SummerSlam is one of the WWE’s big four PPVs that combines both brands into one special night. As such, it can be a great barometer of where the product is at, and where it’s heading. This SummerSlam was a mixed bag of match quality but mostly poor storytelling and a frustrating lack of build. WWE just doesn’t seem interested in long-term booking anymore, and with the huge roster of world-class talent and a monopoly on the industry, that’s a damn shame.
Here are my seven big takeaways about WWE based on what SummerSlam delivered.
The Big shows are way too long
A four-hour main card is already too long, but WWE thought a two-hour Kickoff show was also necessary. From what I understand, WWE wrestlers receive more money if they’re on the PPV card. SummerSlam is one of the big four (third to WM and RR) and perhaps McMahon feels a sense of duty to hand out as many pay-days as possible. Maybe he thinks the fans want six hours of PPV wrestling to go along with the five they already get with RAW and Smackdown? Whatever the case, it’s too long and detrimental to the overall experience.
There were several matches that didn’t need to exist. The Miztourage tag match was the easiest choice to sacrifice. Zero build means significantly less interest in the match. They also opened the venue doors too late so poor Miz and co. wrestled to a crowd about the size of a six-year-old’s birthday party.
Less is more. Fans get tired. This isn’t a festival situation where attendees can walk around and take things in at their leisure. Six hours is simply stupid.
Why the hell did Neville lose the Cruiserweight?
Neville had a glorious run with the Cruiserweight title, shining as the lone bright light of the division. His heel character is so impressive I’d love to see what else he could do on a program that fans actually watch regularly.
His seven month title run however, was shockingly ended on RAW the week before SummerSlam by Akira Tozawa, only for him to immediately gain it back at SS? What a shame to break his run just to give Tozawa less than a week with the belt. The quick change cheapens both of them.
The Usos are the best team in the WWE
The previously cartoony Usos took their heel turn and ran with it. They’ve evolved to produce some of the best promo work and matches in the company. They do so many little things in matches that make sense psychologically. Their timing is impeccable, and they come off as dangerous. They stole the show yet were relegated to the kick-off show. Hopefully WWE got a few non-subs watching the free pre-show to pony up and buy the Network.
The great news is that they’re champs again and will hopefully be allowed to evolve and grow as far as their talent can take them.
What does Natalya’s title win mean?
Although Natalya has been a consistent leader for the female Smackdown heels, I didn’t see her at the top of the division. She’s above average in the ring, but I feel she lacks the star power and next level of performance that a main-eventer requires.
The suddenness of the title swap and the fact that Carmella is still flaunting the MitB briefcase makes me think another change could be coming very soon. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Carmella cash-in but lose it quickly to Charlotte or Becky Lynch.
Fan reaction to Carmella and Natalya on Smackdown is often quiet, and that can’t be viewed as a positive by WWE creative.
WWE must owe Orton big-time
Orton suffered a concussion during his brutal SummerSlam ’16 match with Lesnar, missing three weeks of work. He spoke out and was ‘pissed off’ about the situation.
There were also reports that Orton was allegedly rewarded by WWE for not causing any concussion-related trouble. This puts his puzzling Royal Rumble and World Title win in a brand new light. Just like his RKO, an old vet getting that kind of push came outta’ nowhere.
In his latest feuds, I’ve been critical of Orton’s lazy booking. Often he surprises opponents with a quick RKO and that’s his work for the night. To me it screams Austin-Stunner ripoff but Orton lacks the charisma and fire of the Rattlesnake. Vets should be used to help new talent rise in the ranks, not use them for a stepping stone to a cheap meaningless pop.
Orton’s SS match with Rusev (and the build) did nothing but hurt Rusev in a feud about nothing. What a waste.
Mahal’s push is not over, Nakamura’s hasn’t begun
After Nakamura got a clean win over the franchise Johnny Cena for the #1 contendership, I figured his push for the World Title had finally come.
SummerSlam however had a much different finish than anticipated. The match was short, ending with just one of Mahal’s finishers and the usual Singh Bro interference.
Mahal is still champ and Nakamura is back down a notch. He was given a squash of the Singhs on the following Smackdown, ending with a Kinshasha to Mahal, but it felt like apologetic booking.
I wouldn’t predict that McMahon has full faith in Nakamura, but I’d certainly love to see him get the chance.
How did you feel about the show?