SummerSlam takeaways: Roman Reigns’ shock return a welcome twist

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Roman Reigns stands over The Fiend at SummerSlam 2020. (WWE)

When WWE told fans “You’ll Never See It Coming,” they may have actually been right.

The slogan for SummerSlam 2020 seemed to be a bit silly heading into the second-biggest pay-per-view of the year. The tagline was an ode to the finishing maneuvers of both Randy Orton (the RKO) and Drew McIntyre (the Claymore), both of which have devastating results, unbeknownst to their opponent until it has already happened. One could have also read the catchphrase as a wink and nod to the educated fans, who laugh along with the saying knowing WWE is suggesting they could never figure out what surprise they have in store.

However, the slogan was really quite fitting for how the evening progressed and finished. There weren’t a ton of expectations for a PPV in the new ThunderDome so perhaps we should have seen it coming after all, as WWE presented a solid show, complete with a promised, surprise ending.

Here’s what stood out from SummerSlam 2020.

Welcome back Roman Reigns

Let’s get this straight, wrestling fans: it’s a good thing Roman Reigns is back on WWE television. You may not like him, but you must admit the WWE roster has been looking somewhat thin over the past few months and an injection of talent is extremely necessary.

Reigns is a main-event-level talent who has been injected right into the main event of SmackDown. After The Fiend defeated Braun Strowman to win the Universal Championship, Reigns appeared out of nowhere (some would say you never saw it coming) to spear The Fiend and then lay waste to Strowman with a chair. Reigns made it very clear he coveted the Universal Championship, holding it up over his head as he stared down The Fiend and Strowman.

Reigns has been off television since the start of the pandemic in March when it was announced he would be taking time away due to a compromised immune system after battling cancer. There was no sign Reigns would return at SummerSlam, making his appearance quite stunning for wrestling fans.

An injection of Reigns into the main event brings an added wrinkle fans should have been asking for. It’s new, it’s different, it’s necessary – whether you like Reigns or not.

Randy Orton continues his roll

In a pre-SummerSlam media call, Randy Orton mentioned that he likes a slow, methodical match that evolves over time. He anticipated his WWE Championship match with Drew McIntyre would last close to 25 minutes, building at a methodical pace. He hit the nail square on the head in all facets with his match at SummerSlam.

McIntyre and Orton went just over 20 minutes in what was a hard-hitting, heavyweight bout, befitting the bloodied faces of both opponents at the end of the match. If fans enjoyed the ride (and they should have), they should be looking forward to a return match down the line. In a bit of irony, neither man was able to land his finishing move, which is in direct contrast to that “You’ll Never See It Coming” tagline. McIntyre was able to squeak out a win thanks to a backslide following a missed RKO by Orton.

McIntyre and Orton were, arguably, the match of the night on Sunday, and now it looks like they’ll be given another chance to give the fans a top-tier championship match.

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Randy Orton, left, and Drew McIntyre, right, at SummerSlam 2020. (WWE)

Dominik Mysterio surprises

The biggest question mark of the night belonged to what Dominik Mysterio was going to do in the ring. There wasn’t a lot of stock put into the what-could-be performance of Dominik, just based on the fact no one had seem him wrestle in a WWE ring before and the storyline surrounding why this match was taking place wasn’t hitting home with many fans.

The match, though, was booked brilliantly, and Dominik put forth a great showing against Seth Rollins with his father, Rey Mysterio Jr., ring side. There was plenty of distraction in and around the ring with kendo sticks, chairs, tables, handcuffs and more, to allow for whatever deficiencies Dominik had to be hidden.

Rey Mysterio Jr. is a future member of the Hall of Fame, so it should come as no surprise that his son, whom he trained, immediately looked like he belonged. Meanwhile, Dominik was paired with one of WWE’s brightest stars in the ring in Rollins, who most assuredly had a large part in how the outcome of this match played out.

The match was well booked from start to finish, propping young Dominik Mysterio up high enough to potentially push for more in the future.

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Dominik Mysterio and Seth Rollins at SummerSlam 2020. (WWE)

The Sasha Banks vs. Bayley feud may finally be approaching

After Bayley was called up to the main roster in August 2016, fans were begging for an extended storyline surrounding Bayley and Sasha Banks that would play off their five-star match in 2015 at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn.

It was teased, then shelved, and then teased again, but shelved again. And then it looked like it was coming, but nothing came to fruition… again. Now, after what seems like an eternity, we may finally see the long-term rivalry to satiate the appetite of fans.

Bayley was able to retain her SmackDown Women’s Championship after Banks caused a distraction that allowed Bayley to pick up the win. When there was an opportunity for Bayley to do the same for Banks in her match later on in the night, Bayley shied away, leading to a loss for Banks.

Simple yet oh-so-effective booking that has started a stone on a downward roll towards a breakup in friendship. The history is already there for Bayley and Banks to have a meaningful feud and now the puzzle pieces have been sorted to allow for a lengthy rivalry, culminating with an NXT-like match.

Cue the Michael Scott GIF.

The ThunderDome is the change wrestling fans needed

Finally, no longer do WWE fans have to endure multiple hours of pro wrestling inside the same small-looking gym week after week. No, now fans are graced with the ThunderDome.

The change of scenery was badly needed for WWE. With ratings slipping and fan interest dwindling, the ThunderDome offered something new and exciting, helping prop up what might have otherwise been a somewhat dreary SummerSlam card at times.

A view of the Summerslam ring inside the ThunderDome. (WWE)

The digital fans at ring side are still a work in progress (for instance, Pikachu made an appearance at on point, and was among several other non-fans to pop up on the digitized screens), but WWE undoubtedly assumed they would have to deal with those issues. WWE can now take stock of what has worked and what needs to be worked on following their first few nights inside the ThunderDome.

Winners adjust, and WWE has always been a winner. Now we see what sort of adjustments the sports entertainment behemoth makes moving forward, both with the arena and with their storylines.

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