Winners: The Miz and the Miz-tourage, Neville, The Usos, John Cena, Natalya, Big Cass, Randy Orton, Sasha Banks, Finn Balor, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, AJ Styles, Jinder Mahal, and Brock Lesnar.
So, once again the WWE screws the pooch with their arena opening times and, as a result, the arena is practically empty for the kick-off matches, making them seem empty and lifeless. Summerslam opens with a rematch from last week’s six-man tag team match, with the Miz, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel getting their win back of Jason Jordan and the Hardy Boyz. This match wasn’t really much of anything; it helped to highlight how much of a douche the Miz is, as he blind-tagged himself into the match and then he also got the win but he pinned Jason Jordan, who is apparently being groomed to challenge Miz for the Intercontinental Championship. I think by now we’re all well aware that the Miz is a douche and it’s not a great look for Jordan to be pinned, though I guess it adds some fuel to their feud.
Nobody saw Neville pin Akira Tozawa to regain the Cruiserweight Championship, partly because of the half-empty arena and partly because most people were probably more interested in finding their seats, taking a piss, or getting some nibbles than watching this match. What the hell was the point in having Tozawa pin Neville if he was just going to lose the title back to him less than a week later? Surely it makes a better statement to just have the belt change hands here and give Tozawa the big pay-per-view win? Instead, he just looks incompetent and not worthy of being the champion because he cannot retain the belt.
The craziness continues with the Usos regaining the SmackDown! Live Tag Team Championships after a whole mess of Superkicks. The good news is that the match really kicked into a higher gear in its second half, resulting in a whole mess of fast-paced action. The bad news is…again, why the hell would you have such a short reign for the New Day and why the hell are belts changing hands on the kick-off show? If the belts are this important, why can’t they be defended on the main Summerslam card? Ugh, well, anyway, apparently the WWE is looking to have the New Day amass a whole bunch of Tag Team Championship reigns to break the existing record held by the Hardy Boyz and Edge & Christian (though the Dudley Boyz will still have the most carminative title reigns…) but surely it would mean more if they have a bunch of meaningful title reigns rather than just holding the belts for a week or so? I guess it’s as Dominic Toretto said, “winning is winning”.
Summerslam starts for reals with John Cena borrowing Triple H’s shovel circa 2002 to 2004 to cut Baron Corbin’s legs out completely from underneath him. Apparently, it was Cena himself who decided that Corbin wasn’t ready for the push he’s been getting, rather than Corbin being a bit of an ass on Twitter (even though his gimmick is being an obnoxious bully and an asshole); whatever the case, it’s utter bullshit. You could argue that Braun Strowman is still very green in the ring and “isn’t ready yet” and, I’d say, that Baron Corbin is far more capable in the ring and at least as good at portraying his character. You can’t make new stars without making new stars; give the guys the push, see how they work out, and then decide if it’s worked or not. If you just end it without really trying, or because John fucking Cena says so, then maybe you need to re-evaluate your business strategies! Anyway, Corbin looked pretty strong here, getting in the bulk of the offensive and putting a decent beat-down on Cena, which is completely negated because Cena simply clotheslined him, hit the Attitude Adjustment, and that was it. This was some Wrestlemania 21-level crap from Cena; he took a beating for the bulk of the match, and the just won, making the whole thing anti-climatic. Corbin really could have done with the rub he would have gotten from beating Cena but, no, screw that, we need to keep that young buck Cena strong for his move to Raw.
Not only did Natalya somehow (how, again?) become the number one contender, she also inexplicably made Naomi tap out to the Sharpshooter and won the SmackDown! Live Women’s Championship. There was no sign of Carmella, despite her threatening to cash in her briefcase and, instead, we’re apparently going with the lifetime achievement championship run for Natalya. Good for her, I guess.
Some sanity returns to the world as Big Cass was able to defeat the Big Show, although it took two Big Boots (because of course Show kicked out of the first one) and his Empire Elbow to put the big man away. Enzo Amore being suspended above the ring added absolutely nothing to this slow, plodding match; he lubed himself up to slip between the bars but immediately got his teeth kicked in so it’s not like his interference even cost Cass the match or factored in at all. Big Show’s “broken hand” barely played a factor as well, as he continuously kept using it and even landed the KO Punch…however, he did sell it as hurting so…I guess there’s that. The good news is that Cass won; the bad news is that the match wasn’t that great.
Now, if you’re thinking that Rusev can show Cass what a dominating big man victory should look like then you are absolutely mistaken! Rusev attacked Randy Orton before the match could begin and knocked him around at ringside. However, three seconds after they entered the ring and the match officially began, Orton absolutely spiked Rusev with an RKO and won. I just…what? I don’t get it; does this make Rusev look strong? It looks more like Orton can take everything Rusev can throw at him and just shrug it off, hit the RKO, and walk away victorious with no problem. This was pathetic; even if the feud does continue and Rusev comes out on top, this makes him look like a massive chump.
Sasha Banks beat Alexa Bliss to once again become the Raw Women’s Champion. Whatever.
Finn Balor busted out the Demon King paint job and went toe-to-toe with Bray Wyatt, matching his spookiness and bringing a bit more fire to his offense than what we saw on Raw to ultimately get the victory. The message that the WWE are sending us here is actually interesting; Bray Wyatt was able to defeat bog-standard Finn Balor on Raw, the version of Balor who pinned Roman Reigns clean as a sheet to earn the right to fight for the Universal Championship back in the day, but was defeated by Demon King Finn Balor, the version who actually won that same belt. So the message is that Wyatt is good enough to get himself to the main event and fight for the top belt but will fall short at actually obtaining it. This is a feud I’d like to see extended a little longer as the match wasn’t that spectacular and I really want to see both guys step it up a bit; this could be the modern day Undertaker/Mankind feud that spills into the main event, if some room ever opens up.
Summerslam finally hits a higher gear as Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins (now sporting Wolfpac-esque red-and-black attire) brought their A-game and finally shocked the crowd to life by having a great match against Sheamus and Cesaro that saw the Shield 2.0 win the Raw Tag Team Championships. While it’s too bad that Sheamus and Cesaro had to lose the gold, losing to a super-team like Ambrose and Rollins (both former World Champions) is no shame and the match was close enough that the inevitable rematch should be quite something as well. Hopefully, having these former main eventers holding the belts will help to reinvigorate Raw’s tag division because, honestly, it’s on life support right now.
Shane McMahon made himself the star of the show and the entire focus of the United States Championship match between AJ Styles and Kevin Owens. No heel turn or shenanigans like that; just constant bickering between each competitor and the referee, with Shane getting hit with Styles’s Springboard 450 and knocked down, or out of the ring, more times than the guys tried to pin each other. This even affected the ending, as Owens hit the Pop-Up Powerbomb and Shane actually counted to three but then waved it off because he missed that Styles had his foot on the ropes. While Owens was yelling at Shane, AJ took advantage with the Pele, Phenomenal Forearm, and Styles Clash combination to retain the belt. It’s such a shame because this feud had such potential to be a real show-stealer at every turn, with the two indy darlings putting on quality matches and bringing a new fire to the stagnant WWE; instead, botches and bullshit involving referees and, now Shane McMahon, has really dragged this feud down to the point where it’s hard to concentrate on the otherwise spectacular in-ring action. The real story here is the issues between Owens and Shane, because apparently the WWE are randomly obsessed with that being a “thing”.
Remember how we were all pretty shocked when Shinsuke Nakamura beat John Cena to become the number one contender and then he had absolutely no interaction with the champion prior to the week before Summerslam? It might be best to keep that in mind when watching the car crash that was Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura here. Despite some hard-hitting, dominating offense from Nakamura, interference from the Singh Brothers once again allowed Mahal to hit the Khallas and retain the championship. I’m all for the idea that Mahal has these two little shit-bag cronies helping him to win and him having to prove, in the right circumstances, that he is capable of getting the job done but this was pretty bad and, overall, the WWE has done a pretty crap job of showcasing this. Instead, it looks like Mahal’s opponents are retarded or something as they get distracted super easily and are then taken down pretty lamely. The plus side is that this is more like the start of this feud than the end but, judging from this match and a lot of the ones that came before it, I don’t believe that Jinder is capable of putting on a good enough match for anyone to care whether he retains or not.
Finally, in a clear example of where the WWE’s priorities lie, Summerslam concludes with an absolutely fantastic fatal-four way. Immediately, all four guys went at each other and the action never stopped once the bell rang; Braun Strowman continued his chair-tossing antics, then Powerslammed Brock Lesnar through two announce tables and buried him underneath one of them. Strowman went on an absolute tear before he got Speared out of the Ring by Roman Reigns; Samoa Joe almost had it won when he got the Coquina Clutch locked on Brock Lesnar, until Lesnar powered it into an F5 for a near fall. Then, Lesnar endured Reigns’s offense and countered the Spear into an F5 to retain. Honestly, I did not see Lesnar retaining at all, so the ended with a complete surprise to me; I was sure that the WWE would use the four-way stipulation as a good excuse to transition the belt onto a full-time champion. All four men looked great here, throwing punches and tossing each other around, and causing absolute carnage but….WWE, you cannot have an awesome main event and expect me/us to forget about the absolute crap that came before it! Seriously, this was one lame-ass Summerslam and, for an event that lasts what? Four or six hours? That’s just unacceptable.
Raw opens with Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman coming out to gloat about Brock’s impressive victory at Summerslam; however, the self-gratification is cut short by Braun Strowman, whose appearance noticeably affects Lesnar. Strowman has no time for words, he just hits that Running Powerslam and poses with the Universal Championship. I guess the WWE is building towards a one-on-one match between these two for the belt after all; hopefully, Strowman is over enough to endure it if things don’t go his way.
Enzo Amore then fights Big Cass…again…but this time it’s a Street Fight! Christ, please, please just let this die! Unfortunately, it looks like that may have happened as Cass suffered a knee injury mid-way through the match that noticeably causes him some pain and discomfort throughout. This affected him so much that the referee called the match off so that Cass could get attended to by medics. This is bad news for Cass, as it’s obviously going to stall what little momentum he was attempting to build, but maybe it’s a good thing as him being off television for a while to rehab may help to make him seem fresh once he returns. Also, the WWE apparently finally got my memo as this marks Enzo’s last appearance on the main raw roster; he’ll be a 205 Live guy going forward.
Next, Nia Jax squashed the life out of Emma. Once again, I bet Emma is much happier now that she’s in these shitty squash matches instead of not being used, I’m sure that’s much better for her. Also, Elias (who Michael Cole confusingly continues to call Elias Samson…) squashed R-Truth with his shitty Drift Away finisher. The plus side is that both Nia and the Drifter need to rack up wins; the downside is they’re beating people nobody gives a shit about.
Kurt Angle then officially brings John Cena to Raw and he immediately gets into a verbal joust with Roman Reigns, which the crowd absolutely hates! This brings out the Miz and the Miz-tourage and, effectively, for the rest of this segment, turns Miz face as he goes off on one about how he has worked tireless, non-stop to earn his place and the Intercontinental Championship. Miz points out cutting home truths about both Cena and Reigns, who both just smile their goofy smiles and shrug, completely no-selling it as the Miz spits his venom. Miz made great points here, as always, and I would have much rather seen Cena and Reigns react with some fire of their own rather than just laughing him off like douchebags! However, shit gets real when Samoa Joe comes out, agrees with the Miz, and offers to team with him against the Goof Brothers later on while the crowd chants “you both suck” at Cena and Reigns.
The obligatory eight-man cruiserweight match follows to break things up, with Cedric Alexander picking the win up for his team. I guess maybe they’re trying to set Cedric up as a possible contender? Who knows, or cares, at this point? It seemingly doesn’t matter what the cruiserweights do as nobody pays any attention to them so nobody is going to care when something interesting does happen.
The Hardy Boyz then helped solidify the reunion between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins by taking part in a fantastic tag team match and putting them over like the quality veterans they are. Again, though, I am begging Seth to do something with his presentation of that Kingslayer knee; the whole wrist-lock into a front-lock into a sudden knee just looks awkward and like he’s telling the opponent to get ready to take the shot, or like he’s forgotten what he’s got to do next.
Finn Balor then defeated Jason Jordan but it’s hard to notice the relatively high quality of this match because the asshole crowd was more concerned with beach balls, doing the wave, and acting like idiots. This was a pretty good showing for Jordan; it would’ve been surprising and probably quite spectacular to see him get the win, even from interference from Bray Wyatt or something, but there’s no shame in losing to Finn. However, if they really are planning on pushing Jordan towards the Intercontinental Championship, he should probably start doing something meaningful to earn it beyond winning squash matches, losing to opponents higher on the food chain to him, and barely interacting with the Miz.
The main event sees the Miz team with Samoa Joe to lose to the super-team of John Cena and Roman Reigns, with, of course, the Miz taking the fall because you cannot talk all that truth and shit about Cena and/or Reigns and not have to pay for it. The real story here, though, was the tension between Reigns and Cena, especially after Reigns accidentally hit Cena with the Superman Punch during the match which I find a little annoying. Obviously the WWE is going to build towards that match but I’d actually rather them both getting along right off the bat for a change of pace. Do a mutual respect angle, where they try to out-d each other, maybe even team up consistently, then let the tension and the rivalry build up and spin out of that, with Reigns edging more towards the heel side. Oh, and maybe keep Samoa Joe away from this debacle in the future as he should have tipped the scales in Miz’s favour and he really didn’t so he looks kind of inconsequential here.
AJ Styles kicks things off by once again reinstating the Open Challenge for the United States Championship. Of course Kevin Owens comes out to stake his claim; though Styles says they are done, Owens cries foul and moans about how Shane McMahon can work through all the crazy shit he’s done in the past but wasn’t able to function properly in their match and cost him the belt. AJ challenges Owens to find another guest referee for one last match in the main event.
Baron Corbin’s spot has officially been filled as Bobby Roode makes his main roster debut, to a thunderous reaction, and picks up a decisive win over Aiden English. This was a great introduction to Roode for those who are unaware of him from TNA/Impact Wrestling and NXT but this has to suck for Sami Zayn, who lost to Aiden English for no reason not that long ago. The message here is that Zayn doesn’t have what it takes to beat a loser like English, as English is the perfect jobber heel for Roode to make short work of.
The Hype Bros come together to remind us all that SmackDown! Live actually does have other tag teams outside of the New Day and the Usos. Remember when, not that long ago, it seems like Mojo Rawley might turn on Zack Ryder? Boy, did that storyline die out. Anyway, of course the Usos win here, and in short order too. I would’ve liked to have seen the match go on a little longer, if only because SmackDown! Live doesn’t have many teams and treated those it does have as nothing kind of makes them look like they can’t get the job done so it makes it harder to take them seriously later down the line if they were to challenge for the belts.
In an effective way of getting some heat back, Shinsuke Nakamura made short work of the Singh Brothers in a handicap match. Afterwards, Jinder Mahal tried to take advantage and ended up getting laid out with the Kinshasa. Personally, I would have put this effort into building this feud before Summerslam but I guess it helps make the SmackDown! Live pay-per-view more attractive as a purchase.
Naomi got some measure of payback as she teamed with Becky Lynch to successfully beat Natalya and Carmella. The interesting thing here is that Natalya is a heel and so is Carmella, who holds the briefcase, so we’re seeing some layers to Natalya’s character as she has to fend off faces, heels, and those weird tweener women the WWE is obsessed with these days.
Stop the presses! Dolph Ziggler is here! He’s alive! He cuts a promo backstage where he goes on a bit of a rant…good for him.
Finally, after asking a bunch of people throughout the night (including Sami Zayn), Kevin Owens convinces Baron Corbin to be the guest referee by promising him a United States Championship shot. However, Shane McMahon comes out near the end of the match to have a go at Corbin for his biased officiating. Corbin gets all pissed off and walks, leaving Shane to fill in and, once again, count the pin fall for AJ Styles. Again, this might have been a good match but I’m fucked if I can tell because of all the focus being on the referee and Shane McMahon. The good news is that they’re keeping Corbin somewhat relevant still, but God knows where he goes from here.