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    Tuesday, August 21, 2018

    The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: SummerSlam 2018

    Capitalism's always been the driving force behind pro wrestling, influencing how stories are written, how wrestlers are booked, and how shows are put up. The way WWE does things now is, I would assume, pro wrestling taking capitalism to its logical extremes: they've got so much to sell you, so we're turning this thing into an even bigger deal.

    WrestleMania and all its excesses only come once a year, so it's understandable for all of us to sit through the seven-plus hours of WWE spectacle—we've helped create the behemoth hype machine the company has now, so most of us will happily take a seat at the big table. It's only once a year, anyway.

    The thing is, even after a few years of trying to build up SummerSlam to that level, I still don't think the second of the Big Four PPVs has reached the heights of WrestleMania. Yes, it may be a show some of us would prefer watching, it may be a show for the fans, but this isn't Mania. SummerSlam used to just be a fun party in the summer, not a bloated B-tier festival.

    So even when a show like this year's SummerSlam gets a lot of the story beats right—Brock Lesnar finally dropping the Universal Championship to someone who's around, Ronda Rousey showing why the company signed her, a nice bout between AJ Styles and Samoa Joe, just to name a few—the fact that we have to sit through a total of five and a half hours (including the kickoff) means a substantial part of that goodwill ends up getting diluted. There's just too much bloat.

    While there isn't as much bloat to trim compared to the Extreme Rules card, as a booking and editing exercise I can still show you three matches you could have relegated to TV, either on the go-home shows or the RAW and SmackDown after SummerSlam

    This is a problem the WWE's brought on themselves, and it's a problem they need to bite the bullet and address. Make like NXT and be picky with the matches you put on the card, while showing the rest on the weekly TV episode. People will lose PPV paydays, but if it means streamlining your monthly events for the audience—the people you run these shows for—I figure there wouldn't be as much disinterest in the main shows. You don't want to run a show people will only want to see the highlights for.

    But if there's an upside to running a wrestling show for this long, it's the fact that you can clearly see where the minutes are going. When you watch matches like the Intercontinental title match, the WWE title match, or Miz vs. Daniel Bryan, to name a few, you can see how it benefits wrestlers who want to go out there and perform. Everyone makes the most of them while they've got them, even if it can get exhausting; that only means, however, that the top brass need to be more judicious with who gets a spot on the card.

    If you haven't seen the show yet, good luck trudging through all of it. Read on to see which matches you should catch.

    SummerSlam 2018 Final Grade: B

    Match of the Night

    I felt really, really bad for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship match that went on after this, because Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler were given more than enough time to tear the house down—and they were the first match on the main card. They made their minutes work for them.

    Other observations

    • I don't know if it's just me, but Lana seems a lot more comfortable in the ring now than a few months ago. While it's most likely because she was shored up by three veterans in the ring, I'd like to see where her progression takes her.
    • Nope, I don't agree with Gulak losing, even though he lost narrowly. He should've won.
    • The finish to the B-Team's match made me smile. The Revival, unfortunately, was the right team to pull that kind of shit on.
    • I didn't realize Seth's gear was a tribute to Thanos until I saw it on Instagram. I thought he was actually referencing Vegeta.
    • Should this SmackDown Tag Team Championship match have been on the main card? Especially if it's another New Day challenge and another Bludgeon Brothers win? SmackDown really needs a new face team; I would've rather seen the Bar turn face for that.
    • Strowman/Owens, like last month, should've just been on the go-home show.
    • That SmackDown Women's Championship triple threat match is the best women's title match I've seen in a while, and it kind of justifies giving the title to Carmella, proving she could hold her own.
    • Excellent move to have Becky turn on Charlotte, but they need to play this properly tomorrow on SmackDown. Charlotte did deserve that, and they have to be as nuanced as possible with this portrayal of a frustrated protagonist—to let Charlotte get away with pretending to be a face here is only going to increase the backlash she'll get.
    • Is bringing AJ Styles's family into this feud with Samoa Joe really a good idea? Couldn't they have feuded over who was the real face of TNA in the 2000s? We were robbed of a decisive finish, even though it turns up the heat of the feud.
    • Looks like Bryan/Miz isn't over; it's not the kind of finish that screams "THIS GUY IS LEAVING THE COMPANY."
    • Balor/Corbin didn't have to happen here too.
    • Ronda Rousey squashes >>> Brock Lesnar squashes, by miles.
    • Unfortunately, we may be headed toward Rousey/Bellas soon, which isn't exactly exciting.
    • So that main event was weird, and that was the kind of finish that screams "THIS GUY IS LEAVING THE COMPANY."

    Photo from WWE


    Romeo Moran (@roiswar) is 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 2018 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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