Wrestlemania’s cute little brother rolled around for the 27th time and for the sixth straight year it took place in the Staples Center. The show was squarely promoted around a title bout between Brock Lesnar and John Cena. Unless you live under a rock or with Lesnar in a town that has just one phone (no joke) you’ve seen “the biggest fight of the summer” ads somewhere on the internet, assuming that you have internet access.
Otherwise how would you be reading this column?
The overall card presented some intriguing matchups, mainly the clash between Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, which easily featured the best buildup besides Cena-Lesnar. Here are my thoughts on the show:
Title change of the night: Brock Lesnar defeats John Cena to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. I must begin by noting that Lesnar hit 16 German Suplexes during his 16 minute contest against Cena. SIXTEEN GERMAN SUPLEXES. Cena sold each and every one of them like a champ. I loved Lesnar hitting an early F5, which the crowd popped huge for. It would have been interesting if that sequence was the finish for the match because not only would it have trained the crowd that a finish can happen at any time, even in a title match, but it would have left the door open for a more believable rematch at Night of Champions.
I suppose Cena could come out and cut a promo stating that this was the worst beating of his career and then questions if he has what it takes to beat Lesnar before evoking his rematch clause at NOC, but I’m fine with keeping Cena off TV for a while to sell the beating he took. The major problem with doing this is, who is Lesnar’s next opponent?
Roman Reigns is being groomed to face Brock at Wrestlemania 31, so it would be idiotic to burn their first encounter this early on. You could….
(looks at roster)
There’s a name that makes sense even if I don’t want to see him on my TV ever again. The Big Show. Perhaps Heyman issues an open challenge to the roster and Big Show takes him up on it. It gives Lesnar another opponent that he can crush before leaving until Survivor Series. Lesnar needs to be booked as strong as possible so when someone finally gets some sustained offense on him it feels that much more important. He’s a unique character in a world filled with guys that are for the majority stuffed down our throats every week.
Putting the title on Lesnar was absolutely the right decision. It helps the title feel that much more special when he defends it and in order to watch him defend it, you’ll have to see it on the network.
Botch of the night: Rusev whiffing on a spin kick. When Michael Cole has to use the words, glancing blow, you know it was bad. Rusev totally missed Swagger in a pretty big spot. After the match he delivered a weak kick to the side of Zeb Colter, who sold it as a head kick.
I enjoyed the storytelling of the flag match between Rusev and Swagger. Rusev deserves a Slammy for best sell of the year as he made his ankle legitimately look like it was injured, but the finish just didn’t connect with me. I felt like the crowd wasn’t sure how to react to Swagger passing out to The Accolade. It’s time for Rusev to have some type of power move as his finisher. Personally I would have liked to have seen a flag match where the objective was to grab the flag from atop the ring post as opposed to a regular match with the stipulation being a post-match celebration as it would have allowed Swagger to win without pinning or submitting Rusev.
Let’s see how the crowd reacts to Swagger going forward, but he could have used the win her as it’s hard to imagine the crowd being behind Swagger in a feud where Old Glory isn’t the babyface.
Match of the night: The lumberjack match between Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. Two hot mid card feuds, who would have thunk it? This one was booked to perfection as Rollins and Ambrose interacted way more with the lumberjacks than they did with each other, which leaves the impression that there is still quite a bit more to be seen in the ring between these two.
Some great spots from the match:
- Ambrose suplexing Rollins from the apron onto a group of the lumberjacks.
- Ambrose diving from the top rope to the outside and knocking down every lumberjack and Rollins.
- Ambrose rebounding off of the ropes and hitting one of the best clotheslines in recent memory.
- Rollins getting hit with the curb stomp.
I could easily have a separate section here just for Ambrose’s facials, which are always good, but were especially memorable during this match.
Rollins’ Money in the Bank briefcase has to get incorporated into this feud at some point. They could have a cage match at NOC, which they somehow get out of and brawl to the back and out of the arena, which would then lead to a match in October at Hell in the Cell with the briefcase on the line. With Ambrose taking time off soon to film a WWE Studios movie, it gives Rollins the opportunity to build up some more heat by coming out on top. (I loved the crowd reaction to Rollins winning at SS, he needs to get booed like that more often.)
Worst match of the night: Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt. The match between these two wasn’t bad at all as the pacing was really well done, but the buildup has been so lackluster that the crowd didn’t seem interested in these two at all besides their entrances. Kudos to Jericho for stepping up his jacket game, top notch stuff.
Wyatt is one of the best characters in the company right now, but I’ve yet to be blown away by any match featuring him. His last man standing match against Cena back at Battleground was entertaining, but the gimmick really helped both guys string together some super good spots. It’s a shame Jericho hasn’t busted out a face version of his serious character from his 2008 run and maybe that’s coming in the buildup to their match at NOC if they do indeed do a rubber match, which seems logical. I’m personally okay with seeing these two go their separate ways, but I don’t know what program you would put either of them in.
The Bella turn of the night: Nikki drilling Brie with a forearm. Has there ever been a more telegraphed turn in the history of the company? Once Nikki ran out behind HHH it was pretty clear what was going to happen, if you’ve watched wrestling for more than a couple weeks that is. The key sell here was the look on Nikki’s face as she walked to the back. She had a look of remorse, which means that this turn is going to probably get dragged out over the next couple of months. There’s too much TV time that needs to be filled, so a slow burn works perfectly here.
Overall I enjoyed the match between Brie and Chyna Jr. (come on, that outfit Stephanie was wearing was right out of Chyna’s closet), especially the Brie baseball slide spot she delivered to Triple H. Am I looking forward to Brie vs. Nikki? No effing way, but it’s nice to see the divas get some extended television time.
Celebrity cameo of the night: Bill Simmons!
I can’t believe that happened moment of the night: Dolph Ziggler beats the Miz to win the Intercontinental Championship. I love the idea of putting the IC title on the workhorse who will defend it at will, but how long will this title reign last? Ziggler was booked in a very favorable manner leading up to this match, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Miz quickly take the title back from him as the title win was most likely just a way to get the SummerSlam crowd off to a hot start.
Best finishing sequence of the night: Roman Reigns and Randy Orton. Starting with Orton backdropping Reigns onto the announce table, this match really picked up. Orton’s powerslam counter of the spear was just fantastic as was the midair RKO he hit out of nowhere. Reigns fired back up and hit the spear and pinned Orton clean, which would lead you to think we’re going to get Reigns-HHH at NOC.
I did have a thought before Reigns was hit with the powerslam, how long is it before the crowd turns on Reigns? He’s really hot right now because he’s going through his first singles run against everyone, but he needs to add some depth to his moveset in order for his matches to not get stale.
Overall I’ll give SummerSlam 2014 a 9 out of 10. The card was enjoyable from top to bottom and was paced extremely well as all of the matches felt like they had the proper amount of time to shine (AJ-Paige could have used about five more minutes). Lesnar winning the title is going to drastically change the way the next eight months are booked, but it’s a welcomed change. For all of those who are complaining about the fact that the champion isn’t going to be on every PPV or a weekly TV character are forgetting how long the title held by the dangerous vacant last year.
Lesnar is going to help elevate the title back to a prestigious level and whoever is given the rub (win) over him will look that much more important.
Follow me on Twitter @Scottdargis