What a weekend to be a wrestling fan. WWE Summerslam and NXT Takeover 36 were pretty good shows in my opinion. It was a little weird having Takeover after Summerslam, but I didn’t mind it too much. What I am here for today is to give five thoughts on Summerslam and five on Takeover. There were no shortages of talking points from both shows so I feel this format would be the best way to basically cover the main points. Let’s get to it.
FIVE THOUGHTS ABOUT SUMMERSLAM
1. FOUR CHAMPIONSHIPS CHANGE HANDS
RKBro won the Raw Tag Team Championships. Becky Lynch won the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Damian Priest won the United States Championship. Charlotte Flair won the Raw Women’s Championship. I predicted three out of those four as I did not expect Becky to return, but I did predict Bianca to lose the Smackdown Women’s Championship so I’m giving myself half of a point for it.
A. Raw Tag Team Championships: RKBro had been teased for months and it finally came to fruition at Summerslam. I felt like it was the right call. AJ and Omos had really gone as far as they could as champions. I think it’s time AJ Styles went back into singles competition. Having BOTH AJ Styles and Randy Orton in the tag division is not a wise move, so I’m glad RKBro finally got the win so now we can move AJ Styles on to other things. It was a pretty good match with the right result.
B. The United States Championship: New United States Champion Damian Priest has been one of the most protected superstars on either show since his call-up earlier this year. Priest beat Sheamus a couple of weeks ago on Raw and did so again here. This should be the end of the feud, but I have a feeling it is not. Sheamus has put on stellar matches this year and Summerslam was no different. Putting the title on Priest was the right call.
C. Raw Women’s Championship: I picked Charlotte Flair because if there’s one thing I’ve learned is when in doubt, pick Charlotte Flair. This is her 12th main roster World Title and honestly, she was probably the best choice. I know people might not want to hear that, but the Nikki A.S.H character just isn’t getting over the way I’m sure they hoped. It’s 2021 and it is harder to get that kind of character over with wrestling fans. I admire Nikki for sticking to her guns, but her character may need a few tweaks if she is going to continue using it. Charlotte was the right call and I feel she may hold that title for a long time after having a one day title reign last month.
D. Smackdown Women’s Championship:Becky Lynch won the title in shocking fashion. I’ll have more on this later, but it was a hell of a shocker for sure.
2. BOBBY LASHLEY RETAINS THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP
Bobby Lashley defeated Goldberg in probably one of Goldberg longest matches in years via referee stoppage around the 7-minute mark. I knew there was going to be a different finish, but I just couldn’t see Goldberg being okay with tapping out nor could I see him losing to his own Spear so I figured a different finish was coming. I did not expect a referee stoppage, but I like it because this was better in establishing Bobby as a dominant force. How many guys do you know that have beaten Goldberg so bad he couldn’t continue? It elevated Lashley even more.
Putting Goldberg’s son Gage in the Hurt Lock probably means this isn’t done. Goldberg can always come out on Raw and destroy Lashley leading to a cash-in from Big E, but I’m not really interested in another Goldberg match for the WWE Title. With the Crown Jewel show in Saudi Arabia coming in October, that could be where Goldberg gets a rematch so he might wrestle more than twice this year.
3. BECKY LYNCH IS YOUR NEW SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPION
You read that right. Becky Lynch returned at Summerslam to a thunderous pop after it was revealed that Sasha Banks would not be making her scheduled match with Smackdown Women’s Champion Bianca Belair. After disposing of Carmella, Becky asked Bianca if she wanted to tear the house down. Bianca agreed and Becky offered a handshake before delivering a cheap shot, a heelish move, and beating her with the Manhandle Slam in about 27 seconds. I have seen way too many people online just bash this decision without waiting to see what happens. Maybe Becky Lynch turns heel? (That’s what the report is today as we covered on TJRWrestling here). Maybe Bianca Belair goes to Raw in October’s draft to feud with the new Raw Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair? Maybe Bianca Belair defeats both Becky Lynch AND Sasha Banks in a triple threat match to get her title back? That would be huge for Belair.
Do I agree with beating Bianca in 27 seconds? No, I don’t. I’m also not going to lose it without seeing if a story develops out of it. Bianca has never faced adversity on the main roster. It’s time to see how her character responds to it. People using the word “buried” have no clue what that word means. I am glad Becky Lynch is back. WWE needed her star power and she comes to an already stacked Smackdown Women’s division. What happens with Sasha Banks? I don’t know and that’s fine. It’s okay to not know things from time to time.
4. ROMAN REIGNS IS STILL THE UNIVERSAL CHAMPION
I don’t think there was much doubt here. Especially since Roman added that he would leave WWE if he didn’t leave Universal Champion. People speculated that WWE may give John Cena his 17th World Title victory as a response to Ric Flair’s departure, but I never thought that was a possibility. Roman Reigns is playing the long game here. The end game is Roman Reigns vs. The Rock at WrestleMania 38 in Dallas next April.
Whether that is for the Universal Title remains to be seen, but Reigns must look strong all the way until that match and I think he did here. I don’t know who else he could lose to. He has defeated everybody from his own cousin Jey Uso, Kevin Owens, Cesaro, Daniel Bryan, Edge and now John Cena. I guess Finn Balor could be next. They could switch Drew McIntyre over in the draft or have Big E cash in, but it seems as if Brock Lesnar is next on the horizon and you can never bet against The Beast.
5. THE BEAST INCARNATE HAS RETURNED…WITH A UNIQUE LOOK!
Much like Money in the Bank, Roman Reigns retained the Universal Championship and had time to gloat. Just like John Cena at Money in the Bank, Roman’s celebration was cut short but this time by The Beast Incarnate. Sporting a new look ponytail and hairstyle that will likely be gone soon, Brock Lesnar returned to a monster pop. Brock easily got the pop of the night as he came out and stared down Roman Reigns. The reaction from Paul Heyman sold the entire story. You could hear Heyman yelling “no” repeatedly.
I should point out also when Cena’s music hit at Money in the Bank, the first thing Reigns did was look at the entrance area. When Lesnar’s music hit at SummerSlam, the first thing Reigns did was look at Heyman as if to say: “Did you know about this?” It’s a small thing, but it just how smart they are at doing the little things right.
Heyman is going to be crucial in this feud because it adds another layer of question marks. First, it was how does Roman Reigns get Jey Uso to fall in line? Then Jimmy Uso returned, and it became about Jey being torn between his brother and his cousin before Jimmy fell in line. Now, the question becomes, who’s side is Paul Heyman on? Heyman and Lesnar go back 20 years. Is Paul really going to throw that away for The Tribal Chief? Paul Heyman turned on Brock Lesnar once, will he do it again? Or is the bond between Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman too strong? Personally, I think Heyman stays with The Bloodline. Brock Lesnar can be a babyface because he doesn’t have to talk much. Heyman and Reigns can sell the talking. Just have Brock come out, say a few words, and throw around 15 Suplexes along with the F5 and the crowd will eat it up. It is not a complicated feud to make. They’ve feuded before but it’ll be interesting now that Roman Reigns with Paul Heyman is the heel and Brock Lesnar is the babyface. I think you can pencil this in as your main event for Crown Jewel in October. Big payday, pal.
FIVE THOUGHTS ABOUT NXT TAKEOVER 36
1. RAQUEL GONZALEZ HAS ARRIVED
Raquel Gonzalez faced former friend turned enemy Dakota Kai for the NXT Women’s Championship. NXT knows how to book these betrayal angles. From Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn to Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa to Adam Cole and Kyle O Reilly. NXT loves breakup angles and this one delivered.
Dakota sold her ass off for Raquel and made her look like a million bucks. With rumors of Dakota being called up to Raw/Smackdown, I think this was a nice send-off for her. An immediate feud with Kay Lee Ray from NXT UK suggests this may be it for Raquel and Dakota which is fine by me. KLR is legit and I wouldn’t be shocked if she takes the NXT Women’s Title because I see Raquel on the main roster sooner rather than later based on her look and size. Raquel dominating the Royal Rumble in January? It’s certainly possible.
2. CAMERON GRIMES GETS HIS REVENGE
In what was a surprisingly well-built story, Cameron Grimes finally got his revenge on LA Knight. I loved the inclusion of Ted Dibiase. It was weird seeing him in the babyface role, but it fit the story they were trying to tell because Ted’s a legend that WWE fans respect a lot. I wasn’t sold at first when Grimes was a heel because I felt they were just ripping off the “Million Dollar Man” gimmick. Once Grimes turned babyface and feuded with LA Knight, I became invested. I was a bit worried after Knight won the ladder match for the Million Dollar Championship because I felt that was a perfect time for Grimes to win it, but the story played out and paid off with Grimes wearing the Million Dollar Man colors and finally winning the title.
LA Knight seems like a perfect guy for the main roster. We’ll see if they go that route or if they try to squeeze another match out of these two. Either way, the crowd was behind Grimes in this one. I never thought I would say that a year ago.
3. WALTER AND IIJA DRAGUNOV TORE THE HOUSE DOWN
This is probably my match of the entire weekend followed by Edge and Seth Rollins. WALTER has been NXT UK Champion for 870 days so you knew the end was coming eventually and Dragunov was the perfect babyface. I admit I don’t watch much of NXT UK but I did see their first match and thought it was the match of that weekend too. They beat the crap out of each other and the crowd ate it up. Everyone who aspires to be a professional wrestler should watch this match. My good friend John Canton of this fine website rated it five stars out of five and called it the WWE Match of the Year, so I think that says a lot too.
I know WALTER doesn’t want to move to the United States based on past interviews he has done, but I would be totally for him being brought in for short feuds with Samoa Joe, or even Drew McIntyre or Brock Lesnar on the main roster. The guy is a beast and deserves to be seen by the masses.
4. IS THIS ADAM COLE’S SWAN SONG?
Everybody pretty much knows by now that Takeover was Adam Cole’s last night of his current contract. He faced Kyle O Reilly in a pretty good 25-minute match. Kyle won the first fall, Adam Cole won the second fall in a Street Fight and O’Reilly won the third fall to win the match by submission using his heel hook finish in a Steel Cage Match.
Do I think Adam Cole is leaving? I don’t know. He could show up on Raw tonight as a surprise challenger to Damian Priest or Smackdown on Friday. He could show up in AEW (where girlfriend Britt Baker is one of that company’s biggest stars) as soon as this Wednesday or Friday. The only person who truly knows is Adam Cole.
One thing I will say is that if this is Adam Cole’s swan song, it has been a hell of a ride. From attacking then NXT Champion Drew McIntyre at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn in 2017, to forming The Undisputed Era, to holding all the gold and being a triple crown winner, to being the longest reigning NXT Champion ever at 396 days. The one regret I have is that he might leave without having a run on the main roster. The matches he could have had with the likes of AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Drew McIntyre, Sami Zayn, Edge, his buddy Kevin Owens, etc. It would have been awesome. I hope he stays in WWE but if he doesn’t, he went out the right way and I respect him for that.
5. SAMOA JOE IS YOUR NEW NXT CHAMPION
The record third reign as NXT Champion has begun for Samoa Joe as he defeated Karrion Kross using the old Muscle Buster which we haven’t seen in years. It was a fitting end to a very personal feud. I assume Kross is off to Raw full time and Samoa Joe is left to figure out who his next challenger is. It could be Pete Dunne (assuming he doesn’t leave when his contract is up). There’s also Johnny Gargano. Joe also might turn heel soon because without Kross and Cole (regardless of his contract situation), the heel side of NXT is pretty thin at the moment. Either way, it was an okay match. I’ve seen better from both guys, but Joe hasn’t wrestled in 18 months so it was expected that it would take a minute to get back into ring readiness.
Overall, I thought this was one of the better NXT Takeovers in recent memory due to the bell to bell action. I know there are changes coming, but not all of them are going to be bad. Just wait and see what happens.
When it comes to the match of the weekend, I’m probably leaning toward WALTER versus Iija Dragunov followed by Edge versus Seth Rollins. Edge, with the Brood entrance, along with Seth Rollins lived up to the hype of their match. Edge winning probably means the feud will continue.
My moment of the weekend is probably the returns of Brock Lesnar and Becky Lynch followed by Samoa Joe’s first match in almost 2 years. The main roster needed Brock Lesnar and Becky Lynch. Becky Lynch especially should be a shot in the arm going forward.
Overall, I probably liked Summerslam better just because of the big moments with Becky and Brock plus great matches like Roman Reigns and John Cena as well as Edge and Seth Rollins. NXT Takeover 36 had the better wrestling show, but I thought Summerslam delivered on the big moments that were worthy of one of the big four Pay Per Views of the year. Plus, being in front of a crowd of 50,000 people in Las Vegas helped the atmosphere of SummerSlam too.
Thanks for reading. I’m very active on Twitter @GiftedMoney talking about wrestling among other things, so feel free to message me on there with any thoughts or comments.