We’re told in the intro that 28 years ago the Summer Slam tradition started. Well, I was there for that first one – at least there in the sense of a viewer. It was an important part of my wrestling fandom, one of the early pieces of the puzzle.
Here I am – 27 Summer Slams on from there (many of them I’ve missed) and I’m still puzzled by these pieces, barely falling into place these days. I was a wrestling fan. Then I wasn’t – for a much longer time. Then I was again. And now I’m not. Except I’m still fascinated by the Big Events – and so I watch them, without following the shows in-between or any of the storylines.
That said, Summer Slam 2015 was a huge show – it felt, well, Wrestlemania-esque, right down to the fact that there was more than one Main Event and a few workmanlike matches to provide padding in what was a (long) four-hour show.
But it felt big. Really Big for the most part.
A solid enough opener (Sheamus vs. Randy Orton) had experienced guys knuckling down. Not exciting but not embarrassing.
Then we had a really fun showcase with the Fatal 4 Way WWE Tag Title Match before a plodder between Rusev and Dolph Ziggler.
But the really big matches were the key to this event – Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper vs. Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose featured most of the guys that have come up in the time since I stopped following wrestling at all closely. But I know these guys from the PPV events I check in on, and I know these guys because they’re good. All of them. And that was the case here – a really wild match with a great energy to it.
And a curtain-raiser, in a sense, to what really was the match of the night – the mid-card Main Event (if that makes sense?) Here we had John Cena against Seth Rollins and these guys put on a great back and forth show. Maybe the booking failed a bit in the end – it felt like a phoned-in way to finish what had been a gripping contest but obviously it’s all part of the hard-done-by/rematch scenario that will bubble from here. The match was a joy to watch. Two hard-working guys going for it.
The revamped Diva catalogue now has a cluster of teams – and they were all on show here in a 9 Diva Tag Team Elimination Match, three teams basically. And once a team member is done the whole team goes back to the sheds. This celebrates the Diva staple by giving them all a go and giving them a big spot on a big show – it also shows up the weakness of this division. We can’t care about anyone individually, there are too many of them competing for the one limelight spot essentially. So still a hot mess really. And a shame. Points for (almost) trying though.
Kevin Owens and Cesaro were in the penultimate match of the evening – and this was good, despite me really caring for either player here. Could have been better further down the card, a better match than many of the ones featuring allegedly bigger, better guys.
The big closer was the rematch between Brock Lesnar and Undertaker. This is the Wrestlemania Rematch arriving 16 months late. Well, Taker sure takes his time to heal now. It was another example of a well-scripted, well-played fight being ruined by the closing events. That’s what happens when you’re trying to set up extra rematches though.
I liked this Summer Slam a lot overall – because there wasn’t any total duds. A couple of slow matches, a couple of superfluous matches even but no terrible spots that failed, no car-crash matches. Jon Stewart’s cameo as host was kinda neat – though it ran, almost instantly, into that trouble where they didn’t quite know what to do with him despite his knowledge of and enthusiasm for the product. Here’s a guy that wants to get involved but his small stature and the fact that he’s basically an odd choice – not mainstream enough to mean money, in wrestling terms – meant it was pretty much just weird. That’s fine for me, that’s a big part of what I’ve always liked about wrestling, a strange, messy hodge-podge of colours and clashing ideas in one big, proud, dumb, ugly circus. Yee-haw!