WWE Champion Jinder Mahal and Rusev Attacked Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton
It blows my mind that it's been over three months since Jinder Mahal captured the WWE Championship and he continues to cut the same tired promo about Americans stereotyping him and seeing him as a national threat, or something like that. At this point, he isn't generating the type of heat he should be. The brawl that followed was pretty paint-by-numbers, but at least it helped set up the tag team main event for later in the night.
Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable def. The Ascension
I assumed as soon as they made their entrance as a team with their own theme music that Benjamin wasn't turning on Gable so soon. I'm glad I was right about that because they make a hell of a tandem. Yes, both of them have untapped potential as singles stars, but I prefer them pairing up for now and adding new blood to the tag team division than floundering in the midcard. This was a fun showing from them and Benjamin hasn't lost a step in the ring.
United States Champion AJ Styles def. Tye Dillinger
Styles can host a ton of exciting matches as United States Champion by bringing back the open challenge gimmick, but I was really hoping for a longer match from him and Dillinger here. Dillinger is a guy who could have benefited huge from looking credible against Styles, and although this was a nice little match, it was way too brief. It looks like Styles will indeed be feuding with Baron Corbin going forward, confirming my suspicions from last week.
Bobby Roode def. Mike Kanellis
If wasn't already obvious, Roode is officially a babyface. While he is a natural heel, I'm sure he'll turn eventually after his true colors shine through. He scored much more offense over Kanellis than he did versus Aiden English last Tuesday night, so this was a solid showcase for him. Here's hoping it isn't long before he's put in his first feud. As for Kanellis, he and Maria are a dead act at this point. Some tweaking will need to be done in order to salvage them. What a shame.
Aiden English def. sami zayn
The match itself between Zayn and English was a total afterthought when Owens was on commentary, but I don't say that as a bad thing because no one cared about that contest to begin with. English only beat Zayn once Owens took the referee's shirt and made the three count himself, though Shane McMahon said shortly thereafter that the victory didn't technically count for English. Owens getting increasingly more frustrated with SmackDown management should be a blast to watch in the weeks ahead.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos def. The New Day to Pick the Stipulation for Their Title Rematch (Non-title)
It's cool that the next championship clash between The Usos and The New Day will receive a stipulation of some sort, but was it really necessary to give away another one of their encounters on free TV without any prior hype? They've already faced off a handful of times this summer, so now WWE is running the risk of overexposing their matches. It was fine for what it was yet nowhere near as being on the same level as their pay-per-view bouts.
Tamina def. Local Athlete
I've voiced my concerns about Tamina in the past, but the bottom line is that she is beyond terrible. I guess having Lana as her mouthpiece will ensure she doesn't cut another awful promo, but Lana isn't exactly a heat magnet, and talking during Tamina's matches is more annoying than detestable. This match was rather short, but Tamina somehow managed to have a poor showing, regardless. She simply adds nothing to this women's division.
Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton def. WWE Champion Jinder Mahal and Rusev
I know Mahal and Rusev encountered each other backstage beforehand, but no mention was made of how they seemingly split up before Rusev took a hiatus from WWE TV earlier this year. Oh well. This match was entertaining enough but fairly formulaic in how it was laid out. If nothing else, the live crowd was engaged in the action and didn't sit on their hands as they had for the better part of this show. The real highlight was what happened afterward with Orton hitting Nakamura with an RKO. I'm looking forward to seeing what type of match they'll produce next week when they vie for the opportunity to contend for the WWE Championship.
The live crowd provided a pretty dull atmosphere for most of the night, but this was a middle-of-the-road show, anyway. Benjamin and Gable showed promise as a tag team, Styles vs. Dillinger could have been better with more time and the main event served its purpose, but I couldn't shake the feeling that this show didn't contain much substance. SmackDown Live will have its weeks where it is excellent, and other times it's just kind of there. This was the latter. We'll see if the blue brand is motivated to deliver a strong show next week when its headlined by Nakamura vs. Orton.