2016 has been a bit of a strange year for the WWE. There have been some great moments, but also some equally awful moments. The latter caused me to stop watching WWE for the first time, well ever. I have been a fan of pro wrestling since I was about four years old. After my mother bought me a Macho Man Randy Savage toy around that time, I asked my mother who this toy was. I was shown just who Macho Man was, and I was hooked from the start. I may miss the odd RAW or Smackdown, but I have never missed four months worth of PPVs until this year. When I heard the brand extension was back, that got me intrigued. I then decided to catch the first RAW of the brand extension and that was it, the wrestling bug was back, and here we are and the latest biggest party of the summer has been and gone. Overall, a solid show, perhaps lacking in some major shocks and drama, but WWE SummerSlam 2016 gave us some solid matches and one complete waste of time. So, without further delay, let’s dive straight into this review.
Great match to start the show, Enzo and Cass will always get a crowd fired up, especially a crowd in their backyard. Cass has really improved on the mic over the last few months, and Enzo just oozes charisma. His jokes can fall a bit flat sometimes, but we are in the PG era, and there are only a certain number of things he would get away with saying. Enzo and Cass did their jobs to perfection and the Brooklyn crowd was ready, enter Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens. These two together are great, I don’t think it will last long, but I am enjoying it while it does. Great little match to start the show, nothing too risky here just a good standard opening match. Opening matches on big PPVs are difficult. Traditionally, if you were not in the main event, the second best match was the opener, as this would set the tone for the PPV. You cannot, however, just have it be a complete spot-fest, but this match was solid and had a great ending in the pop-up throw into a Codebreaker. Owen’s sarcastic heel humor was in full force last night, helping keep the Brooklyn crowd entertained. How long will this Jericho/Owens bromance last? Not long, but one thing for sure is if these two end up feuding, we will be in for some absolute classic encounters.
Match Rating: 75
Charlotte vs Sasha Banks (C) for the WWE Women’s Championship
This was the ‘wrestling’ match I had been looking forward to the most. Sasha and Charlotte are two of the best workers in WWE right now, perhaps in the world, and this just shows how far women’s wrestling has come in the last couple of years. These two always put on great matches, and this one was no exception. A rather stiff match with several great spots. A particular highlight and perhaps spot of the night was the attempted second rope Razor’s Edge from Charlotte, only for Sasha to turn it into a Hurricanrana. This was a very physical match, which perhaps took its toll on Sasha. Reports coming out after the match said that the decision for Charlotte to go over was decided about a week ago, Sasha has a few injuries that she needs some time off to heal from. I am a big Sasha mark, but I’m happy with this result. This has Wrestlemania rematch written all over it. If Sasha is off TV for a good couple of months, then Charlotte can spend that time cheating her way through the women’s division. Queue Sasha, a face chasing a title is always the best option leading up to Wrestlemania, and Sasha and Charlotte will be looking to top the excellent match they had at SummerSlam.
Winner and new Women’s Champion: Charlotte
Match Rating: 89
Apollo Crews vs The Miz (C)for the Intercontinental Championship
Apollo Crews is suffering from the age-old problem of heaps of talent, zero charisma. Crews is an amazing athlete, combining raw power and the agility of a cruiserweight, but he just lacks personality. Not all wrestlers need that, take a look at Crews’ GM on Smackdown Live, Daniel Bryan. He wasn’t a great talker, he did all his talking in the ring, but that is a special occasion. This feud could work for Crews though as The Miz is someone the crowd just loves to boo, and he could bring out a personality in a slug. Pretty basic match here, but that was to be expected, the days of the IC title match being the best ‘wrestling’ match on a card are long gone now. I would have thought Miz would have cheated to win. Yes, Maryse did momentarily distract Crews, but I felt it wasn’t enough.
Winner and still Intercontinental Champion: The Miz
Match Rating: 60
John Cena vs AJ Styles
Match of the night, without question! Cena and AJ went out there and stole the show. Going into this match, I was praying the AJ came out with the win, but with the last three matches having the heels win, I wasn’t hopeful come the start of the match. This match shows that Cena is more than capable of performing at the highest level, excellent back and forth action with numerous near-falls. AJ kicking out of a second rope AA was incredible, as was the look on Cena’s face(not so great when it happens to you John boy, is it?). AJ winning here shows that WWE are committed to pushing him to the main event status he deserves. Realistically, he is the only worthy challenger for the WWE title, and in a couple of months, I think we could get that match. I would rather wait and see it at ‘Mania, but I can’t see creative holding out for another seven months.
Winner: AJ Styles
Match Rating: 90
The Club (Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson) vs The New Day (Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston) for the WWE Tag Team Championships
The New Day really suffer when Big E isn’t there to do their entrance, obviously they still get a huge pop when the music hits, but Big E adds that something extra. Replacing Big E with John Stewart also brought on a few groans at the Barclays Centre. This match was over a lot quicker than I expected, and I sort of predicted the finish but not the total outcome. I knew we would see Big E, but I thought he would cost The Club the match, not straight out give them a DQ victory. Good to see him back though, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this feud goes, I think the year-long reign of The New Day could be coming to an end at Night of Champions.
Winners by DQ: The Club
Match Rating: 70
Dolph Ziggler vs Dean Ambrose (C) for the WWE World Championship
Much like the first brand split, the WWE Championship went to Smackdown, and this was an interesting choice for the first defence. Dolphins Ziggler has always been one of the best workers in the company, but he’s been misused and poorly booked for so long now that he’s far from a WWE Champion contender. What we did get though was a solid match but nothing really to get excited about. Dean, of course, was going to go over there, I don’t think anyone predicting the results of the show had pencilled in a Dolph victory. I still feel this feud has some legs through, with Ambrose acting slightly heel-ish in his attempt to fire up Dolph. I think we’ll see the rematch at Smackdown Live‘s first stand alone PPV, but the result will be much the same.
Winner and still WWE World Champion: Dean Ambrose
Match Rating: 70
Carmella, Becky Lynch & Naomi vs Natalya, Alexa Bliss & Nikki Bella
Great to see Nikki back in the ring after the neck surgery she had done back in January. She improved a great deal in the ring during her DivasTitle reign, she was just champion during the low point of the women’s division. This match did what it set out to do, it gave the girls involved some exposure and time to get their various repertoires done. Nikki picking up the victory was a full gone conclusion when we found out she had replaced the suspended Eva Marie.
Winners: Natalya, Alexa Bliss & Nikki Bella
Match Rating: 70
Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor for the WWE Universal Championship
Worst title name ever, why couldn’t they just bring back the World Heavyweight Title?! I know it’s a new era and this symbolises that, but honestly, The Universal Championship? It could have possibly been forgiven if the actual belt looked decent but it doesn’t. Enough of that though, and let’s get to the second best match of the show. Going into this title match, I knew both Rollins and ‘Demon King’ Balor would put on an excellent match, which they did, I just do not agree with the result at all. If you create a new ‘world’ title, then I am in the school of thought that you need an established star to get the first win, this being Rollins. Don’t get me wrong, I am not upset that Balor won, but is this too much to soon for him, i.e., like what happened to Sheamus? Balor has the advantage of having the crowd on his side compared to Sheamus, but I just worry that this historic victory (first wrestler ever to win a world title on their first PPV) would do more harm than good in the long run. I’m also still not a fan of the Coup de Grace as a main finisher, especially the overused front drop kick which sets it up. I would have booked Rollins to win by The Club coming down and then turning on Balor. Like I said, I always prefer the face chasing the title.
Winner and the first WWE Universal Champion: Finn Balor
Match Rating: 80
Roman Reigns vs Rusev (C) for the WWE United States Championship
Yeah, this was a colossal waste of time. There was no match, Just Roman doing the exact same beat-down he gave Triple H at the end of last year. Not going to waste anyone’s time with this worthless segment.
Randy Orton vs Brock Lesnar
The first inter-promotional match of the new brand split era, and like most of Brock’s recent matches, it had all the hype but not so much the quality. Brock pretty much does what he wants these days, he is by far the biggest draw for WWE. The reason ‘Suplex City’ became a huge part of Brock’s in ring offence is because the crowd love to see it, and it’s easy-going for Brock. This match did seem rather short, and this could have been due to the horrible cut Randy Orton received from The Beast Incarnate. Brock busted Orton the hard way with his elbow, and the blood flowed like it used to back in the Attitude Era, however, this time the match was stopped. There have been lots of reports that say Brock went ‘off script’, but I can’t see that, Brock pretty much does what he wants, but what happened to Orton is just too much. I think the spot was planned, but I think Brock may have hit Orton just a little too hard. It was obvious the crowd wanted to see Goldberg charge out as the famous chants erupted when Brock started attacking Orton after the bell. I would love to see that match again, done properly this time. It is a huge piece of 2K’s marketing strategy at the moment, Brock vs Goldberg.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Match Rating: 75
Overall, SummerSlam was a solid show, nothing risky just good solid matches. There were some solid performances, most notably from Sasha, Charlotte, Rollins, and Balor. The card run was a bit over the place, with the two world title matches going on before the US title, but each match got a decent amount of time to do what they needed to do. There is plenty of room left open for these feuds to continue. Will we see Goldberg one more time? Can he be the man to finally stop the destructive force that is Brock Lesnar?
Overall Score: 75