Paul Levesque’s body of work in NXT suggested his creative style was more pro wrestling than sports entertainment. That couldn’t have been further from the truth, as he struck the perfect balance on Saturday to produce a SummerSlam for the ages.
Roman Reigns closing out the show #AndStill champion could signify the shroud of Vince McMahon looming over the new era of WWE. One could be forgiven for conjuring such an idea. After all, wrestling has embedded the art of “the worfans’ minds of fans everywhere.
Bianca Belair’s victory over Becky Lynch, followed by Bayley’s reemergence along with Io Shirai and Dakota Kai’s introduction to the main roster, set a pronounced pace and tone to open the show.
It was a statement that things are going to be different.
The Bayley-led stable was an idea rejected by Vince McMahon, which he followed up by firing Kai. He also planned on not resigning Shirai when her contract was set to expire in August.
It was a message that Vince McMahon’s vision was as groundbreaking as it was nearsighted.
Shirai, rebranded as, Iyo Sky is straight out of the McMahon playbook. However, this name change makes sense and creates the perfect marketing symmetry with her nickname “Genius of the Sky.”
Speaking of change, Logan Paul outlasted The Miz in a fashion that saw him booed upon arrival and cheered on route to victory. Natural, athletic, and prodigy are the words used to describe Logan’s aptitude despite being a novice in the squared circle.
What’s more impressive, though, is how a perceived heel could turn the tables and get the audience in the palm of his hand. The Miz had a lot to do with that, which shows that Logan will be a successful babyface if the new regime wash, rinse repeat, with the same formula.
A formula that didn’t work was The Mysterios toppling The Judgement Day with an assist from the returning Edge. A no disqualification match wrestled as if it were standard fare was a creative faux pas that failed the show more than anything the four wrestlers did.
While I was wrong about Dominik turning heel on his father, I was right about Ronda Rousey turning heel…Sort of.
My prediction had Rousey losing clean against an inferior opponent and snapping out of spite due to the loss. What actually occurred created a much better story for the champion and challenger.
Liv Morgan tapped out before the referee counted three on Rousey. The referee’s error provoked Rousey’s post-match assault on Morgan and the ref. Can “Rowdy” rise above the bitterness of injustice, or will she continue down the dark path?
As for Morgan, her fight for legitimacy continues. She beat an injured Rousey to win the title, and now an official’s blunder allowed her to keep it by the skin of her teeth.
Winning and defending a title is usually the mark of a true champion, not in the case of Morgan, which should make for an intriguing story.
The Usos retained the tag team titles in an un-intriguing match against The Street Profits. While it was not bad by any stretch, it was bogged down by story teases of a Profits breakup. Special guest referee Jeff Jarrett surprisingly called it right down the middle.
Theory could not break the Hurt Lock of Bobby Lashley, submitting as quickly as the hold was applied. While Theory lost his bid at the U.S. Title, history tells us defeat is a red herring for a successful Money in the Bank cash-in later in the night.
Later in the night saw the final battle between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar. On cue, Theory ran down the super long aisle of Nissan Stadium with the infamous green Halliburton in tow. What looked like history repeating itself saw Theory’s title aspirations thwarted.
The best word to describe the Roman Reigns/Brock Lesnar main event is carnage. If there are levels to this game, Reigns and Lesnar proved it by adjusting the volume nob throughout the match. The action and suspense reached a crescendo in the form of Lesnar using a tractor to lift up the ring, keeping it perched in the air for all to see.
Micheal Cole augmented the finish, calling for the ref to count faster as Reigns battered Lesnar with repeated belt shots to the head. Hearing concern for Lesnar is foreign to our ears. The champ did not let up and ordered The Usos to bury Lesnar under a never-ending cascade of ringside rubble, preventing him from making the count of ten.
The 9th installment of Reigns vs. Lesnar proved that it’s more about the journey than the outcome. Everyone expected Reigns to retain. However, not only did they blow their WrestleMania match out of the water, the finish was apropos of what they needed to do to keep a monster such as Lesnar down.
SummerSlam 2022 didn’t reinvent the wheel, but it produced an energy not seen for some time in WWE. Whether it was due to Vince McMahon’s retirement amid scandal or the excitement of Paul Levesque helming the most significant event of his career, the show often met and exceeded expectations.
WWE is hot right now, and if SummerSlam is a sign of things to come, pro wrestling will become a better place for everyone, hopefully eroding self-imposed promotional borders and getting back to just having fun, no matter the setting.