Summerslam ended with a bang, though certainly not the way most people expected.
WWE decided to end the night with the Brock Lesnar/Randy Orton match. While that was questionable, I think most people thought that with Lesnar involved, that was going to be the case. And for a while, it seemed like the match would go the way it was supposed to. The two brawled some, an F5 was hit, a couple of RKOs were hit.
However, after the kickouts, that's when things started to change a bit. Lesnar got more aggressive and started to pound away at Randy Orton. He got him in the mount, UFC-style, and pounded away at the side of his head. After a bit, Orton raised his head, and he was gushing blood. The ref pulled Lesnar off, though after a few seconds, Lesnar continued the beatdown. Finally, the ref was forced to call for the bell, and awarded Lesnar the match via TKO.
That wasn't the end though. Lesnar continued to punch away at Orton, taking a few breaks here and there. Finally, Shane McMahon came down to try to save his superstar. After he got in Lesnar's face, Lesnar hit Shane with an F5, much to Paul Heyman's horror. The show went off with an unhinged Lesnar stalking away as Orton continued to be tended to, and Shane started to come to his senses.
There are some people who were completely thrown off by the ending. There were even some who thought that Brock Lesnar lost his temper and actually assaulted Randy Orton during the match. For those people I say, “C'mon, really?” Let's lay this out there. Brock Lesnar did not go off-script. Was there supposed to be that much blood? Probably not. Was it supposed to be a TKO ending? Probably. Was Shane coming out and taking the F5 supposed to happen? Almost certainly. At worst, Brock can be accused of working too stiff. However, it certainly got people talking, which is a good thing for WWE.
The question is why they did that, and why they placed it at that point in the card?
The second question I think is easy. Right or wrong, they felt that Lesnar F5ing Shane would be the most important moment of the night. It would be hard to do that anywhere else on the card.
As to the first question, I think the answer is twofold. First, Lesnar has fallen into a bit of trap. Over the past two years, his matches have more or less been come out, suplex a guy, maybe let them get a bit of offense in, suplex him some more, kick out of a surprise finisher, and eventually put him away with some F5s. Quite frankly, Suplex City has become a boring destination. So this spiced things up a bit. It's something we haven't seen from Lesnar before that makes him seem even more dangerous than before.
Was it the finish everyone wanted? No, fans have made that clear. Was it a compelling finish? Well, when people go back and look at this, I think that they may remember it a little bit differently than they do right now.
The Rest of Summerslam:
-Finn Balor is the first Universal Champion. Let that sink in. Finn Balor, who hadn't even debuted in NXT two years ago at this point, is arguably at the top of the food chain. And he didn't win it in a cheap fashion, he won it clean and looked strong doing it. He kicked out of a Pedigree. He even kicked out of God's Last Gift, a move that Seth Rollins has rarely pulled out since it was his finisher in Ring of Honor. Seth Rollins did not kick out of the Coup de Grace when Balor hit it for the first time. That was as strong as we've seen any non-Lesnar wrestler look in a long time.
I do wonder if pushing Balor so quickly is going to backfire a bit. They didn't really let Balor get any character in before giving him the belt, and when that happens, oftentimes being the champion becomes his character. Once a wrestler loses the belt, they flounder, because they weren't able to develop any character besides being the champ. Hopefully this won't happen, and they're careful where they go from here. But for one night, fans were able to revel in the fact that Finn Balor is on top of WWE.
-Dean Ambrose retained his title against Dolph Ziggler. This match was unfortunately notable because of how the crowd reacted. Or more precisely, how the crowd didn't react. Whether it was the placement on the card after an extremely long night (the match started around 9:10 after matches started around 5:30), or that the fans weren't behind the build, or a combination of both, they barely made a sound throughout the match. Ambrose worked slightly heel during the match, but not overly heel, which also seemed to confuse the crowd somewhat. The match itself was fine, and Ambrose ended up winning cleanly with a Dirty Deeds. I'm very curious what they'll do with Ziggler after this. Bray Wyatt seems to be waiting in the wings, and the match doesn't make a rematch too necessary.
-Roman Reigns and Rusev didn't end up happening, as the two started to brawl outside the ring. Reigns got a little bit overzealous with the brawling, and ended up incapacitating Rusev so the match couldn't start. After the announcement was made that the match couldn't start, he attacked again, with a giant spear after running down the ramp. This makes it pretty clear why they did the full match on RAW, since they knew it wouldn't happen here.
-AJ Styles beat John Cena and beat him clean. The two had an excellent match that followed the pattern that Cena had set against Kevin Owens. Lots of finisher kickouts, including Styles kicking out of an AA from the top rope. The stakes kept raising, until finally AJ hit the Styles Clash for the second time, and then immediately followed up with a Phenomenal Forearm for the win. After the match, Cena sat in the ring for a bit, took off his “Never Give Up” armband, and left it in the ring as he walked slowly up the ramp. It might be time for him to film "American Grit" again, and this might be his short-term departure.
-In what might have been the shocker of the night, Charlotte beat Sasha to regain her Women's Championship. Sasha had the Bank Statement locked in, and Charlotte was able to lean back to pin Sasha. There's rumors that Sasha might have been battling an injury, so that might be why it happened. However, otherwise it seems like a weird time to take the belt away from Sasha. We'll have to see if she appears in the next few weeks.
-Speaking of the women, one of the most emotional moments of the night might have come in, of all places, the Smackdown 6-women tag match. Eva Marie of course was suspended for 30 days, so they needed a replacement. Out comes Nikki Bella, who was just cleared. For those of you who aren't aware, Nikki had to undergo neck surgery, and there was a good chance that she would never wrestle again. To see her not only come back, but look good in picking up the win for the heels (which admittedly was a bit awkward in the moment), was fantastic. I know a lot of people don't like Nikki, but for one night at least, you had to respect what she went through to get back to this point.
-As many people expected, The Club beat The New Day. However, they didn't win the titles. Jon Stewart had come out before the match, and said that he was going to be in The New Day's corner for the night since Big E couldn't make it. He got involved in the match several times, jumping into the ring to distract The Club. Finally, The Club attacked, and threatened to use the pole the way they did for Big E. Then, Big E made his return, racing down the ramp and attacking The Club, drawing the DQ. So the New Day retained their titles.
-If Charlotte winning wasn't the biggest shocker, Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens beating Enzo and Cass was. It seems like a really odd decision to have a makeshift team beat arguably the hottest act in the business right now. Now, that being said, Jericho and Owens worked well together, and I don't think anyone is upset if they'll continue to tag. However, it certainly doesn't seem to make a lot of sense in the moment.
-The Miz beat Apollo Crews to retain the title. This was a bit of a dud. Crews still isn't quite connecting with the crowd. They need to get him involved in a real feud fast.
-In the Preshow, Sheamus beat Cesaro in the first back in the best-of-seven series. The face team of Smackdown teams beat the heels, and Neville and Sami Zayn beat The Dudleys.
Questions? Thoughts? Leave them in the comment section here, email me, or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster. You can also hear my podcast, Jobbing Out, at https://soundcloud.com/jobbingout