Breaking Down the Best and Worst of the WWE for Week of Aug. 18
SummerSlam and its aftershocks delivering thrills led to a stellar week for WWE.
Brock Lesnar's path of destruction and Seth Rollins' vile attack on his old comrade highlighted WWE's programming. SummerSlam lived up to all its hype, allowing for a realistic discussion of whether it surpassed WrestleMania.
After that marquee pay-per-view, WWE showed that it's not ready to stop its recent roll. Cracked cinder blocks and a WWE Network exclusive saw to that.
A neglected championship, a fun that streak ended too son and more focus on the Bella Twins were among the offerings that weren't worth celebrating.
No one bats 1.000, though. Those missteps weren't enough to overshadow what Lesnar, Rollins and the WWE production team accomplished.
Best: Beast of a Beatdown
SummerSlam's main event was powered by the same appeal of watching a tiger devour a boar on a nature show on TV.
Fans may have predicted that Lesnar would beat John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship but not that he would steamroll him. From the onset, The Beast Incarnate overpowered and toyed with the champ.
A pair of F5s and 16 German suplexes later, shock filled the Staples Center.
WWE was bold to veer from the typical match, going the unexpected route of having its top star lose in an extended squash match. The decision builds up Lesnar as an unstoppable force, making it seem impossible that anyone, Cena included, will take that title from him.
That's going to benefit his run and whoever manages to finally defeat him.
WWE maximized the power of Lesnar defeating Undertaker at WrestleMania and is putting him in the role that he was born to play—destroyer.
Worst: United States Championship Has Gone Missing
Sheamus initially defended the United States title often, and the results were applause-worthy. His brawling skills made for consistently fun bouts.
SummerSlam week, though, continued a run of him and the championship fading from the spotlight. He didn't compete at the pay-per-view and is without a clear rival. Jack Swagger and Bo Dallas appear to be headed for a collision, as do Rusev and Mark Henry, but Sheamus doesn't have a challenger charging at him.
That's a waste of his talent and the power of the title.
His last televised title defense came against Alberto Del Rio on July 8. That's too long to go without putting the strap on the line. SmackDown, Main Event and Raw would benefit from a title match here or there.
It seems that WWE struggles to focus on both the U.S. title and Intercontinental Championship. It's the IC belt's time now with Dolph Ziggler butting heads with The Miz. The Celtic Warrior is going to have to wait for close-up.
Best: Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins' Feud Continues to Thrive
Dean Ambrose and Rollins dredged more thrills out of the Lumberjack match stipulation at SummerSlam than anyone would have predicted.
Their seething fury had them push through the wall of wrestlers around the ring, taking their fight into the stands. The heart-quickening bout saw both rivals leap into the Lumberjacks. The match's chaos and breakneck pace were its cornerstones.
One night later, they topped it.
Monday's Raw ended with a match that deserves serious consideration as the year's best. Fans chose a Falls Count Anywhere stipulation for the two former members of The Shield, and the result was an intense showdown that featured Rollins powerbombing Ambrose onto a bed of chairs.
Rollins wasn't done with creating memorable, violent images, though. He and Kane dragged Ambrose over to a stack of cinder blocks. A Curb Stomp later and Rollins earned the title of monster, while Ambrose was written off TV.
That act will make Ambrose's eventual return and the resuming feud a must-watch. Rollins, meanwhile, benefits from being able to boast that he sent Ambrose away in macabre fashion.
Hell in a Cell would be the ideal place for this story to reach its climax, offering a setting as dangerous as these two men have been.
Worst: More Bellas to Come
There's something wrong when a nonwrestler who hasn't been in a ring in a decade is the ring general, carrying the other performer.
That was the case at SummerSlam when Stephanie McMahon held together her match against Brie Bella. And WWE isn't done showcasing Brie and her sister. Nikki Bella turned on Brie that night, setting up a feud between them.
It's refreshing to see WWE put this much energy and time into telling a story involving female wrestlers, but the company chose the wrong pair.
With a roster that includes Summer Rae, Emma, Natalya, AJ Lee and Paige, officials decided on highlighting the Bellas, two of the least competent ring workers of the group. It's not as if their promos skills are going to carry them, either.
Fans got a taste of the bad acting that is in store during this rivalry when Nikki explained herself on Monday's Raw.
She had little emotion in her lines and came off as unnatural. While McMahon is stellar on stage, Nikki's skills are more on a high school drama level.
With this narrative just getting rolling, Raw is going to have a lot of moments like these.
Best: Journey to SummerSlam Special
Putting out slickly produced specials like Journey to SummerSlam: The Destruction of The Shield is how to sell the WWE Network, not pound the $9.99 price into fans' heads.
This kind of exclusive production makes the network mighty enticing. And the production team nails them every time.
WWE told the story of The Shield's breakup and each former member's path to SummerSlam. It gave a behind-the-scenes look at Rollins, Ambrose and Roman Reigns' preparation with interviews and clips of them backstage.
Surprisingly, WWE covered Rollins and Ambrose's indy days, making clear mention of Ring of Honor and Combat Zone Wrestling. From backstory to intimate looks, it's impressive how much they packed into the one-hour documentary.
It joins the specials on Daniel Bryan's road to WrestleMania and the Lesnar-Cena bout at SummerSlam as some of the best stuff WWE has produced this year. The more home runs like these that the company hits, the more fans are going to be compelled to sign for the WWE Network.
Worst: Heath Slater's Streak Ends Far from the Spotlight
The ride Heath Slater had been on was mighty fun while it lasted.
The perennial loser picked up a victory on Tuesday's Main Event, as he and Titus O'Neil knocked off Los Matadores. That doesn't sound like a win worth noticing, but it marked his fourth straight tag team win and sixth overall, per CageMatch.net.
Slater going from jobber to winner felt like the world had turned upside down, the mouse now chasing the cat. "Slater wins another one" had become a common call, the anthem to an unexpected thrill ride of a subplot.
Then it ended with no climax on Superstars—to a pair of little people dressed in animal costumes, no less.
Hornswoggle, dressed as a cow, and El Torito pinned Slater to end the streak.
WWE could have made this into so much more. Instead, it stomped out a fire before it got too hot. At least the bovine version of Hornswoggle has some momentum, though, right?