By Steven Flora
In one of the most shocking moments in SmackDown Live history, Baron Corbin cashed-in his Money in the Bank contract on WWE Champion Jinder Mahal and the result was absolutely shocking. Elsewhere, tensions rose between United States Champion AJ Styles, his SummerSlam opponent Kevin Owens and the special guest referee for that contest, Shane McMahon.
Corbin's MITB opportunity evaporated
WWE Championship Match: WWE Champion Jinder Mahal def. Baron Corbin
After exiting the ring, Corbin realized the amount of damage Mahal had absorbed and bolted back to the squared circle to cash in his Money in the Bank contract. The Lone Wolf handed the contract to the official, and the bell rang as soon as a staggered Mahal used the ropes to struggle back to his feet. Cena began to stir on the ring apron, so Corbin knocked him down with a firm punch to the face. The distraction allowed Mahal to sneak up behind The Lone Wolf and roll him up for the shocking pinfall.
In one of the most jaw-dropping moments in SmackDown Live history, Corbin’s Money in the Bank contract opportunity evaporated in mere seconds. Mahal heads to The Biggest Event of the Summer with his WWE Title in tow, while Corbin’s match with Cena this Sunday just got far more personal. Winner: Jinder Mahal (STILL champion).
Earlier: Non-Title Match: John Cena def. WWE Champion Jinder Mahal via DQ.
In a first-time-ever encounter, John Cena clashed with WWE Champion Jinder Mahal in one of the biggest main events in SmackDown history.
With the animosity off the charts and both Superstars looking to make quite the statement heading into SummerSlam, Cena and Mahal took it to one another, with The Cenation Leader also having to fend off The Singh Brothers, who were lurking at ringside. However, the odds were evened when the official ejected Sunil & Samir after they tried to get involved.
The Modern-Day Maharaja and the 16-time World Champion continued to scrap it out, with Mahal gritting through and even managing to kick out of an Attitude Adjustment. However, following Cena connecting on Mahal with a Super AA from the turnbuckles, Baron Corbin rushed out and attacked The Cenation Leader before he could capitalize and pin Mahal. The Lone Wolf then proceeded to assault Cena, knocking him down with the Money in the Bank briefcase. Winner: John Cena.
Side Note: Wow, simply embarrassing. Looking back on this, Corbin had to lose this because he is simply not ready for the WWE Championship. Then again people said the same about Jinder Mahal and look at him now. Baron Corbin has been steadily improving over the past year, but really, really slowly. Corbin still lacks the necessary mic skills to get over and connect with the WWE universe. I do hope Corbin comes back from this, however, the last person who lost his MITB contract was one Damien Sandow, and we know what happened to him.
Tensions continued to rise between AJ Styles, Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon
After dropping SmackDown Live Commissioner Shane McMahon with a Pele Kick in what appeared to be an accident last week, United States Champion AJ Styles attempted to apologize to Shane-O-Mac. Although Shane accepted, the matter quickly escalated when the Commissioner let The Phenomenal One know that although he believed last week to be an accident, there would be issues if Styles put his hands on him Sunday.
This didn’t sit well with Styles, and Kevin Owens arrived on the scene to try and prod the two further. After a cavalcade of chaos, the roles were reversed this week, as KO accidentally hit Shane with a head-ringing kick that sent the Commissioner to the canvas.
Owens was irate, Styles seemed to take some small satisfaction in the mistake and Shane began to realize that he would have his hands full on Sunday.
Side Note: So many mind games factor into this match heading into SummerSlam. Now that Owens has attacked (inadvertently) Shane McMahon, this makes the WWE Universe question will Shane be biased in the U.S. Title match. The feud with Owens and Styles has been great, perhaps one of the best on Smackdown Live, however, now with Shane McMahon in the picture, this completely throws the winner of this match in the air. I would think Styles would retain, leading to a feud between Owens and Shane at Hell in the Cell.
Natalya gains momentum heading into SummerSlam
Natalya def. Becky Lynch
Primed for her SummerSlam title bout with SmackDown Women’s Champion Naomi in what might be the biggest opportunity of her career, Natalya first had to renew her heated rivalry with Becky Lynch on Team Blue.
Natalya perhaps had a bit of extra motivation, as Naomi watched on from the commentary desk while she clashed with The Irish Lass Kicker. Lynch brought the straight fire as expected, but Natalya was able to douse the flames, rolling out of the way of Becky’s top-rope leg drop and claiming the submission victory after locking in the excruciating Sharpshooter.
Looking to make a statement, Natalya reapplied the painful hold after the bell, refusing to let go until Naomi rushed into the ring, causing the third-generation Superstar to flee. Naomi and Natalya didn’t come to blows on SmackDown Live, but you can believe they will throw down in their title match this Sunday at SummerSlam. Winner: Natalya.
After Natalya left the squared circle, Carmella arrived with James Ellsworth and held up her Money in the Bank contract before reminding Naomi and Natalya that no matter who wins the title on Sunday, the champion would be vulnerable.
Side Note: Solid match executed by two great talents. Natalya looks oddly favorite going into this match. Naomi's glow has slightly dimmed over the past few weeks as she doesn't seem to bring that excitement to the ring as she once did. Natalya has been a mainstay in the WWE for over a decade and for her to win the Smackdown Live Women's title at SummerSlam would be thank you from WWE management.
The Usos pin the Smackdown Live Tag Team Champions
Non-Title Match: The Usos def. Smackdown Live Tag Team Champions New Day
It was SummerSlam come early as The Usos took on Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston of The New Day in something of a preview of their SmackDown Tag Team Title Match coming up this Sunday.
Big E, Kofi and Woods spoke with their usual positive pep before throwing fists with their dangerous adversaries. Clearly very familiar with each other after their many battles over the past several months, the two squads engaged in a thrilling contest. Yet, The Usos edged their rivals after methodically attacking Kofi’s knee and finishing him off with a double superkick to gain major momentum heading into The Biggest Event of the Summer, where they will challenge Big E and Woods for the gold. Winner: The Usos.
Side Note: Decent match but to be honest, this feud has gone stale. The New Day and Usos seem to have exhausted their comedy routines and performances as their appearances on Smackdown Live wasn't as memorable. This leads me to think this feud will end a SummerSlam but I would like The Usos to win as The New Day don't need another run as champions, as they're already over.
Other Notable Moments
Rusev vs. Chad Gable ended in a No Contest: Attempting to gain a measure of redemption against Rusev after falling to The Bulgarian Brute several weeks ago, Chad Gable bounded to the ring ready to go toe-to-toe with his much larger adversary. However, Rusev, who seemed intent on making a lasting impression on Randy Orton heading into their match at SummerSlam this Sunday, brutalized Gable in and out of the ring, hurling him over the announce table before the bout could get rolling. Rusev then viciously applied The Accolade on Gable on top of the commentary desk. Following the beating, Rusev brazenly addressed The Apex Predator, but he immediately felt the devastating effects of an RKO out of nowhere when Orton suddenly appeared to take down the brute. The message heading into their match this Sunday from The Viper to Rusev was crystal clear: It only takes one.
Fashion Peaks Finale: Fandango talks about the aliens probed him deep, mentally. Breeze is dressed in drag again, and says they need to solve some mysteries so that people don’t think they are making this up as they go along. Fandango has a space rock and throws it. The Ascension arrives, returning the pie from last week. Fandango finds hair in it, and a Band-Aid. He then finds gluten and Viktor flips out because he lives a gluten free life. They then find a note that says “Two B.” Fandango licks the note as they fear for the entire tag division. They will return in two weeks. The mystery remains unsolved.
Overall Smackdown Live Rating: B-
Things to look forward to next week
Will we ever see Breezango again?
How will Corbin react to losing the MITB briefcase?
Will Shane McMahon get involved in the U.S. Title Match at SummerSlam?
Will Natalya finally become the Smackdown Live Women's Champion?
Where is Sami Zayn & Tye Dillinger?