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The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: SummerSlam 2019


For all intents and purposes, this year's SummerSlam had immense pressure on it to do great. There's the usual pedigree; like recent previous SummerSlams, it's been positioned as a huge party, what with NXT Takeover happening a day prior, and all the wrestling hoopla surrounding Toronto as the WWE came to the city. There's also the fact that it went up against the finals of this year's G1 Climax, the arguable elite level of the industry today.

That's why it's strange to see WWE, with all its marketing, come out with an event that merely pantomimed WrestleMania. SummerSlam pretended like it's a big deal—and it is, it should be—but it really felt like pretend.

Don't get me wrong; this SummerSlam isn't terrible by any stretch of the imagination. It simply feels like it didn't end up being as big as it was supposed to feel, considering how much the company poured into its marketing.

Perhaps the biggest culprit is the lack of variety on this card, causing a majority of the action to play out the same. A quick look on the card shows only one tag match out of 12, and ironically it's the Women's Tag Team Championship. The main card is a slog of eight singles matches with relatively few bright spots, missing the high-octane intensity of a RAW or SmackDown Tag Team Championship match somewhere in the middle. This may not have been intentional, but it sure does make for a largely monotonous night.


This inadvertent setup results in the non-conventional spots shining brightest. A non-match affair like Dolph Ziggler vs. Goldberg stands out because it's just Goldberg hitting his big-time moves. Ricochet and AJ Styles get bonus points for turning up the speed. Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon earn pops for playing out their huge story beats.

And by the end of the night, Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins look like the biggest damn geniuses for straying far away from the WWE formula—of course, as Brock always does—that's been on full display all evening. The main event, for once in a long time (or at least, that I could remember), felt like the saving grace of a SummerSlam that's mostly just been here.

I just look at it as the culmination of a strange past few months following WrestleMania. It feels like we finally get to move on to another chapter, hitting that soft reboot button on the way.

SummerSlam 2019 Final Grade: B

Match of the Night

It's the main event. Trust me.

But really, a second go-round with Lesnar seems to be exactly what Seth needed to reestablish his otherwise middling Universal Championship reign. Of course, it's not his fault a program with Baron Corbin didn't set the world on fire, but it certainly didn't hurt to pull out another great match (an even better one than their WrestleMania outing) to become champion.

Other observations

  • If the Cruiserweight Championship match was just there to have a Cruiserweight Championship match on the card, I would've preferred they took the time off and built up to it in a couple of weeks instead. 205 Live didn't need that charity, especially the kind where you only get eight minutes to tell a title story.
  • The Apollo Crews/Buddy Murphy match was especially strange, because we were never getting the full match. I think it could've been done as a backstage attack by Rowan on the main show.
  • Dolph Ziggler's insistence on getting speared was a hardworking touch I could get behind; it's at least not a simple arrive, Spear and Jackhammer, leave situation.
  • Not quite sure how I feel about Charlotte/Trish going that long, because I'm not sure if they really had to. Trish is in great shape, but isn't quite her old self. I can give her a pass on that, but they could've done her a favor by giving this match fewer minutes.
  • The crowd did not like the double countout at all, even though I get the logic behind it, but to be honest they seemed pretty tired to care about what was a run-of-the-mill matchup between Kofi and Orton. They made up for the non-finish with a strong, believable performance by Kofi as the angry family man, though, and I want to see how much further these two can take it. It's just a shame this step of the story had to happen on a show like SummerSlam.
  • I'm all for the Fiend, I really am, but did he really do a neck snap spot... that Finn actually came back from? Why do it if you're not actually going to kill the guy? Everything about the Fiend was perfect save for that spot.

Photo from WWE


*****

Romeo Moran (@roiswar) is 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. He likes taking your wrestling questions over on his CuriousCat account.

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