Man, I love Terry Crews. That was a stellar opening. But did the SummerSlam card live up to the hype?
A New Universal Champion
Thank JBL this is finally over.
Give WWE credit, man. As awful as this long, plodding feud has been at times from a storytelling perspective, they certainly know how to make a match interesting.
Before Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns could begin their match, Braun Strowman came out and told them both to their faces that he would be cashing in his briefcase on whomever won the match. He called Lesnar “Beastie Boy” again which got a great chant.
And then the match started and Reigns attacked Lesnar like a bat out of hell. Superman Punch after Superman Punch, Spear after Spear. The assault got countered into a Guillotine attempt by Lesnar, and then the pace finally slowed.
This felt a lot like their WrestleMania match to me, except they used Strowman’s presence to prevent it from going to the absurd levels that the WrestleMania match did. Reigns accidentally went through the ropes to Spear Strowman. That gave Lesnar the bright idea to F5 Strowman, smash him with his own briefcase, and throw it all the way up the ramp.
Funnily enough, the ending of the match wasn’t exactly clean. Lesnar was so caught up in keeping Strowman down that he walked into a Spear and got pinned.
Can you blame him? Strowman’s scary as hell!
I’m just happy the title’s on Raw, man. And after what WWE did on this show to create some immediate contenders for Reigns’ championship, I don’t think anyone can really complain.
(But they will. Such is life.)
STRAIGHT FIRE BABY
And the loudest pop of the night goes to...Becky Lynch.
How can you not feel for her? Screwed over at every opportunity. It’s been boiling forever and ever at this point – and screw you, Charlotte! Sticking your nose into Becky’s business and adding yourself to this match!
My god I’m fired up.
This match was probably my favorite women’s match in months. I really dug this one. Carmella’s part was great; she was snooty and overconfident, more eager to goad her opponents and laud her title over them than to actually win the match. Because of her mindset, she simply couldn’t keep up with the frantic work rate of Charlotte and Lynch. Carmella was scrambling to break up pin attempts, let alone get any offense in.
The Charlotte/Lynch dissension began early when Lynch got slapped by Carmella and thought Charlotte did it. The tension was immediately palpable and only escalated throughout the match.
What else can I say? Carmella hit a fantastic dive on Lynch, Lynch was her usual immaculate self in the ring, and Charlotte’s corkscrew Moonsault off the top turnbuckle was nuts. The false finishes were spectacular.
But that finish? That was a work of art.
Lynch had Carmella dead to rights. She had her with a Disarmher in the middle of the ring. And because of Charlotte’s stupid interference and getting booked in this match, Lynch got screwed again. She was blindsided by a Natural Selection and pinned by her “friend.”
Charlotte won. The crowd booed.
Lynch got up and stared at her friend. The crowd began chanting for her. She initiated a hug and then she snapped. Lynch attacked Charlotte in a frenzy with the crowd coming unglued. She kept going until she was finally satisfied and walked away with her head held high and a jut to her chin.
We all have our pride at the end of the day. And all it took was some straight fire to get me fired up. Man, that “you deserve it!” chant as Becky coyly looked back on the ramp. Chills.
Daddy’s coming home
...Did we just get a TNA chant? I think we just got a TNA chant.
You know, it took me a while to get into this match. It came right after the SmackDown women’s triple threat which was worked at a much faster pace. But by the end of the match, I was hooked.
This feud was personal from the get go. Samoa Joe just has a knack for getting under people’s skin, but he’s really turned it up for AJ Styles. I’d imagine he’s doing it because he knows that he needs to affect Styles in some way to win the WWE Championship, but man...to tell his wife that daddy wasn’t coming home, but he’d be her new daddy?
That’s...man. That’s vile.
Clad in gear that reminded me of the New York Nightmare – I can’t be the only Blitz fan here, can I? - Styles was a nightmare for Joe in the end. After Joe made his last pass at Styles’ family, the champion lost it. A physical match was tossed to the wayside. Styles introduced a chair to the mix and got himself disqualified.
This all felt uncomfortable...but in a good way, I think? Styles’ daughter looked terrified, so maybe not. All I know is that this match and feud has my undivided attention – and that has to be a success, right?
(Graves calling that Styles didn’t hook both arms on the Styles Clash was brilliant, by the way.)
Rowdy Ronda Rousey
If you aren’t absolutely terrified and in awe of Ronda Rousey, you are either a better person than me or you’re delusional.
She’s terrifying. And it’s brilliant.
Rousey squashed Bliss in our third squash of the night. It even featured a Masterlock Challenge-like moment where Rousey shut her eyes, sat down, and allowed Bliss to lock in whatever she wanted to.
And y’all. Rousey broke that rear naked choke in five seconds flat, beat Bliss silly, and lectured her on what it means to be champion the entire time.
I enjoyed the hell out of it.
I think you could be critical of the post-match celebration a bit, and perhaps Rousey’s redundancy when she was speaking in the ring, but I have no complaints.
(Also, Nattie? You are amazing. Just wanted you to know that, okay?)
Go get you a Lunatic
The most consistently stellar feud on Raw opened the show. And guess what? They were just as stellar as they always are.
Seth Rollins hasn’t struggled much at all with anyone this year. He knows he’s having a hell of a run and whether it was hubris or just a desire to do something unmatched before in wrestling history, he bit off more than he could chew in the duo of Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler. Exploiting McIntyre’s intimidating presence and aid, Ziggler snatched the Intercontinental Championship from RAW’s Walking Inferno and has stayed one step ahead ever since.
...Until Summerslam, that is.
Guys, gals? Go get yourself a Lunatic. Go get yourself someone who looks at someone like McIntyre and licks his chops. With someone like that in your corner, how can you be anything else other than successful?
Anyway, I don’t even know what else to say. More of these guys.
Yes or No?
My goodness. Give the WWE video promo team an Emmy.
Okay look: This wasn’t a technical masterpiece of a match. The Yes chants got really old considering the fact that the match was essentially the two trading Yes kicks and the Yes taunt. Is that enough “Yes” for you, by the way?
With that said, it was still fun. I just don’t think it was able to meet the lofty expectations. I didn’t enjoy how many people were cheering for the Miz, for starters; he’s an arrogant, attention-seeking troll. I guess a lot of people relate to that. You’d think fans of the guy would realize that booing a heel is giving them the reaction they want, but folks are gonna do what they want, I suppose.
There was a cool spot where Bryan went full American Dragon, slapping Miz silly. That felt a bit like the theme of the match to me. Bryan had this extra gear that he could go, relying on his experience and the hardened life of growing up through the indies. And the Miz, well, he knows how to make up for not having that experience.
Maryse passed the Miz some brass knuckles to finish Bryan off. The crowd popped. I rolled my eyes.
I do appreciate the irony of Miz winning with a punch to the face, though!
The Rest of the Card
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Jeff Hardy – I remember hearing that there were reports of Hardy being “banged up.” Then he goes and hits a Swanton Bomb on the ring apron.
This was a pretty short match, and Nakamura went over clean with a Kinshasa. I really enjoyed Hardy stealing his taunt, though. Afterwards, Orton came out to tease beating down Hardy, but then he left. That was...a thing. At least he didn’t corner anyone.
Demon Balor def. Baron Corbin – YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!
HOLY CRAP THE SKY! HOLY CRAP THE SQUASH! HOLY CRAP CORBIN’S FACE! HAHAHA!
LET ME MARK, OKAY?!
Heheh...okay, so let’s actually talk about this. Perfect booking, in my opinion. You can’t thwart a bully without putting the fear of god into them. I think a surprise Demon attack would qualify. Balor’s tongue thing was clearly the work of someone’s idea backstage. It was a bit silly, but man how funny would that conversation been to hear in person?
“Finn, we need more tongue!”
Our new Universal Champion needs some new competition, and a vicious squash for the Demon certainly does that. I actually liked Coachman questioning why Balor doesn’t do this more, though. WWE needs to answer that question and give more context to what the Demon is. The “he uses it when he needs it” line doesn’t really cut it.
It just makes me so damn happy how quickly the crowd comes alive when the Demon arrives.
Ladies and gents: Elias – Ah, nothing like goading a crowd, snapping your guitar, getting obscenities chanted at you, and throwing a temper tantrum.
Braun Strowman def. Kevin Owens – The highlight of this match was Corey Graves calling Strowman a “meat castle.”
This was a complete squash. And I don’t know how to feel about this one. On one hand, the crowd loves Strowman and WWE gave them exactly what makes Strowman impressive and fun. But I dunno, man. This just wasn’t for me. Strowman’s untouchable. I don’t ever enjoy that sort of thing.
And then later on, he wasn’t untouchable. He was dumb as hell, standing right by the ring in harm’s way. How can someone so unstoppable be so dumb?
The Bludgeon Brothers def. The New Day – XAVIER WOODS, GOOD SIR, YOU ARE INSANE. THAT ELBOW DROP WAS FILTHY!
Man. Is there any team in WWE as consistently entertaining as the New Day? Can we get them to freebird a singles title, please?
Woods was brutalized all match, but he’s the perfect guy to get Big E in position to do the most damage. I really liked that bit of storytelling in this match. Woods was on the ropes like Rocky Balboa all match, but his ability to withstand punishment allowed Big E to get one of the Bludgeon Brothers alone multiple times to inflict damage. His Big Ending to Rowan, for example. And his through-the-ropes Spear to Harper.
In the end, the Bludgeons – Bludgeons? Is that how you shorten their name? - took the short way out and smashed Big E with a mallet to the face. Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow.
B Team def. The Revival – You know maybe I just hate fun, but the B Team antics are not amusing to me anymore. Bo Dallas stumbled over The Revival’s roll up attempt and it got his partner Curtis Axel on top for the victory. Three for three on roll up finishes on the pre-show.
I’d imagine this feud continues. The Revival had the win if the ref hadn’t been distracted.
Alexander/Gulak - Can we talk about Gulak’s gear for a second? The American flag pandering for a dude with a politician gimmick? Brillant.
Anyway, this match rocked. The Cruiserweights brought out a ton of moves that you just don’t see on Raw or SmackDown. The crowd wasn’t invested from the get go, but they were getting into it by the end, especially for the finishing sequence. It’s a shame they slightly messed up the roll up exchange at the end because they could have gotten a huge pop for the finish. I need to watch more 205 Live if they’re putting in consistent efforts like this.
Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega def. Rusev and Lana – This match was pretty fun. I mean, it wasn’t the classic of wrestling prowess that Rusev and Almas could display, but they weren’t ever going to get that chance on the pre-show.
The teams wore coordinating gear – which is always awesome - and the men started off the match. I found it funny that we were acting like Lana was this formidable hot tag for a bit, but she eventually got the tag and was able to keep Vega on the run. In the end, Almas distracted Lana for a roll up and Vega used the ropes to leverage her pin attempt.
I thought this show was way too long. Look at how many words I had to write! With that said, this was a really fun show. I enjoyed a lot of it – damn near all of it, really - and WWE gave us actual storyline progression.
Roman Reigns won a frickin’ title and didn’t get destroyed by the crowd. That in itself is mighty impressive.
I’m tired of reading my own words, Cageside. Type some stuff so I can read yours.