SummerSlam week has finally arrived, with the WWE set to take over Brooklyn's Barclays Center for four days of festivities.
The supershow card, featuring stars from both Raw and SmackDown, features the culmination of several key rivalries and, in all likelihood, will plant the seeds for several storylines that won't play out entirely until next year's WrestleMania.
With that in mind, we're breaking down every match on the SummerSlam card, with a particular focus on the two major titles on each show -- the Universal championship, Raw women's championship, WWE championship and SmackDown women's championship.
The scope and possibilities for Sunday's WWE championship changed dramatically on Tuesday night's edition of SmackDown, so let's dig in and examine the possibilities for Jinder Mahal versus Shinsuke Nakamura.
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You could be forgiven for overlooking this match in the grand picture of what has shaped up to be a strong SummerSlam card. Mahal versus Nakamura materialized only two weeks ago, when the Japanese star took out John Cena in a hugely anticipated No. 1 contender's match.
Yes, it's safe to say the Nakamura-Mahal battle for the WWE championship seems like a step down in terms of overall appeal when compared the Cena-Nakamura match. And yes, the build for the upcoming battle comes without a significant backstory, but despite all that, this dynamic between Mahal and Nakamura has the potential to exceed expectations.
Mahal is a brawler whose verbal intimidation and shredded physique compensate for his somewhat limited cache of in-ring maneuvers. And we don't necessarily mean this in a negative way; Mahal has worked indefatigably in his path from being an afterthought performer to claiming the most vaunted prize in this business. His recent feud with Randy Orton showcased not only Mahal's raw strength, but highlighted his nefarious side with the likes of the Singh brothers and The Great Khali coming to the champ's aid. Mahal has leveraged his status as a bad guy as well as anyone in the WWE over the past few months.
Then there's Nakamura, whose showmanship and energy need little explanation. When his music hits, we pay attention. On Sunday, the spotlight will be on him in a way it hasn't since he was called up to the main roster right after WrestleMania. Being an NXT star is one thing, but holding one of the highest honors in the big leagues is an entirely different story.
Whatever happens Sunday at SummerSlam feels like it could be just the beginning of a longstanding feud between these two international stars.
Triple H's thoughts
"This is going to be an interesting one. Jinder is just coming into his own. It's funny that people can say that all of a sudden Jinder is what he is. I'm the guy that is in the trenches when it comes to what the future is going to be. Go back and look at the first-ever NXT championship match, and it was Seth Rollins vs. Jinder Mahal. Then, it was 'this guy's got it and this guy's got a bright future.'
"He came up to the main roster, and much like many guys, it was too much, too fast, too soon, and they fall apart. Things go badly, and you start doing things that you think you're supposed to do and it just doesn't pan out. It's just like any other sport. This guy wins the Heisman and then they tank. And the guy that's picked 32nd becomes the big star and the franchise player. It's kinda the same thing with Jinder. He had his first run where it didn't work out, but now he's coming into his own.
"Shinsuke brings something to the table that few guys can bring. He brings this crazy, unique character that I don't think there's been anything like him, but then he just kicks the crap out of you. It's just his style."
What's the best-case scenario for Mahal?
Mahal has worked hard to get to this point, and it would be a shame to see him drop the title in his first "major" pay-per-view after taking care of Orton in three straight matches. Mahal is finally building up some momentum as SmackDown's big villain, and you can hear that in the chorus of jeers that ring out every time he enters an arena.
If the plan is to make him a long-term major presence on SmackDown, he could certainly use more than a single feud with Orton to truly solidify his status. Outside of Kevin Owens and Baron Corbin, SmackDown doesn't have a strong pool of heels to work with, so Mahal needs to remain in that mix, for now anyway.
What's the best-case scenario for Nakamura?
Nakamura doesn't need a win here to maintain his status as an elite performer in the WWE. He was well-established before he reached the WWE, and during his lengthy stretch in NXT, fans slowly got to know him and understand his allure. Sure, he could do great things as champion, and run through a series of compelling opponents like Owens, AJ Styles and Sami Zayn, to name a few, but that seems more likely to be a little ways off.
What Nakamura does need to pull off on Sunday is a fantastic performance with all eyes on him. This match seems likely to devolve into underhanded tactics from Mahal and the Singh brothers, but before things get too gimmicky, both guys have a chance to really dig in and show what they can do in the spotlight.
In the long term, it's likely better for the WWE to wait on Nakamura, with a fear of Nakamura rising to the top too quickly on the main roster, a la Bayley or Finn Balor, a real possibility. Nakamura will have plenty of opportunities in the next year or two to return to the main event, and the closer he gets in narrow defeats, the more impact his ultimate celebration will be when he finally wins the title.
Shinsuke Nakamura has not lost a televised one-on-one match since joining the SmackDown roster in April. He owns wins over Cena, Corbin (twice), Owens and Dolph Ziggler (twice). (Joey Koontz, ESPN Stats & Info)