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Owens vs. Styles: Until the dippy ending which was stupid and terrible, Kevin Owens and AJ Styles were having a very good United States Championship match to start off this week’s episode of Smackdown. The match lasted 20 minutes and was very strong which isn’t surprising considering the talent of Owens and Styels. They always have good matches. I wish this had been the end of the feud. I didn’t like the ending, nor the set up to their rematch at SummerSlam (more later).
The Usos: I appreciate the fact that WWE had the discipline to keep The New Day off of Smackdown this week to sell the beating that they took at the hands of The Usos last week. Far too often in these situations, WWE feels the need to give the babyfaces revenge right away, so I was expecting New Day to attack the Usos after their promo. It was good that they didn’t. The promo itself was strong. It didn’t go too long. It got more heat on the Usos after they beat up New Day last week. It worked to make the fans want to see New Day get their revenge.
Rusev vs. Gable: At some point, it would be nice to see Chad Gable actually win a match. Right now, he is the guy who puts up a strong, spirited but losing effort. The announcers talk about his great matches against Styles and Owens, and now moving forward they will be able to add Rusev to the mix. But, he lost all those matches. But at the same time, they have been good. This one in particular was very strong. They got some good teases for Gable actually winning. The final few minutes of the match were particularly strong leading to Rusev getting the tap out win.
Cena vs. Nakamura: I expected Baron Corbin to cost Shinsuke Nakamura against John Cena in this match to determine the #1 contender for Jinder Mahal’s WWE Title. I figured that it had to be Cena vs. Mahal at SummerSlam. I didn’t think that Nakamura would get a WWE Title shot this soon. I am worried that Mahal is going to keep the Title for a long time which means we will get Nakamura’s first main roster loss to Mahal. While Cena vs. Mahal doesn’t get me excited, nothing involving Mahal does. And this brings my excitement level for Nakamura’s SS match down over what it could have been, especially against an opponent like Styles. I will talk more about some of my SS disappointments later, so I will get back to the match itself by saying that while it was too short and we only saw about 9 minutes of wrestling action, it was a great 9 minutes. I enjoyed their early attempts to one up each other. Nakamura can be so funny in the ring with moments like miming having goggles to show that he indeed can see Cena. But, then he can turn it on and get serious and intense with his strong style striking ability. That is part of why he is so popular. Cena performed well in the match also. It built to a very strong ending. I thought for sure when Cena went for back to back AAs at the end that he would hit it for the strong win, so I was surprised when Nakamura escaped to hit that dangerous looking suplex. I thought Cena was seriously hurt on that, so it was good to see him up and around after the match. That allowed Nakamura to hit the kinshasa for the clean 1-2-3 in the middle of the ring.
Owens vs. Styles at SummerSlam: Going into this week’s show, I thought that we would get Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jercho at SummerSlam. We’ve seen Owens and Styles enough that it doesn’t feel special enough at this point for SS. I would have much rather seen them go to Owens vs. Jericho (where was Y2J this week?) with Styles defending the US Title against a new challenger. I assumed Cena would face Mahal for the WWE Title, so Nakamura would have been a possibility. Now this leaves Cena and Jericho without logical opponents. I guess I’m assuming Jericho will be around and that last week wasn’t just a one off appearance. Either way, I’m not too excited about another Styles vs. Owens match and the addition of Shane McMahon as the guest referee isn’t helping. That makes me look forward to this match less than I was before.
Zayn Loses to English: Aiden English isn’t good enough and doesn’t have a strong enough character for him to be getting a push where he gets a win over Sami Zayn, especially a clean win in about a minute. I might feel differently if Mike and Maria Kanellis had cheated to cost Zayn the win. Instead, they just came out and made fun of him for losing. Zayn is way too talented to take this loss. He should be protected. Instead he was defined down as a loser for losing to a guy who is firmly established as a loser.
Rusev – Orton: SummerSlam is supposed to be the second biggest show of the year after WrestleMania. Not every match can be a huge match, but I am already disappointed in Styles vs. Owens. I’m leery of Nakamura vs. Mahal. And then we get this boring set up for what will likely be a solid, but somewhat boring match between Rusev and Randy Orton. The set up was very blah with Rusev saying that he can beat anyone and Orton coming out and saying that he can’t beat him. I know that WWE has to move on from Orton’s feud against Mahal, but you can move on to something new without totally ignoring something old. Orton could have acknowledged that loss in the Punjabi Prison match and say something about how he wants to be WWE Champion again and knows that defeating Rusev at SS will be the first step in rebuilding to become the #1 contender again. Plant the seeds that something is on the line. Yes, they have time to set that up, but the first step in a feud should be stronger than this.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: WWE SMACKDOWN HITS & MISSES: Charlotte vs. Becky, Styles & Nakamura vs. Corbin & Owens, Cena’s promo, Gable’s promo, Shane McMahon
For another view from the original Hitlist author, compare Jason Powell’s views to mine by visiting ProWrestling.net’s “Hitlist” section HERE.
Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s WWE Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw and Smackdown each week. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Act now and become my 68th Twitter follower@JonMezzera (pretty clever handle right?). Just be aware that I don’t live tweet Raw, I don’t tweet much about wrestling, and I don’t tweet much at all.