Shinsuke Nakamura challenges Jinder Mahal for the WWE Title this Sunday at SummerSlam, and after this Tuesday’s episode of SmackDown, there is reason to believe that Nakamura might actually be winning the WWE Title.
Baron Corbin cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Tuesday, losing to Mahal in about six seconds after John Cena caused a distraction. In a split second, that briefcase that seemed to be setting up Corbin for a big push as WWE Champion, was gone.
The way the situation played out, I don’t think WWE was trying to bury Corbin. I think they were trying to take away from Nakamura’s moment on Sunday, when he goes on to win the WWE Title.
Let me explain.
Corbin didn’t look foolish cashing in and not winning the title. Mahal was down and out, and Corbin, if not for Cena, probably would have won the championship. Not only that, but it appeared that Corbin kicked out before the three count and the referee took a long, long time before ringing the bell to start the match.
JBL even noted on commentary that the referee allowed Mahal to get back to his feet before ringing the bell, saying he wasn’t sure he saw that happened before.
WWE was trying to give Corbin an out, even though he was the heel. This now adds some juice to his match with Cena on Sunday, after Cena cost him the title, and it also gives the heel something to complain about for the next few months.
At the same time, assuming Nakamura wins the WWE Title on Sunday, Corbin losing his briefcase on SmackDown takes away the chance of him cashing in. Considering that Corbin and Nakamura were both recently involved in a feud, if Nakamura won the title at SummerSlam, a lot of people would be waiting for Corbin to cash in, and it could very well take away from Nakamura’s crowning moment as WWE Champion. We’ve seen it before, where everyone expects someone to cash in, so on the title change itself, there isn’t as much emotion from the crowd because they’re instead watching the aisle to see who runs down.
That is now gone for Nakamura, if he wins on Sunday. No one is cashing in.
So, I think it was the right move. Not only does it give Corbin, the heel, something to feed his character for the next few months, it also gives more heat behind his match with Cena and if Nakamura wins the title (whether that’s at SummerSlam or in another month), it gives him the full spotlight.
Natalya beat Becky Lynch
This was a good match that did a nice job of setting up SummerSlam, but I wouldn’t say it was great by any stretch. It was a little unfortunate to see Becky put in this position, but she’s not on the pay-per-view card so it’s understandable.
Chad Gable and Rusev fought to a no contest
Rusev dominated Gable, who looked great taking the moves and bumping around for him. My worry here is that Gable will end up typecast in this role, similar to what has happened to Dolph Ziggler. Sure, he can be great at “making” guys, but Gable has a lot more to offer. He has a character and a personality that WWE can make money off of. While he’s really good at selling and putting other guys over, I hope he’s not stuck in the same role as Ziggler or Sami Zayn; it feels like they’re sometimes spinning their tires.
Kevin Owens kicked Shane McMahon
Just like last week where Styles inadvertently kicked Shane, it was Owens’ turn to do it this week, setting up the U.S. Title match at SummerSlam with Shane as special referee.
This segment I felt was done better than last week’s. Shane didn’t look like Mr. Tough Guy trying to stand up for himself, and he allowed the wrestlers to be the main attractions. I’ve been critical of some of Shane’s segments, and I’ll continue to be when it feels like he’s playing fantasy camp. But this segment, and his involvement at SummerSlam, has been executed well and being the referee for the U.S. Title match makes it feel like a bigger deal.
The Usos beat The New Day
Kofi Kingston, who it was announced would be on the outside during the pay-per-view on Sunday, was the one who took the pin in this match. New Day continues to show some fire and passion, but the Usos should have gotten more aggressive redemption for last week, heading into the pay-per-view on Sunday.
John Cena fought Jinder Mahal to a no-contest
The match ended with Baron Corbin breaking up a pin by Cena, causing either a no-contest or a disqualification — it was never revealed.
It was interesting to see WWE give away this match, which certainly could have been a pay-per-view match, on free TV. WWE has now done this twice with Cena (Cena-Nakamura and Cena-Mahal). It again speaks to the theory that WWE knows it does not have a lot of time left with Cena, and they’re trying to maximize his time before his next layoff for a movie.
Jinder Mahal beat Baron Corbin to retain the WWE Title
We’ll see where this leads, but I like the way they pulled off the pin itself. It put some extra juice into the Cena-Corbin match, and eliminates the possibility of fans waiting for a cash-in at SummerSlam.
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