Each night, from Sunday night at SummerSlam through Tuesday night at SmackDown Live, I used the science of sound in the form of the Tools Dev Sound Meter smartphone app to gauge decibel levels of various reactions during live broadcasts. And on a weekend filled with top stars, surprises, heel turns, reunions and Money in the Bank teases, big pops spanned far and wide.
WWE SummerSlam weekend was filled with hot New York crowds and even hotter reactions throughout multiple main roster pay-per-views.
As always, these readings have yet to be approved by a leading scientist, and should only be taken as estimates. The Sound Meter app has a capacity of 120 decibels (db), but limitations of measuring sound on television curbs the loudest sounds to around the 100 db range.
10. Daniel Bryan Makes his Entrance: 80 db (SummerSlam)
As good as Daniel Bryan’s match was against The Miz, the overall reaction to Bryan has to be considered a mild disappointment. There was years of lucrative emotion behind Bryan’s feud with Miz, and SmackDown did its best to oversell the importance of a showdown that they deemed eight years in the making.
In all fairness, this match occurred relatively late in the show—over three and a half hours into the broadcast including the pre-show—and was the first sign of this crowd showing fatigue.
Bryan still received a nice pop of 80db, but given how WWE promoted this feud like it was the main event, that seems on the low end for Bryan.
9. “The Demon” Finn Balor Returns: 83 db (SummerSlam)
Finn Balor’s surprise return as The Demon led to an impressively enthusiastic response despite being placed in a come-down spot immediately following The Miz vs. Daniel Bryan.
Fans began buzzing at the mere hint of The Demon once the lights went out, and they erupted once The Demon’s return was confirmed as real. Perhaps the novelty of The Demon facilitates this level of response, but the Finn Balor character perennially treads water on Raw, and there is essentially no precedent for a popular face-painted wrestler becoming more successful when he removes his facepaint.
8. Brie Bella Attacks The Miz: 84 db (SmackDown Live)
This spot benefited from occurring in the first segment of a hot show on SmackDown Live, but it was a truly great moment as Brie Bella’s intense beatdown served as the perfect comeuppance for The Miz’s acerbic gloating. Daniel Bryan and The Miz are still in search of the crowd-engaging masterpiece that can define this feud. Perhaps their announced mixed tag team match could be it.
7. Ronda Rousey Makes her Entrance: 85 db SummerSlam
Ronda Rousey’s match against Alexa Bliss occurred deep into a six-hour SummerSlam show, but the rising megastar received one of the best reactions of the weekend.
Now scheduled to take on Nikki Bella—who almost made this list based on how loudly she and sister Brie were booed (78 db)—at WWE Evolution, Rousey figures to solidify herself as the biggest babyface in the Nassau Coliseum provided WWE’s fickle fanbase hasn’t turned on her by then.
6. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose Make Their Entrance: 86 db (SummerSlam)
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose also benefited from a being the first two WWE Superstars to walk out during the main card. Ambrose recently returned, and Rollins has maintained a strong level of momentum since WrestleMania, and these factors only helped contribute to a super loud reaction from a fresh crowd to kick off WWE SummerSlam.
5. Samoa Joe Taunts Wendy: 87 db (SummerSlam)
Samoa Joe’s increasingly personal attacks on AJ Styles and his family were highly effective with the live arena as two of the loudest moments of the night were dedicated to Joe’s decidedly salacious taunts to styles and his wife, Wendy.
These reactions peaked when Joe offered to become Wendy’s proverbial daddy, which resulted in Styles getting himself disqualified.
4. Braun Strowman Threatens to Cash in his Money in the Bank Briefcase Against Roman Reigns or Finn Balor: 87 db (Raw)
It was De Ja Vu in Brooklyn, N.Y. as Braun Strowman once again attempted tried to cash in during the main event, and once again garnered an overwhelming response from the live crowd. This time around, however, Strowman’s would-be cash-in match was halted, not by Brock Lesnar tossing his briefcase, but this time by a more crowd-pleasing moment of The Shield tossing Strowman through a table.
3. Braun Strowman Threatens to Cash in his Money in the Bank Briefcase Against Roman Reigns or Brock Lesnar: 88 db (SummerSlam)
The thought of Braun Strowman saving the WWE Universal Championship main event was a breath of fresh air to the Barclays Center as fans came unglued at the sound of his music when it was believed he was going to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase.
Reaction to Strowman’s music and his babyface statements of not wanting to be a coward received universally loud support that peaked just under 90 decibels.
2. The Shield Reunites: 88 db (Raw)
The Shield’s shocking return was the only plot twist that could cause more noise in the Barclays Center than Braun Strowman. Fans absolutely lost it, most audibly when Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose walked out in their vintage Shield gear. No matter how many times WWE goes back to the Shield well, whether it’s for a one-off spot or an all-out reunion, there seems to be no shortage of water inside of it.
1. Becky Lynch Turns Heel: 89 db (SummerSlam)
The loudest reaction of the night went to Becky Lynch’s emphatic heel-turn, which was cheered louder than any babyface in that building. During Lynch’s follow-up promo on SmackDown Live, fans only doubled down in their support of Lynch despite her best efforts to antagonize them.
Though the tone of Lynch attacking her best friend, and the accompanying commentary, suggested Lynch had turned heel, there’s no way she couldn’t be seen as a sympathetic figure in a storyline built around Charlotte sniping Lynch’s hard-earned opportunities.