Summerslam was an odd Pay-Pay-View. Following CM Punk’s epic return the night before on AEW Rampage, SummerSlam had a tough job in outdoing the return of Punk. While there were some outstanding moments on the show such as Edge’s great match with Seth Rollins the show was a roller coaster ride as we saw some good matches mixed with terrible matches as well as pointless filler segments and the return of Brock Lesnar and Becky Lynch with Lynch’s return dividing fans both in attendance and online.
But, as always I am here to bring the power of positivity and look at the good side of things. So as we remove ourselves from SummerSlam and get ready for either ALL OUT and Extreme Rules it is time to look at the top 5 moments from this year’s edition of SummerSlam.
5. Becky Lynch returns and beats Bianca Belair for the SmackDown Women’s Championship, dividing fans
Before we get to the controversial part that divided fans, it should be noted that this year’s SummerSlam was a massive curse for Champions who won their titles at WrestleMania 37 with Sheamus, Bianca Belair and AJ Styles and Omos all losing their titles, however, Bianca lost her SmackDown’s Women’s Championship in an odd way. After rumours of Sasha Banks not being able to medically compete at SummerSlam surfaced many wondered if we would see the match between Banks and Belair, especially as WWE kept promoting the match heading into SummerSlam. Despite the rumour, we would get a hype package for the match and things seemed to be normal as Bianca Belair made her entrance. But things would soon take a weird turn after the announcer told fans that Sasha Banks was not medically able to compete and that Bianca’s opponent was actually Carmella. Boos rang all over the arena as Carmella made her entrance with chants of “We want Sasha” continuing after Carmella’s entrance. Bianca got on the mic and told Carmella, she was going to make quick work of her and as both women got ready for the match, Becky Lynch’s music hit for a massive pop with The Man returning to WWE being out for a year after having a child with Seth Rollins.
The crowd were deafening as Lynch made her entrance with Lynch soaking in the moment as Bianca and Carmella watched on in the ring. After soaking in the moment Becky stared and both women and then took out Carmella forcing Carmella out of the ring. Lynch continued the assault on Carmella outside the ring as she threw Carmella into the ring steps before making her way back into the ring and grabbing a mic with Becky then asking with Belair wanted to have a match with Lynch for the SmackDown’s Women’s Championship. Belair accepted the challenge and as the bell rang Lynch offered her hand to Belair out of respect. But this would turn out to be a massive trap as Lynch was sucker-punched Bianca and hit her with the pumphandle slam to pin Bianca in seconds and become the new SmackDown Women’s Champion in just seconds.
Right of the bat, I will say, while this did feel bad for Bianca’s title reign to end like this, personally, I don’t think she looks as weak as some people are saying. While she did lose to seconds to Lynch it can easily be argued that she was caught off guard by Lynch’s appearance and had no time to prepare, Lynch also used a sucker-punch to catch Belair off-guard, perfectly playing to the fact that while Belair is talented she is still young and inexperienced. Of course, it could have made sense for Lynch to have a triple threat match with her pinning Carmella to protect Belair, however, I will wait to see how Lynch’s return will play out in the following weeks to come before I give my ultimate opinion on this. However controversy aside it is great to see Becky Lynch back in the ring as she no doubt deserves a place on this list.
4. Damian Priest takes on Sheamus for the United States Championship
After a terrible match involving Alexa Bliss and Eva Marie, Damian Priest and Sheamus had a big job in recapturing the crowd’s attention. Luckily both men put on a great match that resulted in Damian Priest pinning Sheamus to capture the United States Championship. Both men started the match evenly exchanging strikes and holds throughout the match, Sheamus did a great job in interacting with the crowd during the match, with Sheamus calling out members of the crowd throughout the match and even stopping the Beats of the Bodhrán to stop the crowd from counting along. Damian Priest also had a good showing has his unique move set was on show as he continues to gain support from the crowd.
Late in the match, Priest jump of the middle rope only to be caught with a knee for Sheamus, giving Sheamus a close nearfall. Sheamus tried to attack the legs of Priest and put Priest and a heel hook but Priest was able to grab the mask of the United States Champion and rip it off, exposing Sheamus. Priest then unloaded on Sheamus with multiple strikes and smashed the champion with a heel kick and then hit The Reckoning on Sheamus to become the new United States Champion.
Priest, without a doubt, deserves this moment and hopefully, it’s a step in the right direction in making Priest a star for the future. Priest has charisma, in-ring skills and talent and has done an amazing job during his time on the main roster thus far, putting on a great match with Bad Bunny and The Miz and John Morrison at WrestleMania as well as somehow making a zombie lumberjack match work at WrestleMania Backlash. As for Sheamus, I can still see him being a big part of RAW’s midcard, knowing RAW’s obsession with rematches we will most likely see a rematch between Sheamus and Priest down the line, but after that, I think Sheamus will play the role of an in-ring veteran and help newer talent get over.
3. A reunited RK-BRO faces AJ Styles and Omos for the Raw Tag Team Championships to open the show
While Big E and Baron Corbin did a good job in opening things on the kickoff show, RK-BRO would open the main show with the pair challenging AJ Styles and Omos for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The set-up for this match was great with Randy Orton returning a few weeks ago on RAW only to break up RK-BRO with The Viper ending the night by hitting an RKO on Riddle. However just as RK-BRO seemed dead, Riddle came to the rescue of Randy Orton when Orton was being attacked by AJ Styles and Omos forcing Orton to change his mind and bring back RK-BRO. RK-BRO dominated the early part of the match as they managed to use surprising teamwork on AJ Styles, but the tide would quickly turn as a frustrated Styles tagged in Omos to change the tide of the match. Omos dominated Riddle as The Viper had no choice but to watch on, despite dominating Riddle, Omos tagged in a cocky AJ Styles who controlled Riddle with full confidence until Riddle was able to knee Styles in the face and move to his corner to give Randy Orton the hot tag.
Orton changed the match with the hot tag as he took out Styles and kept attacking Omos keeping the big man off-balance, Orton finished the hot tag by hitting his legendary draping DDT onto Styles for a huge pop from the Las Vegas crowd. Orton then got ready for the RKO but Omos pulled Styles out of the ring, protecting his partner from The Viper, Riddle tried to get involved by jumping from the steel steps onto Omos but Omos was able to catch Riddle and chokeslammed Riddle on the apron. Orton tried to get involved but would be taken out by Styles with Styles inflicting more damage on Riddle by hitting the moonsault DDT from the ring apron onto the floor on Riddle. Just as things looked bleak for RK-BRO Orton managed to avoid the Phenomenal Forearm and after some back and forth from both men, Orton was able to hit the RKO on Styles to pin him making RK-BRO the new RAW Tag Team Champions and starting a curse for Champions who won their titles at WrestleMania. Later in the night, Mario Lopez (who made a WWF reference) interviewed the pair with Orton saying the most destructive letters in sports entertainment are RK…BRO.
This was a fun little match that did a great job in opening the show. While it wasn’t completely memorable and certainly won’t be in any match of the year list, it was fun and did a great job in hyping the crowd for the rest of the show. RK-BRO are an amazing and entertaining pair, both Orton and Riddle did a great job in carrying RAW after WrestleMania 37 during the ThunderDome period and I cannot wait to see how entertaining both Riddle and Orton will be as Champions. It is also great to see Orton’s reaction each week as he starts to like Riddle even more with Orton giving a genuine smile as both men celebrated their title win.
2. Roman Reigns and John Cena square off in the main event as Brock Lesnar returns with a new look
After his epic return at Money In The Bank, it was finally time for John Cena to take on the Universal Champion Roman Reigns after weeks of amazing promos between the two men. This match had a big fight feel to it with the crowd being hot for both men with Cena having a great entrance as the Titantron showed off all of his 16 World Title wins. Cena tried to catch Reigns off guard early in the match by performing multiple roll-ups on the Universal Champion only to get a 2 count, but Reigns would assert his dominance as he began to beat down Cena, cutting Cena off at every turn as he talked trash to the camera. However, Cena was able to hit the 2 shoulder tackles as he started the 5 moves of doom, only for Reigns to reverse the five knuckle shuffle into a Guillotine with Cena being able to power up and escape the hold.
Despite surviving the Guillotine Roman still controlled the match, but Cena was able to hit a AA out of nowhere to score a close nearfall, After Reigns escaped the STF by grabbing the ropes both men went out to the floor, Reigns tried to hit Roman with a spear but Cena was able to counter, hitting another AA through the announce table with Cena throwing Reigns back in the ring for a nearfall. Late in the match Reigns attempted a spear but when shoulder first into the ring post, allowing Cena to lift Roman to the top corner and hit a super AA for another close 2 count. Cena attempted a spear of his own but Reigns was able to counter and would eventually hit a pair of Superman punches on Cena and would finish things with a spear, pinning Cena for the win to retain his Championship.
After the match Reigns stood over a broken John Cena but then out of nowhere Brock Lesnar’s music hit as Brock (now with a beard and a ponytail) made his entrance as Paul Heyman freaked out and Roman couldn’t believe it. Lesnar seemed generally pumped to be back as he stared down the Champion as Heyman panicked with Reigns and Heyman retreating to the back as SummerSlam went off the air. It would later be revealed then Brock Lesnar sent Cena to suplex city once again, proving old habits die hard. Love him or hate him, Brock being back was a great moment and I generally can’t wait to see his interactions with Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman and SmackDown.
1. Edge brings back The Brood as he steals the show with Seth Rollins
Fans off the attitude era would be in for a treat at SummerSlam was Edge channeled his former brood character making for a truly epic entrance as he stole the show with Seth Rollins. Both men put on a great match despite high expectations with both men truly delivering the match of the night.
Rather than give a quick analysis of what happened during the match, I am just going to simply say it was an epic match that had great storytelling and great in-ring action that honestly made me feel like a young kid once again (especially as I am a huge Edge fan.)
This is honestly one of those matches that fans from different eras can rejoice watching as both men without a doubt put on a match of the year candidate.
These were my top 5 moments from the roller coaster ride that SummerSlam was. What were your top 5 moments from SummerSlam this year and what do you think of the return of The Beast, Brock Lesnar? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
The Paradox of the Wrestling War in 2021
The IWC has been talking about a certain Friday Night and what numbers matter. Tommy Starr chimes in with his perspective on this “war”.
“War is peace… freedom is slavery… ignorance is strength.” These are among George Orwell’s key three slogans in his novel 1984, which exemplify the ideology that when one has the power to lull individuals into false senses of security, they will blissfully ignore truth and reality to serve a perpetual agenda.
Since the inception of AEW, wrestling media has insisted on this idealistic narrative of a born-again “Monday Night Wars” comparative to that of a bygone era of professional wrestling that has not been seen since and will never be seen again. For one reason or another, modern wrestling fans have bought into this impractical religious doctrine hook, line, and sinker, despite statistical evidence that contradict this ideology.
To put this in perspective, if there is a genuine wrestling “war” in the wrestling market today, it is not merely a war of the companies of AEW vs. WWE, rather it is a frivolous war between the oppositional fans of AEW and WWE. The center of authority that continues to drive this animosity amongst the opposing fan bases rests at the helm of the wrestling media and the individuals within the business itself. The manipulative narrative of the wrestling media and wrestlers in the business have managed to perpetrate a falsified creed that AEW and WWE are “at war.” It is interesting to note that this blanket statement hedges the particular element of what both companies are at war with. The common implication is the war of competition, particularly competition for viewership. And while this narrative carries some validity, it misses the key detail of what this abstractive war revolves around. It is a waging fight among AEW and WWE fans to try and claim superiority over the other, despite the apparent truth that both sides are failing to expand beyond their niche audiences. Hence, neither party can credibly claim any form of superiority. In essence, this religious irrationality to suggest that one company is directly “winning” over the other continues to miss the essential endgame of what winning a war truly looks like.
In the business world, “smart companies” understand and invest in long-term strategies of acknowledging that when they lose small battles, they allow their opposition to enjoy those smaller victories; meanwhile, they do not allow those battle losses to obstruct their long-standing progress. So contextually, AEW would be wiser to accept that their Friday night edition of Rampage show running head to head with SmackDown lost in overall viewership numbers by approximately 288,000 viewers, despite the fact that not only was SmackDown running on a different network due to Fox coverage of the 2021 American League Championship Series, but that AEW Rampage had actually gained viewership from the previous week by about 15.14%. Instead, wrestling media continues to propagate that overall viewership is subordinate to what truly matters in this equation, that being the key male 18-49 demographic. What this discounts is that when one analyzes actual numbers, both shows essentially tied in the target 18-49 demographic at a 0.24.
A strategic business owner obsessed with “winning wars” understands his opposition’s leader and avoids engaging in projecting irrational and petty beliefs in order to stir up his or her army. Rather, it would be wiser to quietly and cautiously observe the opposition’s decision-making to effectively counter-program and capture the attention of potential consumers. This does not bode well for Tony Khan when he engages in social media warfare with the opposition to try and stoke a fire that merely exists in a metaphorical fantasy. All the while, the rival niche audiences partake in nonsensical arguments over which organization “won” a war that has not, does not, and will not exist, despite a genuine hope that professional wrestling will ever reach that level of popularity again worth necessitating a war.
A true and authentic wrestling war in today’s culture should be the fight to reassemble a lost and/or new audience. Per discussion of a lost audience, that insinuates both parties fight for the admiration and trust of disgruntled audiences that have since tuned the product off from their habitual consumption. Arguably, this can be seen as a lost cause, considering most of these wrestling fans have long since distanced themselves from professional wrestling. However, a business that can successfully earn back that trust of disassociated consumers is a fruitful investment. Catering to loyal and clinging fan bases may be short-term goals, but they are not expansive business strategies. And based on the weekly viewership numbers, ratings, and key demos for both parties, AEW and WWE continue to cater short-term appeal to their niche audiences instead of investing in long-term strategic outreach to new audiences. The art of mastery on this level is a war worth fighting for.
Casey, C. (2021, October 18). Who won Friday night’s ratings battle between WWE smackdown and AEW Rampage? WWE. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://comicbook.com/wwe/news/wwe-smackdown-aew-rampage-oct-15-ratings-war-who-win-tied-demographic-smackdown-wins-audience/.
Feloni, R. (2014, August 14). 33 war strategies that will help you win in business. Business Insider. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://www.businessinsider.com/war-strategies-to-win-in-business-2014-8.
Thurston, B. (2021, January 15). Key demo and total audience: What are they and how much do they matter? Wrestlenomics. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://wrestlenomics.com/2020/07/14/key-demo-and-total-audience-what-are-they-and-how-much-do-they-matter/#:~:text=With%20a%20new%20head%2Dto,advertisers%20to%20the%20programs’%20networks.
Steve Cook’s Fave Five: October 2021
From the Head Of The Table to the Future Head Of The Table, and more, Steve Cook has his Fave Five for October!
From the Head Of The Table to the Future Head Of The Table, and more, Steve Cook has his Fave Five for October!
We’re more than halfway through October, and you know what that means! It’s time to make a list of my five favorite wrestlers! It’s either do this or write about the latest wrestling news, and as fun as it is to talk about television ratings, this seems more productive at the moment.
5. Mercedes Martinez
This trophy is a reminder to EVERYONE that I'm here to win.
The REAL prize is the @IMPACTWRESTLING knockouts title!!
Soon mi gente….SOON.#RUGGEDandTHUGGED #BRASSCITYOG #TheRealDeal pic.twitter.com/qsTt1spTxs
— Mercedes Martinez (@RealMMartinez) October 15, 2021
It’s considered impolite to discuss age. At least it used to be. I’m not sure anything’s considered impolite anymore based off of what I read on the Internet & see on television. People have pitched manners out the window as they’ve become accustomed to not worrying about getting punched in the face. There’s a point I’m trying to get to here, and that point is that it’s nice that women’s wrestling has arrived at a place where I can write about somebody that’s been wrestling about as long as I’ve been an online wrestling journalist, and they’re kicking ass & taking names. Makes me feel a bit less creepy.
Martinez’s return to the indies & emergence in Impact Wrestling has gone well. What Impact is doing with her isn’t exactly rocket science: have Mercedes Martinez destroy everybody in her path to a title shot, and make people believe that whoever the champion will be between Mickie James & Deonna Purrazzo will have a difficult test on their hands. Simple, right? Throw in the incoming debut of the IInspiration, and it’s pretty easy to get excited about the Knockouts Division & where it’s headed.
4. Bron Breakker
Yes, the name is pretty awful. Yes, NXT 2.0 isn’t exactly setting the world on fire after a few weeks. But it’s tough to deny the talent of the son of Rick Steiner. Dude has the physicality & the speaking tone of his father & uncle. Not quite the size of Rick or Scott in later years, but if genetics are any indication he’ll get there. It won’t be long before he’s NXT Champion, heck, I’m kind of surprised he didn’t get drafted to Raw or SmackDown already. He’s got money written all over him.
As for that pesky name issue…names aren’t as big of an issue as we like to think they are. Dolph Ziggler would have been future endeavored years ago if bad names held talent back. You also have to keep in mind that WWE will probably change his name before he gets to the main roster. No need to sweat the small stuff here. This guy will be a star somewhere under some name. Probably for the best the longer he holds off using the Steiner name, given how the wrestling business works.
3. Junior Dos Santos
Junior dos Santos’ first moments as a pro wrestler pic.twitter.com/KIhpYZOsCi
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) October 16, 2021
If you’ve followed mixed martial arts for any length of time, you know that most fighters’ careers don’t end in a blaze of glory. Fighters want to keep fighting, and even if the losses keep stacking up they still think they’re one win away from getting back to the top. Young fighters are looking to make their names, and beating the brakes off of fighters with track records is a good way to do that. At age 37, JDS has entered that phase of his MMA career. He’s lost four straight fights, all via TKO, all to younger fighters looking to make a name. He could keep doing that, or he could move on to something else while his name still has value.
Why not pro wrestling? Granted, I seem to be one of the few people writing words on wrestling websites that actually like AEW’s angle with American Top Team & Dan Lambert, but JDS is the perfect fit for something like this. He’s a large human being, wrestling fans by & large know who he is, and he has the type of athletic ability that should transition well to pro wrestling. He’s lost a few fights, but the people he lost to are doing pretty well in UFC’s heavyweight division. I’m willing to give it a chance. Also, when the inevitable AEW vs. WWE shootfight rumble happens, AEW’s going to need him around.
2. Roman Reigns
CM Punk exists:
Roman Reigns: pic.twitter.com/ue88BFYlVh
— Public Enemies Podcast (@TheEnemiesPE3) October 15, 2021
It’s like we said years & years ago: Turn Roman Reigns heel and people will start to like him. I don’t know why the idea took so long to enact, but WWE finally turned Roman Reigns heel and people have started liking him. How about that? Amazing how these things happen. Roman’s charisma has become much more apparent in his role as the Tribal Chief, Head of the Table, Big Dog, Island of Relevancy or whatever else they’re calling him this week. The interactions between Roman & Brock Lesnar have made for good television, so good that I think even Patrick O’Dowd is on the Paul Heyman bandwagon these days.
That all being said, I think I’m enjoying his off-screen character more than his on-screen character these days. Reigns has taken the baton from Seth Rollins & become Mr. WWE Defender, and does it in a way that’s less whiny than what Seth used to do. Perhaps a bit delusional, but much more convincing. Who would win in a shootfight between Roman & CM Punk is completely irrelevant, as last I checked none of these people were shooting in WWE or AEW rings, but he managed to make people care about it somehow. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.
1. Bryan Danielson
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) October 16, 2021
I know we’re supposed to care first & foremost about what company somebody works for these days. So I’m sure there are some of you out there that have decided that the man formerly known as Daniel Bryan has to be washed up and no longer one of the best wrestlers in the world. Or he’s unfairly putting his life on the line outside of the welcoming bosom of WWE. Nah, it’s probably just the easy “B+ player” talking point that most of the same folks went with when Bryan was still with WWE.
Me, I just care about what’s going on in the ring. Whether other people like it or not has never been one of my main problems. As I’ve pointed out before: I don’t get paid by any of these companies, and I don’t get paid by other people to shill for them. All I know is that it’s a joy to have Bryan Danielson back on my television, and his matches have been as good as expected. It really doesn’t take all that much to make me happy, just good wrestlers doing good things.
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