Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow & Brian Damage
Last Sunday at SummerSlam the two main events – Seth Rollins vs John Cena and Brock Lesnar vs the Undertaker – both featured screwy finishes. While there is arguably a plan for the occasional use of such a finish, the previous month’s event also featured a non finish finale. While this Sermon won’t necessarily be a call for only clean finishes, it will look at the over reliance on non clean finishes.
Craig: For me, SummerSlam was definitely spoiled by the endings of these matches. Both matches had been relatively solid, if not spectacular, but let down by the endings.
We’d predicted some tomfoolery for the Cena vs. Rollins natch but no one saw Jon Stewart interfering. Why would welcome? IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE!
Nor, does, the Undertaker vs Lesnar finish. Since when did a time keeper just ring the Bell? They’ve never done so before. The most notable time they didn’t take the lead from the referee was in Montreal at Survivor Series 1997.
That leads to the main thrust of things: if Triple H or even Ric Flair had interfered to stop Cena winning the World Title and equaling Flair’s record then, while we’re may not have liked it, there is sense to it. Same, I guess, if Kane cost Taker vs. Brock owing to their long history. It too would have made some sense.
Screwy finishes are bad enough, especially multiple ones on back to back events. So, us there an over reliance on them, is it just short-sighted lazy booking and, finally, are screwy finishes that make absolutely zero sense a step too far?
Jamie: I have nothing against the occasional screwy finish to a PPV main event. However, the double screwy finish from Summerslam was all just a bit Attitude Era for my taste. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Attitude Era, but the constant screwy finishes and interference laden matches did get old after a while. What I will say is that at least they used the Divas three team elimination match and Cesaro vs. Owens – both of which had clean finishes – as a buffer.
However, I don’t want to be too kind here. This was Summerslam, an event built up as if it were Wrestlemania. In fact the Brock/Taker match was promoted as “too big” for Wrestlemania. Would that finish have happened at ‘Mania? Also, Craig’s right. An overuse of screwy finishes is one thing, but when they don’t make sense it’s a slap in the face to the fans. Yes Jon Stewart probably did attract more mainstream media attention than, say, Ric Flair…. but who cares? Will that increase Raw’s viewership? Will that make more people sign up for the Network?
What does short term media attention actually achieve, that can not be obtained 10x over by compelling stories and interesting character developments? Just think, that could have been an actual wrestler interfering in the title for title match, thus catapulting them into a meaningful story with John Cena, Seth Rollins, Ric Flair and The Authority. Now that’s a screwy finish I would have welcomed.
Brian: If I may play devil’s advocate here for a second…the Jon Stewart stuff while it looked so sloppy…it did indeed attract national attention. As a matter of fact, a coworker who is not a wrestling fan in the slightest….talked about it on Monday and wanted to see the entire match to see exactly what Stewart did. If a total non wrestling fan like that was curious, just imagine what someone who was perhaps on the fence would do. So in that respect, I think it actually worked.
As for the Brock Lesnar/Undertaker finish…it was extremely clunky and seemed to ruin a surprisingly solid match. With that said though, would we have preferred an Undertaker tap out to end the match? Taker is obviously going heel in his last tour with the WWE and while not a fan of this particular outcome…to me…it makes sense for a heel character to win like that.
Craig: I get the mainstream exposure part and I’m sure your anecdote is similar to many water cooler chats across the world. May even have boosted Raw ratings for the night too.
As for Taker vs Brock point. I didn’t really see how the WWE could have got the booking right but I think they got it badly wrong. I know we’re talking about wrestling and it’s a different world to the real one, but my main issue is that it doesn’t make sense for the time keeper to make the call. If that’s the case, why do referees come down from the back when the one in ring is down, why doesn’t time keeper call it from ringside? Maybe I’m over analysing this…
Either way, surely Night of Champions can’t culminate with a screwy non-finish, right? And you’re telling me Seth Rollins vs. Sting will end clean?!
Jamie: I take Brian’s point, the mainstream media attention will have likely boosted interest in the short term. However – and this a genuine question I don’t have an answer to – is the involvement of celebrities better for business than allocating such high profile angles to wrestling personalities? More media attention in the short term, yeah. but long term does it make more money? That could be a whole other Sermon…
I’m totally in agreement with Craig about the other finish though. The time keeper was taking his cues from the referees all night without missing a beat, It just made no sense. I also don’t understand why that specific sequence was not the end of the match. Taker taps while Brock’s shoulders are down, but the ref counts the three without seeing Taker tap. That makes far more sense, Brock still looks strong and Taker still looks like a heel for claiming a cheap win.
If they go with Sting vs. Rollins then it reeks of an angle rather than a competitive match, but then what will headline Night of Champions if the WWE & US Champ is tied up with a 56 year old who surely has no right to challenge for either belt? The end of NOC might have a silly finish after all…
Brian: In all honesty, has Seth Rollins even had a non screwy finish yet since his title victory at Wrestlemania? There always seems to be an authority figure interference or some type of weird, controversial outcome.
As for Lesnar and Undertaker….believe me…I was no fan of that ending…I’m just trying to see things from another vantage point. In my view, the Undertaker came out looking inferior to Brock Lesnar. Perhaps that’s what the WWE wants since the dead man’s career is winding down…it just doesn’t make sense considering he was the WWE’s top dog for so many years.
Jamie: Good point about Rollins. I think he beat Dean Ambrose in a ladder match at Money in the Bank fairly, but that’s about it. It’s like he’s a villain from the Attitude Era, winning whichever way he can, only no other heels are doing the same. Screwy finishes in Championship matches used to be the norm, so were more accepted. These days it’s not the norm, so Rollins looks like a weak Champion as a result.
Come to think of it, is Rollins the only heel that routinely cheats to win? Sheamus and Owens would rather walk away, New Day rarely score a pinfall after utilising their third man, Bray Wyatt is the master of the no-finish, Rusev is pretty ballsy for a bad guy and every other heel I can think of usually loses, so it doesn’t matter how they win. Has the lack of screwy finishes screwed us out of more convincing heels?
Brian: I think it actually helps Seth maintain being a heel by winning his matches in such controversial fashion. You have to be real careful to make Seth like like a bad ass for fear that the fans will automatically gravitate to him as a pseudo baby face. Look at Brock Lesnar as the perfect example…
Jamie: Good point, Seth Rollins is a heel who actually attracts heat from the crowd; a not insignificant achievement these days. It makes me wonder, though, given WWE’s track record for repeating themselves and recycling ideas…. why don’t more heels behave like Rollins? It’s good for Rollins that he’s the only – for lack of a better term – dickhead on the roster, but surely some of the other bad guys would benefit from cheating and general screwyness too? When Cesaro was a heel he never picked up a cheap DQ win due to interference by a third party, he just lost clean.
Craig: The WWE are awful at protecting heels, just take Bray Wyatt as well. Are we leading into next week’s Sermon?!
You can read all previous Sunday Sermons here