WWE SummerSlam 2014 DVD Review
By Ben Spindler
Posted On 23-10-2014 14:01 GMT
Tags: WWE, SummerSlam, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Randy Orton




SummerSlam 2014 was a night when WWE not only confirmed their long term plans for Brock Lesnar, but did so in a way that genuinely caused the wrestling world to stand up and take notice. Prior to the main event, there was genuine talk that WWE could not afford to have either John Cena or Lesnar come out on top- Lesnar because he wasn’t going to be around very often and therefore the WWE title would be on a part-time star, and Cena because doing so would negate the effect of having Lesnar beat the streak at Wrestlemania 30.

As such, despite speculation, it was far from obvious who would win going into the contest. Not only that, but WWE’s instinct to promote this match as a genuine sporting struggle between two of the most unstoppable wrestlers in the history of WWE, meant that when it came time to watch the action, this achieved that big fight feel AND invested the viewer in the result of the collision.

What we got was an incredibly powerful and bold decision by the company to book Lesnar as far and away superior to his opponent. Lesnar absolutely dominated, and though they briefly teased a Cena superman comeback, it was flattened just as quickly before Lesnar delivered more destruction and finally took the victory. In the confines of two matches, 4 months apart, Brock Lesnar had been presented as the most dominant WWE Champion in the history of the business.

Defeating the Undertaker at Wrestlemania was massive- nobody will forget it whether they liked it or not. But Lesnar’s victory at SummerSlam, and in particular the manner of it, was almost as unexpected. While the overall success of the whole arc won’t be known until Lesnar puts someone over and that person is then responsible for the company’s pulling power, from the perspective of building Lesnar up, this more than did the trick.

Prior to this unique and unforgettable main event, WWE had put on a very solid show with plenty of enjoyable action that felt significant in and of itself. In particular the Lumberjack match between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins delivered in spades. I was always suspicious of the Lumberjack match stipulation, believing it to be a lost opportunity and likely to distract from a match that fans were already more than invested in, however to their credit, Ambrose and Rollins turned it to their advantage and built upon their feud as one where chaos follows throughout. In fact, I’d go as far to say that this was the best lumberjack match I have ever seen (though admittedly, that’s not a massive statement to make).

More importantly for WWE’s plans over the Autumn, it fed well into the storyline development that would take place the next night and allow Ambrose and Rollins’ programme continue onto this coming Sunday’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, and still feel fresh despite it having been going since the night after Payback in June.

In the meantime, The Shield break up has not gone particularly well for the man who is widely speculated to be the chosen one to face Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania next year, Roman Reigns. Prior to the split, it was assumed Reigns’ popularity would only grow, but some awkward and ill-advised talking spots, combined with WWE’s tendency to over expose all of its roster with far too much television time, has meant that Reigns had begun to fall victim to the babyface backlash which befalls so many of their stars these days.

At Summer Slam Reigns faced Orton in a match that whilst containing plenty of great in-ring work, suffered from an almost indifferent crowd- Reigns’ own momentum drop notwithstanding, Orton had never been a less convincing member of WWE’s headlining crowd. In fact, Orton at this stage of play, felt like a step down for the former Shield member (though admittedly, WWE has done much to restore Orton’s star power over the past few weeks).

The opener between The Miz and Dolph Ziggler contained plenty to like, including the rise of The Miz’s latest gimmick which has been a riot so far and has only improved since the addition of Mizdow. Here, The Miz was booked to drop the Intercontinental Title for the popular babyface victory and once again demonstrated Ziggler’s obvious overness with the crowd, and his skills in the squared circle. However, it really is time more people gave The Miz credit; when he’s on, not only can he portray a genuinely dislikeable character (the ultimate goal of any heel) but also, as shown here, is no slouch when lacing up the boots either.

In match number 2, Paige and AJ Lee went some way to dispelling the off kilter performance they had put on at Battleground, with a much more satisfactory affair. Whilst this was a better match, it still fell short of expectations given both women’s past high standards. Hopefully we’ll get to see that at Hell in a Cell when they face each other in what is likely to be the feud ender.

The heavily hyped flag match between Rusev and Jack Swagger wasn’t a flag match at all, and was in fact a regular contest where the winner got to raise their flag after the bout. I have conveyed my distaste with the whole Russia vs. America storyline from its very origins in the post Wrestlemania period, so I won’t go over it again, but in fairness to them, persistence seems to be paying off as there is no doubt that Rusev and Lana inspire more heat in live crowds than practically any other heels in the company. Rusev continued his dominance over the WWE’s mid-card babyfaces when he took this one by knockout.

Bray Wyatt against Chris Jericho was another solid encounter that rightfully saw Wyatt come out on top of ‘Y2J’. Wyatt has proven himself in the ring on a number of occasions over the last year and this was another example, however, WWE’s booking of ‘The Eater of Worlds’ has been perplexing at best- he remains one of the most intriguing characters WWE have on their roster, and his presence on WWE shows always feels significant, yet the company don’t seem to know what to do with him. The next 6 months may prove pivotal to Wyatt’s future prospects.

The only ‘bad’ on this show was the long awaited payoff to the Stephanie McMahon/Brie Bella war. Don’t get me wrong, given who was involved, this was a surprisingly tidy, and acceptable match. The problem however, was in WWE dropping the ball on what at one time appeared to be heading for the McMahon comeuppance that fans have yearned for since at least this time last year, and instead became another place to exhibit The Authority’s ultimate power over everyone else- and conclude the feud with a completely unwelcome heel turn (unwelcome as it has meant we’ve now had to see the two Bellas battle it out and share the screen in some interminable segments and matches since).

All in all, Summer Slam 2014 is a very good show, in truth there isn’t anything that could be considered awful, and most of the matches that took place had at least been afforded a decent build which meant, by and large, the fans on hand were invested in what took place. What it will be most remembered for, was also a fine slice of WWE action, where Brock Lesnar absolutely destroyed the man who all too often is portrayed as indestructible, often at the detriment to other acts on the roster (read Bray Wyatt). This was a heated, dramatic and unique contest that set the wheels in motion for the company’s long term plans which are geared towards creating the next big breakout star. Whether those plans will be successful however, is yet to be seen.

Rating: 4 out of 5


Tags: WWE, SummerSlam, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Randy Orton



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