SummerSlam is now over and it is time to roll forward into the fall season in WWE. With nights for champions, cells from Hell and a series of survivals coming in the recent months, the performances at the 25th SummerSlam were crucial to get a gauge on what the company would be doing moving forward.
The card itself was pretty solid. There were no real matches that were bad, as all of them were announced ahead of time and some were built quite well. There were a few moments that really got the crowd excited and the two main event matches ended with unexpected finishes. Even if some of the winners were anticipated, SummerSlam was a solid show from the top of the card to the bottom of the card.
With all of that said, some superstars seemed to be slacking in the ring, while others exceeded expectations. SummerSlam had some superstars carrying their weight, while a few had to carry theirs and some of their opponents' as well. Here is a ranking of all performers at SummerSlam, from the YouTube-exclusive match all the way to the main event bout.
Keep in mind that winning a match doesn't mean that you are among the best performers of the night or even that you were a better performer than the opponent that you defeated. It's all about how well you did your job in the ring and how much of the match's outcome fell upon your shoulders.
Here is a list of who you should thank for the great SummerSlam pay-per-view, starting with those who you could ignore saying anything to.
He's a comedic wrestler. That's all well and good. Still, he came into the match as a champion. He was a veteran superstar relegated to a YouTube broadcast just so he could lose his title. One could think that the success he saw at the beginning of the year could have been dispersed a tad better and made him a better performer for SummerSlam.
Santino was the United States Champion for quite a while and this move seemed very much overdue. Instead of defending the title and just getting upended by the strong Antonio Cesaro, Santino was bulldozed. Even Barry Horowitz thinks Santino Marella could have looked better.
A guy like Santino has always made it a point to make his time in the ring count. This match didn't seem to matter as much to Santino. It wasn't entertaining or funny, but more elementary than anything.
There was just something missing. There's no other way to say it. The blame is going to be put on the lack of A.W. at ringside, but these two men were exciting on Smackdown even without their mouthpiece. Sure, they lost a little bit of charisma, but nothing more than what Dolph Ziggler loses without Vickie Guerrero. Dolph doesn't have a worse match without Vickie out there, so that excuse falls short.
I don't know if it was the big stage or what it really was, but O'Neil and Young didn't look like the future tag team champions they seemed like just weeks earlier. I think they get their titles in the fall, but if a performance like that at SummerSlam continues, those millions of dollars The Prime Time Players want can be given to some other team instead.
Antonio Cesaro won the YouTube pre-show match to become United States Champion for the first time, but it wasn't much of an effort put forth by the man who is "Very European."
It was a five minute match, so there wasn't a lot to expect from this, but Cesaro really didn't show anything new. I can only imagine that his impressive tactics in the ring begin to blossom with the belt, which has happened with other superstars. Just look at how guys like Orlando Jordan or Carlito began discovering themselves once they were crowned with that title.
Cesaro is skyrocketing to relevancy and the change in the champion was necessary. Still, Cesaro didn't seem to prove to anyone why he was deserving of being a champion for more than a few weeks.
If this was only to give a reason for Cesaro to be seen while his persona continues to be a work in progress, this becomes a move that was pulled off with a trigger-happy finger.
The question mark on Mysterio's gear says it all. Why was he even getting this title match while a former champion like Christian is not given a rematch?
I get that Mysterio is popular and everything, but the biggest surprise out of Mysterio all night at SummerSlam was his Batman-inspired ring gear. Beyond that, it was exactly what I thought we would see from Mysterio: a lot of smoke and mirrors.
The match was actually very solid with The Miz, but a lot of that credit falls to The Miz and not Mysterio. The Miz was so much in the zone at SummerSlam that it could have been Hunico instead of Mysterio and nobody would have really noticed. Actually, they would have noticed.
Hunico takes more chances than the injury-ridden Mysterio does anymore. I don't want to say that it is time for Mysterio to retire, but if he isn't going to use his experience to better someone, it becomes even harder for a two-time Wellness Policy offender to have a spot in this company chiseled out for him.
Kane has been through plenty of SummerSlam matches at this point in his career. Even in his old age, Kane could have been a heck of a lot better in his match with Daniel Bryan. This was the perfect stage for a match with two men fighting for basically no reason to have the match of the night unexpectedly.
Bryan is a great technical wrestler and Kane is as versatile as big men go. It just didn't click at SummerSlam. The match was not terrible, but it did not stand out in the way that we know Kane could have made it. I don't think this is a sign of things from "The Big Red Monster," but I don't quite know where Kane's road takes him from here.
Judging by his outburst backstage last night, I don't think he was too happy about his performance either. It would be interesting to see what that backstage segment with him destroying things leads to.
The current World Heavyweight Champion is a lucky man today because of the circumstances at the end of his match. Having a babyface champion with more televised victories this year than anyone else in WWE cheating to win on the second-biggest stage WWE has to offer is simply unacceptable.
Not only did Sheamus have to cheat, but his opponent got a rope break that was not seen by a referee. Sheamus conveniently took the foot off the rope for the referee to not see in hindsight.
Sheamus has been beaten down only to come back to win many times since becoming the champion at WrestleMania. What favors are you doing to Sheamus to have him need to win in this manner? This is a textbook way for a heel to retain, not a face that has been shot to the moon in WWE like Sheamus has.
Del Rio controlled the tempo of this match from the beginning, which cannot sit well for Sheamus, who is the champion, has been in WWE longer and is in better graces with those who control from backstage.
If you want to put Sheamus and his role on the back burner like this, just take his championship away entirely. This was such a head-scratcher that would have to result in an alliance with general manager Booker T, otherwise this is completely out of left field.
Kofi Kingston and R-Truth had a mashed together titantron and matching ring gear, but the chemistry for the WWE Tag Team Champions kind of fell apart after that. Kingston and R-Truth work well together normally and the matches they have had involving Titus O'Neil and Darren Young have been good. This match at SummerSlam, however, just had something missing.
The action was kind of bland and there really was no feel that this was supposed to be a big-time match. Since tag team matches at SummerSlam have grown to be something of a big deal, this match having a lack of excitement to it was really a let down.
That falls upon Kingston and R-Truth, not just for being the current champions, but for being the veterans of the foursome. Champions, especially tag team champions, are only as strong as how strong they make their opponents. This duo did no favors to the young team of O'Neil and Young and their match suffered because of it.
Maybe not having Little Jimmy at ringside hurt their confidence...
I was under the impression that John Cena rises to the occasion at these big events. He just seemed like a warm body in a triple threat co-main event match for the biggest prize in the company.
It didn't feel like it was John Cena who almost won the WWE Champion, but rather some other strongman wearing jean shorts. Cena wasn't himself at SummerSlam and I can't quite figure out why.
Cena has pulled off an Atittude Adjustment on Big Show multiple times, but it had the feel of being something unique at SummerSlam. He's also done the STF to the giant before, but this attempt at what was sort of a submission wasn't locked in the right way. When Big Show tapped out, Cena didn't even lock around Big Show's head whatsoever.
It was a sloppy Cena, which really was surprising. He isn't the most technical guy, but Cena knows how to make moments like that look good. He didn't do that here.
It isn't that Dolph Ziggler was bad at SummerSlam, but he could have been so much better. Having the chance to cash in Money in the Bank and open SummerSlam with a win over Chris Jericho all in one night is a lot that could have made Ziggler a big-time name in this business. As I anticipated, he lost and did not cash in. Ziggler lives to fight another day, which is the smarter move.
He wasn't that bad, but there were things to improve on. He had a few great spots in the contest, but it just felt a little bit different than usual. Maybe it is because the rest of the card didn't suck as much as anticipated that Ziggler didn't shine like he often does at these events.
Again, it isn't that Ziggler wasn't good, but he didn't shine like many thought he would have at SummerSlam.
This may ultimately be one of the best title defenses The Miz has ever had with any championship he has held in WWE. Rey Mysterio brought out the best in him and he was carrying a title match at a major event with Rey Mysterio. Tell that statement to yourself from a few years ago and get ready to be berated with negative comments about The Miz.
Nobody wanted this guy around anymore a few years ago, but now he is an Intercontinental Champion that is putting the title in such a great position of importance. Cody Rhodes started it off well, Christian didn't do much with it, but The Miz is really upping the ante with this belt.
It isn't quite as prestigious as it once was, but the bad track record of the title being defended at SummerSlam just got a curveball thrown at it. The Miz joins selective company of defending that title at SummerSlam in what is a top ten match in his career so far.
Did anyone think Daniel Bryan and Kane were going to have a good match? Heck no. This was one of those matches where people actually forgot who Daniel Bryan's opponent was supposed to be.
Even with that beginning, this match was a heck of a lot better than what we thought, which was very little. It wasn't a match of the night and it didn't set the world on fire, but expectations were low to start.
Looking at a match from Bryan six months ago and a match like his at SummerSlam shows a big improvement in Bryan's storytelling abilities. He was always a great performer and technical genius, but his adaptation to a WWE style of wrestling is now complete.
He was paced great, knew when to play to the crowd and really kept the energy going throughout the match, even when nothing was really going on.
I actually predicted that Alberto Del Rio would win at SummerSlam, which he didn't. It was the only time I was wrong all night and I sure don't feel very wrong.
Del Rio impressed in a match that could have been full of yawns and bathroom breaks. He was close a bunch of times to a victory, including a submission hold that Sheamus somehow broke out of.
The finish saw Del Rio get hit with a foreign object and get pinned while causing a rope break, which is usually how a face would lose. It was certainly a flashback to how Christian was pinned last summer at Capitol Punishment.
This angle now seems to include Booker T siding with Sheamus and will help Del Rio sustain his heel personality if he gets Booker T fired over this. It seemed messy, but it all made sense.
If Triple H acted this way in his movies, I would vote him into the Golden Globes. The best story told all night long was "The Game" in his main event match with Brock Lesnar.
From the UFC-style intros to the dominant action by Lesnar, this was the best story told all night by far. Triple H was never going to win this match, but he sure acted like he was.
The best part is that at the end, after multiple chances of tapping out to Lesnar, it took another broken arm for Triple H to actually tap out this time. The moment that the arm was snapped was the moment that the tapping was done. It was even an MMA style tap, which was a subtle but nice touch.
Triple H seemed to milk his exit, but it gave a retirement feel to it and got the crowd into it at the very end of the night. Well done, Triple H.
Chris Jericho won "the big one" to lead off SummerSlam and looked good at doing it. Jericho was very smooth with a much younger Dolph Ziggler and had a heck of an opening match.
These two were destined to steal SummerSlam and they certainly seemed to do that. Jericho looked years younger in this match and really made it hard to think of him potentially leaving for a short time to tour with Fozzy.
This was the win for Jericho we have been waiting for since January. We finally get it and, even though you would think that it was too little and too late, it doesn't feel that way. Every setback for the former world champion feels wiped away. A clean slate for Jericho, who turned the clock back at SummerSlam with his performance.
Punk always knows how to play his role perfectly. I don't quite know why he kept doing for that unusual submission hold instead of the Anaconda Vice, but that's not a big thing to complain about.
His active complaining was very good and was not overly dramatic. His timing on moves was very good. The finish was just what I thought we would see and was perfectly executed. There are no complaints about Punk's performance.
Yet again, Punk retains and it is done in a different way. It's amazing to me how someone can win a title in November, defend it every pay-per-view since and still find a new way to win each and every time. That is why Punk is among the best in the world and why he will ultimately end up with one of the great reigns of all-time as WWE Champion.
This match that Big Show was in had two larger stars in CM Punk and John Cena. Naturally, Big Show was projected to fail miserably in this spot, drag a perfectly good match down and be destined for some yelling from me. However, Big Show shocked myself and a bunch of other people by not being so absolutely terrible.
In fact, Big Show was great. His slaps were loud and powerful. His power moves were very damaging. Overall, he actually seemed like he was someone who could have won the WWE Championship in the match. I don't even care that he tapped out and got pinned in the same night. Big Show looked strong despite all of that.For what we expected him to be, this was surprising.
Big Show did not slow the match down like we anticipated that he would and gave us a few moments of shock in a main event match that ended exactly how I thought it would.
Brock Lesnar had all of the pressure for this event's success on his broad shoulders. The match with Triple H was a big deal and what would make or break it for this year's SummerSlam. WWE put a lot of eggs into this basket and Lesnar did not disappoint.
He was fantastic in the match. From applying holds correctly to keeping up with the pace of Triple H, Lesnar did a great job at SummerSlam.
My most memorable moment of Lesnar from this event was when he threw Triple H over the Spanish announce table, pushed the table to topple him over and then stand on the edge of the table to jump onto Triple H. It looked bad, but Lesnar seems to be just fine to this point.
There's a lot of money tied into Lesnar as an investment. Extreme Rules may not have been quite what it should have been, but SummerSlam has answered the hype. If you are a Lesnar fan, have a reason to be excited. He was the best performer at SummerSlam this year.