By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Rob Van Dam def. Cesaro (Kickoff Match)
RVD and Cesaro didn't have any reason at all to be facing each other, so while the match lacked meaning, that doesn't necessarily mean it wasn't good. The action was enjoyable and although the live crowd didn't have any incentive to care about who would win, they still reacted to the nearfalls down the stretch. Both guys have been on losing streaks as of late, so I wouldn't read too much into RVD going over. However, I really hope WWE has plans to do something of note with them going forward, especially Cesaro given his untapped potential.
Dolph Ziggler def. The Miz to Win the Intercontinental Championship
Miz gets a lot of flack for "not knowing how to wrestle", but I wholeheartedly disagree with that sentiment and this match is proof of that. Granted, their Raw match from last month was slightly better, but this was still a good effort from both guys. They work well together and I hope to see their feud continue past this point. Ziggler winning the strap was a pleasant surprise that did more to kick off the show on a high note than Miz retaining would have. Yes, the quick title change damages Miz and the belt, but Ziggler can do more to make it mean something than The Awesome One could.
Paige def. AJ Lee to Win the Divas Championship
I was hoping for a longer match between Paige and AJ this month, but they were given roughly five minutes. Despite that, they made the most of the brief time they were allotted and the finishing sequence was very well done. I like how Paige picked up the clean win and her as champion puts AJ back in chase mode and keeps the rivalry interesting. Anyone who believes the rumors that the title was taken off AJ so she could focus on settling down and having a family is a fool. AJ retaining here would have killed the feud, so Paige winning the strap was the only logical outcome. What a way to celebrate a birthday for Paige.
Rusev def. Jack Swagger in a Flag Match
The match delivered in terms of in-ring action and they managed to hold the crowd's interest for most of the match. They told a nice story with Swagger targeting the injured angle of Rusev only for Rusev to battle back and pick up the victory. I'm completely content with Rusev going over, but the kick he hit Swagger with before locking in The Accolade looked terrible and took away from the finish. Rusev has to remain undefeated for the foreseeable future, but Swagger's momentum shouldn't be derailed with this loss. He's gotten himself over these last few months and I'd hate to see him back to being an enhancement talent now that this feud is over. Why not give him the United States Championship? It's not like Sheamus is doing anything worthwhile with it.
Seth Rollins def. Dean Ambrose in a Lumberjack Match
I'm no fan of Lumberjack matches and was initally disappointed when this match was announced to carry said stipulation, but I'd be damned if they didn't make it the greatest Lumberjack match I've ever seen. The two have awesome chemistry together and had a strong showing considering it was their first ever singles match against each other. They were even able to take the fight out to the crowd and incorporate outside interference from the Lumberjacks (and Kane) that allowed Rollins to score the win via dirty tactics. It protects Rollins and prolongs Ambrose's eventual victory over his arch-rival. Rollins vs. Ambrose feels like a feud that could go on-and-off for years and still be entertaining, similar to Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels during the Ruthless Aggression Era.
Bray Wyatt def. Chris Jericho
This was no blockbuster bout by any means, but it was a vast improvement over their Battleground encounter. The crowd wasn't invested in the action early on, and who can blame them? They had the tough task of following the hot Rollins vs. Ambrose match. With that said, they did the best they could and the crowd was solidly split between the two during the final few minutes. Wyatt going over clean was a nice touch, though I don't think this is the end of the rivalry. Expect a rubber match at the Night of Champions pay-per-view before Jericho takes another hiatus from the company.
Stephanie McMahon def. Brie Bella
I expected this to be more of an angle than an actual match given Stephanie's lack of in-ring experience (and having not wrestled a match in over a decade), but I was shocked how well wrestled of a match this ended up being. From a technical standpoint, Paige vs. AJ Lee was better, of course, but Stephanie had an impressive outing against Brie, who carried Stephanie to an entertaining match. The interference from Triple H and Nikki Bella was only inevitable and Nikki's heel turn couldn't have been more foreshadowed. Though it was predictable, I didn't mind it. Granted, I think it was too soon for it to happen, but it allows Brie to feud with her sister while shifting her focus away from Stephanie for the time being.
Roman Reings def. Randy Orton
I was worried Reigns and Orton would be given too much time before the main event and would ultiamtely bore the viewers to tears, but they certainly exceeded my expectations. I wouldn't go so far as to say it was a great match, but they really took the intensity up a notch toward the end. Orton's RKO on Reigns was a beautiful spot and everything else that followed it was nicely timed. It was a solid match that was easily the best bout Reigns has contested on his own to date. Does Reigns' clean win over Orton signal the end of the rivalry or is it only getting started?
Brock Lesnar def. John Cena to Win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
It's hard to compare this to their Extreme Rules 2012 match because both bouts told two completely different stories. This match wasn't held under no disqualification rules, so they weren't allowed to go all out like they did the first time, but this was still a strong match with Lesnar looking like a total beast and Cena coming off as a fighting champion with resilience. I couldn't believe how one-sided it was, and I'm actually somewhat glad about that. No, not only because I wanted to see Lesnar take the title, but because it was something out of the ordinary and was fitting for Lesnar. It was perhaps the most dominant WWE title victory I've ever seen and I loved every second of it. There was no way Lesnar could lose here and this major title win was done in a way that whoever eventually beats him for the belt will be a made man.
This show lived up to and surpassed my original expectations of being a great show. Honestly, the only thing I would have done/booked differently was the Rusev vs. Jack Swagger match, but even the ending result of that match was understandable. There were three title changes, a heel turn and a lot of excellent in-ring action. Lesnar's WWE World Heavyweight Championship win also has viewers looking forward to what's next for him, Cena and the title picture in general. I've seen several awesome SummerSlam events these last few years, but this one in particular found a way to top them all. Now the key is the aftermath as the fall season quickly approaches. Here's hoping WWE can capitalize off this momentum and carry into the next few months.
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