Sometimes we fans throw the phrase "match of the year candidate" around a little too often, but let's face it, John Cena vs. AJ Styles at SummerSlam must qualify.
The two veterans' performance left me feeling like this could have easily gone on longer without being boring. Aside from the good pace, fluid executions, and multiple near-falls, what sticks out here was the storytelling.
Near the end of the match, John Cena's face—after getting yet another two-count—said more than any promo could have. He was in shock, disbelief, and in that moment, so was I. The rare holy grail of causing an adult to suspend belief was achieved. We saw the realization wash over Cena. Finally, he understood what it was like to face someone who would always kick out at two. All those years he had done it, and it had finally come back to haunt him.
Then, to top it all off, his leaving the wristband in the ring was a clear indication that this chapter with AJ Styles was well and truly over, and a torch had been symbolically passed. A moment as sad as it was beautiful.
Thank you John Cena. Thank you AJ Styles.
Bonus Pop: Mizzy Fit
I have always been a big fan of The Miz so I am thrilled that he is suddenly getting some long deserved recognition. His argumentative outburst with Daniel Bryan over his reliability has really got people talking. Was this a complete shoot? All scripted? Half and half? Fans are divided over the truth, but that is the beauty of blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. Real or not, one thing is certain, Miz's A-lister acting gimmick is no longer looking as deluded as it once may have seemed.
They say that the title does not make the man, the man makes the title. But which man was responsible for making the WWE Universal title? Not an honor I imagine many would be quick to admit to.
When it was announced that Raw would be creating the WWE Universal Championship, there was much speculation over how the title would look. Would it be a remake of the winged eagle belt? The Attitude Era version? Many theories, drafts, and rumors had circulated the internet in the days leading up to the big reveal at SummerSlam, but nothing prepared us for the absolute lack of innovation WWE showed us with their final chosen design.
How on earth does cloning the look of two other belts and making it a bit red fit into the idea that each brand would have a distinct identity and feel? Were we wrong to expect so much more from the creation of this title? The name alone was hardly met with the most positive of receptions, but couple it with the actual look, and you have a title that is starting life with very little respect or prestige. Not a great move going forward.
SmackDown also ended up giving us new Tag Team and Women's titles, and while by no means original either, at least the crowd were more accepting of the color designs.
Seth Rollins and Mick Foley hit out at fans on Twitter for being so disappointed with the new championship, but they are missing the point here. We care about the look of the titles. Look around wrestling merchandise stores, fans queuing for signings, fans in the WWE audience. A good amount of them will be holding/wearing championship belt replicas from the past 20 years. How many can we expect to be sporting the all new ruby-red belt in years to come? Not a lot I would wager.
And, of course, we cannot fail to mention that our first-ever champion, Finn Balor, was sadly forced to vacate the title within one day of winning it due to serious shoulder injury. A sorry state of affairs for the belt indeed. Let us hope whoever is crowned the new champion will be able to help alter our perspective.
Extra Heat: The Dudley Boyz Retire
That was it? Just like that? A hinted split over the past three weeks followed by an abrupt announcement that they were retiring? Was it right that we did not get to see them put one last team through a table? Is it possible that The Dudley Boyz wanted it this way so as to put over the new talent? Respectable sacrifice if so, but a sad moment for anyone who grew up watching them compete for tag team supremacy in the Attitude Era. I, and many others, felt that they deserved a better retirement.
So there you have it, my two choices for the week. What do YOU think are the Cheap Pop and Cheap Heat this week in professional wrestling? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!