It had been 20 years since WWE held their annual summertime slam-fest SummerSlam in the state of Michigan, and the first time the company has held a major event at Detroit’s Ford Field since 2007’s WrestleMania.
SummerSlam is part of the “Big 4” in WWE’s premium live events and is often referred to as the “WrestleMania” of the summer—something Vince McMahon has aimed to achieve, giving the company two opportunities per year to fill up American football sized arenas.
This event is typically used to settle promotional storylines before launching into the year’s final quarter, which is partially used to begin the “Road to WrestleMania,” which doesn’t fully kick off until January’s Royal Rumble.
This year’s SumerSlam card offered up plenty of big-time match ups, although the evening’s main event (on a card with three other feature bouts) between Roman Reigns and his former Bloodline faction member Jey Uso was the one the entire WWE Universe is anticipating — in a match being fought under “Trial Combat” rules.
Roman Reigns retains WWE Undisputed Championship over Jey Uso:
In the evening’s SummerSlam main event, Reigns and Jey Uso continued the (seemingly) final act of the multi-year-long Bloodline storyline.
The Bloodline has been responsible for some of the best TV on WWE airwaves with multi-level plot twists and subtle narratives that added to the character development of some of pro wrestling’s hottest superstars—names like Sami Zayne, Kevin Owens, and the USO’s younger brother Solo Sikoa have all benefited from the compelling storyline.
The match was set under “Tribal Combat” rules, which is essentially a no-holds barred match or no DQ.
The significance of the match’s theme plays into the current narrative of Roman Reigns dominant reign as champion, a title run that has lasted over 1,000 days, and the implosion of his Bloodline faction.
Like many of the wrestling family factions, there comes a time when the leader must faceoff against a family member challenger.
And like the Hart Foundation’s famous Bret Har-Owen Hart program, this was Jey Uso’s chance to show his ability to perform on the big stage.
The match’s opening sequence played out like a typical “Tribal Chief” match with all the spots we’ve come to expect, but Jey raised the violence level with an assortment of chairs.
Jey was having success before taking his cousin to the outside and into the fans section. That is where Solo Sikoa entered the match and made his impact, switching momentum back into Roman’s favor.
After Roman accidentally hit Solo with the ‘spear’ and opened the door for Jey to take full advantage, which he did at SummerSlam.
Jey took the chance to open his offense, but it all led to a moment in which Solo looked like he might turn on Roman after questioning the nature of the spear he took from Reigns.
This allowed Jey to take advantage of the uncertainty and deliver his own spear to Roman through the guard rails.
It looked like Jey might win, but that’s when the drama leveled up as his brother and tag team partner, Jimmy Uso, broke up the pin to help Roman.
Jimmy then attacked Jey, opening the possibility of a program between the two and possibly launching Jey into the solo career many believe he’s capable of after being one half of wrestling’s best tag teams of all time.
Roman would hit Jey with a spear through the table and retained his undisputed championship.
The belief amongst insiders is that the conclusion of the “Trial Combat” match would lead to a showdown between Roman and “The Elders”—a collection of some of the family’s most prestigious superstars, specifically that of The Rock and Rikishi.
Seth Rollins retains World Heavyweight Championship over Finn Balor at SummerSlam
These two workhorses had an excellent match with back-and-forth action and several near-falls.
The match’s placement on the card was very intentional as it represents the spot on the card for the best workers to showcase skill and offer the crowd an unforgettable match.
Rollins and Balor have plenty of history with one another, specifically at Summer Slam.
In fact, Balor defeated Rollins for the inaugural Universal championship at Summer Slam before having to relinquish the title the next night on RAW due to a shoulder injury Balor suffered.
The move that took Balor out seven years prior to tonight’s sequel was a ‘buckle-bomb’ onto the outside guardrail—the barrier that separates fans from the action—a move that Balor used in retribution in the evening’s first of three main events.
The storyline heading into this match was Balor’s fellow Judgement Day faction member, Damian Priest and his Money in the Bank briefcase which promises him a title opportunity at Priest’s discretion.
There have been moments of uncertainty between both Balor and Priest, but things seemed to be settled heading into the matchup.
Balor had control of the match when Priest, who came out with briefcase in hand, appeared to offer up Balor the case.
It was not clear whether Priest’s intentions were to give Balor the upper hand with the illegal weapon, but from Balor’s point of view he may have assumed Priest was considering cashing in his chance at a rather opportune moment.
The distraction gave Rollins the opportunity to shift momentum, and a Curb Stomp later and Rollins would retain.
Monday night’s edition of RAW will be interesting as the story between Balor and Priest seems to be heading towards a showdown.
Bellair wins WWE Women’s championship over Charlotte Flair and (c) Asuka; Iyo Sky successfully cashes in MITB briefcase to defeat Bellair to become new champ
The triple-threat world title match was a fun match with sone great spots.
All three women came out looking good and nobody was squashed to put over anyone else.
As great as the match was, it was also overbooked.
The final segments of the match produced moments that opened the possibility for all three women to be in play to take home the gold.
In the final sequence, Flair locked in her ‘Figure Eight’ submission, a finisher that is a variation of the ‘Figure Four,’ a move made famous by Charlotte’s Hall of Fame father Ric Flair, onto champion Bellair.
Just as it seemed like victory was in Charlotte’s hands, Auska hit her with the green mist, giving Bellair the opportunity to rollup Auska for the win.
I think the feel-good moment for Bellair was a great finish, but in typical WWE fashion, women’s Money in the Bank briefcase holder, Iyo Sky, came down to cash in her opportunity after the match’s conclusion.
Sky took full advantage of Bellair and the fatigue she was suffering from following a grueling match.
Sky hit a “Moonsault” from the top turnbuckle and then pinned the champ to become the new WWE’s Women’s world champion.
The successful Money in the Bank cash-in marks the 2nd time in consecutive years that the MITB winner cashes in following a champion’s successful title defense.
SummerSlam—Cody Rhodes defeats Brock Lesnar
WWE has booked Cody well since his return, but if there is any criticism over it then it is based on the long-term booking that has seen him turn in great performances only to have the match ran back to extend the promotion.
That was the case with his feud against Seth Rollins, and fans have complained of similar match fatigue in his promotion with Brock Lesnar.
Cody won the first match against Brock, but the stakes were raised after Lesnar broke Cody’s arm.
This match was supposed to settle the feud, but more than that it was meant to set Cody on the road (no pun intended) to champion status—the reason Cody decided to come back to WWE to win a championship that eluded his Hall of Fame father, Dusty Rhodes.
Cody got the victory over Lesnar in clean fashion, and the decisiveness of the victory was added to in the match’s post-fight as Lesnar shook Cody’s hand and then raised his arm in victory.
It is unclear whether Lesnar’s gesture was an indication of a face turn or a possible hint at retirement.
What is clear is that Cody is ready to move on with the “big time win” that the heads of creative felt he needed, namely Triple H.
The clean win at SummerSlam coupled with the co-sign from Brock gives creative the confidence that fans seemed to already have in the “American Nightmare,” but one glaring issue is that same creative team appears to have plans for Roman that don’t include Cody.
Further complicating the issue, the only other major belt holder is Seth Rollins.
As mentioned earlier, lingering feelings of monotony may hinder a Cody-Seth feud amongst fans, hindering any sort of payoff within the potential program.
Shayna Baszler def Ronda Rousey (MMA RULES)
The match at SummerSlam was billed as one being fought under MMA rules, but it did not lean into the gimmick as much as expected.
Still, both women, with plenty MMA experience under each of their belts, were willing to stand toe-to-toe and exchange punches.
They attempted submissions and traded stiff shots, but the sequences were still more reminiscent of a wrestling match than a true MMA fight.
Rousey caught Baszler with a super stiff knee in the first half of the contest, and there was a spot where both women traded blows with one another, reminiscent of Gatti-Ward or, better yet, Griffin-Bonnar.
A big head kick from Baszler to the head of Rousey sent the former UFC women’s champion to the outside (an example of the UN-MMA moments in the match).
This led to some of the grappling sequences in the match, and Rousey took full advantage by injuring the arm of Baszler.
The armbar led to a break in the action as WWE medical staff came out to check on the seriousness of Baszler’s injury.
Rousey threw the med staff out of the way and continued to attack Baszler.
Baszler was able to get a tight hold of Rousey’s neck and applied an RNC (rear naked choke). After some scrambling from Rousey, she was eventually put to sleep.
The ending protected Rousey while simultaneously lifting up Baszler in a nice piece of booking.
Gunther (c) vs. Drew McIntyre
The intercontinental champion, Gunther, had his hands full at this year’s WrestleMania as he took on Drew McIntyre and Sheamus in a match that was heralded as a 5-star match.
The three men put on a show with hard-hitting displays from the big men at SummerSlam.
This match was a continuation of that style. Gunther needed to put away McIntyre in order to continue his momentum as IC champ—a title that has gained a reputation for being the “worker’s” title, a label given to the best and hardest working wrestler on the roster.
McIntyre has been at the forefront of rumors swirling about that he was leaving WWE ahead of his contract expiring.
However, when it was announced that McIntyre would indeed be staying with WWE, it was assumed that he would be in line for a big push.
Defeating Gunther and becoming IC champ could seem like a lateral step for the superstar that held the WWE world title (and Covid-Era WWE) up with prestige.
Both men traded big chops and stiff kicks off reversals. But McIntyre made the mistake of going to the top rope with Gunther, something of a no-no for big men, and he paid the price by being chopped from the turnbuckle and onto the top rope.
Moments later, Gunther, who hit a big splash from the top rope, hit the powerbomb for the 1-2-3.
Gunther retaining the IC title is big, but doing off the back of McIntyre is even more meaningful and could lead the decision makers in the back to give him even bigger opportunities as we head into WrestleMania season.
Logan Paul def Ricochet:
At SummerSlam, Logan Paul and Ricochet were given the responsibility of opening the card, although it was requested by Paul himself so that he could fly out of Detroit in time to make Jake Paul’s, Logan’s brother, boxing match against former UFC fighter Nate Diaz in Dallas.
It was assumed that this match would be a spot-fest.
The intro to this match started at Royal Rumble in January when Ricochet and Paul pulled off a double clothesline from opposite sides of the outside ring apron.
This spot gave WWE creative enough confidence in the pair to give them their moments to shine in last month’s Money in the Bank ladder match. Neither Paul nor Ricochet won MITB, but they won fans’ respect.
The high energy match was not without a few slip ups, but credit to both men for pulling off very difficult sequences from start to finish.
We’ve seen Logan hold his own in singles matches, but to do it with a superstar the caliber of Ricochet is no small feat.
One of Logan’s best spots was a near flawless ‘frog splash’ from the outside apron off the top rope that he landed flush on his downed opponent.
Ricochet, to his credit, landed a ‘detonation kick’ onto Paul before nailing the ‘springboard moonsault’ off the top rope, resulting in his own near fall at SummerSlam.
After attempting to hit the 630 and landing flat on his back, Paul, who rolled out of the way, was handed brass knucks by one of his minions, which he used on Ricochet. The use of the illegal weapon behind the ref’s back was enough to keep Ricochet down for the long count.