WWE brought SummerSlam to New York featuring the biggest rematch of the decade…a year late. Did this four-hour epic go down in history as one of the better SummerSlams of all-time? Maybe, let’s break it down.
Host John Stewart welcomes us to the party and says he’s calling out Brock Lesnar for ending The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania Streak. And for backup he’s brought in Mick Foley, who goes for the cheap pop before backpedalling once he realized Stewart was confronting Brock, not Rock. Cute bit and always nice to see Foley.
Sheamus vs. Randy Orton
These guys have just fought too many times for this match to be interesting without some raised stakes or a stipulation. Just like last month at Battleground, the two open the show to continue the feud where nobody’s got anything better to do.
Fans are just as enthused as I am as they break out in “How you doing?” and “Ole” chants. The story here was all about who could hit their finisher. Both guys work hard, but there’s just nothing to get anyone all that invested. Orton goes for the RKO, but Sheamus escapes to connect with two Brogue Kicks to get the win.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5. A good match can overcome lackluster booking, but this felt too much like every other Sheamus/Orton encounter and with nothing at stake, it didn’t matter who won or lost tonight. This was a good RAW match, but nothing special at all.
Video package of two contest winners who hung out with Seth Rollings, Roman Reigns and got ringside seats to both NXT Takeover and SummerSlam. Yes, I’m jealous.
Fatal Four Way for WWE Tag Team
Titles: New Day vs. Los Matadores vs. Lucha Dragons vs. Prime Time Players
New Day is rocking some sweet white outfits tonight complete with some wing tips on Kofi’s boots. New Day continues proving they’re one of the best acts in the WWE today as they sing a New Day remix to Jay-Z and Alicia Key’s “Empire State of Mind.”
We’re onto Day 64 of the Prime Time Players’ title reign. I’m betting it doesn’t hit Day 65. This is Fatal Four rules meaning the first team to get the pin gets the win. I’d much rather see an elimination match so the winner can be the undisputed best team in the match, but that ship has long sailed.
Cole seems stunned that Kofi and Big E both were the legal men and tried to in each other as if he’s suddenly grown amnesia on The Outlaw Rule when The New Age Outlaws were doing that almost 20 years ago.
The chaotic nature of the match allows every team a little time to shine a little with Kalisto coming off best. He’d really benefit from the revival of the light heavyweight/cruiserweight title. Big E hits his nasty looking apron splash and dive tackle through the ropes is pretty impressive.
Titus O’Neal finally gets the hot tag and runs wild on everyone. Just like Battleground, he’s getting big cheers from the audience as he delivers his moves with more intensity than most of his peers. He hits the Clash of Titus on one of the Matadores, but Kofi kicks Titus off to get the pin.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5. Fun match and the right team came away with the titles as the New Day is the hottest act in the tag team division.
Backstage, John Stewart is with Stephen Amell and Neville talking about his tight friendship with The Undertaker. Suddenly the lights go down and smoke fills the area as The Undertaker’s silhouette walks by. I’m getting a Leslie Nielsen SummerSlam 94 vibe with Stewart tonight and that is a great thing.
Rusev (with Summer Rae) vs.
Dolph Ziggler (with Lana)
Being Lana 2.0 is the best use of Summer Rae since she split with Fandango (remember him?). Lana is dressed like an 80s valley girl and looks 30% less hot now that she’s dropped the business suit outfits.
I’m loving the revisionist history of how Rusev controlled Lana during their relationship. Pandering babyface valet Lana is even worse than pandering face Ziggler. It’s killed everything that made her appealing. Note the complete lack of “Lana” chants now.
Ziggler seems to be playing the Jerry Lynn enhancement talent role for Rusev tonight. The real crime with Rusev facing Cena so early in his WWE stint is he’s got nowhere to go now even though he’s one of the best young wrestlers on the roster.
Superkick and both men are down. Double countout. Ugh. What an absolutely terrible ending. Lana and Summer brawl and I can hear Joey Styles screaming “catfight”
Rating: 2 out of 5. This one never really got to the next level as the match was secondary to the women. This feud must continue. Gotta assume next month we finally get the mixed tag match we probably should have just gotten tonight.
Stephen Amell/Neville vs.
Stardust/Cosmic King Barrett
My love of all things comic books aside, this comic book video package may be one of the best features WWE has done in years. Barrett has struggled mightily to get over with anything, but the Cosmic King and Stardust could work. Give them a third man and WWE could have a great faction. Considering how popular comic book movies are it’s odd WWE is just now working in more comic book like characters.
Amell indeed wears a dark green hoodie to the ring. Stardust is tremendous here playing a perfect Batman villain. The commentators clearly aren’t “Arrow” fans as they’re surprised with Amell’s athleticism as he does a kip up, leapfrog and enzuguri. Amell gets the main heat sequence — holding his own much better than most non-wrestlers — before making the hot tag.
Amell dives from top rope and sends Barrett into the ring for Neville to hit the Red Arrow for the win.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5. While not a classic by any means, this was excellent sports entertainment. Since Stardust didn’t get pinned, maybe we’ll get a singles match with Amell and Stardust down the road?
Look at the Tough Enough finalists. I haven’t watched any of the show, but Amanda definitely gets my vote as she would vault to the top of the current roster of blonde Divas in terms of hotness.
Intercontinental Title: The Big Show vs. The Miz vs. Ryback
This was the biggest surprise for me of the night as the three battled hard without sticking to the normal WWE structure of a three-way match. Ryback hits the Shell Shock to Big Show, but Miz hits Ryback with the Skull Crushing Finale.
Miz keeps trying to get the pin on both incapacitated opponents, which was a nice touch. Ryback eats a KO punch from Big Show, but Miz stops the pin, who gets one of his own. Ryback takes advantage and sends Show out and pins Miz.
Rating: 3 out of 5. This was short, effective and probably better than most expected.
John Stewart goes to visit Brock Lesnar, but Paul Heyman cuts him off. This whole angle would work so much better if this was November last year and not a year after Brock ended The Streak.
Heyman gets the final shot by saying “I guess we couldn’t get David Letterman to host, huh?”
Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper vs. Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns
Minor annoyance: Ambrose and Reigns have separate entrances and Ambrose doesn’t come down the steps.
Not so scientific fact: Reigns gets 60% less boos when he’s hanging with Ambrose. These four have great chemistry and this match was no exception. The Wyatts get the advantage by taking Reigns out at ringside and isolating Ambrose.
Reigns’ ringside recovery takes a little too long though as the fans start chanting “Roman’s sleeping” and get annoyed with him leaving Ambrose to take the beating all on his own. This crowd has been very non-traditional and while that’s a solid subplot to build around the match, they’re not having any of it and using it as an example to voice their hatred of Reigns.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 This was a fun match and the perfect position for all four guys at this point. Let this feud continue for two or three more ppvs/network specials and I’ll be happy.
Title for Title: John Cena (US Champion) vs. Seth Rollins (WWE Champion)
If this isn’t a clear indication of how devalued the titles are the fact this title vs. title match isn’t headlining the show should do it. Cena will tie Ric Flair’s 16 titles record with a win tonight. Rollins going with a Ted DiBiase Summerslam 1993 tribute with an all-white variant of his normal black and gold attire.
The crowd is merciless against Cena and Rollins isn’t doing enough to get them to stop cheering for him. Rollins has been one of the better modern era guys to embrace doing what it takes to be a real heel, but tonight he’s wrestling a standard Cena vs. fellow babyface match. That’s why Edge will always be Cena’s best opponent as he did everything possible to make the fans boo him and cheer Cena.
These guys are having a lot of miscommunication as Cena seems off his game, likely due to him legitimately being concerned about protecting his broken nose. I like the story that Rollins feels like he has to dig deep in his repertoire, but I’d rather see him resort to more desperate measures instead of hitting his cool moves. You know, like an actual heel?
WWE bookers really needed to protect Cena’s finishers like they did the RKO and the Pedigree as the STF and Attitude Adjustment have no credibility anymore.
Cena hits the AA, but the ref gets bumped. Sigh. Who’s running in? As the ref recovers, Rollins hits the knee to the nose! John Stewart runs out and teases hitting Rollins, who tormented him weeks before Wrestlemania, which of course means we’re getting a turn for the sake of shocking everyone. Sure enough, Stewart hits a weak chairshot on Cena, but it’s enough for Rollins to hit the Pedigree onto the chair for the win and U.S. title.
Rating: 3 out of 5. I wasn’t enjoying the match all that much and the finish made absolutely no sense besides trolling fans with a goofy celebrity turn. This match didn’t do Rollins enough if the intent was to get him over further as he needed a talk show host to beat Cena. I’d imagine the interference will result in the U.S. title being held up so Cena can get the belt back.
Elimination Match – Team B.A.D. vs PCB vs. Team Bella
Take a shot every time you hear “revolution.” This isn’t a traditional Survivor Series match as once any team member is eliminated the entire team is done.
Day 273 for Nikki Bella’s title reign and she’s 21 days away from tying AJ Lee’s record . Quick, name the last time Nikki actually defended the title. I’ll wait. Sasha Banks looks way too happy after losing her NXT women’s title the night before.
Tamina gets hit by Brie Mode (X-Factor) and eats the pin eliminating Sasha and Naomi as well. It’s weird that Team B.A.D.’s enforcer is the designated jobber for their squad. For match quality, losing Sasha and Naomi so quick definitely won’t help.
The biggest difference between the NXT Divas and the WWE ones (sans Paige) is they can all execute the moves, but the NXT ones understand how to chain them together and build from one to the next without the long delay. Brie misses a missile dropkick and Becky hits a pumphandle slam for the win.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5. This win for Team PCB clearly indicates who the favorite in the division is as this marks a second consecutive Network event victory for Charlotte, Paige and Becky. This match got a good amount of time to play out and the divas delivered again.
Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens
This was exactly the kind of hard-hitting matchup this show needed. Both guys should be two of the major players in the WWE for the next 5-10 years and could be headlining shows in half that time. Owens catches Cesaro in a top rope neckbreaker before hitting the pop-up powerbomb for the win.
Rating: 4 out of 5. Remember what I said about Orton/Sheamus? This was the opposite. This matchup is still fresh enough that it doesn’t require a lot of overbooking or something extra to make it sizzle. Owens proved he didn’t need to fight Cena to have a great match and Cesaro still manages to look strong even in defeat.
The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar
Main event time. Let’s hope The Undertaker can avoid an early concussion so we can get the match we wanted to see at Wrestlemania 30. Brock goes right after Taker before he ditches the hat and jacket to help sell his hatred for Undertaker.
Taker takes a surprising number of suplexes, but counters one to send Lesnar head first into the turnbuckle to bust him open. That doesn’t stop Brock for long as he hits an F5 that puts Taker through the Spanish announce table. Taker rallies to hit the chokeslam and Tombstone, but Brock kicks out and starts laughing. Taker sits up and mocks Brock in one of those great moments we’ll be seeing for the next decade or so.
Brock gets the advantage again and hits two F5s, but Taker kicks out of them both and counters with a Last Ride for a two-count. Brock’s able to slap in his Kimura Lock, which no one would remember was Brock’s major submission move since no one recalls when Lana controlled Rusev.
As the ref checks Brock’s shoulders, the bell rings. Heyman is ecstatic his client his defeated the dead man again, but the ref said he didn’t call for the bell. During the confusion, Taker low blows Brock and locks in the Hell’s Gate. Just before passing out, Brock flicks Taker off, but this time Undertaker gets his hand raised in victory. Easy match of the night and one that actually lived up to the hype.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5. The replay shows Undertaker was tapping out, which is what the timekeeper saw, but the ref missed it. So Brock and Heyman have a legitimate beef here.
If Taker absolutely had to get the win back, this was the best way to do it as Brock clearly beat him and the controversy allows for an easy storyline for the third and deciding match in this round of their feud.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10 The show was cruising along steadily even if it wasn’t an earth-shattering epic until the main event, which was definitely one you’ll want to check out. The rest was standard RAW fare and nothing all that special.
Pics credit: WWE.com