Brace yourself, sports fans. This one might go as long as this year’s WrestleMania. It’s supposed to be a stacked matchcard with virtually every Superstar in action tonight. Vince McMahon really has his work cut out for him tonight because NXT tore the roof off the Barclay Center last night. So without further ado, let’s dissect this pay-per-view.
The preshow kicks off with a 12-man tag match, which is a ridiculous thing to have on a pay-per-view. The Vaudevillians team with The Ascension and Breezango to take on The Hype Bros, The Usos, and American Alpha. Chad Gable and Tyler Breeze start the match and Gable shows off a little bit, looking solid. Jay Uso tags in and the crowd boo’s. It’s hard to get excited about this one. We have twelve guys, all fighting for essentially nothing. There is no tag title on Smackdown. Why was American Alpha even drafted there? For that matter, why are there even tag teams on Smackdown? It’s an odd thing, and just another example of why the brand split isn’t the best idea. It’s a shame because Chad and Gable deserve better. Everyone in this match puts on a good show. But the attendance is full of empty seats, and not even Mauro Ranallo can get anything going.
Zack Ryder continues to do a good job and it’s no wonder they gave him a push earlier this year. Jimmy Uso and Tyler Breeze are the last men standing, as Jimmy Samoan Drops him to the mat. Konnor tries to block him but Jimmy kicks him. Jordan tags in and suplexes both Fandango and Breeze. Suplex on Gotch, but English breaks up the pinfall. Powerbomb by English on Gable. Hats off to these guys for avoiding the doomed “spot-fest” that many of these matches become. Everyone gets their stuff in, but it feels organic; going with the flow of the match. Breeze and Viktor get slammed by Mojo Rawley. The action is quick and exciting. Crowd gets a little more lively as things progress. Gable and Jordan drop Viktor and Jay Uso steals the win for the tagfall. Baron Corbin interrupts the pre-show panel to cut a quick promo on Kalisto who was injured and couldn’t compete in their match tonight.
The Dudley Boyz come out to take on Neville and Sami Zayn. Neville and Devon kick things off. Neville and Zayn work well together as a team. Dudleys are still as good as ever. This one is pretty fun. Crowd into it. Some near falls throughout. A miscommunication by Devon and Bubba Ray allows Neville to hit the Red Arrow for the pinfall. Good match, not too long and not too short. It will be interesting to see if this Neville and Zayn team continues and whether a rift will start to grow between The Dudley Boyz.
The final match of the preshow is Sheamus taking on Cesaro in the first match of their Best of 7 Series. This one is brutal from the start, with both men using a bit of stiff, strong style. Sheamus takes control as we head into a little commercial break. Sheamus puts some strong moves on Cesaro, and gets a couple of near falls. Cesaro Swing on Sheamus into a figure four leglock. Sheamus breaks it up. Cesaro tries again, gets blocked and Sheamus Brogue Kicks him into a pinfall victory. Sheamus is up 1-0. A mostly entertaining trio of matches to kick off the preshow, but I find myself scratching my head trying to determine if there was a point to any of them. A 12-man tag? The Dudley Boyz in 2016? Sheamus and Cesaro six more times after this? Eek.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass kick off the show, crowd sets the roof on fire. Brilliant way to start the show and get the crowd into it. Enzo does his usual thing, ripping up the mic and getting everybody up on their feet. He calls New York the greatest city in the world. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho come down. The match starts and Owens and Y2J knock Cass off the apron and double team Enzo. Enzo and Jericho are the official legal men, and Jericho goes to work chopping the smaller guy. Enzo is as good a seller as Dolph Ziggler and he always makes his opponents shine. Enzo takes a beating for awhile, including a hard frog-splash by Kevin Owens. Big Cass gets the hot tag and takes down both Owens and Jericho. He drops an Empire Elbow on Y2J. Followed by a big boot as Jericho leaps off the top rope. Owens saves the match, attacking Enzo and Cass both. Owens throws Enzo to Jericho, who hits a Code Breaker and he covers for the pinfall win. The hometown boys lose, and the crowd is unhappy about it. Good match to kick things off. After the match, Owens and Jericho walk up the ramp screaming “I Love You!” at each other. Backstage segment with Jon Stewart and The New Day, adding really nothing to the show.
Sasha Banks defends her WWE Women’s Championship next against Charlotte. It seems a really bizarre booking choice to do this match so early, and also doing it prior to this shit-storm 6-woman tag match that is happening later. Both ladies came to play, and they trade physical attacks to start. Charlotte botches several moves in a row and looks like an amateur out there. She may have legit injured Sasha with a terrible fail off the top rope. Charlotte tries a Figure Four leglock, but Sasha kicks her off. Moments later, Sasha is thrown into the corner. Sasha counters a Razor’s Edge off the top rope and both women hit the mat hard. This is brutal to watch. Sasha locks in a nice Boston Crab using the ropes as leverage, but she has to break it as the ref counts to five. A double knee slam into Charlotte’s back, leaves both ladies holding their lower backs and grimacing. Sasha jumps off the apron and drops both knees on Charlotte’s face, dropping her down to the ground outside. Ref starts a ten count. Charlotte goes for Natural Selection, but Sasha counters into the Bank Statement. Charlotte worms her way out of it. Neck breaker by Charlotte, then hits Natural Selection. Sasha kicks out at two. Charlotte tries a tilt-a-whirl but Sasha reverses it into another Bank Statement. Charlotte rolls her over onto her shoulders and three seconds later, Charlotte regains the Women’s Championship. This seems like a terrible finish and should definitely lead into something. They cleaned it up towards the end, but that one got off to a rocky start. Not the best outing these two have had against each other. Backstage segment with The Club, AJ Styles, and Finn Balor teasing the Bullet Club.
The Miz comes down, accompanied by Maryse. Apollo Crews is challenging for the Intercontinental Championship. Miz attacks in the corner early, and Crews is reeling. Things slow way down, and the match hits a lull. Crews hits him with a boot and both men are down. Standing moonsault by Crews is the highlight so far, but he fails to cover. Miz hits Skull Crushing Finale for the win. Another mediocre match that just comes across as a waste of air time. So far the show has just been okay. Still waiting for a big wow moment.
Up next AJ Styles looks to beat up John Cena. Crowd starts a very vocal John Cena Sucks sing-along. It’s a decent match to start, but the problem with this matchup is Styles is way more talented than Cena, and Cena just goes through his usual run-of-the-mill Five Moves of Doom. Styles hits the Styles Clash and Cena kicks out. Attitude Adjustment by Cena, but Styles kicks out. The pair do their best, but what else is there to milk out of this rivalry? They burned this one months ago. Now we are just going through all the familiar motions. Attitude Adjustment by Styles this time, but Cena kicks out. Styles attempts a springboard 450 splash, but Cena moves out of the way. Styles locks in the Calf Crusher submission. Cena gets out and climbs the top rope. Leg drop on Styles, hitting him in the back of the head. Kick out at two. Some exciting false finishes in this one, but again nothing really new. John Cena looks stunned that Styles just keeps kicking out. Styles Clash again on Cena, but no cover. Phenomenal Forearm off the top rope and Styles covers Cena for the win. This one didn’t really have a pay-per-view feel. Mauro Ranallo really helped to make that match more than it was, so hats off to him.
BREAKING: News just came through the wire that Sasha Banks dropped the title because she violated the wellness policy. Official suspension coming tomorrow. Damn, if that rumor is true what a shame! We’ll cover it more later this week when more official word comes out from the WWE camp.
Jon Stewart comes out, making me wonder what is on TV right now that I might be able to watch to curb my boredom. He sports a New Day t-shirt and unicorn horn and brings the group out, sans Big E Langston. They are set to defend their Tag Team Championship titles against The Club. Xavier Woods does a great job throughout this one, especially for someone we don’t really get to see go very often. Gallows and Anderson are such a great tag team. They hit Magic Killer on Xavier and then Jon Stewart distracts. The Club goes to put Stewart crotch first on the ring post. Crowd starts a YES! chant. Before they can hurt him, Big E runs in and attacks Gallows and Anderson. Ref calls for the bell. Big E slams Anderson into the barricade. Match ends in DQ finish, which is weird because Big E is a member of New Day. But it’s whatever. Fun segment and New Day will have the tag titles going into tomorrow.
Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon are in the ring as Dolph Ziggler comes out to challenge Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Fast start to this as it spills out of the ring. Spinning neckbreaker by Ziggler after slamming Ambrose into the barricade. Ambrose pounds Ziggler’s head on the steel steps twice before they get back in the ring. Ziggler pulls out all the stops, by Ambrose manages to kick out every time. Elbow off the top rope by Dean but Ziggler kicks out. Simple back and forth here, letting both guys trade momentum. Ambrose kicks out of a Zig Zag. Is it just me or were finishers just completely burned all night tonight? Been a long time since WWE protected finishers. Sleeper hold by Ziggler. Ambrose gets out of it and blocks a Super Kick. Huge clothesline sends Ziggler to the match. Dirty Deeds by Ambrose to retain. Exciting match. Might be my favorite so far tonight. But again, nothing spectacular has happened. This is supposed to be the big event of the summer and it is falling short of delivering in my opinion.
Tag action up next with six women going at it. I have not been looking forward to this at all. Let’s get it over with. Naomi comes out first, looking like a forensic crime scene under a black light. But her entrance is definitely memorable. She is tagging with Carmella and Becky Lynch, two of my favorites. Their opponents are Alexa Bliss, Natalya, and Nikki Bella. Lynch and Bliss start the match. Another match that honestly means nothing. Why? Because these are six women that can never compete for the Women’s Championship because it’s on Raw and they are Smackdown competitors. Putting this on the actual pay-per-view card and not the preshow is questionable. Also, let’s just put this out there: Nikki Bella is not a good wrestler. There, I said it. An okay outing from these ladies. Carmella and Bliss have one of their best matches so far since coming up to the main roster. Nikki Bella gets the win by pinning Carmella. Eh. Still have yet to be blown away by anything tonight. So far, HHH has won the weekend.
They show the Universal Championship and it’s terrible. Looks just like the world title only red. It looks like it was designed by Eva Marie. What a piece of trash, both the name and the physical belt. Shame. Seth Rollins comes out, with Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley ringside. The Demon King, Finn Balor, makes an incredible entrance. Crowd. Goes. Ape. Shit. The bell rings and Balor doesn’t hesitate. He dropkicks Rollins. Balor goes to work aggressively attacking Rollins left leg. Outside the ring, Rollins tosses Balor into the timekeeper’s area. Rollins very methodical for this match, being aggressive and not letting up on Balor. Running kick off the apron for Balor to regain control. He hits a Slingblade on Rollins in the ring. Rollins recovers and tries a Pedigree but it gets blocked and Balor kicks him. Both men down. 1916 by Balor, but Rollins kicks out. The match is pretty exciting, but the crowd is giving a shit response, trying to hijack it with chants unrelated to the match. Foot stomp off the corner and Finn Balor is the first WWE Universal Champion. How cool is that? First WWE wrestler to win a title on their first pay-per-view match as well. The future is bright with these two in the driver’s seat. Nice match, but again, same complaint as all night: nothing amazing has happened yet. And with Orton and Lesnar as the go home, I think SummerSlam came up short on its goals for the evening.
Rusev versus Roman Reigns for the United States Championship up next. As it’s 10:30 already, I don’t see this one going very long. Reigns throws Rusev into the timekeeper area. Same spot as the last match. SMH. They are brawling and a bunch of refs try to break them up. Match hasn’t even officially started yet. Reigns goes after Rusev with a steel chair. Reigns continues to beat him down a few more minutes and then walks out. Crowd boos him heavily. Rusev struggles to get up as crowd starts chanting, “We Want Slater!” and then a “CM Punk!” chant. Ringside doctor says Rusev is unable to compete tonight. Reigns comes back down the ramp and Spears him. Reigns seemingly ruins the whole segment by pumping his arms at the crowd and then smiling at the top of the ramp. Empty segment for my money.
Main event time. Brock Lesnar vs Randy Orton, a match that really isn’t going to do much to pep up this pay-per-view. And ultimately another match on the card that means little to nothing, a label that has been woven into every fiber of this show so far tonight. The bell rings and we’re off. Lesnar slams Orton in the corner and tries for a suplex. But Orton dropkicks him. Orton tries an RKO and Lesnar shoves him off and slams him down to the mat. German suplex by Lesnar. And a second. Orton scrambling. A third German suplex as Paul Heyman laughs at ringside. Beatdown in the corner, then another suplex. Orton hasn’t been on his feet for a few minutes. A sixth suplex and this one is getting out of control. Outside of the ring, Orton tries to fight back but Lesnar picks him up and slams him on the announce table. The table doesn’t break, but Lesnar fixes that. He tosses Orton off the barricade into the table and it smashes apart. Lesnar picks apart a second announce table and puts Orton on it. Orton pops up and hits an RKO on the table. It doesn’t break. As they get back in the ring, Orton DDT’s Lesnar off the second rope. As Lesnar gets up, Orton hits an RKO. Lesnar kicks out at two. Orton goes for his old school punt kick, but Lesnar pops up and F5’s him. Orton kicks out at two. Lesnar punches Orton over and over again and the ref separates them and calls for a doctor as Orton is busted wide open, bleeding all over the ring. Lesnar pushes the doctor aside and keeps punching Orton’s head. The ref calls for the bell and this is over. Lesnar wins by TKO. Lesnar goes after Orton again. Shane McMahon runs in to check on Orton and Lesnar cuts him off. Lesnar F5’s Shane. Heyman starts screaming, “What did you do!?” And that’s the end of the show. I love seeing Lesnar destroy someone, so this was fun.
The theme of tonight will be “At least it wasn’t WrestleMania.” It wasn’t terrible, but it just didn’t have a SummerSlam feel to it. If this had been Battleground or Payback, it would be been great. But I don’t think any segment tonight really came across as successful. Everything missed the mark and was off by just a little bit. The booking leading into the show was rushed, there were too many matches, and the order of the matches themselves was confusing. Whether or not this is just the final hiccup of the brand split before the new pay-per-views take off remains to be seen. Judging this right out of the gate, though, it just wasn’t all that it could have been. At the end of the day, what did any of it mean or accomplish? The honest answer is not a whole lot. We are right back in the same rut we were in prior to the brand split. What did you all think about WWE’s 2016 SummerSlam? Let us know in the comments below. See you tomorrow for Monday Night Raw.
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Article by Jamie Curtis Baker