The WWE held SummerSlam in the Barclay’s Center for the second year in a row this past Sunday. This is the second PPV following the WWE brand split, but the last one until Survivor Series where the two brands will be “allowed” to interact with each other, so the main event between Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton became more of a war between the brands than the story of a war between two of OVW’s finest. Aside from that match, each match was treated as a separate brand affair that would decide the fate of the SummerSlam PPV.
Unfortunately, there were way too much done wrong by the WWE at SummerSlam to make it anything more than a good show at best. Some matches had great builds and failed to deliver, others had terrible builds and made the most of it, but only one match’s build was exceeded by the sheer greatness of their match. The length of the show didn’t help either as some matches dragged on when they didn’t need to while other matches probably should’ve been left of the show in general.
And with brand exclusive PPVs in the near future for the WWE, they should probably look back at this PPV and see what was right and wrong about it before moving forward.
With that said, here are the 6 Things the WWE did right at SummerSlam and the 9 Things they did wrong.
15 Right - Dean Ambrose Retains
As the only former member of The Shield holding a significant title, Ambrose being separated from Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns was going to provide him with the chance to reach the top of the mountain that he had been denied all these years. Ambrose was now going to have his chance at making a name for himself, completely apart from his time with The Hounds of Justice and it was kicked off with another underutilized talent in Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler has moments where he could’ve been a possible main eventer, but the company denied him many times to the point where the fans no longer believe in him. Despite this, Ziggler and the WWE creative team for SmackDown tried their best to make Ziggler look like a credible contender heading into SummerSlam, but we all knew what the outcome needed to be. Ziggler tried his best and pulled every move out of his arsenal, but as Ambrose predicted, it wasn’t enough to get the job done. While this is sad for Ziggler fans, who realize that might’ve been his last chance at the main event, it at least means the WWE is going to continue to build up Ambrose as a credible champion.
14 Right - The Beginning of the Best of 7 Series
The week before SummerSlam, General Manager Mick Foley announced a best of seven series between Sheamus and Cesaro; a pairing that no one had a real desire to see. This feud didn't seem to have any heat on it at all, nor was there an incentive or punishment given to warrant a series of matches that could possibly stretch to the next PPV. To make matters worse, Sheamus and Cesaro’s match were moved to the pre-show; all but telling the fans in attendance and watching at home that the match wasn’t important.
Despite this, Sheamus and Cesaro went out and tried to have the best match possible. More importantly, the right man went over in order to keep it interesting. Had Cesaro won the match, it would only confirm that this best of seven series was unnecessary; especially considering that Cesaro won two matches prior to these series of matches being announced. With Sheamus picking up the win, now they can trade wins back and forth leading to a final winner in the end. One can only hope that some reward will be given to the winner in the future.
13 Right - Nikki Bella's Return
When Eva Marie was announced as a draftee to SmackDown, many fans were skeptical to say the least about her lack of improvement in the ring and her less than average mic skills. However, through clever booking and writing, Marie is gaining great heat as a woman who was finding every excuse not to wrestle. That storyline was more than likely going to continue at SummerSlam this past week, but Marie was suspended for violating the wellness policy days before the event. So to fill her void, the WWE allowed Nikki Bella to return to the ring and team with Natalya and Alexa Bliss to take on the team of Becky Lynch, Naomi, and Carmella. She surprisingly received one of the biggest pops of the night and was doing quite well in the match. That plus her new finisher, the TKO, makes it seem like she’s gonna step things up this time.
12 Right - Finn Bálor Wins
Wrestlers in WWE have been pushed to the moon relatively quickly, but none have ever been pushed as fast as Finn Bálor. In his first ever episode of Monday Night Raw, he defeated a former three-time WWE Champion in Roman Reigns and was set to take on Seth Rollins to become the first ever WWE Universal Champion. Though some fans are still unfamiliar with his character to this day, this was considered a dream match amongst some of the long time followers of NXT and ROH. Both men were Triple H’s boys, both did big things as NXT Champions, and both had big debuts. Both men were revered as great wrestlers and this match was hyped up big time.
Though they tried their best, they were unable to top the match between John Cena and AJ Styles, but the match ended in the best way possible with Bálor becoming the first ever WWE Universal Championship. Since he was being pushed so hard so fast, the only option that made sense was for him to win the championship and the WWE came through with their promise. Bálor unfortunately had to vacate the title due to injury, but he has made his mark on the main roster and will be back with a stronger fan base than before.
11 Right - AJ Styles Wins
Ever since AJ Styles became synonymous with TNA Impact Wrestling, fans of both TNA and WWE dreamed of the day when the face of TNA would take on the face that runs the place in the WWE. When both John Cena and Styles got into the ring together, the fans were ready to see the match take place between two men who were dominating wrestling. They had two matches prior to their third encounter this past Sunday and both were considered really good matches, but their performance here blew their other matches out of the water.
John Cena and AJ Styles showed the entire world why they both were in the spots they’ve been in throughout their careers. Both The Phenomenal One and Big Match John delivered a great match that fans unanimously loved, but the ending made it that much better. In a complete shocker, Styles defeated Cena clean in the middle of the ring. For months, fans of Styles have been begging for him to pick up a major win and the WWE delivered by having him beat the face of the company.
If anyone doubted how seriously the WWE takes Styles, all doubt should have been erased this past Sunday.
10 Right - Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton
This is probably one of the more controversial opinions, but it is legitimate nonetheless. Of all the matches that were announced for SummerSlam, this was by far the biggest and the most desired. The match between Finn Bálor and Seth Rollins was a big dream match for hardcore fans, but not so much for people who hadn’t been following their careers as long. The match between John Cena and AJ Styles was a dream match as well, but the shine of it was worn out by it occurring at Money in the Bank earlier in the year. The match between Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton was one of the last dream matches left, that had not happened on a large scale, so it was only right to end the night with it.
It wasn’t the most technically sound match, but it was the match that everyone is talking about. The physicality between the two men was already good enough for the first couple of minutes, but that devastating elbow to Randy Orton will have fans talking for months about this match. One of the few times the WWE had to end a match due to technical knockout, but an epic ending nonetheless.
Hopefully, this feud will continue at some point with Orton set on revenge.
9 Wrong - Sami Zayn on the Pre-Show
At WWE Battleground, Sami Zayn finally defeated Kevin Owens in a WWE ring after putting on what is widely regarded as a match of the year candidate. After this, many fans were hoping to see Zayn get higher and higher up the card and begin to grow more as a member of the Raw brand. Instead, the WWE seemed to regress with his development, as they ended up placing him on the pre-show with Neville and The Dudleys.
Now there were several reasons to be disappointed in this match such as the treatment of The Dudleys their return, the lack of story, as well as the treatment of Neville, but Zayn’s treatment seemed like a waste. Whether you like them or not, Zayn and Owens got a big reaction from their match last month and deserved to have that momentum carry over. Going from putting on a match of the year candidate to wrestling a random match with no storyline is just a waste of everyone’s time.
8 Wrong - Enzo and Cass Losing
The duo of Enzo Amore and Big Cass kicked off the show in their tag team match against Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens. The crowd support garnered by Enzo and Cass made it seem like the best thing the WWE could’ve done to keep the crowd hot was to have them win the match. Instead, Jericho and Owens would win the match after Owens lifted Enzo up in a similar manner to the Pop-Up Powerbomb only for him to toss him to Jericho to nail the Codebreaker. Now this win could imply that Jericho and Owens will be a team that sticks around for a while, but even if that is the case, they didn’t need to win this match. The crowd’s love of the Certified G’s and the randomness of the Jeri-KO team forming should’ve spelled it out for the bookers that Enzo and Cass needed to win. After all, why would a team in their first ever tag team match beat a team as over and as in-sync as Enzo and Cass?
7 Wrong - Sasha Banks Losing
On the first Raw after the WWE draft, Sasha Banks defeated Charlotte Flair for the WWE Women’s Championship after a great match that possibly surpassed the triple threat match from WrestleMania earlier in the year. The fans had been clamoring and waiting for Banks to eventually win the title and they were all elated to see her win. Many fans were expecting for Banks to carry the Women’s division on Raw for a while until an eventual match occurred with Bayley or some important women’s wrestler come WrestleMania. Unfortunately, that’s not even close to what happened.
As the second match of the night, Banks and Charlotte tried to take more risk and do more interesting spots, but some of them didn’t work. Other than that the match was fine, until Charlotte won the match in what can only be described as a confusing move. Fans have wanted to see Banks get the belt and have a lengthy reign for some time now, so to take it away just after she won seems like an odd decision. She's only scheduled to be out until September 23rd. If that's the case, she could've retained her Championship and then not wrestled until the next PPV.
6 Wrong - The New Day Retains
While some fans were hoping for all members of the Bullet Club, both past and present, to walk away with wins and begin a dominant run leading until next year’s WrestleMania, they only got half of what they wished for. AJ Styles managed to defeat John Cena, Finn Bálor defeated Seth Rollins, but Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows did not win the tag team championships from The New Day. Instead, Big E made an unexpected return which gave Anderson and Gallows the win, but not the titles, per disqualification. While the crowd did give Big E a nice reaction for making the save, this was not a PPV worthy segment.
The match was fine, but the finish and the shenanigans in it brought it down further and further. Instead of having The Club win, wait until the next night on Raw for the Big E to return, and then play up the narrative that The Club can’t win when Big E’s around, the WWE did the safest thing possible by having The New Day retain; a team who already broke the championship reign record and no longer need the titles to be relevant.
5 Wrong - The United States Championship
After Roman Reigns lost the WWE Championship match as well as the number one contender match for Raw’s new world title, the fans were wondering what the WWE would have Reigns do. Their questions would be answered when Reigns made his intentions for the United States Championship clear. Of the two midcard championship matches announced, this one was more interesting to the fans and garnered their interest to see whether or not the WWE was continuing to punish Reigns for his suspension or whether Rusev would lose his title to yet another “corporate darling.”
Instead, the WWE took a page out of the 2014 Battleground PPV and only had a brawl take place instead of an actual title match. This not only meant that the fans were cheated out of a match, but that all the TV time the WWE devoted to this feud was a complete waste. If the problem was time, then they should’ve scaled back other matches like Cena and Styles or some of the other tag team matches. Other than a time problem, which the WWE has never seemed to care about before, there was no reason for this match not to take place on a 4 hour PPV.
4 Wrong - The Intercontinental Championship Match
SummerSlam has a great history in relation to Intercontinental Championship matches. The late great Ultimate Warrior ended the legendary reign of The Honky Tonk Man at the first edition of SummerSlam, Shawn Michaels faced Scott Hall in a rematch from their epic match at WrestleMania in 1995, and Dolph Ziggler defeated The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship as recently as 2014. There have been many great matches at SummerSlam, so The Miz and Apollo Crews had a lot to live up to in order to stand out on the card, as well as in the annals of WWE history.
Sadly, they wouldn’t come anywhere close to some of the great Intercontinental Championship matches of the past, as the two wrestled for less than six minutes and it ended with The Miz winning clean. Though winning championships with no character doesn’t help a wrestler get over, their needed to be something in this match to make Crews interesting. Whether it was winning the belt or cutting the smiling down, the WWE needed him to do something to be different in order to come out of this loss with something going forward. As of now, there is no inkling of anything to change for Crews in the future.
3 Wrong - Jon Stewart
Last year at SummerSlam, Seth Rollins and John Cena were having a great match with the potential to fix all of Rollins previous booking by having him win clean. Instead, the WWE took their cues from WCW in their later years by having an un-athletic, scrawny looking celebrity involved in a title match. With that memory fresh in the minds of all the fans in the Barclay Center, it was going to take some clever writing and some good comedy to get people to cheer for Stewart this time.
Instead of clever writing, we got tired old clichés that no one was asking for. We got the backstage segment where Stephanie McMahon berated and emasculated Stewart the same way she does every character on the show. Then we got Stewart in the corner of The New Day which didn’t really make sense considering he had no prior interactions with them. All in all, his celebrity cameo should’ve been reduced.
2 Wrong - Placement of the World Championship Match
While having the biggest stars on the roster main event was a good idea, the fact remains that the placement of the World Championship matches somewhat devalued them. The first big title match was the match between Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose for the WWE Championship. Not only did the match barely last fifteen minutes, but the matches it had to follow essentially put it in the dead spot on the show. The next world title match was put in a much better place on the show, but was only one match removed from Ziggler and Ambrose which could’ve possibly created a similar situation to the first world title match. That match was also received by the crowd a lot better, aside from the championship design backlash. If the WWE really wanted to emphasize the importance of one of the titles, then they probably should’ve either let them main event or stack all three main events back to back.
And if this card is to be an indicator of what’s to come, then the WWE Championship is on the fast track to being devalued.
1 Wrong - The WWE Universal Championship
Over the years, the WWE have churned out some pretty ugly looking titles. The current tag team championships looked like two giant Roman pennies, the WWE Championship from 2005 to 2013 was heavily criticized for its cartoonish and dated spinner-concept, but the current WWE Universal Championship design may have surpassed both of those championships in terms of fan disgust.
For starters, there’s no originality to it at all. The WWE Championship, the Universal Championship, and the Women’s Championship all have the exact same design with different colors. Aside from some attempt at saying the world champions in both the men’s and women’s divisions are equals, there is no reason why all the belts should look exactly the same. Furthermore, the red strap the Universal Championship has makes it look like an accessory on a jacket rather than a coveted wrestling title. But perhaps the final nail in the coffin for any hopes at approval would be the video on the WWE’s YouTube Channel which has 10,000 more dislikes than likes.
The fans have spoken and they do not like the new championship design at all.
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