Did that really just happen?
Sure, heading into the main event of SummerSlam, Brock Lesnar was painted to be the unstoppable monster. He didn’t just end the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania 30, he left ‘Taker a wobbly, decrepit old man. But this was John Cena he was facing. The killer of a thousand pushes. He’s ruined entire factions in just one night. The feeling that Cena could kill the greatest monster in WWE history with just one Attitude Adjustment loomed all the way until the match started.
Then they went and did what they should have. And it was amazing.
A lot of people complained, saying it was a squash match and they wanted something resembling an actual match. But really, what does a back-and-forth, 50/50 match accomplish here? Lesnar won the biggest possible match you can at Wrestlemania other than the championship match. You can’t possibly have his next match be close no matter who he’s facing.
More importantly than that, this match told a story. Brock hitting the F5 right out of the gate was his way of trying to offer Cena a way out: stay down and it’ll all be over. You won’t have to endure this. Stay down.
So when Cena kicked out, it pissed Brock off and the beat down commenced. Brock hitting 16 German suplexes wasn’t out of necessity; he was toying with Cena. Throwing him around because he can. And when Cena mustered up his two big moves, Brock laughed at him and continued to pummel him. It was the only way to go with this without lessening Brock’s aura as a monster.
WWE now has its most indestructible, unstoppable monster. Its Andre the Giant. Now it’s just up to the WWE to decide who will be their Hulk Hogan.
Match grade: A+
Seth Rollins vs Dean Ambrose – Lumberjack Match
The point of making this a lumberjack match is still a little beyond me, but Dean Ambrose being this insane lunatic who does the opposite of whatever’s going on is wonderful to me. Tables match? Dean Ambrose is gonna kill you with some ladders because he can, that’s why.
The breakdowns in the action – the two escaping the ring and brawling into the crowd with both one another and the lumberjacks – worked regardless of the fact that it flew in the face of the point of the match. Teasing headlock drivers off the balcony and just diving onto a bunch of dudes can have that effect.
More than anything, this match may have had the most emotion of any on the night. On Smackdown, Rollins told Ambrose “you were never my brother” and Dean looked like Ralph Wiggum when Lisa verbally destroys him. Dean is hearbroken and the only way he knows how to respond is to destroy the thing that hurts him.
I mean, look at the part just before the finish. Ambrose grabs Rollins by the head, looks him in the eyes and yells “I loved you. I loved, you Seth”, looking almost torn as he does. Then he hits Rollin’s with his own finish, the Curb Stomp.
Dean Ambrose took a huge step in this match from being that insane guy with the crazy mannerisms to being this deep character who just wants to be back in SWAT gear with his bros. Is that so much to ask for?
Match grade: A
Bray Wyatt vs Chris Jericho
It’s too bad this kind of win couldn’t have happened for Bray six months ago.
Coming off of a debut where he beat up the likes of Kane and R-Truth, Bray got a couple of hot feuds with Daniel Bryan and the Shield, looking like he was ready to take on the world. And then John Cena showed up to ruin everything.
Since then, Bray has seemed less like the Eater of Worlds and more like fodder for the top faces in the company. It got even worse when he ate a Codebreaker and lost cleanly to Jericho at Battleground last month.
But at SummerSlam, Wyatt looked like a million bucks. First of all, coming out in a butcher’s smock seems like the absolute perfect thing for a guy like this. He’s as demented as they come and this just ratcheted that up about five notches. Second of all, he got the most decisive win he possibly could: no Harper and Rowan, a Sister Abagail into the railing and then one to finish it off in the ring.
Wyatt gets to look like the monster he’s supposed to be once again and is finally on the uptick again. Now if he can just stay away from John Cena for the rest of his career, he’ll be fine.
Match grade: B+
AJ Lee vs Paige – Divas Championship
This was a short match, probably far shorter than it should have been, but it ended up being a fun little affair. We got to really see just how similar these two really are and it shows with the counters to their signature moves – AJ countering Paige’s apron knee strikes, Paige countering AJ’s apron attack and yet another Black Widow reversal from Paige into a “goddamn!”-inducing Rampaige.
Sure, there was standard divas crap in the middle featuring a lot of extension pulling and a suggestive cover by Paige (because it’s hot, you see) but these two can really go and it showed in this match. Again, not a match of the night candidate by any stretch of the imagination, but definitely one of the better matches of the night.
Match grade: B+
Stephanie McMahon vs Brie Bella
Don’t get me wrong here: this wasn’t a good match. Not at all. Not to mention the fact that I can’t stand Brie Bella as a character because she’s this terrible, selfish woman who gets those she loves into deep shit and can’t do anything but other than call someone a “bitch” which comes off more like “Stephanie, you BETCH!” than anything else.
No, I really liked this match because Stephanie suddenly morphed into this Vince McMahon/divas hoss combo that really should show itself more. Steph used to be Vickie Guerrero – this annoying voice that you hated to hear not because she was a bad guy, but because she was annoying. Now? She’s figured out that charisma and showmanship that made Vince one of the best baddies of all-time. She controlled the pace like Andre the goddamn Giant by just choking and throwing Brie for the first five minutes.
The heel turn from Nikki Bella, while painfully obvious, worked out well and makes some sense. Brie has been this selfish, stupid jerk getting her into trouble for the last six weeks. Of course Nikki should want to punch her in the face.
Match grade: B
Randy Orton vs Roman Reigns
Heading into this, I figured I wouldn’t like this one and for the most part didn’t. Roman Reigns is suffering from WWE Face Syndrome where he gets beat on for 15 minutes before he forgets he’s supposed to be hurt and hits all of his moves to win. Reigns eats an RKO, kicks out and then quickly reverses into a SUPER SPEAR to win the match. That’s some John Cena shit right there.
Orton, meanwhile, is quietly becoming one of the best in the game and no one will give him the credit he deserves. He controls the match, knows that he still gets the cheers but does just enough to stifle those cheers and he can still throw in a few incredible, boss-like reversals (see: spear into a power slam and Superman punch into an RKO).
I really, really hope that Reigns isn’t going to be built up to take down Brock Lesnar because, frankly, why bother when you’ve already got one John Cena?
Match grade: B-
Dolph Ziggler vs The Miz – Intercontinental Championship
Did anyone go into this match really giving a damn either way? The Miz character has taken a beating that few on the roster can relate to (Ziggler can, actually) and bounces back with this wonderful Hollywood Miz character only to eat a bunch of non-title losses and get punked by the WWE’s big faces?
As for Dolph, he’s just starting to recover from Jack Swagger’s punt that cost him a World Title and they’re both competing for a secondary championship that the WWE has made clear they don’t care about. Seriously, they make a huge deal out of winning it before making the champion eat a bunch of non-title losses and then losing clean to whoever gets to be the whipping boy next.
How is anyone supposed to care about this match when the Intercontinental title gets treated with as much respect these days as the Divas title? Show you care about the belt and who’s holding it and maybe I can get into one of these matches, WWE.
Match grade: C+
Jack Swagger vs Rusev – Flag Match
Rusev continues to be underrated if only because the guy knows how to sell like the John Cena’s and the Roman Reigns of the world don’t. Swagger has been attacking his ankle the entire feud and even slaps on the Patriot Lock before the match starts. Rusev sells this by not only limping and holding his ankle, but changing up his offense because he can’t just kick people anymore. And when he puts on the Accolade, he can’t lock it in like normal because he has to drop to one knee. Can there be a class on how to sell? Can Rusev teach it?
Match grade: C+
Overall, SummerSlam was far better a show than it looked on paper heading into the event. There were a couple of really entertaining matches and the Rollins/Ambrose, Cena/Lesnar matches were off the charts.
Now that the WWE has your money again for the precious network, get ready for another five months of crap until the Royal Rumble comes around. Can’t wait.
Follow me on Twitter: @TwoPadStackRW
[amazon_link id=”B00JHH1YAW” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]WWE The Paul Heyman Story[/amazon_link]