Tuesday's SmackDown Live was a highly anticipated show with two main event caliber matches that, on any other show, would be pay-per-view bouts. One would try to determine who would be facing champion Jinder Mahal for the WWE Title at SummerSlam. The other would pit rivals against each other in an attempt to settle the score over the U.S. Championship.
Everything pointed to an anti-American Jinder Mahal defending the WWE Championship against a pro-American John Cena. Would the WWE swerve everyone and give them a completely unexpected title matchup? Will it be an India versus Japan main event?
Where will it leave Baron Corbin in all of this?
Here are your 5 Winners and 5 Losers from SmackDown Live Aug 1, 2017
There's absolutely no consistency with Sami Zayn and his progression as a character. One week he destroys the new guy in Mike Kanellis (a feud that has nowhere to go) and the next week he's losing to Aiden English.
The WWE's treatment of Zayn is mind-boggling. This is the type of guy who clearly has the WWE Universe behind him and can put on matches that are arguably better than any other wrestler in the company. He's right up there in terms of in-ring talent to Styles and Owens, but he's getting the trash treatment and it would be disturbing if it wasn't so perplexing.
Of course, this match was going to be top notch. Every match between these two is. What was more important is where this feud was going to go. As good as the matches are, you can't continually put two people in the ring on TV or pay-per-view and expect fans to stay interested if there's no new wrinkle.
Well the WWE added a wrinkle by placing Shane McMahon in as a guest referee for the Owens and Styles matchup at SummerSlam. When you consider the history McMahon has between the two, it's hard to say which way this could go, but if it leads to Owens vs Shane, it's a great idea.
It would be nice to believe that after putting over a departing John Cena (Cena is taking off to film the new Transformers film), Rusev would get a chance to rebound and show that he's still on the minds of the company as an important cog in the machine. Instead, it appears that the only thing Rusev is good for is losing to established stars that don't need the rub.
Randy Orton returning is basically the WWE's way of getting him back on track after losing to Jinder Mahal. They may try to stretch this feud out, but everyone knows that Rusev won't come out on top.
This version of Owens is extremely entertaining. He's been strong as a character regardless of his motivations, but the angry, heel-first gimmick is the easiest for him to portray and he pulls it off beautifully.
The only way this turns into a loser is if, for some insane reason, the WWE decides to put over Shane McMahon when these two finally square off. Both McMahon and Owens are top-notch in terms of crazy spots or trying something new. This will absolutely be a showcase for Owens to bring Shane-O-Mac up to his level.
After Tuesday was the idea to make fans believe that Naomi might not be able to handle Natalia. It looked like Nattie had that match in hand for most of the night, only losing because of Carmella's interference. It's an effective way to keep all three in the title scene headed into SummerSlam, but it doesn't make Naomi look like much of a threat.
That the WWE again buried all this in a tag team match shows that they still aren't committed to building a one-on-one rivalry in the Women's Division.
Even in defeat, Gable looked strong in this single's match against The Bulgarian Brute. It's likely a smarter way to go as they separate him from Jason Jordan. Instead of having him win against lesser opponents, give him a fighter's chance against stronger opponents, maybe even squeaking out a victory or two.
What I found interesting was just how much shades of Kurt Angle made his way into that match. For all the talk of Jordan being just like his dad, Gable had an identical moon sault to Angle and used the ankle lock. One has to wonder if the WWE will ever play up on this. I mean, Gable is also an amateur wrestler.
Every week Daniel Bryan moves farther and farther away from relevancy. He's barely on the program as the general manager and he's clearly on his way out of the WWE. His role on Talking Smack was removed and his spinoff self-produced show Smacking Talk was canned.
It's only a matter of time before he has nothing to do in the WWE at all. It will certainly lead to his departure and if he's unhealthy, could be risking permanent injury if he wrestles somewhere else.
The WWE could have easily forgotten about Mahal with a number of five-star quality matches set to take place on the show. Instead, even though they were limited for time, they found a way to make use of the WWE Champion by having him sit with Renee Young and talk the possible opponents. Having the Singh Brother's in the background nursing injuries was a nice touch. It makes them even more annoying than they already were which is what you want for heels.
What the WWE is doing with Mahal is much better than what they're doing with Brock Lesnar.
The WWE Universe is certainly mixed, but for all those people who hate Cena, there are still tons who love him and his absence will be felt. After the announcement that he'd be filming Bumblebee (the new Transformers film) it makes sense that the WWE would remove him from the title scene and perhaps from SummerSlam altogether.
Cena being gone for months (if he can't shoot and do the WWE at once) is going to be a big loss no matter how you slice it.
After a sub-par performance against Baron Corbin at Battleground Nakamura needed to get back on track. As odd as it sounds, there were some who'd begun to worry that Nakamura couldn't handle the big stage of SmackDown Live versus NXT. It's a crazy notion, but it's true.
With his decisive win over John Cena and his heading to SummerSlam to take on Jinder Mahal, The King of Strong Style showed he absolutely has what it takes and this could be his first opportunity to put himself in the conversation for future face of the WWE.
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