Courtesy of WWE Home Video, Matthew Roberts takes a look at their latest release, SummerSlam 2019.
The hottest show of the summer rolled into Toronto, Canada and it looked to be a show on paper that, at least, wasn’t a boring proposition, with almost a “mini-Mania” feel to it in terms of the matches and the handful of “returning” stars. But would the WWE’s run of good PPV’s (aside from Super Showdown) continue on the night? For the most part it did.
Starting the main show with the Raw Women’s Championship match between Becky Lynch and Natalya was a smart move from a crowd perspective. If the Submission stipulation seemed a little tacked on it did add to the drama (and thankfully the WWE decided against enforcing rope breaks in what was essentially a No DQ match), the fact that Becky is super-over anywhere and Natalya was a “home town” hero meant that there was a lot of heart and noise for the opener. Naturally the two traded their respective submission moves on each other (the crowd not being at all pleased when Becky tried her version of the Sharpshooter) and any fears I might have had that the WWE might give the crowd a victory for Natalya were calmed when Becky won clean via the Dis-Arm-Her. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Natalya, but this was her best match in years AND the right woman still won. So a perfectly placed opener.
To have this followed by Dolph Ziggler standing up to Goldberg was also good placement. Some will bemoan Ziggler losing in such rapid order as he did here and some will say that Goldberg had no right to be allowed the chance to wash away the stench of his unbelievably bad match with The Undertaker in Saudi, but I enjoyed this for what it was. Admittedly as both someone who thinks Ziggler is overrated and someone who hated the way that Goldberg was never allowed to be the WCW Goldberg in his initial 2003/4 WWE run this was a nice bit of nostalgia for me. Not quite sure what the post-match battering of Ziggler achieved, if I’m being honest, but I also found that funny.
The WWE United States Championship was on the line next as AJ Styles defended against Ricochet. After a minor disappointment at Extreme Rules and some better matches on TV; hopes were very high for this one and if ultimately it didn’t quite deliver the classic that some may have hoped for it was still a very good match which actually saw some psychology and selling involved in it. Which would be par for the course for these two if they were left to their own devices but any time actual selling sneaks on to WWE programming is always worth appreciating. Bayley and Ember Moon struggled to follow that match, not helped by a disinterested crowd. It was fine, but for a title match on one of the “Big Four” PPV’s it simply didn’t cut the mustard. Perhaps it was because so little had been done to prepare Moon for the title shot or perhaps it was because the face vs face match had no real drama behind it in the build up. It finished well but took a lot of nothingness to get to that point.
Long-time readers will know of my inherent disinterest in anything Shane McMahon does so another run around with Kevin Owens was not at the top of my Summerslam 2019 dream list. As Owens was super-over in Canada, the odds being stacked against him and the playing up of the possibility of a “screwjob” this was more entertaining than the usual Shane O’Mac gubbins. It still wasn’t very good, mind you, but at least it was heated and had the right result. If only it had meant the end of Shane on WWE TV it might actually have achieved something.
Trish Stratus returned to the ring for “one last time” in a match with Charlotte Flair. Of course the internet were livid that it was their old friend Charlie who got this match but it Trish was coming back for a retirement match it made sense that it would be against one of the women the WWE have pushed the most AND who is generally reliable in the ring. Because for as over as Trish was back in the day, you would never label her a “great” in-ring wrestler. And in fact, there is an argument that this would prove to be her greatest ever match as far as the in-ring stuff goes. It was full of drama, psychology and excitement and despite the result should be seen as a perfect send-off for one of the most recognisable and popular women’s wrestlers there has ever been in the WWE. Plus I got a kick out of the whingers online who never like the “legends” returning to go over on full-time WWE performers except when it’s a legend they prefer to the full-time performer they go over on. You can’t have it both ways, folks.
Perhaps that match was so good that it knocked the stuffing out of the crowd, who again didn’t really seem to care about the WWE Championship match as much as they should have. Personally I don’t really care about Randy Orton in a Championship match in 2019 but at least his actions in going up against Kofi gave us something a little bit different from him for the first time in years. But then we get the fact that this is Summerslam, one of the three biggest shows of the year in the WWE and we are given a double countout finish to protect both men and prolong the feud.
Whilst the in-ring action was perfunctory, the debut of “The Fiend” in his first in-ring outing since Bray Wyatt’s return to our screens was very well handled. It made an impression. His quick dismantling of Finn Balor was almost secondary, but was impressive in of itself. We ended it with another instalment in the Seth Rollins / Brock Lesnar feud and as you’d expect with Brock in there with a smaller opponent it was a lot of fun and a great ending to another good WWE PPV. The ending was the right one too.
The DVD set features the three kick off matches. Drew Gulak’s Cruiserweight title defence against Oney Lorcan is decent enough without ever really getting going, Apollo Crews against Buddy Murphy is a fun sprint that could have been a lot better if the two had been given the time to do something and not had a non-finish and the Women’s Tag Team Title match between Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross and the Iiconics was very solid and showed that as good a heel as Bliss undoubtedly is, she’s also a damn fine babyface too. There are also some Raw and Smackdown special features too, including the post-SummerSlam return of Sasha Banks.
A very entertaining night of WWE action, where nothing really dragged and where there was enough action and excitement overall to firmly put this in the thumbs up territory.
Format Reviewed: DVD
Photographs courtesy of Fetch and WWE
Thank you to our partners, WWEDVD.co.uk and Fetch for providing our review copy of SummerSlam 2019 which is out Monday 7 October on DVD. You can buy your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk by clicking here.
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