On the Friday Night Smack Down before SummerSlam, Vince McMahon came out to introduce the WWE’s newest batshit creation: the “WWE ThunderDome”. Basically, rather than the smattering of employees and competitors watching the action from a safe distance and in masks, all of the seating area has been replaced by a load of screens so fans can watch live and react to what’s going on. Honestly, it’s super distracting seeing all these different colours, faces, and movements in the background and it’s going to be really embarrassing if a technical hitch sees all the screens go blank mid-way through an event. Honestly, it kind of made Vince look a little detached from reality; the world has changed, man, just roll with it and do the best you can or, y’know, take a break like everyone else did!
My Prediction: MVP by pin fall, new champion crowned
Actual winner: Apollo Crews by pin fall, championship retained
I can’t really tell if I’m happy or indifferent to the fact that MVP is flourishing in the Coronavirus era of the WWE. On the one hand, I never really thought much of him during his original run but, on the other, he’s become this shit-eating heel who has even managed to supplant Bobby Lashley in the pecking order, which has to mean something. Still, I find his in-ring work and abilities largely lacklustre so I’m glad to see him using his position to, instead, put the spotlight more on Apollo Crews. Despite my personal feelings, defeating a former champion like MVP still means something and having Crews be able to overcome MVP’s stooges on the outside and win in a largely dominant fashion is always a positive. I hope Apollo gets the chance to move on to fresher opponents with this victory, though.
My Prediction: Asuka by submission, new champion crowned
Actual winner: Bayley by pin fall, championship retained
Well, right off the bat I was wrong about the WWE lumping the two Women’s Champion matches back to back and telling the story of plucky Asuka having to battle uphill against Bayley and Sasha Banks. Then I was also wrong about crowning Asuka as the new double champion so SummerSlam is really doing a lot for what little credibility I have so far. The story here was more about Sasha providing enough of a distraction to allow Bayley to sneak in a win (Sasha even took a shot to keep her friend in the match to keep their simmering narrative going) and the two of them putting a hurting on Asuka after the match to reduce her chances at victory even more.
My Prediction: Andrade and Angel Garza by pin fall, new champions crowned
Actual winners: The Street Profits by pin fall, championships retained
So, I complained in my predictions about the shitty hand Andrade has been dealt and it’s true; the guy managed to be part of some really intense matches in NXT, rising up to become an unlikely, but no less formidable, heel champion but, on the main roster, like so many of NXT call-ups, he’s just another guy. He could be more but in the land of the giants he’s probably never breaking into the main event. This is kind of why I would have liked to see the shows and rosters shuffled about a bit and Friday Night Smack Down rebranded as NXT SmackDown! So that the smaller, pluckier, more workhorse-orientated guys would get a chance to thrive without fear of being overshadowed by Vince McMahon’s beefier boys. Anyway, this team with him and Angel Garza and Zelina Vega has allowed him to remain a relatively prominent figure on Raw but it doesn’t mean much when he can’t even capture the tag belts and loses all the time even when the odds are stacked in his favour.
My Prediction: Mandy Rose by pin fall
Actual winner: Mandy Rose by pin fall
This was originally billed as a hair vs. hair match but, apparently, it was changed to a “loser leaves WWE match”. Why? Well, given the WWE’s history with hair vs. hair matches and dodgy clippers it’s probably because these matches always end up with embarrassing endings…plus they will probably use this as a good excuse to send Sonya Deville off to Raw or the Raw Underground. In either case, the fact that Mandy Rose and Otis (remember him?) looked so happy after the match is kind of telegraphing to me that, if and when Otis eventually cashes in the Money in the Bank briefcase, Mandy will probably cost him the title win.
My Prediction: Seth Rollins by pin fall
Actual winner: Seth Rollins by pin fall
If you watched the last Raw before SummerSlam and saw Dominik Mysterio getting the piss beaten out of him by Seth Rollins and Murphy then, essentially, this match was an extended version of that; it seems that Dominik is being portrayed as an underdog who, despite flashes of wrestling ability, is in over his head with Rollins and, while that isn’t necessarily untrue, I do sometimes question that as a narrative. After all, seeing a kid get the hell beaten out of him gets a bit old after a while and, while it builds sympathy for the victim, eventually you have to be able to do a bit more than just show them as being able to take a whuppin’.
Fortunately, Dom’s dear old Dad, Rey Mysterio, was at ringside and was apparently all healed up after having his eye popped from his skull not that long ago, but was mainly there to be a witness to Dom’s decimating at the hands (or, more accurately, the boot) of Rollins. I’ll admit that Dom put in a good showing, though, busting out his Dad’s signature moves and such but there’s something about him (mainly his vastly different body type) that makes me think he should have a different in-ring style rather than aping his Dad. I think we’ll see that addressed in time, though, as the WWE will most likely eventually have Dom either side with Rollins or otherwise turn against Rey to set up a future match between the two.
My Prediction: Asuka by submission, new champion crowned
Actual winner: Asuka by submission, new champion crowned
Asuka came into this with a busted up knee thanks to the match, and post-match assault she endured earlier in the night so the story here was, obviously Asuka being on the backfoot and have to fight and claw her way to some kind of commanding position. Fortunately, the WWE followed through this their storyline as, right when Bayley was in a position to sacrifice herself to aid her friend, she chose not to. This was enough for Asuka to then clamp on the Asuka Lock and regain the Raw Women’s Championship, once again cutting short any hopes Sasha had of a lengthy title reign and no doubt added fuel to her inevitable clash with Bayley. I’m still not a fan of Sasha being the face in that feud, though.
My Prediction: Drew McIntyre by pin fall, championship retained
Actual winner: Drew McIntyre by pin fall, championship retained
First of all I’m just going to say that I am glad that the WWE didn’t pull a nonsensical swerve out of their ass and have Randy Orton win the belt just to “shock” people and mix things up; Orton might be doing some strong work lately in his new heel run and is easy to slot in as a credible contender but I don’t need him as a World Champion in 2020.
This was probably Drew McIntyre’s first real test as a champion as he had to deal with Orton’s heel tactics and such and the fact that it was largely competitive helps to highlight his strengths as champion. The tag line for this year’s SummerSlam was “You’ll Never See It Coming” and I guess they meant the ending to this match as both guys were savvy enough to avoid getting hit with a finisher and the end came from a simple backslide. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Orton continue to hover around the main event and WWE Championship for a little while longer as there aren’t many credible threats for Drew in the wings.
My Prediction: The Fiend, Bray Wyatt, by pin fall, new champion crowned
Actual winner: The Fiend, Bray Wyatt, by pin fall, new champion crowned
Surprisingly, the WWE opted to not do a cinematic style match and instead make this a falls count anywhere match. As if often the case with a lot of falls count anywhere matches, though, the match ended in the ring so they may as well have made it a no holds barred match but whatever.
Considering Braun Strowman’s championship reign hasn’t really been much to shout about, I suppose it’s fitting that this match was more of a whimper than a bang. It was interesting seeing Strowman being frustrated by the Fiend, Bray Wyatt’s gimmick and tearing up the ring but he went down pretty easily, all things considered, especially since Strowman was once known for these big, over-the-top matches and such.
The real story was the unexpected return of Roman Reigns, who attacked both men after the match and appears to be Wyatt’s first challenger for the belt. I wasn’t expecting that; I honestly thought Wyatt would win and a double turn would happen but maybe a variation of that will happen anyway, with all three men more tweeners but Reigns more inclined towards face, Strowman to heel, and Wyatt to whatever he feels like.
What did you think about this year’s SummerSlam? Were you happy with how it turned out? How many of your predictions came true? What do you think about the ThunderDome setup the WWE are apparently using now? Whatever you think, drop a comment below.