Let me preface this article by stating the obvious: Monday Night Raw has not happened yet, so there’s no telling how WWE plans on following up SummerSlam. There’s a possibility that everything that went down will be justified and in the grand scheme of things, it will all work out in the end. However, the ends only justify the means when all things are complete and we can retroactively look back and commend what happened beforehand. Until we reach that point, everything is open to scrutiny.
SummerSlam last night was by no means the worst event WWE has ever had, but there were plenty of flaws that weren’t of the unavoidable kind. Sometimes, when a show goes awry, it’s just due to bad luck with injuries or something, but this was clearly an instance of poor decision making and questionable choices.
NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn showed that the developmental system can flourish in a bigger environment than ever before, seemingly doing no wrong and keeping its greatness stride, while SummerSlam proved that there’s something fundamentally wrong with those responsible for the main roster.
This should have been the biggest SummerSlam in history, but it felt like an experimental B-show that WWE wanted to play around with and use to build up to something else. Following some rough patches over the past few months, this was an opportunity to finish some storylines, put a cap on the summer and start the fall with a bang, rather than a dud.
With that being said, what are some of the biggest errors I feel WWE made during the night?
The 6:00-7:30pm Plan
WWE has a habit of wasting time with the same replicated content, which is nothing new. There’s always been this issue of replaying vignettes made up of content from last week’s episode, then playing another video package made up of the previous two weeks, and so on. When you’re expected to watch Raw, you don’t need to see recaps on SmackDown, Main Event, Superstars, etc, particularly as you have access to the YouTube page which you can use to catch up on things. On top of this, the pre-shows are utilized to catch you up, so if those exist solely to promote the same things you’ve already watched on the television episodes and you can find elsewhere, it gets repetitive and tiresome. At that point, there’s absolutely no need to run those video packages again during the pay-per-view before each respective match. But by all means, if you’re going to repeat things on each TV episode and on YouTube and on the pre-show and still show it on the event itself, give the audience something else on the pre-show to justify them watching it.
An hour was spent recapping what fans have seen for months, with no matches whatsoever. This would be more excusable if the entire 4-hour show was just packed with action, but instead, it started off with a useless promo by Jon Stewart and Mick Foley. As a fan of both of them, I was at first excited to see where it would go, but disappointed to see that the answer was “nowhere”.
Why couldn’t this have been on the pre-show, giving 10 extra minutes to some of the matches? Hell, if you cut out this and the video packages, you don’t need that extra fourth hour to begin with!
Even weirder was the time placement of the opening pyro, which started at around the 15 minute mark. If you’ve spent an hour of a pre-show getting ready for a show to begin, it should begin at the starting time, should it not? This caused a problem for the first match of the night, as Randy Orton and Sheamus had to wrestle in a cloud of smoke because the people responsible for the ventilation of said pyro smoke didn’t get the formula right.
Moving the Stewart promo (which, let’s be honest, didn’t need to happen at all anyway) to the pre-show would have given more time to the card itself and made more sense by allowing the opening of the show to be the opening of the show. At the very least, if the pyro would have gone on before the promo, that’s the thing that would have been covered in smoke rather than a match, which was also not the most exciting kickoff bout to choose anyway as the feud was stale and the performers worked slow, but that’s another discussion for another day.
Is This Raw or SummerSlam?
Pay-per-view events are supposed to be different from Raw, SmackDown and the like. With Raw being three hours, it’s already difficult to distinguish much of a difference as is, particularly with the sets not being as drastically changed for shows as they used to be. However, the bigger issue is that there needs to be a clear divide when it comes to the booking of the finishes for matches.
It’s already frustrating enough when you know that damn near every Monday Night Raw’s main event will be a tag team match that ends with some kind of interference, but cheating the audience out of a finish on TV is different from doing it on a pay-per-view. Under no circumstances should WWE book matches that come off as something you’d see on an average episode of Raw to begin with, but they definitely shouldn’t also give it an ending that seems like it’s more important to set up the next night’s show than this one.
Rusev and Dolph Ziggler have been feuding for months. Just like the Ryback vs. The Miz vs. Big Show program, an injury got in the way, but not just the injury, as WWE was clearly stalling to drag this out from the get go and it bit them in the ass when the injury happened. By SummerSlam, we’ve had so many weeks dedicated to filling time for these feuds that the audience has every reason in the world to be sick and tired of seeing it. Building up to this match at what’s supposed to be the second biggest event of the year meant that they needed to deliver, and deliver damn well. So why is it that Rusev and Ziggler had a count out finish???
There’s no need whatsoever for this feud to continue. If you try to argue that WWE doesn’t have any other ideas of what to do with them, tough shit, that’s what their writing team’s job is to do. Think of something, figure it out, and then do it. If a chef doesn’t know how to cook something, he/she looks up the recipe and then makes it. If a doctor doesn’t know how to fix a problem, he/she sends you to a specialist to get their opinion. If a whole team of writers can’t think of something else for them to do, you don’t just go “eh….let’s just do it again another month, and cop out on an ending with a draw so neither man has lost yet.”