Though the conventional wisdom is that SummerSlam is WWE’s second-biggest event of any calendar year, the truth is that it has slipped behind the Royal Rumble in terms of both anticipation and venue size. The 2019 edition wasn’t helped by a card that didn’t feel much more important than any of the company’s other monthly pay-per-views, leaving any major significance solely in the hands of its locale: in Toronto, for the first time in 15 years.
Fittingly, Canadian stars figured in several matches, with Natalya challenging for a title, Kevin Owens seeking to one-up Shane McMahon in their ongoing feud, and Trish Stratus making her return to singles action for the first time in years. Edge even made an appearance during the kickoff show, becoming roughly the 79th different person to interrupt a musical performance by Elias.
Yet the rest of the SummerSlam card felt a bit sparse, even with 12 matches on it. None of the men’s tag team titles were on the line, and the women’s belts were relegated to the pre-show. Roman Reigns, currently in the middle of his most interesting storyline in roughly forever, also didn’t have a match.
And those Canadians? Two of the three lost. The end result was an event that made for a perfectly fine pay-per-view but not a super compelling SummerSlam.
There was even a samey air about even the big title matches, making it feel like the WWE machine had simply spun its wheels all summer. Kofi Kingston and Becky Lynch ended the night with the same belts they won at WrestleMania. The main event was also familiar, as it featured Brock Lesnar — a SummerSlam staple, making his sixth consecutive main event appearance and seventh in his last eight years — attempting to fend off Seth Rollins from claiming his WWE Universal Championship.
This encounter was longer than in April and arguably made Lesnar look even weaker. It took a while for that to become apparent, as Paul Heyman took even more pride in the introduction of his client than usual, perhaps sensing that not having Rollins at 100 percent after Lesnar’s brutal attacks on him the last few weeks would lead to a quick night. He was soon looking a little more nervous as Rollins hit the Stomp and got the match’s first near fall.
Rollins leapt off the apron to deliver a fying knee on the floor, but Lesnar caught his kick. The champ tried to send Rollins to Suplex City but saw Seth land on his feet. In came Rollins looking for another Stomp, but Lesnar delivered an F-5 that earned him a breather.
After both men rose, Lesnar used the tape around Rollins’ torso and whirled him around, then started in on his German suplexes. He hit a three-pack before Rollins rolled out to the floor to try and escape the onslaught.
Another German suplex on the floor had The Beast roaring, but he was silenced when Rollins drove his face into the ringpost twice. A springboard knee shot was next, and Rollins willed his way to the top rope and tried for another flying knee — but to no avail, as Lesnar sidestepped the blow and hit a few more suplexes.
The fans tried to inspire Rollins as he suffered in a bear hug, but Lesnar continued his assault, much to the delight of Heyman. Rollins, though, wasn’t out of gas, nailing Lesnar with two straight suicide dives before going to the well one too many times as Brock caught him and smashed his back into the post.
Lesnar cleared the Spanish announce table, but a superkick left him atop it. Rollins fearlessly came off the top rope with a frog splash that looked super painful as it snapped his head back.
Back into the ring they went, with Lesnar hitting a splash and a Stomp only to see Lesnar kick out at two. Undeterred, he looked for a third Stomp, but Lesnar snagged him and hoisted him in position for an F-5. This time, though, Rollins wriggled free and successfully hit the Stomp for the third time, which proved enough to send Lesnar home without his gold — and perhaps out of WWE for a while this time.
The next WWE pay-per-view is Clash of Champions on Sept. 15.
SummerSlam Pre-Show Results
As has been custom for even longer than Lesnar has been featured in the final match in every SummerSlam, Nick’s comments will be in plain type while Dale’s are in italics.
Oney Lorcan (challenger) vs. Drew Gulak (champion) – WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match
After trading holds in the middle of the ring, Lorcan connects with a clothesline in the corner. Gulak responds by slamming Oney onto the ropes into the corner. Gulak with a chin lock. Lorcan fights out, spilling the fight to the floor. Gulak gets Oney back in the ring, locking in the Gulag. Lorcan is able to get a foot on the ropes to break the hold. Lorcan nearly gets a pin with a surprise roll-up. Gulak uses a strike to the throat and nails the Cyclone Clash. He covers and gets the win.
Winner and still Cruiserweight Champion via pinfall: Drew Gulak
Apollo Crews vs. Buddy Murphy
Murphy goes for a quick pinfall to no avail. The announcers are naturally a little more interested in Murphy’s role in the “Who tried to run over Roman Reigns?” saga. Both men have their streaks of offense but neither can put the other away. Turns out the announcers were right to be concerned about Murphy’s place in the meta narrative, as he ends up winning by DQ when Rowan runs down and annihilates him. Welp, pay-per-view bonuses for all, anyway.
Winner via disqualification: Buddy Murphy
Elias puts on a concert, and as per usual, he runs down Toronto. Things get interesting when Edge makes his entrance, running out on stage and hitting the ring. He hits Elias with a spear and celebrates.
Edge finally looks a little old in the face, which in turn means I’m also old. Let’s move on, please …
The IIconics (challengers) vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross (champions) – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Match
Bliss’s ring gear is clearly inspired by Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story movies, and Billie Kay loooks kind of like Maleficent when she enters, so there’s that. Also, for what it’s worth, there is definitely someone wearing a “Ruck Fonda” shirt on the TV side and WWE probably doesn’t want that to be prominently featured. Bliss gets wiped out by a big boot from Kay, but Cross hustles to make the save. Royce ends up suffering a bit of a temper tantrum, and with Kay neutralized by Cross, Alexa hits Twisted Bliss so that the champs retain.
Winners and still WWE Women’s Tag Team champions via pinfall: Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross
SummerSlam Main Card Results
Natalya (challenger) vs. Becky Lynch (champion) – Raw Women’s Championship Submission Match
The two rivals meet in the center of the ring to trade verbal and physical shots, and it doesn’t take long for Lynch to start looking for a submission hold. Nattie fights back by smashing The Man into the barricade on the outside, then rains down right hands in the corner. Michael Cole reminds us that Lynch has had “issues” with her left knee during her career, but she isn’t shy about using it as a weapon. Natalya responds with a big superplex only to end up in her own hold as Lynch slaps on the Sharpshooter. Natalya returns the favor shortly thereafter, but the Disarm-Her is a good response, good enough to make Nattie tap out.
Winner via submission and still Raw Women’s Champion: Becky Lynch
Match Rating: 6.5/10
Prior to her match later tonight, Trish Stratus is asked about the pressure on her facing Charlotte Flair. She says the contemporary stars often have no idea how lucky they are and how much they owe to the people who paved the way. Like Trish, of course, who calls herself the Queen of Queens.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Goldberg
Ziggler cuts a promo before the match, saying that he will always be here to steal the show. Dolph won’t be surprised if Goldberg doesn’t even show up. Goldberg makes his iconic entrance. Ziggler with a superkick out of nowhere, but it’s not enough to get the pin. Ziggler nails another one, but Goldberg just tosses him out of the pin. Goldberg hits the spear and signals for the jackhammer. He drops DZ and makes the cover.
Winner via pinfall: Goldberg
Match Rating: N/A
As Goldberg walks back up the ramp, Ziggler calls him out again. Goldberg returns to deliver another spear. Ziggler still hasn’t had enough, calling him a laughing stock. Goldberg returns. He picks up Ziggler, who can barely stand, and takes him out with another vicious spear.
The post-match segment didn’t make much sense because Dolph was accusing Goldberg of not having the guts to fight him man to man after he just got thrashed doing literally that exact thing. But perhaps that’s the point, and if this leads to an interesting story for Ziggler, I’m here for it.
The New Day has a pep talk for Kofi Kingston, complete with amazing hair for Xavier Woods. His teammates want to surprise him with Drake, but it’s a poor replacement in the form of Drake Maverick. He’s still seeking R-Truth, and once he leaves, Kingston vows to show Randy Orton how he feels about being held down for all those years.
During the rundown of the international announcers, R-Truth and Carmella are among them. Drake Maverick stops by but apparently they have already gone by the time he arrives.
Ricochet (challenger) vs. AJ Styles (champion) – United States Championship Match
Ricochet’s ring gear has a distinctly Nightwing feel, and that’s not a bad thing at all. Styles’ buddies in The O.C. are ringside as usual, which doesn’t bode well for The One and Only, though he manages to launch himself off their shoulders for a hurricanrana in a cool spot. The champ goes to work on Ricochet’s left leg, aiming to slow him down. He succeeds in doing exactly that, and the action proceeds at a much slower pace than you’d expect from these two. Ricochet launches into a one-legged springboard lariat that is extremely impressive, and he hits a standing shooting star press for two. Styles battles back and drops the back of his challenger’s neck on his knee, which is also good for a near fall. Ricochet sells his knee damage again yet still manages a step-up enzuigiri for two, clutching his leg again after AJ kicks out. The Calf Crusher puts Ricochet in jeopardy again, but he’s able to not just escape but reverse the hold into a submission of his own. A distraction by Anderson and Gallows allows Styles to meet Ricochet on the top rope, but he fights them off and takes flight. One problem: Styles catches him on the way down, executing the Styles Clash to retain. After celebrating, The O.C. turns their attention to Ricochet, which leads to an immediate Magic Killer.
Winner and still United States Champion via pinfall: AJ Styles
Match Rating: 7/10
The Street Profits revel in their very first SummerSlam, running through the highlights of the night so far. Montez Ford seems concerned that Angelo Dawkins is still infatuated with Nikki Cross, but they’re soon joined by someone nearly as fired up as they are: Ric Flair.
Ember Moon (challenger) vs. Bayley (champion) – Smackdown Women’s Championship Match
Bayley takes Moon down with a headlock takedown. Bayley keeps the headlock on and smashes Moon into the corner. Ember explodes out of the corner and hits a cross body off the middle ropes. Moon locks in an abdominal stretch. Moon crashes and burns on a cross body and Bayley catches her with a knee to the midsection. Moon is draped over the top rope and brought back in via suplex. Moon catches Bayley on the apron with a superkick. Bayley ties Moon up in the tree of woe. Bayley drops the elbow, but only gets a two count. Moon ducks an elbow and delivers a kick. The champ rolls out of the ring. Bayley blocks a suicide dive and goes up top. Moon cuts down the champ and sends her to the mat with a hurricanrana. Moon blocks the Bayley to Belly and then powerbombs the champ. Moon goes up top, but is caught. The champ delivers a Bayley to Belly from the top turnbuckle. She covers Moon and gets the win.
Corey Graves makes the kind of comment during this match that the broadcasts could use more of, suggesting that Ember has a deep arsenal of moves but doesn’t get a chance to show them off in most matches because she usually handles things quickly. More of this kind of thing, please.
Winner via pinfall and still Smackdown Women’s Champion: Bayley
Match Rating: 6/10
Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon
Shane grabs a microphone and wants to ensure that this is a fair contest, so he introduces the special guest enforcer, Elias. At the bell, Shane rolls out of the ring. Owens follows and gets in a heated discussion with Elias. Shane slips out of the ring again and Owens gives chase, only to get tripped by Elias. KO gets in his face as the ref counts. Owens rolls back in at eight. Shane pummels Owens in the corner. A big right takes down Shane and Owens follows with a cannonball. Shane is dumped out of the ring, but Elias prevents KO from a suicide dive. Shane lands some shots and avoids the Pop-Up Powerbomb, responding with a DDT. Shane tries to lock in the Sharpshooter, but KO is able to counter with a powerbomb. Elias jumps to the apron to stop the ref from making the count. Shane with a roll up on the distraction, but Owens is able to kick out. Elias tosses a chair into the ring. Owens thinks about using it and Shane is asking for it. Owens drops the chair and yells at Elias. Shane goes for a cheap shot, but Owens ducks and he takes out Elias. KO with a superkick and he follows with a senton. Owens hits a frog splash. Elias pulls the ref out of the ring as Owens makes the cover. KO takes out Elias, but also nails the ref. Owens grabs the chair, but is pulled from the ring by Elias. Owens goes to town on Elias with the chair and tosses him into the timekeeper’s area. The ref is able to get back in the ring. Owens hands the ref the chair and kicks Shane low when the ref isn’t looking. Owens follows with a stunner and covers to get the win.
Winner by pinfall: Kevin Owens
Match Rating: 7.5/10
Charlotte Flair vs. Trish Stratus
A kick sends Flair to the mat and Trish sends her into the corner. Flair answers with a kick to the midsection, but Trish sends her to the floor. Stratus delivers double knees off the apron to the floor. Flair knocks Stratus to the floor and then slams her into the security barrier. In the ring, Flair repeatedly smashes Trish’s face into the mat. Flair locks in a bow and arrow before slamming her into the mat again. Trish is sent across the ring with a suplex. Trish counters a slam into a cover, but Flair kicks out and punches her in the face. Flair taunts Stratus as she toys with her. Trish unloads with a flurry of punches, but is taken out by a big boot. Flair goes up top but comes up empty on the moonsault. Trish reverse a whip and chops away at Flair. Trish catches Charlotte up top and hits the hurricanrana, but Flair kicks out. Trish runs into another big boot but is able to kick out of the pin. Trish counters a Figure Four attempt and locks in her own. She bridges into the Figure Eight. Flair gets to the ropes to break the hold. Stratus sidesteps a spear, and Flair catches all turnbuckle. Trish hits Stratusfaction but only gets a two count. Trish blocks a big boot and counters with a Chick Kick. Flair connects with a boot and locks in the Figure Four. She bridges into the Figure Eight. Trish taps out.
Winner via submission: Charlotte Flair
Match Rating: 7/10
As Seth Rollins ponders his injured ribs, Bret Hart stops by to wish him good luck.
Randy Orton (challenger) vs. Kofi Kingston (champion) – WWE Championship Match
Orton beats Kofi into the corner, but Kofi explodes out with a shot that sends Orton to the mat. Kofi beats Orton into the corner. Kofi is knocked off the top and send into the security barrier. Orton slams the champ off the announce table. Kofi is dragged back into the ring only to be knocked to the floor with an uppercut. Kofi takes flight off the steps to take out his challenger. Kofi misses a splash off the apron. Orton slams him off the announce table a second time. Kofi fights off a superplex attempt and drops Orton with a tornado DDT. Kofi follows with the Boom Drop. Orton counters a Trouble in Paradise with a backbreaker. Kofi spills Orton to floor and goes up top. He takes out Orton with the trust fall. He follows with a cross body block from the top, but Orton kicks out of the pin. Orton hits the draping DDT and looks for the RKO. Kofi counters with a backslide and Orton kicks out. Kofi takes flight again, only to be grounded by an RKO. The fight spills to the floor. The two start throwing hands and both men get counted out.
Double Count Out
Match Rating: 6.5/10
Kofi drives Orton into the ring steps and then works him over with a kendo stick. Orton gets to his feet and Kofi hits him with Trouble in Paradise.
I love this kind of post-match shtick because it’s okay when a face does it to a heel but despicable when it’s the other way around. And what about your kids, Kofi? Guess that’s a “do as I say not as I do” moment.
Finn Balor vs. The Fiend
The crowd breaks the record for fastest “holy s–t” chant ever, obviously digging The Fiend’s entrance and his cool lantern that looks like a head. Balor also looks a little shook, especially after The Fiend cranks his neck and hits a urinage slam. It looks like it might be Sister Abigail time, but Balor digs deep and runs through a string of his greatest hits, driving The Fiend into the corner. But The Fiend evades the Coup de Grace and administers the Mandible Claw, choking Balor out enough to be easily pinned. The Fiend vanishes with his weird lights and sound effects at the end of the match, and the crowd says goodbye with a “that was awesome” chant.
Winner via pinfall: The Fiend
Match Rating: 10/10 for the entrance, N/A for the match itself
Seth Rollins (challenger) vs. Brock Lesnar w/Paul Heyman (champion) – WWE Universal Title Match
Winner via pinfall and new WWE Universal Title: Seth Rollins
Match Rating: 8/10
Total Event Time: 3 hours and 30 minutes
Event Rating: 7/10 as a PPV, 5.5/10 as a SummerSlam