Wednesday, 20 August 2014

WWE Summerslam on Sky Box Office - TV Review

It's meant to be the hottest event of the summer, but was it any good? That's what I'm hoping to find out by viewing this year's Summerslam, shown live in the early hours of this past Monday morning on Sky Box Office here in Britain.

The show began with the first title match of the evening as Dolph Ziggler challenged the Miz for the Intercontinental title.

I've lost count of the number of times I've seen reports saying that the powers that be are reluctant to push Ziggler these days because of his past injury record. Well, if this match is anything to go by then it looks like they've had a change of heart.

As show openers go this was a pretty good match jam packed with top notch action. Both guys put in great performances throughout, and some of the sequences they put together had you hoping that they'd give us quite a few instant replays.

The best of these came towards the end when it looked like Ziggler had taken his man down with the famouser, only for Miz to come back straight away with the skull crushing finale. Ziggler managed to kick out of the ensuing pin though, much to the annoyance of the champion.

The end came just a few moments later when another fast sequence was capped off when Ziggler took Miz down with the zig-zag. A three count later and we had a new champion.

The title action continued with Paige challenging A.J. Lee for the Divas title. Moving on.....

Then it was on to the flag match as Rusev, accompanied by Lana, took on Zeb Colter guy Jack Swagger, with the winner getting their country's flag raised above the ring.

Well, there was certainly a no-nonsense vibe about this match. It began with Rusev attacking Swagger before the match started. The plan failed though when Swagger applied his ankle lock, so when the two of them were finally separated Rusev tried to wave off the match, saying he couldn't compete because of his bad ankle. Lana was quite unsympathetic and insisted that the big man go on with the match.

So once more we basically had two guys beating the proverbial out of each other, all in the name of national pride, and if truth be known it was actually quite good. Okay, it probably won't be mentioned in any match of the year polls come December, but it was what it was, even if the old east versus west concept had it's day at the back end of the Cold War.

Sadly the Americans didn't have it their own way. Having come close to getting the win with another ankle lock Swagger finally succumbed to Rusev's accolade, and even though he didn't tap the referee called for the bell when he passed out, giving Rusev the win.

The big Bulgarian then added insult to injury when he kicked Zeb in the head as he was checking his fallen comrade before he revelled in seeing the Russian flag raised above the ring.

The battle of the former Shield buddies followed as Seth Rollins faced Dean Ambrose in a lumberjack match.

This has to be the most unique lumberjack match I've ever seen. It was a wild and crazy affair from start to finish, and I've never heard one of these matches get the "this is awesome" chant before.

It had all the hallmarks of what a great grudge match should be all about, wild brawling, a protagonist willing to do anything to get his hands on his enemy and a cowardly antagonist desperate to avoid his crazed stalker.

In fact it got so wild at one point not even the lumberjacks could keep these two in the ring. After a crazy spot when Ambrose suplexed Rollins out of the ring and onto the lumberjacks at ringside it wasn't long before these two were brawling through the crowd. This brought Corporate Kane into the proceedings, and the fans weren't exactly happy when he told the lumberjacks to drag the two combatants back to the ring.

Needless to say the fans weren't too happy when their enjoyment was spoiled as Ambrose was taken away. Rollins saw this as an opportunity to escape, until he too was carted back to the ring, only for Ambrose to send the lumberjacks falling again as he came flying off the top rope.

A few frantic moments later it was all over. After Ambrose took Rollins down with his own curb stomp Kane came into the ring and broke up the pin. Another brawl between the lumberjacks followed, and in the midst of all of this Rollins clobbered Ambrose with his Money in the Bank briefcase. A three count later and the victory was his.

Then came everyone's favourite nut job as Bray Wyatt faced Chris Jericho, with Wyatt's buddies banned from ringside.

You know, I originally thought that this could be a somewhat tepid affair, given the great match that had gone before, but despite that these two managed to put on a very engaging encounter.

Early on our esteemed announcers wondered if the lack of any back-up would throw Wyatt off his game. It certainly didn't make him any less of a force judging by some of the exchanges, because he was his usual, crazy self, and that's the reason why everyone's so high on this guy at the moment.

As the match went on it turned into a nice piece of storytelling. Jericho played his part extremely well. He proved to be the perfect foil, and the look on his face when Wyatt did his crazy crab walk-thing said it all, and even though he managed to take Wyatt down with his code breaker a few moments later it wasn't enough to get him the pin.

In fact this failure was more or less the beginning of the end for Y2J. After Wyatt took him down with a modified sister Abigail against the ringside barricade the big man carried Jericho back into the ring and took him out with the regular version for the winning pin.

The second Divas match of the night followed as Stephanie McMahon went up against Daniel Bryan's old woman Brie Bella.

I really didn't hold out much hope for this match, but you know what? I was pleasantly surprised by the whole thing. From start to finish the whole thing just made sense.

Perhaps the most surprising thing of all was the performance of McMahon herself. Even though she's a former Women's Champion she wasn't exactly known for her in-ring prowess. But as soon as she entered the arena she carried herself perfectly, and at times it was as if a female version of Triple H was striding across the ring, and it certainly overshadowed Brie's performance.

The match ending really made sense as well. After Triple H and Brie's sister Nikki came down to the ring the Game pulled the referee out as Brie applied the yes lock to McMahon. He soon found himself on the receiving end of a baseball slide dropkick as his old lady soon found herself in a two on one situation when Nikki confronted her in the ring.

Then came the big swerve. Just when it looked as if McMahon was going to get her backside handed to her Nikki clobbered her own sister. A pedigree from Mrs. Helmsley and it was all over, McMahon had beaten Brie with the help of Brie's own sister.

The penultimate match saw Randy Orton taking on Roman Reigns.

I'd read online somewhere that the McMahon/Bella match was a hard match to follow, but as good as that particular encounter was this was just so much better.

From start to finish these two put on one of the best encounters I've seen this year. It was a great piece of storytelling as both guys put in top notch performances.

It's no secret that there have been times in the past when I haven't been too impressed with Orton's performances, but this time around the Viper was on, and everything he did just looked right. As for Reigns, this was touted as the biggest match of his singles career, and if that's the case then he certainly acquitted himself well. His performance was flawless, and he showed that he definitely belongs in such a lofty position on the card.

As for the finish, well, these two had everyone eating out of the palms of their hands. It was the beginning of a great sequence of moves that began with Reigns' Superman punch, saw Orton frustrated when his RKO couldn't put his man away, and ended with Reigns sweeping Orton off his feet when he went for the punt, taking him down with a spear seconds later for the winning pin.

The main event saw Paul Heyman guy Brock Lesnar challenge John Cena for the WWE World title.

When Lesnar connected with an F5 in the first minute you just knew what sort of match this was going to be. It was brutal, but not in a bad way, with Lesnar putting in one of the most dominating performances I've ever seen in my decades as a wrestling fan.

It was more or less a squash match. Cena's moments of offence were few and far between as his challenger rag dolled him around the ring, beating the proverbial out of him and dominating him like nobody else had. And you know what? Everything made perfect sense.

Cena came close to getting the win a couple of times with his trademark moves, but with Lesnar in the form he was in, and with all of those German suplexes it was becoming more and more obvious that a title change was on the cards, and that change came when Lesnar ended Cena's misery with a second F5 for the title winning pin.

In conclusion - oh boy, so where do I start?

To say that this year's Summerslam was a great show would be an understatement. It exceeded expectations, and then some. From the Miz/Ziggler title opener right up to the main event every match delivered big time, and when a non-wrestler like Stephanie McMahon puts in a great performance that shows just how good this thing was.

As for my match of the night, well basically I had a whole show to choose from. After seeing Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins beat the hell out of each other I was all set to give them the no-prize. But then Brock Lesnar came along and obliterated John Cena, so my prestigious award goes to that brutal encounter.

So with all of that out of the way there's just one more thing left to do, and that's to give Summerslam the big thumbs up.

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