This year WWE took over Brooklyn for a weekend to produce a trio of high quality shows.
NXT Takeover was everything a wrestling card should be, including a genuine match of the year candidate from two talented women. And Monday Night RAW saw high profile returns in front of a raucous crowd.
In the middle of these was the WrestleMania of the Summer: SummerSlam. It was a four hour extravaganza that boasted a stacked card and potential for three more match of the year candidates.
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A great deal of SummerSlam achieved what was to be expected. Small parts excelled. But there were plenty of occasions where WWE didn't quite deliver. And many of these were indicative of the watering down and speeding up of the current product. I felt like on the surface SummerSlam was a good event; but when you look at the long-term picture, what we saw wasn't quite what we got.
The idea of a pay per view, especially a major one like SummerSlam is to either present a match that hasn't been seen or to be the blow off for a feud. But several of the matches were continuations from dragging rivalries. And the worst part: The presentations on Sunday were nothing special.
Orton and Sheamus did not have the hard hitting affair that amped the crowd so perfectly at Battleground. This was a case of WWE portraying two guys as equals and exchanging wins. This is a narrative that will get no-one invested. This match needed something to up the stakes.
The triple threat match over the intercontinental title had been delayed due to Ryback's staph infection so I had no problem with the booking of this match for the event.
I did, however, have a problem with the portrayal of those involved. Miz did a good job as a cowardly, comedic heel (a role which suits him perfectly) but for Ryback to sneak the victory by stealing someone else's pinfall? That's not how to get a babyface over. He needed an emphatic win, possibly with a double Shell-shocked (reminiscent of John Cena at Wrestlemania 25 with Big Show and Edge on his shoulders).
The tag match between to Pseudo-Shield and the Pseudo-Wyatts was a fun, intense match but still failed to elevate the status of anyone involved. It will be remembered as the match where the crowd chanted: "Roman's Sleeping".
I've enjoyed Roman Reigns' progression in 2015, but this felt like a slight backwards step. There is a difference between selling and "sleeping" as the Brooklyn crowd pointed out. And all too quickly after being "out cold" he was Superman, showing no ill effects. You get the impression that the pairing with Ambrose is designed to get him over; but it feels like Creative just don't know how to build these two post-Shield.
The worst thing about this match was Dean Ambrose saying that "SummerSlam wouldn't be the end" on a previous RAW. So... why should I watch it? Braun Strowman's debut was leagues more captivating.
A celebrity guest host is a hard sell for Wrestling fans. They're usually unfunny and awkward. The opening segment with Jon Stewart and Mick Foley was certainly these things. That was arguably the worst start to a SummerSlam in history; and with those two guys it should have been so much better.
Stewart's involvement later on in the Cena VS Rollins match marred what should have built to be an epic, and now just sets up a storyline for RAW. Here's the thing though, WWE: I don't pay to watch RAW.
Endings like this were annoyingly the theme of this year's event. Way too many "Russo" finishes. A double countout between Rusev and Ziggler would have been fine if these two guys had a good story and put together a good match. But they didn't. I wouldn't have blamed the Ref for counting them both out quickly to get on with the show.
Then for such an important title match to end because of a celebrity heel turn will leave some fans with a sour taste. And to cap it off the timekeeper went inexplicably rogue in the main event. To end the "Rematch too big for Wrestlemania" with confusion is a bizarre decision.
And finally, perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the whole show was the failure of the Divas' Revolution. I had just watched Sasha Banks and Bayley put on a match that Shawn Michaels would have been proud of and my expectations were accordingly high. But it failed.
There were plenty of high spots and strong contact but no excitement. It suffered the same way Orton and Sheamus did. It wasn't clear what these women were fighting for. Is the Revolution about deciding who the best team of three is? If so, I'm out. If it's about enthralling one on one competition to decide who is the best; count me in. WWE needs to stop over complicating the formula, and just do what worked in NXT.
That's a lot of negativity for a show I largely liked. So here are some positives to balance it out:
The tag match was a lot of fun and put the belts back on the hottest team, whilst making other teams look good. Not great. But good.
Stephen Amell didn't botch anything or break any bones; even if he was portrayed a little too strongly.
Cena VS Rollins was a good match. Until... you know.
Owens and Cesaro were placed second to last and both guys put on the best overall match of the night. They should have a series and the winner moves straight into the WWE title picture.
Lesnar and Undertaker surpassed my wildest expectations for this match. This was the match that should have ended the Streak. Having both Sting and Undertaker return this far out from Wrestlemania and clearing some ring rust says to me that Creative are realistically considering the dream match in Texas.
And from what I saw in the main event I'm more on board than I was a year ago.
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