It’s so strange that it’s only been five years since SummerSlam 2014.
Only five years since Brock Lesnar captured the WWE title. To put in perspective what a different time it was, consider this. No one was worried about Lesnar winning the title and holding it captive.
Brace yourselves for this: Fans were actually looking forward to Lesnar capturing the belt.
Think that’s wild? Consider also the following: People didn’t flat-out hate Roman Reigns yet. That would take a little while longer. But man, oh man, did they hate John Cena with an absolute passion.
A lot of different things were happening in the business at the same time, making SummerSlam 2014 one of the more fascinating summer spectaculars in recent years.
There wasn’t a host, per se, for SummerSlam 2014, but Hulk Hogan is out to intro the show and do standard old man stuff.
Ah, but on the subject of history, Hogan was really out to hype the WWE Network and its obnoxious price of $9.99. Hogan runs down the forthcoming pay-per-views available on the Network. In the background, his TitanTron video is still playing, presumably to give the audience something not to hate.
Intercontinental Championship – The Miz (C) Vs. Dolph Ziggler
This is when Miz started calling himself the A-Lister, because WWE put him in The Marine 9 or whatever the hell. The gimmick wouldn’t really get over until Damien Sandow became his stunt double. More interesting history, Dolph Ziggler was slightly less of a joke than he is today.
Collar-and-elbow tie-up to start, and we trade rest holds for a few seconds before Miz puts Dolph down, but the announcers are talking about the ice bucket challenge. These are the days when JBL and Lawler were still announcers, so I’m fighting the urge to put it on mute. Dolph goes to punch Miz in the face, but Miz ducks out, and Maggle reminds us of the SummerSlam 1992 match between HBK and Rick Martel (insert shameless plug here).
Miz soaks in some boos from the crowd, and it just makes me miss heel Miz so much. He goes for a double axe-handle from the top, but Dolph counters with a gut punch. Dolph takes over and hits his stinger splash into a neckbreaker for two. The champ goes for the SCF, but Dolph counters, only for Miz to counter into a figure four attempt. Dolph breaks it up and hits a superkick for two.
The crowd is solidly behind Dolph as Miz tries to take the title and run, but Dolph hits a baseball slide. Miz manages to lock in the figure four, but Dolph makes the ropes. He drags Dolph back and tries to lock it back on, but Dolph counters with a Fame-Asser attempt, which Miz counters into the SCF, but it only gets two. Miz tries to kick Dolph while he’s down, but the challenger dodges and hits the Zig-Zag for the win and the title.
Not bad, and it did what it needed to do. But these guys clearly wanted to go longer, and they could’ve put together something legitimately awesome. ***
Divas Championship Match – AJ Lee (C) Vs. Paige
We get a prematch look at Paige winning the title the night after WrestleMania (four months earlier). And Cole is explaining every little thing like no one has ever seen Paige before. “She calls this move the Paigeturner!” Paige has been on the main roster for four months, you cretin!
Paige offers a handshake, and AJ bites it and yanks out a handful of Paige’s hair. They brawl on the outside, and AJ slams Paige’s face into the German announce table. Back inside, Paige recovers and drapes AJ over the middle rope and hits a high knee, but AJ breaks free. AJ is propped on Paige’s shoulders, and Paige drops her face-first onto the barricade. That was a cool spot.
The challenger makes a slow cover on AJ, and the camera catches Lawler all wide-eyed. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say he was an elderly pervert. Paige cinches in a headlock before dropping AJ head-first on the mat. She drapes AJ over the second rope again and lays in more knees before heading to the top rope, but AJ shoves her off.
AJ dives off the top turnbuckle onto Paige on the outside, and both women are down at ringside. Back inside, AJ gets a two-count off of a big clothesline. Paige fights back and lays in a kick to AJ’s face. She drags AJ back up and goes for a fisherman’s suplex, but AJ locks in the Black Widow only for Paige to counter into a Rampage DDT for the three-count and the title.
Looking at it in hindsight, it’s not a fraction as good as the women’s matches we get on the main roster today. And yet this SummerSlam 2014 was pretty good for a women’s division that was, at best, a joke at the time. **1/4
Flag Match – Jack Swagger (w/ Zeb Coulter) Vs. Rusev (w/ Lana)
Rusev was positioned at the time as Vladimir Putin’s personal instrument in the WWE, but that interestingly went away when one of Vince’s — um — friends ran for president.
Winner of this gets their flag hoisted after the match. So it’s not a flag match at all. Because WWE. Swagger gets his own personal honor guard for his entrance, which is just weird. What’s really weird is that Swagger just a few months earlier was supposed to be a xenophobic, immigrant-hating jerk. And that got him over, so now he’s Mr. USA. Because WWE.
JBL refers to Los Angeles (the site of SummerSlam 2014) as “the heart of America.” So he knows about as much about geography as he does about commentating.
Rusev jumps Swagger before the bell, but Swagger counters with the ankle lock. The bell rings, and Swagger takes over early, going straight after Rusev’s injured ankle. Rusev keeps trying to escape, but Swagger keeps throwing him back inside. Swagger hits a big clothesline on the outside. Back inside, Swagger goes for the Swagger-Bomb, but Rusev gets the knees up and aggravates Swagger’s injured ribs.
The announcers keep trying to pretend we actually believe Putin will punish Rusev if he loses, because they’re idiots. Rusev locks in a bearhug, but Swagger elbows his way out of it. He tries a belly-to-belly, but his ribs give out and Rusev puts him down on the mat and beats him down, but Swagger finally hits the belly-to-belly. Swagger can’t make the cover, though, so he takes some swings and clotheslines at Rusev.
He connects with the Swagger-Bomb, but the ribs give out again and he only gets two. Rusev goes for a kick, but Swagger hooks it for the ankle lock, only for Rusev to escape again. A suplex gets two for Swagger. Rusev fights back and goes for the Accolade, but his leg gives out. He locks it in with one knee down for leverage, but Swagger powers out and locks the ankle. Rusev gets himself back to the middle of the ring and kicks himself free and hits a spinning heel kick before locking in the Accolade. Swagger passes out, and Rusev picks up the win.
I’m giving an extra quarter star just because I miss Rusev. ***
Lumberjack Match – Seth Rollins Vs. Dean Ambrose
As part of this feud, Ambrose was allowed to pick a match of his choice at SummerSlam 2014, and he picked a lumberjack match. It’s important to note, also, that — as a character — Dean Ambrose is galactically stupid.
Ambrose beats down Rollins to start the match. Both guys go over the top rope early and get tossed back in by the lumberjacks. Back inside, the Ambrose beatdown of Rollins continues. Rollins fights back and tosses Ambrose out. He immediately tries to start a fight with the lumberjacks (again, he’s an idiot) and gets thrown back in. Rollins throws him out again, and the lumberjacks beat him up before throwing him inside.
The Architect takes control and hits a bodyslam into a knee drop for a two-count. He pulls Ambrose up, and Ambrose takes over only to get sent into the corner and stuck in the tree of woe. Rollins lays in the boots to Ambrose’s midsection before going for the Million Dollar Dream. Ambrose fights back up and hits a couple clotheslines. He dives at Rollins but misses and slides toward the outside. Rollins follows, and Ambrose suplexes him off the apron and onto the lumberjacks.
They brawl outside, but the lumberjacks break it up for a moment before Ambrose backdrops Rollins over the barricade. The lumberjacks keep him from following and toss him into the ring. Ambrose dives at the lumberjacks so that he can leapfrog the announce tables and take out Rollins over the barricade.
Rollins tries to escape through the crowd, but Ambrose drags him back. Corporate Libertarian Kane comes out to berate the lumberjacks while the fight continues in the crowd. The lumberjacks finally chase them down and drag them back to ringside. With Rollins on the lumberjacks’ shoulders, Ambrose dives from the top rope and takes out everybody. Ambrose goes for Dirty Deeds, but Rollins counters into a spinning heel kick only for Ambrose to bounce off the ropes with a clothesline. It gets two. Crowd might be into it, but this match is dumb.
Ambrose hits the Curb Stomp and goes for the cover, but Kane breaks it up. The lumberjacks rush the ring to fight Kane off and wind up fighting each other. While Ambrose fights off the lumberjacks, Rollins runs in and hits Ambrose with the briefcase for the pin.
There was plenty of action, but the booking was sloppy. The whole thing came off like a Monday Night Raw time-filler battle royal. **
Bray Wyatt Vs. Chris Jericho
This feud was part of Jericho’s “put over anybody and everybody” run. Whatever happened to Jericho, anyway? At the time of SummerSlam 2014, Bray’s gimmick was to appear out of nowhere and beat up big stars for no reason and give rambling promos. The more things change.
Jericho takes the early advantage, putting Bray down outside the ring. He throws Bray into the barricade, but Bray rolls back inside. Jericho goes to the top rope and hits a cross body splash for a one-count. Bray rushes Jericho in the corner, but Jericho leaps upward only for Bray to throw him over the top turnbuckle. Jericho takes a tackle into the edge of the ring apron before Bray knees his skull into the ring steps.
Back inside, Bray keeps up the beatdown, throwing Jericho shoulder-first into the ring post. He slips under the rope and starts punching Jericho’s head into the post. That looks nasty. Bray puts on a headlock, and Jericho tries to fight out to no avail. Jericho finally gets out and fights back with a series of chops. Bray whips him into the ropes, but Jericho comes back with a clothesline into an enziguri. It gets one.
Jericho goes up top again but misses, and Bray takes him down with a clothesline and a senton for two. Y2J pulls out a drop kick but can only get a two-count. He kicks Bray while he’s down, but Bray comes back with a rock bottom for two. Bray goes for Sister Abigail, but Jericho gets a small package. He locks Bray in the Walls Of Jericho, but Bray makes the ropes before hitting a wicked DDT on the apron for two.
Bray goes to the second rope, but Jericho gives chase and hits a rana. Jericho crawls for the cover and gets two. Another dropkick from Jericho brings out the spider-walk from Bray, who starts screaming creepy stuff. Jericho hits the Codebreaker, but it’s not enough. Bray botches the spot, putting his leg on the rope after kicking out. On the outside, Bray hits a thumb to Jericho’s throat followed by Sister Abigail into the barricade.
He puts Jericho back in the ring for another Sister Abigail for the pin. ***1/4
The action was strong, and WWE hadn’t quite killed Bray’s credibility dead quite yet. The Eater Of Worlds gimmick would lose a lot of steam after SummerSlam 2014, but it was still pretty strong here.
Stephanie McMahon Vs. Brie Bella
This SummerSlam 2014 feud was more of a spin-off of the Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan feud from WrestleMania. Stephanie paid off DB’s personal trainer to say she had an affair, and Brie slapped the trainer. That got her arrested. A couple weeks later, Brie goaded Stephanie into slapping her, and she had Stephanie arrested. Or maybe I have that backwards. Oh, and they called each other bitches.
Whatever. It led to a match, because storytelling. By the way, there were actual women’s matches in NXT at the time. Between wrestlers.
Ronda Rousey is at ringside not killing kayfabe. They lock up a couple of times before Brie takes Stephanie down with an armdrag. Another lock up and another armdrag. Brie hooks a sloppy waistlock, and Stephanie sloppily escapes it before hitting some shoulder tackles in the corner. Stephanie stomps ye olde mudhole before tossing Brie to the mat and mocking the yes chant. Brie fights back with a Greco Roman slap before going for the Yes Lock, but Stephanie scrambles under the ropes.
Mrs. Planet’s Champion goes for a tope, but Stephanie snatches her out of the air. Brie climbs back inside (ve-ry-slow-ly), and Stephanie hits a DDT for two. Stephanie says “bitch” a few times, because edgy television, before hitting a leap frog neckbreaker for two. She locks Brie in an abdominal stretch for about six or seven hours. Brie kicks Stephanie in the head and lays in some punches before elbowing her out of the corner. Some yes kicks follow, and Stephanie tries to escape. Brie drags her back in for more kicks. The moveset here is blowing my mind.
A missile dropkick from Brie gets two. More punches follow, and Triple H runs down from the back. Nikki Bella is right behind him, though. Stephanie goes for the Pedigree, but Brie reverses into the Yes Lock. Triple H pulls the referee out, and Brie baseball kicks him. Nikki runs into the ring and they tease teaming up on Stephanie, but Nikki turns on Brie. Stephanie hits the Pedigree, Triple H throws the ref back in, and it’s over. *
Add the Bella story to the list of angles from SummerSlam 2014 that went nowhere.
Roman Reigns Vs. Randy Orton
We mentioned earlier, fans didn’t out-and-out hate Roman yet, but the luster was starting to tarnish. After the Shield broke up, there wasn’t anywhere to go. So they put him up against the ex-champ at SummerSlam 2014 in an attempt to kickstart him again. It didn’t work, but when has that ever stopped WWE?
They trash talk to start before Roman opens the match with a right hand. Orton brushes him off, but Roman fights back with a kneedrop. A back elbow from Roman puts Orton down. Roman stalls, because he doesn’t know what he’s doing, before clotheslining Orton over the top rope. On the outside, Orton reverses Roman into the steps. Back inside, Orton covers but gets a one-count before going to the time-killing headlock.
Roman fights out, but Orton puts him back down and poses to kill more time. Orton goes for a kneedrop, but Roman rolls out of the way (ve-ry-slow-ly). The crowd is already getting bored and restless with this one. Orton props Roman up on the top turnbuckle and hits a superplex, but it only gets two. Back to another resthold. I’m sensing a pattern here.
Cole: “Orton loves this kind of pace, doesn’t he?” Oh, where he doesn’t have to do anything? Yeah, he’s a big fan of that one.
Roman fights out and goes for a headlock of his own, jumping on Orton’s back. Orton backdrops him, but Roman pops back up and puts the headlock back on. The Viper fights up and hits a sides slam for two. And we go back to the headlock. I’m gonna go grab a snack, I’ll be back in a few.
Seriously? Still the resthold? Okay, Roman fights up and hits a sidewalk slam, but he’s too weak for the cover (translation: both guys want to rest). The next day, both guys get to their feet and slug it out, because they’ve almost exhausted Roman’s moveset. Roman hits a flying clothesline and drapes Orton over the bottom rope for the drive-by. He tackles Orton into the barricade, but Orton recovers and throws Roman into the ring post. It gets a two count.
The fight goes back outside, and Orton slams Roman onto the announce table before flinging him into the steps. Back inside, Roman gets a neckbreaker. Roman props Orton on the top turnbuckle and goes for a superplex, but Orton fights him off. Back up top, Roman hits a Samoan drop from the second rope, but it only gets two. Roman signals for the Superman punch and hits it. He sets up for the spear, but Orton hits the powerslam for two.
Orton hits the dangling DDT before calling for the RKO. Roman pushes it off and bounces off the ropes, but Orton hits the RKO for two-and-a-half. Orton argues the count and calls for the punt. He goes for it, but Roman hits the spear for the win.
It finally picked up in the latter half of the match, but the start was just – so – slow. The hot finish couldn’t save the boring build. **
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match – John Cena (C) Vs. Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman)
As part of the build-up for this one, Lesnar did an interview saying he would leave Cena in a pile of “blood and urine and vomit.” And there were way fewer boos for him than there were for Cena at SummerSlam 2014. Just wait till you guys see what a jerk he is for most of Bumblebee. Not for nothing, but I’d boo a guy wearing two championsip belts hooked together like a necklace, I’d boo him, too.
Cena tries to take Lesnar down early, and that simply does – not – work. Lesnar hits the F5 twenty seconds in, but Cena powers out of the pin, and Lesnar just smiles. The Beast trash-talks Cena and kicks him as he tries to get up, and this crowd gets solidly behind Lesnar.
He pulls Cena up and hits a German suplex. Take note of that, it’ll be important later. As in now. He pulls Cena up by the throat and hits another German. We’re up to two.
Lesnar knees Cena in the gut while he’s gone, and Cena leaps up and tries to punch him. The Beast calmly just moves out of the way, and Cena hits the mat. Lesnar hits a regular old suplex on Cena for variety, I guess.
Cena kips up and punches Lesnar in the corner, but Lesnar casually tosses him off and knees him in the ribs. Lesnar hooks in a rear chin lock, and Cena tries to elbow his way out of the hold, but Lesnar just chucks him on the mat again. Cena tries to get to his feet but takes a knee to the back, but he fights back with punches only to get put down again.
The champ gets to his feet but immediately eats four more German suplexes. Lesnar makes a nonchalant cover and only gets two. Crowd gets eerily quiet. But the good kind of quiet. The “holy crap, this is awkward” kind of quiet. It only gets worse, as Lesnar hits another German. And another. Lesnar goes for yet one more, but Cena rallies with forearms only to run into an F5. He fights out of it and hits the AA, but Lesnar kicks out.
Both guys are down until Lesnar does the Undertaker sit-up and laughs at Cena. Lesnar is really good at his job when he wants to be.
Cena rushes in for the fight, but Lesnar takes him down and just starts pounding his head. Four more Germans follow, and Lesnar won’t go for the pin, daring Cena to get back up. Finally, he pulls Cena up for three more Germans and commands the ref to ask Cena if he quits. The ref teases calling off the match, but he asks Cena. Cena refuses and locks the STF.
It’s to no avail as Lesnar just rolls over and punches Cena in the head some more. He drags Cena up and hits the F5 for the pin and the title.
This match was all story and just enough substance to stay interesting. ***1/2
There wasn’t much going on, but it was exactly what it needed to be. And hats off to Cena. You’ll never find another standard-bearer in the company’s history that would consent to looking like that much of a chump to get somebody over.
This show is an easy thumbs-up. That might be surprising, considering there aren’t any stellar mat clinics, but there was a smattering of good matches, and the sheer history of Cena vs. Lesnar makes it a must-watch.
Like its immediate predecessor, SummerSlam 2014 knew exactly how to use Brock Lesnar. To make him a monster that has to be taken down. It all might have worked, but the guy they picked to take him down?
Well, look up Royal Rumble 2015 to find out how well that turned out.
All images courtesy of WWE.