The SmarK Rant for WWE Summerslam 2017
Live from Brooklyn, NY
Your hosts are Michael Cole and a whole bunch of other people.
John Cena v. Baron Corbin
Corbin has a new burning wolf entrance and generic rock theme that would have been more imposing had he not lost his cash-in attempt like a complete geek. Cena mocks Corbin and stops by the announce desk to let us know how shook that Corbin is (but is he SHOOK NASTY?), and he works a headlock to start. Corbin stomps him down in the corner and slides in with the lariat for two, and gets a suplex in between yelling at the ref and the crowd. Cena fights back and gets slammed for two. When you have to tell a silent crowd to “shut up” in order to draw heat, you’re a geek. The crowd asks him where his briefcase is, and Cena makes the comeback with the usual. Corbin evades the Five Knuckle Shuffle and hits Cena with a chokeslam for two. Cena comes back with a tornado DDT, but walks into the Deep Six for two. And then Corbin slugs away in the corner while the camera zooms in and out so know it’s VIOLENT. And then Cena just finishes him like the geek he is at 10:10. This was a whole lot of nothing and a pretty clear message about Corbin’s immediate future. *1/2
Meanwhile, Neville and Sasha Banks win a Rocket League tournament on Xavier Woods’ YouTube channel.
Smackdown Women’s title: Naomi v. Natalya
That title belt is getting pretty seriously gaudy at this point. Nattie attacks and gets a slingshot suplex, but Naomi chases her out of the ring and follows with a blockbuster off the apron. Natalya comes back with a catapult that on the apron that sends Naomi into the post, and that gets two. I feel like the physics on that one were a tad exaggerated, because she jumped three feet in the air on it. Natalya stomps her down in the corner and gets a suplex for two. Nattie chokes her out on the ropes and gets a slam for two. Abdominal stretch, but Naomi escapes with a clothesline for two. They head up and Naomi brings her down with a neckbreaker for two. Naomi comes back with a high kick and a headscissors for two. Naomi does her glow kicks, but Nattie catches her foot and takes her down and into the splits. Naomi gets a guillotine legdrop in the corner as this kind of drags on, and she goes for whatever submission hold is, but Nattie reverses to the Sharpshooter, and Naomi powers out of it. Moonsault hits the knees and Nattie goes back to it again, and Naomi taps at 10:52. Too long and mostly dull. **
Big Show v. Big Cass
For whatever reason they do a lengthy recap of the storyline behind this match, although Enzo still gets another 10 minutes to talk before getting locked in the shark cage. And yay, more generic butt rock for Big Cass. Did they fire that new group doing the entrance music? Booker actually gets an apt comparison for Enzo: He’s like the ex-girlfriend who just keeps calling and calling. Show slugs away in the corner to start and pounds on Cass while Enzo does commentary from the cage above the ring, but a sideslam somehow hurts his broken hand. Show goes up and misses something resembling an elbowdrop, which again hurts his own hand. He hits Cass with the knockout punch anyway, but I guess having the cast somehow lessened the effects of the move, because Cass kicks out. Cass goes to work on the hand and that goes on for a while. Show makes the comeback with one arm, and gets a left-handed chokeslam for two. Cass bails and runs Show’s hand into the post, and now Enzo tries to squeeze through the bars of the cage, thanks to a handy bottle of lube that he had in his tights. This actually works (although you can see the gimmicked bars moving) but Cass just boots him in the face as soon as he escapes. Big boot for Big Show and that gets two. Another one finishes at 10:25. Wow, that was exciting. ½* Why would you do the angle to break Show’s hand and set up the big comeback only for him to just lose cleanly?
Meanwhile, Kurt Angle and Daniel Bryan meet up and discuss GM stuff.
Rusev v. Randy Orton
Rusev attacks during the ring introduction and runs Orton into the post, but Orton immediately hits the RKO at 0:07. Rusev badly needs a repackage at this point and this show needs a match that isn’t terrible. And did Rusev make another faux pas on social media or are they just running WAY long, I wonder?
Meanwhile, Kurt Angle arrives at the archives burned down by Seth Rollins in a previous video game commercial, and he’s pissed about it. I bet they’re gonna have a match in video game form. And then Seth will botch a powerbomb and super-double-retire him.
RAW Women’s title: Alexa Bliss v. Sasha Banks
Poor Bayley gets booed out of the building again when she’s shown backstage. Given that Alexa was featured in the PPV commercial for No Mercy earlier in the show, I’m thinking she’s retaining here. Bliss quickly gets a flying bodypress for two and Sasha rolls through for two. Bliss stomps away in the corner and yanks Banks out of the corner for two, and we hit the chinlock. Bliss with the double knees into a standing moonsault for two. Back to the chinlock and Bliss pounds her in the corner and chokes her out. Banks makes the comeback with a clothesline for two, but Bliss runs a knee into Sasha’s head for two. Sasha comes back with knees in the corner for two as this is going nowhere. Banks Statement and Bliss makes the ropes pretty easily, and trips her up on the apron as they head to the floor. Back in, Sasha gets tossed again right away and they do that “just beat the 10 count” spot. Bliss goes up with the Sparkle Splash for two. Banks gets the Banks Statement again, but Bliss rolls her over for two. And then Sasha gets the hold again and Bliss taps at 13:25. Wasn’t really any buildup to it. Match was OK, felt like they were originally given 5:00 and then suddenly had another 10 handed to them on the way to the ring. **
Finn Balor v. Bray Wyatt
Former WWE champion Bray Wyatt and first ever Universal champion Finn Balor are fighting because of a bucket of fake red blood. Oh, and because Finn Balor is just so uncontrollably popular and Bray is not. Cole reminds us of their first match last week, but I don’t think anyone will forget Bray pouring the “viscous acidic red liquid” on him. I was thinking while watching the recap, “Man, that’s some VISCOUS looking red liquid, and I bet it’s way on the acidic side of the PH scale as well!” Bray stalls for a while and Finn hits him with a seated dropkick and chases him to the floor for a dive. Back in, and Bray runs away again before catching him with a suplex to the floor. Back in, they slug it out in the corner and Bray gets a neckbreaker and goes to the chinlock. Bray tries Sister Abigail, but Finn counters out and double-stomps him to make the comeback. Finn tosses him and adds a baseball slide, then follows with a curb stomp off the apron, which gives Corey Graves the chance to say “External occipital protuberance” in 2017. Back in, Finn reverses Sister Abigail into a Sling blade, but Bray gets a uranage for two. They’re selling like it’s the hot near-fall portion of the match but the crowd is dead silent for it. Senton gets two. Finn comes back with an inverted DDT for two and Bray bails yet again, so Finn follows with a dropkick into the railing, but Bray catches him with a clothesline for two. Bray does his crab walk, but Finn doesn’t care and makes his comeback before finishing with the coup de grace at 10:38. Another OK TV match in a series of them tonight. **1/2 Didn’t really feel like there was anything special to the match, and it was mostly Bray running away and occasionally acting spooky.
RAW tag team titles: Cesaro & Sheamus v. Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins
I feel like Roman Reigns is getting kind of glossed over in this whole Shield mini-reunion. Like, no one ever stops to ask “What does Roman think about these guys fist-bumping each other?” Rollins and Ambrose double-team Sheamus in the corner, but Seth gets hit with a forearm on the heel side of the ring. The faces go back to work on Cesaro, however, and clean house with dropkicks. Sheamus hits Ambrose with a Brogue Kick on the floor, however, and the champs cut off a dive from Rollins and beat him down on the floor to take over. Sheamus drops a knee on Rollins and he’s face in peril. And then the crowd gets distracted by something going on in the arena that appears to be beach ball related while Ambrose is out on the floor. Finally Cesaro actually runs into the crowd, grabs the ball, and destroys it himself. I think it’s probably too late to save this one. Ambrose recovers, but the champs cut off the ring until Rollins tosses Cesaro and tries for the tag, but gets cut off by the champs and beat up outside again. Ambrose hits both heels with a dive and gets the hot tag as a result. Dive for Sheamus and a backslide on Cesaro gets two. The faces clear the ring and hit them with stereo dives. Back in, a Hart Attack on Cesaro gets two. Cheapshot from Sheamus turns the tide again, but he goes up and gets superplexed into a Rollins frog splash that gets two. The faces do a double beatdown on Sheamus in the corner to set up the double powerbomb, but Cesaro breaks it up and Sheamus gets a tilt-a-whirl slam for two. Cesaro with a cross body on Dean, but he rolls through for two. Dirty Deeds is countered into the Giant Swing and Sharpshooter. Sheamus gets rid of Rollins and Cesaro moves into a crossface instead, but Dean reverses to a rollup for two. Doomsday Device gets two on Ambrose. Double crucifix drop on Dean gets two, and Rollins makes the save this time. The champs double-team him again, but Rollins takes Cesaro off the top with a rana, into Sheamus, and Dirty Deeds wins the tag titles at 18:38. I was pretty sure that Ambrose was turning here, actually. Took them a while to get into gear, but that was a great finish. ***
US title: AJ Styles v. Kevin Owens
Sadly, Kevin is no longer the face of America. Shane pulls them apart before the bell, which would have Gorilla Monsoon rolling over in his grave. They immediately brawl on the floor and AJ hits him with a knee from the apron, but Owens stomps him down in the ring. AJ comes back with a backbreaker and drops a knee, but Owens clotheslines him in the corner and follows with the cannonball for two. Senton gets two and we head to CHINLOCK CITY. They slug it out and AJ catches him with the facebuster. Owens with the powerbomb, but Styles escapes with the fireman’s carry neckbreaker for two. AJ goes up and Owens shoves Shane into the corner to bring him down, but AJ recovers with a powerbomb. AJ springboards in with the 450, but Shane gets somehow hit with the move by accident. That’s some SUBPAR refereeing. Owens with the pop up powerbomb out of that, but it only gets two. Owens goes on a rant on Shane at this point: “YOU FALL OFF BUILDINGS AND YOU CAN’T GET UP FROM THAT?!” AJ rolls Owens into the calf crusher, but KO goes to the eyes to break, and then poor Shane gets bumped AGAIN. Another calf crusher on Owens, but Shane is outside the ring and can’t see him tapping. Back in, AJ gets into a shoving match with Shane now and gets rolled up for two. Cannonball is countered with a forearm and AJ suplexes Owens into the corner and tries a top rope rana, but Owens blocks it and brings him down with a fisherman’s suplex instead. That gets two. They slug it out and Owens gets the superkick, but AJ rolls him into a Styles Clash for two. Forearm misses and Owens gets the powerbomb for the apparent pin, but the foot is on the ropes and Shane changes his mind. This is some truly awful officiating tonight. Owens gets into a shoving match with Shane now and AJ hits a Pele kick off that, and the forearm sets up the Styles Clash to retain at 17:45. Would have been a lot better without all the Shane McMahon drama and poor refereeing throwing off the rhythm, but it was the best match of the night thus far. ***1/4
WWE title: Jinder Mahal v. Shinsuke Nakamura
Nakamura works a headlock, but Jinder charges him and lands on the floor while Nakamura eggs him on. Back in, Nakamura drops a knee and gets Good Vibrations in the corner, prompting Jinder to exit again. The Singh brothers provide distraction and JInder takes over with a cheapshot and pounds him down. Jinder with a chinlock and Nakamura fights out, then puts Jinder down with a spinkick. He makes the comeback with kicks and a knee in the corner for two, but Jinder blocks the exploder and Nakamura turns it into a triangle choke instead. Blind charge misses and Jinder rolls him up for two and then follows with a high knee for two. Jinder misses a charge and hits the post, and Nakamura stops to beat up the Singh brothers and walks into the cobra clutch slam at 11:22. Is that seriously the only finish they know for Mahal? This didn’t feel like a WWE title match at all, it just felt like a midcard TV match. **1/4
Universal title: Brock Lesnar v. Braun Strowman v. Samoa Joe v. Roman Reigns
Brock and Roman immediately get rid of their rivals and square off, and people start getting suplexed. They tease a Brock v. Braun battle as the crowd goes nuts for it, and in this case it’s Brock that goes flying. Braun misses a charge on Roman and hits the post, and down on the floor Roman spears Lesnar through the railing in the spot that ALWAYS works. And then Joe slams Roman on the table, and Strowman goes after the remains of Brock and powerslams him through a table like a ragdoll. What an amazing car wreck. Roman breaks up Strowman’s groove, so Joe hits him with a dive, and then Strowman THROWS AN OFFICE CHAIR at them, grabs Brock, and slams him through ANOTHER TABLE. This is the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen and more fun than the first three hours of this show put together. And then the crowd chants “One more table”, so Braun takes the remaining table and uproots it onto the lifeless corpse of Brock Lesnar. Brock goes out on a stretcher for the moment, but I’m pretty sure he’ll be back. Strowman, who is supposed to be the vile heel, is now a wildly cheered superhero, and he uses the stairs to destroy Roman and Joe for fun. In the ring, Reigns makes a comeback on him with the stairs, but Joe rolls up Roman for two. Roman with a samoan drop for two. Joe blocks the superman punch and hooks the choke, but Strowman (bleeding from the ear due to stairs) chokeslams both of them and gets two on Roman. And then Brock returns from the dead and beats on Strowman before suplexing Roman and Joe. Brock is unable to suplex Strowman, so he tries a kimura instead, which is broken up by a superman punch from Reigns. Spear on Brock gets two. Another try is cut off by Joe’s choke, but Strowman powerslams Joe for two. Superman punch on Strowman gets two. Spear hits Braun’s boot and the powerslam gets two. Brock suddenly tries the F5 on Braun, but Roman spears them and Strowman gets knocked out of the ring, leaving Brock to hit the F5 on Roman. Joe breaks that up and chokes Brock, but the F5 gets two. Superman punch for Brock and he won’t go down, but the spear is turned into an F5 and Brock retains at 20:55. As soon as he went out on a stretcher you knew he was coming back to win. A spectacular trainwreck that delivered and nearly, but not quite, saved the show. ****1/2
Was it worth sitting through the other 3.5 hours to get to the main event? Nope. Honestly, the rest of the show was such a dull slog that it took me nearly 6 hours to review a 4 hour show, and it was only the amazing Brooklyn crowd that kept it interesting enough to save the show much of the way. The main event was an amazing spectacle, but I can’t recommend the show at all. Thumbs in the middle.