This Week in WWE – Summerslam 2016 and Raw (8/22/2016)

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The last couple days have been a whirlwind in WWE with Finn Balor winning and subsequently vacating the Universal Title due to injury, Sasha Banks reportedly being injured, and Randy Orton getting busted up by Brock Lesnar. I’ll go through all those topics and others, including a huge début for Bayley on Raw!

Sasha Banks

What a crazy few weeks for Sasha Banks! A few weeks ago on Raw, she won her first WWE Women’s Championship in an emotional match on Raw then, at SummerSlam Sunday night, she dropped the title back to Charlotte. The reason for dropping the title has been reported to be to let her heel from some nagging injuries she’s been suffering from. Sasha is definitely a woman that goes hard every match and it’s certainly caught up with her early in her career with numerous injuries that have started to mount up. She took a nasty bump Sunday night in which she fell almost directly on her neck across the top rope which definitely doesn’t help. I’m really hoping Sasha can bounce back quickly from this since she was just starting to gain some significant momentum and solidifying herself as the woman in the Raw Women’s Divsion. This left a hole on Raw as Charlotte didn’t really have any legitimate competition for the title until…

Bayley

At long last, Bayley is where she belongs on the main roster. Mick Foley announced that he had signed the hottest free agent in wrestling to Raw and out came Bayley to a nice reaction from the Brooklyn crowd! Bayley is legitimately my favourite women’s wrestler of all-time and it was surreal to see her finally get the call-up that she’s been waiting years for. If you’ve never seen Bayley in NXT, go watch the journey this woman took the fans on for 3 1/2 years and you’ll understand why she’s so popular. It’s hard not to like her and impossible not to respect her. She got her first win on Raw against Dana Brooke and she looks to be entering the championship picture immediately, as she should be. While it will be weird to watch NXT every week without Bayley, she deserves this more than anyone on the roster and I’m happy she finally got the call.

John Cena

Say what you want about John Cena, but this guy has my utmost respect. Cena has nothing left to prove, he could leave today and be set for life doing less strenuous things, but he continues to contribute to WWE in a positive way. John has been around for nearly 15 years, which is an eternity in a wrestling world where you’re lucky to last between 5 and 10. Most people get debilitating injuries, lose popularity, or become less capable in the ring. Cena hasn’t had any of those issues. He recovers from injuries faster than anyone I’ve ever seen, is as popular/infamous as ever, and can still do everything he always has in the ring.

He had what will probably be the Match of the Year with AJ Styles at SummerSlam while taking the loss and legitimizing AJ in the process. That’s the thing about Cena in the last couple of years. He’s been a guy who’s been able to elevate others. John has done everything in this business, he doesn’t need any more titles. He’s a 15-time world champion. Now, it’s about the future, and John knows that he has to help bring in the next batch of stars, and he is. It’s much the same way as it was with Triple H for years. People said that Triple H would bury everyone and was only in it for himself and yet he helped build up numerous stars over the years.

People can never get past what they hate about a character. You’ll still hear a chorus of boss reign down on Cena whenever his music hits. Cena has been largely out of the spotlight for the past couple years and when he has, it’s been to help other talent. Fans still don’t see it that way. John’s legacy won’t be fully realized until he’s done for good and people understand how much he did for the company on a regular basis. I’m no John Cena fan, but without him, WWE wouldn’t be where it is today.

Dean Ambrose

There’s no one I want to turn heel more than Dean Ambrose. Dean has a character that doesn’t fit well as a face. It’s hard to be a lunatic when you’re confined to doing good things. Ambrose has started to have some heel tendencies and I really think he could take his reign to the next level if he makes that full-fledged turn. The problem with that is that he’s really over with the crowd and SmackDown doesn’t have a whole lot of faces to do battle with him. I’m curious about what the World Title picture will look like after tonight’s episode of SmackDown.

Nikki Bella

When Eva Marie got suspended, word started coming out about Nikki Bella being cleared to return. Part of me wondered whether or not she was quite 100 percent after such a serious injury, but Nikki showed little ring rust in her return at SummerSlam. Nikki got a great reaction and didn’t really play the part of the bad girl despite being on the heel team. Thankfully, Nikki has modified her Rack Attack finisher into something a bit different to take the stress off of her neck. It was great to see Nikki back, although it will be a bit weird to not see The Bella Twins together anymore. Nikki adds a legitimate star to a very young SmackDown Women’s Division.

Finn Balor

What a difference 24 hours makes. At SummerSlam, Finn became the first WWE Universal Champion defeating Seth Rollins. Afterwards, it was reported by numerous sources that Finn was spotted in a sling and had some type of injury. Fast-forward to Raw and Finn Balor was force to relinquish the Universal Title due to injury. What a tough break for Finn who had just come up to the main roster. Who know exactly how long Finn will be out, but when when guy goes down, others step up. Just who decides to step up will be the question.

Lesnar/Orton

Yes, it was a vicious match and Randy Orton ended up looking like he was in a car crash, but make no mistake that this will be a part of a bigger story. Remember that the best storylines are the ones that blur the lines between fiction and reality, this one did that. Brock giving Shane an F5 was the icing on the cake. This is only the beginning of something bigger and Randy apparently knew what was to happen in this match. I feel like the blood and brutality was unnecessary, but it’s not the first time, nor is it the last time we’ll see it.

The Dudley Boyz

It’s been an up and down year for The Dudley Boyz. Bubba and D-von started off with a bang last year and kept it going for a few months before being relegated to filler matches and quick defeats. You had to think that played in their decision to call it quits one-year after they returned in Brooklyn to go out in Brooklyn.

The Dudley Boyz were one of, if not THE, greatest tag-team of all time. They’ve held every major tag-team championship belt in the last 20 years for ECW, WCW, WWE, and TNA. They’re were part of the tag-team renaissance of the early 2000s with Edge and Christian and The Hardy Boyz. It’s hard to watch such an iconic team call it quits, even though they could theoretically sign elsewhere. I really do think The Dudleys are done. They have their wrestling academy to tend to and they’ve done everything there is to do. They had a hand in helping some of WWE’s younger teams over the past year and going anywhere else wouldn’t really make any sense. I believe they wanted to go out as WWE Superstars and they did just that.

At least we got one last 3D to go along with the memories of matches gone by that will stand the test of time.

Quick Notes/Conclusion

It’s great seeing Big Cass in the Fatal 4 Way match next week for the vacant Universal Title. Let’s see what Cass can do on his own.

6 hours of matches for SummerSlam was ridiculously exhausting and ending it with two non-finishes was an inexcusable blunder. I think 4 hour events for dual-brand shows will become the norm as much as they probably shouldn’t be. I will say that it was nice for the matches to not feel rushed and have some nice pacing to them.

Congrats to The New Day for reigning as tag champs for a year and proving to everyone that you can make something amazing out of something terrible. With that said, it’s time to drop those belts.

The Queen reigns! Charlotte is once again the women’s champion. It’s hard to root against Charlotte because I love her character so much. She’s such a good heel making you hate her at every moment while pulling off victory after victory. She finally proved she could do it on her own which was much-needed for her character. Bayley vs. Charlotte will be huge.

Overall, SummerSlam had some good match-ups but it was too long and the fans were out of it by the time the main event came along. Raw was notable for Bayley’s début and Finn’s forfeit of the title, but the matches to determine the Fatal 4 Way participants are something we seem to see monthly in WWE. Why not have an actual bracket style tournament? Let’s do something different for a change.

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