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    Monday, August 24, 2020

    The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: SummerSlam 2020

    Many people in and around wrestling will tell you that one of the worst things to ever have happened to the WWE during the pandemic—outside of people getting infected with COVID-19—is that the atmosphere was sucked right out of the show after fans were no longer allowed at events. 

    The wrestling could always be there, no matter what they did. The action didn't need to stop. Any wrestler will tell you that the matches could still go on no matter how many people were watching live. But the lack of an entire crowd making sounds at everything happening inside the ring can change everyone's perception of how good that wrestling is. We've been conditioned to think that the crowd's noise is the barometer for whether the in-ring action is actually hitting—and no matter how good you are, if it's dead silent, it's just hitting different. More than a little flat, if we're being honest.

    This is why the WWE may have stumbled upon a lifesaver in the Thunderdome. It might very well be the best innovation they've taken on in the COVID-19 Era.

    It's not so much the giant LED screens displaying fans at home—that takes a little getting used to, but once you let it grow on you, it's not so bad—but rather, the fact that replacing the smaller Performance Center crowd allows them to pipe in what seems to be prerecorded ambient stadium noise, giving back the live-crowd feel to the show. It's such a gamechanger after the past few months of dead silence and the training session atmosphere of the PC guys, that I'm sad nobody was able to figure it out for WrestleMania.

    Had SummerSlam not happened at the Thunderdome, you'd be looking at another run-of-the-mill Performance Center pay-per-view: not necessarily bad, but the scale never screams big production. The constant crowd noise being pumped in also managed to get us through the downtime of the slower matches, and pretty much made the more forgettable and tedious ones sound better by comparison. The result is a solid and entertaining show that isn't tough to get through, and everyone involved should pat themselves on the back.

    In fact, I'd wager that the Thunderdome setup is even better than an actual crowd, at least for the WWE's sake—they could pretend all of their terrible angles and matches are better than they seem just by the sound alone. Of course, it's cheating, and it won't truly fool more discerning fans, but the illusion of normalcy in these extraordinary times of social distancing and falling ratings should be enough for now.

    SummerSlam 2020 Rating: B+

    Match of the Night

    If there's something the WWE has been hitting right lately, it's the story-heavy match. Between Pat McAfee vs. Adam Cole and Seth Rollins vs. Dominik Mysterio (which is always annoying to hear because everyone insists on saying it in full), the brands have been putting out fights that plain make sense as they unfold. Even if the build-ups aren't exactly what we want them to be, the work the wrestlers put in in telling good stories is palpable and fruitful. One hell of a first outing for Dominik, who proves that he belongs—with a little help from Seth.

    Photo from WWE
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: SummerSlam 2020 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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