WrestleWatch: WWE Summerslam 2019
It's the biggest party of the summer! At least, over in 'Murica. I'm sitting here in Australia freezing my arse off with some of the coldest winds I've ever felt, but at least we had wrestling action to enjoy. Summerslam is one of the biggest PPVs on the WWE calendar, just behind the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania. Let's get to it.
Well, just before we get to it... the WWE Network has recently revamped their design. It now looks far more modern, very Netflix-esque, but it's buggy as hell. Whether I try and watch on my laptop or the PS4, it freezes a ton and skips around and is generally poor quality. And no, it's not my Internet. Netflix works fine, and the WWE Network used to work perfectly. Now, it can be very frustrating.
I woke up late and missed a good chunk of the Kickoff Show. When I turned it on, Elias was in the ring, strumming his guitar, getting DAT HEAT from the Toronto crowd. Then, he was interrupted by the sound of one of the most awesome theme songs in wrestling history. It's Toronto's own, the Rated R Superstar, Edge! As I said, my Network quality was all over the place, freezing and skipping, but it stayed good long enough for Edge to hit Elias with a Spear! Whoa! That's the first time Edge has gotten in any way physical in WWE since his retirement in 2011. Super cool moment.
Next up, the WWE Women's Tag Team Championships are on the line. Thought this match was going to happen on Raw, but cool to see it go down here instead. This Kickoff Show, or at least the bits I've seen, are playing out like an extension of the PPV rather than a standard preview. An appearance by a Hall Of Famer, Alexa Bliss, Bliss in a championship match to boot. Oh, and the IIconics. Be still my beating heart! Bliss and Peyton Royce in the same match? Take my money! Oh wait, they already have. In that case, proceed! (Billy Madison voice)
Oh, the matches that I missed:
Match 1: Cruiserweight Championship- Drew Gulak def. Oney Lorcan (at 8:45)
Match 2: Buddy Murphy def. Apollo Crews (via DQ when Rowan interfered) (at 4:20) (blaze it)
Match 3: WWE Women's Tag Team Championship: Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross def. The IIconics (Peyton Royce and Billie Kay) (at 6:15)
Thoughts: Short and sweet (much like Alexa). But seriously, a fun dose of action. The former champs, the IIconics, got to look credible early with some nice counters (especially Peyton) and getting in their signature double team moves. Bliss hit Peyton with a big forearm, then Twisted Bliss for the clean victory. Bliss & Cross were presented a bit like faces. Also, Corey Graves was on Bliss's case for dressing like Buzz Lightyear, and he normally fawns over her. (**)
Match 1: Raw Women's Championship-Submission Match- Becky Lynch def. Natalya (at 12:35)
Thoughts: Nice way to start the official festivities. Although they played up Nattie's home field advantage in the build-up, this Toronto crowd was very pro-Becky. Natalya won them over with Bret's Sharpshooter (fickle!), but Becky was able to persevere and make the Queen of Harts tap to the Dis-Arm-Her. The submission stipulation was interesting, because they played up that there was no DQ and rope breaks didn't count, which made for a few unique spots. (***)
Kayla Braxton interviewed Trish Stratus. Trish said something about proving to herself that she still has it, but I was a little distracted. Either Trish got her implants put back in or she's wearing the mother of all push-up bras. The puppies are back! I was too busy drooling and reverting back to my 12 year self to really evaluate her promo, sorry.
Match 2: Goldberg def. Dolph Ziggler (at 1:50)
Thoughts: If you're going to get Goldberg redemption for the disaster that was Super Showdown, this is the perfect way to do it. This was the entire match- Dolph surprises Goldberg with a superkick for a near fall. Then another superkick. Then Goldberg Spears him out of his boots, followed by the Jackhammer. Toronto loves it, and so do I (****)
Post-match, Dolph grabs a mic and taunts Goldberg some more (while he's lying on the mat clutching his ribs). So Big Bill returns and hits him with another Spear. Ziggler grabs the mic again, another Spear. I could watch that all night. Some GOAT-level selling by Ziggler, by the way.
Match 3: United States Championship- AJ Styles def. Ricochet (at 13:00)
Thoughts: Really smooth, athletic action, as you might expect. Ricochet wears a superhero-esque body suit. Yeah, not a fan of that. AJ plays the heel and targets the leg, Ricochet fights through the pain and also fights off Gallows & Anderson at ringside. The finish is incredible, and I'm bumping my match rating a little higher just for that. Ricochet tries to pull off some crazy move- I guess, a standing top rope Phoenix Splash into a hurricanrana? AJ catches him and nails a Styles Clash for the win! The athleticism, coordination and timing it would take to pull something like that off... I just can't even. Awesome. (***3/4)
Match 4: Smackdown Women's Championship- Bayley def. Ember Moon (at 10:00)
Thoughts: Great chemistry between these two. Every spot was smooth and Bayley seemed especially motivated working with Ember. Bit short to really be a barnburner, but good for what it was. Again, another wild finish with the massive top rope Bayley To Belly. Would like to see a rematch, for sure. (***)
Really expected to see Sasha Banks make her return on Summerslam weekend. Ah well. Maybe Raw tomorrow?
Match 5: Kevin Owens def. Shane McMahon (at 9:20)
Thoughts: I expected a lot more from this. Thought we'd see more shenanigans, more fuckery... since this storyline is heavily derived from the Attitude Era, I wanted a little bit of that calamity. We had Elias as a special enforcer, but he really didn't involve himself that much until the end. And where was Drew? Elias pulled the ref from the ring to get involved down the stretch, but ultimately it was Super Shane largely having the wrestling acumen and athleticism to hold his own with the former Universal Champion, Owens. In the Attitude/Ruthless Aggression eras, Shane was never a gifted wrestler. He was a daredevil who would put himself at risk, or a slimeball using any means necessary to get the win, depending on his character alignment. But these days, Shane McMahon is a hard man super athlete who trains MMA and can handle any full time wrestler, he just has lackeys sometimes for the hell of it. At least the right person won. KO hit the low blow before the Stunner though, just to give Super Shane an out. For fuck's sake. (**)
Match 6: Charlotte Flair def. Trish Stratus (at 16:40)
Thoughts: Despite how it was presented on TV, this clearly wasn't a last minute plan. Trish put in work for a long time to get ring ready. This actually might have been her best match ever- at 43, almost 13 years after she first retired from full-time wrestling. She was a step slower than her prime maybe, but she was still pulling off moves I had never seen her do before, and of course Charlotte was her usual great self, cutting Trish off at points with her size, power, and some devastating big boots. Trish got some convincing near falls, but ultimately tapped to the full-timer in the Figure 8. MOTN to this point! Fantastic! (****)
Match 7: WWE Championship- Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton ended in a double count out (at 16:45)
Thoughts: The Toronto crowd was chanting "bullshit "at the finish, and I agree with them. You don't do cop-out finishes on major events like Summerslam! They worked a pretty mundane pace before the finish too, not the aggression and fire that befitted the feud's build-up. I understand they're going to continue this at Clash Of Champions, but there were a ton of better ways to get there, and it seemed that Kofi and Orton didn't want to go all out for a match that wasn't going to have a pay-off, so there's little entertainment value to be found at all in this one. (**)
Match 8: "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt def. Finn Balor (at 3:25)
Thoughts: This was pure spectacle, and I loved it. The Fiend's entrance, in the dark with flashing red lights, to a remixed darker version of Wyatt's theme, was absolutely awe-inspiring. Then a dominant performance in the match, with Balor selling how thrown off he was by the whole situation, and the Fiend putting him to sleep with the Mandible Claw. Note-perfect. (****)
Match 9: WWE Universal Championship- Seth Rollins def. Brock Lesnar (at 13:25)
Thoughts: Finally! I've been waiting for a proper Rollins vs. Lesnar match since Royal Rumble 2015, and they delivered everything I was looking for here. They had the story going in of Rollins' injured ribs, because of Brock's brutal attack on Raw, so to overcome that, Rollins used his athleticism. Naturally, Brock wanted to take Seth to Suplex City, but Seth kept landing on his feet to avoid damage. Then, Brock changed his attack by keeping his hands locked and his base lowered. Here, Seth had to use his heart and grit to get through. He sacrificed himself (he is Crossfit Jesus, after all) with an incredible Frog Splash through the announcers table. Later, he avoids the damage of Lesnar F5 by landing on his feet, then hitting a 3rd Stomp for the victory, bringing the Universal Championship back to Raw. It was a truly special performance by both guys. When Lesnar's on, he's on, and that might have been Rollins' best performance this year. (****1/2)
And we get pyro during Seth's celebration to close the show! I've missed you, dear pyro...
Summerslam 2019 wasn't a perfect show, but it did showcase the best of their roster at full strength for a consistently strong show. That said, they did bring in a couple of Hall Of Famers to boost the PPV, and one of them damn near stole the show. Trish Stratus was a revelation, and if that's truly her last match, you couldn't go out much better. The main event couldn't have been booked better, I waited 4 and a half years to see it and I couldn't be happier. WWE should be proud of that effort, that's a show I'll be happy to watch again and again.