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Pay-Per-Review: Summerslam 2015


Hey everyone! Anthony here taking over for Stan, and we’re fresh off Summerslam! Like usual, Smark Henry trooped to Skinny Mike’s, where we met up with folks from the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas community and the Philippine Wrestling Revolution to catch WWE’s summer special. Well, not so sunny for us, but the strong rain didn’t dampen the spirits inside the bar. Nevertheless, this was a great show, and we have a couple of thoughts on it, so let’s get right to it!


Yes, We Were Entertained

Once again, WWE decided that the task of kicking off a show and putting on a hot start would go to Sheamus and Randy Orton. These two have been going at it for months now, and while the story has been tedious to go through, you can’t deny the in-ring quality these two bring. This was another good display from both men. Randy Orton continues to find ways to wow people with RKOs, this time giving one to Sheamus as he crashed in for a battering ram. Not as impressive as Wrestlemania’s Curb Stomp into RKO, but still an amazing feat.





The Celtic Warrior picked up the win here to position himself strongly as he holds the Money in the Bank briefcase, and I think this was the right move. Sheamus needs to continue looking strong to build up the possibility of a cash-in at anytime, and this match did its part. Hopefully we get to see Sheamus tease/attempt more cash-ins soon, while feuding with someone who can go at it with him (say, Cesaro). I’m not sure where the Viper goes from here, as he’s a guy they can really just insert near the championship picture when they need him to. Orton losing here doesn’t really do him any harm, while it gives Sheamus a boost. So yes, Fella, we were definitely entertained.


Affirmative Action

Okay, so did anyone notice that this was a culturally diverse match? You had African-Americans, Mexicans, and fake Mexicans (Puerto Ricans in real life) vying for the tag team titles. Anyway, this was your usual multi-man tag team match, with all teams getting the shine at different times. Titus O’Neil got the hot tag and easily stood out because his style was a nice contrast to the fast-paced, high-flying style Los Matadores and the Lucha Dragons had. We got a Tower of Doom from these three teams, after the Lucha Dragons accidentally dropped one of the Matadors off the top rope. Hey, no worries, we’ve got another one.





The real story of this match, though, was the New Day. There’s a strong case for these three as the best heels on the roster right now, and proved it in this match. From ripping on Brooklyn’s hip-hop history (great way to garner heat), to their rendition of Empire State of Mind, to Xavier Woods mouthing off throughout, to the sneaky blind tag, everything was on point for the New Day. Kofi scored the pin and the win as he was the legal man despite Titus doing the dirty work, making the New Day champions once again. Well-deserved win for the New Day as they are definitely the best team in the tag division right now, and this’ll be fun to watch because you just know they’re going to rub this win in the Prime Time Players’ faces.


The Bulgarian and the Blondies

Dolph Ziggler made his return to in-ring action at Summerslam, looking for payback against Rusev after the Bulgarian Brute crushed his throat. Watching this match, I realized that I actually missed Ziggler’s wrestling ever since he was out, as no one in the WWE bumps like he does. Once again, like the matches before it, this was a pretty good match. It’s not the best, but it wasn’t a stinker, either.





The resulting double count out points us towards the only possible direction this feud can go — a mixed tag team match between Dolph/Lana and Rusev/Summer Rae. That was something I expected them to pull off for Summerslam, but it seems that we’ll get that payoff at a later date instead. I’m actually looking forward to that, as mixed tag matches are a rare sight in the WWE these days. I know a lot of people have been turned off by this Lana-Rusev storyline, but I’m looking forward to see how this’ll end. And I really hope that Lana turns on Dolph and she and Rusev have a happy ever after, because well, may forever.


Comic Book Clash





The next match featured comic book baddie Stardust and his pal King Barrett against the heroes in Neville and Stephen Amell. Amell came out in a hoodie looking like his Green Arrow character, which is fine with me because that’s the closest we’ll get to the actual thing. This was easily the most capable we’ve seen a celebrity guest wrestle, as Amell actually toyed with Stardust for a couple of minutes. He was actually pretty good in the ring, even finding the time to pull off some good moves. The heroes picked up the win when Neville hit a Red Arrow, putting Red and Green Arrow on top in this match.

Stephen Amell is a name I would not mind seeing again in the future, as he proved that he has the chops to actually wrestle in the ring. As much as this was a good show for him, we can’t say the same for King Barrett. It still sucks that the King of the Ring was nothing more than an accessory in this match, with most of the focus being on Amell and Stardust. You can’t please everyone, I guess.


Much Ado About the Intercontinental Title

This was the match I was least excited about on the card, as I have no real preference as to who should win this match. Nevertheless, this was actually an okay match, with all three men playing their part well. As much as we ask Big Show to retire, he’s still one of the WWE’s easy sources of amazing feats. Even Miz shone in this match, playing the role of sneaky heel very well.





In the end, Ryback picked up the victory after tossing Show out of the ring and pinning a knocked out Miz. Still, it’s been a lackluster reign so far for the Big Guy, and hopefully creative finds something good for him soon.


Band of Brothers





Roman Reigns continued his rivalry with Bray Wyatt at Summerslam, enlisting the help of his brother Dean Ambrose to face a reunited Wyatt and Luke Harper. Shield 2.0 dominated the early goings, until Wyatt and Harper were able to isolate Ambrose and take control. Speaking of Harper, he seems to be filling in the role previously held by Cesaro as the solid, unnoticed midcard worker who can have a good match with anyone. His sitdown powerbomb is a thing of beauty.

Reigns, meanwhile, spent most of this match knocked out on the outside, which the Barclays Center crowd acknowledged with “Roman’s sleeping!” chants (HAHAHA). Naturallly, Reigns woke up soon after and got the hot tag, with the face team eventually picking up the win after a frenetic end to the match.

As much as this was your run of the mill tag contest (early face shine, face in peril, hot tag, etc.), the four men added a lot to it to make this a fun match. Reigns and Ambrose really have that chemistry in the ring (#sparks). Sadly, this means that Bray Wyatt picks up another loss, and it seems so long now since he was considered one of the hottest things in wrestling. The Eater of Worlds looks like a mere afterthought now. Follow the buzzards, Bray.


The Daily Swerve With Jon Stewart

Yes, you read that right. In one of the night’s pleasant surprises, it was no less than former Daily Show host and guest host of Summerslam Jon Stewart who played a pivotal role in the Champion vs. Champion Match:





Thanks to some steel chair shenanigans, Seth Rollins defeated John Cena to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and pick up the WWE United States Championship, killing two birds with one stone. Jon Stewart is now the smark’s hero as he prevented the one thing no one wanted to see — Cena’s 16th championship reign. This should make for an interesting chase as Cena chases #16, with an even louder Seth Rollins hounding him all the way. I can’t wait to hear an explanation from Stewart as well, as he’s easily the best guest star we’ve had in a long, long time. On the bright side, at least John doesn’t need to change merchandise any time soon. He’s going to be wearing that #15 shirt for a little while longer.

Rollins and Cena are a step above the rest, and they play off each other well. As much as the Brooklyn crowd hated on Cena, he told a great story in this match, especially when he locked in that Figure Four leglock to try and win the match. Rollins was impressive once again, especially with that superplex into a suplex spot. The only grip I have with this match is the excessive number of Attitude Adjustments we saw. That’s a finisher, use it as such. Overall, the match itself was excellent, and was easily the best match of the night so far.


The Fault in Our #DivasRevolution

The Divas Revolution continued at Summerslam as Team PCB, Team Bella and Team BAD (still a horrible name) competed in an elimination tag match. I felt as if this was a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth, as the match never seemed to kick out of first gear. Team BAD was eliminated first, meaning that we got to see little of Sasha’s in-ring ability. Team PCB picked up the win here after a beautiful pumphandle slam by Becky Lynch, and this sets up nicely for an angle where any of them can now go after Divas Champion Nikki Bella for a title match.





Here’s the problem, though. Just 24 hours ago before Summerslam, NXT put on a clinic when Sasha Banks and Bayley fought for the NXT Women’s Championship. Watch that match. And then watch this one. You’ll realize that we’ve still got a long, long way to go before the Divas Revolution succeeds. No offense to girls like Alicia Fox, Tamina and Naomi, but the ongoing storyline just proves how these girls are light years behind their recently promoted counterparts. I’m all for #GiveDivasaChance, but I’ve already done that and some of them simply aren’t cutting it. This revolution needs to cut the dead wood.


Fly, Owens, Fly

Kevin Owens and Cesaro went at it once more,, but this time they did it at Summerslam instead of a bingo hall.Considering that Owens was fresh off a brutal ladder match at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. it was a miracle to see that he could even wrestle here. That fatigue may have played a part, though, as Owens spent a good middle portion of the match locking in some rest holds. The action picked up towards the end with Cesaro hitting his uppercuts, but Owens powered through with a pop-up powerbomb to get that much-needed win. This continued the night’s theme of having mostly good, but not spectacular, matches, but at least we got to see Owens fly:





This was a much-needed win for Owens, as he hasn’t won a big match for quite a while now. My only hope is that he doesn’t get lost in the midcard shuffle and finds something relevant to do soon. Cesaro could’ve used the win as well, but I think Owens winning was the right call here.


Grudge Match

Finally, we come to the match everyone has waited more than a year for. After weeks of low blows and brawls, Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker finally competed in a match for the first time since the Streak came to a halt more than a year ago at WrestleMania XXX.

From the start, you could tell this was different. When the Streak ended, Undertaker looked like an old, enfeebled man who was utterly destroyed by the Beast Incarnate. This time, the Deadman fought back and proved he could go toe to toe with Lesnar. Yes, he was still taken to Suplex City, but it was a far cry from the match they had at New Orleans last year. Once again, there was a fire in the Undertaker’s eyes — he had something to prove, and he was going to try his darndest to take Lesnar down. Lesnar, for his part, is still one of the most entertaining men to watch on the WWE right now. Him flipping off the Undertaker as he passed out was a great move, as it showed just how much Brock refused to quit against the Deadman. Great bit of storytelling right there.





The frantic finish was a shocker, and I didn’t really like it at first. It’s good that they left both men with a claim to victory, but I felt like they could’ve tightened it up a little more. I felt that involving the officials could’ve been done away with, however. Since when did the timekeeper start making the decisions instead of the referee? For example, why didn’t he ring the bell when Stewart attacked Cena earlier, since that should be a disqualification? It’s an unnecessary layer to add, and they would’ve achieved the same point had they just let Brock stand up triumphantly after he felt Undertaker tapping his arm to signify a submission win.

It seems like we’re headed towards a third match between Lesnar and the Undertaker, so at least the finish gave both men something to rub in the other’s face. Lesnar-Undertaker III probably won’t be happening for some time, though, but that’s definitely what we’re getting.

Overall, I found Summerslam to be a good show. Cena/Rollins and Taker/Lesnar stood out like they should, and everything else was at least good. That’s the bad thing, though — they weren’t excellent matches, they were matches you could expect to see on a random episode of RAW or Smackdown. Celebrity cameos were great this year, though, and major props to Stephen Amell and Jon Stewart for their involvement. All in all, this was a fun and memorable Summerslam. I’ll give it a B, and hopefully they can use the momentum they got from Summerslam to keep things going until Survivor Series, at least.


Photos taken from WWE.com


*****

Anthony Cuello is an HR professional and training designer. When he’s not sleeping or reading the Harvard Business Review, he covers PWR and Lucha Underground for Smark Henry. A psychology nut, he tends to watch wrestling looking for these small nuances of in-ring behavior. He dreams of a wrestling business with good people management practices, and hopes to help make that happen one day.

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