WWE's second biggest pay-per-view each year, SummerSlam on Sunday was a mix of brilliance and confusion.
It had its share of highlights, like John Cena vs. AJ Styles and Finn Balor winning the new universal title, but it also suffered from some head-scracthers. From the way in which the matches were presented to the final two bouts of the evening not having legitimate finishes, much was left to be desired from what is typically one of the most exciting and interesting shows in WWE's rotation.
On top of it all, the four-hour event, which also had a two-hour kickoff show, seemed to drag after getting off to a really hot start. The Brooklyn, New York, crowd was all-in at the start but fizzled out and began entertaining itself, such as booing the (admittedly ugly) new universal title during one of the best matches of the evening.
Below are our full results from WWE SummerSlam along with a bevy of highlights, instant reactions in our live blog and the match card as it stood prior to the start of the evening.
Sheamus def. Cesaro via pinfall
Sami Zayn & Neville def. The Dudley Boyz via pifall
American Alpha, The Usos & The Hype Bros def. Breezango, Ascension & Vaudevillains via pinfall
Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens def. Enzo Amore & Big Cass via pinfall: Enzo & Cass got a massive pop to open the show. The hometown products quoted Notorious B.I.G. and Frank Sinatra, while Enzo was dressed in Yankees pinstripes with pictures of Biggie on his ring gear. JeriKO dominated most of the match, and just when it was looking like Cass would turn the tide following a hot tag, he was taken out by the ring barrier leaving Enzo by himself inside the ring. Owens and Jericho teamed up for a Pop-Up Codebreaker (using the momentum from Owens' finisher into Jericho's finisher) for the pinfall.
Women's Championship -- Charlotte def. Sasha Banks (c) via pinfall: A spot-fest for sure, especially early when it appeared as if Banks was seriously hurt when she fell on her back and neck. Multiple hurricanranas by Banks impressed early, as did a top-rope Boston Crab. Banks also converted a top-rope Razor's Edge by Charlotte into another hurricanrana and looked ready to retain her title by locking in the Bank Statement not once but twice. The second time, however, Charlotte was able to roll Banks over and keep her shoulders down for the three count with Charlotte walking out of SummerSlam the new women's champion.
Intercontinental Championship -- The Miz (c) def. Apollo Crews via pinfall: A short match considering its predecessors this evening. Crews got in a ton of offense including a modified Angle Slam and his signature standing backflip, but Miz -- via distraction from Maryse -- was able to throw Crews into the ring post and hit the Skull-Crushing Finale for the pinfall to retain his strap.
AJ Styles def. John Cena via pinfall: Back-and-forth crowd chants took up the early portion of the match. Things kicked into gear when Styles countered an Attitude Adjustment into a Pele kick and then followed with the Styles Clash for the two count. Cena bounced back with the AA for a two count of his own. The men then traded old-school moves with Styles converting a torture rack into a slam and Cena using the momentum from a slingshot to put together a powerslam-slash-Diamond Cutter. Styles missed a springboard 450 off the top rope. Cena hit a flipping pin combination. Styles answered with a German suplex converted into a facebuster. Cena and Styles then reversed each other's moves, going from STF to crossface to AA to calf crusher to STF. Even a tornado DDT and top-rope leg drop by Cena did not put an end to the match.
After the two took a breath, Styles hit a Frankensteiner from the corner and followed with his Phenomenal Forearm finisher but only got a two. Cena then hit his AA from the middle rope but, again, a two count. The finish finally came as Styles converted an AA into a Styles Clash and followed it with another Phenomenal Forearm for the 1-2-3.
Tag Team Championship -- Gallows & Anderson def. The New Day (c) via disqualification: Jon Stewart introduced New Day with Big E sidelined with his "injury." New Day was poised to lose the titles when Stewart ran into the ring to distract Gallows & Anderson, forcing The Club members to focus their attention on him. Just as Stewart was about to be run man region-first into the ring post, Big E ran out from the back to attack, forcing the DQ finish and ensuring New Day's title reign extends into its 365th day.
World Heavyweight Championship -- Dean Ambrose (c) def. Dolph Ziggler via pinfall: The crowd was absolutely dead for this one, exhausted from Cena-Styles and awaiting the two main events (yes, the heavyweight title was not a main event at SummerSlam). Ziggler got some action in with a superkick and Zig-Zag, but Ambrose kicked out of both. Eventually, Ambrose hit the Dirty Deeds on Ziggler to retain his title. Ziggler very much looked like he's one-and-done in the main event picture considering the way that match ended, which is a shame. He gained nothing from it.
Nikki Bella, Natalya & Alexa Bliss def. Carmella, Becky Lynch & Naomi via pinfall: Bella, returning seven months after neck surgery, was the surprise entrant in the match following the suspension of Eva Marie. Lynch got some good work in, at one point clearing the entire ring, but she was ultimately a non-factor in the finish. Bella got Carmella alone, delivered a forearm and then put her in a new version of the Rack Attack -- saying "I'm back" before delivering it -- for the finish.
Universal Championship -- Finn Balor def. Seth Rollins via pinfall: Balor's entrance was once again a spectacle, while Rollins debuted some new neon green attire. Momentum shifted back and forth in the early going with both men getting in some of their signature maneuvers. Balor missed three straight Coup de Grace attempts, the third of which Rollins turned into a Pedigree but only got a two count. Rollins missed a move from the top rope, allowing Balor to dropkick him into the corner. Rollins hit a superplex, but Balor reversed another Pedigree into a stomp, dropkicked Rollins into the turnbuckles again and finally hit the Coup de Grace to become the first WWE universal champion.
United States Championship -- Rusev (c) vs. Roman Reigns: The match never started. Rusev attacked Reigns outside the ring before the match began, throwing him into the stairs. Reigns turned the tables on Rusev and dominated him from there on, including hitting him with a steel chair multiple times. The referees sent Reigns to the back while the ring announcer declared there would be no match. At that point, Reigns returned, ran down the ramp and speared Rusev.
Brock Lesnar def. Randy Orton via TKO: As he usually does, Lensar had the advantage early. He threw Orton into the announce table twice and took it to him outside the ring. Lesnar was setting Orton up again on top of an announce table when Orton hit an RKO outta nowhere. Once Lesnar was back in the ring, Orton and Lesnar traded an RKO and F5 ... but each resulted in a two count. Lesnar then jumped on Orton and began "ground and pounding" him MMA-style. A cut opened on Orton's head and began gushing blood, so much that a pool developed in the ring. Lesnar went back to beat on Orton twice while two doctors surrounded him, but the referee eventually called for the bell and announced a decision for Lesnar by TKO.
It is definitely tough to tell whether this is a work or not, though Lesnar returning to hit him over and over again makes it appear as of its planned -- or at least not considered a big deal. Shane McMahon entered the ring to stop Lesnar and took an F5 for his troubles as Lesnar walked off and the crowd booed a confusing finish to SummerSlam.
Overall: WWE has struggled to deliver at its biggest pay-per-views of the year. I gave WrestleMania 32 a 'C' because the company tried too hard booking-wise. The grade I'm giving SummerSlam is because creative didn't try hard enough. There were two matches without finishes and others that neither advanced storylines nor performers. Plus, did you see that belt?! (Joke-serious on that one.) The brand split went really well for WWE over its first two weeks but things have really suffered as of late. Perhaps the rushed booking of SummerSlam played a role in that and the writing teams can develop feuds and matches better going forward. But that doesn't change the quality of Sunday's show. Even though I was thrilled with the results of the Cena-Styles and Balor-Rollins matches, it was not a good show overall. Grade: D
Reactions and updates
If the blog below does not load properly for you, please click here to view it.
|Match (champion)||Title / Stipulation|
|Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton|
|Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor||Universal Championship|
|Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler||World Heavyweight Championship|
|John Cena vs. AJ Styles|
|Rusev (c) vs. Roman Reigns||United States Championship|
|Sasha Banks (c) vs. Charlotte||Women's Championship|
|The New Day (c) vs. Gallows & Anderson||Tag Team Championship|
|Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens|
|The Miz (c) vs. Apollo Crews||Intercontinental Championship|
|Carmella, Becky Lynch & Naomi vs. Natalya, Alexa Bliss & TBA|
|Cesaro vs. Sheamus (Kickoff Show)||Match 1: Best-of-7 Series|
|Sami Zayn & Neville vs. The Dudley Boyz (Kickoff Show)|
|American Alpha, Usos & Hype Bros vs. Breezango, Ascension & Vaudevillains (Kickoff)|