LECLAIR’S WWE SUMMERSLAM 2021 REPORT: Alt perspective, detailed coverage of Reigns vs. Cena, Lashey vs. Goldberg, Belair vs. Banks, more

By Brandon LeClair, PWTorch contributor


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LECLAIR’S WWE SUMMERSLAM 2021 REPORT
AUGUST 21, 2021
LAS VEGAS, NV AT ALLEGIANT STADIUM
AIRED LIVE ON PEACOCK (U.S.), WWE NETWORK (INTERNATIONAL)

Announcers: Michael Cole & Pat McAfee (Smackdown), Jimmy Smith & Corey Graves & Byron Saxton (Raw)

-The opening video package hyped the show’s major matches and closed with Roman Reigns catching a coin in his golden-gloved fist. “Acknowledge me,” he said.

-Jimmy Smith welcomed the audience to the Allegiant Stadium. The camera swept through the brightly lit stadium. Riddle’s music hit and he entered through the corner entrance. Randy Orton followed.

Riddle and Orton posed on opposite turnbuckles, revealing that the entrance stage is located behind the top left corner of the ring, extending down the length of the lower bowl, creating a massive video screen for the hard camera. A.J. Styles and Omos headed to the ring. “Have you ever heard 50,000 people gasp simultaneously?” Corey Graves asked, “because that’s what seeing Omos in person does.”

(1) RIDDLE & RANDY ORTON vs. A.J. STYLES & OMOS (c) – Raw Tag Team Championship match

Randy Orton began the match with A.J. Styles. Orton quickly fired a series of right handles at Styles, then hit a quick suplex. Orton stared down Omos, then dropped a knee into the chest of Styles. Randy tagged in Riddle. Orton gave Styles a quick snapmare, then assisted Riddle in a standing moonsault onto Styles for a one count.

A.J. left the ring in frustration, slamming the announcers desk in frustration. He climbed back in the ring and tagged in Omos. Omos gave Riddle a shoulder tackle, then a club to the back. He scooped Riddle up and teased launching him to each corner before slamming him in front of his corner. Omos lifted Riddle up by the arm, but Riddle straddled his neck and grabbed a sleeper. Omos whipped him off with ease.

Omos tagged in A.J. Styles. He helped Styles executed tornado DDT for a two count. Styles grabbed a seated chinlock. Riddle battled to his feet and hit the ropes. Styles cut him off with a quick backbreaker. Styles grabbed another chinlock and talked some trash to Randy Orton.

Riddle fought to his feet and he and Styles traded some quick waist locks. Riddle managed to backdrop Styles over the top rope, then reach to Orton for the hot tag. Styles cut him off, much to the crowd’s chagrin. Riddle managed to catch Styles with a kick and reach Orton. The crowd popped big as Orton got the hot tag and went on the offensive.

Orton hit his signature snap power slam on Styles and then kicked Omos off the apron. Randy set up Styles for the hangman’s DDT. He connected, then riled up the crowd for the RKO. Orton pounded the mat as Styles wandered to his feet. Omos pulled A.J. to safety on the outside. Riddle tried to dive on Omos, but Omos grabbed him by the throat and chokeslammed him on the apron.

Riddle recovered enough to dump Omos into the ring post. Styles hit a flipping reverse DDT on Riddle off the apron. He returned to the apron, looking for the Phenomenal Forearm on Orton. Orton blocked it and went for the RKO. Styles blocked it. Styles rolled up Orton for a two count. Orton rolled through and hit the RKO, covering Styles for three.

WINNERS: Riddle & Randy Orton in 7:00 to become new Raw Tag Team Champions

(LeClair’s Analysis: Quickly paced, entertaining match. The crowd was firmly behind Orton and Riddle. They’ve certainly found something with these two, especially given how dull Raw has been as a whole. Omos played his part while, while Styles did the majority of the work, and got the majority of the offense in on Riddle. The closing sequence was well executed, taking Omos and Riddle out of the match in a believable way long enough for Orton and Styles to get to the finish. Styles & Omos have been entertaining champions, but Orton and Riddle are the hottest thing Raw has and I think it’s certainly worth taking advantage of that.)

-Following a quick commercial, Jimmy Smith tossed to a video recap of the ongoing rivalry between Alexa Bliss and Eva Marie/Doudrop.

-Eva Marie and Doudrop headed to the ring to minimal reaction. Alexa Bliss followed, receiving a strong initial pop that quickly tapered off. Bliss held out her Lilly doll toward fans along the ramp. Graves called Lilly magical. Smith said Doudrop has done all the heavy lifting for Eva, but this is a chance for her to go out on her own.

(2) EVA MARIE (w/ Doudrop) vs. ALEXA BLISS

A small “Eva sucks” chant broke out. Eva Marie quickly left the ring to gather herself. She returned and locked up with Bliss. Marie got the better of Bliss, getting in a few clubs to the back. She took Lilly from the turnbuckle and slapped it around. She approached Bliss with the doll, then slapped her in the face with it.

Alexa Bliss became enraged, she dropped Marie with a quick pair of shoulder tackles, then mounted her and punched at Marie’s face furiously. Marie tried to escape the ring, but Bliss grabbed her by the ankle and dragged her back for a two count. Bliss recovered Lilly and returned her to the turnbuckle. The crowd cheered for the doll.

Eva solicited help from Doudrop. “I believe in you, Doudrop said. Bliss tripped Eva into the turnbuckle, then climbed to the top rope. She missed Twisted Bliss. Eva covered Bliss for a near fall. She hooked the leg a second time for another two count. Eva argued with the referee. Bliss recovered and kicked her in the shins. She followed up with a DDT for a three count.

WINNER: Alexa Bliss in 4:00

After the match, Doudrop asked for a microphone. “The loser of the match is Eva Marie!” she exclaimed. Doudrop stole Eva’s entrance robe and left on her own to some cheers.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Terrible match. Eva Marie is clunky and awkward. Bliss tried her best to keep the crowd engaged with Lilly antics, but this is a bad angle and a bad match that had no business on the card. At least we got Doudrop walking out on her at the end.)

-Corey Graves tossed to Mario Lopez at the interview set backstage. He welcomed new Raw Tag Team Champions, RKBro. He congratulated them on their title win and asked how they were feeling. Orton said it would be smooth sailing from here, utilizing the most destructive letters in the alphabet. “R…K…” Orton trailed off, realizing his conundrum. “..Bro?” he finally concluded, walking off. Riddle said that’s Viper code for “Riddle is my new best friend.” He said he has a big surprise for Randy this coming Monday on Raw.

-The run of Raw matches continued as Damian Priest headed to the ring. Corey Graves tossed to a quick set of clips explaining how the match came to be. Sheamus followed.

(3) DAMIAN PRIEST vs. SHEAMUS – WWE United States Championship match

Damian Priest and Sheamus locked up at the sound of the bell. Sheamus took down Priest in a side headlock. Priest wrestled back to his feet quickly and grabbed a wrist lock. Priest caught Sheamus with a drop toe hold. The two exchanged quick holds. Sheamus eventually dropped Priest with a shoulder tackle.

Priest caught Sheamus with a leaping shoulder block off an Irish whip. Priest and Sheamus traded quick right hands. Priest connected with a Falcon Arrow for a one count. Priest hoisted Sheamus over his head and onto the apron, knocking him to the floor. Priest ran and flipped over the top rope, catching Sheamus in the face with his legs and landing awkwardly on his tail bone. Both men rose to their feet gingerly.

Priest delivered some quick kicks before getting caught by Sheamus and dumped into the ring post. The champion tossed Priest back in the ring at the referee’s count of eight. Sheamus grabbed a seated chin lock. Priest fought out of it, but Sheamus downed him again with a backbreaker.

Sheamus flexed. The crowd murmured. Smith remarked that the 50,000 in attendance are loving this match, but their lack of reaction seemed to suggest otherwise. Priest fought to his feet slowly with a series of shots to the stomach. Sheamus went for a powerbomb, but Priest countered into a hurricanrana. Sheamus shrugged it off and hit a powerslam for a two count.

Damian Priest rolled out to the apron. Sheamus fixed his hair and set up for ten beats. Priest tried to fight it off to no avail. The crowd tried to chant along with Sheamus, so the heel quit his hits. Sheamus jawed at Priest, allowing him to recover enough to catch Sheamus with a tornado DDT.

Priest peppered Sheamus with right hands as the match crossed the 8:00 mark. A clothesline brought Sheamus to a knee. Priest caught Sheamus with a spin kick to the face from the top rope for a near fall. Sheamus recovered quickly and headed to the tope rope himself. Priest cut him off, attempting a chokeslam. Sheamus dropped to the floor, guillotining Priest on the rope. Sheamus followed up with an Alabama Slam for a near fall.

Sheamus gave Priest a headbutt. Priest wandered to his feet. Sheamus went for the Brogue Kick, but Priest cut him off with a kick of his own. Priest followed up with a sitout chokeslam for a near fall. Damian Priest hit the ropes for a springboard kick, but Sheamus plucked him out of thin air with a pump knee strike. Sheamus set up for the cloverleaf, but Priest rolled through it for a two count. Sheamus grabbed a heel hook. Priest screamed in agony, but sat up and ripped the face mask off of Sheamus.

The champion covered up to protect his nose. Damian Priest fired rights and lefts. He gave Sheamus a kick, then connected with the Reckoning for a three count.

WINNER: Damian Priest in 13:00 to become new United States Champion

(LeClair’s Analysis: This felt a little long given the crowd’s engagement in the early going. The closing minutes were hard hitting and entertaining, but they took too long to get there with a slow and plodding road that seemed to bore the crowd. Damian Priest, for as consistently over as he’s been in front of live audiences thus far, seemed underwhelming in this stadium setting. The crowd popped for his win, but little else. I think it was wise to move the title onto Priest, given how well he’s been protected relative to the rest of the roster. With that being said, it’s hard to imagine much coming from a U.S. title run.)

-Following a preview of NXT Takeover 36, Michael Cole and Pat McAfee took over the announcers desk for the first time. They talked up the Smackdown Tag Team title match.

-Backstage, Rey Mysterio talked to his son Dominick about fighting “the Mysterio way.” He asked if he’s ready to bring back the tag titles to their family. “Let’s do it,” Dominick said. The Usos headed to the ring wearing leis. Michale Cole said it’s because the bloodline is “complete”, having all the gold.

(4) REY MYSTERIO & DOMINICK MYSTERIO vs. THE USOS (Jimmy & Jey, c) – Smackdown Tag Team Championship match

Rey Mysterio began the match with Jimmy Uso. He quickly tripped Jimmy into the ropes for a 619, but Jimmy left the ring in a hurry Rey caught Jimmy with a basement dropkick to the outside, then tagged in Dominick Mysterio. Rey hit a quick baseball slide to both Jimmy and Jey on the outside. Dominick leapt off the top rope onto the Usos, then tossed Jimmy back inside.

Dominick hit a springboard dive onto Jimmy for a two count. Dominick hit the the Three Amigos suplexes on Jimmy, but was unaware that Jimmy slipped a tag to Jey Uso during the exchange. Dominick climbed to the top rope, but Jey shoved him to the floor.

On the outside, Jey rammed Dominick into the ring post. He slid Dominick back in the ring and grabbed a rear chinlock. Jey told Dominick to reach out and tag his father. Dom reached out, helplessly. Jey tagged in Jimmy and the duo hit a tandem backbreaker/double axe handle from the top. Jimmy taunted Dominick, preventing him from reaching Rey.

The Usos continued to trade tags, cutting Dominick off. Cole said that Rey has acknowledged that it’s challenging to tag with Dominick, both due to parental fear and inexperience. Jey dropped Dominick with a massive clothesline. Pat McAfee hilariously reacted as though he’d killed him. Jey hit Dominick with a pair of suplexes, then taunted the crowd. Jey let Dominick crawl dangerously close to Rey before cutting him off and looking for a third suplex. Dominick blocked it and hit a neckbreaker.

Dominick crawled desperately toward Rey. Jey reached Jimmy. Dominick reached Rey. Mysterio hit a springboard moonsault into a reverse DDT on Jimmy for a near fall. Rey climbed to the top rope and leapt onto Jimmy. He knocked Jey off the ropes, then kicked Jimmy in the shoulder. Jimmy shrugged it off and caught Rey with a super kick for a near fall. Jimmy tagged his brother.

The Usos set up for a tandem powerbomb. Rey countered it, giving Jimmy a hurricanrana out of the ring. Jey caught Rey with a super kick, then connected with the Uso splash from the top rope. Jey covered, but Mysterio kicked out at two. Jey tagged in Jimmy. The Usos set up for double splashes from opposing corners, but Dominick took Jey out. Jimmy went for the the splash, but Rey moved out of the way. Rey tripped Jimmy into the ropes and hit the 619. He went for a splash, but Jimmy got his knees up.

Jimmy tagged in Jey Uso. The brothers hit super kicks in stereo. Jey climbed to the top rope and hit the Uso Splash for a three count.

WINNERS: The Usos in 10:50 to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championships

(LeClair’s Analysis: Solid match. While I thought the beatdown section on Dominick ran a little too long, I loved the way the Usos cut the ring off, talked trash to Dom, and played the despicable heel toward Mysterio. Mysterio’s hot tag near the end of the match proved both chaotic and entertaining, and the finish looked great. It was the right move to have the Usos retain, but I’m surprised we didn’t see any further discourse between Rey and Dominick either during, or after the match. No matter, they can easily follow up on Smackdown. This served its purpose.)

-Michael Cole tossed to Tiffany Haddish backstage. She said she’s having a blast at “the Summerslam” and welcomed “first time National Champion” Damian Priest. Priest said even though the title isn’t a gold medal, it’s just as good to him. He said when he finally got his shot, he didn’t miss.

-Rick Boogs was in the ring for what he deemed a “rock n’ roll interlude.” He introduced the new Intercontinental champion, Shinsuke Nakamura and played along to his theme. Nakamura came to the ring. Pat McAfee lost his mind.

-Michael Cole turned the focus toward the Smackdown Women’s title match as McAfee continued to dance He tossed to a video package covering the rivalry between Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks.

-Bianca Belair headed to the ring, wearing new gear covered in Smackdown Women’s Championships. Greg Hamilton stepped in an announced Sasha Banks is unable to compete and will be replaced by Carmella. The crowd was completely deflated off of the bait and switch with the full video package for Belair vs. Banks.

The crowd booed loudly. Belair asked for a microphone. “It may not be tonight, but sooner or later, it’s gonna be me and Sasha in this ring,” Belair said. She promised to take out her frustrations on Carmella. The crowd continued to boo.

Becky Lynch’s music hit. The crowd exploded. She slapped hands with fans down the ramp as the crowd sang along to her theme song. Lync was dressed in full ring gear, wearing a t-shirt that said “The Man is Back in Vegas.” The crowd remained in a frenzy as Lynch’s music faded out. Becky looked Bianca up and down. She turned her attention to Carmella, kicking her in the gut and tossing her out of the ring.

“I’ll be right back,” Becky told Belair. She left the ring and tossed Carmella into the ring steps. She returned to the ring. A “Becky” chant broke out. She stepped face to face with Belair and looked around at the crowd. Lynch asked for a microphone. “What do you say the EST and the man blow the roof off this joint…for the Smackdown Women’s Championship?” she asked. Belair thought it over. She accepted.

(5) BIANCA BELAIR (c) vs. BECKY LYNCH – Smackdown Women’s Championship match

Bianca Belair and Becky Lynch circled the ring before squaring up. Lynch offered a handshake. Belair obliged.  Lynch punched Belair in the face and gave her a Rock Bottom, then covered her for a three count.

WINNER: Becky Lynch in 24 seconds to become the new Smackdown Women’s Champion

Bianca Belair sat stunned in the corner. She left the ring, head in her hands. Becky Lynch celebrated. Belair looked on in disgust.

(LeClair’s Analysis: This was quite the roller coaster. The crowd was absolutely livid that WWE pulled the rug out from underneath them here, especially after having gone through with the promo package for Belair vs. Banks. WWE is incredibly lucky they had Lynch in their back pocket, because anything short of this could’ve spelled disaster for the rest of the show. Very rarely do I agree with a decision to have a babyface drop a title in this type of fashion, but I think this was the way to go if they felt it necessary to get the title on Becky tonight. This gives several different avenues for Belair to go – she can turn heel, feeling mistreated by the fans, and disgruntled over this situation. She can also use it as motivating force to come back for a stronger, competitive performance against Lynch. The fact that they focused on her so heavily in the post-match camera shots tells me that this was not at all an attempt to move on from Belair, but rather, an opportunity to reset and refocus her character and put her on the chase, one way or another. As for Banks, she feels like the odd woman out here.)

-A hilariously tone-deaf promo package aired for Crown Jewel in October.

-Mike Rome welcomed the men and women’s U.S. Olympic medal winning wrestlers, Gable Steveson and Tamyra Mensah-Stock.

-A promo for Extreme Rules aired.

-Jinder Mahal headed to the ring flanked by Veer and Shanky. Mahal sent them to the back. Graves confirmed that they’d been banned from ringside following McIntyre’s win on Monday’s Raw. He tossed to some clips building up their feud. Drew McIntyre’s music hit and he received a strong, positive reaction initially that tapered off quickly. McIntyre got a big smoke display – the first of its kind for the evening. No other physical effects tonight, pyro or otherwise.

(6) JINDER MAHAL vs. DREW McINTYRE

Drew McIntyre hoisted Jinder Mahal and dumped him into the corner as soon as the bell rang. McIntyre drove an elbow into Mahal’s face and sent him reeling. McIntyre gave Mahal a tossing suplex, then set up for the Claymore. Mahal rolled out of the ring to protect himself.

McIntyre gave chase. Mahal tripped him up on the apron. The two rolled to the outside. McIntyre gave Mahal an overhead belly to belly on the outside. He rolled Jinder back in the ring. Mahal begged off, saying they used to be like brothers. McIntyre kicked Mahal in the gut and set up for the Future Shock DDT. Mahal fought out of it and delivered a super kick for a two count.

Mahal draped McIntyre over the middle rope and straddled his neck, cutting off Drew’s air flow. He drove his knee into Drew’s face, then taunted the crowd. They didn’t react. Mahal grabbed a hold. The camera pulled out to show the crowd, mostly sitting quietly. McIntyre broke free of the hold and hit a pair of overhead belly-to-belly suplexes. Mahal wandered to the corner. McIntyre hit another one. He dragged Mahal to his feet and hit the Future Shock DDT.

McIntyre counted down with the crowd and hit the Claymore for a three count.

WINNER: Drew McIntyre in 4:40

Veer and Shanky ran to the ring to collect Jinder. Drew chased them off with his sword. Jimmy Smith said “nothing feels better than burying your rivals.”

(LeClair’s Analysis: This is exactly what it needed to be. McIntyre squashes Mahal in a match that shows that shows Mahal doesn’t belong in the same ring. This entire feud was a waste of time, the match was a complete throwaway, and Drew deserved significantly better on a stage this large. McIntyre received a warm reaction when he entered, but the crowd was as dead as its been all night during the match, and after Drew’s win. I realize crowds rarely come off great in stadiums, but they’ve been particularly uninvolved tonight, save Becky Lynch’s return. )

-Jimmy Smith tossed to a video package hyping the Raw Women’s Championship match.

-Nikki A.S.H. headed to the ring first, receiving a solid reaction as she worked her way down the long, winding entrance. Rhea Ripley entered next, slapping hands with fans. Charlotte Flair headed to the ring last, receiving a solid pop when she posed in the ring under a neat laser. Mike Rome provided standard Championship introductions.

(7) NIKKI A.S.H. (c) vs. RHEA RIPLEY vs. CHARLOTTE FLAIR – Triple Threat match for the Raw Women’s Championship

Charlotte Flair shoved Nikki A.S.H. to the ground to begin the match. Nikki recovered and tripped Rhea Ripley to the outside. She gave Flair a money flip out of the corner. Ripley returned to the ring and god rolled up for A.S.H. for a two count. Charlotte tossed Nikki to the outside.

Flair and Ripley traded punches. Ripley backed Flair into the corner. Flair flipped over the top rope to the apron. Nikki returned and kicked Flair off the apron while delivering a bulldog to Rhea. Flair quickly returned and tossed Nikki into Ripley like a weapon. Flair kipped up and began trading shots with Ripley. Flair caught Rhea with a backbreaker then face plant into the corner.

A.S.H. returned to give Flair a cross body and a flurry of punches. Flair shook them off and gave Nikki a body slam onto the prone body of Rhea Ripley. Flair climbed to the top rope and went for a moonsault, but A.S.H. rolled out of the way and Ripley got her feet up. Ripley tried to hit A.S.H. with a Riptide, but Nikki fought out of it. Flair gave Ripley a big boot for a two count.

Flair slapped Ripley. Rhea dropped Flair with a pair of short-arm clotheslines, then a big headbutt. Ripley hit a dropkick on a seated Flair, then a quick kick to the chin. She followed up with a Northern Lights bridging suplex for a two count of her own. Ripley grabbed a rear waist lock, but Charlotte elbowed her out of the ring. Ripley leapt back onto the apron and ate a boot from Charlotte.

Nikki A.S.H. returned and delivered a tornado DDT to Flair, covering her for a two count. Nikki backed Charlotte into the ropes, but Flair scooped her into a power slam position. Ripley appeared from behind and delivered a German Suplex to Flair, who held onto A.S.H. through the contact. Ripley headed to the top rope and hit Flair with a missile dropkick for a near fall.

Flair rolled to the outside as the match neared 7:00. Flair and Ripley traded punches on the floor. They worked themselves into place for Nikki A.S.H. to fly off the turnbuckle and hit both of them with a cross body. A.S.H. slammed the announcers desk in excitement. She brought Flair back in the ring. Ripley returned and joined her for a double stalling suplex. Flair reversed their momentum and hit a double DDT.

Charlotte hit both opponents with a number of chops. Ripley and A.S.H. began to work together again to slow Flair down. Flair fought them both off with ease a second time. She tossed both A.S.H. and Ripley to the outside. Flair climbed to the top rope. She hit a corkscrew dive off the top rope onto Ripley and A.S.H. on the outside, catching her legs awkwardly on the barricade.

All three women reentered the ring slowly. A.S.H. rolled up Ripley for a two count. Ripley rolled into the reverse Cloverleaf on Nikki. The champion screamed in pain. Flair returned, looking for a big boot on Ripley. Rhea sidestepped her and gave her a kick of her own. Ripley locked the reverse Cloverleaf on Flair. Charlotte rolled through it and applied the Figure Four, transitioning into the Figure Eight. Nikki A.S.H. dove onto both women’s intertwined legs. Nikki hit a spinning neckbreaker on Flair for a near fall broken up by Ripley.

Ripley went for the Riptide on Nikki, but A.S.H. slid down Ripley’s back and planted her awkwardly. Ripley fell to the outside in a heap. A.S.H. climbed to the top rope and dove. Charlotte side stepped her and locked in the Figure Four, riding into the Figure Eight. Nikki crawled toward the ropes, screaming. She tapped out.

WINNER: Charlotte Flair in 13:04 to become the new Raw Women’s Champion

(LeClair’s Analysis: This one had its moments, but many spots felt over-rehearsed and clunky. It felt like a forgone conclusion that Flair would walk away with another title. They simply can’t help themselves. What struck me as most surprising, though, with a win looming, they still gave Flair a huge leg up in terms of offense. She was dominant, easily fending off both Ripley and A.S.H. at the same time. We were never really supposed to believe that Nikki A.S.H. posed any long term threat to the top competitors in the Raw Women’s division, but it’s now become incredibly hard to see Rhea Ripley filling one of those spots either. They’ve really defined her down in a big way over the course of the last several months, and though tonight didn’t necessarily hurt her, she certainly was a complete afterthought to the suffocating persistence of Charlotte Flair’s push.)

-Michael Cole and Pat McAfee returned to the announcers desk to introduce the video package for Edge vs. Seth Rollins.

-Seth Rollins entered first, sporting brand new royal gold-accented gear and Sgt. Peppers-style jacket. He led an imaginary orchestra with his arms and soaked in some boos from the tepid audience. Rollins smiled maniacally in the ring, arms stretched out wide. McAfee said he’s ready to go, calling Rollins sadistic.

The lights dimmed and the crowd’s energy picked up a bit. An “Edge” chant broke out. The Brood’s music hit and the stadium lights turned red. Fire lined the entrance way and Edge rose from the floor, wearing his old Brood glasses. Edge stepped out of the smoke and fire and the lights turned black. Edge’s traditional Alter Bridge theme hit, and he struck his familiar pose. The crowd gave him the second biggest reaction of the night in return.

(8) SETH ROLLINS vs. EDGE

Edge and Seth Rollins stood across the ring from each other as the bell rang. Edge looked around and soaked in loud cheers from the crowd. He and Rollins locked up. Edge quickly dropped Seth with a right handle. Rollins retreated to the corner and took his time standing up. Seth was sporting a heavily taped right hand/lower arm.

Edge applied a side headlock. Rollins quickly reversed it into one of his own. Edge broke it and Rollins left the ring, frustrated. Seth paced the ringside area and returned to the ring at the referee’s count of seven. Rollins pounded the back of Edge’s neck and back. Edge dumped Rollins to the outside again. “Edge knows exactly what Seth wants,” McAfee said, referring to Rollins’ focus on Edge’s neck.

Rollins slid in and out of the ring as Edge gave chase. Edge went for a sliding dropkick through the ropes, but Rollins moved. He grabbed Edge and slammed him into the ring post. Edge struggled to answer the referee’s count. Rollins broke it, slamming Edge’s head into the steel steps repeatedly. Seth tossed Edge inside and hit a stalling neckbreaker for a one count.

Seth drove his elbow into the back of Edge’s neck then looked around at the crowd. He draped Edge’s neck over the bottom rope and torqued it. Rollins soaked in some boos from the crowd as the match hit 5:00. Edge fought back to his feet, but Rollins caught him with a Slingblade. Seth set up for the Stomp. Edge quickly retreated to the ropes to protect himself. Rollins pounced, dragging Edge to his feet and hitting a second spinning neckbreaker.

“How’s that neck?” Rollins asked, laughing. Edge tried to shake off the cobwebs. The crowd tried to will him on. Rollins drove a knee into Edge’s midsection and gave him a boot. Seth hit a springboard knee to the face and covered Edge for two. Seth set up for a third neckbreaker, but Edge pulled him into a backslide for two. Edge backed Rollins into the corner with a big shoulder tackle. He hoisted Rollins to the top rope. Rollins fought him off. Seth elbowed Edge to the mat. Rollins hit a frog splash for a near fall.

Rollins geared up for the Stomp. Edge rolled to the apron. Rollins climbed to the top rope and dragged Edge up to meet him. The two men traded punches on the ropes. Edge hit a spinning neckbreaker off the top rope. Both men were laid out in the center of the ring. The crowd came alive briefly to will Edge to his feet. Rollins rose first and charged. Edge guillotined him on the top rope. Edge hit a clothesline, then an Edgecution for a near fall. Both men struggled to their feet as the match ticked past 11:45.

Edge went for a clothesline, but Rollins tripped him into the middle turnbuckle. He went for a super kick, but Edge hit the reverse face buster for a two count. Edge climbed to the top rope. Rollins rose to meet him. Seth hit a superplex off the top rope, then rolled up into the Falcon Arrow for a very near fall. The camera zoomed in on Edge’s exhausted face. Rollins set up for the Stomp again. Edge moved out of the way. Rollins hooked Edge in for the Pedigree, but Edge countered it into a Glam Slam for a near fall.

Seth rolled to the apron. Edge followed him. Rollins hung him up on the ropes, then gave him neckbreaker onto the middle rope. Rollins went for the stomp on the apron, but Edge moved at the last second. Rollins stomped the apron, jamming his knee. Edge gave him a spear through the middle rope to the floor. He tossed Rollins into the apron LED board, turning it black.

Edge rolled Rollins into the ring and covered him for a two count as the match neared 17:00. Edge called for the Spear. He charged, but Rollins telegraphed it and turned it into a Pedigree for a near fall. Seth dragged himself to the top rope and went for a corkscrew splash. Edge moved. Rollins landed on his feet. Edge connected with a Spear and covered. Rollins kicked out.

The first “this is awesome” chant of the night broke out. Edge set Rollins up for the Killswitch, but Rollins fought out of it with a blow to the black of the neck. Rollins hit the neck a second time, then kicked Edge in the back of the head. Rollins stumbled to the corner and called for the Stomp. Edge rolled over and caught Seth’s booth, shoving him back. Edge applied the Edge-ucater submission. Rollins made it to the ropes, then rolled up Edge for two.

Edge transitioned out of the cover into the Crossface. Rollins screamed, unable to reach the ropes. He separated Edge’s hands. Edge let go of the hold and grabbed Rollins by the hair. He slammed Rollins’ face into the canvas repeatedly, then reapplied the Crossface. Rollins tapped.

WINNER: Edge in 21:12

(LeClair’s Analysis: This started out REALLY slow but man, did it pick up. I think, after such a slowly paced night overall, these two had a really uphill battle to climb to try to get the crowd invested in the early going. After the entrances, the audience seemed to die a quick and painless death, but they were able to bring them back around as the action picked up late. I liked the psychology here – Rollins being obsessed with hitting the Stomp at all costs, even putting himself in precarious positions at times to ensure that he hit it. Edge worked methodically, hit all his major signatures, and pulled out some of the old ones for a nice throwback. I dug the finish. For starters, it ensures that several matches won’t end with a spear tonight. Additionally, it avoiding finisher spamming. Finally, from a storyline perspective, making Rollins tap after repeatedly driving his head into the mat sold the personal nature of the angle. This wasn’t a classic, but aside from Lynch’s return, it’s been far and away the highlight of the night.)

-Mike Rome announced an attendance of 51,326.

-The Miz and John Morrison were introduced after a quick recap of their arrival during the pre-show. They cracked a few “dry” jokes that didn’t seem to land. Miz announced the “Drip Stick 2000” to soak the audience. Xavier Woods emerged from the crowd with a drum of water on his back, attached to a soaker gun. He was wearing nWo inspired gear, and had a toothpick in his mouth. Woods had his hair styled like Scott Hall. Woods said Morrison and Miz are the only dry people in the building.

Woods argued with Miz and Morrison for a moment before soaking them with the “Drip Stick 2000.” Miz and Morrison dramatically flopped around in the ring, then left, soaking wet. New Day’s music hit. The crowd seemed to collectively sigh.

(LeClair’s Analysis: The show is already running long, and if they’d had half a mind, they would’ve cut this segment. I can’t imagine anyone was seriously wondering what Miz and Morrison were planning, and, if they did, it certainly wasn’t worth the payoff. This was WWE at its worse – bad comedy that didn’t land, even with a beloved character like Xavier Woods. Bad, all the way around.)

-Jimmy Smith tossed to the hype video for Bobby Lashley vs. Goldberg.

-Bobby Lashley entered first, accompanied by M.V.P.. Saxton said that Lashley has brought a level of ruthlessness that has allowed him to keep a stranglehold on the WWE title for months. Smith and Graves ran down some of his conquests.

Goldberg’s music hit. The crowd broke into a loud chant. Backstage, guards knocked on his locker room door. Goldberg stepped out without head butting anything. Back in the stadium, Goldberg stepped through his signature smoke and snuffed and snarled his way to the ring. Mike Rome provided standard Championship introductions. The crowd popped big for the WWE title match announcement. Goldberg received what seemed to be a mixed reaction. Bobby Lashley received a stronger mixed reaction.

(9) BOBBY LASHLEY (c, w/ M.V.P.) vs. GOLDBERG – WWE Championship match

Goldberg and Bobby Lashley circled the ring as the bell rang. Jimmy Smith compared it to sharks circling. Lashley and Golberg locked up. Goldberg backed the champion into the ropes, then the corner. The referee broke it up. Lashley shoved Goldberg, then gave him a shoulder tackle. Goldberg no sold it. Goldberg gave Lashley a leaping shoulder tackle, then a body slam. He followed up with a power slam. The crowd booed him.

Goldberg tossed Lashley to the corner and gave him a short arm clothesline. Goldberg looked to the crowd. They booed him loudly. Lashley kicked Goldberg in the gut. The crowd cheered. Lashley went for the Jackhammer. Goldberg blocked it and went for his own. Lashley blocked his attempted and planted Goldberg face first. Lashley mounted Goldberg and pounded the back of his neck.

Bobby Lashley climbed to the top rope. Goldberg tossed Lashley off the top rope right onto the back of his neck. Lashley struggled mightily to stand. Goldberg set up for the Spear. M.V.P. dragged Lashley out of the ring. The crowd popped loudly. Goldberg left the ring and gave Lashley a Spear on the outside.

Goldberg tossed Lashley in the ring and set up for the Spear. M.V.P. hit Goldberg in the shin with his cane. Goldberg hobbled into a chokeslam from Lashley. Bobby tried to apply the Hurt Lock, but Goldberg blocked it. The crowd devolved into booing the whole affair as the match crossed 5:00.

Goldberg rolled to the outside, clutching his knee. Lashley left the ring, scooped Goldberg onto his shoulders and drove him hard into the ring post. Lashley returned to the ring to break the count, then went and scooped Golberg again. He drove him hard into the ring post a second time. Goldberg pulled himself to his feet. Lashley tossed him into the ring. Goldberg tried to stand up, but fell to the mat.

Goldberg continued to fiddle with his knee. He tried to stand again, but fell to the mat. The referee called for the bell.

WINNER: Bobby Lashley in 7:15 to retain the WWE Championship, referee stoppage

M.V.P. tossed Lashley a chair. Bobby hit Goldberg in the back of the leg, then in the back. The crowd cheered him heavily. Gage Goldberg leapt into the ring and onto Bobby Lashley’s back. Lashley flipped him over and put him in the Hurt Lock. Gage passed out instantly. The crowd cheered.

M.V.P. grabbed a microphone and said there’s no way Lashley could have known it was Goldberg’s son attacking him from behind. “I’m gonna kill you!” Goldberg said, crawling to his son.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Pathetic. A horrible match from a guy who has no business being in a wrestling ring anymore. As usual, you can’t watch a Goldberg match without fearing for the safety of his opponent at least once. Tonight, we saw Goldberg unceremoniously dump Bobby Lashley awkwardly off the top rope onto his head and neck. Add to that complete non-finish that’s undoubtedly going to lead to a senseless rematch that it seems like Goldberg has to win. This should’ve been a simple match with Lashley beating Goldberg cleanly and moving on, as quickly as possible. The crowd outright rejected Goldberg, siding with Lashley completely, not only during the match, but after the match, and even after Bobby attacked Goldberg’s 15 year old son. They should’ve expected this going on, and now they should have the wherewithal to pivot away from it as quickly as possible. But they won’t. We know they won’t. Raw is a bad product that is in desperate need of a complete and total overhaul, and this match was the epitome of so much of what’s wrong with it.)

-Cole and McAfee tossed to a video package hyping the main event between Roman Reigns and John Cena

-John Cena hit the ring to a good reaction, sporting a new Super Mario 3 cover art-inspired t-shirt, his first legitimately cool piece of merchandise in years. It features all of his title reigns on the back. “I’m ready!” Cena said. Roman Reigns followed, flanked by Paul Heyman, and The Usos. Reigns wore his signature red lei. Cole said Reigns’ Universal title reign has now surpassed Cena’s longest world title run.

Heyman held up the Universal title. The Usos held up the Smackdown Tag Team titles. Cole and McAfee talked up the Bloodline. Paul whispered something to Jimmy and Jey, and they fell back. The lights drowned them out and Reigns began his long walk to the ring with Heyman at his side. Greg Hamilton provided Championship introductions.

(10) JOHN CENA vs. ROMAN REIGNS (c, w/ Paul Heyman) – WWE Universal Championship match

John Cena danced around the ring as the bell rang. He threw a shadow jab at Roman Reigns. Reigns laughed him off. Things turned serious quickly. Cena slapped his biceps and looked around for the crowd’s reaction. They came alive and the two locked up. Cena grabbed a side headlock. Reigns backed him into the ropes and shoved him away.

Roman gave John a quick shoulder tackle and then pointed a finger to the sky. The two locked up again. Reigns grabbed a headlock, but Cena rolled it into a pin, scoring a one count. Cena and Reigns opened up a test of strength, but Cena turned it into a small package for two. Cena held two fingers up to Reigns and smiled. Reigns kicked him in the gut.

Reigns riled up the crowd, putting a hand to his ear and telling them to acknowledge him. Reigns went for a clothesline, but Cena ducked and rolled Reigns up again, scoring another two count. Reigns rolled through it and elbowed Cena. Reigns continued to talk trash to the audience. He whipped Cena into the corner. Cena fell to the mat with forced. Roman gave him a snap suplex and covered him lackadaisically for a soft two count. Reigns grabbed a side chinlock. Cena slowly fought to his feet.

Cena broke the hold as the match crossed 5:00. Reigns kicked Cena in the gut, dropping him. “Vegas is here for me,” Reigns said to no one in particular. Cena rose to his feet, but Reigns gave him another snap suplex. Reigns covered for two. Roman tossed Cena to the outside. A small dueling “let’s go Cena/Cena sucks” chant broke out. Reigns headed to the outside and wound up a punch for Cena. John blocked it and landed one of his own. Reigns shrugged it off and tossed Cena into the ring steps.

Reigns stepped to the official as he threatened to count him out. Roman took his Universal title from Paul Heyman and posed with it on top of the ringside steps. John Cena slid back in the ring to break the count. Reigns returned to continue the beatdown, but Cena rolled him up again for a two count.

“You can’t roll me up,” Reigns said, “you ain’t gonna win like this.” Cena dragged himself to his feet, using Reigns’ pants for leverage. Cena hoisted Reigns’ up for an Attitude Adjustment, but Reigns quickly slid out of it and hit a DDT. He covered Cena quickly for two. Reigns’s face showed concern.

Reigns looked directly into the ringside camera, he apologized to Hollywood executives. “I’m gonna whoop his ass, and then you can have him!” he said emphatically. Cena tried to mount a comeback, firing off shots at Reigns. Roman snuffed it out with a right to the mouth. “You’ve got those 5 moves, John, that’s light work!” Reigns smiled, “I might as well be in Denver right now!” Cole said WWE will be in Denver tomorrow.

Cena rolled up Reigns again. Roman rolled through it and grabbed a sleeper hold. Cena began to fade, but quickly regained his composure and pulled himself to his feet. Reigns leapt onto Cena’s back and forced him down again. Cena stood again. Reigns leapt on his back again. Cena managed to dump Reigns in the corner as the match hit 12:00.

Roman charged at Cena. Cena caught him with a clothesline. Both men were laid out. Cole reset the scene. Reigns went for a clothesline, but Cena ducked it and hit two shoulder tackles. Cena hit the spinning powerbomb and went for the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena waved his hand in front of his face and Reigns struck, rolling him into the Guillotine. Cena fought out of it quickly, but Reigns popped up and hit the Superman Punch. Reigns set up for the Spear, but ran into a kick to the head from Cena.

Cena set up the Five Knuckle Shuffle a second time, this time connecting. He scooped Reigns up for the Attitude Adjustment and hit it. Cena covered and Reigns kicked out at the last possible moment. Cena gave a quick nod and transitioned into the STFU. Reigns crawled to the ropes slowly, eventually reaching them.

Reigns rolled to the outside as the match approached 15:30. Cena left the ring to meet him, but Reigns caught him with a Drive-By. Roman returned to the ring to break the count. Cena rose his knees on the outside. Reigns got a running start around the ring, but Cena scooped him up and gave him an Attitude Adjustment through the announcers desk. Cena quickly tossed Reigns in the ring and covered him for another believable near fall.

“The champion is in deep, deep trouble,” Cole proclaimed. Cena climbed to the top rope and dove. Reigns caught him out of mid-air and delivered a powerbomb for another two count. Cena pulled himself toe corner. Reigns loaded up for the Superman Punch. Reigns charged, but Cena blocked it and rolled Reigns up for two. Reigns popped to his feet and hit the Superman Punch, scoring a two count of his own.

Cena rolled around the mat. Reigns sat in frustration, then began to shake with anger. He began talking to himself. He slapped the ropes. “It’s over now!” Reigns said. He said up for the Spear, but Cena sidestepped him. Reigns ran into the ring post. Cena dragged Reigns to the top rope, setting up for a super Attitude Adjustment. He hit it. Cena covered, but Reigns kicked out again. “This entire stadium thought Cena was winning,” Cole declared.

The match hit 21:00 and the clock crept past midnight on the east coast. Cena rose slowly. Reigns continued to struggle on the mat. Cena mocked Roman’s “oh-ah” pose. Reigns kicked him in the face. Cena threw punches. Reigns threw uppercuts. The crowd came alive with each blow, firmly behind Cena.

“I am WWE!” screamed Reigns as he got the better of the exchange. He set up, then hit the Spear and covered Cena for a three count.

WINNER: Roman Reigns in 23:00 to retain the WWE Universal Championship

Roman Reigns held up the title and took his lei. He looked around at the audience. Brock Lesnar’s music hit. The crowd erupted into a frenzy. Lesnar emerged from the back, sporting his new ponytail and full beard. He wore jeans and a black tank top. He walked confidently to the ring and stepped inside. Reigns never took his eyes off of him.

Lesnar stepped to Heyman first. Paul left the ring in a hurry. Lesnar got in Reigns’ face and said something to him off-mic. Reigns backed away slowly, leaving the ring. Lesnar let him go. Reigns and Heyman backed up the ramp in fear. Heyman looked like he’d just seen his life flash before his eyes. Lesnar’s music played again and he posed for the crowd. “On a night of surprises, the biggest one came at the end of the night – Brock Lesnar is back!” Cole exclaimed. McAfee closed the night, saying “what a night, what a Summerslam.”

(LeClair’s Analysis: Let’s address the match first. Leave it to Roman Reigns, undoubtedly the best thing WWE has at their disposal right now, to bring the big fight feel to a show that felt like it severely lacked it. After a night of largely underwhelming matches, and though aided by the massive return of Becky Lynch, WWE needed one of their epic-style main events to close the show off on the right note. They got it here. Cena worked the gimmick perfectly, trying desperately to catch Reigns off guard with a quick roll up. Reigns was masterful, no-selling Cena’s attempts, talking trash, playing to the audience for more boos, and dominating Cena every step of the way in the early going. While I thought they went a little heavy on the finisher spamming near the end, I thought they really nailed the one that counted the most – Reigns beat Cena with one spear. That was important. Cena hit everything he had, and then-some, but all it took for Reigns was one. Like Edge vs. Rollins earlier in the night, this wasn’t a classic, but it was a damn fine match between two major stars, and just about the best we could hope for at this stage of Cena’s career. He did exactly what he came to do, and now he can step aside.

…For the return of Brock Lesnar. Wow. It feels like WWE knew they had a bit of an underwhelming night planned here, because they loaded up on major moments outside the ring. The echo of the opening of Lesnar’s music lead to a massive reaction, perhaps bigger than even Becky Lynch’s earlier in the night, though you won’t get an argument from me either way, it was damn close. Lesnar looks like a monster, and Cole and McAfee sold him as such. We’ve seen this match many times, but never this incarnation of it. Babyface Brock Lesnar is a totally different character, and more importantly, heel Roman Reigns is on a whole different level. Count me in all the way for this ride.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: The returns were excellent. Lynch and Lesnar received star’s welcome, and they made the show feel big. Cena vs. Reigns and Edge vs. Rollins delivered, though neither were classics. Both lived up to my fairly lofty expectations. There were bits of the undercard that worked – the Raw tag team title match, the Smackdown tag team title match, and the closing minutes of the U.S. title match. The rest, ranged from middling and forgettable to downright awful. Bliss vs. Eva, Lashley vs. Goldberg, and the Miz & Morrison segment were bad television from a bad brand that desperately needs to turn the page. The bait and switch pulled prior to the Smackdown Women’s title match was poor judgment, even in hindsight knowing they had Becky up their sleeve. They shouldn’t have aired the match promo – it made no sense. The show felt bloated, running over four hours and tiring an already tepid crowd out quickly. This felt like a crowd that came ready to cheer, and just weren’t given anything to get excited for until Lynch showed up nearly 90 minutes into the main card. That’s a long time to wait, and it showed. Stadium reactions never come off quite as well as standard arenas, but this crowd felt particularly lukewarm to everything outside of the two major returns, and the main event. It made for a show that felt longer than it was, and because of that, I struggle to give it an outright thumbs up. With that being said, there were undoubtedly some great moments you should go out of your way to check out.

3 Comments on LECLAIR’S WWE SUMMERSLAM 2021 REPORT: Alt perspective, detailed coverage of Reigns vs. Cena, Lashey vs. Goldberg, Belair vs. Banks, more

  1. I was hoping that Wyatt/Strowman were just playing a role by pretending to be fired by WWE only to show up tonight with Rowan to reunite the family. Nikki A.S.^ was always going to be a short term gimmick. Orton doing one hell of a job of putting Riddle over. Ripley is a great talent in the ring, but can’t quite get over. Where was Nia Jax tonight? Reigns vs Lesnar can have so many plots to it including Heyman. Not a bad show, a loooong show.

  2. Sadly Xavier’s Razor Ramon homage got lost in the shuffle – but don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to assume that spot was promised to the sponsor. Someone spoiled Lesnar’s return for me – but I assumed it was going to be for the Lashley match. This is even better. Lesnar WAS a decent promo so I’m looking forward to hearing him sell himself now.

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