Well I’ll be damned, how good was Summer Slam? After a wholly uninspiring summer of wrestling on most fronts the WWE completely turned things around, putting on their best PPV of the year right before the leaves start to turn orange.
While there will be some out there who quibble about who won what title, on a whole it was a night that blended triumph with disaster, resolving some stories and build up some others and produced a slew of very enjoyable matches.
However a review isn’t why you came here, so let’s get stuck in and see who soared as high as Brock tossed the Money In The Bank Briefcase and who died a worse death than Elias’s guitar? It’s time for the biggest winners and biggest losers of Summer Slam 2018.
Roman Reigns’ multi-year quest to beat Brock Lesnar is finally complete and he walks out of Summer Slam as the undisputed top guy on the WWE roster. Sure the shenanigans that came from having Braun Strowman at ringside will probably lead to another match with Brock down the line but ultimately Strowman was dispensed with before the final sequence, giving Roman a relatively clean 1,2,3 over the WWE’s final boss.
In the past Roman has thrived creatively when he has had the opportunity to play the part of the undisputed top dog, legitimising AJ Styles and Finn Balor on the main roster after Mania 32 and building up Braun Strowman after beating The Undertaker last year. It has been over two years since the Big Dog held a World Title, hopefully ending Brock’s reign of terror and getting the red strap will allow Reigns to lean into the more entitled side of his character that has created such compelling TV in the past.
Of course, as with everything he does, there will be a large section of fans unhappy with Reigns’ win. However their loud reactions and investment in whoever is challenging him will only help invigorate a Raw main event scene that has been idly spinning its wheels for far too long.
In the co-main event of the night The Baddest Woman on the Planet continued her evolution into one of the most exciting pro wrestlers on the planet and claimed what could be the first of many WWE Women’s Championships.
Rousey looks completely at home in the pro wrestling ring and seems to add another layer to her performance with each outing. At Mania it was her body language that stood out, against Nia Jax the fiery fighting quality and tonight she added a huge dose of trash talk and some very cool visual presentation elements to her character in ring.
Throughout the match Rousey tossed the hopelessly overmatched Alexa Bliss from pillar to post before damn near tearing the former champ’s arm off in the lead up to the submission win. While the Women’s Evolution has often been typified by matches that present the women as equals, a dominant performance was the perfect way for this particular confrontation to go down.
It is amazing to think Rousey is less than six months into her in ring career and make no mistake we could be looking at one of the greats, male or female, if she sticks around and her trajectory continues in the direction it has so far.
Alongside his returning brother Dean Ambrose Seth Rollins got Summer Slam off to a red hot start, winning back the Intercontinental Title from Dolph Ziggler what was easily one of the contenders for match of the night.
While you wouldn’t say he completely burnt the joint to the ground, The King Slayer’s return to the hot-opener position was yet another great performance in what has been a summer of excellence for Rollins.
As my fellow LOP columnist ‘Plan often says, Rollins gains an extra spring in his step when he is holding a belt and reclaiming the Intercontinental Championship with Dean Ambrose by his side sets up so many potential stories. Over five years the pair have carved out one of the best long term stories the WWE has ever produced and the next chapter beckons even if a Dolph Ziggler rematch is most likely next on the cards.
Add in that Rollins won back the Intercontinental Title on the same night his old Shield partner, Roman Reigns, claimed the Universal Title and we could be in for a very interesting story going forward.
It may have come with some canny assistance from his wife but tonight The Miz got his biggest win since beating John Cena at Wrestlemania 27.
While this was their first chance to throw hands, Miz and Daniel Bryan have been circling one another since Bryan’s return and despite all of Bryan’s promises it was ultimately The Miz who would land the decisive blow in this encounter.
Since moving to Smackdown after Wrestlemania The Miz has been on a steady ascent to the top of the brand and this win over his long term rival and one the the biggest faces in the company is another big stepping stone along the way. The dusty finish does leave room for a rematch but I actually hope they wait, in Miz and Bryan the WWE have a truly special rivalry that us fans are keen to get invested in. Blowing it all off in a few months just seems to be a wasted opportunity.
Is it possible to be a winner and loser in the same night? Apparently it is. While Charlotte showed she was truly her Father’s daughter, throwing her personal life to the side when given the chance to be champion, Becky Lynch got one of the pops of the night when she attacked Charlotte post match, so I’ve popped her up here.
I am excited for the next step in the story because it is still not clear exactly who’s back the fans will have. Does the crowd continue to side with Becky even though she attacked her best friend who did nothing more than beat her in a fair fight? Or does Becky take it too far and lose herself in the fight for revenge?
Tonight though, after over a year of being the least prominent member of the Four Horsewomen Becky is back in the spotlight and has the crowd hanging off what happens next in her story.
For my money, Demon Balor showing up was the surprise of the night. With just one match as the Demon, months of mundanity have been whipped away and suddenly Finn Balor looks dangerous again. I really liked the extra aggressive edge the Demon gives Balor and I think the transformation would be complete if he simply added a high powered finisher or signature move reserved only for the Demon.
Coach did ask the question we all have on our lips, “why doesn’t he do this more often?” After the reaction he got tonight though I fully expect the Demon to come out of Balor with far more regularity in the future.
Wrestling Tights Makers
Not a PPV goes by these days without a gang of WWE superstars commissioning their own special set of tights for the night. At Summer Slam they ran the whole gamut, from the awesome of Miz’s special white tights, to the puzzling nature of Seth Rollins Thanos inspired costume (is that really a good role model Seth?), to the plain bad that was Daniel Bryan’s ‘I just graduated wrestling school’ fluro flame patterns.
I’m not sure how much a full set of tights sets you back but I’m sure the makers of them are rubbing their hands together every time the WWE adds a PPV to the calendar.
Speaking of making bank, being a A list celebrity on the WWE paylist is a pretty sweet job, wear a nice suit, say a few words and collect a fatter pay cheque than probably half the guys in the ring. Mr Crews didn’t even need to show up on the night so is easily one of the biggest winners.
When Daniel Bryan returned to WWE earlier this year we all drew up lists of opponents we wanted to see him face, at the top of a good chunk of them was The Miz.
He was the wrestler that trained and antagonised Bryan when he debuted on NXT in 2010, he was the guy that got in Bryan’s face on Talking Smack and he was the wrestler that Bryan called in a personal favour to have moved over to his show at the Shakeup. It is safe to say that Bryan’s return to the top was always going to go through The Miz.
However when all the talk was over, after the predictably cool video package had aired and the fighting began, it was Miz that came up trumps.
On top of that, despite being the most universally beloved hero in the WWE since Steve Austin, Bryan has not been exactly acting terribly likeably towards Miz, a guy who has arguably had to work harder to build and rebuild his career in the WWE than Bryan ever did.
I’m not going to predict we are in for a double turn here but simply point out that based on what has happened in the lead up to this match and the result, Bryan doesn’t exactly deserve an immediate rematch.
The WWE Champion may have walked out of Summer Slam with his championship still in his hands but he does so having shown himself increasingly susceptible to the mind games of canny opponents who find a way to get under his skin.
Just like at Great Balls of Fire where Styles cracked under mental pressure from Shinsuke Nakamura, tonight Styles was goaded a disqualification by Samoa Joe. Joe is currently playing the Smackdown champ like a fiddle, tuning him up and letting him down whenever he wants, ultimately remaining in complete control of everything around him.
There will no doubt be a rematch and after tonight I have to wonder how long Styles speed and athleticism can last against Joe’s power and crucially his machiavellian intelligence. Styles may have put on a phenomenal match but there is no doubt in my mind who truly came out of the WWE Championship match the worse for wear.
I had a few questions heading into KO’s match against Braun Strowman. Could he outsmart or out manoeuvre the Monster Among Men? Could he get out of the match without being broken in two? Would he ever get a chance to wear his ‘KO in the Bank’ shirt and shorts again? Sadly it is a hard no to all three of those.
In what can only be described as a glorified squash match, the only piece of offence Kevin Owens got in only served to anger his opponent even more.
I’m not going to proclaim that the sky is falling on the former Universal Champion but seriously, when was the last time Kevin Owens won a match of any note?
Can someone please tell me what the rules with leaving the ring are? In a number of matches it seemed completely arbitrary when one moment the refs would hold one of the combatants back, preventing them exiting the ring and next minute let them suicide dive through the ropes.
While we are at it can we get a clear call on what counts an interference DQ? In the main event even if you grant it that Brock and Roman were the primary ones attacking Braun, The Monster Among Men clearly made a grab at Lesnar’s leg. I’m just saying that people have been disqualified for less.
Did Vince happen to talk past a computer with a Windows 95 screensaver recently? I’m not sure what was worse, The Bulldog hovering above Roman Reigns, the ridiculously fake storm clouds for Demon Balor or the floating logo AJ Styles walked underneath.
I mean if you are going to do them then at least make them good. The current graphics look like images you’d see through cardboard red and blue glasses in a dodgy theme park advertising a ‘4D XPERIENZE!’
But over to you LOP, who did you think were the biggest winners and losers at Summer Slam? Let me know in the comments below, you can hit me up on Twitter @Sir_Samuel or sign up to the LOP forums and chat to me about it down there.