SummerSlam 2016, A Year Later.

SummerSlam is one of WWE’s ‘Big 4’ pay per views of the year, it’s where the best matches and feuds from after Wrestlemania are saved to be showcased. Usually in […]

SummerSlam is one of WWE’s ‘Big 4’ pay per views of the year, it’s where the best matches and feuds from after Wrestlemania are saved to be showcased. Usually in front of a sold out crowd, there have been some memorable moments over the years, but it doesn’t always guarantee success. It’s strange to think, but some of the superstars competing on the SummerSlam card for this year, might not even be with the company this time next year.
Where did the stars of last years event end up? Who continued their reign on top? Who dropped down the WWE ladder?

So let’s take a look at some of the more notable matches, and where exactly those superstars are on the current WWE ladder one year on.

SummerSlam 2016: Sami Zayn & Neville v Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley (Tag Team Match)

Now: This one was just a normal tag team bout, I can’t quite recall why this match took place, or the significance of the feud to deem it worthy of an appearance on a SummerSlam card either. A year on and Bubba Ray Dudley has since left WWE (I actually saw him live at WCPW in Newcastle a mere 2 months later) and his on screen half brother D-Von has retired from the camo trousers and instead dons a suit as he now works as a backstage agent.
Sami Zayn continues to just sort of, be there on the main roster, having not really progressed much since this event, which is unfortunate, as Zayn was always tipped for big things, but has seemingly been stuck in the same position for over a year.

Neville is now the ‘King of The Cruiserweights’, having been repackaged, returning as a heel with a new attitude. There’s no denying he’s been putting on some of the best work of his WWE career since the birth of the newly vamped Cruiserweight Division, of which he’s been champion the majority of. Despite losing the title on RAW, he has a rematch set for the kickoff show.

SummerSlam 2016: Finn Bálor v Seth Rollins (Universal Title Match)

Now: Being a big fan of both guys, this match was a dream for me, especially with the added excitement of crowning the first ever WWE Universal Champion. It was Bálor who emerged victorious, but a shoulder injury during this match would rule him out of action for over 8 months, while the next night on Raw it was Kevin Owens that would take the vacated title, leaving Rollins out in the cold.

A year on it’s hard to judge who has progressed further due to various injuries, but I personally don’t think Finn is as popular as he was prior to his injury. The crowd reactions he’s been receiving over the last couple of months have been very mixed, with good reason, as ‘The Demon King’ has been booked in low profiled, inconsistent feuds. He’s trying to regain that momentum entering a programme with Bray Wyatt, with the match set to take place at SummerSlam.
As for Rollins, well quite similarly to Bálor, the crowd reactions to him were very mixed, and to be honest have been all year. Fans are struggling to get behind him as a babyface, and not to say a heel turn would be an instant fix, but despite a match with former mentor Triple H at Wrestlemania and the WWE creative’s go-to match with Bray Wyatt, he’s not exactly set the company alight.

Rollins himself has a match at SummerSlam 2017, teaming with Dean Ambrose to take on the Raw Tag Team Champions.

SummerSlam 2016: Brock Lesnar v Randy Orton (Singles Match)

Now: Did the brutal assault on Randy Orton during this match help Lesnar? Well, no, not really. He was beaten in less than 2 minutes by a returning Goldberg during the Survivor Series PPV, and then eliminated by him at the Royal Rumble before finally getting revenge and defeating him at Wrestlemania 33 for the Universal Title. Since then, both Lesnar and the title have been bit part players on Raw, with rating plummeting to a shockingly low number due to having no champion on the show (something WWE still can’t put 2 and 2 together to figure out).

Despite coming off as really weak following this match, Randy Orton would still go on to win the 2017 Royal Rumble and defeat Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania 33.

In summary, both of these men have enjoyed a fairly successful 2017 so far including heavyweight title runs and go into SummerSlam with matches of their own. While Randy Orton v Rusev is quite a thrown together match to ensure both superstars are on the card, Brock Lesnar will defend the very same Universal Title he won at Wrestlemania in a fatal 4 way in a match against Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman and Samoa Joe that has become a very hotly anticipated bout.

SummerSlam 2016: Dean Ambrose v Dolph Ziggler (WWE World Heavyweight Title Match)

Now: Dean Ambrose has since become the Intercontinental Champion, and lost it again, and although his feud with The Miz was highly entertaining, it long overrun its course. Dolph Ziggler would also have a pretty eventful feud with The Miz for the Intercontinental Title, but just like Ambrose, the feud would result in The Miz becoming champion again.

Ziggler hasn’t been seen on Smackdown Live for 3 weeks, adding even more fuel to speculation he is set to leave the company in the near future. It seems every time I write about Dolph Ziggler it’s either grasping at the possibility he’ll be pushed to the main event, or sorrow of his current position in the company.

From WWE World Heavyweight Title #1 contender to now, not even appearing on television is a sad sight and probably a more telling one. Ambrose himself will be at SummerSlam this year teaming with former Shield teammate Seth Rollins as they challenge for the Raw Tag Team Titles. Perhaps although Ambrose is in a lower position on the card technically, his popularity is certainly increasing, especially at the before mentioned Shield reunion tease.

SummerSlam 2016: AJ Styles v John Cena (Singles Match)

Now: Styles has gone from strength to strength in the past year, performing high quality matches and putting 100% into everything he does. Cena again forced his critics to admit that for all his negatives, he can put on some excellent matches when he needs to, and this was no exception.

You could argue a case for AJ being the best professional wrestler in the world today, with Cena being undoubtedly one of the most popular. This match was sort of a fantasy becoming reality, and their later bouts didn’t disappoint either.
This year Cena is wrestling Baron Corbin at SummerSlam, which a win for him wouldn’t really do much for him on current storyline basis. Styles, however, is defending his United States Title against Kevin Owens in one of the more interesting matches in which also includes Shane McMahon serving as special guest referee.

Overall you could say that the majority of superstars on this card are no better off after a year of being written and booked on WWE television. Some, oddly enough, seem to be even lower on the scale, with Dolph Ziggler being the obvious highlight who as previously mentioned as no role to play in the 2017 SummerSlam, despite being a challenger for the WWE Heavyweight Title last year.

This is quite worrying, and also supports many fans’ concerns about the company struggling to create new stars like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan.

Perhaps this years event we will see performers step out of the rut they’re currently in, and be standout performers that the company simply have to take notice of and realise these wrestlers won’t be around for ever, and in others cases, aren’t willing to wait around and become old news.