WWE SummerSlam 2018 Results: Reviewing Top Highlights and Low Points
SummerSlam is one of WWE's biggest events of the year, widely considered to be the second-most important show after WrestleMania.
Per usual, the card for this year's show looked impressive on paper, with most of the top stars competing and some major matches scheduled to take place.
However, there has been a track record of SummerSlam events falling short of expectations, with WWE overbooking things, matches not living up to the hype, and outcomes leading to disappointed fans leaving the arena.
Every show has its ups and downs, no matter what the potential beforehand, so now SummerSlam 2018 is in the bag, how did things pan out? What moments stood out as the best parts of the night and which segments were the biggest disappointments?
Presented in order of appearance, here are the most impactful highlights and low points of WWE SummerSlam 2018.
Kickoff Pre-Show Breakdown
With two hours of a pre-show, the kickoff for SummerSlam had a variety of ups and downs, with different elements making a positive or negative impression.
Here is a breakdown of some of the pros and cons of these various segments that started the night.
- Having JBL and Peter Rosenberg together again on commentary was a positive. They have a fun chemistry together.
- It must be really fun for Rusev and Lana to tag together on a pay-per-view, and it's great that this found its way on to the event.
- Cedric Alexander vs. Drew Gulak being on the card, even if it's on the pre-show, was a good thing. 205 Live has been ignored too much on these events recently. It's a shame this wasn't on the main show.
- It was good to see Jerry "The King" Lawler after all he's gone through recently.
- Can this virtual reality and 3D fad go away yet? Floating graphics of the match card aren't the most dynamic experience out there.
- Hasn't a better way of bringing the crowd into the arena by the time the first match has started been figured out yet?
- As always, the recap material is so repetitive that you have to tune it out. If you aren't blocking yourself from everyone talking in circles, you're going to be hugely frustrated.
- Since coming up to the main roster, The Revival have consistently been booked like a tag team that the fans shouldn't get invested in. When they stop getting support and WWE is curious why, it will be booking like their match tonight that proves how the problem was on the writers, not the talent.
For the most part, this was comparable to pretty much every type of pre-show WWE tends to put out. If you decided to skip it, you didn't miss anything you would have to go back to check out.
Highlight: Intercontinental Championship Match
To no surprise, Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler had a stellar contest that opened the pay-per-view with some intense energy and made it seem SummerSlam was going to be an important night in WWE.
They set the pace for the night not just in terms of fanfare and fun but also the in-ring action. They are two of the best performers in the company today and made sure to reiterate that once again.
It was also a smart decision to start the show with a babyface such as Rollins winning a championship, as it gave the crowd a lot of momentum to be optimistic for what was to come, instead of immediately starting with something to be upset about.
Low Point: The Bludgeon Brothers Retain by Disqualification
The match between The Bludgeon Brothers and The New Day was mostly a great follow-up to the Intercontinental Championship match, but all the life was sucked out of it by having it end with a disqualification.
These finishes are so absurdly frequent on television, happening multiple times per episode on both Raw and SmackDown, that the pay-per-views should be an exception to that rule.
WWE should avoid booking any kind of non-finish for bouts on special events unless it's absolutely necessary, because when things like this happen, they make the PPVs feel like they're nothing more than another segment from SmackDown.
If the titles weren't supposed to change hands, Harper and Rowan should have won by pinfall or submission. If the belts are going to go to The New Day any time soon, they should have simply won them here, instead of trying to stretch this out for another week or month.
It's a shame more effort isn't put into avoiding the same pitfalls that plague the weekly television shows.
Highlight: SmackDown Women's Championship Triple Threat Match
Whether you're fond of Charlotte Flair winning the championship again or not, you have to give credit that everything leading up to that point was fantastic.
Carmella stepped up her game and Becky Lynch played up being the fan favorite perfectly, so both of them looked to be in solid contention to win the match just the same as Flair, instead of it being a one-sided affair.
What was perhaps even more interesting than the quality in-ring action was the response after the match, where the crowd was not happy with Flair's victory and fully embraced Lynch seemingly turning heel on her friend.
Whether that was something WWE had planned or not, it will likely have a major effect on how this story plays out going forward. We may see a feud between the two where Lynch or Flair is the heel, or it may be brushed aside as a temporary lapse of judgment.
Already, the SmackDown women's title scene has become much more interesting just from that one element. And if the matches to come are as good as this was, it will be a big step up for the division on Tuesday nights.
Mixed Bag: WWE Championship Match
Strangely, the WWE Championship match between AJ Styles and Samoa Joe was something of a combination of everything that went before it. In full, it wasn't a highlight or a low point, but it had elements of both.
On the positive side, the match was hard-hitting and fun to watch. This feud has felt personal, and the way both men wrestled helped to facilitate that storyline.
However, it ended in a disqualification, similar to what happened with the SmackDown Tag Team Championship match earlier in the night.
Of course, the same thing applies here and there, in that it's a shame their SummerSlam segment will be looked upon as a means to stretch things out and we'll have to hold off until Hell in a Cell on Sept. 16 to see something more tangible.
If The Bludgeon Brothers hadn't done the same thing beforehand, this would have been OK, but doing it twice feels like the SmackDown writers don't know what to do other than to tell fans to wait another month.
After sitting through so many events where Styles retained the title through some sort of non-ending against Shinsuke Nakamura, this has become more than just a temporary writers' block and is more indicative of the creative team not having better ideas for seemingly all of 2018.
Here's hoping this program continues to improve in intensity, the title changes hands at Hell in a Cell and there is some actual progression, instead of looking back on SummerSlam and seeing it as a good match that is forgettable amid a feud that was nothing but another stalling tactic.
Highlight: Daniel Bryan vs. the Miz
Given their history together, The Miz versus Daniel Bryan could have been the WWE Championship match at WrestleMania 35. It still might, given the way this went down.
Not only do they have great chemistry in the ring, both men understand the psychology of this feud so well that the crowd was in their control the entire time.
Every time the pendulum swung in Bryan's favor, the audience cheered feverishly. Every time The Miz turned things around, the boos erupted. It was exactly how things were supposed to go down.
This extends to the finish as well, which saw Maryse slip something to The Miz so he could use it against Bryan and score the pinfall—a cheap victory that illustrates perfectly how he's willing to cheat to win, rather than taking the high road and potentially losing.
If this is the end for the two, The Miz comes out of this feud with a ton of heat and Bryan is still sympathetic and loved; if it continues, though, this match didn't put a halt to the momentum at all.
Low Point: Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin
In the second squash of the evening, Finn Balor and Baron Corbin at least got their lackluster feud out of the way rather quickly, but that just goes to show how little this mattered.
The only thing noteworthy about this was the return of Balor's Demon alter ego, but if that is the only factor to be positive about, it's a bad sign.
The face paint does not change anything about Balor's personality or in-ring style. It's about as influential as the Avengers: Infinity War reference in Rollins' gear from earlier in the night.
Sure, it might be neat, but it's incredibly hollow and illustrates how underwhelming this was that outside of some paint, there was nothing else to talk about. If this feud continues, it will be just as lame as it has been.
Low Point: United States Championship Match
At this late point in the night, the crowd could have used a shot of adrenaline to boost the energy level but ended up getting something boring instead.
Jeff Hardy is either too injured to perform at a higher tier, or he and Shinsuke Nakamura simply couldn't put on a better match. Whatever the case may be, this was perhaps the worst in-ring performance of the night.
It isn't even as if this feud was something interesting going into the event, as it's predominantly revolved around Randy Orton beating up Hardy and Nakamura doing nothing, so it was at least expected that The Viper would do something to get people talking.
Instead, Orton came out, walked down the ramp, turned back and left, leaving Hardy to start clapping in the middle of the ring.
Attacking Hardy would have been predictable, but it at least would have been something. Instead, we got nothing, and it isn't the type of questionable action that will get people curious about what Orton will do next.
If WWE's aim was to make the biggest takeaway of this segment a resounding sigh of boredom, that goal was accomplished.
Highlight: Ronda Rousey Wins the Raw Women's Championship
There was one objective with this match: Put the belt on Ronda Rousey and make sure she looks strong.
That mission was accomplished, and then some.
As expected, Alexa Bliss did everything in her power to make Rousey look like an absolute machine and the legitimate Baddest Woman on the Planet as her moniker suggests.
There was a good use of Bliss's flexible limbs being brutally twisted in multiple directions as Rousey forced her to tap out and hand the title over.
It was short and sweet—the third squash of the night—but this was the one match that made sense to be booked as a blowout.
Low Point: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship
This was an example of far too little, far too late, and if WWE doesn't realize it by now, the people in charge have their blinders on at full capacity.
All throughout the build to this sixth match Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar have had together, there has been company-speak of things such as "Reigns finally gets his rematch" as if the entire last year and a half didn't happen.
Time and again, audiences have expressed disinterest in seeing these two face off, as both outcomes would be disappointing: Keeping the title on Lesnar would mean the Universal Championship remained at a standstill, while crowning Reigns would just force an even stronger rejection for those who aren't into him as the top guy.
WWE played into that hand and got the crowd invested by having Braun Strowman come out at the beginning of the match to forecast his Money in the Bank cash-in, yet subverted that, purposely went with one of the two unfavorable outcomes and effectively told the WWE Universe that the agenda hasn't changed and if we don't like it, oh well.
"You both suck" isn't the chant you want the crowd to be singing in your main event.
It doesn't matter if Reigns is technically the babyface, as WWE has failed to position him properly. He's been set up for failure rather than success, and it's a shame to see someone so talented have to get the vitriol he's going to receive after winning the title from Lesnar.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.