Previously on “Battleground“…Rollins retained his belt from Brock Lesnar because the Undertaker got involved and the World Heavyweight Championship became irrelevant. And the audience got confused. And I think the writers got confused too. It wasn’t a very good PPV…
I was taken aback when the Undertaker opened the show and cut a pretty elaborate promo. For all the problems I have had with this booking, I will admit that they are doing a phenomenal job making this feud seem important. The Authority is excited, but are afraid that these two titans will murder each-other, so recruit the ENTIRE LOCKER ROOM to act as security. Paul Heyman fires back with his own retort, but I’m still confused as to who is supposed to be the face or heel. Furthermore- Stephanie McMahon, the savior of the Diva Division, is acting like the traditional villain. Undertaker Bray Wyatt’s to the ring and threatens Heyman, which I’ve seen heroes do as well, so this clarifies nothing. Brock Lesnar rushes to the ring and they brawl, forcing security and the locker room to separate them.
“I’ll kill you!” Brock shrieks.
“You’re going to have to!” Undertaker barks back.
That was pretty awesome and the only problem I really had with it was…How are they going to top this? I feel like the big confrontation should’ve closed the night! Reigns and Ambrose united to take on Bray and Harper, which was predictable but understandable. Seth Rollins comes out to boast and his promo was fine, but started feeling a little long winded. Much to everyones horror, John Cena arrives and they banter. As they don’t have a match right then and there, I’m presuming they will fight at SummerSlam. Shit… Their dialogue is standard, but acceptable. On a booking level, Cena has elevated the U.S Title while Rollins has devalued the World Heavyweight Championship, but do we really want to draw attention to this? I have to admit that I’d rather Roman Reigns be the man who dethrones Seth Rollins. Plus, it hasn’t even been a year since their last program, but maybe it will work. I’ll keep my mind open. The Diva’s match was good, although I’m still sick of Paige’s “This is my house!” catchphrase and seriously, Team BAD? That’s their name? That is pretty bad…Lana shows up and continues to lose steam (did you hear that silence?), but Summer is pulling off her ‘complete bitch’ persona. She and Rusev have better chemistry than Ziggler and Lana, although I wish this entire angle would die in the fiery pits of WCW. The Main Event really didn’t feel that relevant compared to the Undertaker-Lesnar angle, but it was really entertaining and I loved seeing the heels implode on each-other. I wonder where this will go. Everything else was just average, but I did think this RAW was pretty good. I’d rate it a…7/10. I won’t do ratings for every show as standards tend to be different. I don’t expect “Superstars” to be on par with “RAW“.
WWE Main Event (7/21): The show opens with ‘Bo Dallas Vs R-Truth‘ and even though their banter is intended to be silly, this interaction had more dramatic tension than the entirety of Truth’s ‘King’ Barrett feud. The match itself wasn’t anything special, but it’s strange seeing these two in a longer, competitive match. Unfortunately, I realized that the reason I avoid these C-shows is the reliance on pumping up stars and storylines who will probably never appear on “Main Event“- like Cena or Reigns. If I watch this show, I most likely have seen RAW and don’t need recaps. It was bizarre seeing Kalisto cut a promo- as this is the first time I’ve heard him speak, but I don’t get the “The New Day will know what it’s like to be in the ring with the Lucha Dragons” line…Wouldn’t they already know based on their past matches? This one alternated between sloppy and exciting, although I’m not a fan of the announcers talking about the Lesnar-Taker feud while it is going on. These shows should be more about the lower/midcard fighters! At least Xavier Woods was very funny. Overall, this “Main Event” was okay, an easy watch considering its runningtime and the quality of the matches was above average.
The show opens with a really good- if occasionally uncomfortable- ‘Sheamus Vs Ambrose‘ match, where both men deviated from their moveset and delivered brutal beatings upon each-other. Sometimes I wondered if they were getting a little sloppy, but Bray and Harper get involved and screw Ambrose over. While ‘Neville Vs Stardust’ isn’t exciting me, I did like the video package where various shots of their previous encounters are framed like panels from a comic book. Maybe I’ll get into it if Hulu actually showcases the feud in its entirety. ‘Neville Vs Adam Rose‘ was shockingly good, easily being Adam Rose’s best ‘Main Roster’ match…Stardust is apparently supposed to be a Super Villain and he wants Neville to be the hero…or maybe Stardust just wants to smex him. The Diva’s match was solid work, but why are the Bella’s being the baby faces? I adored the main event: ‘Rollins Vs Cesaro‘. I can kinda take Rollins seriously again. Overall, I liked this “Smackdown“. I enjoyed the matches and backstage segments.
WWE Superstars (7/25/2015): There were two matches, “R-Truth Vs Heath Slater” and “Bo Dallas Vs Neville“, with only the former standing out because I haven’t seen Slater in awhile. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t good enough to carry the show, which relies primarily on recaping RAW and Smackdown…Meh.
We start with the Authority doing their thing and John Cena comes out and does his thing, confirming that this feud is going to be a…thing…Stephanie once again acts like the detestable heel, continuing to confuse me considering she’s a face in regards to the Diva division. She stacks the odds against the ‘Authority friendly’ Nikki Bella, but continues to favor ‘Authority friendly, except when angry’ Seth Rollins, whose attitude is just as pompous and his abilities are less than reliable. I hate it when the writing makes no damn sense, but I was pleasantly surprised by ‘Big Show Vs Ambrose‘. Good storytelling driven match that makes Big Show look strong without squishing Ambrose. Apparently Fandango got squished though, as he was fed to Neville. Stardust cuts a bizarre promo, but I think he should scale the cheesiness down a bit. For this ‘super villain’ angle to work, he needs to be at least a little sinister to offset the campiness. He had a much better balance of weird, corny and menace during his feud with Goldust. The backstage confrontation with the Diva’s felt forced (BAD ACTING!), but at least gave all three women something to do. The match between Paige and Sasha was really good though and I was surprised that Paige suffered a clean defeat.
Rollins does a backstage interview and I found myself agreeing with a lot of what he says, but Rollins does a good job at making himself unlikable despite this. Rusev, Summer and Lana have their segment in order to inflict the punishment I avoided by not watching “Pixels“, but it was tolerable. I hate this storyline, but all three played their parts well until Summer started overacting during the ending. I didn’t rage quit though, so…good job? Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper deliver a promo about why they’re back together, but while there was nothing wrong with their delivery, it went on for too long. If ‘Bray Vs Cena’ from 2014 taught me anything, it’s that Bray only works on the mic in small bursts. ‘Randy Orton Vs Kevin Owens’ was a huge disappointment, as this pairing probably should be a major event for a PPV and the match itself was mediocre. I thought Orton played the heel a bit too well, despite being the supposed face. Owens feels so irrelevant right now and it’s a shame seeing him used as support for a feud (‘Orton Vs Sheamus‘) few people care about. Lame, copout ending too. Sheamus yells “Are you not entertained?!” and I yell back “NO!“, causing my neighbors to yell at me for being too noisy. The Main Event- Rollins Vs Cena- was…okay. I thought the first half was a little awkwardly paced and some of the bumps looked a bit gentle, but then Cena broke his nose and that was hard to watch. Nevertheless, the match picked up and even scored a “This is awesome” chant, even if I didn’t agree with it. Overall, I thought the show started running out of steam during the second half, even though it had a pretty strong start.
Main Event (7/28/2015): Neville Vs King Barrett…yay, it’s not like I’ve seen this 1,000 times already. The match was pretty good though, with Neville doing some of his crazier acrobatics that we haven’t seen as much since his ‘promotion’ to the main roster. ‘Bo Dallas Vs Zack Ryder‘ was also pretty good and represents what I wish ‘Main Event‘ was. We see enough Neville, Barrett, Brie and Becky on RAW and Smackdown. Let the lower card guys have their own platform, dammit! I do like how the main event is a Diva match (‘Brie Vs Becky‘), although I wonder what a ‘Steampunk Diva’ is supposed to be…I really wish WWE would start learning the actual definitions of the words they use. The match was good and I have to give credit to Brie for mostly being able to keep up, looking strong enough while effectively putting Becky over. This was a pretty solid show, overall.
The opening involves Rollins boasting about breaking Cena’s nose, but this immediately leads to a match with Cesaro, which leads to Kevin Owens coming out for commentary. I appreciated this segment, enjoying the banter and the action alike. The Tag Team spectacle was a little hard to follow. It’s the Ascension/New Day Vs Lucha Dragons/Los Matadores, which is already a bit excessive, but Prime Time Players are on commentary and Xavier Woods is goofing around outside of the ring. Nothing about this is bad or even mediocre, but it causes a sensory overload. The ending was a lot of fun, especially when El Torito took out Woods. Bray and Harper cut another brief promo and Rusev battles Jack Swagger (there he is!). Rusev and Swagger work well together, but Swagger needs some sort of push for it to matter because we don’t see him as anything but talent enhancement- albeit of the stronger variety. ‘Stardust Vs R-Truth‘ sucked, mainly because I didn’t like how the commentators were treating Stardust. King portrays him as just a big goof. If they really want to sell me on this supervillain angle, they need to have him to do something really crazy, not just be a comedy act. Admittedly maybe my ideas are a bit too ambitious, but can you imagine if Stardust captured some fans and used them to threaten Neville? Of course, he’d also need some henchmen. This angle could be awesome, but I doubt WWE is really interested in it. They might use it to do that cross-over match with the Arrow, but is anyone really expecting anything out of that? We’ll just have to see…
The Main Event was a lot of fun, although the writing surrounding it was a little strange. Following the opener, where Owens and Rollins beat up Cesaro, the Authority decreed that there would be a Tag Team match. Presumably Rollins wanted this and Owens only learns of the decision as he is leaving. He doesn’t look pleased about it either. Is this setting up friction between the two? Interesting…Cesaro also has to find a Tag Team partner and I do like how he subtly refers to Tyson Kidd, but part of me was hoping that Jack Swagger would be that man for a one time reunion. Instead it was the predictable choice, Ambrose, which I’m cool with. I thought everyone had a chance to stand out and I liked the pacing. It was also nice seeing glorified jobbers defy our expectations of them. Overall, this was a solid Smackdown.
WWE Superstars (7/31/2015): R-Truth opens the show…He always seems to open the show….Ugh, his opponent is Bo Dallas? Again? They told a decent story in the ring, but it ended surprisingly quickly…NOT THAT I’M COMPLAINING! Then they show the Diva Tag Team match from RAW (Charlotte, Brecky Vs Nikki, Alicia), which I didn’t skip through because hulu had omitted that before. But I went ahead and skipped through the ‘Owens Vs Orton’ recap. Side Note: I laughed when the commentator asked: “Will Swagger dethrone the Barrett? Or will the Kings reign remain strong?“. Erm, have they been paying attention to Barrett’s career lately? He ends up winning, which means Swagger has lost twice in his home state during the same week, but the match was…eh, alright. I was fine with that level of quality though because I’ve missed Swagger. If you have as well or actually like this mini ‘Truth Vs Dallas’ program, then you should give this show a look. If you don’t care, then don’t bother.
Seth Rollins comes out and cuts the introduction promo, continuing to brag about breaking Cena’s nose before doing his own variation of the ‘Championship Open Challenge”. But just before people can cheer, he adds a stipulation that they can’t be over 6 ft and 200 points, specifically calling out El Torito. Neville answers and they have an AWESOME match. For those who miss Neville’s NXT style antics, he goes all out and the finish earned the perfect reaction out of the already invested crowd. An excellent way to start things off and the Tag Team Diva match (Bella’s Vs Charlotte, Becky- who along with Paige calls themselves the ‘Submission Sorority’, which is lame). was pretty good too. The Miz begins his Miz TV segment by paying tribute to Roddy Piper (RIP), confusing the audience before he changes the subject and resumes his normal heel-ish dimeanor. His guests? Kevin Owens and Cesaro. Good segment that utilizes all three men effectively, although I still believe that Cesaro is beneath Owens on a booking level. Rusev squashes Mark Henry, whom I suspect has either pissed off management or plans on retiring soon. Bray Wyatt cuts a promo about how Reigns is a beacon of hope for the fans, suggesting he doesn’t always listen to their reactions. It was odd seeing Sheamus appear in the Wyatt patented backstage segment. Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar come out and Paul delivers AN EPIC PROMO. Unfortunately, the rest of the show couldn’t hold up against the first half. The matches weren’t bad, but I keep feeling like the Main Events are being treated as afterthoughts. Still, I was entertained, so I can’t complain too much.
WWE Main Event (8/4/2015): Much to my surprise, the Big Show comes out and talks trash. I’m even more surprised when Jack Swagger comes out and tells him to shut up. They have a match, but it’s pretty boring. It got better near the finale and it’s nice to see Swagger interact with someone like Show. The main event- ‘Lucha Dragons vs Ascension‘- was so exciting that the commentators were more interested in talking about Rollins breaking Cena’s nose. It’s not bad and had its moments, but I’ve seen both teams do so much better on NXT. I definitely suspect they are being told to not steal the spotlight from the Tag Team Championship storyline. Overall, I thought this was a pretty lackluster “Main Event“, even though I did like the booking of these matches.
Roman Reigns starts off things by cutting a promo on Wyatt, setting up their Tag Team match at Summerslam, but Rusev comes out and they have some pretty entertaining banter. The Tag Team Champions united with Mark Henry to battle the New Day in a pretty good match that had a cool finish, although the highlight was the New Day ranting about their loss in the back. Seriously, they can be pretty funny, but this might’ve been their most entertaining segment yet! The Diva matchup started off as ‘Charlotte Vs Naomi‘, but was turned into a Tag Team match once everyone got involved and it was fine. I am glad that the ladies are getting more match time. Stardust continues to resemble a clown more than a super villain (did he just cartwheel?), but he does bust out some sweet moves on Zack Ryder. His challenge to ‘the Arrow’ following his victory was nicely executed, although I can’t help but feel like this upcoming segment (or match) will be a disaster. I thought Big Show’s backstage interview was pretty funny, but not in a way that takes away from his heel character. ‘Rusev Vs Reigns‘ was one of their better matches together, having a nice mix of agility, power and psychology, while the pace never slows down for too long. But did Reigns just seriously ‘no sell’ the same kick that put down Mark Henry earlier this week? Reigns wins and in my opinion, this should’ve been on RAW or even a PPV. Rusev hasn’t been pinned very often and Smackdown is too small of a platform for him to suffer a rare, concrete defeat. This “Smackdown” was good, as the quality was solid, storylines advanced and Reigns scored an important win- even if it should’ve been at a bigger show.
WWE Superstars (8/7/2015): ‘Fandango Vs Heath Slater‘- A surprisingly good match that was only brought down a peg by an anti-climactic ending. It’s nice to see both men get a decent amount of time to show off their abilities, as they’d likely get squashed on a bigger platform. ‘Bo Dallas Vs Jack Swagger‘ was okay, boasting a pretty smooth finish. I don’t think these guys have any chemistry, but the crowd seemed to enjoy it. The two original matches made this episode of “Superstars” worth watching, although I just skipped through the recap material. Side Note: I hate how the commentators start talking about other peoples storylines in the middle of matches.
Seth Rollins opens…as usual…I’m not a big fan of this Rollins-Cena storyline, as most of it is comprised of Rollins and the commentators stating the same damn thing…over…and over…and over…He boasts and has a comedy bit where he mocks up a satellite interview with a picture of Cena. I thought it was more dumb than funny, but there were some good lines and the crowd sounded like they liked it. Cesaro comes out and I actually wondered if I was watching a repeat, because I swear the same thing happened a few weeks ago. He wants a shot at Seth’s belt and Kevin Owens gets in on the action as well. I do like how Rollins doesn’t wither and Randy Orton arrives and calls Owens fat…Be a star, Randy. Triple H comes out and makes it a triple threat between all three challengers, with the winner facing Rollins for the World Heavy Championship during the Main Event. The Diva match was nothing special, but it was nice seeing Alicia Fox and Tamina get to perform. Randy Orton, Cesaro and Kevin Owens have their deciding match, but I thought it was kind average- solid work, but nothing special considering the talent involved. Maybe these three guys have spoiled me too much (cool RKO’s though!). I loved the ‘Brock Vs Taker‘ package, which actually got me a little excited for the match. While the start was slow, ‘Dean Ambrose Vs Luke Harper‘ was pretty good and I especially liked the involvement of Bray and Reigns. Was the audience chanting “Sit!“? If I heard that correctly, it’s both funny and distracting.
Daniel Bryan is the special guest on Miz TV. This segment starts off okay (funny how not even Daniel Bryan can get Tough Enough over), but sort of fell apart for me once Ryback came back. Big Show interrupts the banter between Miz and Bryan and I think the original plan was for him to threaten Bryan, allowing Ryback to make the save. This would’ve been good storytelling, but instead Big Show gets irked by the ‘please retire‘ chants and focuses more on the crowd, making Ryback’s return not as epic as it should’ve been. Did…did Neville just squash Barrett? Now I’m sad…Stephen Amell is in the audience though and you know that with Neville involved, Stardust is going to show up and this feud will go somewhere. Shockingly, Amell carried himself very well and the backstage clash with Triple H has been one of the highlights of the night. Sheamus does a mostly annoying interview, although the “I wasn’t done laughing” line made it bearable and the cash-in tease has made Sheamus feel almost relevant again. Almost…
THE MAIN EVENT SUCKED!!!!! ‘Orton Vs Rollins’ was about as bland as you could get, complete with some awkward botches. But while there were some good moments, it felt like they were phoning it in. I can accept this as I’m sure no one wants to take any major risks before the PPV, but the ending was where it got stupid and everyone ended up looking incompetent. Orton had Rollins dead to rights, which is moronic because Rollins should look stronger going into Summerslam. The Rollins-Cena program has mostly been terrible because of Cena’s real life injury, so the build up has been lackluster. So why would you write Rollins as a lucky loser when the feud already has so much going against it? ‘Taker-Lesnar‘ has already stolen the spotlight from the belt and Cena can’t participate in promoting because of his broken nose! This was…ARGH! But it gets worse…After landing a solid RKO, Orton looks like a goof because he pauses for no reason. Considering Sheamus already teased a cash-in, you’d think he’d hustle a bit more instead of sitting around. Sheamus then SAVES ROLLINS because of bad writing. Wouldn’t it make sense to let Randy get the belt and then focus entirely on him? Sheamus is just stacking the odds against him by ensuring that he has to deal with two people, whereas Rollins would’ve either fled or wanted vengeance on Orton. He yells at the referee and I love how these guys never seem to understand what the contract does, but is ultimately stopped by Orton. Ugh…The show had its ups and downs, but the ending soured the entire experience.
WWE Main Event (8/11/2015): Rusev and Summer Rae start things off by badmouthing Lana and showing a clip from an attack that was cut out of Hulu’s RAW. Summer’s ‘Camel Clutch’ submission looks even more painful than anything Rusev can do! I enjoy how Rusev cuts his promos, as they’re always very intense and smug. Fandango…of all people…comes out to cut Rusev down a peg and while he is pretty amusing, I can’t help but think that the gimmick doesn’t work very well for a babyface. Nevertheless, they had a fun match together and I liked how they swiftly worked through the sloppy parts. Fandango looked good, despite suffering the loss. King Barrett and Stardust cut a promo and I was pleased to hear “I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news” once again. I’d be interested in these guys forming an official Tag Team, especially as I don’t think their singles careers are going anywhere..’Adam Rose Vs Jack Swagger‘ is upstaged by Rose’s fruity looking tights. I struggled to retain my laughter. To be fair, the match was fine and Rose displayed some different techniques. ‘Barrett and Stardust Vs Mark Henry and R-Truth‘ was boring and a little awkward in places, but served its purpose of giving the probable losers of their Summerslam contest some hype. Overall, I did like this episode of “Main Event“, even if I didn’t really care for its Main Event. Solid booking and everyone involved was given some time to shine.
Seth Rollins comes out and says the SAME DAMN THING AGAIN, which is making me almost want to see Cena get the championshi- Oh my God, I just realized what WWE is doing… Neville arrives and verbally fires back, although he can’t compare to Rollins on the mic. Just when Cesaro shows up to make things awesome, Owens attacks and Rollins beats up Neville, setting up the main event. I didn’t care for this opener, but I’m looking forward to the match. Naomi and Charlotte have their Diva Match and I *gasped* really liked it. They told a good story and kept up a fast pace. Ryback follows this up with an in-ring promo that starts off as just another ‘I have overcome the odds’ inspirational speech, but he eventually won me over. Ryback shows a lot of personality in his words, which was something that was lacking in his earlier babyface promos. Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper ramble, but this leads to ‘Roman Reigns Vs Luke Harper‘. It was an intense battle, although I feel the feud has run out of steam. The Main Event was very satisfying and the ending- where Cesaro picks up Kevin Owens- was freaking awesome. This “Smackdown” was really good and reminded me why I actually prefer this show over RAW.
WWE Superstars (8/14/2015): Jack Swagger and Fandango are uniting to face the Ascension…weird, but at least it’s a unique matchup. In terms of quality, this was…fine. The action was upstaged by a few questions, such as ‘Will this lead to an Ascension push?‘ and ‘Are Swagger and Fandango becoming a real Tag Team or is this just for tonight?’. The Main Event was another ‘R-Truth Vs Bo Dallas‘ match and I will give them credit for trying some different stuff. Their comedic styles play nicely off each-other. This episode of “Superstars” was just okay though, nothing amazing or terrible.
The Authority promotes Summerslam, which was oddly objective and only dipped into heel territory when they made a comment on Cena’s face. They reveal that John Stewart will be a Celebrity Guest host for Summerslam and I find myself torn between my love of Stewart and my hate of Celebrity Guest Hosts. Nothing about the opener really stood out, but the first match is ‘Sheamus/Kevin Owens vs Randy Orton/Cesaro‘, which was entertaining enough. The pace was set, but it’s not likely going to be the show stealer. ‘Luke Harper Vs Roman Reigns‘ was solid, but to be honest, I was paying more attention to Ambrose on commentary. He’s better at it than the actual commentators, although I noticed him stumble and get awkward when he said Roman had grown as a ‘wrestler’- allegedly the word wrestling isn’t allowed in this wrestling program. For some reason, Bray hoy some massive heat after the match. Now Lana is on commentary for ‘Rusev Vs Mark Henry‘ and Henry is waving the American Flag, so must be a babyface this week. At least this time he wasn’t squashed…Ziggler’s triumphant return was very nicely done, even though I suspect the timing was off on his theme music. For all of the problems I’ve had with this storyline and Ziggler in general, this showdown made Ziggler look like a credible face and Rusev a despicable heel.
Unfortunately, the contract signing started to lose me. Rollins talks a lot of trash and then he…continues talking…and then he starts talking some more. At times there would be breaks that made me wonder if they were having backstage problems with Cena’s music, especially as the latter part of the promo feels like Rollins was ab-libbing. I don’t know if this is true, but I was getting bored. Cena won me back though with his passionate and intense promo WHICH ACTUALLY WAS NOT A REHASH OF PAST PROMOS! YAY! If only it wasn’t so obvious that he was looking at his notes! ‘Sasha Banks Vs Nikki Bella‘ was a HUGE disappointment. The quality of the match was decent, but it was booked very poorly. This should be a bigger event, and the ‘champ vs champ’ angle was underplayed. The crowd eventually turned on the match, which only served to sink the novelty of this pairing even further. Side Note: Paige’s team has a backstage interview and the Flair pun was really lame. Finally we have the big confrontation between Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker. Good stuff, even if it was too reminiscent of their last two clashes, although this time we got a singing Paul Heyman. Overall, this RAW was just okay. There were some good moments, but everything else was…fine. 6/10
WWE Main Event (8/15/2015): ‘Charlotte Vs Alicia Fox‘ starts things off and it was…interesting. It wasn’t anything phenomenal, but I thought it was nice seeing Fox instead of the Bella’s and the return of her psychotic breakdown gimmick worked within the context of this match. Did Jerry the King seriously just claim that Jack Swagger was on a winning streak? Even though the last two times I have seen him he was being defeated by the Ascension and Big Show? And now his most recent opponent- Stardust? ‘Stardust Vs Jack Swagger‘ was okay, but it was upstaged by King Barrett’s commentary. The Prime Time Players made their main event against the Ascension entertaining thanks to showcasing so much personality during the match. The Ascension also did a good job at making Titus and Darren look flashy and strong without Konnor and Viktor looking weak. Overall, this episode benefited from strong star power and solid matches.
‘Ryback Vs Big Show‘ opens the…show…and am I the only one who thinks this match deserves a bigger platform? I’m surprised ‘RAW‘ put Miz as the Ryback’s opponent, when maybe it should’ve been the Giant. On the other hand, it does make Smackdown look a little…bigger…Average match, although the ending spot was pretty cool. ‘The New Day Vs Los Matadores‘ was a surprisingly fun little match and I enjoyed seeing El Torito shining and kicking ass before suffering a brutal beatdown. Ziggler and Lana bored me during their promo, but they had their moments (“We must CRUSH those bastards!“), even if they have no chemistry. Rusev verbally counter-attacks and continues to make Ziggler look so bland in comparison. Neville has a dull match with Bo Dallas, which is promptly upstaged by a backstage promo from Barrett and Stardust- these two make a great team.
The Bella Empire boasts about how awesome they think they are and Team BAD comes out to say otherwise. Much to my everlasting surprise, Brie actually manages to outtalk Sasha on the mic! Seriously, her intensity felt genuine, whereas Sasha didn’t seem to be trying too hard and mucked up one of her lines. Team “We accidentally named ourselves after Porn” arrives- minus Paige- to kick some lass. The Triple Threat match between Brie, Sasha and Naomi was solid and I’m fine with Brie going over, although I wish Alicia Fox was in her position. Ambrose, Reigns, Orton and Cesaro have a funny backstage skit before going out to face Wyatt, Harper, Sheamus and Owens. Predictable, but solid Main Event. To be honest, this was a very underwhelming Smackdown. Why do ‘Go Home’ shows always feel so lackluster?
WWE Superstars (8/21/2015): Did Adam Rose just threaten to defecate all over the crowd? He seems to be changing his gimmick and his audience taunting was decent. Yay, Curtis Axel is back and he’s dropped the Axelmania gimmick. The commentators are so excited that they start talking about Ryback’s upcoming Intercontinental Championship match…f@ck these guys. Good, short little match. The Main Event is ‘The Ascension Vs R-Truth and Fandango‘. Hmmm….a jobber team vs two solo jobbers working together? I wonder who will come out on top…I laughed when Uso tried putting Los Matadores over as the likely winners of the Tag Team Championship match for SummerSlam. That’s pretty much all they talked about, but to be fair, I wasn’t paying attention to the match either. At least Curtis Axel had a shining return, because otherwise this wasn’t anything special. Just lots of recaping.
WWE SummerSlam Predictions
1) The Prime Time Players Vs the Lucha Dragons Vs the New Day Vs Los Matadores- New Day
2) Ryback Vs Big Show Vs Miz- Ryback
3) Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper Vs Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose- The Wyatt’s and I suspect that someone (probably Roman) will turn heel.
4) Stephen Amell and Neville Vs Stardust and King Barrett- Amell and Neville.
5) Kevin Owens vs Cesaro- Kevin Owens
6) Team Bella Vs Team BAD Vs Team We Accidentally Named Ourselves After Porn- Team BAD.
7) Dolph Ziggler Vs Rusev- Rusev
8) Randy Orton Vs Sheamus- Sheamus
9) John Cena Vs Seth Rollins- I’m not sure, as I can’t see either man coming out on top. If I have to choose, I’d say Rollins, but I suspect some sort of DQ.
10) Brock Lesnar Vs Undertaker- Brock Lesnar
Randy Orton Vs Sheamus: Ugh, they’re using this match to open a PPV again!? I’m already kind of bored…although the crowd was invested enough to start chanting for NXT performers. This was a just a generic match that we could’ve easily seen on RAW. Their bout at “Battleground (2015)” wasn’t exactly a show stealer, but at least it was fast paced and there was some emotional content. I thought they were just going through the motions here and the match did nothing to get me pumped up for the rest of the show. At least the ‘Money in the Bank’ winner scored a meaningful win this time…Overall, nothing worth actively avoiding. Nothing worth watching either.
2) TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP– The Prime Time Players Vs the New Day Vs Lucha Dragons Vs Los Matadores: The New Day shows up first to do a ‘rap’ and it was pretty funny. They also tried to pin themselves and Michael Cole claimed that such a thing would work…Wow…This was a good Tag Team clusterf@ck, but I’ve seen this four-way battle too many times and the booking surrounding it has been weak. There were some sloppy spots- nice to see Sin Cara returning to his roots- along with some really cool spots. The finale was pretty exciting and…did the New Day actually get a babyface reception? I was entertained, although I doubt I’ll remember it.
3) Dolph Ziggler Vs Rusev: This is one of those matches which was…okay on a technical level. Dolph Ziggler and Lana made poor babyfaces, with Ziggler taking some cheap shots and Lana shrieking like a heel manager, but at least Rusev showed some diversity in his moveset and Summer attacked Dolph like a bad-ass. I wasn’t really bored or invested, but the finish pissed me off. It’s the kind of resolution that belongs on RAW, but is a cop-out for a PPV. I understand why, as Ziggler is hot off his return, but WWE is probably more interested in Rusev. Yet it was still very unsatisfying.
4) Stardust and King Barrett Vs Neville and Stephen Amell: This match was very awkwardly paced. They try building up to Amell getting in on the action, but they took too long and it wasn’t really worth it. He does fine and actually pulls off some high risk maneuvers well, but most of the time he’s just taking a beating. I was taken aback by how short it was once stuff actually started to happen. This match was too anti-climactic for me and was also unsatisfying, albeit not because of the finish. But I guess it wasn’t the disaster I feared it would be.
5) INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP– Ryback Vs Big Show Vs The Miz: This was actually a surprisingly good match, although it annoyed me how the commentators would under-sell all the kicking out of the finishers. It really felt like these guys knew that audiences weren’t expecting much out of them, so went out of their way to make sure that this would be a fast paced match with lots of spots you wouldn’t expect from these guys. The Big Show in particular shined, although he didn’t take away from Ryback. The Miz worked very well as the vulture. Not a classic, but it’s been one of the few bright spots of this PPV (so far).
6) Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper Vs Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose: I remember when the Shield took on the Wyatt Family in 2014 and the concept alone caught our interest. But the dynamic is gone because all of these men have lost most of their momentum and each team is missing a pivotal member. I was a little bored throughout this match, even though it was pretty good on an objective level. The brutal beatdown of Ambrose was hard to endure, but the crowd turned on Reigns again and it made everything uncomfortable to sit through.
7) WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP/UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP– Seth Rollins Vs John Cena: Er, is the World Championship belt being defended in the middle of the card? Has the World Heavyweight Championship belt ever felt so irrelevant? Hmmm, Rollins has had a pretty crummy Title reign and I’m not ready for Cena to be on top again, so whoever wins…I lose…Although a cash-in from Sheamus would be worse. This turned out to be a very fun match though, even if the ending was…Russo-ish. The slow burn pacing worked, as it made the second half feel more bombastic and epic. I really liked how Rollins held his own against Cena, showing off physical strength that you don’t see from him very often. There were some really cool maneuvers and I found myself completely glued to the screen for the first time tonight. But the ending…ugh…didn’t ruin the match for me, but it was still pretty stupid. At least I didn’t feel like the ending was gift wrapped to Rollins, even if it was a dirty win. This would’ve been a successful Main Event if used in that capacity, but it was perhaps ‘too good’…Because I felt like the show could’ve ended right here.
8) Team Bad Vs Team Bella Vs Team We Accidentally Named Ourselves After Porn: On its own, this match was reasonably entertaining, but the booking involved made it hard to care. There weren’t any stakes, Team BAD was eliminated rather quickly (the NXT Women’s champion doesn’t feel very important) and the finish was anti-climactic. Furthermore, it was a mistake to place this after the ‘Cena Vs Rollins‘ match as it didn’t make for a very good breather. Too chaotic and quick. I personally think that this would’ve been a much better opener and ‘Orton Vs Sheamus‘ would be acceptable in this spot. Not bad, but I’m getting pretty tired…
9) Kevin Owens Vs Cesaro: “This whole match has been a trainwreck” says Michael Cole, which made me laugh. This was a really good match, incredibly physical and heavy on memorable spots. My jaw occasionally hit the floor. The problem is both the placement and the runningtime of the overall show. ‘Seth Rollins Vs John Cena‘ should’ve taken place after this, because I’m still exhausted and…the length of this Summerslam has begun to wear on me. This is why 4 hours is too long, as even exceptional bouts can drag on when you watch this much wrestling. Props to Kevin Owens for continuing to be awesome so shortly after his incredible battle at “NXT Takeover: Brooklyn“.
10) Brock Lesnar Vs the Undertaker: Considering the disaster that was their “Westlemania XXX” match, this was…actually pretty awesome! The pacing was fast and both men took all sorts of bumps, but I really enjoyed the drama surrounding it. Lesnar and Taker REALLY looked like they wanted to kill each-other and I really enjoyed those breaks that showcased their characterizations. The reprisal of the “I’m going to kill you“/”You’re going to have to” boasts and the shared laugh amidst the carnage will stay with me for a long time. It was definitely a true Main Event. But…ugh, the ending. It didn’t make me roll my eyes or rage quit, but it was a cop-out resolution that required incredibly contrived writing. Yet I am willing to give it a chance. The finish might seem stupid now, but it’s possible that it will benefit this feud in the long run. We’ll just have to see…
OVERALL: “SummerSlam (2015)” has two major problems working against it: The Four hour running-time and occurring a day after the extraordinary “NXT Takeover: Brooklyn“. It calls attention to the importance of overall pacing and the placement of the matches on the card- something the NXT special perfected. The quality of the individual matches ranged from acceptable to exceptional, but most viewers can only take so much wrestling before numbness starts to set in. I almost wish they had divided this program into two PPV’s, with ‘Cena Vs Rollins‘ headlining one, because then I would feel like the World Heavyweight Championship and the reign of Seth Rollins are still the focal point of the company. At the absolute least, it shouldn’t have been in the middle of the card. They needed to give us stronger reasons to care about the Diva Revolution and other matches. I will concede that despite having a lot working against it, “SummerSlam” did turn out better than I was expecting. I can’t say I liked it as a whole, but I did really enjoy it in parts and even in its entirety, I didn’t think it was bad. “Money in the Bank“, “Elimination Chamber“, “Battleground” and ESPECIALLY “Royal Rumble” were inferior shows. This was more misguided, but I do believe everyone tried their best to make it work. I can accept this as an experiment though, so I’m not really angry. Just…tired.