Don’t count WWE out. While NXT is considered to be the better wrestling show and AEW is the hot new thing in Grapple Town, WWE’s SummerSlam proved that the company can still put on an outstanding show. The show had no bad matches, flowed well and had a terrific main event. Oh, and by the way, Seth Rollins is your new Universal Champion.
Maybe the biggest surprise of the night was Trish Stratus, whose return match against Charlotte Flair was a highlight of the night. Elsewhere, Randy Orton and Kofi Kingston fought to a double countout, and Becky Lynch retained her Women’s Championship in a hot opening match against Natalya.
And The Fiend. Oh boy. Bray Wyatt’s in-ring re-debut as The Fiend was something that words can’t sufficiently convey. Watch the gifs below, or better yet sign up to the WWE Network and check it out for yourself.
Us wrestling fans always give WWE a hard time — and mostly they deserve it — but credit where it’s due. SummerSlam 2019 was fantastic. Read below for a full recap and match ratings, from the end of the show to the beginning.
Seth Rollins slays The Beast… again!
Boos for Rollins, cheers for Lesnar. Rollins’ ribs are heavily taped, as per the beatings Lesnar gave him on the last two episodes of Raw.
Lesnar works Rollins over in the corner. Rollins superkicks Lesnar, briefly stunning him. Lesnar yanks Rollins for a German suplex, but Rollins flips out for a curbstomp. Two count. Lesnar rolls out. Rollins hits him with a flying knee, Lesnar rolls back in the ring. Lesnar attempts a second German, Rollins flips out and hits two superkicks. Rollins shoots for a second curbstomp, but Rollins catches him and hits an F5.
Lesnar is rocked and can’t cover Rollins. Lesnar gets up, grabs Rollins by his rib tape and swings him around. Now it’s time to go to suplex city. Three German suplexes. Rollins rolls out. Lesnar follows him for another suplex, this time on the floor. Lesnar goes for an F5 into the turnbuckle post, but Rollins counters and pushes Lesnar, head first, into the post. Then again. Rollins throws Lesnar into the ring. Springboard flying knee to Lesnar.
Rollins goes for another flying knee, Lesnar doges and throws Rollins with a release German suplex. Dueling chants for “suplex city!” and “burn it down!” Lesnar takes off his preposterously large gloves, slams Rollins into the corner and latches on a bear hug. Lesnar works him over and goes for a tackle into the turnbuckle, but Rollins dodges and Lesnar hits the post shoulder first.
Rollins dropkicks Lesnar off the apron and hits two suicide dives. He goes for a third but Lesnar catches him and rams him into the ring post. Absolute beast. Lesnar undresses the Spanish announce table, then eats a superkick from Rollins. Rollins hits a frogsplash on Lesnar, crashing both through the announce table.
Crowd is not heavily into Rollins, a far cry from his original reaction. He lands another frogsplash in the center of the ring and another curbstomp. Two count. He stomps the ground for a third. Crowd chants “burn it down” with him. Lesnar catches him for an F5, but Rollins lands on his feet. Superkick, curbstomp, 1, 2, 3. New champion.
Rating: 4.5 stars. Awesome, awesome, awesome. Great intensity, Rollins is incredible, Lesnar worked hard and the crowd was super invested. As good a 15-minute match as you’ll ever see.
The Fiend debuts
It’s time to get freaky. Wyatt comes out with a remixed version of his old Live in Fear theme song. He’s wearing the Fiend mask as a flashing spotlight follows him. He still has a lantern, but it’s a severed head. If I was a child, I would be terrified. Finn Balor is about to get killed harder than Dolph Ziggler.
Wyatt slams and clubs Balor. He did a scary looking neck-twist move, the type you’d see in a movie where one character snaps the neck of another. Wyatt goes for Sister Abigail, but Balor fights back. Slingblade, shotgun dropkick. Another shotgun dropkick. He attempts a coup de grace but gets caught with a mandible claw. Wyatt wins.
The announcers say Wyatt has Undertaker-levels of intimidation. I guess new Wyatt is going far.
Rating: No rating. Essentially a squash match. The Fiend is amazing, though. Legitimately terrifying. The crowd chants “that was awesome” after The Fiend’s cinematic exit.
Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton ends in double countout
Kingston comes out with the New Day throwing pancakes. One of his pancakes hits a woman who’s on her phone. Good start. Split crowd for this match. As the two begin there are dueling “Kofi’s stupid!” and “Randy sucks!” chants. Crowd is into it, but they’re starting slow — probably to ease the crowd into the match after the Stratus/Charlotte match.
Kingston goes for a springboard attack but Orton pushes him to the outside. Orton takes the champ over to the announcer’s tables and slams him about. They move back in the ring. A European uppercut from Orton sends them back outside. Orton tries to Irish whip Kingston into the steps, but Kingston jumps over them, runs back, jumps off them and strikes down Randall Keith Orton. Kingston attempts a cross body from the ring apron but Orton ducks. Orton slams Kingston on one of the announcer’s tables.
Back in the ring, the dueling chants begin again. Orton goes for a superplex but Kingston fights him off and lands a tornado DDT from the top rope. Two count. The two stagger up and Kingston starts with strikes on Orton. Tom Phillips says we’re in the fourth quarter, and Cory Graves says we’re in overtime. That worries me, because it feels to me like we’re just getting to third gear.
Kingston starts clapping for a trouble in paradise kick. Orton counters with a backbreaker. Orton starts clapping to taunt Kingston, and goes for a draping DDT. Kingston counters, though, and drops Orton to the outside. Huge trust fall on Orton. Back inside the ring, Kingston hits a frogsplash crossbody. Two count.
Kingston attempts offense in the corner, but Orton trumps him with a draping DDT. He sets up an RKO, but Kofi turns it into a backslide pin attempt. Kingston goes for a trouble in paradise, but Orton dodges. Kingston jumps from the turnbuckle and gets caught with an RKO. Before Orton can pin him, though, Kingston rolls outside. Kingston’s kids are in the crowd. Orton begins to taunt them and Kingston, enraged, attacks Orton. Double countout finish. Crowd chants “bullshit.”
After the match, Kingston dominates Orton with a Kendo stick and hits him with a trouble in paradise kick.
Rating: 3.5 stars. Nice match. Ended as it was on the cusp of getting great. Crowd hated the finish, though.
Charlotte Flair defeats Trish Stratus
The announcers are hyping this as a clash of two eras. This match is Rocky 6, essentially. Crowd is into Stratus, who’s from Canada. They start the match by chanting the Canadian national anthem.
Stratus starts off with some acrobats, including a springboard hurricanrana, leading to a “you still got it!” chant. Charlotte gutwrenches Stratus but Stratus counters with an armdrag outside the ring. Stratus hits a wrecking ball dropkick to the outside. A woman in the crowd loudly proclaims to be “very Stratusfied.” Flair pulls Stratus into the steel steps, then absolutely smashes her into the barricade.
Charlotte slaps a shoulder hold onto Stratus inside the ring. Charlotte hits a suplex. She goes for a backdrop, but Stratus counters with a crossbody. Nice. Charlotte isn’t happy about it, and throws Stratus head-first into the ground. Everything Stratus does, she’s doing well. But there’s a lot of nothing going on, with Charlotte taunting a lot in between moves.
Stratus interrupts a taunt with a takedown and hits punches on the turnbuckle. Stratus flips over to the apron, where she eats a big boot from Charlotte. Stratus narrowly avoids being counted out. Charlotte attempts a moonsault but Stratus rolls out. Stratus torpedoes through the ropes for a reverse DDT. She starts chopping Charlotte, Flair style.
They end up on the turnbuckle, where Stratus goes for a hurricanrana. Charlotte looks to counter with a powerbomb, but Stratus shifts her weight at the last minute for the hurricanrana. It doesn’t keep Flair down though, and Stratus gets clocked with another big boot. Now Charlotte begins working over Stratus’ leg. Flair attempts a figure four, but is countered by Stratus. Stratus then locks Flair in a figure four, and then a figure eight, of her own. Charlotte gets the ropes, though.
Charlotte kicks Stratus by the knee, and the crowd chants “this is awesome!” Charlotte misses a spear, and Stratus hits a Stratusfaction (springboard bulldog) for a two-count false finish. Another “this is awesome” chant. The two exchange chops. Stratus goes for a jackknife rollup, Charlotte rolls out at two and Stratus nails her with a Chick Kick for a two count. Stratus goes for another, but Charlotte counters with a big boot.
Charlotte locks Stratus in a figure eight, and Stratus taps. After the match, Stratus gets a “thank you Trish” chant and a well-earned hero’s sendoff.
Rating: 4 stars. A bit slow at the start, but absolutely over delivered. Stratus did great, and Charlotte Flair is terrific.
Kevin Owens beats Shane McMahon
If Shane wins, Owens has to retire. Owens, from Quebec, is mega hot with the crowd. Shane says the match will have a special guest enforcer, to make sure the match is all fair, Elias. (Elias is essentially now Shane’s henchman.)
The match begins with Elias distracting Owens on the outside, leading to Owens almost getting counted out. Not the smartest guy, apparently. Owens gets back in the ring and throws hands with Shane, then hits a cannonball in the corner. Shane rolls out of the ring, and Owens goes for a suicide dive but is blocked by Elias. The distraction then allows Shane to throw Owens from the ring apron to the outside barricade. Owens almost gets counted out.
Shane strikes Owens in the corner as the crowd chants “Shane, you suck!” Apparently he’s a really nice guy in real life, Toronto. Shane slams Owens with a Russian leg sweep. Toronto chants “you can’t wrestle” at Shane. Well, you ain’t wrong, Toronto.
Owens attempts a pop-up powerbumb, but Shane dodges and lands a DDT. Shane goes to put Owens into a sharpshooter, but Owens powers out and manages to hit a pop-up powerbomb. He pins Shane, but Elias distracts the ref — and then Owens gets distracted too. Shane rolls Owens up for a two count, then eats a clothesline from Owens.
Elias slides a chair to Owens, encouraging him to smash Shane and get DQ’d. Shane slaps Owens in the face. Owens goes for a swing, but thinks better of it at the last minute. He superkicks Shane, hits a senton from the top rope and then a frogsplash from another turnbuckle. He pins Shane, but Elias pulls the ref out before the three count. Owens cannonballs Elias on the outside, but takes out the ref in the process.
With the ref out, Owens picks up the chair. Before he can take out Shane, though, Elias drags Owens out of the ring. Owens kills Elias with chair shots. Back in the ring, Owens goes to swing on Shane with the chair but the ref slides in to stop him. As the ref takes the chair off Owens, Owens kicks Shane square in the crotch and then hits a stunner for a highly symbolic win.
Rating: 2.75 stars. A lot of tomfoolery here, and the actually wrestling was only OK. But the crowd loved Owens and was into the match, which made it fun. The inverse of Bayley’s match, in other words. The worst part was how easily Owens was distracted by Elias throughout. He looked like an idiot.
Bayley pins Ember Moon
It’s going to be tough for these women to follow the three previous matches, all of whom had big stars. Better now than in three hours, though.
Moon hasn’t made much of an impact on the main roster, but she’s super good. She starts off the match with strikes and acrobatic offense. She puts Bayley in a bow-and-arrow style submission. Some of the crowd claps for Bayley, but there’s significantly less heat here than in previous bouts.
Bayley hits a clothesline to turn the tide. She lands a suplex and starts working Moon over in the corner. The crowd is bored, and starts singing the “Hey Bayley” song. Bayley hangs Moon upside down over a turnbuckle and nails a springboard elbow drop. She then puts Moon in an inverted boston crab.
The two fight by the ropes. Moon does a top-rope hurricanrana and then a gutwrench codebreaker move for a two count. Crowd is absolutely dead. Moon counters a Bayley kick with a nice powerbomb. Moon goes to the top rope, but is met by Bayley who hits a top-rope Bayley to belly for the win.
Rating: 3 stars. The women worked hard, and wrestled a good match. They were killed by the indifferent crowd, though.
AJ Styles defeats Ricochet
AJ Styles and Ricochet are arguably the two best wrestlers in the whole company. They’ve had several matches thus far, including one at least month’s Extreme Rules event, but none have been as great as you’d expect. Hopefully this is the one.
The two start off quick. Within the first minute Ricochet literally bounces off Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson to hurricanrana Styles. Back in the ring, Styles cuts off Ricochet and starts working over his leg.
Ricochet makes a comeback after an enziguri. He then hits a springboard lariat on one foot, selling his injured leg. Styles gets control back, though, with a kick to Ricochet’s leg. Styles beats him down, and every time Ricochet tries to mount a comeback his knee fails him. Styles locks him in a calf crusher, which Ricochet counters into an anaconda vice. Punk’d. Styles powers out, though.
Ricochet hits an impressive northern lights suplex into a falcon arrow. He then takes out Anderson and Gallows on the outside then ascends the turnbuckle. Ricochet goes for a phoenix splash which Styles counters with a beautiful Styles clash.
Rating: 3.75 stars. The start was great, as was the finishing spot. All the work has crisp, but the middle was a bit plodding. The finish itself was also abrupt, even if the Styles clash was sweet.
Goldberg kills Dolph Ziggler
It’s smashing time. Dolph Ziggler is out first. He grabs a mic and tells the crowd he’s the best thing on the show and in WWE. He’s the best thing to happen to pro wrestling, DZ says. I am ready to see this man get killed by Goldberg.
Crowd is super hot for Goldberg. Everyone knows Dolph Ziggler is great at being speared, and Goldberg is great at spearing.
The two square up. Ziggler backs off, then hits Goldberg with a surprise superkick. One count. Goldberg gets up and eats a second superkick. Ziggler goes for a third one and Goldberg hits a huge spear. Jackhammer nailed, 1, 2, 3.
Goldberg walks up the ramp but before he can walk backstage Ziggler calls him back to the ring. Goldberg obliterates him with another spear. Happy days. Goldberg walks through the back, but Ziggler gets the microphone again and says Goldberg is a laughing stock. Goldberg comes back out and hits a super spear.
Rating: No rating. Their match, while not a real match, was everything it should have been. Goldberg looked great. Ziggler calling him back once was fine. The second callback was overkill.
Becky Lynch retains Raw Women’s Championship
SummerSlam is going to be a long show, which means the performers who go out earlier in the show have a much fresher, more energetic crowd to work with. Becky Lynch and Natalya are the lucky two to start the show: It’s Becky Lynch, arguably the most popular wrestler on the roster, against home-country hero Natalya.
Natalya enters draped in a Canadian flag, just for that sweet cheap pop. Crowd is split, but into both women.
Lynch starts out strong, and goes for an armbar that one of the announcer’s errantly call a Disarmer. Then then transfers into a triangle choke. I believe Lynch dabbles in Jiu Jitsu, and it shows. Natalya heads for the ropes, but there are apparently no rules in this submission match, meaning catching the ropes doesn’t lead to a rope break. They tumble outside, though, and Natalya takes control.
Natalya works down Lynch in the ring, which leads to a big chant for Lynch. First big spot of the match sees Natalya lock a sharpshooter on the turnbuckle, through the ropes. Eventually Natalya breaks, and the two end up outside again. They brawl, with Lynch slamming Natalya shoulder-first into steel steps, the idea being this sets up her Disarmer. But Natalya fights back and hits a superplex.
Back in the ring Natalya goes for a low dropkick, but Lynch counters into a sharpshooter. The crowd roars. Natalya counters, rolling through and pushing Lynch to the turnbuckle. Crowd chants “this is awesome.” A bit early, but so far so good. Lynch goes for a high kick, but Natalya counters and puts Lynch in the Disarmer. Crowd roars again.
Lynch rolls out, but Natalya catches her in a sharpshooter. The crowd erupts for it. There were big Becky chants earlier, but it now seems like Toronto wants to see a new champ. Lynch manages to escape, and sweeps Natalya into a Disarmer. Natalya taps out.
Rating: 3.75 stars. This match was all action, and it was all great. But it was a touch short, as an extra few minutes could have made it truly great.
SummerSlam’s two-hour preshow had three matches, two of which were for titles. Here are the quick results.
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross retain Women’s Tag Team Championships: They defeated former champs The IIconics.
Buddy Murphy vs. Apollo Crews ended in disqualification when Erick Rowan attacked Murphy: It follows a key WWE storyline right now, as on SmackDown Murphy revealed Rowan to be behind a string of mysterious attacks on Roman Reigns.
Drew Gulak beat Oney Lorcan to retain Cruiserweight Championship: Gulak pinned Lorcan.