SummerSlam (2016) – Sunday Bloody Sunday

SummerSlam (2016) PosterLast night WWE was in Brooklyn , NY this year’s version of SummerSlam. This is one of the WWE’s “Big Four” PPVs and I had really high hopes for the event. I even went so far as to make some predictions which I felt really good about. I don’t think I’m going to bother doing that any more cause even though I booked what I thought was a solid show I couldn’t have been more wrong. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the show, because for the most part I did. But I’ll say right from the get go that WWE made (in my opinion) some very questionable decisions with the way they built this show.

This was the first time since Payback in May that Mark and I watched the show together which I always enjoy. My two older boys are REALLY getting into wrestling (to the joy of my wife as you can imagine) so they watched the first four matches with us before bedtime. This show also marks the last PPV before the brand specific PPVs will start. As I discussed back in June, starting next month WWE will be running TWO PPV shows per month (with the exception of the Big Four months). September will give us Backlash on the 11th and Clash of Champions on the 25th, October will give us No Mercy on the 9th and Hell in a Cell on the 30th. Not sure if I’m going to be able to watch all of those live but I imagine I’ll be using the WWE Network to watch them shortly thereafter. I also imagine that my subscription pricing of $9.99 (plus tax) will be going up.

We didn’t watch the kickoff matches and from what I’m reading they were relatively forgettable:

  • American Alpha, The Hype Bros , and The Usos defeated Breezango, The Ascension, and The Vaudevillains
  • Sami Zayn and Neville defeated The Dudley Boyz
  • Sheamus defeated Cesaro

I was sort of surprised to see Sheamus and Cesaro on the kickoff but the other two matches are RAW / Smackdown quality at best so no surprises there.

OK… enough intro stuff. Let’s get to it.

(All photos courtesy WWE.com)

SummerSlam (2016) - Enzo & Cass vs Jerico & OwensChris Jericho and Kevin Owens Defeated Enzo Amore and Big Cass

The first of my predictions where I was off the mark (it won’t be the last). Good way to start off the show with Enzo on the mic. He was good as always but not great. This one went just over 12 minutes and I have to say I was surprised by the result but in retrospect probably shouldn’t be. Enzo and Cass are on fire and they didn’t need this win at all. I’d guess that eventually we’re going to see Jericho and Owens turn on one another but they didn’t even tease it here which was a nice surprise. I have to say that I absolutely love this version of Jericho. I’ve not been his biggest fan over his career but this incarnation I can really get behind. Could this be the start of a multi-month program between these two teams? If so that’s not the worst thing in the world as there was some good chemistry here and it keeps Enzo and Cass A) together and B) away from the titles which they don’t need.

SummerSlam (2016) - Charlotte vs Sasha BanksCharlotte Defeated Sasha Banks For The WWE Women’s Championship

Dana Brooke was technically barred from ringside but as I said in my preview it didn’t matter. What I didn’t anticipate was Sasha losing the title here. In fact I’d say I’m sort of shocked that it happened. This was sort of a sloppy affair in my eyes with Sasha looking to be legit hurt after taking a fall on her neck relatively early in the match. They didn’t end it right away which tells me that Charlotte was supposed to get the win but it never really gelled for me. Good to see the ladies getting time to tell a story with 13 plus minutes but sad to see two great performers put on a match that isn’t up to their standards. Will be good to see Banks back on the chase and I won’t be surprised to see them have this one go all the way to Mania next year.

SummerSlam (2016) - Miz vs Apollo CrewsThe Miz Defeated Apollo Crews To Retain The Intercontinental Championship

The first of my predictions that I got right. Miz retains in a short match (less than six minutes) that no one seemed to care about. The crowd was out of it (more on them later) but you can’t really blame them. Crews is an absolute beast that does things that a dude his size shouldn’t be able to do. My son mistakenly said he did a “black flip” which Mark and I had a good chuckle at. I’m guessing we’ve seen the last of this particular feud. Glad to see Miz keep the strap as I think he’s best as a smarmy heel but sorry to see Crews get the loss as I’m guessing he’ll go back down the card for at least a couple of months.

SummerSlam (2016) - Styles vs CenaAJ Styles Defeated John Cena

This… was… amazing. I won’t use the word “phenomenal” cause that would be cliche. I won’t use “tremendous” cause I use it too often. Bottom line, this was the match of the night and possibly the match of the year. This was 23 minutes of some of the best wrestling you’ll ever see in the modern era. Both guys hit and kicked out of multiple finishers and told a story within the match that evokes feeling. Styles continues to prove that he deserved to be in the WWE spotlight years ago and Cena continues to prove just how talented he really is. JBL said that Cena might be the best ever and by the time this guy’s career is over even the Cena haters out there are going to have a tough time arguing against that. In my prediction post I said, “Look for him to do the clean job in the middle of the ring to give Styles his first signature WWE win.” He did just that and then had the heart strings moment of the night when he left his “Never Give Up” wristband in the middle of the ring. The terrible Brooklyn crowd actually had the balls to boo the guy on his way out proving once again that wrestling hipsters don’t really understand wrestling and will do whatever they can do ruin an event. This match alone made the event a thumbs up regardless of what came after it.

SummerSlam (2016) - Club vs New DayThe Club Defeated The New Day

Any match that followed Cena vs. Styles was going to pale in comparison. WWE actually did a good thing by putting this match here. A little bit of comic relief from the New Day and John Stewart kept the flow of the show moving forward. I’m glad to see that Stewart didn’t mess up another big marquee match this year (he interfered and cost John Cena his match last year against Seth Rollins). It sucks to see The Club brought down to that level as they really should be booked as monsters. Big E runs down to cause a disqualification at the nine minute mark. If they’re not careful, WWE is going to keep the titles on these guys way too long and they’re going to lose what they’ve got going for them. In fact in my mind I think they passed that point quite some time ago. It’s time for something new for New Day. Perhaps a breakup of the trio?

SummerSlam (2016) - Ambrose vs ZigglerDean Ambrose Defeated Dolph Ziggler To Retain The WWE World Championship

I picked Ambrose to win here and I’m glad I was right. I’m bummed that this particular match didn’t live up to what I’d hoped it would. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad match… in fact it was quite good. But it wasn’t the great match that I expected from these two. For just over 15 minutes these guys had a good back and forth affair. It was sort of surprising to see Ambrose taunting Ziggler here only because it comes across a little heelish for me. The end sort of seemed like a botch to me with Ziggler going for some sort of top rope move only to have Ambrose reverse it into his Dirty Deeds finisher. As a huge Ambrose guy I’m happy to see him hold onto the title and I’ll be interested to see where he goes from there. I’m a fan of Ziggler as well but I don’t see this particular match doing much to turn the negative trend he’s been experiencing the last couple of years. It’ll be some time (if ever) before we see Dolph in a main event spot again.

SummerSlam (2016) - Women's Tag MatchNikki Bella, Natalya, and Alexa Bliss Defeated Becky Lynch, Naomi, and Carmella

If there was ever a bathroom break match this is it. They had to go the “mystery partner” route when Eva Marie got a substance abuse suspension. Mildly interested to see Nikki Bella back but once that novelty wore off there wasn’t anything that could save this 11 minute train wreck. Not sure why they didn’t chose to use this match as a big time spotlight match on these gals as opposed to just another notch in the belt of Nikki Bella. I guess that’s what being John Cena’s gal does for you. Meh.

SummerSlam (2016) - Balor vs RollinsFinn Balor Defeated Seth Rollins For The WWE Universal Championship

More boos here from the hipster crowd when the title was shown. Apparently this was a no DQ match where it was pinfall and submission-only. Guess that makes sense as you HAD to have a winner here to determine the first ever WWE Universal Champion. I’m shocked by the outcome here but not in a bad way. I just didn’t see them putting the strap on Balor as he JUST got to the main roster. It’ll be interesting to see how Rollins responds after losing this classic match. Just under 20 minutes really showed just how great these guys are. They threw the kitchen sink at one another breaking out multiple finishers and a bunch of moves that I’d not seen from either guy. It’s nice to see Rollins in there was a guy his own size (or smaller as the case may be) as he really shows off just what a stud he is. Apparently WWE owns a trademark on the term “The Demon King” as they said it like 3,720 times during the match. I’ve seen a ton of people going absolutely ape shit about how awesome Balor’s entrance is. Sure, it’s cool, but this is wrestling hipster 101 stuff here. Dude is straight up amazing in the ring… focus on that. This match above all shows me that WWE is really committed to the whole “New Era” shtick. They’ve made a huge move here making Balor the face of their flagship show. I’m intrigued to see how he handles the pressure moving forward.

SummerSlam (2016) - Reigns vs RusevRusev vs. Roman Reigns For The US Championship – No Match

This is where things sort of went off the rails for me. The fact they we didn’t get this match at all sucks balls. I love the fact that Reigns is turning into a bad ass but I hate that it’s at the expense of Rusev. Why on earth they think that booking this non-match as the second to last match on the card (ESPECIALLY with the way the main event went off) is totally mind boggling to me. There’s a lot to work with moving forward here but I just can’t justify this sort of thing on what the WWE would have you believe is its second biggest show of the year behind only WrestleMania. I can only hope that this is just an elaborate plot to get Reigns over with the fans who have pretty much universally hated him but I don’t like the way they’re going about it.

SummerSlam (2016) - Lesnar vs OrtonBrock Lesnar Defeated Randy Orton

For the second year in a row we get Brock Lesnar in the main event of SummerSlam in a match that has some questionable booking. Here Lesnar gets the win by technical knockout in just under 12 minutes when he busts Randy Orton wide open via MMA style elbows to the forehead. I’m pretty certain that this was the way things were supposed to end, though I’m not sure if it was supposed to be quite this bloody. If I had to guess, Lesnar got a little over zealous when he opened Orton up either by mistake or more likely totally by design in retaliation for Orton’s comments about his juicing in the UFC. After the match, Shane came down to the ring to check on Orton and Lesnar gave him the F-5 with Heyman yelling, “What did you do?!?!?” as if we didn’t know what a loose cannon Lesnar was. The title of my SummerSlam recap last year was “Poorly Booked Main Events” which is ironic seeing as we get this. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say it was poorly booked as it did what it was intended to do: It’s got us talking. The Internet is ablaze with talk about this match, how Lesnar is dangerous, how he doesn’t care, was it work, was it a shoot, etc. Folks… Don’t think for one second this wasn’t the plan. I questioned it for a moment myself but as soon as Lesnar attacked again after the doctors were in the ring it told me that this was part of the script. I’m not sure I like them going this direction but I can tell you one thing… the build up to to the next Orton vs. Lesnar match is going to be epic. After all: Red = Green.

SummerSlam (2016)Final Thoughts

This was a really good card on paper. When I did my previews there were seven out of the eleven announced matches that I was really looking forward to. Sadly the event itself didn’t live up to my expectations. In the end it was an entertaining show with a couple of stand out matches but it was hampered by some really questionable booking decisions and some in ring mistakes. John Cena and AJ Styles put on an absolute clinic that simply needs to be seen. No title on the line, no outside interference. Just two absolute professionals putting on a wrestling match that people will be talking about for years. This one is going to be right up there with the Shawn vs. Razor Ladder Match, Bret vs. Bulldog IC title match and HHH vs. The Rock as the best SummerSlam matches of all time. After that everything sort of pales by comparison. Balor and Rollins put on an outstanding match and even though I don’t agree with the outcome I’m very interested to see how Balor puts RAW on his shoulders moving forward. Ambrose and Ziggler was good until the botched finish and Sasha vs. Charlotte was sort of a mess but I’m looking forward to their program.

That being said, this event is going to be judged harshly for the last couple of matches. Not getting the advertised Reigns vs. Rusev match was a bummer but I’ll reserve judgement for a couple of weeks. If that kicks off an epic program between the two then I can give it a bit of leeway. Otherwise its just a huge miss. Lesnar continues to be built as an absolute machine. At this point I’ve got to ask myself: why? He’s broken The Streak, he’s a legit bad ass, he’s the biggest name in combat sports. What’s the payoff going to be? Whenever it happens (Lesnar getting beat) it’s going to be on par with Hogan beating Andre at WrestleMania III. The question in my mind is who’s going to get that honor? I sort of thought it was going to be Orton. One thing’s for sure… that match got us talking. And that’s all WWE really cares about.

Did you watch SummerSlam? Leave me a comment and let me know what you thought!

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