Written by: Scrooge McSuck
– Presented LIVE on the WWE Network on August 20th, 2017, it’s the 30th edition of SummerSlam (not the 30th Anniversary). Michael Cole, Booker T, and Corey Graves are calling the action for Raw, while Tom Phillips, JBL, and Byron Saxton and his eye-sore of a suit are calling action for Smackdown Live’s matches. We’re at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, and yes, they are holding shows on four consecutive nights in the same building.
– I didn’t have the patience to sit through a two-hour pre-show (I barely wanted to do it for WrestleMania). Three matches were featured: 1.) Jason Jordan & The Hardy Boyz vs. The Miz, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel. The match started at 5:25 ET, so it was an unofficial (mostly) empty arena match. Jordan’s fake nepotism angle is a bomb, and he jobbed clean to The Miz. 2.) Neville regained the Cruiserweight Title from Akira Tozawa. Heard this was good. Tozawa won the title on the go-home episode of Raw, a title change for the sake of a title change, I guess. 3.) The Usos regained the SD Live Tag Team Titles from New Day, represented by Big E and Xavier Woods. Heard this was good/great, and one of the longest Kickoff Show matches in history. Again, why change the titles at Battleground, just to change them back 4-weeks later without a single title defense?
John Cena vs. Baron Corbin:
Yes, JOHN CENA is opening the official Pay-Per-View portion of SummerSlam. No, this isn’t 2003… what do you mean he wasn’t on the card that year?! Corbin cashed in his Money in the Bank CONTRACT last week on Smackdown and failed, so now he’s a laughingstock with the “dumpster fire” nickname attached to him. I wasn’t expecting a great match, but I was expecting more effort than usual from Corbin. He spent most of the match doing his slow, plodding offense, and hollering at hecklers, because that’s something he should be doing. Cena survived Deep Six (a move that has never won a single match, so it shouldn’t be a surprise), and almost instantly, won with a single Attitude Adjustment at 10:15. Congratulations Corbin, you had a bad match with JOHN CENA at SummerSlam. Hang your head in shame. *1/2
WWE (SD Live) Women’s Championship Match:
Naomi © vs. Natalya:
Natalya earned the title opportunity by winning an elimination match at Battleground. Naomi’s reign has to be considered one of the weakest of recent years, with only a handful of defenses, most of them against Lana, the laughingstock of the division, and yes, I’m aware I used that joke in the last match, too. I’m recycling material worse than WWE. Natalya comes out rocking a Sgt. Pepper style jacket, not unlike her famous Uncle (Keith). Not to be a jerk, but Naomi is totally rocking the “I’m jobbing” face for her entrance. I wasn’t expecting anything but a dead crowd and boring work, but I was pleasantly surprised. Natalya has always been a good worker, just void of charisma, while Naomi is hit-and-miss with sloppy, over-choreographed spots. Here, everything they did looked good and Naomi pulled out a few neat spots. Natalya had the sharpshooter applied, but Naomi countered with a vicious blow into a turnbuckle. Her split-legged moonsault was met with a pair of knees, and Natalya won clean with the Sharpshooter at 11:10. Post-match, Naomi cries because that’s how you get a babyface over. Carmella, surprisingly, DOESN’T cash in. ***
Big Show vs. Big Cass:
Gimmick of the match is Enzo Amore being locked in a shark cage and hoisted above the ring. Not only did he cut a long, ignorant promo using every cliche in the book, but while in the cage, he never shut up and was hamming it up to the point I wouldn’t have minded if the cage broke and he fell and broke his neck. Yes, I’m a horrible human being, but even if this was a good match, he would’ve ruined it. To no surprise, this was bad. I’m talking really, really bad. Show did his usual, but had to sell his right hand being broken, so every big spot had him clutching the hand in pain. Cass did a long rest-hold that got a RARE “this is boring” chant (rare considering the crowd was mostly hot all night). Enzo killed the gimmick of the cage, stripping to his boxers, oiling himself up, and squeezing through the bars… and then Cass killed him on the way down with a boot. Two boots to Big Show, and Cass is the victor at 10:30. Easily the worst match of the weekend. -*
Randy Orton vs. Rusev:
Earlier in the day, when I tried to remember the entire card, I kept forgetting about this one. It’s our classic “this doesn’t need to be on the card” spot, because there’s really no reason for these two to be fighting, and nobody cares, anyway. Rusev attacked Orton from behind before he could make a proper introduce (he being Rusev). The referee forced separation for Orton to catch a breather and get to his feet, with Rusev hollering the whole time. Bell rings, Rusev misses a charge, and the RKO OUT OF NOWHERE finishes at 0:07. Seriously, what a waste of time. Maybe Rusev got in trouble for calling out Sasha Banks on Twitter for being rude to fans, again. DUD
WWE (Raw) Women’s Championship Match:
Alexa Bliss © vs. Sasha Banks:
This was originally Bayley (Smarks: BOO!) challenging, but a separated shoulder during a match with Nia Jax sent her to the DL for the foreseeable future, so Banks won the spot after a two-week long storyline. Bliss is featured in a weird commercial for “No Mercy” (Raw’s next PPV), so she’s going over, right? She has her hair up in a ponytail and looks like she has her job face on, too, while Sasha comes out with the most ridiculous vest I’d ever seen. Seriously, what was that supposed to be?! The crowd didn’t seem to into it, but there was plenty of effort in trying to have a good match. Bliss looked good, doing some decent strikes and working the arm. Sasha eventually got the Bank Statement applied, but Alexa fought free, targeting the injured arm. Bliss hit Twisted Bliss for a near fall (a trend all night, as usual: kicking out of finishers). Banks got the Bank Statement again, and with little drama, Bliss tapped out at 13:10, making Sasha a 4-time Women’s Champion (all on the Raw brand). Fine work, but lacked crowd investment. **1/4
Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt:
If you’ve seen one Bray Wyatt feud, you’ve seen them all. I don’t recall souring on someone as hard as I have for someone I used to enjoy watching. Last week on Raw, Wyatt pinned Balor clean, and in the post-match, dumped a bucket of “don’t call it blood” on him because SPOOKY, so Balor vowed to show up as The Demon (not Kane). This was all entrances and not much else. Balor did his usual offense of running dropkicks and sling blades, while Wyatt did little other than running away and trying to be spooky. At one point, he did his Spider-Walk, but Balor got up and completely no-sold it. Balor eventually finishes Wyatt off with the Coup de Grace at 10:40. I wasn’t expecting this to be a show stealer or anything, but Wyatt really needs some time off to find something he’s been missing for a while, somehow having a bad match with Balor. Balor is better off feuding with Elias, and it hurts me to say that. **
WWE (Raw) Tag Team Championship Match:
Cesaro & Sheamus © vs. Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins:
If you didn’t get a little giddy and mark out just a tad for the epic fist bump from the go-home episode of Raw, you have no soul. Considering the big reunion, there’s no chance in hell you can have Ambrose and Rollins NOT leave SummerSlam with the Tag Titles. We’re more than half-way into the show and we’re finally getting a match that has plenty of time to build on. Sheamus and Cesaro controlled most of the way, including during one of the biggest highlights of the night: The crowd is playing with a beach ball (boo these people) and you can tell there’s a distraction. The ball lands in the front rows, and suddenly Cesaro leaves the apron, hops the rail, grabs the ball, and tears it apart. He’s a hero. Ambrose and Rollins doing a synchronized tope suicida might’ve been the best pop Rollins has gotten for the move in a long time. Sheamus and Cesaro set Ambrose up for the double-team White Noise, but Rollins came back in with a springboard, launching Cesaro off the top turnbuckle with a head scissors into Sheamus, and Ambrose finished with Dirty Deeds at 18:35. First truly “good” match in what felt like forever. ***1/2
WWE United States Championship Match:
A.J. Styles © vs. Kevin Owens:
Shane McMahon is our special referee because there’s literally no referee capable of staying vertical during a match between Styles and Owens. There were two fears coming into this match: the possibility of a Shane heel turn (because a McMahon turn doesn’t happen enough), and Shane being the center of attention the entire match. Depending on your mood, I can see it both ways, but I felt all the spots with Shane helped lend to the story being told, and for the most part, he didn’t hinder the performance. Notable spots with him included a bit of an argument with Styles leading to a questionable fast-count, and counting Styles out with his foot on the ropes, then reversing it, except Owens didn’t notice and assumed he was being screwed over. Speaking of Owens, this was easily his best performance since WrestleMania week. Maybe the thumb injury was worse than I expected, or he had other nagging injuries, but his matches have mostly felt uninspired. They told a good story, had some quality near falls, and Styles won clean with the Styles Clash at 17:20. Coming soon… Shane vs. KO. ***3/4
WWE Championship Match:
Jinder Mahal © (w/ The Singh Brothers) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura:
Despite the lack of a true story behind the match, as far as rivalries are concerned, the pre-match video did a great job of putting over both men, fighting for their respective countries/heritage, and this being about pride rather than a typical “I hate you” rivalry. Nakamura got the special entrance with Lee England Jr. playing him to the ring. This was what you would expect. Nakamura does his signature spots, but Mahal doesn’t seem like the right opponent for him to bring out his best. It was most pedestrian work, with little standing out. Nakamura seemed to have the match won, but you’ll be surprised by this: The Singh Brothers interfered, taking a Kinshasa each, allowing Mahal to recover, grab Nakamura from behind (in a bit of a sloppy spot) and put him away with ONE Khallas at 11:25. That’s two years in a row where the SD World Title under-delivered, although I think more was expected from Ambrose/Dolph in 2016 than here. You knew they were saving for a better match down the line, but it’s SUMMERSLAM. *1/2
WWE Universal Championship Match:
Brock Lesnar © (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe vs. Braun Strowman:
First fall to a finish, and this is truly our Main Event of the evening. The storyline coming in was that Brock Lesnar would leave WWE if he were to lose the WWE Universal Championship. This was about as awesome of a spectacle as you could imagine. Braun Strowman was the true highlight, throwing chairs at people and destroying Brock Lesnar, first by powerslamming him through two announcers tables, then tossing a third one on top of him, leading to EMT’s taking Brock out on a stretcher. There was another great spot with Braun, where it appeared Roman couldn’t clothesline him over the top rope, leading to Braun pie-facing him across the ring. At one point, Roman hit Strowman awkwardly with the ring steps, slicing the side of his head a bit, but not to the point the referee felt it necessary to put the magic gloves on. Joe kept grabbing Coquina Clutches, Roman kept hitting Superman Punches, and Braun kept hitting running Powerslams, but nobody could get the three count. Lesnar finally returned. The train-wreck continued with big move after big move until Brock finally pinned Roman, clean, with the F-5 to retain at 20:45. If not for the strength of this match, this might’ve been a completely forgettable show. ****1/2
Final Thoughts: SummerSlam 2017 was the classic tale of two shows. The stuff that was good was really good, but the bad stuff stood out as such, with either underwhelming performances, crowd reactions, or combinations of both. If you watched the entire Kickoff Show, that meant you had a 6-hour marathon to get through. Maybe I wasn’t paying too close attention, but it felt like they cut down between match videos, or at least trimmed them down to reasonable lengths. Three of the top matches at least matched their expectations, and there were a few surprises on the undercard. This wasn’t a home run kind of show like Takeover: Brooklyn III was, but there was plenty of “good” to balance the stuff that justified negative responses.
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.