Thanks to WWE 2k16, Sport360’s Barny Read travelled to New York City for WWE SummerSlam. Here is what he gleaned from attending the WWE’s flagship summer event.
NEW YORK CITY — Highly controversial, equally entertaining and surprising, it’s been a somewhat normal week for the WWE.
SummerSlam rolled into Brooklyn’s Barclays Centre with the promise of some mouth-watering matchups and fans left the arena aghast, angry and delighted.
A go-home Raw and Smackdown followed, which added further fuel to the fire and made sense of some of the things witnessed at this week’s pay-per-view.
1) WWE UNIVERSE ALWAYS HARD TO PLEASE
As SummerSlam came to a close and intentional replays of the Undertaker tapping out before going on to beat Brock Lesnar played out in the Barclays Centre, fans were fuming.
Boos rang out around the stadium and the general feeling in the crowd was one of disappointment and a sense of being cheated out of a clean win in the Main Event.
Having witnessed the theatre of The Undertaker vs Lesnar and the intensity of the pair’s work in the ring, it was a harsh reaction from the WWE crowd but one that was perfectly orchestrated.
Infuriating the fans and sustaining momentum around a rivalry is par for the course and knowing the superb work of Paul Heyman (as witnessed on Raw this week where he blended storyline with reality in typically brilliant fashion) was yet to come, the WWE nailed it.
2) A HEEL TURN ALWAYS WORKS
While TLC was left infuriated by the conclusion of Seth Rollins vs John Cena and comedian John Stewart’s unfunny turn to help the former unite his World Heavyweight title with Cena’s US gold, the rest of the WWE Universe was delighted by events.
It is safe to say that everyone loves a turn, even more so one from a celebrity cameo (look no further than this list).
Stewart’s intervention was perceived by many in the stadium as a fair one, considering he is a genuine fan and the explanation on Raw that it was to honour Ric Flair’s record did enough to justify his actions in the eyes of many.
What left a sour taste was that it defined an otherwise enthralling encounter between the two wrestlers.
3) EVERYONE LOVES A COMEBACK
“D-Von, get the tables!”
That crowd-igniting phrase from the WWE’s Attitude Era is returning to the ring for the company’s most successful run since those heady days of Stone Cold, The Rock and Mick Foley.
This week saw The Dudley Boyz back in the WWE, Bubba Ray and D-Von putting tag team champs The New Day on the back foot as they look to reassert themselves as the division’s top team following their win at SummerSlam.
While the Dudleyz may be ageing, the reaction of the crowd and the superb mic and ring work from New Day will make this an intriguing rivalry.
4) DIVAS NEED DIRECTION
We have long stated in this column that the Divas division is in rude health right now.
This is still the case but the numerous team battles and tag matches have slowed momentum and started to dull the competition.
If there was a Divas tag-team belt to vie for then at least these matches would have a sense of worth and that there was something to fight for.
As it is, we must still wait for Brie Bella’s history-making run to finally fulfil its prophecy before we see the likes of Charlotte, Alicia Fox and Becky Lynch add true credence to the division.
5) BIG SHOW: AN ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
Another week, another babyface turn for The Show.
It really has become a tired affair as the WWE desperately tries to find a way to shoehorn Big Show into meaningful storylines.
We argued some time ago that Show needed to be sidelined to allow an increasingly competitive roster to blossom but the WWE remains set on trying to keep the giant in the spotlight.
The latest casualty is the burgeoning (and crowd pleasing) rivalry between Rusev and Dolph Ziggler, which ended in ignominy with the double count out at SummerSlam.
This past week, Arrow star Stephen Amell threw himself into a match at this month’s SummerSlam as his ongoing feud with Stardust spilled out from social media and into the ring. Amell will now side with Neville against Cody Rhodes’ confused character and King Barrett in tag-team action.
— Stephen Amell (@amellywood) August 11, 2015
It is not the first or last time that a celebrity has crossed over and become involved with the WWE and is hardly surprising given the nature of sports entertainment’s most successful company.
From the very first WrestleMania to 2015’s SummerSlam, TLC looks at five of the most famous celebrity interventions in WWE history.
MUHAMMAD ALI & MR. T (WrestleMania I, 1985)
Back in 1985, and less than a year after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, former world heavyweight champion Ali would guest referee the match between Hulk Hogan and Mr. T, and Rowdy Roddy Piper and Paul Orndoff.
Ali and Mr. T had a real hatred for Piper and this spilled over into a boxing match between Hot Rod and the A-Team star at the same PPV one year later.
During the match, Ali caught Piper with a right hand as tempers flared, something that Piper would go on to explain was a very real conflict. Ali’s appearance set the trend for a number of boxers to jump on the WWE bandwagon in the years to come. LAWRENCE TAYLOR (WrestleMania XI, 1995)
One of the most controversial NFL players of all-time, Taylor took on Bam Bam Bigelow in the main event at WrestleMania XI.
Taylor, who openly admitted to taking recreational drugs during his playing days and was suspended from the sport on a number of occasions, actually went on to win the match.
A hugely divisive figure in the States, Taylor’s appearance at WrestleMania is one of the most successful turns by a celeb. MIKE TYSON – (WrestleMania XIV, 1998)
One such boxer to follow Ali down the path to WWE celebrity was Mike Tyson, who would later be put into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012 as recognition of his contribution over the years.
Installed into a storyline revolving around D-Generation X and Stone Cold Steve Austin, Tyson stole the show at WrestleMania XIV as he turned from face to help Austin beat Shawn Michaels to lift the WWE Championship.
After the match, Tyson ‘knocked out’ Michaels in a truly iconic WrestleMania moment for the ages. FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR (WrestleMania XXIV, 2008)
Another iconic boxer to take on the WrestleMania locker room was pound-for-pound king of the ring, Floyd Mayweather Jr.
In a long running feud between Mayweather and the Big Show, the two faced off at the WWE’s showpiece PPV in a No Disqualifications bout back in 2008.
Mayweather took some big spots in the matchup and served up a treat of in-ring entertainment. The boxer went on to secure the win with a big right hand that put The Show on his backside in probably the best match on this list. SNOOKI (WrestleMania XXVI, 2011)
There had to be one horror show on this list and this one is a definite blight. Jersey Shore ‘star’ Nicole “Snooki” Polazzi took part in a mixed six-person tag-team match alongside Trish Stratus and John Morrison, against Dolph Ziggler and LayCool.
Completely out of her depth in the ring and a relatively irrelevant ‘celebrity’, the whole thing was painful to watch.
WWE LIVE will return to Saudi Arabia with three events at King Abdullah Sports City Sports Hall in Jeddah on Thursday 8 October, Friday 9 October and Saturday 10 October marking the first time WWE LIVE has been to Jeddah.
Tickets went on sale Monday and are available through www.ticketmaster.ae or by calling International +971 4 3662289.
Fans attending WWE LIVE will be able to see their favourite Superstars, including WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins, John Cena, Chris Jericho, Dean Ambrose, Ryback, Big Show, The Miz and WWE Tag Team Lucha Dragons.
“After successful shows in Abu Dhabi earlier this year, we are excited to return to the Middle East and underscore our commitment to the region,” said Gerrit Meier, WWE Executive Vice President, and International.
“Fans can expect WWE LIVE to deliver the same non-stop action and family fun that they know and love from our programming on MBC, OSN and OSN WWE Network.”
The events represent the second collaboration between WWE and FLASH Entertainment, headquartered in Abu Dhabi. Alongside their local Saudi partners, TIME Events, FLASH Entertainment has worked with WWE to bring WWE LIVE to the Middle East.
“We are delighted to be working alongside WWE and Time Events again,” said John Lickrish, CEO, FLASH Entertainment. “Last year’s event proved to be enormously successful and this year we intend to raise the bar even higher for the people of Saudi Arabia to enjoy an unforgettable show.”