The art of professional wrestling is one of the most socially active mediums of entertainment across the world. Millions watch men and women grapple for championships, financial success, accolades, celebrity status, and supposed immortality within the squared circle. The Hype Train provides a glancing review of WWE’s dual-branded pay-per-view, SummerSlam, which is headlined with Jinder Mahal defending the WWE Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura, and Brock Lesner defending the Universal Championship in a Fatal Four Way match against Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman, and Roman Reigns. All aboard.
WWE SummerSlam 2017: Predictions and Thoughts
Leading up to the event we were mostly intrigued with what Barry Corbin was going to be doing with the Money in the Bank briefcase, but that would never come to be, having unsuccessfully cashed in at the go-home SmackDown Live the previous Tuesday. This meant that we imagine Corbin being in the dog house, and with this tie leading to a potential Jinder Mahal victory at the event. In terms of hype and excitement the main event for the Universal Championship has caught our attention, with a lot of star power in the match. Mostly due to Joe and Lesner's successful programme, the Universal title, despite looking like filth, has some major prestige heading into SummerSlam. The story with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins has also got many people excited about what will happen in the RAW tag title match with Sheamus and Cesaro.
Then there is a lot of matches thrown together at the last, or matches that are just failing to catch the eye. With four hours for the main card alone, and a two-hour Kick Off show, it's going to be laboured watching at times, for sure. With so much to view, there might be something for everyone so we've gone into the event with an open mind, as ever.
That said, this is how @HypeTrainRob, @HypeTrainSam, and @HypeTrainPhil envisioned SummerSlam playing out this year.
WWE SummerSlam 2017 Review: 20/08/2017
With a massive ten matches on the main SummerSlam card, we'll be doing a quick one or two paragraph summation of what we thought about each match, with relevance to the match itself and the the storyline that was being told.
John Cena vs. Baron Corbin
Super Cena opening a pay-per-view almost feels alien. He opened SummerSlam against Baron Corbin, with the majority of the thought going into this match surrounding Corbin's failure to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase. Immediately, once both wrestlers had made their entrances, they aired the failed cash-in attempt over and over.
The match itself was a standard opening encounter, with Cena and Corbin wrestling at a decent tempo. Corbin, as you'd expect from a Cena match, dominated for most the encounter, before ultimately winning with the Attitude Adjustment. Corbin's in the dog house and we don't know if there is any way back for Corbin.
We're kind of glad that Corbin didn't win his cash-in. There's work to be done on the wrestler, if he's ever to be a success in the company.
WWE SmackDown Live Women's Championship: Naomi (c) vs. Natalya
Sticking with action from SmackDown, in the toilet-break match Natalya defeated Naomi to become the blue brands champion. The crowd was extremely quiet for this encounter, with many not thinking that there will be a good match to be had. Natalya dominated the encounter from start to finish using her technical wrestling ability. For nearly ten minutes she was throwing Naomi around the ring, with the angle that she would return the championship belt to its traditional look holding true in the match.
Natalya won with class and god a huge pop when she blocked Naomi's top-rope dive with her knees, and then as they always do in the women's division, had one of the wrestlers tap out for a big reaction from the crowd. This continues SmackDown's policy of booking every single woman on the roster as equals. Even though Natalya has been booked weak since the draft split, it wasn't inconceivable for Natalya to win the title.
No, there wasn't a cash in from Carmella, and perhaps wisely so after Corbin's comical loss, and per tradition for a WWE PPV in 2017, an early title change to get the crowd pumped. We though, struggled getting into this encounter, but there were positives to be had in this match.
Big Cass vs. Big Show w/ Enzo Amore in a Shark Cage
RAW's opening encounter at SummerSlam began with the shark cage being lowered, meaning we had to endure minutes of Enzo Amore coming down to the ring in an attempt to squash Big Cass. The heel in WWE's eyes is Big Cass, who split from his partner because Enzo Amore is an asshole who keeps costing them opportunities to win titles and make it big in WWE because of his erratic and selfish personality. Big Cass did engineer a situation to get himself out of the tag team with Enzo, but on reflection, it was for the best. Then, the heel Cass had to take on Big Show and Enzo on a weekly basis in handicapped scenarios. Enzo kept running his mouth, even tonight in the shark cage, to the point where you side with Cass, even if he has problems delivering in promos. Either way, this match was a mess from a booking point of view.
Everybody thought that Enzo would turn heel on the Big Show, but after a slow and methodical match that had people sitting on their hands, Enzo eventually escaped the shark cage by putting oil all over himself and slipping through the bars. Next, you'd imagine that Enzo would change the match in Big Show's favour, right?
Enzo was just big booted by Cass, who then annihilated the Big Show for a couple of minutes before leaving. Once again, Enzo doesn't deliver on all the false words he is speaking. Cass needs to get out of this feud immediately and let Enzo sink or swim with another opponent, because tonight he looked fourth rate. Cass needed a big win, and got it, so now it is time to spread his wings so we can start seeing what he can do on his own, out of Enzo's shadow.
Randy Orton vs. Rusev
Does this part of the review deserve more than the match itself? No, it doesn't. Randy Orton won after a matter of seconds with an RKO on Rusev, after the Bulgerian jumped Randy before the match. We've been reviewing WWE pay-per-view's for some time now and always say the same thing: Poor Rusev, he deserves better.
WWE RAW Women's Championship: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Sasha Banks
What are they doing with Bailey? Showing her all upset before the match with Sasha Banks making her way out of the ring, what are they achieving by making Bailey look silly on every possible occasion? Booked poorly for months, they should have kept the hugger off television altogether whilst she recovers from injury. Sasha and Alexa made their entrances, with Banks getting a big reaction, which you can always except in Brooklyn. This is where WWE's commentary team were made to sound stupid for the 100th time already tonight, when Booker and Cole kept saying that it was a surprise that Sasha Banks was in this match, that there was no way that she could have beat Nia Jax in a contender's match, even though Banks has beat Nia at every single major encounter between the two. This only makes us wants to hate Sasha because she's being falsely promoted as an underdog, when in fact all she does is come out and say "I'm the boss", even though she has an extremely questionable pay-per-view record.
The match itself was a slow encounter, one that got going when both women kept going to the top rope. Then it ended, out of the blue, even to Michael Cole's surprise, when Banks got Bliss into the Banks Statement and then Alexa tapped. Just like that. Banks celebrated, then they cut to commercial. The final moments just happened so quickly, it made us think that we have seen this before with Banks. Her title wins have been carbon copies of the past. She wins out of the blue, and Michael Cole starts screaming to the audience that it's boss time.
p.s. we were probably more entertained by the new KFC commercial after this match than the title match itself. How bad is that?
p.s.p.s. if Michael Cole screams "IT'S BOSS TIME" one more time, there will be hell to pay. So annoying.
Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt
To be critical from the off regarding this match, the one element you want to have going into a match is a sense of reality. Yes, this is professional wrestling, but this is a point about mystique. Before Wyatt had even made his way into the ring the commentary team were saying things about Bray Wyatt that just simply aren't true. Booker T said that it is easy to be caught in Bray's spell, and Michael Cole said that he is one of the most creative and mystical performers of all time. Corey Graves, always vouching for the bad guys, then said that Wyatt was one of the most charismatic wrestlers on the roster. Simple none of it is true, which makes fans roll their eyes whilst watching. Corey's point about charisma has some weight, but Bray is nonsensical, talks about nothing relevant to wrestling matches, has not had a strong pay-per-view match in a long time, and has been involved in some terrible angles. Bray's booked terribly and the ship has sailed with people taking Wyatt seriously, even if Booker T keeps calling Wyatt 'special'.
At least WWE did a superb job with both entrances, with the return of the 'The Demon King', though Michael Cole's delivery is enough to turn off young audiences when he is trying to describe Balor's character. Just be quiet and let Balor do his thing. Then it was all about 'mind games' between the duo, trying to suss each other out, but ultimately you know the drill with Bray Wyatt as this match followed the prototype booking formula for the eater of worlds.
Follow the buzzards.
Bray appears on TV the next week talking nonsense in a dimly lit room.
Bray has the whole world in his hands.
Bray attacks his next prey.
Bray loses again.
We would love to talk about these wrestlers in a positive light, but WWE just can't seem to get it right with either man. It's been a long road for Balor since his injury when he won the Universal Championship, with nights such as these supposed to be a catalyst for getting him back on the track to success. Unfortunately booking him with Bray Wyatt, who struggles to eek out a good programme with anyone, both men are standing still whilst others on the roster pass them by. SummerSlam is case and point about this view.
WWE RAW Tag Team Championships: Sheamus and Cesaro (c) vs. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins
Aside from Sheamus, you've got three of the most entertaining members of the WWE roster in one match. Rollins and Ambrose are two of the poster boys for modern WWE, and there was a lot of buzz heading into this encounter, so much so that we got an extended Shield-orientated promo about the reunion of Ambrose and Rollins. There is a lot of faith and hope that this reunion would set the bar at SummerSlam for the best match, and against Sheamus and Cesaro, we were surely going to get that.
Not to be surprised, this title match is match of the night contender, as it always seems to be the way with these teams. Cesaro at one point took a beach ball from the crowd, ripped it in half, and demanded attention, and respect, from the Brooklyn crowd, once again proving that Vince was wrong about Cesaro long ago on Stone Cold's podcast. The champions controlled much of the match, with Sheamus and Cesaro taking turns at taking down either Rollins or Ambrose. The match swung when Cesaro had a feigned injury, allowing the former Shield members to mount considerable offence on Sheamus As the match grew 'this is awesome' chants broke out as a series of near-falls ensued with both teams, with a long back and forth struggle taking place, setting up the next near-fall spot.
The finish came when Cesaro was holding Ambrose in the ring. Cesaro was at the top rope, but Rollins broke up Cesaro's offence with a Hurricurana from the top rope, with Rollins then super-kicking both of the champs before delivering a knee to Sheamus, before Ambrose hit the Dirty Deeds. The crowd exploded for a great moment and the Shield members celebrated with the gold.
The best moment of SummerSlam to far, but a long, long, long, mile. Three title matches, three new champions crowned. This match has kicked the event into a new gear after we had to sit through meaningless singles matches and low-card Championship matches.
WWE United States Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Kevin Owens w/ Shane McMahon as Special Guest Referee
Seven matches deep into the card, SummerSlam isn't bothering with toilet break matches, with just the two major title matches to follow this one. The feud with AJ and KO has taken some serious time to brew and become a likeable match at SummerSlam, with the pair trading the US title, and blows on a weekly basis. The pair have fought at two pay-per-views, both with screwed finishes where there was questionable finishes, on occasions when both men weren't giving their all so they could have a blow-out match at Summerslam. In this position behind the WWE and Universal Championship matches, we're glad that this match is correctly placed on the card, reflecting the value that both KO and AJ represent to the company.
AJ Styles and Kevin Owens followed out from Shane McMahon's entrance, and as ref had to take control of the match before the bell had even rung, with Owens hitting AJ with a cheap shot before the bell had rung. We were informed by the commentary team that a championship has changed hands during every occasion which a special referee has been put in place, which means AJ Styles is probably losing tonight, which would follow the theme of an overhaul of champions on the WWE roster.
With this the blow-out match between the pair you'd expect that both men would finally unleash hell on each other, especially with Shane O'Mac in the middle, but Kevin Owens spent much of the opening minutes slowing the match down after a chaotic start before the bell had even rung. Over the course of the match Shane got more involved, with the angle that he was going to screw one of them out of the match.
AJ went for a pin-fall, only for Shane to have suffered a bump a minute before. AJ pushes Shane, telling him to do his job, then pushes back at AJ. KO rolls AJ up and Shane is quickly down like a cat to the count of two. From here the match picked up, with KO hitting a huge suplex from the top, with near-falls occuring from here on out between the two, once again putting Shane in the spotlight. Owens then hit a pop-up power-bomb, with Shane counting three, then taking back the decision after he noticed that AJ had his feet on the ropes. It was then KO's turn to get in Shane's face, only to be rolled up by AJ, with Shane counting two there as well.
AJ then rounded off the match, and was the first to retain a title for the night after hitting the Phenomenal Forearm and a Styles Clash on Owens, for the victory. Fortunately, Shane stayed impartial and this match didn't end with us moaning about a McMahon stealing the spotlight at the close of the match.
This US Championship match was a joy to watch, and with the last two matches being of high calibre, SummerSlam is growing into itself quite nicely.
WWE Championship: Jinder Mahal (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Beginning their promo-package of the WWE Championship match, the marketing team nailed the international feel, and the surprise of this match. Claiming that in a split second anything can change, they continue to book Jinder Mahal strong in and out of the ring, highlighting his sudden rise to glory, and continued resilience as champion. They linked this well with Nakamura's rise from debuting less than six months ago, and has been thrust into the spotlight at SummerSlam. With a lot of expectation that it could be Nakamura's night, we imagine that if Jinder wins, we might very well see a new Universal Champion.
With Nakamura's entire gimmick since debuting in WWE being his entrance, they opened with a violinist playing the theme song, before the Japanese wrestler came out to a huge ovation. Similar with Jinder, whose entrance fells like a million bucks, the overall presentation of this match in our eyes has cemented Jinder as a top guy in WWE. He can hold his own among the best, and of course it doesn't hurt that the company are throwing their weight behind the Indian-Canadian wrestler.
The match itself was tailored for a slow-at-first approach, with Nakamura hitting kicks, and Jinder grounding his title challenger. Nakamura was incredibly vocal in the match, being able to he heard throughout the arena as he screams his every move, be it being hit, or trying to turn Jinder's head inside out with a ruthless kick. The Singh Brother's were quickly dispatched by Nakamura, before Jinder retained after just ten minutes of action. The victory was a repeat of his wins over Randy Orton, with a distraction before nailing the Khallas for the finish.
The audience fell deadly quiet after the win for Jinder, despite an initial pop, with many in disbelief that the majority won't get to see what they paid for. Our thoughts on this are simple. Jinder has been booked well, and Nakamura hasn't been. Plain and simple. Nakamura needs to figure out with the creative team the best way to maximise his potential in WWE, because what they're having him do right now isn't working. Jinder winning might not be the popular choice, but it continues the dominance of one champion, whilst they go back to the drawing board with the other. All we know is that when Jinder loses the belt, it is going to be a massive moment, and without the Money in the Bank briefcase a problem anymore, it's going to be at a big pay-per-view event, surely? Strap in, Jinder's going to be champion for some time to come.
That said, Nakamura's first defeat in WWE was against Jinder Mahal, and none of the above excuses the fact that as for a WWE Championship match, this was a poor showing from both men, and it was probably for the best that this match went short.
p.s. did you notice how quickly the production team are cutting to a backstage promo after Jinder wins at a pay-per-view? It's such a brief celebration for Mahal for three consecutive pay-per-views.
WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesner (c) vs. Samoa Joe vs. Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns
An interesting note that was made before the Universal Championship match was that there have been more championship matches at this year's SummerSlam, than at any other namesake event. Saving the most anticipated for last, RAW's top guys were in the main event slot for tonight, and after Jinder retaining, are we set for a new Universal Champion, and finish SummerSlam with a 6th title change? With Brock Lesner's story that he would leave WWE if he lost the title, we expected that he might retain the title based off our predictions.
Braun Strowman entered with a massive babyface pop.
Samoe Joe also entered with a massive babyface pop.
Roman Reigns was relentlessly jeered, even before his music hit.
Brock Lesner entered with a massive pop.
Answer as to why? Anyone but Roman. Nobody likes him.
The match followed a simple style. Have Strowman destroy everyone, then take Strowman out of the match. The whole 'eyes in the back of your head' phrase was constantly uttered, with this massive heavyweight tie getting massive reactions with every single hit. Back and forth with each guy, every offensive move that Strowman and Joe did got a huge pop from the crowd. Strowman put Lesner through two tables, manhandled by the fan's favourite. Strowman brought the carnage to SummerSlam, destroying the ringside area with Lesner at the bottom of the heap, all made better with Paul Heyman screaming for Strowman to stop the brutality at ringside. Heyman, with Lesner attended to by medics, was absolutely brilliant, screaming 'NO' over and over, at the thought of Lesner's title reign up in the air. The crowd lover every single minute of this action.
Strowman then decimated both Joe and Reigns in the ring with a double chokeslam, after bring hit repeatedly with steel steps and chairs. Lesner then marched back to the ring, paraded by paramedics, with Strowman and Lesner having an intense encounter in the ring, before the opponents went to Suplex City.
Typically, this match boiled down to Roman Reigns taking on Lesner, with the champion eventually hitting the F5 on Reigns, for the pin-fall victory. The win protects both Joe and Strowman, and is the exact scenario in which many thought would happen.
As for the Undertaker appearing in this match to screw Roman, why bother? Lesner did his job perfectly. This match, by a long mile, was match of the night.
WWE Summerslam: Overall Thoughts and Opinions
SummerSlam was a slow burner that gradually grew into itself. With a lot of meaningless singles matches and lower card championship matches to start the show, with crippling defeats to Rusev and Corbin, and title changes that the crowd knew were coming, with the crowd and the audience having to wait a long time to see the matches that people would realistically paid to see. SummerSlam disappointed with its opening two hours, but excelled in its final two, finishing extremely strong in the main event for the Universal Championship in a brutal and brilliant match, which ultimately saw Brock Lesner retain the gold.
WWE did wrong by most of its wrestlers in the early stages of the show, or it was hard to care, with SummerSlam picking up with the RAW Tag Team Championship match. Everything from this point was stellar, with the main event one of the best matches WWE have put on in a very, very, very, long time.
Overall, if you're keen to watch this four-hour WWE pay-per-view, just watch the last two and bit a bit hours, and you'll be pleasantly surprised. Watching anything before, and you'll find yourself screaming 'WHY' and 'WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY TIME' over and over again. The biggest takeaway that will be viewed again and again, is the main event, which made an OK show worth the admission, or the viewership from home, alone.
WWE SummerSlam 2017 Results: 20/08/2017
Kick Off: The Miztourage (The Miz, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel) def. The Hardy's and Jason Jordan
Kick Off: WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Neville def. Akira Tozawa (c) to become champion
Kick Off: WWE SmackDown Live Tag Team Championships: The Usos def. The New Day to become champions
John Cena def. Baron Corbin
WWE SmackDown Live Women's Championship: Natalya def. Naomi (c) via submission to become champion
Big Cass def. Big Show w/ Enzo Amore in a shark cage
Randy Orton def. Rusev
WWE RAW Women's Championship: Sasha Banks def. Alexa Bliss (c) via submission to become champion
Finn Balor def. Bray Wyatt
WWE RAW Tag Team Championships: Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose def. Cesaro and Sheamus (c) via pinfall to become champions
WWE United States Championship: AJ Styles (c) def. Kevin Owens
WWE Championship: Jinder Mahal (c) def. Shinsuke Nakamura
WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesner (c) def. Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman, and Roman Reigns via pinfall (pinning Reigns)
Who’s on WWE’s Hype Train?
John Cena: Consecutive pay-per-view victories over Rusev and Corbin have put Cena back to where WWE love him - squashing mid card talent that need the rub of the green against a veteran.
Jinder Mahal: An unstoppable WWE Champion, who has been booked strong. Jinder's reign has been a treat so far, a breath of fresh air.
Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins: Big crowd ovations, and the best feel good moment at SummerSlam in match of the night, the new RAW Tag Team Champions are aboard the wrestling hype train.
Braun Strowman: An amazing performance from the big man at SummerSlam, Braun is a force to be reckoned with. Setting him up for a title match with Brock in the future seems likely.
Brock Lesner: The right man won in the main event, and Lesner's performance, like Strowman's, was exceptional. He's going to be sore today.
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The Hype Train is an entertainment website founded in 2015, specialising in the Fantasy Premier League (#FPL), providing beautiful graphics and weekly insight for hopeful players attempting to climb ranking tables. We are also occasional media reviewers, with a keen interest to review movies, live sport, and professional wrestling.
The Hype Train were nominated and shortlisted for the 'Best Football Blog 2016' by the Football Bloggers Association at their annual Football Blogging Awards (The FBA's), with the final presentation held at Old Trafford in Manchester.
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