Welcome to the most must-see VultureHound weekly review in history; welcome to… The Raw Review – SummerSlam special
Following on from a sublime NXT Takeover Brooklyn II the WWE does what it does best and left us all confused, shocked and probably angry when the curtain called on last nights SummerSlam. I’ve been writing this review for the last few hours because, quite frankly, there is so much to say but finding the words to correctly sum up what was more than a bizarre night has proven to be rather difficult. It was a show that peaked far too early during the AJ Styles and John Cena match and then fizzled out towards the end where Brock Lesnar unleashed his two large ham-like fists on Randy Orton ending the night in rather controversial circumstances.
Smackdown Live’s heel and face tag teams got us underway on the pre show and it was no surprise to see the mix-match trio of baby face tag teams run away with this one. I expect American Alpha to be the first tag team champions on Smackdown Live but not before the Ascension have something to do with it. The two Star Trek villains haven’t exactly been the threat they were on NXT since they made the jump to the main roster and they certainly have a dark void they need to climb out of if they are to rejuvenate any sense of warning to the rest of the Smackdown Live tag team division. They did look the best they have in a long time yet it was the Usos who picked up the win for the baby faces by stealing the pin from a less than happy American Alpha.
In what has been a bigger fall from grace since The Ascension’s main roster debut Sami Zayn found himself demoted to pre show levels and teaming up with the miniature Geordie Superman, Neville. I do feel sorry for these two, they’re both brilliant wrestlers with a lot in their arsenal, so to see them taking on the Dudley Boyz in a tag team match didn’t make a great deal of sense other than to fill time. Being put against two bumbling has-beens is hardly claiming scalps but to see Neville and Zayn put on the performance they did leaves hope that when the Cruiserweight title finally reaches Raw they will be firmly amongst the contenders for the gold.
Sheamus Brogue Kicked his way 1-0 up in his best of seven series (yes, best of seven!) against Cesaro. The two men are sure to put on great matches in the coming weeks but when it was confirmed to be a best of seven I couldn’t help but let out the loudest of internal groans. To me, it just doesn’t make a great deal of sense. Why take up valuable time with these two men who could be feuding with others that need the push? Sami Zayn and Neville for example. No doubt Cesaro will be able to pull off a different spot in each match but it’s feuds like this that makes me worried the brand split has stretched the roster thinner than your moms panty line.
Once the pre-show was over, and we parted ways with Booker T and the women, it was time for the real fun to start. Enzo and Cass got the crowd going with lyrics from famous Yanks and JerichOwens entered like the rotten duo they are. Owens did his best impression of Amore’s signature dance before the Canadian duo landed a pop-up Codebreaker to win the match via pinfall. I imagine this won’t be the end of this feud so soon as I’m still apprehensive as to how Y2KO will develop but as things go on it’s sure to be a highly entertaining partnership.
Following this up was an amazing Women’s title match between Ric Flair Jr, Charlotte, and Snoop Dogg’s cousin, Sasha Banks. In the early exchanges Charlotte uncomfortably dropped Banks on her back from the top rope which she then used to her advantage, working away on her back, where Sasha was never really able to get back into things. There was plenty of spots in this match but none better than The Boss countering a Razor’s Edge from Charlotte off the top rope into a Hurricanrana which had us all hiding behind our hands after the earlier botch. Charlotte eventually won the match after she reversed Sasha’s Bank Statement into a pin and left us all wondering what next for the now illegitimate boss.
I was thoroughly delighted to see The Miz retain his title against Apollo Creed, sorry, I mean Terry Crews. I think Apollo 440 is a great wrestler and can pull off unbelievable high flying moves for a man of his size but when all you can do is smile and have little ring presence you wont be able to put away an A-lister on the level of the Miz. I hope this feud has ended as quickly as it has started because I can’t see fans investing much interest in a feud that developed over a slip of the tongue from the Smackdown Live General Manager, Bryan Cranston. See, it’s an easy mistake to make but surely not title match worthy.
The crowd and pretty much everyone else reached their peak when we got AJ Styles vs John Cena. It was everything we have come to expect from both stars. Near fall after near fall went by as soccer mom Styles and big match John landed signature and finishers on each other. The real turning point in the match saw the Phenomenal One kick out from a top rope Attitude Adjustment from the Face That Runs the Place. It was an even contest that rightly ended with Styles winning cleanly against Cena after a Phenomenal Forearm. It was the right decision from the company that should finally add sincerity to this supposed new era within the WWE. As Cena left his ‘Never Give Up’ wristband in the middle of the ring before walking back up the ramp it was a touching moment to end a modern day classic. This leaves Styles with two wins over the company’s main player and puts to rest any doubts that they aren’t using him in the right vain. The next step is surely a title for Styles.
Jon Stewart returned to SummerSlam after last years chair shot to John Cena and it was within this match between The New Day and Anderson and Gallows where the crowds attitude started to turn rather sour. This wasn’t at fault of the superstars but largely down to poor booking. Simply put, Jon Stewart shouldn’t have been there at all. As predicted doctors Anderson and Gallows won the match but did not pick up the titles due to a returning Big E interfering in the match leading to a disqualification. With Big E seemingly at 100% it leads me to believe there was no need to have him “returning” after just two weeks away just for a cheap pop from the crowd. After all, I thought Smackdown Live was home of the cheap pops!? Anderson and Gallows need to be legitimized as a brute force quickly before the New Day are left with the tag titles for too long and nothing else to do.
Considering they were competing for the “biggest prize in sports entertainment” the watered down lunatic, Dean Ambrose and your ma’s favourite, Dolph Ziggler were demoted to a slot 4 matches away from the main event. Both men clearly put in a lot of effort for the company but this title match lacked any real spark from start to finish. King of the cheap pops, Daniel Bryan and Stephanie McMahons brother, Shane were in the ring which didn’t make much sense after they promised the new era would be all about the talent. So what they’re really trying to say is that they’re bigger than any one on the Smackdown Live roster. I guess that was only exemplified further when the match ended with a clunky Dirty Deeds after Ziggler tried a Facebuster from the top rope. Sometimes being two of the biggest workers doesn’t work out for each other. This could have damaged Ziggler for good this time.
There was added confusion to the upper match card as a 6 woman tag team match saw the announcement of Eva Marie once again not competing due to fatigue – as if we aren’t fully aware that she is currently suspended? This was the absolute turning point in the night for me as the company must really take the WWE Universe for a bunch of stupid idiots re-branding the Divas Revolution to the Divas Evolution. There is so much conflicting information that the WWE is throwing around right now that I don’t even know what to believe. Nikki Bella returned to competition just in time for the premiere of Totally Bellas. I guess we are the real fools for still paying the low price of $9.99 for this bullshit. Bella won the match for the 3 female heels, who even cares?
The crowd really did their best to dampen a classic between Finn Balor and Seth Rollins as they booed the unveiling of the WWE Mr Universe title. It was a shame they decided to take this stance after all they could only dream of such a match when Roman Reigns held the main title. Despite the bad atmosphere it was a great match between the two former NXT darlings. Rollins landed a Package Piledriver, Balor kicked out of a Pedigree, and the Demon King landed a standing Coup de Grace to win the match and be crowned Raws first ever Mr Universe.
A no contest between the GOAT United States Champion, Rusev, and GOAT wellness policy breaker, Roman Reigns, left the Brooklyn crowd furious. The match never even got underway before Rusev launched an attack on Reigns which saw the two stars trade blows without the bell ever being rung. In fact, the only bell rung was that of Rusevs when Reigns charged down the ramp after furiously beating down the Bulgarian Brute to land one hell of a spear to keep this feud going until at least ‘Clash of Champions’ – Raws first stand alone PPV since the brand split. I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed. Not only did we not see a winner or even a title match; it was placed higher up the card than the other two main titles of each brand. So if they were going to end it in a no contest why was it even that far up the match card? They know we don’t like Reigns so this is undoubtedly going to see the crowd reject him once again. I’m fed up of the same crap with Reigns. Just reinvent him already.
Given all the hype that went into the nights main event it was over rather quickly and in bizarre circumstances at that. Both men hit their signature moves but the match ended by ‘TKO’ when Lesnar proceeded to club Orton repeatedly with his ham like fists. Orton was left bleeding in the middle of the ring as doctors tended to him. Shane O’Mac came running out to order Lesnar to stop who then hit him with an F5. It was shocking and I was left rather speechless. What elements of it were real? Was Lesnar supposed to make Orton bleed? If he was then he surely wasn’t supposed to bleed as much as he did. Fans expected something to happen to Lesnar in response but he just walked away. It goes one step further into blurring the lines between kayfabe and reality but I can only hope that this marks the beginning of Lesnars last feud in the WWE. Any more dominance like this and he’ll leave the rest of the roster looking pathetic, making us all face the shocking truth that we’re grown adults investing hours of our time a week to watch a make-believe product.
With AJ Styles toppling John Cena and a title win for Finn Balor, it looks as though we are finally being given new faces as part of this new era. However, WWE is a money making business and money talks more than sense in this era. The the two main title matches happening before a confusing Lesnar/Orton main event left a bitter taste in the back of my throat. If there is no cathartic end to what we have seen at SummerSlam on Raw or Smackdown Live this week I’ll make the blind threat to never watch the product again. Yet we all know that isn’t true when you can watch all of the great original content on the WWE Network for the low price of only $9.99 a month! The company could just be throwing us a curveball however when earlier on in the show we were teased with the possible Bullet Club link up. Styles, Anderson, Gallows and Finn Balor were seen on camera together for the first time and it was a real mark out moment for us all. Going forward, after the aforementioned won their matches, wouldn’t it be great to see them dominate the entire WWE?