I Need A Cigarette
I learned a lot about myself over the past four days. Namely, that while nursing an ankle injury, I can watch an ungodly amount of wrasslin’ (with UFC 202 mixed in). WWE gave us roughly 15 hours of in ring content starting on Saturday with NXT Takeover II. Overall, the weekend was stellar. NXT set the stage with some fantastic matches that wrapped up or jump started storylines, while highlighting the talent on what could be a downturned time for the developmental federation. After it was all said and done though, we could all admit, that we related to Johnny Knockout a bit more than we would have originally thought.
Okay, there’s a lot to cover, and while the highs were great, the crushing reality of wrasslin’ was ever present throughout the weekend as superstars tried their hardest to put on for the 2nd biggest show of the year. Costing some of them dearly.
I Must Break You
The biggest news coming out of SummerSlam was what ended up as the main event between Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton. Not so much for the match, which was moving along as expected, but the finish. Brock busted Randy’s head open with some vicious elbows, which left the center of the ring coated in crimson, and had many people speculating as to whether this was the intended finish of the match, or if Lesnar, annoyed at the very notion of the match, went into business for himself to prove a point. I was way more inclined to believe the former since this is something we, as members of the smarky bunch, have clamored for; surprises. WWE can’t help themselves when it comes to announcing returning or new stars, AJ Styles being the only one they’ve kept hush about of any significance. So what they can do, is work a work so that it looks like a shoot, thus working the marks. HA, I used lingo!
I do think the endings positioning as “main event” hurt the reaction to it due to the TWO title matches that preceded it, but I also don’t believe there was a way to have that finish, then go into any other match. Brock lived up to his label as “The Beast”, bloodied his opponent and F-5’d Shane McMahon. Simply put, it was messy (visually and in execution), but effective. Planting seeds of doubt in a match that we had all but written off for the most part. We know how solo Brock matches go. He hasn’t lost one clean since breaking the streak. So either things would get wonky, or Brock would crush Orton. We got both.
I. Am. Phenomenal.
Once again, AJ Styles and John Cena put on a clinic, where the phenomenal one actually got the win. Shaking Mr. Hustle, Loyalty, Respect to his very core. Similarly to the way his loss to Rock at the first Once in a Lifetime match did. The close up on Cena’s “Never Give Up” armband (which is really a headband but John Cena is a damn meta human) was a bit much, but it did setup some great heel work for Styles on Smackdown. He’s now taken to calling himself the Face that Runs the Place since he’s technically beaten Cena twice. He’s peacocking and strutting all over the place, and he ain’t wrong, just an asshole, Which makes him the perfect heel at the moment.
With his win over Super Cena, Styles was able to talk his way into a title shot against Dean Ambrose at Backlash, the Smackdown specific PPV. This was of course after Dolph “Barely The Bridesmaid” Ziggler tried to insert himself (phrasing) in the match as well. Coming up juuuuust short against styles in another losing effort after getting pinned at SummerSlam. Unless they’re going to make Ziggler heel again, I don’t know what else there is to do with him if he’s just going to keep losing the big matches. All flash and no cash as they’ve said.
Zigglers match with Styles was much better than the championship match with Ambrose. I think it had more to do with the former two having slightly better chemistry, but it has to be said that on one of the biggest stages of his career, Dolph couldn’t get it done. Story Wise, or in ring. Does that make his placement under the glass ceiling justified? Probably not, but it does exemplify just why he may not be the upper echelon guy he thinks he is.
It hurt me to type that, but just as quickly as Finn Balor captured the WWE Universal Infinity Stone, it was taken away from him due to a shoulder injury sustained during his match with Seth Rollins.
The match itself was great, especially factoring in how early that injury occurred, but it all served to underline a point that Miz made on Talking Smack. the Smackdown Live after show just two days later, after Daniel Bryan accused the IC Champ or wrasslin’ like a coward. I can’t do the words justice, so watch for yourself.
DAMN. And you know what, I agree with him. From a purely kayfabe standpoint, the way Miz goes about things is perfect for his character, which I commend him for coming back around to during this scathing bit of work, but more importantly, the way he performs protects him from the same thing that has effectively ended Daniel Bryan’s career.
An argument could be made that the years of proving themselves on the indies has shortened the careers of many of the current top guys, but to Miz’s point, attempting to make every match a 5-star spectacle, where high flight replaces arm drags, is bound to break you. So the Universal Title was won and vacated in less than 24 hours. On a botched move, yes, but in something of an avoidable situation.
The Hits Keep On Coming
Another swerve happened during SummerSlam when Charlotte beat Sasha Banks for the WWE Women’s Title, after a brutal match that saw both women take huge bumps. Specifically Sasha, who apparently won’t be happy until she’s literally folded in half mid-match.
Sasha lost the match then word hit that she was taken off of the house show schedule. Given what’s happened with Paige, Eva Marie and Alberto del Rio, many thought it was another wellness violation, but it was a lingering back issue, which i’m sure the match didn’t help. Again, giving credence to everything Miz was saying to D-Bry.
Settled in the Ring
Wow, there is still so much I haven’t gotten to. BULLET POINTS!!!
- Titus O’Neil was beat up by an old man after a very public struggle with the English language. It was pretty rough to watch on all fronts.
- Roman squashed Rusev BEFORE their US Title match, and was then catapulted into the Universal Chaos Emerald Title picture. More fallout from the indie darlings getting hurt means Reigns becomes the safe bet until Cena can make another viable title run.
- Bayley lost to Aksua in a great match at Takeover, and then made her debut on RAW. #HugLife
- Nikki Bella made her return, taking the place of Eva Marie who is
suspendedon leave due to exhaustion. Got an uproarious, face welcoming, which catapulted Carmella to heel, where she truly belongs.
- Nakamura beat Samoa Joe for the NXT title after a stiff match, where Joe had his jaw turned into confetti after a knee from Nakamura. On the last move no less. Oh, and Nakamura had one of the coolest, and longest intro’s i’ve ever seen. I bet Undertaker is somewhere right now wondering how he could use a violinist to pad his run time.
- Smackdown Live revealed their Women’s and Tag Team belts. They weren’t ugly. In fact, both look pretty good. I guess red is the magic color to make all things leather look gawdy.
- MVP’s: Heath Slater, AJ Styles & Kevin Owens
Okay, I think that’s it. I can’t do this anymore. There was SO MUCH WRASSLIN’. Some of it good, most of it great. The last few matches of SummerSlam should have been swapped a bit given how it all ended, but whatcha gonna do, brother. Still, if there was some pressing thing I overlooked, you can tell me on the Twittah Machine, then you and I can exchange chili recipes. *I uses italian sausage*. Till then….