KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 8/1: John Cena vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in a first-time dream match, Owens challenges Styles for U.S. Title

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor

WWE Smackdown Live logo - new July 2016 (c)


AUGUST 1, 2017

Announcers: Tom Phillips, JBL, Byron Saxton.



Styles came out first. Then Owens. I suppose they wanted to start the show with a babyface ring entrance, but I’d default to always having the champ come out second. They made up for it a bit during formal ring introductions by having Owens announced first and then Styles second. An “A.J. Styles” chant rang out. Owens knocked Styles out of the ring with a forearm to the back of his head, although Styles kind of helps by literally diving into the air and through the ropes. As soon as Styles stood, Owens hit him with a running clothesline at ringside. [c]

No split screen with a view of the in-ring action during this break. Owens caught a charging Styles with a boot to the face and then scored a two count. Styles eventually took over. When he went for a Phenomenal Forearm, Owens bailed out to ringside. Styles slingshot himself onto Owens with a flying forearm on the floor instead. The crowd popped. When Styles charged, Owens side-stepped him and threw him into the barricade. Then he hit a running cannonball. They cut to a break. [c]

This time they did air a split screen, but all they captured were two Owens chinlocks that filled the nearly four minute break. Back from the break, Styles made a comeback with a flying forearm, a clothesline in the corner, and a fireman’s carry neckbreaker for a near fall. Owens backdropped out of a Styles Clash attempt, then ducked a subsequent Styles springboard and superkicked him leading to a near fall. Styles came back with a Calf Crusher. Owens headbutted himself free. Styles landed a Pelé kick next and then went for a Styles Clash. Owens resisted and powered out of it. Styles then went into another Calf Crusher. Owens teased tapping as he cried out in agony. Owens reached the bottom rope. Owens shoved Styles into the ref, then surprised him with a super kick. And another. Owens took a swing at Styles, but Styles ducked and Owens hit the ref. The ref went down. Owens gave Styles a super kick and tried for the Pop-up Powerbomb, but Styles countered with a roll-up for the three count. The ref didn’t see the shoulder of Owens was up. JBL pointed it out – Owens’s shoulder was up the entire three count. Phillips agreed. Saxton said it’s unfortunate the ref got hit in the eye. Owens protested to the referee afterward as a trainer tended to the ref.

WINNER: Styles in 20:00.

(Keller’s Analysis: This is what was supposed to happen at Battleground, except Styles and Owens switched roles, as Styles was supposed to have his shoulder up. It’s interesting they decided to reenact it, but with the roles reversed.)

-They went to the announcers at ringside. JBL said blown calls happen all the time, but when it happens to you, it’s not easy to accept. They showed Owens hitting the ref. Saxton said it appeared almost intentional. The replay clearly showed Owens’ shoulder was up.

-They went backstage to the ref who was squinting as a medic tended to his eye. Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon approached the ref. Shane said he blew the call and he should have called for a second referee. The ref said his eyes were blurry and he didn’t have time to call for a second official. Owens barged in and began throwing things and yelling at Bryan and Shane. “I just got screwed!” he yelled. Owens called the referee an idiot. Owens called him an incompetent moron. Shane told him to show some respect. Owens shoved the ref, who went flying backwards. Owens said Shane should be worried about him, not the ref. Owens said the ref shouldn’t be allowed to make a crap call. Shane said his shoulder was up, so he’s going to give him a rematch for the U.S. Title at Summerslam. Owens said he wants a referee who can do his job and has two good eyes. He said he wants a referee who won’t screw him. Bryan said he has a referee for him. He pointed at Shane. Shane nodded and liked the idea. Owens said he’s the most incompetent person here and the worst option. Shane said if he wants the match, then he should accept him as referee and go cool off. Owens threw some things and stormed off. Shane looked at Bryan and said, “I think that went well.”

(Keller’s Analysis: For those hoping for Styles to have a fresh opponent at Summerslam, this seems to take that off the table. Is anyone eager to see yet another Styles-Owens match at this point, as good as they usually are?)

-They went to the announcers at ringside. They hyped John Cena vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. Then Phillips said the Fashion Files would be up next. [c]

-WWE Fact: Smackdown was the “most social show on primetime TV” beating America’s Got Talent, NCIS, The International Champions Cup on ESPN, and Shark Week.

-Back to the announcers, Phillips bragged up the social media buzz for Smackdown last week. He said one of the reasons was what happened with the Usos attacking New Day.

-The Usos came out and asked the fans what they were expecting. “Three clowns on a tricycle or three grown men talking about each other’s Popcicles?” They took a series of more digs at New Day. They said they have fake cereal and rainbow colored cones. “You’re just three grown twerking men blowing your own trombone,” said Jey. Jimmy said New Day can keep their rainbows and unicorns, but they’re taking their tag titles and catch phrases. They sang “U-so Rocks!”

-Fashion Files: Tyler Breeze was “forced to go it alone,” according to Phillips. This time it was a “Fashion Peaks” theme. On the pinboard was a picture of “Fandango” who was listed as “Missing: Disappeared 25 Years Ago.” They used what might have been his high school photo. Next to his pic was Kane with the words, “Firewalk with me.” A picture of the Bellas had the words “Bella Twin Peaks.” Breeze talked into his recorder and said he’s stumbled onto quite a few mysteries on the Fashion Files. He said his partner has been abducted, possibly by extra terrestrials. Breeze asked who kidnapped Fandango and wondered why he recorded his thoughts instead of just calling them in. The coffee was syrupy and then the lights flickered. In stumbled Fandango, but he wasn’t himself. The Ascension were with him. Breezango asked if they were helping, since they ruled them out as suspects several times. They squirted Mrs. Butterworth syrup on a log. Then they began laughing which creeped out Breeze. Breeze yelled, “Enough with the metaphors!” Then they went to Breeze waking up from a dream. He announced that he has figured out who kidnapped Fandango. “To be continued.” The audience applauded.

(Keller’s Analysis: That was weird. But as usual, entertaining.)

-Sami Zayn made his ring entrance as the announcers reacted to the Fashion Files. Phillips said he had no idea what was going on there. [c]

-Aiden English sang his way to the ring. The crowd chanted “You suck!” at him as he dragged out the lyrics and indulged himself in his singing.


Sami applied an armlock at the start of the match after an arm drag. English pulled Sami over and leaned on him with a roll-up three count out of nowhere. JBL said sometimes you just get caught. Sami sat in the ring in disbelief as English celebrated in the aisle.

WINNER: English in 1:00.

-Michael and Maria Kanellis walked out onto the stage to their music. Maria said it’s a fact that they love each other. They said they love each other and that Sami lost. Sami hung his head.

(Keller’s Analysis: I’m not sure what that accomplished, other than establishing Maria & Mike were heelish for rubbing Sami’s loss in his face. But Sami losing like that diminishes him so much, I’m not sure fans don’t think he deserves it.)

-They showed Naomi and Becky Lynch backstage heading to the entrance. [c]

(3) BECKY LYNCH & NAOMI vs. NATALYA & CARMELLA (w/James Ellsworth)

Carmella, Money in the Bank briefcase in hand, was already in the ring with Natalya after the break. Becky then got her ring entrance followed by Naomi.


At 4:00 Natalya applied a sharpshooter mid-ring. Naomi crawled toward the bottom rope, but Natayla yanked her back to the middle of the ring. Naomi reached the rope on a second attempt. Carmella tagged herself in and yelled at Natalya to “get out!” Carmella applied the Code of Silence head scissors around Naomi’ head. Naomi countered into a submission hold. Becky suplexed Natalya out of the ring as she tried to interfere. Carmella tapped out.

WINNERS: Lynch & Naomi in 5:00.

-Renee Young interviewed Jinder Mahal and the Singh Brothers. She asked if he prefers who wins tonight between Cena and Nakamura. Jinder said he doesn’t care if it’s “the man from Japan or the American.” He said he will walk out as champion. He said all he cares about is going to his personal skybox to watch this “so-called dream match.” He said when he walks down the street, all he feels is xenophobia, but that makes him prouder of heritage. He said he does nothing but destroy the heroes presented to him so they have no choice but to bow and scrape at his feet. He said nobody can end the reign of the Modern Day Maharaja.

-They showed Rusev walking backstage. [c]


Rusev came out first. JBL talked up Gable’s amateur credentials as he made his way to the ring. Gable got in early offense, working over Rusev’s left leg. Rusev eventually kneed Gable as he charged, then powered him over with a double underhook suplex. [c]

They showed the action on split screen, which was mostly a long bearhug by Rusev. Gable came back with a belly-to-belly after the break. He held on and hit another. Phillips marveled at his strength. Rusev headbutted Gable. Gable hit a German suplex immediately into a bridge for a two count. Gable set up a top rope move, but Rusev shoved him off balance. Gable side-stepped a charging Rusev and threw him into the turnbuckle and ringpost. Then he landed a moonsault for a near fall. Gable went for a roll-up, then tried to roll through into a suplex. Rusev blocked it and landed a spinning roundhouse kick for a believable near fall. Rusev stomped on Gable and set up the Accolade. Gable escaped and applied the Anklelock. Rusev yelled in pain, but twisted and powered out, sending Gable flying through the ropes to the floor. Rusev then kicked Gable in the head and applied the Accolade for the win.

WINNER: Rusev.

(Keller’s Analysis: Really good match, with Gable playing that capable underdog role well. Not sure it wasn’t the right time to have Gable score a big upset and strap a rocket to him.)

-Rusev said ever since he came to Smackdown, he was promised competition and opponents worthy of being in the ring with him. He said they gave him Cena, and yeah Cena waved his flag around, but he did not beat him because nobody can beat him. He said he has no opponent at Summerslam because everybody is afraid of him. After a pause, his music played, which seemed to startle him for some reason. Then Randy Orton’s music played. He walked out onto the stage and then strolled to the ring, in no hurry. The crowd chanted “Randy! Randy!” Orton said, “If I was you, I wouldn’t want me to get in that right either.” Rusev stepped back and seemed to invite Orton on. “RKO!” rang out. Orton entered the ring and told Rusev, “You’ve never beaten me, and I’m not afraid of you, either. You want an opponent at Summerslam, look no further. You got one right here.” He dropped the mic.

(Keller’s Analysis: He should have said, “If you want to see what it feels like to lose to someone who weighs 50 pounds less than you, meet me at Summerslam.”)

Rusev picked up the mic and spoke in Bulgarian. Orton didn’t like what he thought he heard and charged and gave him an RKO. Orton posed in the corner as Rusev lay KO’d in the ring. [c]

-Phillips plugged Cena vs. Nakamura was next nearly 30 minutes into the second hour. About time. [c]

-They announcers commented on clips of the Owens-Styles controversial finish from earlier in the night. They announced that Shane as special ref is official for Summerslam, as is Orton vs. Rusev.

-Cena’s ring entrance took place. Phillips called this a “once in a generation fight” and a “dream match.” They showed Mahal and the Singh Brothers watching in their luxury suite. Then Nakamura’s full ring entrance aired.

(Keller’s Analysis: WWE presented this match like it “spoke for itself.” I would have preferred some muscle put into building anticipation by talking more about it and presenting videos with each talking, in a sports-like tone, about what this means to face each other finally after years of parallel tracks in different parts of the world becoming top stars across the globe. Putting it out there cold is assuming the great WWE fanbase sees this as the dream match that WWE is billing it as. They haven’t done a great job with Nakamura so far, and what has he done to truly impress so far? No WWE titles. Even-steven matches with the loser, Dolph Ziggler. Just getting by Baron Corbin.) [c]

-Phillips announced Carmella vs. Naomi would take place next week based on what transpired in their tag match tonight.


Barely 15 minutes left on the clock for this first-time-ever dream match. They showed Jinder and the Singh Brothers watching on a skybox. Cena ducked Shinsuke as moved toward him, then waved his hand in front of his face. Shinsuke wiped his eyes sarcastically. They locked up mid-ring. Shinsuke pushed Cena into the corner, then broke clean, but rubbed the top of his head into Cena’s chest first. Then Nakamura made finger goggles. Nakamura applied a side headlock. Cena escaped and leapfrogged Nakamura. Nakamura held onto the top rope and then gestured to Cena. He hit Cena with a step up enzuigiri. Nakamura put his boot to Cena’s neck in the corner. Cena came back with punches and a whip into the corner, but Nakamura avoided his charge and went back to a boot to the throat. Cena powered out and side slammed Nakamura for a two count. Cena applied a chinlock and they cut to a break. [c]

They showed Jinder and the Singh Brothers in the skybox again. Nakamura, meanwhile, took it to Cena with kicks. Phillips called it the biggest match of Nakamura’s career. Nakamura put Cena on the top rope, then gave him a running knee to the ribs. He scored a two count. Cena rallied and landed a side slam, then signaled for the Five Knuckle Shuffle. When he reached down, Nakamura grabbed his arm and went for a cross arm breaker. Saxton said Nakamura was playing possum. Nakamura then shifted into a triangle choke. Cena stood and shifted Nakamura into an AA position. Nakamura slipped out and gave Cena a face-buster. Nakamura signaled for the kinshasa. Cena countered with a drop toe hold and applied an STF. Nakamura escaped and applied a cross arm breaker. Cena rolled Nakamura’s shoulders onto the mat for a two count, then clotheslined Nakamura, who took a flip bump. Both were slow to get up. Nakamura got up first and kneed Cena in the head, then signaled again for the Kinshasa. Cena sidestepped him and applied an AA for a believable near fall. The crowd popped.

Cena got up and lifted Nakamura again. Nakamura shifted into a guillotine. Cena lifted Nakamura, though, and delivered another AA. He decided to immediately go for a third, but Nakamura gave Cena an exploder suplex onto the back of his head. That looked bad. Cena got up. Nakamura hit the kinshasa and scored the clean three count. They showed a stunned kid in the crowd dressed up in Cena gear. JBL called it the biggest win in Nakamura’s career.

WINNER: Nakamura in 12:00 to earn a WWE Title shot at Summerslam.

(Keller’s Analysis: Just not long enough to feel epic, but the finish was a big moment in Nakamura’s WWE career. That landing on the back of Cena’s neck looked potentially tragic. JBL said the human body is not meant to land like that.)

-As Nakamura celebrated, Cena recovered enough to stand and shake Nakamura’s hand and raise his arm. They bowed to each other. JBL said this is what’s good about sports. They showed Jinder standing in the skybox watching, not really showing emotions regarding the outcome.

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