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“You’ll never see it coming,” WWE promised ahead of Sunday’s SummerSlam pay-per-view.
But what was “it?”
Maybe a major title change in one of the six championship bouts on a stacked match card? Perhaps it was a shocking conclusion to the increasingly psychological battle between Braun Strowman and “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt? Could it have been an appearance by the chaotic Retribution?
The question hovered over the night’s proceedings like a dark cloud, threatening to rain on The Biggest Party of the Summer.
What was the answer and how might it affect the WWE Universe moving forward?
Find out with this recap of Sunday’s extravaganza.
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The match card for the 33rd annual SummerSlam is as follows:
- WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton
- Universal Championship: Braun Strowman vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
- Raw Women’s Championship: Asuka vs. Sasha Banks
- SmackDown Women’s Championship: Asuka vs. Bayley
- United States Championship: Apollo Crews vs. MVP
- Raw Tag Team Championship: The Street Profits vs. Andrade and Angel Garza
- Street Fight: Dominik Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins
- No Disqualification, Loser Leaves WWE match: Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville
Asuka has demonstrated some extraordinary in-ring chemistry with both Bayley and Sasha Banks. If those matches are allowed to be what they can be, and those in power can resist the urge to overbook them as they did at last month’s The Horror Show at Extreme Rules, do not be surprised if this year’s event is defined by the two contests.
The action kicks off at 7 p.m. on WWE Network and traditional pay-per-view outlets.
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The night’s in-ring festivities began on the Kickoff Show, dubbed her “last hurrah” by longtime on-screen personality Renee Young, with a United States Championship defense by Apollo Crews against MVP. The contest, the culmination of two months of feuding, was Crews’ opportunity to prove to the mouthpiece of The Hurt Business that he made the right choice by going it alone.
MVP controlled for a bit before the match spilled to the arena floor. A dramatic near count-out led to a Crews comeback.
Moments later, MVP tried for the Playmaker but Crews escaped and delivered the toss powerbomb for the successful title defense.
After the match, Shelton Benjamin and Bobby Lashley hit the ring but Crews escaped a beatdown, his title reign intact.
Crews defeated MVP
This wasn’t as good as their first match a few weeks back on Raw.
Neither man really ever hit their groove and there was not much in the way of a story to speak of. Crews winning was never really in doubt, either.
The match being demoted to the Kickoff Show, despite being relatively high-profile on Monday nights, certainly hurt its overall effect, too.
Hopefully, both Crews and The Hurt Business can resume their runs tomorrow on Raw because this felt like a step down from what they had accomplished in the weeks ahead of the show.
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After some extraordinary promo befitting The Biggest Party of the Summer, Asuka made her way to the squared circle for the night’s opening contest, a SmackDown Women’s Championship Match against Bayley.
The Empress of Tomorrow started hot against The Role Model, looking for a submission and when that did not work, targeting both the lower extremities and right arm. A DDT off the steps and to the arena floor continued the challenger’s early onslaught.
A springboard stunner by Bayley allowed her to turn the tide in her favor and score hear first near-fall of the contest. The champion downed Asuka with a Bayley-to-Belly but the challenger shot her shoulder off the mat at two, much to the chagrin and disbelief of the heel.
Asuka mounted a comeback, pushing the pace and building momentum. She delivered the running hip attack but Bayley kicked out at two. The fight moved to the ring apron, where Bayley drove Asuka’s knee into the middle frame and set out to target the now-injured joint.
Asuka fought back with a Codebreaker for another two-count. Bayley answered, catching her opponent mid-flight and applying a kneebar. Asuka made it to the ropes.
Moments later, Bayley capitalized on a momentary distraction by Sasha Banks and rolled Asuka up for the win.
After the match, Banks immediately jumped Asuka and joined Bayley in slamming her to the mat. All in the name of gaining a competitive edge over The Empress ahead of her Raw Women’s Championship defense later in the broadcast.
Bayley defeated Asuka
This was another strong entry in a long line of matches between Asuka and The Golden Role Models.
Asuka and Bayley have great in-ring chemistry, dating all the way back to their days in NXT, and it showed here. There was a spot or two that were clunky, sure, but the competitors cut a frenetic pace and jam-packed their time with a ton of spots.
Banks attacking and further putting Asuka at a disadvantage is exactly the story they needed to tell after the match and sets up chapter two of this program later in the night.