Happy Wednesday Everyone!
We’ve got some more SummerSlam opening matches for you today, as we move into an era where I don’t really know what to expect as I was gradually giving up on WWE during this period.
WWE Intercontinental Title
Champ: Dolph Ziggler w/ Drew Galloway Vs Seth Rollins w/ Dean Ambrose
I honestly have no memory of Dolph and Drew being allied with one another. I know Dolph and Bobby Roode were buddies for a bit. Rollins supposedly lost the belt to Dolph thanks to Drew, so he’s brought Ambrose in as back up. I believe Ambrose would eventually turn on Rollins and start wearing a gas mask because he hated the smell of the fans or something. It should surprise no one that such booking contributed to him wanting to leave WWE.
Ambrose actually gets his own entrance before Rollins comes down to join him. Drew gets his own entrance as well, and he actually gets top billing over Dolph, even though it’s Dolph who is the Champion. Kind of makes Dolph look like a lesser star that his hired help is treated as a bigger deal than he is when it’s Dolph who has the belt. Almost makes me wonder why they didn’t just belt Drew and have Dolph as the lackey if Dolph is going to so clearly be positioned as second banana.
They quickly get the presence of Ambrose over by having him face off with Drew at one stage in order to prevent Drew from getting in a cheap shot. The match itself is good, although the crowd is pretty quiet for it at points. Rollins gets the extended babyface shine, with Dolph not having an answer for him and doing a good job bumping around. Rollins drops his guard momentarily though by focusing on Drew and that allows Dolph to kick the ropes whilst Rollins is getting back in for the cut off.
Rollins sells well in the heat, but the match itself continues to have pretty lacklustre crowd reactions, even though the wrestling has been good. It sounds like they’d wrestled a lot prior to this if the commentary is anything to go by so it could just be that the crowd had seen it enough by the time this match came along, which is something that can happen in WWE when they have the same guys wrestling each for months on end with 50/50 booking going on.
Rollins eventually makes the comeback, which wakes the crowd up a bit, although the reactions still aren’t great. I can see why though, as they’ve made Drew look like the real star of his duo so Rollins labouring to beat the lesser Dolph isn’t exactly going to fire the crowd up. Rollins keeps working and working though and eventually manages to get them to care a little bit, just in time for the finishing stretch to begin.
Dolph has carried his end well here, but Rollins is the only one of the two that the crowd seems to care about and the responsibility of getting them invested has been dumped in Rollins’ lap and he’s done as good a job as can be done to make it happen. Dolph gets Rollins with a very cool looking DDT onto the apron at one stage, with Rollins doing the old head spike bump, which is little bit dangerous but he seemed to do it correctly.
Rollins beats the count back in though, which leads to some near falls, which the crowd bite on, including when Dolph gets the knees up on a Frogsplash before getting a cradle for two in a very well executed spot. Rollins gets a great near fall of his own by getting a big back suplex off the ropes before following with the Saving Grace for two, which finally gets the crowd to react big. It did look spectacular in fairness.
Drew and Ambrose finally get physically involved, with Drew throwing Ambrose into the steps and Dolph managing to hit the distracted Rollins with a Zig-Zag for two. The near falls and finishing sequence have really boosted this match as it’s gotten the crowd to care after a cold start. Rollins comes up bleeding, whilst Ambrose takes out Drew with a Dirty Deeds. Rollins gets Dolph with the Curb Stomp and that leads to the three.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: SETH ROLLINS
The lack of crowd response made it a bit of a slog at points, even though the wrestling itself was good, but once Rollins made his comeback the two wrestlers managed to get the crowd invested and the match picked up a lot as a result. The ending stretch was done really well and the clean pin fall finish was appreciated
Submissions Match for the Raw Women’s Title
Champ: Becky Lynch Vs Nattie Neidhart
The show is happening in Canada, so they decided to give Nattie a Title shot. Straightforward booking, but it makes sense. Trish Stratus got a match with Charlotte Flair on the show for the same reason. Nattie doesn’t get the pop you would expect actually, although it’s not a bad reaction either. I know a lot of people online seem to really hate Nattie but I think she’s a solid worker and her role as gatekeeper who can occasionally challenge for the belt in a special situation like this works fine.
Becky gets some chants here, so it’s not a slam dunk pro-Nattie crowd like you might expect. Becky is clearly trying to work as Heel here in an effort to get Nattie cheered, and her character naturally leans to being more of a Heel in these sorts of situations. Having a submission rules match means you can’t do near falls, which hurts the drama a bit when you’re in front of a crowd that doesn’t really care much about submission wrestling like a WWE audience.
The actual wrestling itself is good, as they actually do a bit of shoot style with the two fighting in the mount and going for MMA styled submission holds. Sadly this is a WWE show and not a UWFi one, so some of it goes over the crowds’ head. They are both working snug though and really going for it, so it’s entertaining for me, although your own personal mileage may vary depending on how much you like submission wrestling.
Nattie ends up working over Becky’s leg, with Becky selling that well and it all making sense if Nattie is going for The Sharpshooter. The crowd cheers for Becky though and Nattie even yells at them to shut up at one stage, which leaves me really confused as to what they are actually trying to achieve with this match. They probably should have put Nattie in there with a less popular wrestler if they wanted her to be the hometown babyface, and if they don’t want her to be that then I have to ponder why they would try and book Nattie as a Heel in Canada.
Nattie gets a very cool looking rope and ring post assisted Sharpshooter at one stage, but Becky doesn’t tap and she has to let go. I don’t know if they should have done that spot as if it wasn’t going to be the finish. Becky continues to sell very well, as she tries to fight back by going after Nattie’s arm, but Nattie fights back herself with a Superplex for a double down. They sell the move big actually and I like to see that as it should be a protected move.
Becky actually gets her own Sharpshooter at one stage, as I’m still unsure as to who the babyface in this match is supposed to be, but Nattie manages to fight out so that she doesn’t have to tap to her own hold in Canada. Honestly the way WWE likes messing with the Hart/Neidhart Family it wouldn’t have shocked me if they’d demanded that finish. Nattie tries to beat Becky with her own Dis-Arm-Her next, which is kind of a face move after Becky tried the Sharpshooter, but I’m not sure if Nattie is actually the babyface or not.
Nattie finally gets the Sharpshooter applied, but Becky drags herself to the apron in order to loosen Nattie’s grip so that Nattie has to drag her back into the middle to reapply it. Becky manages to counter into the Dis-Arm-Her though and that’s enough for the submission win after a long tease from Nattie.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: BECKY LYNCH
The wrestling itself was fine, but the way they constructed that match was really weird as I honestly had no idea who I was supposed to cheer for as both of them seemed to flip flop from being heelish and faceish
Smackdown Women’s Title
Champ: Bayley w/ Sasha Banks Vs Asuka
Asuka is wrestling both of the Heels tonight apparently, with Bayley getting her first. Asuka shines on Bayley to start, with Bayley taking a heck of a kicking and selling it well. Asuka even gives Bayley a Divorce Court arm breaker out on the floor at one stage. Bayley eventually low-bridges Asuka throat first onto the bottom rope and starts working her over, with Asuka selling that well and Bayley’s offence looking good.
Asuka eventually kicks out of the Bayley-to-Belly and gets a Cro Cop kick for a double down before making the comeback. Asuka gets a Koshinaka styled running hip attack, but Bayley is able to kick out at two. They fight on the apron following that, with Bayley dropping Asuka knee first on the apron and then working the body part over back inside the ring. Asuka does a great job selling that, with Bayley trying out some leg based submission holds for submission teases.
This has been a tad sloppy at points, but it’s had good energy and two have really put the effort it, so it’s been fun to watch. Asuka ends up kicking Banks when Banks taunts her, which leads to Banks trying to help Bayley win, leading to her taking a spill off the apron as a result. This allows Bayley to get an inside cradle though and that’s enough for three.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: BAYLEY
I enjoyed that. There were a few sloppy bits, but in general it was a good match and the finish protected Asuka somewhat even in defeat, whilst also planting seeds for an eventual Bayley and Sasha feud
Raw Tag Team Titles
Champs: AJ Styles and Omos Vs RK-Bro (Randy Orton and Matt Riddle)
I believe this is the first time I’ve ever reviewed an Omos match. He’s a very tall man who isn’t that good, so teaming him up with AJ Styles and having Styles do most of the wrestling was a clever way of promoting him in all honesty. He gives Riddle a horrific body slam early on where he just flings him and makes no attempt to protect Riddle’s head and neck. You’re supposed to tuck the head a bit so that your opponent lands flat. That was the body slam of a really big dude who just throws guys around because he can and no one has told him any different.
Styles looks great here, even greater than usual, which might just be because he’s tagging with an 8 foot freak with the mobility of a cement mixer. Riddle sells well in the heat, with the crowd digging the thought of Orton getting the hot tag. Orton does finally get the tag and runs wild on Styles, which Styles of course bumps and feeds for excellently. The finishing stretch is really good whenever Omos isn’t involved and Orton eventually catches Styles with an RKO OUTTA NOWHERE for the pin.
WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: RK-BRO
This was actually quite fun and they kept Omos’ involvement as minimal as possible and Styles had a great night
Raw Women’s Title
Champ: Bianca Belair Vs Becky Lynch
This would be the big event rubber match between the two I believe, as Lynch won at last year’s SummerSlam and Belair won at WrestleMania, so this one will settle the issue, unless Lynch wins and they then have a bunch more rematches I guess. Heck, Belair could win and they could have a tonne of rematches, because WWE feuds are booked like the 2K Universe Mode these days. Lynch’s ludicrous entrance gear is pretty great actually, even if she’s wildly miscast as a villain.
Belair’s athleticism is of course fantastic, as she flips around to avoid Lynch in the early going until Lynch is able to finally grab hold of her and work over the arm. Belair sells that well and Lynch shows off some good character work, although some the execution isn’t quite there on some of her arm targeted offence. Still, a full mark for psychology seeing as Lynch’s finish is an arm based submission hold.
That being said, just as I typed that Belair did a bunch of moves involving her arm without any issue, which kind of takes away from what they were going for there. They head outside at one stage and Lynch leg drops Belair over the barricade, for what ends up being our second teased cut off as they do some more back and forth in the ring. I get that they want to show the two have parity, but this probably needs more Lynch being a Heel and working heat, and Belair needs to pick a part of her body that’s hurt and sell it because right now the bout is pretty unfocused.
The bout eventually moves into both of them trading moves and counters, and it’s a bit sloppy but it also has good energy and both wrestlers take some pretty hefty bumps, including Lynch taking the K-O-D out on the floor at one stage for the count out tease. There’s a very good spot later on as well where Lynch yanks Belair off the top using her long hair straight into a Uranage for a near fall. They executed that well and the crowd bit on it too. Belair manages to counter a top rope Uranage into the K-O-D not too soon after that and that’s enough for three.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: BIANCA BELAIR
Some good bits in there but it also felt like they didn’t know what they wanted the match to be as it flipped between a traditional Face/Heel dynamic to a more Japan styled two warriors going toe-for-toe thing, when they probably should have just picked one and gone with that. The spotty selling from Belair didn’t help either, although Lynch never really picked a part of the body to work on and stick with it. In the early going it looked like Belair would get her cool athletic babyface shine and then Lynch would work the arm for some Heel heat until Belair had to make a one armed comeback, which would have been a good story to tell, but then they started going all over the place and the twist in pace was kind of jarring. When it got to them trading MOVEZ it got pretty entertaining though and they kept the crowd invested, so it ended up being a good match, but not a great one or anything like that
Nothing amazing here but nothing bad either. I’ll take solid action over bad action.