WWE’s second-biggest event of the year, SummerSlam, took place on Sunday night in Toronto, Canada.
Setting the stage for the rest of 2019, SummerSlam featured seven title matches with just one championship changing hands. With the return of hometown hero Trish Stratus and WWE Hall of Famer Goldberg, the show featured a card that was well-paced and hit several high notes.
Here are the five biggest takeaways from Sunday night.
The Kevin Owens Show gets renewed
With his job in WWE on the line, Owens and Shane McMahon put on an entertaining match that was more about advancing the main storyline on Smackdown Live than anything else.
McMahon continued to abuse his power by naming his crony Elias as a special guest enforcer for the match, and it wasn’t long before the two of them played the numbers game to their advantage against Owens. The Canadian superstar quickly turned things around, continuing to play to the crowd as an anti-hero babyface, taking out the ref and Elias, using a steel chair and delivering a low blow to McMahon to pick up the win and stay employed.
Due to Owens’s underhanded tactics, McMahon has a legitimate reason to be upset he didn’t pick up a win here. Expect this Attitude Era-esque feud to continue for the foreseeable future.
Women of all eras shine
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross retained their newly won Women’s Tag Team championships against the Iiconics on the SummerSlam kickoff show, marking the first time since WrestleMania that those championships were defended on a pay-per-view. Let’s hope we see it more often moving forward.
SummerSlam’s main card featured three women’s singles matches and all generations of WWE’s female talent was on display. The show kicked off in entertaining fashion with Becky Lynch retaining her Raw Women’s Championship against Natalya in a submission match. What was once a somewhat unexpected pairing turned into a personal feud which delivered on all levels. The two talented technicians showed their in-ring prowess and told an excellent story that the crowd appeared to be deeply invested in.
Later in the night, Charlotte Flair and Stratus captivated the Toronto crowd with a match that essentially boiled down to a greatest hits between the two iconic stars. Stratus, who hasn’t wrestled a singled match in more than eight years, looked incredible despite taking the loss. Pairing her with Flair, whose size and persona fit perfectly in this match, was smart booking and gave Stratus a memorable (likely) farewell in her hometown.
The third women’s match on the main card, between Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley and Ember Moon featured some impressive offense and spots, but lacked the storytelling the other two contests did. Bayley’s championship run continues — as it should — and Moon looked strong in her first singles pay-per-view match as a member of WWE’s main roster.
New Day for Kofi Kingston
WWE did an excellent job building up the WWE Championship match between Kofi Kingston and Randy Orton. Orton started out as the perfect foil for Kingston who, despite being Smackdown Live’s top champion, has played the role of underdog even after his win at WrestleMania.
These two veterans have incredible chemistry in the ring and their match on Sunday night gave us a glimpse into just how special this rivalry can be with these stakes. The reason I say glimpse is because this wildly entertaining match ended somewhat abruptly as Kingston and Orton were counted out. Kingston then unleashed an attack on Orton outside of the ring. The beatdown represented a change of pace for Kingston, who showed an aggression we haven’t seen from his character as champion.
The Toronto crowd — agitated that the match was cut short — booed Kingston as he stood tall over Orton. This wasn’t exactly a double turn, but it was as close as you could possible come considering how much of a fan favorite Kingston and the New Day is. Despite the ending, this finish leaves the door wide open for a rematch in the coming weeks or months.
The Fiend debuts
The WWE universe finally got to see the reinvented Bray Wyatt in action on Sunday night and it confirmed that the overhaul is the best thing that could have possibly happened to the former WWE champion.
Everything about The Fiend was executed perfectly. The Fiend mixes the perfect amount of familiarity to Wyatt’s former persona (dark entrance, revamped music, similar moveset) and new additions (mask, adoption of the Mandible Claw), to get fans completely invested in this character and storyline.
Based on how The Fiend was booked, expect to see a lot more of him plowing through competition in the future and a potential Fiend vs. Demon (the alter ego of Finn Balor, Wyatt’s victim Sunday) showdown at a future pay-per-view.
Rollins slays the Beast again
WWE’s two biggest shows of the year featured Seth Rollins against Brock Lesnar for the Universal Champion and the result was the same in both instances — Rollins emerging victorious.
Like he has for opponents like Daniel Bryan and A.J. Styles in recent years, Lesnar delivered in a huge way during Sunday night’s main event. After capitalizing at the most opportune times to win the Money in the Bank ladder match and then cashing in to win the Universal Championship last month, Lesnar put Rollins over in a big way.
Rollins, who was selling a Lesnar-inflicted rib injury for the past few weeks, was able to counter German suplexes while also absorbing a large amount of damage from the former UFC champion. After guaranteeing a victory last Monday on “Raw,” Rollins utilized the ring posts and delivered a frog splash to Lesnar through the announce table.
Thanks to some major spots and several false finishes, Lesnar and Rollins were able to win over the fans in what was the former’s best match in recent memory. With Lesnar vanquished and Rollins — deservedly so — once again in top position on “Raw,” the Universal Championship picture is wide open.