WWE SummerSlam 2020 Review feat. Braun Strowman vs. The Fiend

Logo for WWE SummerSlam 2020
Image Source: WWE
CompanyWWE
EventSummerSlam 2020
SeriesSummerSlam
Edition33
FormatPay-Per-View
DateSunday August 23 2020
VenueAmway Center
LocationOrlando, Florida, USA
Attendance0

Within the newly-constructed WWE ThunderDome (a venue within the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida which allows for fans to virtually appear on-screen from home watching the action), WWE SummerSlam 2020 was staged with the tagline “You’ll Never See It Coming” (seemingly replacing “The Biggest Party Of The Summer, which had been used since 2006, believe it or not). The card didn’t look particularly strong beforehand, but circumstances have obviously played a part, and it still ended up being a fun show overall.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS TV SHOWS? READ OUR PRE-PPV REVIEWS OF RAW & SMACKDOWN!

WWE SummerSlam 2020

Kick-Off Show

WWE United States Championship Match
Apollo Crews (C) vs. MVP

The Kick-off Show (which incidentally marked Renee Young’s final on-screen appearance for WWE, a fact she acknowledged) offering this month saw Apollo Crews defend the US crown against MVP. The story here was that MVP’s fellow members of The Hurt Business, Bobby Lashley and Shelton Benjamin, were barred from ringside, so if MVP was going to win the US belt proper, he was going to have to do it alone.

This was a decent bout that served its purpose, and I particularly noted how MVP looks light years better than he did when he first returned to WWE in January and struggled through a Raw contest against Rey Mysterio. Apollo retained the title via a Spin-Out Powerbomb, allowing his reign to continue, though it may come a cropper should he defend against either Lashley or Benjamin in the near future, possibly as soon as Payback next week.

Main Show

WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship Match
Bayley (C) vs. Asuka

Opening the show, we had the first of two title opportunities for Asuka, as she faced Bayley for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. Bayley and Sasha Banks, the Raw Women’s Champion as well as her Women’s Tag Team Championship-holding partner, have been thick as thieves over the past few months, finding ways to not only defeat opponents but to essentially hold all of the women’s crowns hostage. Asuka represented hope for the rest of the division, in particular for the blue brand, where Bayley has spent all of two days as the SD figurehead since May 2019.

The two combatants had a good match; it wasn’t as memorable as their NXT Women’s Championship contest way back at NXT TakeOver: Dallas 2016, but without a proper audience, that was inevitable. Those hoping for Bayley’s stint as SmackDown’s number one female to finally end here would be disappointed: Sasha (who was somehow allowed to be at ringside despite the obvious intention for her to interfere) climbed onto the apron and Asuka bounced her off with a running hip attack, which allowed Bayley to cradle the Empress for the pinfall win. Bayley was still the champ, and both she and Sasha attacked Asuka afterwards to further weaken her for the Japanese superstar’s second title opportunity later in the evening.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS EDITION? READ OUR WWE SUMMERSLAM 2019 REVIEW!

WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match
The Street Profits (C) vs. Andrade & Angel Garza

I like The Street Profits, but I had very little interest in seeing them face Andrade and Garza again here, even with the storyline of Zelina Vega seemingly poisoning Montez Ford a couple of weeks ago. The most noteworthy aspects of this contest to me were the deluge of cups that poured from the ThunderDome ceiling during the Profits’ typically high-energy entrance, and Kevin Owens appearing on commentary (sporting a red tie, no less) to show how far he has fallen since WrestleMania 36. The bout was enjoyable enough, but we’ve seen a combination of these four so often that it felt like a match that you would instantly forget when it was over.

In the end, we had an intriguing climax, because Zelina was knocked off the ring apron, with Andrade coming to her aid; this prevented Garza from making what would have been a crucial tag, allowing him to be dropped by Dawkins and to be the recipient of a very impressive twisting splash by Ford. The Profits retained, and based on this ending, an Andrade-Angel split may be fast approaching. Incidentally, Owens also mentioned that he was inviting Aleister Black to join him on The Kevin Owens Show the following night on Raw, which may lead to a scrap between the two.

No Disqualification Loser Leaves WWE Match
Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville

This was the pay-off to a long rivalry between the former Absolution members, which has made stars out of both women. Their initial alliance saw them playing second-fiddle to the rest of SmackDown’s women, but this plot has allowed both Rose and Deville to become important players on Friday nights. This had been a Hair vs. Hair bout, but the stipulation was changed in order to allow Deville to spend some time away from WWE in order to fully rebound from the awful real-life saga that she has been the victim of in recent weeks.

This, of course, meant that Sonya would lose here, and so she did after a decent showing, with Rose polishing off Sonya following an Angel’s Wings and a knee to the face. Mandy had to win the feud anyway, but Sonya taking time off meant that there was only one possible result, though I could see this rivalry being reignited whenever Deville comes back. Otis celebrated with Mandy afterwards, and Rose even did the Caterpillar, proving that their romance is as strong as ever.

Street Fight
Dominik Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins

This marked the in-ring debut for Rey Mysterio’s son Dominik, and it was the culmination of Rollins tormenting Rey and Dominik for three months, which included the ridiculous Eye For An Eye bout at The Horror Show At Extreme Rules. Though Rey was managing his son here, Dominik asked Rey to not get involved, and he reluctantly agreed, though he made sure to, erm, keep an eye on Murphy, who was in Rollins’ corner.

Considering that this was his first proper match (and on a PPV, no less), Dominik did a great job; there was some understandable hesitation at times, but otherwise he looked like he’d been wrestling for a long time, as opposed to this literally being match number one in his career. Seth, who was sporting gear as a mock tribute to Rey himself at WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 (one of the coolest wrestling costumes ever, by the way), did a great job at being both a bully and a slime-ball, continuously toying with Dominik and dominating him with basic wrestling moves while also pounding him again with a kendo stick, following a truly brutal kendo attack on Raw recently.

Action At SummerSlam 2020

Dominik also got kendo shots in on Seth, though, and he even leg-sweeped Seth through a table as well as hitting aerial moves such as a swinging Tornado DDT and a 619. Rey’s wife Angie came out at one point to plead with Rey to get involved, and he eventually did, though it had little bearing on the outcome. What did impact the finish was Seth hand-cuffing Rey to the ropes, forcing him to watch Rollins hit Dominik with a Stomp for the win.

This was a strong first showing for Dominik, though it was hard to watch at times, and after everything that Seth has done, the Mysterios look like saps for losing every major match to him. Nevertheless, this was effective, and Dominik’s career began on a fairly high note, finish aside.

WWE Raw Women’s Championship Match
Sasha Banks (C) vs. Asuka

Next up, it was time for Asuka’s second title shot of the night, this time against Bayley’s partner in crime, Sasha. This was a better match than Bayley vs. Asuka, partly because Banks is simply better in the ring than Bayley (in my opinion). This also furthered the ever-increasing yet slow-paced build-up of tension between The Boss & Hug Connection; if you recall, Sasha took a hip attack earlier on to allow Bayley to win. Here, Bayley imitated that she would do the same, only to avoid the attack. By side-stepping it, a distraction was created which ultimately culminated in Banks being trapped in the Asuka Lock, and with Bayley choosing not to interfere, Sasha tapped out, allowing Asuka to reclaim the Raw Women’s Title.

We already know that Bayley and Sasha will defend the Women’s Tag Team Titles at Payback next week, and if they lose those belts (leaving Sasha with none but Bayley with her own singular prize), there’s a high chance that Banks will finally turn babyface on Bayley, leading to their much-anticipated clash (who’d have thought that it would be Sasha turning face on Bayley rather than vice versa?). Mind you, we’ve been expecting them to feud for years now, so who knows if that will happen. As for Asuka, a feud with Shayna Baszler is likely to occur soon, which could be very promising indeed.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS PPV? READ OUR WWE THE HORROR SHOW AT EXTREME RULES 2020 REVIEW!

WWE Championship Match
Drew McIntyre (C) vs. Randy Orton

This had been slowly set up over the course of several weeks through Orton becoming as sadistic and selfish as ever. This included Orton taking out several legends, which included his on-off friend Ric Flair. The usual idea came into play: if Orton was willing to Punt his mentor (a 71-year-old man, no less), what would he be willing to do to the WWE Champion with the title at stake? More interesting, though, was whether WWE would cut short McIntyre’s rather enjoyable and long-awaited WWE Title reign to add further heel heat onto the Legend Killer.

Orton avoided contact early, and after several RKO attempts, he took control by back-suplexing Mcintyre on the ringside announcer table, then suplexing him from the table to the ringside mats. Drew rebounded by targeting Orton’s knee, which allowed him to lock in the Figure-Four (both as a psychologically-sound strategy and as a way to pay homage to Flair of course); Orton broke it up by dragging the referee behind him, thus allowing him to rake Drew’s face, cutting open the champion’s left eye.

Glasgow Kiss

Drew later returned the favour by busting open Orton with a vicious Glasgow Kiss headbutt. Orton survived a Future Shock DDT, but his attempt at a Punt (which has become the most dangerous finisher in WWE once again over the past two months) was avoided with a powerbomb in a cool spot. Drew then signalled for the Claymore Kick which Orton dodged; Randy then went for an RKO, but Drew reversed it into a backslide, which garnered the three-count. Drew had retained the WWE Title, meaning that his dominant run as Raw’s top man rolls on into the autumn.

For McIntyre’s sake, I hope he reigns as WWE Champion long enough to defend the belt in front of a proper live audience, because he’s done an excellent job of holding the Raw fort down during the turbulent time that has been 2020. As evidenced once again here, McIntyre’s matches always deliver, and this was the best bout of the show in my opinion without question. The least he deserves is to walk in front of 10,000 people to get the weekly reactions that his status and ability level warrants. As for Orton, it’d have been cool to see him become WWE Champion here. But I wouldn’t rule out him getting a rematch with Drew at Payback. And Randy could theoretically see him win the belt there.

Debut After SummerSlam 2020

Before the main event, we had a hype video announcing that Keith Lee would arrive on Raw the next night. Lee lost his NXT Title to Karrion Kross at NXT TakeOver XXX. So, the timing is right for the Limitless One to arrive on the main roster. ANd I anticipate a fast rise up the ranks for Lee. I’m thinking way ahead here, but a Lee vs. Brock Lesnar match at WrestleMania 37 would have huge potential.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FIRST EDITION? READ OUR WWF SUMMERSLAM 1988 REVIEW!

WWE Universal Championship Match
Braun Strowman (C) vs. The Fiend

Taking the main event spot was the presumed culmination of the long-running storyline between Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt. This began a few days after Strowman won the Universal Title at WrestleMania 36. If you recall, Strowman pinned “Firefly Fun House” Wyatt at Money In The Bank. This summoned The Fiend. But only after Strowman had to deal with, erm, old-school Bray (the original version of the Eater Of Worlds).

This included a divisive Swamp Fight at The Horror Show At Extreme Rules. That was where The Fiend truly returned. And since then, he was more than ready to take out Braun in order to reclaim his Universal Championship. Meanwhile, Alexa Bliss was drawn into the storyline in such a manner that I felt great sympathy for her. But not much for the babyface titleholder Braun, who has been changed by Fiend. Braun now sports a bald head and is a more menacing threat than he has been for a good while. Therefore, this was almost a clash of two heels.

Main Event Of SummerSlam 2020

This bout utilised a Falls Count Anywhere stipulation. The rules were only announced on social media over the weekend. That was probably done to entice fans on the fence about watching SummerSlam, rather than a logical storyline pivot. Fiend laughed off Braun’s initial attack before striking him with a uranage and walloping him with a toolbox at ringside.

Strowman rebounded with a running shoulder tackle that sent Fiend through the barricade. Braun followed that up with a chokeslam onto the announcer’s table which didn’t break. After a shot with the steel stairs, Strowman powerslammed Fiend, but he kicked out quickly. Strowman mouthed “what the f–k?” Michael Cole tried to cover for it by saying “Strowman is asking ‘what do I have to do?'” Nobody was buying that, Cole.

Finish

The monsters then headed up the aisle and backstage in the Gorilla Position. Back there, Fiend hit Braun with Sister Abigail for a two-count. With a small cut opened on his bonce, Strowman avoided a Mandible Claw back at ringside, and in the ring itself, he hit a second Powerslam for another near-fall. Strowman then went to the toolbox to retrieve a box cutter. That allowed him to tear open the ring mat, exposing the wooden boards below the canvas. But it backfired, as Fiend hit him with a Uranage followed by two Sister Abigails on the wood. This allowed Fiend to score the pin to become the new and two-time Universal Champion.

Ending Of SummerSlam 2020

Post-match, though, before The Fiend could celebrate, he was Speared by a returning Roman Reigns! Last seen prior to WrestleMania 36, The Big Dog was back in a big way. Reigns also Speared Braun Strowman at ringside. Reigns shouted “I made you! You’re not a monster unless I’m here!” at Braun. Roman then whacked Strowman repeatedly with a steel chair, before returning to the ring where he Speared Fiend again. Reigns motioned that he wanted the Universal Title to end the night.

Reigns had been set to face (and probably defeat) Goldberg for the belt at WM 36. But he had to pull out due to the pandemic. Therefore, this is his chance to regain the title he relinquished in 2018 due to leukaemia. After SummerSlam 2020, Reigns vs. Fiend is well and truly on the cards, but it looks like we’ll get (yet) another Reigns-Braun battle before then.

SummerSlam 2020 Summary

WWE SummerSlam 2020 was a good event on the whole. However, it was a step down from previous SummerSlams for obvious reasons. Namely, there were no fans, and the pandemic ensured a roster that is lacking in star power. The ThunderDome environment helped, though, because it would have seemed even weaker in the Performance Center. McIntyre vs. Orton was very good, and Strowman vs. Fiend exceeded expectations. There were also two exciting Asuka matches. The spectacle of Dominik Mysterio’s debut. And of course Roman Reigns’ return. So, you have plenty for fans to talk about in the coming days as we enter the post-SummerSlam season. Furthermore, cinematic matches seem to be a thing of the past now in the upgraded venue.

Reigns being back is the biggest positive of the night because WWE sorely needs him right now. I expect his Universal Championship chase to run to either Survivor Series or WrestleMania 37 if WWE is really patient. Either way, this was an enjoyable production. Even if most fans will barely remember the card once the pandemic era of wrestling is over.

WATCH WWE SUMMERSLAM 2020 NOW ON WWE NETWORK!