WWE SummerSlam 2019
August 11, 2019
Scotiabank Arena
Toronto, Ontario

Watch: WWE Network

Meet our reviewers 

  • Kelly Harrass: The biggest party of the summer is here and Kelly will be off in the corner by himself, reading manga on his phone and maybe petting a dog if one is there. Find Kelly over on Twitter at @comicgeekelly. Edelgard 4 lyfe. 
  • Garrett Kidney: Hello there friends. Unlike Jeremy Piven, Garrett knows the name of this show so that qualifies him to review it. Garrett hates the updated WWE Network, however. There are no multi-person/multi-team matches on this show. That’s pretty cool! If you picked any other Fire Emblem house than the Golden Deer you and Garrett can’t be friends. Follow Garrett on Twitter @garrettkidney

WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Drew Gulak (c) def. Oney Lorcan

Kelly: Unfortunately, I missed this match while I was finishing up Friday’s episode of General Hospital. I really hope Franco doesn’t lose his memories. 

Garrett: If they didn’t announce his name and you polled the crowd in the building during this match, how many of them do you think could correctly identify Oney Lorcan? Based on the response to this match – not too many. Knowing they were coming into a cold crowd, they worked the complete wrong match. Much of the first two thirds of the match was mat based grappling in front of a completely passive crowd, they finally started upping the intensity and physicality and while they didn’t get to the Cruiserweight pre-show match dream of winning over the crowd in the end – it did become more enjoyable for a little while. One of the more forgettable PPV Cruiserweight title matches. **3/4

Buddy Murphy def. Apollo Crews by Disqualification

Kelly: I was really curious as to why this match was booked, but then the answer came in the form of a big bearded man. Rowan appeared out of nowhere and beat up Buddy Murphy for being a narc. As far as time-wasters go, it could have been worse. **¼ 

Garrett: BIG (PRE-SHOW) MATCH BUDDY IS BACK! This was only Buddy’s second match since moving from 205 Live to Smackdown – the other was a 50 man Battle Royal in Saudi Arabia. Truly WWE’s best-kept secret, because he was entirely hidden. These two were having a fun little match, seemed ready to kick things up for a strong closing stretch and then Rowan came out and killed Murphy. WWE’s best-kept secret was just a convenient prop for Rowan to beat up. Oh well. **1/2

WWE Women’s Tag Titles
Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross © def. Billie Kay & Peyton Royce 

Kelly: I don’t know which was worse; the match or Corey Graves’ commentary?  

Garrett: Sasha Banks died for this. **1/4

Submission match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Becky Lynch © def. Natalya

Kelly: If you need any proof that the Rollins relationship cooled off Becky, she’s opening the show now. This match hopefully did some work in rehabbing her though because it absolutely delivered. The limb work was very well done and they managed to keep the stipulation interesting without falling into the tropes of WWE No DQ matches. I fully expected kendo sticks to be utilized to soften up Nattie’s arm, but it appears that they used all of them last night at TakeOver. The best thing I can say about this match is that it was wonderfully simple from a storytelling perspective. Both women had a different body part that they were attacking and they kept attacking it in a consistent way. That’s all I really want out of wrestling sometimes. Becky started to get back on track with this one and Nattie had the best match she’s had in years. **** 

Garrett: Aside from the endless series of qualms I have around Submission matches being No DQ (why didn’t these two just try to stab each other in the eyes until they submit then), this was a really well-worked match built around a single simple premise in front of an excited partisan crowd. Sharpshooter vs. Dis-Arm-Her. That’s all this match was and that’s all this match needed. Becky played a little to Natalya’s hometown crowd – most notably locking in a Sharpshooter to antagonise them – but she went no further than that. This was a really fun opener and a considerable step up from Becky’s dire matches with Lacey Evans. ***1/2

Goldberg def. Dolph Ziggler

Kelly: In the immortal words of Garrett Kidney, “let the 90’s die.” Not only did they have Goldberg squash Ziggler, they had him come back and kill him again. I’d probably be more upset about this if Ziggler wasn’t such a geek. As I’m writing this, Goldberg is entering the ring to kill Dolph again. These shows are too damn long. At least Goldberg didn’t horribly concuss himself this time.  

Garrett: Dolph Ziggler’s last two PPV matches have been a combined length of 2:02. Good work if you can get it. Ziggler was a nerd and Goldberg killed him three times, in a clear metaphor for Dolph’s career in general. It was pretty fun though. ***

WWE United States Championship
AJ Styles © def. Ricochet

Kelly: My favorite part of this match was when they cut to a crowd shot that clearly showed off a dude mid-yawn. A very relatable moment. The very thing I praised about the Becky/Nattie match is exactly what I hated about this. When you tell me that AJ Styles and Ricochet are having a match, I don’t want limbwork. I want to see cool flippy shit at an unbelievable pace. Working the match in this style makes just as much sense as putting a shirt on Ricochet. There’s no reason to hide your assets away like this. Maybe these two just don’t have any chemistry, but I believe that these two have a good match in them. We just haven’t seen it yet. **¾ 

Garrett: “This is the pace that you as AJ Styles want against Ricochet.” uttered Michael Cole as somebody renowned for his fast-paced, high flying, hard-hitting style ground the match to a slow laborious halt. I feel like this company fundamentally misunderstands what always made AJ Styles special. I’m not sure was this more underwhelming than their match last month but it was close. It was slow, built around Ricochet having a bum leg and the finish was lifted from a 2003 AJ Styles/Low Ki TNA match. The old AJ Styles is still in there somewhere. We saw him against Seth Rollins earlier this year. He didn’t come out to play against Ricochet, unfortunately. A disappointment again. **3/4

WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship
Bayley © def. Ember Moon

Kelly: Nothing in this match landed with me. It didn’t help that AJ and Ricochet killed the crowd with their snoozefest. That being said, these two didn’t really do anything to get the crowd excited. Judging from Bayley’s expression as she walked to the ring, she didn’t care about this one either. This would have fit better as a two-star special on the preshow. ** 

Garrett: The crowd reacted to this match like it was following a red hot barnburner and they were worn out. Except they were following a very tepid Styles/Ricochet match so the crowd just didn’t care about them at all. The majority of the match did little to win them over either. They kicked it up a notch toward the end but not enough to save another very bland match. Bayley is yet another victim of Money in the Bank. It’s almost as if champions who win in sudden unearned flukes don’t make for champions people care about. **1/2

Kevin Owens def. Shane McMahon

Kelly: Is this it? Are we done with the big Shane McMahon evil boss story now? (Look, I know the answer is no.) Owens did the best he could here and managed to get the crowd pretty invested by the end of it. Of course, this was a given with Owens being Canadian, but the crowd was clearly taken down a notch when Elias was introduced as the guest enforcer. To his credit, he played his role well, interfering just enough to be annoying, but not ruining the whole match. Shane got his comeuppance and Owens got a cool win in front of a home-country crowd. This was pretty much as good as it could have been. *** 

Garrett: This was a big dumb WWE storiez match and it mostly worked. It feels weird to say “They could probably have a better straight singles match.” in a match featuring SHANE MCMAHON but they probably could. Being in Canada, the crowd were super behind Owens and that drove the whole thing. Owen’ truth-telling character pivoting straight into an authority figure feud with a McMahon was the most boring thing imaginable to do with him but he seems to have a little momentum right now and hopefully, they won’t immediately squander that. Owen should be one of the easiest to book, most likable babyfaces going. They’d have to work hard to ruin him, but that is generally their specialty lately. A storiez special carried by Owens’ work and an engaged crowd. ***

Charlotte Flair def. Trish Stratus 

Kelly: While this wasn’t any kind of masterpiece, it was a nice final chapter for Trish Stratus. Unlike many of her male contemporaries, she didn’t come back and beat a major star for no reason. She made the right move, having a competitive match with Charlotte, but eventually tapping out to her signature hold. To be honest, the crowd was nowhere near as into this match as I thought they would be. They got pretty into it by the end, but things felt dead in the opening moments. Trish took that gross looking bump on the floor and that was the turning point. The crowd and I were both won over. This is how these generational clashes in WWE should be. It was the exact opposite of Goldberg/Ziggler in every way and I couldn’t be happier about that. ***½ 

Garrett: In a year where Gail Kim had the retirement match her stellar career warranted, Trish Stratus did too (assuming this is the end of the road for her). This was not quite the huge generational collision you’d have hoped for nor was it the sort of direct passing of the torch it could have been, it was an enjoyable popcorn legend vs. current top star clash. Trish put over Charlotte clean in the middle in her hometown and took her bow in a very good match. They could have done so much more to make this whole match, the whole era vs. era story aped from Tessa Blanchard vs. Gail Kim rather than lazily rush it onto Summerslam on two weeks notice with little meaningful story support, but it was a rock-solid match with some very good nearfalls that won the crowd over in the end and was probably among the best of Trish’s career. ***1/2

WWE Championship
Kofi Kingston (c) and Randy Orton fought to a double countout

Kelly: Boy howdy this has a stupid finish, but other than that, I liked this one. I have to commend WWE for actually doing a story that relates to history longer than three weeks ago. The character work from both men was strong. Randy is an absolute dickhead that wants to try to keep Kofi down, even after Kofi finally got his big success. The mutual resentment came through well. Even though they did the lame double countout, Kofi didn’t look like a joke coming out of this. Randy has a few performances a year that I really enjoy, so let’s hope the rematch is better and has a definitive finish. *** 

Garrett: Huh? *1/2

The Fiend def. Finn Bálor 

Kelly: I like the scary guy. The entrance was cool. The mask is cool. The new music is cool. The headlamp was cool. The match was alright, better than I expected it to be. For the gimmick and the presentation of the gimmick, I’d give it five stars. Wyatt still isn’t great in ring, but he was serviceable enough here. I liked that he would almost revert back to his old self, but I hope that gets out of the character’s system over time. Balor did exactly what he needed to do here; show up, hit a few moves, and get squashed. I’ll be interested to see how this character is behaving a few months from now. God knows, the Fiend loves to have fun with the WWE Universe. **½ 

Garrett: If only there was some sort of role in pro wrestling for somebody who has amazing presence and is a great promo but nobody wants to see wrestle. It’s a true shame wrestling hasn’t yet invented a role for such a performer. THE FIEND’s entrance will get pretty old the third time you have to sit through it but it was real nifty and visually striking the first time – particularly the severed headlamp. Unfortunately, Bray has to wrestle, and he’s still Bray Wyatt – right down to doing the upside-down spot in the corner. He also looked at his hands and wondered why he was so violent like a 2018 NXT character. A+ entrance, the rest was just a Bray Wyatt squash. **

WWE Universal Championship
Seth Rollins def. Brock Lesnar (c)

Kelly: Brock Lesnar swinging Rollins around by his tapes up ribs deserves to be in promo packages for years to come. While that was my personal high point of the match, I really thought that these two delivered. It was one hell of a sprint with nearly nonstop action. It seemed early on that the crowd was going to boo Rollins out of the building, but I honestly believe that his opening flurry of offense won them over. I do have one rather large complaint though. The match was built around Rollins’ injured ribs, but that only lasted up to a point. The tide turned in the match with Rollins hitting three dives to the outside, followed up by two frog splashes that seemed to not affect him in the slightest. It’s one thing to stop selling an injury, but it’s a complete other thing to start using offense based solely around that injured body part. Outside of that, I really enjoyed this, but it’s a hard thing to overlook. Rollins came out of this match looking like a star for the first time since his initial run with the Shield. He says he’s the best in the world and if he can continue to pump out performances like this, maybe we’ll talk. **** 

Garrett: This was the match that WrestleMania should have been. No bullshit low blows, no banana peels, no flukes – Seth Rollins beat Brock Lesnar clean in a super match. The way Rollins beat Lesnar the first time set him up to be a champion nobody believed in, compounded by the utterly undeserved “Beast Slayer” name. This was the first time Brock Lesnar was effectively beaten in his second WWE run, the first time somebody who needed to beat Lesnar beat him in a way that feels meaningful. I have been bemoaning the death of the G1 sprint – these two basically went out there and had a kick-ass G1 sprint. Not only that but they turned a crowd that, while not outright rejecting Rollins, was certainly in favor of Brock and dragged them near-universally to Rollins’ side. I’m with Kelly on the Rollins injury. He could barely walk on Raw and got his ass kicked again but was largely his usual self here, however, I’ll forgive it because the match was great. Is it too late for Rollins? Maybe. This is the match they should have done at WrestleMania. Rather than babyface Rollins cheating to beat monster heel Lesnar, he conquered The Beast fair and square. If Rollins can turn it around and rebound from how terrible his most recent reign was, winning the belt like this is his best possible shot. Rollins might finally start living up to his “best wrestling in the world” chest-thumping he was doing on Twitter. ****1/4