Hello, all ye Lass Kickers, and welcome to this fine-feathered recap of last night's four-hour extravaganza. Yeah, I still can't get behind Becky Lynch's catchphrase. But I can certainly get out in front of the throngs offering their two cents on tonight's $9.99 worth of wrestling action.
We witnessed a CW superstar humiliate a second-generation superstar, a former news-satire host cost a 15-time champ an all-time mark and the Undertaker get redemption thanks to a low blow and an inept official, among other improbable turns of fortune. More importantly (depending on who's watching), we learned that Mountain Dew looks delicious and Tough Enough is almost over (who knew?) So before I inadvertently knock a referee unconscious while stumbling to make my point, here are the five key things (in addition to the usual Twitter-friendly sidebar observations) that I took away from SummerSlam 2015.
5. Sheamus Is Ready for His Close-Up
Now we finally know why the Great White and Randy Orton have been feuding all this time: It's so Sheamus could eventually beat the multi-time Heavyweight Champ clean at a major PPV (er, WWE Network) broadcast and raise his stock as he makes a serious charge for the title via his golden briefcase. Kudos to the Apex Predator for making the sacrifice, and he's still got more than enough goodwill with the fans – never mind talent left in the tank – to withstand the past few months' fruitless assignment. And it's a genuine bit of shine for Sheamus, who needs to seem compatible with other main-eventers in the ring, and not merely with his Mad Max makeover and new (by way of old) attitude. Eager to see how he figures into the mix going forward, and it can only mean better, more meaningful feuds for Orton.
4. New Day Might Need to Tone It Down
If they want to keep up this legit-heel run, at least. The last thing WWE needs now is another villain or gaggle of antagonists who win the crowd over by laying on their irksomeness too thick. Ushering in New Day as earnest do-gooders was a mistake. Allowing them to find their voice and timing as petulant pissants was not only a life preserver for the faction, but a buoy for the entire tag-team division. I guess what I'm saying is: Their pre-match and post-victory shtick tonight was inspired (see "Below the Belt"), but it's definitely the kind of exuberance that can ingratiate rather than irritate. And at the moment, New Day is most useful making people want to cover their ears. So at the risk of cautioning that their might be too much chemistry between Kofi, Big E and Xavier, the trio might have to withhold their best material until an equally compelling bad-guy stable (i.e. not the Ascension) can take their place.
3. Some Folks Can't Let Go of a Grudge
I love Brooklyn, but Brooklyn can be stubborn. And last night, in their effort to show off for a national audience and out-smark other major cities, they poured boos and taunts ("Roman's sleeping" was just silly) down on Roman Reigns like it was winter 2014. They must have missed the memo that, since Reigns' controversial win at January's Royal Rumble, he's mostly kept his head down, accepted a temporary downgrade on the card and resumed his ascent back up the hard way. It's the fans' show, and they paid their money and can do what they want and demonstrate their borough pride as they see fit. But the rude welcome for Roman felt less like the reaction of an intelligent Brooklyn wrestling audience and more like Johnny-come-lately Bronx cheers.
2. Brock for President
At the very least, Paul Heyman would make a more meme-worthy VP than whomever Donald Trump has in mind. Although to put aside politics for a second, it bears repeating that Brock Lesnar is the man you want atop the marquee of your wrestling promotion. It's Vince McMahon's most dangerous weapon against all would-be usurpers, and a fan's reason to stay tuned for the next state-of-ass-kicking address he delivers without words to his unlucky opponent. Undertaker, it should be said, was remarkable tonight, bouts of heavy breathing and exasperation notwithstanding. Taker is the past and present and a future symbol of the business. Still, watching Lesnar fight – and, even better, be scripted to sell as much as squash – is as good as it gets in this age of gladiators.
Sure, WWE offers a big payday, and a part-time deal in pro wrestling ensures relatively minimal long-term health damage compared to UFC. But you can tell Lesnar the showman loves getting to trade arrogant cackles and defiant middle fingers (his Stone Cold at WrestleMania XIII moment) alongside series of strikes and suplexes. The ending to he and Taker's bout was inane, and Lesnar's far from the beginning of his spriest days, but he remains the most must-see attraction in his industry today. And the next chapter of he and Taker (at next 'Mania, we presume, with babyface and heel roles officially flipped?) will be can't miss stuff.
1. Well, That Was Dumb
And brilliant. The Jon Stewart-John Cena-Seth Rollins fiasco, that is. (What, you thought I meant the decision to make SummerSlam four hours to shoehorn in more sponsored content and WWE Network promos?) Stewart equals mainstream headlines. Simple as that. Why not make him the story coming out of Seth Rollins' tainted victory over Cena? It is truly what's best for business. For wrestling fans (not unlike the one Stewart avowed himself to be during his backstage vignette with Paul Heyman), it's a shameless concession to the "entertainment" side of sports entertainment, fodder for haters and a really unfortunate way for Rollins to inherit the U.S. title alongside his heavyweight strap. But hey, Jon's had a stressful time of things over at Comedy Central, so may as well permit him to let his hair down how he sees fit if it means more curious eyeballs on Monday night. Right?
Below the Belt:
- Love Foley. Love Stewart. Did not love Foley and Stewart.
- Although, did anyone have more fun at SummerSlam than Nate Stewart?
- Still, that was a pretty silly backstage Taker cameo.
- Beyond the obvious, what is it with people and Lana?
- A thankless task for Wade Barrett for sure, but that wasn't exactly a subtle positioning for Neville's Red Arrow.
- The Usos gotta be coming back soon to challenge New Day, right?
- Whenever Big Show screams, "I'm a giant!" I half expect him to break out with this.
- Well, that IC title match de-escalated quickly.
- Can crowds chant "Gregory Peck" at Miz from now on?
- Speaking of, easy on invoking "classic," Cole.
- That was kinda, sorta a Doomsday Device from Dean Ambrose and Reigns.
- I, for one, enjoyed Seth Rollins' Tron outfit.
- Following their defeat to Reigns and Dean Ambrose, this must have been what Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper were thinking.
- Did WWE really put their overdue, overly self-conscious Divas-revolution campaign on a par with these women?
- Hard to hate Naomi and Sasha with moves like that double flip over the top rope.
- Really, cutting to a Mountain Dew-endorsed replay mid-countout?
- Cesaro's Speedo seemed ill-fitting.
- Owens had to win after the loss to Finn Bálor, but I still say that Pop-Up Powerbomb requires too much corroboration from its victim.
- OK, Cole: Brock's stunned, we get it.
- Let there be blood!
- Move of the Night: I vote for Big E's cha-cha. Or celebration dance. Or Kofi's celebration spasms.
- Line of the Night: "I'll kill you, you son of a bitch!"