5:30 PM EST
Tonight is the night, folks! The Biggest Party Of The Summer (TM)! That’s right, it’s the night AFTER NXT Takeover Brooklyn! Seriously, though – if are even remotely a wrestling fan and you missed the phenomenal NXT show last night, stop what you’re doing right now and go watch it. Samoa Joe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura was one of the contenders for match of the year, and I think Joe might have actually broken his jaw at the end – those shots were STIFF.
But, TONIGHT is actually the yearly WWE SummerSlam PPV – and I’ll be here all night long to whine, bitch, and complain about all the horrible booking and strange finishes. And if something good happens, there’s even an outside chance I’ll acknowledge that too – you never know! So keep it here, as the whiskey will be flowing (and probably the tears, too).
UPDATE 5:50 PM EST
SummerSlam Kickoff starts with the panel, which I won’t even go into. Seriously, Booker – I don’t know why you keep being given a microphone, but it is not now, nor has it ever been your strong suit. From there, we get the obligatory 12-man spot-fest train wreck so that we can get absolutely everyone onto the card. The entire match can be summarized with the following picture.
Long story short, everybody hits their shit, and the faces go over. If you’ve ever watched a single episode of Raw, Smackdown, or any other basic cable wrestling program, you’ve seen this match. But when you’re making sure all your PPVs are about five or six hours now, you gotta fill time somewhere.
Now we go to a package on Ambrose vs. Ziggler, which consists of essentially highlights of Dolph Ziggler being better than 90% of the roster during his career and still getting buried.
UPDATE 6:05 PM EST
Well, I didn’t want to talk about the panel, but a couple of things must be observed. First, Jerry Lawler is wearing a Superman insignia ring on his wedding ring finger. I’ve heard of single men wearing a false wedding ring to attract certain types of women, but I don’t thing something you get for a quarter out of a machine in Wal-Mart is typically what most people use. Second, apparently Baron Corbin won’t be on the card tonight – so those of you that saw the booking of Corbin vs. Kalisto and thought “Wow, that’s perfect!” (both of you), I guess you’ll have to live with Baron awkwardly threatening Kalisto on the panel.
UPDATE 6:20 PM EST
If any of you out there ever thought that there might be something Cesaro would be told he had to do in order to get even a shot at a push, and he’d finally snap and say “Fuck it, I’m done” then the following picture should put that to rest.
Our next match sees Sami Zayn and Don’t-Call-Me-Adrian Neville vs. The Dudley Boyz. Michael Cole astutely points out that SummerSlam marks one year since the Dudleys returned to WWE, but neglecting to point out that the writers have managed to do absolutely nothing with them in that time. You know, these writers seem consistently confused with what to do with some of the amazing talents that have come up from NXT. I don’t want to see Neville and Zayn tagging against the Dudleys, I want to see Neville vs. Zayn tear the house down. I don’t want to see Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho as a team, I want to see Owens throw Jericho all over the building. And for that matter, why can Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens have first names, but Neville had to drop “Adrian” when he came up? Faces go over when a misque between the Dudleys leads to a Heluva Kick followed by a Red Arrow on Bubba. Better than the car crash earlier, but still a second hour Raw filler match. Can only dream what Neville and Zayn could’ve done in a 1-on-1 match.
UPDATE 6:55 PM EST
WWE Network then throws to a commercial for WWE Network, which is kind of like if I just sat here and blogged about how you should read my blog, followed by a link to my blog about reading my blog. Seriously, it’s only a matter of time before there is a tiered subscription model – $9.99 gets you WWE Network, but $19.99 gets you WWE Network AND they stop trying to sell you WWE Network! What a deal!
The final match of the Kickoff after another pointless panel segment is the first match in what is now a Best of Seven Series between Cesaro and Sheamus. Of course, this is ignoring the fact that these two each have a win over the other the few weeks on Raw, but hey, nobody gives a shit about story consistency, right?! Also, does anyone else find it painfully awkward the way they keep discussing the famous “Best of Seven” that Booker T was involved in without in any way mentioning his opponent, Chris Benoit? I mean, I completely understand why they don’t do it, but it’s just strange to hear.
Decent physical match between two underrated, stiff workers that can just go in the ring – but who are saddled with horrific gimmicks and looks and just don’t have the stroke to tell creative to go fuck themselves. I can’t even get down on these guys – if Cesaro tells whoever came up with his James Bond/Pimp/Gigolo tuxedo shtick where to go, what’s he going to do? Go back to the indies? Impact Wrestling? Japan? It just sucks that this is what these talented wrestlers are stuck with.
Some good false finishes between these two, including a great tease of a countout by Cesaro. One of the nice aspects to a best of seven is that it becomes entirely possible for some of the matches to be won with something other than one of the wrestler’s standard finishers. Every White Noise or Flying Uppercut delivered is a realistic chance of a quick pin, and it adds a level of suspense and intensity to the match that isn’t normally there.
Fantastic spot by Cesaro sees him climb up and then stand on top of the ring post before jumping onto the top turnbuckle and springboarding into a high crossbody.
Finish comes with Sheamus heeling it up with a thumb to the eye followed by a Brogue Kick for the pin and a 1-0 advantage. Very good, very solid match that arguably will outshine some of the matches set to air on the main card. Hats off to both guys.
UPDATE 7:30 PM EST
SummerSlam proper kicks off with the Enzo and Cass making their entrance with microphones – which means this opening segment stands a good chance of actually being the most entertaining portion of the evening.
Enzo does Enzo while Cass does a decent rendition of New York, New York. Apparently the Jericho-Owens teaming is being called JeriKO – somebody actually got paid to think of that folks. You know, I fully appreciate how huge this is for Enzo and Cass – big homecoming in front of a huge crowd – but as good as Enzo is on the mic, I prefer when he is riffing and a little less serious than when he’s super intense like he is now. Not that it’s bad – just my personal preference.
Some back and forth action to start, which sees Cass actually toss KO around a few times like he was Jericho’s size. Close call as Cass tosses Enzo over the top onto JeriKO and Enzo nearly catches his feet on the top rope going over. If he can toss KO around, why is Enzo a problem? The heels end up taking control, and it looks like for the moment we have Enzo “Ricky Morton” Amore. Great moment sees KO mock Enzo’s rooster shuffle. KO is just a fucking hilarious guy and I cannot wait until they take the shackles off of him and give them the push and face run that he just is screaming to get.
Hot tag to Cass and he beats the living hell out of the heels, but KO is able to stop the Rocket Launcher, which Cole calls the Boom-Shaka-Laka (……….), after the tag to Enzo. Enzo then hits a top rope DDT, or as Cole says DDG (stop it, Michael), on Jericho. But on the followup, Jericho hits a Codebreaker on Enzo for the pin?! Oh, come on guys – there were three young guys in this match who all need their careers elevated on a big stage, and you had the pin go to the fifty year old part-time rock star. What in the actual fuck?
UPDATE 7:51 PM EST
Awkward backstage segment with Shane, Daniel Bryan, Foley, Jon Stewart, Stephanie, and even the New Day can’t save it. Next up appears to be the Women’s Title rematch with Sasha Banks and Charlotte. A video package recaps the feud for those of you who have been living under a rock.
Credit where it is due – Charlotte has successfully recaptured that same air that her father had at his peak. She’s beyond being a face or a heel really, she’s just a Flair. And the epic robes don’t hurt either. Back and forth to start, but then an AWFUL looking spot that sees Charlotte attempt to throw Sasha over her head from the top rope, but instead drops her accidentally and Sasha bounces off the ropes before landing in a sick heap on the back of her head and neck. Shit, that was horrid and it would not shock me if Sasha is handicapped the rest of this match as she clutches at the small of her back.
They end up back on the top rope, and Charlotte sets up to deliver a crucifix powerbomb (Razor’s Edge for you kids) off the second rope, but it’s reversed by Sasha into a hurricanrana – except Sasha lands right on top of her head again. Damn, if Sasha can even remember her name or what city she’s in when this is over, I’m going to be amazed. Sasha then locks in a modified Boston crab on the top rope.
They go to the outside and Sasha hits the double knees to the chest from the second rope to the floor. Back inside, and Charlotte goes for Natural Selection, but it’s reversed into the Bank Statement until Charlotte escapes. Charlotte hits Natural Selection, but Sasha kicks out. Finish comes when Charlotte goes for a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, which Sasha reverses into the Bank Statement, but Charlotte rolls it over for a three-count pin and the title. Refs are in right away to talk to Sasha about her back.
Incredible match, even more so if Sasha really was injured from the beginning by that drop off the top. They gave these two women time to work and they both left it all out there. Even if Sasha isn’t legitimately injured, these two are both going to be sore for days.
UPDATE 8:10 PM EST
Backstage segment with the Club reuniting over some of Big E’s urine samples (I can’t make this shit up) and being joined by Finn Balor to remind all of us of better days in New Japan. They try to welcome him back to the fold, but Finn won’t throw up the sign because now he’s a good guy, I guess – seeing as how I believe the Bullet Club was started by him, that seems strange, but whatever.
Back out to the ring, and it’s time for everyone’s favorite quiz show: What the Hell is Miz Wearing on His Face This Week and How Can a Guy Wearing That Be Married to Her? IC Champ Miz vs. Apollo “Don’t Call Me Creed” Crews is next up.
Now, I can appreciate Miz accomplishing everything he has given where he started at, but there is NO REASON why the talented and athletic Crews shouldn’t win the IC title here and Miz can go continue to do movies and media work. So naturally, after Crews gets a few minutes of using his freakish athleticism to bounce Miz all over the ring, Miz hits the Skull-Crushing Finale for the pin to retain. This is, in theory, the second-biggest title in the company and the match for it was shorter than the WWEK 2K17 commercial that followed it, as well as the video package for Styles/Cena that aired next.
You know, if you don’t give a damn about the IC title anymore, just get rid of it and let old bastards like me reminisce about the good old days. But stop shitting all over it by giving it five minutes on the card and leaving it on a guy nobody cares about.
UPDATE 8:42 PM EST
Confession time – I’m not a John Cena fan. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not one of those haters that says he can’t wrestle, etc. That’s bullshit. Some of the best matches we’ve seen in the past decade have involved him, albeit it always has more to do with him being in there with an artist like CM Punk or AJ Styles and rising to their level. But as they say, it takes two to tango, so that’s not my problem. My problem is that his character portrayal by the company has been completely stagnant for that decade. And the crowd has reached the point of tiring of it completely, and even he knows it, but the company just REFUSES to do anything natural to evolve it. So what we get is a situation like tonight: where John Cena, ostensibly the shining hero of the match, comes out, gets booed out of the building, has 15k people telling him he sucks, and giving them a smartass smirk and a bow. But he’s totally not a heel!
Meanwhile, his opponent, AJ Styles, has his every action cheered, and the entirety of the crowd wants to see him win to the point that you actually begin to think that they have forgotten that this is a work. But he’s totally not a face!
These two are both so good that you owe it to yourself to watch the match yourself, plus the back and forth is enough that I can’t enjoy it and still do a play by play. One thing I will complain about though – there is a difference between a good and bad false finish. A good false finish comes off of an impressive, impactful move or a painful looking hold that IS NOT the wrestler’s normal finisher, where the crowd legitimately believes the match could end. But wrestlers regularly kicking out of the other guy’s finisher is just lazy. If you do it every once in a while in a big match, maybe it comes off as “boy this guy is just THAT TOUGH!” But when you do it with the regularity that they book it in WWE, it just renders the finishers meaningless. Nobody should kick out of the Styles Clash, even Cena. And likewise, I’ve reached the point where I never believe anything short of 3 Attitude Adjustments will win a match on PPV. Likewise, Stop it.
All my bitching aside, this was a fantastic match overall, and the booking decision was correct, as Styles gets the pin clean in the middle of the ring. If you haven’t watched this, go do it now.
UPDATE 9:05 PM EST
Jon Stewart takes the fall as the guy who has to follow that classic by coming out to “replace” Big E in the New Day, to the fascination of absolutely nobody in the crowd. I’m probably one of Stewart’s biggest fans, but his appearances in wrestling are just painful to watch.
Kofi and Xavier are out first, followed by – sigh – Dr. Anderson and Dr. Gallows, carrying urine samples from the New Day, including Jon. Remember a few weeks ago when Gallows and Anderson hit the ring and just annihilated the New Day? What happened to that? That’s much more effective than this shit. Back and forth to start, per usual, until the Club take control on Kofi, which is somewhat surprising given that Xavier is involved in the match.
Surreal moment for me personally as at the exact same moment I’m wondering if Xavier is going to hook his Iron Sheikh boots on the top rope and fall on his face, Michael Cole states that Xavier’s elbow drop was reminiscent of Macho Man Randy Savage. Oh, Michael. Michael, Michael, Michael.
The finish sees Jon Stewart try to distract the Club, who respond by trying to shatter Stewart’s testicles on the ringpost, only to be stopped by the returning Big E. Big E levels the Club for the DQ. I saw so much more potential in this match, and hopefully this feud continues and these two teams get more of a chance to show what they can do. Big E ends the fun by drinking from the “sample” jar. Alrighty, then.
UPDATE 9:30 PM EST
Up next, for some reason, we have the WWE World Title match, going on before the US Title match. And the Women’s Tag Team match. Two hours before the end of the PPV. Visions of the last brand split swim before my eyes. WWE please, please, please – start respecting these guys instead of thinking that Reigns vs. Rusev is what brought people to the show tonight.
Neither man can keep control for long over the other, as each will his a succession of moves only to have it quickly turned around by the other. As the match progresses, the storyline seems to be playing out of Dolph being the scrappy underdog everyone is rooting for and Ambrose beginning to heel it up and mock Ziggler. Each guy tease going for their finisher but are reversed, and a series of moves lead to several two-counts. See, you can have a great match without prostituting each guy’s finisher and rendering it meaningless!
Not so much a complaint here, but an observation – when you have a match between two guys known for almost comical levels of overselling at times, you’re going to get a few awkward moments, like Dolph hitting a superkick outside and Ambrose visibly lifting himself up onto the barricade and then falling back down. But I’m a bit of a mark for both of these guys, so screw it. Back in and each guy slaps the other in the face, and then Ambrose blocks Sweet Chin Music but eats a Zig Zag (god I hate that move, I hate that name…) for 2.
Both guys up top, land on their feet…and Ambrose hits Dirty Deeds out of nowhere for a 3-count and the win. Absolutely nobody saw this one ending here – it feels like the match had just gotten going. Maybe they were running long and had to cut time somewhere, but the World Title match?
UPDATE 9:45 PM EST
Apologies to all of the ladies involved in the six-woman tag up next – including a returning Nikki Bella to replace the suspended Eva Marie, who continues her meta-gimmick of never wrestling anyway – but I may miss the next match as nature is calling, etc.
(Restroom, kitchen, etc., return to couch).
Wait, then entrances aren’t over? You gave us a ten-minute World Title match between Ziggler and Ambrose, then took fifteen to introduce the next match?! Are you people even trying?!
Ok…ok. We are going to stay calm, we are going to make the best of this. Sure, the crowd that has been on fire almost all night, and insane since AJ-Cena, may be completely deflated now, but these ladies will bring it back right?
…………………………………………………….. Goddamn you, creative.
The six women involved here are all very good athletes, but the bottom line is they are not on the level of the Sasha-Charlotte match earlier, and the crowd knows it. Between that and them being restless following the aborted finish to the previous match, and I just feel bad for them. Heels go over when Nikki Bella hits the Rack Attack to rebury whatever progress the Women’s Division has been building in her absence.
UPDATE 10:30 PM EST
Backstage segment with Rusev and Lana – because that is so much more important than a long, solid World Title match. Well, from there we will go to the US Title…wait, what? We’re having the Universal Title match next? So the top title matches for both Raw and Smackdown are before the US Title match. Because Roman Reigns is in it? Seriously? I mean, I understand Lesnar-Orton closing the show – but Reigns-Rusev being bigger than TWO world titles? This?
Well, whatever. But I’m going on record right now – if Balor-Rollins gets five minutes so Reigns can preen on the top rope for ten minutes before his match, I’m going to have even more anger issues than I do now. A video package summarizes why we need a Universal title post-brand split, without mentioning what an incredibly stupid name Universal title actually is. And apparently they decided to go all out differentiating this title belt from the World title belt.
So once again, I’m not going to go blow-by-blow here because these guys are too fast and too good for that. Instead, I’m just going to offer some general thoughts and commentary. Such as, does creative for the main roster have instructions to take anything that got over and worked well in NXT and absolutely destroying it once it gets to Raw or Smackdown?
See, when Finn Balor was in NXT, he still did the Demon alter-ego gimmick for the big-time matches. He’d be almost entirely pained jet black, with the maw and the fangs, etc. But he’d still be FINN BALOR. He was still introduced as Finn Balor. The Demon was just a sign to show that shit had gotten real now, that it was on. Kind of like how Kane, when he wore the mask, was still just Kane – not Demon Kane. But no, now that Balor is on the main roster, apparently we all need constant reminders that “Balor” means Finn has transformed into the “Demon King” – such as writing Demon King all over him rather than just painting him, and changing his introduction to “Finn Balor – the Demon King!” Why? Does he start eating worms next? Does he creep around and startle other wrestlers in comical backstage segments?
Match is every bit as athletic and amazing as anyone who follows either man would expect it to be. Quick note: I can’t believe that WWE still allows Rollins to utilize that running powerbomb into the turnbuckles or barricade. It ended Sting’s career, and has injured a few other wrestlers. It isn’t necessarily Seth’s fault – it’s just an unsafe move because neither wrestler has the ability to soften it or protect the receiver of it. It’s asking for a guy to get hurt every time it’s used. They stopped Seth from using the Curbstomp because of it appearing to look injurious – the Buckle Bomb actually is but they still allow it. Don’t get it.
But before I sound like a Rollins-hater (granted, I hate a lot of things, but not Rollins) a moment arrives where Finn misses the Coups-de-Grace and Rollins hits a Pedigree, Finn kicks out, and Rollins goes into hilariously over-the-top disbelief. Just a great performer. A few more finishes are reversed, and then Balor hits the Coups-de-Grace for the clean pin and becomes the first-ever WWE Universal Champion. Great match – congrats to both guys. Finn, I just wish your title didn’t have such a stupid name.
Update 10:40 PM EST
Ironically, I think Dolph just got more ring time in the video of him as Col. Sanders wrestling Chicken Suit Miz than he did in his title shot tonight. And by ironically, I mean in the worst possible way.
Next up is Rusev and Reigns, which you almost feel bad about because there is no way these two guys can possibly live up to the standard that was just set by Balor and Rollins. And apparently they know that because before the match can start the two of them begin to beat the living hell out of each other all around the ring. Referees are out quickly to separate them, but the savage, dominant Reigns can’t be contained, much like WWE’s efforts to get him over with fans that hate him. The entire match is tossed, as the crowd hilariously chants for Heath Slater, followed by the return of the CM Punk chant. Well done, creative – after a couple of years, you’d finally managed to put that chant to bed, and this screwy decision making managed to bring it back.
FINAL UPDATE 11:12 PM EST
Here we are. Main event time. Beast vs. Viper. Lesnar vs. Orton. F5 vs. RKO. Suplex City vs. Viperville. That last one sucks and I wish they would stop saying it.
As Brock Lesnar makes his way to the ring, a guy is waving a “Got Juice” sign in his face. Ladies and gentleman, that right there is either the bravest or stupidest human being on the face of the earth because if there was one person I would not be surprised to see reach out and rip that guy’s face off, it’s Brock Lesnar.
This isn’t going to be a “great match” so much as it is going to be filled with “holy shit” moments. The essential story is, “can Orton survive Lesnar throwing him around long enough to find a way to hit an RKO?” Right out of the gate, Lesnar drives Orton into the corner, doesn’t sell any of Randy’s blows, and begins suplexing him all over and out of the ring. On the outside, he throws him over the barricade, then throws him back over the barricade through a table. Orton has essentially had no offense whatsoever.
And no sooner do I type that than Randy Orton hits an RKO outta nowhere on top of the announce table, followed by a draping DDT on the ropes, and then a second RKO in the middle of the ring – which gets a two count. So Randy decides to punt him in the head and runs directly into an F5, but kicks out.
This upsets Brock, who takes off his gloves, and proceeds to beat Randy Orton’s head wide open and causing the officials to stop the match by TKO, which I didn’t realize was a thing in professional wrestling.
After the match, Shane McMahon goes to check on Orton and predictably eats an F5, leading to Paul Heyman going into classic Paul Heyman hysterics.
And…that’s that. SummerSlam goes off the air with Brock Lesnar surveying the destruction in his wake.
Overall, this was a solid show. Not spectacular, but solid. The order of matches was really poor in the second half of the show, but the matches themselves were mostly quite good. The six-woman tag and Rusev-Reigns were weak points, but I think that was to be expected. The disappointment of the night by FAR was the horrid lack of time given to Ambrose and Ziggler – it almost felt like an aborted end to the match, and it took the wind out of the crowd all the way until the Lesnar-Orton match. Was it as good top to bottom as NXT TakeOver Brooklyn? Not on your life. But all in all, it was a solid effort. Now hopefully creative doesn’t find a way to fuck up the momentum it has generated.
Thanks for following along with my first attempt at live blogging an event, boys and girls. I hope you enjoyed it. If not, well…that’s really too bad.