SummerSlam 2021 is in the books and it more than lived up to the hype as the biggest party of the summer.
There is plenty to talk about from a pair of shocking returns to WWE, some excellent wrestling matches and one not-so-great moment.
Here are five things learned after SummerSlam 2021.
1:The Man is back
Becky Lynch returned to a WWE ring for the first time since April of 2020 and promptly reasserted herself as the top wrestler in the game. A simple story on paper. The way in which we got to Lynch as the new champion, though, is anything but simple.
Bianca Belair entered the ring first, but then in a twist, it was announced that Sasha Banks was unable to complete. This was devastating as the Belair-Banks matchup was one of the most anticipated matches on the card, thanks to their fantastic bout at WrestleMania earlier in the year. Making the news even worse was a less-than-suitable replacement being named in Carmella. While Carmella is a fine wrestler, and has had a few decent moments, this was not what the crowd was looking forward to whatsoever.
Then Becky’s music hit and the roof blew off Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. This was a genuine shock, as there wasn’t even a rumour that Lynch would be coming back. After tossing Carmella out of the ring, she challenged Bianca to a championship match, which was accepted. Their match lasted less than 15 seconds, with Becky scoring a shocking pin to win the title.
Lynch had been off since April 2020 on maternity leave and there was no indication she was ready for a return. Is “The Man” actually back full-time? Is she cleared to wrestle yet and, if not, is that why the match ended so quickly?
Fans were quick to stick their noses up to the finish, saying they were unhappy with how Belair lost the title. They certainly have a right to those gripes, however Belair has said in the past, including recently to Sportsnet, that wrestling Becky is, “a dream booking.” WWE will almost assuredly be going somewhere with this, but the question is when and where.
2. The Beast makes emphatic return
Speaking of shocking returns, Brock Lesnar is back in WWE. The last time we saw Lesnar was WrestleMania 2020, just a few weeks before Lynch left. Now sporting a ponytail and beard, Lesnar asserted his place at the top of the card when he came out after the Roman Reigns-John Cena match and stared down Reigns, thus indicating an immediate program for the Universal Championship.
There are so many great levels of storytelling to be exhibited in this upcoming program. First of all, Paul Heyman now manages Reigns where he used to advocate for Lesnar. That storyline was made immediately clear when Lesnar said a couple short words to Heyman, who played his role perfectly, cowering behind Reigns.
Next, Reigns has never beat Lesnar. He’s faced him multiple times in the main event of WrestleMania but has lost each time. However, Lesnar has never faced this incarnation of Reigns. This version of Roman Reigns hasn’t been pinned or submitted since he returned one year ago at SummerSlam. He’s been the ultimate conqueror, a mantle formerly held by Lesner.
Reigns and Lesnar have an opportunity to carry the top of the card on the SmackDown side for a couple months, and then after that Reigns will move on to another top star.
And who will that be? Do you smell what The Rock is cookin’?
3: Reigns remains the top star in WWE after defeating Cena
Since his return one year ago, Reigns has carried the torch for WWE. His character and storytelling have been on another level, so far above everything else within WWE.
Saturday at SummerSlam was another example of that when he fulfilled his promise of defeating John Cena and sending him back to Hollywood. The chemistry between Reigns and Cena in the ring was fantastic, and the match paid off as such.
They told a simple, but effective, story with Reigns playing an arrogant heel in the early goings before having to turn it on later in the match. This was incredibly similar to some of the matches that Lesnar has had in the past where Lesnar, the heavy favourite, would be put in just enough danger to perhaps make you think that he was going lose. Meanwhile, Michael Cole and Pat McAffe did a fantastic job in selling just how frustrated Reigns was getting, and how Cena had every right to pull out an upset.
But then… dominance personified. Reigns stacked a Hall of Famer (Edge) and future Hall of Famer (Daniel Bryan) to retain his championship at WrestleMania, and then at SummerSlam on Saturday Reigns added another HOF’er to his tally in Cena.
4: Edge’s post-retirement run continues to shine
The Orangeville, Ont. native put on what many considered the match of the night against Seth Rollins, picking up the victory in the process.
When Edge returned after a nine-year retirement last January, he noted that he had a long list of wrestlers that he had never worked with before, but had dreamed of getting in the ring with.
Rollins was one of those fantasy bookings as he is unquestionably one of the top professional wrestlers in the industry today and had long been compared to Edge. The storyline heading into the match leaned into that narrative, along with the fact that Rollins had previously threatened to reinjure Edge’s surgically repaired neck.
It was some simple but brilliant storytelling (sold very well by commentary) surrounding Edge’s neck and Rollins’ insentience in trying to attack his surgically repaired neck during the match. Edge fought it all off, all match, avoiding Rollins’ curb stomp multiple times.
The match started off slow but continued to build until reaching a fever pitch. Several false finishes, including a spear from Edge, helped sell the drama of the match. In the end, it wasn’t even a finishing move that ended the match, instead, it was Edge locking in an intense crossface/sleeper combo. This match was great. It was logical all the way through, with an incredibly satisfying finish.
Meanwhile, Edge’s entrance ahead of the match also made headlines, particularly with older fans. Edge paid homage to one of his earliest incarnations with WWE, when he was part of “The Brood.” Edge came out to his old theme music, complete with fire pyrotechnics. That aspect was one of the biggest hits of the night.
— WWE (@WWE) August 22, 2021
5: Goldberg should never be in a championship match ever again
WWE needs to stop providing 54-year-old Goldberg with main event-worthy matches. This was a bad, bad match and the person I feel worst for is Bobby Lashley who had been providing wrestling fans with some of the best of his career coming into SummerSlam.
This match had the feel of a big attraction, with the crowd recognizing the star power of Goldberg. However, there was no execution of a big match. Goldberg looked great, physically, but looked terrible as a wrestler. He was slow, sloppy, and overall awkward to watch.
Goldberg was painted as the babyface after Lashley and MVP disrespected his son, but was viewed as everything but when the bell rang. His offense was jeered by fans, while every move by Lashley was met with resounding applause. The most telling moment in regards to how much of a mistake it was to try and paint Goldberg as a babyface came post-match. After Lashley was awarded the victory due to Goldberg being unable to continue due to an injury, Goldberg’s son jumped on Lashley. The WWE Champion proceeded to choke out Goldberg’s son which, once again, was met with tremendous approval from the WWE Universe.
Bobby Lashley beat up a 50-plus-year-old man and then choked out his 15-year-old son and was viewed as a hero.
Never put Goldberg in this situation again. Ever. Please.