WWE Summerslam 2020: Every Match Ranked

…well, I sure didn’t see that coming.

Summerslam is now behind us, and I’m sitting here, looking back on the show the next morning and thinking to myself…yeah, that was a pretty bloody good show. Sure, there wasn’t a match of the year candidate on the show, but there doesn’t always need to be. At the end of the day, there was only one match out of the eight that I didn’t like, and even that had some stuff to like about it. Every other match was good-to-great in quality, and I’m very happy I invested my time into watching it.

Now, to the rankings!

8 – The Fiend Bray Wyatt def. Braun Strowman(c)
(Universal Championship)
(Falls Count Anywhere)

It showed hints of greatness, but ultimately, it fell flat.

Let’s talk about the positives first. Firstly, The Fiend is Universal Champion again, this is a great thing, which also means Braun’s title reign is over, this also a great thing. Secondly, Roman Reigns is back, and to that, I give a big HELL YES. Smackdown has sorely missed Roman Reigns this summer, and I don’t think I realised just how much I missed him until he was back. On top of that, it looks like he might have a new ass-kicking attitude, which gets a big thumbs up from me as that has always been the best version of Roman Reigns. Of course, this does probably mean that The Fiend is going to have to lose to Roman pretty soon after winning the title back, but honestly? I don’t care. I said it in the build-up to Wrestlemania, and I’ll say it again now, I am all-in on another Roman Reigns world title run, I think it could be great.

Now, unfortunately, I have to talk about the actual match which…well, it was trash. It didn’t help that I wasn’t overly interested in the story anyway, but this didn’t do much to build that interest either. It was a pretty standard from what we’ve come to expect in WWE when two ‘big-guys’ go head-to-head. It was slow, not nearly as hard-hitting as you would think, and ultimately, pretty dull. I know The Fiend is a fascinating & unique character, that I love, but we’ve got to take a hard look at his history of matches and admit to ourselves that the character’s wrestling style isn’t entertaining. His best match was against Daniel Bryan, which I don’t think should even count because it’s Daniel effing Bryan, so of course it was great.

Still, Roman Reigns is on the horizon, which makes things look a bit more optimistic.

7 – Apollo Crews(c) def. MVP
(United States Championship)
(Kickoff Show)

I feel like I’m repeating myself every single month, but this was standard pre-show action.

It did have a bit of an extra kick this time, as there was a proper story surrounding the match, but the action didn’t push any boundaries in terms of what we’ve come to expect from pre-show matches. It served as a good showcase of Crews’ talents and a reminder that he’s a good wrestler who’s deserving of the US title. It didn’t really do anything for MVP, but it didn’t need to, his credibility comes from being a mouthpiece nowadays, not a wrestler.

Crews retaining was definitely the right decision in my books, and based on something that was teased for Raw, I’m hoping a feud with Aleister Black in on the horizon, which should be killer.

6 – The Street Profits(c) def. Andrade & Angel Garza
(Raw Tag Team Championships)

Fun tag-team action from two teams that know each other quite well by this point.

I did like this match, but I thought it could’ve done with a bit more. 8 minutes did not seem nearly enough for this match, especially with the story it was trying to tell. I know WWE doesn’t give a shit about their tag division, but they could at least make it look like they care a bit. The story surrounding Andrade & Garza was paid lip service to in the finish, but that’s about it. The two of them have been showing tension almost all year, with things never changing in any way. Some weeks they’ll work together perfectly, other weeks they just can’t get along, there’s no rhyme or reason to it. Honestly, by this point, even if they do finally break-up, I’m past the point of caring about it.

Like I said though, the action in the match was fun to watch, Andrade & Garza kept the pace going, even when they were doing the ‘work over the face’ thing, and once Ford made the hot-tag to Dawkins, the pace stayed pretty steady. Also, Kevin Owens was great on commentary, first of all, shouting “Look at all my friends!” really aggressively – in reference to the people on the screens of the Thunderdome – was utterly hilarious. However, his best line was after the match, where Ford was celebrating with him, and Owens said to him “You turned in midair! Did you know you did that?” – referencing the move Ford did to win the match – which was a line that caught me off guard and was delivered such a perfect way, that I giggled about it for a good couple of minutes.

5 – Bayley(c) def. Asuka
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

This was arguably the best match these two have had so far, and yet it felt like they were holding back for the sake of the story.

There’s very little new to be said about the kind of matches these two can put on. They know each other exceptionally well, and it shows in matches like this. The match didn’t worry about overbearing us with Bayley beating-down on Asuka. Bayley spent much more time on offence, sure, but it didn’t feel like they were just setting up the story for the second match later in the night. Instead, Asuka had to play the plucky babyface, who picked her spots and made impactful moves when they counted.

The finish was predictable, but I don’t mind something being predictable when it’s the right move for the story. Sasha being Bayley’s key to victory is in-line with everything they’ve been doing together for the past year(ish) and sets things up perfectly to go horribly wrong later in the show. I think that Bayley being the one to hold onto her title is the right thing too. Not only is she great with it, but if we are finally going to get going with the Sasha/Bayley stuff, having Bayley being the heel holding the title is the perfect way to go.

4 – Asuka def. Sasha Banks(c)
(Raw Women’s Championship)

My thoughts on this match are very similar to the previous one. However, I thought this match was a lot more exciting, told a better story, and was all-around cleaner than the previous one.

I think the reason for the different feel to this match is straightforward. Bayley vs Asuka was the first half of the story, Sasha vs Asuka was its conclusion. There’s a more significant aura of excitement surrounding this second match because of what the first one set up. It doesn’t feel like they’re holding back here, instead, they’re pulling together to take the story to its natural conclusion.

The story of the match was able to capture the feeling of Asuka coming in, already beaten-down, without boring us with watching Sasha pick Asuka apart for the opening 5 minutes. They went the much more entertaining route and told that story through Asuka wrestling a much faster match, instead of waiting to pick her spots as she did with Bayley, she went in with a proactive strategy and did her best to never let Sasha take control. This led to a match with a much nicer sense of flow as it built steadily and satisfyingly to the finish.

As myself and many others predicted, Bayley would try to get involved, but her involvement would indirectly cause Sasha to lose the match. I like the way they did it though. With the way things went down, there’s an argument to be had over whose fault it was. Yes, if Bayley hadn’t gotten involved, Sasha wouldn’t have been in that position to get stuck in the Asuka lock. However, because Asuka merely reversed Sasha’s attempt to take advantage of the distraction Bayley caused, you could say that it’s Sasha’s fault. I don’t think that’ll have too much of an impact on the story going forward, but I think it’s a good tool for making sure it didn’t look like Asuka was just lucky.

3 – Mandy Rose def. Sonya Deville
(No Disqualification)
(Loser Leaves WWE)

If there’s any match that I wish had an extra 5 minutes, it’s this one. Not because it suffered from a lack of time, but because I was really enjoying it and wanted to see more.

As was to be expected from two women who know each other as well as these two do, they totally clicked in the ring, their chemistry was incredible to watch. The structure of the match was pretty simple, but I think that helped to tell the story. Sonya is so good as the heel who really just wants to hurt their opponent. She’s not cocky, because she doesn’t have to be, sure, she’s constantly taunting Rose, but that’s not out of disrespect, it’s out of a desire to cause pain & misery, a role that Deville just gets. Rose played off it to perfection, she crawled around the ring like someone who was really suffering emotionally, which did more for the story than a month of promos ever could.

As we got to the middle of the match, things became more balanced, both women went back-and-forth getting their licks in. I like that Mandy was the one to go for the weapons first. She’d played quite a reactive role in the feud up until this point, but this gave me the impression of someone who was doing what had to be done. The spot where she hurled chairs at Sonya, who was deftly dodging them was great fun too. The finish was, clean, simple, and exactly what it needed to be. Rose finally broke free of Deville’s oppression and absolutely went to town on her, those series of knees to the face felt really cathartic, and the perfect wrap-up to the story.

I don’t know what’s going to happen to Deville now. I haven’t heard any reports saying she’s planning to take time off, but who knows? Maybe she’ll go away for a while. Personally, I’d love to see her show up to get in Io Shirai’s face on NXT, but that’s fantasy booking. I think something like Raw Underground would be a better fit for her style. Plus, Deville vs Baszler…now there’s a match made in heaven. As for Rose? I honestly hope she picks up one of the women’s titles sometime soon, I’m really digging her as a wrestler now.

2 – Drew McIntyre(c) def. Randy Orton
(WWE Championship)

No, I’m not kidding. It was a 20-minute, slow-paced Randy Orton match…and I actually liked it. I’m just as surprised as you are.

As a stark contrast to Wyatt/Strowman, I think the fact that I was highly invested in the story coming into the match helped my enjoyment greatly. Not only did it mean that I was in a better mood, and more willing to give it a chance, but it meant that when the match leaned heavily on the story-based moments, I was invested. If I didn’t care about the story, I probably would’ve rolled my eyes at Orton slipping in and out of the ring at the start, but because I did care, I saw it as a continuation of the game Orton’s been playing with Drew all month. I know the idea that ‘if I’m invested in the story, I’ll be more likely to enjoy the match’ is one of the most basic pro-wrestling concepts, but you’d be surprised how often WWE seems to forget.

The slow pace worked in this match’s favour, as it gave the impression of two wrestlers really trying to study and figure out each other’s game plan. Neither man was wrestling a reactionary style, they were both trying to do everything in their power to execute their plan. It led to the momentum swinging back-and-forth like a motorised pendulum, and while the pace never accelerated, the build in the drama meant the tension is what carried my excitement.

The finish annoyed a lot of people, and I’m in two minds of it. I see the perspective that it’s a cheap way to end a world title match, and it makes Drew look like a chump who barely scraped by. However, I’d argue it’s the opposite. I won’t deny that ending things with a Claymore would’ve been a lot more satisfying, but I don’t think anyone believed that this was going to be the end of the Drew/Orton feud, I think it’s going until at least Hell in a Cell. By countering the RKO into a win like that, I think it makes Drew look exceptionally smart, as he’s found a way to turn Orton’s greatest weapon to his advantage. If Drew keeps pulling stuff like this, he will have essentially nullified Orton’s main tactic for matches and will force him to innovate, which could lead to some very interesting spots.

Admittedly, a lot of this is based on potential future gain, so it could all go tits-up, but what can I say? I’m in a good mood after the show last night, so I’m going to play the optimist.

1 – Seth Rollins def. Dominik Mysterio
(Street Fight)

Similar to Cole vs McAfee from Takeover, this was never a match that would be carried by action. This was a match that was all about the story and the drama. The story in question that carried this match was told excellently, which is why I rank this match so highly.

Going into it, I was already behind Dominik as a face. Maybe it was just because of the shock of it, but sometimes, watching a heel absolutely murder a guy is enough to make me root for the guy being murdered. This match did the smart thing and continued playing to that trend. The feeling was always that Dominik was out of his league. No matter who his father was, he was a relative rookie going up against a multi-time world champion, so they did the smart thing and built the match around that fact. The action made it very clear that Dominik could not hang in the ring with Rollins, he would get the advantage every now and then, but it was mostly through fluke than through expertise.

The narrative of Dominik not wanting his father to get involved was perfect too. I think this was the key thing that pulled me firmly over to Dominik’s side. It’s that true ‘heart-of-gold’ style of babyface, where he wants to prove that he can do it alone, even when he doesn’t stand a chance. Yes, some of that’s down to his naivete, but it’s so rare we get a wrestler in WWE that’s truly uncorrupted. It’s why we gravitated towards Sami Zayn & Johnny Gargano during their initial NXT runs, and it’s why I’ve found myself gravitating towards Dominik now.

Sure, Seth Rollins got the win, but that doesn’t matter, because this match got Dominik over in my eyes. I am now fully behind Dominik in whatever he does next (probably a tag match with his father), and I am excited to watch him grow as a performer over the next couple of years. I honestly can’t remember a time were WWE has (deliberately) got someone over so firmly in my eyes like this, it’s wonderful.

And there you have it! That’s a full weekend of wrestling coverage! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what you thought of Summerslam, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back here this time on Wednesday, where I’ll be releasing the GRAND FINALE of my 100 Favourite Games of All Time series!

WWE Summerslam 2020: Predictions & Analysis

The biggest party of the summer is upon us! Only, it’s not much of a party this year, is it? To think back in March we were all expecting fans to be back in time for this show…

WWE’s been a bit of a mixed bag over the past month or so. I’d argue Raw has had a pretty decent hit-rate week-to-week, with a lot of fun storylines. Smackdown, meanwhile, is definitely better than it was a couple of months ago, but it’s still not great. Still, I think WWE has put together a show with a lot of potential, the main event matches especially are looking pretty tasty.

Let’s break down the matches.

Mandy Rose vs Sonya Deville
(No Disqualification)
(Loser Leaves WWE)

Honestly, it’s amazing that we’ve had to wait this long for a payoff to this feud. It’s not like WWE has carefully spent time building to this match either, they just straight-up dropped the storyline for a couple of months before suddenly remembering about it in July. As it stands though, I’ve been enjoying this one a lot. I think shifting the focus of the story slightly was the right idea. Otis is wildly entertaining, but his presence is no longer necessary in this feud, so I’m happy that the recent instalments have focused just on the animosity between Rose & Deville.

As for the quality of the match, I honestly don’t know, but I’m optimistic. Deville has been on fire since turning heel, and she’s quickly becoming one of my favourite wrestlers in WWE’s women’s division. Rose, meanwhile, I think is a far better wrestler than many fans think she is. I think we’re so used to 00s-10s WWE’s style of ‘gimmick centred around attractiveness = bad wrestler’, I don’t believe that to be the case with Rose. These are two women who know each other incredibly well, so I have no reason to doubt the fact that they’re probably going to kick some ass.

I can’t quite decide who’s going to win though. When it was hair vs hair, I thought Mandy was an easy pick, but now the stipulation’s changed and I don’t see where this is going. I don’t believe there have been any reports that either woman is legitimately thinking of leaving or even taking a hiatus. I suppose the loser could go to NXT, or maybe even Raw Underground, you could argue those would count as ‘leaving WWE’. It’s a tough call, but I’m going to stick with what I think the story was leading to anyway, which is Mandy Rose coming out on top. I just hope there’s something interesting planned for Deville going forward because I want to see her do so much more.

The Street Profits(c) vs Andrade & Angel Garza
(Raw Tag Team Championships)

This match feels incredibly familiar. I wasn’t quite sure why at first, but then I remembered that this feud has been going on, on and off, since Wrestlemania.

As such, I’m not sure there’s much more that can be said about it. Bianca Belair has been doing great work, and I’m glad Zelina Vega is getting to show some skill outside of a managerial role, but it’s only tangentially related to this match. At the end of the day, this is a match containing four incredibly talented performers, and I have no doubt there will be plenty to enjoy once it’s all said and done.

In terms of a result, I think there are two ways it could go. The fact that Andrade & Garza can’t seem to get along has been running for months now, so I’m pretty confident that will play into the result of this match. They could pay it off by having them come together and finally win the tag titles, which I think has a decent chance of happening. Street Profits have been champions for roughly 6 months now, and changing the titles just for the sake of it is precisely the kind of thing WWE would do with its tag titles.

Alternatively, the pair could finally fall apart and start beating the crap out of each other, allowing The Street Profits to retain. I think this is more likely, and also more beneficial. If the two of them launch off into a singles feud, I hope that it’ll give Angel Garza a more prominent platform to get himself over, something I believe he is more than capable of. Meanwhile, The Street Profits can keep doing what they’ve been doing, which, for the most part, has been very entertaining.

Apollo Crews(c) vs MVP
(United States Championship)

I’m of two minds with this match. On the one hand, I think there are a lot of wrestlers who need the opportunity at the US title a lot more than MVP. Not to mention, I think a lot of wrestlers would put on a better match with Crews. That said, MVP has been crushing it on the microphone so far this year, and he’s pretty much the only reason I have any interest in this feud. Between this feud with Crews and his semi-takeover of Raw Underground alongside Lashley & Benjamin, I think we could be praising the entertainment value of MVP for a long time to come.

As to what I think the match will be like, you can pretty much just copy/paste whatever I said during my Extreme Rules predictions. Except this time, I expect we’ll actually get to see the match, rather than it be surprise announced on the show that it’s not happening (I know it was because Crews was ill, but still).

My prediction is the same too, I think Apollo Crews is going to retain. Admittedly, I do see value in putting the title on MVP, and I won’t complain if it happens, but keeping on the younger guy in Crews feels like the right way to go. I think I spent so long not caring about Crews that I forgot how good he can be, so now I’d like to see him carry this on for as long as possible.

Dominik Mysterio vs Seth Rollins
(Street Fight)

We all knew this was going to end up here, and yet for some reason, I was still surprised when this match was announced.

I know I wasn’t much of a fan of the eye-for-an-eye match at Extreme Rules, but I think the build of this story has been great. I’m still not entirely sure why guys like Black & Carrillo are wasting their time with it, but the stuff between Rollins and the Mysterios has been fantastic fun to watch. I was expecting to have a difficult time getting used to Dominik showing up and fighting every week on Raw, but the writing team did a great job in getting me invested in him. Admittedly, it was through the method of having Rollins & Murphy beating the crap out of him, but what can I say? I’m invested.

The match itself is a bit uncertain though, purely because we have no idea what Dominik is like as a wrestler. He might have taken to the sport miraculously quickly and will blow us all away, but there’s an equal possibility that he’ll be really green. As such, I’m not if a weapons match was the right choice for his first match. The positives are that it allows for plenty of interference, so the pressure isn’t all on Dominik to help carry the thing, plus, a slower pace will work better with his relative inexperience. The problem is that it takes two very skilled performers to make a slow-paced weapons match work, which means he could be in trouble. Also, I don’t like weapons matches, but that’s beside the point.

I could theoretically see this one going either way, but I’m reasonably confident in picking Dominik Mysterio. Rollins has won the entire feud up until this point, so I think it’s only appropriate for this to be the time for him to take the loss. If Dominik is going to be sticking around as a permanent fixture of the Raw roster, then giving him a big win like this right out of the gate is an excellent way to build him up. I know people are arguing there’s a believability issue with Dominik beating someone as big of a star as Rollins, but if Rey gets involved, then I don’t think that’ll be a problem.

Braun Strowman(c) vs The Fiend Bray Wyatt
(Universal Championship)
(Falls Count Anywhere)

How is THIS the match I care the least about? On paper, it’s an absolute winner, both of these guys have a history, and both of them have significantly evolved since 2016 when they were together. Yet, this story has been running for roughly 4 months now, and I’m bored with it. I can see what they were trying to accomplish with getting Bliss involved, and I commend them for trying to switch things up in regards to the heel/face alignments. The thing is, I don’t think it’s been very well executed. This is a war between a destructive monster and a brutal psychopath, why are they sitting around arguing all the time?

I used to love Braun Strowman around 2017/2018 because he’d come in full of adrenaline and absolutely demolish anyone or anything in his path. It was much the same with The Fiend, he was this seemingly invisible force of destruction that would tear his opponents to shreds. This should be the most straightforward story in the world to tell, all you have to do is slowly escalate the violence week on week. Have it reach the point where their conflict starts to intrude upon every aspect of Smackdown until management has to step in to try and put a stop to it, only for them to keep causing mayhem anyway. It’s the kind of story that, somehow, WWE don’t tell very often, and with characters like these, it would be an absolute blast to watch. The final segment on Smackdown proved my point on that front, it was by far the best part of the whole feud, and this whole story should’ve been full of cool stuff like that.

When it comes to the match, I’m not sure what I’d prefer. On the one hand, they’ve already had two very drama-focused matches, so part of me wants to see a much more action-focused match. Then again, maybe doing another drama-focused match is the way to go? Bray is a world-class in-ring storyteller, so if anyone could make it work, I’d say it’s him.

The result is a tough one, so I’m just going with what I’d prefer, which is The Fiend Bray Wyatt to win the title. To be blunt, Braun’s title reign has been crap. He’s been boring as a character and none of his matches have been any fun to watch. Sure, The Fiend having the title again may create some problems down the line, but I honestly don’t care at this point. If we’re going to have anyone hold the title until Roman’s ready to come and take it, I’d rather it be Bray than Braun.

 

Sasha Banks(c) vs Asuka
(Raw Women’s Championship)

AND

Bayley(c) vs Asuka
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

Bundling these two together because their stories are essentially one and the same.

So, there’s plenty of theories as to how this whole story with Banks, Bayley & Asuka could turn out, which is why I’m so invested in it right now. There are a bunch of different options, all with their own exciting storyline potential.

First of all, what I don’t think will happen: Bayley & Sasha BOTH retaining. I feel confident that Asuka is walking out of Summerslam with at least one of those titles, the question now remains, which one? Or perhaps even both? I seriously considered the ‘both’ option, and I very nearly made it my final decision, but I think it would create some problems. While it’s become almost a cliche to say it at this point, I think we’re headed to a break-up of Bayley & Sasha, which would mean that they’re going to be feuding with each other in the near future. While I agree with the sentiment that it’s a feud that doesn’t need the title, I think it would unquestionably be enhanced by having a title on the line.

So, which title will it be? Here’s my pitch.

Bayley takes the hit for her friend and has her match against Asuka first, and it plays out mostly how you would expect it to. The two of them have a fun match for 12-15 minutes, then things go into overdrive, and the shenanigans ensue. I don’t know the specifics of it, but Sasha does her thing, screws over Asuka and Bayley escapes with her title. Then, a little later on in the night, it’s time for Asuka vs Sasha. Already we’ve got a great story to tell in the match as Asuka is starting on the back foot in a major way. Things boil to a climax where, somehow, someway, Bayley costs Sasha her title, letting Asuka walk away with the Raw Women’s Championship.

Whether Bayley does this through deliberate sabotage, an accidental miscommunication or simply inaction, something is going to happen that causes Sasha to lose her title. From there, you’ve got a whole bunch of directions to take it. You can either do the break up there and then, or you can let the tensions simmer for a little while, through the pair’s defence of the tag titles at Payback.

It’s an ambitious theory, I’ll admit, and I can’t wait to see how horrifically wrong I am, but let me have my fun, dammit.

Drew McIntyre(c) vs Randy Orton
(WWE Championship)

I cannot believe that I’m sitting here in 2020, excited for a Randy Orton world title match.

I know I wasn’t a fan of Orton vs Edge at Backlash, but I’ll be damned if Randy Orton hasn’t become one of the most entertaining characters on all of WWE TV right now. I don’t know what it was, but something lit a fire under his ass, and he’s become more motivated, animated and downright exciting than he’s been for years. He’s entertaining to the point where I’m sitting here thinking that if he won the world title on Sunday, I’d be perfectly ok with it; even when he’s taking the title away from my beloved British wrestling hero, Drew McIntyre. NOW, to clarify, just because I’d be ok with it, doesn’t mean it’s what I want to happen, I would still prefer Drew to retain, however, if it happens I won’t be mad about it. There’s just something about the idea of Orton vs Edge for the WWE title that gets me very excited indeed.

I honestly don’t know what to expect from this match. I have no idea how the styles of these two men will mesh in the ring, whether it will be a slow burner, or fast and furious, I really couldn’t tell you. However, I’m choosing to take the optimists route and say that I think it’ll be something we’ll look back on fondly at the end of the year. Maybe not a match of the year contender, but definitely something we’ll have been glad to have invested our time in.

Now…I’ve got to pick a winner, and I’m really struggling. Every logical bone in my body is telling me, Orton. Looking at his story since Wrestlemania, it makes all the sense in the world and, as I said, Orton vs Edge III still needs to happen…but I just can’t do it. This a decision made almost entirely by my heart rather than my head, but I’m picking Drew McIntyre to win. He’s had an absolutely cracking reign as WWE Champion, and I’d very much like to see it continue.

The Best Opening Matches in WWE Pay-Per-View History

“If you can’t go on last, go on first”

The opening match of any wrestling show is arguably the most important of the whole night, while the main event is almost always the biggest, most important match of the show that everyone will be talking about the next day, the opening match is what sets the tone for the show going forward and often decides whether or not any given individual will keep watching the show the whole way through. As such, there have been plenty of absolute barn-burners and all-time classic matches that held the prestigious spot of being the first thing the live audience got to see.

To be clear here, I am not counting pre-show or dark matches in this list as these are usually put on before the full crowd has even entered the building and a large portion of the home viewing audience haven’t switched on. I’m instead referring to the first match to take place on the main portion of a WWE Pay-Per-View. This also means NXT Takeovers don’t count because let’s be honest, that wouldn’t be fair.

With that clarification made, let’s take a look at the best of these show openers.

10 – Daniel Bryan vs Dolph Ziggler – Bragging Rights 2010

Trust me, this isn’t the last time Daniel Bryan is going to appear on this list.

While the concept of Bragging Rights was one that would eventually bleed over into the annual Survivor Series event – and be much better off for it – looking back at the history of the two incarnations of the event, there was only ever one great match between the two of them and this was it.

Although the IWC (myself included) have all gotten a bit bored with Dolph Ziggler as a wrestler, there was once a time where he was one of the only bright stars in a sea of boring characters and dull wrestling matches. In fact, with the exception of CM Punk, it’s arguable that Bryan & Ziggler were the only two “internet darlings” in the company at the time so naturally, a clash between the two of them was always going to be something special.

What this match is, is two brilliant wrestlers that have flamboyant and exciting wrestling styles going at each other in a match that very rarely lets up to catch its breath. There are some slightly wonky elements, with Vickie Guerrero’s presence at ringside occasionally causing a break in the action and a weird non-finish where Ziggler got a three-count because the referee didn’t see Bryan’s foot on the rope, only for the decision to be waived off and the match continued.

Luckily, none of those issues stopped the match from having a healthy serving of quick back-and-forth action and near falls to ramp up the excitement and get the crowd on their feet for a show that, in the grand scheme of things, really wasn’t much to write home about.

9 – Brock Lesnar(c) vs Seth Rollins –   Wrestlemania 35
(Universal Championship)

This was more of a great moment than a match, however, a bell did ring, so it counts.

Wrestlemania 35 was a show full of crowd please, triumphant moments for the babyfaces and it made sure to spread them evenly throughout the show, this meant that when the show was just starting, we already had ourselves an exciting moment. After the US National Anthem played and Hulk Hogan was…there, Paul Heyman stormed to the ring and declared that if Brock Lesnar wasn’t going to be in the main event, then he was going to have his match now and get an early night.

It’s easy to forget now, but at this point, just about everyone was fully behind Seth Rollins as a babyface who was ready to slay the beast and finally take the Universal Championship away from Lesnar. WWE managed to not only pull it off brilliantly but do it in perhaps the most exciting way possible, with Lesnar beating down Rollins before he made a sudden comeback to pin the beast and win the title in just two and a half minutes.

Paralleling the moment from Wrestlemania 31 where he swiped the WWE Championship from under Brock Lesnar’s nose, Wrestlemania 35 opened up with Rollins swinging world title gold above his head in a moment that had me on my feet with excitement at home.

8 – The Miz(c) vs Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor – Wrestlemania 34
(Intercontinental Championship)

Triple threat matches on WWE PPVs can be a bit hit and miss depending on the participants involved. These kinds of matches need to be fast-paced and varied in their action, so when you’ve got a bunch of slow, lumbering guys in there it just doesn’t work, luckily, the three men in this match were quite the opposite. Rollins & Balor were allowed to completely let loose here, flying all over the place, keeping the excitement flowing the whole time.

The Miz couldn’t keep up with the pace of the other two, but he didn’t need to. Instead, The Miz was the perfect person to provide much more grounded action, stopping the whole thing from spiralling out of control with non-stop dives. The action between the three men had a nice sense of flow, with each combination of men in the ring had a slightly different feel to their fighting style.

There was a nice helping of storytelling in there too as The Miz attempted to renounce his evil ways (even if it didn’t last) sparing us from any interference by The Miztourage. As well as Balor & Rollins being so determined to one-up each other that at several occasions it almost allowed The Miz to slip away with the win. That didn’t happen though as eventually Seth Rollins came out the victor and spent the rest of 2018 in what I believe – from an in-ring standpoint at least – was the best year of his career so far.

7 – The Usos(c) vs The Wyatt Family – Battleground 2014
(WWE Tag Team Championships)
(2 out of 3 Falls)

A match that has been largely forgotten by time here and I can’t exactly say I blame people for that, I sure as shit can’t remember a single other thing that happened at Battleground 2014.

Looking back at 2014 today feels like looking into an alternate dimension, it’s all the wrestlers we know and love today, but not quite as we know them; case in point, The Usos. By mid-2014 I was fully into the world of WWE and I very vividly remember not giving much of a shit about The Usos. Their “tribal chanting” thing sat on the wrong side of goofy to me and, in all honesty, I didn’t see their appeal as wrestlers at all. This was the match that woke me up to the fact that these guys might actually be the amazing tag team we’ve seen over the past few years.

Pretty much everything I love about modern tag-team wrestling features in this match, the early stages where one team isolates the other didn’t last too long and once the match descended into chaos, it ebbed and flowed in such a way that allowed for natural peaks and troughs in the action that aligned with my energy levels as a viewer. The 2 out of 3 falls stipulation did wonders for the pace, allowing the action to slow all the way down at certain points before slowly building the energy and excitement up again.

I highlighted The Uso’s performance, but Harper & Rowan’s contributions to the match cannot be understated either. I know it’s common knowledge now, but at the time I didn’t realise how brilliant of a wrestler Luke Harper could be and Erick Rowan served his purpose as a slower big-guy too. The chemistry between the two teams was near-flawless and it’s one of those situations where everything came together to create a match that had just about all you could want from pure tag team wrestling.

6 – Bad News Barrett(c) vs Dean Ambrose vs Dolph Ziggler vs Daniel Bryan vs R-Truth vs Luke Harper vs Stardust – Wrestlemania 31
(Intercontinental Championship)
(Ladder)

Wrestlemania needs more of these, I mean, what else is the Cruiserweight title for these days?

Multi-man ladder matches are always pretty solid bets to get a crowd excited, but this one went above and beyond in terms of pure entertainment value. Everyone in this match served their own unique role that contributed to the break-neck pace of this match. You had Barrett coming in as the heel champion, Ambrose as the hungry challenger that isn’t afraid to get violent, Ziggler a face-technician that can bump like no-one else, Bryan who was making his big return and was beloved by everyone, Truth who was the comedy, Harper who was an all-rounder that could fill any role he needed to in the match and Stardust…who…well, let’s not talk about that.

When you’ve got such a huge variety of characters & wrestling styles colliding like this it’s always going to be an interesting watch and the action in this match was constant. There was very little room to breathe, but the amount of variety of people constantly coming in and out of the ring meant that it constantly felt like the match was being refreshed and doing something different. Just about everyone got a moment where they almost won the match and they were scattered through the match in just the right way to keep the tension rolling over with every single spot.

Speaking of spots, there’s just about every kind of ladder match spot you could want. We had people doing dives onto people and ladders; ladders would be sung around and smack people in the face; there was a big dive onto a sea of people and there was even a brutal looking powerbomb from the ring, to the outside, through a ladder. The finish was extremely crowd-pleasing, with Ziggler & Bryan fighting it out on the top until one of them fell to their doom and it kicked off Wrestlemania 31 with a massively crowd-pleasing win in the form of Daniel Bryan claiming his first reign with the Intercontinental Championship.

5 – Daniel Bryan vs Bray Wyatt – Royal Rumble 2014

While this match is generally remembered as a great one, I think the feud surrounding it is incredibly strange. This feud happened slap-bang in the middle of Bryan’s ascension to the top of WWE and was very much during the phase where WWE was trying everything they could to make sure it didn’t happen. After Bryan suffered yet another disappointing loss to Randy Orton, he found himself under attack from The Wyatt Family. For some reason, CM Punk decided he’d help out and they got the win…so feud over right? Well, apparently not as Wyatt continued their assault, focusing on Bryan as CM Punk had to deal with The Shield.

This led to a 3 on 1 match at TLC where Bryan got destroyed and eventually a slightly interesting, but also slightly bungled, storyline developed where Bryan seemed to join the Wyatt Family. While the moment where Bryan finally broke free from Wyatt was fantastic and led to arguably the best “Yes!” chant in history, it was a bit weird how the entire thing just consisted of Bryan & Bray losing to The Usos for 3 weeks.

Regardless of that, it brought us to this match. A match that was fantastic.  Bray’s style at the time was less of the slow & brutal that we see with The Fiend nowadays, instead, being a lot more frantic and fast-paced; he would still take his time when he got the opportunity to pick his opponent apart, but there was a much greater feeling of urgency to things. This played perfectly for Bryan’s style which was also pretty fast but focussed more on being plucky than being heavy-handed.

On top of the action being top-notch, they hit on some great story beats referencing the entirety of their rivalry up until that point. It had so many of those little touches that we only ever expect to see in NXT Takeover matches these days. Not only did this match help the rise of Bryan’s popularity amongst the fanbase, but it also put Bray Wyatt on the map in terms of the fans seeing him as a brilliant wrestler that could hang with all of their indie darlings.

4 – The New Day(c) vs The Usos – Hell in a Cell 2017
(Smackdown Tag Team Championships)
(Hell in a Cell)

Easily one of the best feuds of the past five years, this match was just one of the series of incredible bouts these two teams put on throughout 2017 and into early 2018 and this was arguably the best of the bunch.

By this point in 2017, The New Day and The Usos had wrestled each other on TV & PPV countless times and at face value, it would seem like that’s a recipe for disaster. Normally in WWE, when a feud lasts as long as this one did, people get bored of it and their later matches are met with indifference regardless of how good they actually are (see the Reigns vs Corbin feud from late 2019/early 2020 for proof of this). So, these two teams had to find a way to get p[eople to turn their heads and care about the fact that they’re fighting on PPV for the 4th time in the past year. Luckily, they were absolutely up to the task.

Up until this point in their feud, the two teams had done a great job of making each match feel slightly different in terms of its flow and rhythm, while still keeping up incredible action that got fans onto their feet. After rocking pre-shows and midcards for the better part of 6 months, these two teams were finally rewarded for their stellar work by getting the opportunity to create absolute magic, climaxing their now legendary feud in a Tag Team Hell in a Cell match for the ages.

Needless the say the action was damn-near flawless. Every movement in the match felt like it had so much thought and purpose behind it from the competitors. I often decry weapons matches as being boring, but the two teams here put the tools at their disposal to good use, scattering weapons in as exclamation points for the match, but never making them the focal point. Every inch of the cell was used to full effect and we saw some genuinely new and innovative spots like The New Day trapping one of the Usos in the corner of the cell by building a mini-prison out of kendo sticks. The Hell in a Cell stipulation is one that I think had been extremely played out at this point, but these guys did a fantastic job of finding fresh and interesting things to do with it.

The drama was also through the roof. From the moment the bell rang and the two teams start absolutely wailing on each other, there was so much intensity that absolutely did the epic scale of their feud justice. There were some truly ludicrous kickouts (in a good way) and the final segment where Xavier Woods tried his damndest to fend off both Usos while handcuffed is just brilliant and forged a sense of respect between the two teams that has lasted for years after the fact. Not to mention cemented both of these teams as two of the best tag teams on the planet.

3 – Kurt Angle vs Rey Mysterio – Summerslam 2002

See? I have watched wrestling outside of the past decade. Admittedly, it would’ve been hard to justify missing out what is undoubtedly an all-time classic Summerslam match.

Rey Mysterio had been in WWE for less than a month at this point and while the majority of the audience at the time knew who he was from his time at the forefront of WCW’s Cruiserweight Division, this was his first major opportunity to make a huge impact on the WWE and show that he was here to stay and hadn’t missed a beat since the WCW days. So, if you’ve got a highly-skilled technical wrestler who needs an opportunity to look great showing off everything they can do, who do you put them with? How about the greatest technical wrestler of the generation? Enter Kurt Angle.

Angle was coming off the back of an excellent feud with The Rock and The Undertaker going into Summerslam 2002 where he had often found himself the butt of the joke. He still got ample opportunity to look like a legitimate competitor, but the match at Vengeance treated him more like a third wheel, where his character elements are what really made him shine. So, this felt like a bit of a reset for his character, a newcomer had just shown up and handed him a loss and it was going to be his job to teach Mysterio a serious lesson, using his entire arsenal of fantastic wrestling.

It was a very simple story but it’s all the match needed. Mysterio was looking to prove himself against one of the best, while Angle was looking to protect his position in the company against a newcomer. What they put together in the match can only be described as a technical masterpiece. I used the term “back-and-forth” in my reviews a lot but this match really was the epitome of the term, as outside of Mysterio’s flurry at the beginning, neither man spent more than 90 seconds or so getting in offence at any single point in the match. There were constant counters, reversals and all kinds of interesting escapes that showed the full spectrum of what both men were capable of in the ring.

While it’s arguable that Mysterio should’ve won as he was the debuting superstar, as we can now say with the power of hindsight, the loss didn’t affect Mysterio’s star power at all in the long-run and the sheer quality of the match was enough to convince all of the fans who were still unconvinced that Mysterio was a top-tier competitor.

2 – Bret Hart vs Owen Hart – Wrestlemania 10

Even though Wrestlemania 10 ended with Bret Hart toppling Yokozuna to become WWF Champion, the moment that was ultimately be most remembered from that night is his loss in the opening contest to his brother Owen.

There was a lot of hype surrounding this match at the time of Wrestlemania 10. Things had been slowly building since the previous November, where Owen became distracted after accidentally knocking his brother off of the Apron in a Survivor Series elimination tag match, causing him to get eliminated. Owen would continuously ask his brother to face him in a match, but Bret kept refusing, not wanting to fight his brother. Eventually, Owen took matters into his own hands and attacked Bret at the Royal Rumble 1994 after the duo lost to The Quebecers.

After both Lex Luger and Bret Hart were declared joint winners of the 1994 Royal Rumble, a coin was tossed and it was determined that Luger would get his match with Yokozuna first at Wrestlemania 10, with Bret fighting the champion later in the night. In order to make it fair, Bret was forced to wrestle another match earlier on in the night and Owen was selected as his opponent.

As you’d imagine from wrestlers the calibre of Bret and Owen, two wrestlers who quite literally grew up training together, this match was virtually flawless. While it doesn’t look as flashy or as exciting as the kind of “masterpiece” matches we’ve come to expect today, I didn’t feel any less invested in this match than I do any NXT title bout. The psychology of the match is simple but incredibly effective as both of the brothers seem to have an answer for just about everything the other can throw at them. It’s so clear that they know each other in the ring better than any other wrestler ever possibly could.

The sly brutality of Owen as he maliciously targets Bret’s injured leg is just wonderfully horrible, made all the better by the way he seems to showboat after every little advantage he gets over Bret. He knows that no-one thinks he’ll be able to beat Bret and he’s relishing every moment he can show people how wrong they are. Then, he only went and bloody won the thing. Catching Bret out and rolling him after following Bret’s attempt at a Hurricanrana, Owen walked away with the shocking win, putting Bret on the back foot for his title match later in the night and triggering a feud with Bret that extended into the summer and brought us some equally brilliant matches.

Wrestlemania 10 is remembered fondly as a Mania with several iconic moments, but when it comes to pure-wrestling, nothing else that happened on the night could top this match.

1 – Daniel Bryan vs Triple H – Wrestlemania 30

Who would’ve guessed that a Triple H match would’ve been the one to top this list?

As I’ve covered before, Wrestlemania 30 is the best incarnation of the show of shows to happen over the past decade (and is also my personal favourite Wrestlemania) and a huge part of that is down to this fantastic opening contest. The story of the rise of Daniel Bryan going into Wrestlemania 30 is still one that’s relatively fresh in the minds of WWE fans the world over and this match was where we would finally see whether or not WWE were serious about giving the fans what they wanted.

Every second of this match was meticulously crafted to milk every last drop of drama and intensity out of the storyline. From the moment the bell rings, the crowd are a huge factor of what makes this match so brilliant. The sight of the crowd going nuts as Triple H and Bryan stare each other down in so incredibly emotional knowing everything that went into it and they are on tenterhooks for absolutely every moment of this match.

The opening few minutes of this match are absolutely fire as Bryan comes out of the gate with the kind of babyface intensity that makes him the most lovable babyface ever before the pace switches and there’s a good 8 minutes or so of Triple H dominating the match and doing everything in his power to put Bryan away. That would normally be boring, but a combination of pacing, variety and Bryan’s selling ability made it gripping stuff to watch. Bryan scattered in a couple of hope spots throughout to keep things ticking over too. The moments where Triple H drops Bryan down on the announce table, or the ring apron, or even locks in the Yes! Lock plays the live crowd and everyone watching at home into the hands of the drama of the match. Even watching it back now I still feel that pit of despair, with the thought that maybe Triple H really is going to win and all our dreams will be crushed.

Once Bryan breaks free of the beat down, the match moves at a mile a minute. Once again, the intensity shoots through the ceiling and the whole match becomes a fever-pitch, back-and-forth contest that doesn’t let up for a moment. Every strike from both men feels weighty and impactful, both in the physical and dramatical sense of the phrase. Even on a rewatch I find myself falling for every near fall and every kickout, remembering the desperation in every fan’s mind at the time, just praying that Daniel Bryan got his time to shine.

The sheer explosion of emotion from both the crowd and Bryan himself when he blindsides Triple H with the Running Knee and gets the pin is absolutely euphoric and makes this a match that I was always connect with emotionally and was the perfect opener for the biggest show of the year.

WWE Summerslam 2019: Every Match Ranked

Summerslam is now in the books and as always it ended up being a surprisingly good show. Admittedly I don’t think this year was quite as good as it has been for the past couple, but I still think there was plenty to enjoy for your average wrestling fan on this show and there’s really only one match from last night that I would consider bad.

Let’s not waste any time and get right into it, as I rank every match from Summerslam 2019.

12 – Kofi Kingston(c) vs Randy Orton ended in a Double Count Out
(WWE Championship)

Going into this show, this was arguably the match I was the most excited for, so I’m not happy at all about how this one turned out.

I’ve never been a fan of Orton’s style of wrestling, in small doses I think it can work but that’s never what happens, instead, we always get a match like this. I don’t care how much you like the slower-paced matches, you cannot tell me 10 straight minutes of Orton standing around and occasionally hitting his opponent is fun to watch. Kofi got in a scatter of offence, and the last five minutes or so started to pick things up a bit, but it wasn’t nearly enough to drag it out of the boring ditch everything up until that point had got it into.

Then, just as it felt like things were starting to get exciting, the referee makes the fastest 10 counts I’ve ever seen in WWE and calls for the bell. Last year the WWE Championship match had a similar finish when Styles got himself DQ’ed against Samoa Joe, but the thing about that finish is it helped enhance the story of the feud, this didn’t enhance anything. Kofi “snapping” doesn’t feel like it means anything because Kofi’s frustrations had been a part of the match up until that point, so it seemed like it came out of nowhere with no real explanation.

Even if the match preceding the finish was good, I’m never going to be happy about using the WWE Championship match on the second biggest show of the year to set up another WWE Championship match between the same two guys a month later.

11 – Drew Gulak(c) def. Oney Lorcan
(Cruiserweight Championship)
(Kickoff Show)

I’ve got to say this was definitely up there on the disappointment factor.

The cruiserweights have been killing it on PPV’s this past year, even if they’re mostly confined to the pre-show and I really thought this match was going to be another example of just how brilliant they can be, unfortunately, that’s not really what we got.

Don’t get me wrong, the match certainly wasn’t bad, it just never felt like it got going at all. There were some nice little sequences where the two were exchanging strikes, but it lacked any kind of drama. I remember when Drew locked in the GuLock for the first time and thinking that there was no weight or meaning behind any of what was going on.

Like I said, it wasn’t a bad match, but it also wasn’t anything worth getting excited about.

10 – Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross(c) def. The IIconics
(Women’s Tag Team Championships)
(Kickoff Show)

Again, what really is there to say?

This is another kickoff show match that was perfectly fine and nothing more. While I’m a bit upset that The IIconics lost the titles on Monday, at least around Alexa Bliss’ waist they stand a chance of actually appearing on TV more than once a month and I certainly can’t complain about the titles getting defended, even if it is on the pre-show.

The match itself was your classic heel vs face tag team formula. The IIconics did everything in their power to wear Nikki Cross down and stop her making the tag until eventually, Alexa got the hot tag that was that. I’m interested to see what angle they take with Alexa as a character now, because her and Nikki were clearly positioned as the faces in this match, but Alexa didn’t change her demeanour very much at all; she didn’t do any of her normal gloatings, but she also wasn’t in the match for very long, so this will be an interesting one to watch develop.

9 – Buddy Murphey def. Apollo Crews via Disqualification
(Kickoff Show)

Woah! Buddy Murphey! I remember you.

After disappearing off the face of the Earth in April it’s nice to see Murphey getting to wrestle some matches for a change, even if this was mostly just a plot device for the Roman Reigns story.

Before the DQ we got a nice little match between these two guys where Murphey got a chance to get pretty much all of his major moves in, it worked as a showcase for the guy and hopefully means that we’ll be seeing more of him week-to-week on Smackdown going forward. Ultimately, I’m ok with this match ending in a DQ because it’s not like we really needed a clean finish between these guys and it likely means we’ll get to see a rematch on Tuesday, which I’m happy with.

It’s also quite strange that, outside of a video package, this is the only time the Roman Reigns storyline featured on the show, in fact, we didn’t see Roman Reigns in person at any point last night. It makes me wonder if anyone in creative actually has any idea what the plan is for this story, or if Vince keeps changing it every day.

8 – Bayley(c) def. Ember Moon
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

A good match that didn’t get anywhere near the time it needed.

For what it was, I enjoyed this match and I hope it’s not the last encounter between these two (although I think it probably will be). This was a match that was filled with plenty of simple, solid wrestling which was quite enjoyable to watch, but it didn’t have a chance to get into any sort of a higher gear thanks to only getting 10 minutes.

I’m happy that this at least gave Ember a featured role on a PPV and got Bayley a title defence where it actually felt like she mattered to the match. It’s also nice to see that they’re protecting the Eclipse as a finisher, although it’s not going to seem all that great if she never gets to pull it off in a big match. I also liked the Bayley-to-Belly from the top rope and it looked like Ember hit quite hard and that made for a nice finish. Unfortunately, I can’t put it any higher because it didn’t have a chance to really wow me.

7 – Charlotte Flair def. Trish Stratus

Time for some controversy.

From the general reactions I’ve got from social media, it seemed like a lot of people really liked this match, but in all honesty, I wasn’t all that into it. Trish could still go, of course, which meant that there was still a baseline of quality that this match hit, but I didn’t really get on board with the pacing.

I felt that too much of the match was spent with Charlotte heeling it up and tossing Trish around. For the first half/two-thirds of the match, Trish got in very little offence and it dragged the match down into a bit of bore to watch for a good 5-8 minutes in the middle. Once Trish started to get more offence in and the match became more back-and-forth I started to get back into it and by the time the finish rolled around I was enjoying myself, but a solid final act does not a good match make.

There was a bunch of stuff to like from this match, but for me, that good was just about outweighed by what the main bulk of the match was.

6 – Kevin Owens def. Shane Mcmahon
(If Owens lost, he would have to quit WWE)

I don’t think this story’s over just yet, I’m sad to say.

My views on this match are much the opposite of Trish vs Charlotte, in that there was a bunch of stuff in here that you could rightly call out for being crap and boring, but I think in this case the good outweighed it instead.

First of all, Shane’s a total idiot. If his plan was to rig the deck, instead of having Elias be “special guest enforcer”, have Elias simply come down to the ring, slap Shane right across the face and that’s it; Shane wins by DQ and Owens is forced to quit. That aside, the early stages of this match didn’t make Owens look particularly smart either since he kept getting distracted and tripped up (both literally and figuratively) by Elias on the outside.

However, once we moved past the early stages of the match, I really got into the action that played out. Elias being at ringside ended up taking a lot of the pressure off of Shane to carry the bulk of the match, which is definitely a good thing and the focus of the match seemed to be more on Owens than it was on Shane. Ultimately you could see the finish coming a mile away but the action that led up to it was good enough to ensure that I was enjoying myself while watching it.

5 – Goldberg def. Dolph Ziggler

So I normally put squash matches like this very low on the list unless they do something special and while the match itself didn’t do anything unique, the aftermath was entertaining enough to pull it up this high.

I think we all knew Dolph Ziggler would be the best at selling a Goldberg spear, but man did he go above and beyond what I was expecting from him, the dude got some serious air time, it looked fantastic, I considered putting this match at number 1 just for that in all honesty. Well, that and Ziggler calling Goldberg a “dipshit”. Other than that, this was exactly what you’re picturing in your head, but it was enjoyable to watch all the same.

4 – Becky Lynch(c)  def. Natalya
(Raw Women’s Championship)
(Submission)

Well, shut my mouth, if that wasn’t the best Natalya match I’ve ever seen.

I still had my gripes with it, such as Becky somehow being even worse at the Sharpshooter than Natalya; the fact that there’s no rope break in a submissions match now, even though that seems like the opposite of what the match should be about and of course the fact that the Sharpshooter HURTS THE BACK, not the legs which is something that everyone involved in this match seemed to totally forget.

In the grand scheme of things though, those are fairly minor complaints because there was plenty to enjoy when it came to this match. Sometimes two people just click in the ring and it really felt like Becky and Natalya had brilliant chemistry during this match. Natalya’s movements were smoother than ever, they got a good back and forth going with some quite nice looking mat wrestling spots to boot.

I know when to hold my hands up and say I was wrong, and this is definitely one of those times, I honestly hope we see more matches like this from Becky Lynch going forward.

3 – AJ Styles(c) def. Ricochet
(United States Championship)

This was always going to score highly now, wasn’t it?

The thing about this match is that there’s nothing new to say about it that hasn’t already been said about all of the other matches between these two because this was ultimately just more of the same. Luckily “the same” in question is great action between two great wrestlers so it’s hard to complain really.

My only worry about Ricochet losing is I’m not sure where he goes from here. I suppose they could drag this out another month but Ricochet’s likely to lose that match two and it’s got to the point where OC involvement is becoming a weak excuse for a loss. That said, I’m not sure who else there is that he could feud with right now that would both give him a featured spot on a PPV and a solid win to bolster him back up after these losses to Styles.

It’s Ricochet, so it’ll be great whatever he does, I’m just worried about whether or not it’s going to be on TV.

2 – “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt def. Finn Balor

Holy shit.

If we’re going purely on moments then The Fiend was far and away my favourite thing on the whole show. It’s been so long since we’ve seen something that feels this fresh and exciting in WWE and it’s really cool to see. There are so many little details in every facet of this performance that I could gush about for ages like the head-lamp, the lighting, the amazing remixed theme song and of course the nuances that Wyatt has brought to the character in the ring.

When The Fiend made its entrance and the lights came back up it felt like there was genuine tension and fear in the air, both from the audience and from Balor. Even the style of wrestling is something I can’t recall seeing before, the way he moves like both a man and an animal at once is so compelling to watch, not to mention the viciousness is something I’ve never seen before.

This is lightning in a bottle and if treated correctly, could become the biggest thing in all of wrestling, they really need to treat this properly.

1 – Seth Rollins def. Brock Lesnar(c)
(Universal Championship)

Oh, thank fuck for that.

I’ve been confident since Wrestlemania that this is where we were going to be come Summerslam and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t doubt that at several points over the last couple of months, but I’m very glad this turned out good. A 3 month long Baron Corbin feud dragged people’s opinion on Seth Rollins through the mud and given the injury angle going into this match I was very worried we were going to get a snoozefest here.

Thankful that’s not what we got, as instead, we got the best kind of Lesnar match, one where he’s actually vulnerable against a guy he should be able to swallow whole. This match echoed what made Lesnar’s matches against Styles and Bryan in recent years so brilliant and I’ll be damned if Seth Rollins didn’t win over nearly everyone in that arena during the course of the match. Seriously just listen to the chorus of boos when Seth makes his entrance, compared to the sea of cheers when Seth was holding the title high at the end of the match.

Hopefully, this is just the start in revitalising Seth Rollins, more matches like this against more great opponents and you’ve got a winning formula for the face of the company. For once I sit here at the end of a WWE PPV optimistic about how the coming weeks are going to play out, which is just one part of what made Summerslam such a great show.

So there are my thoughts! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this review, feel free to let me know what you thought of Summerslam either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Join me later this week as we go back to the gaming sphere for the return of Triple Threat Reviews!

WWE Summerslam 2019: Predictions & Analysis

So, after a couple of months of spinning our wheels, this is the show we were spinning them for and well…I’m actually quite optimistic about this show. There are a couple of matches that I’m not particularly excited for, but for the most part, I think this is going to be an entertaining show.

Not only that, but I think the winner of a good number of these matches are up in the air a bit. Be it for good or bad reasons, WWE has managed to do a pretty good job of keeping us guessing when it comes to who’s going to be winning on Sunday. Still, let’s give it a go, here are my predictions for Summerslam 2019.

Drew Gulak(c) vs Oney Lorcan
(Cruiserweight Championship)

Match of the night incoming right here.

Drew has been absolutely fantastic as cruiserweight champion so far. Both of his PPV matches for the title this year so far have been show-stealers and his character work week to week is unparalleled. Then you’ve got a guy like Oney Lorcan, who is absolutely stellar in the ring but isn’t the most convincing of characters. He has an over the top-levels of intensity that I’ve never been able to buy from wrestlers, but like I said, he’s got a really great wrestling style that is also fairly unique compared to the rest of the cruiserweight division.

I’m struggling to pick a winner with this one though. I’ve felt for a long time now that Lorcan was going to end up with the Cruiserweight Championship at some point this year but I didn’t expect him to be in this position quite so soon. More importantly, Drew’s only just sunk his teeth into this title reign and it also feels like his story is something a bit more long term, so it doesn’t make a great deal of sense for him to lose the title just yet.

Ultimately guys like Mustafa Ali have proved that you can be a big star in the Cruiserweight division without ever winning the title and I could potentially see Oney Lorcan becoming one of those guys, so I’m going with Drew Gulak to retain here.

Goldberg vs Dolph Ziggler

Oh…Dolph didn’t go away after losing to Kofi? Alright then. Oh…he’s entering another feud with The Miz? Alright then. Oh…he’s actually facing Goldberg instead? Alright then.

I don’t really think there’s much to say about this match, losing out on Miz vs Ziggler isn’t much of a loss and it’ll hopefully be nice to see Goldberg looking a lot better than he did in June. Of course, like any Goldberg match, it needs to be short and sweet, with Ziggler bumping his ass off like he always does and Goldberg is most definitely going to win.

Finn Balor vs “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt

I could sit here and complain about how shitty Balor’s been treated since Wrerstelmania, but instead, let’s talk about how awesome Bray Wyatt’s return has been so far.

The Firefly Funhouse stuff was a stroke of absolute genius. It let Wyatt really flex those creative muscles we all knew he had and it got the fans invested in a major way. Then since showing up in person, it’s been really well done, the way the lights and music came down before Wyatt attacked Balor made for a great atmosphere and the way the lights flicked around The Fiend’s face as he appeared was over the top and cheesy in just the right way. On top of that, the promo’s Bray’s been cutting from the funhouse talking about The Feind has made it so much more creepy and creates such an interesting dynamics between the two sides of Wyatt’s personality.

Personally, I’d like to see The Demon, although I doubt we will just yet as I think they might be saving it for the eventual rematch, but either way I think the match is going to be something special to watch and it’s such a great feeling to be excited about Bray Wyatt again for the first time in a long time.

Of course, Bray Wyatt is definitely winning this; I’d call it an absolute lock. Not only is this Wyatt’s much-hyped return match, but all of the rumours are pointing to Balor taking a couple of months off following Summerslam, so there’d be nothing to gain and everything to lose by Balor picking up a shock win.

Kevin Owens vs Shane McMahon
(If Shane wins, Owens will quit WWE)

You know, Shane McMahon became a fulltime wrestler so gradually I didn’t even notice.

Honestly, this really feels like what Shane’s heel turn has been leading to ever since his original feud with Owens in 2017. We all shouted and bitched back then about how Shane was being a totally unreasonable arsehole despite being a face and we were expected to boo Owens. Now we’re two years down the line and the face/heel roles are finally the right way around. So far, Owens’ face turn has been pretty well this time around, but it’s important that they keep their foot on the accelerator over the next few months, otherwise, it will pretty quickly peter out.

I’m really not sure what this match will be like since Shane McMahon’s matches this over the past couple of years have been quite hit and miss, although this year specifically it’s been mostly hit. There’s a lot of heat behind this one too, given how everyone’s sick and tired of Shane eating up so much TV time and Owens has been a house on fire, but I could just as easily see it being a shocking squash.

Either way, I think it’s a given that Kevin Owens is going to win. If the quitting stipulation wasn’t there then I think it’d be a bit more up in the air, but when you consider that there’s no way Owens is leaving or taking time off for the foreseeable future AND he’s just starting this role as a face, it would be an incredibly stupid decision for Shane to beat him now.

Trish Stratus vs Charlotte Flair

Well, this was a nice surprise.

I know there’s a bit of trepidation towards this match and I can understand the argument that Charlotte doesn’t really have a lot to gain from beating Trish considering everything she’s already done. However, we’ve seen in recent years that Trish can still go so the match will most likely be a fun watch and considering the alternative was likely Charlotte inserting herself into ANOTHER big 4 title match, I’m quite happy with having this match instead.

As I touched on above, I think this will be a great match to watch. Trish’s small appearances in the women’s Royal Rumble have shown she’s still got the athleticism to do everything she used to and her match at Evolution showed that as long as she’s got the right opponent to help her out, then she can carry a longer match and Charlotte is absolutely the right opponent.

Of course, with any legend vs current star match, the result is pretty easy to pick, especially when the current star in question is one of the most heavily pushed women in WWE history. Charlotte Flair will come out on top in this one and we’ll likely get a sweet hug and show of respect after the match to top it all off nicely.

AJ Styles(c) vs Ricochet
(United States Championship)

I don’t think anyone’s going to complain about seeing these two wrestle again. Admittedly they’ve had quite a few matches together in recent months, but there are some combinations of wrestlers that you can just never get tired of, like Ricochet & Will Ospreay, or Ricochet & Adam Cole, or Ricochet & AJ Sty-you know I think there might be a common thread here.

Hopefully, this will pay off the wonky finish we got at Extreme Rules, although even if it doesn’t I’m sure this match will still be great as long as we don’t get the same finish again. I’ve sung the praises of Styles as a heel for a while now, but I’m not entirely convinced this run has brought anything new to the table yet. I suppose it’s a bit too early to judge, but I’m not sure a lengthy US Title reign is something that he’d benefit from, at least not as much as Ricochet.

As it stands, I’m struggling to pick a winner. Ricochet only lost his title thanks to heel shenanigans and it wouldn’t be a good look for him to be shut out of the scene after such a short reign. Then again, Styles is still fairly fresh off of a heel turn and a second clean loss to Ricochet might not be the best move. Ultimately, I think both men stand to suffer fairly equally from a loss so I’m going to look at the other side of the coin and judge who I think would benefit more from the win, which I think is Ricochet.

Bayley(c) vs Ember Moon
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

While I’m glad it’s not Charlotte Flair, what exactly has Ember Moon done (in kayfabe) to earn this title shot? She lost in pretty quick fashion to Sonya Deville not a month ago and yet she gets the title shot because Bayley said she fancied a fight with her? Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy we get to see this match, but it’s a little confusing.

The main problem I’ve had with Bayley’s title reign so far is that, apart from when she won it, she’s been a background character in all of her stories as champion so far. When she was fighting Alexa & Nikki the focus was almost entirely on those two and their friendship and aside from one promo the week of Stomping Grounds, it could’ve been anyone in the champion role and the story would’ve been exactly the same. This story with Ember so far is going a little way to resolving that problem, but I still don’t feel like Bayley as a character is getting a chance to shine through. I’m not sure who’s feet the blame should lay at for this (probably a little of all parties) but the fact still remains that Bayley just doesn’t feel like anyone special on TV right now.

With any luck, this match will have some good character moments in it (as well as having brilliant action) which will help out both women immensely but as much as I’d like to say otherwise, I can’t see Ember walking out of this one with the title. For one thing, creative has not invested nearly enough time or energy into her as a character or a wrestler to warrant a title win. On top of that, another Charlotte Flair title challenge seems just around the corner with a win over Trish Stratus coming like a freight train and at the end of the day, Bayley can recover from a loss to Charlotte a lot better than Ember ever could.

Becky Lynch(c) vs Natalya
(Raw Women’s Championship)
(Submission)

I’ll level with y’all, I really can’t stand Natalya as a wrestler.

All of her movements in the ring seem so clunky & unnatural and the way she talks makes her sound like a robot with the most threadbare understand of emotions and voice patterns. Then you consider the fact that the only reason she’s even got this title match in the first place is the fact that the show’s taking place in Canada AND pile on a stipulation that forces the match to focus heavily on smooth technical movements and you can imagine how unhappy I am about this.

I’m not going to instantly right it off though, Becky was able to get some half-decent matches out of the green as goose shit Lacey Evans after all, so she could do wonders with someone more experienced like Natalya, I’m just not optimistic about it is all.

Oh and Becky Lynch is going to win or I’m going to tear my hair out.

Kofi Kingston(c) vs Randy Orton
(WWE Championship)

Well, it’s 10 years later than we all wanted to see this, but it’s finally here.

I’m normally very much anti-Randy Orton, I think he’s quite a boring wrestlers and an even more boring champion, but in this instance, I’m totally down for this match. The story wrote itself and creatively executed it as well as we wanted them to, it’s been common knowledge for years that Orton killed Kofi’s initial push in 2009 so this match essentially brings Kofi’s entire WWE career up until this point full circle.

I’m not entirely sure about how good the match is actually going to be though, all of Kofi’s title defences have been ok, but not great and most of them were against opponents I enjoy watching, which as I mentioned before, Orton isn’t. That said, this match has the right kind of heat behind it and when Orton’s into a story he tends to put on some pretty good performances (just look at his match with AJ from Wrestlemania this year) so there is some hope.

Last month I said that Samoa Joe was the first opponent where it actually felt like Kofi might lose the title, but in hindsight that was a stupid thing to say and this is where Kofi’s title reign could realistically end. Orton’s always been a guy who could win the WWE Championship at any moment and with Smackdown’s move to FOX just around the corner WWE might want someone more widely recognised like Orton as champion. That said, this whole story has been about Orton holding Kofi down and saying he’s not ready, so I feel like WWE would be shooting themselves in the foot a bit if Orton wins. It’s a risky move, but I’m going to pick Kofi Kingston to retain this time.

Brock Lesnar(c) vs Seth Rollins
(Universal Championship)

Talk about missing an open goal.

This seemed like such an easy story for WWE to write. NO-ONE wants Lesnar to be champion anymore and Seth Rollins is one of the best wrestlers in all of WWE right now, so surely it would be so easy to get the fans behind Seth right? Well apparently not, because damn near everyone is hoping he’ll lose on Sunday, despite the alternative being Brock Lesnar disappearing with the title for another 6 months.

I get what they were trying to do on Monday with having being beaten down again and cutting that downbeat promo, but it was far too late and all you have to do is listen to the crowd’s reaction to see how flat it fell. All that said, hopefully, this match will be really good. Lesnar’s matches with the smaller guys are always brilliant and Seth Rollins is able to work a David & Goliath story with the best of them. The main reservation I have that’s stopping me getting too excited for it is Seth’s kayfabe injury, it makes me wonder if they’re going to lean too heavily on it for the story of the match because 15 minutes of Seth selling his ribs before a sudden comeback will be really boring.

If you’d have asked me who was going to win this match the night after Extreme Rules I would’ve said Seth without even thinking about it. Since his 2 minute win over Lesnar at Wrestlemania, I was confident this was where we were headed and I’d always known Seth was going to win, but now it’s really hard to judge. WWE is “desperately” trying to make Rollins cool and that says to me that they’re going to continue to push him as the face of the company, which would imply he wins here, but it’s hard to bet against Brock Lesnar retaining.

I’m sticking to my guns and picking Seth Rollins to win here and hopefully going into the autumn Rollins can have a whole bunch of great matches like his match against Styles earlier in the year to remind us exactly why we all got behind him in the first place.

So there are my predictions! Thank you very much for reading, let me know what you think is going to happen on Sunday either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Make sure you check back here over the weekend as I’ll be posting my reviews of both Summerslam and NXT Takeover!