By Brad Carroll
For the first time in what seems like forever, I actually fully enjoyed a WWE pay-per-view event. SummerSlam on the whole was a solid card with some nice moments that made up for a few things that were just plain stupid and bewildering. The biggest misstep happened in the main event simply because WWE can’t get out of its own way.
In an obvious move to save the match from the Brooklyn crowd totally crapping on it, Braun Strowman’s music hit right as the Universal championship match between the hated Brock Lesnar and the even more hated Roman Reigns was about to begin. There was a huge pop, as everyone thought Strowman was out to make this match a triple threat. And it sure sounded like it when Strowman said he was a monster and didn’t need to sneak up when the champion’s back was turned and win the title that way.
OK, awesome, enter Strowman in the match and let’s go. Nope.
Strowman said he would wait until this one was over and then would cash in. Um, that’s how 99% of these cash-ins work, Strowman.
From there, Strowman went from someone you thought would win the title, to a guy getting buried yet again by Lesnar. After action spilled into the aisle during the match, Lesnar took out Strowman, making the monster in the bank look incredibly weak yet again, while Reigns used that distraction to eventually hit a spear and become the new Universal champion. The show went off the air almost immediately so the home audience couldn’t hear Brooklyn boo the heck out of the result.
Reigns got his championship win. The WWE got the belt of Lesnar, finally. And Strowman gets beaten again by Lesnar during the whole thing. And WWE wonders why fans hate the product.
That was the lasting image of SummerSlam, but there was a ton of other highlights and lowlights to break down here as we hand out our biggest winners and losers from the event, which has nothing to do with who got their hand raised in victory or not.
Roman Reigns: Hey, we’re not going to totally hate on the guy who finally beat his nemesis and won the Universal championship. Reigns got his moment, and while WWE quickly went off the air Sunday night, we will still get to see how the crowd reacts to the moment tonight on Monday Night Raw. It won’t be pretty, I’m guessing, but Reigns is still the champion. Of course, the question now is for how long?
Becky Lynch: The one moment I keep thinking about from the event was Becky’s turn on Charlotte and the enormous pop it got from the crowd. Becky has been the forgotten member of the four horsewomen, getting passed over for the big spots by Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Bayley, while still remaining one of the most popular superstars on SmackDown. Most in that crowd wanted to Becky to win this triple threat match. I wanted her to win. But when she came up short, getting pinned by Charlotte in the process, and then hugging her best friend, it was seemingly another disappointing chapter in Becky’s career. But then came the heel turn and man it was great, helped by the crowd’s reaction. Again, that was one heck of a pop.The crowd even chanted “you deserve it” as Becky walked to the back. Becky moves into a new role for her and will get the feud we’ve all been waiting for: Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair for the title.
Finn Balor: Now this is the version of Finn Balor we all want to see. It’s also the version of Finn Balor that could ascend back to the top of WWE and go for the title he never lost. We’re all expecting Strowman to cash in on Reigns tonight on Raw, but what if it’s actually Balor that interrupts Reigns’ celebration and challenges him to a championship match. We all know Balor beat Reigns clean en route to winning the Universal title two years ago, so it makes complete sense. It would also ignite a Brooklyn crowd that will be ready to bounce on any BS thrown their way. Balor, who beat Baron Corbin in a complete and necessary squash at SummerSlam, is the guy to move the needle now and make Reigns as champion interesting. All it took was a return to the face and body paint. Now, WWE just needs to make this a reality or it’s all for naught.
Samoa Joe: Has Joe gone too far in his personal attacks on AJ Styles? No way, especially seeing as AJ Styles and his wife are in on it too. If they weren’t, there’s no way Styles’ wife and child would be visible in the audience during the match. Joe has really played this perfectly and his pre-match promo further inflamed the hatred, and his saying he’ll be Styles’ child’s new daddy toward the end of the match was brilliant, not to mention the ultimate heel move. It’s actually next-level heel. Styles went nuts after that and got himself DQ’d for using a chair on Joe, but keeps the title. Joe continues as the challenger for the WWE championship, obviously parked fully inside Styles’ mind. Joe will be at the top of the SmackDown card at least through the next pay-per-view.
The Miz: I never thought WWE would let The Miz beat Daniel Bryan after everything has played out over the past few months, but with a little help from Maryse sitting at ringside with a foreign object, he pinned his long-time rival. It wasn’t clean, but it doesn’t matter. The Miz got the victory he can hold over Bryan for the foreseeable future, while we got to see Bryan whine in the backstage area later in the show. It couldn’t have worked out better for The Miz. Bryan could get the win back as soon as Tuesday on SmackDown, and while that would steal some of his momentum, there’s no doubt everyone will remember this win more than any other. The Miz deserved it and for once the WWE recognized what would work best.
Seth Rollins: After four-plus hours of the main card of SummerSlam it’s easy to forget the opening match, which saw Seth Rollins beat Dolph Ziggler for the intercontinental championship. The one thing we won’t forget is Rollins’ reverse superplex into a reverse Falcon’s Arrow of sorts during the match. Rollins probably shouldn’t be wasting his time with the IC title, as he easily could be feuding for the universal strap, but it looks like WWE is going back to making this title all about the wrestling. That’s a good thing, and Rollins is a great choice to lead that charge.
Braun Strowman: He started his night off with an easy win over Kevin Owens. Everyone hated it, but it was a success for Strowman. Now, everyone could quickly turn their attention to if he would cash in during the main event or wait until Raw. We got our answer quickly, well, hours later, as Strowman came out during the main event and made it appear he was turning it into a triple threat for the championship. But nah, he was just there to warn the winner he would cash in tonight. Stupid, but it kept everyone’s attention, as now, no matter who won, there was a great chance the title would be won by the one fan favorite in the ring. Strowman, however, was first taken out on a dive to the outside by Reigns during the match, who was aiming for Lesnar. Then, he was beaten to a pulp by Lesnar on the outside, getting F5’d in the process. It was reminiscent of Strowman losing to Lesnar earlier this year. After that, with Strowman hurt, Reigns hit a spear and won the Universal championship. Lesnar slinked away, Strowman was doubled over in the corner, while Reigns celebrated on the top rope with his new title. For the first time in a long time, Strowman looked weak and beatable. For how this main event started, with everyone believing he was going to cash in and make it a triple threat, to how it ended, this was a complete loss for Strowman. It’s anyone’s guess if he cashes in tonight on Raw. If he doesn’t, this whole episode just buries Strowman. He’ll come back from it, but this was terrible.
Kevin Owens: I thought Owens would walk out of Brooklyn with the Money in the Bank briefcase. Instead, he was made to look like a fool, losing to Braun Strowman in a matter of minutes. It was a complete squash match and made what had become an interesting build to this match a complete joke. WWE did some things right on this card, but this was one of the biggest examples of why nobody trusts them to handle talent.
Daniel Bryan: I wrote in our preview that Bryan needed The Miz more than the other way around, and this match proved it. The Miz was the bigger star and attraction and before any Bryan fans come at me, this has nothing to do with wrestling skill. Bryan has that, but The Miz has everything else, not to mention he can put together an enjoyable match as well. The Yes Movement is slowly dying, as you could tell the crowd wasn’t as into it as they used to be. Bryan’s backstage promo with Brie Bella was a bunch of sore loser whining too. He was right about one thing, his return has been a bust, no matter how much he “fights for his dreams.” And if this all winds up in a mixed gender match with the wives, we all know it’s over.
Alexa Bliss: I didn’t like this match at all. I hated Ronda Rousey’s constant smack talk, basically telling everyone she was going to be the new champion, and not in a cocky way, but in a matter of fact way. She basically flat out told everyone the finish of the match during the match. Rousey has been a terrible talker and this was the worst yet. Shut up and wrestle should be her mantra. But for Bliss, she was beaten easily in a way that would make it virtually impossible for her to ever realistically challenge for the title again. There was no reason to bury Bliss like that, but WWE has their golden goose and they weren’t about to think about anyone but Rousey here. Bliss might get a rematch, but does anyone believe she has any chance at all?
Brock Lesnar: Is this the end of Lesnar’s time in WWE? We’ll find out on Raw.