Summerslam 2014 was a generally solid PPV that had plenty of decent matches, nothing overly bad and some fun talking points. The show was lacking in any classics and had nothing to match the quality of Punk vs Lesnar or Bryan vs Cena from last year. Having said that, the unique booking of the main event will ensure that this show will remain long in the memory.
The long term significance of what went down will remain to be seen. The company has put new talent decisively over John Cena before but nothing quite like what we saw tonight.
Jack Swagger vs Rusev
This was a rather strangely booked match up with Rusev picking up an ankle injury from the outset which almost made him sympathetic at times. He had an opportunity to show more depth in this match as it wasn’t booked as a squash. Rusev overawed Swagger with his brute strength but struggled to lock in his finishing hold due to his ankle. Rusev attempted a modified camel clutch before eventually working through the pain and applying the hold until Swagger passed out. Shockingly, no one interrupted for Team America when the Russia flag was hoisted and the anthem played. Surely a feud with the US Champion Sheamus must be next. The opportunity to rebrand it the Russian Championship Title seems too good to pass up.
Who I Said Would Win: Rusev
Who Did Win: Rusev
The Miz (c) vs Dolph Ziggler
Intercontinental Title Match
I was happy to be wrong about both the quality of this match and the outcome. Dolph Ziggler and The Miz both came to work in this curtain raiser and as a result, this was a far more entertaining match than I’m sure even the most optimistic fan would have predicted. Ziggler gets over clean as a whistle and is the new IC champ. Normally, there’s not a lot to get excited about with the WWE midcard belts but as the title situation unfolded in the main event, Ziggler may find himself in a position of prominence in the weeks ahead now that there is a part time World Heavyweight Champion. Hopefully this is a sign that the company is finally ready to get behind Ziggler. He’s earned it.
Who I Said Would Win: The Miz
Who Did Win: Dolph Ziggler
AJ Lee (c) vs Paige
WWE Divas Title
A good match, but not a great one. Given some of the outstanding matches we’ve seen Paige, Emma and Charlotte have in NXT, its frustrating that the WWE seems reluctant to give the divas on the main roster enough time to work a quality match. This match took the AJ and Paige feud in an interesting direction as it veered surprisingly far away from PG territory. Paige clearly seems more comfortable working as a heel and she is a welcome fresh face in the division. Will we get a fresh feud with Emma in the near future?
Who I Said Would Win: AJ Lee
Who Did Win: Paige
Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins
“Hopefully this will be a show stealer.”
I wasn’t disappointed as Ambrose and Rollins both put on a highly entertaining, out of control brawl that spilled out into the aisles and right throughout the arena. Using the lumberjacks as a cushion for all their daredevil planchas and suicide dives was an inspired piece of match making by whichever agent that put the match together. I believe they really have something special with both of these performers if they continue to build them up right. The crowd got right into this one.
Who I Said Would Win: Dean Ambrose
Who Did Win: Seth Rollins
Chris Jericho vs Bray Wyatt
A serviceable match but beating Jericho isn’t the thing to get Bray back into the main event scene. Watching some old Vader matches on the WWE Network made me realize that although Wyatt has an imposing physique and a fantastic ring entrance, I think he could do with some stiffer offense and more protection in the moves that he takes. Watching him bounce around the ring selling a hurricanrana from Jericho isn’t doing Wyatt any favours in looking after his mystique.
Who I Said Would Win: Bray Wyatt
Who Did Win: Bray Wyatt
Roman Reigns vs Randy Orton
It wasn’t a terrible match that I feared it would be but it was clear that in this battle between a former main eventer and an up and coming star, it was Randy Orton who was carrying the match and popping the crowd with his reversals and counter holds. Reigns has a great look and some entertaining signature moves but he still needs a little more seasoning when it comes to working longer matches. Hopefully he learns fast and maintains his current momentum.
Who I Said Would Win: Roman Reigns
Who Did Win: Roman Reigns
Brie Bella vs Stephanie McMahon
They delayed the whacky hijinx for a surprisingly long time and wrestled a straight match before Nikki Bella came down to the ring and turned on her twin sister. Stephanie looked surprisingly spritely for someone stepping in the ring for her first match in 13 years. I’m not sure the world is ready for a Bella vs Bella feud though.
Who I Said Would Win: Brie Bella
Who Did Win: Stephanie McMahon
John Cena vs Brock Lesnar
WWE World Heavyweight Title Match
John Cena is one of the most protected and conservatively booked talents in WWE history. He’s been their main eventer for a decade and he’s had more or less the same character and the same ‘odds-conquering’ match up in that entire run. As their most assured money maker and crowd favourite, the WWE has shown great reluctance in doing anything radical with him.
I believe the company does recognize that they need new stars though. Historically, Cena has actually been putting over new talent at Summerslam since as far back as 2008 when he lost to Batista in the main event. Since then he’s done the same for CM Punk (2011) and Daniel Bryan (2013). Although Cena has put these performers over, the torch has never been fully handed onto anyone else. Regardless of whether he held the title or not, Cena would continue to main event and be positioned as the centre of attention.
So while it wasn’t a shock to see Brock Lesnar defeat John Cena at Summerslam, the fashion in which he dominated Cena, flattening him with 16 vicious german suplexes, caught many people’s attention. It was one of the rarest sights anyone has seen in a WWE PPV main event – an extended squash. Lesnar was shown to be Cena’s superior right from the opening bell and aside from very brief flurries of offense, Lesnar ruled in emphatic fashion.
Lesnar is now been the strongest booked monster heel in the modern era having ended The Undertakers two decade long Wrestlemania win streak and crushed their reigning babyface champion in the same year. It seeems this was the payoff for the surprising amount of jobbing he did in his first year back.
Where to from here? We’re not guaranteed a changing of the guard or a new era. It’s possible Cena gets a rematch and wins the title right back at the next PPV. Or maybe it’s possible that the company will actually look to someone new to finally unseat Lesnar. Roman Reigns? Daniel Bryan? Dean Ambrose? Who knows. If someone other than John Cena is the man to defeat Brock Lesnar, they will almost assuredly be set for stardom. For the first time in a very long time, the World Heavyweight Championship has regained its prestige.
Who I Said Would Win: Brock Lesnar
Who Did Win: Brock Lesnar