For those in the WWE Universe afraid that they would have to sit through another year of a part-time champion with Brock Lesnar, those fears were erased on Sunday night as Seth Rollins cleanly beat Lesnar to regain the Universal Title at Summerslam.
The match started with a blitz from Rollins, who threw kicks and stomps at Lesnar, but without success. After a few kickouts, Lesnar got the upper hand and brutalized Rollins. At one point he picked Rollins up from the tape around his ribs and tossed him across the ring. Lesnar charged at Rollins in the corner, but Rollins moved and Lesnar went into the post. This started a brawl outside the ring, which resulted in Rollins getting the advantage, placing Lesnar on the Spanish announce table, and then hitting a Frog Splash from the top turnbuckle onto Lesnar. While Lesnar would kick out of one more Stomp, he would slide out from an attempted F5, kick Lesnar in the face one last time, hit a Stomp, and get the three to become Universal Champion once again.
To me, this is an admission that the Wrestlemania win for Seth Rollins was botched somewhat. Rollins should have never had to resort to the low-blows to beat Lesnar. It muted the win somewhat as Rollins resorted to heelish tactics. While it was a big moment on that stage, it should have been more, and then was upstaged by other matches later that night. Going from that straight into the program with Baron Corbin certainly didn’t help. So at Summerslam, they rectified the situation. The argument could be made that the Money in the Bank briefcase was burned. It’s a reasonable argument to be made. But it’s hard to argue the fact that Rollins is in a much better position now than he was two months ago. He beat Lesnar completely cleanly, without any sort of outside interference. Since his return from UFC, only two men can claim that besides Rollins: John Cena and Goldberg. It puts Rollins in rarefied air, and hopefully jump-starts this run through the fall.
While the show lacked some big-name stars like Roman Reigns, it ended with a truly memorable, and rare, moment to send WWE into their next chapter.
-While the biggest moment of the night happened in the main event, the most memorable might have occurred in the semi-main. The Fiend, Bray Wyatt’s alter-ego, finally made his in-ring debut. Even with the promos, and the in-ring segments with the likes of Finn Balor, Kurt Angle and Mick Foley, I don’t think fans were expecting the entrance they saw. They remixed Wyatt’s old music, and instead of a lantern, he carried a head with light pouring out of the mouth to the ring. While Balor got in a few moves, it largely was a squash, with those Balor offensive moves only coming after The Fiend hesitated after his split personality seemed conflicted. He eventually won with the Mandible Claw, disappearing after the laughter played once again.
-In a bit of an odd finish, Kofi Kingston and Randy Orton fought to a double count-out in their match. Kofi had rolled to the outside after Orton had caught him with an RKO. Orton followed, and taunted Kofi’s kids. In what might have been the fastest 10-count in modern WWE history, the ref called for the bell, and a brawl around the outside followed. Kofi ended up standing tall at the end but the decision to make a title match at a pay-per-view as big as Summerslam, mixed by the quickness of it, hurt the moment.
-Trish Stratus had a great performance in what might end up being her last match ever. Charlotte ended up winning, but not after a lot of back-and-forth action. The start was a bit slow, as Trish got back into gear, but she ended up going through all of her old standbys, while mixing in some new variations. She even locked Charlotte in the Figure Four at one point. While Charlotte did win, it was exactly how a legend should be used: putting on a good match while allowing the current talent to go over.
-Kevin Owens beat Shane McMahon, despite the addition of Elias as a “guest enforcer” as the match started. While Elias did get involved, Owens was able to fight off any distractions. In fact, the only time the match seemed slightly in doubt was when it seemed like he might lose his cool and hit Shane with a chair and get DQ'd. Instead, at the end, while the ref got the chair out of the ring, Owens low-blowed Shane, hit him with the Stunner, and got the pin.
-Bayley defeated Ember Moon. It took a top rope Bayley-to-Belly for her to get the pin. Unfortunately, probably due to the lack of build, the crowd never really got behind this match and it suffered for it somewhat.
-AJ Styles beat Ricochet. Of course Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson got involved and were a big reason Styles was able to pick up the win. After grounding Styles, Ricochet attacked the two on the outside to take them out. By the time he got back to the top turnbuckle, Styles was stirring, and Styles was able to catch Ricochet coming off the top, turned it into the Styles Clash, and retained the U.S. title.
-Goldberg beat Dolph Ziggler in less than two minutes. Ziggler continued to taunt Goldberg after the match, which caused him to return to the ring on two separate occasions to spear Ziggler again.
-Becky Lynch beat Natalya after a strong performance in a submission match. In fact, it looked at one point that Natalya would actually win it as she cranked back the Sharpshooter in the middle of the ring. Becky was able to get out of the ring however, and broke the hold. She eventually caught Natalya in the Disarmher to win.
-Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross beat the IIconics to retain their women’s tag titles. This was largely notable for Alexa Bliss wearing Buzz Lightyear-inspired gear and doing “Toy Story” mannerisms in the match.
-Elias came out during the preshow to insult Toronto (complete with shots at all the sports teams and NBA player Kawhi Leonard choosing to go to the L.A. Clippers). He was interrupted by Edge, who proceeded to spear Elias in what was the first time he’s hit the move since retiring.
-Buddy Murphy faced Apollo Crews on the preshow. There wasn’t too much of a match before Rowan came out and attacked Murphy for telling Roman Reigns his name on Smackdown Live.
-Drew Gulak retained his cruiserweight title against Oney Lorcan.