WWE SUMMERSLAM 2016
WHAT. JUST. HAPPENED.
I’m left totally reeling. The show was a horrifying car wreck of bloated proportions but damn did it make for great drama.
Did Orton just sandbag Brock Lesnar, only to get legitimately beaten bloody by Brock Lesnar in retaliation? And then did Shane run out and eat an F5 for damage control? Did Lesnar just go completely off script and change the ending to SummerSlam? Or was this all a marvelous work? Who the fuck knows!
Earlier in the card Charlotte shocked the world by becoming a two time Women’s Champion. Something felt wrong immediately, rumours exploded forth from the internet that this wasn’t planned, this wasn’t how this was meant to go down, that Sasha Banks was either injured or had been suspended for shaming a fan on social media. Hell, some of the botches looked so damn nasty in the match, Banks might have literally picked up the injury right here and they changed the finish on the spot. Whatever the reason, it made for a great Water Cooler Moment right off the bat.
For those reading this, thinking maybe WWE is finally getting its swagger back, there were still plenty of questionable decisions throughout the card. Rather than Roman Reigns winning the US Title, he just came out and beat Rusev so bad that the match couldn’t even start. It was awesome… but it also made no damn sense. The Miz and The New Day STILL walk out with their belts. Like, seriously, did anyone want this? God Damn. Ziggler also deserved to walk out Champ, he basically made the feud with Ambrose what it was but of course he didn’t. It looks like the fans are already turning on Dean Ambrose after this match too but he’s probably just keeping the belt warm to hand it over to AJ Styles anyway, so I wouldn’t worry.
Speaking of AJ Styles, on a more positive note, his match against John Cena might well have been the best match of the night. It ended on a bit of a curious note as Cena removed his “Never Give Up” sweatband and left it behind in the ring after eating a pin from Styles but people are suggesting it doesn’t mean what many feared it could have meant.
Either way, this was exactly what AJ Styles needed AND deserved but to give Cena credit, he held his own in this match and wrestled better than I’ve ever really seen from him. I mean that in terms of pure wrestling but also in terms of in ring storytelling and psychology, there was a real sense of weight upon his shoulders as the match rolled on and he had to dig deeper and deeper into his arsenal only for Styles to hit back again with something even bigger. I love how over AJ Styles has become fighting against Vince’s boys, Reigns and Cena. In GREAT matches, I might add.
Speaking about that Women’s Match, whether they were just making it up on the spot or not, that match was INCREDIBLE! The intensity, the chemistry, psychology and storytelling between Banks and Charlotte was just a joy to see. They took it to the next level in that match, Sasha Banks has made Charlotte look the best she ever has since being called up to the main roster. Charlotte is a great wrestler and doesn’t need her Dad or that bimbo whose name isn’t even worth remembering to win her matches for her. I hope the feud between them has many more stories left in it, those two are made for each other.
Another positive note from me is that I’m so happy to say that Enzo is getting so much better in the ring. Sadly this seems to always come at Cass’ expense as he seems to get worse in the ring and on the mic at the same rate as Enzo is improving on his weak areas. Suddenly it feels like Enzo could be the one with the great singles run and Cass is the deadweight. This whole JeriKO thing is beneath Kevin Owens but it could be worse, he could be on the preshow against the Dudleyz. Zayn and Neville made a decent team though to be fair.
On other notes, we finally see the Universal Championship and it looks like a cheaper, tackier version of the Women and WWE Titles. While it isn’t much of a prize to fight for, Finn Balor is our first Universal Champion, which in a business sense makes perfect sense. It would have been a creative dead end the other way round, The Demon King would have been so devalued if it had lost on its PPV Debut and Rollins character is built around his crying about being “screwed” and so being the first person to hold the Universal belt, especially with a clean win, would have forced them to change everything and you know WWE would never do that. They value homogeneity over all else, that is evident in their booking.
I will say that while the booking was spot on for the finish of this match, it didn’t change the fact that Finn Balor didn’t really deserve to be here in the first place and it still left a lot of question marks about where this goes now. Balor’s transparent, hot shot, booking was so exposed here, basically magnified. The Demon King got the win but he didn’t come out of the match looking strong at all. I can’t help but wonder if Balor will drop the title to Rollins on their rematch and that he only won here to protect The Demon King for further feuds on the midcard down the line. Although that would then devalue the belt, if the first ever reign was just a placeholder. So what do you do now?
Nikki Bella has also made a return, getting a clean pin with a new finisher on what was clearly a SummerSlam piss break match but one that was way more entertaining than it had any right to be. Nikki looked better than ever, Becky Lynch and Carmella both looked incredible in their new ring gear and in general SmackDown got to show off how much stronger their Women’s Division is in an all round sense. This certainly did so much more for SmackDown than that awful 12 Man Tag match on the preshow card.
Bottom Line? Haters gonna hate but I had a hell of a time. That kind of jaw dropping “holy shit”, left reeling devastation is how I wanna come out of a big PPV like this one. Yeah none of the booking really went my way but you can’t deny that when they want to, WWE put on one hell of a show. It was certainly a better show than last night’s TAKEOVER.