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WWE SummerSlam 2018
- Presented LIVE on the WWE Network on August 19th, 2018 from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Michael Cole and Jonathon Coachman called all matches for Raw, Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton called everything for Smackdown, and Corey Graves worked the entire show.
- The Kick-Off Show featured three matches: Andrade "Cien" Almas and Zelina Vega def. Rusev and Lana in a Mixed Tag Team Match when Vega rolled Lana up and used the ropes for leverage. The stuff with Almas and Rusev was OK, but Lana, even after 2-years of training, still looks bad. She's like the WWE version of CM Punk in UFC. They also blew the finish, with Vega too far from the ropes, only barely touching them as the 3-count was finished. Cedric Alexander def. Drew Gulak to retain the Cruiserweight Title in a "it was good, but uneventful match. Alexander's reign is nearing 5-months, possibly the longest since the days of Neville. Finally, The B-Team retained the Raw Tag Team Titles over The Revival in slip-on-a-banana peel finish.
WWE Intercontinental Championship Match: Dolph Ziggler (c) (w/ Drew McIntyre) vs. Seth Rollins (w/ Dean Ambrose)
These two went from the "Main Event" of one PPV to opening the following PPV? I know you want to start things hot, but why not do Balor/Corbin first? Ambrose made his return from injury at the go-home episode of Raw, sporting a new look (he got a hair-cut and found a gym). He spent the early parts of the match getting in the faces of McIntyre and Ziggler, almost teasing a potential heel turn that doesn't come (sorry for the early spoiler). Surprising lack of crowd heat for the first half of the match. Maybe they could sense this one was going long, since they didn't do much until the last 10-minutes, when things really kicked into high gear. If you've seen one Dolph Ziggler match, you know what he brings to the table. Rollins with a new high spot, a reverse super-Plex and Falcon Arrow for a near fall. You know, that spot was good enough to win the match, and it's already just another "near fall spot." Rollins somehow got busted open being thrown into a turnbuckle, but a Zig-Zag was only good enough for two. Ambrose prevents a distraction from McIntyre, allowing Rollins to finish Ziggler with the Curb Stomp at 22:00 to regain the Championship. Too long for what they did, but it was a fine match overall. Now can we please move away from the Rollins/Ziggler series? ***1/4
WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match: The Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs. The New Day (w/ Kofi Kingston)
The New Day earned a title shot by winning a 4-Team Tournament on Smackdown Live (I guess "Tag Team Eliminator" didn't go over well enough, so Vince is OK with the word "Tournament" again). The Bludgeon Brothers have reigned as Champions for 5-months, yet the only thing I can recall in that time is the match with Team Hell No at Extreme Rules. Kofi is sitting this one out, probably upset that the Rays shut the Red Sox out earlier that afternoon. Your typical match with Harper and Rowan in their latest incarnation, with non-stop action and some near falls. Woods with the high-spot of the match, hitting Harper on the floor with the flying elbow drop. Big E worked in his spear through the ropes, and thankfully knows to twist his body so he doesn't land on his head. Bludgeon Brothers with near falls on Big E (via double crucifix bomb) and Woods (Harper with a Liger-Bomb), New Day appeared to have the match won, but Rowan attacked Woods with one of the mallets, drawing a Disqualification at 9:35. Unfortunately for Rowan, he tore a bicep in the match, and they ended up losing the belts to the New Day on the following episode of Smackdown. Good match until the lame finish. **3/4
Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens
If Owens wins under any circumstances (that includes DQ and Count-Out), he'll win Strowman's Money in the Bank contract. Strowman has tormented Owens for weeks, including "losing" a Steel Cage Match at Extreme Rules by throwing Owens off the top of the cage through one of the announcer's tables. Strowman quickly sends Owens out of the ring, where he runs him over with shoulder tackles, complete with big bumps. Owens gets a Super-Kick in as his only offensive maneuver before being planted on the ramp with a Choke-Slam (ouch) and finished with the Power-Slam at 1:55. Some might complain that Owens was "buried", but we'll see later in the show other people getting similar treatment and we all know in two weeks no one will remember (and by no one, I mean the creative staff).
WWE Smackdown Women's Championship Match: Carmella (c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair
This was originally promoted as Carmella vs. Becky, but then Charlotte beat Carmella too to earn a spot in the match. Another match where the outcome shouldn't come as a surprise. Carmella has managed to hold the belt for almost 5-months, killing Asuka in the process (speaking of Asuka, nice to see her not mentioned, let alone featured, on the PPV). Your typical triple threat, where someone plays dead on the floor often enough that it's usually a 1-on-1 match. Carmella ends up working the match the most, and somehow works REST HOLDS into a match where a third person can easily keep the action flowing. Carmella with one impressive high spot, a tope suicida through the middle and bottom ropes. Charlotte one-ups her with a twisting moonsault that barely touches Carmella and completely misses Becky. Everyone gets their finishers in, with someone breaking things up each time. Finish came with Becky having Carmella trapped in the Disarm-Her, only for Charlotte to hit Becky with the Natural Selection to pick up her 7th Women's Championship at 14:45. Post-match, Becky and Charlotte hug it out, but Becky turns heel on Charlotte to the delight of the audience, who rain "You Deserved It" chants on Charlotte. It's a justifiable heel move, in my opinion. Match was nothing special with Carmella carrying the work-load for reasons unknown. **
WWE Championship Match: A.J. Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe
Did anyone, at any point, ever expect these two to fight on a WWE PPV, let alone for the WWE Championship? In the final build to the show, Joe introduced the element of domestic mind games, suggesting his wife and he weren't as happily married as A.J. wants us to believe. Speaking of, A.J.'s wife and daughter are in the crowd, and to the surprise of nobody, Joe lets her know everything is OK, and daddy will be coming home tonight. Lots of stiff strikes and both men got all their signature stuff in. PBP doesn't do justice how much chemistry these two have, even at their age and advanced part of their careers. Finish came with Joe once again taunting Styles wife, saying he lied about daddy coming home, but not to worry, because he's daddy now. Styles (bleeding) freaks out, tacking Joe off a table through the barricade, and pulverizes him with a chair, drawing a Disqualification at 22:45. Post-match, Styles has a heart-to-heart with his wife and terrified daughter (you're bleeding daddy) before leaving with them. Great match with a cop-out finish that is understandable (it's far too soon to blow it off, and Joe's lost enough on PPV). ****
Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz
It's the match that's 8 years in the making (ignoring they've wrestled before, but it was years ago). The most memorable angle between these two is still their Talking Smack moment where they tried to do a worked shoot, with Miz cutting one of the best promos of his life. Bryan has new ring gear with Seattle Seahawks inspired color scheme. Maryse is sitting front row, so we should expect shenanigans. Early on, they teased Bryan wanting to punch Miz in the face, which doesn't take long for him to accomplish. Miz would constantly do the spots he lifted from Bryan's repertoire, mostly with unsuccessful results, with Bryan usually following up with the same. They went longer than expected considering it's their first match on a loaded card, and with a lot of rematches likely scheduled. Bryan kicked out of a Skull Crushing Finale, and Miz made it to the ropes to force a break on the Yes-Lock. Bryan was in control late, knocking Miz out of the ring. Miz fell into the barricade near Maryse, where he's handed a weapon. Bryan went for a tope suicida, but Miz KO'ed him with a right hand and covered for the three-count at 23:30. Yes, after all the hype of Bryan wanting to punch Miz in the face, he loses to a (weapon assisted) punch. It wasn't the perfect match, but it told a good story and leaves the door open for Bryan to chase Miz for revenge. ***1/2
Finn Balor vs. "Constable" Baron Corbin
Balor defeated Corbin on the last PPV in what could be misinterpreted as a fluke. It's your typical "I'm big, you're little" storyline that does nothing for anyone. Balor comes out in his Demon Paint, giving the crowd something to care about and to make Corbin poop his pants in fear. Balor with a complete squash, hitting Corbin with a series of Shotgun Dropkicks and sling-blades before finishing him with the coup de grace at 1:46. No rating, but this was awesome and thank God we didn't get another 20-minute anti-classic with Corbin doing 4-minute long chin-locks.
WWE United States Championship Match: Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Jeff Hardy
I can tell I'm tired, because I TWICE typed "Jeff Jarrett" instead of "Hardy." If you'll recall, Nakamura won the title last month in a 6-second match that included a pre-bell low-blow and a Kinshasa. Randy Orton is surprisingly not included in the match despite being part of the rivalry. Cute spot early with Hardy mocking Nakamura's signature "come on" taunt. The crowd at this point is tired beyond belief. They go through the motions, having a perfectly acceptable TV match. There's a nice sequence where Hardy avoids the Kinshasa and a nut shot and follows it up with a Twist of Fate. Nakamura rolls to the apron, Hardy climbs the ropes for the Swanton Bomb, only to crash on the apron. For a guy who's having trouble staying healthy and can't do the big spot regularly because of it, it makes a lot of sense to do it somewhere like the edge of the ring where a slight miscalculation could lead to much worse injuries. Back inside, the Kinshasa finishes at 10:55. Post-match, Randy Orton comes out and does nothing. Good to see he had to fly in for that spot. **
WWE Raw Women's Championship Match: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Ronda Rousey
If this is anything but a short squash for Rousey, I quit. As bad-ass as she's presented (and rightfully so), the make-up looks like a cosplay of the Night-Man from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Natalya comes out, wearing her father's Sgt. Pepper jacket and to support her bestie. Bliss hides in the ropes to milk things. Rousey with a few strikes, knocking her to the floor for more stalling. Bliss teases walking out, so Rousey willingly gives her the ring, taking a seat with her eyes closed. Bliss rushes in with a choke, but Rousey completely no-sells it and hurls her around like a rag doll a few times before finishing with the arm-bar at 4:00. For reasons "Because WWE", the Bella Twins come in and join Rousey in her celebration. Whatever. Match was perfectly booked and came across well, minus Rousey constantly calling out spots (which can be covered as "talking trash""). **1/2
WWE Universal Championship Match: Brock Lesnar (c) (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. Roman Reigns
Forget WrestleMania: Fleur-de-lis and Greatest Royal Rumble, this HAS to be the crowning moment of Reigns' career, right? In the weeks leading into the show, there was a tease of splitting Heyman from Lesnar, only to SWERVE~! us with Heyman luring Roman into a trap. Before the match starts, Braun Strowman comes out and lets both know he's not going to cash in like a coward, he'll just sit and wait for the match to be over and challenge whoever's left standing. Reigns bum rushes Brock with three Superman punches and three spears, but on the third spear, Lesnar counters by trapping Reigns in a dragon sleeper. Roman uses the Samoan Heritage Pride Power to slam Lesnar to escape. Lesnar does his usual, throwing Roman around a bit. Roman teases a comeback and goes for another Spear, but it turns into a tope suicida, hitting Strowman. Brock, losing focus, decides to give Braun an F-5 on the floor and launches the briefcase as far as he can without transporting through the entrance stage. Back inside, and Roman hits the Spear to FINALLY win the Universal Title at 6:10. Roman celebrates, and we're done. Match was what it needed to be, and they wisely introduced the element of Strowman without a distraction and cut away from the show before it could be questioned further. ***
Final Thoughts: Ignoring the usual "the show is too long" complaint, there wasn't much on the show that could be considered a negative. Yes, a few matches under-delivered, but nothing stunk outright, and matches that people feared for were kept reasonably short. If you were distracted by the crowd reaction to Becky's heel turn or can't get over Kevin Owens' treatment at the hands of BRAUN STROWMAN, then I can see having a problem with the show. If you have a rational, open mind, and can think outside the box, it's a good show worth giving a look. Just skip the Kickoff Show, there's nothing there to justify adding an extra hour to the show's run-time.
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