That definitely has not been the case. WWE has done a great job of making each PPV feel important and different. They can either gimmick each PPV up differently, like Hell in a Cell here or Money in the Bank or Tables, Ladders, and Chairs or Extreme Rules; or, they can throw everything they can at the wall to make it seem like a huge event like last month's No Mercy with the Cena/Reigns and Lesnar/Strowman mega-matches. With the depth of the rosters right now in the WWE and NXT, they have been able to keep things fresh and exciting. This PPV should be no different. WWE has given us another great PPV card to look forward to, now it's up to them to deliver on it and take us into Survivor Series on the SmackDown side.
Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin vs. The Hype BroSometimes the obvious move is the right move in wrestling. The obvious move here is to pull the trigger on the break up of the Hype Bros. And I hope that’s where they go tonight. I’d have Ryder as a -240 favorite to be the one in the group to turn on the other. Think there is a story that could be told there of him being in the WWE for over a decade and never really been given a chance, so he’ll do whatever it takes now to be successful. He can cheat and be a prick for a couple months, maybe even eventually moving into that US Title scene.
Feels like this is the SmackDown version of what’s happening with Bray and Finn on RAW. A couple of main event level guys who are biding their time until they can get back into the main event, so they are feuding with each other until the time comes. I know some (most) people aren’t fans of that strategy but I like it. I don’t mind two known quantities just battling each other to see who’s better. Technically, that’s what wrestling should be. I’m 50/50 how I think this one plays out. Ultimately, even though Rusev has a tendency to lose these types of matches frequently I think he wins this one. He’s got to move on to a new program after this and some momentum coming out of this feud would help him quite a bit.
Interesting match up here as a loss for either guy would kind of derail their new push each of them are getting a bit, at least you would think. This is Roode’s first PPV match on the main roster after his debut and this is Ziggler’s first bout on TV upon his re-debut. Typically each would get a win here to build some momentum but since they are facing each other I’m not sure that’s possible.
So I think the move here is to have Ziggler win via nefarious means here. If both guys need the win, Wrestling Booking 101 says you give that first matchup to the heel by cheating. So I have Ziggler cheating to win this one and then brag about it for a couple weeks. Then you can run it back again in a couple of weeks and give the follow up match to Roode.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin
On one hand, I can’t see Baron Corbin getting a win over AJ Styles in a wrestling match. On the other hand though, it makes more sense for me to have Baron Corbin as the United States Champion than it does for AJ Styles at this point. Styles as US Champion was a great move while Jinder had his WWE Championship reign. AJ as the US Champion almost served as Champion 1A during that time. I’m going to predict Jinder loses tonight as well so AJ won’t need to fill that role any more. And losing the US Championship will also allow him to compete in that WWE Championship scene.
A championship win for Baron Corbin also gives him some much needed credibility after his failed Money in the Bank experiment and steadies the ship a little bit for Baron. The WWE has something in Corbin, I’m just not sure if they know what yet. Maybe a run with a championship can help them find that. There’s also more potential challengers for the US Championship if Baron is the champ compared to AJ. They seem to be setting up a Tye Dillinger feud for him if he’d win tonight but you could also eventually throw Sami Zayn, Bobby Roode, Mojo Rawley, Chad Gable, or anyone in The New Day at him for a US Title program.
Winner: Baron Corbin
Hell in a Cell
The New Day vs. The Usos
Hell in a Cell seems like a perfect finale for this feud. These two teams have been outstanding with each other for the past 3-4 months. I can’t see how you’d have a Hell in a Cell match and then fight again the next week. So this has to be it. I’d rather see The Usos win here and somehow try to get The New Day to the main event scene as a group; but I’ve been asking for that for almost two years now I think and it never comes to fruition. So while I’d like for them to go that route over the next couple months, I’m not holding my breath. I’m predicting the good guys get the win here to finish the feud. Seems like the most “pro wrestling” move to make. Have the good guys triumph over the bad guys when it’s all said and done.
Winner: The New Day
Natalya vs. Charlotte Flair
Maybe it’s just my imagination or my perception but it seems like WWE has been hesitant to swap titles in recent memory to people in their first attempts. Maybe that’s just my recent memory with Nakamua losing in what seemed like an obvious victory scenario at SummerSlam in his first shot at the WWE Championship but it almost seems to me that WWE has so much TV time to fill that they want to string out those feuds longer so they have something to work with. So they have the champion retain somehow in that first meeting so the challenger can win the championship a month or so later in the next meeting.
That’s about the only case I could make here for Natalya successfully defending her championship tonight. This seems like one Charlotte has to win. Charlotte should be the champion of the women’s division. She’s clearly the star of that division and the division has more substance to it when she’s the champion. She should get the win here, unless WWE decides to drag this out for another month.
Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
I was shocked when Jinder Mahal won at SummerSlam in these two’s first meeting. SummerSlam in Brooklyn seemed like the perfect time and place for the Nakamura coronation. Winning the championship tonight, while it would obviously be important, won’t feel like the “moment” it would have six weeks ago.
But that doesn’t mean they should go a different route. The most prestigious championship in WWE should not be around the waist of someone with Jinder Mahal’s stature for this much of an extended period of time. This run has really helped Jinder’s development and it’s given WWE a new character to run with for the next couple of years or so, but it’s time to make a change. Give Shinsuke the ball and see what he can do with it. I don’t think he’s blown anybody out of the water yet in his debut (that language barrier is a killer at times) but there is undeniably something there with Nakamura.
I’ll say what I said going into SummerSlam. Let Nakamura have the championship and see what’s there. Use this time heading into Survivor Series and the end of the year to test him out. If you like him as the champ, run him into WrestleMania with the championship for a big match. You know WWE would love to have a Japanese champion going into their biggest PPV event of the year for the global impact that could have. If you don’t like him as champion, transition the championship off of him at the Royal Rumble and reset the course there. I just can’t take much more of the Jinder Mahal Era as champion.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens
I tweeted this earlier in the week but they add the “Falls Count Anywhere” stipulation to this match on Tuesday night just so Shane could fall of something crazy again right? He fell off the Cell at Mania two years ago so he can’t do that again, so they added this stipulation to let him fall off something else right? That seems like the only logical explanation I can come up with for why you’d add a “Falls Count Anywhere” stipulation to a match specifically designed to keep wrestlers inside a confined structure and keep everyone else out.
So I’m really excited to see what Shane does here. The new “Falls Count Anywhere” stipulation actually changed my prediction on this match. I had Shane winning before that stipulation was announced. Just thought at some point, Shane has to win a match or two like this to keep his matches meaning something. I thought maybe he could pull out a win somewhere, somehow.
Now I’ve came back to my senses and realized that would have been a terrible idea. This feud is designed to put Kevin Owens on the map. You don’t bring Vince McMahon on television if the story isn’t important. And you definitely don’t have someone lay out Vince McMahon if you aren’t trying to push that guy to the moon. This is the foundation for a huge Kevin Owens run. He has to win here and I’d be shocked if Owens isn’t in a huge WrestleMania match next year.
Winner: Kevin Owens