Jinder Mahal handed Shinsuke Nakamura his first singles loss on the main roster Sunday night at SummerSlam, and he retained the WWE Championship in the process.
Once again it was The Singh brothers who helped Mahal by distracting Nakamura just long enough for Mahal to gain the upper hand. It was a lackluster finish in a match that did have some strong intensity overall, and the reaction to the result was mixed:
After Mahal defeated Randy Orton at Battleground in a Punjabi Prison match, he was on the hunt for a new challenger, and SmackDown Live general manager Daniel Bryan set the stage to determine one.
While John Cena stepped up and declared himself the No. 1 contender, Bryan pumped the breaks by forcing him to face Nakamura in a match for the right to take on The Modern Day Maharaja at SummerSlam.
Nakamura and Cena locked horns for the first time ever in the main event of SmackDown a few weeks ago, and they pushed each other to the limit in one of the blue brand's most highly anticipated and important matches in recent memory.
Although Cena seemed destined to win when hoisting Nakamura on his shoulders for a second Attitude Adjustment in succession, The King of Strong Style squirmed out and completely reversed the momentum in his favor.
Nakamura hit Cena with a nasty-looking suplex that resulted in the leader of the Cenation landing firmly on his neck. He managed to get to his feet, though, and Nakamura finished him off with a Kinshasa.
On the heels of his biggest WWE victory and arguably the biggest win of his entire pro wrestling career, Nakamura could seemingly hardly fathom what he accomplished:
With the No. 1 contendership in his possession, Nakamura's focus shifted from Cena to Mahal and the biggest prize in sports entertainment.
Nakamura has enjoyed big-time success everywhere he has been, including NXT where he was a two-time NXT champion.
SummerSlam represented his first true foray into the main event scene on the main roster, however, and it gave him an opportunity to prove that he deserves to stay there moving forward.
As was the case with Orton, Nakamura was put in a somewhat challenging position. Mahal is still inexperienced when it comes to being a featured player, and he is the type of Superstar who needs to work with top-level guys in order to put on strong matches.
Mahal's three pay-per-view matches against Orton did little to move the needle, but the excitement surrounding his bout with Nakamura was more apparent due to the fact that it felt fresh and new.
Nakamura entered SummerSlam with a ton of confidence after beating Cena, but he was at a disadvantage due largely to Mahal's penchant for stacking the deck in his favor with the presence of The Singh Brothers.
The numbers game worked in Mahal's favor once again at SummerSlam and helped secure him a victory, but Nakamura put on a strong performance and made a case to remain in the title scene for the foreseeable future.
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