FanPost

SummerSlam needed to be a home run -- it wasn't

WWE.com

I'll admit. I said many times that I would blow off the WWE for the remainder of the year. For the most part I have, save talking about the promotion from the big-picture, business aspect point of view. However, I decided to check out SummerSlam, because well -- the WWE attempting to book SummerSlam into Wrestlemania-lite in the light of low television ratings, declining gate revenue, and the overestimation of the demand that actually exists for its product was intriguing.

When it comes to WWE, I don't look at the promotion as a fan. To be honest, I'm a professional wrestling fan and have little to no loyalty to WWE. I enjoy watching many of the performers in WWE, but I don't aim to immerse myself in it for enjoyment. I analyze the promotion from a business point of view (I have a bachelor's in finance ... so you already know) mainly because I am dismayed at how Vince McMahon can, in an instant, turn from shrewd businessman and entertainment executive to just another corporate manager that makes you want to scratch your head in bewilderment and befuddlement.

The WWE needed SummerSlam to be a home run. In the wake of declining product interest, which has been consistent in its decline for the past 15 years, the most high-profile SummerSlam event of all time needed to be a company gold mine that would be a turning point in the WWE's fortunes -- not that they're bad. After all, as evidenced by the recent jump in WWE stock -- investors see still see something in the WWE, whatever it may be, considering that, aside from production values and social media outreach, there's nothing that the WWE is exceptional at. But I digress.

SummerSlam was not going to be for the wrestling purists. Wrestling purists were accommodated by the action-packed NXT Takeover: Brooklyn event the night before. Remember, the WWE positions NXT to be the brand for hardcore, purist fans whom would enjoy seeing performers that they had long followed in the indies performing on a stage better than they are accustomed to seeing them on. SummerSlam was going to be for the casual wrestling audience that will enjoy the WWE's entertainment at its most superficial level, even if casual wrestling fans reject kayfabe as much as purists do.

However, casual wrestling fans are going to want to be told a very good story. At least a story that they will find a reason to care about. This has always been the case. I think purists get a little too much into worry about face and heel alignments, considering that alignments are not as pure as they are traditionally in the WWE. There's a gray area these days with casual wrestling fans in the sense that their reaction is now a matrix of the character's role, the performer's act, and the performer his or herself -- increasingly the latter two. This is more in line with purists. While you may think that this has no relevance to this review, it actually does. I'll elaborate later.

The undercard was littered with matches that featured a range of action ranging from tolerable to great.

Sheamus and Orton had a fairly decent match. The chemistry is there, but that could have easily been a match that they gave away on free television. Nothing about their feud really justifies a bout at a major event. Orton is bulletproof at this point to the point that the WWE has no use for him as a true face or a true heel. People will be happy to see him just because he's one hell of an act and a damn good performer. Sheamus, on the other hand, has a heel act that isn't working and fans aren't booing the character, they're booing the act. It's a shame because Sheamus is a good performer and deserves a lot better, considering he's about to re-enter the main event scene.

The four way match for the WWE Tag Team Championship was as good as you could expect from a WWE-style multi-wrestler match. The WWE tried to execute an Attitude-Era style overlapping feuds match, and while it fell short on being meaningful in that way, the performances was still solid. The New Day, as goofy as their act is, is back to being the Tag Team Champions of a decent tag team division.

Rusev and Zigger put on a good match, despite the fact that their whole angle is playing out like a really bad soap opera. The sad thing is that all four participants in this angle -- the aforementioned wrestlers, Lana, and Hot Summer, are all good actors and deserved a better plot. The natural chemistry between Lana and Rusev worked before because those two are actually a real life couple -- it's missing in this feud and it really shows.

I really don't have much to say about the celebrity match. Celebrity matches are only there to help further sell the event and draw in casual fans that would want to see a star perform in a different light. Stephen Amell did a good job and Neville showed why he is quickly becoming the best overall in-ring performer in the company in the wake of Daniel Bryan's extended absence. But people watch the CW's Arrow for the comic book character, not for Amell, and aside from the little bigger blip in the radar in entertainment websites, his appearance is not going to have a substantial impact.

The Intercontinental Title match was difficult to watch. The producers knew before hand that the Ryback, Big Show, and The Miz was better suited for a shorter match. The plot-line material that they were given to sell this angle was not very good and indicative of the WWE's long-running issue of being unable to write a compelling extended mid-card feud. If there ever was an angle that needed the storyboard treatment of the late Chris Kreski, it would be this one.

Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns triumphed against two stale acts in Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper. The issue with gimmick heavy characters like Wyatt and Harper is the WWE would forget to have them evolve. This is the same Bray Wyatt that we saw back in 2012. Don't get me wrong, Rotunda is a hell of a performer and he's doing the family name proud, but his act and his act alone is the only thing that's keeping him over. Meanwhile, the bromance between Ambrose and Reigns continues until the WWE decides between killing Ambrose's career or boosting Reign's career with a heel turn. It needed to be a chaotic performance because aside from the fact that all four are decent workers, there's no real reason to give two shits about their feud.

The Divas Revolution, as I wrote before, is not a revolution. Lumping nine women together in a poorly written feud with a meaningless plot is not a revolution, but a mere extension of what has already been plaguing the WWE's women's division since after Trish and Lita rode off into the sunset. By watching this match, one could forget that Sasha Banks wrestled an epic classic with Bayley, in what has been described as one of the best high-profile women's matches this decade. This was nothing more than a marketing nod to Ronda Rousey, and as I wrote in my Weekly Slam last week, if Rousey was not in the picture, then this whole thing would have never occurred.

Kevin Owens and Cesaro performed a straight up, mano-a-mano wrestling match that was good for what it was, granted it was given a weird spot on the card. They are two of the hardest workers right now in the WWE. However, these two would benefit if they were part of overlapping feuds. The problem is that WWE really has not been able to do a good job with writing overlapping feuds since Stephanie McMahon took over for Chris Kreski in 2001.

The two main event matches will go down has having the strangest and unsatisfying finishes in recent years. It not only speaks about the WWE from a creative standpoint, but from a business standpoint.

The Rollins-Cena match was to appeal to two sets of fans -- the purists fans in attendance that would have rioted if Cena won both belts and the casual fans that would have been happy to see Jon Stewart get involved. The swerve was not well executed, but folks have to keep in mind that Stewart is a comedian and not a seasoned performer in professional wrestling. However, casual fans will eat up the end result -- Stewart got involved in a professional wrestling match and the company's top star lost his secondary belt to the secondary top star that holds the company's top belt. See what I did there? At least WWE has to be happy with being a top story on ESPN... which makes no fucking sense for a scripted spor... I mean entertainment event.

There is not much to say about Lesnar and Undertaker's performance. It was a good match featuring two hard-working hoss performers out there. The in-ring storytelling and antics were solid -- after all, these are two of the best performers in the history of the business. The ending, however, made zero sense and it was a testament of how the WWE fails to pay attention to deal when it comes constructing plot twists in their angles. If both performers were full time, in a heated feud over the title, then the finish would make absolute sense. However, these are both part-timers, that wrestled a main event match that really was only meant to sell what will probably be their rubber match at next year's Wrestlemania in Arlington. From future business standpoint I can understand it; from a current business standpoint, I am just wondering why on earth the WWE would let a four hour show end on that note...especially with that match?

All in all, SummerSlam was not a home run. It needed to be. The WWE will experience the post show ratings bump as always, get about 5 million viewers, and next week, and the ensuing weeks afterward, it will struggle just to crack 3.5 million viewers on average, especially when the WWE will get slayed in the overlapping hours with Monday Night Football, which eats up the last two hours of Raw's three hour programming block.

The WWE continues to promote an overexposed, overblown product. While the performances were tolerable, to solid, to great, this was an event that was more appropriate for a standard, three hour, non-marquee pay per view instead of the WWE's attempt at a summer Wrestlemania. Casual fans will have very little to take seriously and purist fans will have something to endlessly bitch about.

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.