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Oddly Booked Summerslam Leaves More Questions than Answers

The WWE has made great strides in developing Summerslam to be a show of Wrestlemania ilk. Added coverage, mainstream media exposure, and the big city vibe set the event up to be an all-time classic. Last night’s show was a prime example of getting too much of a good thing. The Barclays Center played host to the pure exhausting excess that was Summerslam 2016.

It was way too long. The card was arranged in a very choppy and awkward order. Despite the in-ring action being of solid quality, very questionable booking decisions were made. A smarmy Brooklyn crowd didn’t help matters, either. Overall, Summerslam produced more questions than answers.

Why close the show with back-to-back funny fishes?

The United States Championship match never started. Instead, fans witnessed a lengthy beatdown as Roman Reigns mauled Rusev before the bell rang. This was without a doubt the strangest booking decision of the night. This was the sort of clubbing that is usually reserved for tense, personal rivalries, revenge angles, or monstrous heels. The rivalry started a few weeks when Reigns tried to bait Rusev into a title match. Reigns has been insulting Lana – which is the only reason this new program is remotely personal, and Reigns isn’t supposed to be the heel.

In essence, Reigns lost his temper because Rusev refused his challenge. After defeating the champion on Raw, he threw the title match away and elected to mercilessly assault his opponent instead. None of it made sense.

Reigns-Rusev served as filler between a tremendous Balor-Rollins match and the Lesnar-Orton main event. Okay, so we’re supposed to cleanse the palette with that so that we’re fresh and ready for an awesome main event! Right?

Wrong – including the pre-show, Summerslam featured 13 matches. Of those matches, seven were given more time than the main event. SEVEN! Lesnar-Orton was only 38 seconds longer than the 6-woman tag match, and was less than half the length of Cena-Styles. On top of that, it was boring. There’s no other way to describe it – Lesnar is boring. It’s the same old song and dance. It’s the same Paul Heyman promo. It’s the same in-ring routine. Fans are starting to grow tired of it.

For all of the promise that Summerslam, it was a decent show. However, the last two segments left a lasting sour taste in my mouth. That’s what six hours of coverage led to.

Who thought six hours of Summerslam was a good idea?

Too much of a good thing – six hours was way entirely too long to feature unique content on the WWE Network. By the end of the show, I can’t blame people for being a little crotchety. The six-hour time investment concluded with a lackluster payoff.

Has John Cena retired?

Cena’s 23-minute bout with AJ Styles was an instant classic. After Styles got the clean pin, Cena took off his trademark headband (that he wears on his arm…that’s right…Cena’s arm is as big as the average person’s skull) and left it in the ring.

It’s been reported that he’s taking a hiatus into the Fall, but that bit had everyone wondering what the exact symbolism was. Brooklyn didn’t seem to really notice or care. Love him or hate him, no one can deny the work that Cena has put into his WWE career. One of the greatest of all time potentially hanging up the boots, and the crowd is booing if they’re paying attention at all. Give me a break.

Who designed the Universal Championship?

I agree with Brooklyn. That belt looks awful. I’m not on board with it at all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to distract from two of the best wrestlers on the planet duking it out in the ring. In short, that wasn’t cool, man.

The same crowd that was chanting about the prop the wrestlers compete for when two of their darlings are in the ring was the same crowd cheering Nikki Bella. I don’t know if they were being contrarians just for the hell of it or what, but there’s no doubt they had an adverse effect on the show. At least the gripe with Raw’s grand prize was legitimate.

Why put Charlotte and Sasha Banks on second?

In hindsight, yeah – the match wasn’t all that special. Banks and Charlotte botched several moves and looked awkward and clumsy in a few transitions. It was a far cry from their showdowns in NXT and especially the match they had on a recent episode of Raw. But, going into the show, this was billed as one of the main events!

The Divas Revolution was about getting the women higher on the card, not lower. Banks reportedly lost the title to take some time off to recover from nagging injuries. Given Paige’s suspension, the women’s division on Raw is hurting. Bayley can’t be called up quick enough.

Much worse has come across our televisions by way of the WWE Network, but Summerslam failed to capitalize on what was, on paper, one of the greatest wrestling cards in recent memory.

Stoney Keeley covers the WWE for, covers the NFL’s Tennessee Titans for Pro Football Spot, and is the Editor of The SoBros Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @StoneyKeeley and the SPOT’s Tennessee Titans Twitter feed at @spot_titans.


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