Since I don’t have cable television anymore, I can’t watch RAW or Smackdown anymore. I keep up with storylines primarily by the convenient litany of condensed highlight packages that YouTube channels generate that have extremely short shelf lives before the WWE Internet Police™ gets them all taken down. But by the good graces of a close friend, I have WWE Network access, and I’m still able to enjoy NXT on a weekly basis, as well as the monthly pay-per-view shows, that are the culmination of each month’s storylines.
There are lots of weekends where during the evenings, I find myself with a dearth of things to do, and I think to myself, “man, I wish this were [name of WWE ppv] weekend. Now would be the best time to sit back and enjoy some wrestling.” But because it isn’t, I ultimately end up laying on the couch and playing Fire Emblem Heroes on my phone, and wonder why it’s suddenly 11 p.m. and that I should probably get ready to get some rest for work or a Sunday morning jog.
And then there are weekends like this past one, where it was in fact, SummerSlam weekend, where wrestling fans not only were privy to watching the annual SummerSlam, but by virtue of being a big show, also NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4, on Saturday night.
It goes without saying that fans like me look forward to the NXT show more than the main roster show, but frankly, there were reasons to be optimistic for SummerSlam as well. Smarks probably looked forward to matches like AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe, based on their history of solid matches in Ring of Honor and ironically, TNA, and the Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler match seemed like a sleeper show stealer, since both guys are obsessed with trying to steal the show. Personally, I was looking forward to the Daniel Bryan vs. the Miz match, since it was clearly one of the storylines that has been slowly built for years, and could have been one of the more entertaining matches on the card.
Smarks also probably bemoaned the presence of matches like Brock vs. Roman #68, Jeff Hardy vs. Shinsuke Nakamura because Jeff Hardy is old and busted now, and personally I didn’t want to see the inevitable squashing of Alexa Bliss at the hands of Ronda Rousey. But maybe that one is just me.
Regardless, it should come as no surprise that SummerSlam ultimately underwhelmed, as a whole, and was easily outdone by the vastly superior TakeOver show the night prior. Not a single match on the SummerSlam card was remotely good as anything on the TakeOver lineup, and the general impressions that I got from SummerSlam was a creative strategy of punting on their #2 largest show of the year in order to try and attempt to build slow-burning feuds for the #1 show, Wrestlemania… which is still nearly eight months away.
But again, the main roster can’t touch NXT’s quality, where a nearly context-less match between Velveteen Dream and EC3 still outshines everything on the SummerSlam card, although I will say that NXT is in desperate need of some fresh baby faces, since Johnny Gargano jobbing in the main event for the 5th or 6th time in the last calendar year has gotten really tired, and fans like me are growing over it for so many build ups without any payout.
Styles and Joe were completely handicapped by being a WWE match, ending in an eye-rolling DQ which keeps the feud going to where it will inevitably conclude in another month, maybe two, at a smaller show, instead of the #2 show of the year for some reason. Rollins and Ziggler had a pretty decent match, which may have been one of the better matches of the night, but that’s not saying that much. The New Day and Bludgeon Brothers had a surprisingly good match, but had another disappointing DQ finish, leading to the feud to continue on television and likely concluding at a lesser show, which just makes me shake my head and question what the company is doing.
And continuing the trend of building towards the future, the Miz and Daniel Bryan had a definitive finish, with the Miz cheating to win, but it’s very abundantly clear that the program is far from over, and will likely burn all the way to Wrestlemania, to where the wives Maryse and Brie Bella will inevitably get involve, and probably be a mixed tag match in March/April.
Kevin Owens getting squashed made it crystal clear obvious that Braun Strowman was going to make an encore appearance, to which he did, stated he would challenge the winner of the Lesnar/Roman match, but then didn’t, when Lesnar wiped him out during the match, leading to yet another convoluted false ending.
I will say though, SummerSlam wasn’t without any good at all. Becky Lynch demolishing Charlotte Flair after the triple threat match for the Smackdown women’s championship was the obvious high point of the entire show for me, and based on the reaction from the crowd, I can’t say that I’d be alone in thinking such. It was a little predictable, but still satisfying to say the least, to see the narrative of a hard-working superstar who earned her title opportunity, only for a friend to show up at the last minute, infiltrate her way into the match, and usurp the championship out from underneath.
If creative plays their cards right, they’ve got a great storyline with Becky Lynch drawing both the relation and sympathy of the crowd in spite of her turn to the dark side, boiled over her overachieving friend in Charlotte Flair who isn’t necessarily a face or a heel, but still the antagonist to the frustrated Lynch. It doesn’t have to be black or white, because most fans tend to like things kind of gray, and this has a golden opportunity to be the de facto match of the night at Evolution in October.
I’m ecstatic to see a Becky with an edge, because she’s far too long been the squeaky-clean paragon of the women’s division who’s come up short time and time and time again for three years, and it’s easy to understand the change in persona for those who have been watching as long. With Charlotte, she could very easily have some five-star matches that aren’t just good for women’s division standards, but straight-up outstanding wrestling matches that can steal shows outright, regardless of who else is on the card.
But speaking of women, if I’m a female wrestler in the WWE, I’d be begging to be sent to Smackdown. Or get kept in NXT. Because with Ronda Rousey as the women’s champion on RAW, that belt is going nowhere any time quickly, and women wrestlers’ health is safer away from her. As accomplished of a UFC fighter she was, she’s greener than baby shit in professional wrestling, and her combination of over-jacked intensity, how much she blabs in the ring, and her sheer lack of pro-wrestling experience is going to get someone hurt, really soon. I felt bad for Alexa Bliss who not only got utterly squashed by Rousey, but she actually looks like she had her arm ripped out of its socket a few times, before being tapped out.
Especially with the supposed departure of Brock Lesnar, Rousey is the new key to WWE continuing to get mainstream exposure, and the WWE machine is going to eat that shit up as long as it’s going to continue being spoon fed to them. Save for larger women like Nia Jax or Tamina Snuka, or anyone in her MMA posse like Shayna Baszler or Jessamyn Duke, nobody in the women’s division remotely looks like a competitor to Rousey, not that creative is going to really give anyone a convincing chance as long as she holds the belt.
Bottom line is, I do not feel that Ronda Rousey is not good for business. Angry Becky Lynch however, is. But constantly punting the present to perpetually be preparing for next Wrestlemania is not, and I wish the WWE would occasionally let some feuds end without constantly promising to see us on thenextepisodeofnitro