I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Summerslam is my least favorite of the original “big 4” pay-per-views the WWE puts out. There’s no weird teams like in Survivor Series. The Royal Rumble is my favorite as you’re sure to have around 30 well-known guys come in for the main event. And Wrestlemania is… well, it’s Wrestlemania! Summerslam is just another pay-per-view that just so happens to occur in the summer. Yet, for the past couple of years, I have come out feeling impressed with Summerslam. Will this be the year that disappoints me? Let’s go find out!
Becky Lynch and Natalya for the RAW Women’s Title started out this year’s Summerslam and this was a really good way to start the pay-per-view. I may not really care for Natalya but I do realize she’s a consistent hard worker. And I still like Becky Lynch overall, even though I do believe the WWE is messing up The Man’s character. Adding the “submissions only” stipulation added a different layer, leading to some weird stuff like Natalya locking in the Sharpshooter on Becky Lynch while in the turnbuckles.
I do disagree with the decision having The Man and Nattie lock on the other’s submission hold because that’s just been done to death already. I think they botched the finish as it looked like Lynch was trying to find something under the ring to break the hold but it wasn’t there. This led to Lynch just reversing the Sharpshooter into the Dis-Arm Her for the tapout victory and to retain the RAW Women’s Championship. Good match with a lot of great spots but the finish left something to be desired.
Next was Dolph Ziggler vs. Goldberg. I didn’t have high hopes for this one as I fully expected Goldberg to squash Ziggler but I did enjoy the almost swerve with The Show-Off getting off a couple of superkicks to get a couple of near pinfalls. It was all for naught as Goldberg recovered and made quick work of Ziggler afterwards.
That wasn’t the end of the story though. Dolph incessantly taunted Goldberg, leading to the Hall of Famer to come back and spear Ziggler. Dolph wasn’t satisfied as he continued to poke the bear. Goldberg was happy to oblige with another spear. This was just fun, even though I don’t really see the point of it all.
AJ Styles vs. Ricochet for the United States Championship was up next. I didn’t expect Ricochet to win since him winning would totally undermine the formation of The OC. I was right. But we still got to see an excellent and energetic match. I was impressed with Ricochet’s performance here as he did some really fancy moves, like a single leg springboard splash and him running over both Anderson and Gallows to get to Styles.
The finish was predictable, with the Good Brothers distracting the challenger long enough for The Phenomenal One to recover from Ricochet’s offense. I will give props to that picture perfect finish which had Styles catching Ricochet in mid air during a… 720 frankensteiner? Whatever it was supposed to be, Styles caught Ricochet and drove him into the canvas with a Styles Clash to retain. Really exciting match but I do feel sorry for Ricochet as it seems like the WWE isn’t really using him properly.
We then come to the second female match with Bayley defending the Smackdown Women’s Championship against Ember Moon. This was my pick for the dark horse match. The match that could’ve tore the roof off the place. I was wrong. So, so wrong. By all means, this wasn’t a terrible match but the in-ring storytelling wasn’t that good. The action just felt “spotty” and all over the place. Even the moves that should’ve been awesome, like Ember Moon twisting Bayley into a codebreaker-like maneuver, didn’t look spectacular.
The finish was the same story: might’ve been impressive during conception but lacked impact in reality. Ember Moon set herself up for her Eclipse finisher but Bayley got up, slipped on the second rope and recovered, before delivering a Bayley-to-Belly from the corner. 3 seconds later and Bayley is raising her hand up and retaining her Smackdown Women’s Championship. This was an okay match but my expectations were much higher, considering the caliber of the women in the ring.
We then had Kevin Owens going against Shane McMahon with the stipulation that, if KO loses in any way, he’ll quit the WWE. It’s really odd to see that Kevin Owens is this generation’s “Stone Cold” as he’s going against a McMahon and using a Stunner. I’m still on the fence if I like the idea but, by rating the idea around this match, I guess it works. Shane and Elias tried to get Kevin Owens to get disqualified by distracting him while outside the ring and tempting him to strike Shane O’Mac with a steel chair. This was clever writing, in my opinion.
I do have an issue with how the match ended. Kevin Owens intentionally barreled into Elias, who may be Shane’s lackey but was the official ring enforcer for the match. This should’ve been an immediate disqualification that even Elias could call out as he was a duly appointed ring official, right? But never mind! Let’s poo-poo on the rules when it’s convenient! Anyway, while the referee was knocked out, Owens contemplated hitting Shane with a chair again. The referee recovered and Owens relented. KO handed the in-ring official the chair, distracting him long enough to strike Shane with a low blow. One Stunner later and Kevin Owens in your winner. It was a cute match and some really good in-ring storytelling and selling.
We now get to Charlotte facing off against the Hall of Famer Trish Stratus. I was worried that Trish wasn’t going to be all that good and just have a limited repertoire of her moves from before. That’s partially true as it certainly took her some time to get her groove back. She was taking some rough bumps and doing her old moves after a few minutes. Trish looked phenomenal for the majority of the match but I’m betting that in no small part to Charlotte playing the heel well.
Once again, I have to comment on a WWE Superstar trying her opponent’s finisher. In this case, it was Trish Stratus locking in the Figure Eight on Charlotte. It looked awkward as all hell! I also have another complaint, which is kind of a sickness in the WWE now: Superstars kicking out of finishers. Here, we had Charlotte kick out of Trish’s Stratusfaction springboard bulldog. It happens so often that the practice diminishes the impact of a finisher and that’s a bad thing!
I do like the overall finish. Trish attempted her other finisher, the Chick Kick, but Charlotte went for a big boot. Since Charlotte’s taller and her legs are longer, her boot connected before Trish’s kick could. That’s using your wrestler’s attributes wisely! The Queen locked in the Figure Eight to get the submission victory against Trish Stratus! Not quite the barnburner it could’ve been but a good showing for Trish Stratus and kudos to Charlotte for making her opponent look really good.
We then go to Kofi Kingston defending the WWE Heavyweight Championship against Randy Orton. Let me be frank and say I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from this match. I really like Kofi Kingston and that the WWE gave him the chance to win the biggest prize of Smackdown at Wrestlemania. The thing that dragged the match for me was Randy Orton. Orton just plays it too safe! This makes his matches look safe and unexciting for the most part. Oh, he’ll nail that occasional RKO from out of nowhere. But, overall, he doesn’t do anything that gets my blood pumping.
The finish was also a dud. Orton had control over Kofi but he stopped to taunt Kingston’s family. This led to Kingston wailing on Orton and a double count out. Like most Randy Orton matches, this one felt 5 minutes too long and a lot of the mid-match stuff could’ve been reworked for something more entertaining.
Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt/The Fiend was up next. I was actually more interested with The Fiend’s entrance as they would have to top Bray Wyatt’s original entrance. I did like the overall creepiness of the presentation. They reworked Wyatt’s original theme song into something that does sound a little more unnerving. But the really creepy thing was the Bray Wyatt shaped lantern The Fiend carried into the ring. While creepy, I do question its longevity as it’ll lose it’s impact after a few times.
The match itself was standard fare. The Fiend did a lot of Bray Wyatt’s old moves, including the upside down pose. The only thing he really added was the neck twister you see in movies and the Mandible Claw as his new finisher. I gotta feel sorry for Finn Balor as, well, he deserves better than just be fresh meat for the incoming The Fiend. After the match, The Fiend did some pose before disappearing in the darkness. The fans started to chant “that was awesome” but I have to disagree. It was good but not awesome.
The final match of the night had Brock Lesnar defending the WWE Universal Championship against Seth Rollins. I was not looking forward to this match as I generally dislike both Superstars. The weird thing is that I really liked them a couple of years ago! But Brock Lesnar just does the same things over and over again, which is fine, but can get old, especially if it’s the same thing year after year! Seth Rollins was cool when he was The Architect but as the Beast Slayer? He’s just your generic “tough guy” gunning for the title. No personality and his only motivation is to become the Universe Champion. Boring!
Color me surprised, then, that this was actually a fun match! Excellent storytelling early on with Rollins landing on his feet after a couple of Lesnar suplexes. There were even some cool moments, such as The Beast swinging Rollins around by the rib tape he was wearing. There was very little wasted movement throughout the match.
The finish was, how should I say this? It was “realistic” as Seth Rollins needed to do a whole lot to take out Brock Lesnar. Even after a frog splash through the Spanish Announce Table, a frog splash inside the ring and a curb stomp, Lesnar still kicked out! The Beast Slayer went for another curb stomp but The Beast scooped Rollins up for an F5. Miraculously, Rollins slipped out of the move and connected with a superkick, stunning Lesnar long enough for another curb stomp for the pinfall victory and to become the NEW WWE Universal Champion.
This was almost perfect booking. Rollins managed to win while still making Lesnar look incredibly strong. It also made Seth seem like a legitimate champion as he took out Lesnar, someone who seemed almost unstoppable at times. The action was great back-and-forth but I do kind of want Lesnar to do a little more than German suplexes. I mean, cinch in a Kimura Lock once in a while, you know?
Overall, this was a great Summerslam. None of the matches came off as terrible. Disappointing, maybe, as with the Bayley vs Ember Moon match, but never bad. There was definitely something to be seen in each match and even the ones that I thought would be throwaway matches, like the Dolph Ziggler vs Goldberg one, was worth the time. Good job, WWE!
What did you think of this year’s Summerslam pay-per-view? Let me know in the comments section below!