WWE SummerSlam 2023 Reaction (Live Perspective)

Cody Rhodes vs. Brock Lesnar, SummerSlam 2023

Welcome to the SummerSlam Reaction, where I offer my take on this year’s edition emanating from the Motor City, Detroit.

As always, you can check out John’s full in-depth review here.

I’m going to be doing this one a little differently from my usual Reaction columns. I was able to attend SummerSlam in person at Ford Field, so I’m going to do this as a live event reaction. I have not yet watched SummerSlam on Peacock yet.

I went to the shows with a couple of buddies of mine. There was a group of us back in the day that would go to the shows when they were in town, but we couldn’t get the whole band back together for one more event. I’m sure one day we will be able to do that.

The eTicketing system for me had a couple of issues but we had arrived with plenty of time to get in. The seats were really good, just above and to the left of the entranceway. They were using about 90% of the stadium. The hard camera was in an end zone and the area directly behind it was tarped off. The setup was flipped from when WrestleMania 23 was in the building, due to the stage that was used at the time. When we got to our seats, there was some lady playing music, DJ style, until the preshow started. The pre-show did not play on the video screens. The lights would randomly start flashing and we just assumed that they were trying to get the fans excited while the panel was talking on camera.

When we were ready to go live, the PPV warning screen and the Then, Now, Forever, Together video played. The crowd was hyped for the Kid Rock opening video and then we are live in the arena. The place was going crazy and packed to the rafters.

The opening contest was Logan Paul vs. Ricochet. The crowd was loud for both when they came out. If you’ve never attended a live show, it is an interesting dynamic. There is no commentary heard and you can either watch in the ring or up on the video board. They worked a really good match. From our vantage point, you could see some of the in-ring action and some of it you had to watch on the video board. Paul’s win got a mixed reaction from the crowd. There were more boos than cheers.

We got to see Sheamus arrive in the monster truck and the Lesnar-Rhodes video package played on the video board.

Brock Lesnar was out first to a huge reaction. His pyro blew over what looked like the entranceway but I saw it take quite a bit of time to go out as it floated down into the crowd below. Cody Rhodes got a massive reaction with a lot of singing along to his entrance music. That was great to experience. The match was really good. The crowd would count along with the ref during the count out spots. The F5 through the announce table was cool and several wondered why Rhodes wasn’t DQed for hitting Lesnar with the steps. Referee discretion, I guess. The crowd came alive when Rhodes started his comeback for his eventual win. We were all surprised by the Lesnar handshake and raising Rhodes’s hand to the crowd. That was a really nice gesture by Lesnar.

The WrestleMania 40 video played to quite noticeable boos. The Becky Lynch video started to play and then immediately cut off. A “We want Mania” chant broke out during the small break for the Lynch video.

The Slim Jim SummerSlam Battle Royal jobbers come to the ring introduced under the SummerSlam theme song. The Miz gets the first entrance under their own music. LA Knight’s music hits and the place erupts with likely the pop of the night. AJ Styles gets his own entrance and we are ready to go. Someone starts talking on a mic and we see on the video board that MVP is at the entranceway and introduces Omos as the final battle royal competitor. Nobody seemed impressed and start fighting while Omos walks down the aisle. With the ring full, it is hard to keep track of what is going on, so we watch on the video board. Once it got down to the final three, it was a little easier to keep track of what was going on in the ring. Once LA Knight eliminated Sheamus to win, the stadium erupted again for him. It was a great win for Knight. Hopefully, this is the start of his push to the top of the card.

la knight wwe yeah

The video package before the MMA Rules match with Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler did a good job explaining the feud, but did nothing to explain the rules for the match. I’m sure if you were into MMA, this was probably a good bout. The lack of rules explanation to the crowd lead to them not caring. You could feel the crowd going away. At least once the “This is boring” chant started, they went into the go home sequence for the Baszler win. There really wasn’t any type of reaction after the match and the show just sorta moved on.

Mike Rome announced the attendance for tonight as 59,194. That’s about 20,000 less than the WrestleMania 23 attendance of just over 80,000. It was supposedly the Ford Field attendance record as well. The place was definitely packed.

Drew McIntyre was out first for his match with GUNTHER for the Intercontinental Championship. McIntyre got the flamethrower entrance with the flamethrowers up in the ceiling. You could still feel the heat from them. We got to see Ludwig Kaiser do his introduction of GUNTHER on the video board, but it cut to the Imperium graphics as soon as the music hit. The match was good, but not quite the banger I was expecting it to be. The match seemed a little short to me with GUNTHER picking up the win. GUNTHER has 32 more days until he breaks the Honky Tonk Man’s record for the longest reign.

After the Judgment Day-Rollins video package, Finn Balor came out alone for his World Heavyweight Championship match with Seth Rollins. Rollins turns up the heat again and we serenade him to the ring. Rollins stands in the ring to enjoy more singing from the fans. The match was terrific as we caught the spots that had been key in their previous Universal Championship match seven years ago. Everybody thought Damian Priest came out a little early and we all jumped to out feet. Priest eventually came down to try to help Balor. When the didn’t work, he motioned for Rhea Ripley and Dominik Mysterio to come down through the crowd. Rollins battled back through the numbers and picked up the win after hitting Balor with a stomp on the Money in the Bank briefcase that Priest had tossed into the ring. We were a little surprised that there was no cash in attempt. While the lights were off for the Alpha Academy’s Mike’s Hard Lemonde commercial, Ripley could be seen breaking a fight up between Priest and Balor in the entranceway which led to a “Mami” chant.

We got to see the women’s triple threat video before the triple threat match for the WWE Women’s Championship between Charlotte Flair, Asuka, and Bianca Belair. All three women got decent reactions from the crowd. The match was good. Charlotte had an issue with her ring gear early on that the ref helped fix. Charlotte did a top rope moonsault to the floor that looked terrible on the video board and even worse in person. The crowd got concerned when Bianca got “hurt” in the throw over the top rope spot. We applauded when they showed her getting up off the floor and grew suspicious when the cameraman kept following them in the aisleway. Bianca made the comeback down the aisle and hit a picture perfect 450 on Charlotte for a very close nearfall. The finish was very unique for a triple threat match. Charlotte had Bianca in the figure eight which allowed Asuka to mist her. When Asuka came around to grab Bianca, Bianca hooked Asuka to win the match. That was a very cleaver finish. Belair’s win would make sense as soon as IYO SKY’s music hit. The pop she got was a close second to LA Knight’s earlier in the night. SKY cashed in and captured the title. The crowd went wild again as SKY celebrated with her Damage CTRL teammates.

We got to see the Liv Morgan video package before the Tribal Combat video package.

Jey Uso came out first to a pretty good reaction. Roman Reigns got a decent reaction when he came out. Reigns came out without Solo Sikoa. We get ring introductions but no rules explanations again. They started off really slow. Once they kicked into the next gear, the match started to pick up. Uso got a “We want tables” chant so he pulled out a table. The action in the ring was really good. Once we got about 20 minutes in, the crowd started to get a little restless. The kids in our section were definitely getting tired. It’s about midnight at this point. The out in the crowd stuff was a little hard to see where they had gone so you were watching on the video board. When Jimmy Uso showed up to cost his brother the title, the crowd was definitely shocked. As soon as Roman was announced as the winner, people started streaming to the exits and didn’t stick around for the post match celebration.

John rated SummerSlam at an 8. That’s a fair rating as I don’t know how the event actually came off on TV. As for being in there live, I’ll go with an 8.5. The live experience was great and the crowd was great all night.

Let’s take a look at tonight’s highs and lows

The Highs

LA Knight continues to ride his wave of popularity. He easily got the pop of the night and I saw quite a few LA Knight shirts in the crowd and we were doing his “LA Knight yeah” thing at various points of the night, including outside walking back to our cars.

I’m so happy for IYO SKY successfully cashing in her Money in the Bank briefcase to capture the WWE Women’s Championship. It was nice to see Dakota Kai there to celebrate with her. She was almost as popular with the fans as LA Knight. She could put together a nice babyface run with this title run. I’m also glad they didn’t go the route of having Bayley cost SKY her cash in opportunity.

The crowd was great all night. A live event is a fun experience.

The Lows

Reception in and around Ford Field is terrible. I have heard that from other events that Ford Field needs to come up with reception solutions.

The Tribal Combat match really didn’t need to go that long. The show was over four hours long and likely would have been closer to five if they had kept the Trish Stratus-Becky Lynch and Rhea Ripley-Raquel Rodriguez matches on the card. Maybe they should have started the show at 7 instead of 8. I know there was the Tigers game next door to work around though.


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That’s all I’ve got, until next time.