The main event was an instant classic, closing out an otherwise uneven show on a high note.
SummerSlam 2017 features a staggering 13 matches, on a show went over four hours long with a two-hour pre-show. Thatâ€™s a lot of wrestling to sit through, and there were certainly some low moments, but the good stuff was really dang good.
The main event was a phenomenal slobber-knocker, easily the best match of the night and probably one of the best Fatal Four-Way matches WWE has ever done. Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, and Roman Reigns all brought their A-game and delivered something special.
The rest of the show was fairly uneven, with a couple of excellent tag team matches and a real stinker between Big Cass and Big Show. There were also a ton of title changes, some more questionable than others. But ultimately, there was more good than bad and the bad stuff didnâ€™t linger long enough to really drag down the show.
Hereâ€™s my match-by-match recap and reactions as the show went along.
Brock Lesner (c) def. Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, and Samoa Joe to retain WWE Universal Championship
The best match. THE BEST MATCH. This is exactly the orgy of violence we were all hoping for.
All four guys immediately started slugging it out, with Lesnar suplexing Joe right off the bat. He went at with Strowman, who clotheslined Lesnar out of the ring. Joe put Lesnar in a Coquina Clutch and Reigns speared both men through the barricade.
It was beautiful carnage on the outside as Strowman powerslammed Lesnar through a table. Joe dove onto Reigns and Strowman nailed both guys with an office chair. Strowman hit Lesnar with another powerslam through an announce table, and then flipped a third desk onto him.
Officials and medical personnel tended to Lesnar, who got stretchered away. Strowman, of course, wasnâ€™t finished. He grabbed some stairs and beat up Joe and Reigns with the stairs, dragging Roman into the ring. Reigns grabbed some steps of his own and nailed Strowman with them before Joe rolled him up for a two-count.
Joe and Reigns did battle in the ring as the match started to settle down from its chaotic beginning. Joe dodged a Superman Punch and got Reigns in the clutch before Strowman ran in and chokeslammed Reigns for two. With all three men down, Lesnar marched down the ramp and back to the ring, taking down Braun and doing some ground-and-pound action.
Lesnar took everybody to Suplex City and hooked a Kimura Lock on Strowman, which Reigns broke up with a Superman Punch. He speared Lesnar but it wasnâ€™t the finish, with Brock barely kicking out. Strowman powerslammed Joe and Reigns pulled the ref out of the ring to save the pin. Roman got powerslammed by Strowman, with Brock breaking up the pin.
Brock lifted up Braun for an F5, but Roman speared him and all three men were left laying. Brock hit the F5 on Joe and Reigns broke up his pin attempt. Roman hit multiple Superman Punches on Brock and set up the spear, but Brock got him up for the F5 to keep the title. Incredible main event that made up for a largely lackluster show.
Jinder Mahal (c) def. Shinsuke Nakamura by pinfall to retain WWE Championship
Well, that was a lame way to do Nakamura’s first loss on the main roster. Did you like the last 50 matches where Jinder got his ass kicked, the Singh brothers ran in, and Jinder won out of nowhere? Then youâ€™ll love this one.
After two suitably big entrances for both men, Nakamura got the early upper hand before Mahal took over and beat on him for a while. Nak fired back with a series of kicks and a smooth enzugiri. He also put Jinder on the top rope and hit a running knee to the gut, getting a two-count.
Jinder recovered and tried to get the advantage on Nak, but got sent straight into the post. Nak hit the exploder suplex and set up his Kinshasa before the Singh brothers interfered. Nak fought them off, Jinder hit his finisher out of nowhere, and weâ€™re still doing this thing.
AJ Styles (c) def. Kevin Owens by pinfall to retain WWE United States Championship
(Shane McMahon as special guest referee)
This is the first title match all night where the champion retained.
Styles and Owens have had several matches at this point, all of them with bizarre screwy finishes, so now Shane McMahon is making himself the referee. Iâ€™m sure nothing screwy will happen with him in charge!
Styles and Owens started brawling before the match begun, and went right back at it after Shane separated them enough to ring the bell. The two men went on to have a fairly even match, with Shane not doing much to get involved and calling it down the middle.
Owens took over and slowed the match down to his preferred pace. He argued with Shane about some nearfalls, but wasnâ€™t come close to finishing Styles, who started his comeback with some stiff forearms and a facebuster. He went for a moonsault but Owens superkicked him, only for AJ to hit the firemanâ€™s carry neckbreaker.
They went up top and Styles planted Owens with a sunset flip powerbomb. He went for the 450 splash but Shane was in the way and broke his landing. Owens hit the pop-up powerbomb, but Shane wasnâ€™t able to make the count in time and AJ kicked out. While he and Shane argued, Styles hooked a Calf Crusher. After Shane got knocked to the outside, Styles got the Calf Crusher again. Owens tapped out, but there was no ref.
After more nonsense with Shane, Styles and Owens started throwing haymakers. Owens went for the pop-up powerbomb, but AJ reversed into a Styles Clash, which Owens kicked out of. Owens hit the powerbomb for real this time, but Styles got his foot on the rope so Shane waved off the pin. Owens thew another tantrum, giving Styles time to recover and hit the Phenomenal Forearm. Another Styles Clash gave AJ the three-count.
Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins def. Sheamus & Cesaro (c) by pinfall to win RAW Tag Team Championship
The former Shield mates hold gold once again. Ambrose also completes the WWE Grand Slam, having won the WWE Championship, Intercontinental Championship, United States Championship, and now the tag team titles.
Over three years after The Shield broke up, Ambrose and Rollins have united once again to go after the tag team titles. The match started off on an energetic note, with both teams making quick tags and snapping off smooth offensive moves. Rollins and Ambrose cleared the ring early to a good crowd response.
Sheamus took out Amborse with a Brogue Kick on the outside, and then helped Cesaro catch Rollins on a dive, slamming him onto the floor. Back in the ring, Cesaro dominated Rollins, who made a comeback but didnâ€™t have Ambrose available to tag.
Cesaro had probably the best moment of the night when he went into the crowd and tore up a beach ball.
#SwissCyborg @WWECesaro is not amused, @WWEUniverse… #SummerSlam pic.twitter.com/MjOYs4wjtU
â€” WWE (@WWE) August 21, 2017
Back to the match, Rollins was still getting worked over by Sheamus and Cesaro, but Ambrose hit a dive off the top rope to take out both guys. Rollins fought off Cesaro in the ring and finally got the hot tag to Ambrose. Dean cleaned house as the match broke down. Cesaro and Ambrose went at it inside the ring some more, before Sheamus tagged back in. He went up top but Rollins and Ambrose superplexed him, then Rollins hit a frog splash for a pin that Cesaro broke up.
Ambrose and Rollins went for a double powerbomb, but Cesaro broke it up again and Sheamus nearly got Ambrose with a rollup. Cesaro got Ambrose in the Giant Swing and Sharpshooter. Ambrose almost reached the ropes, but Cesaro rolled over and put in him a crossface, which Ambrose escaped by a rollup attempt. Sheamus and Cesaro did a double Razorâ€™s Edge on Ambrose, and Rollisn broke the pin attempt.
That was all just a prelude for the best finish of the night. Cesaro and Sheamus were having their way with Ambrose, but Rollins flew out nowhere with a top-rope Frankensteiner, then ran wild with superkicks on both of his opponents. In the chaos, Ambrose hit Cesaro with Dirty Deeds and won the tag titles.
Finn Balor def. Bray Wyatt by pinfall
Balor came out in the Demon face paint, the first time heâ€™s donned the look since … well, last yearâ€™s SummerSlam. He also won his second straight SummerSlam match, and letâ€™s hope he didnâ€™t suffer a major shoulder injury this time.
Itâ€™s still a really cool entrance, in case you’ve forgotten.
#TheDemon. Is. BACK! #SummerSlam @FinnBalor pic.twitter.com/VKN4wQLzi1
â€” WWE (@WWE) August 21, 2017
Wyatt started the match with a lot of stalling and powdering to the outside, before Balor took him out with a huge dive over the ropes. Wyatt recovered and took over the match, wearing down Balor with various holds and strikes. He went for Sister Abigail, which Balor countered into a low dropkick in the chest.
Balor drove Wyatt outside and nailed a double stomp on the back of the head. He got Wyatt back in the ring and escaped Sister Abigail again, reversing into a slingblade. Wyatt cut off his comeback and nailed an urunage for two. He got another nearfall with a running senton. Wyatt went on the floor once again and Balor drove him into the barricade with a dropkick.
A massive clothesline from Wyatt got two, and he tried his crab walk, only for Balor to hit a slingblade and dropkick into the corner. He went up top and hit Coup de Grace for the victory.
Sasha Banks def. Alexa Bliss (c) by submission to win RAW Womenâ€™s Championship
Bayley was originally going to be in this match, but a shoulder injury forced her out of action. Banks got the spot by winning a No. 1 contenderâ€™s match over Nia Jax, and went on to win her fourth Womenâ€™s Championship.
The two women exchanged some stiff-as-hell strikes to start off. Alexa took control and ragdolled Sasha around the ring for a while. Bliss hit the double-knee stomp/moonsault combo for a two-count.
She landed some more nearfalls that Sasha kept kicking out of. Sasha got very little offense up to this point, but she finally started getting an upper hand on Alexa. A pair of clotheslines and a dropkick got two, and Sasha drilled Alexa with a slingshot into the turnbuckles.
Alexa tried hitting her DDT finisher, but Sasha countered into the Bank Statement, which Alexa broke by rolling into the ropes. They went outside and Alexa threw Sasha shoulder-first into the post. Sasha was nearly counted out and just barely rolled back into the ring before Alexa worked her over some more. She went up top and hit Twisted Bliss, which Sasha somehow kicked out of. Alexa tried the DDT again, but Sasha got her back in the Bank Statement, forcing Bliss to tap out.
Randy Orton def. Rusev by pinfall
Orton made his entrance first, but Rusev jumped him before the bell and beat him down. After several minutes, Orton got to his feet and the ref rang the bell. Orton immediately hit the RKO and pinned Rusev in seconds.
This really hasnâ€™t been Rusevâ€™s year.
Big Cass def. Big Show by pinfall
Enzo Amore was lifted up above the ring in a shark cage, to presumably prevent him from interfering.
Big Show worked the match with his right hand in a cast following an attack from Cass last week. Show couldn’t use the hand much, but he still had a good left hand and use it to lay some mean chops on Cass. Show hit the KO punch with his injured hand, but it wasnâ€™t enough for the three-count.
Enzo spent the entire match screaming nonsensical things from the cage.
Cass kept working over the bad hand, with only intermittent comebacks from Show. At this point Enzo tried slipping through the cage, and escaped after putting oil on himself. These are real words Iâ€™m typing. He dropped into the ring and Cass immediately booted him in the face. Two big boots and the Empire Elbow later, and Cass had Show down for the count.
Natalya def. Naomi (c) by submission to win SmackDown Womenâ€™s Championship
Natalya wasted no time, attacking Naomi right at the bell. Naomi recovered and hit a sunset flip from the stairs to the floor. Nattie caught Naomiâ€™s leg on the top rope and wiped her out with a slingshot to the post.
The women got back in the ring and Nattie had a handful of nearfall attempts. Naomi made her comeback with some stiff kicks, but Natalya hit a rolling clothesline for two. Naomi fired back with more forearms and a spinning heel kick, getting a two-count in the process. She put Nattie in the ropes and hit a sick springboard leg drop. Naomi tried a submission move, but Nattie turned it into the Sharpshooter, which Naomi escaped by forcing her opponentâ€™s head into the buckles.
Naomi went for the split-legged moonsault, but Nattie got the knees up and locked in the Sharpshooter again, this time getting the tapout victory and third title change of the night.
John Cena def. Baron Corbin by pinfall
Cena gets his first SummerSlam win since 2010, finally ending a peculiar footnote of his storied career.
Corbin is still smarting after losing his Money in the Bank briefcase on last weekâ€™s SmackDown Live episode. He cashed in his title shot against Jinder Mahal, only to get distracted by Cena on the apron and pinned in seconds.
The crowd didnâ€™t let him forget, chanting â€œwhereâ€™s your briefcase?â€� at the start of the match. Corbin put the hurt on Cena and dominated him for pretty much the entire middle section, pausing to play to the crowd. Cenaâ€™s comeback was aborted by Corbin, who chokeslammed him into a backbreaker in a nasty-looking spot.
Chokeslam + Backbreaker = More pain than you can imagine… #SummerSlam @BaronCorbinWWE @JohnCena pic.twitter.com/ZOu9ieTQYs
â€” WWE (@WWE) August 20, 2017
Corbin put Cena on the turnbuckle, but Cena took him down with a tornado DDT and hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle. He went for the Attitude Adjustment, which Corbin reversed into Deep Six for a nearfall. Cena eventually hit the AA for the clean win as Corbinâ€™s momentum continues swinging downward.
Pre-show match: The Usos def. The New Day (c) by pinfall to win SmackDown Tag Team Championship
An early contender for match of the night didnâ€™t even happen on the main show, but it was a hell of a battle, and probably the best of the New Day/Usos program. Itâ€™s also the second title to change hands on the pre-show, which might be a portend of things to come.
Xavier Woods and Big E represented the New Day in this match, with Kofi Kingston at ringside. Woods got the upper hand on Jimmy Uso before Jey used a distraction and helped his brother take over.
Jimmy slowed the match to a crawl, working over Woods with headlocks. Jey tagged in and set up Woods on the top, but Woods got a slight opening by shoving him off. He nearly got the tag to Big E, but Jimmy pulled him off the apron and the twins continued dominating. Woods finally got a comeback going and made the hot tag to Big E, who ran in a house afire.
Big E suplexed both Usos and got a two-count on Jey. Woods tagged back in and Big E powerbombed him onto Jey. Then Woods got Big E on his shoulders, slamming him on Jey for a close two-count. Jimmy blind-tagged in and they double-teamed Big E with a spinebuster for another nearfall. Woods tagged back in and a stereo backstabber got two. The match turned into glorious chaos and Big E went for his massive spear through the ropes, but the Usos cut him off and got a two-count off a top-rope splash.
More counters and nearfalls followed. The New Day nearly had it won with the Midnight Hour tandem finisher, but one Uso dragged Big E off his brother to save it. The match spilled to the outside and Big E hit his spear off the apron. He went for the Big Ending, but the Usos took him out with multiple superkicks. A double splash got the win and the Usos are tag champions once again.
Pre-show match: Neville def. Akira Tozawa (c) by pinfall to win WWE Cruserweight Championship
Neville got his rematch clause after shockingly losing the title to Tozawa on the go-home episode of RAW last week. The self-proclaimed King of the Cruserweights lost his mind since dropping the title, and is desperate to get it back.
The two men went back-and-forth for most of the match, with Neville getting increasingly unhinged and working Tozawaâ€™s shoulder. Tozawa wiped out Neville with a huge dive and later got him in an octupus lock. Neville escaped and walked into a Shining Wizard, which he barely kicked out of. Both men exchanged kicks and Tozawa hit a hurricanrana for two. Neville set up his superplex off the top, Tozawa pushed him off and went for the senton but Neville got his knees up. Neville then climbed up and hit the Red Arrow to win his title back.
Pre-show match: The Miz, Curtis Axel, & Bo Dallas def. Hardy Boyz & Jason Jordan
The Intercontinental Championship wonâ€™t be defended at this yearâ€™s SummerSlam, but itâ€™s great to see The Miz and Hardy Boyz wrestling the first pre-show match in front of a half-empty building. Heâ€™s working alongside his Miztourage, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel.
Also Kurt Angleâ€™s son, Jason Jordan, is here. Thatâ€™s still a thing, by the way.
The Hardys get their stuff in and tag in Jordan, who does some of his mat-based offense. Miz and his partners eventually take over the match. Matt makes his comeback and Jordan gets to run wild for a bit, throwing Axel around the ring. The match breaks down, Miz makes a blind tag and pins Jordan with Skull Crushing Finale, getting the win for his team.