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Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Heel Turns: SummerSlam fallout

Posted by Achilles Heel On August 27

Achilles HeelWWE used SummerSlam to move in some new directions. There were five title changes at SummerSlam, but the biggest change occurred in a match in which a title did not change hands.

Brock Lesnar retained the WWE Universal Championship in a fatal four-way match with Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman, but the match established Strowman as the top challenger for the title. Strowman slammed Lesnar through two broadcast tables and them dumped another broadcast table on top of him, leading to Lesnar being carted off on a stretcher (he returned later in the match).

In case the point needed further emphasis, Strowman delivered a pair of running power slams to Lesnar the following night on Raw. Strowman will challenge Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship at No Mercy on Sept. 24.

The excellent match for the Universal Championship was probably the highlight of SummerSlam. The other contenders for best match were a pair of tag team matches in which the titles changed hands. Jimmy and Jey Uso regained the Smackdown Tag Team Championship from The New Day in an entertaining bout during the SummerSlam kickoff show. But, in the Greek God of Wrestling’s not-so-humble opinion, the Raw Tag Team Championship was even better, with the reunited Shield team of Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins defeating Sheamus and Cesaro in a terrific match.

Both women’s titles also changed hands. Sasha Banks defeated Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship; Natalya made Naomi tap out to the sharpshooter to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship. The first title change that took place at SummerSlam was Neville defeating Tozawa during the kickoff show to recapture the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.

Titles changed hands in the first five championship matches at SummerSlam. The streak was broken when A.J. Styles retained the United States Championship against Kevin Owens, although there were controversy surrounding the actions of special referee Shane McMahon. Jinder Mahal then kept his WWE Championship when, with the help of the Singh brothers, he defeated Shinsuke Nakamura.

In other matches, John Cena beat Baron Corbin, Randy Orton defeated Rusev with an RKO in nine seconds (after Rusev beat up Orton before the bell rang), “The Demon” Finn Balor beat Bray Wyatt, Big Cass defeated Big Show despite Enzo Amore escaping the shark cage hanging above the ring, and The Miz, Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas defeated Jason Jordan and Matt and Jeff Hardy.

It will be interesting to see which direction WWE takes with its new champions, but the most intriguing development at SummerSlam was the elevation of Strowman to top-contender status.

*****

NXT DOES IT AGAIN! The best show of SummerSlam weekend was NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. Longtime readers of Heel Turns know that Achilles Heel is not one of those Internet columnists who loves to rip WWE and proclaims every small promotion to be better than the, by far, largest wrestling organization on the planet. But NXT’s show was outstanding from start to finish.

Johnny Gargano’s lost to Andrade “Cien” Almas in a tremendous opening match that caused the crowd to go “banana,” as Pat Patterson used to say. Aleister Black defeated Hideo Itami in a physical match. SAnitY captured the NXT Tag Team Championship from the Authors of Pain in a well-constructed match that involved unique strategy and action. Asuka successfully defended the NXT Women’s Championship against Ember Moon, and then Drew McIntyre captured the NXT Championship by beat Bobby Roode in an excellent match.

In addition to the terrific action, there were storyline developments that ignited the crowd. Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly, both of whom made their televised singles debuts against Black, reunited (they were Ring of Honor tag team champions) to attack SAnitY after the tag team title match. They also came to the ring after the NXT Championship match, distracting McIntyre while former Ring of Honor World champion Adam Cole entered the ring from the opposite side and attacked McIntyre.

You couldn’t have hoped for anything more than what NXT delivered the night before SummerSlam.

*****

NEW CHAMP: WWE wasn’t the only organization changing titles. Eli Drake won a gauntlet battle royal to become the new Global Force Wrestling champion. The title was vacant because GFW stripped Alberto El Patron of the championship because of a domestic abuse incident with Paige, his fiancée, at the Orlando airport.

Drake and Eddie Edwards were the first two and last two participants in the battle royal. Johnny Impact, the former Johnny Nitro and John Morrison, made his debut during this match. The Greek God of Wrestling wouldn’t have picked Drake to win the title, but that doesn’t mean elevating Drake by making him champion was a mistake. We’ll see how it works out.

*****

RING OF DISHONOR: Now that Ring of Honor has completed its tour of England, the next big date for the promotion will be Sept. 22, when “Death Before Dishonor XV” takes place in Las Vegas. Cody Rhodes will defend the Ring of Honor World Championship at Death Before Dishonor against Japanese legend Minoru Suzuki, who hasn’t wrestled in the United States in more than 25 years.

A bit closer to home, Ring of Honor will be in Pittsburgh on Oct. 13 as part of the Global Wars tour, and then will be doing a television taping at 2300 Arena on Oct. 20.

*****

KINGS OF ENGLAND: The top half of the bracket is loaded at Kings of Trios, the annual three-night CHIKARA major event which begins Friday in Wolverhampton, England. The House Sendais Girls (Maiko Satomura, Dash Chisako and Cassandra Miagi), the defending champions, are in the same half of the bracket as House Rot (Frightmare, Hallowicked and Kobald) and House Strong Style (WWE United Kingdom champion Pete Dunne, former WWE UK champion Tyler Bate and his former CHIKARA tag team championship partner Trent Seven). As you can see, all teams in this year’s tournament start with “House.”

Bate and Seven teamed up last year with Dasher Hatfield, who has reunited with Mark Angelosetti to former House Throwbacks with Simon Grimm. The Throwbacks are in what appears to be the easier side of the bracket. If Strong Style win their opening match, they could face House Rot in the second round. If the Sendai Girls win their opening match, they could face Casa Dorada, a team that includes CHIKARA Grand Champion Juan Francisco de Coronado, in the second round. Two wins by the Sendai Girls would likely lead to a match with either Strong Style or Rot in the semifinals.

It would make sense for Team Strong Style, with three British wrestlers, to excel in an event in England, but Achilles Heel wonders if CHIKARA will highlight a group of wrestlers who have all signed with WWE.

*****

YOUNG AT HEART: WWE will begin broadcasting the Mae Young Classic, a 32-woman single-elimination tournament, on Monday on WWE Network. The first four episodes will be available on demand at WWE Network on Monday. Episodes 5-8 will be available on Mon., Sept 4, with the final match to take place live on Tues., Sept 12.

*****

ASUKA INJURED: Asuka managed to successfully defend her NXT Women’s Championship against Ember Moon at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, but she broke her right collarbone during the match. The Greek God of Wrestling detests spoiler, but WWE has already put on its Web site that Asuka vacated the title during this past week’s NXT television tapings.

It is expected that Asuka will be moving to Raw or Smackdown. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if WWE ties the Mae Young Classic to the competition to crown a new NXT Women’s champion.

*****

FLAIR UPDATE: Ric Flair apparently has rallied from the depths of his medical crisis, but he still has a long road ahead of him. Achilles Heel continues to send The Nature Boy best wishes and prayers for a complete recovery.

*****

ROODE WELCOME: Three nights after losing the NXT Championship to Drew McIntyre, Bobby Roode made his Smackdown debut with a victory over Aiden English in a surprisingly competitive match. The Greek God of Wrestling expects Roode to make a significant impact on Smackdown.

*****

RUDE EXIT: The push for Big Cass came to a screeching halt on Raw when he tore his ACL during a match against former partner Enzo Amore. Cass, who defeated Big Show the previous night at SummerSlam, was visibly frustrated when his attempt to continue the match ended with his knee buckling as he attempted an empire elbow. A Royal Rumble return would be the most optimistic outlook for Big Cass.

Meanwhile, Amore made his 205 Live! debut on Tuesday as a challenger to Neville, who retained the WWE Cruiserweight Championship that night. Amore adds personality, but it’s uncertain that his style will mesh with the cruiserweight roster.

*****

A TEAM GUY: With Jason Jordan moving to Raw as Kurt Angle’s son, it was revealed on Smackdown that Shelton Benjamin, who served as a henchman for Angle and teamed with Charlie Haas to form The Worlds Greatest Tag Team, will replace Jordan as Chad Gable’s tag team partner. In the initial interview, Gable seemed more excited about the new tag team than Benjamin.

*****

SICK FEELING: Combat Zone Wrestling returns to Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees on Sat., Sept. 9 with Down With The Sickness (7:30 p.m.), which is part of a doubleheader with Women’s Superstars Uncensored (WSU), which presents Queen and King of the Ring (4 p.m).

Down With the Sickness will include the Chri$ Ca$h Memorial Ladder match, in which The Rep will face Private Party in a No. 1 contenders match for the CZW Tag Team Championship, Danny Havoc’s retirement match against Alex Colon, and Sami Callihan vs. Jimmy Lloyd.

The Queen and King of the Ring Tournament features eight mixed tag teams. There also will be a WSU Championship match, with Mercedes Martinez defending against Jordynne Grace, and a WSU Tag Team Championship match, with Maria Manic and Penelope Ford defending the titles against The Sinister Sweethearts.

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