WWE – Summerslam 2022 (Cert 12)
1 Disc DVD/Blu-ray (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 311 minutes approx.
Release Date: September 19th
For the first time since its inception in 1988, the Biggest Party of the Summer is not held in August – instead it was tacked on to the end of July, just three weeks after the last PLE, Money In The Bank.
But that is not the big story. Just before MITB, rumours began to surface regarding improper behaviour towards female staff by WWE owner and CEO Vince McMahon, which gathered steam when it was revealed he had an affair with a female paralegal, whose salary mysteriously doubled. When the affair ended, she was then “passed on” to VP of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis and when that was over, the woman was paid $3 million hush money, seemingly from Vince’s WWE expenses.
Then it was discovered three more women had the same experience, taking the total amount of undisclosed expenses to buy their silence to $12 million (with an additional $2.5 million in donations to Donald Trump’s then government). Vince being Vince, he stepped back as CEO but still kept his creative job, voting control within the company, and even appeared on TV like nothing happened, only with cryptic messages of thanks to the fans.
Once the additional stories broke, Vince finally did the unthinkable and announced his “retirement” ahead of this show, prompting Big Steph to cut a trademark tone-deaf promo on TV and rally the fans to start a “Thank You Vince!” chant. With Vince stepping down, Tripe H was brought back from the (near) dead and assumed creative control. Would it make a difference to this show, which was already booked by Vince, or would we have to wait until it was over for the Triple H era to begin?
Held on July 30th 2022, at the Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee before 40,117 fans. Commentary is provided by Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves, and Michael Cole.
Onto the matches and as always no results spoilers but plenty of opinion.
RAW Women’s Title Match – Bianca Belair (c) vs. Becky Lynch
The rematch from Wrestlemania 38 and the culmination of a storyline which began at Summerslam 2021, when Becky Lynch returned from injury to defeat Bianca for the SD Women’s title in under 30-seconds. Despite fan reaction, Becky has remained a heel, but Bianca’s star has risen as it should have a year before, and whilst this is an inevitable rematch, the feud has been booked well enough that it is one we actually want to see and not just forced upon us by lazy booking.
Another great match from these two, except Becky suffered a separate shoulder early on and gutted it out to the end in a brave performance. Because of this, it didn’t quite hit the heights of their WM match but was still good stuff. However, it was the post match scenario which had everyone talking as it marked the first signs of Triple H’s handiwork.
Bayley returned after a year plus on the injured shelf, but wasn’t alone – she brought with her Dakota Kai, who was released earlier in the year due to “budget cuts” (got to recoup that hush money), and Io Shirai, now renamed IYO SKY, whose call up from NXT was long overdue. A huge boost for the women’s division and a huge way to kick off this PLE.
The Miz vs. Logan Paul
Mr. YouTuber chap tagged with The Miz at WM 38 against The Mysterios and put in a surprisingly strong performance, yet despite their victory, Miz turned on Paul for some reason, leading to this singles showdown. Miz now has Tomasso Ciampa as his lackey, whilst if you are wondering why Maryse has a purse shaped like two balls, that is from a Miz TV segment which somehow ended up being a discussion of the size of Miz’s grapes. Yup, that’s how you sell a match…
Like at WM 38, Logan put in another top-level performance here; I won’t say he carried The Miz but he didn’t need to be carried, which says a lot. Despite being the face in this feud, Paul was booed at first but his work won the fans over, and this was ended up being one of the better matches on the show. Bad Bunny vs. Logan Paul next year?
One of the worst gimmicks in recent memory, Maximum Male Models, are given screen time to sell bottled water. Hopefully Triple H will give Max Dupri his old L.A Knight persona back because this is a waste of his talent. Yeah!
WWE US Title Match – Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Austin Theory
Theory won the men’s MITB match at the the MITB PLE, which was also where Lashley dethroned Theory as US champ, so the story is twofold – Theory wants his tile back and wants to cash in the briefcase for the Undisputed Title, teasing a cash in against either Reigns and Lesnar. Naturally, this has largely resulted in Theory being beaten up by both on TV.
For this reason, Theory vowed to cash in on this show, which explains why this match didn’t go very long, because he was saving himself for the cash in later on. If that was the plan, why have him in the match at all, and give the spot to someone else? Waste of time.
No DQ Tag Match – The Judgement Day vs. The Mysterios
So, after MITB, where Finn Bálor and AJ Styles faced The Judgement Day, the next night on RAW Bálor was revealed as the newest member of the group because reasons. They then turned on Edge and sent him packing. The story was, Vince wanted to take the group into a supernatural direction which Edge wasn’t happy with, so this was Plan B.
Rey was wearing red and yellow for this (Hulkamania colours?) but with the red Mohawk on the top of his mask, looked like a chicken! Despite being No DQ, they still tagged in and out, which was daft, until the end when they started using chairs and stuff. Of course, it was all a backdrop for Edge’s return, which comes off a bit daft in execution since they had to stop the match to watch his entrance then wait until he made his way down the very long aisle to the ring. Doh!
Pat McAfee vs. Happy Corbin
After an impressive outing at WM 38, McAfee gets another chance to shine, this time against his former football teammate Baron Corbin. They have legit history which was brought up to sell this match, which began when McAfee on commentary laughing at Corbin’s current losing streak. To keep it highbrow, they had a choir sing “Bum Ass Corbin” as he came to the ring. Quite.
Not as good as McAfee’s previous matches but he was still the better worker here, despite the odd botch/near botches, which includes the finish. I don’t know what it is about Corbin but he seems to suck the life out of everything and everyone he comes into contact with.
Drew McIntyre comes out to remind us he is the No 1 contender to the Undisputed Universal Title at the next PLE, Clash At The Castle in Wales.
WWE Undisputed Tag Title Match – The Usos (c) vs. The Street Profits
The Usos have held the tag belts in one form or another for almost as long as Roman has been champ which is a long time. They should have dropped them to The Profits at MITB – instead Ford’s shoulder was up when the counted the pin, leading us to this rematch, with a special HOF referee to ensure no mistakes happen. Who would this legendary ref be – none other than Jeff Jarrett! Why? Because they are in Nashville and he is a “big” local name, apparently.
Interestingly, Jarrett had another engagement the night after this show, where he would team with AEW’s Jay Lethal to face Ric Flair and son-in-law Andrade in Flair’s last ever match. Not a good or as long as their previous match, having Jarrett as ref ultimately had no impact on this at all, so this was a big ball of nothing in the long run, except for a certain long overdue trigger not being pulled.
Matt Riddle interrupted the show all taped up to call out Seth Rollins after his attack on him on RAW. Originally, these two had a match announced for this show which was pulled at the last minute; the official reason was Riddle’s injury, the real reason was that it w felt the card was stacked and they would save it for the Clash instead. Anyway, Seth comes out, they brawl and the fans sing Seth’s theme song.
SD Women’s Title Match – Liv Morgan (c) vs. Ronda Rousey
Liv won the women’s MITB match three weeks earlier and cashed in on Rousey after her match against Natalya later in the show for one of Vince “big moments” that he like so much. But now it was time for Liv to prove herself with this rematch that she is a worthy champ.
Sadly, the booking was against her, somewhat telling as this match was in the death spot before the main event, as they were only given five minutes and the finish was interesting in concept but proved divisive in execution. The issue is that it is not how a babyface champion needing to prove herself should win a match. It led to a Rousey heel turn to fresh her character up but had the opposite effect and made her a hotter face! Go figure!
Kane, aka Mayor of Knoxville, TN Glen Jacobs is brought out to announce the attendance for this show, telling a huge whopper in the process. Well, he won’t get my vote, can’t stand lying politicians.
WWE Undisputed Universal Title Last Man Standing Match – Roman Reigns (c) vs. Brock Lesnar
Had he not been injured, this would have been Randy Orton challenging Roman, but as ever, Vince panicked at went back to his favourite well, the one containing Brock Lesnar, which brings us to the millionth match between these two this year. Or at least it feels like it. Remarkably, this is the first Last Man Standing match between them and the first one for the title at Summerslam, although it nearly didn’t happen – when Brock heard Vince had retired, he walked out of the SD tapings where he was due to appear, and had to be calmed down and brought back.
Equally remarkable is how the stip made this feel a tad fresher after the billion other matches they’ve had, though they still didn’t stray too far from the Suplex/F5 vs. Superman Punch/Spear routine that has served them well thus far. The big moment was the visual spectacle of Brock tipping the ring over with a tractor with Roman standing in it – not something you see every day, that’s for sure. Daft but a lot of fun, even if the outcome was assured because Brock’s part time status.
Whether you want to regard this as the first show of the Triple H era, or the last show of the Vince McMahon era, it was quite a newsworthy event. It was mainly a Vince show with a few tweaks – the returning females was put together literally the day before by Triple H, whilst he also overturned Vince’s demand that Becky Lynch stay heel.
The rest was largely as Vince saw it and evidently so. One thing that was improved in this show was the announcing, especially Michael Cole, who has spent the past 25 years with Vince screaming in his headset; with no Vince shouting at him, Cole was allowed to call things as he sees them and was all the better for it. Whilst a good show, it didn’t feel like a final hurrah for the old letch or anything.
The big question is where do we go from here. Anyone who followed NXT before Vince rebooted it knows what Triple H likes from his wrestling – no prejudice against size, colour, or gender, coherent storylines, and stronger in ring work. Obviously, he can’t just bring this philosophy over to RAW and SD because the numbers don’t lie – Vince’s style is what draws the folks in and Trips needs to maintain this.
However, it doesn’t mean he can’t gently introduce his own ideas and ease fans into this amalgamated style of WWE’s trademark dazzle and a more wrestling orientated product, using the stars Vince would never touch before. It will take a while for this to happen; anyone expecting a repeat of NXT is wasting their time. The established WWE brand just needs a few subtle tweaks here and there over a steady period, not a complete overhaul for smart fans, as AEW’s current stagnation has shown it doesn’t work that way.
Anyway, Vince is now gone, so it is onwards and hopefully upwards from here.
Best match – Bianca Belair vs. Becky Lynch
Smackdown 22nd July 2022
The Usos & Austin Theory vs. Street Profits & Madcap Moss
Monday Night RAW 25th July 2022
The Head Of Summerslam
Celebrating Rey Mysterio
Big Time Becks & Bianca
Smackdown 29th July 2022
Liv Morgan & Ronda Rousey vs. Natalya & Sonya Deville
The Street Profits Of Nashville
Last Counsel Standing
Rating – *** ½
Man In Black