Both Raw and Smackdown both had their final episodes before Summerslam that were featured some interesting angles and segments. There was definitely quality programming but also some missteps and poor decision making. Lets take a closer look at show shined and who took a step backward.
RAW ALL-STARS DEAN AMBROSE & SETH ROLLINS
Last week I firmly believed that WWE missed out on a huge opportunity to create such a special moment between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. A week later I can confidently say that I misjudged the situation, and due to the fantastic performances by the two former Shield members there was magic in Boston on Monday. Considering the disagreements between Dean and Seth in the beginning of the segment and the attack by Cesaro and Sheamus which ultimately brought them together, both men captured true emotion between themselves, as well as them and the audience. After the misdirection last week it was extremely important that they did not try and replay the exact same scenario as it would not have been received as well. Hearing both men openly air out their grievances and reservations garnered a ton of sympathy while fans nodded along to Dean and Seth making valid points. It was a relatable situation between two former friends that are trying to work things out and absolutely resonated here. The dialogue and the way they sold the attack built to such a genuine moment that many fans have been clamoring for. It was tremendous television and really entertaining throughout with a feel-good payoff and made possible by the hard work both Dean and Seth put into this. The question now is – was this played out on Raw because they will not be standing tall this Sunday?
RAW UNDERPERFORMER: EMMA
All we have heard from Emma since returning to WWE television is that she isn’t getting opportunities others have been granted. The problem here is that she has gotten opportunities recently – A one on one match with Nia Jax that she lost, a spot in a triple threat match to help determine the new #1 contender for the Raw Women’s Championship which she lost, and now this week against a 6-time Women’s Champion which she lost in 3 minutes. What is unfortunate is that Emma is likely one of the best in-ring performers in WWE’s Women’s Division with very good promo ability. WWE clearly doesn’t see it that way as she has been defined down so much backstage while not being allowed to back up anything she is saying when she makes her way to the ring. In losing to James, who is currently at the very bottom of the Raw card makes Emma look even worse. There is a major problem on Monday nights with how top heavy the Women’s Division is and the way Emma was booked again this week is a glaring example of that. There is nothing she is doing wrong on TV from what I can see, she clearly just doesn’t fit into any current or near-future plans and segments and matches like we saw Monday isn’t helping her one bit.
SMACKDOWN ALL-STARS: A.J. STYLES AND KEVIN OWENS
Given that the previous matches between AJ Styles and Kevin Owens have not exactly lived up to fans’ lofty expectations, they looked to do something special on Tuesday evening and did not disappoint. Both men played their parts extremely well, and while Shane did not exactly have an outstanding performance he did well enough to facilitate these two massive personalities. AJ played a perfect concerned babyface that is looking to hold onto his title while the heel Owens tried to warm up to the authority figure who will be the referee on Sunday. The shining moment in all of this was how AJ and Owens carried themselves and the way they interacted after Shane told them to shake hands. In looking at the both of them in that moment we saw a full embodiment of who both wrestler’s characters truly were. They oozed confidence and defiance which will make for a fantastic clash once they come to blows again. A special moment indeed. It was also fantastic to see KO promising Shane that any sort of contact that may happen at Summerslam between them would be totally coincidence and offered his hand as a gesture of trust. Of course this all fell apart after Owens super kicked Shane in the face which was a perfect cherry on top of this segment. This will still be one of the most anticipated match on Sunday and these two men did a much better job than most this week really driving home the importance of their Summerslam encounter. Well done.
SMACKDOWN UNDERPERFORMER: BARON CORBIN
In what looked to be a hot-shot angle to stir up some interest heading into Summerslam, Baron Corbin became the 3rd man to unsuccessfully cash in the Money in the Bank contract on Tuesday. As much as this could need a patient “wait and see” approach, the move left many scratching their heads after Corbin had such a short run with the briefcase. Historically, WWE has always taken the briefcase for granted while not putting an emphasis on wins for the person holding it. Since Corbin won the Money in the Bank match he has not exactly lit the world on fire and looks like quite the fool after Tuesday evening’s events. While the failed attempt was used by JBL to tell the story that Corbin will be walking into Summerslam more furious than ever when he takes on John Cena, even a victory on such a big stage may not clean the stench off of The Lone Wolf after this debacle. There are also things like a shoulder being up, Jinder’s foot being under the rope and how much time Mahal had to set himself that could reverse the finish to the match down the road, but at the current moment Baron Corbin’s stock is way down.
SMACKDOWN NOTABLE UNDERPERFORMER: WWE CREATIVE
Understanding this is the week before the company’s second biggest PPV of the year, WWE needed to get more heat on their heel World Champion heading into his match this Sunday. What I do not understand is the WWE’s idea to encourage booing someones religion or ethnicity’s traditions less that a week after what unfolded in Charlottesville. As mentioned in Wade’s Smackdown analysis piece, there was a young boy shown on camera booing the Punjabi dancers as they performed. Jinder telling American fans that they do not like him because of the way he looks is an angle that toes the line of acceptability in 2017. Following up the horrendous acts in Virginia with a segment like this was downright deplorable and whomever wrote it should be ashamed. I’ll just leave it at that.
Thanks for reading everyone! Hope you all enjoy Summerslam!
Follow Michael Souza @TheWrestlingFix.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: WWE ALL-STARS & UNDERPERORMERS: Jinder Mahal, Mickie James, Dana Brooke, Nakamura, Booker T, Ambrose, Cesaro