Even though WWE continues to test the patience of its most loyal fans by stretching out big pay-per-views like SummerSlam to ridiculous lengths, piling four hours of wrestling onto a two-hour pre-show, sometimes it still manages to succeed at making it work thanks to the talents and efforts of its top performers.
SummerSlam 2017 looked like it was destined to float along on a current of mediocrity for several hours. It definitely didn’t seem like the “Biggest Party of the Summer” in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn right off the bat.
But then the top of the card got closer, and just like a baseball team, WWE’s middle of the order hitters produced. The Raw Tag Team Championship Match was plenty of fun, despite being contested by four men who have been and will be remembered more as singles competitors. AJ Styles and Kevin Owens poured their hearts into their United States Championship Match as you knew they would.
The main event also delivered, which it darn well should have considering how loaded it was. Four of Raw’s biggest stars, in physical stature as well as relative standing in the locker room, collided with Brock Lesnar’s Universal Championship at stake — as well as the suggestion that the champ would loeave the promotion of he dropped the belt.
Samoa Joe went right after Lesnar but got the night’s first short visit to Suplex City, while Braun Strowman was bounced off the ring post to leave Roman Reigns face to face with champ. Roman and Joe both ate suplexes, clearing th way for the Monster Among Men.
Samoa Joe must have made someone mad, because he got bounced off one of the many announce tables and then thrown over one by Strowman. To the delight of the pro-Strowman crowd, Braun picked up Brock and gave him a running powerslam through one of the tables.
He wasn’t done, but Reigns slowed him with a kick before Joe flew from the ring to take him down. Strowman used one of his new favorite weapons, a desk chair, and smashed it into both Reigns and Joe. The champ had seen better days, as he went for a second running powerslam through one of the two announce tables still left unscathed.
Paul Heyman was understandably concerned, and referees ran down to check on his client. They ended up having to wait, because Strowman picked up the lone remaining announce table and knocked it over on Lesnar. Heyman looked like he might be in tears. Brock was stretchered out, and the fans sang goodbye to him.
There was still a match going on, though, and Strowman had an idea for the steel steps. But Reigns got to them first, knocking Braun out of the ring and giving Joe an opening to try taking out Reigns. Roman struck back with a Samoan Drop, but Joe kicked out at two.
Joe countered a Superman punch with a kick to Reigns’ gut, but Strowman returned for a double chokeslam and almost got a pinfall. Lesnar picked that moment to make his return, and he took it right to Strowman, knocking him out of the ring. The champ followed that with suplexes for Reigns and Joe.
Would Braun go for a suplex ride too? Not this time, but right after he elbowed out of it, Lesnar locked on a kimura. Reigns used Superman punches to drop the champ, following them with a spear that nearly sealed the deal.
For anyone who forgot about Joe, he returned to try the Coquina Clutch on Reigns. Strowman tried pinning Joe instead, but Lesnar hauled the ref out of the ring before he could get to three.
A Superman punch connected on Strowman, who powered out so emphatically at two that Reigns ended up standing straight up. Braun scored with the running powerslam only to see Brock make the save.
Strowman and Lesnar eyed each other up for finishers, but Reigns speared Braun while the champ stepped aside. Joe had been gone for a while (again), but he popped up to throw Reigns out to the floor before locking in the Coquina Clutch. Lesnar countered with an F-5 and Reigns had to hustle to break up the pin.
With Reigns and Lesnar left alone, Roman hit a trio of Superman punches. Alas, the Beast had enough left in the tank to hit an F-5, and with no one left to save him, Reigns was down for the three count. Improbably, Lesnar retained, meaning he will remain in the WWE for at least a bit. Say, through WrestleMania next year, at which point his current contract will reportedly be up.
The next WWE pay-per-view is the RAW-only No Mercy on September 24.
This ain’t the first rodeo for our SummerSlam recappers, but in case it is for you, Nick’s comments will appear in plain type while Dale’s are in italics. Keeps them both accountable when people email to say how wrong they were.
Alright, let’s see here. Brats and hamburgers? Check. Tasty side dishes? Double check. Friends and family and comfy seating? Affirmative? A stable WWE Network for six hours? Well, we can dream, right?
The Miz, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel vs. Jason Jordan and the Hardy Boyz
Because we had to get the Hardys in here somewhere and it wouldn’t make much sense to do the Jason Jordan angle and not feature him at SummerSlam, here we are. Michael Cole mentions how Bo Dallas had trouble “finding himself” when he first made the main roster, and he’s not wrong. Hey, there’s a commercial break. During the pre-show. The Miz’s squad starts slow but gradually gets things tilted in their favor. Jeff’s tag to Matt gives him a chance to clear the ring, and he gets a near fall on The Miz. Jordan gets a chance to show off his strength, tossing around the Miztourage, and you can feel things building to a climax. It comes when Miz tags in and catches Jordan unaware, using the Skull Crushing Finale to put Jordan away. Pretty sneaky, sis.
Winners via pinfall: The Miz, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel
Azira Tozawa (champion) vs. Neville (challenger) – WWE Cruiserweight Title
It’s a rematch of a pretty decent encounter we just saw six days ago. Tozawa gets Neville in a submission hold that looks uncomfortable for both men, then follows with a Shining Wizard that Neville somehow kicks out from. Sorry, that’s bad English. A battle of kicks breaks out of various varieties, and both men end up on the mat trying to recharge. Neville eventually emerges with the upper hand, and even though Tozawa is face down, he ends up taking the Red Arrow and getting pinned. New champ, same as the old champ.
Winner via pinfall … and new WWE Cruiserweight Champion … Neville
Elias gets through an entire song. It must be a pay-per-view. And a second song that is actually pretty funny. It hurts to admit it. Lots of time to fill, though.
The New Day (champions) vs. The Usos (challengers) – Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match
Xavier and Big E take on the defense of the belts for this match. Jimmy lands a big right as Woods comes off the top rope. Woods knocks Jey off the top rope with a head butt and follows with a drop kick. A superkick party takes down Big E. The Usos climb opposite turnbuckle and hit E with splashes. Jimmy covers and get the win.
Winners via pinfall … and new Smackdown Tag Team Champions … The Usos
John Cena vs. Baron Corbin
Baron Corbin probably can’t see John Cena. WWE SummerSlam Photo Gallery
John Cena slips out of the ring to tell JBL that Corbin is shook after Tuesday. Corbin stomps Cena into the corner and follows with a kick. Cena dodges a charge, but Corbin makes a U-turn outside the ring and lays out Cena. Corbin catches Cena on a cross body and slams him to the mat. The crowd is chanting, “Where’s your briefcase?” at Corbin, opening the door for Cena. Corbin avoids the Five Knuckle Shuffle and then chokeslams Cena over his knee. Cena hits a tornado DDT, but Corbin counters the AA with a Deep Six. Cena avoids another charge, but this time he is ready for the U-turn. Cena hits him with an AA and covers to get the win.
Winner via pinfall: John Cena
Match Rating: 6/10
Naomi (champion) vs. Natalya (challenger) – Smackdown Women’s Championship
Natalya wins the Smackdown Women’s title. WWE SummerSlam Photo Gallery
Nattie opens a huge slap to open the match. Naomi returns the favor with a slap and the fight spills to the floor. Nattie hits a blockbuster from the apron to the floor. Nattie follows with stomps in the corner. Carmella is shown in the back, watching intently. Natalya locks in an abdominal stretch. Naomi escapes but eats a discus clothesline. Naomi fights her way off the top rope and sends Nattie to the mat from the second rope. Naomi lands a back kick and then drives Nattie face first into the mat. The champ drops a leg from over the top rope as Natalya is hung up in the ropes. Nattie locks in the Sharpshooter. Naomi reverses the hold by slamming Nattie into the turnbuckle. Naomi goes for the split legged moonsault, but Natalya gets her knees up. Nattie immediately locks in another Sharpshooter and Naomi taps.
Winner … and new Smackdown Women’s Champ … Natalya
Match Rating: 6/10
Big Cass vs. Big Show – Enzo Amore suspended in a steel cage above the ring
Big Cass is victorious and looks up at Enzo Amore suspended above the ring. WWE SummerSlam Photo Gallery
Enzo gets a chance to talk before the match and is letting Cass hear it as he hangs in the cage. Show goes up on the turnbuckles, but gingerly, and he crashes down missing Cass and possibly hurting his injured hand. He gets a right hand off, but it’s easy to sell it as the hand not being 100 percent, and Cass kicks out. The seven-footer spends a good deal of time working over Show’s hand, but the giant uses his left hand for a chokeslam and another near fall. Enzo strips down and tries greasing himself up to slip between the bars of the cage. And … it works! Alas, when he drops down, he promptly eats a big boot to the face from his ex-partner. A big boot also strikes Show in the grill, but he manages to kick out at two. Undeterred, Cass uses a second big boot and the Empire Elbow to wrap this up. Not sure what the point of having Enzo escape the cage was just so he could do nothing, but whatever.
Winner via pinfall: Big Cass
Match Rating: 5.5/10
Kurt Angle gets a visit from Daniel Bryan, who gives him some friendly needling about how his brand’s matches will be better. It turns into a catchphrase battle.
Randy Orton vs. Rusev
Rusev attacks Orton as the Viper poses on the turnbuckle during his entrance. Rusev beats Orton down outside the ring. The ref asks Orton if he is okay and the bell rings. Rusev charges Orton but runs into an RKO from out of nowhere. Orton covers for the win.
Winner via pinfall: Randy Orton
Guess a guy really can get buried just for cutting his hair without permission, eh? Backstage, Sasha Banks gets a word of encouragement from Bayley, who gets booed lustily by the Brooklyn crowd. It probably won’t happen, but a heel turn here by Bayley to cost Sasha the belt would be phenomenal.
Alexa Bliss grabs a handful of Sasha Banks’ hair. WWE SummerSlam Photo Gallery
Alexa Bliss (champion) vs. Sasha Banks (challenger) – RAW Women’s Title Match
These two women have plenty of built-up dislike for each other, and they waste no time throwing punches and kicks. A top rope cross body leads to a cover, but Banks rolls into one of her own. Bliss lives up to her Five Feet of Fury nickname and lets Sasha hear about it while she’s dishing out the pain. A double set of double knees get Bliss a near fall, though she’s not happy that it wasn’t three. There are some stiff shots going both ways, and Banks is able to apply the Bank Statement until Bliss can roll out of the ring. She uses the ring skirt to trip Sasha, who barely beats the ref’s 10-count. Bliss hits the Twisted Bliss but sees Banks kick out again. Though it’s difficult because Bliss has been working over her shoulder, Banks is finally able to get the Bank Statement locked back in again, and Alexa taps out pretty quickly to give us a new champ.
Winner via submission … and new RAW Women’s Champion … Sasha Banks
Match Rating: 7/10
Finn Balor drops a big stomp on Bray Wyatt. WWE SummerSlam Photo Gallery
Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt
It’s amazing that they won’t call it blood Wyatt dumped on Balor recently. PG era and all that. Finn’s Demon entrance mocks Bray’s old “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” bit, which is a fun twist. Bray steers clear of the Demon early but settles in and starts punishing Balor with a variety of blows and holds. He looks for Sister Abigail but gets it countered by a double stomp to the chest. Wyatt’s uranage slam gets a two count, followed by another one. The spider walk, though, has n effect on Balor, who hits the Sling Blade, the corner dropkick and the Coup de Grace.
Winner via pinfall: Finn Balor
Match Rating: 7/10
New Raw tag team champions, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. WWE SummerSlam Photo Gallery
Sheamus and Cesaro (champions) vs. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose (challengers) – RAW Tag Team Championship Match
Corey Graves says that even though Rollins and Ambrose have agreed to work together, it doesn’t mean they will be a cohesive unit. They look just fine in the early going, but “The Bar” gets going by putting Ambrose out on the floor and isolating Rollins. The crowd has a beach ball going, and Cesaro pulls perhaps the greatest heel move ever by leaving the ring, destroying the beach ball and returning to action. The Swiss Cyborg takes a hard hit on the outside, and Ambrose comes flying out to keep the Kingslayer from getting ground down. Rollins finally makes the hot tag and Ambrose slingshots himself to the outside to take out Sheamus before getting a near fall on Cesaro. A double suicide dive has the champs in bad shape, and Cesaro barely kicks out after a double team move. Then it’s Ambrose who has to kick out from a nasty Cesaro uppercut that catches him coming off the top turnbuckle. A superplex/top rope splash combot from the challengers forces a desperate save by Cesaro. That pays off when he sends Ambrose for the Cesaro Swing and puts him in the Sharpshooter. When Dean tries to crawl to the ropes, Cesaro rolls through and turns the hold into a crossface. Ambrose gets hit by a Doomsday Device-like double team move but somehow still kicks out. The champs try a double crucifix powerbomb and Rollins comes flying it at the last second to make the save. Seth ends up dishing out superkicks left and right, and his jumping knee sets up Dirty Deeds by Ambrose. Another title change? You got it.
Winners via pinfall … and new RAW Tag Team Champions … Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose
Match Rating: 8.5/10
AJ Styles’ hand is raised by special referee Shane McMahon. WWE SummerSlam Photo Gallery
AJ Styles (champion) vs. Kevin Owens (challenger) – United States Title Match – Shane McMahon Special Referee
AJ jumps Owens before the bell, forcing Shane to get involved and break them up. Shane calls for the bell as the fight spills outside. Shane regains control. Owens with a huge clothesline out of the corner after Styles went up and over. AJ kicks out of a pin after a cannonball, and KO yells at Shane. The two start brawling in the middle of the ring until AJ hits a facebuster. KO fights out of a Styles Clash but gets hit with a neckbreaker. AJ climbs up top, but KO knocks Shane into the ropes to crotch AJ. Owens climbs to meet Styles, but AJ is able to powerbomb him. Styles goes for a 450 splash and connects with Shane and Owens. Shane is woozy, causing him to make a slow count on an Owens pin. KO yells at him, allowing AJ to lock in the Calf Crusher. A rake of the eyes breaks the hold. KO fights AJ off, only to kick him into Shane. McMahon falls out of the ring as AJ locks in the Calf Crusher. Owens taps, but Shane is still on the outside. AJ yells at Shane, allowing Owens to roll him up. AJ barely kicks out. Owens counters a head scissors from the top rope with a twisting superplex. AJ still kicks out. AJ misses a Pele kick and KO unloads a superkick. AJ fights off the powerbomb and counters into the Styles Clash. AJ hits it and covers, but Owens kicks out. Owens ducks the Phenomenal Forearm and catches AJ with a Pop Up Powerbomb. Shane makes the three count but notices AJ foot on the ropes. Owens gets in Shane’s face and Shane shoves him into a roll up from AJ. Owens kicks out. AJ hits a Pele kick and follows with the forearm. Styles then hits the Styles Clash and covers for the three count.
Winner by pinfall, and still United States Champion: AJ Styles
Match Rating: 9/10
Jinder Mahal (champion) w/the Singh Brothers vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (challenger) – WWE Title Match
Jinder Mahal kept his WWE championship. WWE SummerSlam Photo Gallery
Jinder wants no part of Shinsuke’s early strikes and locks in a wrist lock. Mahal also isn’t putting up with Nakamura’s shenanigans; unfortunately, Nakamura sidesteps the champ, sending Mahal over the top ropes to the floor. Mahal taunts Nakamura back and drops him with a body slam. Shinsuke breaks out of a headlock and answers with a single leg dropkick. Nakamura splashes the champ in the corner, sets him up on the top turnbuckle and drives a knee into the mid-section. Jinder books an inverted suplex, but Nakamura counters into an armbar. Mahal breaks the hold. Shinsuke delivers a facebuster, but Jinder avoids the Kinshasa. Nakamura lands a kick and drives the champ into the ring post. Nakamura follows with a knee to the back of the head. Nakamura takes the fight to the Singh brothers, who jump onto the apron. The distraction allows Mahal to hit the Khallas and get the win.
Winner by pinfall, and still WWE Champion: Jinder Mahal
Match Rating: 7.5/10
Brock Lesnar (champion) vs. Roman Reigns (challenger) vs. Samoa Joe (challenger) vs. Braun Strowman (challenger) – Fatal Four Way WWE Universal Title Match
Winner via pinfall, and still WWE Universal Champion: Brock Lesnar
Match Rating: 9.5/10
Total Event Time: 3 hours and 48 minutes
- Nick Tylwalk and Dale Plummer would like you to believe they were their own two-man hot crowd for all six hours on Sunday night, but they would admittedly be lying. Follow Nick on Twitter @nick_tylwalk and Dale @dplummer627.