Happy Wednesday Everyone!
We’ve got some more SummerSlam opening matches for you today, with a pretty infamous one featuring one Bray Wyatt.
Ring of Fire
“The Perplexing” Bray Wyatt w/ Harper and Rowan Vs Kane
It’s a ring of fire match, and you know what that means! Rather than it being an inferno match where you have to set the other guy on fire, instead there’s just fire around the ring in order to keep it as a one on one contest. Wyatt wasn’t yet getting booked as some kind of invincible monster and was instead just a heavy hitting cult leader who could be hurt but also had a decent tolerance to pain. He was a swamp version of Raven basically.
As a match there isn’t much to this one, with the fire being the main thing to focus on as the flames leap upward whenever they do a big move. It adds some spice to what would otherwise be just two big blokes lumbering around and punching one another, but the gimmick kind of grows old after a certain point and the flames make the ring really warm, which leads to both men getting very tired and worn out very quickly.
Wyatt is actually moving pretty good here, as he takes some nice bumps for Kane and sells well. It’s actually a decent performance on his part, although Kane kind of just stumbles about. Eventually Rowan tries to put the flames out with a fire extinguisher but it doesn’t work. Kane gets a pair of Choke Slams but is a stupid babyface and doesn’t go for the pin when he can, which gives The Wyatt Family time to cover the flames and attack him.
The crowd chants for Undertaker at that point, and I do think Taker and Kane did team up against The Wyatt’s at one stage, but he’s not coming tonight and instead this just allows Wyatt to apply the Blade Runner to an already beaten down Kane for the anticlimactic three count.
WINNER: BRAY WYATT
As a match it wasn’t terrible or anything but I hate it when they have big stipulation matches like this and then just find a way to get around the stipulation in order to facilitate the cheap finish they could have easily done if they’d just had a different type of match. Kane had to be a totally stupid babyface there as well, as he had Wyatt beat numerous times but procrastinated long enough that the Heels could thwart him
WWE Intercontinental Title
Champ: The Miz Vs Dolph Ziggler
Miz would appear to be a Heel here whilst Ziggler is a babyface. Miz was doing his “Hollywood Miz” gimmick and insults the crowd. He didn’t have Maryse with him yet though, as I think she showed up in 2016. Miz apparently did the old “hide outside the ring in a battle royal only to come back in and win right at the end” shtick against Ziggler on a previous pay per view, hence why Ziggler is now coming after him.
This is a decent match as the two wrestlers have good chemistry together and the crowd is into the action. Ziggler gets the better of things so Miz tries to do The Honky Tonk Man gimmick of fleeing with the Title belt, but Ziggler puts a stop to it. This allows Miz to cut him off with the Figure Four back inside the ring though, with Ziggler selling that really well and the fans getting behind him in the hope he will find a way out, thus making it a good submission tease.
Ziggler does manage to grab the ropes in order to break the hold and we head into the near falls, with Ziggler even kicking out of the Skull Crushing Finale at one stage. Miz tries following up with something but Ziggler snaps off a Zig-Zag OUTTA NOWHERE and that’s enough for the three count and the Title.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: DOLPH ZIGGLER
It’s usually good when these two wrestle one another and this was no exception. Good near falls and strong crowd reactions made this a fun opener
Money in the Bank holder Sheamus Vs Randy Orton
Sheamus cost Orton the WWE Title on an episode of Raw and then tried cashing in, but Orton gave him an RKO to prevent that so both men are looking for a measure of revenge here. Sheamus tells all the fans they look stupid before the match and demands they all respect his Mohawk, which leads to Orton attack him and then getting the babyface shine.
Sheamus manages to send Orton into the ring post at one stage though, which leads to Sheamus working some heat inside the ring. The crowd seems into Orton but aren’t especially bothered about Sheamus so the match has spotty crowd reactions as a result. Sheamus does a good job as a Heel though, with his offence looking sharp and his Heel mannerisms being on point.
The match feels a bit sluggish in some parts, with some rest holds slowing it down, but I can’t argue with the execution or the general match structure. It’s just not really conducive to an exciting opener. Orton eventually makes the comeback, even flinging Sheamus to the floor with a big suplex at one stage, before tussling Sheamu’s Mohawk in the corner.
Orton gets a near fall off a powerslam, as it looks like he got cut above the eye somehow. Orton gets the big hanging DDT though and preps for the RKO, which wakes the crowd up considerably. Sheamus bails to avoid that and starts clubbing away on Orton, although he stops when the crowd chants along. Sheamus tries a springboard shoulder tackle but gets caught with an RKO OUTTA NOWHERE.
However, Sheamus rolls out of the ring so that he can’t be pinned in a clever way to prolong the match whilst still protecting the impact of the move. Orton prepares for the Punt of DOOM back inside, but Sheamus dodges it and gets the Kryptonite Krunch for two in a well-executed near fall. Sheamus rights off another RKO with a pair of Brogue Kicks and that’s enough for the three count, which makes sense as it gives the MITB holder a big win.
Just a match really. Nothing wrong with it due to both Sheamus and Orton having strong mechanical wrestling skills. Everything was done how it was supposed to be done and both wrestlers structured the match in a way that made sense. The crowd just wasn’t really that bothered and the match didn’t really have a strong storyline reason for existing either considering this was supposed to be the opener on a “Big Four” pay per view. Still though, it was “perfectly cromulent” as Scott Keith would say
Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens Vs Enzo and Big Cass
Enzo and Cass had jumped from NXT to the main roster and they got put in a feud with established Heels Jericho and Owens. It’s funny in some ways how much Enzo and Cass mirrored the New Age Outlaws, even down to fans popping for the catchphrases at the start of the match only to then sit on their hands once the actual wrestling started. They really were the modern equivalent.
Enzo and Cass actually do some decent stuff in the shine, including Cass using Enzo as a human missile at one stage by flinging him out onto the Heels, but Jericho manages to cut Enzo off with a knee strike and that leads into the Heel heat segment. Enzo does a reasonable job selling during that, with Owens being entertaining by mocking the two babyfaces.
They do some good teased hot tags actually, with Enzo diving for it but Jericho knocking him out of mid-air to set up an Owens near fall. That was slickly done. Enzo does eventually tag in Cass, who runs wild and looks decent, although he does run around a big too much rather than just waiting in the middle and letting the Heels come to him. It just makes him look ungainly.
We get some near falls, with Enzo and Cass prepping for the Rocket Launcher at one stage only for Owens to foil them. That leaves Enzo as a sitting duck on the top rope, but he manages to catch Jericho with a flying DDT for two until Owens breaks it up. An assisted Code Breaker follows and that’s enough for the Jericho three count.
WINNERS: JERICHO & OWENS
This felt kind of flat for an opener, even though the work was fine for the most part and they employed the tag formula well. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t especially good either
Jeremy Baron Corbin Vs John Cena
This one came about because Cena screwed Corbin over when Corbin tried to cash in Money in the Bank, thus Corbin is now coming for revenge. They let Corbin take a big chunk of the offence, with Cena selling to make a comeback, and the crowd doesn’t really care. They’re pretty quiet actually, as they clearly see Cena as a big star but they see Corbin as “just a dude” and don’t really buy him as any kind of actual threat to Cena and don’t find him interesting enough as a character or wrestler to care about him that way either.
Corbin tries talking smack to the ref, Cena and the crowd, but the fans still don’t really care that much. At one point Corbin yells at a non-existent member of the crowd to shut up, which is met with complete silence. Ric Flair could do that spot and actually rile up the entire crowd with it, because he was an all-time great at working the crowd, whilst Baron Corbin is Baron Corbin. Corbin doesn’t even look bad from purely a wrestling perspective here, he’s just so bland that you could realistically plug in any generic Heel in here and get pretty much the exact same match.
Things do pick up a bit in the closing stages, with the crowd responding to Cena’s offence, although they continue to keep giving Corbin the lion’s share of offence, which in-turn makes the fans not really care as they only really see Cena as a star. Corbin tries to up the intensity and doesn’t do a bad job on that front, but Cena catches him with a clothesline and then the F-U for the three count.
WINNER: JOHN CENA
Corbin didn’t really make the most of getting to work with a top guy there. The match wasn’t bad or anything, but it was paint by numbers and Corbin didn’t really go out of his way to stake a claim for more of a push. It kind of felt like a waste of Cena as well. Kind of like if you booked a pay per view opener of Hulk Hogan against Brian Knobbs in the early 90’s and just had them work a formula Hogan match. Yeah, it would be fine and the crowd would probably enjoy seeing Hogan do his usual material, but it would also be completely forgettable and you’d wonder why they couldn’t have had a better opponent for such a big star
This was very much a “just some matches” edition this week, as nothing was especially good outside of the Miz/Ziggler match.