The show kicked off with the Authority (minus Kane and J&J security) cutting a promo about SummerSlam. Triple H announced that this year’s SummerSlam would be four hours long. He and Stephanie McMahon then announced several bouts for the pay-per-view including Dean Ambrose vs. Big Show and Randy Orton vs Kevin Owens. Seth Rollins then took the mic for a little bragging, stating that he was the greatest WWE world champion ever. John Cena, the United States champion, emerged and, after some insults, challenged Rollins to put up the WWE Championship against the United States Championship. Rollins appeared to be goaded into accepting the challenge but Stephanie McMahon stepped in and informed John Cena that the WWE championship would not be on the line, but he would have to defend the United States Championship against Seth Rollins in the main event. The opening segment was pretty decent. Rollins is one of the best heels in the business and consistently generates heat from the crowd. He and Cena did a good job selling their match later in the night.
Big Show vs. Dean Ambrose
In a preview of SummerSlam, Big Show and Dean Ambrose kicked off the night’s bouts with an action-packed brawl. The match swung back and forth and the fight occasionally spilled outside the ring. In the end, Ambrose’s lunacy worked against him as he attempted a suicide dive through the ropes and ran into a KO punch from the Big Show. The referee counted him out, but Big Show was not done. He attempted to spear Ambrose outside the ring, but missed him and crashed through the timekeeper’s barricade. Ambrose ended the segment, standing tall in the middle of the ring. W
While it is hard to find a true appeal in any story the Big Show is involved in at this point of his career, he and Ambrose worked a quality match that enhanced their feud. Ambrose continued to act like a resilient deranged lunatic who doesn’t care how much punishment he takes and the Big Show built some legitimate heat for attacking a fan favorite like him.
Neville vs. Fandango
This match did not last very long. Fandango took Neville down with a clothesline to start the match, but the Man That Gravity Forgot recovered quickly and pinned him after hitting the Red Arrow. After the match, Stardust interrupted the match and discussed the fascination that people have with heroes. He begged Neville to be his hero and the segment ended with a confused Neville standing in the ring.
The match itself was just a setup for the promo that Stardust cut. Sadly, while Neville has great skills, he was overshadowed in this segment by the unpredictability and creepiness of Stardust. Stardust gave a cryptic promo that left fans guessing completely, but WWE Creative could have accomplished this without cutting a decent opportunity for a good match.
Paige vs. Sasha Banks
The current NXT women’s champion, Sasha Banks, battled the first NXT women’s champion as the respective teams (Naomi & Tamina and Charlotte & Becky Lynch) watched at ringside. The match began with a lockup that quickly spilled to the outside where all of the Divas engaged in a tense stare down. Once the action returned to the ring, Paige and Banks exchanged heavy strikes inside the ring. Paige eventually gained the upper hand, tossed Banks out of the ring, and took out Team BAD with a suicide dive from the top rope. When the action finally made it back inside the ring, Banks escaped a Paige submission and clamped on the Bank Statement, forcing Paige to tap.
Divas wrestling has gotten a lot more interesting since the NXT prospects have been brought up. The lack of quality workers on the main roster will mean that we will see the tag team feuds for some time. However, the women delivered an entertaining match that was awkward at times but grew better as it progressed.
Graphic via avclub
Rusev and Summer Rae Promo
Rusev opened the segment by presenting his new “manager” (love interest), Summer Rae, with a puppy. The Bulgarian Brute then named it Dolph Ziggler and insulted it. The next gift he saw fit to give was a dead fish, which he named Lana after his old manager/love interest. Lana then interrupted and ordered Rusev to shut up. She slapped Rusev viciously in the face and rubbed Summer Rae’s face on the dead fish before leaving.
This segment was awful. Rusev is a monster inside the ring and has improved greatly on the mic. He should not be wasting his talent in a childish feud with Dolph Ziggler. On the other hand, Lana and Summer Rae benefited greatly from the segment as it sets up a clash between them later on.
Lucha Dragons vs. Los Matadores
The two teams started the night looking to impress the Authority so they could gain a chance to challenge the Tag Team Chamions, The Prime Time Players. The Lucha Dragons quickly took control of the match by isolating Diego; however, Fernando tagged himself in and managed to turn the match in Los Matadores’ favor. As the match swayed back and forth, the New Day interrupted and provided a distraction so that the Lucha Dragons could ambush their opponents and pick up the pinfall win.
The tag team division is really suffering from the lack of the Usos. There are no clear storylines and teams can change from faces to heels and back in the course of a single match. In this match, the crowd does not buy into the Los Matadores’ gimmick and their matches are pretty dead. The only thing good about this segment was the New Day’s distraction, which increases the perception that they are heels.
Bray Wyatt Promo
Put Bray Wyatt in the ring and let him talk. It never fails to get the crowd’s attention. For this segment, he welcomed back his old Wyatt family member, Luke Harper and spun a masterful story on how he healed him from his broken life and gave him a safe haven. Harper then pledged his life to Wyatt who ended the show with an ominous warning for Roman Reigns.
This move is perfect for both Wyatt and Harper. Wyatt is not exactly the best in-ring worker and Harper is non-existent on the mic. By putting these two men together, WWE Creative solves their problems and begins to reassemble one of the most dominant forces from last year.
Charlotte & Becky Lynch vs. Team Bella
The match started off with Nikki Bella and Alicia Fox isolating Charlotte from her partner. They managed to keep it that way for most of the match. However, a brief opening allowed Charlotte to tag in Becky Lynch, who quickly turned the tide. After a brief back and forth, Charlotte hit a spear on Nikki Bella, allowing her and Lynch to score the submission victory.
This match suffered from the lack of time it got. The action felt rushed and some of the spots were extremely awkward. The crowd never got into it until the very end and there was no showdown between the factions.
Randy Orton vs Kevin Owens
Randy Orton battled Kevin Owens in their first meeting ever as his old nemesis and Money in the Bank winner, Sheamus, sat on commentary. Orton gained an early advantage, but Owens reversed it by slamming him into the ring post and then the barricade. A powerbomb kept Orton down but a botched cannonball enabled him to mount a comeback with an overhead suplex. As Owens tried to escape the ring, Sheamus left commentary and Brogue Kicked Orton, forcing a disqualification. He and Owens began to beat down Orton, but Cesaro arrived and beat up Sheamus before running into a Pop-up Powerbomb at the hands of Owens. The heels ended the segment in triumph.
Once again, WWE Creative flopped. Orton and Owens were putting on an excellent match until Sheamus interfered. The crowd was into it from the start and both performers were displaying excellent chemistry. Sheamus’ interference cut a brilliant match short. The only other bright side was the reaction the crowd gave Cesaro when he interfered.
Seth Rollins vs John Cena (US Championship match)
Rollins instantly took control of the match with a side headlock and hard strikes. His fast paced offense kept the defending champion off stride for most of the early part of the match. However, Cena came back with his signature shoulder tackles. Rollins countered a Five Knuckle Shuffle and threw Cena out of the ring. He then hit a flying knee from the top rope, visibly breaking Cena’s nose and bloodying him. Cena refused medical attention and returned to the ring, hitting both of his finishers. Rollins kicked out each time, but missed a Phoenix Splash. Cena countered it into the STF and gained the submission victory.
This match might make the match of the year list because someone actually bled during a fight. Putting that aside, this was a stellar match as Cena and Rollins continue to show that they are the best workers in the WWE right now. If you consider the way the night opened and the results of this match, there is a good chance that the WWE is building them up to fight for the WWE championship at SummerSlam.
Graphic via youtube