LECLAIR’S WWE SUMMERSLAM 2023 REPORT: Alt perspective, detailed coverage of Reigns vs. Uso, Cody vs. Lesnar, Rollins vs. Balor, more

By Brandon LeClair, PWTorch contributor


AUGUST 5, 2023

Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves

-The opening video package, narrated by Kid Rock, ran through a brief history of historic SummerSlam locations before turning toward Detroit to hype the night’s event.

-Michael Cole welcome the audience to the show over a sweeping stadium shot of Ford Field. He said over 50,000 are expected to be in attendance for four main events.

-Logan Paul was first through the curtain to a chorus of boos. Cole said he’s the “arrogant social media star who has taken WWE by storm.” He reset the scene from ringside, welcoming his broadcast partner, Corey Graves. The latter said it’s hot in Ford Field and Detroit is ready for the biggest part of the summer. Cole talked up Paul’s subscriber counts on various social media platforms before Ricochet headed to the ring.

Graves noted that ring announcer Samantha Irvin is wearing the same colors as Logan Paul tonight, not her fiance Ricochet. “Of course you’d notice,” Cole replied.


Logan Paul and Ricochet stepped to each other in the center of the ring. Paul rubbed his chin, then made a circle with his fist on Ricochet’s head. Ricochet shrugged it off and fired the first punch. He knocked Paul to the outside and teased  a quick dive. Paul adopted a defensive stance and then slowly re-entered the ring. The two men locked up. Ricochet got the leg up with a go behind and quick side headlock. A big “Logan sucks” chant broke out. Ricochet rolled through Paul and went for a kick, but Logan ducked it. He delivered a quick back elbow, dropping Ricochet.

Ricochet checked his mouth for blood while circling the ring. Paul side-stepped a kick attempt. Paul gave Ricochet a quick hip toss into a side headlock. Ricochet quickly worked his way up and freed himself against the ropes. He shot Paul toward the adjacent ropes, but Paul caught himself. The two men got tangled up. Paul worked Ricochet against the ropes, necessitating a break from the official. Logan climbed to the apron and pounded the back of Ricochet. He gave him a neckbreaker off the apron, then went to kiss his fiance in the front row.

“This your boy, right?” Logan yelled at Samantha Irvin, “I’m gonna hurt him real bad!” Graves said he saw a twinkle in Samantha’s eyes. Cole groaned. Paul cornered Ricochet and pounded him with quick jabs. He let his opponent stand, then went back to the body blows. Paul hoisted Ricochet onto the top turnbuckle at 4:30. He gave Ricochet a well-executed running Powerslam for a cover and two count. Cole said it was a clear mockery of Ricochet’s one-time tag team partner, Braun Strowman. Paul cupped his hand against his ear, looking for a reaction. He received a strong chorus of boos. He whipped Ricochet off the rope and gave him a big boot. He followed it up with a running Leg Drop. Cole said he calls it the “Hogan Paul.” Logan stole Hogan’s flex taunt.

Paul’s show-boating worked against him. Ricochet fought to his feet and gave Paul a slam. He hit a standing Moonsault for a cover and two count. Ricochet hit the ropes, but Paul cut him off with a big back body drop. Ricochet rolled to the apron. Paul gave him a quick springboard clothesline off the middle rope. Logan hooked Ricochet up for a Spanish Fly off the apron, a call back to Money in the Bank. Both men flipped all the way through and landed on their feet. Paul charged at Ricochet, but Ricochet caught him with a successful Spanish Fly. Both men struggled to their feet. Paul climbed in the ring first. He flipped over the top rope with a roll through clothesline onto Ricochet below. Paul grabbed a bottle of “Prime” from a kid at ringside, took a sip, then dumped the rest on his opponent.

Back in the ring, Logan Paul hit Ricochet with a standing Shooting Star for a cover and two count as the match ticked toward 9:30. Ricochet fought back with some forearms. Paul forced Ricochet to the corner and charged. Ricochet ducked, sending Paul crashing into the ring post. Ricochet worked Paul up onto the top turnbuckle. The two men stood on either side of it. Ricochet hit a spin-out neckbreaker off the top. Both men worked to their feet slowly. Ricochet threw a couple of quick kicks, followed by a springboard back elbow and running tackle. He shot Paul to the corner, caught him with a headbutt to the midsection. Finally, he dropped Paul with a springboard clothesline off the top rope.

After a standing Shooting Star of his own, Ricochet covered Paul for a near fall just before 12:00. “I wanted you to kick out!” Ricochet told him. He threw a number of kicks to Paul’s chest, back, and ribs. Paul ducked one to the face and went for a backdrop. Ricochet flipped over him. Paul leapt over Ricochet onto the turnbuckle. He flipped off the middle turnbuckle for a Moonsault. Ricochet caught him in Powerslam position. Paul spun himself around and into a Tornado DDT for a cover and near fall.

“The Maverick” mimed putting out a cigar on the back of Ricochet. He looked for a Powerbomb, but Ricochet flipped through and hit a step-knee followed by a Recoil. He climbed to the top rop, clutching his rbis. Ricochet put fingers to the sky and went for a Shooting Star Press. Paul got his knees up, pulling Ricochet into a Small Package for a two count. Logan kipped up, grinning. He went to the apron and delivered a massive springboard splash three quarters of the way across the ring. Paul covered for another near fall. Logan called for a knock-out blow. Ricochet cut him off with a kick to the face. Ricochet hit a Detonation Kick, fireman’s roll, then a springboard Moonsault for a cover and two count at 16:30.

Both men were spent. Ricochet dragged Paul toward the corner. Cole said he’s setting up for the 450. Graves said he’s gonna need the 630. Paul grabbed at Ricochet’s leg, but got kicked away. Ricochet went for the 630, but Paul rolled out of the way. While the referee checked on Ricochet, someone from Paul’s entourage slipped him some brass knuckles. Paul caught Ricochet with the knuckles for a cover and three count.

WINNER: Logan Paul in 17:57

(LeClair’s Analysis: Another incredibly impressive outing for Logan Paul. They’ve done a great job in the last few months capitalizing on a series of small moments between Logan Paul and Ricochet to create a feud that wound up feeling relatively organic and deserving of a spot on the SummerSlam card. After losing pretty consistently in virtually every outing, it was important for Paul to get a big win here. In fact, I’d have taken it a step further and just put him over clean. At this point, Paul has proved himself as a legitimately good wrestler with genuine ability and I see no issue with getting him some real, credible wins. This was a high-octane, well-paced, wildly entertaining opener that went over great with the crowd.)

-Sheamus was shown driving up to the building in a WWE monster truck. He was greeted by Ridge Holland and Butch. Cole said they’re getting ready for the SummerSlam battle royal before tossing to a video package for Cody Rhodes vs. Brock Lesnar.

-Brock Lesnar entered first to a big star reaction. He sauntered to the ring slowly. Cole said that Lesnar has been a part of more SummerSlam main events than anyone in history, tonight being his tenth (even though it’s not the main event.) Lesnar stepped into the ring and stared directly into the hard camera. Graves said Brock has been training as though it were fight week, and that should scare Cody Rhodes.

A massive roar let out as “Kingdom” filled the stadium. Cody Rhodes emerged from the smoke with fans singing along. Fireworks exploded as Rhodes posed on the turnbuckle, never taking his eyes off of Lesnar.


Cody Rhodes attacked Brock Lesnar from behind before the bell even rang. Brock Lesnar grabbed Rhodes and haphazardly tossed him over his head for the first German Suplex of the night. Rhodes shrugged it off and delivered a quick Disaster Kick. Lesnar looked rocked, but quickly recovered. He tossed Cody into the corner. He tried to stay on the offensive, but Rhodes side-stepped him and slammed him into the ring post. Lesnar spilled to the outside.

Rhodes tried to capitalize, giving chase. Lesnar scooped him up and drove him spine-first into the ring post. Rhodes crumpled to the floor. Brock tossed him back into the ring and tossed him wildly over his head. It looked somewhat like a release Gutwrench. Lesnar laughed. Cole noted that Brock has defeated sixteen different Hall-of-Famers. Brock gave Rhodes a picture-perfect belly-to-belly. He jogged in-place with a smirk as the match approached 3:00. Brock kicked Cody hard in the ribs.

Lesnar dragged Rhodes to his feet and gave him a snap Suplex. He hooked the leg for a one count. Lesnar tripped Cody up and dragged him around the ring at will. He pulled him up by his waist and gave him a release German Suplex. Rhodes winced as he came down on his shoulder. Brock gave him another release German. Cody rolled to the outside and collapsed to the floor. Brock smiled and challenged Cody to stand. Rhodes returned to the ring at a count of six. Lesnar immediately dropped him with a knee to the mid-section.

Another German Suplex left Rhodes gasping for air. Brock tossed him to the outside like a toy. Cody answered the count at six again. Lesnar shook his head. He shoved Rhodes off the apron. “Stay down! Save yourself!” he told Rhodes. Cody crawled to his feet again, this time rolling inside at seven. He clutched at his ribs. “Cody, this is only gonna get worse!” Brock said. He gave Rhodes another Suplex. Cole said it feels like the air has been let out of the balloon in Ford Field. He was right, there was an uncomfortable murmur from the audience. Lesnar tossed Rhodes to the outside again.

“That’s a glassy look,” Graves said as Rhodes stood drapped across their announce desk. Cody answered the count again, but was met immediately by Lesnar. Brock Clotheslined him to the floor. Cole begged the referee to come check on Cody outside. Rhodes answered the count at eight. Brock left the ring and dragged Cody with him. He delivered a brutal F5 on the floor. “Tell him!” Lesnar advised Michael Cole to tell Cody to stay down. The referee began counting again. Rhodes stirred at seven and returned to the ring at nine. Lesnar was furious. Rhodes worked himself to his feet as the match crossed 9:30.

The American Nightmare surged. He fired off a series of punches at Lesnar, but the Beast shrugged him off. He gave Rhodes another Suplex. He tossed him to the outside and delivered an F5 through the announcers desk. “Stay down!” Cole begged. Brock returned to the ring. Cole continued to beg. Rhodes used Cole’s chair to steady himself. He collapsed to a knee at nine, but dove into the ring just before ten. “Why are you doing this?” Graves asked.

Brock watched as Rhodes dragged himself around the ring. He shook his head and gave Cody a club to the back of the neck. Cody threw a couple of half-hearted punches. Lesnar gave him another overhead belly-to-belly. He looked for another German Suplex, but Cody held onto the turnbuckle. He took the pad off, but at the Suplex. Cody rolled to the outside. He grabbed the steel steps. Lesnar kicked them from his hand. Cody rallied, driving Lesnar into the ring post twice. He hit Lesnar in the shoulder with the steps. Brock rolled back in the ring. Rhodes caught him with another Disaster Kick, then a Cody Cutter at 13:00. Rhodes hit the ropes again. He leapt from the middle, to the top for a Super Cody Cutter. Rhodes hooked the leg for a near fall.

“Get up!” Rhodes begged, looking for Cross Rhodes. Brock pulled Cody into the Kimura. He wrapped the legs. Cody screamed in agony, trying desperately to reach the ropes. Graves said that Brock is gonna snap the arm again. Cody finally reached the ropes just as Cole worked into a fever pitch. A “Cody chant” broke out as the match crossed 15:00. Both men struggled to their feet. Lesnar hunched over, dripping sweat. He grabbed Cody for another F5. Cody slid down his pack and pushed Lesnar into the exposed turnbuckle. Cody grabbed the arm and applied a Kimura Lock of his own. Lesnar tried to gain leverage, but Rhodes wrapped his legs tight. Brock put a hand up to tap, screaming in agony.

In a final act of desperation, Lesnar dead-lifted Cody off the mat just enough to slam him down and force a release of the hold. Cody rose with Brock. Brock’s shorts were completely blown out. He picked Cody up for the F5. Cody broke free again. He hit Lesnar with a Cross Rhodes. He held on and hit another, then one more for good measure. Rhodes hooked the leg for a three count.

WINNER: Cody Rhodes in 17:28

Brock Lesnar rose to his feet slowly. Cody watched him tepidly. Lesnar stepped to his face, butted his head, and offered a handshake. Lesnar held Rhodes’ arm up for all four sides of the stadium before leaving the ring to him. Rhodes gave a sly smile as the crowd swelled. He left the ring to give a hug to his mother in the front row. “We’re on our way!” Rhodes told the crowd.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Really strong conclusion to this rivalry. WWE continues to knock it out of the park with the booking of Cody Rhodes, constantly putting him in sympathetic positions with outcomes that build his starpower. Cody has been magnificent at getting right up the line of going overboard with his character, but never quite crossing the threshold. Brock Lesnar looked truly motivated to give Cody everything he had. I thought this differentiated itself well enough from their previous two encounters, and broke the mold of Lesnar matches just enough to be really enjoyable from start to finish. More than the match itself, though, the post-match handshake and apparent torch-passing moment from Lesnar to Cody felt like a big moment in the careers of both men, and the crowd seemed to react accordingly. This was really well done.)

-After a short break, the ring was filled with wrestlers for the SummerSlam Battle Royal. L.A. Knight got his own entrance, to a massive reaction. “Remember when Ford Field used to have a roof on it?” Graves asked rhetorically, “it’s gone!” he replied to himself. A.J. Styles entered next. Cole tossed to a sponsored video package about battle royals.

(3) SummerSlam Battle Royal

As soon as the bell rang, MVP’s voice rang out. He said the match can’t begin until the man who is going to win it has entered. He introduced Omos. “Good luck to everyone trying to get Omos out,” Cole said. The other 24 wrestlers in the match looked on with some trepidation, but quickly broke into a brawl amongst themselves. Omos entered the ring slowly. He immediately eliminated Apollo Crews. Omos lifted J.D. McDonagh into the air and tossed him onto Apollo Crews. Rick Boogs followed. A number of wrestlers began teaming up on Omos. The Brawling Brutes and the Alpha Academy worked together to hold Omos against the ropes and allow Sheamus to deliver the Ten Beats. Omos quickly broke free and gave Sheamus a massive clubbing clothesline that seemed to knock the wind out of him.

Giovanni Vinci and Ludwig Kaiser worked together to dump Otis out of the ring. Chad Gable gave Vinci a capture Suplex over the top, eliminating him. The Viking Raiders worked to beat down Chad Gable. Tommaso Ciampa cut them off and eliminated both Erik and Ivar. Shinsuke Nakamura got involved with Ciampa. The battled briefly before Ciampa eliminated him. Bronson Reed clotheslined Ciampa over the top to eliminate him. Austin Theory tossed Cameron Grimes just after the 5:00 mark. Theory was then immediately eliminated by Santos Escobar. Karrion Kross then tossed Santos.

Omos began taking down opponents again. He tossed Riddle out and Butch out. L.A. Knight came after Omos. Other began to join in. Sheamus gave him a Brogue Kick. Styles gave him the Phenomenal Forearm. The remaining wrestlers all worked together to execute the usual “eliminate the big guy” spot. Knight was the final piece of the puzzle, providing just enough force to get Omos to topple over. Suddenly, Grayson Waller emerged from underneath the ring. He rolled into the ring and and came face to face with The Miz. Graves said it was like the Spider-Man meme. Miz tossed L.A. Knight over the top, but the fan-favorite held on. He slid back in the ring and tossed Miz out. Sheamus then eliminated Waller.

A.J. Styles tossed Karrion Kross to the apron. He hit him with a Pale Kick. Kross fell to the floor, eliminated. Chad Gable tried to Suplex Bronson Reed, but the big man blocked it and tossed him out. Reed scooped Knight onto the apron. Knight grabbed him by the neck and tried to pull him over. He succeeded. The crowd popped big. The final three were L.A. Knight, A.J. Styles, and Sheamus. Sheamus gave Knight a Backbreaker as the match approached 11:00. He looked for a Brogue on Styles, but A.J. countered. He leapt to the apron, looking for the forearm on Knight. Karrion Kross grabbed A.J.’s leg. Sheamus gave Styles a Brogue Kick to eliminate him. “This isn’t over!” Kross told Styles.

Only Knight and Sheamus remained. Knight went for Blunt Force Trauma. Sheamus blocked it. He caught Knight with a knee. L.A. dumped Sheamus to the apron. Sheamus held on. He climbed to the top turnbuckle. Knight leapt up to meet him, connecting with an overhead belly-to-belly off the top. Knight gave Sheamus a Clothesline over the top to eliminate him.

WINNER: L.A. Knight in 12:48

(LeClair’s Analysis: A pretty typical battle royal with rapid fire eliminations. It got in and got out without overstaying its welcome. The crowd was only going to be pleased with one thing, and they delivered it. I understand wanting to capitalize on what they’ve got with Knight, and to some extent, I agree, but I do think this time could’ve probably been better served by the ongoing Trish Stratus/Becky Lynch feud. With that being said, I know that they like to get a lot of names on these big shows and this accomplished the goal. I don’t know what the ceiling for Knight is, but the crowd is certainly not backing down in their support. A fun, feel good moment even if it maybe wasn’t the best use of the time.)

-Cole tossed to a video package for Shayna Baszler vs. Ronda Rousey for Premium subscribers.

Cole and Graves talked about the new commentary line-ups, beginning Monday on Raw.

Ronda Rousey headed to the ring first. Cole said she’s been dealing with some elbow issues for the last few weeks. He noted that she won her first Championship at SummerSlam in 2018. Shayna Baszler marched to the ring next. Cole said she hopes to be the first ever to submit Ronda Rousey in WWE.

The referee explained that there are no pin falls or rope breaks and the fight will only end by tap out or knock out. Rousey offered to touch gloves, but Baszler refused.


Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler circled one another briefly before locking up. Shayna took her to the mat, but Rousey covered up quickly. The two traded roll-throughs into dominant positions for some body blows. Rousey tried to grab her signature arm bar, but Baszler kept her hands clasped. The two rolled to opposite ends and returned to their feet. Both threw some quick low kicks.  Rousey left herself open and got caught with a kick to the face. She dropped to the mat and rolled to the outside.

Rousey returned to her feet quickly, but stumbled back to the ring. Shayna took her down to the mat and grabbed a leg hold. Rousey threw some punches to try to break free. The crowd began to grow restless. Rousey backed away from Shayna, then charged at her for a step up knee. She caught her square in the face. Baszler dropped to the mat. The referee checked on her, but Baszler committed to continue. Ronda caught her with a jab to the face, dropping her again. Shayna pulled herself up. Rousey wrapped her legs around Baszler’s neck and pounded at her back. Shayna held an arm up to demonstrate her consciousness.

Baszler managed to work herself up and toward the ropes. She dumped Ronda to the outside, but went toppling with her. Baszler rolled back in the ring and sat in the corner. She grabbed at her arm, asking for medical. Two men came into the ring to check on Shayna and the crowd began to boo loudly. Rousey tossed the medical staff aside. Graves said that would cost her a few bucks. Baszler rose to her feet and the two traded punches. Baszler managed to grab the Kirifuda Clutch, but couldn’t get Rousey to the mat. Ronda used the ropes to break it off. She tripped Baszler into an arm bar temporarily, but Shayna broke free.

After a step up kick attempt from Rousey, Shayna turned her into the Kirifuda. Rousey tried to stay on her feet, but Shayna dragged her to the mat and locked her in between the legs. Rousey went out and the referee called for the bell.

WINNER: Shayna Baszler in 7:26

(LeClair’s Analysis: The beats of this fight worked well enough, but the story failures along the way were simply too much to overcome. The initial turn, though necessitated by Rousey’s departure, never made sense, and though they tried to get people to buy in, it simply never worked. Both Rousey and Baszler are deeply damaged characters in their own right, for entirely different reasons.  The crowd turned on this early, and never came back around. The moment with the trainers, especially, felt like a baffling choice when Baszler was the closest thing to a babyface they had in this one. Kudos to both women for doing something a little different here, but they just couldn’t overcome the circumstances.)

-Mike Rome announced the attendance as 59,194.

-Michael Cole tossed to a video package for Gunther vs. Drew McIntyre for premium subscribers.

Drew McIntyre entered first to a strong reaction. He slung his sword over his shoulder and slapped hands all the way down the ramp as fire burst from the upper perimeter of Ford Field. Cole noted that it’s been 13 years since Drew held the Intercontinental Championship. The camera faded from McIntyre in the ring to Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci by the stage. Kaiser provided his signature introduction for Gunther. Cole said that Gunther is just 32 days away from becoming the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion of all time.

(5) GUNTHER (c) vs. DREW McINTYRE – WWE Intercontinental Championship match

Gunther and Drew McIntyre stood opposite one another, seemingly relaxed. Gunther was the first to move, circling his challenger. McIntyre adopted a stronger stance, never losing Gunther’s gaze. They challenged each other to step into the lock up. McIntyre riled up the crowd, then initiated the tie-up. The two traded quick shoulder tackles. Gunther’s only knocked Drew back. Drew’s dropped Gunther to the mat. The champion looked concerned.

The champion threw a couple of quick punches at his challenger, then took him to the mat for a grounded side headlock. McIntyre worked himself to his feet slowly. He lifted Gunther into the air and delivered a nice back drop to break the hold. Gunther rolled to the outside. McIntyre followed, slamming the champion’s head into the barrier and then the apron. Both men slid back in the ring and traded punches as the match hit 2:45. McIntyre caught Gunther with a Glasgow Kiss. The champion rolled straight to the outside to regroup, but Drew gave him no quarter. He attacked Gunther on the outside. The champion recovered quickly and slammed McIntyre into the apron, then gave him a backdrop onto the steel steps. The camera caught Drew draped awkwardly over the steps, selling the pain in his back.

McIntyre rolled into the ring and was met with a flurry of stomps and kicks from the dominant champion. McIntyre returned to his feet and gave Gunther a chop. Gunther returned one so big that it dropped Drew to the mat. Graves said he doesn’t chop, he swings battle axes. The champion gave McIntyre a double-underhook Suplex for a cover and two count. He dragged the challenger up by the arm and gave him a short-arm clothesline. Cole said that Gunther operates similarly to Brock Lesnar in prowess and intimidation. Graves agreed, but noted Gunther’s finesse.

The two men traded punches. Gunther eventually turned Drew around for a release German Suplex. McIntyre rolled right to his feet and dropped Gunther with a huge clothesline. Gunther stood slowly and fired off another big chop. McIntyre returned them. Drew worked Gunther into the corner, then gave him a quick overhead belly-to-belly out of it. He caught him with a second one. Drew set up for the Future Shock DDT, but Gunther slipped free as the match ticked past 7:00. Both men wound up on the mat. McIntyre kipped up. He headed to the corner, looking for the Claymore. Gunther ducked. McIntyre flew wildly. Gunther gave him a big dropkick into the corner. As McIntyre sauntered out, Gunther pulled him in for the Powerbomb. McIntyre blocked it and hit one of his own. He followed up with the Future Shock DDT for a cover and near fall.

Drew retreated to the corner for a countdown. Gunther saw it coming and rolled to the outside. McIntyre flipped over the top rope and onto the champion below. He tossed him back in the ring and resumed the count. McIntyre charged, but Gunther intercepted him with another missile dropkick. Gunther immediately scooped McIntyre up and delivered a Powerbomb for a cover and near fall. Gunther pounded the mat. He climbed to the top rope and hit a violent splash onto McIntyre for another cover and another near fall.

Both men rose slowly, trying to regain their breath. Gunther beat the challenger to the punch, slapping the back of his head repeatedly and daring him to rise. He went for a chop, but Drew caught his arm. Gunther begged off. McIntyre gave him a big chop. Gunther returned. The two went back and forth, both chests reddening with haste. McIntyre ducked a chop from Gunther, hit the ropes and connected with a Claymore for a cover and near fall at 11:45. Both men were down again.

The camera pulled back as a “this is awesome” chant pulled out. Drew McIntyre rose to his feet first. Gunther grabbed at his boots. Drew lifted him up onto his shoulders and deposited him on the top turnbuckle. He gave him more chops. McIntyre tucked the champion’s head between his legs, appearing to set up for a top rope Piledriver. Gunther fought him off. Drew climbed, but Gunther shoved him onto the ropes. McIntyre bounced awkwardly into the ring. Gunther delivered another splash. He rose quickly, pulling Drew to his feet. He gave him a short-arm clothesline, then a Powerbomb for a stack cover and three count.

WINNER: Gunther in 13:42 to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship

(LeClair’s Analysis: While this certainly didn’t rise to the level of the triple threat at WrestleMania, or Gunther’s encounter with Sheamus at last year’s Clash of the Castle, this was a strong outing and fun defense for Gunther. I liked that McIntyre was able to rock Gunther early, catching him off guard a little bit and sending a clear message that this was going to be a much tougher fight than Gunther has been used to as of late. I thought the finish was effective and creative, with Gunther learning earlier that the splash wasn’t enough to put McIntyre away, so he’d need to add the clothesline and the Powerbomb to end it. I’m curious as to where they plan to go with McIntyre, or if his deal has been renewed. This didn’t feel like a finish that really left the door open for more – Drew fought valiantly but Gunther just beat him clean in the end. Good match, but it fell just a bit below my fairly lofty expectations.)

-Cole tossed to a video package for the World Heavyweight title match.

Finn Balor entered first. On his way down the ramp, he pulled down the sleeve of his leather jacket to reveal a painted line down his previously-injured shoulder and the world “seven” sprawled across it. Cole noted that it signified the shoulder injury he suffered at the hands of Seth Rollins at SummerSlam in 2016. Graves noted that Balor was without his Judgment Day cohorts.

The World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins entered to a big ovation from the crowd. Under his entrance robe, Rollins wore the same vest he wore to the ring at SummerSlam 2016. “I never forgot!” Seth said as he marched down the ramp. In the ring, he music went silent to let the crowd serenade the champion. Balor looked in with contempt. Samantha Irvin gave standard Championship introductions.

Finn Balor attacked Seth Rollins from behind as he tried to hand off the title. Rollins fought back quickly. Referee Rod Zapata separated the men long enough to call for the bell.

(6) SETH ROLLINS (c) vs. FINN BALOR – WWE World Heavyweight Championship match

Seth Rollins and Finn Balor traded fast punches at the outset. Rollins worked Balor toward the corner and gave him some quick chops. He walked him to the opposite corner and gave him a quick shoulder. Rollins went for a Falcon Arrow, but Finn rolled down the back and caught him with a kick. Finn took Seth down and stomped on his chest. He mounted the champion and fired off a number of punches, yelling “seven years!” Balor held his arms up for a chorus of boos from the Ford Field crowd.

Balor worked the champion toward the corner. He gave him a few chops, then twisted his arm around the top rope. Away from the ropes, Balor twisted the arm and forced Rollins to the mat. He drove his knee into the back of Seth’s upper arm. Seth slowly returned to his feet, willed to life by the crowd. Balor stamped it out, working Seth back to the mat and again wrenching the arm repeatedly. Rollins retreated to the corner, but Finn stayed in pursuit. He wrapped the arm again and walked Seth to the adjacent corner, tossing him into the turnbuckle.

The challenger continued to work over the left shoulder and arm as the camera pulled back to reset the scene for Cole and Graves. Seth fought to his feet and landed a couple of right hands, opening up Finn for a series of chops. He whipped Balor toward the ropes, but the challenger countered into a tilt-a-whirl Russian leg sweep. Balor held on and applied an arm bar as the match approached 5:00. Seth reached the bottom rope to break the hold. Balor admonished referee Rod Zapata for the break. He turned his focus back to the champion, driving his elbow into the weakened shoulder. He cornered Rollins and beat him down until the referee forced him back.

After an Irish whip to the corner, Finn charged. Rollins exploded out with a clothesline. He grabbed Balor by the beard and kicked him. He gave Finn a spinning lariat for a cover a two count. A small dueling chant broke out as Rollins rose to his feet. It morphed quickly into a rendition of his theme song. Balor went for a Sling Blade, but Rollins turned it into a Falcon Arrow for another cover and two count. Finn rolled to the outside. Rollins looked to the crowd, then got a running start. He dove onto Balor on the outside. Finn crashed into the announcers desk. Rollins did it a second time, then a third.

Finn laid draped over the announcers desk. Rollins grabbed him by the beard again and tossed him back into the ring. Balor was bleeding a bit from the mouth. Seth climbed to the top turnbuckle, but Finn dragged him down by the injured arm. He slammed Seth shoulder first into the ring post, sending him crashing to the floor and clutching the left arm. Finn joined him on the outside. He tried to set Rollins up for a Buckle Bomb into the same corner of the barrier, but Seth blocked it and climbed back onto the apron. Balor grabbed him from below and delivered the Buckle Bomb. He tossed him into the ring quickly and gave him a Sling Blade.

Judgment Day’s leader threw up the double guns and charged. Rollins caught him with a surprise Superkick. Balor fell to the mat. Rollins approached, but Finn pulled him into an arm bar. After a momentary struggle, Rollins dead-lifted Finn up and gave him a Buckle Bomb. He grabbed him and delivered a second into the opposite corner. Seth climbed to the top rope and delivered a big splash for a cover and near fall just past 11:00.

Blood poured a bit more heavily from Balor’s mouth now. He and Seth rose slowly. Seth gave him a rolling elbow, then a ripcord forearm. He looked for the Stomp, but Balor ducked it. He kicked Rollins into the corner and climbed the southwest turnbuckle. looking for Coup De Grace. Rollins leap up to meet him. He delivered a Falcon Arrow off the top turnbuckle. Rollins hooked a leg, but Balor rolled through into a cover of his own for two. Both men rolled to their feet. Finn caught the champion with a Pale Kick.

Michael Cole reset the stage again as the crowd came to life. Balor and Rollins traded punches at 13:30. Deep scratches had formed on the challenger’s back. Balor hit another missile dropkick into the same corner. He ascended the ropes and went for the Coup De Grace. Rollins moved. He pulled Finn in and hit a Pedigree for a cover and two count. The crowd rose in unison, looking toward the entrance way. It was Damian Priest, carrying the Money in the Bank briefcase.

In the ring, Seth went for a stomp, but Finn moved again. Rollins rolled Finn up for a two count. Finn pushed him off. Rollins fell into the ropes and ate a big right hand from Damian Priest, unbeknownst to the referee. Balor gave Rollins a Pedigree for a cover and very close near fall. Priest began waving toward an area in the crowd. Rhea Ripley and Dominick Mysterio emerged from the audience. In the mean time, Priest got up on the apron with the briefcase. Balor began arguing with him. “We’re sticking with Plan A!” Rollins took down Balor and gave him the Stomp. He covered, but Balor just managed to kick out.

Dominick leapt onto the apron. Rollins shoved him to the floor and dove onto him on the outside. He climbed onto the apron, then to the top turnbuckle. He gave Damian Priest a leaping clothesline to the outside. Balor tossed Rollins back in the ring and gave him another corner dropkick. He leapt to the top rope and delivered the Coup De Grace for a cover another very close near fall. Both men writhed on the mat, trying to recover. Balor turned to Priest again. Damian put his arms up and slid the briefcase in the ring, seeming to encourage Finn to use it. He rounded the ring and leapt onto the apron to distract the referee. Meanwhile, Seth stomped Balor right onto the briefcase. He covered him for a three count.

WINNER: Seth Rollins in 18:26 to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

(LeClair’s Analysis: A pretty drastic improvement over last month’s encounter, though for all intents and purposes, the finish was the same. More miscommunication and tension between Finn Balor and Damian Priest led to Rollins being able to escape with a win. I thought they did a good enough job making the disconnect between Balor and Priest feel natural, and Cole did a particularly good job at explaining the beats in real time. Though I thought these two did a generally good job together overall, I can’t help but feel it’s time to move Rollins on to a bigger challenger, lest the newly created title continue to feel like a fairly definitive second fiddle.)

-A sponsored pre-tape with Alpha Academy and Miz aired.

-Cole tossed to a video package for the triple threat Women’s title match for premium subscribers.

Charlotte Flair headed to the ring first, with Cole noting that she’s a fourteen time champion. “Charlotte Flair personifies Superstar,” he said. He added that Flair is 5-0 at SummerSlam. Asuka was out next. She ran toward the camera and removed her mask as Cole said won the title in “controversial fashion” at Night of Champions. Graves called her as lethal as she is hypnotic. Bianca Belair entered last to a strong reaction. She sipped from a sponsored energy drink and then skipped to the ring, twirling her new, more lightly colored braid. Mike Rome introduced the match.

(7) ASUKA (c) vs. CHARLOTTE FLAIR vs. BIANCA BELAIR – WWE Women’s Championship Triple Threat match

All three women circled one another. Charlotte Flair threw a quick kick but missed wildly. Asuka did the same. Flair tossed Asuka to the apron, but the champion folded her leg over the top rope. Bianca Belair flipped into Asuka on the apron, but Asuka caught her leg and shoved her away. Flair dropped Asuka in the ring and then kipped up, only to be met by a waiting Bianca Belair. After a brief stare-down, the two traded quick counters before the stalemate was ended by a swift knee to Belair’s stomach delivered by Flair.

Flair tried to hit the ropes, but Asuka pulled her to the outside. Belair used the opportunity to dive onto both women. She climbed to the apron, but was grabbed by Flair. Asuka pulled her into the ring and dropped her for a cover and quick two count. The champion pulled at Belair’s arm and kicked at her open shoulder and face. She stomped on the side of Bianca’s head and smiled. Belair fought to her feet and delivered a rolling elbow. Asuka shrugged it off and caught Belair with a big rising knee. Flair returned and delivered one of her own to the champion.

Asuka gave Flair a German Suplex as the match approached 3:30. She grinned at the sight of both opponents rising to their knees. She took turns giving each of them kicks to the chest. Flair rose first, so Asuka gave her another German Suplex. She pulled in Belair for the same, but Bianca blocked it and went for a Suplex. Asuka rolled it into a small package for a two count. Asuka and Bianca wrestled to their feet and turned right into a top-rope cross body from Charlotte Flair.

The Queen peppered both opponents with quick chops. She tossed Asuka into the corner, then gave Belair a Suplex right into her. Flair’s gear began coming apart and she had to have referee Jessika Carr fix it for her. Asuka and Belair realized they looked silly stacked in the corner, so Asuka went for the Asuka Lock. Belair blocked it. Flair returned to the fold quickly and took them both down. Asuka caught Belair with double knees, then fell backward onto Flair for a two count.

Cole reset the scene at 6:30 with a wide shot of the subdued crowd. All three women began exchanging punches from their knees. Flair missed a chop on Asuka, who took her down. Asuka pulled Belair toward the corner by her braid, then eventually ripped her to the floor. Flair and Asuka continued to trade punches. Belair leapt back in the ring. She gave Flair and Asuka a Neckbreaker-DDT combo. She gave Flair a big shoulder into the corner, then mounted her for counting punches. Asuka tried to intervene, but Belair telegraphed her and flipped right over. She dropped both women, hit the ropes, and went for the springboard Moonsault. Both Asuka and Flair got their knees up.

The champion immediately pulled Flair into an Asuka Lock. Flair writhed on the mat as Belair returned to her feet. She hit the ropes and this time, executed the Springboard Moonsault to break up the submission attempt. Bianca clutched at her knee, slamming the leg against the mat. She climbed slowly to the top turnbuckle, but Asuka quickly knocked her off. Belair hit the apron hard and bounced to the floor. Asuka was immediately shoved to the floor by Flair. Charlotte climbed to the top turnbuckle as the match crossed 10:15. She went for the Moonsault. Asuka moved, and Charlotte completely missed Belair, but Bianca sold it anyway.

Asuka slammed Flair into the ring apron and slid her into the ring. She climbed to the top rope and hit an odd looking DDT for a cover. Belair just saved the count. Asuka and Belair returned to their feet. Asuka missed a kick. Belair scooped her into position for the K.O.D., but Asuka grabbed hold of the ropes. Belair deposited her on the apron. Asuka tried for the Asuka Lock. Belair slipped free. Charlotte caught Asuka with a big boot off the apron. Belair immediately pulled Flair in for the K.O.D., but Flair managed to slide away. Asuka returned to the ring and tossed Belair to the outside. She ripped Flair to the mat and applied an Arm Bar.

Charlotte managed to deadlift Asuka into the air, but the champion wouldn’t let go. Belair rushed in and gave Flair an Abdominal Stretch sit-out bomb. She tried to cover, but Asuka immediately pulled her into an Asuka Lock. Flair recovered quickly enough to stack both women for a double pin and near fall. Charlotte slumped against the ropes, catching her breath. She fought off the champion, then tripped up Belair into the turnbuckle.

With both women on the mat, Flair headed to the top turnbuckle. She delivered a Moonsault onto both women for a cover and another near fall. Flair began tangling Asuka and Belair’s legs for a double Figure Four. They easily kicked her away. Flair tossed Belair over the top rope, just out of view of the camera. Bianca hit the ring steps with some part of her body and came down favoring the injured leg heavily. Jessika Carr left the ring to check on her and quickly called for medical attention.

In the ring, Flair and Asuka traded blows. They worked their way to the top turnbuckle. Asuka gave Flair a Superplex off the top rope. Meanwhile, officials began helping Belair to the back. Flair caught Asuka with a Spear for a cover and two count as the match crossed 17:15. Flair looked a little shocked. She applied the Figure Four. Outside, Bianca Belair shoved away officials and limped back toward the ring. She climbed to the top turnbuckle just as Flair bridged into the Figure Eight. Belair hit a 450 onto the bridged Flair for a cover and near fall.

Belair and Flair were down in the ring. Asuka had rolled to the outside. Cole reset the stage again. Flair began talking trash to Belair. Bianca used the ropes to steady herself. She threw a hard right forearm. Flair returned one of her own. Both women used their whole bodies to throw counter punches. Belair managed to scoop Flair into position for the K.O.D., but Flair fought her off with an arm drag. Belair knocked Asuka off the apron. Flair tripped Bianca up and into the Figure Four. Belair screamed in agony. Flair bridged into the Figure Eight. Asuka returned and spit mist into Flair’s face, but Flair maintained the hold. Belair, still trapped in the Figure Four, pulled Asuka into a small package for a three count.

WINNER: Bianca Belair in 20:43 to win the WWE Women’s Championship

Belair wasn’t even able to stand before Iyo Sky’s music hit. She and Bayley ran to the ring. Bayley used the briefcase to take out both Flair and Asuka at ringside. She slid in the ring. Belair fought her off, but Bayley tossed the briefcase back to Sky. She clocked Belair in the back of the leg with it. Sky handed the briefcase to the referee.

(8) BIANCA BELAIR (c) vs. IYO SKY – WWE Women’s Championship match

Io Sky dragged Bianca Belair into position. She climbed to the top turnbuckle and hit her Signature Moonsault for a cover and three count.

WINNER: Io Sky in 0:06 to win the WWE Women’s Championship

Bayley rushed into the ring to celebrate with Iyo Sky. Dakota Kai emerged from ringside to join her stable-mates. They gave Sky a moment to herself with the title in the ring. The crowd cheered her loudly.

(LeClair’s Analysis: I went through quite the range of emotions during this one. I thought the opening minutes were awfully clunky. These three couldn’t quite seem to get on the same page, leading to a lot of awkward spots and a few lulls that just took me out of the action. As things progressed, though, they found their way and worked through some neat three-person spots and scenarios that felt fresh and were executed well. I liked the story they told of the injury to Belair’s leg, so that by the time she got tossed to the outside, they were able to viably sell the idea that she was being taken out of the match, Of course, the way the camera focused on her and the amount of attention Cole and Graves drew to the situation gave away the fact that it was all part of the story, but still, I thought it worked well enough. The lowest point was likely Flair’s missed Moonsault, which seems to be a recurring theme in big Flair matches. It never hits, it never looks good, and she should really just stop doing it. Ultimately, Belair’s victory did make the title switch back at Night of Champions feel a little pointless.

I was so busy thinking about the implications of moving the title back to Belair, that I hadn’t considered the quick turn-around with Sky. The crowd popped big for a major cash-in moment, and they treated Sky like a babyface despite Bayley very clearly heeling it up for her. The moment with she and Kai in the aftermath was a nice touch. Sky is unbelievably talented and I’m intrigued to see where a title run for her goes.)

-Cole tossed to a video package for the main event.

Jey Uso entered first, adorned in white with a matching lei. He slapped hands with fans as he hopped to the ring, taking a deep breath as he approached ringside. Michael Cole noted that, despite being one of the most accomplished tag team wrestlers in WWE history, Jey has never held a singles title. Jey took a long look around the stadium before climbing to the middle turnbuckle to pose for the crowd. He led the crowd in a united bounce to his theme. Then, the silence settled in, eventually giving way to Roman Reigns’ music.

The Undisputed Universal Champion emerged from the stage, flanked by Paul Heyman. He wore his traditional red lei. Cole talked up the symbolism of the lei, and that it denotes the Tribal Chief. He also mention that this will be Reigns’ first singles match since defeating Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania. He and Graves debated whether that would serve as a disadvantage or not. Reigns entered the ring slowly and the announcers laid out for the final few moments and the crowd stood with anticipation.

Paul Heyman handed a microphone to Roman Reigns. “SummerSlam…acknowledge me!” The crowd booed. Heyman took the microphone and handed it off to Mike Rome, who provided Championship introductions. Reigns held the title high above Jey’s head as his name was announced. The referee approached Reigns and Paul, saying something about the lei. Reigns took it from Paul. He stepped to Jey in the center of the ring. “If you beat me, I put this on you,” he said carefully. He handed it back to Paul Heyman.

(9) ROMAN REIGNS (c, w/ Paul Heyman) vs. JEY USO – WWE Undisputed Universal Championship “Tribal Combat” match

Jey Uso stretched his legs out and circled the ring slowly. He pointed to the center of the ring and told Roman to meet him there. The two men marched into a lock up. Roman Reigns easily overpowered his cousin into the corner, but Jey shoved him away. Roman begged off, smiling. The two circled one another again. Reigns shook his head at the booing crowd. He grabbed a side-headlock and settled in. Jey worked him toward the ropes. Reigns broke off and dropped Jey with a big shoulder.

Scattered boos filled the stadium as Roman taunted the crowd. Jey regrouped and loosened his shoulders. Reigns snarled and locked up with Jey again. Jey was able to grab a headlock, but Reigns fought him off quickly. He dropped the challenger and marched around the ring, inviting the boos. Jey crawled toward the corner. Roman stepped on his head, eliciting a scream. Jey rolled out of the corner, checking his teeth and finding them all in tact. Roman gave him a hard knee to the jaw. Jey rolled through a back Suplex at 4:40. He caught Roman with a trio of open rights. Reigns slumped against the ropes. Jey hit him with a kick, then an uppercut, and finally, a clothesline over the top rope to the floor. Jey got a running start and dove onto Reigns, sending them both crashing into the ringside barrier.

Uso tossed his elder cousin into the steel ring steps. He pushed them toward the LED barrier, then turned to Paul Heyman, who begged for mercy. The crowd broke into a loud “we want tables” chant. Jey threw back the ring skirt and pulled out a table. He set it up right in front of Paul. “He’s your blood, he’s your Tribal Chief, he loves you!” Heyman pleaded. Jey ignored him. Reigns attacked Jey from behind. He tossed him into the ring steps, then back to the ring. Jey rolled across the mat. Reigns picked him up and walked him to the northwest corner. Reigns whipped Jey to the opposite side and charged, but Uso caught him with a step-up kick. Jey leapt to the middle rope and dove. Reigns ducked him, grabbed him by the hair and slammed him violently back into the corner.

A loud “U-SO” chant filled Ford Field. Reigns mimed the motion for “quiet down.” With Jey slumped against the ropes, Reigns left the ring and delivered a Drive-By. He rolled back inside and covered Jey for a two count just past the 9:00 mark. The crowd continued to get on Reigns’ case as he sauntered around the ring, looking out. Jey managed to catch Roman with a couple right hands and step-up Enziguri. Roman rolled to the outside to recover. Jey hit the ropes, looking to dive at Reigns again. Roman caught him by surprise with a Kendo Stick.

Reigns returned to the ring with Kendo Stick in hand. He beat Jey across the back, side, and neck repeatedly. Jey writhed on the mat, slapping it repeatedly. Roman talked trash, stalking his prey. Jey rolled toward the corner . Reigns pointed out at the crowd with the stick as they chanted “you suck.” He brought Uso to his knees by putting the stick on his throat. “Get up little Jey!” he commanded. He used the Kendo Stick to drag Jey all the way up. He swung the stick, but Jey smacked him right across the face. He threw two more rights, slumping Reigns in the corner. Suddenly, Roman sprang to life, tossing Jey into his place and delivering a series of short-arm clotheslines.

Jey Uso collapsed to the mat. “This is the exact pace Reigns wanted,” Cole said. Roman threw his arms out for more boos, then cocked his fist. He charged toward Jey, but Uso cracked the Kendo Stick across his stomach. Jey splintered the stick across Reigns’ body. He used it to clothesline the champion to the outside. Jey flipped over the top rope to take out his cousin. Both men struggled to their feet at the foot of the entrance way as the match approached 15:00. The challenger tossed the champion into the ring. then climbed to the top rope. Jey went for the splash, but Reigns picked him clean out of the air with a Superman Punch. “That’s it, the dream is over,” exclaimed Graves, giving away the kick out at two.

The camera pulled back and Cole reset the table. In the ring, Reigns struggled against the ropes while Jey crawled. Reigns called for a Spear. He charged, but Jey leapt over him and into a roll up for a two count. Jey gave Roman a quick Superkick, then he rushed to the top rope. Jey connected with the Uso Splash for a cover and near fall. Jey dragged himself toward the apron. He reached underneath and retrieved a chair. Heyman began to plead with Jey again. Uso cracked the chair over Reigns’ back. “No more!” Paul begged. Jey hit him again. He tossed the chair aside and left the ring. He pulled a stack of chairs out and began throwing them all in the ring.

Paul Heyman continued to beg Jey through tears. Jey looked past him with disgust on his way into the ring. He hoisted Reigns onto the middle turnbuckle. The two jockeyed for position. Reigns knocked Jey off briefly, but Uso leapt back up with a kick. He climbed to the top turnbuckle this time, looking for a Superplex onto the chairs. Instead, Roman slid beneath him and into Powerbomb position. Reigns dropped Jey on the bed of chairs for a cover an near fall just past 21:30.

Roman again motioned for the crowd to quiet down. He pulled a second table from underneath the ring. He slid this one into the ring. Roman propped it in the northwest corner, but didn’t see Jey waiting. Uso charged, but Reigns caught him at the last second. He tried to give him a Samoan Drop through the table, but Jey slid out and onto the apron. Jey was teetering just above the table he set up earlier on the outside. He and Roman traded punches. Jey tried to leap into the ring, but Reigns picked him out of the air with an uppercut. Jey collapsed onto the apron, avoiding crashing through the table. Reigns charged at Jey, but Uso caught him with a kick, halting his momentum.

Champion and challenger traded blows around the ropes. Jey managed to hook Roman’s leg and scoop him up and over, delivering a Samoan Drop off the apron and through the table. Reigns coughed violently, beginning to crawl away from his former right-hand man. Jey pulled out a leather strap. He stalked Reigns slowly, cracking him hard across the back. Reigns stumbled toward the barrier. Jey cracked him again. Roman climbed into the crowd and began to walk away. Jey followed.

Uso and Reigns battled amongst the fans on the floor of the stadium. Jey walked Roman toward a technical area, where he was blindsided by Solo Sikoa. Solo planted Jey through a covered table. He grabbed him by the hand and began dragging him across the floor of the stadium back toward ringside. Roman Reigns followed, shouting at his cousin. Solo eventually hoisted Jey onto his shoulders and dumped him back over the barrier as Reigns barked.

Solo Sikoa tossed his older brother in the ring. Reigns shouted instructions. Solo delivered a spinning Uranagi to Jey, then held out his thumb. Solo grabbed Jey by the hair and dragged him to his feet. Solo and Roman set up for the tandem Spear-Spike. Jey moved out of the way, causing Roman to Spear Sikoa. Reigns was incensed. Jey gave Reigns a Spear and covered for a very close near fall just as the match crossed 30:00.

“Main Event” Jey Uso grabbed two chairs and began swinging, first cracking Solo, then Roman. He bent the chair over Reigns’ back, then crashed it into his chest. Sikoa and Reigns rolled out opposite sides of the ring. Jey stalked his cousin, winding up for a chair shot. Solo re-appeared with a massive kick to Jey’s head. Sikoa turned his attention to Roman Reigns, looking for an explanation for the Spear. Graves said Solo feels disrespected. The distraction allowed Jey to fly into view and Spear Reigns through the timekeeper’s area.

Sikoa retrieved the scraps of Jey Uso and tossed him at the announcers desk. Jey shrugged him off, kicked him, and tossed him onto the table. Jey steadied himself on the barrier with the help of a fan in the front row, then delivered a splash onto Sikoa through the desk. Jey rushed into the ring. He hit Reigns with a Spear, then leapt to the top rope for another Uso Splash. Jey hooked the leg, but a hooded figure pulled him out of the ring. The man pulled down his hood, revealing Jimmy Uso. “What did you do?!” Cole cried out. Jimmy stared at his brother. Jey was in shock. He couldn’t move. Paul stood behind Jimmy with a malicious smirk.

Jimmy gave Jey a Superkick. He tossed his twin brother into the ring. Reigns gave Jey a Spear through the table in the corner and covered him for a three count.

WINNER: Roman Reigns in 36:03 to retain the WWE Undisputed Universal Championship

Michael Cole sold his shock and disgust for Reigns, Heyman, Sikoa, and, most significantly, Jimmy Uso. The camera focused on the fallen Jey Uso as he dragged himself, through heavy breath, toward the corner. He crouched on his knees, huffing “no” through dismay. In the entrance way, Roman Reigns put his lei back on. He accepted Paul Heyman’s praise. Michael Cole laid out as Reigns raised a finger to sky and the broadcast faded out to a recap montage.

(LeClair’s Analysis: I thought tonight might spell the end, or at least the beginning of the end, for the Bloodline story. I, of course, anticipated that Roman Reigns would retain in dramatic fashion, but I did not have a reunion with Jimmy Uso as the likely culprit. As is customary with Reigns’ main events, this was a match built on drama and a world of cache rather than high-caliber move-for-move wrestling. And, like those other matches, this delivered. Jey Uso got an truly incredible looking moment as he led the crowd in a unified bounce to his theme song before the match got going. Beyond that, though, something felt a little off with the crowd in the latter part of the show, and in this match in particular. Though they were undoubtedly interested, I felt like the reaction just lacked the feverish tone of past defenses. It could have been the pacing, or the crowd felt like the conclusion was foregone, even if they didn’t know exactly how it would come. The eventual Uso vs. Uso match is sure to be incredible, and I’m certainly intrigued by Jimmy’s explanation. They’re going to need to stick the landing on that in order for this not to feel like a swerve for swerve’s sake. Given the history of this angle, though, I’m not doubting that they can.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: Another very strong outing in a the midst of one of the strongest PLE/PPV runs in company history. This show got off to a tremendously strong start, and though I thought the middle section was a bit underwhelming, the quality of the final three matches – despite each having their own quirks and downsides, made up for that. I was particularly impressed by the first two matches, with Paul and Ricochet exceeding relatively lofty expectations, and Cody Rhodes get a dramatic, ringing endorsement from Brock Lesnar that truly felt like a huge moment in his ascent to the top of the company. After a rough start for the women’s triple threat, the three pulled together a really fun and creative second half leading to a great crowd moment with Iyo Sky’s cash-in and title win. That should breathe a lot of new life into a stale women’s division on Smackdown. Roman Reigns continues his historically stellar run as champion. buoyed by a brand new wrinkle in the Bloodline saga with twin warfare on the horizon. WWE has set up a lot of fun stuff coming out of this show. A very easy thumbs up.

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