Before the shocking conclusion to WWE SummerSlam, WWE’s biggest party of the summer was underwhelming. Most of the major matches delivered, but the event felt fairly ordinary. Given that it’s one of WWE’s major pay-per-views, it’s fair to expect some fireworks. Thankfully, that’s exactly what the ending delivered. The stunning return of Roman Reigns was an emphatic shot in the arm for the show. Now, heading into the fall, there’s a renewed spark of hope; now that WWE has one of its major stars back, the main event scene is much stronger.
In recent months, WWE has (thankfully) shifted to shorter pay-per-views so the events feel more palatable. As a result, one unlucky match usually gets bumped to the Kickoff Show. At WWE SummerSlam, the WWE United States Championship match between Apollo Crews and MVP drew the short straw. As with other matches on the card, WWE weakened the build to this match by having the rival square off multiple times in the weeks before the show. So there wasn’t a lot of excitement surrounding this title program. To be fair, Crews has enjoyed a career renaissance on WWE RAW and MVP has been a perfect veteran foil for the young star. For a Kickoff Show match, this match was enjoyable and it gave Crews a major win to put on his proverbial resume. It’s easy to see Crews continuing his rivalry with The Hurt Business, but hopefully, he’ll also face some fresh opponents.
On paper, the WWE RAW Tag Team Championship match should have been solid. The Street Profits never got their scheduled match with Angel Garza and Andrade at WWE WrestleMania 36. (Austin Theory filled in for Andrade.) With the addition of an attempted poisoning by Zelina Vega, this feud had some weight to it. But, with some lackluster writing, WWE couldn’t get out of its own way. By having Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins beat their opponents in singles matches on WWE RAW, the challengers didn’t have any momentum by Sunday night. The four men put on a technically sound match; Ford’s incredible athleticism impressed as always. But the match was like many of the champions’ other bouts in recent months. Ford and Dawkins have remarkable chemistry together, but that hasn’t saved them from a lackluster reign as RAW Tag Team Champions.
Maybe it’s time to consider unifying the tag titles again. Neither show can truthfully say it has a stacked tag team division. Despite the talented teams on the roster, redundant booking has ruined the Viking Raiders and other duos. By featuring one set of men’s tag titles, WWE could mask this lack of depth. Otherwise, the repetitive match-ups of the teams at the top of each show will become even more stale.
The rivalry between Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose was one of the hottest ones heading into WWE SummerSlam. It lost some steam earlier in the summer, when it seemed like WWE dropped the story. But Deville’s vicious backstage attack on Rose a few weeks ago rapidly reignited this bitter feud. Strong promos by Deville and Rose heading into the match quickly raised the profile of this bout, but when the lights were on bright, it didn’t live up to the hype.
For a blood feud, this No Disqualification, Loser Leaves WWE Match didn’t seem very personal. Rose and Deville tried to tell the story they’d been building for weeks, but it just didn’t click. Rose’s acting left a lot to be desired, though she had a few glimpses of believable emotion. Deville didn’t show the skills she’d been consistently showing on WWE Friday Night SmackDown in recent weeks. On a technical level, the match looked sloppy, too. Deville and Rose are talented performers, but they didn’t mesh together at WWE SummerSlam. An anticlimactic ending to the match, where Rose hit a few running knees before she pinned Deville, solidified this match’s status as the most disappointing one on the card.
Dominik Mysterio didn’t exactly look ready for primetime during the build to WWE SummerSlam. His promos were adequate and his booking was strong. But it was still easy to question whether he was ready for such a high-profile match. You had to expect that Rey Mysterio’s son would be technically sound, even if he was a little green. But Dominik held his own in the ring with Seth Rollins, one of the best wrestlers on WWE’s roster. The Street Fight stipulation put Dominik in a position to succeed because he didn’t need to wrestle a traditional match. But, even if he did, Dominik would have deserved just as much credit because he looked like a veteran performer. Dominik’s short-term future is unclear, but he left the viewers wanting more in a successful defeat.
As for Rollins, this victory should mark the end of his war with the Mysterio family. After Randy Orton, Rollins is the most deserving heel contender on WWE RAW, so we could be on the road to another match between Drew McIntyre and the Monday Night Messiah. After a brief confrontation between the two this past week, the seeds have been planted. Plus, unlike at WWE Monday in the Bank, Rollins actually has a lot of momentum after two straight pay-per-view wins.
Nobody knew exactly what to expect for the Golden Role Models at WWE SummerSlam. The rumored match between the two has been postponed for months. They’ve teased some dissension, but the duo always makes up. That might not be the case this time. WWE hit all the right notes in the women’s title matches on Sunday by utilizing two finishes that echoed each other. First, Sasha Banks’ interference helped Bayley retain her title against Asuka; Banks taking the brunt of a running hip attack let Bayley roll Asuka up. But, when it was Banks’ turn to defend her gold, Bayley didn’t return the favor.
Banks’ match with Asuka was more riveting than Bayley’s bout with the challenger; it helps that Banks didn’t just have a lengthy match with Asuka on WWE RAW. But both women perfectly complemented each other, and the energy in the ring was tangible. The screwy finish to Banks’ match with Asuka at WWE Extreme Rules made some fans worry that WWE would take a similar approach here. Instead, a relatively clean ending came as a pleasant surprise. In a reflection of the SmackDown Women’s Title match, Bayley dodged a hip attack from Asuka, and the lack of interference allowed Asuka to defeat Banks. The writing is on the wall; the Golden Role Model are racing toward a breakup. Hopefully, WWE will stop delaying it and strike while the iron’s hot. When they do, the story will write itself.