The Universe – Entry Six: The SummerSlam Series, Subsection Four: SummerSlam 2014

Here we are, folks. A month’s worth of recollection and introspection to lead us to this point. It’s been quite the journey through the past. Some of it has been good, some bad; but all of it worth the time put in. In the realm of professional wrestling, it is only through our history that we can see the present for it’s true worth.

I’m Brian Andrews, welcome to The Universe. Let’s finish this up.

For those of you that have made it this far, congratulations. For everybody else that is just now getting on board with the SummerSlam series, set an hour aside for yourself to catch up here, here, and here.

Are we all on the same page now? Good.

 

On Sunday, August 17, 2014, we officially entered a new age in the WWE. This is evident not just in the logo change, WWE World Heavyweight Championship belt, and minor production changes, but also in the manner in which the WWE chooses to present its Superstars moving forward. Sunday was just the beginning, that much you can be sure of. I hope everybody is ready for the new era of WWE wrestling; we’re going to be diving in head first over the next few weeks.

If you are familiar with the format of this series, then you know that I like to add a bit of my own life’s story to give a little extra historical perspective on the shows that I am writing about. I am choosing to omit that portion of this final entry into the SummerSlam series; if you want to know something about me in the present, all you have to do is ask. As a matter of fact, you can ask me on twitter @hashtagalt236. Cheap plug? Yes. The boss-people like it when we promote our social media presences so I will double-up on my social media points and direct you all also to Brian Andrews’s facebook. Like, follow, and all that business…

Now, onto the show. It is my absolute honor and pleasure to present to you SummerSlam 2014.

6. SummerSlam Series, Subsection Four: Untitled Finale

1 Dolph Ziggler defeated The Miz (c) Singles match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship[14] 7:52
2 Paige defeated AJ Lee (c) Singles match for the WWE Divas Championship[15] 4:57
3 Rusev (with Lana) defeated Jack Swagger (with Zeb Colter) by knockout Flag match[16] 8:55
4 Seth Rollins defeated Dean Ambrose Lumberjack match[17] 10:52
5 Bray Wyatt defeated Chris Jericho Singles match; Erick Rowan and Luke Harper were banned from ringside[18] 12:57
6 Stephanie McMahon defeated Brie Bella Singles match[19] 10:16
7 Roman Reigns defeated Randy Orton Singles match[20] 16:17
8 Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) defeated John Cena (c) Singles match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship[21] 16:06

Thank you of course to Wikipedia for the nicely formatted match card. I once again omitted the first match on the card as it took place during the pre-show, which is technically a different show than SummerSlam proper. WWE has chosen to omit as well, as they shelved the traditional singing of The Star-Spangled Banner. In it’s place was Hulk Hogan welcoming us to the show, and to, of course, remind us that the WWE Network is only $9.99 (which is as good a deal as I’ve ever heard). Now that Hulk’s done shilling, let’s get into the action with our opening match!

Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz for the WWE Intercontinental Championship

This is The Miz’s first televised defense of his Intercontinental Championship after winning it one month prior at Battleground. Dolph Ziggler is the number one contender, obviously, since he deserves it(?). At least that’s what all you marks think. I personally don’t see the appeal, but that’s just me.

The match itself was pretty good. I enjoyed Miz’s strategy of avoiding contact to his famed “money-maker”, it’s always good to see performers staying true to their characters, even though he took a clothesline right in the face during the early moments of the match, and proceeded to act as if he hadn’t yet been hit yet.

Above: The money-maker.

The Miz had control during most of this match, with Ziggler desperately trying to get momentum going. After a prolonged stay in the Figure-4 Leglock, and the Skull-Crushing Finale, it was all but over for Dolph.

Except it wasn’t. Dolph kicked out, turned around and hit the Zig-Zag for the one-two-three. We have a new Intercontinental Champion. That’s nice I suppose, but if Dolph was to win the belt at SummerSlam, why not just have him win the battle royal at Battleground? If Bad News Barrett is coming back, and is accurate in his statement that whoever is the Intercontinental Champion is simply holding the belt for him until he comes back, then all it does is weaken the championship in my opinion to have the title change hands like this so easily.

That said, the match was decent, except for that little smark voice in my head questioning the reality being shown on my television. Two and a half stars out of five.

 

Paige vs AJ Lee for the WWE Divas Championship

I was fine with the booking of this match. AJ came back, reclaimed her championship, and now will defend it in a proper match at SummerSlam. Paige as Diva’s Champion was just painful for me to watch week to week, and I figured AJ was going to beat this young lady handily to fully re-establish her spot on top of the Diva’s division.

What’s so wrong with that picture? Paige is dull and uninteresting in general, and her being the champion when there are so many others chomping at the bit to show what they can do on top is frankly insulting to me.

For instance, what happened to Naomi?

The match did not convince me that Paige is a worthy champion. Not one bit. Paige and the WWE can claim that she is something special, but as far as I’m concerned, she’s nothing more than just another Diva.

paige hair

The anti-Diva, rather, but with hair extensions…?

Paige beats AJ, countering the Black Widow submission hold with something called the “Ram-Paige”? Okay. Paige, you are once again the Diva’s Champion, but then again, so was Jillian Hall. And both Bellas. Happy Birthday. One half star out of five.

 

Rusev (with Lana) vs. Jack Swagger (with Zeb Colter), Flag Match

This is one of the matches I was most looking forward to. A story with some real-life parallels, and a hell of a lot of pride at stake. This was billed as a flag match, but do not be fooled, this was no flag match. A flag match is when each competing side has their flag hung in opposite corners, and the object of the match is to be the first to claim his or her’s flag, symbolizing their respective nation’s superiority. This was a normal match, period.

That doesn’t take away from the excitement of these two patriotic Superstars competing for national pride, however, it’s just one of those things I feel the need to point out.

Rusev is going into this match with all the momentum in the world. He has yet to be defeated via pinfall or submission, and is seemingly unstoppable. Jack Swagger is not without his own amount of momentum, and has really been capturing the audience’s attention in the last few months. “We the people” has become a great catchphrase for Mr. Swagger, but I wonder how much of the WWE Universe is aware that Swagger and Colter are the bad guys in this story?

‘Merica.

There’s no need to get in-depth about the troubles America currently faces, those discussions are for a different website. In the context of kayfabe, though, the Real Americans are genuine xenophobes and right-wing extremists. They are bigots, plain and simple. Rusev and Lana, on the other hand, are none of those things. Sure they talk about our leaders and spout rhetoric related to Russian dominance, but this is in the context of legitimate competition. Their message is simple: Rusev is an unstoppable force, and they dare anyone to come out and prove them wrong.

So did Swagger have what was necessary to prove the Russian powerhouse wrong?

Swagger had a distinct advantage from the start of this match, after Rusev failed to capitalize on a pre-match cheap shot. Swagger locked on the Patriot Lock before the bell and had Rusev limping throughout the match.

Rusev has already shown us that he is capable of dealing out unbelievable  amounts of punishment when he is hurt during a match, and tonight was no exception. That should not suggest, though, that Jack Swagger is without his own amount of ruthlessness.

Both men are going at each other with an intensity and furiosity befitting a competition with national pride at stake. Swagger and Rusev are taking turns teeing off on one another with neither man backing off from any punishment.

Rusev, for the first time, is unable to lock in his finishing submission maneuver, The Accolade, due to his damaged ankle. He his able to put Swagger in a modified version, but the All-American American is able to slide out to lock in his own ankle-lock submission.

This proves to be a last, desperate grasp for Jack Swagger as Rusev counters out of the Patriot Lock. He then nearly decapitates Swagger with a spinning heel kick before locking on The Accolade (in full effect). Jack Swagger does not tap out, but passes out in the hold, forcing the referee to stop the match.

Alexander Rusev solidified Russian dominance on this night, and proved himself to be a hero to the federation. If you have a chance to see this show (perhaps on the WWE Network), make sure you catch the post-match flag raising ceremony. Give yourself a chance to appreciate Russian superiority, and pay homage to the true superpower, Rusev. Three and a half stars out of five.

rusev flag

Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins, Lumberjack Match

Let’s keep this hype-train rolling with, in my opinion, the two best rising stars in the WWE. The Shield proved to be the most dominant force in the WWE for a long time, and I am chomping at the bit to see what these two men are willing to do to one another to settle this vendetta.

I will admit that I was slightly less than enthused to learn that Dean Ambrose chose to have a lumberjack match at this year’s SummerSlam. I knew that a story this personal, and a Dean Ambrose this insane, would require something a bit more potentially violent than a lumberjack match.

I mean…

Not to say I want something like that, but you would imagine someone like Ambrose would have upped the ante a little bit more than lumberjacks. We got the match we got, so let’s see what these guys are bringing to the table (probably not a table).

Rollins and Ambrose waste no time going right for each other. You can see the fury in Ambrose’s eyes as he stomps the ever-living out of Seth Rollins. The action is fierce and constant, as these two men are content to beat the piss out of one another to prove their respective points.

I will say this, even though I’m not much a fan of lumberjack matches, the two competitors do make good use of them.

ambrose suplexThese is certainly no love lost between these two. You can get a real feeling that Ambrose and Rollins truly despise one another. If you think that suplex to the outside is the only exciting thing that this match will bring, I’m afraid I’ve got some good news…

We got suplexes to the outside, suicide dives, Ambrose runs across the announce tables and levels Rollins who is out in the crowd. The lumberjacks are having a hell of a time containing this match, and that makes it all the better.

They spend some time brawling through the crowd before the lumberjacks hoist Seth Rollins up and carry him back to the ring. Dean Ambrose, the brilliant psychopath that he is, uses this as an opportunity to deliver yet another exciting moment:

ambrose diveRollins and the lumberjacks topple down like 100-pin bowling on Wii Sports. This is just a great example of taking what’s given, and making it magic. If I were a WWE Superstar and I wanted to make a name for myself, I’d take notes from these guys. This is just one example of why these two men will be huge names in the coming years, and I am excited to see their futures.

Of course, no amount of great WWE programming is complete without something coming along to muss it up.

Kane had come out earlier to demand a bit more assertiveness from the lumberjacks, and is now at ringside. Dean Ambrose had this match won, after a gorgeous Curb Stomp, and of course Kane has to break the count. This interference is enough to start a melee with the lumberjacks, and Rollins is able to smash Ambrose with his Money in the Bank briefcase in the confusion. Seth Rollins gets the pinfall, but this rivalry is far from over. Dean Ambrose is not one to let something like this go, and I predict explicit violence from these two moving forward. Three and a half stars out of five.

 

Bray Wyatt vs. Chris Jericho

These two men have made a nice little story for themselves over the summer, and on this night at SummerSlam, it comes to a head. Y2J was able to best The Eater of Worlds at last month’s Battleground, but his true test comes on this hot August night.

There is nothing more dangerous than a super-villain with is back against the wall. Bray Wyatt would never admit it, but I know there is a little voice inside of him that wonders how he fares in the grand picture of WWE.

He was given an opportunity to draw out the evil from John Cena. He failed. While he did end up defeating him in the cage, he knows that victory is tainted. He has already failed against Chris Jericho once, and he knows another failure may be enough to derail his doom train from the tracks.

Chris Jericho, on the other hand, is looking great in 2014. He has been on a roll since his return, and proved a lot of people wrong when he defeated Bray Wyatt a month prior. Jericho is a rock star, and he is looking to keep the hits rolling at SummerSlam.

This definitely helps.

Let’s get down to business. We are most definitely past the undercard here, and the action is certainly indicative of this. The crowd is hot for this one, as they know they are seeing two world-class athletes lay it all on the line for their entertainment.

If you want to learn how to have a good match in today’s WWE environment, study this match. A great back and forth encounter from two competitors that you can relate to on a personal level. The pacing was amazing, and the drama was prevalent, but not intrusive to the action taking place. Bray Wyatt takes it over Jericho after two Sister Abigail maneuvers, one of which driving Chris Jericho’s face into the barricade. Four stars out of five.

 

Brie Bella vs. Stephanie McMahon

Let me get this out of the way right now. Brie Bella is terrible. As an in-ring performer, she is sub-par. I mean even for the Divas. Her mic work is so God-awful, you can’t even edit around it. As far as her little Brie Mode goes, Brie Mode means she’s drunk.

Fall-down, obnoxiously drunk. I’m no prude, but Divas, more than the Superstars, are supposed to be role-models for young people. For Brie Bella to use that as her little catch-phrase, or war-cry, or whatever, is deplorable. Her story leading up to SummerSlam is just as obnoxious. She quit, then harassed Stephanie McMahon to the point of violence. She pressed charges and demanded her job back and a match against Stephanie in lieu of court proceedings. I fail to see how Brie is the good guy here.

In the spirit of Lex Luger, the less said about her in the ring, the better. I can say this, though: she got what was coming to her, and then some.

whos my bitch

Who’s my bitch?

Stephanie McMahon is no woman to mess with. She wiped the floor with Brie, and only allowed her enough offense to give Mrs. Danielson a false sense of security before pulling the rug from under her. And by pulling the rug, I mean convincing her twin sister Nikki to smash in that awful looking face of her’s.

nikki heel turn

If you squint at it, you can actually see Brie’s face being rearranged.

After this more-than-welcome turn of events, Stephanie hits an impressive Pedigree for the victory. This felt like a classic McMahon-style match, and it was complete with the Authoritative/Corporate swerve. The match itself was decent enough, and we got what we all wanted: Brie Bella punished and humiliated. Three and a half stars out of five.

 

 

Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton

I’m not entirely sure why this wasn’t on the undercard, but I guess we need something to cool us off before the main event. I know a lot of my readers are Roman Reigns marks, but the fact of the matter is that Roman Reigns is not ready for the big time like his former Shield brethren.

Not only is he not ready for the big time, the story behind this match is not marquee worthy. Randy Orton is pissed because Roman Reigns cost him his shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, or something like that.

If you’re caught up on this series, you know how I feel about Randy Orton. I have this terrible feeling that Roman Reigns is going to end up in that same category.

Sure, he’s got that prototypical WWE look, big deal. His ring work is slow and awkward, which is exactly how Randy Orton wrestles. These two together is not a good match. I’ll put it like this: if you have Randy Orton’s dull, uninteresting ass carrying your match, you’re in trouble. The highlight of this whole match was the obligatory Orton counter into an RKO, and this one was terrible.

What exactly was Orton countering? A Superman Punch? I see zero effort on Reign’s part to even attempt the punch, it just looks painfully obvious to me that he deliberately jumped into the RKO.

As much as I don’t like Orton, he should have won at this point. Instead, he took about a full minute to set up his little punt kick, only to have it countered and transitioned into a spear for a Roman Reigns victory. Good for Reigns, but this will prove unfortunate for the viewing audience in the long run. I hope I’m wrong. Two stars out of five.

 

Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) vs. John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for our main event! The Beast Incarnate takes on “The Champ” in what has to be the biggest main event in SummerSlam history.

This one has that feeling surrounding it that we rarely get. We all know the destructive force of Brock Lesnar, and we also know that John Cena is the man. John Cena has been the man for the past nine and a half years running, and there is nothing to suggest that is changing anytime soon.

We are all way too familiar with LOLCENAWINS, and we’ve even delved into it’s origins during this series. We know that no amount of chanting, no amount of hype, no amount of actual professional wrestling talent is enough to stop John Cena from carrying a world’s championship at any given moment.

Whoa, wait… what?

Brock Lesnar is the man who ended The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania. We’ve been waiting to see who could perform this feat for over a decade. We knew that the man who finally defeated The Undertaker at WrestleMania would be the man to carry this company into the future. Should it have been Brock Lesnar?

Brock Lesnar is a part-time performer. The Undertaker’s streak had gone on so long that Lesnar could have beat him and kept on just being that marquee guy every so often. So now we have this match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. If Brock Lesnar wins, there is a very good chance that we won’t see the WWE World Heavyweight Championship being defended very often.

Is that such a bad thing? I say no. The value of all of the championships in the WWE has fallen dramatically in the last ten years, and not all of the blame is on John Cena, or Randy Orton for that matter.

The blame also lies on the fact that there is so much more television time to fill, and the WWE’s need to have every single show be the biggest show that’s ever happened. Eventually there comes a time where the whole product becomes watered down. If everything you see is the best thing you’ve ever seen, then by definition, it’s also the worst thing you’ve ever seen. There has been a lot of programming over the past decade that has been the worst thing I have ever seen.

We have been in dire need of drastic change in the WWE for a very long time. Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman could very well be the ones to implement these changes. The future can be scary when you have no idea what’s coming, but it’s exactly what we need. All that is standing in the way, is John Cena.

Can Brock Lesnar beat John Cena and bring this great company into a new golden age?

heyman smile

What do you think?

Brock Lesnar said it best: “Why wouldn’t I be able to beat John Cena?”. Let me put it like this: John Cena beat Brock Lesnar back in 2012, this is true. But that was still “PG Era” programming. We’ve been sliding into this “Reality Era” for a while now, and this match was the definitive bullet point in the WWE timeline.

This was a squash, plain and simple. This was a squash of the largest magnitude. John Cena didn’t stand a chance. I have no need to describe the action in words, so enjoy this eerily accurate depiction of the match, in .gif form:

I haven’t seen a legitimate wrestler beat the crap out of a retarded character this bad since SummerSlam 2005. Brock Lesnar wiped the mat with John Cena, and I couldn’t be happier. I am happy not just because I got to witness the death of the John Cena character live, but because I also got to witness the dawning of a new age right before my eyes. Make no mistake about this, Brock Lesnar is the new God-tier character. Brock Lesnar is the only God-tier character. If you watched this match, then you were lucky enough to have witnessed one of the most important moments in WWE history. Five stars out of five.

 

This has been one of the best WWE shows I have ever seen, SummerSlam or otherwise. There was not one part of this summer spectacular that I was bored, and I didn’t check my phone one time during the entire proceedings. We saw a changing of the guard tonight, and enough of the same to keep the ball rolling for everybody else. Four and a half stars out of five.

 

So there you have it, ten thousand words deep over four weeks of SummerSlam coverage, and I could write ten thousand more. This has been a tremendous experience for me, and I hope some of that joy translates through the screen and onto some of you, my dear readers.

We have learned that SummerSlam, like many other of WWE big-time shows, can be very polarizing experiences. There will be some wonderful things to witness, and some things will make you want to tear your hair out. The WWE landscape can be a brutal one to traverse, but be sure of this: it is truly a wonderful geography to explore, and we can all learn a great deal not just about professional wrestling, but about ourselves as well.

I thank you all for accompanying me on this journey, and you can be sure the learning will continue for us all. So until next week, this is Brian Andrews typing LIVE in the Temple of Infinitude, signing off.

/endsermon

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