WrestleMania is always the biggest show of the year, but it caters more towards the casual fan more often than not. That’s when Summerslam rolls around. This is the second-biggest show of the year on paper, and we’re more likely to see matches that appeal to the more consistent and active viewers.
It’s not the best way to look at it, but WrestleMania is for “them” and Summerslam is for “us”.
But now with the bigger PPV weekends getting NXT Takeovers as well, we get all of the wrestling and it’s for everyone! Can the biggest party of the summer live up to the previous night’s events?
Let’s check it out, starting with the pre-show.
The Miztourage (Miz, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel) v. Jason Jordan & The Hardy Boyz
What a weird match. Probably should’ve just set up an actual Miz/Jordan match so that the Intercontinental Championship is actually doing something. Oops.
This basically a nothing match, as you’d expect from the random pairing on the pre-show. Jason Jordan misses a tag, so Miz sneaks up behind him and hits the Skull Crushing Finale. Win goes to the heels.
Akira Tozawa (c) v. Neville: Cruiserweight Championship Match
Tozawa’s shock victory on Monday Night Raw really changed expectations on how this match will work. Neville has been such a dominant champion in this division, but it wouldn’t make sense to give Tozawa a 6-day reign.
The physicality is immediate with these two, and I really like their chemistry. They both have flashy moves, but their work isn’t inherently showy. I really wish that a match like this could’ve gotten on the main card instead of something like Big Show and Big Cass. In fact, also remove Orton/Rusev and put the New Day on the main card. I feel a lot better about that.
There isn’t a lot to say about this match, unfortunately. It’s good work that doesn’t call attention to itself. Tozawa goes to the top rope but Neville gets the knees up in time. The challenger lands a Red Arrow to the back of Tozawa and is able to secure the pin, becoming the first ever two-time Cruiserweight Champion in the process.
Elias Samson comes out and sings a song about how Brooklyn is a garbage city and gets some real good old fashioned cheap heat, and that’s always pretty fun. I expected a run-in, but no such luck.
The New Day (c) v. The Usos: Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match
The champs have some real fun red attire for this match and I’m digging it. Xavier and Big E are working this one, so Kofi gets to hang out on the outside.
Xavier and Jimmy start the match off with some quick back and forth. Jimmy’s shirt is removed so that Woods can deliver some big chops in the corner. The champ quickly loses his advantage and is passed between the challenging brothers, keeping him in the corner and even throwing him out of the ring. After a big enzuigiri, Woods is able to get to Big E for the hot tag. He knocks them down and tags Woods back in so that he can powerbomb his partner onto Jimmy. Another quick tag and Woods lifts Big E onto his shoulders before dropping him back on to Jimmy. The heels get some quick wind and double-team a spinebuster onto Big E before wrecking him in the corner. Big E catches his opponent and sets him up for a sideslam and Woods hits a backstabber underneath, which was pretty innovative.
Things get more interesting when Big E tries to dive to the outside but runs into a superkick, stuck between the ropes. One brother splashes onto him while the other splashes onto Woods, but he kicks out. Xavier locks in a Koji Clutch and then hits a Shining Wizard, still to no avail. A vicious DDT on the outside leads to a tag team finisher from the champs, which Tom Phillips seems to now call the “Up Up Down Down” because of Xavier’s YouTube channel, but the pin is broken up. The crowd gives us a “This is awesome” chant, and I then think about how Big Show and Big Cass will be taking the spot this match deserves. Xavier is thrown onto Jey from the outside before Big E spears Jimmy. The Usos double team Big E with superkicks and then hit a double splash for the win and their second reign on the blue brand.
Pre-show is over, let’s get to the main card.
John Cena v. Baron Corbin
I do not like Baron Corbin. I never have. He has never really impressed me. I don’t like his ring work, and I don’t really like his promos much either. If there’s anyone who can give him something special, that might be John Cena.
Well, what we got was not in fact anything special. Cena can normally make anything pretty great, but he actually didn’t seem all that focused in this match. Corbin is pretty good at looking aggressive, but he doesn’t do much for me beyond that. After some fairly typical offense that would surprise anyone who has seen either man wrestle before, Cena gets the win off the Attitude Adjustment.
Naomi (c) v. Natalya: Smackdown Women’s Championship Match
Big Show v. Big Cass (Enzo Amore in a shark cage)
I’m constantly thinking about that great tag match while this yuck is unfolding in front of me. I feel like the more I talk about this, the more upset I’m going to get, so I might just leave it real brief.
Big Show does some stuff that is slow and not all that effective looking. Big Cass does some that is only slightly faster. Enzo takes off his shorts, oils himself up, and slides out of the cage. He is immediately kicked in the face. Cass kicks everyone in the face and wins. I wish I could fast-forward live television.
Randy Orton v. Rusev
Ugh. We get it, Randy doesn’t like vaguely ethnic people, thus him going after Jinder and Rusev.
Well Rusev attacked the veteran mid-pose, so that’s interesting at least.
Just kidding, the bell rang and Orton hit an immediate RKO and that’s the match.
I don’t give zero as a score. That’s why this match gets a one.
Like, now all I’m thinking about is how Sami Zayn or Tye Dillinger could’ve had a match on the card. Charlotte, Becky, and Nia have nothing to do either. What a waste of a spot.
Alexa Bliss (c) v. Sasha Banks: Raw Women’s Championship Match
Two years ago, Sasha and Bayley delivered (in my opinion) the best women’s match under the WWE banner at NXT Takeover Brooklyn. Last year, Sasha and Charlotte had another stellar match at Summerslam. Alexa Bliss has gotten better and better every single week and is now an incredible heel. I’m so excited for this.
They start off the match with some surprisingly aggressive forearms and I’m loving the energy. After some rule-bending antics in the corner and some real hard kicks, Alexa gets her challenger tangled up and throws her to the ground. The champ delivers some serious double knees and pulls Sasha up to the top turnbuckle by her hair, but Sasha is able to throw her off before delivering a knee to the face. The aggression is real in this match and their chemistry is on point. After turning the momentum, Sasha hits some double knees of her own in the corner before locking the Banks Statement. The champ gets a ropebreak and throws the challenger out of the ring with a violent landing. Twisted Bliss is hit from the top rope but the match doesn’t end there. Sasha gets back up and attempts her submission again, but the champ abuses the weak arm. One more Banks Statement and we have a new Raw Women’s Champion.
Finn Balor v. Bray Wyatt
Finn is my favorite. Just establishing that.
His entrance is the best. His song is the best. He’s one of the best workers in the business as well. This is only the second time we’ve seen “the demon” on the main roster, and the last time was one year ago when he beat Seth Rollins to become the first ever Universal Champion.
Balor gets in most of the early offense both in and out of the ring, and he’s able to counter the mind games that Wyatt attempts. An unlucky suplex to the outside shifts the momentum as Bray rides it for a few minutes, keeping his opponent in the corner. A slam in the corner leads to an early Sister Abigail attempt, but Finn gets out of it and lands a double stomp. Bray is thrown through the ropes so that Finn and dropkick him even further, followed by a kick the face and a double stomp to the head. Next up is a Coup De Grace that Bray is prepared for, and another Sister Abigail is turned into a Slingblade. Bray receives an enzuigiri while on the top rope and rolls out only to be dropkicked again. He turns a Shotgun Dropkick attempt into a vicious clothesline. Wyatt does his creepy spiderwalk but the demon jumps right up, scaring his opponent. A slingblade, a dropkick, and a Coup De Grace seals the win for Balor.
Sheamus & Cesaro (c) v. Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins: Raw Tag Team Championship Match
I’ve been a huge Shield mark and I always will be, so I have been ALL ABOUT this reunion with Seth and Dean.
After getting a lot of the early offense, the faces start losing their advantage. The champs keep Rollins isolated in their corner with a lot of quick tags as Ambrose is still reeling from a Brogue Kick on the outside. Seth lands a Blockbuster on Cesaro but has no one to tag in, so the heel offense continues. At this point in time, Cesaro runs into the crowd to take a beach ball from the crowd, and he rips it into pieces before tagging in to abuse Seth some more. Ambrose finally gets up, but the heels keep the ring cut in half. After a long wait (and a top rope elbow to both of the heels), Dean finally gets tagged back into the match and runs wild for a minute. This culminates in Seth and Dean running together for simultaneous suicide dives onto the champions. The faces hit a DIY-esque meet in the middle to a top turnbuckle Sheamus, followed by a superplex into a frog splash, but Cesaro breaks it up. They attempt a double powerbomb but fall to the distraction from Cesaro. The Swiss Superman locks in a Sharpshooter for a while before transitioning it into a Crossface but Ambrose forces the break. Rollins breaks up a scary looking tag maneuver, delivers superkicks to both heels, and Ambrose gets up for the Dirty Deeds on Sheamus in order to become the new Raw Tag Team Champions
Dean Ambrose is now officially a Grand Slam Champion. He already had a WWE, United States, and two Intercontinental title reigns. Seth (and Roman, for that matter) still need that IC run, but still.
AJ Styles (c) v. Kevin Owens: United States Championship Match (with special guest referee Shane McMahon)
AJ and KO begin fighting before the bell rings, naturally, and Shane tries to break them up. He quickly calls for the official start of the match and the champ begins dominating. Owens turns the tables with a wicked clothesline and a cannonball in the corner. Ever the heel, the challenger yells at Shane for having “bad placement” as ref before unleashing a running senton to Styles. After some more offense, KO is on the ground and being checked on by Shane, but AJ’s 450 splash hits both of them. The challenger powerbombs AJ, but Shane is late to the count because of his injury. Owens furiously yells “You fall off buildings and get back up, and you can’t get over for the count?”. He kicks AJ into Shane, who falls out of the ring. While there’s no ref, Owens taps to the Calf Crusher, causing the tension between all three men to escalate even further. AJ hits the first Styles Clash I’ve seen in a little while, but Owens is able to barely kick out. The challenger lands another Pop-Up Powerbomb, but AJ gets his foot on the rope. Owens begins screaming at Shane, including what I believe to be a censored “That was a goddamn three count”, which leads to AJ taking advantage with a Pele Kick, Phenomenol Forearm, and one final Styles Clash. This makes AJ Styles the first person to retain their title today.
Jinder Mahal (c) v. Shinsuke Nakamura: WWE Championship Match
I’m so happy I don’t have to worry about a Money In The Bank cash-in. Baron Corbin can go suck an egg.
Most of the early match is just Nakamura landing aggressive strikes on the champ followed by Mahal leaving the ring and growling at him. I wasn’t expecting him to play almost the cowardly heel for this match. Before too long, Nakamura falls to a distraction from the Singh Brothers, giving the champ the edge. Jinder definitely seems to working a bit more stiff than normal, as if he’s trying to come closer to the level of the King Of Strong Style, but it’s working for me.
The Singh Brothers begin to get involved, so Shinsuke shifts his focus to deal with them. As he finishes knocking them out, Jinder is up and hits his finisher, which I still don’t know for sure what it’s actually called. Thanks to the interference, Mahal retains his title while Nakamura suffers his first major loss on the main roster.
I know I didn’t say as much about that match as others, and that’s not because I didn’t like it. It just wasn’t as spot-heavy. It was mostly strikes and mat work, and it succeeded in what it wanted to achieve.
Brock Lesnar (c) v. Roman Reigns v. Samoa Joe v. Braun Strowman: Universal Championship Match
You ever see four anthropomorphic hams just slap each other for a while? That’s kinda what this whole thing is.
I’m having trouble writing about this match, but for opposite reasons of Mahal/Nakamura. This match was almost exclusively high spots in a way that really really worked. No, it wasn’t a technical classic by any means, but this match was full of moments and memories that will last and remain. There’s nothing eloquent I can say about this match because it was nonstop id from bell to bell. This match never wanted to be Steamboat/Savage, this was Hogan/Andre from the very beginning.
Brock Lesnar went through the barricade, two announce tables, and got the third thrown on top of him. Strowman took the steel steps to the face and got cut above his ear. Roman and Joe were both demolished as well. The offense never stopped, and it was all brutal. In the end, Lesnar was able to retain his Universal Championship after an F5 to Roman Reigns.
What an absolutely wild weekend for wrestling with fantastic matches and stories throughout both cards. What was your favorite Summerslam match? What was the best match from the whole weekend? Please let us know what you’re excited about in the world of WWE.