WWE SummerSlam 2018
August 19, 2018
Barclays Center
Brooklyn, New York

Watch: WWE Network

Meet our reviewers:

  • Joe Lanza: I’m just here for the preshow. Pay Aaron Donald.
  • John Carroll: Huge WWE fan here ready for the Biggest Party of the Summer! Follow me on Twitter @toshanshuinla and check out my soon to debut SAILOR MOON REWATCH PODCAST @moonmakeupcast!
  • Kelly Harrass: WWE isn’t going to get rid of me by starting their shows while I’m still at work. Dead Cells is a very good game and I would probably rather be playing that than watching this show, but here we are. Find me on Twitter @comicgeekelly.
  • Jack Beckmann: I almost didn’t review this show, but when my friend very understandably bailed on watching this show, here I am! After all, it can’t be any worse than the pre-show, right? Find me on Twitter @packerman120.

Andrade “Cien” Almas & Zelina Vega def. Rusev & Lana

Joe: I suspect very few of you need to be told how clueless the company seems to be in their handling of Almas, but for those still in denial, Vega pinning Lana (with her feet on the ropes, because I guess you have to protect LANA) in a totally meaningless preshow match isn’t exactly a positive sign of momentum for Almas. The company appears to be high on Vega, and rightfully so, and the obvious main roster focus on her half of the act is something that Almas successfully overcame once already in NXT. If Vince sees her as the star, that hurdle will be much harder to overcome for Almas on Smackdown, where opportunities to have great matches, which is how he ultimately got over, are greatly reduced (see: the garbage we just witnessed here). *1/4

WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Cedric Alexander def. Drew Gulak

Joe: The slow build of Gulak’s rise up the card on 205 Live was very well done, and with the way this match ended it doesn’t feel like this was the end of his title chase. This was good, but being relegated to the preshow is never going to allow the cruisers to stretch their legs and have the kinds of main events they’re having on Tuesday nights. This felt like two thirds of an excellent match. I’m betting they top this one in a big way sometime over the next few weeks on 205. ***1/4

WWE Raw Tag Team Championship
The B-Team (Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel) © def. The Revival (Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson)

Joe: We’re decades past the point of having a meaningful conversation about devaluing WWE titles, but if you insist on using B-team, two dudes who wouldn’t have a prayer of existing on the roster had their dads been accountants or electricians or waiters or construction workers, and if you insist on presenting this shitty “they are so lucky!” gimmick, couldn’t you do so without involving (and thus devaluing) the tag team titles? This would be garbage on your standard low level indie show, let alone main roster WWE. Put this unfunny comedy on Main Event where it belongs, or better yet, end the “we liked your dad” charity runs and give some fresh, hungry talent a shot. *1/2


John: Why do guys who aren’t even in the match get an entrance? We need full entrance themes and videos for guys who are there to stand on the floor now? Seemed really weirdly awkward on the first few exchanges. They did a great job killing a crowd that was super hot at the start in short order. Seth’s magic reappearing/disappearing knee injury was just as bad as any of the wacky injuries from the G1 this year. It had a decent like last few minutes or so and some cool spots at the end, but that doesn’t make up for all the boredom along the way. Also a match that was based so heavily around two guys interfering just annoys me on principle. **3/4

Kelly: I saw the end of this and that seemed cool. Ambrose looks like Seth’s prison dad.

Jack: I was informed during this match by commentary that Seth Rollins was nursing an injured knee, which apparently got injured during this match. Judging by Seth’s offense, including picture perfect flips, I have a feeling his knee is fine. The first fifteen minutes of this match was a plodding nightmare, but thankfully, it picked up near the end of the match. They did some cool looking nearfalls, some not so cool distractions, and Rollins hit the KINGSLAYER STOMP to win. If that isn’t the most WWE move name out there, I don’t know what else is. Also, it should be noted that new-look Dean Ambrose looks eerily like Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad. Just throwing that out there. ***

WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship
The New Day def. The Bludgeon Brothers © – DQ

John: This was really boring. Erick Rowan is a bad professional wrestler. And then it ended with a dumbass DQ finish, I already hate this show. **

Kelly: I was eating dinner through most of this, so I wasn’t fully paying attention, but I thought this was okay. The closing stretch of the match before the DQ was pretty good and had two big spots with Xavier Woods looking like he took the worst of both of them. The real interesting stuff came after the match. No, not the post match. Not only did we get a trailer for the next season of Total Divas, we also got to hear the Marky Mark classic, Good Vibrations. Even though Marky Mark is not a nice man, that is a tremendous song. Much better than the match. ** for the match, ***** for Good Vibrations. COME ON COME ON FEEL IT FEEL IT

Jack: For a brief period during this match, I was actually interested, mainly due to the work of Xavier Woods and BIg E. However, even they cannot carry Rowan and Harper to a compelling match. Xavier Woods hit an awesome top rope elbow drop to the outside, and soon after, Erick Rowan grabbed his mallet and smacked Woods & Big E with it to be disqualified. One can only hope this leads to a future Tables, Ladders & Hammers match, which is surprisingly plausible knowing WWE’s love for stupid gimmicks. **

Money in the Bank Contract
“Mr. Monster In The Bank” Braun Strowman def. Kevin Owens

John: Look I’m probably going to talk a lot of trash about WWE tonight, but if Braun Strowman is supposed to be a big monster, I have no problem with him squashing Kevin Owens here. And boy did he ever squash him. Following that match and especially that pre-show video package up with a segment on Be A Star had to have been a rib. N/R

Kelly: In what world are we supposed to like Braun for bullying Kevin Owens? It makes me so happy that a Be A Star ad played after this match giving me a win on irony bingo. Kevin Owens took crazy bumps here, including a very painful looking chokeslam on the entrance ramp. Remember, this is the safest company in the world to work for.  And to top off this diarrhea sundae, it turns out that it was just a Good Vibrations sample in a Flo Rida song. Everything is terrible. ½*

Jack: Remember when Kevin Owens took a stunt bump off of a steel cage last month? Neither does WWE, as other than in the pre-match hype video, said bump has been made to feel like no big deal whatsoever. A man fell off a steel cage, make it a big deal! They went for about three minutes, and Braun pinned Kevin Owens clean with a Powerslam. Considering I audibly cheered when I realized this match wouldn’t waste ten unnecessary minutes of my time, I’ll say this is my match of the night so far. N/R

WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship
Carmella © vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte

John: The long argument between Charlotte and Becky over whether or not Charlotte slapped her (she didn’t, it was Carmella being a DASTARDLY HEEL with her EVIL PLOT to make two people in a triple threat match think they’re fighting each other) was among the dumber WWE spots I’ve seen this year, and that’s saying something. I thought the match was fun, probably best on this show by a mile, but of course the finish had to be Charlotte pinning the most over woman in the match. She couldn’t even pin Carmella, the Honky Tonk Man of women’s champions. But then we got an amazing post-match angle where the WWE booked a heel turn that was not only completely justified, but universally supported by the entire crowd. Ultimately it’s that kind of comedy that keeps me coming back for more. ***1/4

Kelly: What’s going on with Becky’s makeup? I had a hard time focusing on this one because I couldn’t stop staring at Becky’s makeup monobrow. As a whole, there was a lot of good and a lot of bad with this one. There was so sloppy looking work in this match, but not in the “look how dangerous Sabu is” way, some stuff just looked bad. On the other hand, Carmella might not be the best in ring, but she is fantastic as an annoying, hateable heel. In terms of character work, she had a good run as champion. This was probably her best match. The work got stronger as the match went on, but it ended with the most boring finish possible. Charlotte becomes a seven (SEVEN!?) time champion and Becky is shut out once again. You know the booking was wrong when the crowd erupts in applause for Becky’s heel turn. The best move coming off of this is to treat Becky as a face and hope the crowd stays behind her. ***¼

Jack: She may suck in the ring, but I am beginning to enjoy Carmella more as of late. Whether this is a product of her improving or me being driven to insanity is yet to be determined. Her cringeworthy yelling is to a point with me that it’s just plain hilarious. They did the “one person gets two people down and fails to pin them both” spot, which has to be a requirement in WWE triple threat matches. Charlotte, who didn’t appear to be 100% there during this match, missed her moonsault, as we slowly but surely check all the boxes for a WWE match. Of course, Charlotte then proceeded to win the match, checking a third box of the wrong person winning and completing the WWE trifecta. This match was better than I was expecting, with Carmella putting in a surprisingly good performance, and Becky Lynch putting in a star performance as she always does. ***1/4

WWE Championship
Samoa Joe def. AJ Styles © – DQ

John: I don’t watch WWE TV so I had no idea Joe-AJ was apparently a feud based around Samoa Joe talking shit about AJ’s skill as a parent, hahaha what the hell? Between it being Joe and AJ and the super-melodrama that honestly felt like a Russo-era TNA video package. Joe hitting on WENDY STYLES at ringside was funny I guess. After Joe even grabbed the mic before the match and low-key acted like he wanted to have sexual intercourse with Mrs. Styles (as well as talked some more shit about how bad of a parent AJ is), AJ proceeded to give him a good, hard grappling! He challenged him to a test of strength! He put him in a headlock! He gave him some weak leg kicks! I honestly laughed so hard I almost choked to death, god bless this company. The match was mostly okay until there was a crucifix reversal spot that may as well have been in slow motion. After that though it really picked up through a fun finishing sequence, before Joe grabbed a mic and taunted Wendy Styles once again, saying he was going to be the “new daddy”. Apparently AJ’s life motto is “you can talk shit about my family and threaten to fuck my wife 500 times, but don’t you DARE do it 501 times or you’ll be sorry”, because he finally flipped out and laid Joe out with a chair for the DQ. Good match, probably AJ’s best of the year so far, even though it obviously made no sense for the storyline until the end. ***1/2

Kelly: Joe said he was going to bang AJ’s wife and then we got a chinlockfest. Why was this match so boring? I was looking forward to this one, hoping that these two would be able to bring back some of the magic of yesterday, but it didn’t happen. Maybe I was expecting too much? I don’t know, if a guy says he’s going to make whoopee with my wife in front of a whole crowd of people, I’ll probably try to fight him harder than AJ did. The intensity was lacking for sure. Things just started to get good when we got the DQ finish. Maybe the agents should talk to each other so we don’t get the same finish twice on the same show. Hopefully the rematch, presumably at Hell in a Cell, will be better. **¾

Jack: I was a little down on this match when they had Joe introduce that AJ’s family was sitting ringside, but I was immediately rejuvenated by not so subtly trying to fuck AJ’s wife. That’s the kind of shit I want when I watch WWE! They were having a match that I was sort of enjoying, but I was beginning to be distracted my cat, but then, the unthinkable happened. Samoa Joe grabbed a mic, and told Wendy Styles that HE WAS GOING TO BE HER NEW DADDY, which led to a bloody AJ Styles beating the shit out of him with a chair to get disqualified. This led me to forget all of the match itself, which is a good thing, because I am now in a good mood. Who’s your daddy? There is some melodrama I don’t enjoy in my wrestling (see: Gargano/Ciampa), but this is the good stuff right here! I can’t wait until these two fight for who gets to be the father to AJ Styles’ kids. ***½

The Miz def. Daniel Bryan

John: This match was really the only thing I was non-ironically looking forward to on this show and boy did it ever deliver. The only disappointment I have of note really is that the crowd was weirdly dead for long stretches, but I honestly have no idea what WWE live crowds are showing up for these days so don’t ask me to explain it. This was a wonderful, old school battle that built from beginning to end, featured probably the best heel work in the world from Miz, and saw Bryan be, well, Daniel Bryan. He’s still outstanding and he managed to work an entire match around wanting to punch the other guy like he was Jerry Lawler in Memphis or something. Zero problem with the finish either, which was just a heel cheating to win with help from his dastardly wife; besides the fact that she was behind a barricade instead of actually at ringside, that’s been around in wrestling for a million years. Certainly nothing to complain about compared to your average awful WWE finish, and if Bryan has to stick around in this dumb fuck company I’ve got no problem with this feud continuing. The WWE main roster match of the year by a mile, and not far behind Gargano-Almas for overall MOTY either. ****1/2

Kelly: I came into this match with pretty high expectations and, thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed. Bryan and Miz gave us the match that we’ve been waiting for and it was exactly the match that it should have been. This didn’t have a heated build, only to have a lightly worked grapple match. These guys wrestled to the intensity level that this match required. The work looked stiff and some of those punches looked like freshly baked potatoes. This was a perfect good guy vs. bad guy match and I’m not sure if the crowd really knew what to do with it because it was so conventional and (SHOCKER) logical. I lost it when Miz busted out a Nigel McGuinness style lariat off the ropes on Bryan and once again later in the match when Bryan broke out the repeated elbows on Miz. The ending of the match didn’t bother me one bit. Miz is a cheating cheater so of course he’ll use any means necessary to win, especially against Bryan. For me, this was easily the best main roster WWE match of the year. Smart, simple storytelling does wonders. ****¼

Jack: For the first five or so minutes of this match, I was engaged, excited to see a heated match in a feud that I’ve really enjoyed. Twenty minutes later, I cannot say the same. Ultimately, I came away form this match bored and sleepy, and mildly angry about the dumb ending. It leaves the two open to competing in another match, but they won’t be able to replicate the excitement of the first time encounter. In addition to that, I really am getting sick of these dirty finishes, as it feels like virtually every match on this card so far has featured one of some note. I really wanted to like this one, but for me, something was missing. The crowd wasn’t too into it either, my personal theory that why would they be invested in Daniel Bryan when WWE has treated him like dogshit for his entire career, bar maybe three months? I fully acknowledge that I may be the rotten egg here, but this just wasn’t the match I wanted out of these two. It was fine, but in my opinion, it could have been better. Please leave, Daniel Bryan. ***½

Finn Balor def. ”Constable” Baron Corbin

John: That demon character is sure over huh? Crowd went pretty nuts for what’s really just a guy in wacky paint. Anyway this was just another squash match, which is one way to get through an 11-match show I guess. **

Kelly: Balor made some very wacky faces so I feel like The Demon has officially made its main roster debut. This was our second squash of the night, but this one actually made sense from a storytelling perspective, so I can’t knock it. Corbin sucks so you might as well have a cool entrance kill him. **

Jack: Despite the fact that Balor has already beaten Baron Corbin, he brought out his super special demon character to… prove a point? To fight some geek with a shitty haircut in a suit? Of course, the difference in the wrestling styles of The Demon and regular old Finn Balor is negligible, so it doesn’t matter too much. Corbin threw a fit over having to face The Demon, which scares me in that we might have to endure this match again, but in a longer match than the two minute one we were gifted with tonight. Let’s move on. **

WWE United States Championship
Shinsuke Nakamura © def. Jeff Hardy

John: This was a complete nothing match for about 98% of it. I’m super confused as to what the point of WWE Heel Shinsuke is, cause other than the fact that he occasionally goes for low blows he’s pretty much identical to WWE Babyface Shinsuke, right down to the crowd appeals. Anyway I was super bored by this, I thought it was absolutely nothing, until of course Jeff Hardy did that utterly insane missed swanton on the ring apron. Why would you do a crazy spot like that for a nothing midcard match in front of a dead crowd, especially when you can already barely move?! Not very smart, Jeffrey. Anyway, Shinsuke retained. Good for him. Then Randy Orton came out, teased coming down to the ring to beat up Jeff Hardy some more, but then instead just, uh, didn’t. He just turned and left. That was weird. *1/2

Kelly: First off, Jeff Hardy needs to stop painting eyes on his eyes. Secondly, I really enjoyed this match. This is probably the best Nak match since he wrestled Zayn in NXT. A bunch of his offense looked really nasty, including him flat out kicking Jeff in the head. Hardy had trouble getting around in certain parts of the match, but that’s understandable with how Nak was beating on him. Then Hardy decided that he didn’t want to walk around at all tomorrow and hit a Swanton onto the ring apron. That impact made me gasp. It was so gross. Jeff is a crazy person and I appreciate it. I forgive his weird eyes painted on his eyes. ***½

Jack: Long snoring noises filled my room during this match. I am told that Jeff Hardy nearly killed himself near the end, but I didn’t catch that as I was watching a video of a monkey smoking a cigarette. Don’t ask. Serial dick puncher Randy Orton made himself known after this match, and after about five minutes of walking to the ring, he just decided to head back to the back. Thanks for nothing, Randall. The monkey video was *****, the match itself, eh, it was a match. **

WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Ronda Rousey def. Alexa Bliss ©

John: Hahahaha what the fuck is Ronda’s makeup? My girlfriend immediately turned to me and said that between the makeup and the hair she looks like an alien extra on Star Trek, and I’d kind of have to agree. This was just a Klingon doing basic judo throws, our third squash match of the night, once we got past Alexa’s neverending stalling (a hell of a heel move ten hours into this show, honestly). *

Kelly: Oh hey, another squash and more weird makeup. Eh, this one makes sense, but I can’t say that I liked it. Bliss was good. Ronda was fine. One thing that I did appreciate about Ronda’s makeup is that it still made her scary even when she was happy. I really have no opinions on this one because we all knew coming into this exactly what was going to happen. **

Jack: It would appear that Ronda and Becky Lynch shared a makeup artist tonight, as both sported very notable eye makeup going into their title matches. On paper, this is a makeup that makes a lot of sense, no nonsense MMA fighter vs. heel who will do anything possible to cheat her way to victory. Unfortunately, Ronda didn’t go for her MMA vibe in this one as much as she could have, instead trying to be a universally loved babyface, shouting to the crowd “Who’s ready for a new women’s champion?” and “Should I break it?” which was cringe on its highest level. Bliss did a fantastic job selling the brutality of selling Ronda’s armbar, and we have a new women’s champion. This was the match it needed to be, and I wish I hadn’t been as distracted as I was by Ronda’s god awful makeup. ***

WWE Universal Championship
“The Beast” Brock Lesnar © vs. “The Big Dog” Roman Reigns

John: I almost cried laughing that the payoff for the whole Brock vs. Roman saga after all these years was basically a WWE Distraction Finish™. Jesus christ this company is amazing on so many levels. I came here tonight for unintentional comedy and got plenty of that in spades, plus an actual outstanding match in the form of Bryan-Miz, so I’m pretty happy with SummerSlam. Certainly a lot better than most of the crap they’ve thrown out this year. ***

Kelly: Fucking finally. Roman finally beat Brock and didn’t get booed out of the building for it. I guess that’s kind of a win for Vince. The beginning of the match was an awesome sprint with Roman throwing everything he had at Brock. Then things slowed down and became your typical Brock match with the German suplex overload. Finally things went full Fed when Roman won the match following Brock beating the tar out of Braun Strowman. For some reason Brock decided to bring a chair into the ring and Roman speared him for the win. Roman won his epic feud in such a lackluster way that there’s no way this is the star making performance that Vince envisioned. So what was the point of all this? Why did Brock hold onto the title past WrestleMania? Nobody came out of this looking good. Roman looks lucky, Brock looks dumb, and Braun looks weak for getting his ass kicked like it was nothing. Sorry, Big Dog, your moment wasn’t what you hoped it was going to be. **¼

Jack: For Roman’s entrance, they projected a literal BIG DOG above his head. In other related news, I haven’t laughed as hard as I have now for months.

At first, this match ruled, with THE BIG DOGGGGGGGGGGG shooting from the gate hitting his signature moves. However, the crowd turned after a Brock guillotine sequence that was a tad too long. The pinnacle of what the crowd felt about this match came when Brock was standing in the center of the ring and the crowd chanted “YOU BOTH SUCK!”. We then got some Braun involvement on the outside which led to Brock chucking the Monster in the Bank briefcase like it was nothing. This was all THE BIG DOGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG needed though, as he speared Brock and won! The culmination of this “epic” four year feud, one spear after a distraction. If that’s not WWE, I don’t know what else is. Beautiful. THE BIG DOGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG has shall reign, the Roman Empire is here!

Never change, WWE. ****