Another SummerSlam has come and gone, and guess what? Jinder Mahal is still your WWE champion! Didn't think it would happen, did you?
13 matches (including the Kickoff show) took place inside Barclay's Center on August 20th, 2017, and they had a hard act to follow as NXT Takeover: Brooklyn III is being hailed by critics as arguably one of the best events ever for the developmental brand.
In recent years SummerSlam has reinvigorated its feel as a special event on WWE's calendar. With 4 straight nights of shows, SummerSlam, and all major WWE PPVs for that matter are starting to feel like larger events with more fans flying in from around the globe. It creates an international feel to the promotion which makes it seem more important than other wrestling promotions.
While critics of SummerSlam 2017 will point to Shinsuke Nakamura's first loss on the WWE roster coming to Jinder Mahal, a guy largely thought to just have the title while the company tries to sell Network subscriptions in India, there was also a heck of a main event involving Brock Lesnar, something that has become a tradition for SummerSlam the last 4 years.
Here are 10 things WWE got wrong at SummerSlam, and 10 they got right.
20 Got Wrong: Empty Arena Matches
The scheduled start of the PPV was 7 PM, but the first match on the Kickoff show started at about 530PM when hardly anyone was in their seats yet. MMA fans who like to watch the UFC FIght Pass prelims can tell you that this is pretty standard attendance for prelims which go on much earlier than the main show.
While this might not be a big deal in MMA, it doesn't come off well for WWE's sports entertainment. Watching Miz come out in a near empty arena made it feel like you were watching a rehearsal. It really broke the fourth wall quite a bit.
Jason Jordan took the pin in the match as well, which sums up how his recent storyline has been going. It's too bad because he's actually a fairly decent wrestler.
19 Got Right: The Complete Annihilation of Baron Corbin
With so many better wrestlers on Smackdown (Nakamura, Owens, AJ Styles etc.) do we really want Baron Corbin amongst the world title contenders? Bumping him down a notch seemed like the right way to go with him.
WWE creative has gone out of their way to make Corbin look bad this last week. Not only did they have him epically fail at cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Jinder Mahal, they had Cena beat him in 10 minutes at SummerSlam.
In July Corbin was a future world champion, but what is he now? Where does he go after failing so horribly twice in a row? Somewhere in the mid-card presumably. Perhaps it will be worked into an angle and he will come back for revenge on Cena, but coming out of SummerSlam, nobody sank further down WWE's rankings than he did.
18 Got Wrong: No Big NXT Call-Up
In recent years, WWE has been debuting new stars on Raw or Smackdown instead of at PPVs. The Royal Rumble is an exception to this rule.
Still, the surprise debut of a new superstar used to be such an important part of PPVs. It felt as if you got to see something special that those lowly fans who only watch the TV shows got to see too.
There seems to be a rule now that NXT call-ups don't happen too close to TakeOver events. It used to be that a major PPV would always have one surprise new superstar, but this rarely happens anymore. PPVs seemed more fun when new superstar debuts were a regularity on them.
At TakeOver on Saturday, several of the matches were concluded in ways that set up the next storyline with debuting superstars. Nothing like that happened at SummerSlam.
17 Got Right: Natalya Wins World Championship and Breaks Trish Stratus' Record
On the night Natalya broke Trish Stratus' record for most WWE PPV matches ever for a female Superstar, Natalya won her 2nd world championship.
It seems strange that Natalya has not held the world title on more occasions, but her role has generally been to put over other superstars. Now that women's wrestling is more focused on in-ring work, however, there's an opportunity for Natalya's true talent to come out and shine.
Natalya last won the world championship before the women's revolution. We haven't yet seen what she can do as champion with stars like Charlotte Flair gunning for her title. A Becky Lynch vs Natalya feud over the title also sounds like it could produce some fantastic matches. The future could be looking bright for the Smackdown women's division.
16 Got Wrong: Lubed Up Enzo Gets KO'd
Nobody came out of this match looking very good, but Enzo, as per usual, came out looking the worst.
The Big Show vs Big Cass match involved a sequence of events where Enzo lubed himself up with body oil and slipped through the shark cage bars. Upon landing in the ring he was immediately kicked in the face and KO'ed by his ex-tag-team partner.
Enzo pretty much cuts a promo and gets beat up every show now. There is no sign that this pattern will end. Every Raw from now until he retires might involve an Enzo promo/beat up combo.
It also seems odd that they would focus so much on Big Show's hand being injured? It sort of dilutes the win for Big Cass that his opponent didn't have a functioning right hand.
15 Got Right: RKO Outta Nowhere! (in 9 seconds)
On a night with 13 matches (including the pre-show) a good quick finish like this is always appreciated.
Last year at SummerSlam Randy Orton was left bloodied and battered at the hands of Brock Lesnar, but things went significantly better for him this year. His RKO came out of nowhere in just about 9 seconds to defeat Rusev.
Orton needed to regain some steam after losing the title to Jinder Mahal, and he did just that at SummerSlam. Two weeks before this show Orton defeated Jinder in a non-title match, so clearly WWE wants to build him back up after having had him drop the belt earlier this summer.
Don't forget that Orton, who is still only 37, is a 13x world champion, and could easily one day break Ric Flair and John Cena's record as 16x world champions.
14 Got Wrong: The Complete Annihilation of Rusev
Losing in 9 seconds at SummerSlam sounds like a job more suited to Curt Hawkins than it does Rusev. This is a guy who was once undefeated while he rode atop a tank to face John Cena at WrestleMania. Things have changed since then. Not having Lana with him anymore may play a role in that.
This was Rusev's 2nd loss in a row on PPV since coming back from injury. He lost to John Cena in a flag match at Battleground last month.
It seems WWE no longer feels Rusev is a main event type player. They don't appear interested in pushing him up the card anytime soon. If they wanted to do that, the time would have been after he returned from injury. Instead, they had him lose to Cena, and then lose in 9 seconds at SummerSlam.
13 Got Right: The Demon King Returns to WWE
If wrestler entrances were an Olympic sport, Finn Balor would win the gold medal every year.
Bray Wyatt defeated Balor on Raw before SummerSlam, but he got annihilated by the Demon King come PPV time. Balor, it seems, is a much stronger opponent while adopting his rather unique alter ego. That gives his character a unique feel. He could lose several matches in a row, but then come back as Demon King and defeat any top star. It could be fun to watch play out with several big name stars.
As for Bray Wyatt, maybe it's time to shake the character up a bit or develop his backstory further. They need to do something new with him because there is a limit to how many Bray Wyatt promos fans are able to take. Some say they passed that limit long ago.
12 Got Wrong: Becky Lynch's "Feud" With MMA Fighter, Cyborg Justino
Leading up to SummerSlam this year Becky Lynch and UFC women's 145lbs champ, Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino, had several exchanges on Twitter which seemed to imply a storyline between the two was building. These included Cyborg asking Triple H for a match with Becky at SummerSlam, and Becky telling Cyborg she'll be in Brooklyn for SummerSlam and will be easy to find.
Now SummerSlam has come and gone and nothing ever happened between the two of them.
Whether something was planned and just fell through, or if the two sides just decided to try and get a little publicity that went nowhere may never be known, probably because nobody will bother to ask.
Interesting side note is that Becky Lynch has another tie to the MMA world. Her boyfriend is MMA fighter, Luke Sanders.
11 Got Right: Sasha Banks Wins Raw Women's World Championship
She's the best wrestler on the show and she's who should hold the title. The women's championship, especially the Raw version, needs someone to have a lengthy title run to give the title a boost of credibility. Sasha Banks is the perfect superstar on Raw to play that role.
Sasha is capable of having incredible matches, which is exactly what the division needs right now. Now if she holds the title all the way to WrestleMania the women's championship will feel that much more important that night.
Alexa Bliss clearly has a sizeable fanbase, that was certainly evident inside the Barclay's Center. You have to wonder how much longer until WWE turns Alexa Biss into a babyface? You could even do a double turn with her and Sasha, or maybe even her and Bayley considering the recent fan reactions towards her.
10 Got Wrong: No (Actual) Shield Reunion
When Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose came out and both were wearing black and red it reminded me of how Roman Reigns has often been wearing black and red lately as well.
Have you noticed that throughout this whole Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose reunion, nobody has ever bothered to mention Roman Reigns? It's as if everyone is just accepting that he has bigger things to do at the moment.
If WWE wants to do everything they can to try and get Roman Reigns over, as appears to be the case, at some point they will try putting the Shield back together. This might be the start of that. Perhaps Roman's loss in the main event will cause him to consider bringing in some help.
All 3 are good guys right now, they could do it if they wanted.
9 Got Right: Cesaro's Beach Ball Treatment
Cesaro has to do anything he can to get fans to hate him. Pretty hard considering what a good wrestler he is. So what did he do at SummerSlam? He ran into the crowd, snatched a beach ball which the fans had been bouncing around the arena, and then destroyed it.
It wasn't so much that he destroyed the beach ball as it was the lengths to which he went to do so. Picking up a ball that has drifted into the ring area is one thing, but to charge (with conviction) through the crowd and forcefully remove it from the audience is something else altogether. When Cesaro does something, however, he usually goes big with it.
The tag-team division is in an interesting place now with new champions on top.
8 Got Wrong: Shane McMahon's Muscle Referee T-Shirt (and Profuse Sweating)
Shane O'Mac might stand to do a little less weight lifting and a little more cardio. Despite only being bumped a couple of times in the match, Shane McMahon was completely blown up by the end of it. He looked more winded than either AJ or Owens, who had a great match by the way.
This rather large version of Shane O'Mac seems to be evolving with every appearance. There are even rumors a helicopter was recently forced to make a crash landing into a lake because it couldn't support the weight of his muscular physique.
It's almost certain that Shane is trying to bulk up for another match, possibly at WrestleMania. It feels as though Shane McMahon as a wrestler has sort of run his course though. He had a decent match with AJ Styles, he jumped off Hell in a Cell against Taker, now it feels like time to hang it up.
7 Got Right: Kevin Owens and AJ Styles
Kevin Owens vs AJ Styles was such a good match that it almost distracted from Shane McMahon's profuse sweating despite his limited involvement in the match. Almost, but not quite.
The match was exactly even. Each guy kicked out from the other guy's finisher, each guy got into a dispute with Shane McMahon which almost led to a roll-up pin, but AJ was the first guy to get his finisher twice and he got the win. This should solidify that AJ will be the champion moving forward and Owens will move onto other things.
The feud between these two had its ups and its downs. A particular down may have been the confusing end of their title match at Battleground which may have been a botched finish. With this match at SummerSlam, however, the program definitely ended on a good note, assuming it is over, of course.
6 Got Wrong: Jinder Mahal Defeating Shinsuke Nakamura
I get the company wants to expand into India, but at the expense of a guy who could be a gigantic star like Nakamura? I bet people in India would like Nakamura too, he’s really good!
As with every single match Jinder Mahal has won since his sudden push, the Singh Brothers played a heavy role in the outcome.
Considering that Jinder only ever wins after the Singh Brothers interfere, you have to wonder how the storyline GM can allow this. They should just show a backstage scene where Shane McMahon tells Daniel Bryan to allow the interference because he has a video streaming company about to debut in India. If you want you can just pretend in your head that's the storyline, that's what I do.
Nakamura is good enough to main event WrestleMania, but to have him beaten in such a fashion at SummerSlam is a letdown.
5 Got Right: Switching to the International Announce Teams
During the Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jinder Mahal match, they switched the feed to different international announce teams. As Nakamura is from Japan they spent a considerable amount of time on the Japanese feed.
As any English-speaking fan of New Japan Pro-Wrestling can attest, there is something about Japanese language commentary that tells you exactly what is going on even though you don't speak the language. It really made me understand just how bad the Smackdown announce team is. Which isn't to say Raw is much better, but they do have Corey Graves, who at least entertaining.
WWE has truly gone international in recent years, and one way they show this is by introducing all their international broadcast teams during each PPV. Hopefully, their global reach will lead to more international tours and Network specials.
4 Got Wrong: Ticket Sales
WWE has really been testing the limits lately with these Super Bowl type weekends they are turning their major PPVs into. It's as if wrestling has returned to the traveling carnival days, where they setup shop in a city for several days, sucker a town out of all its money and moves on to the next one. It actually seems to create a really fun environment, but they may have started to overestimate how many days in a row people will stay somewhere and go to wrestling shows every night.
While they have done this several times for major PPVs in the past, it seems like four days is a bit much to have wrestling going on in any one city. Perhaps move Smackdown to a smaller town nearby, and let some people not watch wrestling for a night or two.
3 Got Right: Braun Strowman's Complete Annihilation of Brock Lesnar
Braun Strowman has become a monster of epic proportions in recent months. This former Strongman competition winner's feats of strengths are starting to make his monster-status rival that of Brock's.
Strowman's beat down of Brock early in the match perfectly sets up a future match between the two. When Braun drove Lesnar through two tables and then dumped a third on top of him, he had the crowd in Brooklyn cheering for him over either Lesnar or Joe. That's how good Braun has gotten as of late.
He sure has come a long way from just being the super-huge guy in the Wyatt family. Perhaps the time has come for him to change out of his Wyatt family pants now.
There can be no doubt at this point that Strowman is a future world champion.
2 Gone Wrong: Length of Show
Wrestling is awesome. 6 straight hours of it is kind of overkill, however. If you include the Kickoff show SummerSlam ran for twice as long as PPVs used to and that's far too much. Now I know the Kickoff show doesn't really count, but considering they had a match on there an hour and a half before the actual PPV started, there was a little too much stacked into this show.
If you missed the Kickoff show you missed a lot as well. There were two title changes, as the Usos beat the New Day, and Neville also won back a championship he recently lost when he defeated Tozawa.
Let's try and keep these shows to 4 hours maximum. That is plenty. Especially with shows the next two days as well.
1 Got Right: Brock Lesnar Pinning Roman Reigns
This match was great 🔥 and so was the ppv. Definitely a way better Summerslam than last years. Rate it out of 10👇. #wwe #wwememe #wwememes #romanreigns #theshield #sethrollins #deanambrose #samoajoe #braunstrowman #brocklesnar #f5 #suplexcity #paulheyman #universalchampion #wwechampion #wrestler #wrestling #prowrestling #professionalwrestling #worldwrestlingentertainment #wweuniverse #wwenetwork #wwesuperstars #raw #wweraw #smackdown #smackdownlive #sdlive #summerslam #nxt
The ending of this match was great. Having Lesnar pin Roman Reigns after taking a beating of epic proportions from Strowman sets up a match between the two perfectly.
In Braun Strowman they finally have someone the fans will cheer, even against Lesnar. Lesnar vs Strowman could be one of the best Brock Lesnar matches yet, and really solidify Strowman as a top guy in the company.
When Brock Lesnar's career is over fans won't remember how long he would stay away from the ring, they will only notice how epic his title matches felt.
It really seemed like aside from Lesnar, Strowman was the guy made to look the strongest of anyone. Several times in the match it seemed as though Strowman had taken everyone out. It even started to feel like he could win the title.