WWE – Summerslam 2019 (Cert 15)
1 Disc Blu-ray/2 Discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 203 minutes approx.
It’s off to across the border for the Biggest Party of the Summer according to the WWE, as after a four-year residency at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, Summerslam this year moves to the land of Maple Syrup, Mounties, and moose, Canada. This is only the second Summerslam hosted by Canada, the last being in 2004 when Randy Orton became the youngest ever WWE champion defeating an invisible opponent…
Unless something drastic happens, there should be no redacting of history regarding his opponent his year as the Viper challenges Kofi Kingston for the WWE title, in a feud that began a decade ago. Sounds like a long time but given how slow Orton moves this is relatively brisk for him.
Two WWE Hall of Famers come out of retirement to put the current guard in their places, both with different results. In reality, this was done to give the card a bit of a big time feel to it, that extra bit of spice if you will, and is not a reflection on the depth of the current roster, though it is a startling indictment on the lack of confidence in them and the dearth of marquee names.
Yet the big news is who isn’t on the card – no Daniel Bryan, Samoa Joe, Undertaker, Drew McIntyre, Viking Raiders, Rey Mysterio, Braun Strowman, Miz, Shinsuke Nakamura, Cesaro, Baron Corbin, Lacey Evans, Kabuki Warriors, The Revival, Heavy Machinery, and most shocking of all, no Roman Reigns – the guy Vince McSenile has been pushing to the moon and back for the past four years! Surprisingly odd considering the big angle he was in at the time.
Anyway, Summerslam took place on August 11th 2019, at the Wells Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada before 13,500 fans with commentary from Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton for the SD Live matches and Graves with Michael Cole and Renee Young for the RAW matches.
As ever, while my match review won’t contain any results or major spoilers – the back cover artwork gives some away – expect plenty of opinion and backstory to the matches.
RAW Women’s Title Submission Match – Becky Lynch (c) vs. Natalya
A surprising way to start off the card given the usually less than enticing submission only stipulation but the thinking was not doubt bolstered by the expected hot reaction to The Man, which she got, However, it came at the expense of hometown girl Natalya, whose reception from the Toronto crowd was healthy but noticeably lighter than Becky’s.
Heading into the match, both were acting heelish making it hard to figure out who we were supposed to root for, though Becky got booed when she tried the Sharpshooter but it didn’t matter as in the end we got a good match out of it. Despite the loss of drama from not having any near falls, and the usual working the limbs for the submission, these two went at a hot pace throughout and held the crowd for the duration. Great opener.
Goldberg vs. Dolph Ziggler
The first returning Hall of Famer, Goldberg was not just looking to erase the miasma of his headlining disaster against Undertaker at the last Saudi Arabia show but to shut Ziggler’s mouth after he kept using Goldberg’s performance as a synonym for bad wrestling (insert your own jokes here).
Match was exactly what it should have been but placed far too early in the show, burning the crowd out for the next few matches which ruined their chances of making their mark on the card. Goldberg is still a bad ass at 52!
WWE US Title Match – AJ Styles (c) vs. Ricochet
Having dropped the US title to Styles at Extreme Rules Ricochet earned this rematch in a gauntlet match on RAW. Their previous PPV match was good by not great, so there was a lot of pressure on them to knock this one out of the park. Unfortunately, the crowd was subdued following the Goldberg match and no matter how hard they worked or Ricochet’s superhero body suit, they remained mostly quiet throughout.
Tell a lie – there was one cool spot where Ricochet ran across the shoulders of Gallows and Anderson to hit a Hurancanrana on Styles on the outside, otherwise the crowd’s enthusiasm during this match wasn’t going to sustain the whole runtime. But this wasn’t the sole reason for what should have been a show-stealer not to deliver on that promise, the working of Ricochet’s legs to prevent his highflying moves meaning less excitement was a contributing factor.
Smackdown Women’s Title Match – Bayley (c) vs. Ember Moon
Another match that suffered from a dead crowd, this should also have been a sleeper hit on the card given the talent of both women but they didn’t click as well as they should have. Maybe if this had been in NXT….
The under-utilised Ember got this match when Bayley offered it to her following a successful tag match on SD Live. And that was it for the build up. They worked hard, both assuming the role of aggressor with Bayley surprisingly showing the meaner streak but it is clear whatever ambitions they had for an epic title match weren’t realised here. Fine for what it was but not as good as it could have been.
Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens
If there was one feud that needed a revival it wasn’t this one, especially as the last thing we need is more Sweaty McSweatface on TV. The roles may be reversed with Owens as the face and Shane the heel, but that is no excuse. The story is Owens as the maverick Stone Cold type character has put him at odds with Shane who has fined Owens so much money, he had to beg for it to be lifted so he can feed his family.
Nothing says tough SOB babyface like begging your boss to stop being a jerk, but as we know the McEgo family can’t help emasculate the wrestlers. Anyway, if Owens loses here he must leave WWE “forever” and to ensure he doesn’t win, Shane has Elias as a special enforcer to help stack the odds. This was typically terrible but the fans were behind fellow countryman Owens and got into the gaga, after a two-match slumber.
Charlotte Flair vs. Trish Stratus
With Bayley facing somebody fresh for a change and Charlotte being Vince’s favourite, she needed a match for this show, which brings us to this hastily arranged showdown with Hall of Famer Trish coming out of retirement. A comparatively subdued reaction towards Trish from her home country but given the lousy build-up to the match maybe the lure of a dream match wasn’t enough to engage them.
As it happens, they were wrong to be so apathetic as this was arguably one of, or possibly even the best match on the show with Trish showing little ring rust in her first proper singles match in many years. Work was genuinely tight for the most part, with Trish going all out and Charlotte having to up her game to stay alive and try to keep Trish down. Well laid out, well worked, and a great emotional post match ending too.
WWE Title Match – Kofi Kingston (c) vs. Randy Orton
10 years a long time for a feud to fester though for some it has been longer – like the Rock & Roll Express vs. Midnight Express who seemed to have been feuding for the last 35 years on and off (in various guises). For Orton and Kofi though the seeds for this title match were laid a decade ago when Kofi was on the cusp of a main event push until a certain spoiled brat ruined it for him.
During a match on RAW in 2010, Kofi was supposed to lose to a punt but he got to his feet a bit early so Orton hit the RKO instead, then yelled “Stupid” at Kofi for his botch, thus ending his main event push. So, we have a readymade title match for this show, but the Orton of 10 years ago was more motivated than the Orton of today, so while Kofi worked hard, the Viper did his usual three moves, not helped by a lame finish that did nobody any favours, least of all Kofi.
Finn Bálor vs. The Fiend
No, Big Steph hasn’t returned to the ring, the Fiend is actually the alter ego of the new look Bray Wyatt – on the one hand he is a cheery host of the Firefly Fun House, a demonic kiddies TV show pastiche, on the other, he is a masked psychopath. You may recall a couple of years back Bray and Finn were in a feud but illness prevented the blow off match to take place, so here it is, better late than never.
The Fiend’s entrance sees him carry a lantern to the ring in the shape of Bray Wyatt’s old head with the light in his mouth! Creepy as! Finn is regular Finn and not The Demon so you know he is a sacrificial lamb for the evening. Not much of a match but a hell of a introduction for The Fiend as a wrestler.
WWE Universal Title Match – Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Seth Rollins
Brock finally cashed in his MITB briefcase at Extreme Rules and relieved Rollins of the Universal title because that is exactly what this company needs. Seth won a battle royale on RAW to earn this rematch with Lesnar destroying Seth with chair shots to the back, on subsequent meetings hence his taped ribs for this match.
The risk with Lesnar is how little he cares, giving his opponents very little and keeping his matches short so he can go home again. I’m not sure what happened here but this was different and made for a pretty good match, that made both guys look good. One cool spot saw Brock swing Seth around by the type around his ribs, a great test of strength as well as a cool visual. But the story was neither man could get the advantage making it less predictable as it went on. Finally, a decent Lesnar main event!
Well, that was a show of surprises to say the least. One was that the main part only ran for just under 3 ½ hours instead of nudging five like the last few Summerslams, in an attempt to make it the summer equivalent of Wrestlemania (though there was a 2 hour pre-show with three matches on it).
As ever the wrestling was largely very good, with the women putting in strong efforts, the old timers cementing their legendary status by showing us they’ve “still got it” and the surprising quality of the main event from a normally unmotivated Brock Lesnar. However, no real forward progress was made in creating new stars, with the exception being The Fiend, which has proven a real revitalising factor for Bray Wyatt.
Booking wise things were kept safe but as noted at the start of this review, it was risk to leave so many top name of the card, especially Roman Reigns, unless Vince has finally realised he was never going to be “THE” guy. Not a classic Summerslam but a better one among those held in recent years, though the match order was clearly a hindrance in hindsight.
Best Match – Charlotte Flair vs. Trish Stratus
Summerslam Kick-Off Show:
WWE Cruiserweight Title Match – Drew Gulak (c) vs. Oney Lorcan
Apollo Crews vs. Buddy Murphy
Summerslam Gets Rated R
WWE Women’s Tag Title Match – Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross (c) vs. The Iiconics
Smackdown Live July 30th 2019 – Two Queens In The King’s Court
Monday Night RAW August 5th 2019 – Dolph Ziggler is “Next”
Smackdown Live August 6th 2019 – Shane McMahon Sends A Message To Kevin Owens
Monday Night RAW August 12th 2019 – The Boss Is Back
Rating – *** ½
Man In Black