By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE SummerSlam 2018
Aired live on August 19, 2018 on WWE Network and pay-per-view
Brooklyn, New York at Barclays Center
A video package hosted by actor Terry Crews opened the SummerSlam event… Michael Cole welcomed viewers to the 31st SummerSlam and noted that the event was sold out. They went right to entrances for the Intercontinental Title match…
1. Dolph Ziggler (w/Drew McIntyre) vs. Seth Rollins (w/Dean Ambrose) for the Intercontinental Championship. The Raw broadcast team of Cole, Corey Graves, and Jonathan Coachman were on the call. JoJo was the ring announcer. Rollins wore gear inspired by the Marvel character Thanos. Ziggler’s tights had Intercontinental Title belt in the middle (just as Rick Rude’s tights did back in the day).
Ambrose walked over and jawed in the face of McIntyre early on. Ziggler took a couple of early powders. Ziggler came back and targeted the left knee of Rollins. Ziggler tossed Rollins to the floor. Ambrose walked over and jawed at McIntyre, who smirked and held his hands up.
At 10:20, Rollins had Ziggler up for a suplex and both men tumbled over the top rope to ringside. The move was done to play up Rollins’ injured knee. A short time later, Rollins performed a Blockbuster from the middle rope for a two count. At 13:15, Rollins clotheslined Ziggler to ringside and then performed a suicide dive. Rollins rolled him back inside the ring and performed a clothesline from the ropes and followed up with a ripcord knee for a two count.
Ziggler performed a DDT on the ring apron at 15:30. Rollins barely beat the ref’s count by returning to the ring. Rollins came back and performed a frogsplash onto the knees of Ziggler, who then covered him for a good near fall. Rollins came back with a inverted superplex off the top rope and followed it up with another suplex and got an even better near fall. The crowd came to life.
Rollins stomped his foot for the Stomp. McIntyre suddenly ran Ambrose into the ring steps. Rollins went for the stomp, but Ziggler used the distraction time to push him into the corner and then hit a Zigzag for another dramatic near fall. Rollins came up bleeding from the forehead.
McIntyre climbed onto the apron a short time later. Ambrose recovered and took out McIntyre with Dirty Deeds. Rollins was distracted by it. Ziggler set up for a superkick, but Rollins turned and beat him to the punch. Rollins followed up with a Stomp on Ziggler and pinned him…
Seth Rollins defeated Dolph Ziggler in 22:00 to win the Intercontinental Championship.
Powell’s POV: The match got off to a slow start, but second half was really good. Rollins being cut open was really fluky. It appeared like the cut occurred when Rollins was pushed into the corner and his head hit the rope rather than the pad. For those who were hoping to see an Ambrose turn, keep in mind that he could turn on Rollins as soon as tomorrow night with the logic being that he wanted him to become champion so that he could take it away. My hope is that Ambrose will turn down the road on Roman Reigns to set up a feud over the top title rather than having another secondary title feud with Rollins.
After an ad, Renee Young interviewed Nikki Bella and Brie Bella. They were asked about WWE Evolution. Brie kept pimping their reality shows. Nikki said they have talked about returning to the ring, but they were there to have fun. They said they couldn’t wait to see Ronda Rousey represent the women at Evolution as champion. They said they would be sitting in the front row for the Raw Women’s Championship match.
Powell’s POV: There are reports of Rousey vs. Nikki for WWE Evolution. In other words, there could be a big angle tonight now that the Bellas will be in the front row.
2. “The Bludgeon Brothers” Luke Harper and Erick Rowan vs. “New Day” Big E and Xavier Woods (w/Kofi Kingston) for the Smackdown Tag Titles. The Smackdown broadcast team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton was on the call. The Bludgeon Brothers dominated Woods to start. Harper set up for a move on the ring steps, but Woods performed a huracanrana instead. Big E tagged in and suplexed Harper and Rowan on the floor.
Back in the ring, Big E performed a splash on Harper. Rather than go for the win, he stood up and clapped. Ugh. Harper went back on the offensive. At 5:15, Woods performed a flip dive onto Rowa. Harper took out Woods with a slam on the floor. Big E did the big dive through the ropes and speared Harper off the apron. In the ring, Harper performed a crucifix bomb on E and had the pin, but Woods broke it up.
At 7:15, Kingston was celebrating at ringside when Rowan back body dropped him. E hit a Big Ending on Rowan. Woods tagged E, who was hit with a kick from Harper. E and Harper fought on the apron. E performed a uranage that caused Harper to land on Woods on the floor.
Woods went up top and looked to the fans before performing an elbow drop onto Harper at ringside at 8:55. Woods rolled Harper back inside the ring and tagged in E. They set up for the Midnight Hour, but Rowan used the Giant F’n Thor Hammer as a weapon on Woods and then E for the DQ.
New Day beat Bludgeon Brothers by DQ in a Smackdown Tag Title match in 9:45.
Powell’s POV: Both team worked hard and it was nice to see something other than another glorified Bludgeon Brothers squash match. The story was that New Day pushed them to the point that they resorted to taking the disqualification. In other words, we haven’t seen the last of this feud.
Jon Stewart was shown in the crowd… A video package set up the match for the Money in the Bank briefcase…
3. Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens for the Money in the Bank briefcase. The briefcase can change hands if Strowman loses in any fashion. Braun performed a couple of running shoulder blocks at ringside. Owens caught him with a superkick that Strowman no-sold and followed with a chokeslam on the bottom of the entrance ramp. Strowman threw Owens back inside the ring and performed a running powerslam for the win…
Braun Strowman pinned Kevin Owens in 1:50.
Powell’s POV: So much for all of the theories that Owens was going to win the MITB contract and cash it in successfully later tonight. I’m surprised the match was so ridiculously lopsided. Granted, that’s been all of their matches so far, but I thought they would at least have some fun with the stipulation that Strowman could lose the briefcase if he lost by count-out or DQ. Instead, it was all out destruction. I really hope they have a plan in mind for rebuilding Owens to be more than the pest heel that he’s sadly become. I think the world of the guy’s work and yet I had no desire to see him win the Universal Championship because of how damaged he is right now.
A video package set up the Smackdown Women’s Championship match…
4. Carmella vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch in a Triple Threat for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Greg Hamilton delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Production added floating dollar sign graphics for Carmella’s entrance. Early in the match, Carmella slapped the back of Becky’s head and then rolled out of the ring. Lynch thought Charlotte slapped her and they exchanged words.
At 5:30, Carmella dropkicked Lynch and then yelled to the crowd that she’s the champion. She turned and said the same to Lynch. Moments later, Charlotte targeted Carmella with a big boot and hit Lynch instead. Charlotte worked over Carmella while Lynch was down on the floor. They continued to take the two women in and one on the floor approach for the most part for the next few minutes.
Charlotte put Carmella in a Boston Crab at 10:30. Carmella rolled out of it, but Charlotte countered into a figure four. Lynch returned with a rough top rope leg drop. Charlotte rolled to the floor leaving Lynch and Carmella to exchange blows. Carmella sent Lynch to the floor and then dove under the middle rope and performed for a suicide dive. Charlotte performed a corkscrew moonsault onto her opponents on the floor at 12:30.
Back in the ring, Lynch put Charlotte in the Disarmher finisher. Carmella returned to break it up. Lynch tossed Carmella to the floor and performed a uranage on Charlotte. The ref hesitated to make the count and Carmella returned to break it up again. Carmella tried to pin Lynch with her feet on the ropes. Carmella had Lynch pinned after a superkick, but Charlotte broke it up.
Carmella tossed Flair to the floor and connected with another superkick. Lynch put her in the Disarmher, but Carmella reached the ropes. Lynch performed an exploder suplex and reapplied the Disarmher. Flair returned and performed the Natural Selection on Lynch and pinned her…
Charlotte Flair defeated Becky Lynch and Carmella in 15:15 to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
Carmella left the ring with tears in her eyes. The fans booed after Charlotte’s music stopped playing and a “Becky” chant broke out. Lynch got up and hugged Charlotte. The spoke to one another and hugged again, which led to more boos. Suddenly, Lynch slapped Charlotte across the face and started working her over. The fans erupted with cheers as the broadcast team tried to frame Lynch as the heel. The fans chanted “Becky” again. Lynch ran Charlotte into the barricade and then over a broadcast table. Lynch headed up the ramp and the fans chanted “you deserve it” as Charlotte remained down. She sat up and cried and some fans briefly booed her…
Powell’s POV: Great, Smackdown has its own Roman Reigns in the form of Charlotte Flair. The miscasting continues with Charlotte as the babyface the fans don’t want while the woman they do want just turned heel. NXT never seems to have this problem, yet the main roster continues to miscast its performers. Putting that aside it was an entertaining match down the stretch with some good suspense regarding the outcome. I suspect the crowd reaction would have been even worse had the company kept the title on Carmella.
A video package set up the WWE Championship match…
Powell’s POV: We’re coming off a title change and now the WWE Championship match is taking place before the U.S. Title match and even Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin. Am I wrong to have my guard up for a craptastic finish?
5. AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe for the WWE Championship. AJ’s wife Wendy held her daughter at ringside. Hamilton started to deliver in-ring introductions for the title match when Joe took the mic from him and asked Wendy how she was doing. Joe told their daughter not to worry because daddy was coming home tonight. AJ said his family was there to see him kick Joe’s ass.
There was a brief TNA chant during the opening minute of the match. Joe performed some early leg kicks and took Styles off his feet around 4:00. Joe went for a punch, but Styles rolled out of the way. They had an exchange of strikes and then Styles performed a nice dropkick. At 10:15, Styles and Joe exchanged forearms. Joe was knocked to ringside. At 12:10, Styles performed a nice reverse DDT off the ropes for a two count. At 13:20, Joe performed a leg lariat off the middle rope for a two count.
At 15:00, Styles performed a backbreaker onto his knee and then sold knee pain. Styles set up for the Styles Clash, but Joe fought him off. Styles followed up with a Phenomenal Forearm attempt, but Joe ducked it and Styles ran the ropes into a great powerslam by Joe for a two count. Styles came back and performed a Styles Clash for a two count at 17:20.
Styles hit a Pele Kick. Styles ran at Joe in the corner and ate a uranage. Styles applied a Calf Crusher at 19:55. Joe hooked the head of Styles and rammed him into the mat several times, then applied the Coquina Clutch. Styles reached out with his foot and reached the ropes to break the hold.
A short time later, Joe caught Styles with a kick that knocked him off the top rope. Joe went to the floor with Styles. Joe took a mic and told Wendy that AJ would not be coming home after all. Joe said he would be her new daddy. Styles, who had a bloody forehead, snapped and attacked Joe by spearing him off the broadcast table. Styles hit him with a chairshot for the DQ. The crowd briefly chanted “Who’s your daddy?”
Samoa Joe defeated AJ Styles by DQ in 22:45 in a WWE Championship match.
After the match, Styles hit Joe with another chair shot. Producers Adam Pearce and Dave Finlay ran out to calm down Styles. AJ went over to his wife and daughter. AJ apologized to his daughter. They ended up walking off together. Joe was shown storming backstage at the end of the segment…
Powell’s POV: My favorite match of the night thus far. It was intense and physical, and the Joe line got a rise out of the tough Brooklyn crowd so you know it was good. This wasn’t a satisfying finish and yet I wouldn’t label it craptastic despite my pre-match concern. They gave us over 20 minutes of good action and delivered a finish that intensifies the feud heading into what I assume will be a rematch at Hell in a Cell, perhaps even inside the HIAC structure. No complaints.
After some advertising, JoJo introduced Elias, who sat on a stool in the ring and strummed his guitar. After some buildup, Elias went to play his guitar, but it broke. There was a brief “you f—ed up” chant. Elias threw a minor tantrum and headed backstage…
The Miz was shown walking backstage when Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel showed up grinning while holding their Raw Tag Title belts. Miz spoke about beating Daniel Bryan. He said they could celebrate with him afterward. They said they’re not The Miztourage anymore, they are the B-Team for Daniel Bryan. They did their B-Team opening them chant. They cut to the broadcast team where Saxton did the chant too (ugh)… A video package set up the Miz vs. Bryan match…
6. Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz. Miz made his entrance and approached Maryse, who was at ringside with the baby stroller with a white covering so that you couldn’t see the baby. Miz and Maryse kissed and then Miz headed to the ring. At 3:00, Bryan threw some punches to the face of Miz, which fit perfectly with the story that Miz doesn’t like to be hit in the face and yet the crowd didn’t react. Miz came back by setting up for a surfboard and did the Yes point taunts. Miz got Bryan in the surfboard, but Bryan escaped and delivered mutliple kicks to Miz and then applied the surfboard and dropped Miz into a pin for a two count at 5:15.
At 5:50, Miz clotheslined Bryan off the ropes. Miz followed up with some knees to Bryan’s head and jawed at him. Miz heeled it up and Bryan eventually blocked a punch and then went on the offensive. Some fans chanted “Daniel Bryan” while fewer fans chanted “Let’s go Miz”. Bryan hit a running dropkick in the corner and then threw kicks in the corner. Bryan performed a huracanrana from the ropes and covered Miz for a two count. Bryan dumped Miz to ringside and then leapt off the top rope and dove onto him. Bryan threw more punches at Miz and rolled him back inside the ring at 11:35.
Bryan went up top. Miz cut him off on the top rope and went for a superplex. Bryan slipped under Miz and crotched him, and then Miz ended up in the tree of woe. Bryan threw kicks at Miz and then performed a running dropkick. Bryan performed a belly to back superplex for a two count. Bryan delivered his kicks to Miz, who ducked the grand finale and performed a DDT for a two count. Miz threw the Bryan style kicks at Bryan, who started leaning in to no-sell them.
Bryan caught Miz’s leg and slapped him repeatedly. Bryan performed a dragon screw leg whip and then blasted Miz with a kick. Bryan did the Yes bit and some fans did it while others remained seated. Miz caught Bryan with the Skull Crushing Finale for a two count. They cut to Maryse, who was showing concern in the front row. Miz stood up and did the Yes bit in the corner and then ran into a kick from Bryan, who covered him for a two count.
At 18:15, Bryan threw kicks at Miz while both men were on the apron. Miz moved and Bryan kicked the ring post. Miz put Bryan back inside the ring and applied the figure four. Bryan threw punches at Miz and rolled over the figure four. Miz reached the ropes to break the hold. At 21:50, Bryan applied the Yes Lock. Miz bit Bryan’s hand. Bryan punched him a couple times and reapplied the hold, but Miz reached the ropes to break it.
At 2:35, Bryan knocked Miz over by Maryse, who handed Miz something. A short time later, Miz blasted Bryan with the object from the floor. Miz handed the object back to Maryse, returned to the ring, and scored the pin…
The Miz defeated Daniel Bryan in 23:30.
Powell’s POV: Was that the old Jerry Lawler phantom object? I really enjoyed the match. Unfortunately, the live crowd was really flat and didn’t react to some key moments. Dot Net Member Don Murphy is in attendance and speculated that the crowd knew a cheap finish was coming once Maryse showed up with the stroller. In retrospect, it may have been a better idea to have her walk out late in the match rather than having her sit at ringside with the stroller. Miz going over did not surprise me. Sure, it’s what you’d do if you knew Bryan wasn’t re-signing, but it’s also what you’d do if you want to extend the feud between them.
Cole set up a video package for the last Undertaker vs. Triple H match that will be held at the WWE Super Show-Down event in Australia…
7. “The Demon” Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin. Corbin was out first and then they introduced the international broadcast team. After a long delay, Balor’s Demon persona made his entrance. Cole noted that it had been a year since the Demon appeared. Corbin showed fear at ringside. He protested with the ref, who called for the bell. Balor worked over Corbin in and around the ring. The ringside area was still filled with smoke/fog from the entrance. Balor dominated all of the offense and hit the Coup de Grace and scored the clean pin…
“The Demon” Finn Balor pinned Baron Corbin in 1:35.
Powell’s POV: So the obvious question is why Balor’s character doesn’t bring out The Demon more often? Anyway, the entrance and look were cool and what I suspected would be a buffer match turned out to be a crowd pleaser.
Backstage, Brie Bella comforted Daniel Bryan, who said his entire comeback has been a bust now that he lost to Miz. She said the fight isn’t over. Bryan told her to go back and enjoy the show. He said he would stay backstage. Bryan told her he loved her and they kissed…
8. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jeff Hardy for the U.S. Championship. Nakamura did the “come on” bit early and the crowd roared. Hardy returned the favor by emulating the bit. Hardy hit a Whisper in the Wind for a two count 7:40. Nakamura tried to continue the Summer of Nut Shots a short time later, but Hardy avoided it.
Hardy performed a Twist of Fate and performed the Swanton Bomb. Hardy covered Nakamura, who reached the bottom rope. Hardy performed another Twist of Fate. Nakamura rolled under the ropes. Hardy went for a Swanton, but Nakamura moved and Hardy crashed and burned on the edge of the ring. Ouch. Back in the ring, Nakamura threw a kick at the back of Hardy’s neck and followed up with a Kinshasa for the win…
Shinsuke Nakamura beat Jeff Hardy in 11:00 to retain the U.S. Championship.
After the match, Hardy was still down. Randy Orton came out and headed to ringside. Once he got to the ring, he turned around and left without attacking Hardy…
Powell’s POV: A surprising clean pinfall. I think we all assumed Randy Orton would get involved and cost Hardy the match or do something to set up a Triple Threat for a future show. Hardy’s Swanton on the apron was sick and I really question the logic of someone signing off on him doing that move.
An ad aired for a new season of WWE Story Time debuting after SummerSlam on WWE Network… A video package set up the Raw Women’s Championship match…
Natalya made her entrance wearing the jacket that her late father Jim Neidhart wore at SummerSlam ’90 when the Hart Foundation won the tag titles. Alexa Bliss made her entrance. The Bella Twins were at ringside. Bliss went out of her way to get them the brush off hand gesture. Ronda Rousey made her entrance to a big pop. Alicia Fox did not come out with Bliss…
9. Alexa Bliss vs. Ronda Rousey (w/Natalya) for the Raw Women’s Championship. The bell rang and Bliss ducked between the ropes when Rousey, who was wearing heavy black eye makeup, moved toward her. Rousey caught Bliss trying to take a cheap shot and dumped her to ringside with a punch.
With Bliss stalling at ringside, Rousey sat down and closed her eyes. Bliss rushed in and applied a chokehold. Rousey stood up with Bliss on her back and broke the hold with ease. Rousey asked who is ready for a new Raw Women’s Champion before dumping Bliss to the mat. Rousey ended up performing a few of the big arm drags and then applied an arm hold and wrenched it back before applying the armbar, which took advantage of Bliss being double jointed. Rousey wrenched on her arm and Bliss tapped out…
Ronda Rousey defeated Alexa Bliss in 4:00 to win the Raw Women’s Championship.
Powell’s POV: A lopsided win for Rousey. I wouldn’t have bought Bliss getting any straight up offense on Rousey, but I thought they would have had some interference or something to make it a little more suspenseful. Instead, it was very straight forward.
After the match, Natalya entered the ring and she and Rousey hugged. The Bella Twins entered the ring and made it a group hug. There were some boos for the Bellas. Rousey went to ringside and jumped into the arms of her husband Travis Browne. Coachman said this footage would appear on “every morning show around the world” and called it a moment. Rousey and Natalya went to the stage and celebrated, then headed backstage…
An ad aired for WWE Hell in a Cell… The broadcast team spoke about Hell in a Cell briefly and then set up a video package for the main event…
Roman Reigns made his entrance and they showed a corny looking floating dog graphic. As expected, Reigns was heavily booed. They still found a fan with a Big Dog sign and a couple of other guys who were clapping. The boos continued during the pause. Brock Lesnar’s music played and he made his entrance with Paul Heyman. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Reigns was booed. Heyman took the mic and delivered the Lesnar introduction from the apron.
Braun Strowman’s entrance music played and he came out with the Money in the Bank briefcase. Strowman asked for a mic. Fans chanted “get these hands.” Strowman said everyone knows the history of the MITB contract and he refuses to be a coward when his opponent’s back is turned. Strowman said he’s the monster among men and he does things face to face. Strowman wished Reigns and Lesnar good luck and said he will be standing right there the entire match. Strowman said he doesn’t give a damn who wins because at the end of the night one of them would get these hands…
10. Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Championship. Strowman went to ringside. Reigns immediately hit Lesnar with Superman Punches to start the match and then speared Lesnar. Reigns went back to his corner and speared Lesnar again. Reigns performed a third spear, but Lesnar caught him in a guillotine choke.
Reigns powered up Lesnar and slammed him down to break the hold. Lesnar applied the hold again. Heyman yelled at Reigns to tap. There were actually dueling chants for and against Reigns for a moment. Reigns powered up Lesnar and slammed him down again to break the hold. Lesnar removed his MMA gloves. Reigns went for a Superman Punch. Lesnar ducked it and performed three German suplexes. The crowd chanted “you both suck” loudly.
Reigns went for a spear on Lesnar, who moved, causing Reigns to go through the ropes onto Strowman. Lesnar went to ringside and gave Strowman an F5. Lesnar smiled after putting Strowman down and then tossed Reigns back inside the ring. Lesnar grabbed the MITB briefcase. Strowman grabbed Lesnar’s ankle. Lesnar hit Strowman with the briefcase several times and then hurled it to the stage against the video wall. Lesnar picked up a chair and hit Strowman with it a couple times. Lesnar looked down and jawed something to Strowman that was censored. Lesnar returned to the ring with a chair. When Lesnar turned and wound up to use the chair, Reigns speared and pinned him.
Roman Reigns beat Brock Lesnar in 6:10 to win the WWE Universal Championship.
Cole said Lesnar made sure that Strowman could not cash in the MITB briefcase. Reigns celebrated his win on the ropes while Cole closed out the show. Reigns spoke off-mic about there being no more part-time and then the show went off the air…
Powell’s POV: There were fans counting along with the three count and there were cheers afterward. This was not a highjacked match despite loud boos and a couple of chants. The involvement of Braun Strowman was really smart, as it seemed to keep the fans engaged while thinking they would get Strowman facing the winner immediately afterward. Those fans may not be pleased right now, but it distracted them long enough to make the title change come off better than I thought it would. Of course, may of those same fans will be at Raw tomorrow night, so it will be interesting to see how WWE approaches Roman’s first night as the new champion. I will have a lot more to say about this show with Jake Barnett in the members’ exclusive audio review. You can also listen to ProWrestling.net Live tomorrow at PWAudio.net at 3CT/4ET with Will Pruett and I taking your calls. Thanks for watching along with me tonight.