The SmarK Rant for WWE Summerslam 2018 – 08.19.18
Live from Brooklyn, NY
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Corey Graves & The Coach
So not pumped for this show tonight. Even the pre-show doesn’t have anything interesting to talk about!
Intercontinental title: Dolph Ziggler v. Seth Rollins
So after the Iron Man match last month with the convoluted bullshit finish, the payoff is…jerking the curtain with a regular singles match? One big difference between the NXT show and this one: NXT is about guys fighting over issues, and this one is about guys who tweet how they want to have a great match and steal the show. They trade forearms and Dolph rolls him up for two. Seth gets a dropkick and Dolph bails for some advice from Drew. That advice? “If someone pitches the idea of a band gimmick, just give your notice right then.” Back in, Dolph catches him with a shot to the leg on the way in, and that gets two. Dolph chokes him out on the ropes and works on the knee, then dumps Rollins and goes to the chinlock. After literally 2:00 of chinlock, Seth fights out and Dolph backdrops him to the floor. Back in, Dolph goes up with a crossbody, but Rollins rolls through and tries a suplex, which fails because the knee gives out and they land on the floor. Back in, Seth comes back with a sling blade, but Dolph cradles him for two. Rollins with the blockbuster for two. He goes up and Dolph tries a superplex, but Seth fights him off and dumps him, then follows with a dive. Back in, Rollins with a springboard clothesline and the “ripcord knee” for two. So they’ve finally settled on a name for it after a year? Ziggler tries a sleeper and Seth sends him to the apron, but Dolph runs him into the post and DDTs him on the apron (THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING!). Back in, Dolph chokes away, but Seth counters the Zig Zag with the superkick, then tries a frog splash and hits knee. Dolph gets two off that. They fight to the top and Seth gets an inverted superplex for two. That probably should have been the finish if that’s where they were going. Seth loads up the superkick, but Dolph counters with the Zig Zag for two. And Seth is somehow busted open, but he rolls up Dolph for two and transitions into the buckle bomb. Drew comes in, but Dean takes him out on the floor and Seth curb stomps Dolph at 22:00 to finally regain the title after 3 months of rematches. First half was really dull and plodding, but the finishing sequence was great. *** Hopefully this feud gets put to rest now, though.
Meanwhile, the Bella Twins drop by to tease involvement in the Evolution PPV and show support for Ronda Rousey later tonight. Well, there’s your screwjob to keep the title off Ronda.
Smackdown tag team titles: The Bludgeon Brothers v. The New Day
Xavier quickly gets double-teamed in the BB corner and Rowan gets a splash for two. Rowan with the dreaded DOUBLE ATOMIC NOOGIE OF DEATH, and a backbreaker sets up a slingshot senton from Harper for two. You know, Bray Wyatt has to be kind of bummed that all his former lackies have ended up eons above him on the card. The Brothers double-team on the floor and try to powerbomb Xavier onto the stairs, but Woods escapes and makes the hot tag to E. Belly to belly for Harper and a big splash follows, but Harper reverses the Big Ending into a Michinoku driver for two. Big E fights off Rowan, but Harper slams Xavier on the floor, and Big E spears Harper through the ropes before Rowan dives onto him. Back in, Rowan is last man standing and the Brothers hit the double-team chokeslam for two. Woods makes the save and tags back in, but the Bludgeons kill him with a powerbomb for two. Harper tries a suplex on Big E on the apron (THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING!) but Big E slams him to the floor. Back in, Woods goes up and then decides to drop an elbow on Harper on the floor instead. Back in, New Day sets up to finish, but Rowan brings in the mallet for the DQ at 9:35. Everyone worked hard here but the match meandered around and didn’t go anywhere, and had a shit finish. Maybe I’m just a snob for the basic tag team formula, I dunno. **1/2
Money in the Bank: Braun Strowman v. Kevin Owens
Braun throws Owens around on the floor while Kevin runs away, and poor Kevin gets chokeslammed on the ramp. Back in, the powerslam finishes at 1:52. Oh, I laugh heartily at everyone who thought Owens was walking out with that case. Once Braun “lost” that cage match he was 100% getting it back here. *1/2 for some good bumps from Kevin.
Smackdown Women’s title: Carmella v. Charlotte v. Becky Lynch
Completely silent reaction for Carmella’s entrance, which shows how effective that “spend the entire match yelling and talking trash” has been as far as character development without Ellsworth to carry her. Becky dumps Charlotte and goes after Carmella, but Charlotte saves and Carmella rolls her up for two. This drives a wedge between the babyfaces because they’re apparently both idiots, and Carmella runs away while they trade rollups. Carmella drags them both out and runs them into the post, and…wait for it…YELLS A LOT AND TALKS TRASH! It’s like her version of a highspot. Back in the ring, Carmella with a chinlock on Becky, and then she chinlocks Charlotte as well. Becky comes back in and Carmella yells at her as well and gets a rollup for two. Back to Charlotte, who chops Carmella and gets a backdrop suplex, but Becky goes up and hits them both with a dropkick. Becky makes her comeback on Charlotte and tosses her, but goes up and gets caught by Carmella with a headscissors for two. Charlotte returns with a spear on Carmella for two. Carmella tries the corner headscisors on Charlotte, but she blocks and takes her down with a boston crab, into the figure-four, but Becky breaks it up and gets two. Carmella dumps Becky and follows with a dive, and Charlotte dives onto them both. Back in, Becky gets the armbar on Charlotte, but Carmella saves. Becky with the uranage on Charlotte for two, and Carmella saves again. She rolls up Becky and uses the ropes for two, and a superkick gets two. Carmella tosses Charlotte again, but Becky gets another armbar, and Charlotte hits the neckbreaker on Becky to win the title at 14:44. Man, Becky got SCREWED here. And then she snaps and turns on Charlotte, destroying her at ringside, and the crowd CHEERS it because the people who book this stuff apparently don’t watch their own product. Match was OK when Carmella wasn’t in there pretending to be a wrestler (would it KILL her to ever sell something?), but it was mostly boring overall and way too long for what it was. *1/2
WWE title: AJ Styles v. Samoa Joe
The buildup here is something-something AJ’s family and AJ’s wife and children are at ringside. The smartass fans chant “TNA” and AJ works a headlock to start, but Joe puts him on the apron with a shoulderblock. Back in, Joe puts him down with kicks in the corner, but AJ fires back with the dropkick to take over. Joe bails and AJ hits him with a baseball slide, but he runs around the apron and gets his knee taken out with a kick. THAT’S THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING! Back in, Joe works on the knee for a bit and AJ bails, so Joe follows with a dive that puts him into the table. Back in, Joe goes to a neck vice and gets a lariat for two. Joe slows it back down again with a chinlock, but AJ dumps him to escape and follows with a pescado. Joe recovers and tries his own dive, but AJ blocks it with a kick and makes the comeback. The springboard inverted DDT gets two. They head to the top and Joe brings him down and follows with a flying Rough Ryder in an impressive spot that gets two. Big boot and senton gets two. AJ comes back with a valiant attempt at the Ushigoroshi, but Joe is pretty big and the knee gives out on the way down. He keeps coming with the forearm, but Joe ducks it and gets a powerslam for two. AJ with a crucifix and a superkick that set up the Styles Clash, and that gets two. He nearly lost him on the way down, too. They slug it out in the corner and that goes badly for AJ, so he hits the Pele Kick instead, but walks into the uranage. Both guys are down as the announcers feel the need to talk and talk and talk to fill up any silent moments, and AJ recovers with the calf crusher, but Joe slams his head into the mat to break and hooks the choke. AJ makes the ropes without too much trouble. Joe puts him on top for the muscle buster, but then changes his mind and kicks him to the floor instead. Joe stops to cut a promo about how he’ll be the new daddy, so AJ isn’t gonna stand for that and he SNAPS, beating on Joe with a chair for the DQ at 22:45. Slow start, but it turned into a pretty hard-hitting war that would have been more effective without the DQ finish earlier in the show. I’ve got no beef with AJ snapping because he’s defending his family, but they should have come up with something different for the tag title match. ***1/2
Elias is here, and he accidentally breaks his guitar while doing his concert, and that’s it. Weird.
The Miz v. Daniel Bryan
Hell of a video package here, the first thing on the show that really makes you think there’s a real issue to be settled. Maryse is at ringside, as apparently the entire front row is filled up with comps or something based on everyone sitting there thus far. Amazingly the crowd is SPLIT between them. Miz avoids the fight to start and gets a cheapshot to set up his version of the Yes Kicks in the corner, but Daniel fights back with his own until Miz grabs a headlock. Bryan puts him down with a high kick and slugs away on him, into a bulldog for two. Miz comes back with a knee to the gut and wraps him up in the bow and arrow, but Bryan fights out and fires up with more kicks and his own submission. Bryan charges and Miz crotches him on the top and clotheslines him down to set up a cravat. Bryan fights back, but Miz gets a neckbreaker for two. Miz offers the promised punches to the face, but Bryan fights back with his own and gets the running clothesline. Dropkicks in the corner set up a top rope rana that gets two. Bryan dumps him and follows with a baseball slide into the desk, then a dive to the floor. Back in, they fight on top again and Miz gets hung in the Tree of Woe and abused, leading to a superplex from Bryan that gets two. Bryan with the Yes Kicks, but Miz counters with the short DDT for two. Miz with his own Yes Kicks, but Bryan no-sells them and puts him down with a head kick. Miz blocks the running knee and slingshots Bryan into the post, and Skull Crushing Finale gets two. Miz charges and Bryan gets another kick for two. They fight on the apron (THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING!) and Bryan charges for a kick and hits the post instead. Ouch. Back in, Miz gets the figure-four, but the crowd’s not particularly buying the struggle. Bryan reverses it, but this isn’t 1982 Mid-South so the crowd doesn’t buy that either. Crowd’s not buying a lot of this match, in fact, which is really surprising given how much heat they had going in. They slug it out and Bryan gets a rollup for two and counters the Finale into a kick to the back for two. Bryan throws elbows as the camera cuts and zooms like crazy, and that sets up the Yes Lock, but Miz bites the hand to escape. Miz bails and Bryan hits him with a running knee off the apron, but tries a suicide dive and Miz hits him with an international object provided by Maryse and pins him at 23:27. I don’t wanna be that guy, but this was a HUGE disappointment. Like, it was super heated going in, and they had a long and decent but ultimately pretty dull match that never really developed into anything of note. **1/2
Finn Balor v. Constable Corbin
For THIS match Balor pulls out the Demon gimmick? Finn charges in with the corner dropkick and sling blade to put Corbin on the floor, and follows with a dive. Another sling blade on the floor and back in for a double stomp, corner dropkick and Coup De Grace at 1:30. Complete squash. Well that certainly protected the Demon character well. ½*
Meanwhile, Brie Bella consoles Daniel, but he’s inconsolable and considers his comeback a bust because he blew it against Miz. But he sends her away to have fun while he “punches some walls”.
US title: Shinsuke Nakamura v. Jeff Hardy
This is a weird one because all the buildup would seem to indicate a three-way match with Orton, but he’s not involved. They exchange video game taunts to start and Jeff pounds him in the corner, but Nakamura takes him down with a neck vice. Jeff escapes to the floor, so Nakamura gives him a nasty kick from the apron and drops a knee on the apron, which might I remind you is the HARDEST PART OF THE RING. Back in, that gets two. Nakamura wraps him up with a wristlock and a half-assed cobra clutch, but Jeff fights out. Nakamura charges and runs into an elbow and Jeff comes back with a sling blade and the double legdrop for two. Nakamura chokes him out on the ropes, but misses a charge and Jeff comes back with the Whisper in the Wind for two. Nakamura knees him down for two and sets up the Kinshasa, but Jeff escapes that. Nakamura tries to go to the nuts and Jeff evades him and hits the Twist of Fate and swanton, but Nakamura is in the ropes. Another Twist and Jeff goes up again, but Nakamura retreats to the apron and Jeff stupidly follows him out there with another swanton that misses by a mile. And need I mention that the apron is the HARDEST PART OF THE RING? Back in, Nakamura hits him with an axe kick and Kinshasa to retain at 10:55. Another dead match in a series tonight. These guys were just not on the same page at ALL. **
Afterwards, Randy Orton comes out, presumably to show his junk to someone as a hilarious prank. But instead he turns around and does nothing. Do Apex Predators have to register with the national database?
RAW Women’s title: Alexa Bliss v. Ronda Rousey
This match should at least have some heat, even if the Bellas at ringside is typically telegraphing a screwjob finish in bright blinking neon letters. Alexa runs away to start but gets punched out of the ring. Back in, Alexa runs away again, so Ronda offers up her back for a free shot. Alexa runs in for a sleeper, which is sold like Bugs Bunny trying the same move on the Crusher, and Ronda hits her with the fireman’s carry slam and Alexa runs away AGAIN. Back in, Ronda throws her around the ring and hits the slam again, which sets up the armbar, and Alexa taps at 4:36 to give Ronda the title. The Bellas come in to celebrate with her and get booed out of the building. So what was the point of having the Bellas conspicuously announced as being at ringside in a show-long angle? Nothing to the match, but really Alexa shouldn’t have been getting offense on her anyway. The motives behind it are clear because they literally had the announcers declare that they’ll be all over mainstream media tomorrow for Ronda’s win. Good to know they’ve got their thumb on the pulse of what fans really care about. *1/2
WWE Universal title: Brock Lesnar v. Roman Reigns
And before we can start, Braun Strowman heads down to cash in his contract because he’s not gonna use it when someone’s back is turned. So he’s gonna stand at ringside and cash in on the winner. Reigns immediately blitzes Brock with superman punches, spears him not once, not twice, but THRICE, but Brock guillotines him until Roman slams out of it. Brock tries it again and Roman slams out of it again. At this point the crowd has had enough of the match and starts chanting for other stuff and Brock starts throwing suplexes. Crowd lets them know that they both suck. Roman escapes the F5 and tries a spear, but misses and hits Braun with a dive by mistake. So then Brock goes out and gives Braun an F5 on the floor and beats on him with the briefcase before hurling it away, because this company is more about trolling their fanbase than putting on matches anyone cares about. Back in, Brock brings in a chair, but Reigns spears him and pins him to finally win the damn title at 6:12. And it only took him four tries! So yeah, no cash in, shitty rushed main event, #RomanWinsLOL. * At least Brock’s title reign is finally done, so I’ll take what I can get.
This was a decidedly average Summerslam, with nothing I’d call a show-stealing standout but nothing really terrible. Just mostly a long show with a crowd that was really bored by the end and some stuff that was good and some stuff that was dull and a weird ending. This is the very definition of thumbs in the middle.