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    Tuesday, August 22, 2017

    The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: SummerSlam 2017

    The biggest pro wrestling company in the world needs to stop acting like a carny sideshow already.

    Granted, they needed to stop the moment they started becoming a publicly traded company with available stock in the market. They needed to stop when they started going legit turning themselves into a massive positive-vibe PR machine. If getting regular ESPN coverage wasn't a sign that they needed to stop, I don't know what is anymore.

    But here we are. WWE is still the company that would much rather choose to punish guys like Baron Corbin and Rusev for lord knows what, just because they can, instead of building them up for the future. A future that involves the company's own bottom line, as well. 

    And in a paradox that shows how terribly unpredictable Vince McMahon's thought process can be, sometimes the WWE will do pointless, lazy things just to keep the money.

    Take Jinder Mahal. It's well-known that the WWE Championship is on him just so India, a nation of 1.3 billion people, would have someone to cheer and spend money for. Because Jinder will get that support from his countrymen no matter what, be they Indian or Canadian, Vince doesn't seem to feel the need to write him as a character that's any more hardworking than he already is. Americans will boo and Indians will cheer, so all they have to do is make sure he remains as annoying as possible, in the laziest way possible.

    Or Finn Balor. They were so enamored with how over he was right out of the gate—and distracted by his unfortunate injury—that they never figured out how to write the Demon King character. Instead they're reduced to trying to maintain his mystique using superlatives on commentary instead of actual work into his presentation. The win against Bray Wyatt felt more like a formality instead of a breakthrough moment.

    Or even the main event. Yes, Brock Lesnar is a draw and they'll hold on to him for as long as they can to make as much money as they can. But they'll do so—and they did so—at the expense of RAW and the stars that prop it up every Monday night. Now the other three men will go back to fighting each other until it's time for Brock to come back again, but hey, at least they know he's not headed back to UFC anytime soon.

    It's the WWE's dedication to entertain and satisfy itself, instead of the fans, that makes this year's SummerSlam a whimper despite all the spectacle. All the pieces were in position to deliver, but when you're in a place where you can easily rest your laurels, you don't really have to guarantee anything great to your customers. They can be a serious entertainment powerhouse if they really wanted to, but they won't.

    They'll wonder why NXT is doing better, but at the same time, they won't really care. We'll all keep coming back anyway.  Some of us will continue to do so while loving other things, but we'll all keep coming back. B

    Match of the Night

    The most consistent bright spots on the main show have recently been the tag team divisions, as shallow on paper as they are, and SummerSlam was no different. The Universal Championship match was great despite the status quo not changing, but both tag title matches overdelivered on a card that dared everyone to. It's nice to see that there are still some people who'd fight the script and defy expectations.

    Both matches stood out, but I'll give the slight edge to the RAW Tag Team Championship match, which redeemed its own division by giving it a much-needed shot in the arm. The reunited two-thirds of the Shield is proof that you don't always need real tag teams to be tag team champions; two established singles stars may be enough to elevate an ailing scene. All four men did everything they could in their power (including killing a beach ball) to put themselves on the map—to the detriment of other matches on the card, but it wasn't their fault—and walked out of the Barclays Center heroes.

    Don't let that take anything away from the SmackDown Tag Team Championship match, though. It's just that we know exactly what the New Day and the Usos were capable of doing, and they put out the expected good match all the same, but Ambrose and Rollins winning felt really fresh.


    • Just to run through it real quick, the matches you absolutely have to catch: the United States Championship match, the Universal Championship match, both Women's Championship matches, both Tag Team Championship matches. That's it, really.
    • Neville gets his title back from Akira Tozawa, and the result would've made a bigger impact if the initial title change happened weeks before. There is an art to making this whole thing not look desperate, and now they've blown what should've been a breakthrough feud for Tozawa.
    • At this point I see no reason why either the Big Cass/Big Show or Rusev/Orton match couldn't have been on the kickoff. Yet another example of the WWE doing things just because it can.
    • I expect a better WWE Championship rematch between Jinder and Nakamura either on SmackDown or the next SmackDown PPV. Just because they tend to do things better on their own, away from too much Vince McMahon interference.

        Photo from WWE

        Romeo Moran (@roiswaris the Editor in Chief of Smark Henry and one of the three hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He gets by in this hard knock life through working in publishing. Smark Henry was his and Stan Sy's original vision of a watering hole for local wrestling fans. He roots for the undersized guys who hit hard, but really hates Davey Richards with his entire soul. He likes taking your wrestling questions over on his CuriousCat account.
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        Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: SummerSlam 2017 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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