By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. WWE completes their two-night stand in the 6 as the blue brand puts the finishing touches on their side of the SummerSlam card. Did the creative team continue to build anticipation or lower expectations heading into the second biggest PPV of the year? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.
· Daniel Bryan announced that John Cena will face Baron Corbin at SummerSlam as the opening segment featured Cena and Corbin trading barbs on the mic.
· Cena’s promo wasn’t earth shattering, but he did a nice job putting over Shinsuke Nakamura before Corbin interrupted him.
· Corbin’s new theme music is solid as he came out to a chorus of boos. He didn’t care about Cena shaking Nakamura’s hand and wasn’t out to earn anyone’s respect. Cena had a great one-liner that he lifted from a crowd sign stating that Corbin was a “Skinny Fat Loudmouth Overrated Dumpster Fire.” That fan should immediately be hired as the 29th member of the WWE creative team.
· Cena doing a little improv with the crowd turned a so-so opener into an entertaining one. His match against Corbin will be interesting. Will the Lone Wolf show up and show out at the second biggest PPV of the year or will he lay an egg instead? We shall see.
· The Usos defeated Tye Dillinger and Sami Zayn when Jimmy Uso made Dillinger tap out to the Tequila Sunrise in a solid match. The Canadians were over with the live crowd, but the outcome was never in doubt which ended things on a somewhat sour note.
· After the match was over, Jimmy and Jey taunted The New Day and claimed that they were walking out of SummerSlam the new SmackDown Live Tag Team Champions.
· However, The New Day made their presence known as Big E came out doing his signature gyration while Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods attacked The Usos from behind.
· Kingston and Woods gave Jimmy and Jey a dose of their own medicine and were about to tune up the steel chairs when the twins scampered up the ramp.
· The New Day showed aggression which is rare when it comes to their usual happy-go-lucky attitude. It’s a refreshing change of pace because they have every right to be pissed off after getting ambushed during their championship celebration a couple of weeks ago. It adds more heat to The New Day-Usos feud by upping the ante on the personal front.
· Fashion Peaks continues to provide laugh out loud moments. From The Ascension stealing a pie to Fandango going through alleged anal probing, this segment had it all. The icing on the cake was Arn Anderson admitting that he destroyed Tully the Horse. It was a great cameo that had me rolling from start to finish. Fashion Peaks, how I love thee…
· Charlotte defeated Lana when she made her tap out to the Figure Eight. This was a one-sided match that revealed one thing about Lana. She is booked like a novice who is openly mocked for being a mediocre wrestler at best. I don’t know if that’s going to help her get over as a star in the women’s division, but we shall see how it all plays out.
· Shane McMahon tried to lay down the law leading up to his role as the special referee during the United States Championship match between AJ Styles and Kevin Owens. Styles and Owens made no bones about not trusting McMahon due to his last name and the history of his family screwing over famous Canadians.
· Owens tried to stir the pot by showing a clip of Styles attacking Shane-O-Mac in the parking garage earlier this year which set up their match at WrestleMania. KO also used archival footage from the WWE Network illustrating how Shane screwed Stone Cold Steve Austin out of the WWF Championship at Survivor Series 1998.
· It was a great way to add a level of mistrust heading into the match. Styles wanted to prove that he could beat Owens outright for the US Title and challenged him to a match tonight. Owens declined his offer because he wanted to regain the title in the United States instead of a loser city like Toronto.
· Things turned physical when Owens punched Styles in the face which led to the Phenomenal One inadvertently nailing Shane with a Pele Kick. KO laughed at his handiwork before heading backstage.
· The segment went a bit long, but I thought this was a nice way to add friction between McMahon, Owens, and Styles heading into SummerSlam. Owens did a great job downplaying the home country pop by insulting the crowd at every turn. He’s a true heel who doesn’t acknowledge the adulation of fans even though he’s a native son of Canada. I admire his consistency of living the gimmick to a tee.
· Carmella defeated Naomi with a Superkick in a decent match. Naomi had a nice showing in the ring, but the fans telegraphed the finish when they started chanting for James Ellsworth. And sure enough, the Chinless One provided the distraction which led to the finish as Carmella scored another win over the SmackDown Women’s Champion.
· The Women’s Title match featuring Naomi vs. Natalya at SummerSlam is being downplayed for whatever reason. Outside of a few interactions, there is no heat for this feud heading into the PPV next Sunday. Here’s hoping the creative team puts a little hot sauce on this match during the go-home show next week.
· Randy Orton defeated Jinder Mahal with an RKO in a good main event match. If I’m not mistaken, this might've been Mahal’s first time headlining SD Live since becoming WWE Champion at Backlash. He rose to the occasion and had one of his better matches to date against Orton which surprisingly had the crowd hooked from start to finish.
· Due to Mahal being Canadian, he was the hometown favorite while Orton received a mixed reaction whenever he pounced on the modern-day Maharaja. It created an interesting atmosphere, to say the least.
· The finish came when Mahal tried to drop Orton with the Cobra Clutch Slam only for The Viper to counter with the RKO for the win. It would’ve been stunning to see Orton go 0-4 against Mahal, but it does the champ no favors losing a high profile match prior to his WWE Title defense against Shinsuke Nakamura at SummerSlam next Sunday. The booking is a little questionable because Mahal’s first loss should’ve taken place on PPV. Based on what happened at the end of the show, it’s even more baffling in hindsight.
· Orton was about to head backstage when Rusev nailed him with a Superkick as SD Live abruptly went off the air. I’m sure the action continued on the WWE Network, but Rusev should’ve interfered during the match itself instead of Mahal eating the pin. Orton would still be winless against him, but the asterisk behind each loss would still mean something in the grand scheme of things. The Grudge Match would take place at a later date after Mahal lost fair and square on PPV. It’s a matter of keeping the champion strong and undefeated heading into SummerSlam.
· Mahal vs. Nakamura is not as must-see without the hook of Mahal being undefeated. Most importantly, WWE might’ve telegraphed Mahal retaining the title by booking him to lose tonight which puts Nakamura in a tough spot when it comes to giving fans hope heading into the PPV. Perhaps Vince McMahon will change his mind at the 11th hour and deliver a surprise ending, but my enthusiasm for the SD Live main event is waning at an alarming rate.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was decent at best. The last couple of weeks have been strong, but the show took a small a dip in terms of quality wrestling action. The Toronto crowd was hot, but it was a rough night for their fellow countrymen as Sami Zayn, Tye Dillinger, and Jinder Mahal lost their respective matches. At least Mahal was viewed as a star tonight. Perhaps WWE’s Expedition of Gold should take a detour from India to Canada since Mahal was super over.
· The Road to SummerSlam will culminate with SD Live emanating from Providence, Rhode Island next week. The Women’s and WWE Title matches need to stand out from the pack heading into the PPV. Here’s hoping the creative team has the winning formula heading into the biggest party of the summer. Fingers crossed!
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next week with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls!