SummerSlam 2016 has been and gone. If a picture paints a thousand words, then this guy’s sign speaks volumes.
It was a long show. A very long show. I’ll say some more about the show’s length later. For now, I’d like to comment on the show’s matches and quality.
I didn’t see the 12-man tag match or Sami Zayn and Neville vs The Dudley Boyz. Cesaro vs Sheamus? I came in at the end of this so I can’t really say much about it other than why is Cesaro on the Pre-Show? What does this guy have to do to get some semblance of a push?
Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs JeriKO.
This was a reasonably good match. Nice opener for the event. Enzo and Cass came out and got the crowd revved up as only they can. Jericho and Kevin Owens came out to good heel heat. They are easily two of the most entertaining guys on the roster right now and are amazing heels. I loved Jericho and Owens’ bromance thing going on. Great stuff.
Sasha Banks vs Charlotte for the WWE Women’s Title.
This was a pretty stiff, brutal match. At one point Charlotte botched a set-up type of move on the top rope/corner and Sasha fell awkwardly onto her neck. It looked nasty. Apparently, Sasha is taking time off for a month to nurse injuries. This fall couldn’t have helped her condition at all. Charlotte got the win to recapture the title which was a bit of a shock. I’m guessing if Sasha were healthy, the finish may have been different. Great match.
The Miz vs Apollo Crews for the Intercontinental Title.
So going into this match, the outcome felt obvious. Crews is too fresh to take the title just yet. It was a short match with The Miz retaining the title thanks to interference from Maryse. I do like The Miz as a heel and part of me hopes that the longer he holds on to the title, the more heat he’ll draw. Who knows? Hopefully, the Intercontinental scene picks up again soon, but then again, I’ve been saying that for years now.
John Cena vs AJ Styles.
Match of the night for me, easily. Probably match of the year when I think about it. Last year I thought Cena and Owens put on a great series of matches, but this year Cena and AJ has been fantastic. This match was one of the best matches I’ve seen in years. If you didn’t like SummerSlam, I’m not sure you could dislike this match. Like a lot of other matches tonight, I felt as if it could’ve gone on later in the show.
The New Day vs Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson for the WWE Tag Team Titles.
Jon Stewart came out to join the New Day before the start of the match. Nothing against Jon, but this just wasn’t needed. After Cena and AJ’s epic match, this was too much of a change of pace. The crowd got bored and impatient very quickly. The match itself was ok, but Stewart interfered making the match a bit of a schmoz. Big-E ran out in the end to help Woods and Kingston. Why wasn’t he in the match to begin with then? He looked healthy enough. A bit of a disappointment, but these teams will continue their feud which isn’t a bad thing.
Dean Ambrose vs Dolph Ziggler for the WWE World Championship.
So for me, this feud has felt rushed and forced. Tonight’s match was a reflection of my opinion on the whole angle. I had high hopes at the start. Dolph is great in the ring. He’s really quick and explosive. I’ve always been of the opinion that Ambrose is a little slow and clunky in the ring. As much as I like Dean, I think Stone Cold was onto something in his podcast. He needs a bit more intensity in the ring. The match started off pretty well. My network kept disconnecting which may have soured my opinion of this match, but when service resumed, the match had gotten a bit flat. Ambrose retained the title, but what becomes of Ziggler now? He was rushed into this angle coming into SummerSlam and this match did not help his stock. I have to believe that Ambrose needs to step it up a little bit too. Mostly, I think the problem is the lack of real contenders on SmackDown. There are rumours circulating that some talent may be relocated to SmackDown soon. SmackDown really needs this.
A Bigger Buzzkill than…
It’s around now that I feel I have to address a glaring problem: David Otunga’s commentary. His flat, stating the obvious lines, and JBL’s phoning-it-in schtick, was a serious step down in intensity and pace and it’s damaging the SmackDown brand. Thankfully, Mauro Ranallo is on the SmackDown team because he is great. Ranallo was commentating like a beast tonight, but JBL and Otunga in particular, are a trainwreck. JBL at least has some “color”, but Otunga is a bigger buzzkill than Buzz Killington. The SmackDown “Live” commentary team needs to change soon because right now it sounds like SmackDown death.
6 Woman Tag Match: Becky Lynch, Carmella and Naomi vs. Natalya, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Bella.
The high point of this match was the announcement that Eva Marie is vacationing due to stress from criticism from fans. I guess they had to do something in light of her recent suspension and this got a chuckle out of me. Eva Marie’s replacement was Nikki Bella which came as no surprise as she was officially cleared to wrestle again the other day. Again, scheduling. This match would’ve been better received coming on before the Women’s Title match. Like many of SmackDown’s angles, this story and match suffered from a lack of focus and momentum. A lacklustre affair overall. SmackDown’s women need and deserve much better.
Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor for the WWE Universal Championship.
Another of the much anticipated main events. Although I had already predicted a victory for Balor, there had been a few swerves at this year’s SummerSlam already, so I did have a sense of “anything can happen” in this match. Finn came out as “The Demon King” and the crowd lapped it up. The match itself was fast-paced and as exciting as many of us had hoped for. The match was a little bit shorter than I had expected, but maybe it was just the pace of the match that made it speed along. Early on in the bout, the crowd seemed more interested in the design of the new WWE Universal Championship belt than the action in the ring. Seth Rollins later tweeted that this was disrespectful. I tend to agree with him Yeah, the title design may be somewhat uninspiring, but it’s just a belt. There are more important things at hand.
Roman Reigns vs Rusev for the United States Championship.
This “match” quickly went to the outside before the bell could ring and turned into a brawl with Reigns working heel by battering Rusev’s rib cage with a chair. Officials pulled Reigns off of Rusev and called the match off out of concern for Rusev’s health. Rusev was assisted back up the ramp to the back only for Reigns to re-emerge and spear Rusev to the ground. While this match never got started, I like the direction they took with Reigns here. I really hope they continue this heelish direction for him on Raw and turn him fully. Once again, I do question this match’s position on the card. It should’ve gone on earlier.
A message from the sponsor.
Things got REALLY WEIRD when sponsor, KFC, were given a promo/ad by The Miz in a chicken costume and Dolph Ziggler dressed as Colonel Sanders. Dan Nerdcubed summed it up pretty well in one of his tweets.
Brock Lesnar vs Randy Orton.
So this match went on last which was surprising. We got the usual Paul Heyman intro before the start of the match. Orton came out soon after to a good pop and the match got underway. Pretty typical Brock Lesnar stuff really. Brock overpowered Randy MMA style into the corners and beat him down with fists and knees. The match quickly went outside the ring with Brock throwing Orton into, but not breaking, a table. While on the table, Brock began to set up Orton for a German Suplex, and I called this a mile off as Orton quickly RKO’d Lesnar through the table. This allowed Orton to get some offence off onto Brock. Brock soon recovered, got pissed, put Orton into a ground and pound position and wailed on Orton. The ground and pound was pretty stiff by pro-wrestling standards. As a result, one of Brock’s elbow shots busted Orton’s head open pretty badly. Randy wasn’t moving while Lesnar rained down with blows. When he did move to get up, blood poured from the wound on his head onto the mat. It looked bad. I have to admit that I thought something had gone horribly wrong for a while there. The match was called off, Brock attacked Orton some more, Shane McMahon ran in and got F5-ed for his troubles. I’m sure that Orton getting busted open really badly wasn’t in the script, but having the last two matches of the night called off, ended the event on a down note. A shockingly gruesome end to a short main-event.
The end result?
I felt there were enough matches of real quality, but the order of the card was out of whack. Ending the night with a no-contest and a technical knock-out felt really weird. Overall, I liked SummerSlam 2016 better than Wrestlemania 32, but that’s not saying much. The “big 4” PPVs continue to disappoint. Their biggest problem to me is time: less is sometimes more. You don’t need four-hour shows with an hour of pre-show to make a great show. Look at what NXT is doing! I understand they want to get everyone on the card, but if the talent aren’t in any (good) storylines, shoehorning them into a PPV just makes for a long, boring affair. This was the case with both Wrestlemania 32 and SummerSlam 2016. This year’s SummerSlam is worth seeing for the Cena/Styles match alone. Just make sure you drink a lot of coffee if you plan on sitting through the entire event.