Seth Rollins w/Dean Ambrose def. Dolph Ziggler (C) w/Drew McIntyre – Intercontinental Championship
This match was kind of confusing, to be honest. I was taken aback by the lack of consistency in the psychology of the match these two were trying to tell. I believed that they were going to play up the dynamic of Ambrose and Drew being in their partner’s corner, and they did just by having Drew shove Dean into some steps and by having Ambrose have the last laugh by hitting Dirty Deeds to Drew to effectively give Seth the advantage. However, the ring work was what had me in circles. I thought they were going for something with Ziggler targeting the knee of Seth, and it looked like that’s what they were going to do. But then, they just transitioned into doing headlocks and chin locks in prolonged rest spots. And to be honest, that killed the middle flow of the match. Seth Rollins doesn’t do well in matches that have him on the ground for most of the time. The quicker the pace, the better he performs, as the second half of the match showed. As soon as Seth hit his inverted version of the Falcon Arrow, we got somewhere.
Seth and Dolph are two guys that I expect to go out there and have at least 4 star matches every time they go out there. I’m also kind of glad they didn’t pull the trigger on the Dean heel turn here, even though I thought that’s what would happen. I’m also not sure what it means that Seth/Dolph went from main eventing Extreme Rules to starting off Summerslam, but I hope it’s not an underlying message of both men’s value because they are two of WWE’s top workers. This match wasn’t really as great as I wanted it to be, primarily because the first half dragged it down, but once we got all of the BS and psychology inconsistencies out of the way, Seth and Dolph just became themselves, and when they do that, they can put on a great match in their sleep. I’ve seen them do better, but this was nonetheless an extremely solid opener. ****
New Day def. Bludgeon Brothers (C) by DQ – Smackdown Tag Team Championship
The New Day has been on a bit of a roll for the Smackdown tag team brand as of late, and I was hoping that they would get their chance to shine at Summerslam. Don’t forget that on the pre-show last year, they had an absolutely incredible match against The Usos that may have been worthy of main eventing any other PPV. The Bludgeon Brothers meanwhile have been just taking out no-name jobbers week after week. The New Day’s energy in their matches are what has been giving their matches that extra kick, and they definitely brought it here to counteract the great power of the Bludgeons.
While I am no fan of non-finishes on PPV, if it makes sense in the context of the story, it can work. In this situation, you have The New Day, who haven’t been tag champions in nearly a year, working with a sense of urgency and they nearly knocked off the Bludgeon Brothers, who have basically dominated anyone who gets in their path. This finish ensures that both teams remain strong and practically guarantees a rematch at the next PPV. What we got here was more like the beginning to what a real match between the two would look like, and based on the chances Xavier and Big E took, it could potentially be special. Tonight, we just got a passable TV match. **1/2
Braun Strowman def. Kevin Owens – If Braun Strowman loses in any form, KO wins MITB
So let me get this straight. WWE has been telling us ad nauseum for weeks on end that if Braun Strowman loses IN ANY MANNER, Owens will win the contract. They give us Jinder Mahal and he beats Braun Strowman by countout and DQ in consecutive weeks. So we know that if Braun loses in any form, Owens can win the contract. Instead, what do we get? A fucking squash. Let me explain to you guys how stupid all of this is. If Kevin Owens won in ANY manner, he would have won the contract. What does this mean? Owens could have asked Jinder or anybody backstage would go along with it to attack him, and Owens would have won the match, and then that’s it. Instead, what do we get? Kevin Owens gets no offense and he gets jobbed out anyway.
This match is actually representative of a much larger problem in WWE these days. It is that a lot of things do not have any meaning or a proper payoff. How are you going to hype up the primary stipulation of this match that Braun can lose the match in ANY manner, and he could lose the briefcase, just for that to not affect the outcome at all? If you were going to have Braun retain a briefcase that he didn’t need to begin with, the least you could have done is tease Owens using the stipulation to his advantage. Have Owens try to outrun Braun across the arena. Tempt Braun to get himself DQ’ed by spitting on him or something. Do ANYTHING to at least make the match make sense. But treating the 2nd ever Universal Champion as if he’s Mike Kanellis, have him get no offense, and basically have him jobbed out just proves the last two months of this awful feud has been a giant waste of time. You’d think that Kevin Owens, who apparently performs at his best as a Prizefighter, would at least get a solid punch in. No part of this was needed, and this match proved it. DUD
Charlotte Flair def. Carmella (C) and Becky Lynch – Smackdown Women’s Championship
Now, Charlotte was the last person I was expecting to win the match, but based on what happened after, I can see why that would be the case. Now, for me, watching this match made me feel as though these 3 had the idea of what a great match was. They had Flair and Carmella do some dives, Becky got some great submission moves in, there were some good trio spots and there was some good saves. However, this match suffered from sloppy execution at times, and everyone can hold a share of the blame. I will give Carmella some sort of credit for being halfway decent and not her usual terrible self. The triple threat formula definitely helped her a great deal, because now, her lack of in-ring skill is sort of hidden, and she won’t have to rely on shouting and shenanigans to elongate the match needlessly.