Before I get into SummerSlam things, a little plug for some local British wrestling taking place in my home city of Nottingham! Just want to give a huge congratulations to Wrestling Resurgence for their Spandex Ballet show. The show bloody sold out before I was even able to promote anything. Congratulations!
Below I’ve put a sexy banner and links for you to click to find out more and for information about future shows and whatnot you can follow them on Twitter – @W_Resurgence
TWM interview with Sam West from Wrestling Resurgance – http://www.twm.news/twm-talks-to-sam-west-from-wrestling-resurgence/
YouTube documentary ‘Art of Wrestling’ on the work of Wrestling Resurgence – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WqvAKumdpQ&t=2s
So again, a huge congratulations to Wrestling Resurgence on the success of the show! Right, now onto more happy wrestling talk with a positive column about WWE. Not written one of those in a while.
Imp’s WWE Adventure
Summerslam and Storytelling over Wrestling
SummerSlam was the first WWE main roster PPV outside of a Royal Rumble that I enjoyed from start to finish in years. Quite remarkable as going in to the weekend I was a rather grumpy cat when it came to Vince’s Carousel of Muscles. I’d full on stopped watching from Backlash in May to Extreme Rules in July, only tuning back in these last few weeks for the build to this past Sunday.
Maybe not watching for 3 months refreshed me. Perhaps having a show like WOS airing – which couldn’t care less about wrestling’s tropes and just focuses on being fun – has somewhat shifted my outlook. Or hell, there’s always the chance that covering the entirety of the G1 Climax sent me mad. But the fact is, I really enjoyed SummerSlam. And that’s coming from me, the cartoon New Japan guy.
Did WWE’s complacency finally kick them up the ass? Whatever the reason, SummerSlam did feel like that ‘kick up the ass and wake up’ event to me. WWE seemed to address so many of the issues I had with the stories they were telling head on. Really, I think that’s why I enjoyed this show so much. Yes the show had some entertaining matches, but first of all it addressed stories.
For the first time in years it felt like they actually cared. Not about what the internet says they want, not about what trend is hot right now, not about what’ll look ‘noice’ for those rad investors. It felt like the WWE actually cared about their own intellectual properties; their characters.
SummerSlam wasn’t about putting on a MOTY candidate, or trying to ‘surprise twist!’ you into tuning into RAW the next night. If anything, my biggest criticisms fall on the events that led up to this show ending up the way it did in the first place, rather than anything on the show itself. WWE essentially used SummerSlam to tackle as many of their wrongs over 2018 as possible.
I applaud them for that, but it has to be a continued effort. The WWE kids tidied all their toys away, but if the next time they play they’re left scattered all over the floor again without a care… then have we really moved forward?
Storytelling over Wrestling
I was reading my Twitter feed Monday morning, seeing folk critising and nitpicking certain aspects of SummerSlam and was just thinking, “Sure, but who cares?” Like seriously, who cares what the average match star rating was if the stories told advanced things so excellently? For the first time in a long ass while, I felt like I was watching a WWE PPV that actually gave a shit about where it was all headed. What’s next for these characters? What brought them to this point in the first place?
That was my biggest takeaway from SummerSlam, not whether or not The Bludgeon Brothers vs New Day was a tad sloppy in parts, but what the stories were that WWE were actually telling. WWE have been stuck for so long in this loop of characters getting no momentum, with no arcs advancing over time or taking them anywhere.
SummerSlam was different, every match advanced something. Even Balor vs Corbin ended up having a purpose as we saw the return of The Demon. We’ll know for sure come a few PPVs down the line from now, but I’m optimistic enough to think that perhaps SummerSlam saw a slight change in booking philosophy going forward.
This was why I pushed this column back a day, I wanted to wait to until after RAW to see if WWE were actually serious. Was SummerSlam a flash in the pan where everything just happened to fall in place on the night? Or are we about to see a gradual shift of focus within WWE?
Whether WWE are shifting or not, it really is time to move on from the Era of Fan Rebellion and on to… well, to the simpler things WWE claim to be all about: characters and telling stories. SmackDown Live wasn’t an initial hit in 2016 because they put on 5 star classics, they dedicated time to growing their characters and making you care about the stories being told. Talking Smack was a BIG reason for the blue brand’s initial success.
Don’t forget, RAW put on some fantastic matches during that period. But was the show given the same praise as their blue friends? No. Sure having great matches doesn’t hurt, but developing your characters and advancing stories is so much more important. Jinder Mahal was awful, but he was doubly so early into his title reign because he had neither of those things.
And then he had crap matches.
But that’s why I enjoyed SummerSlam as much as I did. The show focused so heavily on developing characters and moving stories forward. SummerSlam may be billed as a similarly huge event, but it certainly wasn’t booked like the end point WrestleMania has become. Only one story flat out ended this Sunday and it was the one that bloody well needed to.
WWE Moving Forward
Let’s backtrack a bit. WWE’s formula for WrestleMania has worked for decades, but it has its drawbacks. Stories being finite and having clear ending points with relatively short arcs can work well. You’ve got characters with histories with other characters, but very rarely does that become anything more than an inside nod down the line.
More than often, WWE ends up having to try and formulate something decent out of the crap pieces they’ve put into play. That was pretty much what SummerSlam was, doing the best they could with the hand they’d been dealt. But they dealt the hand and specifically chose which cards were in play, so how much praise do they actually deserve?
Again, this is where things will slowly take shape over time. I’d say come Survivor Series, but really I’m eying up the Royal Rumble as my point of interest in the distance. Come then we’ll really know: was SummerSlam just WWE doing the best they could with their own crap? Or was it a genuine shift, with the stories and characters having more focus? Or just like 2018 with off the fly booking and a continuation of the lovely win-lose stop-start momentum?
Time will tell, but I can say that SummerSlam felt like a hefty stride in the right direction. Characters first, then let us have our, “this is awesome!” chants. Not that I’ve ever chanted that. I am British after all, so the closest I’ve ever gotten is, “Jolly good show. That was rather pleasant, my dear fellow.”
Which brings me to the end of this column which was meant to be gushing over SummerSlam, but instead got slightly away from me and turned into something else entirely. From Ambrose & Rollins back together, to Becky Lynch murdering Charlotte, to Strowman murdering Owens, AJ Styles snapping, Miz cheating to beat Bryan, Hardy murdering himself, Rousey destroying Bliss and Roman Reigns finally ending his chapter with Brock Lesnar; so many characters moved forward on Sunday.
Sure, there weren’t any 5 star matches and the crowd still booed Roman at the start of RAW, but can you honestly say that the stories being told are not infinitely better? SummerSlam isn’t WrestleMania, ending so many feuds would have been so stupid.
Just ask yourself, what comes next? SummerSlam was greater than the sum of its parts, every story advanced smartly and had me interested going into RAW/SD Live. So again, why should I care about the perceived quality of each individual piece? You do that with the attitude era and you’d think it was the worst product ever, but the overall shows were fun and full of memorable character moments.
That’s what SummerSlam was: character. WWE finally delivering that promise of telling stories and half the internet crowd complain the matches weren’t of a 5 star quality. Eh, you can’t please everyone. I’m happy.
Those CG graphics over the entrances were a bit bollocks though.
Email Imp – firstname.lastname@example.org
Links to Imp’s latest columns:
Imp’s WWE Adventure: Lesnar vs Reigns IV: Down As Smooth As A Dog On A Slide
Imp’s NJPW Adventure: NO ROPE EXPLOSIVE BARBED WIRE DEATHMATCH
Imp’s WWE Adventure: My First RAW Since Bobby Lashley’s Sisters
Thanks for reading! How are you guys feeling about WWE after SummerSlam? Did you like the PPV or think it was awful? What’s the female equivalent of ‘chaps’?Let me know in the comments below. We are also currently recruiting new writers with the opportunity of posting here on the Lords of Pain main page, so if you have ever wanted to write here then why not sign up via the picture below and get started today!