Every good three-act story needs a good ending. The sports entertainment dramas staged by the WWE are no different in that regard, and figuring out the best way to end them can sometimes be tricky. That was certainly the case at SummerSlam 2015, where an otherwise excellent show at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center was hampered by a couple of head-scratching finishes in two of its biggest matches.
The first unsatisfying conclusion came thanks to one of the event’s guest stars. Jon Stewart, recently retired host of The Daily Show, opened the night by joking around with Mick Foley about being too scared to interview Brock Lesnar. He ended it, for some reason, by burying a steel chair in the chest of John Cena, ensuring a very popular but silly victory for Seth Rollins in the process.
That conclusion was merely ridiculous, and it didn’t seem to bother a Brooklyn crowd which was heavily pro-Rollins. The same couldn’t be said for the finish to the main event, a heavily promoted rematch between Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker. When it isn’t even clear exactly what happened or why a win is “controversial” until the replays, you know the execution is somewhat lacking.
Happily, things were fine for more than 15 minutes before we got to that point. Lesnar didn’t even wait for the opening bell to be rung or for the Dead Man to finish his entrance before he launched an attack, but the early aggression didn’t turn out well as he ate a big boot to the face. He paced around the ring until finally jumping onto the apron so referee Charles Robinson could get the match underway in earnest.
A quick takedown for Lesnar was answered by multiple shots to the face, and both men were able to foil each other while going for their signature moves. Then the suplexes began. Lesnar pulled off two before turning to no one in particular and yelling, “Suplex city, bitch!” But Undertaker was able to escape further harm by dropping Lesnar’s face on the turnbuckle, following with Snake Eyes and a big boot.
Blood trickled from Lesnar’s forehead as Undertaker dropped a leg on him while lying on the apron. The Beast appeared punch drunk as he exchanged punches, though he quickly sprang back to life and delivered more suplexes.
As they moved over toward the three (yes, three) announce tables, Lesnar had ideas of doing something with the middle one, and he ended up giving the Phenom an F-5 through the table. Though he was in a bad way, Undertaker managed to roll back into the ring just in time to beat the ref’s count.
Lesnar cackled as he moved in for the kill, but as he has so often, Undertaker popped back up to hit a chokeslam. The Tombstone was next, but Lesnar managed to kick out at two. Brock kept laughing, but ‘Taker sat up and did some mocking laughs of his own before they began tearing back into each other.
As they fought to the corner, Lesnar applied the kimura only to find himself going for the Last Ride. That still wasn’t enough to keep the Beast down, and he got to his feet first to hit another F-5. No laughs this time as Undertaker kicked out again.
Would a third F-5 be enough? Not on this night, with disbelief beginning to creep across Brock’s face. The announcers declared Undertaker in bad shape, but he managed to apply Hell’s Gate. Lesnar’s response came in the form of a kimura right in the middle of the ring. Lesnar wiggled to avoid being pinned since his shoulders were on the mat, and for some reason, the bell rang.
Robinson admonished the timekeeper as Lesnar held up his arms in triumph, allowing the Undertaker to hit an undetected low blow. With the match restarted, he quickly locked on Hell’s Gate, and despite a defiant middle finger by Lesnar, he passed out in the hold, and Undertaker was declared the winner.
Replays showed that Undertaker definitely tapped out while in the kimura, though Robinson couldn’t see it as he was on the opposite side of the hold. That must have been what the timekeeper saw as he rang the bell. Seeing the footage, Heyman went over and declared his client the winner.
So the fans left … happy? Outraged? Confused? Maybe some strange mix of all of those emotions, which is not necessarily how you want to leave a packed house. But that’s what we got on this particular night, which seemed to be designed only to ensure the main feuds would continue.
The next WWE pay-per-view is Night of Champions on September 20th.
We’re sticklers for tradition here at SLAM! Wrestling, meaning we have to give you a way to know exactly who needs to be on the end of your angry email. With that in mind, Nick’s comments will be in plain type, with Dale’s commentary in italics.
Jon Stewart, who is definitely available now that he no longer has a late night show on the air, kicks off the show. He tells the fans that the difference between the WWE and politicians is that the WWE respects its audience. I’ll just let that one hang there without comment. Stewart brings out Mick Foley, and the two men launch into an extended bit revolving around confusion between interviewing The Rock and interviewing Brock Lesnar. Mick puts over Brock by saying he’s afraid of the Beast, which Jon can’t believe.
Randy Orton vs. Sheamus
Sheamus leaves the ring early to complain about the “You look stupid” chants, telling the fans that they, in fact, look stupid. Orton ends up getting cut, so the usual WWE prohibition against blood in matches lasted eight whole minutes. Randy gets some extra elevation for his DDT by putting Sheamus’ legs on the top turnbuckle, and the Brooklyn crowd chants for the RKO. Sheamus gets caught with the RKO launching himself in from the apron, but he rolls out of the ring to avoid getting pinned. Orton tries his old head punt, but Sheamus dodges it and hits White Noise for two. A moment later, Sheamus finds the mark with a Brogue Kick and the match comes to an abrupt end. We’ve seen better matches between these two.
Winner … Sheamus at 13 minutes and 12 seconds
Match Rating: 5/10
The guys who won the trip to SummerSlam from Draft Kings are featured. We needed to expand to four hours for this?
Tell me you didn’t see this coming.
New Day is not only looking clean, by their own admission, they’re going to try out some three-part harmony too. Because New Day rocks. Or sucks. Or both, depending.
The New Day (challengers) vs. Los Matadores (challengers) vs. The Lucha Dragons (challengers) vs. The Prime Time (champions) – WWE Tag Team Championship Match – Fatal 4-Way
The New Day tries to win the belts right away by having Kofi Kingston tag Titus O’Neil and have Big E cover Kofi to get the pin. Thankfully, O’Neil breaks the pin. The announcers say that it would have been a win for New Day.
Yeah I’m not so sure about that …
Darren Young gets crushed on the apron by a Big E splash. Young fights out of the New Day corner, hitting Kofi with an atomic drop. Titus gets the hot tag. He takes out New Day, tosses Kalisto across the ring and hits Diego with a fall away slam. He then splashes Diego and Kofi in the corner. Sin Cara breaks a pinfall, then attempts to take out Los Matadores on the outside. Eight men are down on the floor when El Torito tries to hit Woods with a cross body. Woods catches him and slams him the floor. The Lucha Dragons set up Diego on the corner, but Titus gets underneath all three men and powerbombs them. Titus hits Diego with the sit down powerbomb only to get kicked in the face by Kofi. Kingston covers Diego and gets the three count.
Winners … and NEW Tag Team Champions … The New Day at 11 minutes and 22 seconds
Match Rating: 7/10
Dolph Ziggler w/Lana vs. Rusev w/Summer Rae
Ziggler looks truly recovered from his injury as he hits an early dropkick. I’m kind of distracted by Lana’s strange acid-washed denim jacket and skirt. I guess it goes with Dolph’s look, but it’s bizarre. A counter DDT is the first thing that derails the Rusev train, but while he gets a near fall with an elbow drop, he has to kick out himself after getting nailed with a spinning heel kick. Rusev impresses again with a somersault senton for two. He eventually gets Dolph in the Accolade, and the women start fighting on the outside. A slap from Lana gets Rusev to break his hold, the guys join them, and while Ziggler tries to make it back in the ring, he apparently doesn’t make it. The crowd boos as the match is declared a double count out, and suddenly the women are back fighting again. The men pull them apart, and that’s that.
Draw due to double count out at 11 minutes and 56 seconds
Match Rating: 5/10
Neville and Stephen Amell vs. Stardust and King Barrett
Barrett and Neville off the match, with Neville hitting a cross body and following with a head scissors. Stardust makes the tag and demands that Amell gets the tag. The star of Arrow enters the ring by springboarding off the top rope. Stardust takes him down with a slap. Amell kips up and kicks Star right in the chest. Barrett gets the tag, shoving Amell in the corner. He gets him in a head lock and sets up a powerslam. Amell gets out of it, only to get a stiff kick to the gut. Barrett ties Arrow up in the ropes and boots him to the floor. Stardust tags in, but Amell is able to hit an enziguri. Neville gets the hot tag, cutting Barrett down with a series of kicks. A shot to the head takes Barrett down and Neville hits the Red Arrow. Stardust jumps in to break the pin. Neville knocks both men to the outside, and Amell climbs the turnbuckle, leaping down to take out Stardust and Barrett. He rolls the King back into the ring, allowing Neville to hit another Red Arrow. Neville covers and gets the win.
Winners … Neville and Stephen Amell at 7 minutes and 34 seconds
Match Rating: 7/10
Big Show (challenger) vs. The Miz (challenger) vs. Ryback (champion) – WWE Intercontinental Title Match
Show flexes his muscles early by suplexing both of the other competitors. He comes off the turnbuckles to crush Ryback and slams the champ on top of Miz. The two big men face off for a while, with Ryback hoisting Big Show for a Samoan drop. The opportunistic Miz hits Ryback with a Skull-Crushing Finale and tries making like 17 covers. None of them work, and Ryback ends things by taking advantage of Big Show’s knockout punch on Miz to retain his belt.
Winner… and still Intercontinental Champion … Ryback at 5 minutes and 31 seconds
Match Rating: 3/10
Stewart summons up his courage and knocks on Brock Lesnar’s locker room door. Paul Heyman answers, and the two men have a debate about the feelings of the wrestling fans when The Streak was broken. Jon compares Lesnar’s win to giving people coal on Christmas Day, causing Heyman to break into a quick chorus of “Glory, Brock Lesnar” before snipping that David Letterman must not have been available to host the show.
Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper vs. Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose
After a running bulldog to Harper, Reigns and Wyatt go after each other and the fight spills to the floor. Ambrose runs across the announce table to deliver a clothesline to Harper in the timekeeper’s area. Harper and Ambrose get back in the ring, as Wyatt and Reigns still brawl on the outside. Harper helps out Bray, kicking Reigns over the announce table. Ambrose tries to take out Wyatt and Harper with a suicide dive but gets caught. Ambrose is rolled back into the ring, where Wyatt works him over. Wyatt hits Ambrose with a DDT from the second rope to the floor. Back in the ring, Harper catches Ambrose with a big boot. Reigns is still down on the outside, leaving Ambrose with no one to tag. Reigns gets to the apron and gets the tag. He takes out Harper with a flying clothesline and beats him into the corner. Reigns hits a suplex and looks for the superman punch. Harper cuts it off, slamming Reigns to the mat. Reigns tags Ambrose and they double-team Wyatt. Reigns hits Harper with a powerbomb. Ambrose counters a Sister Abigail and hits Bray with Dirty Deeds. Roman tags back in, spears Wyatt, covers and gets the win.
Winners … Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns at 10 minutes and 55 seconds.
Match Rating: 7.5/10
John Cena (United States Champion) vs. Seth Rollins (WWE World Heavyweight Champion) – Title vs. Title Match
Seth comes out in a white outfit with gold trim, looking a lot like the Gold Power Ranger. His logo belt buckle is pretty cool, I have to admit. His no touch somersault plancha is equally snazzy. The fans are obviously more on Rollins’ side than not, so they aren’t happy to see the springboard stunner or the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Rollins almost misses a running moonsault that gets him a near fall. Cena hits an Attitude Adjustment, but it’s not enough to get him the pin, nor is his big leg drop off the top turnbuckle. Rollins responds with a powerbomb onto the turnbuckles and a frog splash for two. Cena rises and gets Rollins right into the AA position, but Seth returns the favor with an Attitude Adjustment of his own. I can’t believe he knew the right button for that. Another sequence of counters leads to a brief STF, and that ends up with Cena locking on the Figure Four. Rollins is able to flip the hold, and both men need a minute to recover. Seth uses a cool superplex rolled into a Falcon Arrow, but he misses a phoenix splash. Cena hits an Attitude Adjustment, but the ref takes a bump along the way, and there’s no one there to count. Stewart runs to the ring with a steel chair, and after sort of teasing hitting either guy, he hits Cena in the gut and throws another chair on the mat for Rollins to use. A Pedigree on the chair follows, the ref recovers to make the count, and Rollins now has two belts to call his own.
Winner … and New United States Champion while remaining WWE World Heavyweight Champion … Seth Rollins at 19 minutes and 27 seconds
Match Rating: 7.5/10
So I guess Stewart was showing his heel colors earlier by supporting the Undertaker, and we should have seen this coming? Except that Rollins was getting the cheers from this crowd, so … The other thing is that Stewart isn’t even a good enough actor to convincingly pull off the “Who am I going to hit with this chair?” bit. I know the anti-Cena fans are so fervent that they’re happy he lost by any means, but the end of this match was so stupid it almost made my head explode. Let’s just move on.
(Note: Yes I remember that this was “set up” by Stewart and Rollins going back and forth earlier this year. So what? Still so, so dumb.)
Nikki Bella, Brie Bella and Alicia Fox vs. Paige, Becky Lynch and Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks, Noami, Tamina – Triple Threat Tag Team Elimination Match
Brie and Becky start things off. Brie knocks Lynch into the ropes and follows with a running knee to face. Tamina tags in and Team B.A.D. takes turns working over Becky. She gets knocked to the floor, and Tamina drives her into the ring apron. Charlotte runs over to save her teammate, only to get taken out by Sasha and Naomi flying over the top rope. The Bellas follow with suicide dives to Team B.A.D. Paige climbs the turnbuckle and takes out everyone with a leap from the top. Becky and Tamina are legal, but Brie makes a blind tag and hits Tamina with bulldog from the middle rope. She covers Tamina and gets the pin. Team B.A.D. is eliminated.
Paige runs in as Nikki tags in. Nikki catches Paige trying a baseball slide and hits her with an Alabama Slam on the floor. Paige narrowly avoids getting counted out. Brie tags in to double team with a flapjack. Brie connects on a flying forearm and kicks away at her. Paige counters with a roll up, but Brie kicks out. Alicia and Nikki hit Paige with a suplex, and she kicks out of the pin. Alicia runs into a knee and Charlotte gets a tag. She hits a neckbreaker and then knocks the Bellas off the apron. She spears Fox and drags her to the middle of the ring. She locks in the Figure Eight, only to get blasted in the back of head by Nikki. Charlotte and Alicia take each other out with big boots. Brie gets the tag, along with Lynch. Becky snaps Brie over but runs into a double boot. Brie goes up top but misses the drop kick. Lynch hits a pumphandle suplex, the Bex-plex, and covers to get the win.
Winner … Team PCB at 15 minutes and 13 seconds
Match Rating: 7/10
Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro
Both Owens and Cesaro go flying out to the floor early, holding nothing back. The fight goes out to the floor, where Owens fires himself up with a cannonball into the retaining wall. Plenty of other cool spots follow. Cesaro uses a gutwrench suplex to get a near fall, but Owens comes right back with a tornado DDT. Owens goes for a springboard moonsault but misses, recovering quickly for a superplex for two. Then it’s Cesaro with a springboard uppercut for two of his own, and he chases Owens down on the outside. After a few more minutes of back and forth action, Owens hits the Pop-Up Powerbomb and gets a win he actually really needed considering all the losses he’s been taking recently. That didn’t tear the house down the way some people thought it might, but it was still high quality stuff.
Winner … Kevin Owens at 14 minutes and 14 seconds
Match Rating: 8/10
The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar w/ Paul Heyman
Winner(?) … The Undertaker at 17 minutes and 11 seconds
Match Rating: 7/10 (with points deducted for the finish)
Total Event Time: 3 hours and 44 minutes
Event Rating: 6.5/10
Dale and Nick almost went to NXT TakeOver but didn’t figure out a plan on how to hide out in Barclays Center overnight for SummerSlam until it was too late. Next year!