Of note, the crowd for NXT TakeOver the night before was electric from start to finish. The SummerSlam crowd was mostly pretty dead except during a few select matches. I've asked this before, but isn't Vince bothered by this phenomenon? You'd think he'd figure out a way to make the main roster crowds' enthusiasm match that of the NXT audience.
Things kicked off in very strange fashion, with the John Cena-Baron Corbin match. I'm not sure who thought this would make for a hot opener, but it wasn't; Corbin's nondescript offense and Cena's seeming lack of motivation of late failed to jumpstart the Brooklyn crowd. There was a nice callback near the end of the match, where Cena tossed Corbin to the buckles, Corbin slid out of the ring, and immediately slid back in. Earlier in the bout this spot resulted in Corbin leveling Cena with a clothesline, but Cena turned the tables the second time, hitting a clothesline of his own, followed by the AA for the win. Not much of a match, but I got some enjoyment out of it because my son watched it with me and he's a big Cena fan. Baffling choice for an opening bout though, and Corbin is clearly in the doghouse.
Next up was a much stronger match, pitting Smackdown Womens' Champ Naomi vs. Natalya. These two strung together some nice, innovative offense, the wrestling was fairly crisp, and Nattie finally got a well-deserved Title win with the Sharpshooter. Perfectly serviceable undercard match with the right winner.
The worst match of the night was third, as Big Cass and Big Show sleepwalked through a fairly excruciating ten minutes. I'm not sure why this needed to be on the main card while the Smackdown Tag Title match wasn't, nor were The Miz or The Hardyz, and Sami Zayn and Dolph Ziggler were absent from this show completely. The only memorable bit was Enzo squeezing out of the shark cage, which immediately led to him getting murdered by Cass. Pointless.
Speaking of pointless, Randy Orton beat Rusev in ten seconds. Poor Rusev. He and Lana had a great act, so of course the company split them up. He had a very good heel character, so of course the company turned him into a joke. Not that I was excited about this match anyway, but Jeezus this was a waste.
Things picked up again with the RAW Women's Title match, as Alexa Bliss and Sasha Banks delivered a well-worked 13-minute bout on par with Naomi-Nattie. This wasn't on the level of Sasha and Charlotte's matches, and certainly nowhere near as good as the show stealing Asuka-Ember Moon match from the night before, but Alexa plays the douchebag heel to perfection and these two have undeniable chemistry. Sasha won the belt for the fourth time via Bank Statement tapout.
So the first five matches definitely felt like an undercard, in the same way that New Japan structures their PPVs. The last five matches felt like the real meat of the show.
Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt was a solid outing, with Balor no-selling Wyatt's theatrics. The action was just pretty good, but it was interesting to see Balor throw everything back in Wyatt's face, so to speak. Balor was one step ahead most of the bout and finished it with the Coup de Grace for the decisive win. This feud should end now though. Balor needs something bigger to do.
The first unequivocal hit of the night, and the first match that really woke the crowd up, was the RAW Tag Title match. This was splendid stuff. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose rekindled their team chemistry, playing the beleagured face team beautifully. Cesaro and Sheamus dominated much of the match, perfectly realistic considering they've been teaming for months. The finish came when Rollins thwarted a big tandem move by the heels, hit Sheamus with the V-Trigger (hey, it's basically Kenny Omega's move), and then Ambrose nailed Dirty Deeds to win the belts. Easily the best thing on the show to this point.
|This is a grand sight.|
Slightly better than that was the US Title match, with AJ Styles and Kevin Owens finally delivering a match worthy of their talent. Sadly there was a bit much of the special referee shenanigans, with Shane getting knocked down multiple times and missing pin attempts from both guys. But the action was strong enough to rate this match an easy hit in spite of all that. AJ retained the Title after hitting the Phenomenal Forearm followed by a Styles Clash. I think we're heading toward Owens vs. Shane, which is stupid. Still this was in the running for Match of the Night. Solid **** match.
I liked that this card didn't have a "death spot." The two top-billed matches went on at the end. The WWE Title match was treated as a big deal and had kind of a big fight feel at the beginning. The match itself was a passable free television match for the most part; Shinsuke Nakamura got out of Jinder Mahal what he could, and then the finish happened. The same stupid fucking finish as every Jinder match. The Singh Brothers interfere, the babyface beats them up, and then Jinder magically recovers from getting his ass kicked to hit his Cobra Clutch slam for the pin. Except this time Jinder screwed up the move. Legit, Jinder Mahal has ONE MOVE in his repertoire. One move. And he fucked it up. It is embarrassing that this man is the WWE Champion. His offense in this match (like all the others) consisted of punch, kick, stomp, forearms. What was really painful was listening to the announcers try to sell Jinder as a believable Champion. "He won the Title seemingly on a fluke but he's grown into a dominant Champion." Get fuckin' real guys. He hasn't grown at all as a worker, nor is his offense "dominant." Plus his promos are average at best. There is nothing at all about Jinder that has convinced me that he's worthy of the company's most prestigious title. Can we just end this experiment now please? And why does every match of his end the exact same way? How stupid do the babyfaces look when they all fall into the same trap? This was a **1/2 match dragged down to *1/2 by a stupid finish.
|It's Nakamura vs. The Modern Day Dino Bravo|
Fortunately the main event saved the day, as Brock Lesnar, Samoa Joe, Roman Reigns, and Braun Strowman unleashed absolute bedlam on the Barclays Center. Man this match was insane. Strowman in particular looked like a star, tossing Lesnar around like a bag of laundry, powerslamming him through two tables, and flipping a table on top of him. The first ten minutes or so were awesome, then after Lesnar was carted away the energy hit a bit of a lull till Brock inevitably came back to the ring. The final stretch was full of great false finishes and I was glad to see Roman take the pin in the end. Strowman should be The Guy in 2018 - he's hugely over and has learned to carry himself like a major deal. Brock vs. Braun is where the money's at. Also Samoa Joe needs to be protected for a while, and it seems like that happened here. So the booking in this match was smart. I'm fine with Brock retaining - I guess he's keeping it till 'Mania then? Helluva main event to cap off a pretty good SummerSlam, and easily Lesnar's best match since 2015.
Overall this was roughly on par with the last few SummerSlams, but in a different way. The 2014 and 2015 shows were very strong all the way through, while last year's show was very uneven but the good stuff shined. This show was somewhere in between. Most of the big matches delivered, and most of the undercard was fine. My two biggest gripes were the dull as dogshit Show-Cass match and the intelligence-insulting Jinder-Nakamura match. Seriously, get the belt off Jinder. He stinks.
Best Match: Brock vs. Brawn vs. Roman vs. Joe
Worst Match: Big Show vs. Cass
What I'd Change: Nak should've won the belt, or at least not fallen for the same stupid shit as Orton; Show-Cass should've been on the pre-show, New Day-Usos should've been on the main show, and Sami Zayn vs. Dolph Ziggler should've been added
Most Disappointing Match: Jinder vs. Nakamura I guess
Most Pleasant Surprise: That Shane's involvement didn't derail the US Title match
Overall Rating: 7.5/10
Better than WrestleMania 33? - It's a tough call. 'Mania had a much better first half, SummerSlam had a better second half. I guess 'Mania wins by the slightest of margins.