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On Smackdown this week, the stage was officially set for two of the biggest matches at Summerslam this Sunday: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jeff Hardy for the United States Championship, and AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe for the WWE Championship.
Hardy has a score to settle with United States champion Nakamura, who won the belt at Extreme Rules in six seconds after hitting Hardy with a low blow prior to the match. But this week, he was set to face the technically skilled Shelton Benjamin.
While Benjamin put up a fight, Hardy was able to land his trademark Twist of Fate for the pin. But before he could celebrate, Nakamura ran into the ring.
Nakamura’s lowbrow tricks didn’t work this time. Hardy was able to counter the assault with another Twist of Fate and a Swanton Bomb, showing that he still has his eyes on the belt. Of course, Randy Orton, who previously tortured Hardy after being fed up with the superstar’s popularity, was a spectator to the entire event. Who knows if Orton has any tricks in store at Summerslam.
Meanwhile, Samoa Joe—who is no stranger to using dirty tactics to manipulate his opponents—has constantly questioned AJ Styles‘ reputation as a “family man.” He even claimed that Styles’ drive to be the champ has left him as a “failure as a father.”
This week on Smackdown, Styles came into the ring to address Joe. He made it clear that while Joe’s comments definitely struck a nerve with him, he wasn’t going to lose his temper again.
Of course, Joe quickly took the stage to test that theory. Donning a suit, “The Destroyer” surprisingly didn’t rush into the ring and attempt a “Coquina Clutch.” Instead, he read a note from a concerned former fan who claimed Joe’s comments of Styles failing his family were true. That fan, according to Joe, was Styles’ wife.
Styles maintained his composure in the ring, but an online exclusive video revealed that Styles had to be restrained by security backstage.
There’s no denying that Samoa Joe is an expert at psychological manipulation, but time will tell if it’s enough for him to win at Summerslam.
Summerslam will air live from the Barclays Center on August 19, exclusively on the WWE Network.