10 Things We Learned From WWE SummerSlam 2016

Chris Jericho worked himself up into a shoot against Brock Lesnar, brother...

SummerSlam 2016 was just a scant two years ago, and reading over the match listing, it feels like it may well have happened two *hundred* years ago. I mean, Becky and Carmella as partners? Alexa and Natalya as partners? Ambrose vs. Ziggler in a babyface-oriented World title match? Apollo Crews (with all due respect to his talent) competing for singles gold? With the exception of Chris Jericho, Enzo Amore, and Big Cass, everybody else that wrestled on the main card is still with WWE in some capacity today, and yet there's so much that feels unfamiliar.

It's an unusual show, too. Just when it seemed as though the most bizarre occurrence was going to be the fans ignoring Prince Devitt vs. Tyler Black in favour of expressing displeasure toward a championship belt's design, the main event's ending managed to top that. Few will ever forget the quease-inducing image of Randy Orton's head haemorrhaging blood like a kiddie pool with a hole in the side, courtesy of Brock Lesnar's safer than a razor elbow strikes.

It may not be fair to call SummerSlam 2016 a bad show (Cena-Styles pulled the cart a fair distance), but it was definitely one of the strangest SummerSlams of all time. And not necessarily for the best.

10. But Who'll Get The Tables?


The Kickoff show featured an interesting mash-up of performers spanning several eras, all of whom were known for their high-profile indy work at different times. In said match, Sami Zayn and Neville defeated The Dudley Boyz in about eight minutes, in what mostly felt like a throwaway bout. But the match was actually much more historic than it seemed.

For starters, it marked what is potentially the final match for the Dudley Boyz inside a WWE ring, as the kayfabe half-brothers finished up as active wrestlers with the company the following night. As for D-Von, he worked what looks to be his final match in December 2016 for the New York-based House of Glory promotion, and in fact became a backstage producer with WWE one month following SummerSlam. Their 2018 Hall of Fame induction looks to be the capper for the careers of both D-Von and Bubba Ray as a tandem.

9. Bar'red From The PPV


If ever two opponents were suited for one another, it's Sheamus and Cesaro - two European maulers possessing punishing strength and a penchant toward back-alley brawls. WWE saw the value of sticking the future Bar-mates in singles competition against each other, and doing so long-term: their SummerSlam Kickoff match was the first in a best-of-seven series between the two ruffians.

But it wasn't supposed to be a Kickoff match at all - the match was intended for the pay-per-view audience. Due to some roster shuffling the week of SummerSlam, a few matches were changed around, and as a result of the new configuration, Sheamus and Cesaro were bumped to the pre-curtain jerking portion of the night. As for what the match was swapped out for, that will be cleared up in a forthcoming list entry.

8. Breaking Banks


The hotly-popular Sasha Banks had only reigned with the WWE Women's Championship for all of 27 days when she dropped the gold back to Charlotte at SummerSlam. Thus began an odd trend of Sasha taking the belt on an episode of Raw, with Charlotte regaining the title on the forthcoming pay-per-view, in order to keep her ongoing streak of pay-per-view victories alive.

According to The Wrestling Observer, the motivation to switch the belt back to Charlotte stemmed from Banks having a somewhat serious back injury, and the idea was to get her off the road for at least a brief stretch. Banks would only miss about two-and-a-half weeks after the title change and would regain the Women's Title in early October from Charlotte, before dropping it back to her at Hell in a Cell.

7. Intercontinental Title Matches? Awesome!


I should reiterate the fact that I have nothing but respect for the hard work, talent, and obvious drive of Apollo Crews, who continues to be one of the most underutilized performers on the main roster today. But it is weird to see, in 2018, that Crews was once in an Intercontinental Title match on a Big Four pay-per-view, given how little he's been pushed since then.

The match in which Crews was defeated by The Miz was notable for marking the third consecutive year that The Miz was in SummerSlam's Intercontinental Title match, and the only man to have pulled off three in a row at the event. It also marked Miz's fourth overall SummerSlam IC title match (after facing Rey Mysterio in 2012), making him the only man to wrestle for the belt at four SummerSlams total. Previously, he had been tied with Mr. Perfect and Dolph Ziggler at three each (and Ziggler will now re-tie Miz, as of Sunday).

6. The Chump Is Here?


Easily the best match of this SummerSlam was AJ Styles' victory over John Cena in the main card's fourth match. The 23-minute bout concluded with Styles earning a no-doubt-about-it victory over a WWE icon that would catapult him into the main event, while Cena sold that he was at a career crossroads, and contemplating making an uneasy decision.

The loss would mark Cena's sixth straight at SummerSlam, a cold streak that began with the 2011 show. In order, Cena went down to CM Punk, Punk again (via Big Show in a triple threat), Daniel Bryan, Brock Lesnar, and Seth Rollins, before the defeat to Styles. It was also Cena's eighth loss in the previous nine SummerSlams, as he jobbed to Batista and Randy Orton in 2008-09 before scoring the winning falls in 2010's 7-on-7 challenge with The Nexus.

5. The Total Divas Switcheroo


Nikki Bella would make her return to action at SummerSlam 2016, teaming with Alexa Bliss and Natalya to defeat Becky Lynch, Carmella, and Naomi in a match with some very strange partnerships. Nikki's surprise return necessitated moving the six-woman tag to the main card (bumping Sheamus/Cesaro), as WWE felt that reality star Nikki's comeback was a monumental moment.

Nikki stepped up in relief of Eva Marie, who had been suspended three days before the pay-per-view due to a wellness violation. The substance that caused the dirty test was Adderall, which Eva reportedly had a prescription for, but was did not submit the necessary paperwork to WWE in time. Eva Marie would officially begin her fade from the view of the wrestling world, and one year later, would officially part ways with the company.

4. Finn With A First


Yes, the Universal Title looks like a red velvet cake that somebody decided to bejewel. Yes, it would finish second in a beauty contest to a roadkill squirrel. But c'mon, you're given Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins in a 20-minute match, and all you can focus on is how hideous a belt looks? What gives, man?

While most tend to remember the match for the irritated crowd, as well as Balor's unfortunate shoulder injury sustained during the course of the action, it's also notable for the result. With the win, Balor became the first man in WWE history to capture some form of World title in their debut pay-per-view match. Sadly, Balor would have to wait close to ten months to have his second PPV bout, in the fatal-five-way at Extreme Rules 2017.

3. The Beast Of Summer


Just six weeks after roughing up Mark Hunt at UFC 200, Brock Lesnar headlined the 28th annual SummerSlam in a high-profile curiosity against Randy Orton. Lesnar's USADA drug fail was worked into some of the build-up trash talk, and it's safe to say that based on the ending, that the fans (and Orton, especially) got more than they were anticipating.

For Lesnar, the match marked the third straight year that he would close out SummerSlam, making him the second man to do so following The Rock, who headlined the 2000-02 events. By virtue of his Universal title defence at the 2017 event in a Fatal 4-Way, Lesnar became the first to main event four consecutive SummerSlams, and it's a safe bet that'll make it five against Roman Reigns on Sunday, hostile crowd and all.

2. Left In The Dark


When Brock Lesnar ended/conquered The Undertaker's streak at WrestleMania XXX, it's been said that referee Chad Patton wasn't smartened up to the finish, and was simply told to levy the three count when the time came. Veteran official Mike Chioda was the referee of record for Lesnar/Orton, and he found himself in a similar situation, except not quite.

Per the Observer, Chioda was not told the finish to Lesnar/Orton, but that was to be part of the aesthetic. When Lesnar split Orton's head open in terrifying fashion, the on-site medical personnel were dispatched to the ring, leaving Chioda to basically draw his own conclusion. The idea was for Chioda to be genuinely bewildered and stunned by the turn of events prior to stopping the match, adding a sense that Lesnar went too far with the mauling, a feeling that the general horror and confusion would help convey.

1. Come At Me, Maaaaaaan


Also not clued in to the situation was one Chris Jericho, who was just as aghast as many of his peers when he saw Orton's head turn into sink faucet at Lesnar's hands. Not realizing that the entire spectacle was part of the plan, Jericho queried Michael Hayes at the Gorilla position as to whether or not this was planned. Hayes hesitated to answer, as McMahon likes to keep the fiction of Lesnar's angles tightly-wrapped, and that only spurred Jericho's anger further.

Just as Lesnar came back through the curtain, he thought he overheard Jericho trashing him, which led to a confrontation. Jericho reportedly shoved Lesnar into the wall, and the two began a scrap, which McMahon and Triple H had to separate. For the sake of calming tensions, McMahon confirmed to Jericho that the blood spillage was preordained. And another note: what a set of balls on Jericho, no?

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Justin Henry

Written by Justin Henry

In addition to writing lists and commentaries for Cultaholic, Justin is also a features writer and interviewer for Fighting Spirit Magazine, and is co-author of the WWE-related book Titan Screwed: Lost Smiles, Stunners, and Screwjobs.