The “Biggest Event of the Summer” is in the record books and delivered everywhere it was critical to deliver.
But what made it work? In my heel opinion, 4 things:
Like some Brock Lesnar matches before it, this Summerslam main event was a match of a different taste and structure, not to mention an unexpected one.
Brock decimated Cena with 16 German Suplexes, a barrage of knees to the mid-section, ground-and-pound and 3 F5s. Cena had his moments, but they were few and far between.
While some will argue Cena should have been more competitive – and I wrote as much in yesterday’s Possible Endings to Cena vs. Lesnar – truth be told, no one was left indifferent. Today, we all have an opinion on the match and we’re talking about it.
Furthermore, Brock’s aura of invincibility got even stronger and Cena is left in a “Death Of Superman” type scenario, where there is room for a dramatic but believable comeback his younger fans will certainly pull for.
I have nothing but praise for both men and the other minds behind the match for trying something very different, very risky and for going full-on in the creation of the indestructible heel. For me, it was particularly surprising to see Cena be on the losing side of such a merciless beating, but I can definitely see the upside.
It was very well done from concept to execution. Where Lesnar and Cena go from here is critical, as fresh, innovative angles frequently fizzle out in WWE, for being poorly managed. Let’s wait and see.
As many expected, the former Shield members delivered the night’s best match, with a uniquely booked lumberjack match, that eliminated fears of a sub-par match, due to a poorly-picked stipulation.
Both men went at it with violence, as two men in such a bitter feud have to. The lumberjacks didn’t even come close to controlling the match, but were still a fun part of the equation.
The babyface Ambrose looked superior to his heel counterpart and, more importantly, seemed relentless in his pursuit of Rollins, which I believe was a key ingredient in the crowd’s growing cheers as the match progressed.
The match was as solid as you’d expect from both men, and both came out looking like two wrestlers who were born to take center stage.
The finish was also a clever one, with Rollins stealing the victory with the help of Kane, in a way that made it clear that Ambrose would otherwise be the winner.
Both men entrenched themselves in their respective roles and, clearly, there’s more to come from these two. Who could ask for anything more?
Ziggler vs. Miz and AJ vs. Paige also delivered the prototypical opening matches. They pushed the pace and included impactful spots, but only enough to get Summerslam going without putting the crowd on overdrive too soon.
The title changes also contributed to the overall significance of the matches, as it quickly instilled the crowd with the feeling that any title could change hands (which adds to a main event where the most important championship was on the line), while allowing both rivalries to dig deeper, as neither champion left with their belt.
I was particularly happy to see Ziggler emerge victorious, as the Intercontinental Title now has more potential than it did before the World Title was unified and has enough wiggle room to ascend toward the #2 title spot.
But I’ll withhold my full enthusiasm for the time being, as there are more scenarios against this daydream of mine, then there are for.
As mentioned, Cena vs. Lesnar was booked in a way that gives everyone involved a compelling storyline moving forward.
Ambrose vs. Rollins kept many’s favorite feud smoking hot and with both men’s stocks rising and rising as they feed off each other.
The opening matches were on point, getting the crowd going without doing too much too fast.
The Stephanie vs. Brie feud took a new yet anticipated twist, which furthered The Authority’s storyline while mitigating the pain from watching certain parts of the match per se. Yes, we may be stuck with the Bellas for 1-2 additional months of painful promo work but, for storyline purposes, it made sense.
Reigns vs. Orton put Roman on the map with a very important win, even though Orton was every bit the world-class competitor he is billed to be. Reigns climbed an extra step on the ladder, while Orton remained mostly protected for how strong he was made to look. And damn that powerslam and jumping RKO, man.
And everyone else who needed to go over, went over:
– Wyatt defeated Jericho in a match that was a definite upgrade on their work to date, and Wyatt psychopathic spider walk and “I’m already dead” speech seemed just what the doctor ordered to put the Buzzard Follower back on track
– Rusev vs. Swagger was by no means a Match Of The Night candidate, but it was no letdown either. While it’s questionable the story will continue, Rusev was also put over after facing his biggest hurdle yet. (I will “hold judgement” on the shrewdness of putting Rusev over, without keeping Swagger – and even Zeb – just as relevant ala Rollins/Ambrose.)
– And it all made me forget about how the event started by plugging the Network on a show that (in theory) you only get to watch if you pay for it. Sometimes, it just feels like too much hard selling, especially when you trot out Hogan in the opening segment for the sole purpose of… 9… 99!
All in all, though, it’s hard to think of the event as anything but a hit, with a lot of noteworthy reasons to watch Raw tonight. And Nikki Bella’s response.
Finally, given the aforementioned hard sells, the time as come to put this on the heelbook store:
And you, what did you think of Summerslam?