The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of WrestlingInc or its staff
My prediction for SummerSlam was that the show was going to be a mixed-bag, but it would be extremely long which would lead to people strongly disliking it. I think this has been the theme for the last few years when it comes to major WWE shows; the events themselves can be solid but the show just lasts forever and hurts how fans feel about the PPV overall.
Thankfully, WWE has perhaps learned from those mistakes because SummerSlam went off there air at 10:30 EST. Even though I wasn't constantly enthralled by what I was watching, I never once thought that the show was going on too long and that is a huge sign of improvement for WWE.
As for the show itself, I thought the main event was strong and a few of the undercard matches were solid, but there was a lot of meh stuff or below-average work that made up a lot of this card. SummerSlam wasn't the worst PPV in the world, but being one of WWE's major events of the year, I did feel like there was a lot of filler that should have been replaced by better, more meaningful matches.
Brock Lesnar vs Seth Rollins: ****
This was a match that Seth Rollins desperately needed to have; his last few PPV outings had been poor and WWE had him portrayed over the last two weeks as a whiny, pandering babyface that gets his ass kicked by Lesnar. He needed not just to regain the Universal Championship here, but he needed to have a good match and also look like Lesnar's equal, which is exactly what happened. Seth's booking has not been perfectbut tonight WWE did a great job presenting him as a babyface people can actually like.
Moving forward, WWE has to continue to do that. Rollins cannot have a two-month feud with Baron Corbin and WWE should keep his interactions on-screen with Becky Lynch to a minimum. I'm not sure how many great heels are out there for him to work with right now; I think the obvious choice should be McIntyre who was curiously MIA from the main card tonight. I do think that some permanent damage has been done to Rollins, and the crowd was pretty split between him and Lesnar tonight, but if he can continue having performances like he did tonight, he will earn some of that support back from the audience.
Randy Orton vs Kofi Kingston: **1/2
So this match was going really well until the flat, count-out finish, that the crowd hated and for good reason; I'm not sure the WWE Championship match at SummerSlam is the right time to do a count-out. That being said, one thing that has hurt Kofi's run as WWE Champion is that he hasn't had a really strong feud with a powerful heel, and while this finish was flat, I do think it is going to set-up another match that should be Kofi's most heated title defense, so in that regard the match was a success.
Corey Graves really bothered me during this match. He kept repeating himself over and over again saying the same line about how Kofi's fairy tale run as champion will come to an end. I get that he is the heel, but he was talking way too much and wasn't particularly creative while doing it. At the end of the match he came across like a complete idiot, trying to sell the idea that Orton had gotten in Kofi's head by insulting his kids and getting counted out, when Orton is the guy paying the penalty for getting counted out because Kofi is the champion. I just thought it was pointless and made Graves look like a moron.
AJ Styles vs Ricochet: ***½
This was an interesting match. It was very psychologically sound; AJ worked over Ricochet's knee, which he sold the entire match and it ultimately played into the climax of the match. That being said, I do think building the match on Ricochet being unable to fly hurt the crowd's reaction to the match because really, that is what you want to see in a Ricochet match. Granted, it helped the storytelling in the match, it is just sometimes you can't have your cake and eat it too. The finish was really cool and executed perfectly, which is easier said than done.
I have no idea why Ricochet was wearing that Nightwing costume but I hope he doesn't wear it ever again. It looked like a Halloween costume and not something cool that would enhance his charisma. My best guess is that Vince wanted him to wear something new to make him look like a star, but that full-body suit wasn't it.
The Fiend vs Finn Balor: *
This match was more about Wyatt's new entrance and outfit and less about an actual match. Wyatt's new character has a cool entrance and a unique outfit and dynamic, so all of that is a positive. My only issue is that Wyatt's old character also had all of those things going for him as well, but we saw that once it came time for him to have matches and be in storylines and do all of things required of a top star, it was often awkward and nonsensical. The Fiend is cool to look at, but I have no idea how that is going to eventually translate to creating memorable angles and ultimately drawing interest and money.
Kevin Owens vs Shane McMahon: *½
The crowd really liked this match and was into seeing McMahon get his ass kicked, so that was good as the match was ultimately effective in accomplishing its goal. That being said, I thought it was a bit of a mess; clearly the storyline is going to continue with Owens blatantly breaking the rules throughout the match. They also implied that if Owens attacked Elias, he would be disqualified, yet he would later assault Elias and nothing ever happened to him. Shane really shouldn't be on offense ever, his work is so poor it really exposes the business. Plus, do we really need to see another match where a heel McMahon character introduces another heel to be the special guest referee? The crowd was into this match, but I didn't care for it.
Trish Stratus vs Charlotte: ***¼
This went a lot longer than I thought it was going to go, and Trish really held her own despite it being more than a decade since she really worked on a regular basis. I thought at the beginning of the match seemed really choreographed and rehearsed, but by the end the crowd got really into it and Trish to her credit, took a lot of bumps and did a lot in this match. She didn't mail in a nostalgia appearance and deserved the nice send-off she got after the match.
Becky Lynch vs Natalya: **½
This was a really weird match because the heel vs babyface dynamic was all over the place with Lynch really positioned as the heel working against Natalya in Canada, but still kind of being a babyface too. The match was solid but not particularly notable, it felt like just a basic RAW match with the title on the line. Lynch really needs a hot opponent to work with; she is still pretty over but it definitely feels like she is flattening out a bit.
Bayley vs Ember Moon: ***
Moon was really impressive in this match; her athleticism is elite and she did a lot of cool moves. The match could have been even better, but it is hard for someone like Moon, who comes up from NXT and WWE does basically nothing with her for months and months, and then she gets a little push but the fans don't care that much because they haven't been taught to believe that Moon is a big star. It isn't like the division right now is overflowing with main event level talent, so I'd like to see more of her in the title picture.
Goldberg vs Dolph Ziggler: *
Goldberg was able to come out at SummerSlam and prove that he was able to have a 60 second match without giving himself a concussion, which is great. On a serious note, he does have a star presence that pretty much everyone else in WWE lacks, and WWE does plan on using him more in the future for big shows. However, if he is really limited to doing short, squash matches, there really isn't a whole lot more they can do with him outside of having him do matches like this.
Must Watch Matches
Kota Ibushi vs Kazuchika Okada: ****3/4 - NJPW G1 Climax 29 Tag 17