August 24, 2015 by Joey Keogh
After the massive night NXT had at Takeover: Brooklyn, it seemed unlikely that Summerslam 2015 – even with a lengthier running time, stocked card and Undertaker-starring Main Event – could follow in its footsteps. Even less likely was that it’d outdo what had come before it. But did it have to be so messy? So incoherent? So…pointless? In spite of the new four-hour run-time, we were still subjected to an hour’s worth of pre-show antics with absolutely no matches to break up the monotony. As a result, it’s mostly Renee doing her best to alleviate the boredom while Booker hams it up, Byron looks suitably terrified and Graves continues trolling us with a pocket square that more than resembles a giant, blue rose.
There are loads of promos, or rather replays of promos, we’ve already seen a million times over with the high point of the show courtesy of Summerslam host Jon Stewart. Backstage, he and his son accost John Cena for an autograph that he immediately admits he’s going to sell on eBay once the wrestler is out of earshot. Elsewhere, Kevin Owens interrupts a panel discussion about him being a total pussy and steals Byron’s Kickstart. But, never fear, he soon has a new one to nurse for the entire PPV so no real harm is done (though he does look fearful of a car-park beat-down later on). Stephen Amell and Neville feature in the social media lounge, for no apparent reason. And then we’re off.
The first thing to note about what is being shilled hard as the biggest event of the summer, which features a match deemed too big even for Wrestlemania, is that the same old RAW set is being used tonight. This turns out to be a running theme, as Summerslam, sadly, feels more like an over-long, and especially dull, episode of the weekly show than an important PPV where important stuff is at stake and whatnot. We open with a nice little monologue from Jon Stewart, who says Brooklyn about fifty times. And then Mick Foley turns up under false pretences (he thought Stewart needed help interviewing Rocky, not Brocky). He soon makes his excuses and leaves, and then, we’re really off!
The show kicks off proper with the Sheamus/Orton singles match, which goes exactly as it has done the last ten times we’ve seen it. Sheamo, to his credit, injects a little bit of humour into the proceedings by yelling “Respect the hawk!” and demanding to know whether we are or are not entertained. Orton is on fine form also, the two bouncing off each other quite nicely without ever venturing into uncharted territory. Sheamo picks up the win with a couple of Brogue kicks, Orton having kicked out of the first one.
With no time to spare, given there are a whopping ten matches to get through tonight, we move immediately into the Fatal Fourway for the tag team championship. As usual, The New Day steal the spotlight with their own, special rendition of “Empire State Of Mind”. Xavier Woods yells encouragement from the sidelines throughout, and even has a tussle with El Torito, while we get the usual high-flying shenanigans from the Lucha Dragons. Titus O’Neill cleans house after scoring the hot tag and it looks as though he and his partner are on course to retain the titles – especially after he hits a massive Tower Of Death involving the Lucha Dragons and a matador. But in the end, Kofi nabs a victory by capitalising on O’Neill’s previous work and pinning a matador to win.
Up next, we’ve got Dolph Ziggler taking on Rusev, with the recently-returned fan favourite getting a massive pop as he enters the ring flanked by current squeeze Lana, both of them dressed like they just wandered out of the nineties (and not in a good way). This match sags from the outset, immediately feeling like it’s been given too much time as the two men involved trade blows while the ladies glare the way ladies are supposed to in the eyes of the WWE. The whole thing ends, mystifyingly, in a double count-out, and suffice to say the fans are not happy. Although it was rumoured that Lana and Summer Rae were poised to come to blows tonight, and maybe even have a match themselves, they don’t. Ziggler attacks Rusev after the bell rings, Summer intervenes and then Lana gets involved and, much to King’s vocal displeasure, that’s about it.
The Stephen Amell tag follows, preceded by a weird, comic book style promo that’s designed to sell us on the whole Green Arrow/Red Arrow connection. Amell is cosplaying as a low-rent Jedi but, when push comes to shove, he doesn’t do too badly, taking bumps well and showing at least some in-ring awareness. He even hits an enziguiri at one point, which is undeniably impressive. The problem is that he doesn’t really fit with the other three, and the pace of the match noticeably accelerates whenever he’s not involved. Neville wins it for their team with the Red Arrow. These three lads deserve better, but this isn’t a massive insult either.
Speaking of massive insults, not only does Ryback have an IC title match tonight, but it’s a triple threat with two of the least interesting, or relevant, wrestlers on the current roster: The Miz and Big Show. Show looks kind of sad throughout, and who could blame him? This match is saggier than his belly and it moves about as quickly as he does, too. Ryback hits him with a Shellshock, which is probably the coolest spot of the match, after which Miz tries to capitalise by attempting to pin them both several times over, but he soon eats a KO Punch for his transgression. The Big Guy then takes the opportunity to steal the win by pinning him, retaining the title.
Backstage, Jon Stewart is looking for Lesnar and happens upon Heyman instead. He tells him in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t happy the Streak was broken at Wrestlemania and that, as a real wrestling fan, he felt it was kind of soul-destroying to watch. Heyman sings about Lesnar again, just like he did on RAW, almost as though he’s laughing in his face before quipping about how they must not have been able to get Letterman to host, which is quite literally laughing in his face. He then disappears back into Lesnar’s dressing room, where he can be heard making fun of Stewart through the door. As sad as it is to admit it, this is one of the high points of the night.
The non-Wyatt, non-Shield tag match follows, with Bray Wyatt rocking a new hoodie (complete with ornamental horns!) and everyone else looking as though they’ve time-travelled from a couple years back. Ambrose hits a cool spot when he runs across all three announce tables to drop an elbow on Bray on the outside, as a “Roman’s sleeping” chant erupts around the arena. The two of them kill it for most of the match, although Luke Harper‘s contribution cannot be understated, the pace only slowing when Reigns lumbers into view. The end comes when Ambrose hits the Dirty Deeds and Reigns capitalises with the Spear to win. Anyone hoping for a heel turn will be sadly disappointed, however, as the two embrace in a number of big, sweaty hugs to solidify their friendship once more.
Finally, after a bloated mid-section, the show seems to be gaining momentum again as the first big match on tonight’s card takes place, with Cena facing Rollins for a winner takes all bout. The Superman is booed out of it, but it’s not until Rollins (who is dressed tonight like a condom/Power Ranger/background player from Tron) starts taking charge of the match that the chants even take any notice of him at all. Cena is quite dynamic here, or at least more so than usual, and he puts Rollins’s impressive move-set over brilliantly, too. A frog splash leads to a quick reversal of the AA, after which Rollins hits Cena’s move on himself, leading to uproarious chants from the NYC fans.
Cena manages to lock in an STF, followed by a Figure-4, only for Rollins to reverse it and put him in a Figure-4 instead, in a move that showcases the upstart’s incredible core strength. He later manages a Superplex, but Cena messes up his shot at winning by kicking the ref out of the ring, meaning he doesn’t cop his AA, or count it. Suddenly, just when it seems like all is lost, Jon Stewart shows up with a chair. But, after some deliberation, he decides to hit Cena with it, giving Rollins the perfect opportunity to knock him out with the Pedigree to win, scoring him not just the two belts but also a soon-to-be-built statue in his honour, in WWE HQ.
Considering Sasha Banks and Bayley put on a match of the year contender last night at Takeover, the Summerslam Divas match was always going to be a bit of a disappointment in comparison. The weird elimination angle doesn’t help matters as it means that, within minutes of starting, three of the contenders are already out. In this case, it’s Team B.A.D, which is a real shame but probably a relief for an understandably tired Banks. Becky Lynch is cosplaying as Rob Zombie tonight, but her fancy top hat doesn’t help her get involved in the match, which sees Paige taking on Team Bella pretty much by herself for the most part.
It’s the usual story; whenever Brie is involved, the pace grinds to a halt, and whenever Nikki or Foxy takes charge, it’s gold. There’s a succession of super-cool spots, a few of which involve someone diving out to tackle everyone else on the outside. Nikki hits the Rack Attack, a fallaway slam and an Alabama slam, while Alicia showcases her always welcome Northern Lights Suplex. Although Becky and Charlotte barely get a look in, with the opposition’s attacks mainly focused on disabling Paige, it’s Lynch who scores the win for her team with a pump handle Suplex to Brie. It’s no comparison to the stunning match that took place the night before, but it’s better than expected nonetheless.
Speaking of stealing the show at Takeover, man of the moment Kevin Owens takes on Cesaro next in what is easily a contender for match of the night. Awesome from the outset, it sees Owens yelling at Cole to pay attention, Cesaro being so fucking over that every move he hits provokes a rapturous response from the crowd and more cool moments than not. Cesaro hits a cool spinning neckbreaker, the usual flying uppercut, and a Swing into a Sharpshooter, among others, but it’s Owens’s fight as he wins with a combination Burning Hammer and his classic Pop Up Powerbomb.
After that surprisingly short bout, there’s almost an hour left in the show, which can only mean one thing: more time has been allocated to allow Taker a bit longer to drag his crusty old fogey butt down to the ring. He takes forever to get there, even longer than usual, and the whole time Lesnar is just hopping from foot to foot trying to keep his muscles warm. Why couldn’t they just use a stunt double and let Taker creep in under cover of smoke? Anyway, the aul fella lands the first blow but it isn’t long before Lesnar is unloading on him, hitting a Belly To Belly Suplex immediately followed by a German Suplex as Heyman jeers “Welcome to Suplex City, bitch” from ringside.
For future reference, Brie, this is where you put the emphasis when you want to use a bold word at the end of your sentence, dear. Taker manages a bit of offence, but he moves slowly and Lesnar is more than able for him. At one point, he actually reverses a chokeslam into another German Suplex and Taker is so gassed it barely even registers on his tired face. There are warring “Suplex City” / “Undertaker” chants as Lesnar ploughs Taker through the announce table with an F5. But the Deadman finally manages to hit a chokeslam on his cocky opponent, leading to the first real near fall of the match, after which the two laugh at each other for a bit in the ring (senility?).
They exchange blows on their knees as Taker tries to catch his breath. Lesnar then grabs him in a kimura lock on the top rope, after which he tries to end it with a tombstone piledriver and then Lesnar tries to end it with another F5, but neither works. He reverses Taker’s Hell’s Gate into another kimura lock, which Taker supposedly taps out of, the bell signalling as such. But the ref leaps to his defence, claiming there was no tap-out, so the Deadman fires back with a kick to the nuts and locks Lesnar into the Hell’s Gate once again. Lesnar then defiantly gives him the middle finger as he passes out and Taker is declared the winner.
Once the bell has rung again and Taker has started to slowly trudge his way back up the ramp, Heyman demands to see a replay and it’s revealed that he did, in fact, tap out of the kimura lock. He declares Lesnar the winner, his music plays, but even the man himself looks slightly confused by the outcome. It would be annoying in a regular PPV, but in one as haphazard, over-stuffed and ultimately pointless as this, it’s infuriating. This doesn’t lead us into Night Of Champions. Hell, it doesn’t even lead us into RAW. Much like the rest of this bloated, four-hour non-event, it seemed like it hadn’t been given much thought at all. And, even more upsetting, it didn’t really matter much in the end anyway.