WWE SummerSlam 2017
August 20, 2017
Barclays Center
Brooklyn, New York

Watch: WWE Network

Meet our previewers

  • Joe Lanza: Internationally acclaimed broadcast journalist as heard on BBC Radio. The most compelling voice in wrestling media. A reasoned and well explained man. Tinder Mahal. A feckless troll. The King of Banter. And now, a respected voice actor.
  • Rich Kraetsch: The face that runs the place. One-half of the Voices of Wrestling flagship podcast, managing editor of this site and man who just renewed the VoicesofWrestling.com domain name last week. So if you hate this site, sorry, we’re going to be around for another year. Keep up with the latest haps at Voices of Wrestling by following @VoicesWrestling on Twitter and checking out the awesome Voices of Wrestling Podcast Network.
  • Kelly Harrass: Your usual WWE PPV reviewer is joined today by both halves of the VOW flagship podcast. Kelly does a podcast of his own, the Panels on Pages PoP!-Cast, and you can listen to him talk about superheroes pooping their pants there. If you want his up to the minute musings on dumb garbage, follow him on Twitter @comicgeekelly. For the record, Kelly had to work so the pre-show went unwatched, but he thinks that title belts being defended on the pre-show just adds to their prestige. *eyeroll forever*

The Miz and The Miztourage def. The Hardyz & Jason Jordan

Joe LanzaI had all sorts of jokes ready for Jason “Lemme Borrow Some Of That PROGRESS NYC Heat” Jordan, but apparently a late added stip meant this was an empty arena match, so nobody got any kind of reaction.

The six of them did mostly nothing until the closing stretch, and who could blame them? It’s disrespectful to send veteran wrestlers like The Hardy’s & The Miz out there to work in front of (literally) a couple of hundred fans, so if they *must* continue to book 197 matches on these six hour plus Mania and SummerSlam shows, they should probably avoid humiliating the veterans by either backloading all of the pre show bouts into the second hour, or scheduling prelim workers to curtain jerk. This was hard to watch. **

WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Neville def. Akira Tozawa ©

Joe Lanza: I wasn’t crazy about the Akira Tozawa title win on RAW, which felt flat and didn’t come off like an kind of special moment for Tozawa or feel like any sort proper ending to Neville’s excellent title run. It was also patently obvious that it was going to be a quickie switch, which played out here, further diluting what could have (and should have) been a much more impactful end to Neville’s reign. Flat out poor booking that didn’t do either dude a single favor.

Neville got his knees up on the top rope senton and hit the Red Arrow, playing off the finish of the RAW bout. The Red Arrow delivered to Tozawa’s back after catching the force of Neville’s knees was a nice psychology touch. Good match, but the Neville/Tozawa series isn’t in the same universe as the Neville/Aries feud. *** match, -***** booking.

WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championships
The Usos def. The New Day ©

Joe Lanza: These two teams (in this case, Big E in place of Kofi) tore the house down at Battleground, and they topped it here. The real surprise in both bouts was Xavier Woods, once considered the weak in-ring link of the team, but who now has been the star of the team in two consecutive PPV title bouts. Xavier’s rope walk springboard assisted Big Ending was the highlight spot of the match. ****¼

John Cena def. Baron Corbin

Joe Lanza: This was a match. Corbin has either fell out of favor in record time, or the rumored Superstar Shakeup has him moving to RAW with a renewed push. I’d be more inclined to believe the former after Corbin’s mouth got him into some trouble on the Twitter machine last week, combined with the fact that he simply isn’t very good. Corbin benefits greatly when smaller opponents like Dolph Ziggler or Kalisto bounce all over the place and take wild bumps for him, but struggles and shows his holes otherwise. Cena hasn’t exactly been on fire since his return, either. **1/2

Rich Kraetsch: This time last week Baron Corbin was the Money in the Bank briefcase holder set for a big time match at SummerSlam against one of the legends of the sport in John Cena. Welp. He’s currently briefcase-less and his big time match with Cena opened the show and worst of all, he lost and looked like crap doing it. Corbin just doesn’t have it. His offense is boring, his selling leaves a lot to be desired and overall, the crowd just doesn’t care about him. I’m not going to leave Cena off the hook here as he’s been paint-by-numbers in this most recent return. He is either disinterested with his current programs or we may be seeing someone with one foot out of the door doing just enough to get by but no longer looking to go out and have top-tier matches. Either way, this was a nothing match and those looking for Corbin to rebound after SmackDown will be severely very disappointed. **

WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship
Natalya def. Naomi (c)

Joe Lanza: Two thoughts watching this. First off, was Natalya always this pedestrian of a worker, because it feels like she was much better years ago. Maybe a combination of being surrounded by a lousy women’s division earlier in her run, but now being surpassed by the new generation of talent? Secondly, remember after the early TakeOver’s the idea was that the main roster would be motivated to not be shown up by the NXT crew? You never hear that anymore. After Asuka and Ember Moon put on the WWE women’s match of the year (and a low key overall WWE MOTY contender) one night earlier, it sure didn’t feel like these two were out to top it. **3/4

Rich Kraetsch: The best Natalya match… maybe ever? Certainly the best since her TakeOver match with Charlotte many moons ago. Her offense throughout was both creative and smooth with the biggest victory of all coming when she actually remember she was a heel for the entirety of the match. Naomi worked her ass off to taking some punishing damage throughout the match and should get credit for making Natalya’s innovative offense look great. My only criticism was it went a bit long and could’ve been even better slimmed down by about five minutes. Still, I was a huge fan of this match and stunned by the result. Fun fact: this is only Natalya’s second women’s title win… How is that even possible? Charlotte has five in her relatively short WWE main roster career. Sasha has three. How does Natalya who has been a main roster fixture since 2008. ***1/4

Kelly Harrass: I feel like for the past several years, we’ve been saying that Naomi has all the puzzle pieces, she just has to put them together. This match was when everything finally clicked. I thought Naomi was awesome here and Nattie did pretty great herself. I’d agree with Rich and say that this might be the best match that I’ve ever seen Natalya in. She was awesome as the asskicker heel here, just beating the hell out of Naomi at every chance she had. This is a weird comparison, but this felt like a Dragon Gate match. Not with the speed of the match, but more with the story they told. Natalya was the stronger of the two and was shitty to Naomi for the entire match. Normally, you would see the babyface overcome the odds and retain their title. Here, the comeback happened, but it was cut off and the stronger and meaner of the two took the belt home. While this match is nothing that I would ever revisit, I enjoyed watching it while shoving pizza in my head. ***1/4

Big Cass def. Big Show

Joe Lanza: Tellin’ stories. ½*

Rich Kraetsch: What the fuck was this match? Big Show sold his taped up hand the entire match, Enzo lubed himself up, stripped to his boxers and escaped the cage only to eat a big boot. Cass won. Find a better way to spend 10 minutes of your life. DUD

Kelly Harrass: You know a match sure was something when a greased up Enzo is the highlight. Remember back when Big Show had that great match with Braun? Yeah, this wasn’t like that. It was bad. Even worse, it was boring. Who wants limb work in a match with two big boys? Not me. So close to being a dud, but it was saved by the sheer absurdity of Enzo’s lube assisted escape. ½*

Randy Orton def. Rusev

Rich Kraetsch: What the hell was that? What is this PPV? Why are we doing this to ourselves? NR

Kelly Harrass: Well, I’m sure Randy had a better time tonight than he had last year when Brock split his head open. Sorry Rusev, I think they might be done with you. ¼*

WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Sasha Banks def. Alexa Bliss (c)

Joe Lanza: Another very good match between these two, with the overconfident Bliss working over Sasha’s arm and getting caught by a flash Bank Statement. Sasha took her usual wild bumps (including a couple of nasty bumps to the floor as Bliss repeatedly tossed her from the ring) and sold tremendously, with Bliss bringing her usual fantastic facials and mannerisms to the table. This was easily the best thing on the main show to this point. ***1/2

Rich Kraetsch: This was primed to be one of the standout matches of the night but ended up getting long in the tooth and really dragged in the last half. The brutality these two exude when they face one another is always entertaining but this particular match was definitely missing… something. It may be a hot take to some but I much preferred the earlier women’s match (Naomi vs. Natalya) to this. **3/4

Kelly Harrass: Look, I’ll never get tired of watching these two potato each other. The opening minutes of that match were fantastic with both women hitting hard and the action flying fast. After that, things stalled out a bit. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but the pace slowed to a halt until Bliss started attacking Sasha’s arm. Then Sasha just kind of won the match. I looked away for a second and then Bliss was tapping out. We got half of a great match, I’m not sure what happened to the rest of it. **½

“The Demon” Finn Balor def. Bray Wyatt

Rich Kraetsch: Apparently Finn Balor was “The Demon” tonight but you wouldn’t know it from the announcers who only referred to him as “The Demon” 147 times. I may sound like a broken record but again, this was just a match that lacked any real direction or focus. They did moves, they played mind games but ultimately it came and went and nobody will remember anything from it in a few months or even a few weeks. **1/2

Kelly Harrass: Why was Finn Balor covered in paint? I don’t understand. I wish there was some name to explain this change in persona. Oh well. This feud was a waste of Finn’s time and he sadly couldn’t escape the boring vortex that is Bray Wyatt. The match was just fine, but it made me confront the fact that there are two more hours to this show. Ugh. **

WWE Raw Tag Team Championships
Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose def. Cesaro & Sheamus (c)

Joe Lanza: A hot little tag match with a fantastic finish, and the ex-Shield team is super over right now with the fans. I also like the idea of removing Ambrose & Rollins from the singles scene for a bit in a very crowded RAW main event scene by sliding them into the tag division for the time being. There are some other promotions (AHEM…New Japan Pro Wrestling) who would be well served doing the same thing when top guys are left out of title mixes. ***1/2

Rich Kraetsch: Hey, some energy in this show! Yay. Rollins and Ambrose showed just how great they were as tag workers making me wonder if that’s their long-term outlook. Both can obviously deliver in a singles environment but seem to work with so much more energy and enthusiasm in tags. Rollins in particular can seem lost in singles match but his brand of high-flying, high-energy offense works so well in the confines of a tag match. Cesaro and Sheamus were equally great in this match with Cesaro once again proving to be one of the most talented workers on this entire roster. In a spot of the night, Cesaro slid outside the ring and ripped apart a beach ball the fans were using to distract themselves. I doubt this was planned but you couldn’t have come up with a better way to get fans re-energized. Cesaro ripped the beach ball and the crowd was ALL IN from that point on. Great match. ****

Kelly Harrass: Cesaro cemented himself as an all time great in this match by snatching a beach ball out of the crowd and ripping it apart with his bare hands. Oddly enough, that moment was a turning point in the match and after that, it got the juice that it needed. I enjoyed this quite a bit. Even though they lost their titles, Cesaro and Sheamus looked pretty dominant in the match, controlling most of the contest. Ambrose and Rollins took turns playing the babyface in peril until they got their stuff together and were able to win the belts after a flurry of offense. These two teams have great chemistry and I hope that this feud continues beyond tonight. In a world of endless rematches, this is one I wouldn’t mind seeing again. ***1/2

WWE United States Championship
AJ Styles def. Kevin Owens

Joe Lanza: A very good match, with the guest referee stip as non intrusive as it possibly could have been despite a couple of 80’s house show style midget match spots. Not the smoothest work, but even minor flubs, like a sloppy pop up powerbomb and AJ losing Owens on a crucifix, were covered up nicely (in the case of the botched crucifix, Styles adjusted on the fly into a schoolboy and then immediately used an impromptu Styles Clash knowing full well it would pop the crowd and hide the flub). Styles is such a dynamic worker, that it’s really hard for him to have a flat out bad match, and even when he’s not “on”, he still tends to settle in at very good. ****

Rich Kraetsch: These two have the weirdest chemistry. When they are on, it’s great but when they are off, even by a few inches, man, is it a wreck. How two supremely talented guys who are usually as reliable as they come get so sloppy when they face off with one another, we’ll never know. This match flip flopped throughout bordering on awesome before reeling you in with either an overdone ref bump or a sloppy Styles Clash attempt or botched counter. Owens’ in-ring banter is untouched and this may have been his best yet. He continued to poke at guest referee Shane McMahon at one point admonishing him by saying “You jump off buildings but can’t get up to make a count?!” This at its core was an awesome match but the ref bumps and botches in-between dock it a few stars. ***3/4

Kelly Harrass: For me, this was by far the best match these two have had in this company. Their previous meetings were not very good, but I felt like their chemistry finally came together. With Shane as the special referee, I was just waiting for his inevitable interference, but it didn’t really come into play. Shane got knocked around and shoved by the wrestlers, but outside of responding with shoves to both men, he called things right down the middle. One downside to the match is that both Styles and Owens came off as dicks with Shane being the face stuck in the middle. Storytelling issues aside, I really enjoyed this and I would say that it’s my favorite match thus far. Also, it was great to see the Styles Clash finish a match for once. ****

WWE Championship
Jinder Mahal (c) def. Shinsuke Nakamura

Joe Lanza: Shtick aside, irony aside, jokes aside, Jinder Mahal is a bad pro wrestler. He’s not offensively terrible, but make no mistake, in terms of bell to bell performance, he is not good at professional wrestling. His promos are fine, his heel mannerisms are very good, he projects his character very well, but once that bell rings, he’s likely among the five worst wrestlers on the WWE roster, males, females, and green NXT talent included. This was a bad match, probably the worst legitimate non gimmick WWE world title match since the crash TV/Attitude Era (at minimum), and it all comes down to Jinder’s limitations. He runs out of offensive ideas almost instantly (or perhaps the agents don’t trust him with anything other than this repetitive, mundane match structure) rendering all of his heat segments into identical extended rest holds. He isn’t a very good athlete, so he sells awkwardly with stiff movements, often looking like he either forgot to stretch or is simply the least flexible man on Earth. All of his match finishes are built around the Singh Brothers running in and taking his big bumps for him, likely because the office knows Jinder can’t cut it, or they fear he’ll tear a muscle if he’s forced to do anything remotely athletic looking. I’m tempted to call this a bad TV match with a flat (and botched – yes, this man botched his own finisher on a major PPV a few days after nearly botching a simple schoolboy spot with Baron Corbin on Smackdown) finish, but it wasn’t even that good. It was more like a piss poor low level indie match between two guys who aren’t very good and ran out of ideas, so they shrugged their shoulders and took it home early.

Look, Jinder Mahal flat out stinks. It’s time to stop pretending otherwise or waiting for him to improve. It is what it is. *

Rich Kraetsch: I expected this to be awful and it wasn’t, calling it anything more than bad would be disingenuous. Nakamura hasn’t been lighting the world on fire in WWE but there was nothing he could do here as Jinder may be the worst active male wrestler in WWE right now. A few days after botching a schoolboy, he managed to make his own finisher look like shit. He’s the pits and it’s becoming too much to ignore or take lightly. There’s a working standard in 2017 and Mahal is so, so far behind that standard. There’s nothing to his in-ring style or charisma, he’s a black hole in arguably the second biggest spot in this entire company. The India connection is great and wonderful but when is enough enough with a sinking ship as the headliner of one of your brands? *1/4

Kelly Harrass: I guess this was fine. Nak did well enough and Jinder was Jinder. I didn’t hate it, but I can’t say that I really enjoyed it either. Jinder has distracting nipples and his finisher looked like shit. Nakamura isn’t blameless either, but his effort level hasn’t been great since after he made a great first impression with the Zayn match. What this match was missing was the insane bumps from the Singh brothers, who saved both of the Jinder/Orton matches. They interfered near the end of the contest, but didn’t add much else. This India thing has to be a bigger deal than I’ve understood it to be. The Smackdown main event scene has been void of quality as of late, I really hope that the trade off is worth it. **

WWE Universal Championship
Brock Lesnar © def. Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe & Roman Reigns

Joe Lanza: This was awesome, and exactly the type of fight I wanted out of these four guys. Take away the overdone eye roll inducing stretcher recovery spot, and this is a near perfect car crash style four way match. Braun didn’t win, but came out of this looking like the biggest star and top threat to Lesnar. Roman eating the pin is another main event stamp of approval for Samoa Joe, who was protected from the finish when on paper he was the obvious choice to lose. Brock vs Braun feels like the obvious WrestleMania main event, but there’s still plenty of time to heat up Roman for the spot. ****1/2

Rich Kraetsch: Beautiful chaos and exactly what this match needed to be. From the opening bell until Brock Lesnar put away Roman Reigns clean as a sheet after an F5 this was madness and it was perfect. The story coming out of this match is Braun Strowman who thoroughly dominated the field, but most importantly Brock Lesnar. The normally untouchable Lesnar sold like crazy for Braun including multiple table spots. At one point Braun even turned push an entire table onto Lesnar. He was an absolute beast in this match and had the crowd behind him throughout. I’m nearly positive each and every participant in this match ate a Strowman Powerslam. He was the focal point from beginning to end, regardless of Lesnar sneaking out with the win. Roman Reigns has been pegged as the future star of this company but they may have backed into the real future star in Braun. I don’t know the long term play for WWE but Braun and Brock feels right after this night. The chaos of this match can’t be understated. Chairs flew, tables broke, spears were hit, barricade were broken, stretchers. This was a god damn WWE Main Event Trope Greatest Hits album. My only disappointment with this match was Samoa Joe, who was largely a non-factor throughout, I still think they have something great with him and hope they capitalize in the next few months but you can’t do it all at once. This was the Braun show and he was the highlight of this amazing car crash main event. ****1/4

Kelly Harrass: One thing that I love in wrestling is watching beefy dudes beat the piss out of each other and this is exactly what we got out of this match. The Braun and Brock interactions were money and show that this is the big future match that this company should be building to. The closing of the match makes me think that Roman/Brock might not be the big WrestleMania main event anymore. Brock pretty decisively beat Roman and this crowd gave absolutely nothing to Roman. He didn’t have go away heat, he had negative heat. It was as though the energy was sucked out of the building when Roman went on the offensive. I’ve never seen anything like it, this crowd pivoted on a dime here. My only disappointment was Samoa Joe, who really didn’t do much here. You could argue that he was the transition guy, which is an important role in itself, moving the match from one interaction to the next. Overall, this was a ton of fun and destroyed the competition when it comes to match of the night. ****1/2