It’s the second-biggest show on WWE’s calendar, made even more important by virtue of Vince McMahon’s recent retirement from active involvement with the business and creative side of the company. SummerSlam 2022 will go down in history as the first show of the post-Vince McMahon era, but other than being the answer to a trivia question, did WWE’s recent years-long string of inconsequential booking ensure that SummerSlam 2022 would be an event that would be completely forgotten once new head of creative Triple H starts to steer the product in his own direction?
The main event of SummerSlam gave us a spectacle, at the very least. The Last Man Standing match between Undisputed Universal WWE International Heavyweight Champion of the World Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar was another destructive brawl between the two. We’ve seen Lesnar and Reigns go at it several times over the years, but none of their fights ever included a tractor, which Lesnar used to tip up the ring to try and gain an advantage. It didn’t work, since Reigns brought the Usos in to help him and even Lesnar didn’t have enough in the tank to overcome the three-on-one advantage. After several big blows, that Lesnar managed to get up from, Reigns and the Usos covered Lesnar with the announce table Lesnar broke by hitting Paul Heyman with an F5. Reigns climbed on top of the debris and the referee counted to 10, giving Reigns the win.
Overall, I hate Last Man Standing matches, because the constant 10-counts from the referee ruin the pacing of the match. No matter how hot the brawl leading up to it is, the final segment of the match slows to a crawl with a big hit, then count, followed by another big hit and a count. Lather, rinse and repeat until finally the ref ends up using all his fingers.
At the very least, they tried to add a little more spectacle to a match we’ve seen all too often and as recently as night 2 of this year’s WrestleMania.
And much like their WrestleMania 31 championship match, the Money in the Bank holder tried to insert himself to gain an advantage and steal the title away. But Austin Theory is no Seth Rollins. As soon as Theory hit Reigns with the briefcase and handed it over to the referee he brought down to the ring with him, Lesnar lifted him on his shoulders and dropped him onto that same briefcase with an F5. Theory spent the rest of the match as another piece of debris. Did his cash-in actually count? Tune in to Raw to find out, I guess.
Best Match – Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos (c) defeated the Street Profits – This is the match that I was most looking forward to at the Summer Slam, and it didn’t disappoint. The Usos have been having consistently good tag team matches for almost as long as they’ve been in WWE. Put them in the ring with the Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins and you’re guaranteed a really good match. The inclusion of special referee Jeff Jarrett hurt the match a little bit, as Double J inserted himself into the match on a couple of occasions, but it wasn’t enough to drag it down too far. The Usos’ experience in big matches put them over the top here. Unable to get the win, Ford got frustrated. That frustration led to him being tossed over the barricade, allowing the Usos the chance to double team Dawkins and pin him to retain the unified tag team titles.
Worst Match – United States Championship Match: Bobby Lashley (c) defeated Austin Theory – As is usually the case with WWE these days, this match wasn’t embarrassing or even entirely terrible. It was just, essentially, a squash match giving Lashley a win over Money in the Bank briefcase holder Theory. If you have the briefcase, you spend a lot of time on your back. Or, in the case of Theory here, tapping out to a full nelson from Lashley. It was all in the service of building the mystery of whether Theory would cash in his contract during the Last Man Standing match.
A Tale of Two Wrestling Celebrities – Two of the more hatable WWE superstars had matches with guys who aren’t actually wrestlers, though both men managed to perform at an impressive level. The Miz continued his feud with his WrestleMania teammate Logan Paul in a match that needed interference from AJ Styles to get any reaction from the crowd. No one wants to cheer the Miz, but more importantly, no one wanted to cheer Paul, either, despite his being situated as the babyface in this feud. When even the Miz can’t get you over as the conquering hero, you have to wonder just what you’ve done with your life to be so disliked. Still, Paul put in the time and looked good in there with his high-flying offense, getting a win with a skull-crushing finale of his own to Miz.
On the SmackDown! side of things, color commentator Pat McAfee’s feud with Happy Corbin culminated here with a match where there were actually acknowledged heel and babyface sides. And like Paul, McAfee proved he can go in the ring. But unlike his Raw counterpart, McAfee has a lot more charisma and actually drew cheers throughout the match. When he hit Corbin with a low blow, leading to a pin, he made the fans in Nashville pretty happy.
The Winners, and STILL Champions… – Not a single championship changed hands at SummerSlam. I expected Ronda Rousey to regain the SmackDown! Women’s Championship from Liv Morgan, who cashed in her briefcase at Money in the Bank to beat Rousey, but WWE seems intent on building Morgan up, at least a little while longer. Morgan managed to fend off a determined Rousey, who did everything she could to snap Morgan’s arm. But the champion used her brains, leveraging Rousey’s shoulders to the mat while trapped in an armbar to get a three count, even though it was clear Morgan was tapping out at 2. Unlike at Money in the Bank, where Rousey congratulated Morgan on stealing a win from her, the challenger snapped, putting Morgan in another armbar and then assaulting the referee. Maybe it’s finally time for Rousey to be the scary, dominant heel WWE needs her to be.
On the Raw side, Bianca Belair held off challenger Becky Lynch in the opener. I think Belair and Lynch have a better match in them, though Belair got a pretty decisive victory over Lynch this time out. Any future battles between the two seem to be on hold, though, since Bayley returned from her year-long injury hiatus, flanked by Dakota Kai and Io Shirai to get in Belair’s face. When Lynch decided to back Belair up and challenge the new trio to a fight, Bayley took her crew back to the locker room. At the very least, we’re getting some new faces on the Raw side of things. Also, Bayley’s back!
Judgment Has Been Passed – The whole feud between the Judgment Day – Finn Bálor, Damien Priest and Rhea Ripley – and the father-son duo of the Mysterios seems to have been a set-up to get the Judgment Day’s founder and ousted leader Edge back at SummerSlam. The no-disqualification tag team match between the Mysterios and Bálor and Priest was really just there until the end. Nothing about the match really warranted a no-DQ stipulation until the lights went out and Edge showed up to spear everyone. a double-619 and a headbutt splash from Rey got the win, Edge got a measure of revenge on the faction he led for a couple of weeks and everyone can come back to Raw on Monday and maybe get some different storylines from the new regime.
Ranking SummerSlam 2022
Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos (c) defeated the Street Profits
Raw Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair (c) defeated Becky Lynch
Undisputed WWE Universal Championship Last Man Standing Match: Roman Reigns (c) defeated Brock Lesnar
Pat McAfee defeated Happy Corbin
SmackDown! Women’s Championship Match: Liv Morgan (c) defeated Ronda Rousey
Logan Paul defeated The Miz
No Disqualification Match: The Mysterios defeated The Judgment Day
United States Championship Match: Bobby Lashley (c) defeated Austin Theory
Overall, this was another modern-day, empty calorie WWE Pea-per-view premium live event, with some good action, though nothing really stands out as something that will be talked about beyond this weekend. It’s worth a watch, but nothing to go out of your way for. I’d call it a slight thumbs up.