Tuesday, 25 August 2015

PPV Review: WWE SummerSlam 2015

Having to follow on from NXT's Takeover: Brooklyn was a tough task for this year's SummerSlam, but with the huge Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker rematch as the main event and with Cesaro, Kevin Owens, WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins, PCB, Dean Ambrose and more on the card, could the main roster pull off the unthinkable? Let's have a look, shall we?






Kick-Off Show




Our panel for this WWE Kick-Off show was the usual suspects, as Renee Young was on presenting duties with 3 time World Heavyweight Champion Booker T, former NXT Tag Team Champion Corey Graves and Byron Saxton on hand to give their thoughts on the matches ahead. 


Dweeb Tom Philips had things locked down in the Social Media Lounge, and did actually show us some pretty cool fan-art based around the Stardust & King Barrett vs. Neville & Stephen Amell match that would be taking place later on. 


The first match under the panels crosshair was Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose teaming up to take on Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper, with Graves making a good point about the different dynamics that both teams possess.


Just in case we weren't sure what show was coming up in less than an hour, there was a trailer for SummerSlam 2015, focused around The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar's main event bout.


The promo for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and United Championship Unification match between Seth Rollins and John Cena was absolutely magnificent, making great use of the different promos that both men have cut over the last month or so. Byron Saxton made a good point, as the panel looked at the bout, as he continues to look at ways to make WWE stories relatable.


A video package focusing on WWE's time in Brooklyn over the weekend is something we're more used to seeing at WrestleMania, it was essentially WWE patting itself on the back for doing some pretty cool stuff for people over the weekend, including John Cena granting his 500th wish for the Make a Wish Foundation.


Cesaro and Kevin Owen's appearance on Miz TV from the 3rd August episode of Monday Night RAW was replayed, as opposed to showing a full on build-up package for the match. Kevin Owens coming out to join the panel was an interesting touch that got a big pop from the crowd, as he came out to confront Byron Saxton, it was clear that this wasn't entirely scripted, and didn't particularly go anywhere.


The Diva's nine person three way elimination tag team match was the next to recieve a promo, although it paled in comparison to the one that aired for Bayley vs. Sasha Banks the previous night. The highlight of the panel's chat about the match was Booker T repeatedly saying PCB, seriously Booker absolutely lost it in this segment.


Renee Young steered the conversation towards the Intercontinental Championship Triple Threat, with their main focus being on the idea that Ryback was still injured, I didn't get my hopes up for this being referenced in the match later on.


Rich Brennan's backstage interview with Sheamus turned into the highlight of the show, with The Celtic Warrior cutting a passionate promo about wanting to remove Randy Orton from his path, his use of different levels made this a very easy watch.


Stephanie McMahon's being interviewed by Jo-Jo went less well, with Stephanie spending most of her time speaking about Ronda Rousey, rather than discussing the competitors in the Diva's bout that she was supposedly supposed to be putting over.


The advert for the WWE 2K16 video game, featuring Arnold Schwarznegger aired next, and whilst I'll never get tired of seeing Schwarznegger interact with Dean Ambrose, I'm not sure it actually sells the video game particularly well.


The social media lounge was a buzz with excitement as Tom Philips welcomed Stephen Amell and Neville for an interesting interview, both men handled their questions pretty well with a nice mixture of questions about both WWE and Amell's show Arrow.


The final match to be looked at by the panel was Undertaker and Brock Lesnar's main event collision with everyone just trying to get over how excited they were to see the bout. The Kick-Off show closed with a smashing promo for the main event of the show with a number of current and past wrestlers giving their opinion on the upcoming bout, with Steve Austin being the most interesting of the bunch, this really sold the match for me.



PPV





Now I'm no big Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) fan, to be honest I only really know who he is because of WWE, but I rather enjoyed this opening segment. Stewart bringing out 3 time WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Mick Foley got a big pop from the crowd and the pair seemed to have some good comedic chemistry on the microphone. The whole idea of the segment was a little convoluted however and could have done with a little bit more thought put into it.


After Stewart and Foley opened the show, it was time for the traditional opening video package, which was mainly focused around John Cena vs. Seth Rollins and The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar bouts, with a large dose of New York based imagery also. 


The French announce team lost their shit during Sheamus and Randy Orton's entrances, whilst Jerry Lawler couldn't get over that one of the Spanish announce team had the same name as him.





This was perfectly acceptable match, but there was nothing that made this match stand out from any other Randy Orton vs. Sheamus match that we've seen over the last few years. The pair ran through their signature moves and did some decent brawling, with a particular highlight being Orton hitting an RKO off a slingshot from Sheamus, although Orton not going straight for the cover was a little mind boggling. At least, The Celtic Warrior is now extremely over with the audience, probably receiving the best heel heat of the night, as the crowd booed almost any time he was on offence, as well as throwing plenty of "You look stupid chants his way". Sheamus picking up the clean win with two Brogue Kicks made me smile as it was a cool call-back to the Money in the Bank holders interview on the Kick-Off show.


Winner - Sheamus via pinfall in 11 minutes, 15 seconds.


Sheamus seems to being readied for his cash-in and becoming the World Heavyweight Champion, following coming out on the winning side of feud with Orton and Dolph Ziggler, when that cash-in comes, I'm quite sure.





I fucking love The New Day and I don't even feel bad about saying it. Their promo/sing-song before the Tag Team Championship Four Way bout was glorious, as they sang their own version of Jay Z & Alicia Keys' 2009 hit Empire State of Mind. The lyrics were funny and well performed by all three, whilst Big E's funky dancing will always be highlight. They've almost become so good at being the annoying heel faction, that a portion of the fanbase wants to chant "New Day Rocks" at them, which is far cry from their face run earlier in the year.





Prime Time Players putting the Tag Team Championship against The New Day, The Lucha Dragons and Los Matadores was exactly what I had expected it to be, plenty of energy and plenty of spots. The regular dives to outside were present with one of Los Matadores blocking a suicide dive attempt from Sin Cara being a stand out moment, as was Xavier Woods planting El Torito's face onto the floor on the outside. The finish was done well with Kofi Kingston managing to tag himself in during a big Tower of Doom spot, before taking advantage of Titus O'Neil hitting his finisher on one of the Matadores and stealing the pin.


Winners - The New Day via pinfall in 11 minutes, 20 seconds *NEW CHAMPIONS*


It was surprising to see The Prime Time Players drop the titles just 70 days after winning them, but I'm certainly happy to see The New Day back with the belts, as they're certainly the most entertaining tag team in WWE right now.


Lana's new outfit was the big talking point before the bell in Rusev's clash with Dolph Ziggler and the change is big departure from her former business suit, with the look much more suited to someone acting as Ziggler's valet.





A Double Countout is such a shitty finish for the second biggest show of the year, isn't it? It's even more shitty considering the build to this match has been going on since the middle of May. The bout itself was building into something quite good, with Ziggler and Rusev putting together some interesting action and Ziggler working the underdog role well, whilst Rusev was busy pulling out a series of new offence, including a beautiful front flip senton. Both Lana and Summer Rae played their own part in the bout, with the pair eventually brawling at ringside, which would cause the double countout after The Bulgarian Brute and the Show Off ended up brawling on the outside also. 


Winner - No one by Double Countout in 12 minutes, 5 seconds.


I'd imagine this is all leading to a mixed tag team match at Night of Champions, a match that I am far less interested in than I was this one.


The promo package for the match pitting Stephen Amell (Arrow) and Neville vs. Stardust & King Barrett may have been the best one of the night, with a heavily stylised comic book theme that got over the previous storyline better than WWE creative have been able to. Capes are in fashion apparently as everyone heading to the ring had one of the bastard things.




For what it was this was an entertaining eight minutes of action, with a structure that played to everyone's strengths and culminated the storyline well. Stephen Amell was much more impressive than I had been expecting, with the Arrow star pulling out a nice enziguiri, as well as dive off the top rope to the outside, although clearly he had a lot of protection from Barrett and Stardust. I was also happy to see Neville get a chance to shine on a big PPV, as when he got the hot tag from Amell, the Geordie took things to the next level, with plenty of pacy action, that would eventually conclude with Neville getting the win for his team with Red Arrow.


Winners - Neville & Amell via pinfall in 7 minutes, 40 seconds


Hopefully Neville will be rewarded for his part in this match, with another big feud heading into Night of Champions, whilst Stardust could also be a factor, it's difficult to imagine WWE trying to do much with King Barrett after having him take the pinfall.


A video package focusing on WWE's time in Brooklyn over the weekend is something we're more used to seeing as WrestleMania, it was essentially WWE patting itself on the back for doing some pretty cool stuff for people over the weekend, including John Cena granting his 500th wish for the Make a Wish Foundation.


With a replay of The Big Show, Ryback (and Daniel Bryan)'s appearances on Miz TV on the 11th August edition of Monday Night RAW, I could barely contain my excitement for the Triple Threat bout for the Intercontinental Championship as these lads made their way to the ring





Thank the wrestling God's that this was the shortest match on the show, because I really couldn't have wanted to see a match much less. To be fair to guys, they did manage to get the crowd onside after about five minutes, with a match that was mainly based around each other's finishing moves and especially Big Show twatting people in the face. Ryback winning the match by throwing Show out of the ring, after Show had delivered a Knockout Punch to Miz didn't sit well with me, considering Ryback was the only babyface in the match!


Winner - Ryback via pinfall in 5 minutes, 40 seconds


I'm praying that this is the end of this feud, as it's done absolutely nothing for, although I wouldn't be surprised to see WWE forge on with another match between Big Show and Ryback for the banter.


Jon Stewart continued to deliver some entertaining content in a backstage segment with Paul Heyman, putting together pretty impressive promo on how he felt about Brock Lesnar ending the streak, whilst Heyman having the last laugh, wondering if David Letterman was busy, was both funny and gave the segment the extra bite it needed.


It was a shame we didn't get to see Bray Wyatt's entrance properly, as he appeared to wear a hood with horns on it, but by the time the light's came on he'd taken it off.





The first two thirds of this match were enjoyable, with the opening section being reminsicent of the style that the two sides used during the Shield vs. Wyatt Family feud back in early 2014. The pace was super high with all four men brawling on the outside and the action going back and forth. I thought having Roman Reigns get taken out with a huge Yurinogi from Wyatt onto the apron, gave the match an intriguing story to tell in the second third of the clash, with Ambrose working well as the underdog fighting against the larger Wyatt and Luke Harper. It was a shame then that the last three or four minutes couldn't capitalise on the good groundwork laid and whilst Ambrose and Reigns hitting a Doomsday Device was pretty cool, the finish of Wyatt being pinned following a Dirty Deeds and a Spear just felt a little flat for me. This was a match that needed another five minutes or so to reach it's full potential.


Winners - Ambrose & Reigns via pinfall in 11 minutes, 10 seconds.


Wyatt continues to struggle to gain a whole lot of traction in WWE, as he continues to come out on the losing side of most of his feuds...maybe it's time to add some members to the Family?


The promo for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and United Championship Unification match between Seth Rollins and John Cena was absolutely magnificent, making great use of the different promos that both men have cut over the last month or so. Whilst Jerry Lawler was rambling about his willingness to shave at ringside, Seth Rollins was debuting a brand new white version of his attire, which looked magnificent as he headed to the ring.




Seth Rollins and John Cena put on a cracking bout over the World Heavyweight and United States Championships, that played well to the Brooklyn crowd. Rollins worked a much more high intensity style than we have seen from him during his heel run and almost worked as a babyface in the bout, pulling out multiple dives to the outside, a Standing Shooting Star Press and attempted the Phoenix Splash twice, with a crowd that was certainly more behind Rollins than they were Cena, it was a good move to switch things up a little here. Whilst there were a few slips (most notably an awkward looking Springboard Stunner from Cena), the pair worked well together as usual to string together a series of exciting sequences, with Rollins copy catting Cena's roll through off a cross body into a Attitude Adjustment being the pick of the bunch.


Oh my, the finish. I'm sure some people absolutely loved it, as Jon Stewart headed to the ring and after some back and forth hit Cena with a chair and allowed Rollins to pick up the victory (Of course, the ref had been bumped minutes earlier), but it didn't do a lot for me, as the finish of a major championship match on PPV. Stewart was also a bit of a mess in the ring, clearly giving away the surprise before it happened, instead of keeping his attention fully on Rollins. Yes, Seth Rollins can continue to gloat about defeating John Cena and holding both titles, but the finish itself just didn't do anything for me.  


Winner - Rollins in 19 minutes, 25 seconds *STILL CHAMPION!* *NEW CHAMPION*


Expect there to be some form of rematch between Cena and Rollins at Night of Champions, but it will interesting to see whether WWE decides to do away with the United States Championship now as well.


A preview for WWE Network in autumn presented some interesting new shows, including Breaking Ground, a documentary series looking at the NXT Performance Center, a new episode of the Stone Cold Podcast with Edge & Christian as the guests, the final episodes of Swerved, the next episode of WWE 24, which will also look at NXT, and my personal highlight another live special, this time from Madison Lies Lies, featuring Brock Lesnar.


The Kick-Off panel were back, with the foursome mainly spending their time putting over Jon Stewart and Stephen Amell's involvement in the show.


The Diva's nine person three way elimination tag team match was the next to receive a promo, although it paled in comparison to the one that aired for Bayley vs. Sasha Banks the previous night. Pre-Divas.





Yes, a Diva's match got over 15 minutes on PPV, but it involved nine women and wasn't actually all that good. The bout offered a real opportunity to tell a story using the unique format of the bout, but that wasn't really picked up on, with the bout opting to go for the regular format of a couple of dives to the outside (which looked good, but we'd seen much better in the tag title bout earlier on) Team B.A.D. getting eliminated after just six minutes with Brie Bella getting the pin, just didn't feel like the time to take one of the teams in the bout out, with the match feeling like it had barely got going.


After the elimination the match became a pretty basic six woman tag, the like of which wouldn't have been misplaced on an episode of Thursday Night Smackdown. It felt like the Bella Twins were holding the match back, with anytime the pair got in the ring that in-ring quality dropping and neither looking particular interested. There was some good stuff with Alicia Fox and Paige in the ring, whilst Charlotte's hot tag was also well done, with Ric Flair's daughter looking great in her short time in the bout. Becky Lynch pinning Brie Bella for the victory seemed like a strange decision also, as having Diva's Champion Nikki Bella get pinned would have opened up a lot more avenues going forward.



Winners - PCB via pinfall in 15 minutes, 20 seconds.


There's so much potential in the Diva's division right now, but until we get to see the end of this faction warfare, I don't think we're going to get the opportunity to really see what everyone can do.


The advert for the WWE 2K16 video game, featuring Arnold Schwarznegger aired next, and whilst I'll never get tired of seeing Schwarznegger interact with Dean Ambrose, I'm not sure it actually sells the video game particularly well.


It was nice to see highlight's of Kevin Owens' match with Finn Balor from NXT Takeover: Brooklyn the night before, as Owens made his way to the ring for his bout with Cesaro.





There was a lot to enjoy in this match, although I don't think it became the stand out bout that many were expecting it to be. The two worked a physical style, with Cesaro especially laying in his uppercuts and Owens not holding back a lot either. Both pulled out some sweet dives to the outside for the show, and Cesaro corkscrew plancha looked particularly impressive here, mainly because he's rarely used the move in WWE. There was also some nice storytelling stuff here with Owens dominating for a while, until Cesaro was fired up with a number of slaps to the face, as Owens continued to show the frustration that was seen from him the night before. A quiet and tired crowd didn't help the bout, but Fisherman's Buster off the top and a Pop Up Powerbomb gave Owens the win worked nicely as the finish, after Owens had attempted the Powerbomb a number of time during the bout.


Winner - Owens via pinfall in 14 minutes, 20 seconds



Owens winning indicates that WWE still have plans for the former NXT Champion going forward, he could offer Ryback an interesting opponent at Night of Champions.


There was a smashing promo for the main event of the show with a number of current and past wrestlers giving their opinion on the upcoming bout, with Steve Austin being the most interesting of the bunch, this really sold the match for me.





I was not hyped for this match at all before the show, but as Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker made their way to the ring, I began to get a little bit excited, because this match had that X Factor, that big match feel, that a lot of the matches on this card had been missing. The brawl before the bell was a solid way to start things off, getting over the fact that these guys detest each other and feeling like a proper grudge match. By the time the bell actually rang I was completely into it and that's a testament to the two supreme workers that Undertaker and Lesnar are.





This match was so so much better than their clash at WrestleMania 30, with The Undertaker looking much more steady on his feet throughout the match. The striking stuff was world class as you'd expect from these two, whilst they both bought a legitimate intensity that was great to watch. Repeating elements of the WrestleMania 30 match that worked, like the multiple F5's from Lesnar, was a nice call-back to that match and Undertaker kicking out of each one built the crowd into a bit of a frenzy. The moment that GIF's were made for when Lesnar and Undertaker laughed at each other in the middle of the ring was the moment of the show for me.


The finish, of course, got the most attention heading out, as Undertaker managed to put Lesnar to sleep with Hell's Gate, but not before Undertaker had tapped out to the Kimura Lock, with the referee missing it, but the time keeper ringing the bell for the bants. It was way more complicated than it needed to be, and it seemed like no one knew what was going for a very long time, with the Brooklyn crowd getting pretty frustrated at what had just happened. It was perhaps inevitable that we were going to get a finish like this, but I'm sure there was a way to make thing much clearer than they actually were.


Winner - Undertaker via referee decision in 17 minutes, 20 seconds




Paul Heyman got Lesnar his shine back with a red hot promo following the bout, so there really was no loser heading out of the bout, which keeps both men strong (or not, considering one tapped out and one passed out) for a potential re-match at WrestleMania 32. I'm expecting there to be a Special Guest Referee for their next bout, with the obvious choice being "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, with the event being in Austin's home state, Texas, as well as the interaction between Austin and Heyman on the WWE Network.



Finally...


ATPW Scale Rating: 6.10/10

SummerSlam was a show that was without a stand-out match for me. Whilst I'd say John Cena and Seth Rollins title bout was the strongest on the show, the finish and the few slip ups prevent the match from entering the upper echelons of SummerSlam bouts. Saying that the majority of the matches on the card were of a good quality, and whilst a few of the matches felt like missed opportunies, from top to bottom the show was very entertaining, with only the Intercontinental Championship bout doing nothing for me at all. 

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