WWE SummerSlam 2016 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights

Ryan Dilbert@@ryandilbertWWE Lead WriterAugust 21, 2016

WWE SummerSlam 2016 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights

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    Credit: WWE.com

    At times, WWE SummerSlam 2016 lapped what WrestleMania did this year.

    John Cena vs. AJ Styles enthralled, living up to its dream-match status. Finn Balor and Seth Rollins impressed in the race to become the first man to hold the WWE Universal Championship. And fans may not have liked who won, but Sasha Banks and Charlotte flourished in Brooklyn, New York, on Sunday.

    For the second straight year, though, WWE Creative overthought the pay-per-view's ending. The show's final moments simply didn't satisfy.

    A bloodied Randy Orton could not continue. A ravenous Brock Lesnar still struck with his hammer-like fists, capping off a short main event that had yet to reach its climax.

    Just before the show went off the air, fans saw a staredown between Shane McMahon and Lesnar of all people. Not exactly a sight that makes one think of the New Era.

    It's not yet clear whether that was WWE's initial intention for SummerSlam's sendoff. Orton may have been cut too deeply, forcing the company to veer off the script. So, either SummerSlam 2016 limped to the finish line by way of accident or poor storytelling.

    Either way, the night produced a number of career-defining bouts and some strong undercard action. Hopefully, the stink of the main event doesn't cover up SummerSlam's successes.

SmackDown 12-Man Tag Team Match (Pre-Show)

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    The Ascension, Breezango and The Vaudevillains vs. The Usos, The Hype Bros and American Alpha

    Quick tags kept the action flowing as SmackDown's heel and babyface squads collided. The referee struggled to keep order as all the Superstars brawled. Jason Jordan and Chad Gable emerged from that fracas on top.

    The Ascension led the way as the rule-breakers ganged up on Zack Ryder.

    Jimmy Uso played the cavalry before chaos broke out again. And it was his brother Jey who scored the pin after American Alpha hit Grand Amplitude.

     

    Result

    The Usos, The Hype Bros and American Alpha win via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • Fans chant, "Gable! Gable!"
    • Ryder hits a dropkick onto Aiden English while Mojo Rawley suplexes him.
    • Jordan hits a series of capture suplexes.
    • Rawley power-bombs both Tyler Breeze and Viktor.

     

    Grade

    B-

     

    Analysis

    The usual Gable artistry and some classic tag team psychology helped these Superstars create a solid pre-show opener.  

    WWE continues to paint the SmackDown tag team scene as wide open ahead of the blue brand getting its own set of tag titles. The crowded bout served as a decent showcase for everyone involved, with Gable and Jordan getting a touch more spotlight than everyone else.

    The announcers did their best to sell The Ascension as a threat. This was the best that duo has looked since arriving to the main roster.

    SmackDown has plenty of work ahead in building the tag team division. We saw flashes of its potential here, but struggling pairings like The Ascension have a deep hole to climb out of.

The Dudley Boyz vs. Sami Zayn and Neville (Pre-Show)

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    Sami Zayn and Neville showed off great chemistry early, tagging in and out to overwhelm D-Von Dudley.

    A cheap shot allowed the heels to take control. The Dudley Boyz punished Neville in their corner until Zayn charged in to issue his unique brand of offense.

    Bubba Ray accidentally nailed his own partner with a clothesline, leading to Neville hitting Red Arrow for the win.

     

    Result

    Zayn and Neville win via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • Neville launches off Zayn's back to hit a corkscrew moonsault.
    • Bubba Ray to Neville: "Come on, English boy!"
    • The Dudley Boyz hit Zayn with a neckbreaker-suplex combination.

     

    Grade

    C

     

    Analysis

    For a match with no story, no hype and a brand-new tag team, Zayn and Neville vs. The Dudley Boyz was solid entertainment.

    There wasn't much of note in the actual bout. Instead, it hinted at what's to come. The Dudley Boyz get closer to a breakup with each misstep like this. And Zayn and Neville may have found a good temporary home in the tag team division.

    That duo has big-time potential if treated like athletic superheroes who take the tag team scene by storm.

Cesaro vs. Sheamus (1st Match in Best-of-7 Series)

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    Cesaro and Sheamus pounced on each other, kicking off the bout in aggressive fashion.

    The Celtic Warrior leveled Cesaro with nasty strikes. Despite suffering some of Cesaro's trademark uppercuts, Sheamus kept his foe reeling. 

    Cesaro slugged his way back into the match. Hammering blows comprised what then turned into a back-and-forth contest. The King of Swing fell victim to a thumb to the eye and a trip into the ring post before taking a Brogue Kick to the chin.

     

    Result

    Sheamus wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • Sheamus goes for (and misses) the Brogue Kick in the opening seconds.
    • Michael Cole: "If I know Cesaro, this match is far from over."
    • Sheamus counters the Neutralizer with White Noise.
    • Cesaro leaps off the ring post before hitting a springboard crossbody.

     

    Grade

    B+

     

    Analysis

    The sound of flesh smacking against flesh echoed as Cesaro and Sheamus delivered an intense series opener. The foes displayed the strong chemistry they have always shown in the past.

    Given more time, Cesaro and Sheamus could have stolen the show.

    It's not clear how these two will be able to keep fans' interest for the rest of the series, though. The modern WWE audience gets antsy in a hurry. It's going to take greatness and creativity aplenty to alleviate potential boredom ahead.

Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho

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    Enzo Amore fired off pre-match hype infused with lyrics from New York musicians.

    Once the bell rang, Amore's scrappiness and Big Cass' size allowed the babyfaces to take control of the action. Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens, though, wore down Amore and throttled him in their corner.

    Big Cass eventually charged in and overpowered Jericho and Owens. A brawl outside and a collision with the ring post slowed his momentum.

    In the ring, Jericho toppled Amore to score the win.

     

    Result

    Jericho and Owens win via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • The crowds starts to sing "Juicy" by The Notorious B.I.G. Big Cass sings a bit of "New York, New York."
    • Big Cass launches Amore onto Owens and Jericho outside the ring.
    • Owens mocks Amore's signature dance.
    • Corey Graves compares Owens and Jericho to Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe. 
    • Amore hits Jericho with a DDT from the top rope.
    • Owens throws Amore at Jericho to set up the Codebreaker.

     

    Grade

    B-

     

    Analysis

    Amore and Cass received a great crowd reaction as expected. The duo has instantly connected with WWE fans, and it doesn't even matter what Amore is saying at this point.

    This was a fun contest with a surprising result. However, Jericho and Owens vs. Amore and Big Cass felt like a warm-up for a long, high-profile feud. A more developed storyline and personal issues ahead are going to make the rematch the superior contest.

Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte (Women's Championship)

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    Sasha Banks and Charlotte's fiery fight turned scary early as the challenger awkwardly dropped The Boss across the top rope. Charlotte methodically beat down her foe to take advantage afterward.

    Banks battled back, kneeing and clubbing her archenemy. Her injured back prevented her from putting Charlotte away.

    The Boss had Bank Statement locked in, but Charlotte rolled over and scored a surprising three-count.

     

    Result

    Charlotte wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • Banks clamps on the Bank Statement just as the match begins.
    • Banks to Charlotte: "That's why I'm the champ."
    • Charlotte drops Banks from the top rope in an awkward, dangerous move.
    • Banks countered a Razor's Edge from the second rope into a hurricanrana.

     

    Grade

    A

     

    Analysis

    The Boss is chasing the gold already. That's a shocking move, with WWE clearly hoping to retell the story of Banks' rise rather than building something around her remaining on top.

    Banks and Charlotte were on the verge of something unforgettable, using dangerous, creative offense to outdo their previous efforts. A fluky finish, though, kept this from being truly special.

    As long as WWE doesn't get too cute in the next chapters, an all-time great rivalry is well underway. Perhaps the company can drag out Banks' moment of triumph until WrestleMania.

The Miz vs. Apollo Crews (Intercontinental Championship)

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    The Miz grounded the high-flying Apollo Crews in the early going, but the champ couldn't keep that up for long. Crews flustered The Miz with his uncanny blend of power and speed.

    A distraction from Maryse failed to do much for The Miz. A collision with the ring post, though, ruined Crews' hopes for acquiring the gold. The Miz hit the Skull-Crushing Finale to retain the Intercontinental Championship.

     

    Result

    The Miz wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Mauro Ranallo: "Forget about a drone, Apollo Crews is a flying tank!"

     

    Grade

    D-

     

    Analysis

    The IC title match would have been more at home on SmackDown than SummerSlam. It was ordinary at best, underwhelming at worst.

    WWE has failed Crews so far, not showing the audience who he is beyond a great athlete. His lack of connection with the audience and a poor build for this bout doomed it from the start.

John Cena vs. AJ Styles

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    With a raucous crowd watching on, John Cena and AJ Styles kicked off their bout in high gear.

    Cena knocked his foe around, stalking him as he dished out punishing offense. The Phenomenal One flew at Cena but continually found himself crashing into a wall.

    Each man struck with his best moves, but none of it equaled victory.

    The hard-fought battle left Cena and Styles wobbly. They both tried moves deep in their bag of tricks, with the bout boasting an indy feel for a stretch.

    After Styles survived a top-rope Attitude Adjustment, Cena stared bewildered at his opponent. Styles then floored Cena with the Phenomenal Forearm to end the instant classic.

     

    Result

    Styles wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • Fans chant, "John Cena sucks!"
    • Styles suplexes Cena onto the ring apron.
    • Cena kicks out of the Styles Clash. Styles kicks out of two Attitude Adjustments, including one from the top rope.
    • Styles hits Cena with a modified Attitude Adjustment.
    • Cena tosses Styles into the air before hitting a cutter.
    • John "Bradshaw" Layfield: "Just throw home run punches at each other until someone can't get up."
    • Ranallo: "The vestiges of battle written on the faces of both these warriors."
    • Cena leaves his "Never Give Up" wristband in the ring before he exits.

     

    Grade

    A++

     

    Analysis

    Cena and Styles were somehow able to top their masterpiece at Money in the Bank. A hot crowd certainly helped the Superstars' efforts. Creative offense, the proverbial big-fight feel and two top-rate performers at work added up to a leading contender for 2016's best match.

    WWE is wisely going all in on Styles.

    The former TNA star walked out of SummerSlam with a clean win over the company's golden boy. He is 2-0 against him, something so few Superstars can claim.

    The Phenomenal One is now dripping with momentum, primed to sit atop WWE's highest rungs. 

The New Day vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (Tag Team Championship)

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    Jon Stewart talked about his interference in John Cena's SummerSlam match last year. He announced that he would help The New Day in its title match.

    Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods had little trouble with Karl Anderson early on. The champs manhandled Luke Gallows soon after.

    Gallows and Anderson gained the advantage when the match broke down into a brawl. The Club looked close to victory, but Stewart distracted the powerhouses. The heels were ready to smash his groin into the ring post when Big E arrived.

    Big E steamrolled Gallows and Anderson before celebrating with his pals in the ring.

     

    Result

    Gallows and Anderson win via disqualification. The New Day retains the titles.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • Stewart: "Nobody needs to see old-man belly."
    • Stewart wears a New Day unicorn horn.
    • Gallows and Anderson place jars filled with eggs on a table at ringside, including one labeled "Jon."
    • Woods hits a long-distance springboard diving elbow.
    • Cole: "New Day may rock. Jon Stewart...not so much."

     

    Grade

    D+

     

    Analysis

    Gallows and Anderson have devolved into one-note jokes in a hurry. This "ringpostitis" shtick reduces them to comic relief rather than the destructive bruisers they are built to be.

    Stewart's appearance was fun, but he wasn't at his best here. The fans got in his way, and he had few memorable one-liners. 

    The oddest part of this whole showdown was that Big E was clearly healthy enough to run down to the ring and battle the bad guys. So, why wasn't he around in the first place? WWE created a plot hole in order to deliver a cheap surprise.

    The New Day needs something new, be it a rivalry or storyline, as soon as possible.

Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler (WWE World Championship)

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    An aggressive Dolph Ziggler outwrestled and outfought Dean Ambrose to start off the WWE world title match. Things changed when the action moved to the outside. That's where The Lunatic Fringe prevailed.

    Ambrose showboated as he ground Ziggler into the mat, taunting his foe.

    A collision into the ring post left Ambrose weakened. The champion still remained the predator for much of the contest.

    The Showoff tried to hit a facebuster from the top rope, but Ambrose turned it into Dirty Deeds to keep hold of the title.

     

    Result

    Ambrose wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • Ambrose hit a butterfly suplex from the second rope.
    • Ziggler drop-kicks Ambrose in midair.
    • Ambrose mimics Ziggler's Sweet Chin Music tribute.

     

    Grade

    C+

     

    Analysis

    Despite the work these men put into the bout, it lacked electricity. Ambrose vs. Ziggler featured one of the best builds of all the SummerSlam matches. That didn't translate into greatness when the bell rang.

    Ziggler's lack of momentum, thanks to years of poor booking, showed. It will take a lot more work to make him a credible title contender again.  

    But the fact that this marquee meeting didn't resonate more will inspire little confidence from WWE higher-ups.

SmackDown 6-Woman Tag Team Match

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    Becky Lynch, Carmella and Naomi vs. Natalya, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Bella 

    An announcer claimed that Eva Marie would not compete as she was vacationing in the British Isles instead. Nikki took her place, returning from neck surgery.

    The momentum shifted from team to team at the beginning of the bout. But Nikki later helped the heels take control as they ganged up on Carmella. 

    Shortly after Lynch got on a roll, order broke down. Nikki took advantage of the chaos. Her thunderous forearm put Carmella away.

     

    Result

    Nikka, Natalya and Bliss win via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • Carmella hits Natalya with a flying leg scissors.
    • Nikki does push-ups in the heat of battle. 
    • Lynch hits three consecutive springboard sidekicks, nailing each of her opponents. 

     

    Grade

    C

     

    Analysis

    Nikki's return was the highlight of a match that never gained real traction.

    The 12-man tag team bout earlier in the night felt more like a battle for position in the tag team hierarchy. The women's version didn't have that focus, feeling less significant as a result.

    It's a mistake to use what could have been a showcase for the stars of the New Era as a means to fatten Nikki's resume. This could have helped launch Carmella or Bliss but instead felt like a return to the status quo.

Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor (Universal Championship)

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    As red smoke billowed around him, Finn Balor emerged as his Demon King alter ego.

    He wasted no time in going after Seth Rollins. Balor flew at The Architect and chased him around the ring. He zeroed in on Rollins' surgically repaired knee. 

    Rollins recovered and slowed the bout down, methodically attacking his foe. 

    A weary Balor fought back with his best moves but couldn't land the Coup De Grace on several attempts. After drop-kicking Rollins several times over, though, he was able to hit his finisher to secure the win.

     

    Result

    Balor wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley unveil the very red Universal Championship.
    • Rollins hurls Balor into the security barricade.
    • Rollins calls Balor "boy" as he slaps him around.
    • Rollins hits a small package driver.
    • Balor drop-kicks Rollins into the security barricade.
    • Balor kicks out of the Pedigree.

     

    Grade

    A-

     

    Analysis

    A slower bout than one would expect built beautifully into a full-throttle climax.

    Rollins was fantastic as a sadist relishing his punishment of Balor. His foe, meanwhile, looked mighty comfortable under the spotlight.

    WWE's bold booking of Balor continued here, with the company wisely going all in on the NXT call-up. The New Era needs fresh faces, and Balor has long looked like he could be a key piece in WWE's future plans. 

    Balor winning the title at SummerSlam kicks off his career with a defining, lasting moment.

Rusev vs. Roman Reigns (United States Championship)

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    Rusev battered Roman Reigns before the bell even rang. He slammed him into the ring steps, roaring over his prey.

    Referees tried to restore order as the two rivals brawled at ringside. Reigns grabbed a steel chair and wailed on the champion. Medical staff attended to Rusev, who favored his ribs.

     

    Result

    The match never begins.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • Fans boo the announcement that Rusev can't compete due to injury.
    • Reigns spears Rusev on the entrance ramp.
    • Cole: "That Roman Reigns is scary!"

     

    Grade

    Incomplete

     

    Analysis

    In a reversal of standard booking, WWE gave fans the full fight on Raw and the non-match on SummerSlam. That's on odd move, one that the fans in attendance clearly didn't like.

    During such a long SummerSlam, though, it's not a bad idea to think outside the box here. The brawl offered the needed buffer between main events while giving the Rusev-Reigns feud lots to work with moving forward.

    This rivalry is going to hit its high point several weeks from now, allowing WWE not to rush into crowning Reigns.

Randy Orton vs. Brock Lesnar

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    Randy Orton stunned Brock Lesnar for a second, but The Beast Incarnate took him to Suplex City seconds into the battle. Lesnar went on to dominate his opponent, beating on him in and out of the ring.

    Orton struck back with an RKO onto a table. He landed the move in the ring but could only score a two-count.

    The Beast Incarnate busted Orton's head open with elbow strikes. While the doctor attended to Orton, Lesnar continued the beating, punching an unmoving target. The referee soon stopped the bout.

    Lesnar then hit SmackDown commissioner Shane McMahon with an F-5.

     

    Result

    Lesnar wins via TKO.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • Lesnar slams Orton through the announcers' table. 
    • Orton kicks out of the F-5.
    • Ranallo: "We just witnessed a SummerSlam massacre."

     

    Grade

    D+

     

    Analysis

    What a disappointing way to end such a major event. 

    The idea to have Lesnar just obliterate Orton is smart. The execution failed, however. You don't hype a match as much as WWE did and sell it as the headliner of a marquee pay-per-view only to have it end so quickly.

    Kevin Owens winning by TKO against Sami Zayn at NXT TakeOver: Rival was theater, a peek at a monster devouring his dinner. Lesnar's win over Orton was far more gimmicky and anti-climactic. 

    If WWE had another plan that went awry due to Orton bleeding too much, that's a whole different story. One can't blame the company for that.

    If this was the intended finish to the night, though, WWE stumbled badly.