WWE SummerSlam 2016 Reaction
By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Within the “New Era” has been an attempt by WWE to showcase new talent on the precipice of an ever-growing content generator known as the WWE Network, where fans can not only tune in to live Pay-Per-Views (seven of more which were announced to be added to the already-stacked yearly 12 to make an absurd 19) but go back and watch almost everything WWE has ever produced.
That said, sometimes more new content isn’t necessarily the best scenario.
If you count the two-hour pre-show, SummerSlam clocked in and six hours and three minutes with 13 matches.
On a stacked Supercard, only a third of it was deemed excellent. The rest of it couldn’t have been more filler if we tried.
SummerSlam was the personification of having too much of a good thing and not knowing how to properly utilize it.
The Pre-Show Breakdown
– Yup, the pre-show itself had three matches alone. Gotta start somewhere. The 12-Man Tag between The Vaudevillains/The Ascension/Breezango and American Alpha/The Hype Bros./The Usos again set itself as the stage for all six SmackDown Live tag teams to go at it to prove themselves contenders for this magical SmackDown Tag Team Championship that’s supposed to come. Of course, it still didn’t exist, so we were stuck watching these guys fight yet again, when they already did it earlier in the week. As you’d expect, the crowd dug Breezango and AA. The arena also looked decently packed already at this time. Chad Gable showed off some effortless amateur skills early on. The Usos were also soundly booed, as their act was so stale. The Hype Bros. didn’t garner much of a reaction upon their entrance, but got cheered during the match itself. The biggest thing to come from the match was the development of tension among AA and The Usos, as Jey Uso blind tagged himself in and “stole the pin” from Gable when he already hit his finisher. Any tease at a heel turn from The Usos is a welcome sign for us. All in all, filler action for an empty division with no Title to represent it.
– With more tensions between The Dudley Boyz and an effort to team up Neville and Sami Zayn with them having nothing to do, we got the result in a pretty good performance. Commentary was smart to bring up how the Dudleyz had returned in the exact same building almost a year ago. Ring action was highlighted by the fancy double-teams of the babyfaces, which included a spot where Neville performed a corkscrew moonsault off Zayn’s back. Zayn also saw a lot of love from the Brooklyn faithful. Enjoyable action that led to a finish that helped Zayn/Neville prevail with a deadly combination of the Helluva Kick/Red Arrow that came after more miscommunication from the Dudleyz. Maybe this will be the way they get Bubba Ray to be a standalone top heel, but we can’t say the idea of a Dudleyz feud intrigues us all that much. That said, Neville/Zayn work incredibly well together and them as a tag team is the best thing for both of them.
– In the land of underutilization stood Cesaro and Sheamus. When two guys aren’t working alone, put them together and let them tear the house down. That has been the mission objective for these two and it actually has worked in some regard. Now that we know they’ll be confined to each other in the ring in a Best-Of-Seven Series, we can look forward to more of that hard-hitting action these two are known to deliver. This was the best bout on the pre-show and gave us everything and a little bit more. Fast and physical to start before they toned it down some in the middle to build to a climatic finish. Cesaro’s offense got a rise out of the crowd, particularly with the big swing. There was a sweet counter where Sheamus turned the Brogue Kick into a sharpshooter, but heel tactics by Sheamus helped him overcome as a poke to the eye and an Irish whip into the corner led to a Brogue Kick that finished Cesaro off. We like the idea that Sheamus holds the 1-0 advantage in the series. We’re just curious if their series will span out only on PPV’s or if they will get any airtime on Raw. Will they be working with anybody else over the course of the series? Time will tell.
– The opening video played it safe as we saw shots of the New York City skyline with still shots of vibrant, diverse New Yorkers that were compared to the likes of current superstars. It was very “New York” and helped make it feel like a big show as the majority of the card was glanced over.
– How else do you open a Brooklyn show than with the Enzo Amore/Big Cass-Jeri-KO match? Part of us were curious if the pop for Enzo/Cass would rival last year’s and it was about on the same level. BK can’t get enough of ‘Zo. Their pre-match promo was a nod to BK and the Notorious B.I.G., but didn’t feel all that memorable outside of the fancy references. He definitely had better ones in the past. The crowd got a huge kick out of Kevin Owens’ mocking of Enzo. Pretty nice action throughout as the heels worked over Enzo. Owens went above and beyond with his body, as he hit a cannonball on Cass at the barricade to take him out, which set up a devastating finish where Owens hoisted Enzo in the air to fall down on a Codebreaker to get the win and steal the hometown parade from Enzo/Cass. Helped to sell Jeri-KO as a threat and began things on a surprise, but who’s to say that Enzo/Cass can’t get the win back the next night on Raw, which will also take place in the Barclays Center.
– The backstage segment with SmackDown Live Commissioner Shane McMahon, SmackDown Live General Manager Daniel Bryan, Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon, Raw General Manager Mick Foley, Jon Stewart and his kid and WWE World Tag Team Champions Xavier Woods/Kofi Kingston was a lot to cram in one segment, but that’s what they did. They played off Stewart’s awkward history with SummerSlam, before we saw him criticize Stephanie behind her back and deny it to her face. Stewart got a lot of boos from the crowd and luckily, Woods/Kingston broke up the awkward tension, as they whisked Stewart away. The idea that Woods/Kingston asked Stewart for a favor kind of scared us for later. We should only know.
– The WWE Women’s Championship match between Champion Sasha Banks and Charlotte looked to repeat the effort of their critically-acclaimed encounter on the first Post-Draft Raw. Michael Cole smartly brought up that Charlotte was 11-0 on consecutive PPV’s. Why don’t they drop these facts in the actual build to the match? With Banks crowned as Champion recently, we figured there was no way she’d drop the belt so soon. The two work so well together and we got more of that here, as Banks laid out some fancy arm drags. Charlotte battled back with a nasty-looking spot where she dropped Banks in the corner from the top rope. You could say some of the spots here looked a tad sloppy, but they covered up enough where you didn’t concentrate on those. There was an incredible spot where Banks reversed a second-rope Razor’s Edge into a Frankensteiner. These two fought hard and went back-and-forth in quite a physical encounter. The crowd bought into it with “This is awesome” chants and we thought for a second their Raw classic might have a new rival. The two countered each other’s finishers before Charlotte countered the Bank Statement into a bridge pin that Sasha couldn’t get out of in time to crown Charlotte the new Champ. Maybe that was done for shock value? Everybody in the crowd looked stunned. That was such a good match though, that we’d be fine with the idea of the two trading wins over the belt. It could even enhance the belt as that of a big prize down the road.
– The backstage segment with The Club and Finn Balor served hype for the WWE World Tag Team Championship match with more testicular humor as Luke Gallows/Karl Anderson again donned the lab coats and carried their “test jars” before they were approached by AJ Styles, who hyped up his match with John Cena later. The big “shock” was Balor as he stood near them when they did the “Too Sweet” gesture and offered him to join in, but he simply walked away. The crowd groaned at that, but perhaps it sets something up down the road. You never know. It was cool to see them all in the same shot though.
– The WWE Intercontinental Championship match between Champion The Miz and Apollo Crews suffered from a lackluster build, as despite Crews’ rise to being the #1 contender, we never heard much from him about why the belt was important to him. Actually, the build consisted of Miz calling him “Apollo Creed” and Crews looking to defend that. That doesn’t make a challenger look too strong. While this might’ve been Crews’ best in-ring effort to date and Mauro Ranallo was smart to bring up the “WWE Intercontinental Championship SummerSlam Curse” with the fact that the belt has changed hands four times at the Summer Classic, there was no reason to buy into Crews as the guy to beat Miz and our feelings were right. Hell, Miz almost made it look too easy with the Skull-Crushing Finale finish. Definitely shorter than expected and would’ve been better with more time.
– The Styles-Cena match was everything we ever hoped it could be and more. Both men laid it all on the line as the crowd was heavily invested, split down the middle for both men, maybe more favored towards Styles. Incredible moves down the stretch, especially from Styles, who pulled out a springboard Frankensteiner. Plenty of near-falls like we thought as it was established that Cena threw everything at Styles that would typically win him matches (including an Attitude Adjustment from the top rope), yet it wasn’t enough. Styles kept kicking out. A big seller to this was Cena’s perplexed facial expressions. Eventually, it had to come to an end and Styles hit a second Styles Clash and second Phenomenal Forearm to finally put Cena down. The crowd popped huge for this and we loved the clean finish because it propelled Styles to the top as a contender and also proved that he could win without Club shenanigans. Just excellent stuff all around.
– How do you follow up something great with something crappy? Throw out Stewart as an honorary New Day member prior to the WWE World Tag Team Championship match between Champions Woods/Kingston and Gallows/Anderson. The feud was literally more about testicles than it was about “making a statement.” Disgusting. The crowd crapped all over Stewart’s promo and we only rolled our eyes here. The in-ring action was okay, but nothing special. Would you believe that for the second year in a row, Stewart interfered in a Championship match? Why is this becoming a trend? The only highlight here was Big E’s return that was handled well, but in of itself caused a disqualification finish that probably ensures yet another match to finally end it once and for all. One of the worst storylines of the year for sure.
– The WWE World Heavyweight Championship match between Champion Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler actually had one of the more intriguing builds to the show, as a “new” Ziggler looked to erase all the critics that had counted him out once before, in contrast to a confident Ambrose, who himself was one of the critics. The stage was set for Ziggler to put in a killer performance and come so close, yet probably wouldn’t be the guy to beat Ambrose. Our predictions were right, but boy, was that a flat match. Just never kicked into a second gear. Give us some close near-falls, let Ziggler come so close to winning, yet lose in the end. He simply lost on the first Dirty Deeds and never gave the impression that he was on the same level as Ambrose. Severely disappointing. We also wondered if maybe Ambrose was showing signs of a heel turn with the way he mocked Ziggler, which the crowd didn’t like as they were pro-Ziggler.
– Designed to be the “buffer” match after a bout that never got hot to start with was already a bad thing. Add that to the fact that the crowd was starting to suffer from burnout. The Six-Woman Tag between Naomi/Carmella/Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss/Nikki Bella/Natalya continued the SmackDown Live Women’s Division storylines. Eva Marie was originally penciled in to tag with the heels and we got to see another fabulous entrance, but her excuse was “exhaustion and stress caused by the WWE Universe.” Funny, yet ironic, because this crowd themselves were exhausted and stressed. Wr got some highlight news when her replacement was the returning Bella, but that initial pop was replaced by confusion, when we realized she would tag up with the heels. The “This Show Is Very Long” sign in the crow described our feelings exactly. The heels worked extensively over Carmella since she was easy pickings. Naomi really loaded herself up with neon as she looks like a walking rave party, but her athleticism luckily also shined here. Lynch also put in a nice effort as she managed to get some of the crowd excited. Bliss held out well on her own and Bella was… Bella. Decent stuff in terms of ring work, but there was a few cases of mistiming. Nikki got her return momentum with the TKO to Carmella to make the heels victorious. We wonder just when Eva will debut and whenever this SmackDown Women’s Championship would ever see the light of day. Would you believe there were still three matches to go here?
– The backstage segment with Maria Menounos, WWE United States Champion Rusev and Lana served as hype for the WWE United States Championship match later where Rusev would defend against Roman Reigns. Didn’t hear anything outside of the stuff Rusev usually says (“You stupid Americans don’t know what love is, I’m gonna crush Reigns…” blah blah blah) and that was that.
– The match between Balor and Seth Rollins to crown the first-ever WWE Universal Champion looked so good on paper. The only thing that ruined it was the unveiling at ringside of the new belt, as it was basically a red leather version of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Also looked a bit like the WWE Women’s Championship. Its ugly stature gave the opinionated crowd something to work with as they commented on the belt for a good portion of the match with loud chants. Cole brought up Rollins’ 2-0 SS record and that he had the their highest winning percentage in PPV history, which again made us question why they never bring that stuff up in the build. Rollins received a nice pop and the “Demon” entrance went over well with the crowd. Balor’s paint designs looked nice, highlighted with the “Eye” on his back that donned a Statue Of Liberty head crown. Balor tried to win early on, but that plan was thwarted by Rollins. Any attempt by both men were overshadowed by the loud chants. Poor Foley and Steph looked helpless at ringside. Luckily, the crowd settled down and began to get into the match by about halfway through, when both guys turned it up a notch. We realized that they worked together well and really brought it to one another. We also liked the fact that there was only a winner by pinfall or submissions with no rope breaks allowed. Might’ve been initially confusing though. The story from commentary was that Rollins broke out some old moves since he had to change his strategy for the “Demon King.” He even performed the small package driver and attempted a Phoenix Splash, but missed the latter, yet landed on his feet. They each kicked out of each other’s finishers. We still don’t know how Rollins musters the strength to stand up directly from a superplex to get back to a standing position, but he did it again and we almost thought the Pedigree would spell the end for Balor, but Balor held out to kick Rollins into the corner and deliver the Coup de Grace to become the first WWE Universal Champion. Great match that was easily another highlight of the long, long night.
– You know the show has gone on too long when you witness Ziggler dressed as Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Colonel sanders battle Miz dressed as a chicken. This actually happened at a SmackDown Live taping. God help us.
– Since Rusev and Reigns went at each other’s throats for 20-plus minutes six days before on Raw, they opted to protect Reigns from the hostile crowd by not having him compete again, but delivered a definitive brawl between the two that lasted about seven minutes. Wr figured the match wouldn’t happen, since there was about a little over a half hour to go and still the big main event to occur. Might be better since they cold save it for a future Raw or for Clash Of The Champions. The fans booed Reigns a lot, yet they cheered for his Spear on Rusev on the ramp. Either way, it’s not the worst thing for both guys to be doing right now, so we’re fine for a feud extension here. Just keep Reigns out of the Universal Championship picture.
– On paper, Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton sounded like a worthy SS main event that was indeed “15 Years In The Making,” but we never really got to see it develop into a classic the way we hoped. We did get Lesnar at his Beastly best as he delivered seven German Suplexes to Orton, who countered back with two RKO’s, one of which was on the announce table. The match’s finish felt quite underwhelming, since Orton essentially kicked out of an F5, but then bled like crazy when Lesnar laid into him with a series of vicious punches and forearm strikes. We didn’t deem that a necessary finish though, especially in front of a burned-out crowd that suffered from a long card waiting to see this play out. When you look back, SS’s main event was a mere 11 minutes and didn’t end by pinfall, but TKO. How weak was that? The crowd was understandably upset and even though the post-match angle where Lesnar F5’d Shane was good for shock value, we can’t say we’re excited to see a Lesnar-Shane match in any capacity. They’ll probably go to that for Survivor Series. What does it tell you when the crowd chants for Heath Slater, CM Punk and Goldberg at the end of your six-hour PPV? That your show was simply too damn long.
- 12-Man Tag – The Usos/American Alpha/The Hype Bros. def. The Ascension/The Vaudevillains/Breezango via pinfall
- Neville/Sami Zayn def. The Dudley Boyz via pinfall
- Best-Of-Seven Series – Match 1 – Sheamus def. Cesaro via pinfall to take a 1-0 Series Advantage
- Jeri-KO def. Enzo Amore/Big Cass via pinfall
- WWE Women’s Championship – Charlotte def. Sasha Banks (Champion) via pinfall to become new Champion
- WWE Intercontinental Championship – The Miz (Champion) (w/Maryse) def. Apollo Crews via pinfall to retain
- AJ Styles def. John Cena via pinfall
- WWE World Tag Team Championship – Luke Gallows/Karl Anderson def. Kofi Kingston/Xavier Woods (Champions) via DQ; Kingston/Woods retain
- WWE World Heavyweight Championship – Dean Ambrose (Champion) def. Dolph Ziggler via pinfall to retain
- Six-Woman Tag – Nikki Bella/Natalya/Alexa Bliss def. Becky Lynch/Naomi/Carmella via pinfall
- WWE Universal Championship – Finn Balor def. Seth Rollins via pinfall to become the first-ever Champion
- Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) def. Randy Orton via TKO
Posted on October 8, 2016, in WWE and tagged AJ Styles, Alexa Bliss, American Alpha, Becky Lynch, Big Cass, Booker T, Breezango, Brock Lesnar, Byron Saxton, Carmella, Cesaro, Charlotte, Corey Graves, Daniel Bryan, David Otunga, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Enzo Amore, Eva Marie, Finn Balor, JBL, Jeri-KO, Jerry Lawler, John Cena, Jon Stewart, Karl Anderson, Kofi Kingston, Lana, Luke Gallows, Maria Menounos, Mauro Ranallo, Michael Cole, Mick Foley, Naomi, Natalya, Neville, Nikki Bella, Paul Heyman, Randy Orton, Renee Young, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Sami Zayn, Sasha Banks, Seth Rollins, Shane McMahon, Sheamus, Stephanie McMahon, SummerSlam, The Ascension, The Club, The Dudley Boyz, The Hype Bros., The Usos, The Vaudevillains, Tom Phillips, Xavier Woods. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.