sumerslam-2016

Looking back at Summerslam Weekend 2016, the good, bad & even ugly.

Summerslam Weekend is almost officially done. Set up in a similar fashion to that of WrestleMania Weekend, wrestling promotions across the world do their best to let their top stars and wrestlers do work. Take Ring of Honor for example. Death Before Dishonor was held in Las Vegas over the weekend and Adam Cole ended Jay Lethal’s lengthy ROH World Title reign.

The significance of it? Well, Cole is only the third man in that promotion’s history to win the ROH World Title twice. He’s also the latest member of The Bullet Club fraternity to be a centerpiece of an organization. Finn Bálor, Club OG is now the owner of the WWE’s second most important title. AJ Styles is probably the #1 Contender for the WWE Title. We’ve already covered Kenny Omega winning the G1 Climax last weekend. So, let it be known. You want a shot to survive in modern pro wrestling? Figure a name for yourself (or find a way to Too Sweet Me, Bro!)

Even our local promotion here in Texas got in on the act with Reality of Wrestling‘s Summer of Champions III with Kurt Angle. And even though the company saw one of it’s bigger names in Marcellus Black get the call to go to NXT, there’s still plenty of emerging talent down there. Especially considering that one particular former ROW graduate made her NXT debut on Saturday in Brooklyn.

Also, quick aside here: Cody Rhodes made his EVOLVE debut this weekend and proved he was a wrestler, forever. That was dope, especially against Zach Sabre Jr, who’s still in the Cruiserweight Classic, btw.

Brooklyn gave us everything we could have asked for from the big two. NXT Takeover: Back II Brooklyn delivered upon a Tag Team MOTY contender, thrilling debuts and satisfying conclusions. Summerslam managed to firmly establish how the company felt about Bálor, got its own MOTY contender and one hyper realistic ending. Time to look back.

THE GOOD (NXT)

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Nakamura Goes Full Wrestle Kingdom

On entrance alone, Shinsuke Nakamura may be the king. Since debuting in NXT at NXT Takeover: Dallas, the King of Strong Style hasn’t taken a loss. When it came to the biggest match of his life (non-NJPW related), Nakamura broke out the violins and had Lee England, Jr. play his now infamous theme to the ring. How did it all conclude? With Nakamura literally dislocating Samoa Joe’s jaw en route to becoming the NXT Champion. With the way NXT is moving now with more and more imports taking over top spots, it’s hard to wonder who could beat Nakamura. If Joe couldn’t do it and he beat the most impossible version of Bálor at NXT Takeover: The End back in June, who can?

Maybe…

KENTA (dressed as Hideo Itami)

Hideo Itami has missed a year and some change. When he returned, he felt like the same old Itami, a guy who brought so much to the table yet got all of his tools stolen. Shotgun kick? Daniel Bryan. Go To Sleep? A guy who may get wrecked in his first UFC fight in a couple of weeks. All of those things slowly came back over the past few weeks. After Austin Aries beat No Way Jose and got overzealous in doing so, Itami came out to put an end to it. In a suit, without socks. Because Hideo Itami in a suit is arguably his strongest form (see his great debut against The Ascension). Oh and he finally debuted the GTS on NXT television and not that one glorious NXT show in San Jose two years ago.

GLORIOUS

Bobby Roode’s “Glorious” is the number one song for soundtracks on Apple Music. His NXT entrance is a thing of beauty and has him more over than a decade in TNA. Yeah, watch him descend from the heavens and see that Brooklyn crowd eat it up.

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When Athena got picked up by NXT, the best two things that could have happened actually did. One, it gave the Women’s Division another strong performer who was both talented and endearing to fans. Two, it gave the WWE Universe the most inventive finisher they may ever see from a female performer. You see the gif? That’s the O-Face, a diving corkscrew Stunner that immediately made the crowd in Brooklyn lose their minds after it was hit. Yes, Athena versus Asuka need happen immediately. Yes, Athena vs. Sasha Banks need happen immediately. But, we’ve got to get there first, don’t we?

That Tag Match

Last month, The Revival & DIY (Johnny Gargano/Tomanso Ciampa) literally tore the house down at an NXT show in Houston. It was the prelude for this. As old school style tag teams go, The Revival are a throwback to the Midnight Express / Rock N’ Roll Express. They don’t cheat, they merely manipulate every area around them. Distractions, cutting off the ring, etc. Dawson & Wilder are masters of ring psychology. Any gameplan against them involves one simple rule – outsmarting them.

Where American Alpha tried and ultimately failed was with youthful exuberance. Ciampa & Gargano is a different tale completely. Bot of them almost killed one another for pride in the Cruiserweight Classic. Both of them have insane repertories in-ring and could probably out wrestle anyone on the roster. Problem is, you can tell the seeds have been planted for them to split. Does Ciampa trust Gargano to get the job done and vice versa. It’s basically looking at your best friend and knowing how much you both want something yet something always gets in the way.

THE GOOD (WWE)

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Cena Doesn’t Win (LOLWUT?)

This, probably is the reason why AJ Styles is the main roster MVP for 2016. Since Styles broke through at the Rumble, he’s been on every PPV, pulled a **** match of fire out of Roman Reigns at Extreme Rules and reignited The (Bullet) Club in America. And John Cena being the proxy to reaffirm all of this is kind of weird. We’ve joked constantly about Cena and his need to have get back wins in feuds. Rusev, Bray Wyatt, Kevin Owens. All three guys on the upswing of their careers. All three of them took on Cena, got their win and then effectively lost the feud. This go around though, Cena looked like everything hurt.

Styles kept coming because even though he’s only older than Cena by a year, he’s still got something to prove. He wasn’t going to fall to John Cena, not on this stage. Not after taking a loss to Nakamura back at Wrestle Kingdom. Going a gear higher than Cena put him on this perch. And he did it. Cena found somebody he legit likes and respects and it was done. The symbolic touch of taking off the arm bands is nuts in itself. Does he come back Hollywood John Cena? Maybe. But Cena needs a reboot. A reboot in the, holy hell – John Cena isn’t invincible anymore kind of way.

Please Don’t Die Sasha

Sigh, Sasha Banks.

If there is one thing to love about Sasha Banks is her willingness to do whatever to put a match over. It’s also the one thing we kind of fear about Sasha too. Sunday night in our minds was supposed to be about Sasha retaining the Women’s title she so rightfully deserved. Sunday night in reality turned into her dropping the belt, then news coming out that she was taking time off to nurse some nagging injuries. She literally might be wrestling’s version of Arian Foster, an uber-talented workhorse whose own body may betray them. Plus, some of the spots in the Women’s Title match were down right brutal. We love how Sasha and Charlotte can go all out against one another but Jesus, we may need her around for a little while longer.

On the bright side … Bayley may be coming finally.

Bálor/Rollins (After The Crowd Got Over Themselves

The WWE Universal Title is either Lord Zedd’s weightlifting belt or the belt for Bompton. There’s no in-between. Bálor going over with that belt was more of a foregone conclusion than anything else on the card Sunday. Purely from a sartorial standpoint anyway. Now, once the crowd stopped booing about the look of the belt things picked up splendidly. Rollins & Bálor broke out old/new tricks (small package driver!?) and wrestled a fine match. It was good – and yet got overshadowed by something beyond Bálor’s control.

Which brings me to another weird thing: Brooklyn vs. Finn Bálor. In the two years Bálor has participated in a main event in Barclays, he’s been overshadowed. Last year it was Bayley / Sasha in the WWE MOTY. This year? An inanimate object and having to follow Styles/Cena an hour later. Gotta cut Finn some slack there.

That’s the good. The bad? Well, we’re get to that tomorrow after RAW.

Photo Credit: YouTube / WWE

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