The SmarK Rant for WWE Summerslam 2020 – 08.23.20

The SmarK Rant for WWE Summerslam 2020 – 08.23.20

Live from the EPILEPSY-DOME in Orlando, FL

Your hosts are Michael Cole & Corey Graves

Smackdown Women’s title:  Bayley v. Asuka

Immediately the sound mixing is better than on Smackdown, with a better fake crowd noise.  Not perfect, but much more watchable than Smackdown was.  Now they need to ditch the front rows of LED screens and put workers there like on NXT.  Asuka gets a low dropkick and puts Bayley down with kicks, then blocks a hiptoss with a bodyscissors and Bayley retreats to the apron.  Asuka puts her on the floor with the hip attack and follows with a diving DDT off the stairs.  Back in, Bayley catches her with a guillotine in the ropes and a suplex for two.  Bayley drops an elbow for two and blocks a comeback attempt with the Bayley to belly for two.  Asuka fights back with a high kick and they’re both down.  Asuka makes the comeback with the hip attack in the corner and a german suplex to set up another hip attack for two.  They slug it out on the apron, but Bayley drops her with a kneecrusher out there on THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING.  Back in, Bayley goes to work on the knee for two and wraps her up with a leglock, but Asuka fights out and hits a codebreaker for two.  Asuka goes for a missile dropkick, but Bayley catches her coming down and wraps her up in a kneebar, and Asuka has to make the ropes.  Bayley with a sunset flip into the turnbuckle and she goes up for the flying elbow, but she lands in Asuka’s armbar, necessitating some trashtalk from Sasha on the floor to force a break.  Bayley gets a rollup for two off that, but then Asuka charges and runs into Sasha, allowing Bayley to get another rollup for the pin at 11:35.  Solid opener with a MUCH better atmosphere than anything on Friday. This version of the empty arena, I can live with.  ***1/2

Meanwhile, Dominik Mysterio gets some peptalk from his familia.  If only his real dad were still alive to see him wrestle!  Dominik gets Rey’s word that he will not get involved tonight no matter what.

Meanwhile, we recap the Retribution “story” such as it is.  And then they’re never mentioned again for the rest of the show and never appear.

RAW tag team title:  The Street Profits v. Andrade & Angel Garza

Montez Ford has made a remarkable comeback from his poisoning.  Andrade throws chops on him to start, but goes up and gets caught by Ford with a rana to bring him down.  The Profits double-team Garza to clear the ring and Ford tries a dive, but he gets caught and slammed on the floor for his troubles.  Back in, Andrade works Ford over and puts him on the apron for a dropkick from Garza that sends him to the floor.  That gets two, and Garza works the arm and then puts him on the middle rope and dropkicks the knee, and that finally means it’s PANTS TIME.  Surprised they didn’t spend some more money and have special holographic CGI pants for him to remove.  Garza with a running knee into the corner, and that gets two because he’s too busy yelling at the camera, which is noted by color commentator Kevin Owens.  They hang Ford in the Tree of Woe and Garza comes off the top with the Del Rio double stomp for two.  Ford fights back with an enzuigiri and it’s hot tag Dawkins (“I’m wearing your shirt, Dawkins, come on!” notes KO) and he runs wild and spears Andrade after taking a Judas Effect elbow from him.  Both are down, but Ford gets the tag again and comes in with a bodypress on Garza, that’s rolled through for two.  Garza with a low dropkick for two, but Zelina takes the ref and Ford “accidentally” knocks her off the apron.  Back to Dawkins while Andrade tends to Vega, and they finish Garza with Ford’s flying splash at 7:52 to retain.  Good little TV-level tag match, nothing exciting.  **1/2  Andrade and Garza tease a breakup afterwards, because that’s literally the only story they know how to tell with tag teams.

Meanwhile, Bayley and Sasha grant an interview about their first triumph over Asuka earlier in the evening.  Sasha throws some accidental shade at her BFF by noting that “if Bayley beat Asuka than I can beat Asuka” but Bayley seemingly brushes it off.

Loser Leaves WWE:  Sonya Deville v. Mandy Rose

Sonya gets a rollup immediately for two and they fight to the floor, where Mandy runs her into the railing and suplexes her on the floor.  Mandy runs her into the post and comes off the announce desk with a clothesline, but she takes forever setting up a table and Sonya beats on her with a chair to take over.  Back in, that gets two.  Sonya puts her down with kicks and follows with a running knee for two, but Rose takes her down and slugs away as we get some patented ZOOM N’ SHAKE camera action.  Sonya catches her with a dragon sleeper and sinks it in with a bodyscissors, but Mandy fights free.  So Sonya pulls the hair and rakes the eyes before kicking her down.  At this point the crowd noise gets all screwed up, suddenly dying off noticeably.  Mandy gets a running knee for two and they fight to the floor again, where Mandy puts her on a table but can’t keep her there.  She tries sliding chairs across the table unsuccessfully, but Sonya boots her down again.  Back in the ring, they exchange piledriver attempts, but Mandy hits her with a pair of knee strikes and then the double underhook facebuster.  One more shining wizard finishes at 10:03.  They worked hard and the smoke and mirrors covered up their issues fine.  ***  And then we get a celebration with Otis and Mandy doing the caterpillar together, which is exactly the kind of thing that does not work without a real crowd and is only highlighted here even moreso.

Street Fight:  Seth Rollins v. Dominik Mysterio

OK, Seth Rollins wearing the Phantom-inspired Rey Mysterio gear from Halloween Havoc 97 is pretty boss.  The gimmick might suck but the ring gear is ON FLEEK.  That’s what the kids say, right?  I too am hip to the slang of the youths of today.  Seth works a headlock to start and makes sure to trashtalk Uncle Eddie for full heel points, but Dom gets a headscissors and some armdrags to make his dad proud.  Also Rey.  Seth stomps him down and calls for a kendo stick, but Dom pops up with a dropkick, so Seth suckers him into a beatdown and the camera ZOOMS N’ SHAKES to show you how serious it is. Seth with a suplex and he wraps up Dom with a camel clutch and follows with a sling blade.  Seth offers Rey a chance to come in and help, but Dom wants none of that, so Seth tries the curb stomp and misses, allowing Dom to make the comeback.  Tornado DDT gets two.  Dom uses his “trusty” kendo stick for some punishment, and I have to take umbrage with someone in his first match having a “trusty” weapon.  You have to hit people with sledgehammers for years to earn the trusty moniker.  Dom goes up and gets caught, and Rollins brings him down with the superplex and falcon arrow for two.  The “crowd” reaction was actually delayed by a couple of seconds there, which made it sound weird when they did the “OOOH!” for the kickout a few seconds after it happened.  Seth gets more kendo sticks and a table, and beats on Mysterio Jr. Jr., and they head to the top, where Seth gets cocky and Dom brings him down for a contrived legsweep through the table.  Despite the fact that this should hurt Dom as much as Seth, Dom pops up to the top rope with a frog splash for two.  Almost like that move is in his DNA.  Seth recovers with a superkick and powerbomb and delivers another beating with the kendo stick, but Mama Mysterio comes out and distracts everyone, allowing Dom to get a rollup for two.  Murphy decides to go for the eye, but Rey saves and they all brawl on the floor, as the heels handcuff Rey and then decide to go after his wife.  But then Dom saves and gets all fired up, Back in, he hits Seth with a 619 and goes up with another frog splash, but hits knees.  And then Seth finally finishes off the rookie with the curb stomp in 22:25 while Rey watches.  This was OK for a bit, but it went on WAAAAAAAAAAY too long and Dominik didn’t look ready for prime time yet.  I’d call it at least 10:00 too long and it was slow and just kept meandering along and never really built to anything.  **1/4

So why am I completely not surprised that they already have a documentary on the Network about how brave and awesome they are for doing the Wrestlemania from the PC?

RAW Women’s title:  Sasha Banks v. Asuka

Brought to you by Cup Noodles!  Is Asuka REALLY the best choice to have a match sponsored by noodles?  They couldn’t just have the Mandy-Sonya match in that spot instead?  Sasha goes for the knee right away, but Asuka fights her off and hits the hip attack in the corner for two.  Asuka goes for the armbar, but Sasha makes the ropes and bails to the apron, where Asuka chases and accidentally kicks the post.  Sasha brings her down with a powerbomb to the floor, as Bayley gives her the QUALITY trashtalking.  “You’re stupid!  You’re dumb!”  Sometimes words can hurt more than powerbombs.  Back in, Sasha gets the double knees in the corner, but Asuka takes her down with a kneebar and then an anklelock, forcing Sasha to power out.  They fight to the top and Asuka takes her down with a DDT from the top, which gets two.  They fight on the floor and Asuka wins that battle, and back in for the missile dropkick, which gets two.  Sasha catches her with the knees for two, but she stops for advice from Bayley and gets caught in the Asuka Lock.  Sasha rolls over for two, but Asuka hangs on, so Sasha has to fight out.  Bayley tries to interfere, but this time Asuka doesn’t collide with her, and she hooks Sasha in the Asuka-Lock to win the title at 11:38.  Yet another typical title reign by Sasha, who continues her streak of ZERO successful title defenses on PPV.  Maybe she’s won some matches on RAW, I dunno, I don’t care.  Another really good match from Asuka tonight, as she has good chemistry with both Bayley and Sasha.  ***1/2

WWE World title:  Drew McIntyre v. Randy Orton

Orton does the big stall to start and hides in the ropes, but then catches Drew with a beating and goes for the RKO, before Drew escapes and thinks it over on the floor.  Back in, Drew slugs away in the corner, but then has to evade another RKO and he ends up getting sent into the post and onto the floor.  Orton slams him on the announce desk and suplexes him off to the floor, and back in for two.  Orton with the chinlock and he follows with the Garvin Stomp, but he tries to hit a boot out of the corner and Drew catches the leg and takes out the knee.  So Orton kicks Drew’s knee out, but Drew puts him down with a spinebuster and they’re both down.  Drew with the figure-four, which is something new for him.  Orton tries to reverse and only ends up further into the center of the ring as a result, but then he distracts the ref and thumbs the eye to break.  Jesse Ventura would approve.  Drew chops him down and they slug it out with forearms, but Orton goes for the RKO again and Drew clotheslines him down and follows with an overhead suplex.  Drew goes up with a flying clothesline and they’re both out, but Drew makes the comeback and they fight to the top and slug it out up there.  Drew ends up in the Tree of Woe, but powers himself up and throws Orton down for two.  Future Shock DDT gets two.  Drew goes up but misses the clothesline this time, hurting his knee as a result, and Orton powerslams him for two.  Orton tries the draping DDT, but Drew counters that as well and headbutts him to the floor.  But Orton beats him into the ring and gets the draping DDT this time.  But then he decides not to do the RKO and goes for the punt instead.  What a McAfee wannabe.  Drew counters him with a powerbomb, but misses the Claymore and Orton goes for the RKO, which Drew turns into a backslide for the pin to retain at 20:43.  Pretty surprising, I thought Orton was getting the belt for sure here.  Bigtime hoss fight here, as Orton seemed motivated more so than usual.  ****1/4  Having a guy lose to a backslide is a pretty weak way to shoehorn in that “Never saw it coming” tagline, though.

Tomorrow night on RAW:  Keith Lee.  Well I think we saw that one coming.

Next week:  Payback!  We still don’t have any matches or justification for the show, but there’s a good reason for having another PPV already, I’m sure.

Universal title, falls count anywhere:  Braun Strowman v. Bray Wyatt

A third smoke and mirrors match on the same show is a bit much, but at least we managed to go an entire PPV without cinematic wrestling!  Also, THANK GOD there’s no more red tinted arena for the Fiend.  Fiend quickly hits Braun with an uranage and does the Zeus neck twists.  “This will not be a wrestling match” notes Michael Cole.  I love shoot comments that aren’t supposed to be shoot comments.  They head to the floor and Fiend beats on him with a toolbox, but Braun smashes him into the desk, and Fiend cheerfully no-sells that.  So Braun chokeslams him onto the announce desk and hits him with stuff.  Back in, the powerslam gets two.  They head to the ramp and Braun runs him into the screens before they head to the back.  Hopefully they have a big screen in the arena so that all the little screens can watch this.  Fiend hits Sister Abigail in the gorilla position and gets two, and back to the arena again for more Walking Simulator 2020 and a mandible claw from the Fiend.  Braun runs him into the apron to break and I think even the virtual WWE universe is programmed to be bored with this one.  Braun puts him down with a clubbing forearm for two.  Back in for another powerslam from Braun, which gets two.  Braun grabs a boxcutter from the toolbox and slices up the mat to expose the plywood, but Fiend does the horror movie comeback again and hits Sister Abigail on the wood for the pin and the title at 11:57 to win the title back.  Thank god, one of the worst title reigns in wrestling history is over.  ½*  But then Roman Reigns runs out of the crowd (?) and spears both guys, making his return after four months of charging $500 a pop on Cameo, and he destroys Strowman with chairshots and then spears Fiend again before standing tall with the belt to end the show.  Oh yay, we get four months of break from him and now he’s immediately back as the top guy against the Universal champion again.  Lucky us.

I still don’t get why we need another show next week.  On my birthday no less!  This was a very entertaining show with a terrible main event, but not “cinematic wrestling” bad, just really dull.  That’s an improvement.  Also the Thunderdome concept was already tweaked and improved between Smackdown and here, which made this a much easier show to watch.  So it’s an easy thumbs up from here.