Barclays Center – Brooklyn, NY – Sunday, August 23, 2015
Michael Cole, Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler, and JBL are on commentary.
Sheamus defeats Randy Orton at 11:15. Cole mentions that Orton has won a World Championship three times at SummerSlam, which is exactly the kind of factoid that I enjoy. These two rivals are plenty experienced with each other and the momentum swings back and forth here. Orton gets a lot of crap from the internet, but the crowd at the Barclays Center is pretty into him. Late in the match Sheamus goes for a slingshot shoulderblock but Orton catches him with an RKO (From Outta Nowhere)! Cool spot, but Sheamus rolls to the floor to avoid getting pinned. Sheamus recovers enough to fight back and the crowd responds with chants of “You Look Stupid.” Despite the crowd’s chant, Sheamus is able to shove Orton off another RKO attempt, and drills him with a Brogue Kick in the corner. One more Brogue Kick keeps Orton down for a clean pin. Wow, the Money in the Bank holder just got a clean pin, what’s going on here? Solid opener here, with the crowd much more into it that I would’ve expected. And the finish just blew my mind a little.
The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston, w/ Xavier Woods) defeat Los Matadores (Diego & Fernando, w/ El Torito), The Lucha Dragons (Sin Cara & Kalisto), and WWE Tag Team Champions The Prime Time Players (Darren Young & Titus O’Neil) in a Fatal 4-Way Match at 11:20 to win the titles. Young and O’Neil have been the Champions since 6.14.15, and this is their second defense. The action is non-stop from the bell here, with eight guys to ensure no resting is necessary. The main conflict here is between the Champs and the New Day, and the New Day is able to isolate Young for quite a while. When O’Neil gets tagged in he is a house afire, literally throwing everyone around the ring. The referee has difficulty controlling everyone, even allowing Torito and Woods to get involved. O’Neil hits one of the Matadors with Clash of the Titus, but Kingston and E take him out and steal the pin. That was typical chaotic four-way action and plenty of fun. The celebration from the now two-time Tag Team Champions adds another 10 or so stars to the final rating.
Dolph Ziggler (w/ Lana) vs. Rusev (w/ Summer Rae) ended in a double-countout at 12:05. This was one of the worst, most counterproductive storylines in recent WWE memory. Ziggler starts off hot but Rusev is able to cut him off and slow things down. They battle back and forth, and Rusev actually adapts to Ziggler’s pace and is still able to control much of the match. When Rusev locks on the Accolade, Lana goes over and slaps Summer right in the face for no good reason. Rusev takes offense and brings Ziggler outside to taunt Lana, which allows Summer to take Lana down. Ziggler pops up and hits a superkick to knock Rusev out. Neither man can get back in the ring before the count of 10, so the match is a double-countout. Storyline was awful, finish was dumb. Match was okay.
Neville & Stephen Amell defeat Stardust & King Barrett at 7:40. Amell shows off his athleticism and executes a few basic moves, much to the delight of the crowd. That’s not enough to stop Stardust and Barrett from cutting him off and isolating him in their half of the ring. Amell sells really well and fights back with a nice enziguiri. The hot tag is made and Neville is a house afire. Neville sends both Stardust and Barrett to the floor, and Amell wipes them out with a dive from the top rope! Back in the ring Neville hits Barrett with the Red Arrow to get the pin. They kept it simple with Amell, and he did a rock solid job. Well, Barrett did the job, but you know what I mean.
Intercontinental Champion Ryback defeats Big Show and The Miz in a Triple Threat Match at 5:40 to retain the title. Ryback has been the Champion since 5.31.15, and this is his second defense. Miz bails right away to let the two behemoths duke it out. Show uses his size to dominate both of his opponents and Ryback counters with his strength and Miz his cunning. When Ryback hits Show with the Shell Shocked, Miz sneaks in and hits Ryback with a Skull Crushing Finale but it only gets two. Miz also tries to pin Show, and takes turns covering both men multiple times but can’t get a pin on anybody. Ryback tries the Shell Shocked on Miz, but Show breaks that up with a WMD. Miz breaks up that fall. Show knocks Miz out with a WMD, and Ryback clotheslines Show over the top rope and to the floor. Ryback then steals the pin to retain the title. That finish works because it gives Show reason to seek a singles match with Ryback for the title, since it was his move that put Miz down. This was a bit of an odd trio to put together, but for a short match like this they worked fine enough.
Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose defeat Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper at 11:10. All four men in this match are adept brawlers, so things spill to the floor and get out of hand pretty quickly. Wyatt and Harper try as much as they can to isolate Ambrose away from his partner and od a pretty good job of it for a while. Of course eventually the hot tag is made and Reigns comes in a house afire. The referee completely loses control and all four men brawl in the ring. Harper gets dispatched to the floor and Ambrose hits Wyatt with the Dirty Deeds. Reigns follows up with the Spear (and his goofy prep to the move is easily my least favorite thing about him) to get the pin. This was a perfectly solid formula tag team match, but the booking makes no sense. Reigns got a clean pin over the monster heel, so why should the feud continue? Either Wyatt and Harper should’ve gone over or Harper should’ve taken the fall. I just don’t get that.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins defeats WWE United States Champion John Cena at 19:25 to win the title. Rollins has been the WWE Champion since 3.29.15, and this is his eighth defense. Cena has been the U.S. Champion since 3.29.15, and this is his fifteenth defense. The crowd loudly sings “John Cena Sucks” along with Cena’s entrance music, so we’re gonna have that kind of night. Both men seem energized by the crowd reactions, and set off on becoming the first man to simultaneously hold the WWE and United States Championships. Rollins is especially fired up, and is able to control a bulk of the opening minutes and counter many of Cena’s attacks. The WWE Champion is simply on point tonight, hitting everything perfectly, including a Frog Splash and even Cena’s own Attitude Adjustment. A series of reversals ends with Cena putting on the Figure-Four Leglock, and since he has a chance to tie Ric Flair’s record of 16 World Championships with a win here, that’s just awesome. A short time later, the referee gets bumped and therefore doesn’t see Cena covering Rollins after an Attitude Adjustment. Rollins fights back with a jumping knee to the face, the same one that injured Cena several weeks prior. Event host Jon Stewart comes running out with a steel chair and hits Cena with it! Rollins then lands a Pedigree on the same steel chair and the referee recovers to make the three-count. Stewart looked a little lost when he got out there, but I still dig the surprise of having him come out there and turn on the good guy. Cena is great but Rollins absolutely looked like a star in this match, someone capable of carrying the company for sure, and the crowd treated him as such. These two work really well together and are natural foils.
PCB (Paige, Charlotte & Becky Lynch) defeat Team Bella (Nikki Bella, Brie Bella & Alicia Fox), and Team B.A.D. (Naomi, Tamina & Sasha Banks) in a Three Way Tag Team Elimination Match at 15:20. Team B.A.D. is the first trio to maintain an advantage, as they isolate Lynch in their third of the ring. They work in a bunch of dives to the floor culminating in Paige taking everyone out with a somersault dive from the top rope. Back in the ring Brie is able to get a tag and she hits Tamina with a tornado facebuster to eliminate Team B.A.D. at 6:40. Now we’re down to two teams, and Team Bella isolates Paige. After a few minutes of that Charlotte gets the hot tag and the crowd is loving it. Charlotte cleans house, and Paige helps by taking Nikki to the floor. Fox and Charlotte both kick each other in the face, and then tags are made. Brie tries a missile dropkick but Lynch avoids it and hits a pumphandle uranage slam to get the pin. I really wanted to like this, but not much of substance actually happened beyond a series of moves. PCB winning is a good move though.
Kevin Owens defeats Cesaro at 14:20. Owens is just one night removed from battling Finn Balor in a ladder match, so it’s pretty impressive that he’s even here. Both men trade dives in the early going, and keep up a pretty brisk pace. They trade big maneuvers and work in their signature stuff, but it’s Owens who’s able to land the big finisher, his Pop-up Powerbomb, to score the pinfall. Two studs going at it for 15 minutes on pay-per-view is certainly something I can support. These two have good chemistry and it’s only a shame that these two didn’t really have much of a feud here or much of anything at stake.
Undertaker defeats Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman) at 17:20. Both men are eager to tear into each other, neither one showing any fear towards the other. Lesnar is more than happy to take Undertaker directly to Suplex City. The crowd is digging on both guys as the fight spills to the floor and furniture gets rearranged. Undertaker sets up for a Last Ride but Lesnar counters into an F-5 through the announce table! Back in the ring Undertaker makes a remarkably quick comeback, flattening Lesnar with a Chokeslam. Undertaker then hits a Tombstone Piledriver for a two-count. Both men laugh in each other’s faces and continue going for big bombs but neither can put the other away. Undertaker puts on a Hell’s Gate, and Lesnar reverses it to a Kimura Lock. All of a sudden the bell rings for some reason, but referee Charles Robinson chastises the timekeeper, since he didn’t call for the bell. Undertaker hits Lesnar with a low blow behind the referee’s back and then locks on the Hell’s Gate again. Lesnar puts his middle finger up in Undertaker’s face but passes out anyway, and Undertaker gets the win. This was light years beyond the WrestleMania match, with a fast pace, lots of intensity, and a much more even contest. The finish was quite silly though, and I don’t get what they were trying to accomplish with the Undertaker character with that. All in all, a fun match though.
I guess I should be grateful that WWE makes some attempt to differentiate this show from the weekly three-hour RAW episodes by making it four hours, but that’s just a long time to watch a wrestling show, even if it is good. This is overall a pretty solid show, with mostly good – very good matches up and down the card. Cutting out an hour of deadweight would’ve done wonders.