Produced By: WWE
Date: August 21 2016
Location: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Since I began writing reviews of major WWE events, they have been fairly easy to recap and to pass opinions on. With SummerSlam 2016, though, the task becomes a lot trickier, for the card pretty much had everything on the quality scale, as well as certain events being affected by factors beyond WWE’s control. If nothing else, that gives us plenty to talk about, so let’s get right to it!
Last year, SummerSlam expanded to a four-hour show, and this year the preceding Kick-Off Show was expanded to two, meaning a six-hour experience in total. On the Kick-off Show, we had three matches, the first of which was a 12-man tag team bout (which was actually a SmackDown rematch), pitting American Alpha, The Usos and The Hype Bros against The Vaudevillains, Breezango and The Ascension. It was a basic warm-up match, in front of a Brooklyn crowd which was probably no more than 30% full at this point, but it received a decent amount of time and gave most involved a chance to shine on some level. I do think that the sequence of everyone using their finisher in a multi-man scenario is getting tired, but that aside this was acceptable for what it was. The match ended with Jey Uso somewhat stealing the glory by sneaking in a blind tag on Chad Gable to hit a splash for the win. It was emphasised enough that this appeared to be step one of a much-need Usos heel turn and a likely feud with American Alpha, which definitely has potential. Assuming that’s the case, then this match definitely served its purpose.
Next up on the KO portion was another tag bout, as Neville and Sami Zayn took on The Dudleyz. Some were dismayed that Zayn wasn’t on the main card, but I’m confident that he’ll be in the thick of things on Raw over the next few months. This was alright; nothing special, but it was enjoyable to watch, and once-NXT rivals Neville and Zayn formed a pretty good team. Bubba Ray inadvertently struck D-Von to set up the finish, which saw an unusually-hesitant Neville hit Bubba with the Red Arrow as Sami held D-Von away (D-Von was visible watching Neville hit his big move which was a slight botch). Neville and Zayn won; The Dudleyz had their third miscommunication problem in the last two weeks. I expect Bubba to turn heel on D-Von to split up the Dudleyz, possibly as soon as the post-SummerSlam episode of Raw.
Last up on the KO Show was Cesaro vs. Sheamus in the first match of a Best-Of-Seven series. It was a slow starter, and the crowd was very quiet considering that one of their heroes Cesaro was involved. But it soon picked up and turned into a pretty good bout, with the highlights coming on a double-jump into a splash by the Swiss Superman, making use of the new screen pillars that surrounded the ring post at this event, and Cesaro brilliantly reversing a Brogue Kick attempt directly into a Sharpshooter. But, as I expected given that Cesaro has recently pinned Sheamus twice, it would be the Celtic Warrior who got the nod here, as he drove Cesaro shoulder-first into one of the posts and followed it up with a match-winning Brogue Kick. Round 1 goes to Sheamus, with the series likely to be stretched out until the September Raw PPV Clash Of Champions, or perhaps Hell In A Cell in October. In something of a recurring theme, fans have blasted the BO7 concept, but given time this should hopefully be worthwhile. Incidentally, this won’t be the last time I refer to wrestling fans in this article; consider that a precursor of things to come. Actually, I’ll save it until I’ve covered all of the (many) matches, because it’s a subject that needs addressing.
So, the main card began at this point, and we had a tag bout pitting Enzo and Big Cass against JeriKO. Enzo and Cass got a monstrous pop from the audience, and their pre-match promo went down a storm with references to Big E. Smalls (had they done one more, he might just have showed up at SummerSlam; South Park taught me that). The match was okay: like with Neville/Zayn vs. The Dudleyz, there was nothing exceptionally memorable about it, but it provided entertainment all the same. There was a nice moment when Chris Jericho cut off Enzo’s attempt to tag in Cass at the last moment, but the finish was a little bit off: Kevin Owens threw Enzo up as if to taste a Pop-Up Powerbomb, except that he was sending Amore into a Codebreaker by Y2J; however, Enzo either slipped or didn’t jump high enough because Jericho’s knee just about grazed Enzo’s face. Still, it was good enough to get the win for the villains.
Both teams are all about entertainment: besides Enzo and Cass’ usual routine, JeriKO have been incredibly entertaining to watch and listen to since forming their partnership a few weeks back. Of note, their promo on Raw where they deliberately and repeatedly got interviewer Tom Phillips’ name wrong without ever acknowledging the fact was priceless, and the banter between the two on the Kick-Off Show was hilarious too. These two make a great team, both in the ring and on the microphone, so hopefully JeriKO will be a semi-permanent thing. I was surprised to see Enzo and Cass lose, although it’s hard to imagine that they won’t win a rematch at some point. It was worrying to see a couple of moments, such as the finish, where Enzo was only just connecting on some fairly risky dive-style bumps. Given his scary-looking concussion at Payback and other close calls since then, someone needs to have a word with Enzo to make sure that the undeniably charismatic “Certified G” doesn’t cripple himself before he and Cass can truly establish their careers.
Perhaps similar advice could go to Sasha Banks and Charlotte, whose Women’s Title match had a gnarly moment early on as Charlotte positioned Sasha on the top ropes as if she was about to hit a backbreaker, but dropped her (albeit in such a fashion that it seemed part of the match lay-out) and Sasha landed sharply on the back of her head. The match was close to being stopped, but Sasha fought on, and the two recovered to deliver a very good match. Sasha’ top rope hurricanrana reversal out of an attempted Razor’s Edge was a highlight, even if it looked a bit overly-rehearsed (Charlotte seemed to be waiting for Sasha to reverse it, rather than trying to make it look like she wanted to hit the RE). There was some nice submission reversals as Sasha trapped Charlotte in the Bank Statement more than once, but on the second occasion, Charlotte (whose usual compadre Dana Brooke was banned from ringside) lent back and caught Sasha off-guard with a roll-up, picking up the win and her second Women’s Championship to the shock of the crowd.
I had read online that there were heavy rumours of Sasha losing the title here, so it wasn’t a big surprise to me. Match-wise, it was a strong effort, but a notch below their battle on Raw last month where Sasha won the gold originally. Sasha’s defeat was quickly followed by her apparently being removed from upcoming events, leading many to wonder if her unexpected title loss, just a few weeks after finally becoming champion, was due to a suspension in the week that Alberto Del Rio, Paige and Eva Marie were shelved for the same reason. It looks like her time off will be to address nagging injuries (the slip-up in this match will add to her injury woes), so those ridiculously spreading #PrayForSasha on Twitter can rest a little easy for now. If she is having an absence, then her title loss was necessary. If not, then it’s a questionable result. However, I suspect the former and, in that regard, it’s hard to complain if you have a rational point of view.
We then had The Miz defending his Intercontinental Title against Apollo Crews. I won’t spend too much time on this one because it was fairly short, the promotion of the bout wasn’t very good (their key interaction came during a commercial break on the pre-SS edition of SmackDown, for some reason), and nobody besides the participants seemed to care that it was even happening. Apollo hit some decent offence, but unsurprisingly Miz came out on top after hitting the Skull-Crushing Finale. Apollo has potential, but the overall package isn’t quite there yet for him to make a true impact on SmackDown. As for Miz, his IC Title reign continues on, and it’s anybody’s guess as to who he might face next.
By the way, Baron Corbin vs. Kalisto was at one point scheduled for the Kick-Off Show too (I know I covered the preview section earlier, but I’ve only just remembered this). For whatever reason, it didn’t happen, and instead Corbin interrupted the KO panel with a simple yet effective series of threats to Kalisto, who he has been basically bullying in recent weeks on SD. They will meet at some point; it just wasn’t on this show. Since the event as a whole already had 13 matches in total, it’s probably a good thing that this will be saved for another evening.
Next up, we had John Cena vs. AJ Styles. This was, no pun intended, phenomenal: bettering their Money In The Bank collision, Cena vs. Styles II was a genuine classic, with almost 30 minutes of big moves, false finishes, dramatic submissions, crazy bumps and more. It was virtually a perfect match, and the best SummerSlam battle since CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar in 2013. It might seem like I’m skipping through this one, but I don’t want to spoil the content of the bout for anybody who plans to watch it; consider this a direct recommendation to watch it, because you should. The likely winner for Match Of The Year (on the main roster, at least) ended with Cena expressing confusion and almost sadness that he couldn’t put AJ away, which led him into a second Styles Clash and a second Phenomenal Forearm to give AJ the surprise clean pinfall win to the delight of the audience. Afterwards, Cena (who received his usual reception from a smarky crowd) was given a respectful ovation, which he had damn sure earned, and left behind his “Never Give Up” wristband in a telling manner.
As stated, this was superb: you couldn’t have asked for any more from this encounter. Styles lived up to his reputation with his best WWE effort to date, and Cena put on a fantastic performance himself; this may have been the best pure wrestling performance of his life. That Cena left his wristband behind in such a fashion suggests that he’s about to have more time off, hence why he lost cleanly to AJ in a rematch that most expected him to win. It’s actually a little sad to realise that John Cena, the face of WWE for so many years, is clearly winding down his wrestling career. He’ll obviously be back at some point, but he’s clearly no longer The Man in WWE. As a matter of fact, whereas most have speculated that he will wrestle in WWE in some fashion for years to come, I am wondering whether he might take an extended leave (as in, a couple of years) in the manner of The Rock after either WrestleMania 33 or WrestleMania 34. That Michael Cole didn’t include his match when running down the card’s top battles on the Kick-Off Show was telling. To me, Cena is now in the same position that The Rock was in back in 2002-2003; a huge name who will be there for the major events, but won’t be around throughout the whole year. We shall see what happens; but this perfectly sets up Styles as a contender to the WWE World Title. Outstanding match.
Following that effort was always going to be hard, but it’s safe to say that the subsequent match was a disappointment. We had Jon Stewart (who had a key role in last year’s SummerSlam, remember) seemingly joining The New Day members Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods as they defended their WWE Tag Team Titles against Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. The serious (well, semi-serious) tone of their feud (it revolved around G&A supposedly busting Big E’s balls and making fun of said injury; that says it all) took a back seat as this Raw-style encounter was run of the mill and saw Stewart again intervene, with The Club members threatening to give him “Ringpostitis”. At this point, Big E made his return (to a pretty loud cheer, it has to be said) and helped New Day take out their opponents.
So, the match which many envisioned would see New Day’s year-long reign finally end ultimately became a forgettable scrap based on the attempted crushing of one or more gentleman’s private parts. Okay. Gallows and Anderson won by disqualification, further giving this match a second-rate feel. I usually appreciate comedy in wrestling, but this feud isn’t particularly funny (although I did laugh at Gallows and Anderson providing a tiny jar to represent Stewart’s, erm, bits). Ideally, Luke and Karl will give New Day a genuinely vicious beatdown to set up a serious rematch at Clash Of Champions, where the result could go either way. And whilst New Day will be around for some time yet, evidenced by their long title reign and their wealth of merchandise in the works, their act definitely seems to have peaked, which suggests that a title change (which I half-expected to happen here) might be the best course of action when Gallows and Anderson get a second shot at the titles.
From there, we had Dean Ambrose defending the WWE Title against Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler emerged as a surprise contender for Ambrose’s title after being largely irrelevant for years, but since earning the shot, he’s delivered some great promos and intensity, and looked good during his televised bouts en route to SummerSlam. Dean has played more of a heelish role, openly doubting Ziggler and virtually dismissing him as a threat to his title. There remained that shred of doubt, though, as to whether Dolph could pull off the big upset. But it wasn’t to be: the WWE Championship clash was well-worked, with Ambrose channelling his inner heel just enough to still omit cheers, but it still felt like something was missing. Dolph had some big moments to shine, including a top-rope X-Factor and a sudden Zig Zag, but few believed that Dean would lose the title; and in a smooth counter to an attempted top-rope suplex, Ambrose brought Ziggler down to ground level and drilled him with Dirty Deeds for the victory.
It was a shame to see Ziggler lose fairly convincingly, and unless he turns heel imminently, this represented his last potential chance to become a main eventer. Of greater note, though, was the match quality; it was enjoyable, and as stated the execution was of a high quality, but it still felt like a mid-card match; something to warm the fans up for a bigger attraction, rather than a top-level battle in its own right. And whilst Ambrose has a strong following, this was the third PPV match this year for him that resulted in disappointment, following his WrestleMania 32 fight with Brock Lesnar and his Asylum clash with Chris Jericho at Extreme Rules. Considering that Steve Austin called him out on this in a roundabout way on his Podcast show on the WWE Network (Austin advised Ambrose to “step it up”, or words to that effect), I expected a lot more from the match, and Ambrose in particular. AJ Styles is likely to be Dean’s next opponent and, as things stand, Styles ending Ambrose’s title reign might be the way to go, because Ambrose has essentially been given the floor by WWE to shine, and yet he has yet to truly impress.
A six-women offering from SmackDown suffered from the news that Eva Marie, who has found increasingly funny ways to avoid actually competing (with her reasons now being explained by her deliberately OTT voiceover guy), was suspended and would thus miss the match, which pitted her, Natalya and Alexa Bliss against Becky Lynch, Carmella and Naomi (who is suddenly a babyface again). Hilariously, WWE chose to still give us Eva’s entrance before explaining that she was tired and was holidaying in the British Isles. In her place was the surprise return of Nikki Bella to an admittedly-loud reaction. It’s always good to see someone return from a serious injury, so I’m happy for Nikki that she has returned from what was once feared to be a career-ending injury. As long as she just wrestles and doesn’t try to utilise her acting “skills”, I’ll be satisfied.
The match was just okay; it was filler, if we’re being honest, but it still had its moments. Actually, I missed a few minutes of this due to an awful WWE Network feed. From what I did see, Naomi, in her new LED-surrounded attire, hit her impressive sequence of repeated kicks, and Becky drilled all three of her opponents with a turnbuckle elbow in a fluid motion. Nikki, as the returning Diva for lack of a better word (and John Cena’s girl, don’t forget), was chosen to get the victory with a variation of Marc Mero’s old TKO move on Carmella. The Rack Attack is no more due to the severity of Nikki’s neck injury, as is a full-time schedule for the Bella, apparently. Rumour has it that SmackDown is getting a Women’s Championship, possibly as soon as Backlash, and I would hazard a guess that Becky vs. Nikki will decide said title.
Speaking of new titles: the Universal Championship was to be awarded to the winner of the following encounter, pitting Finn Balor against Seth Rollins. I’ve mentioned the crowd a few times, and this is the match where their “influence” had the most impact, so I’ll focus instead on the combatants: Balor has had one hell of a start to his main roster career, almost immediately becoming Raw’s top babyface. Rollins has had minimal ring time since the Draft, but he has clearly improved on promos, adding weight to his view that he is WWE’s best wrestler. Balor is also great in the ring, so expectations were high for this one.
As you will soon read, the crowd greatly affected one’s enjoyment of the match, but it was still a very good match, if slightly less than what fans will have hoped for. Balor may have been injured on an early ringside powerbomb, but Finn (dressed in full Demon regalia) fought back, and he and Rollins exchanged plenty of big moves towards the finish, such as the Coup De Grace by Balor, and a top-rope suplex into a Pedigree by Rollins. In the end, a second Coup De Grace by Finn earned him the Universal Championship, culminating what may be the greatest opening month on the main roster ever by someone without experience on WWE flagship television (I’m trying to acknowledge Balor’s NXT and New Japan adventures, but it was only July 25 that Finn officially arrived on Raw). Hopefully, Finn isn’t too hurt, if one is to believe rumours about his potential injury, and a rematch between him and Rollins at Clash Of Champions (where they will probably be awarded more time, and thus have an even better match) seems likely so long as Finn gets the medical all-clear.
That Roman Reigns pinned Rusev in a non-title match on Raw prior to SummerSlam, and that theoretically there was only half an hour for this and the main event match, strongly suggested some shenanigans, likely in the form of a very short match. As it turned out, Rusev vs. Roman for the United States Title never got started, with the Bulgarian Brute pounding Reigns at ringside before Roman fought back with a chairshot and a series of vicious strikes. With Rusev supposedly now unable to compete, Reigns left a lasting impression with a Spear; at this point, fans (who had been booing Reigns, as usual) were fully backing him and were even chanting “One more time!” If Roman had obliged, he might just have come across as a superstar babyface once more. Alas, he didn’t.
For Reigns, who prior to Money In The Bank was essentially #1 in the eyes of WWE management, this reduced role has to be something of a let-down, albeit one triggered by his Wellness Policy violation in June. The non-match was not pleasing on a stage like SummerSlam, although their lengthy bout on Raw last week suggested that this wouldn’t be any ordinary encounter. On the bright side, they will meet again at Clash Of Champions, no doubt, and since Reigns was enhanced and cheered as he completed his beatdown, it kind of actually worked. Okay, it was still a let-down, but it was far from a disaster.
And so we have our main event, pitting Brock Lesnar against Randy Orton. This was announced out of thin air prior to Orton’s return, and prior to the Draft, where both men were separated. Therefore, building the match proved to be a challenge, and it basically demanded that each man invade the other’s show to build momentum, although it hindered the concept of the Draft just a few weeks in. Add to that the news that Lesnar would not be suspended by WWE for failing a drug test in relation to his UFC 200 fight, and the revelation that Lesnar, as a part-time performer, has not been and will not be drug-tested by WWE in future, and this had the potential to be a train-wreck if the crowd responded negatively for the reasons listed above. Fortunately, they didn’t – at least for the most part – but what we got in this match, over a decade in the making (the two men had never battled on a supershow before), was peculiar, intriguing, frustrating, shocking – look, let’s delve through what happened and then decide.
Lesnar began, as he often does, by attacking Orton in the corner and drilling him with suplex after suplex after suplex. The brawl spilled to ringside where Lesnar violently flung Orton through an announcer’s table, and prepared to slam him through a second desk before Orton countered with an RKO. The Viper dragged Lesnar into the ring and hit his draping DDT, followed by a second RKO which got a close two-count. Brock rebounded with an F5 for a near-fall, and at this point the match had been pretty damn good. Then, things turned ugly …
Lesnar began pounding Orton on the mat … hard … like, really hard. Fists, elbows, forearms; Brock was genuinely whacking Orton, and it became clear quickly that Orton had been cut open really heavily. The doctors came in to help Randy (which was greeted with respectful silence rather than boos on this occasion; such a development is often frowned upon in the PG era), but Brock wouldn’t allow it and carried on wellying Randy with genuinely stiff shots, making him bleed even more. Orton looked to be knocked out, in fact. And after the assault continued and Orton continued bleeding and not responding, the match was called off with Lesnar declared the winner by TKO. The dismay at the brevity of the match and the lack of offence by Orton was overshadowed by the severity of Brock’s beatdown; even if the match script called for such an outcome (which I believe it did), did he really have to whack Orton for real so many times, and leave him lying in a pool of unscripted blood? I know we’ve seen blood in WWE matches involving Brock in recent times, but it never came across as brutal as this did. Afterwards, Shane McMahon tried to stop the mad beast, only to taste an F5. Lesnar walked away smirking to boos … and that was it.
It’s hard to judge this one. The match itself was incredibly realistic and compelling to watch; you couldn’t take your eyes off what was happening, especially at the finish. And protecting Orton with a TKO defeat was smart, since he only returned from a long lay-off a few weeks ago. It was the stiffness of Lesnar’s shots, and the genuine feeling (combined with his unscripted yet hilarious “I don’t give a s–t about your kids” comment to Heath Slater on Raw) that Lesnar might be a little bit out of control, for real; had John Cena, Seth Rollins or even Orton himself carried out what Lesnar did here and on the microphone on Raw without authorisation, chances are that they would be reprimanded in some fashion (and who knows if it were a mid-carder; termination, perhaps?). Considering that fans have already soured on Lesnar due to his preference for UFC, his non-suspension by WWE, his probable laziness hinted at by Dean Ambrose on Austin’s podcast and Brock’s part-time status, plus how he has smashed almost every WWE main eventer to the point where no realistic challenger to “The Conqueror” seems likely, Brock is becoming a vilified figure; someone who the WWE fans have almost become sick of, rather than someone they want to see.
On the other hand, maybe that is the intention. Lesnar surely has to be a heel again after this display, and for all of the reasons listed above, Lesnar is a detestable figure in the world of WWE. And this brutal pummelling of Orton, which must have crossed some sort of line (hell, we know what Lesnar is capable of, so the stiff shots were unnecessary), gives people further reason to wish that Lesnar were not a part of WWE, and for somebody to finally defeat him. Who that is remains to be seen, but needless to say, one’s opinion of this match depends on your opinion of Lesnar himself. If you like him, you’ll have found this to be a gripping spectacle. If you dislike him, you’ll have hated this. And, to be fair, WWE should have given Orton more offence and given the match another 5-10 minutes so that fans would be less disappointed at the final bell. Unless, of course, the TKO finish wasn’t planned, and that the nastiness of Brock’s assault and the consequences left no choice but to curtail the match early. (I personally don’t think this is the case, although I doubt it was meant to be as bloody as it became.) Either way, fans won’t forget this match in a hurry; it was memorable, if not for all of the right reasons.
And that sums up SummerSlam: a genuine Match Of The Year contender, a few very good matches, a handful of good ones, and some disappointments, either due to booking or a lack of time, along with some filler too. As I mentioned earlier, this covered the entire quality spectrum. It didn’t live up to the potential that it had from an in-ring standpoint; we got one classic match, but fans were expecting three or four based on the line-up. So, yes, in several respects it was a let-down, but judged overall, it was still an entertaining card, despite the perception of the show that you may have gotten from the fans.
Oh, yes, finally … the fans.
The Brooklyn crowd basically ruined one major match, hindered the enjoyment of more than one other bout, and overreacted to certain results as if somebody had died. Rollins vs. Balor was largely greeted by negative chants towards the visual look of the Universal Championship. Seriously. Regardless of your opinion about the look of the title (and I personally think it could have looked better, but I don’t have alternative suggestions so I’m not going to complain), the chants were not only trivial and pointless, but they were deeply disrespectful to the two men fighting for it (Rollins himself noted on Twitter that the crowd disappointed him here), and it prevented one from enjoying what was potentially the most exciting match of the entire show. It’s clear that fans were going to rant regardless of what the title looked like solely because of its name. The UEFA Cup was renamed the Europa League in 2009/10 to negative feedback. But did fans of the finalists Fulham and Atletico Madrid concentrate on the trophy instead of the football on display? Of course not! It would have been totally stupid, which applies here as well. I could have accepted one chant or initial boos, but not to the level that it overshadowed the entire match.
Ambrose vs. Ziggler was greeted with near-silence, as were several other matches (the huge running time may have contributed to this, admittedly, but Cesaro vs. Sheamus was one such victim to the lack of reaction, and this was very early on in the night). And whilst Sasha Banks is a favourite of the hardcore fans, meaning that her defeat wouldn’t be greeted warmly, you would think that someone had ran into the ring and tried to shoot her based on the way in which people were reacting to that loss. (Assuming that Sasha is taking time off, they had to get the title off her, which only makes said fans look idiotic.) Admittedly, the atmosphere for Cena vs. Styles was topnotch, and they could have ruined Lesnar vs. Orton had they so chosen but did not; however, the prevailing thought is that this super-smarky crowd (which reacted to Finn Balor approaching The Club backstage as if Jesus Christ himself had turned up at the Barclays Center, and visibly roared “No!” when Balor walked away from them, as if Jesus had refused to help a dying man) wanted to make themselves the basis of the show, and wanted every last detail to suit them.
And it wasn’t just the live crowd; certain portions of the fans watching on PPV or the Network greatly overreacted to developments on the card. I don’t want to intimate that all fans are of this mindset, but here are the complaints that fans had about SummerSlam: American Alpha were wasted, The Usos shouldn’t have won, Sami Zayn and Neville are presently being wasted, so is Cesaro, Cesaro should have won, Enzo and Cass should have won, the grey ring mats looked ugly (seriously), the Women’s Title match shouldn’t have been so early on the show, Sasha definitely shouldn’t have been beaten, Miz sucks, Apollo possibly sucks too, Cena vs. Styles wasn’t a five-star epic (some even said the match wasn’t very good which is actually a lie rather than a misguided thought), New Day vs. Gallows and Anderson was a let-down (fair comment), Ambrose is dull, Ziggler shouldn’t have been near the WWE Title match, Nikki Bella shouldn’t have come back from injury, the Network feed was terrible (which is a good point), the Universal Championship is the most hideous-looking thing ever devised and thus the name and look of the belt tarnishes all who attempt to interact with it, Rollins vs. Balor was also a let-down (perhaps it would have been better had the chants not overshadowed it), Rusev vs. Roman not happening was a rip-off (again a fair comment), the event lasted too long (an understandable criticism), Lesnar shouldn’t have won, the main event was too short, Orton was buried, the ending to the main event was a disgrace, Daniel Bryan (who had a severe and career-ending neck issue) should have taken some blows from Lesnar alongside Shane, and Goldberg should have returned with his non-appearance apparently sending the fanbase into meltdown (hell, Goldberg had to apologise for not appearing at a show where he was never even scheduled to turn up!).
Of all those knocks, around six or seven are genuinely good points, and a few others have merit. But the majority feel like nitpicking, and it raises the question: if wrestling frustrates you so much that all of these issues can affect you during one (admittedly very long) wrestling show, then why the hell do you watch it? Do you watch Coronation Street and constantly rip everything about it? How about the elements of the Olympic Games closing ceremony? Seriously, it’s one thing to have an opinion on wrestling, and I am definitely not suggesting that fans should shut up and accept whatever we’re given. But that list (which doesn’t even include a KFC commercial filmed at SmackDown last week where Dolph Ziggler was dressed as The Colonel and The Miz was dressed as a giant chicken) seems incredibly long for what is supposed to be a show where you can just sit back and relax, appreciating and enjoying what is on offer.
SummerSlam was far from flawless, and I mentioned that I personally expected more from the event. But really, the “armchair booker” concept, whereby the fan on his couch or in front of his computer thinks that he can promote a show better than Vince McMahon himself, has gone too far now. During Rollins vs. Balor, I seriously considered watching it on mute so I could just enjoy the action rather than hearing the most critical of fans pay more attention to what a title belt looks like. Seriously, imagine if back in the Attitude Era, fans would have ignored Austin vs. Rock because they didn’t like how the Smoking Skull belt looked. Just ridiculous.
I hope this didn’t come across as an attack on all fans, because it wasn’t intended to be that way. It’s just to point out that criticisms of the wrestling product have now reached an intolerable level, where it genuinely seems that wrestling companies can do no right. I will actually be writing a separate article on how wrestling fans have changed where I will refer back to this situation, but needless to say the Brooklyn crowd had a detrimental effect on much of the SummerSlam content, and so I come away with the show with a negative feeling towards the Brooklyn fans, rather than my first reaction being what I thought of the show.
Let’s end on a lighter note, shall we? If nothing else, SummerSlam was memorable, and set up or laid the foundations for some intriguing developments going forward. It will be fascinating to see what happens with Brock Lesnar, as well as what awaits John Cena, and Finn Balor and AJ Styles will definitely be two to watch over the next few months. Was it the classic show that I hoped for? No. Did it have disappointing or frustrating moments? Absolutely. Did it deliver enough good wrestling to satisfy me? Yes, if not as much as I’d hoped for. But regardless of what certain people will say, on the whole SummerSlam was worth watching, and the Cena vs. Styles classic is what you should track down immediately after you finish reading this review. Hopefully there will be positive decisions made stemming from what went down at SummerSlam, and it has to be hoped that we don’t get such an overly critical audience like the one we had in Brooklyn. Sadly, that seems like a long shot right now. Still, Cena vs. Styles was awesome!
Overall Rating: 7.5/10 – Good