WWE Summerslam 2018 Review, Results, And Match Grades: Brock Lesnar Lost His Championship, Finally
WWE's biggest PPV of the summer, Summerslam, has wrapped up after a six hour long show, including its two hour pre-show. The August 19 event took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York for its fourth consecutive year, and over the course of the evening, there were 13 matches. Luckily, a few of them were under five minutes.
While the card didn't seem exceptionally exciting before the airing of the PPV, WWE and its superstars put on a pretty fun show, filled with surprises, great matches, and Finn Balor coming out in his "Demon" makeup--something fans haven't seen in quite some time. However, it wasn't all a delight. There were some rough moments that evening as well. If you're looking for just the results, check out our final recap of Summerslam.
One the positive side of things, the matches fans knew were going to be barn burners were just that. The Intercontinental Championship match between Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler was easily the highlight of the evening as it showcased the two best workers on Raw. On Smackdown's side, Daniel Bryan and Miz's match was about as great as we expected, delivering some solid storytelling in the ring.
However, there were some rough matches that evening as well, like Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens, which was a lackluster slaughter. The same could be said for Ronda Rousey vs. Alexa Bliss, which was Rousey's worst match since coming to WWE.
The wrestling fans here at GameSpot had a few things to say about the show, and we discussed each match from the evening and gave it a score. Let us know what you thought about the WWE event in the comments below.
Summerslam Match Card:
- Rusev & Lana vs. Andrade "Cien" Almas & Zelina Vega (Kickoff Match)
- The B-Team (c) vs. The Revival (Raw Tag Team Championship) (Kickoff Show)
- Cedric Alexander (c) vs. Drew Gulak (Cruiserweight Championship) (Kickoff Show)
- Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Jeff Hardy (United States Championship)
- Carmella (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch (Smackdown Women's Championship)
- Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz
- Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Seth Rollins (Intercontinental Championship)
- Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens
- The Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs. The New Day (Smackdown Tag Team Championship)
- Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin
- Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Ronda Rousey (Raw Women's Championship)
- AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe (WWE Championship)
- Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns (Universal Championship)
KICKOFF: Rusev & Lana vs. Andrade "Cien" Almas & Zelina Vega
Winners: Almas & Vega
Lana has gotten a bit better in the ring. But I don't believe her as a powerhouse, which is how it seems WWE is pushing her. The match was a typical Kickoff Show match. It's pushing forward a rivalry, and the finish of Zelina getting the rollup pin, using the ropes as leverage, was a fine touch. It's a nice push for Almas and Vega and solidifies them as heels. This was a solid opener and got the crowd warmed up.
5.5/10 -- Mat Elfring
Lana was born a decade too late. If this was 2008, she would be a Divas champion several times over. Unfortunately, ring proficiency isn't enough to be the top woman in WWE these days. Still, this is a marked improvement from when she debuted at Wrestlemania 32. An average match, all around. Andrade 'Cien' Almas could be a star on Smackdown, especially with Zelina Vega in his corner. Rusev, on the other hand, has seen his moment pass, no matter how much the die-hard fans cheer for him every week.
KICKOFF: Cedric Alexander (c) vs. Drew Gulak (Cruiserweight Championship)
We got exactly what I expected from a cruiserweight match. The 205 Live wrestlers always put on incredible bouts, and while this wasn't as amazing as previous ones we've seen on a PPV, it was still very good. I truly thought Gulak was going to win this one. He looks great against Alexander, who just wouldn't give up. There were a few great spots, including Gulak smacking Alexander hard in the mouth. This match felt like a great transition between something we'd see in NXT and on Raw or Smackdown.
7/10 -- Mat Elfring
A great match with a flukey roll-up finish, which is fine. Every now and then, the finish needs to come out of nowhere, if only to keep the fans on their toes. It occurred to me, while watching, that the two men toned down their aerial theatrics in favor of a slower, more psychological match. It's a fine line to walk, especially since people tune into 205 Live specifically to see the flippy stuff. But this match managed to walk it.
7/10 -- Kevin Wong
KICKOFF: The B-Team (c) vs. The Revival (Raw Tag Team Championship)
Winners: The B-Team
The antics of The B-Team continue, but it was underwhelming at Summerslam, even for a Kickoff Show match. This was a great match for The Revival, and it showed off what type of tag team these two are. They work together, isolate their opponent's partner, and work one of the the limbs. The B-Team thrives on coincidence, which was a lot of fun when it first started happening; however, in this match, it's become old news, and I want more from this comedic duo. The rollup finish was fitting for B-Team, but just felt like more of the same.
5/10 -- Mat Elfring
This match between four performers, all performing way below their potential, was befitting; it showed glimmers of promise but ultimately, didn't make the cut. It started out with some good, Revival offense; they cut the ring off and targeted Bo Dallas' leg for several minutes. And then, a minute later, everyone forgot about it and they just started brawling. The finish was a "mistake," continuing the B-Team's trend of failing upwards. At some point, they need to win and look impressive doing it.
4/10 --Kevin Wong
Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Seth Rollins (Intercontinental Championship)
Someone tall might want to lower the bar Rollins and Ziggler set during this match because it's way too high. The match had a great build and some amazing spots. Rollins suplexed Ziggler over the ropes to the outside of the ring, which looked incredibly painful. And the spot of the match was the reverse superplex from Rollins to Ziggler. The match was 22 minutes long but didn't feel like it. It had an amazing flow kept me on the edge of my seat. There is little to critique here.
9/10 -- Mat Elfring
I thought WWE would have a put a more spot-heavy, fast-paced "opening match" up front, to feed the hyped crowd and whet its appetite. Instead, Ziggler and Rollins slowed things down, deliberately so, and delivered what may have been the match of the night. It was technically sound, painful-looking, and wonderfully paced. They may have done more than stoke the fans, they may have spoiled them for what's to come. WWE should have put this match on later in the evening; we still had four hours to go.
8.5/10 -- Kevin Wong
The Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs. The New Day (Smackdown Tag Team Championship)
Winners: New Day, but Bludgeon Brothers retain titles because of DQ
This match made me a believer that the New Day could actually beat the Bludgeon Brothers. It played well to the brutality of the Brothers, while showcasing the "never give up" attitude of the New Day. There were a couple great spots during the match, mainly Xavier Woods doing an elbow drop off the top rope to the outside of the ring. It was better than I expected. It's really hard to follow Ziggler/Rollins, but this tag match worked for the spot it was in.
6.5/10 -- Mat Elfring
The Bludgeon Brothers continue to be impressive--physical and shockingly agile, considering their size. Disqualification finishes usually aren't that fun, but I'll make an exception; we finally got to see the Bludgeons swing those big stone mallets, and Big E sold their impact perfectly. And speaking of Big E, he dove headfirst out of the ring to the floor, again. He needs to stop doing that before he seriously hurts himself. The rematch will probably be a 'no disqualification,' so that The New Day can use some weapons too.
Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens
I didn't want to see a murder, but that's what I got. Strowman destroyed Owens in under two minutes. Owens had ZERO offense during the fight, and it was sad. I hate the story line. It serves no purpose other than burying Owens, which is a bummer because he's incredibly talented. Sure, Owens took some brutal looking bumps and sold Strowman's hits incredibly well, but this match was nothing more than set up for Strowman to cash in his MITB contract during the main event.
3/10 -- Mat Elfring
Man oh man. Who, exactly, did Kevin Owens piss off backstage? Braun Strowman steamrolled him in less than two minutes, and all that bellyaching over the multitude of ways Strowman could lose--by pinfall, by submission, by countout, by disqualification--was all for naught. We didn't get to see any of that. As a self-contained match, it was a fun little interlude. As a match between a former Universal champion and the Money in the Bank contract holder? It was a disaster. The only way Owens gets his dignity back is if he screws Strowman during his cash-in. But at this point, I'm not sure we need to see that.
Carmella (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch (Smackdown Women's Championship)
This triple threat had an excruciatingly slow start, using one of my least favorite in-match stories of the two friends being tricked into thinking they purposely hurting each other, when the heel is behind all the mischief. It was a frustrating and bland start. However, this match really picked up halfway through, and we got something a bit more memorable, where Carmella was either pushed aside or was simply there to be a whipping post, which many people--like myself--seemed fine with, as her in-ring work needs work, even though she's the best talking heel on Smackdown, right next to The Miz. While Charlotte won, the icing on the cake was post-match when Becky Lynch turned on Charlotte. It was the perfect way to shake things up on Smackdown's women's division which was beginning to become a bit stale. That could be the Becky Lynch fanboy in me talking.
7/10 -- Mat Elfring
The Carmella experiment is over. She'll probably never touch the title, ever again, and this match will be Exhibit A in that regard. She's a good talker. She's a decent heel, and certainly knows how to instigate drama. But the ring work isn't cutting it, and it wasn't believable to see her dominate either of her opponents. It's unfortunate that WWE left Asuka off this pay-per-view to demonstrate that. But luckily, no one will remember the actual match. Charlotte Flair's win and Becky Lynch's subsequent heel turn will be all that anyone talks about tomorrow.
AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe (WWE Championship)
Winner: Joe by DQ
Let's forget TNA exists for a minute--because Styles and Joe had some great matches there and they had a few others on the indy circuit as well. Whether it's match fatigue or just setting the bar too high for the match, this didn't strike a chord with me. Styles/Joe had some great moments, but the story towards the end and the finish were not good. I expected a bit more, but on the up-side, this does make me excited for a rematch, as they didn't "leave it all on the table." More than anything, I'm hoping to see a Hell in a Cell match at next month's PPV.
6.5/10 -- Mat Elfring
We didn't get the sort of match that these two are capable of, but we shouldn't have either. If we're lucky, this will be the first in a series that will last for several months. The match was low on speed, but high on impact. Predetermined or not, Joe hits like a truck. Everything he does looks ugly, heavy, and painful. He also did his homework; he escaped the Calf Crusher exactly the way Brock Lesnar did at Survivor Series: by banging Styles' head into the mat like a ball-peen hammer. The disqualification was unexpected, but acceptable; it was for a good reason at least, since Samoa Joe called out Styles' wife and daughter. We'll get the clean finish next time. And hopefully, Styles never attempts the Styles Clash on Joe again; Flying Forearm finishes only unless Joe wants to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
The Miz vs. Daniel Bryan
Winner: The Miz
Miz/Daniel Bryan didn't start off with a "bang," but it ended with one. This was a slow match, building on the story of the hatred between these two men--which Daniel Bryan spoke to us about last week. To this point, this was the longest match of the evening, and there were some moments that dragged during the match, but it felt like echoes of their feud because we couldn't see them fight for so long, with Bryan not being cleared to wrestle. It was all about building anticipation and wanted to see Bryan redeemed in the ring, from his former NXT mentor. We didn't get that, but we did get a fantastic finish with some classic heel tactics from Miz and Maryse.
8/10 -- Mat Elfring
Miz used the brass knuckles to knock out Bryan--Maryse always creatively cheats for her husband. This match was longer than it needed to be to reach the finish that it did. The point they were making--that Miz can't beat Daniel Bryan on his own--could have been made more succinctly. This match was the equivalent of a good short film padded to a 2-hour movie length. It was fun to watch, but in the end, it was more than we needed.
"Demon" Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin
It's amazing what a little facepaint can do to up the excitement of a match. Corbin/Balor felt close to "Dead on Arrival," but Balor coming out as "The Demon," which WWE fans haven't seen in a while, just made the whole thing a lot more exciting. Sure, it was another squash match--much like Owens/Strowman--but it didn't feel malicious. It was more of a "Greatest hits" rather than an actual match. If anything, it was just something fun for the audience that was a break from some of the longer matches we had previously.
6/10 -- Mat Elfring
This is the sort of match that is entirely contextual; if you listed the moves that they did and the match length, it doesn't look too special. But the atmosphere was electric. WWE brought out Demon Balor at exactly the right time; fans hadn't seen him for months. Every move mattered And it added a much needed adrenaline boost into a long show that needed it. You can't ask for more than that.
8/10 -- Kevin Wong
Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Jeff Hardy (United States Championship)
There was nothing outstanding about Nakamura/Hardy. It was filler and a way to finish up this feud between them--I hope. There were a few entertaining spots, but that's about it. Now, can we move Nakamura onto something awesome?
5/10 -- Mat Elfring
They needed something for Shinsuke Nakamura to do. That's why Nakamura is feuding with Jeff Hardy, and it shows. It was a good match, nothing more, nothing less. Jeff Hardy took a painful bump on the apron (those apron spots are getting a little overused), and Nakamura finished things with the Kinshasa. Randy Orton, of course, is next for Hardy.
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Ronda Rousey (Raw Women's Championship)
Deep down, we all knew Rousey was going to win, but the way WWE went about having this match play out was not good. Bliss trying to escape Rousey's grasp and playing a cat and mouse game was fine, but this was a glorified squash match. It made Bliss look like a weak champion, as Rousey destroyed her with the three moves she used on Bliss, multiple times. There wasn't much variety to it. I normally don't call out wrestlers calling spots, but Rousey was loud, and it was distracting. She's green, and that's fine and all, but her past PPV matches were a lot of fun to watch, and this wasn't. It was extremely disappointing.
2/10 -- Mat Elfring
This match, a squash where Rousey sat in the ring, eyes closed, and turned her back on her opponent, made Bliss look like a joke. Don't get it twisted: Rousey deserves to be champion. More power to her. But Bliss should have pulled some underhanded tactics to get in a little offense. She should have reached the ropes on a couple of submission holds. She should have done anything other than lose like this. Rousey is still loved, based on the post-match reaction. But this, right here, is how backlashes start. It was a bizarre misstep after months of excellent booking.
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns (Universal Championship)
Closing out Summerslam was Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar, yet again. The match showed promise when Braun Strowman came to the ring, before the opening bell rang and said he'd be cashing in his MITB contract after their match. However, that never happened, and it was the only thing I was truly looking forward to here. We got a relatively short match, which was once again both Lesnar and Reigns showing off their signature moves, over and over. It's great to see Lesnar lose the title--something I've been waiting for way too long--but in the end, I just didn't care. I'm more interested in the promise of having a fighting champion who puts on great matches, and we're still a ways away from that.
4.5/10 -- Mat Elfring
Finally, Roman Reigns is WWE Universal champion. The match was not great; their best encounter will always be Wrestlemania 31's slugfest. Braun's bait-and-switch on the briefcase cash-in was well done; it distracted Lesnar long enough that Reigns was able to hit the final Spear for the pin. And surprisingly, the Brooklyn crowd, which is notoriously hostile to Reigns, did not universally boo him when he hoisted the belt over his head. WWE finally got Reigns over, as well as they're ever going to get him over. They only had to keep title belt off television for over a year to do it.