In one of WWE's biggest dream matches, Shinsuke Nakamura defeated John Cena on Tuesday's episode of SmackDown Live to earn a shot at Jinder Mahal and the WWE Championship at SummerSlam.
WWE provided a look at the finish:
Predictably, Twitter was in shock at the result:
The pin came after Cena landed on his neck after a Nakamura suplex. Bleacher Report's James Moffat noted Nakamura appeared to apologize to Cena for almost causing a serious injury:
After defeating Randy Orton in a Punjabi Prison match at Battleground with help from the Singh Brothers and The Great Khali to retain the WWE Championship, Mahal demanded a new challenger to step forward and face him at the biggest event of the summer.
Fresh off a Flag match victory over Rusev at Battleground, Cena wasted little time making his presence known and proclaimed he would take on the Modern Day Maharaja at SummerSlam.
SmackDown Live general manager Daniel Bryan wanted Cena to earn it, though, and booked him in a No. 1 Contender's match against Nakamura.
The King of Strong Style beat Baron Corbin at Battleground when Mr. Money in the Bank kicked Nakamura below the belt.
A rematch was made for the ensuing episode of SmackDown, and Nakamura won in more decisive fashion by laying out the Lone Wolf with a Kinshasa.
Cena is WWE's biggest Superstar over the past 15 years, while few have captivated an audience so thoroughly in such a short period of time like Nakamura.
He took NXT by storm with his rock-star persona, and while it can be argued that his main roster portrayal has left something to be desired, he entered Tuesday's match with an undefeated record and possesses an aura that is difficult to quantify.
The excitement for Cena vs. Nakamura was palpable, but it didn't come without controversy since it was a bout that had all the makings of a pay-per-view main event.
Announcing the match undoubtedly generated added interest in SmackDown and may have provided a ratings boost as well, but it flew in the face of the theory that you save the biggest matches for the biggest shows.
A showdown between Cena and Nakamura is something few fans thought they would ever see before Nakamura signed with WWE, and it is the type of match capable of helping sell out an arena for SummerSlam, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble or even WrestleMania.
Despite that, WWE made the decision to go to the first-time-ever match with only a week of build and no interactions between the two Superstars.
Potential missteps aside, Cena and Nakamura made Tuesday's episode of SmackDown a must-watch event.
Nakamura's victory came as something of a shock since all signs seemed to be pointing toward Cena defending his country against the anti-American Mahal.
Perhaps even more intriguing than that, though, is Nakamura getting his first WWE Championship on the main roster and getting it at one of WWE's most prominent events in the form of SummerSlam.
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