By Jason Powell
WWE SummerSlam 2017
Aired August 20, 2017 live on WWE Network and pay-per-view
Brooklyn, New York at Barclays Center
A video package and some sponsor plugs opened the show… Michael Cole welcomed viewers to the show. They went right to John Cena making his entrance…
1. John Cena vs. Baron Corbin. The ringside foreign broadcast teams checked in prior to the match. Cena went to ringside and put on JBL’s hat early in the match. Corbin connected with a clothesline for a two count at 3:20. Corbin remained in offensive control for the next few minutes and tried to get heat from a quiet crowd. The fans did eventually get a small “where’s your briefcase” chant going.
Cena came back with his usual offense at 6:35, which led to some boos. Corbin avoided the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Corbin put Cena down with a chokeslam into a backbreaker for a two count. Cena performed a tornado DDT off the ropes and then hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena went for the Attitude Adjustment, but Corbin avoided it and performed the Deep Six for a two count.
Corbin removed his shirt to boos. Cena caught him with a big clothesline and then put him down with an AA for the clean win. After the match, Cena went to ringside and celebrated with Jeff Ross and other celebrities, then hugged Betty Skaaland, who was also in the front row…
John Cena pinned Baron Corbin in 10:15.
Powell’s POV: A decent match with the crowd never really getting caught up in it. Some of that may have been from the crowd coming down from the Smackdown Tag Title match on the Kickoff Show, but this was night and day compared to the fans standing on their feet and going nuts for the NXT Takeover opening match between Johnny Gargano and Andrade Almas on Saturday.
After some advertising, the broadcast team set up footage on the Smackdown Women’s Championship match build…
2. Naomi vs. Natalya for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Tom Phillips noted on commentary (along with JBL and Byron Saxton on the Smackdown side) that Natalya tied Trish Stratus by most pay-per-view matches by a female wrestler. Naomi offered a handshake. Natalya responded with a slap. Carmella and James Ellsworth were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor.
At 7:30, Naomi connected with a nice kick and then used her legs to drive the head of Natalya into the mat before getting a two count. Naomi hung up Natalya in the ropes and then leapt over the top rope and performed a leg drop on the way down around 9:00. Natalya caught Naomi in the Sharpshooter at 10:00. Naomi had a cool escape as she rolled over and Natalya went headfirst into the corner.
Natalya avoided a split legged moonsault and then applied the Sharpshooter for the submission win. Saxton noted that it was the first time in six years that Natalya held a title. Natalya taunted Naomi afterward by kissing the title in front of her. Natalya headed up the ramp and held up the title belt…
Natalya defeated Naomi in 11:10 to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
Powell’s POV: A solid match, but the fans sat on their hands and barely reacted to the title change. It’s hard to blame them since the entire build to the match focussed more on Carmella and the Money in the Bank briefcase than the actual match participants.
3. Big Cass vs. Big Show with Enzo Amore in a shark cage. JoJo was back as the Raw ring announcer, and Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T were on commentary. Enzo cut a promo and was cut off (not soon enough) by Big Cass’s music. Big Show came out with his hand wrapped. Cole said he asked Show if his hand was broken, but he just walked away from him. Big Show took the early advantage. Enzo was low enough in the shark cage that he could be seen and heard. Show performed a side slam and sold his injured hand.
Show ended up using the bad hand to punch Cass, who went down while Show sold pain. Cass went to work on the bad hand with punches and a wrist lock. There was a boring chant. Show came back with a chokeslam using his left hand and got a two count. Cass took his shirt off and tried to squeeze through the shark cage, but he couldn’t do it. He removed his shorts and still had boxers on. Enzo started to oil himself up with oil that he had stashed in his shorts. The fans chanted for Enzo, who managed to get through the rungs of the shark cage.
Cass spotted Enzo and waited for him to drop into the ring and then he blasted him with a big boot. Cass caught Show with a big boot and covered him for two. Cass ended up finishing off Show with an Empire Elbow…
Big Cass beat Big Show in 10:30.
Powell’s POV: So that’s why they put Enzo in the shark cage. In fairness, Enzo escaping the cage was the only thing the live crowd seemed to care about. Ouch.
After some advertising, Kurt Angle was on the phone backstage when Daniel Bryan entered the room and asked him how his first SummerSlam was going. After some small talk, Bryan told Angle that the big match would be the WWE Championship match, which has international appeal. Angle said it didn’t have universal appeal like his title match. This led to a Yes/No exchange between the two…
4. Randy Orton vs. Rusev. Orton entered the ring and posed on the ropes as part of his entrance. Rusev attacked him from behind. The referee gave Orton time to recover. Once the bell rang, Orton avoided a charging Rusev and then dropped him with an RKO for the win…
Randy Orton defeated Rusev in 0:10.
Powell’s POV: Quick and painless. I don’t think the crowd would have reacted well to a long, chin-lock filled match, so this was a good call.
Sasha Banks made her entrance and then the international broadcast teams checked in before Alexa Bliss made her entrance to a big ovation…
5. Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks for the Raw Women’s Championship. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Sasha threw some early punches. Bliss returned fire and drew some cheers. Bliss performed a really nice version of her Insault to Injury handstand into a knee drop. At 8;45, Bliss went for a sunset flip powerbomb, but Sasha blocked it and ended up catapulting Bliss into the corner in a cool spot.
At 10:50, Bliss tossed Sasha to ringside. Sasha came up holding her left shoulder. The broadcast team pointed out that it was similar to the way that Bayley injured her shoulder. Bliss was willing to take the count-out win, but Sasha beat the count. Bliss performed Twisted Bliss on Banks for a near fall. Banks came right back with a a Bank Statement attempt, but Bliss was able to block it. Graves chalked it up to Banks having a bad shoulder. After some jockeying for position, Banks applied the hold and Bliss tapped out…
Sasha Banks defeated Alexa Bliss in 13:10 to win the Raw Women’s Championship.
Powell’s POV: An odd finish in that iBliss tapping out felt a little out of nowhere. Granted, she had her finisher applied, yet it just didn’t feel like that they had the crowd at that moment.
The chicken shack commercial aired again and included clips of HBK as Col. Sanders making his entrance… The broadcast team set up a Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt video package…
6. Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt. Balor made his Demon entrance to a strong reaction. The smoke/fog was still around the ringside area when the bell rang and Wyatt took a quick powder. Balor performed an early flip dive. At 5:10, Balor avoided Sister Abigail and performed a double stomp on Wyatt. At 7:45, Wyatt performed his uranage slam and got a two count. Late in the match, Wyatt did his crab walk while Balor was down. Balor stood up and let out a scream. Wyatt turned over and looked intimidated. In the end, Balor performed a couple sling blades and followed up with the Coup De Grace for the win…
Finn Balor beat Bray Wyatt in 10:40.
Powell’s POV: The crowd was up for Balor’s Demon persona and popped for the finish. They got a lot of the poorly developed feud matches out of the way during the first half of the show, so hopefully the second half will be much better. The difference between the crowd enthusiasm for NXT Takeover compared to tonight’s mostly flat show thus far has been stunning.
The Raw broadcast team spoke at ringside and set up a video package on the Raw Tag Title match…
7. Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose for the Raw Tag Championship. Finn Balor’s gear and New Day’s new gear had a baby backstage and Rollins wore it to the ring. The thought amongst friends is that the gear is Deadpool inspired. After two hours of mostly forgettable main card action, this was the match when someone decided to bust out a beachball. Really? Cesaro ended up going into the crowd, grabbing the ball, and popping it. Amen. The majority of the crowd agreed based on their favorable reaction. Shane McMahon’s kids were on camera briefly wearing referee shirts.
Cesaro had Ambrose in the Sharpshooter. Booker said it was over, so of course it was not over. A short time later, Sheamus performed a clothesline off the top rope onto Ambrose while Cesaro held him up. Sheamus got a two count and then acted showed. Sheamus and Cesaro teamed up for a double team crucifix slam. Ambrose was pinned, but Rollins broke it up.
Rollins was dumped to ringside. Ambrose motioned for more, so Cesaro and Sheamus doubled up on him. Cesaro went to the ropes. Rollins returned to the ring apron and performed a huracanrana on Cesaro, which threw him into Sheamus. Rollins superkicked both opponents and ended up hitting Sheamus with a jumping knee. Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds on Sheamus and pinned him…
Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins defeated Sheamus and Cesaro to win the Raw Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: It’s the night of a thousand title changes. This was the highlight of the main card thus far and the fans were hot for the finishing sequence and the title change. It’s wishful thinking, but it sure would be cool if Ambrose and Rollins helped Reigns win the main event and reformed a heel version of The Shield.
The broadcast team set up a video package on the U.S. Championship match…
8. AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens for the U.S. Championship with Shane McMahon as special referee. Styles and Owens were kept apart by Shane before the bell. He picked up both men separately to move them. At 7:30, Styles went to the ropes while Owens was down. Owens shoved Shane into the corner, causing Styles to be crotched. Styles came right back with a powerbomb, then sold groin pain.
Shane checked on Owens, who pulled him in as Styles performed a springboard 450 and landed on both men. Owens performed a Popup Powerbomb for a two count. Shane was still woozy from the previous spot and took a while to get there, so Owens barked at him afterward. Styles applied a Calf Crusher. Owens broke it with an eye gouge. Shane warned him.
Owens kicked Styles into Shane. REF BUMP!!! Shane tumbled to ringside. Styles applied the Calf Crusher. Owens tapped out, but Shane was down at ringside. Shane returned to the ring and Styles confronted him. Shane said it was two. Styles questioned that and pointed out that Owens tapped. Styles shoved Shane, who shoved him back. Owens rolled up Styles and Shane made a quick two count around 12:00.
Styles went for a top rope huracanrana, but Owens blocked it and performed a cradle suplex off the ropes for another two count. “That was three and you know it,” Owens barked. Owens avoided a Pele kick and connected with his own superkick. Styles came right back and ended up hitting the Styles Clash for a good near fall at 14:45.
Owens hit a Popup Powerbomb and covered Styles. Shane nearly counted to three, but then waved it off because Styles had his foot on the ropes the entire time. Owens got in Shane’s face and barked at him, even being censored for dropping an f-bomb at one point. Owens shoved Shane, who returned the favor. Styles rolled up Owens for a two count. Styles hit the Phenomenal Forearm and followed up with a Styles Clash for the win…
AJ Styles defeated Kevin Owens in 17:20 to retain the U.S. Championship.
Powell’s POV: Hey, a champion retained a title! A very good match with good use of Shane as the special referee. There was a nice tease for friction between Styles and Shane, followed by Owens taking out his frustrations on Shane as the match went on. There was not a definitive angle between the two that will lead to a match, but one can only assume that will happen on television if they truly are planning a Shane vs. Owens match for a future pay-per-view.
After more advertising, the Smackdown broadcast team recapped the previous match and then set up a video package on the WWE Championship match…
Powell’s POV: A standout video package. Why in the world didn’t this air during the build to the match rather than seconds before it?
9. Jinder Mahal (w/The Singh Brothers) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE Championship. Nakamura’s violinist played him to the ring. The crowd continued to sing Nakamura’s entrance theme even after the music stopped. They booed when the Singh Brothers came out and introduced Mahal. Greg Hamilton delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. They cut to the Indian broadcast team briefly. The fans chanted for Nakamura before the bell. They checked in with the Japanese broadcast team early.
At 11:00, the Singh brothers got involved and Nakamura worked both men over. Mahal grabbed Nakamura from behind and performed a sloppy Cravate for the win…
Jinder Mahal pinned Shinsuke Nakamura in 11:25 to retain the WWE Championship.
Powell’s POV: I’m not bothered by Mahal retaining the title because it didn’t feel like Nakamura’s push had reached a point where fans were clamoring to see him win the title. However, the predictable Singh Brothers interference finish was about as lazy as it gets. The match never found its stride. In fact, I thought Nakamura was going to kick out of Jinder’s finisher and the match would continue and build to a crescendo. Disappointing.
The broadcast team hyped the main event. Graves reminded viewers that Brock Lesnar will leave WWE if he loses the match. A video package set up the main event.
Braun Strowman was out first. Cole said they have never had so many title matches on a SummerSlam show (that’s not something to be proud of. Samoa Joe was out next to “Joe” chants. Roman Reigns was out next to boos. Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman came out last to cheers. JoJo handled the in-ring introductions for the main event. Heyman took the mic from her to deliver his own introduction for Lesnar…
10. Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Braun Strowman vs. Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns in a four-way for the WWE Universal Championship. Lesnar performed an overhead belly-to-belly suplex on Joe. Meanwhile, Reigns ran Strowman into the ring post. Lesnar and Reigns squared off. Lesnar performed a German suplex on Reigns, then another on Joe. Strowman stood on the apron. The crowd popped big with anticipation, but Joe and Reigns returned to prevent it from happening. Lesnar and Strowman cleared them from the ring and had another staredown.
Strowman tossed Lesnar into the corner and then clotheslined him over the top rope. Joe put Lesnar in the Coquina Clutch at ringside, then Reigns speared Lesnar (Joe moved) into the timekeepers area. Strowman knocked Joe over a broadcast table. Strowman cleared off a broadcast table. Fans chanted “This is awesome” for the first time in a long time on this show. Strowman picked up Lesnar and power slammed him through a broadcast table for a big pop at 4:15.
Strowman power slammed Lesnar through another broadcast table at 5:45. Strowman tilted the third broadcast table over and dumped it on Lesnar. Referees, producers, and trainers checked on Lesnar and pulled the table off him while Heyman threw a fit and showed major concern at 7:45. The fans chanted “this is awesome” again. The fans booed a bit when an EMT crew showed up. The EMTs placed Lesnar on a board and then on a stretcher. However, other fans started singing the “goodbye” song at Lesnar. Brock was strapped in and wheeled away. Strowman was sitting on the ring steps laughing and licking his lips at 9:30.
Strowman picked up a piece of the steps and rammed them into Joe and Reigns while Lesnar was wheeled to the back. Inside the ring, Reigns picked up the ring steps and hit Strowman a couple of times and then tossed them toward him when Strowman ended up at ringside. Joe rolled up Reigns for a two count. Joe got a two count off a senton at 11:20.
The fans taunted Reigns with “Roman sucks” chants as he had offensive control on Joe while Strowman was still down at ringside. Joe caught Reigns in the Coquina Clutch, but Strowman returned to break it up and then chokeslammed both men. Strowman suffered a cut by or on his ear, presumably from the reckless way Reigns initially hit him with the ring steps.
At 13:45, Lesnar shrugged off referees, producers, etc. and returned to the ring. Lesnar quickly cleared Strowman from the ring, then performed German suplexes on Reigns and Joe. Strowman returned. Lesnar tried to suplex him, but Strowman blocked it. Lesnar went for the Kimura lock on a standing Strowman, which Reigns broke up with a Superman Punch. Reigns hit all of his opponents with Superman Punches, then speared Lesnar and covered him for a near fall at 15:25.
Reigns went to a corner and let out another war cry, but Joe applied the Coquina Clutch. Strowman broke it up with a dropkick and then performed a running powerslam on Joe and had him pinned, but Lesnar pulled the referee from the ring. Cole quickly pointed out that there were no disqualifications in a four-way. Lesnar sold his previous injuries at ringside. Reigns performed a Superman Punch on Lesnar.
At 17:15, Reigns went for a spear on Strowman, who caught him with a boot to the face. Strowman power slammed Reigns and covered him, but Lesnar returned to break up the pin. Heyman had a great look of concern as Strowman got to his feet first and moved toward Lesnar. However, Brock hoisted up Strowman for his finisher. Strowman escaped and picked up Brock for a power slam. Reigns ended up spearing Strowman before he could perform the slam at 18:40.
At 19:10, Joe applied the Coquina Clutch on Lesnar, who broke free and performed an F5 on Joe and covered him, only for Reigns to break it up. Reigns hit Lesnar with a Superman Punch. Lesnar held onto the ropes to stay on his feet. Reigns hit him with another, and Lesnar fell to his knees. Reigns him with a third and Lesnar fell to the ground. Reigns went to the corner and jawed at Lesnar before letting out another war cry. Reigns charged, but Lesnar caught him with an F5 and pinned him clean…
Brock Lesnar defeated Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe, and Braun Strowman in 20:45 to retain the WWE Universal Championship.
Powell’s POV: The main event lived up to expectations and closed a largely disappointing show on a high note. They didn’t keep Lesnar and Strowman apart. However, they did show Strowman manhandle Lesnar, which will make for a hell of a video package whenever they opt to go to Lesnar vs. Strowman in a singles match. That would be my WrestleMania main event, but I’m not sure if they will hold off that long. It was good to see Reigns take the pin, as Strowman should not be beaten, and Joe losing would have been more damaging. I will have a lot more to say in the member exclusive audio review with Jake Barnett later tonight.
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