wrestling / TV Reports

No Punches Pulled: SummerSlam 2016 Review

August 23, 2016 | Posted by Eric Presti
The 411 Rating
Community Grade
Your Grade
No Punches Pulled: SummerSlam 2016 Review  

No Punches Pulled is a hard-hitting, no B.S., call-it-right-down-the-middle, review column dedicated to delivering unbiased thoughts and criticisms from the world of WWE to readers everywhere. Just because professional wrestlers pull their punches, doesn’t mean we have to pull ours.

After a little bit of time off, we decided to change our format a little to make things shorter. Hope you enjoy.

WWE SummerSlam takes place from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, in front of a crowd of 15,974

Pre-Show: American Alpha, The Hype Bros, & The Usos vs The Ascension, The Vaudevillians, & Breezango

Finish: Uso hits the splash on Simon Gotch to pick up the win

Thoughts: This had some good action and was a fine curtain jerker. The seeds were planted for inevitable Usos vs American Alpha rivalry that will undoubtedly crown the Tag Champions of the blue brand, but a lot of the guys looked good here. It goes without saying that it was also a mess that lacked anything resembling psychology, but it did get enough time to stand out as better than it’s TV counterpart, so there is something to be said for that. We wish there were a couple of more tag teams on Smackdown Live (ahem Lucha Dragons) that would prevent us from ever trying to take The Ascension or Mojo Rawley seriously again, however.

Rating: 2 Stars

Pre-Show: Sami Zayn & Neville vs The Dudley Boyz

Finish: Neville hits the Red Arrow on Bubba Ray for the win.

Thoughts: We wondered aloud if the Dudley Boyz regret coming back, and now there are rumors of them retiring so that answers that. But anyways, this wasn’t all bad. It served to reintroduce the audience to Neville on a bigger stage, and to give Sami Zayn something to do, but there really wasn’t anything to elaborate on. It was what it was.

Rating: 1 Star

Pre-Show: Cesaro vs Sheamus Match 1 of Best of Seven Series

Finish: Sheamus hits the Brough Kick for the victory.

Thoughts: Hard-hitting match, as was expected from these two. We were a little perplexed as to why this wasn’t on the card seeing as it actually had a reason to happen as well as a best of seven gimmick to it. Crowd wasn’t too into it, granted there was almost no one there for the pre-show anyway. Although the matches between these two have been solid, many people complained about seeing Ziggler vs Corbin four times, so we aren’t sure how this match will fare after the seventh.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Jeri-KO vs Enzo & Cass

Finish: Enzo is on the receiving end of a pop up from Owens into the Code Breaker from Jericho. Out for the three count.

Thoughts: This match was fun. Jericho and Owens have shown to be hilarious together and this match showed they worked great together. Owens as always was awesome with his heel-work, including mocking Enzo’s duck walk as well as blowing Jericho a kiss. The crowd was very much behind Enzo & Cass in the beginning, but died out for the most part. This was no fault of the match, the audience was just awful. Enzo & Cass will hopefully move on to bigger things and this feud just seemed a way to bide their time to challenge for the titles.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Sasha (c) vs Charlotte for the WWE Women’s Championship

Finish: Sasha had Charlotte locked in a crossface, but Charlotte is able to roll Sasha over and steal the victory. WINNER and NEW WWE Women’s Champion, Charlotte.

Thoughts: This was bad for us. We have noticed a pattern where on the main roster pay per view women’s matches, they seem to be attempting dangerous high spots that they have little chance of pulling off, in lieu of putting together a well thought out story. We’re not sure if they think this will make them stand out better or what, but they crashed and burned a couple of times here and lack of timing is where you have to point to. That being said, the 2 high spots they did hit, the reversal into the hurricanrana off the top by Sasha, and the high knees onto Charlotte produced the intended reactions of “holy shit!” from both the live audience to us at home. However, it merely serves as smoke and mirrors, instead of standing out as moments of the night, to mask the stench of the botches that did occur. It also sucks that the crazy high spots were used to build anticipation for an out of nowhere finish (that did incorporate some nice mat wrestling) that left us feeling anticlimactic. So there was some great, some good, some more bad, a fairly decent analogy for this event as a whole.

Rating: 2.75 Stars

The Miz (c) vs Apollo Crews for the WWE Intercontinental Championship

Finish: Miz hits the Skull Crushing Finale to retain. WINNER and STILL WWE Intercontinental Champion, The Miz.

Thoughts: Oddly short match. This seemed like something just to get Miz a title defense after being off TV for a bit filming. Not enough occurred to really comment on Crews’ performance, but overall, he hasn’t done much since his call up to warrant the belt.

Rating: 2 Stars

AJ Styles vs John Cena

Finish: AJ Styles hit John Cena with the Phenomenal Forearm for the victory.

Thoughts: Wow! This was an outstanding match. In our opinion, match of the night. These two looked like they’ve wrestled each other hundreds of times before. The selling from both sides was great, especially from Styles, and the false finishes kept us on the edge of our seats. Many of the spots we thought were predictable, but the outcomes of each kept us guessing. Most notably was when Cena hit AA from the top rope. We thought for sure the match was over, but Styles kicked out. Also, when Styles hit the second Styles Clash and went up for the Forearm. We thought for sure Cena would catch him and hit the AA for the in, but Styles actually did hit it and pin Cena. At the end, Cena leaving the armband behind was interesting and we will see where that leads in the future. Most importantly, where does Styles go from here? Surely beating the Face that runs the Place, clean earn him a title shot? Exciting things hopefully to come for the future of Styles.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

The New Day (c) vs Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson for the WWE World Tag Team Championship

Finish: Big E interfered in the match and attacked Gallows & Anderson, leading to a DQ. WINNERS are Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, but STILL WWE World Tag Team Champions are The New Day.

Thoughts: Jon Stewart added essentially nothing to this match but honestly, there wasn’t match to be added onto. The Club have been floundering since their trip back home stateside, and long ago are the New Days classics with the Uso’s and Jericho and Styles. This was the perfect time for a 3 star match and a title change to freshen up the scene; instead, we got a meandering, heatless affair where the climax was Jon Stewart about to catch a case of ringpostitis before Big E made his triumphant return. We are as big of Jon Stewart fans as the next guys (Kevin Gerrity represent), but that’s a lame way to cast heat on the Club, and isn’t going to do them any favors. The crowd was also unusually dead for this. They DID just witness a bonafide classic, but usually, the New Day commands more from the people. Summerslam last year was their coming out party, this year might have been last call for their title reign. It’s time for a switch we just aren’t sure how deserving the Club is at this very moment.

Rating: 2 Stars

Dean Ambrose (c) vs Dolph Ziggler for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Finish: Ambrose hits Dirty Deeds to retain. WINNER and STILL WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Dean Ambrose.

Thoughts: We weren’t terribly excited for this match coming into it and weren’t a fan of the promos in the previous weeks. It is tough for us to get behind Ziggler as a legitimate main event contender for the WWE title when he just came off a string of pre-show matches against Baron Corbin. The match itself wasn’t all bad, as there was some hard-hitting offense, but we just never felt like Ziggler was built up enough for there to be a mystery as to who would win and that hurt the match for us. The Wyatt involvement leading up to this match was interesting and seemed pointless with no appearance, which is too bad because making this match a triple threat would have really set it off.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Becky Lynch, Carmella, & Naomi vs Natalya, Alexa Bliss, & Nikki Bella

Finish: Nikki Bella hits the TKO on Carmela to pick up the win for her team.

Thoughts: This was originally on the pre-show instead of Sheamus vs Cesaro and we aren’t quite sure why they got swapped. Most likely because of the Nikki return, but there was still nothing behind this match to warrant a spot on the card. The crowd was hot for Nikki’s return and she looked good in the ring, better than before her injury.

Rating: 1.5 Stars

Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor for the WWE Universal Championship

Finish: Finn Balor hit Coup de Grace on Seth Rollins to pick up the win. WINNER and FIRST EVER WWE Universal Champion, Finn Balor.

Thoughts: We have seen some reviewers out there rate this as flat and underwhelming, and others like a 4 star contender for match of the night. We fall somewhere in the middle. It’d be lenient to say that these two were feeling each other out to start, with some weird chemistry, and the distraction of the crowd taking a dump on the new title wasn’t lost on us. (The belt is whatever, but why do we have 3 of the exact same looking titles now?) There are also some in the crowd that seem to be firmly indifferent to Finn Balor, and even pro-Rollins. The action did thankfully reach a fever pitch as the two cut a frenetic pace like we all knew they could. Finn’s offense is slightly too reliant on those running/corner dropkicks, I mean you want to count Germans in a Lesnar match, go back and count these bad boys. Rollins bringing back Gods Last Gift from his Tyler Black days was sick, and had us wondering why he doesn’t do that instead of the god damn pedigree. Another head scratcher is why Balor is allowed to do the stomp to the back of the neck of an opponent, but the curb stomp is outlawed? We digress. The match never really reached a point to us where we thought it would. Part of that is our expectations were probably too high going in. An auspicious start, a frenzied middle, and a memorable climax. They definitely have it in them to put together all three parts, they just didn’t do it here on this night. Balor going straight to the top from NXT will be interesting. There is no precedent for it.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Rusev (c) vs Roman Reigns for the WWE United States Championship

Finish: Rusev attacked Reigns before the bell and they brawled until the match was called off.

Thoughts: This one never quite got started due to the two having a pier 6 brawl at ringside which made sense due to the time that was allocated to the rest of this show. It makes sense, and definitely adds another layer to their already decent feud, but one has to wonder if Summerslam is the time or the place for such a thing. We were fans of the brawl, particularly the spear, and thought it did add something to the show, although we cannot rate it.

Rating: N/A

Randy Orton vs Brock Lesnar

Finish: Brock Lesnar cut Randy Orton open with elbows to the head. Doctor’s stopped the match, declaring a TKO.

Thoughts: What a weird “match.” It is unfortunate, that WWE successfully hyped this up to feel like the biggest fresh match up they could give us, only to put out another installment of the conqueror disposing of his foe in innocuous fashion. We were both very hyped for this match and consider ourselves marks for both guys and the video packages put together made me feel like I was watching something on the level of McGregor Diaz again in terms of big fight feel. It started out like a total squash, had a brief reprieve of Orton hitting a couple RKO’s, then ended due to Lesnar elbowing Randy Orton directly in the skull and giving him a gash worthy of 10 staples. Orton may not have been the person to dethrone the beast, but matches are at their best when the result is in question at SOME point. Orton was merely a blip on the radar of Brock’s path of destruction, and for all the hype this was a disappointing main event. As good as it was to see someone lying in a pool of their own blood, it coming after a hard way elbow to the head, and it being the cause of the end of the match leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Pardon our Goldberg reference, but pray-tell who is next for Brock? Points are definitely taken away for back to back non finishes to end the second biggest card of the year too.

Rating: 2.75 Stars

The final score: review Good
The 411
Tough show to grade out. It was a lot like WrestleMania in the sense that we don’t think it lived up to its hype, yet cannot be written off due to the positive things that did occur. We have what we consider to be the current runner-up for Match of the Year on this card (after 1 viewing), a solid first installment to the Balor/Rollins feud, and an undercard that featured a decent WWE title match, a good opener, and a match on the pre-show that gave us reason to think a best of 7 series might not be the worst thing in the world. However the diva’s failed to live up to the hype, and the main event bordered on farcical. An event that will surely require multiple viewings to be able to be put in its proper context.