WWE Summerslam 2015 Recap
All photos credit: WWE.com

While the so-called “Biggest Party of the Summer” wasn’t as great as it maybe could’ve been, there was still a lot to like. Some great wrestling; NXT women on a major PPV; an excellent title match which saw Seth Rollins retain; and intrigue abound following the main event. So here it is: VAVEL’s review of WWE Summerslam 2015.

The show opens with Jon Stewart, Summerslam host and nemesis of Seth Rollins, doing a short monologue. While the content was all there (“I’m a wrestling fan, I didn’t like Lesnar breaking the streak, hey how about those WWE SUPERSTARS?!”), it honestly sounded a little forced. Someone who talks for a living should probably be a little more believable when talking, but he was at least better than some of the previous guest stars Summerslam has featured.

Sheamus - Randy Orton is like season 9 of Scrubs

No matter what they add, it just doesn’t work anymore. Fans hate this pairing, which is why the crowd turned against it and started a bunch of NXT chants. The match itself wasn’t bad, but it felt like there should’ve been something… more. It was yet another match between two guys who have wrestled each other on and off for the last five years, and honestly there’s not a lot to say about it because it was just sort of there. The most notable moment was Sheamus busting out the Alberto Del Rio Memorial Flying Nothing as a set-up for an RKO outta nowhere. As it was though, that couldn’t put Sheamus away, and he would fight back to hit the Brogue Kick and get the win.

New Day rocks!

This match suffered from much the same problem as the Divas tag later, the ones in there to make up the numbers aren’t really good enough. Los Matadores have been entirely useless since they debuted as Primo and Epico, and Sin Cara is the Eli to Kalisto’s Peyton; but overall it was a good match. Kalisto should break away and go for the Intercontinental title because he’s a goddamn highlight reel who doesn’t need to be stuck carrying Sin Cara, the Prime Time Players are quietly amazing, and the New Day have been (bar Rollins and Lesnar) the most entertaining part of Raw ever since their sort of heel turn.

They won back the Tag Team titles here tonight and also had the three best moments of the match. The pre-match singing of their own version of Jay-Z’s Empire State Of Mind, Big E dancing, and the greatest tag team strategy since the Freebird rule: both Kofi and Big E tagging in and trying to win the title by having their team pin itself. Really, that should’ve been the finish because it is absolutely genius and would be a perfect way to get some heat, but they used it at the beginning of the match and it ended with Kofi stealing the pin for the victory and new Tag Team Champions.

Dolph Ziggler and Lana are the dirt worst

Jealous girlfriend storylines are terrible in modern WWE anyway, but this one is somehow even worse than usual. The basic story is that Rusev (the heel) had Lana as his business manager or social media brand supervisor or something similar, then they came up to the main roster and because Jerry Lawler’s mind is apparently a perverted minefield where women are still only good for cooking, cleaning and having babies; and he can’t fathom anything different, she became Rusev’s girlfriend because God forbid Jerry Lawler’s antiquated notions are ever challenged.

This may not be entirely how the creative process went, but let’s continue the story. Rusev spent a year winning matches to make Lana proud of him, moved to Russia for her, and became Putin’s favourite wrestler. Then, Rusev lost, partly because of Lana. He got angry at her, she took it badly, and dumped him. Dolph Ziggler sensed an opportunity, because he’s basically a frat bro, and turned Lana into white trash. Somehow Summer Rae is involved as well. It’s a very confusing state of affairs drenched in nonsensical motivations. So Rusev and Ziggler have a match, and it was pretty awful.

There was no motivation behind anything that happened, Rusev had basically won but stopped wrestling because Lana shouted at him. In a real world, with real people thoughts, Rusev would just finish the match and ignore his ex-girlfriend obviously trying to distract him, but WWE characters have all the common sense of a dead frog, so he starts shouting back, then Summer gets involved, and somehow it all ends with a double count-out.

OLIVER GODDAMN QUEEN

So Stephen Amell, star of DC Comics TV show Arrow, is beefing with WWE’s resident comic book villain and all-round incredible character wrestler Stardust. This leads to a match between the team of Amell and Neville, and Stardust and King Barrett. Cody Rhodes, the man behind the Stardust paint, is the single greatest person in WWE at taking a gimmick and bringing it to life, and he plays the comic book villain role to perfection, shouting about how “his name isn’t Stephen Amell, he’s got you all fooled! He’s Oliver Queen! He’s the Green Arrow!” Neville does a lot of the heavy lifting in the match, but Amell certainly doesn’t shirk away from getting physical.

His lack of training is obvious, but he certainly looks good. He has the physical ability to be a solid wrestler, and with more training he could probably (and hopefully will) put on a pretty great singles match against Stardust at Wrestlemania. His highlights include a kip up, a very stiff kick to Stardust, a lovely Enzuigiri, and the cherry on top of the cake: a dive off the top rope to the floor. Not a little fall into someone’s arms either, he really launches himself. It’s obvious that Amell is a true fan of wrestling who is getting the chance to live out one of his dreams, and it makes for a great show. Hopefully, his time association with WWE will continue and he can have some more special attraction matches.

Also, readers should go buy the Arrow - Stardust shirt he had made, all proceeds go to a great charity and it’s a really nice shirt. PS, Stephen Amell is an actor with three weeks of training and he put on a better, more competent showing than several professional wrestlers with years of experience. Hell, he put on a better match than Brie Bella has done in nine years of WWE employment.

Ryback - The Miz - Big Show was a thing that happened

“If you gaze into the abyss long enough, this is what gazes back.” – Nietzche. OK so that might be paraphrased, but seriously, this is a black hole of filler rubbish. The Intercontinental Championship shouldn’t be anywhere near this match. Kevin Owens wrestles Cesaro on the same show, and THIS is the match for the IC title. What a waste. Anyway, Ryback retained despite his colossal staph infection, so that’s that.

So, no swerves or anything?

The Wyatt Family (Erick who? Shut up there was never a third) took on Reigns and Ambrose, and the whole set-up looked perfect for something to happen. A new Wyatt family member, a turn for either Ambrose or Reigns, something. But no, it was just a pretty straightforward tag team match. The main talking point going forward was whatever that tag was at the end where Reigns pretended to down a beer. It was a perfectly cromulent match, but it would’ve been embiggened by a turn or a new Wyatt member. On the plus side though, how cool was that Wyatts fireflies entrance nameplate? Very cool, that’s how cool.

Seth The White, or HASHTAG JON STEWART HEEL TURN

Seth Rollins continues to be amazing, turning up to Summerslam with an incredible new white and gold outfit.

There was so much to love about the Title VS Title match, despite it going on fourth from bottom despite being for two titles. It was an incredible match between Big Match John Cena and Seth Rollins. No Kane, no Authority, no J&J Security, no constant run-ins. Rollins hung in there with Big Match John and he looked amazing. This was by far Rollins’ best performance as champion, and while the ending may have spoilt it for a lot of people (a running theme in this PPV), it made sense. It wasn’t time for Cena to match Flair’s record, but given how Rollins has been portrayed thus far it wouldn’t be especially believable for him to win both titles.

There were theories floating around that suggested WWE might try and use a screwy finish that kept the titles where they were, such as Sheamus pulling a Rollins-esque cash in and thus making the match a triple threat just for the WWE title, but this ending is better. It not only acknowledges Stewart’s history with Rollins, but it continues the story. It keeps Rollins champion, and it lets Cena move on to something different from the open challenges. It also leaves a lot of questions, such as what will Rollins do with both titles. Will they be unified, bringing the United States into the “World” banner in the WWE World title? Will he gift the United States title to an authority stooge? (Please let this happen, and please let it be Jamie Noble).

The Divas Revolution would be a lot better if it didn’t focus on Brie Bella and Tamina

Women’s wrestling being taken seriously in WWE for a change is amazing. They have some of the best female wrestlers in the world, mostly in NXT but some on the main roster too. Paige, Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Emma, Leva Bates (Blue Pants), KC Cassidy, Bayley, Summer Rae, and even Alexa Bliss have all come through NXT and been incredible. Nikki Bella has, from out of nowhere, turned into the big bad of women’s wrestling and started whomping everyone since AJ left. So why oh why, WWE, are four of the people in this match Alicia Fox, Naomi, Brie Bella and Tamina? Brie has been a WWE employee for nine years and still can barely wrestle. Tamina has one thing going for her, her dad’s Superfly Splash, and she can’t even do that. Her splash is more of a “fall from the top to her knees, then lie down on the opponent.”

Foxy has shown she can be an interesting character, and has the single most beautiful Northern Lights suplex into a bridge in wrestling today, but she can’t do much else. Folks on the internet keep saying Naomi is a great wrestler, but she’s never shown it. She’s the modern-day Beth Phoenix. Eva Marie has turned herself into a better wrestler than those four women. EVA MARIE. The woman who, a year ago, couldn’t believably pull off “walking” has gone and put in serious work with THE Brian Kendrick, and made herself into a damn good wrestler. Take notes, Tamina. Despite the personnel issues, this was a good match, as you’d expect when Paige, Charlotte, Becky, Sasha and Nikki are all involved. Becky getting the pin was great too, as she’s the only one of the NXT women who were brought up for the match to have not held the NXT Women’s title. It would’ve been good to see her win it with her submission on the big stage, but this is great too.

Hopefully now, this story can evolve to include the Divas Title because while it’s obviously going to stay on Nikki without her really defending it until at least she passes AJ’s record, she needs to hand it off soon. Long title reigns aren’t impressive when you never defend the belt. It will be interesting to see what the story is going forward though, maybe Becky gets the title shot at Night of Champions since she got the pin in this match, or maybe PCB have to decide between themselves somehow who gets it. Raw will definitely be worth watching, that’s for sure.

Action, adventure, and really wild things!

Well, that Brock Lesnar - Undertaker match sure was something, huh? Given the atrocious match between the two at Wrestlemania 30, expectations were pretty low going into this one, but they had a great 20ish minute match, told a great story, and left it with a lot of questions to be answered on Raw. There was blood, there was Undertaker doing the most terrifying joker impression in wrestling history (sorry to those like 150 guys with no imagination on the indies trying to do a joker gimmick), there was a MYSTERY at the end. WHO RANG THE BELL? It would've been amazing if it had cut across to New Face of Fear Bray Wyatt just muttering to himself “Beat me at Mania will you? I’ll show you…” while manically ringing the bell, it seems like they just didn’t show the timekeeper because probably 99% of the WWE Universe have NO IDEA who the timekeeper is.

The story of the ending was that Brock locked the kimura on ‘Taker, who was shown to have tapped out. The bell rang, but the ref didn’t see the tap out and hadn’t called for the bell so the match restarted. While the ref was busy shouting at the timekeeper, ‘Taker low-blowed Lesnar and locked him into the Hell’s Gate. Brock, defiant to the end, flipped him off and passed out in the hold. SHADES OF STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN, KING! The match was given to Undertaker. This was perfect. It gave Undertaker revenge for the streak, but did so in a way that lets Heyman and Brock keep bragging about how great Brock is. It leads to loads of questions going forward, and more importantly, evens up Undertaker’s record since he has a submission loss to CM Punk where he didn’t actually tap from back in like 2008.

And that’s the show! A pretty so-so show altogether, with a lot of good wrestling but not much real storyline development and a lot of iffy finishes. It does set up Raw nicely though, which should hopefully answer a lot of questions. What did you guys think of Summerslam? Let us know in the comments, or on twitter @WrestlingVAVEL.

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