‘Comeback’ was the key word at WWE Summerslam on Saturday night as over 50,000 fans at Allegiant Stadium in Nevada witnessed the returns of Brock Lesnar and Becky Lynch. With CM Punk’s AEW debut on Friday setting wrestling fans’ pulses racing, it makes sense that WWE would counter with box office talent, and this game of inter-promotional one-upmanship will make for fascinating viewing in the next few weeks.
‘The Man’ made her return from a 16-month lay-off by winning the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship from Bianca Belair. The champion was originally scheduled to face Sasha Banks, who withdrew before the event reportedly due to a positive COVID test. It was announced that ‘The EST of WWE’ would face Carmella for the title, but her entrance was interrupted by the returning ‘Irish Lass Kicker’. As the 50,000-strong throng sang Lynch’s theme tune, she forcibly removed Carmella from the ring and challenged Belair to an impromptu title collision. The champion sportingly agreed, but sportsmanship was far from the challenger’s mind as she assaulted Bianca during a pre-match handshake and quickly pinned her. This shockingly abrupt end to Belair’s excellent reign suggests we will be getting a high-profile rematch between the pair in the near future.
While Lynch’s return had been expected, with the new SmackDown Women’s Champion having taken time out due to the birth of her child, Brock Lesnar’s comeback was more surprising. Lesnar had not been seen in the company since April 2020, and his deal had expired last August. A return to the UFC was mooted, as were other wrestling options. The longer the former UFC champion was absent, the more it seemed he was growing accustomed to life outside WWE.
At the conclusion of a classic confrontation between Roman Reigns and John Cena, in which Reigns retained the WWE Universal Championship, a familiar tune blasted from the speakers. The unmistakable introduction to Brock Lesnar’s music brought the Las Vegas crowd to a frenzy, as ‘The Beast Incarnate’ sauntered to ringside sporting a new-look ponytail. Lesnar faced off with Reigns, who was flanked by his special counsel Paul Heyman, former manager of the returning star. The champion blinked first, choosing to leave the ring rather than get physical with one of the most fearsome men ever to step between the ropes. At this point the broadcast went off the air, but the live crowd were treated to a timely reminder of what Lesnar is all about. The returnee drilled John Cena with a pair of suplexes and his F5 finishing move, harking back to the historic feud between the pair.
With Cena expected to return to Hollywood now that his vaunted ‘Summer Of Cena’ tour is up, and with AEW breathing down their necks, it was vital WWE got some name value through the door. In Lynch and Lesnar, they have brought back two bona fide main event talents with name value that stretches beyond the often-insular world of professional wrestling. While SummerSlam is often an event where scores are settled, the company has given themselves several threads of intrigue for fans to follow into their Autumn schedule.
In other major action from the show: Edge revived his ‘90s ‘Brood’ persona to defeat Seth Rollins in a superb bout. The ‘RK-Bro’ combo of Randy Orton and Riddle toppled AJ Styles and Omos for the Raw Tag Team Championship in a fun opener before Lashley downed Goldberg by stoppage to retain the WWE Championship. Damian Priest captured the United States Championship from Sheamus in a bruising big-man clash, and Charlotte Flair dropped Nikki A.S.H and Rhea Ripley for the Raw Women’s Championship.