First off, I'd like to thank Jason Powell over at ProWrestling.net
having me on to discuss SummerSlam on his podcast last night. We ended
up going an hour and half and having a lot of fun dissecting not only
the show, but the WWE product as a whole. I strongly recommend
checking it out.
As I told Jason last night, were last night's show named Unforgiven or
Armageddon, I would be raving about how fantastic it was. But bearing
the name of SummerSlam - traditionally the second biggest WWE pay per
view of the year - it was just good. Maybe even very good. But I can't
help but feel a little underwhelmed. It's not that the show
disappointed. On the contrary, it met expectations, and maybe even
exceeded them in some places, but I'm still left feeling that
something was missing from this show.
None of that blame falls on the wrestlers, who in every match - and
one heck of an angle - delivered to the best of their ability. But in
some cases, they were going into the show with a strike against them
because of poor booking that made at least this fan a little sour on
the show before it began. Three weeks of build for what should have
been treated as a Wrestle-Mania main-event worthy dream match? Two
world title matches treated like afterthoughts? No matter how well the
wrestlers performed in those matches, it didn't change the fact that
they quite simply should never have been made.
Here's a quick rundown of the action:
MVP defeated Jeff Hardy in the opening match. Before going into this
match, I'd be remiss if I didn't comment on the spectacular movie
theater marquee entry stage the WWE production team put together. It
looked phenomenal, and would have been a nice fit with the
WrestleMania Goes Hollywood theme a few years back. Hardy and MVP had
a very nice match, and I was glad to see Porter go over here. After
building a ton of momentum with Shi historic, nearly year-long U.S.
title reign, MVP has been largely left in the cold in the last several
months. Seeing as how Porter is one of the better candidates to be
groomed for a world title program with Triple H, he needs wins like
this. I'm not sure what to make of Shelton Benjamin's involvement. It
could be setting the stage for a three-way feud, or perhaps an
alliance between Porter and MVP. I'm not thrilled about the latter
choice, which could help Benjamin get some rub, but would drag down
MVP into a tag team roll. He deserves better.
Santino Marella and Beth Phoenix defeated Kofi Kingston and Mickie
James in the winner takes all mixed tag match. This match also
delivered just fine for what its purpose was on the card. I actually
wouldn't have minded a bit more comedy involving Santino mixing it up
with James. There's plenty of potential in having Marella and Phoenix
wear the IC and women’s belts, respectively, but I'm a little
disappointed in the plug apparently being pulled on the Kofi Kingston
project. His IC title reign was less than spectacular, and will
probably be mostly forgotten in the coming months. Hopefully, they
still have big plans for Kingston.
Amazingly, Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels delivered the best segment
of a three-hour wrestling card, without even having a wrestling match.
Michaels delivery in his retirement speech was spot on, as was Jericho
jealous tirade in which he demanded that Michaels acknowledge that
Jericho was the reason he was leaving wrestling. Michaels comeback, in
which he reference Jericho having to admit to his kids that he's no
Shawn Michaels, gave me shivers. It all climaxed with Michaels' wife
taking the sickest punch of the year this side of Mayweather-Big Show.
Everything about this angle was just tremendous, and kudos to Jerry
Lawler and Michael Cole for mostly letting the action speak for
itself. I couldn't help but think how this angle would play out in TNA
(which, incidentally, did something very similar with Booker T,
Sharmell and Robert Roode). Don West and Mike Tenay would have been
screaming our ears off.
Once again, Jericho and Michaels put the WWE writers to shame by
putting together a far more compelling, mature, and nuanced angle than
anything the creative team has done in ages. My wish is that Michaels
and Jericho are given the main event spot at an upcoming pay per view
for what I assume will be their big blow showdown - possibly an I Quit
Next up was Matt Hardy defeating Mark Henry by DQ in their ECW title
match, which ran about 30 seconds. I'm willing to forgive WWE if this
was a situation where time appeared to be running short, and something
had to be cut. I can't imagine many fans bought the pay per view to
see this match. That said, I do feel bad that Henry wasn't able to
have his moment in the spotlight with a major title match at a big
show. He's been doing a surprisingly admirable job in his role on ECW,
and he deserved better than what he got tonight. What's more, with
Khali-HHH going about 10 minutes, and the show going off the air with
at least 5 or so minutes to spare, I would think they could have found
6-8 minutes for Henry and Hardy. But, I guess, these things do happen.
C.M. Punk keeps his title as the "top of the second hour champion" by
going on first in the four big matches of the night. I thought his
bout with JBL was one of the better actual wrestling matches of the
night, which isn't say a whole lot. Punk needed the clean win, and he
got it. Now WWE has to decide how serious they are with Punk as their
Raw world champion. With Cena, Batista, Michaels and Jericho all
preoccupied in other feuds, WWE may have had a legitimate excuse to
book Punk in this ho-hum title defense. But WWE needs to do you-know-
what or get off the pot. Punk's had the belt for about two months now,
and his two meaningful successful defenses have been against the same
I wondered if this match was actually budgeted for more time, but the
wrestlers went home early after that scary head-collision that left
Punk with a nasty gash on his head. Ouch.
Triple H defeated The Great Khali in a pretty OK match. I'd use the
cliche of this match being much better than it had any right to be,
but actually, Khali has shown me enough since his main event push last
year that my expectations for his matches aren't all that low. He can
actually lay claim to having had decent pay per view world title
matches against John Cena, Rey Mysterio, Batista and now Triple H,
which is more than some other people can do. The hero vs. the giant
gimmick is as old as time, and can be very effective when done right.
I thought they botched the build-up to this match, but the match
itself was good fun, if expectedly sloppy.
Batista defeated John Cena in their first ever match. Quality-wise,
this match was pretty good, but as I mentioned before, I had a hard
time enjoying it when the whole time I was thinking, "I can't believe
they did this with three weeks build." It's astounding that a match
that could have meant so much was given just 13 minutes, and didn't
even close the show. Nonetheless, there wasn't much wrong with this
match, other than perhaps feeling a bit too choreographed, to the
point that it resembled a dance more than a fight at times. That said,
the fact is these two needed to be closely scripted if they were going
to have something passable. I think what it all gets down to is, the
match was rushed, and it showed.
In the night's final match, the Undertaker defeated edge in a Hell in
a Cell match. I was glad to see so much time given to this match,
which never dragged even as it approached a half-hour. I thoroughly
enjoyed it, but have to wonder if the Cell gimmick needs a little
tweaking. Those earlier cell matches thoroughly incorporated the cage
into the action, whether wrestlers were climbing on top of it, falling
off of it, or going through it. I commend WWE for not allowing
performers to take the risky Foley-esque bumps that were the hallmark
of the cell's early days, but without the wrestlers making much use of
the cage, these matches tend to become glorified "extreme rules"
matches that just happen to take place in the cage. I'd like to see
more innovative, yet relatively safe, ways to exploit the cell,
whether it means doing a little brawling on top of the cell -
bodyslams and suplexes onto the roof and the like - or even some good
old fashion bloody face-smushing on the chain link.
Nevertheless, far be it for me to complain about what was a hell of a
match, and a fitting end to one of WWE most exhausted feuds in recent
memory. Unfortunately, WWE chose not to leave well enough alone after
the match. The stunt bump in which Taker "chokeslammed" Edge off of
the ladder, through the ring, and into well, had everyone in the room
where I was watching the show groaning and rolling their eyes. Edge
didn't fall from very high, and there was barely a thud when he hit
the ring. I've likened it to falling into a blanket set up over a trap
door. It looked campy, and took me out of what was otherwise a
believable, intense brawl up until that point.
All in all, the show was thoroughly enjoyable, but lacking the
gravitas that has traditionally come with the SummerSlam name. With a
little long-term booking, this show could have been better than just
"very good" - it could have been great.