Powell’s WWE SummerSlam Hit List: Roman Reigns returns, Drew McIntyre vs Randy Orton for the WWE Championship, Braun Strowman vs. The Fiend Bray Wyatt for the WWE Universal Championship, Dominik Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins in a Street Fight, Asuka challenges for two women’s titles

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

The ProWrestling.net Live audio show returns today at 3CT/4ET. Survivor Hall of Famer Jonny Fairplay and I will take your calls coming out of WWE SummerSlam, NXT Takeover: XXX, and AEW Dynamite at PWAudio.net.

WWE SummerSlam Hits

Drew McIntyre vs Randy Orton for the WWE Championship: A strong match with a surprising backslide finish. The slower first half of the match built nicely to the good second half of the match. They worked a physical style that played right into the strengths of McIntyre, who continues to do a terrific job as the WWE Champion. I’ve seen some grumbling from fans about the match not ending with an established finishing move. I argue that pro wrestling companies would be wise to do more finishes like this one to get fans more invested in the idea that matches can end at any time, not just when a finisher is hit or a submission move is applied. In this case, they also saved those big finishing moves for the inevitable rematch.

Roman Reigns returns: Insert your own joke here about Vince McMahon booking himself a present in the form of his beloved Reigns returning on the eve of his 75th birthday. On one hand, most of us didn’t see it coming until word spread that WWE listed a bunch of new Reigns merchandise. On the other hand, the fact that WWE told us through the marketing slogan that we wouldn’t see it coming, and yet so few of us considered the out of sight, out of mind Reigns is actually rather telling about the feeling of “meh” that many fans seem to have for him. The long layoff that Reigns took due to the pandemic gave the company a chance to reboot his character, and it looks like they did just that. This wasn’t the same old Reigns that fans have rejected no matter how aggressively he was shoved down their throats. Reigns showed more of an edge and while we haven’t seen enough to make any judgements, it’s refreshing to see him doing something new.

Braun Strowman vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt for the WWE Universal Championship in a Falls Count Anywhere match: This was one of my least favorite matches of the night in a lot of ways, yet it lands in the Hit category because it was a straight forward match. It wasn’t a campy cinematic and we didn’t get nearly as many of the horror movie villain no-selling moments from The Fiend that we’ve seen in other matches. They had a fight and it concluded with a clean and decisive finish, which exceeded my admittedly low expectations.

Dominik Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins in a Street Fight: The stipulation that allowed weapons to come into play actually lowered my interest in the match because I was more interested in seeing how Dominik would perform in an actual match than I was in watching him swing a kendo stick. Fortunately, the match was laid out in a way that allowed Dominik to show off his in-ring skills. Working with Rollins obviously helps, but Dominik passed his first test. Sure, everything from the weapons to Murphy to Dominik’s father and even his mother aided in smoke and mirrors style, but Dominik delivered whenever the spotlight was on him. I assume they are building toward Rey and Dominick Mysterio vs. Rollins and Murphy, and I am genuinely looking forward to it.

Bayley vs. Asuka for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: A well worked match with a finish that set the table for a similar finish in Asuka’s second match. Of course, the idea is that Banks sacrificed herself for Bayley, yet Bayley didn’t return the favor when she had an opportunity to do so. While they haven’t pulled the trigger on the split, the wheels are finally in motion.

Sasha Banks vs. Asuka for the Raw Women’s Championship: This was one of the better matches of the night. I enjoyed the WWE Championship more, but this wasn’t far behind. I assume that Bayley is going to be the heel in the eventual feud with Banks. Sasha has been just as obnoxious as Bayley, and she’s just as guilty of using heel tactics, so it will be interesting to see what they do between now and then to make her more likable heading into the babyface run.

Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville in a No DQ, loser leaves WWE match: A Hit for a solid, hard hitting match, especially given the circumstances. The stipulation with Deville leaving WWE wasn’t sold well. The production team focused only briefly on her after the match, and while she sold the stipulation, it just didn’t feel like this was truly farewell for her character. I don’t know if the company panicked and felt that they needed a big stipulation to make up for not delivering the hair vs. hair match, but it just didn’t feel believable. By the way, the thrill is gone with the comedic pairing of Otis and Mandy. WWE can’t get the Money in the Bank briefcase away from Otis quickly enough as far as I’m concerned. I enjoy Otis for a bit of comedy relief, but hs comedy just doesn’t fit in with what they have going on in the WWE Universal Title picture right now.

Overall show: WWE finally got back to the basics and delivered a quality pro wrestling event minus the cinematic and over the top stipulation matches. The ThunderDome structure was a real positive. The larger venue and the full scale entrances made WWE feel big league again. The atmosphere created by the audio is still a work in progress. It was an improvement over what we heard on Smackdown, but it still feels like the spectator wrestlers made more noise at the Performance Center. I don’t want WWE to go overboard with the crowd sweetening, but they still have room to amp up the crowd sounds. With ThunderDome debuting in a larger venue, the return of live television shows, Smackdown getting Roman Reigns, and Raw getting Keith Lee, WWE has generated some interest and even hope. But Vince McMahon has to know that any good vibes coming out of this show will disappear quickly if his creative work does not improve. He can still put together quality pay-per-view events from time to time, but the week to week booking remains a huge part of the problem.

WWE SummerSlam Misses

The Street Profits vs. Andrade and Angel Garza for the Raw Tag Titles: Andrade and Garza were booked so poorly on television leading up to this match that I actually assumed it was a sign that they were going to win the tag titles. Instead, they were booked poorly and then lost clean in a forgettable match that would have felt underwhelming even if it had aired on Raw. By the way, did the trio of horny suitors forget to tell Demi Burnett that the show moved out of the WWE Performance Center?

Apollo Crews vs. MVP for the U.S. Championship: They made the right call to move this match to the Kickoff Show. It was laid out to be like a basic television match and therefore there was nothing memorable about it through no fault of the wrestlers. Moving the match to the Kickoff Show also kept the length of the main show to a reasonable limit. I hope WWE officials have learned their lesson when it comes to leaving their audience wanting more. I don’t miss the two-hour special event Kickoff Shows or the needlessly long main shows. Yes, I know some of you can’t get enough, but the company’s focus should be on pleasing the masses.


Readers Comments (1)

  1. Apparently, the new anarchist group hell-bent on destroying WWE decided to take the night off for the second-biggest show of the year!

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