WWE Summerslam 2017 (Cert 15)
2 Discs DVD/ 1 Disc Blu-ray (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 226 minutes approx.
For the third year in a row, WWE invades Brooklyn for a four-night residency that includes NXT TakeOver, Summerslam, Monday Night RAW and Smackdown Live! Surprisingly there wasn’t much of a burn out among the fans which theoretically should have set in with such an abundance of WWE action over this relatively short space of time which I am sure the company is happy with.
However, for the third year in a row the lesson of not running a WWE PPV after NXT has rocked the building hasn’t been learned as the developmental brand once again blew away the main roster effort in terms of wrestling and booking. The difference between the two is night and day not just in these areas but also in fan reaction – the Brooklyn crowd was superhot for the whole 2 ½ hours of NXT TakeOver yet Summerslam and the two TV tapings were met with less sustained enthusiasm.
Summerslam took place on August 20th 2017 once again at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, New York before a reported 16,129 fans. Your commentators are now two teams consisting of Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Booker T for RAW and Tom Phillips, JBL and Byron Saxton for Smackdown.
Onto the matches and as always no results or spoilers (which the back cover of this release has already provided) but plenty of opinion.
The two-hour pre-show matches (found in the extras) saw The Hardys and Jason Jordan face off against the Miz & The Miztourage in an empty arena (because they didn’t open the doors on time), Neville challenged Akira Tozawa for his newly won Cruiserweight title and The New Day defended their SD Tag Titles against The Usos (again).
John Cena vs. Baron Corbin
Cena in the opening match? I think this more to do with Corbin than Cena, since he is the management doghouse for debating with the company’s concussion expert during a talent meeting. Yeah, they are petty like that. Anyhoo this is why Corbin lost his MITB briefcase like a gimp on SD the week before and why Cena treated this match like a joke.
Not that Corbin is good enough for the push he was getting but this again shows how little faith the company has in its new breed by making Corbin look like a jobber and how much Vince continues to pander to Cena as he winds down his career.
SD Women’s Title Match – Naomi (c) vs. Natalya
Natalya was the surprise winner of the five way match at Battleground but let’s face it with her tenure and consistency in the ring she has earned her shot. Fun little match that saw Naomi break out some news moves to keep the Queen of Harts at bay, that actually had the crowd invested.
A great submission reversal sequence near the end brought the crowd alive including a nice counter from Naomi were the highlights and while this was no Asuka vs. Ember Moon from NXT Takeover the night before (which was an awesome match) this was still a tidy affair.
Big Show vs. Big Cass
Ever since Enzo and Cass split up, Enzo has recruited Big Show to play proxy 7 footer in his life leading to a battle of the 7 footers (with Cass clearly shorter than Show….) on RAW. As a result of that, Cass demanded a rematch with Enzo being suspended above the ring in a shark cage. Why not just have Enzo barred from ringside?
The story of the match was Show’s right hand was “broken” on RAW by Cass, Gallows and Anderson, robbing Show of most of his offense. Remember that really good match Show had against Braun Strowman on RAW? Good, because you won’t want to remember this dreadful waste of time.
Randy Orton vs. Rusev
Rusev has jobbed to Cena and Roman Reigns on numerous occasions so now he has to complete the triumvirate of Vince’s boys and fall to Orton too. That is not a spoiler it’s inevitability. Don’t blink you might miss this match burial.
RAW Women’s Title Match – Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Sasha Banks
This was originally going to be another rematch with Bayley which made no sense considering how badly she was booked before, but she injured her shoulder on RAW so Sasha replaced her which plays into the narrative following their inconclusive match at Great Balls Of Fire.
Putting aside Sasha’s awful looking and cumbersome ring attire, this was a better match then the one at GBOF where the real life beef between them brings out the best of one another, but the spectre of the classic Sasha vs. Bayley bout from NXT Takeover in 2015 in the same building will forever be the benchmark for Sasha’s PPV matches.
Finn Balòr vs. Bray Wyatt
Wyatt has been targeting Balòr on RAW for a while now but like most of his feuds, there is no real reason why. Anyway, having already announced this match a while back, they held it on RAW the week before with Wyatt actually scoring a rare win which he celebrated by pouring blood-like liquid over Balòr.
So, this rematch sees fin break out his “Demon King” persona to conquer Wyatt. Despite being shorter than the previous match, this plodding pace and lack of crowd heat made it feel longer. Solid but unspectacular.
RAW Tag Title Match – Sheamus & Cesaro (c) vs. Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose
After a slow burn 2/3 of The Shield reunites to challenge for the RAW tag titles against the unlikely makeshift team that have managed to gel and become a great working combo. A hard hitting, old school tag match with the story of Ambrose being taken out early leaving Rollins to work alone to create some tension between the two.
The highlight of the match however comes when Cesaro jumps into the crowd, intercepts a beach ball being passed around and rips it to shreds! We know fans can be a bit self-absorbed but ignoring matches to play with beach balls is just too much. WWE has now banned them from their events.
WWE US Title Match – AJ Styles (c) vs. Kevin Owens – Special Ref: Shane McMahon
After the ref botched the finish of the match at Battleground, leading to the one night return of Chris Jericho on the following episode of SD for a triple threat match that saw AJ retain the US title he never should have lost, the story is that Owens thinks WWE refs are useless so Shane O-Mac was nominated as a ref who wouldn’t easily be corrupted or knocked out, because the McFamily are immortal.
This of course became the story of the match too and basically got in the way of these two having the big time bout we know they can have. We got something close to it here delivering one of the stronger matches on the show but there was always that lingering feeling that this was a mere conduit for an Owens vs. Shane match down the line.
WWE Title Match – Jinder Mahal (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
I believe Nakamura is the first Japanese wrestler to challenge for the WWE Title since Antonio Inoki’s retconned ignored win over Bob Backlund in 1979 (Yokozuna doesn’t count because he was actually Samoan-American), whilst this may be the first time since Chris Jericho vs. Edge at WM 26 in 2010 that two non-Americans fought over the belt too.
Anyway, Nakamura tried but ended up phoning it in since Jinder just isn’t capable enough to hang with him and the booking was the same as every other Jinder title match, which shows you how much faith they really have in him as Champion. For an important world title match, set your expectations to “disappointment” and you’ll be justly rewarded.
WWE Universal Title Fatal Four Way Match – Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe vs. Braun Strowman
No matter how long a show runs WWE fans can still muster up enough energy to boo Reigns out of the building. This was compete carnage as you might expect with Strowman made to look like a one man demolition derby putting Lesnar through TWO announce tables then dumping a third on top of him! Joe was made to look a real threat as well while Roman did his stuff.
Any one of them could have won this match, especially with Paul Heyman and Lesnar both vowing to quit WWE if Brock lost the match which usually telegraphs the result, but with Lesnar’s limited schedule would that make any difference? This was the beauty of keeping the audience invested in the match but the decision for the bookers as to who that should be needed to be a well-calculated one and not a choice made on a whim.
Having these shows run over six hours, including the pre-show, might give them the feel of being a monumental sporting event but it is a real strain on the audience, even if they have the ability to pause it once in a while. Wrestlemania has been a drag for the past few years so now is Summerslam.
Part of the problem is trying to give everyone a spot on the show but while Wrestlemania has the Andre Battle Royale and multi-person/team matches, obviously Summerslam can’t directly replicate this formula, so the pot has to be stirred a bit. This card demonstrates this with a mixture of slow building feuds and rushed matches that makes for an uneven experience in terms of pacing and fan investment.
In other words, Summerslam’s status as one of the “big four” is losing its lustre due to the over saturation of PPVs and in trying too hard to be a major spectacular. Had the fat been trimmed this could have been a great show.
Best match – AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens (by default)
Summerslam Kick Off Match – The Hardyz & Jason Jordan vs. The Miz & The Miztourage
Summerslam Kick Off Match – WWE Cruiserweight Title Match – Akira Tozawa (c) vs. Neville
Summerslam Kick Off Match – SD Tag Title Match – The New Day (c) vs. The Usos
Rating – ***
Man In Black