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Well, lets immediately get the elephant out of the room, I was furious nigh on disgusted by the news prior to “the biggest party of the summer” that The Fiend Bray Wyatt was released by WWE. Another sad state of affairs at a time when WWE is struggling to muster enthusiasm for its product. But, despite considering packing it in, I’m sticking with things and hoping for a better future. And so we arrive at the sun drenched gates of WWE’s biggest Summer PPV, as fans packed out Las Vegas for a huge show, with an equally big card. But did the dice roll in their favour or not?
Let’s see how the night went down…
1. Big E vs. Baron Corbin (Kick-Off Show)
A young lady won some Tik Tok competition or such to get ring announcing duties for this kick-off show match and did a fairly good job actually. I digress, the “rivalry” between Big E and the new well-played down on his luck Baron Corbin has undoubtedly being thrown together to get Big E card space, but even so this kick off was an inoffensive start that got mr. Money in the Bank a deserved win and the crowd warmed up. Completely missable and mostly unmemorable mind but fine for what it was. Big E will go on to bigger and better!
The show opened with a big video package and what not, you know the drill with WWE.
2. WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match
RK-Bro (Randy Orton and Riddle) vs. AJ Styles and Omos (c)
A brilliant choice as the opener, and while this tag title match did not run long at all, the crowd were really into RK-Bro (which has been one of the few best bits of Raw of late) and the end result with new champs being crowned was the only choice to make. This will continue obviously but this was a good title change to start the main card of the show and got enthusiasm, levels sky high right off the bat.
3. Alexa Bliss vs. Eva Marie w/ Doudrop
Eeek, fair to say expectation was not riding high for this one, and I think we all hoped to see an Alexa Bliss squash over the – sigh – “Evalution”. Sadly, that didn’t happen and despite not even running 4 minutes, this one dragged like hell, despite Alexa’s best efforts. Eva Marie has not improved much ring-wise with some sloppy looking movesm, and this was probably the worst match on the show but at least Bliss won, and Doudrop showed signs she’s finally ditching Eva in the post-match stuff.
4. WWE United States Championship Match
Damian Priest vs. Sheamus (c)
After that downer of a last match initial fire had been diminished, so Damian Priest and US Champ Sheamus had the unenviable task of getting things back on track, and by god they did just that. This title match was a bit of a barn burner. It started slow and steady and grew into a blazing knock down drag out hard hitter of a bout. Sheamus is an underrated worker and Priest is really carving himself out a nice run on the main roster. This was back and forth, and knuckle bruising stuff, which ended with Priest getting the great win and his first main roster title.
5. WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match
Dominik and Rey Mysterio vs. The Usos (c)
With these two teams, good ring work is to be expected and it was received, however WWE has done these guys no favour with over-exposure. After being played out seemingly endlessly over the weeks prior, and despite good effort, this feud struggled to harness any new momentum, and it is safe to say it was hard to care about “The Bloodline” defending their titles against the Mysterios yet again. It was ok but far too oft repeated to resonate as much as it deserved.
6. WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship Match
Bianca Belair (c) vs. Becky Lynch
No, you read right. Initially set for Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair II, it’s safe to say fans were less than suited when it was announced that Sasha was not cleared to compete (apparently COVID related but WWE should have announced something sooner than on the night), and out came Carmella…what was that about recycled matches again? Thankfully some hair-raising music hit and after a year’s absence “The Man” Becky Lynch returned, taking out Carmella and challenging Belair for the gold three and then. The crowd went nuts, we were all set, and then, one handshake fake out and manhandle slam later and it was all over. In 26 seconds Belair lost her title and Lynch was new SD Women’s Champ. I mean, this was an admittedly big moment for the show but very scrappily booked stuff. In 26 seconds, months of build ended for the sake of momentary buzz, plus, after all this time do we really want to boo Becky at all? It seems like they could have done something similar in the later Raw Women’s title match with far more savoured results. Odd but shocking certainly.
7. Shanky and Veer Banned From Ringside
Drew McIntyre vs. Jinder Mahal
In fairness, you could be forgiven for forgetting this match was even on before or after viewing SummerSlam because it was just sat there, despite Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal’s history. And on this night, it was pretty clear that the endgame was just to get it on over with. Drew practically dominated and vanquished his foe in short order here in a match that got some names on the card but little else.
8. WWE Raw Women’s Championship Triple Threat Match
Nikki A.S.H (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley
It was a nice shock when Nikki A.S.H cashed in on Charlotte weeks back but WWE seem to have done everything in their power to belittle their new champ’s ability, so I was hoping this triple threat might change the course. Alas, despite being a decent contest, it was really only here to get the gold back on “The Queen”. Still inevitability of that conclusion aside, all three women had a fun triple threat but it was missing something.
9. Edge vs. Seth Rollins
A dream match of sorts followed in the long-awaited clash between Edge and Seth Rollins, and my word this was far and away the match of the night and just a masterclass in storytelling and action. Starting off with Edge’s nostalgic and excellent The Brood-inspired entrance, to an unconventional and passion-fuelled submission climax, this one was just roundly brilliant. Rollins did everything he could to hurt Edge and send him back into forced retirement but the Rated R Superstar would persevere and overcome it all, and what a fantastic match this was. Those 21 minutes flew by and left us eager for a future showdown between these two, perhaps with a stipulation to raise the stakes ever further. Edge won on this night but the “drip god” (whatever that means) will be back. And I cannot wait for more.
John Morrison and The Miz came out to unveil the dripstick 2000 (yeah…), but Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston came out with the device and doused them with water instead. Pure filler and a wasted opportunity to have a big name make a showing or something and create an actual moment to remember. That said The New Day’s The Outsiders-inspired gear was cool as heck.
10. WWE Championship Match
Bobby Lashley w/ MVP (c) vs. Goldberg
I hold my hands up now, when I say that this was the best build to a Goldberg match in years. Instead of his usual random comeback-title challenge-title win/loss-disappear stuff, they actually tried to create a personal story here by getting his son Gage (yes, that really is the same lad that celebrated with his dad after beating Brock Lesnar in 2016!!!) involved. The story was good and the match was set, and credit where it’s due, this was the first time since his match with The Undertaker where Goldberg attempted to do more than just spear, jackhammer repeat. The effort was there but the finesse wasn’t, in quite an untidy scrap, with a referee stoppage win/title retention that was made to put Bobby Lashley over while continuing the feud later. A point anchored, when Gage tried to help his beaten down dad post-match, much to his own downfall at the hands of a Hurt Lock from Big Bobby. See you in Saudi Arabia maybe?
11. WWE Universal Championship, If Reigns loses he leaves WWE
John Cena vs. Roman Reigns (c) w/ Paul Heyman
Since his shocking comeback at the climax of Money in the Bank, this showdown between John Cena and Roman Reigns was the biggest match going into SummerSlam, and rightly so. The promos, build up and truth bombs being delivered week in and week out really sold this one beautifully, much like it did back in 2017 when both men first clashed. And to that point, despite WWE teasing a potential record breaking 17th world title for “Big match John”, Roman would not be denied (especially when they announced that silly stipulation), though – just like back in 2017 – the match was assuredly a spectacle but not one that would blow your roof off. Don’t get me wrong, it was a fine main event but one that does not imprint on your mind like the best ones do, and there is no denying that the finish felt rather “is that it”. In fact most will probably leave this show remembering the aftermath more than anything, as some familiar music hit and Brock Lesnar (complete with top knot ponytail and beard) returned to set up a super showdown in the middle east to close out the show.
Overall, SummerSlam had moments in the shape of its grand stage, and some A-Lister returns but one of them was botched and the other overshadowed a simplistic marquee match. Meanwhile the card itself was up and down, despite decent effort and athleticism on display. Missed opportunities aplenty and a lack of spark, especially in response to rival promotion AEW’s major roster debuts, but the show had its strong points in some deserved undercard title wins that ensured this was not quite a one match show. That said, Edge/Rollins was the jewel in this crown for damn sure and by a country mile. Hopefully WWE’s detour to the extreme at their next PPV can raise the heat more.