2021 WWE SummerSlam results, recap, grades: Brock Lesnar and Becky Lynch returns highlight unpredictable show

Brock Lesnar Roman Reigns
WWE

SummerSlam promised to be a big event for WWE, though hardly anyone could predict the level of surprises the promotion had in store. Those surprises included the returns of both Becky Lynch and Brock Lesnar, both immediately inserting themselves into the world title picture.

Lynch's return came midway through the show, confronting SmackDown women's champion Bianca Belair after Belair's originally scheduled opponent, Sasha Banks, was unable to compete. Lynch challenged Belair to a title match before winning the title in less than 30 seconds.

After Roman Reigns closed the show with a thrilling win over John Cena, Lesnar's music hit as the crowd at Las Vegas' Allegiant Stadium erupted again. Lesnar made his way to the ring before staring down Reigns, the pair not coming to blows before Reigns left the ring with his title belt.

CBS Sports was with you the whole way through the event, providing updates and highlights as the action went down in the live blog below.

2021 WWE SummerSlam results, grades

Big E vs. Baron Corbin (Kickoff Match): Corbin quickly found himself in the clutches of Big E, who tossed Corbin around with some big suplexes. Corbin was able to roll out of the way of a splash on the apron, allowing him to build a little bit of momentum as he repeatedly tried to get the referee to count Big E out, all while yelling that the Money in the Bank briefcase belonged to him because he stole it. Big E nearly picked up the win with a stretch muffler submission before Corbin was able to hit Deep Six for a near fall. Corbin gave up on trying to win and instead grabbed the briefcase and unsuccessfully attempted to run away before being caught and hit with the Big Ending for the finish. A fine, if unspectacular, Kickoff Show match. Hopefully, Big E regaining possession of the briefcase brings an end to that nonsensical bit of storytelling for Corbin. Big E def. Baron Corbin via pinfall. Grade: B-

Raw Tag Team Championship -- AJ Styles & Omos (c) vs. RK-Bro: Omos dominated the early action, taking the fight to Riddle before tagging out so Styles could continue the beating. Riddle eventually made the hot tag to Randy Orton, who entered the match and tossed Styles around the ring while getting several shots in at Omos on the apron. Riddle took out Omos on the outside, driving the giant into the ring post before Styles dropped him with a moonsault reverse DDT. The chaos led to a final flurry between Orton and Styles that ended when Orton hit an RKO for the victory. This was smart match placement. RK-Bro are one of the most over acts on Raw and getting them a title win in the PPV opener helped to warm up the crowd. RK-Bro def. AJ Styles & Omos via pinfall to win the titles. Grade: B

Alexa Bliss vs. Eva Marie: Bliss easily turned aside every early attempt at offense from Eva Marie. Marie eventually used a hair pull to take Bliss down, going to the corner where she grabbed Lilly before slapping the doll -- and then using the doll to slap Bliss. This led Bliss to scream and unleash a flurry of offense for a near fall. Marie rolled out of the way of Twisted Bliss moments later, scoring her own two-count after the counter. Bliss then hit a DDT to score the win. Marie tried to blame Doudrop for her loss before Doudrop took the microphone to announce that Marie was the loser of the match. As expected, a match without much substance. That is, however, for the best when it comes to Eva Marie. As a bonus, there was very little involvement from the doll. Alexa Bliss def. Eva Marie via pinfall. Grade: C

United States Championship -- Sheamus (c) vs. Damian Priest: Sheamus got off to a hot start before Priest stormed back by hitting a Falcon Arrow. Priest knocked Sheamus to the floor and hit a flipping dive over the top rope, coming up a bit short and crashing into the floor hard on his lower back. The match slowed down a bit after the incident, possibly to give Priest an opportunity to recover. Sheamus continued to attack Priest's back until the challenger was able to fight back, though visibly slower than normal. Priest grabbed Sheamus by the throat as the champion was on the top rope but Sheamus jumped to the floor, clotheslining Priest on the top rope and leading to a near fall. Priest scored his own near fall moments later after hitting South of Heaven. Priest was locked in a heel hook when he ripped off Sheamus' face mask and unloaded with strikes on Sheamus. This set up the opportunity for Priest to hit Reckoning to score the win. The bad bump on the early dive was scary but Priest seemed to get his feet back under him as the match went on, eventually hitting his stride with Sheamus for a solid final stretch. Damian Priest def. Sheamus via pinfall to win the title. Grade: B-

SmackDown Tag Team Championship -- The Usos (c) vs. The Mysterios: Rey Mysterio quickly took Jimmy Uso to the ropes and nearly hit a 619, instead having to settle for taking both Usos to the outside and hitting a baseball slide splash to get the match off to a fast start. The Usos were able to snatch momentum away when they were able to isolate Dominik and keep Rey out of the ring. Jey continued to tell Dominik to crawl to his father to make the tag but repeatedly cut him off before the younger Mysterio could reach his corner. Dominik was eventually able to hit a suplex reversal and make the hot tag, allowing Rey to briefly run through both Usos before running into a superkick from Jimmy. Jey countered a Rey springboard with another superkick and an Uso Splash but only scored a two-count. Jimmy tried to follow his brother in going to the top rope but missed his splash. Rey tried to hit a frog splash but Jimmy got his knees up to counter. The Usos hit a tandem superkick and Jey hit one final Uso Splash for the win. Predictable result in this one but a fun enough ride. Rey is still having to carry the vast majority of the work for the team with Dominik just not quite being there yet, Still, a perfectly fun tag title match. The Usos def. The Mysterios via pinfall to retain the titles. Grade: B

SmackDown Women's Championship -- Bianca Belair (c) vs. Becky Lynch: After a full video package for Bianca Belair vs. Sasha Banks, it was announced that Banks was not able to compete and that Belair would be facing Carmella. After Carmella got in the ring, Becky Lynch's music hit as she made her return from time off to have a child. Lynch took out Carmella and threw down a challenge to Belair for a title match, a challenge Belair quickly accepted. Lynch extended her hand for a handshake, delivered a forearm and a uranage suplex to score the win in 20 seconds. Disappointment at Banks' absence led to elation as Lynch made her return. That was completely squandered when Lynch won the title so quickly. If she was ready for in-ring work, Belair deserved an actual match. If she was not, this should not have been the play. The moment of the return was great, the payoff was awful. Becky Lynch def. Bianca Belair via pinfall to win the title. Grade: D+

Drew McIntyre vs. Jinder Mahal: McIntyre went for an early Claymore but Mahal rolled out of the ring. Mahal was able to beg off and take over after a cheap shot but McIntyre quickly regained control and hit a series of belly-to-belly suplexes, tossing Mahal from corner to corner before hitting a Future Shock DDT. McIntyre then hit a Claymore to finish the match. Veer and Shanky ran to the ring to tend to Mahal but McIntyre grabbed his sword to chase them off. A very quick win for McIntyre in a match that didn't need much more than that as the match was just midcard filler. Drew McIntyre def. Jinder Mahal via pinfall. Grade: C

Raw Women's Championship -- Nikki A.S.H. (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley: All three women traded offense early. Flair went for a top rope moonsault but Ripley got her foot up to counter and then nearly hit Nikki with Riptide. Things broke down into a stretch with Ripley and Flair battling one-on-one with Nikki knocked out of the ring. After Flair took Ripley out with a big boot, Nikki hit a big DDT for a near fall. As Ripley and Flair began to battle it out on the floor, Nikki came off the top rope with a crossbody on both women.

Big moves continued to flow from all three women before Flair hit a twisting moonsault from the top rope to the outside onto both of her opponents. Flair locked Ripley in the Figure-Eight back inside the ring but Nikki broke the hold by flying off the top rope. Nikki scored a near fall on Flair but found herself locked in the Figure-Eight seconds later, forced to tap out as Flair once again became champion. This was some very good high-octane wrestling with no real downtime from bell to bell. Flair winning may not excite fans who have already tired of seeing her as champion but it was likely the best possible result here. Charlotte Flair def. Nikki A.S.H. and Rhea Ripley to win the title. Grade: A-

Edge vs. Seth Rollins: Edge's ring entrance was a throwback to his days with The Brood, rising out of the stage surrounded by fire as the late 1990s Brood music played. Rollins immediately targeted Edge's neck before Edge bounced him from the ring. Rollins' focus did not change, however, throwing Edge neck-first into the ring post and the ring steps. Rollins' attack was nothing if not consistent, hitting strikes to the back of the neck and multiple neckbreakers in addition to an early attempt to hit a stomp. Rollins' domination continued for a very long stretch before he tried to set up for a superplex to the outside of the ring only for Edge to hit a neckbreaker from the top rope. Edge hit an Edgecution for a near fall, finally getting his offense going as Rollins struggled to recover until he was able to counter Edge going to the top rope with a superplex into a falcon arrow.

Both men ran through some of their greatest hits, including Rollins going for a Pedigree before Edge hit a Glam Slam, the finishing move of his wife, WWE legend Beth Phoenix. Rollins continued looking for opportunities to hit a stomp before Edge hit a spear through the ropes, sending both men crashing into the floor at ringside. Back inside the ring, Rollins countered a spear with a Pedigree for a two-count. Edge hit a spear in the middle of the ring but Rollins was able to kick out before hitting a superkick to Edge's neck and running in for another attempt at a stomp. Edge caught Rollins' foot and turned it into his old Edgecator submission, which Rollins was able to fight through. Edge was finally able to pick up a win with a crossface sleeper forcing Rollins to tap out. This was stunningly good stuff from start to finish with a clear story told in the ring with Rollins' ruthless focus on Edge's neck and Edge running through a history of classic moves before going to "the dark place" to get the finish. Edge def. Seth Rollins via submission. Grade: A+

WWE Championship -- Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Goldberg: The two men locked up in a collar-and-elbow, battling for position until having to break. Lashley bounced off the rope with a shoulder block that did not budge Goldberg. Goldberg came back with his own leaping shoulder block to score a knockdown before two slams and a few clotheslines. Lashley came back with clubbing blows to the back before trying to set up a jackhammer before settling for a flatliner after Goldberg countered. Lashley went to the top rope but was caught by Goldberg, who threw him across the ring before MVP pulled Lashley from the ring to avoid a spear. Goldberg followed to the outside and hit a spear. Goldberg tried to hit another spear back inside the ring but MVP hit him in the knee with his cane and Lashley hit a chop block. Lashley tried to put Goldberg in the Hurt Lock before hitting another chop block. After more attacking from Lashley, Goldberg was unable to get to his feet, clutching at his knee until the referee called for the bell.

After the match, MVP slid Lashley a steel chair, which Lashley used to continue attacking Goldberg's knee. 15-year-old Gage Goldberg jumped in the ring and leaped onto Lashley's back. Lashley locked Gage in the Hurt Lock before walking off with his belt. The match wasn't going to be worth anything, that was known coming in. That said, the finish was terrible and really brought the crowd down even though the crowd did not want Goldberg to win. This appears to have set up a rematch, however, which is yet another thing no one is asking for. Bobby Lashley def. Goldberg via referee stoppage to retain the title. Grade: D

Universal Championship -- Roman Reigns (c) vs. John Cena: Cena went for a quick early roll-up for a two-count, immediately taunting Reigns by reminding him he only needed a three-count. Cena then rolled up Reigns with a small package for another two-count. Tired of the antics, Reigns repeatedly dropped Cena with some big strikes before Cena rolled him up again for another near fall. Reigns continued his methodical beatdown before throwing Cena from the ring where he whipped Cena into the ring steps. Cena's offense primarily remained attempts to catch Reigns with a roll-up outside of an attempt to hit an Attitude Adjustment that led to Reigns hitting a DDT.

Reigns caught Cena in a sleeper hold, dragging him to the canvas as he wrenched the hold. Cena managed to fight back, break the hold and try to set up his Five-Knuckle Shuffle only to be pulled into a guillotine and hit with a Superman punch from Reigns. Cena was eventually able to hit the Shuffle and an Attitude Adjustment for a near fall. Cena then locked Reigns in the STF but the champion was able to get to the ropes to break the hold. With Reigns again on the attack, Cena countered a spear outside the ring by putting Reigns through the announce table with another Attitude Adjustment, dragging Reigns back to the ring to score another near fall. Cena went for yet another Attitude Adjustment but Reigns countered and hit a Superman punch for his own two-count. Reigns missed with a spear, hitting the ring post before Cena took him to the corner, hitting an Attitude Adjustment from the second rope but Reigns kicked out again. After a back-and-forth exchange of punches, Reigns hit two Superman punches and a spear to score the pinfall and retain his title. Solid stuff from both men with the confidence to have a slow early build before flipping to the next level. Roman Reigns def. John Cena via pinfall to retain the title. Grade: A-

Brock Lesnar made his return to WWE after Roman Reigns' win over John Cena. Lesnar made his way to the ring before staring Reigns down. Lesnar nodded at Reigns before Reigns ducked out of the ring as he was being urged by Paul Heyman. Reigns held up his title as he walked up the entrance ramp and Lesnar posed in the ring.

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Brock Lesnar made his return to WWE after Roman Reigns' win over John Cena. Lesnar made his way to the ring before staring Reigns down. Lesnar nodded at Reigns before Reigns ducked out of the ring as he was being urged by Paul Heyman. Reigns held up his title as he walked up the entrance ramp and Lesnar posed in the ring.

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Universal Championship -- Roman Reigns (c) vs. John Cena: Cena went for a quick early roll-up for a two count, immediately taunting Reigns by reminding him he only needed a three count. Cena then rolled up Reigns with a small package for another two count. Tired of the antics, Reigns repeatedly dropped Cena with some big strikes before Cena rolled him up again for another near fall. Reigns continued his methodical beatdown before throwing Cena from the ring where he whipped Cena into the ring steps. Cena's offense primarily remained attempts to catch Reigns with a roll-up outside of an attempt to hit an Attitude Adjustment that led to Reigns hitting a DDT.

Reigns caught Cena in a sleeper hold, dragging him to the canvas as he wrenched the hold. Cena managed to fight back, break the hold and try to set up his Five-Knuckle Shuffle only to be pulled into a guillotine and hit with a Superman punch from Reigns. Cena was eventually able to hit the Shuffle and an Attitude Adjustment for a near fall. Cena then locked Reigns in the STF but the champion was able to get to the ropes to break the hold. With Reigns again on the attack, Cena countered a spear outside the ring by putting Reigns through the announce table with another Attitude Adjustment, dragging Reigns back to the ring to score another near fall. Cena went for yet another Attitude Adjustment but Reigns countered and hit a Supperman punch for his own two count. Reigns missed with a spear, hitting the ring post before Cena took him to the corner, hitting an Attitude Adjustment from the second rope but Reigns kicked out again. After a back-and-forth exchange of punches, Reigns hit two Superman punches and a spear to score the pinfall and retain his title. Solid stuff from both men with the confidence to have a slow early build before flipping to the next level. Roman Reigns def. John Cena via pinfall to retain the title. Grade: A-

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It's time for the main event. John Cena challenging Roman Reigns for the universal championship. Cena sets the all-time record for world championships with a win.

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WWE Championship -- Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Goldberg: The two men locked up in a collar-and-elbow, battling for position until having to break. Lashley bounced off the rope with a shoulder block that did not budge Goldberg. Goldberg came back with his own leaping shoulder block to score a knockdown before two slams and a few clotheslines. Lashley came back with clubbing blows to the back before trying to set up a jackhammer before settling for a flatliner after Goldberg countered. Lashley went to the top rope but was caught by Goldberg, who threw him across the ring before MVP pulled Lashley from the ring to avoid a spear. Goldberg followed to the outside and hit a spear.Goldberg tried to hit another spear back inside the ring but MVP hit him in the knee with his cane and Lashley hit a chop block. Lashley tried to put Goldberg in the Hurt Lock before hitting another chop block. After more attacking from Lashley, Goldberg was unable to get to his feet, clutching at his knee until the referee called for the bell.

After the match, MVP slid Lashley a steel chair, which Lashley used to continue attacking Goldberg's knee. 15-year-old Gage Goldberg jumped in the ring and leaped onto Lashley's back. Lashley locked Gage in the Hurt Lock before walking off with his belt. The match wasn't going to be worth anything, that was known coming in. That said, the finish was terrible and really brought the crowd down even though the crowd did not want Goldberg to win. This appears to have set up a rematch, however, which is yet another thing no one is asking for. Bobby Lashley def. Goldberg via referee stoppage to retain the title. Grade: D

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It's time for the first of two world title matches to end the show. Bill Goldberg takes on WWE champion Bobby Lashley next.

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Edge vs. Seth Rollins: Edge's ring entrance was a throwback to his days with The Brood, rising out of the stage surrounded by fire as the late 1990s Brood music played. Rollins immediately targeted Edge's neck before Edge bounced him from the ring. Rollins' focus did not change, however, throwing Edge neck-first into the ring post and the ring steps. Rollins' attack was nothing if not consistent, hitting strikes to the back of the neck and multiple neckbreakers in addition to en early attempt to hit a stomp. Rollins' domination continued for a very long stretch before he tried to set up for a superplex to the outside of the ring only for Edge to hit a neckbreaker from the top rope. Edge hit an Edgecution for a near fall, finally getting his offense going as Rollins struggled to recover until he was able to counter Edge going to the top rope with a superplex into a falcon arrow.

Both men ran through some of their greatest hits, including Rollins going for a Pedigree before Edge hit a Glam Slam, the finishing move of his wife, WWE legend Beth Phoenix. Rollins continued looking for opportunities to hit a stomp before Edge hit a spear through the ropes, sending both men cashing into the floor at ringside. Back inside the ring, Rollins countered a spear with a Pedigree for a two count. Edge hit a spear in the middle of the ring but Rollins was able to kick out before hitting a superkick to Edge's neck and running in for another attempt at a stomp. Edge caught Rollins' foot and turned it into his old Edgecator submission, which Rollins was able to fight through. Edge was finally able to pick up a win with a crossface sleeper forcing Rollins to tap out. This was stunningly good stuff from start to finish with a clear story told in the ring with Rollins' ruthless focus on Edge's neck and Edge running through a history of classic moves before going to "the dark place" to get the finish. The highlight of the show so far. Edge def. Seth Rollins via submission. Grade: A+

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Raw Women's Championship -- Nikki A.S.H. (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley: All three women traded offense early. Flair went for a top rope moonsault but Ripley got her foot up to counter and then nearly hit Nikki with Riptide. Things broke down into a stretch with Ripley and Flair battling one-on-one with Nikki knocked out of the ring. After Flair took Ripley out with a big boot, Nikki hit a big DDT for a near fall. As Ripley and Flair began to battle it out on the floor, Nikki came off the top rope with a crossbody on both women.

Big moves continued to flow from all three women before Flair hit a twisting moonsault from the top rope to the outside onto both of her opponents. Flair locked Ripley in the Figure-Eight back inside the ring but Nikki broke the hold by flying off the top rope. Nikki scored a near fall on Flair but found herself locked in the Figure-Eight seconds later, forced to tap out as Flair once again became champion. This was some very good high-octane wrestling with no real downtime from bell to bell. Flair winning may not excite fans who have already tired of seeing her as champion but it was likely the best possible result here. Charlotte Flair def. Nikki A.S.H. and Rhea Ripley to win the title. Grade: A-

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