Across the nation, there will be a myriad of sentiment on SummerSlam 2015. At the very least, the consensus will be there was a large quantity of topics to discuss for wrestling fans because of this show. If the philosophies of "controversy creates cash" and any publicity is good, then WWE assuredly produced an efficacious show tonight. After all, some of WWE’s decisions tonight will cause many people to debate and analyze this show for quite some time.
Randy Orton vs. Sheamus
Build: They dislike each other because it is in their contract, and they have matches together to make fans suffer. Honestly, I do not know what their feud is about anymore.
Match: Sheamus’ new heel persona is not working. He is one of those characters that lack a strong suit. This is predominantly WWE’s fault, due to their 50-50 booking and matches. In other words, wrestlers, in the mid-card especially, cannot gain any momentum because they are constantly trading wins with each other. Also, the matches are booked so 50-50 that wrestlers cannot get over their strengths. WWE envisions him to be a strong bully antagonist, but he loses too much to be that and does not display that in the ring. Granted, he uses strength-needed moves, but those moves never allow him to win matches.
Sheamus and Orton traded off moves. Some spots were well-done while others not-so-much. But, nevertheless, that is all they did. It is impossible for fans to be emotionally connected to characters or matches when they are just spots and sequences. The match’s objective was not to make Sheamus look strong, get a new move, a more aggressive or opportunistic side, or character-arc over. Its purpose was to allow Sheamus to get his pay-per-view (PPV) win over Orton and allow Orton, in defeat, to look credible enough for the dreaded rematch. This was as even-steven as booking can get.
The Prime Time Players vs. Kofi Kingston and Big E (w/Xavier Woods) vs. The Lucha Dragons vs. Los Matadores (w/El Torito) in a four-way for the WWE Tag Team Championship
Build: New Day was resentful over the Prime Time Players beating them, so they cost them their matches against Los Matadores and Lucha Dragons, which triggered both those teams to receive a tag-titles shot as well.
Match: This was a very spotty match. Some spots and sequences were impressive, but due to the nature of this match, they became lost in the shuffle. The highlights were ultimately New Day’s in-ring characteristics, as they keep portraying their hyperactive and extraordinarily eccentric personas to a tee. Their extravagant and silly behaviors allow them to become colorful in spite of WWE’s midcard being such a gloomy melting pot. It is time for WWE to give Prime Time Players and New Day more of an importantly treated story, as those two teams have the capability and chemistry to produce gold together.
Rating: ** ½
Rusev (w/Summer Rae) vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/Lana)
Build: Rusev has been excellent in his role. It is good to see he has transitioned from the stereotypical foreigner character (which made him distribute some of the weakest softball insults due to WWE’s fear of potentially hurting someone’s feelings nowadays) into more of a bully and misogynist, as he can garner more heat with this persona. The problem, though, is Lana does not seem conformable in this role. Moreover, it has turned her character into a weak stereotype. Before, she had a threat of power and confidence on the microphone. She is now a school-girl, who smiles awkwardly and ecstatically at her knight in shining armor, Dolph Ziggler, awaiting him to save the day.
Match: The announcers were trying to build the match as Ziggler having a difficult time knocking Rusev off his feet. Ziggler, however, performed the moves he would normally deliver on an average-sized man, which rendered the moot. Both wrestlers established a naturalistically steady and continuous stream and formed a match that kept augmenting until a terrible finish made them come off as losers and vitiated everything they built.
Rating: ** 1/2
Stephen Amell and Neville vs. Stardust and King Barrett
Build: Neville and Stardust have been trading wins for a while and then Stardust called out Amell. King Barrett was thrown into the mix as well. The artistically put-together comic strip video packages, though, made up for the lack of time WWE put into this story. It was something they should have shown on Raw, though, because it may have enticed people to want to see this match.
Match: For what it was, this was enjoyable sports entertainment. Amell looked trained, although he had some experience issues. His reactions and sell of certain moves were very unorthodox. Sometimes, he was not even selling moves due to not knowing how. For a celebrity, though, he was one of the best ever. Neville, by the way, is so insanely good in the ring. He is an ultimate highlight reel, but he also has the intelligence of when and why to do certain things. His comebacks are unbelievably innovating, and he does them with such ferocity and velocity to boot. In spite of bad booking, Stardust is becoming entertaining and unique by dint of his on-point facial expressions and bizarre gestures.
Furthermore, this is how you are supposed to book a celebrity. Amell never shined over the wrestlers, but he had enough offense and moments to make him look credible, and Neville came out looking like the best of the bunch.
Rating: ** ½
Ryback vs. Big Show vs. The Miz in a Triple Threat for the Intercontinental Championship
Build: Ryback had a staph infection, preventing him from defending his IC championship. Neither Big Show nor the Miz took kindly of this, so they kept calling him out. In sum, forgettable stuff.
Match: It was not an abortion but pretty close. It lacked structure and discipline. It was them running around and doing all the spots they could do with each other. Big Show sometimes acts like a rookie. Whatever he did off the top-rope just looked awful and was a complete amateur attempt. The booking protected them as much as they could, although a 5-minute match with no letup is not a good sign for the IC title. Since the US title will be mixed with the WWE title now, it is the only mid-card title left standing, and it needs a lot of attention and work to regain any semblance of credibility.
Also, Ryback’s role should not be attempting to have competitive matches over the IC championship. It will not help the title, but it will expose his weaknesses.
Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper
Build: Bray Wyatt picked Roman Reigns as his victim to torture and ultimately put over. That is Wyatt’s character in a nutshell. He just picks random people, cuts some rambling, incoherent promo on them, and then loses. Rinse, wash, repeat. Luke Harper, though, helped his old friend defeat Reigns. So, Reigns evened up the playing field via asking his good friend, Dean Ambrose to help him.
Match: This match had the perfect template, given its card placement and importance. The crowd was not thoroughly invested into this feud, due to the hollowness of the story and how many times these four wrestled together leading up to this match. A slow-build would have likely made the crowd die. So, they went all-out in what was a chaotic and hectic brawl, filled with some crafty and breathtaking spots. The match could have benefited, though, from a stipulation or a ramification to make it more important than their previous matches together. Reigns and Ambrose ultimately picked up a win that meant little, as nothing was at stake and it was not a well-told retribution story. But still, it was a fun match.
Rating: *** ¼
Seth Rollins vs. John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the U.S. Championship
Build: John Cena called Seth Rollins a joke champion, which is a no-no. You never call a champion a joke before a big match, especially when you will lose to them. Because, what does that then make you? This feud benefited from a fluke injury that occurred in a match where Cena defeated Seth Rollins in a Raw main event match. In spite of being one was the worst booked champions, Rollins still garners heat due to his polished mic-skills and ability to say the right things to get under people’s skin. Cena is additionally going for his 16th World Championship, which would tie him with Ric Flair.
Match: Wow, this was an incredible match. Excluding a few botches and half-missed spots, this was excellent work by both men. They set the groundwork for what was an incredibly structured title match. Everything they did was in purpose of the context of the story. Seth Rollins channeled his inner-HBK tonight, delivering moves, selling and bumping in such an artistic manner. It was also great how both wrestlers busted out new moves, as it sold how desperate they were and the magnitude of the match. Also, they augmented the urgency of the match by doing so too.
The story additionally played off Cena’s injured nose. He at times became overcautious of protecting his nose that it allowed Rollins to seize the advantage. They furthermore did an incredible job playing off their previous matches and clichéd spots, constantly spinning the direction of the match into uncharted territories. And, for WWE’s standards, they protected their finishes well. They mostly built the drama off the match conceivably culminating by way of teasing their finishers, only to have the other wrestlers counter it.
But then, WWE almost found a way to mar the entire match. Jon Stewart might be one of the best newscasters of our lifetime, but he is far from one of the best actors. He played the swerve so terribly it completely foreshadowed the turn. But this was not his fault. It was WWE’s for booking such a heavy-handed finish in a pathetic attempt to gain publicity. This company sometimes just reeks of desperation to become socially relevant, and they do not care if it angers their hardcore audience either.
Paige, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks, Naomi, and Tamina vs. Nikki Bella, Brie Bella, and Alicia Fox in a three-way Triple Threat
Build: Randomly, Stephanie McMahon was tired of the Bella Twins’ tactics and turned babyface by helping Paige out. Team BAD also wanted revenge on the Bella Twins, so they injected themselves into this feud too. This Diva’s Revolution has suffered due to introducing too many characters at the same time and not allowing them to develop their characters individually.
Match: Sloppy, clunky and sometimes downright ugly, this match was not a revolution of any means. It was more of the same in terms of its card placement and ring-work. Banks, Lynch and Charotte have oodles of talent, but the other girls hold them down. Brie Bella, for instances, has no rhyme nor reason behind anything she does. She is like a noob WWE 2k16 player who just hits as many buttons as he or she can. This was just too many people trying to do too much in a short amount of time, and no one got more over as a consequence. The storyline was also muddled as no one had a well-defined role. Simply put, it was just people doing stuff.
Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro
Build: Kevin Owens believes Cesaro is jealous of his success. He was able to do something Cesaro could not do: defeat John Cena.
Match: A total must-need win for Owens, who has had a rough time ever since defeating John Cena. It was hard to determine the purpose of this match. It is inconclusive if this was supposed to launch both wrestlers, or if it was just an exhibition between two wrestlers, albeit tremendously talented, going nowhere. This was a straight-up, pure wrestling match. There was nothing particularly memorable, although their work was fundamentally sound and polished. They can do better, but this was great for what it was.
Rating: *** ½
Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar
Build: Brock Lesnar conquered Undertaker’s undefeated streak. Undertaker believes streaks are meant to be broken, but the person who breaks them should not rub in it everyone’s face. Therefore, Undertaker cost Lesnar the WWE championship. They had an epic brawl, which had almost the entire roster have to break it up. Undertaker keeps using low blows to tranquilize the Beast Incarnate.
Match: This was everything WWE yearned this to be. This was the irresistible force trying to vanquish the immovable object. Undertaker was exhausted and gassed quickly into this match, but he managed to have enough wherewithal to muster through it. When done meticulously and intuitively, there is nothing greater than watching two indomitable gladiators physically slug it out.
Excellent continuity also led to instant classic moments, such as "I am going to kill you, bitch. You are going to have to" and of course Brock Lesnar mocking Undertaker’s rising pose, only for Undertaker to greet him with a deranged and psychotic double-irony laugh. It is refreshing when wrestlers give each other gestures and verbalize their abhorrence for each other. They did it at the proper times and in a believable fashion, ergo it augmented the unadulterated emotion, animosity and intensity into the story and consequently caused it to be more ultra-personal.
The drama and suspense were incredible, and the anticipation evolved rapidly due to the configuration of the match. Everything seemingly deepened towards an epic climax, and it was intriguing how this mayhem would conclude. And, since both wrestlers were so resilient and determined to win, it appeared it was building to something inventive, as virtually nothing would put these indomitable gladiators down.
However, WWE booked another cop-out finish. Brock Lesnar flipping Undertaker off, refusing to tap-out almost saved how maladroit this finish was, as it made him an even more captivating anti-hero. The finish would have been a clever way for a pusillanimous antagonist to retain his title, but the finish was not designed for a bloodshed match between two larger-than-life specimens willing to kill each other to prove they are superior.
So, did Vince McMahon’s narcissistic mind believe he could book a finish where both wrestlers won? Also, was this the official Undertaker heel turn? And if so, Undertaker’s last match will be as a heel? And how many times can WWE protect Brock Lesnar before his preverbal indestructible shell starts to crack? This is the third time in a row where he did not win nor "lose" a match either.
And, seriously, WWE built this match up as being too big for WrestleMania, but the finish was a launching pad for rubber match at WrestleMania. Vince McMahon, Kevin Dunn and Co. are literally becoming the new three-stooges.
Overall, this was just an unsatisfying way to end SummerSlam.
Rating: ****. Awesome match but a boneheaded finish.
Final Verdict: Too many questions rather than answers was the theme of this SummerSlam. SummerSlam is supposed to be the culmination of feuds. It is not supposed to be a launching pad to progress them. It is supposed to conclude the chapter of everything that after WrestleMania season. This is what happens when a company has little long-term plans and only starts booking their second biggest show a month in advance (rivalries that are just starting when they should be ending, which is one of the big reasons WWE is one never-ending story full of stagnant repetitiveness).
Basically, the booking did not indicate that one feud was over: Sheamus and Orton will have a rubber match; Prime Time Players will receive their tag-titles shot against New Day; Rusev and Ziggler did not have a winner; Neville pinned Barrett and not Stardust, so their feud will continue; Ryback pinned Miz, so his feud with Big Show will continue; Rollins and Cena will have another match, due to the screw-job finish; and Brock Lesnar and Undertaker will have their rubber match at seemingly WrestleMania 32.
Because the wrestlers, road agents and video package developers brought their A-game, SummerSlam 2015 is a recommended show. The inept and recycled booking remains the biggest weakness in the company, though, and nothing on this show indicated change for the betterment is forthcoming.