I really put my foot in my mouth this time. A month ago, I told my friends that I was going to review Summerslam and, since it’s one of the main WWE pay-per-view events, I promised that I would not only review the actual Biggest Party of the Summer, but the Kickoff show as well. I didn’t know that this would entail me watching 6 hours of wrestling in one sitting! Well, I got a lot of stuff to cover, so let’s start as soon as possible!
Kickoff Match #1: The Hardys and Jason Jordan vs The Miz (with Maryse) and the Miztourage
So The Hardys and the Miz have been regulated to the Kickoff show? My, how the mighty have fallen! Actually, now that I saw the match, I can see why this was not on the main card.
Usually, you can rely on the Hardys to energize the match and the crowd. Too bad the arena wasn’t filled up yet as people were still queuing up to get in! I would like to blame my lackluster opinion on this match because of this but there just wasn’t all that much to it. Adding Jason Jordan in the mix, who is actually a really good in-ring performer, didn’t do all that much to enhance the match as well. It was fine but just lacked the spark to get me fired up.
The finish came when things got crazy and everyone came in the ring. In the ensuing carnage, Jason Jordan speared Curtis Axel into the corner, allowing The Miz to get the blind tag in. Jordan attempted a back suplex on Axel but Miz came from behind and nailed Kurt Angle’s son with a Skull Crushing Finale for the pinfall victory.
Generally, this was just an okay match that was more suitable for RAW… which is probably why it was on the Kickoff show.
Rating: 6.0 of 10.0 empty seats in the audience
Kickoff Match #2: Akira Tozawa (with Titus O’Neil) vs Neville for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
So, the Cruiserweight match is in the Kickoff show again? I really don’t see how the WWE can say they value the division if they keep on putting their matches in the Kickoff show!
Anyway, both Neville and Tozawa pulled off a rather exciting match, despite not being on the main card. The action was fast paced in general and much more hard hitting than I expected. There were some really good spots from the opening bell to the final bell. There were a few moments when Neville slowed things down when he taunted the crowd and hooked in a few headlocks. Those moments didn’t hamper the flow of the match too much, though.
The finish was really brilliant with Tozawa setting Neville up for the Senton Splash from the top turnbuckle but the self proclaimed King of the Cruiserweights blocked the move by getting his knees up in time. This allowed Neville enough time to connect with his (really awesome looking) Red Arrow corkscrew shooting star press for the pinfall victory and to regain his WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
Like I said, this was a really good match. The rest holds didn’t really hurt the match all that much but some of them went on a smidge too long. Also, what the heck is Titus O’Neil’s role here? If he’s not going to do anything, why even bring him to manage Tozawa?
Rating: 7.5 of 10.0 Titus O’Neil cameos
Kickoff Match #3: The New Day vs. The Usos for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship
First, the Hardys and the Miz. Now The New Day and The Usos are in the Kickoff show? I would’ve understood if they weren’t going to do anything special for the match but, based on how good the match actually was, I wonder what the WWE was smoking to think this deserved to be booted off the main card.
The match did start out rather slow with The New Day getting the upper hand before the Usos started dominating on Xavier Woods. This beatdown on Woods happened for quite a while until the hot tag to Big E. And this is when things got really exciting! The action went all the way to fifth gear with The New Day combo of Woods and Big E pulling off a few new unique double team maneuvers but the Usos still managed to keep up with their pure intensity.
The finish came after a rather obvious botched attempt by one of the Usos tossing Woods to the outside and onto his brother. It looked like a missed Samoan Drop attempt but I can’t be sure. Anyway, Kofi tries to check on Woods but gets thrown into the steel steps. Big E then spears an Uso through the ropes. The largest member of The New Day then attempts his Big Ending finisher but the other Uso tags in. This little distraction allows The Usos to rain superkicks onto Big E and, just to add the exclamation point, perform a double splash from the top ropes to become the NEW Smackdown Tag Team Champions.
There isn’t all that much to complain about this match. Maybe it was slow at the start but that’s forgivable because it helped build up the tension for the hot tag. The botched Samoan Drop looked really bad, though. Still, this was a really good match… and it wasn’t on the main Summerslam card?
Rating: 8.5 of 10.0 Kickoff matches that deserve to be on the main card
Summerslam Match #1: John Cena vs Baron Corbin
It seems strange in retrospect because I was really looking forward to this match because of all the potential it had to push Corbin. Since he failed to cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase last week thanks to Cena’s interference, I was expecting the Lone Wolf to show off a meaner and more dangerous performance. Nope! Leave it to John Cena to spoil what was going to happen in the match by taking the match lightly, even putting JBL’s cowboy hat on for laughs.
To be fair, Corbin did get the upper hand for a while but there was no change in his wrestling style. He wasn’t more vicious or did he try to main and brutalize Cena for ruining his almost sure fire chance to become the WWE Heavyweight Champion. He was just the same old Baron Corbin. The finish came when The Lone Wolf went to the well too many times and he tried for a third… wrap around the ring post lariat? I have no idea what’s it called. Anyway, Cena countered it with a clothesline of his own and then nails the Attitude Adjustment for the pinfall victory.
This was a very standard match, devoid of any drama. It didn’t do any favors for John Cena as he underestimated Corbin at the start of the match and he got whupped for the majority of the bout. Worst of all, it made Corbin look very weak as he didn’t really do anything to John Cena to make people fear him.
Rating: 5.0 of 10.0 Baron Corbins in the doghouse
Summerslam Match #2: Natalya vs Naomi for the Smackdown Women’s Championship
I don’t get Naomi’s popularity. At least why she’s so popular now. Before, I could get it because of her excellent ringwork. But when she’s mostly remembered by her rave inspired ring entrance instead of her actual wrestling, there’s something wrong.
Even though she became a hit because of her current ring entrance, he actual ability to wrestle hasn’t diminished and it did show in this match. She and Natalya did pull off some nifty moves and both performers definitely looked like they worked hard to entertain the crowd, especially during the closing minutes of the match. I do wish there was a little more “fire” to start out proceedings. I just didn’t feel all that animosity, which did hurt my investment in the overall match.
The finish was pretty good. Natalya managed to lock the Sharpshooter on Naomi but the Naomi managed to reverse the move, sending The Queen of Harts into the bottom turnbuckle. Naomi then tried to do a split legged moonsault but Natalya got her knees up to protect herself. This gave Nattie enough time to recover and lock in another Sharpshooter for the submission victory and to become the NEW Smackdown Women’s Champion.
I did like the match overall but I still wasn’t all that invested in this feud. Because of this, I actually didn’t care all that much with who came out as champion. I’m glad Natalya has another run with a Women’s championship but… meh.
Rating: 6.0 of 10.0 Natalyas as your new… does anyone really care?
Summerslam Match #3: Big Show vs Big Cass with Enzo Amore suspended in a shark cage over the ring
I really think it was a huge mistake breaking up the team of Enzo Amore and Big Cass… and this match did nothing to convince me otherwise. This was another match that actually had potential because they could’ve done something that justified getting Enzo into that shark cage dangling above the ring and, to the WWE’s credit, they did try but it fell flat on its face.
The match was very generic fare with Big Show dominating early but Big Cass eventually getting the upper hand by attacking on the previously damaged right hand of Big Show. Now, I was hoping for some kind of payoff, especially since they had Enzo suspended above the ring but, no. They made The Certified G and Bonified Stud strip to his undies, lube himself up and squeeze through the bars. I actually thought there was going to be some payoff! However, Big Cass laid out his former best friend with a big boot and that was that. Big Cass then gave a big boot to Big Show and finished him off with an Empire Elbow for the pinfall victory.
I really wonder what Enzo Amore did in the locker room to deserve such poor treatment to his character? And how long will he be punished for what he did? I mean, they just make him look like a helpless dolt and this match only cemented that image as a helpless dolt! If that was what the WWE was going for, mission accomplished.
Rating: 3.0 of 10.0 oily Enzo Amores
Summerslam Match #4: Randy Orton vs Rusev
Speaking of wrestlers who’s characters are being mistreated… Oh Hai Rusev! Look, I won’t even bother trying to break down this “match” because there wasn’t one. Rusev blindsides Orton while the latter was making his ring entrance…
…then the bell rings and The Viper strike back with an RKO for the pinfall victory. Rusev loses again and Randy Orton stands tall because he’s Randy Orton. Yay.
This match left a really bad taste in my mouth because I actually like Rusev and to see what the WWE is doing to a really good wrestler is terrible. Like Enzo, I have no idea what Rusev did to deserve all this mistreatment but it has to stop and the WWE just needs to focus on promoting newer guys like Rusev and not their aging Superstars like Orton. Sure, Orton is an established name with many more years of action left in him but so does Rusev! Give the Bulgarian Brute a chance! And bring back Lana to his side while you’re at it!
Rating: 1.5 of 10.0 #GiveRusevAChance
Summerslam Match #5: Sasha Banks vs Alexa Bliss for the RAW Women’s Championship
Ooh, I’m so torn over who to cheer for here. I guess I will have to side with Little Miss Bliss because I think she’s done wonders with the RAW Women’s Championship and, besides, The Boss already had her run. However, I would still be okay with whoever comes out on top.
This match was surprisingly top notch. My biggest problem with Alexa Bliss matches is that her opponent usually has to make up for her lack of in-ring ability. Alexa Bliss more than makes up for that with her general in-ring personality and ability to convey emotions while in the match but, let’s face it, she still needs to learn a lot more about the art of wrestling. Thankfully, she was paired with Sasha Banks and her rather average mediocre repertoire of ring moves didn’t show all that much.
The finish came after The Boss kicked out of the Twisted Bliss spinning splash. Bliss throws a tantrum which lasted long enough for Banks to lock in the Bank Statement. Bliss managed to worm out of the move and go for a pinfall but Banks rolls over into another Bank Statement for a submission victory so that The Boss becomes a four time and NEW RAW Women’s Champion.
I really liked this match. Although I’ve seen better matches coming from Sasha Banks, it was composed to make Alexa Bliss look competent in the ring and they definitely succeeded. However, I didn’t like the finish as it was kind of lame to just have The Boss lock in the Bank Statement immediately after Bliss broke free from it.
Rating: 7.5 of 10.0 Limited Wrestling ability of Alexa Bliss
Summerslam Match #6: “The Demon King” Finn Balor vs Bray Wyatt
I like Finn Balor. I also like Bray Wyatt. However, I don’t like this feud. The problem with the feud between Balor and Wyatt is because of the latter and the way he always instigates them. It’s always the same as he just targets a Superstar on the roster because he’s popular. That’s it. It’s the same schtick over and over again and it’s so uncreative.
Despite the feud itself being a dud, the match was actually pretty good. Balor’s offense was a little over the top but, hey! That’s his style. The Eater of Worlds also wrestled using his signature style of smashing his opponent as hard as he can. However, I didn’t like the overall flow of the match as they kept on making it seem like Bray Wyatt, the supposed New Face of Fear in the WWE, scared of “The Demon King” persona of Finn Balor. Sure his entrance is cool and his facepaint looks kinda freaky and all. But, c’mon! Wyatt’s supposed to be a megalomaniac sociopath and he’s supposed to be frightened by a guy in facepaint?
I also didn’t like that the ending of the match played to this fact. Bray Wyatt attempted to intimidate a downed Balor with his spider crawl but Balor didn’t care for it. This shocked The Eater of Worlds which allowed The Demon King to blast through his foe with a flurry of attacks and finally getting the pinfall after a Coup-De-Grace double foot stomp.
Overall, this was an okay match. It was exciting and all but I didn’t like the psychology of it all. Wyatt being afraid because of Balor’s mind games didn’t make sense. If it was a more grounded affair, with Balor overcoming the Wyatt’s fear tactics, it would’ve been better.
Rating: 5.5 of 10.0 scared Bray Wyatts
Summerslam Match #7: Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins vs Cesaro and Sheamus for the RAW Tag Team Championship
With special appearance by a beach ball!
Okay, I had high hopes for this match because you have four really good guys in the ring… well, maybe three and a half; Sheamus does kinda suck depending who’s he fighting. But still, I expected this to be a grueling and fun match. The team up of Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose worked really well and Cesaro and Sheamus already proved that they work. But adding both of them in the same match was a brilliant stroke of genius and, boy, they didn’t disappoint!
However, despite all of the really great wrestling, I will be remiss if I didn’t talk about the spot that really got the crowd into the match. That would be Cesaro charging into the crowd and destroying a beach ball. Now, I don’t know if Cesaro was honestly upset that the fans were disrespecting him and his fellow wrestlers while they were doing their best to entertain them or if he did it because he instinctively knew that wrecking the beach ball would get a huge crowd reaction.
Whatever the case, this was a fantastic moment and that little interaction made everyone watching, including me, get my attention. Kudos to Cesaro for having the balls (pun intended) to go after that beach ball and rip it apart.
The finish was pretty exciting as well. Cesaro and Sheamus set up Ambrose for something like a spike White Noise but Rollins came out of nowhere and did a hurracarana on Cesaro that launched the Swiss Cyborg into his own partner. Rollins followed it up with a couple of superkicks, knocking Cesaro out of the ring and stunning Sheamus. Rollins then connected with a high knee on Sheamus and Ambrose followed that up with his Dirty Deeds DDT to get the pinfall and become NEW RAW Tag Team Champions.
I really, really liked this match. There was an epic feel from start to finish and all of the participants pulled their own weight to make sure that this was indeed an epic match. Good match.
Rating: 8.5 of 10.0 RIP beach balls
Match #8: AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens for the United States Championship with Shame McMahon as the special guest referee
The point of making Shame McMachon the special guest referee was so that there wouldn’t be any doubt who would come out the winner of the match. So, why did the WWE get Shane McMahon involved in all of the times when someone was supposed to win the match but didn’t because the referee was knocked out?
I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I? Anyway, even though this was something like, what? The 57th time AJ Styles and Kevin Owens clashed for a Championship, the matches have still been fresh and exciting.This was no different. There were a ton of brilliant action sequences between the two with both wrestlers getting their best moves in and doing some fantastic chain wrestling throughout.
However, the problem is Shane McMahon as he kept on getting in the way. There were just too many times when he got hit and was taken out of commission, which led to the predictable moments where either Styles or Owen should have won the match but didn’t because there was no ref to make the call.
Even the end of the match had some Shane McMahon tomfoolery. Styles went for the Phenomenal Forearm but Owens ducked underneath it. Styles charged in but Owens turned it into a pop-up powerbomb and went for the pinfall. Shane counted the 1-2-3 but realized that Styles had his foot on the bottom rope so he reversed his decision. Owens argued with Shane and Styles capitalized on this by trying a rollup. When that didn’t work, The Phenomenal One struck The Face of America with a Pele Kick. Styles then connected with the Phenomenal Forearm and followed it up with a Styles Clash for the pinfall victory to retain his United States Championship.
There were too many ref bumps shenanigans and that really brought down the match. Shame, really, as Styles and Owens delivered in the ring.
Rating: 7.0 of 10.0 referee bumps
Summerslam Match #9: Shinusuke Nakamura vs Jinder Mahal
Props to violin guy for making Shinusuke Nakamura’s intro extra awesome for Summerslam. Too bad this was probably the highlight of the match!
Look, WWE. If you really want Jinder Mahal to be a proper WWE Heavyweight Champion, you gotta make him actually win some matches on his own! I understand that having guys like the Singh Brothers at ringside interfering in his matches is the standard bad guy way in wrestling since time immemorial, but it just loses it’s effect if they have to factor into the match each and every time! Even The Miz wins matches on his own once in a while! Just once, WWE, have the Singh Brothers banned from ringside and have Jinder Mahal win all by his lonesome and you may see some people think that Mahal is a legit WWE Heavyweight Champion deserving of the belt.
Then again, maybe not, because Mahal’s wrestling style just feels so generic and sterile. This may be a symptom of the over-reliance on outside interference. Even Shinusuke’s wacky antics, as entertaining as they were, couldn’t save this match. It eventually devolved to the Singh Brothers distracting Nakamura, allowing Mahal to take the advantage and grind his opponent with rest holds, slowing the match to a crawl. Nakamura then comes back.
The finish had, what else? The Singh Brothers interfering in the match, of course!
After this, Mahal recovered enough to lock in the Khallas for the pinfall victory to retain his WWE Heavyweight Championship. Boo! Not because Mahal is a bad guy, but because this was a boring match. When you can make a Shinusuke Nakamura match look boring, you know there’s something wrong.
Rating: 3.5 of 10.0 Singh Brothers run ins
Summerslam Match #10: Roman Reigns vs Braun Strowman vs Samoa Joe vs Brock Lesnar in a Fatal Four-Way match for the WWE Universal Championship
If there was a match that deserves a “This is awesome” chant, this was it.
There was certainly a main event feel to the entire thing and all four Superstars delivered on that promise of a slobberknocker of a match. It would be difficult to convey the carnage and destruction this match wrought to give it justice. All four competitors basically tried to destroy each other the instant the bell rang and it was beautiful. Yes, I know I sound like a bloodthirsy zealot but that was the point, wasn’t it?
Everyone did their thing to perfection. Lesnar sent people packing to Suplex City. Samoa Joe performed some hard hitting moves to everyone that stood in his path. Roman Reigns superman punched and speared the competitors, even through barricades. However, I was most impressed with Braun Strowman’s performance. The WWE have been trying to promote the Monster Among Men as the next unstoppable force and they pretty much made sure he was during this Fatal Four Way match. Yes, everyone brought their A-game for this one! I loved it! Oh, and kudos to Brock Lesnar for putting over Strowman as a dominating force that can actually take him out.
The spectacle of the carnage outside the ring was fantastic and definitely fun to watch. However, I did notice that it did boil down to a lot of one-on-one spots by the closing moments of the match. It’s a standard practice for any match that has more than two competitors but it just felt a little more obvious because the other guy would just roll out of the ring without much effort. However, it didn’t distract from how great the action was.
The finish came just after Reigns broke up a pinning attempt by Lesnar on Joe after an F5. The Big Dog connected with a trio of superman punches and he signaled for a spear. Lesnar saw this coming however, and reversed the move into an F5 for the pinfall victory and to retain his WWE Universal Championship.
This match had everything! Lots of devastatingly brutal spots. Great action both in and outside the ring. A dramatic return from someone who was taken out. My only issue, which is an incredibly minor one, would be that I wanted a little more interaction between all four competitors at the same time or, at the very least, a rapid fire exchange between all of them. There wasn’t really one. Very minor issue but a truly memorable match.
Rating: 9.0 of 10.0 rampaging Braun Strowmans
Overall rating for Summerslam (including the Kickoff show):
Mathematically, if you average out all my ratings for the matches reviewed here, Summerslam would be around a 6 or a 7. However, I feel that would be doing a disservice to the really stellar matches the card had. Both tag team matches were phenomenal and the Fatal Four Way was just an adrenaline rush. Sure, there were more than a couple of duds like the WWE Heavyweight Championship bout and the Orton vs Rusev match, but I mostly forgot about them once we got to the good ones.
This goes to show you that how you schedule the matches can also be as important as the matches themselves. Because of this, Summerslam felt more than the sum of its parts. The bad matches still exist but they didn’t leave a bad enough after taste in my mouth that I will remember them nor do I felt as if they totally destroyed the card itself. This year’s Summerslam was good.
Now, if you excuse me, I have to rest my eyes and ears. Six hours of wrestling is enough for a week… wait. There’s still RAW and Smackdown later in the week, huh?
Rating: 8.0 of 10.0 more than the sum of its parts
What did you think of this year’s Summerslam? Let me know in the comments section below!