Summerslam is done and boy was it a doozy. There was some good stuff, but a whole lot that left you shaking your head. I’ll just jump right and let it fly.
- John Cena vs AJ Styles – great match, one to have on repeat and rewatch a whole bunch of times, one of the best WWE/NXT matches of the year. Both guys broke out all kinds of tricks they usually don’t, that’s how special this was. And Styles wins clean, rendering the Cena haters speechless for once. If I could only watch one match from the weekend again and you ‘stuck’ me with this one I’d be good.
- The Women’s Matches – The title match had some sloppy moments but was still a good match. The six woman match was better than I thought it would be, and the way they handled Eva Marie’s suspension and Nikki Bella’s surprise return were very good. In both matches, the key to me was….time. The title match got 13 minutes and change and the tag team match got just over 11. We’re not too far removed from the days of having one women’s match on a show and it only getting 6 or 7 minutes at best.
- NXT Takeover – Once again, NXT delivered a great show the night before the main roster went on. Six matches in total on the show, all of them were good, the crowd was into it, some all time great entrances, and everyone got enough time to work. I’ll get to this more later.
- The crowd for the Universal Title match – Good grief people…..yes, the new Universal title belt looks goofy. But to spend ten minutes ragging on it and not even getting into the match itself is just bush league. You so called smart fans have been jonesing for a Balor-Rollins matchup and when you finally get you start chanting about the belt without ever waking up to what was going on in the ring. Seth was right to tweet out his disappointment later. Get over yourselves already.
- The booking – Seriously, what in the hell? The Tag Team Title match going to that garbage DQ finish? The I-C Title match getting five minutes? Roman and Rusev not even having a match? Come on…… You could have really dropped all three of those from the show and not lost anything; in fact, the bitter taste a lot of people had when it was over would be a lot smaller if they did so. I’m usually one to defend the booking on the grounds that your favorite era wasn’t any better, but this was an absolute disaster.
- The match sequencing – Bad/questionable booking can be survived if you don’t pile it on and mix in enough good booking. But after a great Cena/Styles match the whiffed in one way or another on five of the next matches. The Tag Team match had the crappy DQ finish. Ambrose and Ziggler were OK but couldn’t the sense of doubt you need to make a foregone conclusion match not seem so foregone. The universal title match was very good but the lousy title belt sent the crowd into ‘get ourselves over’ mode. And then you end the show with back to back ‘wtf’ matches. Simply putting the Roman/Rusev non match earlier in the show would have thinned out the disdain over that by show’s end. Moving the Smackdown title match to earlier in the show would have had the crowd less tired when it rolled around and more into it. The in ring results would have been the same but the takes would have been a little less hot from people on social media afterwards.
The Brock Lesnar bloodbath appears to be a work that worked a little too well. I doubt Randy Orton was supposed to bleed that much and need those stitches for his trouble, but Brock wasn’t going into business for himself here. The Universal title match was much better on rewatch with the sound turned down than it was when I watched it live. The one good thing to come out the Roman/Rusev fiasco was Roman the Destroyer returning; it really looks like the smart fans can live with him doing that as long as he’s not in the main event or the title picture. Yes, that’s stupid as hell but at this point it is what it is.
NXT Takeover was the better show both in perception and reality; having six good to great matches in two and half hours will usually trump thirteen matches over four hours that range from great to WTF. Throw in a more receptive crowd and it’s a no brainer. The difference last year was not as pronounced but this year it was glaring, and that can’t be good over the long haul. This show wasn’t as bad as the hot takes you’ve seen would suggest, but it was a mess and the feeling after it ended was the worst I’ve had all year. The good stuff was very good but the bad stuff was so bad that it’s what you’ll remember the most.