It was the go-home show for SmackDown Live as the blue brand headed into SummerSlam. For the most part, the show was uneventful, taking subtle steps that felt recycled and bland. Then, in an attempt to overshadow the first hour and 45 minutes, the ending of the show came and the WWE offered a twist to the WWE Championship picture that few fans expected.
The program covered A.J. Styles and Kevin Owens working with Shane-O-Mac, they touched on the Shinsuke Nakamura versus Jinder Mahal, Randy Orton and Rusev clashed and the WWE gave fans John Cena versus Mahal in a first ever match. How would that affect Baron Corbin?
Here are your 5 Winners and 5 Losers From SmackDown Live on August 15, 2017.
Like a throwback to the days of Nikolai Volkoff, the WWE tried to make Jinder Mahal a villain by promoting his Indian heritage and having a uniquely Indian ceremonial performance alongside a singer of India's national anthem. It didn't generate the good kind of heat Volkoff used to. In fact, it felt forced and gave no more feeling that Mahal stands a chance against Shinsuke Nakamura at SummerSlam or John Cena later in the show.
Mahal generated about as much heat as an ice cube going into Sunday and that's due to extremely poor booking choices and making him look weak.
This segment teetered on the verge of being repetitive from last week but there was enough here to make it interesting. Shane McMahon basically laid down the idea that there is going to be a confrontation between all three parties and that this match will end with Shane-O-Mac somehow getting involved in the outcome.
The awkward promo work from McMahon was hard to watch at times, and he was sweating bullets but he should be fine when it comes to the physicality of the match on Sunday.
It didn't make sense to have Nakamura come out and interrupt the Indian ceremony so the WWE Universe could watch as the two combatants awkwardly delivered their unnecessary promos?
Nakamura is much better used as a strong silent type. If he was going to come out, it would have been better had he simply come out and said nothing. It was a terrible and far too late attempt to connect India and Japan by the WWE.
Related: Bold Predictions For WWE SummerSlam
For the first time in a long time, Rusev looked like a monster. Chad Gable got in a touch of offense, but he was ultimately destroyed by Rusev who is preparing for a match against Randy Orton at SummerSlam.
Orton's subtle sneak attack at the end of the match was a nice touch. It harkened back to a time when Orton was sneaky, cunning and nasty. It's a look much better suited for The Viper. It would be a nice twist if Rusev won at the pay-per-view, but that doesn't seem the likely outcome.
It's too bad that the WWE didn't see an opportunity to use Cyborg out of the UFC. She clearly wanted to have a role with the WWE at SummerSlam and hand-picked Lynch as her opponent. Instead, the WWE had Lynch job to Natalia as a way to get Nattie over as she heads to Sunday's tilt against Naomi.
The one-on-one touch was nice, but using Becky Lynch was just a reminder that the WWE might have missed a golden opportunity.
Would the WWE dare have two Money in the Bank briefcase holders try to cash in and fail in the same week? If so, it would be history. If not, Carmella is going to hold that briefcase over Naomi for a while and she made that perfectly clear in very short but impactful few seconds on Tuesday.
The idea is not to like Carmella. Check. The idea is also to make people think she could come in a steal that Women's Title at any moment. Check. It keeps the SmackDown Live Women's Championship picture somewhat interesting. Anything could happen.
For whatever reason, the WWE feels it's good to give matches set for SummerSlam away for free on the show leading up to the pay-per-view. Understandably, these two members of New Day are not the two facing the Uso's on Sunday, but that won't stop the match from feeling repetitive.
It was a nice touch to give the Uso's the win while letting the speed of New Day run most of the match. It was a solid bout with some good chemistry.
Normally, there are an even number of losers and winners, but this week, that was hard to accomplish. Typically Breezango makes their segments entertaining and fun, but this week was off.
The key to these segments is where they lead. Fashion Peaks is starting to feel like it's going to drag on with no real payoff and that's not a good sign. Eventually, Breezango has to go somewhere and that includes having an opponent.
The WWE has either lost faith in Corbin, or they are taking a drastically different approach to booking his character than they do most Money in the Bank briefcase holders. The fact he lost his shot in a matter of seconds either speaks to a lack of confidence or they want him to be an angrier version of Corbin than the WWE has ever seen. Most get the sense it's the former and that doesn't bode well for Corbin who at one point was seen as a new golden ticket.
While this is a potentially terrible turn of events for Corbin and his status in the WWE, the idea is salvageable and the WWE gave Corbin an excuse to lose his mind. If he takes out Cena at SummerSlam, it might all be worth it for his character to have a short-term loss for longer-term benefits.
It makes the Cena vs Corbin match something to look forward to now. Prior to this, it was absolutely set up to be a waste of time and a match people overlooked.
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