The SmarK Rant for WWE Summerslam 2015
Did you know that Hell in a Cell is this Sunday, and Undertaker already met Brock Lesnar in a match earlier this year? This was news to me, so let’s check it out.
Live from Brooklyn, NY
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & JBL
Jon Stewart gives us an extended promo to start, and he’s apparently here to confront Brock Lesnar about breaking the streak. He calls out Mick Foley as his backup, but see, Mick is missing an ear and thought he meant ROCK. In fact he’s terrified of Brock Lesnar and wants no part of this. Har har.
Randy Orton v. Sheamus
Sheamus immediately escapes an RKO and stops to cut a philosophical promo about how it is we, the fanbase, who look stupid. You tell ‘em, Sheamus. He sends Orton into the post and drops a knee off the top for two, then follows with a pair of backbreakers. They slug it out and Sheamus puts him down with a forearm and the chinlocks are already in evidence. Orton makes a comeback and suplexes him to the floor, but makes the mistake of messing up the Mohawk and gets powerslammed as a result. Sheamus with a half-crab, but Orton makes the ropes and powerslams him for two. Draping DDT and they fight on the apron, but Sheamus slingshots back in and lands in an RKO. You’d think this would be a perfectly good finish, but this is a four hour show so Sheamus rolls out to escape. Back in, Orton misses the punt and Sheamus hits White Noise for two. A pair of Brogue Kicks finishes at 12:14. Well that was a pretty flat finish, and I believe Orton got his win back on RAW anyway. **1/2 This was another example of trying to do too much “reverse the finisher” stuff, especially in the OPENING MATCH! No wonder people are burned out on that trope.
WWE Tag team titles: The Primetime Players v. The New Day v. The Lucha Dragons v. Los Matadores
New Day immediately tries to pin each other, but that rule was actually overturned in the 90s because the New Age Outlaws did it once. It was called the Outlaw Rule and everything! It used to be a point that announcers brought up, and now it’s forgotten, just like the original identity of Sin Cara. The Dragons dominate with their lucha powers to start, but Darren Young gets a neckbreaker on Kofi for two. Nice spot as Kofi rolls out to escape, and Big E flattens Young with a splash as Young tries to crawl out after him. Los Matadores come in and get their shit in, but New Day beats on Young in the corner while Xavier rants. It’s so WEIRD not having the trombone there. Kofi knees Young in the face and Xavier comments: “I hate to see something like that happen to a nice guy like Darren Young!” See, he’s putting his opponents over. Young comes back with an atomic drop and makes the hot tag to Father of the Year Titus, and he comes in and throws people around. Everyone ends up on the floor and Torito tries a dive onto Woods, which goes badly for the bull. Big E does the spear off the apron and that’s gonna kill someone one day, but at least the crowd thinks it’s awesome. I’d say that’s an exceedingly generous summation of the match thus far. All the luchadores pile up in the corner and Titus puts them all down with a Tower of Doom spot, but Big E kicks a Matadore in the face and Kofi pins him to win the title at 11:28. New Day’s celebration dance is epic, the match less so, just a bunch of messy spots. **1/4
Rusev v. Dolph Ziggler
Now here’s a textbook example of a feud that went completely off the rails and ended up making no sense. Like what was all the stuff with Summer Rae and Dolph in the shower supposed to be leading towards? Lana, dressed like an extra in a Warrant video and looking like she’d rather be anywhere else, has zero chemistry with Dolph and pretty much killed the whole angle from the start. Rusev pounds away on Dolph to start and goes to a bearhug early, but Dolph reverses a press slam into a DDT. Elbow gets two, but Rusev puts him down with a leg lariat for two. Rusev goes up for some reason, and Dolph brings him down with an X-Factor for two. Rusev gets a suplex and senton for two as they’re doing technically good stuff but they just have no chemistry together. And then Dolph gets a sleeper to set up the fameasser, which gets two. I have literally never seen him pin anyone with that move. Rusev blocks the Zig Zag and boots him down for the Accolade, but now the chicks brawl at ringside and Rusev gets all distracted. Everyone ends up on the floor and it’s a double countout at 11:45. Incredibly lame finish to a dull match. ** At the time people got mad and the defenders were like “It’s building to something! Let it play out!” Well, it led to NOTHING and it was just a shitty finish, as it turned out, so fuck this match. The ladies have a catfight as a part of the #DivasRevolution where female athletes are sweeping the nation, but the men break it up and get booed. This all sucked.
Stephen Amell & Neville v. Stardust & King Barrett
Speaking of stuff that led nowhere, this match. Neville takes Barrett down with a headscissors and Stardust wants Arrow. I’m sure Amell is a great guy, but he looks like an indy geek jobber out there. And it’s not like he’s some huge star, so what’s the point of this? He does a nice springboard in, and gets a hiptoss on Stardust, but Barrett comes in and gets the heat on Amell. They beat on him for a bit and the crowd doesn’t care, but Amell doesn’t look bad or anything. Hot tag Neville and he hits a crazy twisting moonsault on Barrett for two, but everyone ends up on the floor and Amell busts out a plancha onto the heels. Well I’m glad he’s having fun. HE’S HAVING FUN, MAGGLE! WE’RE ALL HAVING FUN! Red Arrow finishes Barrett at 7:32. And then everyone went back to being jobbers immediately afterwards. **
And hey, what better for a four hour show than a Mountain Dew commercial stuck in the middle of it? Actually I think an intermission would be beneficial for this show.
Intercontinental title: Ryback v. The Miz v. Big Show
Well, the Big Show is basically the human intermission, so that’s something. And hey, here’s another one that meant nothing and led nowhere. The buildup was everyone beating up on the Miz for weeks while Ryback was out with a knee infection. Cole wonders how the staph infection might affect Ryback tonight. I dunno, maybe it’ll HURT HIS KNEE? Just supposition on my part. Big Show suplexes Ryback and goes up to the middle rope with a rolling senton, but Miz steals a two count on Ryback. Ryback comes back with a powerslam on Miz for two and a flying splash, but Show chokeslams him for two. Funny line from JBL here as Cole is yammering about IC title history and notes how Albert won the belt here years ago, and JBL deadpans “Really? Albert won a title? Well, I’ve learned something.” Ryback with the Shellshock on Show, but Miz hits the Skull Crushing Finale on Ryback for two off that. Show punches Ryback out, but only gets two. Show knocks Miz out as well, but Ryback dumps Show and pins Miz at 5:30. Was there anyone watching this show who possibly cared about this match? *1/2
We’re not even at the halfway point of the show yet and it’s already dragging for me. I would have cut out everything but maybe Sheamus v. Orton. Hopefully we’ll get a whole bunch of good matches in a row to perk things up.
Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper v. Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose
Original plan for this was Reigns/Ambrose/Sting v. Wyatt/Harper/Rowan, but of course Rowan got injured and we ended up with a better match out of it. Cole thinks that probably this rivalry will “continue and continue and continue” and tonight won’t be the end of it. Very prophetic. The Shield cleans house on the Wyatts to start as the crowd makes sure to specifically cheer Ambrose and boo Reigns, and they brawl on the floor, leading to Dean running across the tables and hitting a dive onto Wyatt. Back in, the faces double-team Harper, and Ambrose gets the flying elbow for two. Back to the floor with Harper hitting a dive on Reigns, but Ambrose gets a dive on HIM before walking into a big boot out there. Keeping Bray in this car wreck stuff is where they need to go with him, like a modern Raven. Back in, Dean is your anarchist-in-peril, and Bray hauls him to the floor with a draping DDT from the apron, and back in for a boot from Harper for two. Wyatt with a senton for two and a corner clothesline for two as Reigns has disappeared into the ether. Well that’ll get him over as a babyface star. The crowd, equally sympathetic to his injuries, chants “Roman’s sleeping” until he wakes up and gets the hot tag. And then they BOO him! That’s great. Reigns beats on Harper with suplexes, but Luke blocks the superman punch with a powerbomb for two. Bray comes in and gets punched out and it’s back to Ambrose, so the babyfaces do a Doomsday Device on Wyatt for two. Reigns with a powerbomb on Harper, and Ambrose hits the Dirty Deeds on Wyatt, but he brings in Reigns for the spear on Wyatt to finish at 10:54. This was more like it, with a good crazy brawl to wake the crowd up. ***1/2 However, given the story and where they’re going, why did Reigns & Ambrose win here? The whole point is supposed to be Wyatt constantly foiling Reigns, but Reigns just beat him clean. And then they just kept doing matches over and over anyway. Also you’ll note that Vince bends over backwards to satisfy the whims of the New York audiences 99% of the time, but when they reject Reigns in favor of Ambrose, he ignores it and presses on anyway.
WWE World title v. US title: Seth Rollins v. John Cena
Speaking of doing matches over and over with no endgame! They trade headlocks and Rollins gets some mockery in. Speaking of mockery, Cole notes that this is huge because “who knows when or if Cena will ever get another shot at the WWE title again!” Yes, who knows when John Cena, the man who once declared that he could literally get another title shot whenever he wanted and in fact got this title shot by basically just asking for one, could be in danger of never getting another shot. This is a thing that Michael Cole said. Rollins gets a Buff Blockbuster and dumps Cena to set up a pair of dives, then hits a somersault plancha for good measure. Back in, Rollins with a sling blade for two. He comes off the top and Cena catches his ankle on the way down, but Rollins escapes the dreaded Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena with the world’s worst springboard stunner and the crowd just groans at that one. Rollins comes back with a standing moonsault for two, however. They fight to the top and Rollins gives him a double stomp off the top, for two. Cena comes back with the FU for two, however. They’re only 9:00 into the match! Enough with the kicking out of the finishers already. They slug it out and Cena catapults him into the corner and gets an electric chair faceplant for two. Cena goes up with the guillotine legdrop for two. They head to the top and after a sloppy start, Rollins recovers with a turnbuckle powerbomb, aka the Sting Killer ’15. Flying splash gets two, but Cena hulks up with another FU, which Seth counters into the enzuigiri and his own FU for two. And then they show the whole sequence again on the replay. WE JUST SAW IT 30 SECONDS AGO! Rollins goes up and misses a splash, and Cena hooks the STF, but we get the whole finisher reverse sequence until Cena gets a figure-four. JBL is like “He’s gonna tie Flair’s record with his own move! What a statement!” It’s kind of a dick move, actually. Rollins reverses it and Cena makes the ropes, but Rollins debuts the superplex into Falcon Arrow sequence that gets two. That really should have been saved for a time when he was going to win with it. Phoenix splash misses and the ref is the bumped, so Rollins puts him down with a high knee and both guys are out. This brings Jon Stewart out with a chair, but he pauses forever and then turns on Cena. Pedigree on the chair gives Rollins the US title at 19:22. Given that Rollins just lost the title right back to Cena, and the Stewart thing led to nothing, and ratings are in the toilet, they probably should have just put the belt on Cena here and been done with it. Match was on the road to excellent, but suffered from the overdone finisher reversal and kickout problem. Not to mention that we saw it a million more times afterwards and it was basically the same match each time. ***3/4
#DIVASREVOLUTION: Nikki Bella, Brie Bella & Alicia Fox v. Paige, Charlotte & Becky Lynch v. Sasha Banks, Naomi & Tamina [Last Name Redacted]
The main problem here is that there’s no established stakes for the match, or even the whole “revolution” in general, aside from the nebulous “rule the divas division” stuff from the video package. Excellent parenting in action: Some little girl in the audience is holding up a sign that says “Brie Mode”. You know, where she gets really drunk. On second thought, maybe Bayley should just stay in NXT. I guess this is elimination rules. Becky quickly gets beat up by Sasha’s team in the corner and that goes for a while, but Tamina drags her to the floor and suddenly everyone hits dives out there, leading to Paige diving onto everyone. Cole makes sure to note that Paige kickstarted the revolution…when Stephanie saved her. Back in the ring, Brie with the carper muncher on Tamina to eliminate her at 6:07. And it’s apparently the whole team that gets eliminated. Well whatever. Nikki with a Rack Attack on Becky for two, but Team Pinky Swear takes over until Nikki gets an Alabama slam on Paige on the floor. Back in, the Bellas work Paige over and we once again have the ridiculous double-standard where they can openly talk about how Brie is married to Daniel Bryan, but can’t talk about how Nikki is basically married to John Cena. Fox gets a surfboard on Paige and we get an unfortunately close view of Paige’s weave as a result. HD was not meant for some things. Nikki suplexes Paige for two but she finally makes the hot tag to Charlotte, who spears Alicia into the figure-eight. Nikki saves and Becky comes in, as Brie misses a missile dropkick and Becky pins her at 15:13. So you’d think this would lead to Becky getting a title shot or being featured somehow, but no. **1/2
Kevin Owens v. Cesaro
They slug it out to start and Owens hits a dive right away, but he stops to mouth off to Cole and Cesaro hits his own. Back in, Cesaro with a high cross for two. They head to the floor and Owens cannonballs him on the railing, which gets two in the ring. A pair of sentons gets two and Owens hits the chinlock, but gets a neckbreaker for two. The fans try to chant for Sami Zayn to annoy him and Cesaro fires back with forearms and a slam for two. Owens goes up, but Cesaro brings him down with a gutwrench from the top for two. Neutralizer is countered by Owens, and he gets a tornado DDT for two. He follows with a springboard moonsault, but that misses and Cesaro makes the comeback. Owens superkicks him for two, however. Cesaro blocks the powerbomb and hits the flying uppercut for two, then follows him to the floor and hits him with another uppercut. Back in, the GIANT SWING gets 10 revolutions and sets up the Sharpshooter, but Owens makes the ropes. They fight to the top and Owens tries the fisherman’s superplex, but Cesaro dropkicks him instead. Back up and Cesaro gets crotched, and another superplex attempt hits this time, before the pop up powerbomb finishes at 14:15. This was another weird one in that the usual pattern would be Owens doing a job here before winning the IC title, which would set up Cesaro as his first challenger. But instead Cesaro was just a guy who lost, and it pretty much killed him off again. Amazing that Owens could pull this out the night after killing himself with Finn Balor, and Cesaro was his usual great self. ***1/2
Brock Lesnar v. Undertaker
Brock attacks to start and they throw down in the corner until Taker boots him out of the ring. Back in and they slug it out on the mat while the crowd is unsure of who they like. Taker goes old school, but Brock catches him for the F5, which Taker fights out of. Brock with the first suplex, but Taker runs him into the corner to escape another one. Taker as the mean, desperate old fart is an interesting character direction for him. Like Terry Funk, but not such a clown. Taker boots him to the floor and Brock is bleeding, but they slug it out in the ring and Brock reverses a chokeslam into another suplex. Some guy at ringside gives it a 4/10. That’s pretty harsh. Undertaker continues his journey to suplex city and they fight to the floor, where Taker goes after the cut again and Brock responds by giving him an F5 through the table. Note to self in case the situation ever comes up in the future: DO NOT PUNCH BROCK LESNAR IN THE OPEN WOUND. I believe that is literally poking the bear. Taker beats the count and Brock is ready to party and kill him, and tells him so. I believe every word he says. Taker fights up and chokeslams him and Brock is more confused than hurt, like a wounded animal, so Taker gives him the tombstone for two. Brock laughs it off, which gives us the famous Undertaker meme, and they slug it out in the corner again as Brock pounds on the arm. Note to self in case the situation ever comes up in the future: DO NOT LAUGH AT BROCK LESNAR. Brock goes for the kimura, but Taker powerbombs him for two. Brock pops up with the F5 and gets two. Another F5 gets two. Brock waits around too long and Taker hooks him in the Google Platypus, but Brock reverses into the kimura and the timekeeper rings the bell. The ref yells at him about that, but Taker goes low on Brock and hooks the gogoplata again and Brock passes out at 17:10. So of course the deal was supposed to be that the timekeeper saw Taker tapping to the armbar and rang the bell, but the camera angle didn’t show that at all and the timekeeper doesn’t have that authority anyway. Now, keeping in mind that this was supposed to be setting up Wrestlemania months later it would be one thing, but then they decided to go right back to it for HIAC, so why not just do a fuck finish and have both guys get disqualified for brawling or something instead? Because this company is a MESS, that’s why. Anyway, this was a really fun match that I enjoyed a lot, but the finish was a shit sandwich that got no one over and just gave them a way out of the match. ****
The second half of the show was an easy thumbs up, but given that it led to one of the biggest downturns in business in the modern history of the company, it’s hard to call it much of a success on any level. I wouldn’t bother sitting through the four hours of the show, to be honest. Watch the NXT Takeover special from the night before instead, which is only two hours and significantly more fun.