Welcome to Slammer Jabber, your weekly look at all things professional wrestling from the past seven days. It's been a very busy week indeed, with two TV shows, the build to Summerslam, the finals of the NJPW G-1 Climax, and much more. As with most weeks we'll start with the editions of Raw and Smackdown building to this Sunday's big Summerslam show.
With so much to cover this week, and the inevitability of some repetition in the Summerslam preview I will stick to the big points coming out of this week's Raw and Smackdown. Obviously the main focus in the main event was on the four-way for the Universal title with Brock Lesnar, Samoa Joe, Roman Reigns, and Braun Strowman having a face off. I enjoyed the build here, and it did plenty for all four guys, especially Braun Strowman. I'm really genuinely looking forward to this match, because there are so many unpredictable variables and it will be very interesting to see how it all shakes out. It should be a wild brawl, and I think a genuinely fantastic main event.
Sasha Banks has an excellent match with Nia Jax, probably the best the two have had. I enjoyed that this bout put Jax over as well as putting Sasha into the match with Alexa Bliss for the Women's championship on Sunday. It's a smart move with Bayley out of the picture, but hopefully they have found a new way round of getting to the Sasha heel turn and feud with Bayley coming out of Summerslam (or in the coming months).
The other big development on Raw, was in the Seth Rollins-Dean Ambrose-two thirds Shield reunion situation. Having Dean and Seth brawl like bickering brothers only to unite against Sheamus and Cesaro was a great development, and the audience pop for the fist bump was absolutely huge. This storyline has been huge for both guys and really has breathed new life into both, and I fully expect them to beat Sheamus and Cesaro for the belts on Sunday after watching this. A really well executed segment.
Elsewhere on Raw, we had the latest development in the Enzo/Big Cass/Big Show storyline, with Gallows & Anderson getting involved to help Cass break Show's hand (presumably removing the knockout punch form his arsenal), which was well done. I did briefly fear that they were going to put Big Show in the cage, but thankfully they opted to avoid what would have been a certain disaster. Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt had a brawl, and then a match with Wyatt pouring some sort of liquid over Balor, which was pure WCW circa 2000. I realise they needed to get to the justification for Balor bringing out the "demon" gimmick, but it seemed a little contrived. But still, at least they got there in the end. "The Drifter" Elias Samson squashing R-Truth was nice (as was his song), Mickie James vs Emma was just there, and Jason Jordan and The Hardys vs The Miz-tourage was very enjoyable for what it was, considering I can’t see any of these guys being on the card on Sunday.
Finally, Akira Tozawa got the surprise win over Neville in a fine match to win the Cruiserweight Championship. I was surprised to see this on Raw, rather than Summerslam, but it makes total sense given the cruiserweight title match will likely be on the pre-show. Although I could equally see them flip-flopping the title back to Neville on the pre-show if they are building to Tozawa turning on Titus O'Neill (I'm not sure they still are, but it was teased previously). Either way, it was a nice moment for Tozawa, who is very deserving of this. Even five or so years ago in Broxbourne watching him for Dragon Gate UK you could see he was somethings special so it's great to see how successful he's been in WWE.
A good go-home show, with plenty to mull over and lots to whet the appetite for Sunday.
Well, where else do you start on this week’s Smackdown then the huge happening in the main event. John Cena vs Jinder Mahal was a fine bout for a TV main event, and Cena looked really dominant ahead of his match with Baron Corbin. As such Corbin coming out and causing the DQ seemed like a fine way to build to their match on Sunday. But the cash-in from Corbin seemed to come almost out of nowhere, and I was absolutely stunned to see Mahal beat him (albeit with help from Cena). It's a real game changer for Sunday, because it genuinely makes me feel Shinsuke Nakamura could beat Mahal for the title. I still suspect they have a screwy finish or something, but it removed the possibility of a Corbin cash-in on a newly crowned Nakamura, which can only be a good thing. Whether this is just a device for Corbin to get heat into his match with Cena, and give them a personal issue, or whether the company have lost faith in Corbin remains to be seen. Interestingly Corbin is only the third person to cash-in and lose, following Damien Sandow and John Cena himself. A huge happening though, and a real change to the complexion of the Summerslam card. Speaking of Nakamura and Mahal, I felt their opening segment was well done, and although I'm not a huge fan of Nakamura being asked to do quite so much on the microphone, it was fine for what it was and did plenty to build the title match on Sunday.
The rest of show had lots of enjoyable stuff to catch. This week's "Season Finale" of Fashion Peaks was brilliant, and utterly bizarre. Natalya vs Becky Lynch was a good match, and with Naomi on commentary did a good job of building the dynamic of it being Naomi vs Natalya, who this match built as a credible threat, and Carmella coming out after the match to tease that she might cash-in at Summerslam. The segment with Shane McMahon, Kevin Owens and AJ Styles was well done and built the idea of Shane being willing to enforce the rules, but also get physical if needed all while still teasing his past issues with Styles as well as Owens being his usual brilliant self. Finally, we got two cracking matches, firstly between Rusev and Chad Gable which was more of a vehicle for Randy Orton to RKO Rusev, and a fun tag match between The Usos and two thirds of The New Day, which built further interest in their tag title match on Sunday which could be excellent.
A good show, dominated by the main event end of things, but did plenty to build the big matches for Summerslam.
In worrying news this week, Ric Flair was hospitalised, as part of what was initially thought to be a routine procedure. However, as more news came out it became clear that Flair was in a medically induced coma and things were looking very serious. We now know it was as part of some sort of treatment for an issue with his kidneys and he had been on dialysis prior to the procedure. The latest news appears to be that Flair is in a stable but serious condition. Obviously our thoughts are with the family at this time, and with Flair himself who we absolutely are pulling for to make a full recovery. Flair is arguably the greatest of all time in professional wrestling and we all hope to see him "styling and profiling" for many years to come. Obviously, if we hear more news I will update you all in the coming weeks.
Well, that was a hell of a tournament. The nearly-twenty nights of action had a roller-coaster ride of a story, with Kazuchika Okada starting off strong in the B block, only to be pipped by long-time rival Kenny Omega as the wars of recent months caught up with the IWGP Champion. Meanwhile in the B block there were upsets, the building of new stars, Yuji Nagata's last run in the G-1 and the rise and rise of Tetsuya Naito. The final with Omega vs Naito was a rematch of their classic from last year's tournament, and it did not disappoint. It’s a great match and definitely worth tracking down. I have to assume we get Naito vs Okada at the Tokyo Dome in January, but in the meantime EVIL, Minoru Suzuki and Omega have set themselves up as credible challengers to Okada. In addition Zack Sabre Jr and Juice Robinson both made a big impact and should be in line for Intercontinental and US title shots respectively coming out of this year's G-1. a great success all round, and there are now plenty of possible match-ups for the rest of the year lined up. The other big moment came when Katsuyori Shibata made a surprise appearance following his near life and career ending injury earlier this year. It was a huge surprise, and it was great to see him back and looking in good health. I can’t see him back in the ring any time soon, or possibly ever but this was a huge moment for the New Japan audience and if nothing else a chance to say a proper goodbye to one of the most hard-hitting and fun to watch performers in recent memory in NJPW.
The biggest party of the summer is almost upon us, as WWE hosts Summerslam from Brooklyn, New York. This card is absolutely stacked and there is plenty to talk about. However nothing is more high-profile than the main event, with Brock Lesnar defending his Universal Title against Samoa Joe, Roman Reigns, and Braun Strowman. Given the stipulation of Brock Lesnar leaving if he loses I can only see a Lesnar win, if I’m honest. I get that the stipulation was put in place to capitalise on the speculation about Lesnar returning to UFC, but I can see him winning and defending against one of the three contenders at the next show, most likely Braun Strowman I suspect, with Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns spinning off into a programme to resolve their existing issues. I would love for Joe to get the win here, but I can only see Lesnar retaining.
The other big title match on the card is Jinder Mahal defending his WWE Title against Shinsuke Nakamura. In some respects WWE have booked themselves into a corner with this match as they either have to have Jinder beat Nakamura, or have Nakamura tale the belt. I do see Mahal retaining, but only because they seem intent on continuing the Mahal push. If Nakamura wins, before this week I could definitely have seen Baron Corbin cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase and taking the belt. I’m glad I was wrong, as I don't feel Corbin is ready, and perhaps WWE have lost some of their faith in him. The Nakamura-Jinder match will probably not be a great bout, as Mahal is nowhere near Nakamura's level in the ring. Speaking of Corbin, he is slated to take on John Cena on this show, in what should actually be a fairly entertaining match, although mostly due to big match John. There is at least a genuine personal issue there now that Cena has cost Corbin his shot at cashing in his briefcase, so that should make I suspect Cena gets the win here, but Corbin should hopefully get something of a rub from being in there and looking credible against Cena.
The two women's championship matches should provide some good viewing. Sasha Banks vs Alexa Bliss should be a cracking match and you have to imagine Banks takes the belt. Equally on the blue side of things I think Natalya vs Naomi should be decent at least, if not excellent. Natalya on her day is fantastic, and Naomi as come on leaps and bounds in recent months so I have high hopes. You also have Carmella lurking with the briefcase, and I imagine as Corbin can no longer cash in on this show Carmella will do so. She has been great as of late, so I can definitely see them putting the belt on her coming out of this show.
AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens with Shane McMahon as the guest referee should be a fun midcard match. I don’t know how much time they'll get given the amount of matches on this card, but hopefully we'll see them have a good bout. I do suspect we'll be seeing Owens take the loss, either after getting hit by McMahon, or perceiving McMahon to have screwed him. This sets up the inevitable Shane vs Owens match down the line after an extended programme between the two, while Styles moves on to other feuds elsewhere for the US Title.
Bray Wyatt vs Finn Balor should make for some interesting visuals for the respective entrances, even if the in-ring doesn’t live up to the entrances. Wyatt really needs something to freshen him up, and Balor needs to get away from this feud quick smart, and with Wyatt getting the win on Monday I can only see Balor taking the win (and hopefully this feud ending).
Finally we have the two matches I am least invested in. Rusev vs Randy Orton seems like an excuse to give Orton a win over someone of note after losing to Jinder three times in a row on PPV (on top of losing to Wyatt the month prior), while Big Show vs Big Cass has no real interest for me, even with the "Enzo in a shark cage" stipulation. Unless Enzo is turning heel and realigning with Cass in some weird Russo-esque booking I am not really interested in anyone in the match. Let's say Cass wins.
Summerslam should have some great matches, especially at the top end of things and with the title matches. However, it is a seriously bloated line-up with some matches that really don't even need to be on a big show like this, and they are definitely risking burning out the live crowd by the main event. Hopefully we get some surprises, and big moments to keep everyone interested and provide a card worth talking about come Monday morning.
Well that is it from me for this week. I will be back at the same time next week with the fall out from Summerslam, all the news from Raw and Smackdown, hopefully an update on Ric Flair and whatever other stories break in the next week. In the meantime, keep it locked here at Screenjabber for all the best movie, Blu-ray, DVD and video game reviews, as well as all the latest news, podcasts and more. Until next time, so long folks.