Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live: Arn Anderson revealed that he destroyed a hobby horse for selfish reasons, Natalya won the next 10 Razzies for Worst Actress, and Kevin Owens used continuity to psychologically destroy AJ Styles and Shane McMahon in one segment.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live for August 15, 2017.
Before We Talk About Anything Else, Baron Corbin Is Officially The Most Fucking Idiotic Money In The Bank Cash-In Ever
Let’s … [sigh]
Let’s start from the beginning.
Smackdown opens with Jinder Mahal, the guy who lost a non-title match clean last week, declaring himself the most dominant champion of all time. He explains that Americans are xenophobic, prejudiced and disrespectful, then goes directly into an India Independence Day celebration that totally and completely proves it. You know what I totally understand but absolutely do not need to see on television right now? Proof that our country’s full of dippy assholes who’d boo a nice lady singing another country’s national anthem. They’re booing happy dancers. It is what it is. I think I’m at a weird point in my adult life where I don’t want to watch Japanese pro wrestling because it’s hard hitting and more like sports, I want to watch it because the stories are about dudes tearing up plush therapy cats and I need a break from America.
Anyway, this brings out Shinsuke Nakamura, who explains the Bon Festival and promises to take the WWE Championship from Jinder at SummerSlam. I still don’t think Shinsuke needs to be out here cutting live promos, but his charisma’s usually enough to get him through them, and at least they didn’t boo him for knowing things about Japan.
So after 11 instances of them explaining that John Cena vs. Jinder Mahal is for the First Time Ever™ and (somehow) one of the biggest and most important matches in Smackdown history, we get that match. There’s so much to unpack already. First of all, you seriously had John Cena lose clean to Shinsuke Nakamura for a chance to face Jinder Mahal, then had Cena get a match with Mahal before Nakamura? Seriously? And if you’re the type who’s like, “um, actually, it’s non-title,” okay, did you seriously set up WWE Champion Jinder Mahal to lose two straight non-title matches on the two Smackdowns before he main-events at SummerSlam? And real quick, why is a non-title match involving Jinder Mahal one of the biggest and most important matches in Smackdown history? You once had Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle in a 60-minute iron man match for the WWE Championship on Smackdown. Get a grip with the overstatements, guys. I’m the dude who nearly had a religious experience the first time he heard Adam Rose’s NXT entrance theme and even I think your hyperbole is pushing it.
They have the match, and guess how it goes? The Singh Brothers interfere until they’re sent to the back, The Great Khali doesn’t actually exist anymore and was a figment of our collective imagination, and Cena has the match won relatively easily with an Attitude Adjustment off the ropes. Baron Corbin slides in and interferes, causing a disqualification.
Now! If you’re like a lot of people, you assumed this was going to happen. You also maybe thought hey, Corbin could cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase here, become WWE Champion and throw a crazy monkey wrench into the SummerSlam plans. Would that make Cena vs. Corbin the WWE Championship match, and shift Nakamura vs. Mahal to some kind of number one contender deal? Or would they combine the matches and give us two fatal four-ways on the same pay-per-view? Maybe Corbin’s just going to tease it and maul both guys with the briefcase to set up something shocking at SummerSlam.
Or, you have Corbin walk slowly away from the ring before realizing he could cash in the briefcase. Then have him cash it in, but wait patiently while the referee “make sure Jinder Mahal can go,” which isn’t a thing. Then you have him get distracted by John Cena, who is standing on the apron but not doing anything. Then you have Jinder Mahal, who just got his ass beaten by John Cena, roll Baron Corbin up and defeat him in six seconds.
I don’t know how to explain it in a more eloquent way than a thumbs down and a raspberry. I don’t know if Corbin failed a drug test or called The Troops losers or if the rumored Superstar Shake-up™ changed their plans for the briefcase or what, but Jesus Christ, this has got to be the saddest attempt we’ve seen since John Cena had a broken arm and a bad knee and still squashed Damien Sandow into irrelevancy. Carmella should also fail to cash in at SummerSlam, and we should spend a few years (or possibly forever) not doing Monies in the Bank.
The difficult thing from my point of view is that it’s Baron Corbin, which means you can’t just instantly expect the Internet to side with him in situations like this. I’ve already had people tell me, “it saved us a boring Baron Corbin title run!” And all I can think is, “sure, but if this was the way the briefcase was supposed to get cashed in, why did Corbin win it in the first place? What was the point of the last two months?” Wrestling’s a TV show, man. Shit’s supposed to happen for a reason. It doesn’t have the natural chaos theory of professional sports, where sometimes you just lose the big game. This is a purposeful decision from an entire team of people in charge of making wrestling fans interested in wrestlers on the wrestling show.
Just awful, all the way around. At least it didn’t happen to Sami Zayn, I guess.
Worst: The Usos Have Pinned The Tag Team Champions!
While we’re talking about this lowest common denominator shit that you’d expect to see on Raw — or better yet, on something hypothetically worse than Raw — The Usos challenged the Tag Team Champions to a match five days before they’re supposed to face the Tag Team Champions at SummerSlam, got the match for some reason, then won it clean.
If you tuned in to Raw, you saw them fast forward to do not only the Cruiserweight Championship match six days early but Bray Wyatt vs. Finn Bálor as well, squandering their precious First Time Ever™ modifier to turn it into a SummerSlam rematch. So now Tozawa/Neville, Finn and Bray AND the Smackdown Tag Team Championship matches are rematches of bouts with clean endings we saw THIS WEEK. Three of them. Not even a full week. Monday to Sunday.
At least we didn’t book our WWE Champion to lose non-title matches two weeks in a row, let our Universal Champion show up whenever he wants to and have our Money in the Bank winner lose like an idiot on the go-home show, right guys?
Worst: Also, Natalya Won
This is one of those matches that “has to happen” in the eyes of WWE bookers, and I guess I understand. Natalya’s challenging Naomi for the Smackdown Women’s Championship at SummerSlam, so it makes sense to give her some straight-up wins over top challengers in the division to build it up.
I guess my major problems here are that (1) Natalya, and (2) why is the Smackdown women’s division set up where all the most talented wrestlers are faces, and all the bad or boring ones are heels? The face side has Becky Lynch, Naomi and Charlotte Flair. The heels are Tamina and Carmella and Lana. I know you’re in love with every heel being a loser coward for some reason, but some of these people need to be able to handle their shit. So even if it feels like a wet fart — Natalya farting reference only loosely intended, which is also similar to a wet fart — at least Natalya didn’t have to have a guy run in and help her win. It’s pretty sad when awkward-ass Natalya is the only heel worker in your division you can trust to get through a pay-per-view match without hurting themselves.
Man. I liked something on this show, right?
Best: It’s Chad Gable Vs. Rusev Again (For A Second)!
These guys had a fun match a couple of weeks ago, so I was really looking forward to seeing them hook it up again. And it’s pretty great for about 75 seconds, until the match suddenly ends in a double count-out. Still, I’m giving the match a Best because of the people involved, the exciting work in a Divas match amount of time, and the continuing truth that Chad Gable’s gonna be the Shawn Michaels of American Alpha whether they want him to be or not.
I’ll also give some love to Orton’s RKO From Outta Nowhere, which is always fun when it’s actually From Outta Nowhere. So much of that depends on timing and camera work, and Bray Wyatt not stopping his finishing hold mid-championship match to show a slide projection of bugs and walk chin-first into it. I hope Rusev rips off Orton’s head and shits down his neck at SummerSlam.
Worst: Ready, Willing And Table
Would it hurt more to be put in the PTO on the announce table? Paige specifically dragged her over there to put it on. If Becky had been trying to put PAIGE through it and Paige reversed and got the hold, that might make sense, but nope. If you’re trying to make a statement, isn’t the middle of the ring a better spot? The arena is set up with a focus on the ring, right? There are a bunch of lights pointing at it and everything.
Two things I’d really love to see again soon:
- Paige healthy, back in WWE and not being extremely concerning 24/7
- Lana back with Rusev, because I can only take so many of these Tamina segments
Best: It’s Not About The Bunny
Fashion Peaks concludes its epic trilogy with a few shocking revelations: The Ascension lives a gluten-free lifestyle, the tag team division is in danger, and the pie from last week contained a note reading “Two B.” That’s probably just a “two b continued” joke, but we’re headed to Brooklyn for SummerSlam, so I’m keeping an eye out for the Brooklyn Brawler. I uh, also wouldn’t totally hate it if we ended up getting Breezango vs. Cryme Tyme on the pre-show. Because Brooklyn, Brooklyn.
I can’t wait to see where they end up in two weeks, and/or 25 years. Whichever comes first. Furthermore,
Best/Worst: Are Shane McMahon And AJ Styles Flirting?
“If you put your hands on me? Again? I’m gonna put mine … all over you!”
And here I thought Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose fisting each other would be the week’s hottest angle. Although to be honest, if I’m AJ Styles I’m not gonna worry too much about Shane McMahon’s hands. 90% of the punches he throws are gonna miss, and the 10% that land are just baby jabs.
Anyway, the point of the segment is to continue what they started last week, with Kevin Owens trying to manipulate Styles and McMahon into hating each other again. It almost works again, too, with Styles starting a shoving match and Owens maneuvering himself in front of Shane to cause another accidental strike. Shane catches it, though, and Owens ends up hitting Shane with a superkick while he was aiming for AJ. So now his manipulations have backfired, and we don’t know who Shane will have more of a hate-on toward at SummerSlam. It’s not Shakespeare, but compared to the current WWE Championship picture, it’s close.
I think my favorite part of the entire segment is Kevin Owens saying “last Thursday night,” when Smackdown’s been on Tuesdays for like a year and a half.
So That Leaves Us With Like A Dozen Matches For SummerSlam
Here’s how the card shakes out:
- Brock Lesnar defending the Universal Championship against Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns and leaving WWE if he loses
- John Cena vs. America’s Worst Wrestler Baron Corbin
- Jinder Mahal defending the WWE Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura in a “Not As Important As John Cena” match
- Naomi defending the Smackdown Women’s Championship against Natalya
- Sasha Banks hopefully jumping off a lifeguard tower onto Alexa Bliss
- Rematch between Finn Bálor and Bray Wyatt, now with more paint
- Rematch between Neville and Tozawa
- Rematch between The New Day and the Usos
- Sheamus and Cesaro versus the Fist Pals for the Raw Tag Team Championship
- Randy Orton trying to break his horrible PPV match streak against Rusev
- Big Show with a broken hand and Enzo Amore in a shark cage above the ring versus Big Cass and probably The Club
And that’s just what’s announced. See you on Sunday for six hours!
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
the worst cash-in ever! The restless ghost of Damien Sandow can finally find peace in the afterlife!!
Jinder’s cohorts become infatuated with Madonna in…
“Desperately Sikh Singh Susan”.
… I’ll leave now.
Sitcom Pitch to replace Fashion Peaks: Jinder and his sons move next door to the McMahons and try to fit into the high class community, call it “Mahal in the Family”
Randy’s more efficient than Beetlejuice
Picking between Gable and Rusev is like choosing between my kids, if, you know, I liked my kids.
i still can’t believe he wasn’t the one with the Angle gene
God I love how the Usos and Bryan are buds completely defiant of heel/face aliances.
The Real Birdman
“I tried to get you a match, Tamina, but Shane and Daniel just started laughing and walked away”
Wrestling’s definitely fake. I just watched an Indian child knock down John Cena with a punch to the face
Can’t wait to see Corbin’s reaction on Talking Smack… oh wait.
That’s it for this week’s column.
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