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The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: SummerSlam 2016



(Ed's note: This is still Ro doing the monthly PPV review.)

Pro wrestling fans watch pro wrestling because they want pro wrestling.

Let's say that again. Pro wrestling fans watch pro wrestling because they want pro wrestling.

That means no matter who assails it, no matter if it's a non-fan who just doesn't get it, an idiot ex-fan who inexplicably stopped watching when he/she found out it was all predetermined and "fake," or a Joe Rogan, Dana White, or Conor McGregor who find it in themselves to deride it because the two competitors in the ring aren't actually out for each other's blood (most times), pro wrestling fans want pro wrestling.

They want the athleticism, they want the bombast, the grandeur, the electricity that's provided by the predetermination and showmanship of pro wrestling. They understand that in order to get all of these, they have to be complicit in the joke that wrestling isn't really a true fight. They have to embrace the fact that the fakery is what makes it great. So when things take a turn for the realistic, the bubble gets popped. Sometimes in a good way, but most times in a bad way, because fans know the men in the ring have to protect each other.

So knowing all of that, it absolutely baffles me that WWE would decide to go with an uncomfortably shoot finish to end SummerSlam.

I don't know what the real reason is behind allowing Brock Lesnar to go amok with the finish. According to what we know now, none of it was the shoot it looked like it was. Meaning it was all a work, and Vince McMahon is just as liable for this mess as Lesnar is. He's shown himself as able to walk the fine line between work and dangerous shoot, with his manhandling of guys like John Cena and the Undertaker. They may not have all been pretty, but they still had the conceit of choreography.



That Lesnar was so blunt, direct, unrefined, and utterly savage, shedding all the visible trappings of pro wrestling's predetermination with his finishing blows to Randy Orton's skull last night made it all unsettling, completely shattering the fluid narrative of competition the two men were already settled into. And I don't think anyone walked away from SummerSlam thinking it was the right kind of unsettling—you know, the kind of unsettling that a well-crafted horror or thriller might leave and satisfy you with. It was just violence for the sake of violence, for the sake of getting the kind of attention and commentary that's bound to come up the next morning, like this article you're reading right now.

And we've bitten into the whole thing, because what other choice is there? To leave Brock Lesnar and Vince or whoever came up with the bright idea to bloody Orton's skull into the canvas alone and let them get away with what they did? No—I'm taking the bait and talking about this finish, because we need to send this very important message: there isn't any place for dangerous, reckless endings like this in professional wrestling.

Never mind those who say it's all fake, staged, theatric, predetermined. Never mind the criticism. Because pro wrestling fans want pro wrestling. They want the drama amazing performers like AJ Styles and John Cena can create through their top-notch storytelling, through each never-say-die moment, each finisher they kick out of just to show the world how badly they want to win. For their own reasons, they want to invest in human, believable stories like that of Finn Balor and Seth Rollins, or Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler, each young man fighting and persevering in the heat of battle just to cement their places in the wrestling pantheon. And for most of the match, Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar had that too, until things turned ugly.


It may not all be perfect, because what is, but I'd rather have the dance. And from the sound of thousands of fans watching the show last night, it seems like they would, too. B-

Full match results

  • The team of American Alpha, the Hype Bros, and the Usos def. the team of Breezango, the Ascension, and the Vaudevillains

  • Sheamus def. Cesaro in the first round of their Best of Seven series

  • The team of Sami Zayn and Neville def. the Dudley Boyz

  • Jeri-KO def. Enzo and Cass

  • Charlotte def. Sasha Banks (c) to win the WWE Women's Championship

  • The Miz (with Maryse) (c) def. Apollo Crews to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship

  • AJ Styles def. John Cena

  • The Club def. The New Day (with Jon Stewart) (c) by DQ. The New Day remain WWE Tag Team Champions

  • Dean Ambrose (c) def. Dolph Ziggler to retain the WWE Championship

  • The team of Natalya, Alexa Bliss, and Nikki Bella def. the team of Becky Lynch, Naomi, and Carmella in a six-woman tag match

  • Finn Balor def. Seth Rollins to win the vacant WWE Universal Championship

  • Roman Reigns vs. Rusev (c) for the WWE United States Championship was ruled a no-contest

  • Brock Lesnar def. Randy Orton by TKO

Photos from WWE

*****

Romeo Moran (@roiswaris the Editor in Chief of Smark Henry and one of the three hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He gets by in this hard knock life through working in publishing. Smark Henry was his and Stan Sy's original vision of a watering hole for local wrestling fans. He roots for the undersized guys who hit hard, but really hates Davey Richards with his entire soul.

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