WWE's latest DVD release takes us to the Biggest
Event of the Summer – SummerSlam 2016 from Brooklyn, New York – in the wake of
the company's second Brand Split. RAW
has seen SmackDown Live draft both the WWE (World) Championship and
Intercontinental, leaving it with only the US Title for male singles
competition, so will be crowning the first WWE Universal Champion here in
addition to the usual title bouts.
The Main Event is a showcase match however,
between the returning Randy Orton versus Brock Lesnar fresh off his
much-publicised UFC200 match and USADA infraction, which Orton has been using
to cheekily taunt Lesnar. Notably, these
Superstars of decade-plus standing have never met in a major match despite the
parallels in their WWE careers.
The card also features the SmackDown ladies in
6-woman tag-team action, John Cena and AJ Styles continue their rivalry, with
Enzo & Big Cass tackling the burgeoning Canadian super-team of JeriKO. With 13 matches scheduled (over 2 discs) the
action should come thick and fast for one of WWE's 'Big Four' events.
After an intro filled with Big Apple
iconography, and a highlight run-down through the upcoming matches, we get our
Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. JeriKO (Chris
Jericho & Kevin Owens) [RAW]
Enzo and Cass, being the excellent mic-men that
they are, pick up on the New-York theme with a fantastic Sinatra-inspired
familiar in-ring promo, the inevitable conclusion being that JeriKO are
S.A.W.F.T! I swear that the WWE haven't
seen this level of catchphrase crowd interaction since the hey-day of the New
Age Outlaws, superb stuff.
The match itself was showed why both teams
should potentially worry the Champs, the New Day, Enzo & Cass cementing
their fan-favourite status with deadly double-teaming, Cass in particular a
dominant threat with his size and strength, picking up his opponents and
partner to use as projectile weapons over the ropes with consummate ease. JeriKO respond with guile and Machiavellian
tactics, applying their nous and experience to test Enzo Amore's copious
resilience by trapping him in their corner by any means necessary.
Brawls break out around the ring, leading to a
devastating cannonball from Kevin Owens on Big Cass into the barricade, leaving
Enzo stranded with JeriKO. KO launches
Amore air-bound, to land crashing into Chris's Codebreaker and prone for
Jericho to pin. A nicely executed match to start the show and pump the viewer.
Sasha Banks (c) vs. Charlotte – WWE Woman's
A quick highlight package of these athletes' heated
feud, including Banks' recent championship win on RAW, is followed by some
in-ring verbal sparring as the announcer is reading the billing. These aren't
the only signs of how heated their rivalry has become, the opening minutes of
the bout is fast ans frenetic with traded counters and pin attempts. That is
right up to a nasty slip by Charlotte up high on the turnbuckles, dropping
Sasha on the ropes which catapulted her to the mat head-first and uncontrolled,
wrenching her back and neck in the impact.
This noticeably changes the pace of the match,
every stretch and backbreaker bringing a wince to my face as Charlotte takes
advantage of the injury, grinding away at Banks. With Dana Brooke barred from ringside, this
looks like a good substitute for the 'leveller' she's used to getting. It's not all one way traffic though, any
opportunity Sasha Banks has she goes for the high impact, first countering a
Razor's Edge from the cornerpost into a Frankensteiner, followed shortly after
with flying double knees to the former champion's chest on the unforgiving
ringside floor. It takes more out of her than it does Ms. Flair, Charlotte
finally countering a Bank Statement submission into a pin to regain the Title
and maintain her unbeaten singles PPV streak.
The legitimate looking injury added an extra
layer of gruesome interest to this match, which still managed to be
impressively athletic despite its sometimes necessarily stilted nature.
The followers of Japanese and independent
wrestling are treated to a little inside joke vignette. AJ is having a chat
with The Club 'doctors' backstage, when fellow former Bullet Club member Finn
Balor stops by then walks away without acknowledging the teased 'Too Sweet' hand-gestures.
Sure to raise as many eyebrows as it does smiles.
The Miz (w/Maryse) (c) vs. Apollo Crews- WWE
Intercontinental Championship [SD]
The slightly flat premise for this match is that
five time and current Intercontinental champion, The Miz, is mixing up Apollo
Crews for Apollo Creed, the Rocky film-franchise antagonist. Crews is
understandably irked by this show of unrepentant unprofessionalism.
The Miz starts aggressively, pinning back the
physically impressive Crews until he manages a pin attempt against the run of
dominance. Miz tries an Axe-handle smash
from the turnbuckle, but is met mid-air with a drop-kick. He counters one standing Moonsault, but
succumbs to Apollo's second attempt to send him running scared for the
entranceway. Crews is having none of it,
drags the champ back to the ring, but gets distracted by Maryse as he enters
the ropes. A fatal mistake, as one Skull-crushing Finale later, Miz has the
pinfall victory to retain.
Quite frankly, a match that was as inspirational
as the premise it was built on.
John Cena vs. AJ Styles [SD]
These two leading lights of SmackDown Live have
been feuding for months, without definitive result, but the recent roster split
has bereft Styles of his backup in the form of The Club, so this could be the
match to put this rivalry to bed, considering they'll be tied up in the
The opening tie-up is pretty even, with Cena
stronger and AJ quicker, but that isn't where the deadlock ends. Both athletes pull out their extensive
arsenals immediately, although each is countered into another then back into
yet more. An Attitude Adjustment is met
with a Styles Clash or Suplex to the apron, while Styles' springboard attacks
are countered into an STF or even an astonishing Canadian Destroyer-esque
manoeuver. If that was Cena reaching
deep into the weapons locker, then he did again moments later cracking out a
You can't crack out the big guns early without
it taking its toll, but these two kept picking themselves up and increasing the
calibre. A springboard Frankensteiner from Styles couldn't keep Cena's
shoulders down, but neither could the return Super-AA floor Styles. It finally took a combination of finishers, a
Clash followed by the Phenomenal Forearm to put pay to John Cena, a fair and
square pinfall. Distraught and
despondent, Cena leaves his 'Never Give Up' sweatband on the canvas before
following the victorious Styles up the ramp.
In my opinion, the spiralling knife-edge one-upmanship makes this match
a modern classic.
The New Day (Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston w/Jon
Stewart) (c) vs. The Club (Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows) – WWE Tag Team
Before the teams come out, Jon Stewart comes to
the ring and reveals himself to be standing in for Big E, due to his groinal
incapacitation with 'Ringpostitis' caused by The Club, before introducing The
New Day. The Club are still dressed as
doctors when they enter, bearing specimen jars for all (now four) New Day
members. Big E's jar contains two humorously over-sized spheres, whilst
similarly Stewart's jar is hilariously small.
Xavier Woods gets an early pin attempt on Karl
Anderson, his partner returning the favour before the match gets some
double-team chaos. When semblance of
order is restored, The Club keep Kofi Kingston away from a tag, before he gets
a retaliatory strike against Luke Gallows to provoke a double hot-tag
situation. Woods leaps three-quarters of the way across the ring to land a
tightrope elbowdrop on Anderson.
A follow-up Kingston pin attempt is broken up by
Gallows to set up the Magic Killer double team move, but before the legal
Club-man can get in a pin, Jon Stewart rushes the ring (despite his promises of
non-interference) and draws their ire.
Cue a run-in from a returning Big E, to save Stewart from a bad case of
Ringpostitis, and cause a DQ victory for The Club. A pretty average match, and
the mix of New Day and Club antics are always likely to cause dubious finishes,
as in this case.
Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler – WWE World
A highlight video of Ziggler's notable successes
and numerous frustrations lead us in to this match, but the real heat can be
felt as the SmackDown management team of Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon are
needed to keep the two competitors separate before the bell.
uses the technical ability of his amateur background to good effect, whilst Ambrose
resorts to his strong suit too and takes
the match to ringside brawling. A Superplex from Ambrose gives him the space to
slow the match, and grind Ziggler down on the mat. Ziggler responds with a
sweet DDT and pulls off The Famouser on the second attempt to get Dean down for
a two count.
Ambrose is constantly mocking Ziggler and has to
drop down to ringside hard to break a retaliatory sleeper hold and gets a
superkick for his troubles. With both
athletes battered, they return to the ring. Ziggler performs his zig zag for a
pin attempt, but another sleeper can't hold Ambrose down, and neither can a
superplex, as Ambrose counters into the standing position to hit the Dirty
Deeds and get the victorious pin. The
match itself was definitely above average, but it didn't really feel worthy of
being for this historic championship.
Becky Lynch, Naomi & Carmella vs. Alexa
Bliss, Natalya & Nikki Bella [SD]
The 6 Woman tag team match featuring the SmackDown
Live female roster starts with a few interesting entrances, including Naomi's
excellent, rave-style Glow entrance, the billed Eva Marie being announced as on
holiday in the British Isles (despite being laid off with a wellness suspension)
and instead we're treated to Nikki Bella's comeback from a career-threatening
The match itself is filled with the ladies
cracking out their signature moves, to demonstrate their excellent skills, and
quick tags. Alexa Bliss is by far the
smallest athlete but makes up for it by having the biggest aggressive attitude,
whilst Nikki Bella seems determined to take out her pent up aggression on
Carmella. Not even Becky Lynch taking on all three opponents can save her from
the inevitable once she finds herself back in the ring with The Bella
Twin. A pin from the recovered Bella
puts the icing on a fun and fast exhibition tag match.
'The Demon King' Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins –
WWE Universal Championship [RAW]
Next up we get to see who is WWE's inaugural
universal title holder and with the necessity of crowning the champion buy
either pinfall or submission, it effectively makes the match no
disqualification. The match gets
under-way with the controversial new title belt and the RAW management team of
Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon ringside.
Finn Balor, the demon king who battled his way
past the cream of the RAW roster to earn his opportunity, starts aggressively
trying to apply stomps, drop-kicks and his coup de gras finisher from
the outset. Seth Rollins, the number one
draft pick and automatic Challenger, responds with athletic resilience and powerful
offence. A sickening blow to Balor's shoulder from Seth Rollins' bomb to the
Barricades slows him only momentarily, responding with his own series of slams
and throws until Rollins continues his onslaught.
Nothing can keep the supernatural demon king
down though, picking himself up from a pedigree or bouncing back from a buckle
bomb to launch dropkick after dropkick and stomp after stomp in return. Even the failure of a devastating Small
Package Driver has Rollins' frustration and exhaustion building, until Finn unleashes
another volley of feet culminating in his coup de gras double-foot
stomp, giving the former NXT champion victory over the former WWE champion, to
be the first Universal champion. A great
match, where Seth Rollins' agile and usually effective attack was no match for
the supernatural resilience and single-mindedness of Finn Balor.
Rusev (c) vs. Roman Reigns – WWE US Championship
Before the ring announcer could finish his job and
the timekeeper could ring the bell, Roman Reigns had launched a ringside attack
on Rusev, demolishing the Bulgarian. Reigns bangs and bashes him off of every
object available, leaving him with damaged ribs, unable to compete and
surrounded by officials. A short, brutal, but somewhat exciting non-match.
'The Viper' Randy Orton vs. 'The Beast
Incarnate' Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) [SD/RAW]
So here we are, the main event between two of 21st
century wrestling's biggest names for the first time on a PPV event. A series
of videos hyping the rivalry, finishing with a volley of verbal abuse from
Brock Lesnar, plus the entourages ringside helps the big fight feel - and it certainly
does feel more like an impending fight than a wrestling match.
From the outset, Brock seems Intent on applying
his MMA style offence, sending Orton to the corners with punches, forearms and
elbows. Orton himself manages to get enough space to attempt an RKO, which is
deflected and only provokes Lesnar to take him to suplex City with half a dozen
The ringside area is no refuge for Randy either,
Brock plucking him from the crowd to toss him through the Smackdown announce
table on the second attempt, before dragging him to the ring for a 7th German
suplex. The RAW announce table looks to be next, but the deadly Viper strikes
with an RKO, leaving Lesnar stunned across the table instead. Back in the ring,
a second RKO only serves to provoke the Beast Incarnate into an F-5.
It is at this point, with twenty-twenty
hindsight, that Orton probably should have stayed down for the three-count.
Brock discarded his gloves and elbow-pads and just brutalised Orton's head with
a series of sickening blows, including an elbow strike that gashed deep,
causing blood to pool on the canvas. He
sent the officials and doctors scattering multiple times, going back to rain
down more fists. Paul Heyman's face was
ashen at his client's destruction, and not even the intervention of Shane
McMahon was enough to stop the psychotic Beast, taking an unexpected F-5 to lie
there nursing his ribs. Lesnar wins by TKO.
A shocking, brutal and bloody finale to this
epic of an event.
But wait! There's more on this disc, the three
under-card, pre-show matches included in 'Special Features' are great value for
their addition. The 12-Man SmackDown
Tag match was as fast and fun as the later 6-Woman equivalent, Zayn
& Neville vs. The Dudley Boyz was a good show of athleticism against
experience, and the first of the, potentially epic, Best-of-Seven heavyweight
series in Sheamus vs. Cesaro.
Whilst not all the matches earn the distinction
of being 'Great' there are plenty of classic and shocking moments on this DVD
set. Styles versus Cena, the inaugural
Universal Championship match and the bloody conclusion will all get looked upon
as pivotal moments in WWE history, I'm sure, and with the bulk of the remaining
matches being well constructed and entertaining, this set is fantastic value