WWE SummerSlam 2016 Review

summerslam 2016 lesnar cena

The 29th edition of SummerSlam in 2016 was a show headlined by Brock Lesnar facing Randy Orton while AJ Styles battled John Cena in what was clearly the highlight of the night.

This show took place about one month after the 2016 Draft Lottery that WWE did because Smackdown became “Smackdown Live” on Tuesday nights in the summer of 2016. It was WWE’s way of trying to make Smackdown more relevant again. I thought Smackdown was superior to Raw in that first year after the brand extension, so in that sense it worked.

Here’s my live review from the night the show took place with some updated 2018 comments in the red font to let you know what I thought of things two years after it took place.

WWE SummerSlam
Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York
August 21, 2016

Here are the three kickoff show matches.

Jason Jordan, Chad Gable, Jey Uso, Jimmy Uso, Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley vs. Konnor, Viktor, Aiden English, Simon Gotch, Tyler Breeze & Fandango

This took place around 5:30pmET, which is when I was making dinner. The match saw everybody in the ring hitting big moves, then as American Alpha did their double team finisher, Jey Uso tagged himself in and hit a splash to win for the faces. Sorry for the lack of details. This review is long enough! The match went 14:32.

Winners by pinfall: Jason Jordan, Chad Gable, Jey Uso, Jimmy Uso, Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley

Analysis: ** The faces won just like they did on Smackdown as well. There was a bit of a push toward The Usos of stealing the spotlight from American Alpha, which suggests a possible heel turn for The Usos, which I would like. That would be good for them at this point.

(I don’t remember this at all. The Usos did turn heel and it was great.)

Sami Zayn & Neville vs. The Dudley Boyz

Good teamwork early on from Neville and Zayn as they sent D-Von out of the ring after a successful double team. A Neville dropkick sent Bubba out of the ring too. D-Von held Neville’s legs, so Bubba hit Neville in the back to knock him down and give the veteran heels the advantage. There was a commercial.

Back from break, the heels were in control as they worked on Neville. Bubba pounded on him with some “come on, English boy” trash talk. Bubba hit missed his splash off the middle rope, which he almost always misses. Zayn received the hot tag against D-Von and hit a dropkick. Zayn with a Blue Thunder Bomb on D-Von gets two. Double team neckbreaker by the Dudleys gets two as Neville made the save. Neville avoided the 3D as Bubba accidentally hit D-Von with a clothesline, which sent D-Von to the floor. Zayn with a Helluva Kick on Bubba in the corner. Neville followed up with the Red Arrow for the pinfall at 7:55.

Winners by pinfall: Sami Zayn & Neville

Post match, the announcers pointed out another miscue by the Dudleys costing them the match.

Analysis: ** A basic tag match to put over the athletic faces. The Dudleys split is probably happening in the next month or two – perhaps leading to Bubba as a heel similar to his Bully Ray character from TNA. There was no build to the match and I think it sucks that Zayn didn’t have a match on the PPV, but it’s better than nothing.

(There was no Dudleys split although I remember Bubba saying it was close to happening. This was just a win to put Zayn and Neville as two exciting faces.)

One more match on the Kickoff Show.

Best Of 7 Series Match #1: Cesaro vs. Sheamus

It was a hard hitting match from the beginning. Cesaro blocked the ten punches to the chest, but Sheamus came back by sending him into the steel post and hit a clothesline. Suplex by Sheamus. Cesaro with a reverse fireman’s carry like move. Sheamus with a spinning powerslam gets two. They went to a commercial.

Back from break, Sheamus was in control with a rolling senton followed by the “respect the ‘hawk” taunt. They did a spot where they went tumbling over the top to the floor during a suplex/headlock spot. Cesaro nailed uppercuts on Sheamus back in the ring. Another uppercut by Cesaro and a dropkick while Sheamus was seated on the top rope. Superplex by Cesaro gets two. Sheamus fought out of the Neutralizer and hit White Noise for a two count. Sheamus put Cesaro on his shoulders on the second rope and hit a Rolling Senton for a two count. Cesaro hit Sheamus with a boot to counter the Brogue Kick and a huge clothesline by Cesaro gets two. Cesaro up top, then he stood on the ring post, jumped onto the top rope and hit a cross body block for two. Nice spot. Cesaro applied the Cesaro Swing on Sheamus with the crowd chanting along for ten spins and then a Sharpshooter, but Sheamus got to the ropes. Back elbow by Sheamus, Cesaro went for Sharpshooter, Sheamus did an eye poke that the ref didn’t see, Sheamus sent him into the turnbuckle and Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick to win at 14:11.

Winner by pinfall: Sheamus (Sheamus leads series 1-0)

Analysis: ***1/4 A good match that was given a lot of time. That’s why it’s nice that they were on the Kickoff Show in this instance because they got more time than they would have had on the main show. Sheamus needed the win because he hasn’t won a match since being on the Raw brand. Loved that spot with Cesaro jumping off the ring post, then onto the turnbuckle and hitting the cross body block. Finish was well done with the cheap eye poke that the ref didn’t see leading to the finish. Since it’s the best of seven series, they’ll probably do it where Sheamus is leading for much of it and I think Cesaro wins the series in seven matches. Hopefully the winner gets a title shot because they need some sort of prize.

(Good match. I liked the last few minutes a lot. The series ended up being 3-3, then match seven was a draw and that was the end of it. They ended up becoming reluctant tag team partners and then they morphed into a heel team known as The Bar. Two years later, they are still together.)


The opening video package was narrated by actor Michael Rappaport hyping up New York City since the show is in Brooklyn. They aired clips of people in the key matches for the show.

There was a pyro display as the show came on the air. As I mentioned earlier, the stage for SummerSlam is very cool and makes it come across as a big show. I like it better than the basic sets they’ve had this year other than WrestleMania. Michael Cole welcomed us to the show.

Enzo & Cass made their entrance, which is no surprise because they are great as an opening act. The crowd chanted along with Enzo’s promo. Cass: “New York City! How you doin’?” Enzo said this match is dedicated to the teachers that told them they wouldn’t amount to anything. Enzo said their dream has become a reality. Enzo mentioned “Ol’ Blue Eyes” aka Frank Sinatra saying that if you can make it there you can make it anywhere and Cass even sang some of the famous “New York, New York” song. Enzo mentioned they’re in an Empire State of Mind (another famous song that’s more recent). He quoted Notorious B.I.G. and he had a picture of Biggie on his jacket, saying “mo money no problems.” Cass did the “SAWFT” bit to end it. Corey Graves noted that Enzo is from New Jersey.

Analysis: A very entertaining promo from Enzo & Cass as usual. Lots of references to famous New York related songs as well.

Chris Jericho is making his 11th appearance at SummerSlam, the fifth most in history according to Michael Cole. It led to Cole being shown on screen with Byron Saxton & Corey Graves aka the Raw team. The Spanish announce team is also there.

Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens

Pre-match notes: Enzo and Cass were the faces while Jericho and Owens were the heels. This was a Raw match.

Big Cass slammed Owens to the mat early on while Graves noted Enzo was from Jersey as they mentioned Cass is from Queens, NY. Owens tagged in Jericho, but he didn’t have much success as Cass tossed Enzo into him. The heels were outside the ring, so Cass tossed Enzo over the top onto the heels. Owens distracted Enzo, so Jericho knocked him down with a kick to the head. The heels worked over Enzo, which happens in every E&C match to set up the hot tag by Cass. Owens did a great job of mocking the Enzo dance on the apron. Plenty of quick tags from the heels. Jericho even busted out an “ask him” while putting Enzo in a headlock. Dropkick by Jericho and when Owens got in there he hit a senton splash. Owens ran the ropes to apply a headlock. Enzo tried to break free, but the heels were able to stop him. Jericho ran into the ring to prevent a hot tag attempt. That spot has been done in other Enzo matches. Owens tagged in with a Frog Splash on Enzo for a two count. Enzo tried to fight back, but Owens kept him grounded. Owens blew a kiss to Jericho before missing a cannonball in the corner. Hot tag to Big Cass.

Cass tagged in against Jericho with a shoulder tackle, kick for Owens, slam for Jericho and elbow on Jericho. Cass with a boot to the face to counter an attack by Jericho. Tag to Enzo, but Owens tripped him up on turnbuckle. Owens sent Cass into the ring post and hit a cannonball against the barricade. Enzo gave Jericho a front suplex off the top rope followed by a DDT off the top rope. Enzo ran the ropes, Owens tossed him up into the air and Jericho hit a Codebreaker on Enzo to give JeriKO the pinfall win at 12:08.

Winners by pinfall: Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens

Analysis: **3/4 A competitive tag team match between two teams that know how to get a great reaction from the crowd. It followed the same formula of every E&C match with Enzo getting worked over for it, hot tag to Cass and then it led to a loss, which is a bit of a surprise. I thought E&C were going to win since they’re the younger team and the more permanent team, but I certainly don’t mind my fellow Canadians Owens and Jericho getting the win. I’m interested in seeing what’s next for all of them.

(It was just an average tag team match. Owens said in a documentary about him that he wasn’t thrilled about being in the match and thought he should have had a bigger role at SummerSlam. Owens ended up winning the Universal Title a few weeks later due to Finn Balor’s injury.)

There was a commercial for Tapout.

Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan (the Smackdown authority figures) were backstage bumping into Raw’s GM Mick Foley. Jon Stewart showed up with his son Nate. Stewart told Shane the cage jump at WrestleMania was great. Stewart asked Mick how he could work with Stephanie, so she showed up. She questioned Stewart’s comments he just made about Stephanie. She wondered what was good with power if you can’t abuse it. Stewart: “She seems nice.” The New Day duo of Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston showed up with the trombone and Booty O’s cereal. They left with Jon and his son. Stephanie said she is misunderstood.

Analysis: It was just a way to have a bunch of different people interact. Stewart didn’t add much other than ripping on Stephanie’s character.

The Women’s Title video package aired because that match is next. Banks won the Women’s Title from Charlotte on the July 25, 2016 edition of Raw.

The former champion Charlotte made her entrance alone since Dana Brooke is banned. Cole noted that Charlotte is 13-2 in PPV matches and 11-0 in singles matches with nobody else being able to match that record in singles matches.

Analysis: I like when they drop nuggets like that. Wins and losses aren’t that important, but it puts over the idea that Charlotte comes up big in PPV matches.

WWE Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte

Pre-match notes: Banks was the face champion while Charlotte was the heel. This was when WWE was just calling her Charlotte before they added the “Flair” to the name permanently. This was a Raw match.

They were each going for pinfall attempts early. Banks sent Charlotte into the middle turnbuckle. With Banks on the top rope, Charlotte let her go and Banks went head first into the mat. They messed up on some pinning spot. Charlotte applied a submission hold to work on the back of Banks. Banks came back with a knee strike, clotheslines and a dropkick as she favored her back to sell the injury. Charlotte with a backbreaker gets two. Charlotte worked on the back of Banks. When Charlotte went for the Figure Four, Banks kicked away to prevent it. Charlotte worked on the back by giving her a hip toss into the turnbuckle, which is a cool spot. Charlotte went for a Razor’s Edge off the top, but Banks countered into a hurricanrana. Wow that was great! Not an easy move to do. Very impressive by both of them. They exchanged blows in the ring with the crowd chanting along. Banks unleashed on Charlotte with some hard chops to the chest. Banks avoided a corner attack and pulled on the legs with Charlotte against the ropes. Banks with a double knee attack to the back for two. Fans were chanting “this is awesome” for them. Charlotte did the corner Flair bump and kicked the knee of Banks. Charlotte was on the floor, so Banks jumped off the middle turnbuckle with a double knee attack to take down Charlotte.

Back in the ring, Banks got a two count. Banks went for a Backstabber, but she wasn’t able to connect with it. Charlotte went for Natural Selection only for Banks to counter it into the Bank Statement. Charlotte was able to swerve out of it. Neckbreaker by Charlotte followed by a chop block to the front of the knee of Banks and a Natural Selection by Charlotte gets two. Charlotte yelled at her: “I’m better than you!” Banks countered a tilt-a-whirl slam into a headscissors into the Bank Statement. Charlotte countered it by laying on top of her, Banks didn’t let go and Charlotte won the title back by pinfall. The match went 13:51.

Winner by pinfall: Charlotte

Analysis: ***1/4 It was another really good match from these two women. The result surprised me even though I was aware of the betting odds with the big shift towards Charlotte. It’s just a surprise from a storyline perspective because I expected Banks to hold the title for more than a month. I’m not sure why they would take the gold off her so soon unless it’s because they want them to have more matches and keep the rivalry going for the rest of the year. As for the match, I liked the psychology of working on the back of Banks through much of it. Then Banks tried to work on Charlotte’s back. Banks came close to winning by submission a few times, but Charlotte kept finding a way to escape. Some big spots in the match like Banks’ hurricanrana reverse off the top rope, which was very impressive. Charlotte winning with a counter is fine for a heel.

Post match, Banks was selling a back injury while Charlotte celebrated with the title.

(These women wrestled many times throughout 2016 with several title changes on Raw with Banks winning and then Charlotte would win the title back at PPV events. The finish was done to make it look like Charlotte escaped with the title rather than winning with a dominant performance. I think they had better matches together. I can’t remember off the top of my head, but one of the Raw matches stood out the most.)

The team of Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson were in their lab coats doing the doctor bit again. Their pal in The Club, AJ Styles, showed up. They were happy to see each other. Styles said the moment they set foot in WWE he knew they’d run the place. They did their “Beat Up John Cena” line too. Finn Balor showed up. He didn’t join them in a “Two Sweet” salute. He just left.

Analysis: The internet was marking out for that Bullet Club tease moment, bro.

The Smackdown announce team of Mauro Ranallo, John Bradshaw Layfield and David Otunga took over since it’s time for a Smackdown match.

Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (w/Maryse) vs. Apollo Crews

Pre-match notes: The Miz was the heel champion while Crews was the challenger. This was a Smackdown match.

It was noted by Ranallo that the IC Title has changed 14 times at SummerSlam. That’s a lot in 29 years of SummerSlam. Maryse looks as good as ever tonight. I’m just saying. After a Crews rollup attempt, Miz hit a DDT for two. Miz went off the top rope with nothing and Crews nailed a dropkick to knock him down. There’s not much of a crowd reaction for this match. Crews with a cross body block and the Olympic Slam gets two. Crews with an enziguri kick. Miz blocked a moonsault with his knees, but then Crews nailed a powerslam for a two count. Miz with a corner clothesline that was blocked by Crews leading to an overhead belly to belly suplex. Crews with a standing moonsault gets two. Miz tried to walk away from the match. Crews was distracted by Maryse, but then he came back with a rollup. Crews missed a corner splash, hit the ring post, Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale and Miz covered for the win at 5:45.

Winner by pinfall: The Miz

Analysis: *1/2 A short match to put over Miz as the champion. Crews is not getting over with the crowd and part of that is because of the booking. The booking prior to the match was poor. There wasn’t much of a crowd reaction for anything that Crews did. I thought that maybe Miz would retain by DQ and keep the feud going, but it was a clean win for him. Hopefully the next IC Title contender is built up better than Crews was.

(I had no memory of the match, but I remembered Maryse’s great outfit. The Miz was around the IC Title a lot during this period and the year after as well. I think WWE wanted to see what they could get out of Crews in a match like that. I don’t think he did much to stand out, though.)

A commercial for WWE2K17 aired featuring Goldberg.

(At the time Goldberg was not signed to a WWE deal, but the response to him was good and WWE brought him back for Survivor Series, which led to Goldberg beating Brock Lesnar.)

Here’s a video package for Cena vs. Styles, so that match is next. There was a lot of trash talk with Styles talking about how he was really the best and he called Cena a fraud. Cena said he was in WWE because he loves it. Styles challenged Cena to the match and Cena accepted it.

There was a huge reaction for AJ Styles. I was not surprised that he was cheered by this crowd. John Cena was greeted by the usual “John Cena suuucks” singing along with his theme song.

AJ Styles vs. John Cena

Pre-match notes: Styles was a heel while Cena was a face. This was a Smackdown match. Styles beat Cena at Money in the Bank in cheap fashion and then Cena beat Styles in a six-man tag at Battleground.

The crowd was very loud early on. No surprise. Styles nailed a dropkick and celebrated like it was a big deal. Cena punched him in the face and then did a hard whip into the turnbuckle two times. I heard Cena say “apron” so Styles went there. It led to Styles hitting a snap suplex on the apron, which is the hardest part of the ring. Back in the ring, Cena with a huge back body drop. Dropkick by Cena gets two. The crowd did their familiar “Let’s Go Cena/Cena Sucks” chant. Styles came back with fists, a clothesline and a forearm to the face. Cena with the shoulder tackles, the spinning slam and the Five Knuckle Shuffle as the crowd booed him. Styles landed on his feet to counter the AA, Pele Kick and he hit the Styles Clash. Cena kicked out at two. Cena hit Attitude Adjustment and Styles kicked out of that. Not even ten minutes into it. Styles put Cena on his shoulders and hit a spinning powerbomb for a two count.

Cena with a slingshot into the top turnbuckle, then he had Styles in his arms, tossed him into the air and hit a Cutter like move similar to a RKO, but not the same move. Styles missed a forearm, Cena tripped him up and Styles came back with the Ushigoroshi, which is like a AA into the knee. JBL thought it was the AA, but Ranallo said the name of the move. Cena with a Code Red (sunset flip powerbomb) with Ranallo referencing that name for two. Styles with a face first slam gets two. Styles with a springboard attack, Cena caught him by the leg and applied the STF submission hold. Styles countered into a Crossface leading to cheers from the crowd. Cena powered out, but Styles applied the Calf Crusher submission hold. Cena turned it into the STF submission. Styles was able to get out of it. Styles with a hard kick to the head. Cena with a back elbow and a Tornado DDT for two. Cena went up top and hit the guillotine legdrop on Styles for a two count. Styles came back with a springboard hurricanrana for two. So good. Styles nailed the Phenomenal Forearm for two. Wow. Another very believable nearfall. Crowd thought that was it. This match is past the 20 minute mark now.

Cena nailed Styles with a huge clothesline to slow him down. Cena went to the middle rope with Styles on his shoulders and Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment, but Styles kicked out at two. Wow. Huge nearfall. Same finish they did at Battleground. Cena was shocked that Styles kicked out of that. He backed into a corner looking stunned about it. Cena went for another AA, but Styles landed on his feet and hit a Styles Clash again. He didn’t cover. Styles went to the apron, hit the Phenomenal Forearm and covered for the pinfall victory at 23:10! Wow that was awesome. The crowd cheered for the win.

Winner by pinfall: AJ Styles

They aired replays of this classic bout. JBL did a good job of noting this was a career defining moment for Styles. Styles left up the ramp victorious.

Post match, Cena sat up in the ring alone. He looked at his “Never Give Up” arm band and left it in the ring. He went up the ramp as the loser, but it was a damn good match.

Analysis: ***** What a great match. Wow. That was very impressive. They only had one televised match two months ago, but they have wrestled at live events too. Clearly they have built up an amazing chemistry together. There were so many believable nearfalls for both guys. I thought Cena had it won a couple of times and then I thought Styles could have won multiple times as well. What a great build up to a big moment at the end. I liked how Cena reacted in a big way when he didn’t win after the middle ropes AA. He was shocked it didn’t win, which cost him because it allowed Styles to come back. I’m glad that Styles won because it makes sense to give him some momentum heading into a possible feud with Dean Ambrose. Cena’s off to film the American Grit TV show soon. He deserves credit for putting Styles over again and this one was better than their Money in the Bank match. One of the best matches this year. I think it’s my only match with that rating with Nakamura/Zayn at five stars, which is the leader for MOTY at this point. This is second place for me at this point. If I watch it again I may change my mind.

(At the time of my live review I gave this ****3/4, but after watching it again I’m boosting it up to make it five stars. This match was special. They went 23 minutes while they barely left the ring, they built up so many believable nearfalls and the finish was perfect. I wouldn’t change anything about it. I went with Nakamura/Zayn as my WWE match of the year in 2016, but this one was right near the top too. Cena and Styles also had a five-star match at Royal Rumble 2017 as well.)

There was a commercial for WWE Network programming coming soon.

The former Daily Show host Jon Stewart walked out to the ring as a special guest for SummerSlam. This is a good way to break things up because no match is going to be able to follow Cena/Styles easily. He said he’s happy that some idiot didn’t interfere for no reason with a chair – referencing himself last year at SummerSlam. He said he learned that if you’re in a situation where you might get hit with an AA, tuck your shirt in because children are watching and nobody wants to see old man belly. Stewart took off his sweater to reveal a Booty O’s shirt as well as a unicorn on his head. He introduced New Day doing the Big E line about saying the city name leading to the intro. The crowd joined in.

Analysis: I love Stewart and miss him on the Daily Show, but the crowd wasn’t that receptive to him on this show.

WWE Tag Team Championship: Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods (w/Jon Stewart) vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson

Pre-match notes: The New Day were the faces. The New Day’s long title reign was one year old going into this match. Gallows and Anderson were the heels. This was a Raw match.

Woods with a back elbow on Anderson early on. Double team bulldog by the champs on Anderson. Woods with a dropkick to the leg of Gallows. They did the Unicorn Stampede stomp by leading to a Kingston dropkick in the corner. Woods sent Gallows out of the ring, so Kingston jumped over the top and posed in the air as he took out Gallows. Woods played the trombone to celebrate. Anderson distracted Kingston, so Gallows kicked Kingston and took control. The heels worked over Kingston for a bit, but Gallows missed a big splash. Woods tagged in to little reaction, hit some forearms and a dropkick to the back when Anderson was against the ropes. Woods kicked him in the head, went up top and hit a flying elbow across the ring for a two count. Woods with a boot to the face, Kingston tagged in and hit a double foot stomp off the top while Woods held Anderson. Gallows made the save. Kingston sent Gallows out of the ring, so Anderson capitalized with a jump kick to knock Kingston down. G&A hit the Magic Killer on Kingston. Stewart went into the ring. Woods back in there, but Anderson dropped him with a spinebuster. Stewart tucked his shirt in and tried to escape, but the heels grabbed him. They teased a ringpost attack with the crowd chanting “yes” for it. Big E’s music hit to make the save. He ran down to the ring and hit a clothesline on Anderson. Big E with a belly to belly on Gallows. The ref called for the disqualification. Big E tossed Gallows into the barricade. Big E drove Anderson into the barricade. The match went 10 minutes.

Winners by disqualification: Gallows & Anderson (New Day are still champions)

Post match, New Day celebrated with Stewart even though they lost the match. Big E even drank some of the jar that was at ringside with his “balls” in it. At least he spit it out. Stewart did the awkward white guy dance attempt as well.

Analysis: *3/4 It was an okay match designed to set up the return of Big E even though he was the reason the team actually lost the match. They are still champions, though. I expected a title change, but that didn’t happen. Using that match to bring back Big E made sense. I still think G&A win the tag titles from them. It’s just not happening yet.

(It was a boring match that just didn’t click. The New Day’s record long title reign lasted a few more months before losing to Sheamus and Cesaro.)

A commercial aired for Holy Foley debuting on WWE Network after SummerSlam.

A commercial aired for the Backlash PPV on September 11, which is Smackdown only. The next Raw PPV is Clash of Champions on September 25.

Ambrose vs. Ziggler for the WWE Title is next. Here’s the video package.

The crowd reaction for Ziggler was really good, but Ambrose got a massive ovation. Smackdown Commish Shane McMahon and GM Daniel Bryan walked out for the match to keep them from brawling before the match. They watched from ringside.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler

Pre-match notes: Both guys were faces. Ambrose was a WWE Champion for a few months after cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase. It was a Smackdown match.

Hard slap by Ambrose early, Ziggler slapped back and came back with a dropkick. Ambrose went to the floor, so Ziggler followed him there with a splash against the barricade and a neckbreaker on the floor. Back in the ring, Ambrose tossed Ziggler to the floor to counter a DDT attempt. Back in the ring, Ambrose with a butterfly suplex off the top for two. Ambrose did a single leg crab briefly and then a suplex. When Ambrose jumped off the top for an attack, Ziggler countered with a dropkick in midair. Ambrose picked him up and slammed Ziggler face first into the mat for a two count. The crowd isn’t into the match that much at this point. Ambrose teased setting up a superkick, did a low kick, teased Dirty Deeds and Ziggler fought out of it with a huge DDT for two. Ambrose avoided a Fameasser, but then Ziggler sent him into the ring post. Ziggler came back with a Fameasser for two. They did a double cross body block spot, which was smart because it can get the crowd into the match more. It’s a very long show, so no surprise that the crowd may be tired.

Ambrose was back in control with forearm smashes, a clothesline, corner forearm, bulldog and the elbow attack off the top rope gets a two count. Ambrose mocked Ziggler’s hip strut. I guess it’s more like Rick Rude’s hip strut. Ziggler sleeper, but Ambrose countered by rolling to the floor. Ziggler with a superkick outside the ring. He carried Ambrose back in the ring before the ten count, which earned a two count for Ziggler. Ambrose went for Dirty Deeds, Ziggler hit the Zig Zag and it was a two count. Not a big reaction for that either. Ambrose nailed a huge clothesline to knock Ziggler down. When Ambrose went up top, Ziggler went after him. Ziggler went for a top rope X Factor, but Ambrose landed on his feet and hit Dirty Deeds for the pinfall win after 15 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Dean Ambrose

Analysis: **3/4 A decent match, but a little disappointing because I expected something better. The crowd never seemed to get into as much as they should have. That’s what I’ll remember about this match more than anything, which sucks for the talent because these guys busted their ass. It just didn’t click for some reason. It’s an example of why you shouldn’t book shows where the crowd is supposed to be there for six hours counting from the time they get into the building until the end of the show. They didn’t build up Ziggler’s nearfalls enough. He nailed some big moves, but it just didn’t have the nearfalls that a match like Cena/Styles did. Ambrose winning is no surprise. He’s done a good job as champion. AJ Styles should be his next challenger.

(It was a face vs. face match, so the fans had a tough time getting into it. Both guys went on to have better rivalries in their next feuds with Ambrose dropping the WWE Title to AJ Styles while Ziggler had a memorable rivalry with The Miz with Ziggler becoming the Intercontinental Champion when his career was on the line.)

A video package aired about WWE activities in New York in the last week.

The women of Smackdown entered for a tag match. It was originally Eva Marie on the heel side, but she was suspended 30 days by WWE for a Wellness Policy violation. No replacement was announced, so we’ll find out now.

After Natalya and Alexa entered, it looked like Eva Marie was going to enter as the voiceover guy did her entrance. The announcer said that Eva Marie was away in the British Isles due to stress. They aren’t going to announce the suspension on television. Nikki Bella entered as the partner of Natalya and Bliss. Big reaction for her music and her return after missing most of the year with a neck injury.

Becky Lynch, Naomi & Carmella vs. Natalya, Alexa Bliss & Nikki Bella

Pre-match notes: The team of Lynch, Naomi and Carmella were faces. Nikki Bella was also a face that was teaming with Bliss and Natalya, who were heels.

Bliss started with Lynch, who was in some different brown ring gear, but she always makes it look nice. Naomi in her glow in the dark gear faced off with Natalya. Naomi did a booty shake spot in the face of Natalya, but then Natalya came back with a slam. Naomi with the splits into a two count. Carmella got in there with a headscissors takedown on Natalya. Clothesline by Carmella on the floor. The crowd didn’t seem to care about this match. Powerslam by Natalya on Carmella gets two. Nikki was cheered when she got in there with a suplex on Carmella. Spinebuster by Nikki gets two. Bliss with a nice knee attack to the gut for two as they continued to work over Carmella. It led to Lynch getting the hot tag against Natalya. Bexploder suplexes on Natalya and Bliss. Lynch with springboard kicks for all three girls. Lynch hit her forearm smash on Natalya and a Bexploder as well. Lynch with an enziguri on Natalya. The crowd didn’t make much noise. Lynch with a leg drop on Natalya gets two, but Nikki broke up the pin. Naomi tagged in with a cross body block off the top followed by a barrage of kicks on Bliss. They each missed moves off the ropes. Nikki tagged in against Naomi. Carmella tagged in with a superkick on Nikki. All six girls got in the ring to brawl. It led to Nikki and Carmella alone again. Nikki nailed Carmella with a forearm smash. Nikki finished off with a TKO slam off her shoulders for the win at 11:04.

Winners by pinfall: Natalya, Alexa Bliss & Nikki Bella

Analysis: ** A solid match that the crowd wasn’t into that much except when Nikki was in there. It’s encouraging that they got 11 minutes, but there were a few minutes that were boring. Nikki looked pretty good for somebody that has missed about six months with a serious neck injury. I doubt she’s going to be teaming with the heels very often because the crowd likes her and wants to cheer her, so she’ll probably be a face.

(This was about putting over Nikki in her return after a long neck injury.)

A commercial aired for Raw’s Clash of Champions on September 25.

They showed rapper Wale sitting ringside for the show with Fabolous.

They showed a clip from the Roman Reigns feud with Rusev.

It led to US Champion Rusev and Lana being interviewed by Maria Menounos. Rusev complained about Roman Reigns. Lana said that Roman humiliated her and Rusev said he’s going to crush Roman. Rusev said that Roman will be the joke.

A video package set up Balor vs. Rollins.

The new WWE Universal Championship is at ringside. Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon and GM Mick Foley are at ringside. It’s basically the same as the WWE Title and Women’s Title, but it’s all red for Raw and it says WWE Universal Champion on it.

Analysis: The design is pretty lazy when you have two other titles with similar looks. It’s just because WWE likes to put their logo on the major titles, so they end up looking the same.

Seth Rollins made his entrance for the Universal Title match. I wish he had a more spectacular entrance because it’s so generic. Look at how big some of the NXT entrances are. It can help a talent so much.

They showed other announcers seated around the arena.

Finn Balor made his spectacular entrance in his full Demon gear. Do I have to write “Demon King” since WWE wants to say it 100 times during his matches? He’s got words written on parts of his body, which is like what he did on Raw, but not something he did in NXT.

WWE Universal Championship: Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor

Pre-match notes: Rollins was a heel that should have been a face when he came back from his knee injury a few months earlier, but WWE chose to keep him as a heel. Balor was a face that was fresh on the main roster after being one of the most successful NXT stars ever.

Balor with a running dropkick early on. Rollins went to the floor, Balor nailed a somersault dive over the top to take him out. Balor worked on the knee, but Rollins tripped him up on the apron as Cole noted that pinfall or submission is how you can become champion. Balor with a forearm outside the ring. Back in the ring, Balor with a dropkick. They were outside again, so Rollins gave Balor a Powerbomb into the barricade outside the ring. Balor looked like he hit his right elbow pretty hard.

(That’s the spot where Balor suffered a serious shoulder injury that forced him to have surgery days later and he missed the next seven months.)

Rollins grounded Balor in the ring with a kick to the back. The crowd was chanting something about the new title I think it was “that red belt sucks.” I had people on Twitter complaining about it, so I guess it’s fair to say it’s hated. Rollins called him “boy” for trash talk even though Balor is five years older. Rollins with a knee attack off the top rope. Rollins with a Frog Splash for a two count. Balor with a DDT.

Balor hit a forearm smash, then some chops in the corner and a running dropkick that sent Rollins to the floor. Knee to the face by Balor. Back in the ring, Balor hit the Sling Blade, but then Rollins came back with a dropkick. Rollins with an enziguri kick and Balor came back with a Pele Kick as both guys were down. Rollins with a last call move and the 1916 slam for two. Rollins had a triangle choke applied, but Balor got to the ropes to break it. Rollins with a Buckle Bump followed by a standing side kick for two. Rollins with a small package driver (thanks Graves for the name) for a two count. Nice crowd reaction for that. Balor kicked Rollins out of the ring and followed it up with a dropkick into the barricade outside the ring. Balor with a double foot stomp to the back of the neck. Rollins avoided the top rope attack and hit the Pedigree for two. First time in the match where they kicked out of a finisher. Balor avoided a top rope attack and hit a dropkick into the turnbuckle. Rollins met Balor up top for his awesome superplex into another move, but Balor avoided a Pedigree. Balor with another dropkick in the corner, then another dropkick into the corner and he went up top. Balor with a Coup de Grace off the top that connects for the one, two and three. Balor wins at 19:22.

Winner by pinfall and New WWE Universal Champion: Finn Balor

After the win, Cole noted that Balor is the first man to win a World Title in his PPV debut. If it’s a World Title, why are you calling it a Universal Title? I don’t even know if this company knows what they wanted to call this title. Balor greeted his family at ringside. Do you think WWE was going to fly them in from Ireland to watch him lose?

Analysis: **** A very good match from two of the best WWE performers in their first match together. They’ll probably have a lot of matches over the years. I’m not surprised by the outcome because it’s a way to put over Balor huge as well as the new title. It would have been nice if Rollins worked as more of a heel because he really isn’t cheating in matches or acting like a heel very often. Balor showed good babyface heart the whole time. Balor did a lot of dropkicks like he usually does and finished it off clean. Impressive win for Balor, who wins his PPV debut. If Rollins won it would have been fine because he’s such a good performer, but this win elevated Balor immediately. As I said, Cole immediately calling it a World Title is weird when they tried to differentiate it with the Universal Title name.

(They did a great job. I think four stars out of five is a fair rating. It’s incredible that Balor wrestled so well with such a serious shoulder injury. I’m amazed by it especially seeing some of the bumps he took on his upper body. It was the right call to put Balor over because it showed he could hang with one of the best guys on Raw. It could have led to a long reign for Balor, but sadly he had to give up the title the next day on Raw. Rollins ended up turning face soon after thanks to Triple H giving him a Pedigree to set up their WrestleMania match.)

The PPV Kickoff Panel discussed things from the show. Good. I must go to the bathroom.

(Bathroom breaks are important.)

There was some Ziggler/Miz KFC thing taped at Smackdown last week. I’m not recapping this.

Lana introduced her husband, the US Champion Rusev.

Rusev vs. Roman Reigns???

Roman Reigns made his entrance. Rusev attacked him in a vicious way by using the steel steps to his advantage. The match didn’t start yet. Rusev hit him with the steel steps. Reigns tossed him over the barricade to get Rusev away from him. Reigns hit a Superman Punch outside the ring. Referees went down to the ring to break them up. Reigns blocked a chair shot as referees tried to separate them. Reigns tossed Rusev back towards the ring. Reigns jabbed Rusev in the ribs with a chair and then he hit Rusev in the back with a chair. Officials kept trying to keep Reigns back, but he wouldn’t stop. Reigns ended up walking away after Rusev was out on the floor outside the ring.

It was announced by ring announcer Jojo Offerman that Rusev will not compete.

Reigns walked back out to ringside to deliver a huge Spear on Rusev outside the ring. Big spot. The crowd was mostly cheering. The segment ended shortly after.

Analysis: It was an angle, not a match. They had the long match on Raw because they planned on not doing a match here. It keeps the feud going. Reigns is getting cheered against Rusev because of the cheap heat tactics that Rusev uses to get the crowd against him. It’s simple, but it works. For people complaining about match order, it made sense now to do the long Balor/Rollins match, then do this angle and go into the main event from there.

(The feud was designed to get Reigns cheered by the crowd since Rusev was a foreign heel that used cheap heat to piss off the crowd. It was a decent rivalry, but there was nothing particularly special about it. That Spear on the floor was very impressive.)

I saw a commercial for Total Bellas and I wanted to throw up. Is that the reaction they want? Poor Daniel Bryan.

They really want us to watch Holy Foley because they keep promoting the hell out of it. Cole said he can’t wait to see it. Of course.

Video package aired for the main event: Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton. They started in WWE together in 2002 and the first time they ever meet on a pay-per-view will be at SummerSlam. It was WWE trying to tell us this was a dream match.

Brock Lesnar made his entrance first with Paul Heyman. There was a “Got Juice” sign from a fan as Lesnar made his entrance. Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley were watching from their office backstage. Right on camera. He doesn’t mean orange juice! Heyman said that Lesnar comes from the University of Suplex City and did a big intro for Lesnar.

Randy Orton made his entrance. Good reaction to his music initially and then it calmed down a bit after he walked down the aisle. Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon watched on a TV that was backstage.

The four announcers for this match are Ranallo, JBL, Graves & Saxton.

Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Randy Orton

Pre-match notes: Lesnar was a tweener at this point. They booed him sometimes, but he was cheered a lot. Orton was in face mode as a Smackdown guy while Lesnar was a Raw guy. I don’t think anybody watching this thought that Orton had a chance to win this match. I certainly did not.

Lesnar was on offense early, Orton with a dropkick, then he went for a RKO and Lesnar shoved him off. Lesnar with a German Suplex. He hit another one. Third German Suplex by Lesnar. Orton tried to block it, but Lesnar hit a fourth German Suplex. Lesnar nailed suplexes number five and six. Orton left the ring to try to get away from Lesnar, but it didn’t work. Lesnar sent Orton over the barricade at ringside. Lesnar tossed Orton into the Smackdown table at ringside and the table broke. Back in the ring, Lesnar hit the German Suplex, which is the 7th suplex. Lesnar cleared off the Raw table. Orton popped up and hit a RKO on the Raw announce table, which didn’t break. The ref wasn’t counting them out. Lesnar stumbled back towards the ring, so Orton hit a draping DDT. Orton hit another RKO. Lesnar got his right shoulder up at the count of two as we hit the ten-minute mark. Heyman was freaking out about it. Orton teased the dreaded punt, but Lesnar caught him and hit an F5. Lesnar covered for one, two…no…Orton kicked out.

Lesnar took off his gloves. He pounded Orton in the head with fists and nailed him with some elbow strikes to the head. Orton’s head was bleeding heavily. There was a lot of blood. The ringside doctor went into the ring to check on Orton as blood was all over the ring. Lesnar nailed some punches on Orton. The referee tried to keep Lesnar back. Fans chanted “Goldberg” as the bell rang. Referee Mike Chioda told Jojo that the match is over. Lesnar was announced as the winner by TKO (Technical Knockout). The match went 11:45.

Winner by TKO: Brock Lesnar

Analysis: **1/2 That was a unique finish that I wasn’t really expecting, but it put over Lesnar as a violent man that absolutely decimated a WWE legend in Orton. I liked the story of the match with Lesnar dominating the first ten minutes, Orton hit that RKO and I thought they would build to a competitive match from there. Instead, it ended soon after with Lesnar cutting him open with those elbows. I get that it puts over Brock and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I think it would have been better with an ending that was booked better.

(I agree with the rating for the match. It was just an average match where Lesnar dominated Orton in an even more impressive fashion than when Lesnar beat John Cena at SummerSlam two years earlier.)

Post match, Lesnar kept on pounding on Orton with punches although you could tell those punches were not as hard as the elbow smashes earlier. Some fans chanted “Goldberg” for the save. Shane McMahon went down to ringside to check on Orton, so Lesnar dropped him with a F5. Heyman freaked out yelling: “What did you do?” Orton was seated in the corner. Lesnar left. The show ended at 11:05pmET.

Analysis: Lesnar losing his mind is always fun. Heyman did a good job of going nuts after the Lesnar assault on Shane too. It’s a pretty good hangover for Raw tomorrow although I’m not sure what Lesnar’s schedule is after SummerSlam. I hope he’s around again soon, but if it’s the Royal Rumble then that would be too far away. It could lead to a suspension angle for Lesnar, which is something they have done in the past. It could also be a heel turn for Lesnar and if that’s the case that would be perfect because he’s better in that role anyway.

If the Brock Lesnar match result was done to turn him heel, it worked brilliantly based on all the bitching I have had to read tonight. Whether it was a blade job or Lesnar did it with the elbows, it’s up for debate (likely caused by the elbows in a planned spot). People can argue about it, but it happened as part of the story. Heyman freaking out was great. It’s awesome storytelling because now Lesnar is going to be one of the most hated guys in WWE again and that’s what he should be. It will make it mean that much more when somebody does beat him. The art of the story, my friends. It’s a wonderful thing.

(The beating was so convincing that when the guys went backstage, Chris Jericho legitimately thought that Lesnar went off script and tried to hurt Orton. Nothing happened because Jericho was told that Orton knew about it all beforehand and it was part of the plan. The weird thing is that WWE let Lesnar unleash those stiff arm bars on Orton’s head, which led to Orton suffering a concussion. It’s weird that WWE bans things like chair shots to the head, yet they allow a guy like Lesnar to destroy Orton’s head with elbows and forearms.)

The show had a run time of 4:03:09 on WWE Network.


Show rating (out of 10): 7

– It’s a tough show to rate because there were so many highs and lows during the show. I could sit here for a long time questioning the booking decisions, the match order and some of the timing of matches. I think 7/10 is fair because the match quality was very good for much of the night. That’s a big factor to me.

– What I’m going to remember the most about the show is Styles vs. Cena. That was a special match that was one of the best in SummerSlam history. I loved it.

– The best way I can describe my feelings on this show is that I don’t think it was as good as I expected it to be, but there were enough highlights in the show that I enjoyed most of it.

– My one big complaint is the show was too long. Four hour PPVs with two hour Kickoff shows are too much. Just stick with a three hour PPV with a one-hour Kickoff Show. We don’t need more than that.

(Sadly, as the years went by, the shows would not only continue to be this long, but some of them are going to be longer.)

– I think Orton taking those forearms from Lesnar was a stupid idea. It was unnecessary and led to a concussion for Orton. What if something worse happened? I don’t know why WWE would want to book it that way. I get that they wanted to make Lesnar look stronger than ever, but there are ways to do it without hurting guys.

Five Stars of the Show

1. AJ Styles

2. John Cena

3. Finn Balor

4. Seth Rollins

5. (tie) Charlotte

5. (tie) Sasha Banks


Best Match: AJ Styles vs. John Cena (***** out of 5)

Worst Match: The Miz vs. Apollo Crews (*1/2 out of 5)

Most Memorable Moment: Styles beating Cena to win the best match of the night.


That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here.

Thanks for reading. My contact info is below.

John Canton


Twitter @johnreport