wrestling / Columns

Live WWE SummerSlam 2021 Experience & Recap

August 25, 2021 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Brock Lesnar Roman Reigns WWE SummerSlam

WWE SummerSlam 2021 is in the books, and yours truly was live in attendance for Saturday’s mega event. Now that the even is over, I want to provide a look at the show, my thoughts about attending the event and watching the show live from the press box. First, on behalf of 411mania, I want to thank WWE for approving me for a media credential to attend the show.

Allegiant Stadium

WWE Summerslam

WWE and Allegiant Stadium collaborated for the show, and Allegiant was easily one of the stars on Saturday night. I have attended several WrestleManias in the past, and those were at the Astrodome and Reliant Stadium. Compared to both of those venues, Allegiant is jaw-dropping. The outside of Allegiant looks like something out a science fiction movie. An organization such as Cobra, GI Joe, or the Avenger should set up shop there. While I didn’t get a massive look around the stadium, it is brand new and incredibly immaculate. It is a state of the art facility, inside and out.

I did hear about the computer systems shutting down for merchandise tables and concessions. This might be reason enough for Allegiant Stadium to rethink being a cashless stadium. At the very least, using actual currency would give the stadium and those in attendance a backup option.

Now, the seating inside the press box area was fairly interesting. There was basically a separate, upper-level area for the press box. It was high, but it had a rather nice view straight down to the ringside area. From there, you could really see all the action inside and around the ring, along with the video screen. In addition, the press box had its own hi-def flatscreen TVs, so you could watch the action directly or the live pay-per-view feed, which had a slight delay. The benefit was that reporters in the press box could hear all broadcast commentary from the pay-per-view feed as well.

Full disclosure — the gift bags provided at the press box included a WWE SummerSlam drawstring bag with an event shirt, official WWE SummerSlam baseball cap, a KN985 PPE WWE mask, and credentialed reporters were provided with event programs.

Pat McAfee

I said it in my coverage, but in terms of the broadcast team, Pat McAfee was undoubtedly the star last night. I definitely have some criticisms with WWE broadcast commentary, but in a short amount of time, McAfee has really set himself apart. He clearly is a fine broadcaster and understands wrestling psychology and storytelling. Not to mention, his enthusiasm is clearly genuine. He was animated and on fire all night and was really making the best calls.

Big E vs. Baron Corbin (Kickoff)

Thus ends the saga of Baron Corbin having temporary possession of the Money in the Bank briefcase. All things considered, this was a decent, inoffensive match. Not sure where WWE is going with this hobo Baron Corbin gimmick, but it enabled both guys to get booked on the event, even if it wasn’t the main card. Think of all the talents who didn’t get booked in matches at all for this event.

I hope big things are on the horizon for Big E. Ultimately, I want to see him cash in the briefcase and face Bobby Lashley for the title at WrestleMania. I really think Big E’s time is coming, and I hope he gets his shot.

Raw Tag Team Championship: RK-Bro vs. AJ Styles and Omos

While I’m generally not a fan of make-shift tag teams and turning two singles guys into a tag team, I do enjoy the RK-Bro angle. I think this was a good choice for the hot opener. It was only seven minutes, but it didn’t need to be any longer than that. The right guys won the match, and the RK-Bro angle continues for Riddle and Randy Orton. Now, the obvious implication is that Orton will get tired of Riddle and turn on him at some point, but let’s see where the journey takes us. I’d rank this a solid 2 1/2 star match. It did just what it needed to do.

Alexa Bliss vs. Eva Marie

Doudrop WWE

This was a dud, but I don’t think anyone was expecting much more out of it. To better time manage this show, this match easily could’ve gone on the Kickoff. It wasn’t really a pay-per-view caliber matchup. In my opinion, one bright spot out of this is that Doudrop (aka Piper Niven) appears to finally be breaking away from Eva Marie. Hopefully, this will pick up with Doudrop going on her own. I enjoyed her mocking Eva Marie and stealing her robe after the match.

United States Championship: Damian Priest vs. Sheamus

This was a very good match, and both guys made a good showing. The right guy went over, and Priest picks up his first main roster singles title win. Since Priest is a big dude, I liked how he just had that adrenaline rush in the inverted heel hook and just ripped off Sheamus’ face mask and then just beat the hell out of his opponent to break the hold. That was a lot more satisfying than a last-minute save with the rope break.

Now, one thing Priest needs to cut back on is that flipping dive he does over the top rope. It looks like whenever he does it, he just eats the entire impact on his back, and he barely even hits his opponent. Not to mention, he’s reportedly suffered from back issues before, so it worries me if he continues doing this move. Nonetheless, a good 3 1/2 star midcard title contest. I’m glad they got a decent amount of time here as well. Sheamus has always been a solid and credible worker in matches and settings like this, and Priest is no slouch in the ring either.

SmackDown Tag Team Championship: The Usos vs. Rey & Dominik Mysterio

This was a pretty average, TV quality match. I wasn’t really expecting a five-star classic or anything. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t spectacular either. I’m not sure if they are going somewhere with the Rey and Dominik dissension. It might be a little early for a Dominik heel turn, especially with WWE so short on actual tag teams, but I guess we’ll see.

SmackDown Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair vs. Becky Lynch

Becky Lynch Bianca Belair WWE Summerslam

Well, a lot to unpack here. It was already known beforehand that Becky Lynch would be in attendance at WWE SummerSlam. She was clearly already in shape, and if not ring ready, almost at that point. So, with that in mind, it was not a gigantic leap for Lynch to make a surprise appearance at WWE SummerSlam. I definitely heard other reporters mention the possibility of Lynch appearing if Sasha Banks was not medically cleared to compete for Saturday’s show.

Now, that’s the big elephant in the room. Sasha Banks was MIA from this card. WWE continued advertising her vs. Belair through the entire week. The matchup was advertised on the Kickoff show. The show even went through the video package documenting the whole feud up until that point on the actual PPV broadcast. I do think it was wrong to continue advertising Sasha Banks for this show, when it appears there was clear indication she was not going to be at the PPV well ahead of time. There were solutions to this that didn’t have to spoil the Becky Lynch surprise that still could’ve been used to be more upfront about Sasha Banks’ absence rather than hiding behind the idea of “card is subject to change.”

OK, now Becky Lynch basically squashing Bianca Belair. Obviously, this is a major disservice to Belair and it basically flushes the last year of booking her as the top women’s star of SmackDown down the toilet. She wins the Royal Rumble, headlines Night 1 of WrestleMania 37 and beats Sasha Banks clean. Now, maybe Becky Lynch wasn’t ready to work a big PPV match last Saturday. Had the Banks match gone forward, I wouldn’t have been that surprised if Belair lost. That said, this seemed like the worst possible way to get the title off of Belair.

Drew McIntyre vs. Jinder Mahal

I was expecting more out of this. I do think both guys are capable of more in the ring, but they didn’t even get five minutes here. Considering the history between these two, I think this could be a really good bitter rivalry, but it just wasn’t able to come together. It seems like the feud may continue, but I would’ve hoped they could’ve gotten at least eight minutes here.

Raw Women’s Championship: Nikki ASH vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley

I realize that Nikki has likely put her heart and soul into this character, and this gimmick was her idea. That said, the way she’s been booked to constantly lose, especially as champion, has not done her any favors. She loses again here, and her title reign is over. I don’t think the way this character is booked is strong. I don’t understand what “Almost a Superhero” means. It’s hard for me to get excited when Nikki proudly shouts that she almost won. It’s silly.

This match came off more like a Raw match to me. Charlotte Flair was booked like the clear star here, and Nikki felt like a non-factor. I just don’t get what the point was of having her win the title in the first place if she was going to constantly lose, booked to look weak, and then lose the title back to Charlotte a few weeks later.

Seth Rollins vs. Edge

This was Match of the Night for me, and really stood out from the rest of the pack on the card. One thing missing from last night’s show was some classic WWE pageantry to really put this event on the same level as WrestleMania. And what I mean by that, there was a lack of some of those extra bells and whistles to make this seem a little more special and higher than the usual WWE pay-per-view since the expectation was that WWE SummerSlam would basically serve as this year’s WrestleMania.

We finally got a taste of that here with Edge’s entrance. And say what you will about WWE booking, but I believe the promos and buildup to this match were pretty good. Edge sort of hearkening back to his old Brood era from the 1990s was a nice touch, and I loved seeing the old Brood music and Edge coming up from the flames. WWE SummerSlam could’ve used a few more moment sand special entrances such as this. The only thing that would’ve made this better is Gangrel showing up to second or escort Edge to the ring. C’mon, like Gangrel would’ve been hard to agree to do this.

Rollins and Edge really busted their rears off here, and both were clearly invested in this one. Edge did not look or wrestle like his 47 years at all last night, and I was struck by some of the bumps he was taking throughout the match. I also appreciated Edge busting out some of his classic moves out of his arsenal and repertoire we haven’t seen in a while, such as the Edge-a-cator. He even used his wife Beth Phoenix’s Glam Slam. I loved the finish as well with the transition from the Edge-a-cator to the Crossface, to that sort of modified Crossface/choke for the submission. Now, I did think Rollins was going to win this, but Edge winning is not such a bad move. For starters, it does give Edge a big PPV win he’s been lacking for a while. And while I do generally loath 50/50 booking, I can see this feud continuing for a bit. And if Edge can continue working big matches like this, having him win is not necessarily a bad move.

If I were to give this a star rating, I’d say 4 and 1/4 is pretty fair for this one. Great match and match of the night for me. If you seek out one match from WWE SummerSlam 2021 to watch it’s this one.

WWE Championship: Goldberg vs. Bobbly Lashley

I think this is one instance where Goldberg working a match longer than 2-3 minutes was likely a mistake. What was notable here that the crowd, which didn’t get that wild or loud with a few exceptions on the card, was soundly against Goldberg here; despite Goldberg being booked as the clear babyface, and fans were cheering for Lashley.

Look, Goldberg was a big star in his time, but his time was the late 1990s. He’s 54 years old now, and he has no business mixing it up in main event WWE title matches. Yes, the man is clearly in fantastic shape for his age, but this match didn’t work at all. Goldberg had no business being booked in this match. It was not a strong opponent for Lashley to face on PPV, and the fans completely turned on Goldberg.

Sadly, we couldn’t get that Lashley vs. Brock Lesnar matchup. At the very least, that’s a fresh matchup we’ve never seen before. All the more reason to book it sooner rather than later.

WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns vs. John Cena

Roman Reigns WWE SummerSlam

This went about as well as expected. Roman Reigns dominated the match for the first part, with Cena attempting to win with some quick rollups, but Reigns was just too much for him. I think this updated character and heel run are the best thing for Roman Reigns’ career. Should they have happened a long time ago? Yes. In fact, had Reigns actually become this character when fans started becoming lukewarm to his turn as a main event babyface in 2015, then I think he’d be an even bigger star and draw today. But at least it’s finally happening now.

This wasn’t a Match of the Year Candidate, but despite being away from the ring for a hot minute, Cena was clearly in shape and ready to work here. It was a good match and decent enough for a WWE SummerSlam main event. I’d put it at a solid 4-star rating.

The Return of Brock Lesnar

And just as quickly as the main event ended, Brock Lesnar is back, and it appears he stole post-Shield Era Dean Ambrose’s wardrobe. Now to be frank, I’d much rather see Lesnar feuding with Lashley. Yes, Lesnar and Reigns swapping the heel/face roles does change the dynamic up here, but we’ve kind of seen this match already multiple times. At least, Lashley vs. Lesnar has never happened before.

Now that said, there is intrigue here with Heyman’s loyalties, since he now represents Reigns and how that will come into play. Ultimately, we’ll see what happens. I did enjoy the off-air antics with Brock Lesnar going back to the ring to destroy Cena. However, Cena still popped up and had time to greet his fans on the way out. At least WWE got the most they could out of Cena for his latest run.

In Conclusion

Overall, while I definitely have some misgivings about booking choices and time management for this event, I had a satisfying experience at WWE SummerSlam 2021. Edge vs. Rollins turned out to be a great match. I think Sheamus and Damian Priest worked well together, and Cena vs. Reigns was also good. I do think there were some questionable booking decisions that will likely not play out so well on TV. If Becky Lynch is truly turning heel right now, I wonder why that’s happening now when everyone is so excited to have her back. And rooting against her just seems far-fetched, even if she did basically make Belair look like a jobber.

I think Allegiant Stadium was definitely one of the big stars here. WWE drew a big crowd, and they obviously seem happy with the results since they are returning to Allegiant in July 2022 for Money in the Bank. I will be curious to see what type of attendance they can draw at that point that’s not one of the Big 4.

One other anecdote I’d like to share. On my way back to my car, I saw UFC fighter Miesha Tate who was hanging out on the sidewalk on one of the WWE SummerSlam event chairs after the show. It was very nice to be able to chat with her again. Glad to see her fighting again and doing well in the UFC, and she appears to be totally rejuvenated.

article topics :

Summerslam, WWE, Jeffrey Harris