By: Adam Salzer
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the first edition of Making the Grade! This will be a column reviewing WWE's PPV offerings. The show will be issued credits or demerits based on each segment or match, with the opportunity for extra credit for anything spectacular, and the chance to lose points for anything particularly heinous.
It is August 21st, 2016 and that means we're talking about SummerSlam! Six huge hours of SummerSlam... What did I get myself into?
Let's get started, shall we?
12-Man Tag Team Match: American Alpha, Hype Bros, Usos v. Breezango, Ascension, Vaudevillains
Decent for what it was, but the same match happened on SmackDown. This was just another attempt to showcase the SmackDown tag division, and they did a good job, but it's going to be difficult until the tag belts are unveiled, hopefully this week. Interesting to build tension by having the Usos steal the winning pinfall from American Alpha, so we'll see how that goes.
Grade: B, entertaining, but mostly pointless until the belts debut
Sami Zayn and Neville v. The Dudley Boyz
A fun match to get some more faces on the show, Neville gets to show off his flippy skills. Plus we get further tension within the Dudley Boyz and their seemingly inevitable breakup.
Grade: C, didn't serve much purpose, just a means to an end
Best of Seven, Match 1: Cesaro v. Sheamus
A nice, decently-long, back and forth encounter to start this series that nobody was looking forward to. I'm unhappy any time Sheamus goes over Cesaro, but it needed to be done to make the comeback story work.
Grade: B, The start of something that will hopefully lead somewhere and not just be, "OK, you win, congrats." Got the series off on the right foot.
There's your kickoff show, let's move on to the Pay Per View proper, shall we?
Enzo and Cass vs. Jeri-KO
We start with an Enzo and Cass promo, which is always enjoyable, and then we get to work. Jeri-KO have good chemistry as a team, and actually pull off the surprising victory. I was not expecting them to win, and I'm not sure what point it serves, but the match itself was a good opener.
Grade: C, some points off for a sloppy finish and the wrong team winning, as it were.
Women's Championship: Sasha Banks (c) v. Charlotte
Oof. A very promising rematch brought down by timing issues and some pretty heinous looking botches. I'm pretty sure Sasha almost died more than once during this match. Also hotshotting the title onto Sasha on the first post-draft Raw, only for her to lose it here? Not a fan of that.
Grade: D, too much went wrong here to ignore, and with Sasha taking the next month off I don't know where they go from here.
Intercontinental Title: Miz (c) v. Apollo Crews
This match was little more than a glorified squash, lasting only a little more than 5 minutes. Nothing was done to make Apollo look particularly good, and nothing was really done to make the Intercontinental Title look decent. A placeholder match to get us to whatever Miz' next defense is.
Grade: F, you shouldn't have the title match on pay per view if you're not going to invest anything into it.
John Cena v. AJ Styles
Just, wow. This match was incredible. Back and forth, both men hitting huge moves on one another, and showing great frustration that the other was kicking out. Lots of counters and reversals to heighten the drama. The two men traded finishers and submissions until finally AJ comes out on top. I give this match of the night.
Grade: A, Tension, drama, storytelling, fantastic match
WWE Tag Titles: New Day (Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston) (c) v. The Club
I may be alone here, but I enjoyed Jon Stewart's opening promo and his involvement as New Day's cornerman. Where it falls apart, though, is when Big E appears at the end to save Stewart from getting a bad case of Ringpostitis. If Big E was there A) Why didn't he just come out at the beginning and B) Why wouldn't he be fighting to retain the titles? Oh, and C) How did Jon, Kofi, and Xavier not know? Jason made a point as well, saying Big E came out to save Stewart but not to defend the titles, thereby insinuating that Jon Stewart's testicles are more important than the WWE Tag Team Titles. PLUS, and finally, Big E running out causes New Day to get DQed and lose, even though they keep the belts.
Grade: C, Enough nonsense happened here to kind of negate any good in the match itself.
WWE World Title: Dean Ambrose (c) v. Dolph Ziggler
Strike one: This is SmackDown's highest title, and it's being defended at the halfway point of the show. The match itself was pretty decent, as was expected, and Dolph and Dean threw each other around well. I'm interested to see if this becomes a feud or if we get a different contender at Backlash.
Grade: B, fun back and forth, but seemed to be lacking something, tension wise. Perhaps it just seemed obvious that Dean was winning?
Six-Woman Tag Match: Becky Lynch, Naomi, Carmella v. Natalya, Alexa Bliss, Nikki Bella
Eva Marie's announcer tells us she's under a lot of stress and so she's taking a well-deserved vacation in the British Isles. Sure. Nikki fills in the empty spot on the HEEL team, but returns to cheers since she's been away for a while. Decent match for what it was but, like the 12-man tag in the kickoff, it's just something to keep the SmackDown women active until a belt appears.
Grade: C, Nikki gets the win just because she's returning, nothing exciting happened and no story was really told.
WWE Universal Championship: Finn Balor v. Seth Rollins
If Cena v. Styles is match of the night,this is a close second, but that was certainly expected. These two men go toe to toe and fight it out for the honor of being the first-ever WWE Universal Champion. Another great story is told, as Seth tries to convince us that the Demon doesn't frighten him, and Balor just goes out there and does what he does, win championships.
Grade: A, a couple points off because the Demon entrance was less impactful since the Demon appeared on Raw, but not enough to drop a grade.
United States Title: Rusev (c) v. Roman Reigns
Where the fuck do I even start? The match never starts because Roman attacks Rusev before the bell and just beats the holy hell out of him until he can't compete in the match. Which is really a genius move on Roman's part, because why would you want to gain a championship when you could just beat the shit out of the guy. Also why did they give us a full, good match on Raw and this garbage on pay per view. Awful.
Grade: F, Just garbage.
Randy Orton vs. Brock Lesnar
I did not care about this match when it was announced last month, and none of the build for the match helped with that. And the match itself, or what there was of it, was pretty lackluster. WWE doesn't seem to understand this, but "Suplex City" gets pretty boring after a while. Randy hits an RKO or two, Brock hits an F-5, but no one gets pinned, of course. The match ends when Brock busts Randy's forehead open with an elbow, work or shoot I'm not sure, and the referees stop the match and award Brock the victory by TKO.
Grade: D, at least there was a match.
Grade Average: C, there were good parts, but the bad parts were baaaaad and drag the grade down.
1. Set Design. THANK YOU BRAND SPLIT! We finally get unique pay per view sets again!
2. Limited Authority Involvement: The commissioners and GMs were there, but we didn't hear from them all that much.
1. The most blatant issue was the match order. We can hereby glean from the match order that the order of importance of the singles championships in WWE currently goes as follows, least important to most important: Women's, IC, WWE World, Universal, US. And we can also infer that Brock Lesnar is more important than any of them. You're debuting a BRAND NEW TITLE and not only does it not main event, it's not even the last title match on the card?
2. The ending. Not only does the main event of your second-largest PPV of the year and in a referee stoppage, but you have no big surprises? No one comes out to challenge Brock Lesnar? Not even Goldberg? Instead we get Shane McMahon coming out to check on his superstar, Randy Orton, and his gaping head wound, and Brock doesn't let him do that, he F-5's him instead. So, what, Brock's next match, at Survivor Series, is against Shane? What purpose was served there? And if you're going to bring someone back, like Goldberg, to face Lesnar, why wouldn't you have that happen on the show? If Goldberg or whoever comes out tomorrow night and challenges Lesnar what's the fucking point?
2 credits, 2 demerits,that's a push, friends!
Final Grade: C
There you have it! SummerSlam 2016 was perfectly mediocre! Let me know what you thought of the show in the comments below, or leave us a message on The Rundown Hotline at 61-Rundown-7! We'll be back this Thursday with the 260th episode of The Rundown!
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