Hello everyone. It is Monday, August 20. Some of you are already back in school. Summer is just about over and "the biggest party of the summer", SummerSlam is in the books. You've landed on Planet Kayfabe and I'm here to review SummerSlam 2018. As usual I'm breaking up this PPV in two sections: the good and the bad. At the end I will sum it up and give a letter grade to close my thoughts on this show. Let's start with the good news. Like from the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, New York here's SummerSlam 2018.
Bait and Switch:
I guess this could both good and bad, but it's amazing the lengths WWE will go to just to make sure people don't shit on a Roman Reigns main event. Ya know, instead of just putting a guy in the spot that people want to see. All match long people were prepared to chant for Braun Strowman, so what did they do? Sent out Braun Strowman to say he would challenge the winner of the match. I thought it was a bit odd that he, the monster babyface, would challenge the winner right after a match instead of making it a Triple Threat, but that was all part of their plan.
Roman and Brock wrestled a typical Roman and Brock match filled with signature spots while the fans chanted for Braun and chanted "you both suck" because people are tired of Brock holding the title and no one wanted to see Roman Reigns win outside of a few kids and old smarks who like trolling other smarks by pretending to be fans of Roman. The match went longer than I expected, which set the writing on the wall that Braun would not be cashing in. Then Braun would be attacked outside the ring and Brock would take the MITB briefcase and throw it up the stage. With the distraction from Braun, Roman would beat Brock to "slay the beast."
Yes, with a distraction, the big hero Roman Reigns has a 0.250 record against "The Beast" officially which means he slayed him. Then the show quickly went off the air while Roman made his usual awkward faces that he makes after winning big matches. The match was okay but this match clearly wasn't about getting someone over, it was about getting out of town alive and that's what WWE did. It was a clever way to keep fans somewhat invested in the match even though people were really just waiting for Braun to cash in anyway. It didn't happen and Roman closed the show with the Universal Championship. Back in the day I'd say WWE was trying to kill this town, but as pissed as some fans may have been that WWE fooled them just for the sake of making sure Roman Reigns wasn't entirely shit on like at WrestleMania what are they going to do? Watch Nitro tonight instead? Yeah. They're a monopoly that's only going to get even more money when they go to FOX next year if you haven't heard. There's no financial incentive to give a shit what their consumers say so they're going to do what they want. It's up to you to do what you want with your money and if they come back to Barclay's after this stunt and sell it out, I guess there's no harm.
AJ Styles' Championship run gets what it needed:
Like many of you, I'm a big fan of AJ Styles and Samoa Joe for that matter. However while I'm all for AJ having a long run with the title, especially after last year that featured Jinder Mahal holding the title for 8 months, I can admit the run has been very good but not close to great. Samoa Joe has been a breath of fresh air. The problem with this run is fans are only expecting 5 star matches and when a match only goes 3.5 stars, people are let down. Again, it's much better than Jinder having boring 2 star matches in shitty feuds for most of last year, so, I can't complain.
Finally AJ doesn't have a feud that's revolved around putting on entertaining matches. It's a personal feud. I'm glad WWE didn't go the generic "dream match" direction here which they easily could have since most fans know the long history of AJ and Joe. With very few exceptions, there's no heat in a feud being built around two great workers that are going to have a great match. In kayfabe it makes no sense too since matches should be about winning, not entertaining the fans. Joe made the feud personal and has an attitude that's missing in WWE today. He comes off as a real tough guy. Not just some guy trying to be like tough guys they've seen in movies.
The match ended in a disqualification when Joe made it personal by jawing at AJ's wife on the mic and AJ snapped. It was a very good match and we had a rare good DQ finish here. This DQ felt natural. It felt like the best possible finish to get both guys over and keep the feud going. It didn't feel like a cop out excuse for a rematch. It just felt like another thread in their story and this feud got hotter tonight with this match, so I'm all for it.
Ronda Rousey becomes Raw Women's Champion and looked strong:
If Ronda sold for most of this match, it would not be in the "good" portion of this review. I feared they'd book Ronda like Asuka and just make her sell because they think people want to see killers sell before going on a one minute tear into a win. They don't. That's not what they got here. Alexa never stood a chance against Ronda and why should she? She's a cowardly heel who hides behind her friends that she treats like shit and always ends up betraying when they wear out their use. In the match with Nia Jax, we saw Ronda is capable of selling, but that's not what this match needed. Ronda was in control the whole way and won in strong, convincing fashion and the women's title is better for it.
The Demon King Returns:
One of the cooler surprises of the event was Finn Balor returning with his Demon King gimmick against Baron Corbin currently wrestling as a Staples manager who plays in an alternative cover band on the weekend. The Demon won to remain undefeated in that gimmick. I'm a fan of Balor's work and I get the intrigue of "The Demon King" only coming out for special appearances, but I would not be against Balor wrestling with this gimmick full time. His charisma doubles when he plays this character and it would probably improve his spot on the card and marketability. Just throwing it out there. If you agree, leave a comment below. T Balor Club For Everyone stuff is nice but I don't see that as a breakthrough mainstream gimmick like I can see the Demon gimmick being. The Demon I can see capturing the imagination of kids and older fans alike and launching Balor into a new level of popularity. This is when he most comes off as a real superstar.
If one person working on this show though Charlotte would get cheered over Becky, they're out of touch and don't listen to their audience:
The title of that one says it all. Like I said in my preview I expected WWE to have Becky turn on Charlotte since they've been portraying her as the more jealous one on TV. The problem is Becky is a natural babyface who people has been under-pushed the last couple years, including not too long ago when after WrestleMania she worked a losing streak gimmick.
Charlotte is a a natural heel who has been given plenty of opportunities since coming to the main roster and got pinned CLEAN by Carmella only to take a month off to get outrageously huge tis (yeah, this might sound weird, but now her tits are too big for her body) and waltz back into a title match. People were thrilled to see Becky get her spot and then Charlotte came back and kind of stole her thunder out from underneath her. On top of that Charlotte his the "Natural Selection" (again, ironic given her recent enhancements) on her friend and pinned her for the win. So, the supposed "babyface" here didn't even pin the champion who she never truly beat, she pinned her friend.
After the match, the fans booed at Charlotte winning the title back. Becky and Charlotte hugged. The fans booed even harder. Becky then attacked Charlotte to a huge pop and what can I say but... I KNEW IT! Hopefully I'm mis-reading this and this is exactly the reaction they were expecting and wanting to happen and Charlotte turns heel as a result because she is so much better in that role. As the story played out the fans are more sympathetic towards Becky. She may have come off like a sore loser, but I don't think anyone blames her. Everyone was happy to see her get her moment and when Charlotte returned and was inserted into the match that's when fans collectively though "aww shit, they're just going to put the belt back on Charlotte again aren't they..." and that's what happened.
Becky got the pop of the night, while when Charlotte was shown crying after her attack the fans BOOED again. After the match, Charlotte had this to tweet:
Shit. Did she delete it? Ugh, whatever.
Well, it was something like "they say it's lonely at the top, but the view sure is nice". That is a pretty heelish line when you add the second part there. On Instagram she has the same picture but without the "but the view sure is nice" part posted in the caption. So, I guess we are supposed to feel bad that he friend snapped after having the rug pulled out from underneath her. She did an interview for WWE's social media crying about losing her friend which is obviously babyface posturing. So who knows where WWE is going to go with this, but if this past decade of booking patterns is any indication, they are going to give f*** all who you boo or cheer or who you like more than the other, they are going to work their magic and pull out all their tricks to make you cheer Charlotte over Becky. Which is too bad because Charlotte is obviously a great talent, but she is not a great babyface. She's a great heel though. I mean she can still be the champion and be on posters as a heel... right? You may think it doesn't matter who is a face or a heel but it does when WWE is going to try to position someone as the "good guy" in the story that the live audience isn't sympathetic for at all.
The Tag Team Championships Still Mean Nothing:
The Raw tag titles were on pre-show duty and the B-Team beat The Revival with a hokey banana peel finish. Yeah, remember when The Revival were a hot act on NXT like a lot of other hot acts on NXT? I watched TakeOver this past Saturday and saw a very good tag match and I can't help but feel bad for them because their future on the main roster is not as bright. They'll make more money, but this company simply doesn't care about making tag-team wrestling a priority. It's bad enough some good NXT acts are immediately turned into jokes on the main roster, but if you're a tag team you don't stand a chance. This is your future, NXT superstars. Getting beat by an accidental roll up to the B-Team.
The Bludgeon Brothers lost to The New Day with a DQ finish. Unlike AJ and Joe, I don't think this one was good. I don't know why monsters like the Bludgeon Brothers need to escape with a DQ against smaller comedy guys. On top of that, no one reacted to Erik Rowan finally using one of their mallets because they look as fake as any Halloween prop you'll find in stores next month. Unlike Triple H's sledgehammer, which fans saw was real and looked real because it was a common sledgehammer from The Home Depot the Bludgeon Brothers have come out with gimmicky prop mallets for months that never got used as weapons until tonight. Whatever. The finish was weak and it sure sucks to be a tag team in WWE right now.
Kevin Owens from killer to candyass:
I'm all for Braun Strowman being booked like a monster, but damn does it feel like Kevin Owens pissed someone off in WWE. Last year was probably my favorite year for Kevin Owens since he joined WWE. This year, however, would be my least favorite. On SmackDown, Kevin Owens was a killer who bashed in 72 year old Vince McMahon's head. Now he's just a whiny pussy hiding in Kurt Angle's office and bitching to Stephanie McMahon on the phone. Lately Kevin Owens has been portrayed as a bit of a chickenshit and has taken some pretty crazy bumps the last few months. In this match he was destroyed. Definitely a low point for Kevin's WWE career. Sometimes its good for a heel to be a chickenshit. It's worked for guys like The Miz (who I will get into in my wrap up at the end) but Kevin Owens has already been established as a tough-guy bully type. Just imagine if Samoa Joe a few short months from now started acting like how Kevin Owens is right now? Ouch. Yeah. That's how I feel about this.
To wrap things up here for SummerSlam, I'll say I think Daniel Bryan vs The Miz was the match of the night. I expected a clean babyface finish, but I'm ok with the feud continuing. I do think the story is a little weird that they say Bryan never reached his full potential because he hasn't starred in shitty WWE films or sat and chatted with that lousy old hag Kathie Lee Gifford on the Today Show when Bryan has in fact main evented Wrestlemania. Won at Wrestlemania. He was also at the time, and possibly today, their most popular superstar. Yet none of the babyface announcers have countered with this point. The Miz won by using brass knuckles given to him by his wife at ringside. Backstage Bryan accepted the loss, which is funny because he knew Miz cheated but Roman Reigns, the supposed top hero in the company spent the whole spring and summer bitching and whining about the referee f***ing up the decision of the title match at the Greatest Royal Rumble. Brie was there acting as Bryan's "Adrian" telling him to never give up and oddly it seemed like they were building towards a mixed tag by having Brie express her frustrations with Maryse... I don't want to see that. Just keep it Bryan and Miz.
Speaking of the Bella's they were plastered throughout this show for some reason at random points. They looked great, but the fans did not care to see them. They got booed every time they were on TV. The WWE now calls them "trailblazers" of the women's division. I guess "trailblazer" is their female form of the word "legend". You know how they call EVERY male wrestler that is retired or over the age of 40 a "legend"? Yeah, the women are "trailblazers" now. I'd like to know that trail the Bella's blazed. They were the faces of the weakest era of women's wrestling for WWE. Early on they were mainly arm candy for celebrity guest hosts and their careers were basically made by shaking their asses on the stage and having a minute long "match" as bathroom filler that usually ended in a roll-up. Hey, I know the Bellas have their fans, but don't get angry at me. I'm just pointing out the facts. The Bella's aren't trailblazers. When they came into WWE the trail was already mapped, laid, paved and explored. They just had to show up, be hot twins, and do their routine. They're as much "trailblazers" as Candace Michelle or Kelly Kelly. That's not a knock. They were hired to do a certain gig and played it. Trailblazers though? Come on.
As a final grade, I'd give this show a B-. This has not been a great year for WWE PPV's but this show was pretty good. Not great, but pretty good. Of course there's the usual complaints about it being too long, but the show felt well paced given the circumstances. I don't think Roman won any fans over by beating Brock with all the smoke and mirrors involved in that segment, but I doubt they care. Like I said. Fox deal. Monopoly. They're getting their money anyway. I know it's depressing, but that's the way it is. There's less financial incentive for WWE to give a shit what you think than ever. If you want them to listen you better hope this spike in indy popularity is more than just a flash in the pan because this company has dominated the wrestling business for 20 years now and they're set in their ways and have been given no reason to change even if ratings and attendance aren't even close to past figures even if you don't include the Attitude Era boom.
Thanks for reading, everyone. I hope you enjoy Raw tonight. Follow me on Twitter @PlanetKayfabe and I'll be back next time right here on Planet Kayfabe. For NoDQ, I'm K.C.