For the first time, John Cena and Shinsuke Nakamura were in a WWE ring. While it had the feel of a main event for a major pay-per-view, there has now been some rumblings that the WWE may have made the wrong choice.
Forbes recently talked about this match in an article and raised some interesting points. For starters, they feel that the WWE went into this match way too fast. The point that he makes is that they didn’t let this feud get any sort of build. I disagree with them on this because the WWE doesn’t really have enough time. Summerslam is in three weeks and you basically have two weeks to build a feud between Nakamura and Mahal. While I agree that the WWE could have easily waited until one of the bigger pay-per-views to have this match, I understand to an extent why they chose to have it on Smackdown. However, this isn’t the first time.
When you look at 2016 and 2017, “first time” matches have almost become the norm for free television You can look at such matches like Finn Balor/ Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe/Roman Reigns, and AJ Styles/Randy Orton. These are examples of matches that the WWE could have waited until a pay-per-view, but chose to have it on a episode of RAW or Smackdown.
Another theory to why the WWE chose to have this match featured on an episode of Smackdown and not a pay-per view is cause of the ratings. For sometime, the ratings for Smackdown have been in a decline. This episode did a rating of 3.105. In recent time, the only other episode of Smackdown that did close to that was the April 11th one where we saw the conclusion of the Superstar Shake-up. The recent ones have not even come close to a 2.5 rating.
As far as the booking of this match, I don’t have a problem with Shinsuke Nakamura going over John Cena. My only problem is that this isn’t the first time that the WWE pushes someone fast. However, it could also have something to do with the WWE Network not doing so well.
So my assumption would be that they chose to have John Cena put over Nakamura as a way to drive up subscriptions. They might have figured that if John Cena was in another WWE title match, that they couldn’t get subscribers. But people shouldn’t be worried as John Cena is expected to have a match against Baron Corbin at Summerslam.