It’s the biggest party of the summer! Will the Big Dog finally defeat the Beast and be crowned Universal Champion? It’s another Roman Reigns showcase at the SUMMER SLAM!
I am a 20-minute subway ride away from the WWE’s second-biggest event of the year – live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn – but, once again, I’m not going to the show because I had to work. So instead, I’m following along on the WWE NETWORK and putting together our monthly WWE following for the Geekery.
It’s gonna be a long one tonight, with the pre-show starting at 5. Who knows when I’ll be able to finish all of this stuff.
Mixed Tag Team Match: Rusev and Lana vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega – Our opening contest tonight is a mixed tag team match. Just last month at EXTREME RULES, Rusev was fighting AJ Styles for the WWE Title. And now… well… back to being wasted. He’s at least used to this role, I guess. Lana and Vega had the focus to finish the match, with Vega getting the terrible distraction roll-up, with a side of feet on the ropes for leverage, to get the win. Completely middling match.
The pre-show panel is promoting this as the first show that you can watch through virtual reality, and I feel old with all this ridiculous technology. It’s insane.
WWE Cruiserweight Title Match: Cedric Alexander (c) vs. Drew Gulak – The first of nine championship matches this evening. I’m a big fan of both of these guys. Alexander really impressed me when I saw him take on Bobby Roode at the Theater at MSG a couple of years ago, and Gulak is always solid. Great back-and-forth leading to Alexander coming out on top of a series of near-falls to get the win. For a pre-show match, this was pretty fun.
WWE Raw Tag Team Title Match – The B Team (c) vs. The Revival – Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder are probably my favorite current tag team, throwbacks to an era that made tag team wrestling my favorite division. But the B Team – Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas – have a great gimmick going. The tag champs are lucking into their wins and getting them by the skin of their teeth. The champs retain on a fluky trip over a small package, reversing the pin into their favor. Those roll-ups are deadly on the pre-show. I wouldn’t have minded seeing a longer match here, but the main show hasn’t hit, so I get it.
WWE Intercontinental Title Match: Dolph ZIggler (c) vs. Seth Rollins – Ziggler has his bodyguard, Drew McIntyre, with him and Rollins has brought his former Shield-mate Dean Ambrose with him. The story of every match Ziggler and Rollins are in is “are they going to do something to injure themselves and force them to retire?” That was no different tonight. Rollins selectively sold his knee, Ziggler oversold everything and an inverted superplex into a Falcon Arrow slam only got 2. Things were breaking loose in Brooklyn when Ambrose and McIntyre started fighting, which led to the finish of Rollins hitting a superkick and then a stomp to win his second Intercontinental Title. Not bad at all. The action didn’t let up, but it’s nothing above or below what we would usually expect from these guys. Perfectly acceptable wrestling.
SmackDown! Live Tag Team Title Match: Harper and Rowan (c) vs. The New Day – Xavier Woods and Big E. represent New Day tonight. The Bludgeon Brothers have been destroying everyone on the SmackDown! Live roster during their reign of terror. The New Day, though, are the super team on the roster, and they brought the fight to the monsters and even made them look vulnerable for a while, before Rowan got the team disqualified by using a sledgehammer. The New Day gets left laying, despite winning the match, but Harper and Rowan retain. Went way too long for that ending.
Money in the Bank Contract Match: Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens – Strowman beating the crap out of people is the most enjoyable thing about WWE lately. And he makes quick work of Owens here to defend his contract. Color commentator Corey Graves calls it the most one-sided contest in SummerSlam history, but Owens got a superkick in – even if it did nothing. Honky Tonk Man didn’t even get that much against Ultimate Warrior in 1988. Forget Lesnar or Reigns. Have this guy cash in tonight and take the Universal Title. He deserves it.
SmackDown! Live Women’s Title Triple Threat Match: Carmella (c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair – I absolutely love the recap videos WWE produces, because I don’t watch week-to-week and the videos do a great job of catching me up. I’ve loved Carmella’s title run so far (at least er matches on WWE Network specials) because she’s been a perfect chicken-shit heel. But the real focus here seems to be on Flair and Lynch and whether their friendship can withstand their desire to win the title. Flair feels like she’s on another level than all the other women, even though Lynch can hold her own in the ring. Great job by everyone in the match – including the commentary team of Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton and Corey Graves – to tell a cohesive story throughout the match, though I’m not too pleased with the outcome. Carmella could have easily gotten another cheap win to extend her title. Instead, Flair hits her finisher on Lynch while Lynch was trying to get a submission out of Carmella. And Flair wins ANOTHER women’s championship. She’s got to be pretty close to her dad’s record at this point. As Flair and Lynch hug after the match, the fans boo, until Lynch loses it and beats on Flair. The Brooklyn crowd loved that. If only she yelled “YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE MY FRIEND” as she destroyed Flair. I’m looking forward to heel Becky.
WWE Title Match: AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe – Is this WWE SummerSlam or TNA Bound For Glory? Doesn’t matter, outside of my wish that both of these guys had come in to WWE a long time before they did. With Joe attacking AJ for his failure to be a good family man, can a Claire Lynch appearance be far behind? And is she related to Becky in any way? All joking aside, in a world where WWE realized no one actually cared about the Reigns-Lesnar saga, this should be the main event. Alas, we are in the DARKEST TIMELINE, so it goes fifth. It probably has something to do with the match ending, though, which is more angle than anything else. Joe taunts AJ’s wife and family and the champ loses it, getting himself disqualified after nailing Joe with a chair. Best match of the card so far, and I didn’t even mind the ending, as long as it means we get more Styles-Joe.
The Miz vs. Daniel Bryan – Our third SmackDown! Live match in a row. The break from Cole has been nice. Eight years ago, when Bryan debuted as Miz’s rookie on NXT, this would have been a laughable mismatch. Bryan was already established as one of the best wrestlers in the world outside of WWE and Miz was, well, the Miz. But now, Miz is one of the best heels in the business and Bryan is just a few months into his return from a few years off from injury. Miz should probably watch out, though, since the last guy Bryan faced on a Network special was fired later that same week. Unlike Big Cass at MONEY IN THE BANK, though, Miz manages to pull out a win after his wife, Maryse, handed him an object at ringside that allowed Miz to knock Bryan out. This feud has been going on for 8 years, I imagine that it’ll continue for as long as both guys are in WWE.
How many matches are even on this card? I’m now watching on Monday morning and don’t want to look online because I don’t want to be spoiled. Yes, I’ve managed to avoid spoilers. It’s not that hard. With a run time of, like, 10-12 hours, all of these commercials for upcoming WWE Network specials are killing me.
“The Constable” Baron Corbin vs. Finn Bálor – My friend Alberto likes to tell a story from when we were kids. He called my house looking for me, and I guess he was watching some Western on TV. When my grandfather answered, Alberto said, “Hi, can I speak to Constable, please?” And my grandfather just handed me the phone. That his new gimmick reminds me of that is the most interesting thing about Baron Corbin. Bálor is decked out in his Demon gear, which is only slightly less ridiculous than his happy-go-lucky usual persona lately. The Demon destroys the Constable in our second squash match of the main show as Jonathan Coachman asks the question everyone should ask about the Demon gimmick: If he’s so much better as the Demon, why doesn’t he use it more often? Shoot comments that aren’t supposed to… oh wait, that’s the other guy’s line. Never mind.
United States Title Match: Shinsuke Nakamora (c) vs. Jeff Hardy – Oh good, two more guys I don’t care about. Where’s Randy Orton? Didn’t he insert himself into this whole program at Extreme Rules? This match is like two stereotypes from a John Hughes 1980s teen comedy all grown up and fighting, and nobody should root for those guys. They were terrible. Also, Jeff’s eyeball eyelid paint freaks me out. Jeff goes for a Swanton while Nakamura was on the ring apron, but the champ moved, and it was academic after that. Match did nothing for me, though it wasn’t bad. Orton teases an appearance to go after a knocked out Hardy, but then he goes to the back as we go to another commercial break.
Raw Women’s Title Match: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Ronda Rousey – This could potentially be squash number 3 on the evening – all on the Raw side of things. But somehow Bliss always manages to make things competitive. Ronda’s training partner, Natalya, comes out first wearing the jacket her dad, JIM “THE ANVIL” NEIDHART, wore at SummerSlam 1990, honoring him following his death earlier this month. Rousey is wearing “Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s jacket to the ring. It’s a shame Michael Cole isn’t wearing one of Vince McMahon’s old sports jackets to complete the trifecta. Rousey tosses Bliss around like a rag doll and locks on an armbar. Bliss holds off much longer than I expected, popping her shoulder out of joint to ease the pain before Rousey pops it back, but she eventually gives in, making Rousey the first woman to win gold in both UFC and WWE. Squash number 3 and Rousey celebrates with Natalya and the Bellas before jumping into the arms of her husband and making out at ringside. This is such a weird show.
Universal Title Match: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns – Reigns has been trying to beat Lesnar for years now. He’s a bigger choke artist than Lex Luger. I have no idea how or why we’re supposed to think that Reigns can win this time around.
Oh wait… here’s comes a Monster. Strowman announces he’s going to cash in on the winner right after the match. Roman starts the match with three Superman punches and three spears for a hot start before the champ gets him in a couple guillotine chokes to slow things down. I was hoping this would be over quick. Oh well. The Brooklyn crowd calls back to Lesnar’s WrestleMania XX match with Goldberg as they chant “YOU BOTH SUCK!” After Lesnar assaults Strowman with an F5, a chair and a briefcase, Reigns hits a spear out of nowhere for a three count and the Universal Title. And the show goes off the air without the cash-in we were promised at the start of the match. Awesome. All three matches on the preshow went longer than the main event, by the way.
This show was all over the place. Squash matches, DQ finishes and four new champions. I didn’t hate it, but I’m not sure I would give it a thumbs up, either. So, in the middle my thumbs stay. We’ll be back in one month for WWE HELL IN A CELL!