By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE SummerSlam Hits
Brock Lesnar vs. Cody Rhodes: A wonderful conclusion to their trilogy of matches. Cody beating Lesnar clean and decisively was a satisfying way to wrap up the feud. The post match respect shown by Lesnar was an unexpected development that added to the boost that Cody received by winning this program. I’m anxious to see what’s next for both men. Of course, we may have to wait a while when it comes to Lesnar depending on when his next booking is.
Logan Paul vs. Ricochet: A terrific opening match. The back and forth battle was compelling and featured some wild spots without ever crossing the line into needlessly dangerous territory. Ricochet took the loss and yet he clearly gained something from this program. Paul is outstanding and it will be interesting to see if they go with a rematch or what comes next for him. Another match with Seth Rollins is logical. Cody Rhodes is a fun option. And who wouldn’t love to watch Paul’s D-bag character get roughed up by Brock Lesnar or Gunther? The trickier part is what comes next for Ricochet if it’s not a rematch and whether the company can build on the momentum he developed while working with Paul.
Roman Reigns vs. Jey Uso in Tribal Combat for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: The match went longer than it needed to, especially considering that the masses didn’t seem to truly believe that Jey was going to win the championship. But it was still well worked and the live crowd was engaged. This felt like a spot for Reigns to break out of the usual formula of getting help to keep his championship, but at least they went with the surprising turn of Jimmy stabbing Jey in the back. Solo Sikoa wasn’t happy about Reigns accidentally spearing him during the match. Are we headed toward the seemingly inevitable Bloodline four-way?
Gunther vs. Drew McIntyre for the Intercontinental Championship: A good match that fell below my admittedly high expectations of greatness. They had the unenviable task of following the MMA Rules match that killed the crowd. I thought a few Gunther chops would be able to wake up the live crowd, but they really weren’t the same until the main event. I was actually disappointed by the decisive finish. I was hoping that Gunther would just get by McIntyre in a way that required a rematch. As much as I think McIntyre is an excellent babyface, it’s hard not to wonder if he’s on the verge of turning heel. Seth Rollins and Cody Rhodes will both need opponents either now or at some point soon, and I’m not sure what there is to do with babyface McIntyre now that he came up short in challenging for the Intercontinental Title.
Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor for the World Heavyweight Championship: This was a better match than these two had at Money in the Bank. I was really hoping for a Balor title win followed by him being paranoid of faction mate Priest holding the Money in the Bank contract. Rather, Balor’s paranoia over Priest got the better of him during the match and now it looks like we might be headed toward a Judgment Day implosion.
Asuka vs. Bianca Belair vs. Charlotte Flair for the WWE Women’s Championship and Iyo Sky cashing in the MITB contract: Three of the best wrestlers and true faces of the women’s division and yet the creative forces failed to make this feel special going in. The actual match had some clunkiness to it. The live crowd didn’t seem to have a real favorite and therefore they just reacted to key moments rather than getting caught up in pulling for one wrestler in particular. The segment was saved by the Money in the Bank cash-in. Sky winning a championship felt fresh, whereas there was a “been there and done that feel” when it came to any of the three wrestlers in the Triple Threat ending the night as champion. Dakota Kai returning for the post match celebration was a nice touch. I was really down on Bayley’s work as the leader of Damage CTRL, but it feels like she’s snapped out of her slump and is starting to click again.
SummerSlam Battle Royal: A battle royal for sponsorship money and nothing more. The least they could have done was come up with a prize for the wrestlers to fight over. At least they went with the right winner. LA Knight is over big and it was time to throw him and his frustrated fans a bone.
WWE SummerSlam Misses
Ronda Rousey vs. Shayna Baszler in an MMA Rules match: It came off like the people who planned this match had never actually watched an MMA fight before. The medical stoppages made no sense, nor did they seem to serve any purpose. Rousey made a game changer during her first run with the company. The second stint was just plain lousy. It’s a shame that she was booked to be just another wrestler rather than a special attraction like Brock Lesnar. Baszler choking out Rousey should have meant so much more than it did.