The WWE really took over the Barclays Centre in New York this weekend. They hosted two tremendous shows that proved once against why the WWE is the leading wrestling company for the majority of the world. Both events were packed with brilliant matches involving superb superstars, and it is my duty to rank each and every match that took place on the shows and tell you why I have put them in this order, including a rating out of 10 for each match. There was 16 matches in total, and I’m going to go from the worst match to the best.
16) Rusev vs Dolph Ziggler. Rating = 3/10
Quite easily the worst match of the weekend. It was slacking from the start with an uninteresting build, and it just got worse during their match, despite these two being fantastic athletes. A dismal showing concluding in a double count out. Two superstars as good as these involved in a love story and a double count out finish on a show like Summerslam? Such a shame.
15) Team Bella (Alicia Fox, Brie and Nikki Bella) vs Team PCB (Paige, Charlotte and Becky Lynch) vs Team B.A.D (Naomi, Tamina and Sasha Banks). Rating = 4.2/10
A horrible showing on what was supposed to be the big match in the Divas Revolution. It lacked so much energy and excitement, and unfortunately will have some fans questioning the revolution now despite some of the women being incredible wrestlers. Slow pace, too much time waiting to do high spots and Sasha having almost no ring time made this a terrible response to the women’s match from the night before. The only positive was seeing Becky get the pin to win it. Hopefully the creative don’t forget about her when they involve the title next time.
If you watched their match at Battleground, you would have seen the exact same thing the second time round, just a different winner. Orton being busted open during the bout added a bit more than last time, but it just didn’t feel fresh at all, and there wasn’t enough riding on it for fans to get invested. To prove this, the fans reverted to cheering for NXT talent during the bout, showing how uninterested they was. Not the greatest opening for such a huge event.
13) Apollo Crews vs Tye Dillinger. Rating = 6/10
The first NXT match on the list. Originally, I gave this match a 7/10, but, having seen it a couple more times, I am relegating it to just a 6/10. This was by no means a poor contest. It was a decent match which thankfully wasn’t a squash match on Crews’ debut, especially as Dillinger is a good wrestler. It was just a bit short to really push it up any higher, but nothing more is really expected in a debut match. This match comes last out of the NXT matches, and that says something about the rest of the card as this was a good match.
12) Ryback vs The Big Show vs The Miz. Rating = 6.3/10
This match was actually better than anticipated. It wasn’t a title match that will go down in history, but it was better than it looked like it would be. Miz and Big Show both looked like they were going to steal the title at some point, especially when Miz hit the Skull-Crushing Finale after Ryback hit Shell-shocked on Show. Big Show also hit an inventive senton off the top onto Ryback that didn’t look pretty, but was pretty amusing seeing him try it. Not the best, but certainly not the worst.
11) Tyler Breeze vs Jushin “Thunder” Liger. Rating = 7.1/10
This was what it was always intended to be: more of a spectacle showcasing Liger on his WWE debut rather than a classical wrestling match. It was an entertaining bout, with Liger rolling back the years and flying around the ring in an impressive manner. He also stole Breeze’s top rope taunt and used his selfie stick for a couple of amusing moments. All in all it was good, but I’m still not convinced Breeze should have lost to someone who is making only a sole appearance, so it only scores so high.
10) Stephen Amell and Neville vs Stardust and King Barrett. Rating = 7.5/10
Before the weekend, I thought the Breeze vs Liger match would be the best special guest match. I was wrong. Stephen Amell was surprisingly good at wrestling. He can fly around the ring and took a heavy beat down that most actors don’t do when they have their match. Neville added even more excitement with his high risk moves. This would have been even better had they actually pushed through the story of Amell vs Stardust, but that seemingly got dropped after their first face off. Still, a very good match considering it had an actor involved.
9) Blake and Murphy vs The Vaudevillains for the NXT Tag Team Championship. Rating = 7.7/10
This was a classic tag team title match between the heel champions and the face contenders. The Vaudevillains winning the titles was a great move as they are immensely popular, and they done so in a good contest. The heels worked down the faces very well, both teams showed some nice tag teams moves and the attempted outside interference from Alexa Bliss didn’t harm the bout at all. All round a decent match, but not a classic either.
8) Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper vs Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose. Rating = 7.8/10
From the start of this match, it was fast paced and full of energy. These four are great workers and have such good chemistry together. Everyone got in a strong run of offence and showcased reasons to be invested in the match. The ending, however, let it down massively. The one match of the night that wasn’t expected to finish clean, finished clean. It was a bad decision to have the Wyatts lose like this, especially as they’ve just got back together. No heel turn, no interference, just a tag match with a clean winner. Decent bout with a questionable finish.
7) The Prime Time Players vs The New Day vs Los Matadores vs Lucha Dragons for the WWE Tag Team Championship. Rating = 8.2/10
The rank for this match is almost entirely based on The New Day. They were absolutely sensational from the start to finish in this match. From their dancing to Xavier Woods screaming on the side-line to Big E doing a huge spear to Darren Young on the apron, they well and truly made this a fantastic tag team title match. They more than deserve the titles again, and hopefully their run doesn’t end in an underwhelming fashion like last time. Los Matadores and Lucha Dragons added to this bout as well with their exciting high flying move set. Only let down really by having a lack of a compelling story behind the bout. Took away some of the excitement, but not much. NEW DAY ROCKS!
6) Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker. Rating = 8.4/10
If a match was ever crushed by its ending, this was it. The match billed “too big for Wrestlemania” lived up to its hype. It was a brilliant fight and really had a huge match feel. Lesnar striking Taker early on, Brock being busted open, both men hit finishing moves and applying submission holds. It was ten times better at least than their Wrestlemania 30 contest. However, the end killed the brilliance. The Undertaker was in the Kimura lock, tapped out but the ref didn’t see it. The bell rang as they saw Taker tap, the ref told them he had the authority, Taker hits Lesnar with a low blow and ends it with Hell’s Gate. Such a messy finish to a fantastic bout. Clearly set up to have another match but it was just done poorly. This was heading to be a 10/10 match but the ending cost it. Taker laughing and Lesnar sticking a middle finger up were two amazing moments too.
5) Samoa Joe vs Baron Corbin. Rating = 8/10
A match between two powerhouses announced their arrivals on the NXT scene. Samoa Joe hadn’t set NXT alight yet, and Corbin has been booked only into squash matches. However, they both put on their greatest match within the company so far, and showed potential to become part of the main event status in NXT very soon. Corbin showed more stamina and a new range of moves to hold his own while Joe played up to the submission title he has gained. A very good bout between the two big men who will eventually go on to be big names in the company.
4) Kevin Owens vs Cesaro. Rating = 9/10
Kevin Owens put on a masterclass performance a night after putting on a sensational performance in a ladder match. That must be credited, especially how good this match was with Cesaro. Both men pulled out the big moves in their arsenal to try and get one over. Top rope moves and Owens doing moonsaults from the top are examples of the ability of both men, and they delivered a brilliant match. The right man went over as well. Was an amazing performance, but wasn’t just quite as good as the ladder match from the night before. Still, a huge well done to Owens.
3) Finn Balor vs Kevin Owens for the NXT Championship in a ladder match. Rating = 9.5/10
A brutal affair that tops the contest they had in Japan last month. Finn Balor winning the title in Japan was a special moment, but this match based on the wrestling was better. The brutality of some of the ladder spots was fierce. Owens’ showed some tremendous heel work throughout, from falling asleep as Balor made his entrance to throwing Balor over the announce table. Balor captivated the audience with some brutal moves himself, before landing a strong looking Coup De Grace from the top of the ladder to win. Excellent match to end the feud. A fitting end if this is to be Owens’ final match in NXT for now.
2) Seth Rollins vs John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight and United States Championships. Rating = 9.7/10
Two fantastic performers outdid their match from Raw a few weeks ago. Cena rolling through and hitting Rollins with an AA was good, but Rollins doing the exact same thing to Cena was even better. Cena applying the figure-four-leg-lock on Rollins when he is on the verge of tying Ric Flair’s title record was a fitting moment. Rollins hitting another knee to Cena’s face was again a moment that made this match so good. The finish is questionable. Jon Stewart hitting Cena with a chair and aiding Rollins will annoy a lot of fans, but I think it worked. Rollins and Stewart had excellent chemistry in their segment a while back, so this could really be good. I would have preferred to see Rollins go over clean, but this worked fine still as it sets up a compelling story, providing we don’t end up with Stewart vs Cena. Would have been 10/10 if it was a clean finish, but doesn’t lose too much because of it. Summerslam’s best match, but not the best match of the weekend.
Easily the best match of the weekend. A sensational bout between two amazing workers in the ring. Another example of the heel using brutality and aggression to try and keep the babyface down but the babyface fighting through it to emerge victorious. Sasha using the steps to crush Bayley’s hand was a fine example of the brutality. Top rope moves, submission holds and a kick out of a finishing move made this a tremendous example for women’s wrestling. Bayley’s adventure to the title concluded in brilliant fashion, similar to the adventure of Sami Zayn when he won the NXT Championship, and credit must go to both women for putting on the match of the weekend. The embrace between the two plus Becky Lynch and Charlotte after will forever warm the hearts of the NXT universe. Well done ladies.
NXT outdid the main roster again. Decisive finishes played a part in this. Every match in NXT had a decisive finish. Summerslam, one match ended as a double count out, one match ended with the guest host being involved and one match ended when a man tapped and the ref didn’t see it but the bell rung. At a PPV like Summerslam, the matches and feuds should be resolved. One, maybe two, dodgy finishes could happen, but three in one night, including the two main events, is a bad move. NXT also aired some tremendous pre match vignettes before their matches that boosted the feel of their matches, but Summerslam only lacked this. Only the Lesnar Taker vignette was of any note. Furthermore, every single match on the NXT card was relevant. Fans were interested in every single match, and every competitor was relevant. Summerslam cannot say the same. Fans turned on the Orton vs Sheamus match and they weren’t interested in the Intercontinental title match that much. NXT is doing something right. Every match they put on their card was relevant, and the performances were mostly fantastic. WWE lost to its own developmental brand again. It’s not the first time an NXT event has been better. To put it into context of how much better it was, fans broke into NXT chants during Summerslam. I don’t recall any WWE chants during the NXT show. Not good for the second biggest WWE PPV of the year, but exceptional work from the NXT talent.