“The biggest party of the summer” once again returns to the Barclays Centre, and given the spectacle that NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III delivered, SummerSlam had a lot to live up to. Heading into the pay-per-view, we are given a generally enticing match card, as despite there being a few questionable bookings, there’s more than enough to excite.
WARNING! There will be spoilers beyond this point.
The first of three matches to feature on the kick-off show saw The Miz and his Miztourage (Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas)(w/Maryse) take on Jason Jordan and The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff). Given the huge reception The Hardyz got whilst returning at WrestleMania, it was a little disappointing to see them on the pre-show. As for the match itself, it was rather average with The Miztourage dominating most of it. Despite Jordan gaining some momentum for his team, it was The Miz that would pick up the win, pinning Kurt Angle‘s “son” following a Skull Crushing Finale.
(6 / 10)
Next up we saw Neville look to regain the Cruiserweight Championship from Akira Tozawa (w/Titus O’Neil). Given the shock win Tozawa picked up on Raw, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from this. What we get is a solid display of talent from both superstars, with both holding their own. Despite this leading to some exciting back and forth action, it ultimately wasn’t any better than their prior bouts. As the match drew to a close, it looked as if Tozawa was about to retain, only for The King of the Cruiserweights to counter the champion’s Senton, hitting a Red Arrow for the win.
(7 / 10)
The final match on the kick-off show saw The Usos (Jimmy and Jey) attempt to regain the SmackDown Tag Team Championship from The New Day (Big E and Xavier Woods)(w/Kofi Kingston). Having been the best match on the Battleground card, it was a little disappointing to see this rematch slip to the pre-show. Nevertheless what we get is yet another amazing contest, with the talent shining from start to finish. Despite dominating Woods in the first half of the match, The Usos did get a challenge with there being some fabulous moments from both teams. It was, however, The Usos leaving four time Tag Team Champions, pinning Big E following four superkicks (two apiece).
(8.5 / 10)
Opening proceedings on the main card, we saw John Cena take on Baron Corbin. Given the way Corbin lost his Money in the Bank cash-in match during last week’s episode of SmackDown Live, I was hopeful to see a more heated contest here. Not disappointing, the match proved a lot better than I anticipated, with there being some explosive moments from both superstars. It was however Corbin that impressed most, as despite Cena picking up the win following an Attitude Adjustment, The Lone Wolf gave one of his best in-ring performances to date.
(7 / 10)
The third title match of the night came as Natalya challenged Naomi for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. Now if I’m being honest, this was the contest that I was least looking forward to heading into SummerSlam, still questioning why Natalya got this title shot. Ironically it was Natalya that would dominate the early portion of the match, with the champion getting no offence whatsoever. Nayomi did manage to turn things around, with the exchange in momentum impressing. When all was said and done, it was The Queen of Hearts that left new SmackDown Women’s Champion, making Naomi submit with the Sharpshooter.
(7 / 10)
The third match on the main card saw Big Cass take on The Big Show, with Enzo Amore being suspended above the ring in a shark cage. This was another match that I wasn’t particularly looking forward to, with the feud already outstaying its welcome. What we got was ultimately a below average match, as despite Big Show dominating early on, his injured hand eventually proved his downfall. This lead to a back and forth contest, with Enzo even managing to get out the shark cage at one point. It was ultimately Cass that pick up the win, pinning Big Show following an Empire Elbow.
(5.5 / 10)
Randy Orton would square off against Rusev next, with the Bulgarian Brute attacking The Viper as he was making his entrance. Despite this once the referee gained control, it was Orton that quickly got the win, hitting an RKO “outta nowhere” for the 1, 2, 3.
(2.5 / 10)
The Raw Women’s Championship was on the line next, with Sasha Banks challenging Alexa Bliss. Much like their prior PPV match at Great Balls of Fire, we got a fantastic display of talent. Gaining the upper hand early on, the champion would dominate the challenger, once again raising her game. It wasn’t long, however, until Banks turned things around with the majority of the match flowing back and forth between the two superstars. Despite Bliss managing to get a near fall following a Twisted Bliss, it was ultimately Banks picking up the win, making the champion submit to the Bank Statement.
(7 / 10)
Next up we had Bray Wyatt taking on Finn Bálor with this being the first time we’ve seen his Demon King persona in a year. Despite not being too impressed with Wyatt‘s recent PPV appearances, finding the contest between him and Bálor on Raw average, I was looking forward to this bout. Not disappointing, we were given a fantastic display of both superstar’s talent, with the mind games adding an unique flair to proceedings. Even though most of the contest was back and forth, it was Bálor picking up the win, pinning Wyatt following a Coup de Grâce.
(7.5 / 10)
The Raw Tag Team Championship was up for grabs next, with former Shield members Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose challenging Sheamus and Cesaro. Though Rollins and Ambrose got a bit of momentum early on, it was Sheamus and Cesaro that quickly got the upper hand, isolating Rollins. Once Ambrose finally got the tag, however, things did turn in the challengers favour, with The Lunatic Fringe quickly getting on a roll. Despite this, there was still plenty of offence from both teams before all was said and done, with it taking a Ripcord Knee and Dirty Deeds to defeat Sheamus.
(8.5 / 10)
Kevin Owens would look to regain the United States Championship next, challenging AJ Styles, with Shane McMahon as special guest referee. Despite their prior PPV bouts being impressive, the hot potatoing of the title does put a bit of a dampener on this match. Nevertheless what we got was a truly amazing contest, with both Styles and Owens giving their best. The addition of McMahon as referee also brought a new dynamic to the contest, with the temper of both wrestlers testing the SmackDown Live Commissioner. Giving us plenty of near falls, with Owens even tapping whilst Shane wasn’t looking, this contest certainly showed match of the night potential. When all was said and done, it was Styles leaving still US Champion, pinning Owens following a Phenomenal Forearm and a Styles Clash.
(9 / 10)
The penultimate match on the main card saw Shinsuke Nakamura challenge Jinder Mahal (w/The Singh Brothers (Sunil and Samir)) for the WWE Championship. Despite being a fan of Nakamura, I honestly wasn’t sure what to make of this match heading in, with Mahal still not quite proving himself as a champion. What we got from this was a rather average contest, as despite Nakamura impressing, the sudden twists and clunky offence of Mahal did hinder the match. Regardless of Nakamura gaining the upper hand near the end of the bout, Mahal once again managed to retain thanks to the distraction of The Singh Brothers, hitting Nakamura with the Khallas for the three count.
(6.5 / 10)
The main event saw Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns challenge Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) for the Universal Championship, with Lesnar and Heyman set to leave WWE should Lesnar lose. Being one of the most chaotic fatal four-way matches that I’ve ever seen, this was a truly epic main event. Despite the four superstars scrapping in the early goings, it was Strowman that quickly dominated, putting Lesnar through two announce tables, and flipping the third on top of him. With Lesnar temporarily out of the picture, the three remaining superstars exchanged momentum, with Reigns using the steel steps to equal the odds. Lesnar did eventually return to the contest, with the match at this point having multiple near falls as Reigns Superman Punched everyone in sight. It was, however, The Beast that left still Universal Champion, countering a Spear attempt from Reigns into an F5 for the win.
(9.5 / 10)
SummerSlam may not have matched NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III for quality, but it certainly didn’t disappoint. Despite having a couple of underwhelming matches on the card, the pay-per-view did give us an epic main event with all four superstars coming out the better.