Over the past year and a half, the WWE continued to entertain fans both watching on television and virtually. In April 2021, the company held Wrestlemania spanning two nights at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. The crowd topped 25,000 each night. But after those two shows, they returned to virtual events. In my mind, those virtual shows were not the best – they missed the live energy of a crowd – the screaming, the cheering, the yelling and the chanting. They returned to full time live events on July 16 in Texas. The company’s second biggest event of the year, Summerslam, was held in front of almost 50,000 people at Allegiant Stadium, in Vegas. Fans witnessed thrilling action and some major surprises. The first match, was for the Raw tag team titles.

AJ Styles and Omos were challenged by Randy Orton and Matt Riddle – RK-Bro. Fans were into everything the challengers did. Omos demonstrated his strength multiple times during the match. One example occurred when he and Riddle were on the outside of the ring and Omos intercepted his opponent just as he was positioning himself to perform a move. Riddle was chokeslammed onto the ring apron, which left the crowd in awe.

The end of the match was contested between AJ and Randy in the ring. Styles tried to end the match by hitting the Phenomenal Forearm, but Orton ducked and quickly finished the match with the RKO. The crowd erupted as the referee’s hand hit the mat for the third time, making Orton and Riddle the new Raw Tag champs. What an exciting and crowd-pleasing way to commence the event.

Fans witnessed some changes to the Smackdown Women’s title match. Originally, the champion, Bianca Belair, was scheduled to wrestle Sasha Banks. But the challenger no-showed. She had not been on WWE television since the August 13th Smackdown. I am sure the WWE knows why, but will not say. The replacement was Carmella – or so it seemed. Fans expressed their disappointment. Then, familiar music played and the crowd went wild with the return of Becky Lynch, who hadn’t been on television since leaving because of her pregnancy.

Becky dumped Carmella outside of ring and rammed her into the steps. She re-entered the ring and had a staredown with Bianca. The crowd went crazy for that. Becky asked for the microphone and challenged the champion on the spot. Belair agreed. Within seconds, the match was over after the challenger used a pumphandle slam to pin Bianca. I expected the match to be much more competitive. The fans at the event were stunned – not that there was a new champion, but because of the length of the match. I am sure there will be a rematch between the two. I also believe Sasha will get her one-on-one match with Bianca, as well as with the new champion at some point. But I empathize with the former champion, because all her hard work that went into winning the title and retaining it over the past few months, went up in smoke within thirty seconds.

One of the other top matches of the night pitted Seth Rollins against Edge. Edge’s entrance showed creativity and paid homage to the days when he was a member of the Brood (Edge, Christian and Gangrel). Flames surrounded him as he rose from underneath the entrance ramp. The music switched from the former Brood theme to his current theme – it was all a truly spectacular visual. When the match began, the action was continuous and fast paced. Fans chanted “this is awesomeâ€� during the match, which had to make both wrestlers feel great. After about thirty minutes, the contest came to a close when Edge applied a new move called the “crossface sleeperâ€� to submit Rollins. Fans were thrilled with the result. I am unsure what is next for both these men, – maybe one or both will vie for the Universal title in the future. Speaking of which….

John Cena challenged Roman Reigns for the Universal title in the night’s main event. Fans began chanting and screaming when both men came face-to-face with each other. Cena almost won the title on two separate occasions. The first was when he applied the STF submission, but the champion crawled to the ropes to break it up. The second occurred when he performed his Attitude Adjustment finisher from the second rope. Roman barely kicked out before three. The end came once Reigns delivered an aggressive Spear to keep Cena down for the three count and retained the Universal title. It was an amazing match that had many close calls. Roman winning was the right call, as Cena is returning to movie making, and will not be with the company full time. So, Summerslam ended with Roman celebrating his victory and the fans booing. Except, the company had one more moment to shock everyone.

The music of Brock Lesnar blasted inside Allegiant Stadium and the crowd lost their minds. Brock looked muscular, had a ponytail and donned a pleasant smile. It appeared to be a transformation. He entered the ring and the champion expressed shock. Brock’s former manager, and current on-screen Reigns supporter, Paul Heyman was stunned to see his former charge return. The two wrestlers had a lengthy staredown before Roman and Paul left the ring. The event concluded with the crowd cheering. I am sure it will lead to a match between the two in the near future.

Aside from the matches I mentioned, Damian Priest emerged as the new United States Champion by upending Sheamus, Charlotte Flair won the Raw Women’s title by defeating Rhea Ripley and the then-champion, Nikki Cross and Bobby Lashley retained the WWE title via referee stoppage against Bill Goldberg.

I believe this year’s Summerslam turned out to be one of the best WWE shows of the year. Fans were loud, boisterous, and into every match. The event felt more like a WrestleMania, and the WWE pulled off a couple surprises for the fans in attendance and those watching at home. While the company should be proud of creating a great show, the fans need to be recognized for their involvement. What we have learned over the past year and a half is that fans add soooo much more to pro sports.

We see the difference they make not only to the event that is occurring, but their presence and support speaks volumes for the athletes. They encourage the participants to dig deep inside and bring out strength they perhaps did not know they possessed. In order for fans to continue going to events and bring that extra energy to their favourite team or player, it is important they adhere to the rules set out by each sports organization, and the many arenas and stadiums, so that everyone remains safe and healthy.

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