Roman Reigns Saves Main Event, WWE Silences Critics, More SummerSlam Hot Takes
We never saw it coming.
Roman Reigns re-emerged from hiatus Sunday night at SummerSlam, attacking both the new universal champion, "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt, and former titleholder Braun Strowman in a brazen act of dominance.
"I run this bitch!" he exclaimed as he hoisted the gold overhead, a reminder to anyone who had forgotten that he was The Big Dog in WWE.
It was a shocking turn of events that provided a much-needed spark to the SmackDown main event scene, but hardly the only major takeaway from a blockbuster pay-per-view event.
On a night when Drew McIntyre retained the WWE Championship, Asuka went one-for-two against The Golden Role Models and Seth Rollins spoiled Dominik Mysterio's first match, these were the biggest takeaways.
Roman Reigns Revives Main Event Scene on SmackDown with Stunning Return
In the midst of record-low television ratings and creative stagnancy, WWE shone the Bat Signal high in the sky and The Dark Knight exploded back on to the scene, rescuing McMahonland from the maniacal Fiend and monstrous Braun Strowman in the closing moments of SummerSlam.
Roman Reigns showed renewed intensity and aggression, not to mention attitude, as he hammered away at new universal champion Bray Wyatt and Strowman. "You're not a monster unless I'm here. I made you!" he reminded the latter.
"You're just a freak in a mask," he defiantly addressed the nightmare bringer of WWE.
Hoisting the Universal Championship high overhead, Reigns announced to the entire sports-entertainment world that he was back to reclaim his yard.
In the process, he immediately provided the SmackDown main event scene with a jolt of electricity it desperately needed.
Wyatt and Strowman had been in the midst of the most engaging main event story of the year in WWE, but it was clear during their match Sunday night that they needed bells and whistles to deliver a half-way compelling match.
Reigns immediately turned the top of the card on its ear, leaving fans buzzing moments after an anticlimactic title switch.
The Big Dog has made enemies of the most destructive forces on SmackDown, and the explanation for his actions will be one of the hottest anticipated moments of this week's Fox TV broadcast.
When WWE most needed it, the locker room leader stepped up, returning to action and sparking a renewed interest in the product. With a bit of attitude here and a whole lotta ass-kicking there, he has already left the company better than he found it.
Women's Revolution Makes SummerSlam Its Own
WWE's Women's Revolution seized the spotlight at SummerSlam and made the show as much about them as anyone, thanks to three distinctly different and excellent matches.
Asuka and Bayley kicked off the show with a fiercely competitive, physical match that saw the latter successfully retain the SmackDown Women's Championship after well-timed interference from Sasha Banks.
Their battle set the stage for the showdown between The Empress of Tomorrow and Banks later in the night, which saw a desperate Boss reach out for help from Bayley, only to find herself on her own as Asuka picked up the win.
Then there was the No Disqualification, Loser Leaves Town Match between Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville.
Another emotional encounter that appropriately showcased the intensely personal story between them, it was the appropriate conclusion of what may well go down as the best structured and executed storyline in WWE in 2020.
An eight-match card featured three women's bouts. Lengthy ones at that.
We have seen multiple women's matches on pay-per-view before, but for such a large portion of the night to be dedicated to the female competitors is further indication of the Women's Revolution in action.
WWE may have scaled back the overuse of the buzz term, but it has continued to devote significant time to its women, and in turn, they have repaid the dedication through incredible effort and some of the best matches of the last three years.
Seth Rollins' Defining Performance Elevates Street Fight
Seth Rollins is a polarizing figure outside of the ring, but in it, he is one of the best professional wrestlers on the planet, and anyone questioning that statement must look no further than his performance Sunday night in Dominik Mysterio's first match.
A Street Fight—the result of an incredibly personal couple months of storytelling involving The Monday Night Messiah and the Mysterio family—could have been an overbooked mess that got the second-generation competitor's in-ring career off to the wrong start.
Instead, Rollins rose to the occasion and did everything he had to in order to make the match a success. He was the insufferable ass, taunting Rey Mysterio at ringside as he beat his son down with a kendo stick. He sold to perfection as Dominik unleashed weeks of torment and frustration. He held the action together when the match easily could have gone off the rails.
From his character work to his in-ring contributions, Rollins turned in a perfect performance Sunday, one that will go down in the annals of his Hall of Fame career as one of his finest.
It was a defining performance the likes of which will silence even his harshest critics.
On a night when he absolutely needed to be great, he was, and the result was one of the better matches of WWE's tumultuous 2020.
Who knows what awaits Rollins Monday on Raw, what with the return of Aleister Black on The Kevin Owens Show and the debut of "Limitless" Keith Lee, but one thing is for sure: Rollins owned SummerSlam's most personal battle and continued what has been a low-key excellent year for him.
SummerSlam Becomes Measuring Stick of Pandemic Era WWE
The COVID-19 pandemic has not been kind to the WWE product.
The absence of fans, lethargic creative and apathy from the audience has made this unlike any year in company history. At a time when criticism had manifested itself in the form of historically low viewership, the company responded with a blockbuster SummerSlam event that easily became the measuring stick for Pandemic Era WWE.
The in-ring action, the storytelling and the truly shocking conclusion to the show all came together to provide fans with the most enjoyable presentation since March.
And yes, the WWE Thunderdome helped elevate the feel of the show.
SummerSlam was a not-so-subtle reminder to the wrestling world that, when WWE is motivated and genuinely wants to, no one generates excitement and anticipation for the next show better.
Now, it is up to the company to build on the intrigue Monday night on Raw and Friday on SmackDown, particularly given the quick turnaround to next week's Payback pay-per-view.