three-man faction and they can switch around, as long as one of the team members defending is one of those who won the belts. It will be a different pairing to face The Usos at SummerSlam, but it’s still likely to feel like the same match.

The Usos won by pinfall.

 

The Fashion Police

These segments with Tyler Breeze and Fandango have been going on for a while now. They’re a decent comedic break from the action.

 

Jinder Mahal vs John Cena

Thank God the WWE didn’t pair John Cena and Jinder Mahal for the World Title at SummerSlam. Neither has a flashy style, they both wrestle more like wrestlers did back in the 80s. I actually can’t remember a single detail about this match before Baron Corbin showed up.

Money in the Bank holder Baron Corbin attempted to cash in on the World Champion, Jinder Mahal. The bell rang and after a brief distraction by John Cena, Mahal rolled Corbin up for the pin. Corbin lost his MitB Briefcase and his relevance as a heel threat.

I’m not sure what WWE’s creative team hoped to accomplish here. Corbin’s only legitimacy as a heel came from that MitB Briefcase. This segment felt like WWE Creative just wanted to brush Corbin aside so the fans wouldn’t be thinking about MitB while Shinsuke Nakamura and Jinder Mahal had their World Title Match. Mahal’s rollup victory over Corbin did nothing to get him over more. A rollup pin after a distraction is basically a lucky break. And Cena’s distraction, costing Corbin the World Title, is not going to be enough to get the fans interested in their match at SummerSlam.

The only way I could see this being interesting is if Corbin wins against Cena. And that may happen. Cena has shown he’s willing to eat the pin to help get newer guys over.

 

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