Hits and Misses: WWE SummerSlam 2014
MANILA, Philippines – Domination, betrayal, surprises, and astounding victories. Every match on this year's SummerSlam pay-per-view last Sunday, August 17 (Monday in the Philippines), was a treat.
WWE fans witnessed the "passion" of John Cena at the hands of Brock Lesnar, a slap that shattered the relationship of twin sisters, a chaotic lumberjack match, a battle between two bruised patriots... and lots of $9.99 plugs for the WWE Network. (Heck, Hulk Hogan even started the show to promote the Network!)
Here are our thoughts on one of the most memorable SummerSlams – if not the best – of all time.
Intercontinental Championship: Dolph Ziggler defeated The Miz to win the title
Michael Bueza: What a way to start SummerSlam! I completely enjoyed the false finishes and crazy counters here. Even my sister went crazy for the Skull-Crushing Finale counter to Ziggler's Fameasser move.
Ziggler and The Miz brought their A-game in this match, though the same could not be said for Miz's wardrobe during his entrance. Haha.
Good job for the WWE for this Ziggler push. I hope they keep it up, and I also hope to see Ziggler in the main event again. (A Dolph Ziggler vs Bad News Barrett feud down the road, perhaps, when the latter recovers from injury?)
Ryan Songalia: WWE has discovered the life hack to getting a huge pop from the crowd: have Dolph Ziggler raise a title over his head. Winning the Intercontinental title may seem like a step back for the former World Heavyweight champion, but this belt means a lot more now because of how the WWE and WH belts are unified.
Their chemistry together is a product of how well they've worked together in recent weeks and the finish was incredible. I hope they can give Ziggler a run that doesn't include jobbing every night and can still find something cool for The Miz to do because he's an underrated talent.
Divas Championship: Paige def. AJ Lee to win the title
RS: This match didn't have the storyline that Steph vs Brie had but it had much better wrestling. Is there room for two women's feuds though? I don't think so, and I expect this one to take a backseat to the Bellas.
MB: AJ proved that she was the crazier one during the handshake at the start of the match. From there, the bout was physical all throughout. Amazing Divas Title match.
The title was a nice birthday gift for Paige, who executed a crazy counter to AJ's Black Widow submission move for the win. (Paige turned 22 at SummerSlam, by the way.)
"Flag Match": Rusev def. Jack Swagger via TKO
MB: See the double quotes up there? Because I thought the classic stipulation – the first man to get his country's flag on top of a pole at a ring corner wins – would be applied here. Turns out, the winner just gets the "awards ceremony" treatment, flag and national anthem and all.
But the match iself was great, because both men were "wounded," as Michael Cole pointed out on commentary. Swagger's ribs were taped up after a ruthless Rusev attack a week ago, while Rusev's ankles suffered at the hands of Swagger (courtesy of an ankle lock) after a Rusev pre-match ambush that backfired.
Rusev looked gracious even when hurt, showing more emotions and displaying a better arsenal of moves despite wrestling on "spaghetti legs." Swagger held his own here, though I noticed that most of his moves involve running. I think the big guy needs to have more power moves.
The visual of Swagger passing out to Rusev's Accolade submission move to end the match was amazing. Then, as Zeb Colter tended to Swagger, Rusev proceeded to kick Colter in the head. The USA vs Russia saga in the WWE continues...
RS: Well, it happened: Swagger did the old J-O-B to Rusev. Good. Because he was just as unlikeable as a babyface as he was a heel. Swagger passing out doesn't hurt him and Rusev kicking Zeb Colter after the match really gave Rusev the heat he needed.
I love how the ring announcer stated Rusev's weight in kilograms instead of pounds. They're really doing it up with the anti-American angle.
How long will Rusev's mid-card push last? Probably as long as Vladimir Putin (the top heel in international politics these days) can stay in the headlines pissing off American politicians. Or until the fans find out that Lana is really a Florida girl named C.J. Perry.
"Lumberjack Match": Seth Rollins def. Dean Ambrose
MB: Again, double quotes here, because this was actually Rollins vs Ambrose... vs lumberjacks! I was completely marking out while watching this, because of its unique approach to a lumberjack match.
The lumberjacks (including Damien Sandow in lumberjack attire) were supposed to contain both men in the ring, but Dean Ambrose, the madman that he is, did not care. He traded punches with them, until the chaos spilled into the crowd!
I was right in predicting that Kane would be involved here, as he helped secure the victory for Rollins.
At first, I felt sad seeing the lumberjacks who deserve a SummerSlam moment themselves. But when the chaos ensued, they became part of it, and added to the already-entertaining match.
RS: It was like a TLC match, but the lumberjacks were the tables, ladders and chairs! It seemed like bookers were setting these guys up for disaster by putting them in a predictable Lumberjack match, and then the two proceeded to have the best match of that variety in recent memory.
Dean Ambrose lost but he came out looking squeaky clean. I loved how he attacked anyone and everyone, regardless of whether they were heel or face. It's the return of the tweener! Ambrose stealing the Curb Stomp finish was great, though I would've preferred to see a more inventive finish than Rollins hitting him with the Money in the Bank briefcase.
Will be exciting to see Rollins feud with Roman Reigns once he wins the title. Wait, what!?
Bray Wyatt def. Chris Jericho
RS: For wrestling psychology marks, this match was everything they could've hoped it'd be.
The contrast between the two – Bray came out wearing a morbid looking butcher’s apron, while Jericho made his rockstar entrance – immediately polarized the crowd. Bray brawled as he usually does, but also worked and wrestled more than I’ve seen him in a lot of matches.
I do think he could lose 5-10 pounds because it’s beginning to affect his mobility, which is one of his greatest assets. Wyatt never gets credit for this, but he bumps like a champion. He’s almost Bam Bam Bigelow-esque in the way he works.
It was expected that Jericho would do the job because he won their last match but these two made it work. Because really, this angle could’ve really been bad.
MB: No shenanigans here, contrary to what I predicted. Bray Wyatt secures the victory after rattling the heck out of Chris Jericho with Bray's terrifying "spider pose." Though, I thought that Jericho would continue to hit the Lionsault after Bray did that.
The match was a nice follow-up to the explosive lumberjack match. Its pace was spot-on, unlike the Reigns-Orton face-off later in the night.
Stephanie McMahon def. Brie Bella
RS: The best women's angle of the last decade. Stephanie was pretty good in the ring, better than I thought she'd be. I found myself not watching the match and just watching Steph, that's how good it was.
Brie and Nikki have been saying forever that they wanted to feud and now they're getting the storyline of a lifetime.
MB: I honestly did not see that coming. Nikki Bella's betrayal of her twin sister Brie brought this feud to another level of awesome.
I haven't seen past Stephanie matches, but her performance at SummerSlam was incredible. Hell, she might have been better than most of the Divas on the WWE roster! Steph's ring gear was stunning, too, a shout-out perhaps to the Attitude Era.
Brie was as intense as Stephanie here. She even hit Triple H (WWE Chief Operating Officer and Steph's husband) with a baseball slide moments after he went at ringside. A suicide dive attempt by Brie which Stephanie blocked is another mark-out moment for me.
P.S. MMA star Ronda Rousey was at ringside! Also, what happened to the "Daniel Bryan affair with his therapist" angle? It's stupid to include that on last week's WWE Raw in the first place.
Roman Reigns def. Randy Orton
RS: Randy Orton is good for one "RKO out of nowhere" moment every pay-per-view. Otherwise, he's a waste of air time. Then, he goes on Raw and tags with RybAxel, did he have another wellness policy violation we're not aware of?
This result was the most predictable on the card. It was clear to see for miles that WWE is trying to shine Reigns up to take the title this year. I don't think he's ready and I think the fans will regurgitate him if they push him too fast, but I could live with it more if they repackaged him. Why is he the only former Shield guy still dressing in riot police outfits? They need to do something with him, time to take the training wheels off.
MB: Am I the only person who slept through this match? Sorry, but I just don't dig "methodical Orton." Also, it didn't help that the primetime broadcast of SummerSlam here in the Philippines was in the evening, with their match taking place at around 12 midnight.
The first 6 matches were very entertaining. However, the Reigns-Orton match wasn't able to sustain the momentum. Orton's RKO counter to Reigns' Superman Punch was great, though.
Congrats to Roman Reigns, but in my view, he needs a better story to put his skills to the test. That way, we could see if Reigns is main-event material or the "weakest link" in The Shield despite his strength and appeal.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Brock Lesnar def. John Cena to win the title
MB: From the first F5 within the first few seconds of the bout until the definitive F5 for the win, this is Brock's match. What do you expect? Also, over 15 German suplexes to John Cena? Sick!
On commentary, Michael Cole said, "There will never be a dull moment in this match." Well, there were lots of Cena-writhing-in-pain moments, but it was not precisely dull. It was part of showing Brock's sheer dominance. Honestly, it was the most uncomfortable Cena match I've seen, beating their equally cringe-worthy Extreme Rules 2012 encounter, which SuperCena won.
Now, the question is, what's next for John Cena? Is he gunning for World Title #16 to match Ric Flair's record, or would WWE run the "loser Cena" angle again?
P.S. Contrary to your prediction, Ryan, no Superstar made his debut or return on Sunday. I hope it didn't "sting". Haha.
RS: Yeah, yeah. The sting of no Sting was alleviated a bit by the squash match Brock Lesnar put Cena through. For me, it was justice for every guy like Dolph Ziggler and the Nexus whom Cena buried, for how he no-sold Lesnar's beating after Extreme Rules 2012 by cutting a promo and exposing the business.
If I have one complaint about this match, it's that Brock Lesnar didn't German Suplex him enough times. Otherwise, I love how they broke convention and had Brock hit the F5 finisher in the first minute. There's a reason Brock is so highly paid: when he's on a show you watch because you have no idea what he's going to do.
This moment of joy is short-lived, however. Despite cutting the best promo of his life on Raw the next night, who knows when we're gonna see Brock on TV again? Also, it's pretty apparent that they made Brock look like the biggest beast in the world because they want it to look that much better when they finally put the belts on Roman Reigns, who is basically John Cena with a tan.
- The new WWE logo made its official debut on the PPV. It would appear on all the current WWE titles over the week. In fact, on WWE Raw the night after SummerSlam, Brock Lesnar was given a new WWE World Title belt. It replaced the 2 belts that the champs have carried since the unification of the WWE and World Heavyweight championships in December 2013.
- It was announced that next year's SummerSlam would take place in the New York-New Jersey area, following 6 SummerSlams at the "City of Angels".
- Remember the SummerSlam predictions that we did last week? Michael scored 6-2 (correct vs wrong guesses), while Ryan got 5-3. So, that's Michael 1, Ryan 0.