MIXED TAG TEAM MATCH:
Lana & Rusev vs. Andrade "Cien" Almas & Zelina Vega - 3/10
I'm sure it happened because Almas and Vega were the first two wrestlers coming out for a match rather than because Almas is Mexican and Vega is Hispanic of some stripe or another (I know she's Puerto Rican, but I don't think anything has ever been established in kayfabe), but right when they came out, the "available in SAP" graphic appeared. Once I saw that I was really hoping that when Rusev and Lana made their entrance an "available in BUL" graphic would appeared, but no luck.
Anyway, these teams had a short match in which Vega pinned Lana with her feet on the ropes. That was it. It's the second biggest show of the year and they've spent well over a month building to something happening with Rusev finally getting rid of Aiden English for constantly screwing up and costing him and Lana matches and now the PPV match is finally here where you would think that they finally pull the trigger and do the angle that leads to the change... but no. We got nothing but the wheels spinning once again. I honestly can't think of a worse way they could have started this show off.
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS PAUL HEYMAN - Fine promo by Heyman.
GENERAL MANAGERS BACKSTAGE - Completely unbearable. Drake Maverick, Kurt Angle, & Paige were all standing around in an office and talking about how they were all super-excited for SummerSlam and kept complementing each other on having signed such great matches and "you have the best card," "no, you have the best card," "no, you have the best card" and oh my G-d just shut up and do hand stuff to each other already! How about instead of lining up this giant parade of people to yell at me for two straight hours about how great the matches will be, you actually SHOW ME F*CKING WRESTLING MATCHES!
Then Baron Corbin showed up and engaged in his customary poorly-scripted bickering for the sake of bickering with Kurt Angle (Corbin demanded to know if Kurt had arranged for Brock to have his own personal locker room yet, and Kurt retorted by suggesting that Corbin go "cut Brock Lesnar's steak for him or make sure he has the latest magazines." The fact that Creative seems to think that this is witty and biting repartee is mystifying to me). Corbin then engaged in bickering with Paige and Maverick that wasn't much better.
WWE CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Cedric Alexander(c) vs. Drew Gulak - 7.25/10
Hey, look! They're actually showing us a wrestling match! But of course that doesn't stop them from interrupting this match to yell at me about how great other matches will be. Because they apparently they think there might be someone still on the fence about these matches after five weeks of WWE yelling at me about them."
The story of this match was Cedric trying to avoid the Gu-Lock due to being softened up last week on 205 Live. These guys had a great match for the time they were given... but yeah. That last part. They were given all of ten minutes and fifteen seconds. This is supposed to be the second biggest show of the year. I should not be thinking that this match would have been ten times better if they had had it on their one-hour WWE Network show instead of SummerSlam.
WWE RAW TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The B-Team(c) vs. The Revival - 4/10
T-he Revival worked over Bo's leg, and managed to isolate him even more than usual by also hitting Axel -with a Shatter Machine, but unfortunately it would not last forever, as he was able to make a hot tag. -Axel ran wild for a while but then Dawson got him in a small package but the ref was distracted, and t-hen Bo was shoved backwards and wound up tripping over the small package and accidentally turning it over so Dawson was now the one being pinned and the referee made the count. The execution on this was phenomenal but the whole idea pisses me off so much. Then we cut back to the panel, where everyone laughed about how our Raw Tag Team Champions are jobber goofballs who wind up winning through dumb luck rather than the best team in the division, as if this is somehow a good thing.
Also, this is the second biggest show of the year, and this match didn't even get six and a half minutes.
THE PANEL INTERVIEWS SAMOA JOE - Jerry Lawler's questions make me think that he doesn't understand the angle for the WWE World Heavyweight Title match on the second biggest show of the year. Why was he not immediately replaced?
ALEXA BLISS! BLOWS OFF CHARLY CARUSO'S ATTEMPT TO INTERVIEW HER - This departure from Alexa's usual cocky demeanor did an excellent job of emphasizing that Alexa is a lot more scared than usual tonight.
The last thing we were presented with before the Kick-Off show went off the air was a shot of Rollins and Ambrose walking towards Gorilla, while Renee Young excitedly told us that the IC Title match is going to take place in just a few moments... and then Booker T felt the need to shout "SHUCKY DUCKY QUACK QUACK!" They've got Otunga on the panel and they've got Coach, Saxton, and Percy Watson doing commentary across the four shows, plus they could probably stick Mark Henry in either of those spots and he'd be better than everyone else they've had do it so far, so they've got that particular diversity box covered, so why the hell do they still put this idiot on these panels?
WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH:
Dolph Ziggler(c) (w/Drew McIntyre) vs. Seth Rollins (w/Dean Ambrose) - 8.75/10
This was an excellent wrestling match that just build and build and built. They didn't kick-out of everything in the world even though they went twenty-two minutes. They just did their wrestling moves and sold and teased things and let them build. They did a good job of setting up spots that played on our expectations and then pulled the rug out and did a good job of playing off of the finish in their first match, but the thing I popped most for (aside from the finish) was Seth busting out the Paroxysm (which is a Lifting Inverted DDT but Michael Cole called it a Sidewalk Slam. What kind of dork doesn't know the difference between these moves? Oh. Wait. Now that I think about it, we're probably about to start having a whole new generation of fans who don't know these things because the wackos on Wikipedia decided that a wrestler's finisher and signature maneuvers aren't important information anymore, which shows you just how qualified they are to be running the pro wrestling section of anything, never mind an encyclopedia).
They also did a good job of building up the involvement of Ambrose and McIntyre throughout the match. They did stuff with it early, set up a great false finish when Rollins was distracted by Drew taking Dean out from behind, then had it play into the finish with Ambrose taking Drew out so he wasn't able to distract Rollins enough for Ziggler to nail him with a superkick, as Seth turned around early enough to see it coming and was able to nail Dolph with one of his own. Seth then hit the Curb Stomp for the win, bringing us full circle by giving us the finish we would have had to their marathon match on Raw two months ago if someone had been able to prevent McIntyre from interfering.
RENEE YOUNG INTERVIEWS THE BELLA TWINS - They obnoxiously plugged their own side projects as well as their WWE-sponsored ones. Then they obnoxiously spouted out WWE-Speak about the Women's Evolution and how much they love Ronda Rousey, etc. Then they revealed that they would be sitting at ringside to watch Ronda make history, which means we can probably expect them to be involved in whatever shenanigans will doubtlessly occur in that match... though I wouldn't necessarily expect them to actually be on Ronda's side.
WWE SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Bludgeon Brothers(c) vs. The New Day (w/Kofi Kingston) - 6.75/10
Woods was a good babyface in peril and I liked the way they played off the powerbomb onto the steps spot from their previous feud. Big E. running wild with those belly-to-belly suplexes on the outside was AWESOME, and it began a really great sequence of what can best be described as "large men (and Xavier Woods) going flying." I popped huge for the T-Gimmick, which turned out to be just the first in a series of really cool tag team moves the Bludgeon Brothers hit.
The match was getting really great with all sort of cool double-team moves and big spots and nearfalls... and then Rowan grabbed his mallet and hit Woods with it for the intentional DQ. The post-match beating on Big E's ribs with the mallet was a good angle, but I did not watch a Pay-Per-View for another f*cking DQ. If this was the way they wanted to finish this match then why didn't they let the Cruiserweight Title match be on the PPV and do this on this week's Smackdown? This is the sort of angle that belongs on TV, not PPV.
WINNER GETS THE MONEY IN THE BANK CONTRACT:
Braun Strowman(c) vs. Kevin Owens - DUD!
Braun completely obliterated Owens. And I mean really obliterated him. Like all Owens got in was a kick that Braun no-sold, while Braun was running Owens over and chokeslamming him onto the ramp. These past two months have damaged Owens severely while not helping Braun one bit (and arguably even hurting him, too, because he came off like such an asshole). Then, after concluding a feud that consisted almost entirely of big babyface Braun Strowman repeatedly assaulting and tormenting people who did nothing to him other than offer him friendship, WWE had the f*cking temerity to show me a video package putting over their anti-bullying campaign. Are they really that oblivious to the optics here, or are they just trying to troll us when they do this?
WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN'S TITLE MATCH:
Carmella(c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair - 7/10
This f*cking CGI during the entrances really needs to go. It's completely unnecessary, adds nothing to the show, and just makes everything feel even more over the top and produced, rather than the more natural feel they should be going for.
I thought this match was pretty great. Carmella definitely held up her end of things in the ring, and they structured the match in a way that played off of the storyline very well, with Charlotte and Becky being the thorns in each other's sides until Becky finally got Carmella alone in the ring and locked in the Disarmer... and then Charlotte ran in again and hit Becky with Natural Selection for the pin. The action was fun and exciting, the story made sense and played into the overall storyline well, and we got a clean finish. What more could you ask for?
How about a...
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - This was pretty great, although it would have been better if the turn came via Becky turning the hug into an overhead belly-to-belly suplex or something like that. This is one of those moments that proves the fact that just because something is predictable does not mean it is bad. This was something everyone expected and these two executed it perfectly and the people still went nuts for it. Becky was vicious here, and I am now very excited for brawls and matches these two will surely have together every Tuesday for the foreseeable future.
The only stumbling block in this whole scenario is that Becky getting pinned here- while it worked for what they wanted to do tonight- means that there is no way she can just get the next title shot. This means that WWE will have to work outside of their wheelhouse to keep Becky and Charlotte feuding while Charlotte has a championship feud with someone else. It is by no means impossible to do this right, but WWE, unfortunately, doesn't have a very good track record.
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
AJ Styles(c) vs. Samoa Joe- 8.25/10
Joe points out AJ's family in the crowd. They're sitting in the fourth row. I guess AJ couldn't get them any better tickets then that... but the Bella Twins, who are not any sort of champion or even related to any sort of champion, can get WWE to set up front-row seats for them for just one match?
These guys were having an awesome match, with great storytelling and a determined babyface having to overcome a big, mean, rough heel... and then Joe said something rude and inappropriate to AJ's wife and AJ snapped and got DQed.
I will grant them that this felt very big and was well done and the beating AJ but on Joe was brutal. This was the sort of DQ on a PPV I would have been relatively fine with, but the preponderance of sh*tty finishes we've gotten in big matches over the past few months (both on PPV and on TV)- including one earlier tonight- make this feel like "just another frustrating DQ rather than the big angle it would feel like if they rarely did f*ck finishes.
Speaking of things that I'm really annoyed that we keep getting on PPV...
THE DRIFTER SINGS - Or not. His guitar broke so he got angry, threw things, and might have said the F word. What was the point of wasting my time with this?
MIZ & THE B-TEAM BACKSTAGE - Dumb. Despite worshipping the ground Miz walked on even after he was gone, they are now all of a sudden Daniel Bryan fans. They said many stupid things before skipping off. What was the point of this?
DANIEL BRYAN vs. THE MIZ- 9/10
They showed Maryse and baby at ringside... so where is Brie? We know she's in the building and she's going to be sitting at ringside for Ronda Rousey's match... but not her husband's match with his arch-nemesis?
These guys set out and told an intricate and absolutely awesome story, weaving so many things together. Miz doing Bryan's moves, the "punch you in the face" story, work on both guy's heads to set up their finishes and because of Bryan's concussion problems, both men being determined not to lose to the other on this big stage, (and an indy callback with both Bryan's MMA elbows and Nigel's Jawbreaker Lariat), all culminating in the cruel twist of fate that was the heel finish of Maryse passing Miz brass knuckles so that Miz could beat Bryan by punching him in the face, which had me furious for all the right reasons.
If there was one negative in this match, it was the following, which was best summed up I what I yelled at my television when Bryan was doing the MMA Elbows:
"OH MY G-D KEVIN DUNN YOU F*CKING MORON YOU DON'T HAVE TO CUT TO A DIFFERENT CAMERA WITH EVERY SINGLE ELBOW! JUST FIND THE ONE ANGLE THAT LOOKS BEST AND STICK WITH IT!" Cutting away like that is not only obnoxious to me as a viewer and dizzying to me as a viewer, but it breaks the feeling of continuity on what is supposed to be continuous series of strikes.
FINN BALOR vs. CONSTABLE BARON CORBIN - DUD!
Balor is in his demon paint. Corbin is scared now and tries to get out of the match. Cole's claim that Balor "becomes a different person" when uses the demon paint is not supported by any evidence whatsoever. Coach then asked the logical follow-up question if we take Cole's statement as true, which is why Balor doesn't bring his inner demon out more often if he is so much more dominant and effective as the demon. Balor squashed Corbin. If I had any faith that this boring feud would actually be over after this then maybe I would have been nice and called it a "meh segment" but the last time we saw these guys go to a perfectly clean finish but the feud just kept going.
BRYAN & BRIE BACKSTAGE - Bryan's frustration sounded completely believable and natural. Brie's lines felt like a rehearsed speech that someone wrote to be grand speech to set up the climactic moment of an inspirational play.
WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
Shinsuke Nakamura(c) vs. Jeff Hardy - 6.75/10
The match was good for the time it got, and the finish was something that was a perfectly believable way for a big star renowned for his toughness like Jeff Hardy to lose clean in just eleven minutes.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Randy Orton came out and came down the ramp like he was going to beat Jeff Hardy up but then just turned around and walked to the back. What was the purpose of this?
NATTIE SHOWS UP - she poses in her father's ring jacket from SummerSlam 1990, then heads to the back.
WWE RAW WOMEN'S TITLE MATCH:
Alexa Bliss!(c) vs. Ronda Rousey - DUD!
No, this, isn't a "BRM loves Alexa Bliss!" biased rating (notice how I didn't even add my usual -10 point modifier joke). This is the rating of a viewer who has already sat through two one-sided squashes here on this PPV, plus two DQs in title matches, and had no f*cking desire to see a third match that was Ronda doing the same two moves over and over again and then winning via armbar.
And by the way, the way they laid this match out, Alexa Bliss who has spent most of the twenty months as a champion of the women's division, has worse armbar defense than non-wrestler Stephanie McMahon. Could we not have made Alexa actually look slightly credible? Anyway, the title is now on invincible Ronda. How the f*ck are you going to get it off of her? I hope everyone is ready for the incredibly stale Raw women's division to become even more stale until at least WrestleMania.
Also, what the f*ck did WWE's hair and make-up department do to Ronda's head? She looks like a glamour model version of the Doctor Lazarus from Galaxy Quest.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Ronda celebrates her title win with her best friend Natalya... and also the f*cking Bella Twins, who I'm not sure she's even been seen on screen with. How about sending out some of her real friends like the other Horsewomen? I mean... we saw them all together in this same building just last night! Ronda then starts to make out with Travis Browne. Why couldn't they let her husband get into the ring with her to celebrate her dream coming true? Because they think a supportive husband would ruin the feminism of the picture their going to try to pimp out to any media outlet that could take it? Sorry, but you killed all believability of that the moment you shoe-horned the f*cking Bella Twins in there.
WWE UNIVERSAL TITLE MATCH:
Brock Lesnar(c) (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Roman Reigns - 1/10
Just in case there is possibly still someone who doesn't understand that WWE wants us to cheer Roman, Michael Cole beat the carcass of the predeceased horse so far into the ground that it popped out in China by telling us that this match will be contested between "the stubborn, cocky champion who cares only about himself and the rebellious workhorse who knows this might be his last chance at the WWE Universal Championship."
We got our intros (Roman was booed heavily), then Braun Strowman came down and announced that he was going to cash in Money in the Bank on the winner. The cheers for this are almost certainly the last time the crowd was heard at full volume, as the WWE was doing their best to censor them. They seemed to be about 75-25-0, by which I mean no one liked Brock, a quarter of them like Roman, and the other three quarters hated both guys. We got dueling chants of "LET'S GO ROMAN!" "ROMAN SUCKS!" and I'm almost certain WWE was raising and lowering the volume each time. There were also loud "YOU BOTH SUCK!" chants that were turned down.
The match went 6:10, and was nothing but big moves. At one point Brock countered a spear by directing Roman through the ropes and into Braun. Brock then beat Braun up with a chair for a long time, allowing Roman to recover, and when Brock got back into the ring, Roman speared him and pinned him to win the title. So after all of this bullsh*t protecting Brock for years and years, they still wouldn't let Roman beat him cleanly on the way out. Brock had to be distracted being up a third party instead. This also meant that Braun was not conscious to cash in MITB as promised. I'm sure the live crowd loved that. That's probably why they cut the broadcast relatively quickly after Roman's win, giving him just a short celebration, with none of his friends coming out to celebrate with him.
I... don't even know what to think about this PPV. Pretty much everything was something I either loved or despised, and in perhaps the worst case scenarios, there were some matches I was loving until the infuriating finishes. Sometimes it felt like WWE had turned into New Japan and realized that if they're so dead-set on doing a five-hour show they might as well make the most of it and give their big matches the time to deliver, with the WWE and IC title matches as well as Miz vs. Bryan all going over twenty-two minutes and the Smackdown Women's Title match going over fifteen... and then there were other times where they took PPV matches they had been building for months and turned them into squashes or, in the case of the main event, just went short, or gave us TV finishes in PPV title matches.
And then there was the main event finish. Like many others, I pretty much hit a breaking point at WrestleMania and entered of phase of just wanting this whole "building to Roman Reign's big coronation" to be over with already so we could get to something new in that division, and when that moment finally arrived, it was short, anti-climactic, and they couldn't even give the guy the clean win because they were so worried about coming up with a way to trick the fans into not booing the match (promising them a Strowman cash-in that they then ensured would never come) that they undermined the very purpose of the match itself. If you're going to spend so much time building to this f*cking thing then at least give me a real match with a clean finish. I might not care for the result, but at least you'll force me to sit back and admit to myself that while I might not want to see either of these guys as the champion, there is no denying that they put on a damn fine professional wrestling match, and that's what I'm here to see. Instead we got the same six minutes of spamming the same moves over and over again that we've seen in basically every Brock match for years, including his previous two matches against Roman, both within the past five months. Did they really think that doing the same thing that failed before would work this time?
I don't even know what to say about this show. I just know that at least tomorrow's Raw won't be another rerun of the exact same show I've been watching for the past three and a half months. Then again, I think this is the third straight month that I've said something along those lines. We'll just have to wait and see.