WWE SummerSlam or SummerSlump? 2017 PPV's Poor Build | Smark Out Moment

WWE SummerSlam or SummerSlump? 2017 PPV's Poor Build

Posted by Callum Wiggins Sunday, August 13, 2017
Next week, WWE returns to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn once again for a night that is sure to be filled with amazing matches, high stakes and captivating action. But enough about NXT TakeOver. This article focuses on the night after: the thirtieth annual SummerSlam.

Raw SmackDown PPV WWE Network

Now I know I'm opening myself up to being the overly critical always-negative WWE fan once again, but I dare someone to look me in the eyes and tell me that the overall build for SummerSlam 2017 has been anywhere beyond adequate. For a few of the matches (which I will discuss soon) there is a great deal of anticipation and excitement, all of which have received due care and attention from the creative team. And I'm not suggesting all of these need to have months worth of build and produced consistently entertaining segments (although that would be nice).

But far too many matches have either been rushed onto SummerSlam, have no stakes attached to them, or simply aren't exciting as a potential match-up, particularly in SmackDown's contributions to the biggest party of the summer. After both 2015 and 2016's shows disappointed with a significantly better build overall, I can't imagine many are counting down the hours until this marathon of a PPV takes place on August 20th.

Maybe it's the fact that in the past two years NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn has proven to be the far superior show over WWE's offering. Or that the NJPW G1 Climax recently concluded and will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the greatest wrestling tournaments of all time, with over a dozen world-class matches taking place. Whatever the reason, SummerSlam feels especially underwhelming this year, and those on the show will have to work really hard to make it seem as special as this show should feel year-in and year-out.

Let's start with the positives. The Fatal Four-Way Match for the Universal Championship should be an epic battle - Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns are all contenders for the most over wrestlers in WWE today. Their sheer power, intensity, aggression and physicality could make this one of the greatest SummerSlam main event in history. I don't doubt that this match will deliver, and despite Paul Heyman's announcement that Lesnar will leave WWE if he loses potentially telegraphing the outcome, all four could be believable as Universal Champion.

That isn't the only draw on the SummerSlam card. I would argue the uneasy relationship between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins heading into the expected Raw Tag Team Championship match against Sheamus & Cesaro has been one of the best angles in recent memory. Their tension and lack of trust is genuinely intriguing, and gives both something meaningful to do while others battle for singles championships.

SmackDown's Tag Team Championship clash is just as enjoyable, as The New Day and The Usos have been great on SmackDown Live and produced the standout match at Battleground. Plus, AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens features two of the best wrestlers in the world today whose chemistry is growing after every clash, and the presence of Shane McMahon as guest referee adds a combustible element to the mix.

However, this is where the card starts to go downhill. The star power of Raw's Universal Championship match is a stark contrast to the SmackDown's WWE Championship, where Jinder Mahal defends against Shinsuke Nakamura. I've made my feelings very clear about how much Mahal's presence hurts the Blue Brand's main event scene, as he simply doesn't have the charisma, promo skills or in-ring ability to be a top star. Nothing has been done since between Backlash and now to change this other than relying on interference to beat Randy Orton three times, meaning Nakamura's first world title match feels underwhelming.

To its credit, this match is very unpredictable. Despite his mediocrity and recent loss to Randy Orton on SmackDown Live, I could easily imagine Jinder Mahal being booked to defeat Shinsuke Nakamura, which could lead to riots. Nakamura could capture the WWE Championship and be shot to the moon. Or, Baron Corbin could cash-in and spoil the moment for the Japanese superstar, leading to another lackluster champion. So, you can see that despite the unpredictability, most of the outcomes are less than desirable, at least from my perspective.

As I mentioned earlier, SmackDown's matches as a whole have been either rushed or not had enough effort put into them. Naomi will be defending the SmackDown Women's Championship against Natalya, but I wouldn't blame you if you've forgotten that. More time has been devoted to Carmella holding Money in the Bank or whatever the heck is going on between Lana and Tamina, none of whom are scheduled to be at SummerSlam. This could be a very good match, but few in the crowd will be invested in it as they've been given no reason to be invested in it.

Then there's John Cena vs. Baron Corbin and Randy Orton vs. Rusev, two matches with no purpose other than to get Cena and Orton on the card. At least they're not facing each other, so there are small mercies here. If this was a SmackDown exclusive PPV like Backlash or Battleground, I'd have no problems with these matches. But it's SummerSlam, and these two matches have had two segments worth of build at the most and have made absolutely no effort to be made more interesting. Plus, both feel predictable wins for Cena and Orton with both coming off losses to Shinsuke Nakamura and Jinder Mahal respectively.

This is the second time this year that a John Cena on a major PPV has essentially been wasted on a match that nobody cares about, and that goes doubly for him. While I don't want to see him having a world championship match every show he's on, a match with Baron Corbin is beneath someone of his stature. It's like Hulk Hogan feuding with Billy Kidman in the dying days of WCW, except Cena can go in the ring.

Raw also has its fair share of uninspiring matches. Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt has been bland as anything, with as per usual a lot of vague talk from Wyatt as to why he is targeting Balor and a bit of fighting. Wow, take my money. Then there's Big Cass vs. Big Show which has been flat out terrible, exposing what many people understood months ago - Cass is nothing without Enzo Amore. Part of me hopes that Amore being hung above the ring in a shark cage (third time this gimmick has been used in the last twelve months) will lead to the pair reuniting as heels. It would make no sense, but frankly I'd rather it be negated at this point.

The Raw Women's Championship meanwhile has had to be thrown together at the last-minute thanks to Bayley's injury, which could be a blessing in disguise. If history is anything to go by, Alexa Bliss and Sasha Banks have better chemistry and will likely have a better match than Bliss and Bayley. Still, this unfortunate reshuffling has meant this story will not have the chance to build before the show itself, so will have nowhere near the level of excitement as it could have.

The Cruiserweight Championship match is a typical Cruiserweight match, so the vast majority of people couldn't give a crap. And don't forget that The Miz, one of the most over and consistently entertaining performers in WWE the last eighteen months AND Intercontinental Champion does not have a match at SummerSlam. What a wonderful reward for a superstar that has been on fire week after week and has breathed new life into the careers of Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. But no, everyone would much rather see Big Cass and Big Show plod through another pointless match again.

Am I being overly critical? I genuinely don't feel like I'm selling this card short. I'm not saying these matches can't deliver and exceed expectations - for the most part, each match has at least one outstanding wrestler involved that can put together a quality contest, with Cass/Show the obvious exception to the rule. But this is about the build, which helps get people excited for the show and anxious to watch it on Sunday, and that has unquestionably been a huge disappointment. It doesn't feel like SummerSlam.

The main event Fatal Four-Way match is the only match most people would consider marquee, with the rest not looking out of place on your typical B show. Maybe going in with extremely low expectations will make it feel better if the show does deliver, but in my opinion that is not the way you should go about building one of the biggest events of the year. Build most feuds strongly, and trust the superstars you trust to perform will live up to the high expectations, don't set the bar low to try and save your asses if it sucks.

It will be interesting to see if SummerSlam delivers, or if it follows WWE's general PPV trend this year, which has been very unflattering since WrestleMania 33. Hopefully you're excited for the biggest party of the summer, as that probably means you've missed the build altogether. Either way, make sure you stay tuned to Smark Out Moment and check out our predictions for SummerSlam 2017 and live coverage on the night itself.

Do you feel the SummerSlam build-up has been underwhelming?

Which match are you most looking forward to at the PPV?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or join the conversation in The Mega Maniacs Facebook group!

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Callum Wiggins hails from Essex in the United Kingdom. He recently graduated from the University of York with a degree in History and has been a fan of professional wrestling since 2002. Outside of wrestling, he is also a fan of Arsenal FC and enjoys video games, darts, and Formula One. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter.


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