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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: A LIVE SummerSlam Weekend Review

Check out the full review from a long SummerSlam weekend

After plenty of rest, it is finally time to digest all that went down SummerSlam weekend. I had the opportunity to attend all the festivities WWE had to offer, from NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn all the way to SmackDown Live. Unfortunately, I did not attend Dolph Ziggler’s comedy show at Caroline’s. Sometimes, you can’t be everywhere.

As far as the entire weekend goes, it was everything you could ask for as a pro wrestling fan, and more. Attending my first WWE PPV since knowing what pro wrestling was, I was hesitant but excited to see what WWE had to offer. Although there may have been a few rough patches, the good outweighed all of it.

Here is my review of everything that went down, from Saturday to Tuesday. In no particular order, the good the bad and the ugly will be discussed. Are you ready?

The Good

Everything about NXT: The one thing I always hear when there is a big event like this is that an NXT TakeOver stole the whole weekend. You can clearly see that when going on the WWE Network (for only $9.99). Those fans were not wrong. From top to bottom, NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn was everything pro wrestling (especially in WWE) should be. I talked in-depth about the show on the most recent episode of The Main Event. Even if there was one match that didn’t have as much shine as the others (Velveteen Dream v. EC3), every one served its purpose. I even got to see one of the see SICKEST superkick’s in pro wrestling today, thanks to Adam Cole (BAY BAY).

Gargano/Ciampa and Miz/Bryan: As discussed above, NXT TakeOver had everything going for it, including a hot main event. The match between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa was the epitome of perfect in-ring psychology. It was matched by a SummerSlam match in Daniel Bryan v. The Miz. Comparing the two, I stated each was the best in their own way, and that they were the best feuds WWE had ever produced. My point was proven to be correct, as both put on Mach of the Night efforts.

Normally, one doesn’t root for the bad guy to win. With The Miz and Ciampa in the ring, how could you not hope the villain comes out victorious? That is what makes a feud like this great; when it is hard to choose between morality and the dishonorable.

Finn Balor’s Busy 24 Hours: Everything seemed right in the world once Finn Balor entered the Barclays Center. Set to face “Constable” Corbin (again), Finn was finally able to kick things up a notch. For the first time since October 2017’s Tables, Ladders and Chairs PPV, “Demon Finn” showed up. As a fan of Finn’s when he was in NXT (and following his work in the independent scene), I enjoyed the creativity that went to his various character work. Rarely do I “mark out” in wrestling these days, but seeing “The Demon” for the first time live warranted a “mark out” moment.

After beating Corbin (easily I might add), Finn had another banner night on RAW. New Universal Champion Roman Reigns (we’ll get to that later) challenged Finn to a title match, stating Finn never got a proper rematch for the title after getting hurt a few years back. Roman and Finn always put on great matches together, and although Finn lost that night, it was a great moment him and the fans will never forget. Let’s hope WWE can keep the momentum going for Finn as the year comes to an end.

Becky Has Had Enough: In case you didn’t know, Becky Lynch is one one of the best wrestlers WWE has. She is quite likable and can put on solid matches. When she was given a title match against Carmella for the SmackDown Women’s Championship, fans were ready for a new champion. After Charlotte Flair got added into the match, frustration set in, from both Becky and the fans. When Charlotte won the title at SummerSlam, all bets were off.

Becky attacked Charlotte, to the delight of the crowd in Brooklyn. On SmackDown, Becky cut a solid promo saying she had enough of other people taking her spotlight. It was everything every Becky stan has been supporting for years. Given a “falls short every time” gimmick made her snap, making the payoff worth it.

Roman Reigns, YOUR Champion: For the past three+ years, WWE has attempted to shove into the minds of the fans that Roman is the chosen one. Once another match with Brock Lesnar was set, it was obvious he was finally going to win the Universal Title. After all, Lesnar was going back to the UFC, and he rarely showed up on WWE programming anyway. It was time fans embraced it, even if they didn’t want to.

While there are those that didn’t want it to happen, Roman’s win is a good thing. For one, storyline wise, he is a champion that will show up weekly to shows, making a young title actually mean something for the first time since Kevin Owens was champion (remember that?). It also gives Roman a chance to grow in front of our very eyes, in front of divided fans. Finally, Reigns as champion opens the door for surprising moments…

The Boys Are Back In Town: That is right, The Shield is back! As Braun Strowman was about to cash in his Money in the Bank contract on Reigns on RAW, a familiar tune was heard throughout the Barclays. All of a sudden, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose made their way to the ring, in full tactical gear. The three powerbombed Strowman through a table in a truly iconic moment.

What a way to end RAW!

The Bad

Weird Booking of Ronda Rousey and Roman Reigns: While Reigns winning the title from Lesnar and The Shield reunion was cool and all, what does WWE do now with Reigns? Is he a heel after destroying fan-favorite Strowman? Is he a face who is a fighting champion? With WWE’s fans more divided than ever when it comes to him, the company cannot afford any bad booking decisions. Week one is over with, now it is time to think about the future. How they explain his actions and the reactions he will get post-SummerSlam should be something to look into.

The same could be said about Ronda. Dominating Alexa Bliss and winning the RAW Women’s Title was a cool and mostly expected moment from the former UFC Bantamweight Champion. You want to see her destroy her competition, but with limited ring experience, did WWE rush the championship win? Also, is she face or heel? She re-broke Stephanie McMahon’s arm on Monday, after the boss threw her a mock celebration. Does it really make sense after Stephanie got her comeuppance at WrestleMania? Not really.

WWE needs to tread lightly when it comes to Ronda and Reigns over the next few months. One wrong move could be catastrophic.

DQ Finishes: When NXT puts on matches, the finishes are decisive. While it is unfair to compare, it is crazy how between the two, the major promotion has the biggest problem with regular finishes. It may have been a big deal in the Attitude Era, but it is tiring for a match just starting to get hot to unexpectedly, then end via nefarious means.

For example, The New Day and The Bludgeon Brothers’ match for the SmackDown Tag Team Titles was very entertaining. Everything was going right until the champions used their hammers to hurt The New Day. While the latter would end up winning the titles in a rematch on SmackDown, PPV’s are where the stories should progress with decisive finishes. Fans may feel cheapened out if more results like that happen.

Luckily, the story made more sense for the A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe match for the WWE Championship. It is unfortunate, however, that the match was starting to get good after starting off slow. Knowing these two, the next series of matches they have, especially with the storyline they have between one another, will make the waiting worth it.

The Ugly

Post-PPV Booking: I already mentioned the booking of Rousey and Reigns, but there is one feud that WWE can definitely be questioned on. Becky turning on Charlotte was great, as mentioned above, but that does not make her a heel. In fact, when you think about it, her actions are justified. Her promo on SmackDown explaining herself was on point. And then she started talking about the fans…

While it is great to see Becky show some passion, WWE is trying to present her as a heel. The Brooklyn crowd supported everything she said, because she was right about a majority of it. Realistically, Charlotte works better as a heel, especially as a Flair. Yes, Becky played a great heel in NXT, but she has Daniel Bryan-levels of support now. There is no need to deviate away from that. For now, the story does add something to the Charlotte/Becky feud that can lead to an epic Hell in a Cell match. Something will need to change, however, otherwise, fans will rebel once again against questionable booking.

The Wave / Beach Balls: This is more of a gripe against the fans. Over the years, smart crowds have looked to hijack the show, whether it is because they don’t agree with a decision the company made or because they are bored. All of a sudden, “The Wave” breaks out, or six million beach balls are being thrown around. While soccer accepts the former as part of the sport, American fans, especially wrestling ones, have had a bad history abusing both forms of entertainment.

Both moves are distracting and take away from the athletes in the ring that you pay good money to see. Do better Brooklyn / wrestling fans.

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Baseball Editor, Misc. Sports Editor. Covers all things combat sports (MMA, Pro Wrestling and Boxing). When he's not writing, Daniel hosts a podcast, The Main Event.
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