8 Things We Learnt from WWE SummerSlam 2017
1. Braun Strowman will be Universal Champion sooner than we think.
The Biggest Party of the Summer returned for its 30th edition last night at the Barclays Centre in New York, and it certainly will be remembered.
WWE SummerSlam 2017 was, on the surface, a rather underwhelming show going in. Storylines and booking ahead of the PPV ranged from the confusing to the downright inconsistent – par for the course for WWE writers these days. When these feuds that we have seen play out on Raw and SmackDown Live for weeks finally came to a head in Brooklyn, when it was all said and done, we left having learned a few things one way or another.
Going into Raw and SmackDown Live this week will hopefully address some of these eight talking points. Let’s take a look at them.
8. Shane McMahon and Kevin Owens will have a match
Over on SmackDown Live, AJ Styles and Kevin Owens have traded victories for the United States Championship over the past couple of months. We know they can have great matches, yet their feud has never really allowed them to showcase that because of basic flaws like match officiating, false finishes and the general rule of one fall to a finish. The storyline of a non-official acting as a referee with the idea they are going to be impartial is always absurd – but in this case, SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon was just that. Except what is even more ridiculous was that all this time he said he would retaliate if either Styles or Owens messed with him, and yet didn’t when throughout the match, he got bumped by both.
The direction we’re led to believe is that because Owens got ‘screwed’ by Shane because he noticed Styles’ foot on the rope (as Shane actually made an honest-to-god three count), while Styles moves onto something else, and that is probably the best course to take at this juncture. It’s ultimately more of a shame that we never got the true classic out of Styles-Owens because of some form of chicanery in their bouts.
To think at the beginning of the year both these men were the top two champions in WWE and carrying both Raw and SmackDown Live.
7. Rusev is destined to be at this level
Oh, how I feel so sorry for Rusev. Since he has debuted on the main roster back in 2014, the Bulgarian Brute has proven time and time again that he is such a diverse and capable performer. He’s been saddled with a loose foreign heel gimmick and been affiliated with the same characteristics ever since his debut. Yet moreover, in every single feud, by being proud of his country and not your average American, he’s viewed as a heel just because he is different. When John Cena single-handedly defended America’s honour and going over Rusev last month at Battleground in both men’s return matches, we learned part of this lesson. But at SummerSlam the lesson we truly learned was that Rusev is always destined to be a mid-card level wrestler putting over top stars.
It’s more frustrating that Randy Orton, a man who got busted open badly at last year’s SummerSlam in a match with Brock Lesnar, hit an RKO and scored a win over Rusev in just 10 seconds. How does that make Rusev look in comparison to other top performers? Say with Orton, a man who lost three consecutive matches with WWE Champion Jinder Mahal, when we know because of Rusev’s qualities, he is more than capable of being the top heel that Mahal is today. It’s sad that he just gets viewed as someone who can’t cut the mustard like wrestlers who aren’t half as capable and entertaining.
6. The Shield is the closest to a reunion it has ever been
Ever since Seth Rollins turned on his stablemates in The Shield in 2014, their split left us hopeful that one day, there would be a reunion of sorts. We have played it out in our own minds, and WWE have, more than ever recently, hinted that it is indeed imminent, or at least possible. By SummerSlam, the idea going in was that Dean Ambrose did not trust Rollins. After all, why should he? Rollins was the one who struck a deal with the devil (HHH) and threw away the supposed unbreakable alliance with two men he considered his brothers for self-gratification and an easy way to the top. Why should Ambrose believe that Rollins wouldn’t do the same thing again?
Yet here they stand, after weeks of back and forth bickering, and Rollins seemingly earning Ambrose’s trust once again, they dethroned Sheamus & Cesaro to become Raw Tag Team Champions for the first time. The match itself was a great reminder of how dominant The Shield can be as a tandem, and harked back to the days when they were running roughshod over WWE. It led us to believe, at one point, that if Roman were successful in the main event, it would be only a matter of time before they officially reunite as the trio we all loved. Although the latter didn’t happen, the inevitable reunion is still closer to happening than it was when we went into the PPV.
Also a side point of irony is that the storyline in the Tag Team Title match is two men who supposedly hate each other working together to team up against two men who, at one point, hated each other and were forced to work together. Take from that what you will.
5. The Demon doesn’t lose, and Bray always does
Say anything you like about Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt’s feud, but if their match at SummerSlam was anything to go by, it’s that Demon Balor is almost indestructible. Putting aside the fact that Demon Balor, while he dresses differently to ‘regular’ Finn Balor, the two almost wrestle an identical match as one another. It’s just that The Demon does more crawling and grits his teeth more often. Call me mental, but it’s crazy how they present the idea that The Demon is unleashed, and yet doesn’t do anything overly aggressive or demonic. What’s more, Demon Balor is still undefeated on the main roster.
Bray Wyatt, much the same as Rusev, seemingly now more so than ever has been relegated to playing the part of someone who puts over other top stars. When we can all agree, Wyatt is a diverse and supremely entertaining character to some extent, his resignation as someone who always ends up on the losing end of battles with people who he starts rivalries with takes so much away from the feud in the first place. His supposed victory in his feud with Rollins led me to believe it could turn around, but alas, when they announced that the Demon would appear, it was a spoiler that Bray would once again take the pinfall.
4. Sasha and Cena both break curses, but with ramifications
Sasha Banks defeated Alexa Bliss to become Raw Women’s Champion for the 4th time in about a year and a half. The match was good, especially considering Bayley’s last minute injury and the fact that you know, Sasha and Alexa really don’t get on behind the scenes. The work within the match was fine, if a little sloppy, but it was more enjoyable than their Great Balls of Fire encounter. I suspect the feud will continue, whilst Nia Jax asserts her way into the mix somehow, and the rumoured superstar shake up to take place soon will allow for some much-needed reshuffling in the women’s divisions on both shows. But Sasha has had bad luck in Brooklyn, but that bad luck curse was broken last night, even if she was the more booed out of the two on this night. Being from Boston will likely draw heat from New York crowds one way or another.
As for John Cena, he opened SummerSlam with Baron Corbin, who cemented himself as the dumbest wrestler on the planet last Tuesday on SmackDown. We know Cena’s track record at SummerSlam events, but Corbin’s loss of his Money in The Bank cash-in match put that theory to rest because even if Corbin did manage to defeat Cena, now, that wouldn’t be enough to overshadow the fact that he is dumber than a pile of bricks. Cena got a big W last night after pinning Corbin with one AA, the match was decent, and the feud will likely continue. Whilst Corbin will probably be just fine in WWE, it’s going to be hard to shake off the negative ramifications from this week.
3. Enzo Amore’s future looks very bleak
Enzo Amore is a much-talked about person on wrestling dirt sheets, supposedly due to a negative attitude backstage, rubbing people the wrong way and just coming across as someone who believes he really is the certified G and bonafide stud he claims to be on camera. His reality, on WWE television at least, is that he is always someone who loses because he doesn’t have the skills or the size to match up to anyone else bigger or better than him, which is basically everyone else.
Where that leaves him for future feuds is uncertain. He was always going to lose to Big Cass after their disbanding as a team. It’s likely that if he doesn’t end up losing his entire position in the company, he’ll continue to lose feuds because that’s what he’s destined to do. At SummerSlam, WWE stuck to the story that Enzo is just arrogant and too small to keep up with anyone else – so that to me tells us that Enzo’s future is always going to be losing in some fashion.
2. The New Day and The Usos have undeniable chemistry
Whilst we may be irked that this match ended up on the preshow, it was another encounter between two teams who have had countless matches together, yet seem to get better each time around. The New Day and The Usos have had thousands of matches at this point, but truthfully, we don’t really have any reason to hate this method because the two teams are just so entertaining when put together. They both deliver in segments, promos and matches, and by the end of it they just seem to prove that they can only get better.
Last night at SummerSlam, that was probably their finest match that I can remember. But they certainly tore the house down, even if it was slightly empty due to entrance delays. I could happily watch these two teams fight back and forth over the next few years, but occasionally drifting apart to make it fresh and give other teams a chance. After that match last night though, I’m in no hurry. The chemistry between these two is completely unparalleled.
1. Braun Strowman will be Universal Champion sooner than we think
The main event of SummerSlam was pure chaos from start to finish. Brock Lesnar may be a part-time performer, but last night proved why WWE have such faith in him delivering in big matches when it matters. He is truly a prodigy because he simply does things that nobody else in WWE has done before, or ever could do because his size and strength make his agility and selling ability look superhuman.
Because he is Brock Lesnar and he will always get back up, even when Braun Strowman put him through two announce tables and dumped the third one on Lesnar like it was nothing, and he had to be taken from the ring on a stretcher. Strowman on the other hand looked better than he ever has, when we have all known him to be a superstar in the making for a while now. Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe both came out of the main event looking absolutely sublime too, but it was Strowman who had their future looking clearest, after Roman took the pinfall. (No that’s not a typo).
Two things; Strowman is going to fight Brock Lesnar one on one, and Strowman will be Universal Champion before we know it. Whether that comes from defeating Brock is another story, but Strowman’s undeniable presence in the main event picture for all this time says that he’s going to be next in line.
If there is any match that you should re-watch from SummerSlam it’s this one – because now we can paint the picture in our heads. Think back to the night after WrestleMania 33, when Braun Strowman stood face-to-face with Brock Lesnar and sent his very clear message. Now watch the match again. We’re getting the hoss fight that will be The Beast versus the Monster and it could happen as soon as No Mercy.