The night after NXT took over Brooklyn, the WWE returns to the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York, for the thirtieth edition of SummerSlam. Headlined by a huge fatal four way for Raw’s Universal Championship, this six-plus hour event is set to be the biggest party of the summer. In the main event, Brock Lesnar will defend his Universal Title against three men – Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns – in a match sure to tear the house down, while on the Smackdown side, Jinder Mahal will need to use all his wits and tricks to overcome the King of Strong Style, Shinsuke Nakamura. Six more titles will be on the line, as the Women’s Champions and Tag Team Champions from both Raw and Smackdown will defend their titles, and the new Cruiserweight Champion, Akira Tozawa, will defend his championship in a rematch with the former champion, Neville.
+ Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman) vs Braun Strowman vs Roman Reigns vs Samoa Joe (WWE Universal Championship): Holy crap, this was insane. Strowman was the best monster the WWE have ever had in this match, as Reigns, Joe and Lesnar had no idea how to handle him. All four men had their moment to shine, and a trifecta of brutal table spots had me on the edge of my seat. Admittedly, the ending was a bit flat considering the road it took to get there, but damn if this wasn’t a great match
+ AJ Styles (c) vs Kevin Owens (WWE United States Championship) (Shane McMahon is Special Guest Referee): although I’m not a fan of just how much Shane was involved in the match, this was another match from Owens/Styles – meaning, this was as good as all of their other matches, but that is still a huge disappointment from what it should be on paper. Win, lose or draw, hopefully these two are done with each other and can move on to other things
+ Sheamus & Cesaro (c) vs Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins (WWE Raw Tag Team Championships): Cesaro needs to be the WWE Champion, and soon, because he is just far, far too good to be a tag team guy forever. This was the second tag team title match for the show, and it was another really good match (but it didn’t top the incredible Usos/New Day match). For the first-time-in-years teaming for Ambrose and Rollins this was a respectible outing, but damn if Sheamus and Cesaro have not made the absolute most of their forced (at the time) teaming
+ Alexa Bliss (c) vs Sasha Banks (WWE Raw Women’s Championship): for the most part, this was pretty good. Rumours swirl that these two don’t like each other in real life, and that made this feel like more of a grudge match than many other matches. This may have gone on a bit long, but I enjoyed it
+ The New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods) (w/ Kofi Kingston) (c) vs The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) (WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championships): the Big E/Woods team is rarely used, so New Day had a chance to show off some new fantastic double team moves, including a brutal urunage/backstabber combo. The Usos are such a good team, especially now that they are the bad guys. This was absolutely incredible, and if you said this was the match of the show, I wouldn’t disagree. This deserved to be on the main card
+ Akira Tozawa (w/ Titus O’Neil) (c) vs Neville (WWE Cruiserweight Championship): every time Neville, Tozawa or both of them get in the ring, I am surprised at just how good they are. Neville had been arguably one of the best champions in recent WWE history, so Tozawa had big shoes to fill. Tozawa has incredible dives, and Neville has a freakish combination of speed and strength, which made this a really good match. It is a shame the cruiserweight matches are still doomed on the pre-show
+ Jason Jordan & The Hardys (Matt & Jeff Hardy) vs The Miztourage (The Miz, Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas) (w/ Maryse): this was the first match on the pre-show, nearly two hours before the main show started, which meant the crowd was virtually non existent. The Hardys and “Kurt Angle’s son” Jordan were great, as you’d expect, but Curtis Axel was really impressive on the other side. Nonetheless, this was a fun match with an interesting ending, at least
– Jinder Mahal (c) (w/ The Singh Brothers) vs Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE Championship): holy crap the hype video for this match was so good, but unfortunately the match itself was not. Even with the Singh brother at ringside, there was nothing new on offer from either man. This was disappointing, especially with how strange the ending felt
– “The Demon” Finn Balor vs Bray Wyatt: it was ridiculous for the WWE to ruin Finn Balor’s demonic persona and it was ridiculous that FInn was in the same old Demon paint. These two had a match not a week ago, and this was 95% the same match. I know I shouldn’t be, but I am consistently astounded at how the WWE is able to ruin these characters
– Randy Orton vs Rusev: this was fucking stupid. The incredible Smackdown tag team match was stuck on the pre-show so this bullshit could be on the main card. Stupid
– Big Show vs Big Cass (Enzo is locked in a shark cage above the ring): this shark tank gimmick is quickly becoming Triple H’s speciality. This went on far, far too long, and despite a small late match twist, this was just not good, and most definitely the worst match of the show
– John Cena vs Baron Corbin: this started the show and it was… fine. This was Corbin’s match to lose, as the crowd was loud for Cena, for or against, the whole time. The crowd was taunting Corbin for losing his MITB briefcase and Corbin made the most of it, but this was still mostly the Cena show, tot he audience. This was a standard Smackdown match, not too unlike the one they had a few months ago
– Naomi (c) vs Natalya (WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship): this started at a frantic pace but soon slowed to the expected crawl. This was another match which was fine, but never exceeded a regular Smackdown women’s match, and certainly didn’t reach the heights of Asuka/Ember Moon from NXT the night before. But lord, Naomi looked so fine
> During the Raw Tag Team Championship match, the crowd had a beachball, but damn Ceasro was not having any of that shit. He jumped the barrier into the crowd and ripped it apart with his bare hands
Should you watch this event: With 13 matches taking place and over six hours of action, this was always going to be a mixed bag. Too many matches just felt like regular TV affairs (Cena/Corbin, Rusev/Orton, Natalya/Naomi) with only the championships on the line adding anything unique. Thankfully the Fatal Four Way was good, as it always was going to be, and the two tag team championship matches were good or great. This was a long show with too many unimportant matches and not enough important matches, but at least there were a few diamonds in the rough.