SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Lynch vs. Natalya: Considering that Natalya is the #1 contender for Naomi’s Women’s Championship, it makes some sense to actually show her getting a clear win over a credible opponent. That’s what happened here with Natalya getting the win over Becky Lynch. The match was pretty good. Naomi didn’t add much on guest commentary. Natalya had a chance to show off her mean streak in trying to continue to punish Lynch afterwards. This also involved a tease that Carmella might cash in Money in the Bank at SummerSlam (even though she should have cashed in last week).
Opening Segment: I’m so over the evil foreigner gimmick. It might make a difference if that evil foreigner was from a country that America actually has issues with, but not so much when that country is an ally like India. Why am I supposed to boo Indian culture? I might boo this individual Indian, because he is an ass. But, why would I boo Sikh dancers? Why would I be offended by someone celebrating Indian Independence when they won that Independence from the same country that we did? A lot of fans did boo the Indian celebration of Jinder Mahal. It made me uncomfortable watching it. Having a heel telling Americans that they are racist or xenophobic when a bunch of racists and xenophobes just had a rally a few days earlier that turned violent resulting in a woman’s death seemed particularly egregious to me. It reminded me that hate groups have committed terrible crimes against Sikhs whom they misidentified as Muslims. It was just tone deaf. And there are plenty of things bad about Mahal’s character that they could latch on to like being entitled, rich, born with a silver spoon in his mouth, always looking down on people, that they don’t have to go with the played out evil foreigner gimmick. Shinsuke Nakamura was fine in his interruption, but I didn’t care about whatever happened at the end of the segment after what had been going on that entire time. And it left a bad taste in my mouth to have to sit through the rest of the show at that point.
Main Event Hype: Normally, I am all in favor of hyping a main event. But, WWE was way over the top in selling the importance of this particular main event. I can accept a certain amount of hyperbole in wrestling hype. But, there is no way that a non-Title match between John Cena and Jinder Mahal was one of the biggest matches in Smackdown history. Period. Not even close. At one point, Tod Phillips called it the most significant main event in Smackdown History. My head almost exploded when I heard that. What a joke. What a credibility killer. And if this is the biggest main event ever, then why not announce it a week before?
Tamina and Lana: I am in favor of Lana moving back into a managerial role. I guess it can work with her at Tamina in the long run, but the storyline so far hasn’t been well written. The big issue this week is Lana launching her secret plan to manipulate people into getting Tamina a Title opportunity right in front of the camera. It is hard to take her seriously at that point, and anyone who would allow themselves to be manipulated by her after seeing her say that’s what she is going to do would have to be very stupid.
The Usos and Bryan: I’m ok with WWE playing up the dorky nature of Daniel Bryan. But, when that comes at the expense of a heel act like the Usos, then it is problematic. Bryan shouldn’t be trying to join a heel group like the Usos. He shouldn’t be joking around with them trying to join their rap group. It just didn’t fit. It hurts his credibility as a babyface authority figure and it doesn’t do anything for the Usos either.
Styles, Owens, McMahon: Tar too much focus is being put on the special referee Shane McMahon and his issues with the two wrestlers, AJ Styles and Kevin Owens. I’m annoyed by how involved Shane has been the last few weeks and am worried that he is going to be too central to the match itself at SummerSlam. Owens does his best to stir the pot and try to get Shane and Styles to dislike each other heading into the match. But, I am not a big fan of Shane getting super chesty with Styles. Calm down. You aren’t a wrestler. This isn’t working for me.
Fashion Peaks: Some of these various tv spoofs have been good, some bad and some just ok (reminds me of an old Mitch Hedberg joke “I was in a death metal band. People either loved us, or they hated us, or they thought we were ok.”). This one was on the bad side. It wasn’t nearly as amusing as some of them have been. It didn’t resolve anything, not that I care that much about it to get a true resolution. In the end, while they sometimes were fun, they have mostly just been a big waste of time.
Cena vs. Mahal: After all of that hype, one of the biggest main events in Smackdown history was a rather dull, rudimentary 9 minute match. I guess Mahal looked strong for kicking out of one AA, but Cena seldom wins a match with one AA. I mean guys like Stardust kicked out of the AA a few years ago during his US Open Challenge. So, this doesn’t redeem Mahal after the loss to Randy Orton last week. He was still clearly about to lose to Cena when Baron Corbin broke up the pin. He did lose in fact, presuming that Cena won via disqualification. So once again, you have your WWE Champion losing right before a big title match at a PPV. And why would Corbin even interfere in that way? He didn’t cost Cena the match. He waited so long that he almost didn’t have a chance to interfere considering Cena almost won seconds before that. So, the match wasn’t very good and had a dippy ending. And it hurt Mahal’s credibility which was very low to begin with.
Corbin’s Failed Cash In: This was a case where a tease of a cash in without the actual failed cash in would have probably been better. Corbin looked stupid for not cashing in right away, but starting to leave and then deciding to cash in. I don’t mind Corbin losing at some point when he cashes in, but this was anti-climactic and made him look bad against a heel Champion who isn’t very good and keeps losing to everyone else and can only win with help from outside interference. Now, the only person that Mahal has defeated without the help of the Singh Brothers is Baron Corbin. The specter of the Money in the Bank briefcase is now gone. They tried to sell intrigue in the Women’s Title match with the hint that Carmella might cash in her briefcase on the winner of Natalya vs. Naomi. However, we just saw a failed cash in which takes some of the steam away from the gimmick in general. If Corbin was destined to fail in his cash in, it would have made more sense to me to wait until after Carmella’s cash in down the line. And maybe I’m looking too much into this, but if I was John Cena, I would want Corbin to cash in and become the new WWE Champion since I am facing him on Sunday and would want a Title shot myself. This made Corbin look bad. It sort of made Cena look dumb. It hurt the MITB gimmick. And it didn’t make me look forward to Mahal vs. Nakamura at all, and only added a bit of intrigue to the Cena vs. Corbin match. It wasn’t worth it for that.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: WWE SMACKDOWN HITS & MISSES 8/8: John Cena promo, Shane McMahon with Owens and Styles, Lana, Orton vs. Mahal, Naomi vs. Carmella
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.