Baron Corbin couldn't control his anger.
As SmackDown Live came to a close Tuesday night, Corbin was heaving TV monitors, slapping the ring in frustration and wondering how in the world he had just lost the best opportunity of his professional career. It was a giant misstep just days ahead of SummerSlam, one of the biggest pay-per-view events on the wrestling calendar.
Moments after his interference triggered a disqualification in the Jinder Mahal-John Cena battle, Corbin cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase as the champ lay motionless on the mat. But after a moment of distraction when Corbin went after Cena near the ropes, Mahal regrouped and rolled up Corbin to retain the title and end any aspirations Corbin had of winning the WWE Championship, at least in the near future.
- WWE (@WWE) August 16, 2017
This was a horrific look for Corbin, not to mention a chaotic twist to a go-home show that was anything but mere build for SummerSlam.
From Mahal's strong opening diatribe, where he was condemning the Providence crowd while reveling in his country's independence day, to Kevin Owens' inadvertent super kick on Shane McMahon to Rusev's ruthless attack on Chad Gable, SmackDown reminded us again that it is going to leverage nearly every moment in this land of opportunity, even if conventional thinking would have suggested much of the recent drama should have been left for the SummerSlam stage.
Just three weeks ago, Chris Jericho made a shocking return to the ring, and the following Tuesday, Cena and Shinsuke Nakamura closed SmackDown with a first-time encounter worthy of a higher-profile event. Then Tuesday night, the Corbin swerve was added to the mix. Now Corbin heads to SummerSlam with an opportunity to beat the 16-time champion Cena, but without a chance to leave the Barclays Center with the coveted belt he's had his eyes on for quite some time.
According ESPN Stats & Information, Corbin became only the fourth Money in the Bank winner (out of 18) to fail to cash in his briefcase, and only the second to flat-out lose, joining the legendary Damien Sandow, who failed to take the title in 2013. Believe it or not, it had been seven years since a MITB winner tried to cash in on SmackDown.
The latest bungle by the Lone Wolf means Mahal and Nakamura can duke it out Sunday without the added distraction of Corbin rushing the ring to steal the spotlight -- and the gold. And yes, while the loss by Corbin will perhaps hurt the overall anticipation in the upcoming championship battle, what is SummerSlam's loss was most certainly SmackDown's gain.
Seth Rollins, who was in Bristol to participate in the celebrity draft during the Fantasy Football Marathon, was equally shocked by the result.
- WWE on ESPN (@WWEonESPN) August 16, 2017
Hits and misses
More than ever, I am geeked up to find out what role, if any, Shane McMahon will play as the special guest referee when AJ Styles faces Kevin Owens for the United States title. A week after Styles inadvertently Pele-kicked McMahon, Owens accidentally nailed the commissioner with a super kick. McMahon lay dazed and exasperated. All this just moments after he told Styles that any physical contact with him at SummerSlam might lead McMahon to seeking revenge. It goes without saying that this chain of events looks like it's leading to McMahon's return to the ring in the near future, but against whom?
First the Singh brothers, then the Great Khali. Who does Jinder Mahal have lined up now to help him take down Shinsuke Nakamura at SummerSlam? After making the people of Providence listen to the Indian national anthem, perhaps the Iron Sheik will make an appearance? That might be a stretch, but Mahal did take his "jingoistic" shtick to a new level Tuesday night, which is somewhat ironic given how much people hail his SummerSlam opponent who was born, raised and groomed in Japan.
So ... Becky Lynch is jobbing out now? Yes, we recognize Natalya needs momentum heading into SummerSlam, but at the expense of one of the great women's performers (and SmackDown's first women's champ)? Becky lost cleanly and was subsequently beaten down even more by Sunday's challenger. Later, when the other women in the championship angle engaged in verbal sparring, Lynch was nowhere to be seen.
Let's just call this one what was it was: five minutes of pain for both participants. Rusev annihilated Chad Gable, first launching the former American Alpha member over the announcer's table and then putting him in the Accolade on the table. Then as Rusev stood strong and proud, out of nowhere Randy Orton appeared and unleashed an RKO on his Sunday foe. Orton-Rusev has the potential to steal the show come SummerSlam.
Much like Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt a night before, SummerSlam came early for The New Day and The Usos, all of whom will be going at it again Sunday in Brooklyn. Great chemistry all around by the four tag-team members, with the challengers predictably coming out on top. Of course, Kofi Kingston, who took the clean loss, won't (officially) be part of the action at SummerSlam, giving way for Big E.
Aliens, space rocks and terrible, hair-laden pie? Fashion Peaks took bizarre to a new level. Whatever the Twin Peaks parody was about Tuesday, there's a good shot we won't see another episode for 25 years, or ...
#Breezango will return in 25 YEARS!!?
- WWE (@WWE) August 16, 2017