SummerSlam was largely about a main event fight between two of the biggest stars the business has ever seen, but the undercard provided an opportunity for several Superstars to shine and take that all-important next step in their careers.
Not everyone rose to the occasion, but some proved they have what it takes to be among the featured players in WWE. SummerSlam is billed as the No. 2 pay-per-view of the year behind only WrestleMania, so coming through with a great showing on that stage is paramount.
Here are three Superstars who did precisely that and proved that they are very much the future of WWE moving forward.
Dean Ambrose is unquestionably one of the best all-around performers in the business today. The Lunatic Fringe has a sadistic streak, sells like nobody else and is absolute gold on the microphone to boot. All the tools are in place for him to be a top star in the very near future, and he didn't do anything to jeopardize that at SummerSlam.
Ambrose and former Shield partner Seth Rollins went head-to-head in a Lumberjack match in an effort to settle their differences. What ensued was a Lumberjack match unlike any other, as Ambrose and Rollins took the offense to the lumberjacks at times and even ended up fighting into the crowd. When push came to shove, it was Rollins who won thanks to help from his Money in the Bank briefcase as well as Kane.
The stipulation wasn't a particularly good one, and there is no question that it detracted from the match they could have had. With that said, Ambrose and Rollins laid it all on the line and did everything in their power to make that Lumberjack match entertaining for the fans.
Truth be told, their Falls Count Anywhere match the next night on Raw was significantly better, but the overarching point is that Ambrose was put in an extremely difficult situation at SummerSlam, yet he still delivered to the best of his ability.
As pointed out by WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley following the Ambrose vs. Rollins bout on Raw, Ambrose is a true throwback to the most exciting time in wrestling:
He is as extreme as they come in this day and age, which is why the fans are so firmly behind him. Although Ambrose is a excellent heel and can easily make the switch at any time, he also happens to play the role of anti-hero to near perfection.
Ambrose has been among the most over guys in the company ever since the breakup of The Shield, and that was especially evident when the crowd popped for Ambrose using Rollins' Curb Stomp finisher against him at SummerSlam. The WWE Universe simply buys in to everything he does.
Ambrose is already prepared for prime time, so all he has to do at this point is continue down this same path and pounce on the opportunity whenever it arises.
Ever since last year's Survivor Series event, WWE has been building Roman Reigns as one of its next top guys. He tied the record for most individual eliminations in that match and then proceeded to break the record for most eliminations in a single Royal Rumble. It has been a steady ascent for Reigns, and that continued Sunday at SummerSlam.
Reigns did battle with Randy Orton in the second-to-last match of the night. It was a solid encounter that saw the powerhouse slay The Viper by virtue of a spear. The misconception is that Orton somehow carried Reigns since he provided the bulk of the high-impact offense, but that simply wasn't the case.
High-impact offense is nothing unless the guy who takes it can sell it effectively. Reigns was great in that regard, and he didn't hesitate to take some pretty big bumps, which is something you don't often see out of top stars. Then, when the match neared its conclusion, Reigns got his signature offense in and whipped the crowd into a frenzy.
Reigns' detractors will continue to point to his limited move set or his mic work as negatives working against him, but it is obvious that the bulk of the WWE Universe is behind Reigns. Among those who see big things in Reigns' future is his cousin Jimmy Uso, according to Benjamin Leatherman of the Phoenix New Times.
He's just killing it, man. Roman's been doing this for a short while, man, so to see him come here and (how) they have all these high hopes for him and they've got big things going on for Roman Reigns in the WWE is awesome. And he's delivering. And that's what we do, we deliver when the opportunity arises. And he's definitely doing that. He's gonna be a big thing in the WWE. Definitely one of the next WWE World Heavyweight champions.
Uso has seen Reigns improve steadily since his debut. There is no question that Reigns still has a long way to go before he is ready to be WWE's next top face, but it is obvious that he is currently on pace to reach that level eventually.
SummerSlam was a big night for former Shield members. Rollins shined brightly just like Ambrose and Reigns. Rollins showed off his high-flying ability in the Lumberjack match against Ambrose, and his victory was yet another stepping stone toward the top.
Which of these Superstars will have the most success in WWE?
Despite his immense skill, Rollins was often overshadowed in The Shield by Ambrose and Reigns. That changed when Rollins shockingly turned on his brothers in arms and joined The Authority. The Shield's architect has been among the WWE's top heels over the past few months, and he has the Money in the Bank briefcase to his credit as well.
That is a vote of confidence in favor of Rollins' potential to reach the main event at some point over the next year. It isn't guaranteed that Rollins will be successful when he cashes in, but WWE clearly believes he will be a viable contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship sooner rather than later.
Triple H essentially views Rollins as WWE's next top star from a storyline perspective, and Rollins feels that way about himself as well, per WWE Universe on Twitter:
Like Ambrose, Rollins did everything he possibly could at SummerSlam to have a good match. He was most definitely limited by the stipulation, but he is one of the few guys on the roster capable of having a strong outing with anyone at any time.
He is very much like Daniel Bryan in that regard, and that was enough to help Bryan reach elite status within the company. Whether he does it as a heel or a face, Rollins will be main eventing pay-per-views soon enough.
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