Two days ago, Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live hosted SummerSlam, the second biggest WWE Pay-Per-View of the year outside of WrestleMania. The matches were stacked from top to bottom, featuring every championship on the main roster except for the Intercontinental Championship, as well as non-title matches featuring the likes of Randy Orton and John Cena. There is a lot to dissect here, so let’s take a look at the best and worst of SummerSlam 2017.
The Main Event Exceeds Expectations
For the most part, SummerSlam was pretty lame (more on that in “The Worst” section). A lot of fans were ready for the show to be over when the main event Universal Championship match between Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Samoa Joe, and Braun Strowman began. Thankfully, these four huge stars (both figuratively and literally) put on a hell of a match to close the show and leave fans in attendance and at home happy.
It is hard to ask for more out of this match outside of a little more Samoa Joe because everyone was featured well. Brock Lesnar took the other three men to Suplex City, and of course, won the match to retain the title. Roman Reigns did a lot of work in the middle of the match and had the final battle with Lesnar, and even though he took the pinfall, he is not worse for wear. Samoa Joe didn’t do a ton, but being made a credible threat to Raw’s three top stars benefits him greatly.
Then there’s Braun Strowman. The Monster Among Men left that match a way bigger star than he entered as. Strowman was tossing bodies around throughout the whole match and he manhandled Brock Lesnar badly enough for Lesnar to get sent to the back temporarily on a stretcher. Strowman also gets some bonus points for throwing another office chair, because that’s always entertaining.
The New Day and Usos Do It Again
At Battleground, The New Day and The Usos tore the house down with an exciting SmackDown Tag Team Championship bout. When their rematch was scheduled for the SummerSlam Kickoff Show, no one expected it to get the time and quality that it was capable of. Oh, how wrong everyone was.
Once the match started gaining speed, it couldn’t be contained. There were big spots everywhere that made sense, Xavier Woods showed off his freakish strength, and smart tag team wrestling led to new champions. While the two teams have been feuding for months, as long as they keep having these matches, I can’t be too mad.
Cesaro Destroys a Beach Ball
The headline for this moment pretty much sums it up, but here is some context. For some reason, some crowds (and Brooklyn in particular) decide to bring beach balls to wrestling shows and it ends up distracting from the performance in the ring. Cesaro, who at the time was defending the Raw Tag Team Championships alongside Sheamus against Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, sprinted into the crowd to grab the beach ball and tear it up. The fans were disrespecting the performers, so Cesaro decided to take action and ruin their fun, and the crowd deserved it.
It Was Six Hours Long
Since WWE likes to brag about how big their events are, the biggest Pay-Per-Views tend to focus on quantity over quality and it showed at SummerSlam. There were some duds on the card which made an okay Pay-Per-View pretty bad and expecting fans to watch a show for six hours before the usual seven hours of weekly content just tires them out for the big matches at the end.
(Almost) Everything About Big Show vs. Big Cass
There was a lot about this match that was bad. First, Big Cass had a huge advantage by Big Show having a broken hand, but it wasn’t emphasized enough that the World’s Largest Athlete had an Achilles Heel. The broken hand notwithstanding, Cass and Show just can’t find a groove with each other. Show can put on great matches with big men, just look at his bout earlier this year with Braun Strowman. Cass is still feeling it out as a singles wrestler and he still has a long way to go.
There was a good moment in this match, however. While Show and Cass were boring the audience for ten minutes, Enzo Amore managed to oil himself up enough to slip out of a shark cage suspended above the ring. If it wasn’t for Cesaro destroying the beach ball, this might have been the funniest moment of the night.
Rusev Loses in Seconds to Randy Orton
Rusev wanted a challenge at SummerSlam and The Viper accepted. While this is a simple story, it could have been effective if they had a competitive bout that made them both look better no matter who won or lost (see: the main event, The New Day vs. The Usos). Instead, Rusev lost in ten seconds after an “RKO Outta Nowhere,” even though The Bulgarian Brute attacked Orton before the match began.
Who does this benefit here? Orton is already a former 13-time World Champion who gets all of the opportunities and praise in the world. Rusev spent some of 2017 out recovering from an injury and ever since returning, he lost in a bad Flag Match to John Cena and now he is punked out by Randy Orton. Hopefully, he can keep having good matches with Chad Gable, because that’s all the former United States Champion has left.
Miztourage Celebrates in Front of Nobody
Over the last year, the Miz has been one of the best parts of Raw and SmackDown Live. The Miz is one of the best talkers in the company and he has held onto the Intercontinental Championship for the majority of the brand extension, yet he was put in the opening match on the SummerSlam Kickoff Show (and he rightfully complained about this on Raw).
Since the show is so massive, some Superstars are going to get the shaft, but this was just brutal. There is a depressing shot after the match where The Miz celebrates his victory with the Intercontinental Championship held up high in front of dozens of empty rows. This doesn’t do well for the performers and the fans who were waiting to get in missed one of WWE’s biggest stars and the Hardy Boyz.
It Couldn’t Live Up to NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III
Hosting SummerSlam unopposed is hard enough to accomplish, but the “biggest party of the summer” got no help with NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III taking place the night before. As mentioned above, SummerSlam was quantity over quality, but TakeOver: Brooklyn III was the exact opposite. It was only a little over two hours long and a lot of the roster was left off of the show (like Kassius Ohno, for example), but every single match was anywhere from great to amazing. NXT knows how to maximize time and not to overstay its welcome, which is something that the main roster booking could learn from.
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