I don’t understand their mindset at all. Do they really think that people see Jinder as a big star now? Clearly they know that if you want to make someone into a main event guy he needs to win matches cleanly. If they didn’t wouldn’t be bending over backwards on every show to try to protect Roman. So why do they think that it will work any differently with Jinder?
Oh my G-d they just made poor Tom Phillips call it “the biggest match in Smackdown history.” It’s JINDER F*CKING MAHAL in a NON-TITLE match.
JINDER MAHAL PROMO- it’s Indian Independence Day so Jinder has some ethic dancing going on. This is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO F*CKING BORING. It’s a G-d damn WRESTLING show! I didn’t tune in to watch people dance. The writers have come up with a new word for Jinder to say: “Jingoistic.” That’s not going to make anyone give a sh*t about Jinder.
They’ve got a woman to sing the Indian national anthem, so of course it gets booed, which I am shocked that WWE hasn’t yet realized creates absolutely terrible optics for the country. Also, once again, this is not what I tuned in to a WRESTLING show to watch.
Jinder first made mention of his match with John Cena at the 8:20 mark of the show. Close to one tenth of the show's non-commercial run-time has expired and all that has happened is that they showed us a short video package.
Oh. Wow. They actually do have new things for Jinder to say. He claims the to be “the reason that WWE is the global phenomenon that it is,” which is an accolade I would dismiss even if Jinder wasn’t supposed to be a lying heel simply because it sounds so much like a WWE required-wording catchphrase that it sounds like BS to me no matter who says it. He follows this up on a similar theme by claiming to be the reason that people all over the world are subscribing to the WWE Network. As I said in my most recent AAW review, “I, as a fan, don't care who the "draw" is. I care who the kayfabe BEST wrestler is.”
To further get me excited for tonight’s “biggest match ever,” Jinder reminds me that Cena lost to Shinksuke two weeks ago, so we’re not even getting Jinder vs. the best guy on the roster. We’re getting Jinder vs. a guy who just got beaten. Factor in that Jinder lost last week as well, and this begins to feel like a match of losers. I want to see Orton vs. Nakamura. Those guys are WINNERS.
Jinder speaks Punjabi for a bit until Nakamura comes out to interrupt him. It took ten minutes for them to finally give me something that got me excited in even the slightest way.
Nakamura says that while today might be Indian Independence Day, it also happens to be Japan’s version of Memorial Day, where they commemorate those who soldiers who have died in war. It’s also independence day in both Koreas (the north calls it Fatherland Liberation Day), as well as Constitution Day in Equatorial Guinea, Armed Forces Day in Poland, National Day in Liechtenstein, National Mourning Day in Bangladesh, and, to bring things full circle… it’s V-J Day in the UK. Yes, “V-J” in “Victory Over Japan” in World War II. Remember that Japanese holiday that Nakamura mentioned? Most of those soldiers being commemorated died in that war, in which Japan was fighting against UK the USA. You know… the USA. As in those “USA! USA! USA!” chants that we have been getting any time Jinder has spoken over the past few months. WHO THE HELL THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA?
Just when I thought this couldn’t get any worse, they then had Nakamura follow up talking about his country’s Memorial Day by telling Jinder that “in America, this Sunday is SummerSlam Day.” Not only was this dumb, forced, and could possibly ruffle some feathers with Japanese fans, but didn’t Jinder just tell us that WWE was a “global phenomenon?” If so, shouldn’t it be SummerSlam Day everywhere and not just in America?
Also Nakamura said he would win the title. Then the segment ended. They wasted almost an eighth of the show’s run-time (including commercials) with this one horrific segment.
BECKY LYNCH vs. NATALYA- 2.5/10
JBL is talking about how “SummerSlam and the Hart Family go back a long time,” and was about to talk about stuff Harts did at SummerSlam when he was cut off by Naomi’s music (she was coming out to do commentary because WWE thinks that having one wrestling come out to do commentary and have a conversation with three other people, often interrupted for someone to say a few words about the wrestling match I’m trying to watch is a better way of getting a match over than letting one person win a match while the commentators concentrate on him/her and letting the other cut a promo where he/she is the only one talking and he/she is the one guiding the discourse.
Where was I? Oh. Right. Nattie and JBL. When JBL started to say that I got so sick and fed up with WWE trying to connect everything to history and convince us that their history is the best history ever instead of talking about the people they should be trying to get over: the current crop of wrestlers.
Think about it. What do we actually know about the character of Natalya? We know she’s a member of the Hart Family and a graduate of the Hart Dungeon. We might remember that she is married to Tyson Kidd, who seems to have completely disappeared without so much as a mention, we know she’s won some championships, and we can see that she is strong and tough and adept at submission wrestling and has some moves she likes to do… and that’s it. We know absolutely nothing that will make us like or dislike her any more than some random woman they could pull off the street.
Imagine that WWE brings in a new female wrestler. For the purposes of this exercise her name will be Generic Jenny. They tell us nothing about her. They just throw her out there for some matches. Sometimes she loses, but sometimes she wins. After a few weeks we’ll get a sense of how good she is in the ring and we’ll know if she is a babyface or a heel based on who they program her against, and her moves will be over (in this context I mean that people will understand that when they see her they should expect to see her use the Sunset Flip, dropkick, elbow drop, and armdrag, and that they should get extra excited when she goes for the Vertical Suplex because that’s her finisher). But that’s it. That’s all we’ll know about her. And if you take away the Hart Family connection- which is essentially the case for a new casual fan who doesn’t really have a sense of nostalgia for Bret and his kin- then what separates Natalya from Generic Jenny?
(Nattie isn’t the only wrestler with this problem, but she is the one for whom it is most glaring to me).
Does anyone else think Naomi comes off as really douchy when she comes out and does her whole big dancing entrance at any time when she’s not making her entrance for a match that she herself is wrestling in?
We start off with the announcers ignoring the match so that JBL can chat with Naomi. She might have “a special glow entrance for the Barclay’s Center.” So in terms of importance, glowing entrance>wrestling match. Okay… so why should I care who wins the match- or the title on the line in it?
Nattie soon gets distracted by Naomi. She shouts at Naomi a bit, and while she is doing this, Becky takes the opportunity to nail her with a baseball slide to the back of the head. Yes, there is a match going on, but Becky still came off as heelish here. Doubly so when she did her stupid tea-drinking thing afterwards. The very next spot was Nattie AGAIN yelling at Naomi and thus being distracted so Becky could hit her with a crossbody off the top rope to the floor. At least she waited for Nattie to turn around this time.
Then Nattie rolled to the floor on the other side of the ring, and unlike the last two times, this time the referee decides to prevent Becky from chasing her.
When we got back from the commercial they decided that it was necessary to establish that Naomi was on commentary not just by having Tom Phillips introduce her and having her speak, but by cutting away from the ring for a full TEN SECONDS so the camera could slowly zoom in on her from the far side of the announcers’ table. Even worse: the entire time that this was going on, Nattie had Becky locked in a submission right in the middle of the ring. When Becky started to fight out of it, they cut right back to Naomi again. The sheer number of wrestling companies out there that somehow don’t understand the simple rule that you DON’T CUT AWAY FROM THE RING TO LOOK AT THE COMMENTATORS WHEN THERE IS A MATCH GOING ON” is absolutely astonishing. I shouldn’t have to go to PWG or EVOLVE for something that damn basic.
JBL claims that “Natalya called herself the Glow-Stopper.” I had to rewind this three times to make sure I heard it correctly, because even I had trouble believing that someone in WWE would say something quite that horrifically lame.
Basically everything that happened not during a commercial was Becky completely dominating Nattie, because that will definitely get your #1 contender over. They had a great finishing sequence, although Nattie’s submission win despite having done so little damage to Becky previously made Becky look like a wimp.
Naomi was atrocious on commentary. She was WAY too soft-spoken and sounded like someone who had almost no confidence whatsoever, despite her protestations. After the match, she insisted that she would not lose to Nattie at SummerSlam “because I have the glow. That’s why.” F*ck your stupid “glow.” I want the Naomi from last year back. You know… the one who didn’t have “the glow” but did have an actual personality. I want a character, not a glow-in-the-dark catchphrase on legs.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- terrible.
Nattie attacked Becky after the match
I don’t get the point of this at all. What is the purpose of wasting so much time teasing that Carmella will cash in. It's f*cking SUMMERSLAM. Do they really think there is anyone out there not related to Carmella who is sitting there, saying to themselves “I’m not sure if I should sign up for the WWE Network and order SummerSlam” but will have their minds changed if they think that f*cking CARMELLA will cash in MITB and win the Smackdown Women’s Title? I can assure you that such people do not exist.
TAMINA & LANA BACKSTAGE- Tamina is angry at Lana that she isn’t booked tonight. She says “I thought last week we came to an understanding: that you would use your ‘raaaaavishing ambition’ to help me become champion.” I’m sorry… is “ambition” to supposed to be a euphemism for something and the new gimmick is that Tamina is trying to whore Lana out to Shane and Bryan (who are both married)? Because that’s what it seems like.
Lana responds by telling Tamina “you’re not ready.” Since when is Lana the expert on who is ready for a title shot? Now Lana is saying that the problem is that “they” (again presumably Shane and Bryan, who are the guys who make the matches around here) don’t fear her. Why should they need to be afraid of her to give her title matches?
Lana then says that she will use her “ravishing beauty” and “cunning” and “manipulate” people into giving Tamina what she wants. WHY IS ANY OF THIS HAPPENING?!
It seems to me that they are trying to build to Lana being Tamina’s manager, basically replacing Rusev, with whom Lana has good chemistry, with Tamina, with whom she doesn’t. If you wanted Lana to manage Tamina, why did she need to be split off from Rusev?
BRYAN & THE USOS BACKSTAGE- bad.
Bryan acted like a huge dork the whole time. The Usos wanted to know which New Day members they would be facing for the titles at SummerSlam, so Bryan told them it would be Xavier & Big E. Doesn’t the Freebird Rule let the wrestlers choose? If so, why would they make the decision this far in advance?
The Usos, who are the heels, then said that even though they are getting a title shot at New Day on the PPV, they want to get revenge for last week’s attack on Kofi, too, so they want a tag match with a New Day pairing that involves Kofi later on tonight. They came off like total babyfaces here.
RUSEV vs. CHAD GABLE- DUD!
Rusev beat the sh*t out of Gable, almost completely obliterating him, but they couldn’t even give him the win. He had to just stand there and have a double count-out. In their defense, they probably didn’t think it would make and sense for a heel to win clean and then just attack the babyface afterwards for no reason, right? Wait. No. That’s exactly what happened in the last f*cking match.
After pausing to just stand there and get counted out, Rusev then went after Gable again, putting him in the Accolade on the announcers’ table, because I guess somehow hurts more. Then he stopped applying the hold to go cut a promo on Orton, who showed up and gave him an RKO “out of nowhere,” which apparently now just means that he ran up to Rusev really quickly and the cameraman made sure to shoot it from an angle where Randy wouldn’t be visible to us at home as he ran out from the crowd.
AJ STYLES APOLOGIZES TO SHANE MCMAHON- very bad
The fact that people cheer Shane so loudly after the atrocious job he has done in this role is utterly astounding to me. AJ came off totally paranoid here. Shane, meanwhile completely f*cking flubbed his big line. He said “most officials- you have to respect their authority. You cannot touch a WWE official. Now that’s them. But I’m a little bit different. AJ, if you push or shove me- well that’s a whole different story.” We then cut an absolutely wonderful of AJ completely puzzled, trying to determine if Shane actually just said he thought he (and we) heard him say… because what Shane said seems to be that you have to respect a normal official and can’t abuse them, but with Shane as the referee there is no need to respect him whatsoever and it is totally fine to push him around.
They say stuff to tease that they might fight. Both came off terribly.
Then it got worse. Shane started talking again and stopped in mid-sentence. Then he turned around to look at the entrance ramp for some reason. Then he just f*cking stood there, not saying anything, and looking like world’s biggest doofus. What seems to have happened is that Owens was late getting to Gorilla or the sound people didn’t quite have his music queued up so he didn’t come out when Shane was expecting him to, so Shane basically ran out of lines and couldn’t improvise at all. Then Owens’ music hit and he came out, which made Shane look like an even bigger doofus (outside of kayfabe). If the f*cker can’t get his promo right and can’t not flub lines, totally changing the meanings of the things he says and he can’t improvise, he shouldn’t be speaking on TV.
Owens came out and pointed out that AJ was being an idiot here. Aside from that, his promo was all good heel stuff. Owens offers Shane a handshake but Shane says that wouldn’t be appropriate. Why? There shouldn’t be anything wrong with it as long as Shane shakes AJ’s hand, too, which shouldn’t be a problem for either of them. Instead Shane says that Owens should shake AJ’s hand. Owens has no problem with this and extends his hand, but AJ, the babyface, is a big jerk to Owens for no reason, and a brawl starts. Owens ducks a punch from AJ that almost accidentally hits Shane but Shane blocks it, then starts to threaten AJ even though it should have been abundantly clear to him that this was a stray punch. Owens tried to kick AJ in the back of the head but AJ moved and the kick hit Shane instead… so basically they’re trying to sell us this PPV by telling us that instead of a clean finish in our title match, we’re going to get Shane McMahon hitting someone.
If I might call my shot here, this upcoming PPV marks the twentieth anniversary of the best Special Guest Referee finish of all-time in the main event of SummerSlam 1997, so I think we’re going to be getting some variation on that.
THE USOS vs. THE NEW DAY (w/Big E.)- 5.5/10
Good match. The Usos take out Kofi’s knee.
FASHION POLICE BULLSH*T- SKIP!
But I do want it to be know that they had more hype for this horse sh*t than they did for anything else on this show other than Cena vs. Jinder.
JOHN CENA vs. JINDER MAHAL (w/the Singh Brothers)- 6/10
I laughed when those guys did a test of strength. That was a freakin’ perfect spot for these two. Major props to whoever came up with that idea. Stuff happened. The Singh Brothers interfered to give Jinder the advantage because WWE is doing everything they can to make him look like a paper champion while insisting to us that he is at the level of a John Cena or Randy Orton. One time the referee caught them interfering red-handed, but rather than call for the DQ he merely ejected them from ringside. JBL then complimented the official for “doing exactly what he is supposed to do.” What he’s supposed to do would be call for the f*cking DQ!
Jinder got to kick out of Cena’s stuff but then Cena hit the Super AA and was about to win when Corbin caused a DQ. He hit his SummerSlam opponent, John Cena, in the head with the briefcase and then started to walk away like a f*cking idiot before realizing that he could just cash in on Jinder. He came back down and cashed in MITB. The crowd was very excited about this, but I’ll bet five million BRM-Land funbucks that the whole reason for having the Singh Brothers ejected from ringside was to surprise everyone with them coming back here to ruin this. But still I retain a sliver of hope that Vince has finally decided to pull the plug on Operation: Punjadi Pandering, so let’s see what happens.
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH: Jinder Mahal(c) vs. Baron Corbin- no rating, terrible segment.
The referee wouldn’t let the match start for f*cking forever because he was checking to see if Jinder was ready to go. F*CK OFF! It’s MONEY IN THE BANK! We’ve seen cash-ins while the champion wasn’t even conscious! The bell finally does ring, and right when it does, Cena jumps up on the apron to distract Corbin and Jinder rolls Corbin up and pins him. I understand the idea behind this is to add fuel to the very cold Cena vs. Corbin feud by having Cena cost Corbin this “guaranteed” world title reign, but I don’t like it for two reasons:
1. We get so many distraction finishes in WWE that this still feels routine.
2. This is the go-home show, so they really don’t have that much time to drive this point home the way it needs to be driven home to get this idea over. It needs that utterly furious go-home promo from Corbin after he assaults Cena during a match where he vows to utterly end Cena at SummerSlam. Something like that.
Another terrible episode of Smackdown. The build to SummerSlam continues to suck. There are twelve matches on the card and while I know that both tag title matches, the Cruiserweight Title match, and Orton vs. Rusev will be good, the only matches that I actually care about the outcomes of are the Universal Title match, the US Title match, and the Raw Women’s Title match, and only for the first one does it really have much to do with the actual build to the match (with AJ vs. Owens I’m curious to see how they get to Shane vs. Owens, and with the Raw Women’s Title match it’s just because I’m a huge Alexa Bliss! mark).