Friday, 7 October 2016

SummerSlam 2016

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 265 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 2
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: October 10 2016

(To read a full event review of WWE SummerSlam 2016, click here.)

(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)

SummerSlam 2016 had a bit of everything, really. There was a classic match, a controversial ending to the main event, a crowd which occasionally seemed more interested in hijacking the show, a let-down of a title match, some good mid-card matches, a few surprises and a couple of title changes. All of this applied to the 29th annual SummerSlam, and watching it back on DVD is therefore an intriguing and entertaining viewing experience.

The opener, between Enzo Amore and Big Cass and Jeri-KO, is a fun start to proceedings; in hindsight, it's amazing to think that just eight days after kicking off this PPV, Kevin Owens would win the Universal Championship (more on that later). Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte for the Women's Championship is good but inferior to their previous meeting on Raw, partly due to the baffling spot that saw Sasha's neck almost broken by Charlotte (calling her careless is incorrect if dropping her almost head-first was actually the plan, as daft as it sounds), with the shock outcome almost causing the Brooklyn crowd to turn on the show less than an hour in. A backstage segment involving The Club and Finn Balor keeps the audience positive; it sounds like the hardcore fans in attendance lose their minds at a potential full-on Bullet Club reunion in WWE, to the point where there may have been - ahem! - some discarded items after this skit ended within the audience, if you know what I mean. (If you don't, please don't ask me to explain that!)

Never mind, back to the show: The Miz vs. Apollo Crews for the Intercontinental Title serves its purpose, although it is little more than filler really. The same cannot be said for John Cena vs. AJ Styles, which is an absolute classic: upon second viewing, it is just a tad below the unbelievable Shinsuke Nakamura-Sami Zayn clash from NXT Takeover: Dallas, but on the main roster, Cena vs. Styles 2 remains the Match Of The Year, and the surprise clean win for AJ caps off an outstanding battle. The New Day vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, on the other hand, is a second-rate match with an awful finish, not helped by the unnecessary involvement (for the second SummerSlam running) of Jon Stewart.

Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler for the WWE Title is a better match than I remembered it being, although the crowd giving it the silent treatment most of the way doesn't help. Either they weren't interested because Ziggler had little chance of winning, or they weren't interested because there was no heel for the smarky fans to cheer for. Mind you, it's clear from the presentation that this wasn't meant to be the show-stealer; we don't even get a post-match replay for what was a clever finishing sequence. The SmackDown six-women match is memorable for the surprise return of Nikki Bella, as the blue team ladies prove that there's more to WWE women's wrestling than Charlotte and Sasha.

I wrote a lot about how the crowd nearly spoiled the Universal Title match between Seth Rollins and Finn Balor in the aforementioned original review of this event, so I won't repeat myself here; needless to say, a really good match feels a little less exciting due to an ungrateful audience in Brooklyn (who, by the way, were very quiet for most of the other matches, which combined with their reaction to Seth-Finn tells me that WWE may regret bringing SummerSlam back to Brooklyn in 2017). Also, we weren't to know until 24 hours later that Balor suffered a torn labrum during this match which forced him to immediately vacate his newly-won crown, shelving him until early next year. Oh, dear.

Rusev vs. Roman Reigns doesn't happen; instead, we get a brawl which is hard-hitting, but still feels like an inadequate substitution for a major match on the second biggest show of the year. Lastly, Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton turns into an amazingly violent fight which undoubtedly damages Orton (it also literally damaged him physically, given the injuries he suffered which forced him to miss Backlash the following month), but doesn't half leave a lasting impression of Lesnar being an uncaring, vicious bad-ass (which we knew already, to be fair). On the night, the finish was a bit frustrating, but when watching it back on DVD, it certainly gives us a memorable ending to this stacked PPV event. (Unfortunately, Lesnar's legitimate post-match brouhaha backstage with Chris Jericho, who hadn't been informed of the ending and believed that Lesnar had gone into business for himself to hurt Orton, is not included as a DVD extra, nor will it likely ever be.)

With this being a four-hour show for the second year running, the card is fortunately stretched onto two discs, unlike recent WWE PPV events which have gone north of three hours. And unlike SummerSlam 2015, we get some special features, those being the three Kick-Off Show matches: a 12-man tag involving six SmackDown teams, Sami Zayn and Neville battling The Dudley Boyz (which would be The Dudleyz' last WWE match, as it turned out), and the first chapter in the Best-Of-Seven Series between Sheamus and Cesaro, which is actually one of the best matches of the night (a whopping 13 matches were held that evening in Brooklyn, believe it or not). Mind you, the entrances are removed, the post-match scenes are cut very short, and it appears that some match footage has been taken out when the matches return from the inexplicable commercial breaks (I'd have to rewatch this show on the Network to know for sure). There are no other noticeable edits (I wish WWE had edited some crowd chants out, especially from Rollins-Balor, which has to be a first), but eagle-eyed (well, eagle-eared) fans may recognise the old InsurreXtion theme as the menu music on this DVD.

SummerSlam was such a long, at times overwhelming show that when it was first held, it was a little hard to rate it. There was some good, bad, very good, very bad and occasionally ugly, along with some odd booking decisions and an attention-seeking audience. Therefore, watching the event on DVD (where you can take pauses rather than watching the entire thing in one go) makes for a more enjoyable viewing experience. Granted, it wasn't the all-time classic card that we had hoped for, but there's no doubt that it provided plenty of memorable moments, if not all for the right reasons. Cena-Styles 2 and the brutal ending to Lesnar vs. Orton are the main reasons for you to get this DVD, but there is plenty of entertainment to be found elsewhere across the two discs. Just try to ignore the crowd during the Universal Championship match.

Overall Rating: 7/10 - Respectable

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