August 22, 2016
Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Barclays Center got a taste of WWE action for the second night in a row as SummerSlam rolled into town on Sunday. It very well was set up to be possibly the best SummerSlam ever since its move to four hours, including a two-hour preshow.
That’s a lot of wrestling. Especially after Saturday night’s NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II which saw Shinsuke Nakamura capture the NXT Championship in a fantastic main event.
The main roster had a lot to live up to once again following NXT’s great performance. And the card certainly looked stacked enough to do so. Let’s see if they could live up to the hype:
12-Man Tag Team Match
American Alpha/Hype Bros/The Usos vs. Breezango/The Vaudevillains/The Ascension
A thrown-together last-minute match for the preshow that’s the same match we saw last Tuesday on SmackDown isn’t my idea of a good thing. Even though the match was good, I had no interest in this match, and that’s how it stayed until the very end of it.
While Chad Gable and Jason Jordan hit Grand Amplitude on Simon Gotch, Jey Uso tagged himself into the match and hit a the frogsplash to steal the pin from his teammate.
Jordan and Gable were confused and this planted the seeds for a possible feud down the road and also a possible heel turn for Jimmy and Jey, who haven’t been heels in years.
Your winners: American Alpha/Hype Bros/The Usos
Sami Zayn and Neville vs. Dudley Boyz
Sami Zayn goes from a Match of the Year candidate last month at Battleground against Kevin Owens to the SummerSlam Kickoff Preshow in a tag team match of zero consequence while Owens gets a main card tag team match with Chris Jericho taking on the hottest act in WWE today.
A relative nothing match had Zayn and Neville pull out a victory after Bubba Ray accidentally clotheslined D-Von, allowing Neville to capitalize in the confusion and hit the Red Arrow on Bubba Ray for the victory.
It was kind of a neat swerve as D-Von has caused losses for his team after accidentally hitting Bubba Ray with a clothesline. This will hopefully lead to a Dudleys split and a great heel run for Bubba Ray.
Your winners: Sami Zayn and Neville
Sheamus vs. Cesaro
I thought this show should have been saved for the main card – where it was originally scheduled – but it got moved to the preshow this weekend for some reason. That didn’t help in regards to the match placement that many had a problem with on the main card. But we’ll get to that later.
Both Cesaro and Sheamus put on a hell of a match that was apparently supposed to set the tone for the crowd for the main card. This was a main card match no matter how you look at it.
Cesaro thought he had Sheamus beat twice with the Sharpshooter, but the Celtic Warrior was able to counter, eventually throwing Cesaro into the steel (LED) ring post and then nailing him with the Brogue Kick to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
Your winner and leading the series 1-0: Sheamus
Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens
Enzo Amore and Big Cass were billed as the hometown boys, and why not? Amore’s not exactly from there, but the people don’t care. Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens, who have blossomed into a great act on WWE television together – and if you saw their promo on the Kickoff Preshow, you’ll agree with me – didn’t seem destined to win against the hottest act in WWE.
But, alas, they did. Amore and Cass were beaten after Owens launched Amore into Jericho’s Codebreaker in a nasty-looking finisher that notched a win for JeriKO.
Yeah, yeah, I get it. “Wins and losses don’t matter in WWE.” I think we all get it. And the hometown guys or gals rarely win in their hometown. But, it’s happened. Don’t tell me it “never” happens. It’s happened plenty of times and having Enzo and Cass lose the main card opener set the tone for a number of outcomes that I wasn’t exactly a fan of.
Your winners: Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens
Never change, guys.
Sasha Banks (c) vs. Charlotte
I didn’t think there was a chance Sasha Banks didn’t walk out of the Barclays Center as WWE Women’s Champion on Sunday night.
So simple, Nick.
In a really good Women’s Championship match that saw Charlotte drop Banks right on her neck – and thankfully she seems to be okay according to reports – Charlotte regained the Women’s Championship.
Right after the ending of the match, reports surfaced that Banks was removed from WWE live events for the next 33 days, causing speculation that she may have been flagged for a possible wellness policy violation. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Banks reportedly wanted some time off to heal from nagging injuries, and that played into the decision to have Charlotte become a two-time WWE Women’s Champion on Sunday night.
The spot where Charlotte dropped Banks on her head was nasty. It looked like she was going for some type of side slam or something like that, but as she jumped off the middle rope with Banks’ body in her arms, she inexplicably dropped her. Banks’ legs hit the ropes and her body twirled to the mat, landing on her upper shoulders, neck and head.
Banks recovered from that and finished the match. Who knows… it may have just looked really bad and she may not have felt any effects from it.
Your winner and NEW WWE Women’s Champion: Charlotte
The Miz (c) w/ Maryse vs. Apollo Crews
Why have Apollo Crews win a chance at the Intercontinental Championship in his first big pay-per-view event and then not have him win it?
That’s the question I’ll ask anybody in WWE 1,000 times over. While The Miz has improved dramatically as an on-screen character, having him waste away the Intercontinental Championship when it could be defended on television every week is the wrong move.
So, naturally, I thought Crews would win the title from Miz on Sunday and then begin a great reign on Tuesday night’s SmackDown Live episode. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The Miz hit the Skull-Crushing Finale on Crews to retain the Intercontinental Championship.
For who? For what?
He doesn’t need the title. I’ll die on this hill. Give the title to a worker who will go out there and perform in great athletic matches and build him up. Crews is perfect for that. Could he eventually win the title? Sure. But there was no reason to have him not win it on Sunday night.
Your winner and STILL WWE Intercontinental Champion: The Miz
Keeping track? Three heel wins on the main card in a row.
John Cena vs. AJ Styles
This was an A+ mat classic and could have already garnered the title of Match of the Year.
And that might even be an understatement. Thinking this series of matches would have a rubber match at SmackDown’s first pay-per-view in September, I naturally thought John Cena would overcome AJ Styles at the Barclays Center to tie up the series, 1-1.
That didn’t happen. Styles and Cena performed in an unbelievably fantastic match full with false finishes and near falls and some pretty sick bumps.
Styles didn’t need the help of his boys Gallows and Anderson this time. He kicked out of the Attitude Adjustment, the Super Attitude Adjustment, and was able to get out of the STFU. Styles had an answer for everything Cena was giving him on Sunday night.
Styles hit Cena with the Styles Clash once, but Cena was up to the task in kicking out. However, once Styles hit him a second time with his wicked finisher, Cena was dazed and confused and finally, after a Phenomenal Forearm, he was put down for the three count.
Styles now has two wins over Cena.
Your winner: AJ Styles
After the match, Cena stood in the ring to thunderous applause from the Brooklyn faithful, and left his armband that says “Never Give Up” in the middle of the ring. Stay tuned.
The New Day (c) vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
Who would’ve thought that this segment would be the one Jon Stewart was a guest on? He introduced the WWE World Tag Team Champions, Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston after a somewhat humorous backstage segment in which he was badmouthing Stephanie McMahon who came up right behind him. He then hightailed it and re-appeared here.
Because why the hell not?
Stewart even got into the ring and tried to make amends with Gallows and Anderson to become a part of The Bullet Club. But that didn’t happen.
Gallows and Anderson were set to give Stewart a case of ringpostitis. But Big E wouldn’t allow it and came running down the ramp – in full wrestling gear, mind you – to attack the challengers, causing a disqualification.
Your winners by disqualification: Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
After the match, Big E drank whatever liquid was in one of the glasses Gallows and Anderson had brought to ringside.
Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler
Here’s one that Jim Ross and yours truly hit the nail on the head. However, I was a little underwhelmed with this match.
Both Good Ol’ JR and I thought Ziggler would up his game and take Ambrose to new heights as WWE World Champion.
I didn’t see that happen. I saw a regular match, which would’ve been just fine for SmackDown on Tuesday night. Yes, the Ziggler superkick and counter to Dirty Deeds with the Zig Zag was good, but it wasn’t anything more than what we would’ve seen on television Tuesday night. Nothing about this match stood apart from any other Ziggler or Ambrose matches I’ve seen.
That’s a shame because I thought we were going to get a great match. Maybe the best on the card. But it just wasn’t bound to happen. It was a good match with an okay ending that saw Ambrose defeat his challenger with Dirty Deeds.
Your winner and STILL WWE World Champion: Dean Ambrose
Becky Lynch/Carmella/Naomi vs. Natalya/Alexa Bliss/Nikki Bella
This was just weird. With Eva Marie being suspended for 30 days, many thought Nikki Bella would take her place alongside Natalya and Alexa Bliss for her triumphant return to the ring after needing neck surgery.
And it happened. And Nikki got a huge pop as her music hit. She’s a babyface, make no mistake about it. But she was teaming with two heels and showed no signs of fraternizing with Lynch, Carmella or Naomi at all. In fact, Nikki hit Carmella with the TKO (pretty nifty) and got the win.
Nikki confirmed she will be on the SmackDown brand afterwards.
Your winners: Nikki Bella/Natalya/Alexa Bliss
Seth Rollins vs. Finn Bálor
The WWE Universal Championship belt is, um, kind of lame. There’s no difference to the WWE World Championship other than a red leather strap and the word “Universal” etched into the gold. And the Brooklyn crowd let Rollins and Bálor know about it, causing this reaction from Rollins after the event:
More important than a title's appearance is what it represents for the men fighting over it. You really let me down tonight, Brooklyn.— Seth Rollins (@WWERollins) August 22, 2016
But before that, Rollins and Bálor fought for that new championship that the crowd wasn’t exactly geeking out over. Bálor, painted as the Demon King – full with a green tongue on the front and an eye on the back – definitely wasn’t losing this one, I kept saying to myself.
But the match made me question my prediction quite a bit. Rollins and Bálor wrestled a really good match, but it wasn’t what I would consider breathtaking or a Match of the Year candidate.
And that’s fine. It didn’t need to be. All it needed to do was get over the importance of this new Universal Championship. And I believe it did just that.
What I found interesting was that when Rollins locked the triangle choke on his opponent, getting to the ropes was apparently not going to allow a break of the hold. I understand there should be no disqualifications in a match like this, but that was never told to the audience until that exact moment. But why shouldn’t the hold have been broken? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in pro wrestling before. I’m sure it’s happened, I just don’t remember it or have never seen it.
Rollins hit Bálor with the Pedigree, but the Demon King kicked out a 2.999999. Rollins and Bálor would fight until Bálor would get the best of the former champion and dropkicked him a few times before hitting him with the Coup de Grâce and becoming the first-ever WWE Universal Champion.
Your winner and FIRST-EVER WWE Universal Champion: Finn Bálor
Rusev (c) w/ Lana vs. Roman Reigns
I said in my SummerSlam preview that the perfect ending to this match would have been Rusev to get disqualified so Reigns wins the match but Rusev keeps the title.
Well, the match never began. Rusev attacked Reigns as he entered the ring during his entrance and the two brawled all around ringside before the referee decided to call the match before it even started. Rusev was selling a rib injury and the WWE doctors were right there. Reigns kept attacking Rusev, almost seeming like it was meant to be a double-turn and Reigns was coming out of this the heel and Rusev the babyface.
I don’t think that’s what WWE is aiming for. I think they realize Reigns needs an extra layer added to his character like he had when he debuted as a member of The Shield. He’s lost that. Maybe this is a step in the right direction for his character.
Your winner: No Contest
Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton
15 years in the making. That’s what WWE billed this match as heading into Sunday night.
Maybe it was. Maybe 15 years in the making was the perfect tagline for this match. Because after a plethora of suplexes to the Apex Predator, The Beast Brock Lesnar completely turned the main event upside down.
Orton got some good licks in. He hit Lesnar with an RKO in the ring, and on the announce table on the outside. But he couldn’t do much more as Lesnar began mauling him with vicious elbows to his head, opening up a huge gash that had Orton lying in a pool of his own blood.
To Lesnar’s credit, he kicked out of two RKO’s and Orton himself kicked out of the F5. But that’s when something in Lesnar just snapped. The match was stopped and Lesnar was declared the victor via TKO.
After Lesnar conquered Mark Hunt at UFC 200, this outcome was no surprise.
The crowd chanted, “Goldberg!” as Lesnar continued to maul Orton, and I was all for that. That would’ve been great to have Goldberg show up and stare down Lesnar. But, alas, that wasn’t to happen.
Your winner by TKO: Brock Lesnar
Winner by TKO. “Can this happen in professional wrestling!?” I was asked that too many times on Sunday night and it’s clearly being asked by people who either don’t want much professional wrestling or people who don’t really care about the industry’s history enough. The answer is yes.
According to WWE.com, Orton received 10 staples after the match. SmackDown commissioner Shane McMahon came out after the match and received an F5 for his troubles.
I understand the fans’ frustrations with the ending, but I always like to see where it’s going first. This isn’t the first time Lesnar has TKO’ed somebody and it won’t be the last. WWE is clearly maximizing his potential after his big UFC win in July, and why shouldn’t they? What good would a pin or submission have done – in a WWE ring – against Orton? It certainly wouldn’t have made Lesnar the monster that he’s now seen as by even casual fans.
The match placement for this card was a bit wacky. The Reigns-Rusev segment could have been moved to the middle of the show and I actually could’ve done without that completely given how much I was looking forward to that match. But, card is subject to change. Always remember that.
Cena-Styles II was easily the match of the night, and the Women’s Championship match was really good, too, considering Banks was working with nagging injuries hampering her.
As I like to often say, let’s see what happens this week on WWE television before criticizing the outcomes of SummerSlam. With SmackDown’s Backlash pay-per-view on September 11th and Raw’s Clash of Champions pay-per-view on September 25th, I think we’ll be seeing some good television leading up to these two events. Stay tuned.