Monday: Samoa Joe vs Roman Reigns vs Braun Stroman
Tuesday: Shinsuke Nakamura vs John Cena for a shot at Jinder Mahal and the WWE Championship at SummerSlam.
Tuesday: AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens for the United States Championship
It was an impressive week of television for the WWE. Coming off a massively disappointing and almost predictably awful Battleground PPV, the WWE bounced back with two really strong television shows, with great storylines, and massive incentives to tune in next week.
Monday kicked off with another fantastic segment featuring Kurt Angle, Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe, and Braun Strowman. These three (excluding GM Angle) have been portrayed in a way that makes it incredibly clear they are the biggest stars on the Raw roster. Being placed with Brock Lesnar certainly adds to that but these guys have executed this storyline to perfection. Joe is a badass. Strowman is a monster. Reigns, like or not, is still the guy. I predicted a couple weeks ago that a Fatal Four Way was possible as a SummerSlam main event and that is exactly what we got. If I had to guess, its a way to get the belt off Lesnar, for now, without him suffering defeat, and placing on it on either Joe or Strowman. I love what they’ve done with Strowman. He’s been booked and portrayed perfectly. I don’t think its his time though. If Joe pins Reigns, Strowman and Reigns can finish their issue while Joe moves onto other contenders. When their feud is finished, Reigns or Strowman are back in the title picture. This Triple Threat Match Monday will be a fantastic preview of what we’ll get at SummerSlam.
The tease Ambrose and Rollins did where Ambrose refused the full on Shield reunion was masterfully done. If we played this story into the main event of SummerSlam, we could see Roman win the title by pinning Braun, and a Shield reunion with all 3 members occurs. That can either help get Roman over as a babyface or lead to the eventual heel turn most people are waiting to happen.
Smackdown Live was a fantastic two hour presentation that saw a surprise return from Chris Jericho, a fantastic babyface promo from John Cena, and the announcement that the number one contender for the WWE Championship would be determined next week in a match between Shinsuke Nakamura and John Cena.
A dream match. Some are excited. Some not so much. Some think Nakamura will inevitably lose and Super Cena will move on to win his record breaking 17th championship. The fact is this, the match will be fantastic, regardless of the winner. I’m not sure Nakamura losing is as big of deal as Nakamura winning. If Nakamura wins, he has to beat Jinder Mahal. Losing to Mahal is not something that helps Nakamura in the long run. Nakamura losing to Cena is no big deal. Its John Cena for goodness sakes. Again, regardless of the winner, these are the two most charismatic performers in the entire company and this match, if they go through with it, should be fantastic.
Smackdown Live closed out with a great Triple Threat match featuring the returning Chris Jericho, AJ Styles, and newly crowned US Champion Kevin Owens. The match ended with Owens hitting the pop up power bomb on Jericho, Styles tossing KO out of the ring, then pinning Jericho to win the United States Championship, that he had lost the night before, back. Owens reaction to this was flawless. He freaked out and announced he would invoke his rematch clause next week.
Some old school fans can argue these types of matches should be saved for PPV. Whats important to remember in the PPV model has changed. The Network model is an entirely different approach then anything the business has seen before. Giving “PPV quality” matches on free TV doesn’t have the same negative impact it may have previously had. This should be a huge week for WWE television and building momentum for them is important as we inch closer and closer to football season.