WWE ThunderDome debuted on this show.
The visual of it all is stunning. A large multi LED set, LED light bars all over the place, and real fans shown for as far as the hard camera can see, which double as LED light bars for wrestlers’ entrances.
And all it took was one hour for me to not care anymore.
No one asked for the Amway Center, no one asked for a WrestleMania sized LED light board set, and no one asked for lasers and pyro. There’s only one portion of WWE’s visual that is piss poor, and that is the abysmal camera work by Executive Vice President of Television Production, Kevin Dunn.
This man makes too much money to completely bungle simple television production that is on anyone’s top 5 list of worst things about WWE. Of course, VInce gives the green light on everything, but Dunn hasn’t used any of his influence for good.
I liked seeing a big venue again. It was frankly the only “return to normalcy” I got from this set up. Though it was quickly marred by the many digital fans in attendance. That was terrible. Rarely did I see any enthusiasm, and you didn’t even hear them react to anything! WWE used piped in crowd noise for the show! What was the point?
If they want this to succeed, there needs to be changes. I just don’t have any faith in this at the moment. The fans need better lighting, they need to react, and we need to hear them. I was intrigued by this just off of the prospect of fan reaction again, and I got none of it.
Braun and Bray Wyatt had a number of interactions on this show.
First, The Fiend interrupted Vince McMahon at the start of the show, who was then interrupted by Braun, who was then interrupted by RETRIBUTION. Fiend waved bye-bye and disappeared when the lights went out.
Later, Bray Wyatt appeared in the Firefly Funhouse and presented Firefly Funhouse Theatre - Huskus and Ramblin’ Rabbit playing Braun and Alexa Bliss… this was terrible, but thankfully it ended quick. All of a sudden, Bray stopped talking and Braun blindsided him. Thankfully he did not burn down the Funhouse like another evil bastard in the past.
So suddenly, we’re backstage and Braun and Bray are brawling. Braun chokeslammed Bray off a loading dock, and the producers and referees motioned an ambulance to take Bray out of the arena and to the hospital. They loaded him up, the ambulance started to drive off, and then it stopped and backed up. The lights inside turned red, and The Fiend opened the doors and laughed into the camera to close the show.
I hated all of this.
WWE has screwed up the Fiend and the Firefly Funhouse so terribly since last year’s Hell in a Cell. No longer is this gimmick special. The Funhouse, the puppets, and the main attraction, the Fiend, have been overbooked and mishandled.
I don’t know what Alexa Bliss’s involvement with the main event angle is, nor do I know if it will turn me around and get me invested. As of now, my feeling is that SummerSlam has to be the end of this feud. It’s doing neither performer any favors. As for Braun, his whole run as Universal champion has left much to be desired. I don’t know who’s going to win and sadly, I don’t really care anymore. I just want this to be over.
Beat the clock
Bayley and Sasha Banks were brought out by Corey Graves for an interview.
Graves asked the women if they were going to end their friendship and they said that they’re always on the same page. They go back and forth on who should face Asuka first, even though Bayley decided she would go first on Raw. Bayley said there’s no one who can beat them on the same night, and Naomi interrupted and said she wanted to face them both. Graves suggested a beat the clock challenge to find out who goes first and they accepted.
Naomi started with Sasha, and they went 3:39. Naomi hit a nice corkscrew jawbreaker and springboard kick but Sasha was really on her to try and keep the clock as low as possible. The Bank Statement did the deed, and Bayley got in immediately to wear Naomi down and get a quick pin. However, it wasn’t Bayley getting the quick pin here! Naomi hit the Rear View and pinned Bayley.
So Sasha won the Beat the clock challenge and will face Asuka second at SummerSlam. Sasha’s face when Bayley lost… that was golden. I would like to see this win mean something for Naomi, but WWE doesn’t like putting fans’ desires ahead of theirs.
What I said on the Raw recap I still stand by though. I believe Bayley will lose, and then Sasha will lose “by accident” as a result of Bayley’s involvement.
No DQ Loser Leaves WWE match
Sonya Deville. I love her.
She had herself quite a scare just a couple of days ago and WWE was kind of pulling the curtain back without downright mentioning it, by having Mandy Rose say “it’s been a rough week” and that they’ve been through a lot of good and beautiful things together as best friends. She wanted to see the good in Sonya and still believes that it’s there. She wants to put everything behind them and get back to where they were. It was a heartfelt promo that you could tell was coming from the heart since they both went through a harrowing experience the other day.
How did Sonya respond? First, by SLAPPING the hell out of Dana Brooke backstage. Then she came out to the stage and said Mandy is second guessing her own match she asked for, and that’s no surprise. She knows everyone knows she doesn’t care if she’s bald, so she upped the ante — it will now be a No Disqualification Loser Leaves WWE match. She realized she’s sick of looking at Mandy’s face and someone needs to go.
I can only imagine it took an incredible amount of strength for Sonya in particular to show up and be on television after what happened. She brought a raw feeling to this promo that hit differently from her other promos in the past.
I don’t know what the loser leaves town stipulation was added for, but if I had to guess, it’s so that Sonya can take some time off and maybe do a few other projects she’s been wanting to do. It’s a shame because I will miss her dearly but I completely understand that sometimes you have to take a step back. I think it’s pretty clear who’s winning here.
Jeff Hardy def. AJ Styles - Styles is a confirmed douchebag. When RETRIBUTION attacked at the start of the show, he took advantage and tried to injure Jeff so he couldn’t face him for the Intercontinental title. For half of the show, Jeff was shown in the trainer’s room getting looked at, and was cleared to compete.
Throughout the match, Styles tried going after that injured knee by smashing it onto the apron and using that knee in the Calf Crusher. Jeff was somehow able to fight from underneath and hit the Twist of Fate and Swanton bomb for the win. He talked about how much the title meant to him and his redemption and was promptly played offstage like he had just won an Academy Award.
The Artists def. Lucha House Party - Lucha House Party and the Artists are a great pairing. Cesaro is really great with his arsenal. Feels like he switches it up with different opponents. Lince and Metalik are crazy athletic, and I wouldn’t mind singles runs for each of them, which judging from the end of the match, could be happening soon.
Big E def. Sheamus - Did anyone ask for beef? Because there was a lot of it in this match. Sheamus was beet red on some spots of his body. I didn’t really understand how this match could go on after RETRIBUTION attacked and everyone ran them off, heel and babyface. Sheamus lost via distraction, which is WWE’s favorite way to end matches these days.
Speaking of RETRIBUTION… - The inconsistency of WWE’s booking continues to halt any good this group could do. Last Monday, they attacked the production crew and forced a commercial, then disappeared for the rest of the show. Tonight, they attacked Braun and escaped a locker room beatdown, flickered the lights for Sheamus and Big E’s match, then were off the rest of the show. It’s going to take a lot for me to really care about them. I have little faith in WWE to make that happen.
SmackDown hasn’t been great for the past few weeks, and I thought it was going to turn around. I was left with a bigger production, shot the same way Kevin Dunn shoots things, and very questionable booking decisions to characters I used to like. Let’s see what happens on Sunday.
What are your predictions for SummerSlam, Cagesiders?