Summerslam 2014 Hits a Homerun

The build heading towards this show was dubious at best.
Aside from Lesnar-Cena’s paraphernalia, it was not that well built up for a “must-see” PPV. But like most of WWE’s PPVs this year, the show delivered in spite of lack of
good build. While it comes to no surprise that the wrestlers and road agents
had a good night, it was a big surprise how well booked this show was. Let us
get into it.

The Miz made the best out of his short-lived reign as
champion, portraying an egotistical persona by outrageously believing that he
is some Hollywood star. Due to creative’s shortsighted mindset – and not
wanting to invest into something long-term – his “don’t touch the face” gimmick
was not maximized to its fullest potential, though. Due to him being hit in the
face plenty of times, it lost its merit. I mean, look at how much heat it gets despite
that fact. Now, imagine the heat he would get if nobody had hit it yet. If he
kept finding ways to protect his moneymaker, people would want to see it happen
even more. If they kept building it up and foreshadowing and teasing it: (1) he
would get a lot of heat for it, (2) it would create a lot of anticipation for
his comeuppance (3) the time he finally gets drilled in the face would be worth
the wait (4) and it might have been something people would pay to see.

Nevertheless, Dolph Ziggler won the title in what was a gratifyingly
action-packed contest. It gave the fans, who were upset over him being screwed
out of the title last month, a feel-good moment. As usual, Ziggler bumped hard and
sold his ass off. He is a smart psychologist and he constantly gives it his all, so
it was nice to see him rewarded for his hard work. Hopefully, he is booked differently
from the typical IC champion (who loses on TV to set up their PPV match) and
instead is booked strongly as champion. Due to how good his matches can be, he could
rejuvenate the belt’s credibility, given the opportunity.
There is not much to say about the Paige and AJ bout other
than that they had a perfectly wrestled 5-minute match. It will be interesting
to see what they can do with more time in the future.
When Rusev debuted, the character did not look like it was
going to work out. He played an antiquated foreign heel gimmick that was cutting-edge
perhaps thirty years ago. The reason it worked then was because Americans had a
ton of pride for their country. Americans now lack the pride they used to have. But in spite of that, Lana is bringing out that American pride out of the fans as a
result of her awesomely insulting manifestos. She has additionally promoted her
monster well. And for those two reasons, the gimmick is actually getting over. Speaking of getting over, this is the most over Swagger has ever been in his career. The fans
have become emotionally invested into his gimmick, due to him being a perfect foil for
the Mad Russian and having a great mouthpiece named Zeb Colter.
They narrated a traditional plucky babyface vs. monster heel
story. Swagger did things beyond his reasonable capabilities in order to try to
put the monster down. He also targeted the already damaged ankle, to take the
monster off his feet. But by use of his natural power, Rusev overcame the
wounded ankle. Swagger, fueled with pride and fortitude, refused to submit to
the Camel Clutch and instead passed out, though. After the match, Rusev kicked Zeb Colter – a
defenseless old man – in the face to add insult to injury. Ultimately, both wrestlers
did a good job of making the crowd feel like they were involved. At the end of
the day, this protected Swagger and yet still made Rusev look strong.  All of Rusev and Lana’s tactics were insulting
and a huge slap in the face – and thus garnered a lot of heat. This was just extremely
well booked.
Leading up to their match, the Ambrose and Rollins angle was a
mixed bag. In fact, some people claimed that they completely killed this feud when
Ambrose made this a Lumberjack match. However, it actually ended up making complete
sense, due to the way it was designed and delivered.  Because the Shield members were hated by most
of the roster, Ambrose decided to surround the ring with a group of piranhas. It was
fitting to his reckless character. He was willing to take the abuse, because he
knew Rollins would receive abuse from them as well. In essence, that has been
what this entire story has been all about: Ambrose willing to hurt himself just
to be able to hurt Rollins as well.
Calling this the best booked and performed Lumberjack match
ever would be an understatement. Ambrose came out looking like a courageous
manic and Rollins came out looking like a very fortunate coward, setting up their next match  Frankly, this was one of the most
unpredictable, “nobody-knows-what-is-going-to-happen-next” matches in quite
some time – as it had a twist at every turn.
Ambrose is one of the most unique characters in
wrestling history, and that is saying something in year 2014. He is a crazy, loose
cannon that has no repentance for his actions and is willing to do anything to
achieve his goals. WWE has something special on their hands, so it would be a
crying shame if they screwed it up.
Jericho has unfortunately overstayed his welcome. It is admirable that he wants to put
wrestlers over, but it no longer means anything. He wrestles a small portion of
the year and cannot regain credibility because there is little time to
reestablish himself. In addition to that, the other reason this feud with Wyatt is
doing poorly is that the conflict is weak. It is a poor-man’s rehash of Wyatt’s
feud with Cena. This match was fine from a typical WWE style standpoint. Aside
from a few mishaps, it was fast-paced and had neat counters. However,
it lacked heat and a feeling of animosity. This feud has already run its course
– and it has not gotten Wyatt anymore over.
Surprisingly, there were not many bags-of-tricks or
smoke-and-mirrors for Stephanie and Brie’s match, as they actually wrestled a straight
up match. Perhaps a little too straight up, though, considering it was a heated
feud that began with a lock up and a clean break. That being said, they
surpassed everyone’s expectations. People thought this would be an abortion, yet it ended up being perfectly acceptable – although that was mostly because of
Stephanie’s mannerisms and the way she carried herself.
Reigns going 16 minutes with Orton was not a good idea. Orton posed no threat to Reigns;
therefore, he should have just squashed him.  Reigns is not connecting with the fans in the
midst of his matches. The fans sitting on their hands, awaiting his trademark spots.
The main reason is because his selling is not that good, and thus he is never
seemingly in any kind of peril. If he is going to wrestle these competitive
matches, he is going to have to learn how to sell effectively. Because of the way they are
booking him, he needs to learn how to garner some sympathy. Right now, he is
being exposed as a one-dimensional wrestler – which is why he probably would be better
off being booked like Goldberg was: a dominant force that allows his actions
to speak for themselves.

The WWE is frequently criticized its even-steven and
face-saving booking. So, people instinctively speculated that this match would
protect Cena in defeat. No one expected what did happen to happen, though,
causing this to be an unexpected delight. Lesnar threw him around like a
ragdoll, and Cena viciously bumped all around the ring. Lesnar was booked as a
freak of nature, who even laughed off Cena’s short-lived comebacks. Similar to a MMA fight,
Lesnar hit him with a big blow early on that disallowed Cena to recuperate. What made this so good was how shocking and refreshingly different it was.

It also impeccably played off what Heyman said would happen.
Lesnar did not want Cena just to lay down the title in front of him. He wanted
to take it, as well as victimize him and send a message that he is the most
dangerous man to ever step inside a ring. He took some of Cena’s dignity and
integrity away from him. He conquered the figurehead of the company in a
dominant fashion, forcing him to become a victim of his playground.

The WWE pushed in all of their chips on making Lesnar into
an unconquerable and insurmountable juggernaut. There is now an ambiance of danger in
WWE, and it has not been like this since the Summer of Punk. Punk’s danger was simply
based off leverage. More intimidatingly, Lesnar’s danger is based off his freakish natural
fortitude. In recent times, the only thing that comes close to this dominant implementation was when Mark Henry manhandled Randy Orton at Night of Champions 2011. Still, that pales in the comparison to this, though.

In spite of its dubious build, Summerslam delivered a homerun. It was one because they produced something that was unconventional, which was refreshing considering how formulaic the company can be. They simply went against the grain by doing something that was out of their comfort zone. And even though this show had a handful of good matches, the most important thing was
that wrestlers (especially Ambrose and Lesnar) came out looking strong and like stars. In other words, they did
not play it safe by doing mind-numbing 50/50 booking.

This created a
lot of excitement moving forward. There are a ton of directions they can take
these stories, and that is what makes them so intriguing. This show built some
momentum going forward, and let’s hope that they can take advantage of it heading towards their weakest season of the year. The Ambrose and Rollins feud
has been rejuvenated, and it foreshadowed better things to come. Above all, Lesnar
has become one of the most dynamic characters in WWE history. Because of his
limited dates, it shall be interesting to see what they will do with him.
At any rate, whoever conquers the unconquerable is going to be the next John Wayne. Although unless Reigns improves, he should not be the frontrunner to do so. There are wrestlers
– like Dean Ambrose – who are more over and much more entertaining than he is, and deserve to be made into star by getting a monumental win over Lesnar.

 I said in my previous
column that they failed to make Summerslam a can’t miss show. Now, I am saying
that Summerslam made the next episode of Raw a must-see show.