“You should’ve aimed for the head.”
Before we get into it, a quick shout-out to the opening package where Terry Crews channels some of that double-sun power in order to wake up anybody watching at home who nodded off during the pre-show comedy stylings of Peter Rosenberg and JBL. Can Terry Crews introduce every PPV from now on please? Maybe even just replace all the commentary teams as well? Team him up with Andre Braugher for play-by-play, Stephanie Beatriz for the third chair, and then gradually have WWE’s main roster absorbed into Brooklyn Nine Nine?
Fittingly for the WWE’s continuing efforts to elevate SummerSlam to WrestleMania’s illustrious level, the main show opened by having Seth Rollins once again wrestle the best match on the card by far for the Intercontinental Title (or second-best if you’re me). Rollins and Dolph Ziggler can effectively wrestle this match in their sleep by this point, as is what happens when two ultra-talented guys wrestle each other 71 times in the span of 3 months – which is seemingly a requirement for every Dolph Ziggler feud; I even noticed this back in 2010 when he and Kofi Kingston spent the entire Summer scrapping over the United States Championship – but this time around they at least got to do it without having the crowd needlessly shitting all over 80% of the runtime. Initially, I felt that it was a little too slow with way too many rest-holds that work against Ziggler and Rollins’ respective strengths as entertainers, but by the end I recognised that this was that all-too-rare main roster match that was given precisely the amount of time it needed and therefore built gradually and naturally to its crescendo, so all is forgiven.
Extra bonus points should also be given to the integration of both Drew McIntyre and the returning Dean Ambrose at ringside. Contrary to pretty much every other instance in wrestling history of having two guys at ringside, they actually stayed out of the match for all but the finish, letting Dolph and Seth put on their wrestling clinic without unduly stealing the attention for themselves. Even better, though, is how they weren’t just set dressing designed to placate the audience; running their own parallel story about whether Ambrose, who has gotten properly-jacked and swoon-worthy post-injury, can keep his cool for long enough to avoid throwing hands and costing his buddy Rollins the match. Each stare-down with McIntyre just oozed tension and it worked as great seasoning for the in-ring stuff. Even the ending worked, inverting the “face gets distracted by his friend at ringside doing cool stuff” trope by having Rollins beat Ziggler to the draw on the superkick anyway before hitting the Curb Stomp for the win – although it makes Ziggler look like a total goober for not capitalising on the distraction, but a total goober is basically Ziggler’s default state of being so it’s all good.
I must confess, by the way, that I didn’t actually get Seth’s tights being a reference to Thanos’ infinity gauntlet until literally everybody on the Internet pointed it out after the fact, so I hereby rescind my Nerd Card privileges in shame. Also, savour this asterisk-free praise like water in a desert because it’s almost all varying degrees of downhill from here.