It’s time, it’s time, it’s Biggest Party of the Summer time. I’m very excited for this show gu….no actually I’m not lying tonight. No way. Guys, I finished that NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III Report Card at 8:30am and as I sit here at 21:30, I’m already dreading this 9,320 hour extravaganza. Honestly, in many ways I expect this to be the worst piece of media ever produced. Realistically, I would just quit wrestling fandom in most cases but tonight is a night to celebrate the greatness of Samoa Joe and Alexa Bliss so I’m just going to push forward even if I’m in agony. Let’s just get this inevitable awfulness over with.
DISCLAIMER: any wild predictions I make that you disagree with will likely be proven completely wrong in the coming weeks, months and years anyway so don’t worry too much. Basically, take everything you read from this point forward with a grain of salt as its credibility is preposterously low.
ANOTHER DISCLAIMER: it's now 5:49 am and I'm running off of nothing but Domino’s leftovers, Coca Cola (seriously) and chocolate treats. Basically, the level of actual insight is likely to be minimal.
Miztourage vs. Jason Jordan and The Hardyz Boyz
Well, this is a shame. There seem to be very few people in attendance for our pre-show opener here. Luckily, there really wasn't too much to see and that’s not exactly a criticism, just the reality of the situation. The babyfaces beat up Curtis and Bo a little before Jeff was cut off and the Miztourage got the heat on him. Matt soon made the hot tag but Miz halted him and eventually it all broke down with the Intercontinental champ pinning Jordan with his finish. Well…that’s kind of weird I guess. This was forgettable but inoffensive.
Neville vs. Akira Tozawa (c)
Time for the RAW rematch now and I enjoyed the way Neville’s overconfidence put him behind early but he eventually got back on top anyway by launching Tozawa into the LED board. Neville’s heat segment was fine but things got pretty damn good when Tozawa fired back as he hit some awesome offense including his famed dive. Neville cut him off again though focusing on the shoulder but this didn't really last long as Tozawa instead just punched him in the face. Seemingly against Titus’ advice, Tozawa went up one too many times for his finish and Neville got his knees up before hitting a Red Arrow for the win.
Titus told this loss quite fantastically, by the way; he really is tremendous in this role.
He sang songs.
SmackDown Tag Team Titles
The Usos vs. New Day (c)
My expectations were high for this match and man did these guys meet them with yet another tag team classic. Woods had some great back and forth stuff early with Jimmy Uso and just generally looked great here before being cut off by an uppercut to the brain. The heat was now on as the Usos cut the ring off until Woods fought free with headbutts just like last month. I have to concede that this portion of the match wasn't as strong as the Battleground bout’s heat segment but it was still solid and actually continued on as Big E was yanked from the apron before he could make the tag.
The tag was eventually made nonetheless and New Day hit some tandem offense including Woods even putting E on his shoulders for a big splash. Xavier then traded forearms with one of the Samoan fellows and I just have to stress how much that dude rules. At this point, things became insane as we got some absolutely awesome false finishes including a double splash spot to both the inside and outside of the ring. We also got a Woods’ submission that had the people really hooked mostly due to the way Big E obstructed any interference. Both of these genuinely felt like finishes and that’s why they the match so much.
Woods and E then hit what I believe they called UpUpDownDown and this was yet another superb false finish. Just when things seemed to have met their peak we saw a pop-up Samoan Drop to the outside. Yes seriously. Kofi was then launched into the steps and after using a barrage of superkicks to finally floor Big E, the Usos hit simultaneous splashes to reclaim the titles. As all of you know, Jimmy and Jey are close, personal friends of mine and for that reason, I was obviously very proud. The 2nd half of this match was extraordinary and though overall it wasn't quite as perfect as last month’s match, it was still undeniably exceptional.
John Cena vs. Baron Corbin
Other than the aspect of using John’s entrance to start the show, I felt this was an odd choice for main show opener and the actual match validated that feeling for me. Corbin quickly took control which made for a rather bland heat segment and this was all just very unremarkable early. This portion, of course, came after Cena slid out of the ring simply to mock Baron, interesting. This felt extremely formulaic for the most part. Corbin’s Chokeslam Backbreaker was awesome though and there were some cool spots down the stretch before the absolutely hysterical finish.
Corbin went for his lariat after rounding the turnbuckle gimmick for the THIRD TIME but was instead clotheslined himself and hit with an AA for the pin. Oh, and they had him take his shirt off before the finish too so yeah, fair to say that Bazza Corbz has HEAT in the office.
SmackDown Women’s Title
Natalya vs. Naomi (c)
I didn't have high expectations for this match but good on the company for putting them in a nice position and giving them the chance to succeed as frankly, I think they actually did just that in this spot. Natalya was real aggressive early which was cool and Naomi fired back with a quite incredible blockbuster on the outside. She could’ve sold it a little more but she was generally very good in that regard so I’m not going to be overly critical. Natalya soon cut her off and got the heat which was the weakest aspect of this match for me as her control portion is always hurt by a lack of character work in my opinion.
However, once they returned to going back and forth things got much better and legitimately good regardless of expectations. There was some real nice striking stuff especially and Natalya eventually fought off Naomi’s submission finish and quickly put on the Sharpshooter. Naomi sold this real well, genuinely capturing the people before escaping once but it wouldn't be enough and Natalya put it on once more for the upset title win. This was good and though the decision seems wacky, who cares? Good for Natalya, a woman the rest of the roster very much admires. Let’s see what’s next.
We now saw a No Mercy ad featuring Alexa Bliss. This was my favorite part of the show.
Enzo Amore in Shark Cage Wackiness
Big Show vs. Big Cass
Before we got to the match portion, Enzo cut a promo. Imagine actually watching this rather than just enjoying the Alexa No Mercy ad on loop until the bell rang. Big Show beat Cass up early here before landing on his bad hand when hitting a side slam. He hit the KO punch anyway but it didn't have the same power and Cass quickly targeted Show’s hand. The work here wasn't exactly bad but it was just so incredibly slow that it further damaged a crowd that already didn't care. “BORING” chants soon followed. This was rough.
Enzo then did some shenanigans and slid out the cage only to get kicked in the face again because why not I guess right? Cass then hit two big boots on Show for the win. This wasn't very good and sadly, that’s completely unsurprising.
Kurt Angle and Daniel Bryan now participated in a quite underwhelming backstage segment but I’m sure someone liked it so whatever.
Randy Orton vs. Rusev
Before the match even got started Rusev jumped Randall from behind and beat him up which meant of course that he had to wait for Orton to get up in order for the bell to ring. When that happened Orton avoided Rusev (machka) and hit the RKO for an instant win. I can’t really rate this but I’m not going to pretend it offended me because it really didn't. A fun moment that the people seemed to enjoy. Not a big deal.
RAW Women’s Title
Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss (c)
This match was in a tough spot considering that what had come before it wasn't exactly stunning but they persevered and put on a good match regardless. It was quite startling to hear Bayley booed in Brooklyn and she seemed to be so under that just her presence hurt Sasha’s popularity which led to Bliss being cheered even more than usual in the pre-match introductions. Early on these ladies took it to Sumo Hall as they traded stiff strikes in awesome fashion. One quick thing though is that in future, Alexa should definitely try to refrain from cross-bodies when I’ve just written an article about her being a throwback heel. RUDE.
I kid of course, kind of, and thankfully Bliss soon channeled her inner Arn as she violently cut Banks off in the corner and got real vicious in control. Bliss is pure evil but sadly, crowds just want to cheer her at this point. That’s the situation and I’m torn on whether or not I want a babyface turn, it’s tough. Sasha soon made her comeback which admittedly wasn't her best work but regardless, things escalated in a big way when she countered Alexa’s sunset flip powerbomb in absolutely dope fashion. I also liked how Bliss’ previously successful choke in the corner eventually hurt her.
Banks’ nailed some rough knees in the corner and put the Bank Statement on but Bliss rolled out of the ring and cut her off by pulling the ring skirt which was innovative and allowed for a nice count-out spot. This led to Bliss targeting Sasha’s shoulder in cool ways and then hitting Twisted Bliss which Banks kicked out of. After a tantrum, Alexa soon found herself in the Bank Statement and though Sasha’s bad shoulder almost cost her, an adjustment meant that she got the tap and the title. I don’t think this was better than their Great Balls of Fire bout, work-wise, but Alexa certainly put in her best performance yet for my money and overall, this was a lot of fun.
Bray Wyatt vs. Finn Balor as THE DEMON
I’d be lying if I said the gimmick for was me but I have to concede that The Demon presentation is always cool. Bray sold the presence well too and Finn beat him up early in quite aggressive fashion, even if not to a degree that for me, was startlingly different to leather jacket Balor. Bray hit a big suplex to the outside though and then took over and got the better of things for a while. Everyone in the world knew the result here and that made this portion just wholly uninteresting, even if the talent wasn't even really to blame.
As soon as Balor got back on offense things picked up again anyway and he hit a really cool stomp to the back of Bray’s neck as he stood on the outside. Bray certainly worked hard himself and had some real moments of his own on top including his always awesome lariat. Balor soon got the win though and this was pretty good stuff with both guys basically maximizing what they were given. The only issue was that no one bought Bray as a potential winner and that’s a real shame.
RAW Tag Team Titles
Sheamus and Cesaro (c) vs. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose
Firstly, did I imagine it or did the crowd actually shout the “BURN IT DOWN” wackiness? If so, incredible and huge congrats to Vince. Really enjoyed this match and the start was immediately engaging with Dean and Sheamus doing some great intense stuff before the babyfaces consistently outsmarted the champs, forcing them to cheat for the cut-off. The heels then got the heat on Seth and Dean was down for a long time which meant that Rollins was all alone and this immediately made us all consider a potential heel turn from either man. Smart little layer from the outset.
They really battered Seth for a while here and this was fun and all but it quickly became spectacular when Cesaro sprinted into the crowd to destroy a beach ball. After such a lengthy heat segment, I would’ve liked Dean’s hot tag to get a better response but he worked hard enough to hook the people pretty quickly anyway. I generally really enjoyed Dean here and the superplex/frog-splash combo was a great false finish. All of the tandem offense from the babyfaces got a great response and things got quite brilliant down the stretch as the teams exchanged moments of awesomeness.
The heels had some phenomenal moments themselves including Sheamus trying to punch himself to safety as well Dean’s rebound lariat earning him a kick to the head. Dean asking for more punishment was fun too and after one final cool sequence, Dean nailed the Dirty Deeds, pinning Sheamus in what was a great finish. A really good match which paid off a brilliant story and even if it wasn't quite as incredible as the earlier tag bout, it still very much shined on its own.
United States Title
Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles (c)
This feud hasn't been exactly sublime but it seems that I’ve consistently enjoyed it more than most and that was no different here. They brawled early, so much so that the bell couldn't even ring and this was a smart way to instantly establish Shane’s impact and presence. The punch-filled early going was really fun here and you could convince me that AJ could take Braun simply due to how crisp his offense is. With a big clothesline Kevin took over though and this show was the perfect example of my prior genius moment in which I pointed out that Owens and Bliss are actually the exact same human.
This stalled briefly but a nasty back and forth of strikes elevated the match and that momentum was furthered by some more Styles’ offense. At this point, the shenanigans began as Shane was pulled into the action twice even taking AJ’s 450 splash as Owens forced him to act as his own personal shield of sorts. As AJ checked on Shane KO took advantage and hit the Pop-up Powerbomb but due to that previous spot, Shane was understandably slow to the count. Kevin was angry about this and that distracted him enough for AJ to put in the Calf Crusher/Slicer/Killer/Destroyer.
Some more silliness followed and Shane was hit again, this time flying out of the ring and therefore missing Owens tap from the Calf Crusher/Slicer/Killer/Destroyer. AJ was now very angry himself and this led to him getting rolled up for a false finish before we got some more cool strike exchanges as we approached the (G1) climax here. AJ then hit the Styles Clash for a 2 count and Owens fired back with another Pop-up Powerbomb but Styles got his foot on the rope which Shane only noticed after counting the three.
This REALLY angered Kevin and he soon was pinned with a Styles Clash after the Phenomenal Forearm. This was good and absolutely served its purpose but for me just had too much Shane stuff to ever really get going. That’s obviously important to their direction though so they achieved what they set out to. Fun match.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jinder Mahal (c)
Okay so let’s get the good stuff out of the way here and all try to move on as quickly as possible. Shinsuke’s entrance rules and Jinder looked great. I also enjoyed the brief tense feeling out process in which Nakamura threw a sharp low kick. Then this all became very basic. Shinsuke dominated before a Singh Brothers distraction led to a momentum shift. Mahal then slowly worked Nakamura over until Shinsuke fired back with kicks and they went back and forth, kind of. I personally enjoyed Mahal’s matches with Orton and I think it’s a testament to Randy’s skill that his selling seemed to elevate Jinder’s offense in such a big way.
The Singh Brothers then ran in and got beaten up which distracted Shinsuke enough for Mahal to hit his finish, incorrectly, for the win. This wasn't good and I’m not pinning the blame on either man individually as this all together just came across as wildly uninspired.
Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar (c)
To put it simply, this was awesome. They immediately split and paired off with their main rivals, brawling wildly in the process. Brock then murdered Joe and Roman which led to a stare-down with Braun and after a brief interruption from the Samoan Joe’s, the two awesome humans went toe to toe with Strowman dominating Lesnar, sending him flying out of the ring. He almost took out Roman too but THE GUY moved out of the way in time. Things continued to be crazy as Reigns speared Lesnar through the barricade after Joe began to choke him.
Joe then slammed Roman onto the announce table but was quickly ran over himself by King Braun. At this point, Lesnar began to stand, even trying to pick up the barricade wall and his selling was absolutely amazing here which in hindsight nicely foreshadowed what was to come as Strowman running power-slammed him through the table to a huge pop. Roman soon cut big Braun off though before Joe came flying through the ropes with a big dive. His fight with Reigns was halted by Strowman throwing a chair at them though. Why? Well why not?!
He then opted to hit another powerslam on Lesnar, putting him through the other table and following it up by burying him under another table. THIS IS INCREDIBLE. Brock was now stretchered out and Braun laughed proudly, joyfully remarking “WHERE’S THE BEAST AT NOW?!” Strowman went and found another toy now as he hit Joe and Reigns with the steel steps before launching them into the ring like the awesome human that he is. Roman soon briefly got rid of him and then went back and forth with Joe but Braun quickly returned to hit a double chokeslam. Hang on a second…Brock Lesnar is back, this is absolutely obscene.
He immediately took Strowman down too and had the upper hand, even locking in a kimura. Roman then re-emerged with Superman punches for everyone and he hit a spear for a big false finish. Joe then began to choke him but big Braun threw a DROPKICK to break it up and Brock had to stop the pin after a running powerslam. Strowman then kicked out of Reigns’ pin by pushing him all the way back to his feet. If this recap hasn’t quite captured it by the way guys, BRAUN IS ON FIRE.
There was still a ton more false finishes to come including Reigns spearing Braun when he had Brock up for a running powerslam. Just like at GREAT BALLS OF FIRE, Lesnar turned Joe’s choke into the F5 but this time there was someone to break up the pin and Roman did just that. This aspect was captured perfectly by Graves on commentary of course. It all ended eventually with Brock hitting the F5 on Roman for the pin.
Well, this was a very weird show guys. I wouldn't call it consistently strong but thankfully the good stuff was generally very good and as long as this show was, I can’t ignore the fact that it featured two of my absolute favorite matches of the year thus far, including one that took place on the pre-show. There were certainly some rough spots but overall I enjoyed most of this other than the obvious issue of it just being far too long. That’s a problem I understand though considering their amount of talent. On the whole, I thought this was a good show all things considered.
Please comment your SummerSlam thoughts below or just tweet me abuse like many others already do @JoeHulbert5
It’s now 10am and this was a very bad weekend in my life. I don’t think much insight was provided here but I’m still mourning Alexa and Joe leaving without their belts so please leave me alone. See you for NXT…I guess.