The Real Winners and Losers from 2021 WWE SummerSlam
WWE SummerSlam 2021 had the air of a special night. The biggest show since WWE returned to the road, some of the biggest stars in this era of WWE went to battle with gold on the line Saturday.
Randy Orton and Riddle have been building a team that could change WWE. RK-Bro took the next step to making their friendship a reality by capturing the Raw Tag Team Championships.
Damian Priest continued his journey to the top of WWE. Challenged by Sheamus, The Archer of Infamy rose to the occasion and won the United States Championship.
Bianca Belair was scheduled for career-defining match against Sasha Banks. However, The Legit Boss was not cleared to compete. In her place, Becky Lynch made a massive return to WWE. The Man defeated The EST in seconds, ruining a 133-day reign in moments.
Nikki A.S.H. did not even get the chance to run with the title that long. In her Triple Threat title defense, Rhea Ripley was taken out of the action before Charlotte Flair made A.S.H. submit in the center of the ring to lose the Raw Women's Championship.
The biggest winners of this night were the young talents who finally got a chance to shine. The biggest losers were those WWE decided to move aside for more familiar performers with little regard for the talent that got them to WWE SummerSlam.
When Randy Orton first decided he wanted to start a story with Riddle, it came off an absurd idea. The Original Bro had been floundering beyond his match quality for weeks. However, the combination worked perfectly.
Riddle has shown repeatedly that he works well when his absurd comedy plays off someone that has no sense of humor. It worked with Pete Dunne. It may end up working even better for RK-Bro.
While the team could be the savors of the division, nothing is certain. What matters more from the outset is that Riddle has been given a chance to shine. No one can take gold off his record. WWE has committed to him as a champion.
It seems The Original Bro will remain a big deal on Raw for the rest of the year. He has a chance to prove he is worthy of that opportunity with each performance.
He is one of the rare recent NXT success stories, earning his second taste of main-roster gold.
Loser: Bianca Belair
WWE pulled the ultimate swerve with Bianca Belair. She was walking into a huge fight with Sasha Banks that should have been the match of the night. However, because of an undisclosed injury, she was unable to compete.
Becky Lynch made a shocking return to challenge The EST and defeated her in 26 seconds with a pump-handle slam. The promise of Belair fighting one of the biggest female stars in WWE history should have been special.
Instead, this squash ruined the chance for fans to see a special match and devalued all the work Belair did during her first reign as SmackDown women's champion. She was already somewhat discredited throughout her reign post-WrestleMania win by a poor selection of challengers.
She deserved the chance to at least shine before losing to The Man. It is possible Lynch was not ready to wrestle, but that does not excuse the booking. She should not have been performing if she were not ready.
Because of CM Punk's recent emergence in All Elite Wrestling and the surprise injury to Banks, WWE hit the panic button, and The EST suffered for it. It will take weeks and possibly even months for WWE to pay back Belair for this.
While lesser in impact, it is worth considering that even if The Man lost here, she is one of the biggest stars in WWE today. The decision immediately took the energy out of the crowd, which greeted her as the biggest star in the company but answered her win with middling cheers.
This is not Lynch's fault. It is not Belair's fault. This is the fault of a company that continues to make the same bad booking decisions every time.
Winner: Damian Priest
Another major NXT success story, Damian Priest has taken his Raw run seriously and delivered. With each performance, he feels more like a star.
He and Sheamus had a great match that turned around the crowd. The story going in was limited, but the talent shone through. This was the early show-stealer of the night.
It has been a unique road for Priest to shine. He was a central figure in setting up Bad Bunny for one of the most memorable celebrity appearances in WrestleMania history. He was stuck in an odd feud with The Miz and John Morrison for months.
The result was success and his first taste of championship gold on Raw. He has been established in a way that should only improve with time.
While The Archer of Infamy is nearly 39, that should not stop him from making a huge mark in WWE in the coming years. This is just the beginning for Priest.
Loser: Nikki A.S.H.
Thanks to a victory in the Money in the Bank ladder match, Nikki A.S.H. became the Raw women's champion. She pushed herself to compete with the top women on Raw, but she ultimately failed. Charlotte Flair made her tap out in the center of the ring.
WWE's women's division was finally beginning to turn a corner. Bianca Belair and Nikki held the titles for the first time in their careers. WWE took the gold off them in favor of the women who have stood atop the division for years.
While A.S.H. at least got a chance to compete, her loss is egregious in its own way. The Queen did not need the title. She is a 12-time women's champion and has also held the NXT Women's Championship twice.
The booking takes away from a woman who had just established a new gimmick and earned her first chance in the spotlight. A.S.H. could easily fall into the background again now. Charlotte will always be in that spotlight with or without the title.
Flair has become so dominant that she has transcended the Four Horsewomen. She has held more gold than any two of the other Horsewomen combined, yet no reign has ever been allowed to stand out because of WWE's constant hot-shot booking with her.
Nikki deserved better. Rhea Ripley deserved better. So many others have deserved better than they are given by WWE, a company that refuses to see the talent that lies below its clearly defined top tier.