Kickoff Show: WWE Cruiserweight Champion Drew Gulak def. Oney lorcan
I'm positive Gulak and Lorcan could deliver a barn burner in front of the right crowd and with more time, but seeing as how the arena was half full when the bell rang, I'm not shocked that the fans in attendance didn't pay too much attention to this. It didn't help that it felt like Gulak and Lorcan were holding back a bit and went for a pretty basic bout. It was perfectly serviceable, but we all know they're capable of much more. Hopefully the feud will continue so we can get that gem out of them on 205 Live one of these days.
Kickoff Show: Buddy Murphy def. Apollo Crews by Disqualification
Although this had the potential to be a great match on paper, you had to know someone was going to interfere because of how random it was. I mean, Murphy hasn't wrestled a single matchup as a member of the SmackDown Live roster yet, and all of a sudden WWE decides to put him on the SummerSlam Kickoff show? Come on. This was fun while it lasted, but Rowan's interference cut it short. It was a logical way to follow up on Murphy accusing Rowan last Tuesday night of attacking Roman Reigns, who was nowhere to be seen on this show.
Kickoff Show: Edge Attacked Elias
Elias' shtick at this point is all about who will interrupt him. He's right where he belongs on the card and I don't have any interest in seeing him challenge for a championship until his act evolves. I figured Chad Gable would interrupt him because WWE teased something between them in a backstage segment on Tuesday's episode of SmackDown, but Canada's own Edge coming out to lay out Elias with a spear was obviously way better. Unless I'm mistaken, Edge hasn't gotten physical in a WWE ring since he retired eight years ago, so that was a pleasant surprise.
Kickoff Show: WWE Women's Tag Team Champions Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross def. The IIConics
Both teams are heel, so I'm not sure who the crowd was supposed to cheer for here. They got a kick out of Bliss and Peyton Royce going at it early on, but that was about it. This was hardly anything special, though I'm glad The IIconics' rematch is out of the way so Bliss and Cross can move on to fresh challengers (they're already being advertised to defend against The Kabuki Warriors on Raw, which I think is a bit too soon). If nothing else, as a longtime Toy Story fan, I found Bliss' tribute to Buzz Lightyear with her gear awesome.
Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch def. Natalya in a Submission Match
The Submission stipulation being added didn't make me any more excited for this outing than I was originally, but to their credit, they made it work to the best of their ability. They benefited from not having disqualifications and I thought they got creative with some of the holds. As expected, Natalya didn't exactly receive a hero's welcome from the Canadian crowd, but Lynch wasn't overly beloved, either.
Goldberg def. Dolph Ziggler
You can't tell me with a straight face that you truly thought this would go more than two minutes. It's Dolph goddamn Ziggler for goodness sake! There's no point in complaining about him jobbing out to Goldberg because the ship sailed on Ziggler years ago. He might as well be used for stuff like this at this stage of his WWE career until he decides to take his talent elsewhere. This was exactly what it needed to be and Ziggler selling the spear (three times, no less) was a satisfying sight.
United States Champion AJ Styles def. Ricochet
To be completely honest, I was slightly underwhelmed by what we got here. From an in-ring standpoint, it was a very good wrestling match, but I expected more from them, as this felt a lot like their encounter from Extreme Rules. They didn't go all out on the big stage and worked a fairly standard singles match. There were some cool moments (including that fantastic finish), but this wasn't an all-time classic or anything along those lines. I'm glad Styles retained the title because The O.C. deserves to hold all the gold for a little longer. Ricochet can always get the belt back down the road.
SmackDown Women's Champion Bayley def. Ember Moon
WWE really screwed themselves by giving fans zero reasons to care about this championship clash in the weeks preceding this pay-per-view. Bayley and Moon facing off one-on-one for the first time ever should have meant a lot more than it did, so I don't blame the fans in attendance for sitting on their hands for this one bit. It was well-wrestled match, but there was no suspense over the outcome. Fans didn't have a desire to see either one of them come out on top, so this fell flat for me, unfortunately. It'd be nice if they were given the chance to redeem themselves at the next pay-per-view, but WWE would first have to put effort into creating a compelling program between them.
Kevin Owens def. Shane McMahon (Elias Served as Special Guest Enforcer)
Shane going back and forth with Owens (like he did with Reigns at Super ShowDown) would have been comical because he is nowhere near Owens' level, so it was probably for the best that this was more of an angle than an actual match. It was filled with shenanigans, which I didn't care too much for, but at least the result was what it should have been. Anyone claiming that Shane being all over WWE TV for this long was worth it for the reaction Owens received here could not be more wrong. This should have happened all the way back at WrestleMania with The Miz beating Shane, but better later than never, I suppose. On a side note, I'm curious whether Drew McIntyre not helping out Shane will factor into anything on Raw. Ideally, I'd prefer to see him turn on Shane and embark on a long awaited babyface run.
Charlotte Flair def. Trish Stratus
WWE trots a lot (and I mean A LOT) of legends out to the ring who clearly can't go anymore (see: The Undertaker vs. Goldberg from Super ShowDown in June) and it's just embarrassing. However, that wasn't the case with Stratus here whatsoever. It's actually quite amazing that she hadn't wrestled a one-on-one match since 2011 yet she didn't miss a beat. Of course, she had an excellent opponent in Flair, but everything about this was really well done. The crowd was hot for it, Stratus delivered, and the drama was on point. Flair winning was what needed to happen and Stratus gets to ride off into the sunset knowing she closed her career on her terms and in one of the best ways possible. I really liked this.
WWE Champion Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton Ended in a Double Count-Out
I was looking forward to this match more than anything else on this entire card, so I was disappointed by what we ended up getting here. That's not to say it was a bad bout by any means, but it lacked the drama of what you'd want out of a WWE Championship matchup. Unfortunately, it followed the formula of every other title defense Kingston has had on pay-per-view in recent months: Decent albeit unspectacular. Worse yet, the double count-out ending was completely lame. I'm happy the feud isn't over, but WWE literally copied what they did last year with Styles and Samoa Joe last year at SummerSlam, right down to Kingston's family sitting at ringside. That was really lazy.
"The Fiend" Bray Wyatt def. Finn Balor
As expected, Wyatt stole the show before he even entered the ring. That entrance was on another level. I need that theme song as soon as possible! There was no need for this to be a competitive contest, but Balor briefly scoring some offense before eating defeat was acceptable. This was all about Wyatt and getting his new character over in a major way. They were certainly successful. I'd argue he feels more like a star now than he did when he debuted his previous character six years ago. WWE has something special on their hands here. Fingers crossed they don't screw it up.
Seth Rollins def. Brock Lesnar to Win the Universal Championship
Lesnar can be an amazing athlete when he wants to be and this match proved he can still hang with the best of them when he doesn't feel like phoning it in. I assumed this would be a glorified squash since Rollins came into this event "injured," and although it was illogical for him to get as much in as he did (in addition to emerging victorious), I thought this was a tremendous sprint with an electric atmosphere to boot. It was a lose-lose situation because I had no interest in seeing Lesnar hold the title for more than a month again and Rollins regaining the gold so soon made the Money in the Bank cash-in pointless. Rollins' first reign was a bust, so we'll see if his second stint with the strap will be any different.
Once again, WWE delivered a super solid pay-per-view in spite of a bad buildup. Now the question is how they'll follow up on it, because if the last few events have been any indication, they almost always fail to maintain the momentum. Raw and SmackDown have largely remained uninteresting, but I'm hopeful they can turn things around heading into the fall season. There weren't too many memorable matches on this show in my opinion, but Wyatt's return to the ring, Stratus going out on a high note, Goldberg squashing Ziggler, Rollins conquering Lesnar (again), and Edge coming back on the Kickoff for a quick cameo were among the top highlights.
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