WWE SummerSlam 2019 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights
The Biggest Party of the Summer rolled into Toronto as WWE presented a SummerSlam pay-per-view headlined by Seth Rollins challenging Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship and Kofi Kingston defending the WWE title against Randy Orton.
The return of Trish Stratus to the squared circle for a showdown with Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch's defense of the Raw Women's Championship against Natalya, and Kevin Owens' career-threatening bout against Shane McMahon made up a solid undercard of star-studded matches.
Relive Sunday's WWE Network broadcast, find out how each bout graded out and what it means for the stars and stories involved with this recap of the summertime spectacular.
Cruiserweight Championship Match: Oney Lorcan vs. Drew Gulak
Action on the SummerSlam Kickoff Show got underway with Drew Gulak defending his cruiserweight title against Oney Lorcan.
Gulak started quick, delivering a shotgun dropkick that stunned Lorcan and allowed him to steadily gain control of the match. A neckbreaker and series of chops by the champion began the challenger's comeback, but a Gu-Lock left Lorcan fighting for his title aspirations.
Using his legs, the Bostonian broke the hold and remained in the fight.
Gulak tried for the submission again moments later, but Lorcan nearly pinned him off a reversal. A series of open-hand slaps and an uppercut by the challenger left the champion reeling.
Gulak would recover with a throat punch, though, and deliver the Cyclone Crash to successfully retain his title.
Gulak defeated Lorcan
This was a hard-hitting, physical match that simply did not have enough story to keep fans invested. That was no fault of the performers, though. They put in some serious work, beating the hell out of each other to put over the significance of the cruiserweight title.
The fans just didn't respond as one would hope, continuing to showcase the disconnect between 205 Live and the audience.
Lorcan looked great both on offense and defense, and Gulak was his consistently great self, but the two never hit that next level to deliver the quality of match they otherwise may have done with more time and focus.
Apollo Crews vs. Buddy Murphy
The Best Kept Secret in WWE, former cruiserweight champion Buddy Murphy, battled Apollo Crews in the second match of the night’s Kickoff Show.
Murphy exploded across the ring with a knee to the face and scored a near-fall, wasting little time in his attempt to make a statement in his first significant match on the main roster. Crews mounted a comeback, dropping Murphy with a leaping clothesline and enzuigiri. A standing moonsault earned Crews a near-fall.
Murphy cut Crews off, tucking his head in the corner and delivering a superkick. A running powerbomb followed for a two-count. Crews countered Murphy’s Law into a rollup for two. At ringside, Murphy sent Crews into the steel stairs. A tope over the top rope from the former cruiserweight champion wiped Crews out at ringside.
From out of nowhere, Rowan blasted Murphy with a big boot to the face. He followed with a brutal assault of the Aussie, including a running cross body that left Murphy flattened on the floor. A powerbomb into the post ended the beating before Rowan demanded, “keep my name out of your mouth!”
The match was secondary to the beating Rowan dished out to Murphy. It was a logical storyline advancement as the big, nasty associate of Daniel Bryan would understandably be pissed that Murphy sold him out to Roman Reigns and put him in The Big Dog’s sights.
The question is whether this leads to anything of substance for Murphy or if his significance to the storyline is limited to what we have witnessed over the last week. The commentary team put him over enough to suggest he may see an increased role but only time will tell.
Women's Tag Team Championship Match: Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross vs. IIconics
Billie Kay and Peyton Royce revealed they may not be women’s tag team champions any longer but the future is still IIconic. They would have to prove it against new titleholders Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross in the third and final Kickoff Show match.
The pink and black-clad IIconics—in homage to the legendary Hart Foundation—isolated Cross, grounding her as Bliss watched from across the squared circle. A double-down spot allowed the Scot to create separation and make the hot tag to Bliss.
Little Miss Bliss exploded into the match and, with a well-timed intervention from her partner, she was able to put Royce away with Twisted Bliss for the successful title defense.
Bliss and Cross defeated The IIconics
When the biggest take away from a championship bout is Corey Graves' disgust over Bliss' choice of ring gear, you know the match was essentially meaningless.
This was here to get the performers on the show without any real consequence.
This was a match that existed.
Submission Match for the Raw Women's Championship: Becky Lynch vs. Natalya
Becky Lynch and Natalya were once good friends. They kicked off the 2019 SummerSlam pay-per-view as bitter enemies, waging war over the Raw Women’s Championship in an intensely personal submission match.
The contestants wasted no time looking for a submission, each hoping to end the match quickly and decisively. The action spilled to the floor, where The Queen of Harts threw Lynch into the guardrail and targeted the leg, weakening the base of the champion in hopes of applying the Sharpshooter.
Lynch survived her opponent’s early onslaught but again found herself on the defensive as Natalya executed her strategy to perfection, applying her trademark submission on the top rope in a very cool, original spot.
The Man recovered and sent Natalya into the steel steps, injuring her arm in hopes of softening her up for the Disarmer. Before then, she applied Natalya’s own submission on her as the split Toronto crowd came alive. Natalya answered with a Disarmer of her own, then followed with the Sharpshooter, drawing a huge ovation. Lynch crawled out of the ring, searching for any way possible to break the hold.
She disrupted Natalya’s momentum just enough to trap her in the Disarmer and finally force the tapout.
Lynch defeated Natalya
The crowd was red-hot for this match, thanks to the connection with the performers involved, making it the right choice to kick off the event.
Natalya looked every bit Lynch's equal, nearly tapping out the seemingly unbeatable Man with a Sharpshooter move that will never not pop the audience north of the border.
For the first time in months, Lynch felt like the badass in-ring performer we fell in love with last year at this time. There was no pomp, circumstance or overbooking to masquerade an opponent's greenness. This was a wrestler's match, two women countering, reversing and attempting to tap each other out in a championship clash.
The title and division were elevated, as was Natalya, who has been an afterthought of sorts in the wake of Ronda Rousey's disappearance from television.
Goldberg vs. Dolph ZIggler
Dolph Ziggler's repeated disrespect of legendary competitors earned him a date with Goldberg in one of the more intriguing matches on the SummerSlam card.
Ziggler stunned Goldberg with a superkick from out of nowhere early, then a second, but could only keep him down for a one-count each time.
His early flurry was short-lived as Goldberg delivered a spear that turned the former world champion inside out. The Jackhammer followed and the WCW icon earned a largely uncontested victory.
Goldberg defeated Ziggler
Spear. Jackhammer. Goodbye.
This was exactly what we thought it would be, with the wrinkle of Ziggler's superkicks early.
The character work by Ziggler was fantastic. The loudmouth, completely oblivious and slightly masochistic heel who has no idea that he is not everything he claims to be, he got his ass kicked twice more for daring to awaken the monster inside Goldberg.
The Showoff's work was the biggest takeaway from this and it is not even close.
United States Championship Match: Ricochet vs. AJ Styles
Ricochet, clad in awesome Nightwing-inspired gear, took the fight to United States champion AJ Styles from the opening bell. He delivered a headscissors off the shoulders of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, keeping The Phenomenal One off-guard.
The moment the champion was able to finally slow the pace down, he targeted the knee of his opponent, hoping to take the aerial game away from his high-flying rival. It worked, momentarily, but Ricochet was able to soar off the top with a one-legged assault anyway.
Everytime he tried to mount some sort of sustained offense, though, Styles kicked the knee out from underneath the challenger. The champion downed Ricochet with a fireman's carry neckbreaker for a count of two and immediately expressed his frustration over not being able to put him away.
Ricochet's knee gave out on him once more and Styles capitalized, rolling through and applying the Calf Crusher. Ricochet escaped and applied the Anaconda Vise, a move we had not seen since a certain former WWE champion from Chicago reigned supreme.
Understanding his path to victory included eliminating Anderson and Gallows from the equation, Ricochet wiped them out at ringside. The distraction provided Styles an opening to crotch the challenger up top. Ricochet fought him off and laid into Gallows again.
That second distraction affected Ricochet's timing and he soared right into the waiting arms of Styles, who delivered the Styles Clash for the win.
Styles defeated Ricochet
Have you ever watched two Superstars who should have show-stealing, Match of the Year contenders but for whatever reason, proved unable to deliver on their tremendous in-ring promise?
That has been this Styles-Ricochet series to this point.
The storytelling here was strong, and the psychology was solid, but the matches between them have lacked that spark that elevates them to the next level.
You get the sense that there is a showstopper waiting to be had but for whatever reason, Ricochet and Styles have not gotten there yet.
With that said, this was still a better match than most could hope to have so it earns a relatively solid grade. Here is hoping, one day, these in-ring wizards can earn the 'A' grade they are capable of.
SmackDown Women's Championship Match: Bayley vs. Ember Moon
The Toronto crowd greeted Bayley with a chorus of boos in prematch introductions, suggesting Moon would be the heavy fan-favorite as she sought to wrest the SmackDown women's title away from one of the original horsewomen of NXT.
Moon controlled the early portion of the match, determined to prove she was a challenger who deserved to be there rather than a competitor lucky to be gifted a title shot by her opponent. Bayley fought back and showed more aggression as she worked over Moon, including some rapid-fire forearms to the back of her opponent.
Bayley delivered a big elbow drop for a near-fall, then intercepted a diving Moon to retain control. She scaled the ropes but the challenger cut her off. A hurricanrana and kick to the face put Bayley down for two.
Moon fought out of one Bayley-to-Belly but fell prey to another, this one off the top rope, as the champion successfully retained her title.
Bayley defeated Moon
This was a match that existed.
Never once did it really feel like Bayley would lose, nor did the commentary team adequately put Moon over as a threat to dethrone her.
This was of no consequence to anything that is (or isn't) going on in the SmackDown women's division, the announce team sounded disinterested and the match never really got out of neutral.
Maybe the biggest disappointment of the show to this point given the talent involved.
Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon
It was not enough that Kevin Owens' career was on the line in his match with Shane McMahon. To stack the odds against The Prizefighter, McMahon named Elias the special enforcer prior to the bout. Early in the match, The Musician paid dividends, repeatedly providing a distraction that slowed Owens' assault on the prodigal son.
Eventually, McMahon was able to send Owens back-first into the guardrail and seize control of the bout. Chants of "you can't wrestle" spilled from the stands as McMahon threw rights and lefts at his opponent.
Owens finally fought back and delivered a popup powerbomb but Elias hopped on the apron to prevent a pinfall attempt. Owens fought the urge to strike Elias, who was in an official capacity and dropped McMahon with a shoulder block. Elias introduced a chair, daring Owens to ruin his career for the opportunity to swing it at his boss.
KO ducked a running forearm and McMahon blasted Elias. Owens delivered a Swanton and a frog splash but Elias pulled the official out of the ring before the three-count. The former universal champion answered by delivering a cannonball to both officials but Elias still stuck his nose in the match.
The response? An unrelenting steel chair assault that left the special enforcer incapacitated.
The original official recovered and removed the chair from the ring, allowing Owens to deliver a low blow to McMahon and drop him with a stunner for the pinfall victory.
Owens defeated McMahon
This was a brilliant bit of sports entertainment ripped directly from the Attitude Era.
Owens overcame the stacked deck, obliterated Elias and beat the hell out of the oppressive authority figure. The crowd responded to all of it with great energy and excitement, waking up after an extended period of lethargy.
After the match, Owens looked into the camera and asked, "are you listening?"
To what? The enormous reaction that accompanied Owens' fiery victory.
If WWE Creative is smart and wants to capitalize on the momentum he has, it will hear the fans and respond accordingly.
Trish Stratus vs. Charlotte Flair
The fans in Toronto rained down on their hometown heroine Trish Stratus with the country's national anthem, fueling the Hall of Famer to explode on Charlotte Flair with a flurry of hard rights to the face early in their dream match.
Flair, though, seized an opening and dropped Stratus face-first into the steel steps. From there, The Queen of All Eras worked over her opponent, tossing her across the ring with a modified T-bone and talking trash to the revolutionary competitor.
Flair systematically picked her opponent apart in a manner, not at all unlike her father would Dusty Rhodes, Sting or Lex Luger at the height of his career. The ever-resilient Stratus fought back, though, catching Flair with a hard forearm and a serious of chops to the chest of the second-generation competitor.
Stratus tried for a corner headscissors but Flair pulled her up to the top rope, where the competitors traded rights and lefts. Flair teased a powerbomb from the top but Stratus turned it into a hurricanrana at the last second for a quality near-fall.
Flair tried for the Figure Four but Flair cradled out for a two-count. The Hall of Famer answered with a Figure Four of her own, much to the delight of the crowd. She even bridged up into Figure Eight to a huge pop. Chants of "this is awesome" spilled from the stands as the audience showed their appreciation for the match unfolding before them.
Flair tried for a spear but Stratus dodged it, sending her opponent face-first into the turnbuckle. Stratusfaction followed but Flair was able to kick out. A Chick Kick failed to keep The Queen down for three.
Eventually, Flair overpowered Stratus and tapped her out to the Figure Eight.
Flair defeated Stratus
Stratus still has it and Flair is still, arguably, the most consistently great main roster performer in all of WWE.
This was the first great match of the night, one deserving of a stage as grand and storied as SummerSlam. Though it started slow, and struggled to get fans invested early, the Superstars told their story and by the midway point, fans were biting on every near-fall and spot delivered by the all-timer and The Queen.
This was a great wrestling match that did not rely on unnecessarily messy creative or frustratingly convoluted spots. It was two of the very best in-ring performers in women's wrestling history having a damn fine wrestling match that accomplished two things: reminded fans of Stratus' excellence in front of her hometown crowd and further established Flair as a generational performer.
WWE Championship Match: Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton
WWE champion Kofi Kingston's family sat ringside as daddy defended his title against the greatest threat to his Cinderella story to date, "The Viper" Randy Orton. With real-life animosity fueling the build to the match, the title bout was as hotly anticipated as anything on the show.
Orton meticulously picked his opponent apart, targeting his left arm. From there, he dragged the champion to the floor and dropped him across the announce table with a wicked side suplex. Back inside, he set Kingston up for a superplex but Kingston battled back, fighting out of the tricky predicament. He followed with a big DDT to help create some separation.
Kingston dropped Orton with consecutive clotheslines and a Boom Drop. "Who's stupid?! Not me!" he said, firing up. He set the challenger up for Trouble in Paradise but The Viper delivered a big backbreaker to stop his opponent's momentum.
Orton mocked the New Day clap and tried for the draping DDT. Kingston backdropped Orton to the floor, though, and delivered a falling senton that wiped the third-generation competitor out.
Orton recovered, countered a corner kick and delivered the draping DDT. He set up for the RKO, stalking his opponent like the Apex Predator he has long claimed to be. Kingston countered the RKO with a backslide. Orton kicked out. Kingston with a big kick to the face before soaring through the air...right into the RKO.
The challenger waited too long, though, and Kingston rolled to the sanctuary of the floor.
Orton stared down the family of the champion, incensing Kingston, who unloaded on his opponent, drawing a double countout. Kingston produced a kendo stick and beat the ever-loving hell out of The Viper. "Get your bitch-ass up!" Kingston exclaimed before putting Orton back down with Trouble in Paradise.
The champion stood tall over The Viper to close out the segment.
Kingston and Orton fought to a double count-out
The finish sucked.
There are probably more elegant ways to put it but a double countout finish to a match that was steadily building to a red-hot finish that never came is the antithesis of awesome. It was lazy, cheap and the fans in Toronto let WWE know it.
With that said, Kingston and Orton were in the middle of a damn fine match that played up the history between them and really had fans guessing as to which Superstar would emerge with the title.
As for the post-match, it was something Kingston desperately needed.
A feel-good story can only get a character so far before he or she has to display a few more traits. One can only be smiley and happy for so long before audiences will demand more layers. Kingston erupting on Orton, unleashing weeks of frustration in a cane-assisted beatdown added that edge to the champion he has lacked since his monumental moment in East Rutherford at WrestleMania.
Considering the quality of storytelling, more of this is a good thing.
Finn Balor vs. The Fiend
The Fiend made his long-awaited in-ring debut at SummerSlam, but not before captivating the audience with a mesmerizing and haunting entrance that made the old Bray Wyatt shtick look like child's play.
The Fiend overwhelmed Balor, snapping his neck at one point. Torn between his personalities, The Fiend momentarily allowed Balor back into the match. The Sling Blade, shotgun dropkick and double stomp stunned the artist formerly known as Bray Wyatt.
Balor tried for the Coup de Grace but The Fiend caught him in midair and applied the mandible claw.
Three seconds later and the horrifying new addition to the WWE Universe netted its first victory.
The Fiend defeated Finn Balor
WWE had one shot to get The Fiend presentation right and it hit it out of the proverbial park. The production values, the graphics, the mask and the theme music were all on point. The lighting, the timing...all of it worked to perfection.
The match itself was exactly what it needed to be. The Fiend dominated, teased the duel personality bit that has been hinted at since the very first Firefly Funhouse segment and put Balor away with his new mandible claw finisher.
Everything about his grand debut was on point and the much-maligned WWE Creative team deserves a round of applause for getting this absolutely right.
Hell, they accidentally stumbled into a scenario in which Balor was taken aback by the demonic alter-ego of his opponent, a feeling he has often inflicted on his own opponents.
This was by far the best part of this entire show and it's not even close.
Universal Championship Match: Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar
Seth Rollins started Sunday's main event by landing on his feet after one German suplex attempt and delivering a quick stomp for a two-count. Another German and Rollins landed on his feet again. This time, though, he ran right into an F-5 by Lesnar that turned the tide of the match.
Lesnar proceeded to take Rollins to Suplex City, tossing him around the squared circle with reckless abandon. Rollins delivered a knee from the top rope to momentarily stun Lesnar but all he really did was incur the wrath of Lesnar, who tossed him across the squared circle with a release German.
The Beast continued to punish his opponent, targeting the back and ribs of the battered challenger. An ill-advised charge into the corner led to Lesnar smacking the post with his shoulder. A knee sent Lesnar into the German suplex and gave way to two suicide dives.
The third landed him in the waiting arms of Lesnar, who sent him back-first into the ring post, further doing damage to the previously injured body part.
Lesnar began clearing the announce table but Rollins caught him with a knee. The Beastslayer scaled the ropes and leaped from the ring to the table, driving Lesnar threw it and inciting a chant of disbelief.
Back in the ring, Rollins delivered a frog splash and set Lesnar up for the stomp. He delivered but the champion kicked out. Another attempt landed him in the arms of Lesnar, who tried for an F-5. Rollins countered, delivered a superkick and put Lesnar down with one last stomp for the decisive, undisputed victory.
Rollins defeated Lesnar to win the Universal Championship
This means so much more to Seth Rollins and his mission to be the face of WWE than the WrestleMania win.
There was no gimmickry and no shortcuts. There were no low blows or sneak attacks that created doubt about Rollins deserving the title. Despite a body ravaged by the relentless assault of the baddest man in professional wrestling, Rollins gutted it out and beat Lesnar clean in the center of the ring after a hellacious battle.
Lesnar does not simply do jobs uncontested. He put John Cena over clean at Extreme Rules in 2012. He lost a convoluted Street Fight to Triple H at WrestleMania XXIX and put Roman Reigns over last year, but not without interference from Braun Strowman.
Seth Rollins is really the first young star to benefit from Lesnar going down clean, undisputedly and without the assist of this weapon or that weapon, a low blow or other chicanery.
He was simply beaten by the better man, a Superstar fueled by desire and an unwillingness to let a selfish part-timer spend one more day diminishing the top prize in the sport. It was an easy story to tell and while the creative leading into the match was clunky at best, Rollins and Lesnar delivered a phenomenal main event that finally kicks off the era of The Beastslayer in fitting and effective fashion.