[Retro Review] WWE Vengeance: Night of Champions 2007

Houston, Texas
Approx 15,000 in attendance
Announce Team: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler (RAW) / Michael Cole & JBL (SmackDown!) / Tazz & Joey Styles (ECW)

Champions going in
WWE Champion: John Cena
WWE Intercontinental Champion: Santino Marella
WWE Women’s Champion: Melina
World Tag Team Champions: Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch
World Heavyweight Champion: Edge
WWE United States Champion: MVP
WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Chavo Guerrero
WWE Tag Team Champions: Deuce n Domino
ECW World Champion: vacant

This was the first pay-per-view in the Night of Champions chronology and second to last in the Vengeance series. I’m still not sure why they still called this ‘Vengeance’. I guess maybe they never intended the ‘Night of Champions’ gimmick to become a regular recurring event and just slapped it on as an official tagline of sorts?
In any case, for some context here, this was the infamous event that Chris Benoit no-showed the weekend that he and his family died. He was supposed to face CM Punk for the ECW title, and legend has it that he was actually booked to win to become something of a veteran to work with the ECW guys. God damn shame.

World Tag Team Championship (Raw Edition)
Lance Cade (c) & Trevor Murdoch (c) vs. The Hardys

Note that they are ‘The Hardys’ and not ‘The Hardy Boyz’. I guess they felt they outgrew the Boyz part of their tag team name. 

Jeff and Matt are super over while Cade and Murdoch play the “honest” heels who are looking to win without cheating. King plays this up big time as the heel announcer and irritates JR to no end with his pandering of the tag champs.
The Hardys get the early advantange and Jeff nails them with a sick looking dropkick followed by some Poetry in Motion. The champs go running to ringside where the veteran challengers chase them up the ramp and bring them back to the ring. Matt becomes the legal man while Murdoch makes a snappy blind tag to Cade who comes in with a chop block.
Cade and Murdoch run a tight ship with frequent tags and constantly working over Matt’s left leg. Murdoch punishes him in a half crab, but Matt manages to escape and make the hot tag to Jeff who comes in all fired up with a high back body drop to Murdoch and a double leg drop to Cade’s groin. He nails the Whisper in the Wind and delivers a very rough sit-out front suplex on Cade before going for the Swanton Bomb. Murdoch distracts him long enough to not hit it but Matt ends up duking it out at ringside with Murdoch. Cade recovers and finishes Jeff with a sit-out spinebuster for the three-count at 8:55.

A fun opening tag match, King made it a point to acknowledge that neither Cade or Murdoch broke any rules. Why don’t more heels work like this? You don’t HAVE to cheat to be a heel. Cheating is just cheap heat. People hate the heel that can back up their arrogance more than the heel that needs to resort to low blows and chair shots to win. 
The match followed a tried and true formula, but it was enjoyable for what it was, and The Hardys put over Cade and Murdoch clean.
Grade: C+

Backstage, King Booker and Queen Sharmell treat us to their very authentic and fantastic British accents. “Tonight belongs to King Bookahhhh!”

Cole and JBL take over announcing duties as they replay clips of Eddie Guerrero’s 2004 WWE Championship win over Brock Lesnar and pay homage to the guy. This is made even sadder knowing what happened with Benoit during this broadcast.

Another video clip shows Dean Malenko - former cruiserweight champion - while Cole and JBL talk up Malenko’s in-ring ability.

WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Chavo Guerrero (c) vs. Jimmy Wang Yang

Jimmy and Chavo start off with some mat wrestling, the challenger builds up some speed and hits a neat looking dropsault in the corner. The fight soon goes ringside where Jimmy hits a huge top rope splash on Chavo, but there’s not much in the way of capitalising. 
Back in the ring, Chavo regains control with a big hip toss into the corner, it looked pretty impressive. Chavo keeps control for the next few minutes with suplexes and slams before applying a modified camel clutch. 
Jimmy manages to fight back in typical underdog fashion and goes highflying with a missile dropkick and a high cross body, but he only gets a two-count. He goes up top to finish Chavo with a moonsault, but completely misses. Chavo tries to get the win with the Gory Bomb but Jimmy reverses it into a sunset flip for a surprisingly believable near fall. But he quickly loses control and Chavo hits the Frog Splash for the three-count at 10:16. 

The crowd were unfortunately pretty quiet for the majority of this match, only really coming alive towards the end when Jimmy regained control of the match. It’s hard to get excited when Chavo’s schtick was pretty stale at this point, and Jimmy Wang Yang was never booked as a serious contender to anything. The match had some fun spots, but ultimately it felt very ‘SmackDown grade’ here. Nothing special.
Grade: D+

JR and the King talk about Vince McMahon’s “death” on Raw from a few weeks ago. Hahaha… They analyse the video footage of the limo explosion, and we even see a screenshot of a poll on the front page of wwe.com - who do you think killed Vince McMahon?? I love that one of the choices is Paul London. So good.

Backstage, Todd Grisham has a bland interview with Lashley.

Over to Joey Styles and Tazz who remember Tazz’s time as ECW Champion. I mean, with the REAL ECW title.

ECW World Championship
CM Punk vs. Johnny Nitro

The crowd instantly shout “we want Benoit!” as they see Nitro get in the ring. Aw man…
Punk takes the early advantage with some switches, but Nitro pisses him off with a slap to the face. A game of cat and mouse ensues around the ring leading to Punk landing a fancy slingshot splash from the apron. Nitro takes the lead with a springboard heel kick and goes to work on Punk with some submission holds. He slaps on a Cobra Clutch and the crowd instantly shout “boring” at him, they’re looking for any reason to hate on Nitro here. 
"We want Benoit" chants continue. "Well you got Johnny Nitro!" he shouts back, making the best of a bad situation.
Nice side slam into a backbreaker (similar to Sheamus’ Irish Curse) followed by a side arm breaker, but the offence doesn’t really go anywhere. Punk bounces back with a running enziguiri then hits a unique 180 degree short-arm lariat. I haven’t seen a move like that before, it looked really cool. 
Punk goes for the GTS but Nitro counters with a roll up for the near fall. Punk goes to the apron for a springboard move, but Nitro dives out of the way and Punk rolls across the ring and ends up on the opposite apron. He goes to re-enter the ring, but Nitro catches him with a spike spinning neckbreaker for the victory to claim the vacant title at 8:00.

That was brutal. It seems unfair to rate this match negatively given the circumstances. Benoit didn’t rock up, no one knew what was going on and Nitro was thrown in at very short notice. You have to give the guy credit for pulling that out at the last minute and enduring the audience’s bitter resentment of him for the mere fact that he wasn’t Chris Benoit. CM Punk did a solid job working in those conditions as well. The match wasn’t amazing, but it was solid enough and professional.
Grade: C+

The clip show continues and we see Shawn Michaels defeat Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 12 for the title.

Backstage, Randy Orton has some salty words for Mick Foley. Foley reminds him of their Backlash match. Orton reminds him of who won that match. Good point.

WWE Intercontinental Championship
Santino Marella (c) vs. Umaga

Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat shakes Santino’s hand as he heads out to the ring.

Santino gets a few shots in early with some forearms across Umaga’s face, but Umaga soon crushes him and channels the power of Spock to throw on a nerve grip. Santino manages to fight out of it but Umaga pummels him in the corner with closed fists. The referee DQs him after a five count at 2:34 and the fans shit all over the decision.
Umaga is fuming and delivers a post-match splash and the Samoan Spike for good measure. Maria comes out to check on Santino and Umaga seems to be considering giving Maria the Samoan Spike as well (INNUENDO). 

This was dumb as shit. It’s one thing to give super weak and throwaway finishes on TV, but people actually paid to see this. It’s insulting. Would you ever seen John Cena get DQ’d for using closed fists in the corner? No. So don’t feed us this bullshit in any other match. I understand that they didn’t want Santino dropping the strap yet, and they didn’t want to make Umaga look weak. But they shouldn’t have booked themselves in that position in the first place.
Grade: F

Cole and JBL talk about Vinnie Mac’s explosion, then we cut to see an actor giving us his best FBI agent impression.

Former two-time United States Champion, Magnum TA, is in the front row. What a coincidence, we’re just about to have a US title match!

WWE United States Championship
MVP (c) vs. Ric Flair

MVP is going to play the role of angry and indignant young man here. He gets in Magnum’s face at ringside, then gets in Flair’s face. Flair intends to take this young whippersnapper to school.
Flair punks out MVP with the strut instead of a lock up, then proceeds to go straight for the leg. Leg bar and elbows to the leg. Flair goes for a shin breaker but MVP counters with an eye rake then takes control. He throws Flair to the apron then knocks him to ringside with a running big boot. Flair tries to mount a comeback but MVP slaps on a chin lock to catch his breath.
MVP tries this weird fireman’s carry into a press slam, but just drops Flair on his face, and he ends up busted open from it. MVP goes back to the chin lock, but Flair reverses with a suplex and a whole load of chops. Babyface Flair has the champ in the corner with some mounted punches, but he only gets to five before he gets dropped head first on the turnbuckle. MVP goes for another running boot, but Flair dodges it and hits a chop block. Figure Four Leg Lock! But MVP gets to the ropes.
Awkward altercation where the ref gets dragged in and somehow doesn’t see MVP poke Flair in the eye right before hitting the Playmaker to retain at 8:43.

Not a bad match but not fantastic either. The fans were hot for Flair and MVP was always good at getting himself some heat. Really though, nothing to write home about.
Grade: C-

Edge interrupts an interview backstage and has a chat with John Cena about Vinnie Mac blowing up.

Former Tag Team Champions Tony Garea and Rick Martel are sitting in the front row.

WWE Tag Team Championship (SmackDown! Edition)
Deuce ‘n’ Domino (c) with Cherry vs. Sgt. Slaughter and Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka

Deuce ‘n’ Domino come out to the ring and cut a promo. They’re like the Dementors of wrestling, they completely sucked all fun and enjoyment out of the audience. Seriously, the fans couldn’t give enough of a shit about them or this match because they know it belongs on a house show.
Slaughter and Snuka get decent enough pops, if only out of respect for them.
Snuka and Domino kick things off with Snuka getting the advantage early on with headbutts and chops. He tags out to Slaughter who comes in with a gutbuster and a Cobra Clutch, but Domino walks into a rope break. He goes for the Clutch again but Deuce intervenes and Slaughter becomes the damsel in distress for this match.
Lots and lots of uninspired brawling and frequent tags between Deuce n Domino. Hot tag to Snuka who ends up hitting a top rope cross body on Deuce while Domnio and Slaughter brawl at ringside. Deuce rolls through and gets the win at 6:34. After the match, Garea and Martel jump the rail and send the champs running.

Heatless crap that no one cared about. Six and a half minute piss break.
Grade: F

World Heavyweight Championship
Last Chance Match
Edge (c) vs. Batista

Former world champion Harley Race is in the front row. Edge snubs him on his way to the ring while Batista shows him some love.
The story here is that Edge and Batista had wrestled each other so many times and people were getting sick of it, so Teddy Long made this a ‘last chance’ match to make sure it doesn’t happen again. If Batista loses, he can’t challenge Edge for the title again as long as he holds it.

Batista takes the early lead with brawling in the corner. He then decides to wrestle and works the arm amidst “you can’t wrestle” chants from the front row. Edge fights back and low bridges the challenger to ringside and tries to dive on him from the apron, but Batista catches him and drives him into the ring. Edge sends Batista shoulder first into the turnbuckle post a bunch of times, then spends the next several minutes working on Batista’s arm. SWITCH!
Fujiwara arm bar in the ring. Batista tries to counter with a kamikaze roll but Edge reverses into a modified cross arm bar. 
Batista manages to bounce back with a huge clothesline, dropping both of them and the fans have a bit of a mixed response for Batista.
A bit of a slugfest leads to a back body drop and a boss man slam on Edge for the near fall. Batista Bomb attempt, but Edge counters with an arm wrench into the Edgecution for a near fall of his own.
Edge throws a hissyfit and goes to grab the title belt to use as a weapon, but the ref stops him. Back in the ring, Batista rolls the champ up for a near fall. Edge rolls the challenger up for a near fall. Edge counters out of a powerslam with an Edge-O-Matic, then lines Batista up for a spear, but Batista comes back with a spear of his own - using his good arm! YAY! Ring smarts! Edge nails Batista with a nut shot and the ref DQs him immediately. The fans collectively shit on this finish as Edge walks out with the belt, but Teddy Long then walks out to restart the match with a new stipulation - if Edge is DQ’d then he will forfeit his title.
Edge returns to the ring and hits a spear, but Batista kicks out for a nice big pop. Edge goes to grab a chair at ringside, but then his brain starts working again and he puts it down. Batista rolls him up with a small package for a near fall.
Batista lifts him up for the bomb - because I guess his arm is fine now - and Edge lands on his feet behind him. Both men end up at ringside. Edge goes for a spear, but Batista nails him with a kick and a Batista Bomb outside the ring! That bump would have winded the shit out of Edge. Batista picks up Edge and rolls him back into the ring at the count of 9, but Batista is too slow and doesn’t make it in before 10. The ref calls for the bell, awarding Edge the count out win. Batista Bomb on Edge post-match because he’s angry.

Everything before the nut shot was fine. I’m fine with most of the match being spent in arm bars and wrist locks if it means that it’s going somewhere and that they’re going to remain consistent. But it did neither things. Batista hitting multiple Batista Bombs makes working his arm pointless. Be creative! If your finisher involves you using your arm to lift the other guy and your arm is hurt - then come up with a more creative finish that doesn’t involve just using the finish anyway. And speaking of the absence of creativity. What the hell was that? Why the hell avoid one cheap ending to give us another one? Why bother with that shit? Some writer is sitting in the back happy as Larry over how smart they think they are, but all they did was spit on the fans. I’m pretty sure Booker T and Christian ended identically at Bad Blood. Dumb ending. Match would have been in B+ territory if we didn’t get the low blow and restart. They should have had Batista go for the Bomb, but fail because of his arm, and Edge capitalise. It would have meant more.
Grade: D-

Another clip shows the ‘original screwjob’ with Wendi Richter being screwed out of the Women’s Championship by The Fabulous Moolah Spider Lady.

WWE Women’s Championship
Melina (c) vs. Candice Michelle

Melina initiates a test of strength, but it’s all a ruse! Shock! He cheap shots Candice and sends her to the corner. Candice tries a leg vice over the top rope but Melina sends her to ringside and uses her move on her. Leg vice back in the ring and a running knee in the corner. 
Nice Bow and Arrow submission, Candice counters with a pin for the near fall. 
Melina gets low bridged, but the fight quickly returns to the ring. Candice hits a powerslam followed by a bulldog for the two count. Melina comes back with a kneeling neckbreaker for two. Candice hits a spinning back elbow for the three-count at 4:07 to become the new champion. JR seems to think it was a spinning heel kick, if so then she botched it pretty bad.

Not the worst diva match I’ve ever seen, but certainly far from the best. Melina was certainly one of the better divas, and Candice improved in leaps and bounds from her earliest matches. Still, this wasn’t great and the crowd were pretty dead for it. The finish was fairly anticlimactic too.
Grade: E

JBL makes Justin Roberts read out a long and indulgent speech about how amazing he was as the WWE Champion and how fantastic he is. Pretty funny stuff.

WWE Championship
Five-Man Challenge
John Cena (c) vs. Bobby Lashley vs. King Booker vs. Mick Foley vs. Randy Orton

What do you do when you have four main eventers and Bobby Lashley doing nothing? Cram them into a match together.
King Booker’s entrance is just… amazing. It’s so rare to see a man so devoted to such a terrible gimmick. 
Cena gets the biggest pop as the crowd seems mostly pro-Cena.

Booker immediately bails from the ring. Orton takes a punch from Cena, back drop from Lashley and a bulldog from Cena. Foley clotheslines Orton to the outside and goes out there with him, leaving Cena and Lashley in the ring. Booker comes in and interrupts, knocking Cena out of the ring.
Lashley takes the lead and clotheslines Booker to the outside before landing a huge plancha on everyone. He drags Booker back into the ring and goes to town on him. He hits a torture rack backbreaker but Cena comes in to break up the pin.
Slugfest between Cena and Lashley! The former ECW Champ gets the better of it with a spinebuster. The two end up at ringside and Lashley starts dismantling the ECW table, because fuck those guys, they’re even worse than the Spanish team. 
Orton blindsides Lashley, Foley clotheslines Orton and Booker clotheslines Foley before sending him into the ring stairs.
Orton hits his inverted backbreaker on Lashley at ringside, then sets him up for the RKO, but Lashley counters and slams Orton into the ground. Lashley turns around and walks into an FU Attitude Adjustment into the ECW table for a huge pop!
Cena and Booker reconvene in the ring with a slugfest, leading to a Scissors Kick on the champion, but Orton breaks up the pin. Cena knocks Orton down and begins the Five Moves of Doom on Booker! He goes for the Five Knuckle Shuffle but runs right into an RKO out of nowhere from Orton. Foley breaks up the pin and goes to town on Orton in the corner before hitting him with the Double Arm DDT! Mr. Socko makes an appearance, but Booker super kicks Foley to the outside. Booker and Orton drop each other and Foley tosses Socko into the audience, right onto eBay. He grabs a steel chair and walks back into the ring. Chair shots for everyone! Except Orton, who suckerpunches Foley and delivers a punt kick. 
Lashley quickly recovers from his sick chairshot and spears Orton out of his boots. Booker hits Lashley with a jump kick sending him ringside. Cena dumps Booker over the ropes and then hits Foley with the FU Attitude Adjustment for the win!

The match was actually a lot of fun. I’m not sure if it was short or it just felt that way given the amount of action that was going on. I was afraid it would drag or become too cluttered as matches with more than three guys tend to get, fortunately it didn’t. It did turn into a bit of a spotfest at the end, but that’s just a minor complaint. This was otherwise a fun way to end the night. Lashley was far and away the standout performer here.
Grade: B

The first Night of Champions PPV left a fair bit to be desired in my view. The big offenders of the night were mostly booking decisions, like basically making the IC match a non-event and the horrendous ending of the WHC match. The work - for the most part - was fine. The SmackDown tag match did kind of suck the big one though.
For a show that had nine title matches, it really says something about WWE’s timidness to only have two belts change hands - and one of those was already vacant going in so that hardly counts. And the other one was the Women’s title, so that hardly counters either.
For those still pretty well effected by the Benoit tragedy, this event is probably a hard one to swallow. You still have to respect Morrison and Punk for putting on a match in such confusing and uncertain circumstances. 
Is this an event worth going out of your way to see though? Not really. The main event is fun for what it is, and some of the undercard was watchable, but otherwise (tragedies aside) this was not as historic of a night as WWE wanted you to believe it would be. It just felt like a ‘going through the motions’ night, nothing more.

Highlights
WWE Championship Challenge
ECW World Championship Match
World Tag Team Championship Match
Low Points
World Heavyweight Championship match ending
WWE Women’s Championship match
WWE Cruiserweight Championship match
PPV Grade: C-

Kurt Angle rejected by the WWE?

Judging by the dirt sheets, it seems as though Kurt Angle has more or less been snubbed by the WWE after trying to talk about a return with Triple H. A further phone call to Vince McMahon supposedly led Vince to deferring back to Trips as the head of talent relations.

This is disappointing as hell to me because I’ve always been a big Kurt Angle fan. The guy is certainly a shell of the man that he was ten-years-ago, but even that shell is still an amazing in-ring worker and should be considered an asset to any company that he works in. 

From a business perspective, I can totally see why the WWE would want to pass on Kurt Angle. He’s had numerous run-ins with Johnny Law, just look at the guy’s list of DUIs, He’s had some serious substance abuse issues over the years and of course, that’s something the ‘E wants to steer clear of. Not only that, but Angle has been a TNA man for the last eight-years. He has been with TNA longer than he was ever with the WWE. While you can’t deny that Angle got his start and found huge success in the WWE - a lot of the current generation of fans likely associate the guy with TNA more than anything.
Further to that, as much as it pains me to say it, the guy’s fairly broken down. He’s injury prone and he’s had ongoing neck and knee issues. I’ve read rumours that Vince doesn’t want to hire Kurt out of fear that he’ll die in the ring - I call bullshit on that. But I do believe that the ‘E would probably be very much concerned about his physical condition.

What makes it unfortunate is that Kurt has supposedly been clean for over a year. The guy has been so vocal about wanting to end his career in the WWE. He wants to go back home, he wants to finish up his in-ring career where it started. But it seems like the powers that be don’t want this to happen. And that’s a damn shame. Even on a ‘Legend’s Contract’, working a schedule similar to say Brock Lesnar or Rob Van Dam, that wouldn’t be so bad right? On top of that, could you imagine the matches with guys like Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose etc. Even if he’s not in the ring, Angle could be fantastic as a trainer or as a talent in some capacity. 
It just seems so odd that the WWE would close its door on one of the greatest technical wrestlers around - an actual gold freaking medalist, a guy that they were SO high on and SO behind back in the early 00’s and a guy that put on some of the greatest matches in WWE history. Just look at his matches with the likes of Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Brock Lesnar and Shawn Michaels. He’s just one of those guys that could put on a good match with a mannequin. And he was always an enjoyable promo guy.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s all a work, maybe it’s only a matter of time before we see Angle rocking up on Raw and fans chanting “You Suck” again. But I feel like it’s not going to happen, and that makes me just a little bit sad.

Night of Champions Card Prediction

This is just a list of the matches I’m expecting to possibly see at Night of Champions next month.

Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt Part III
I think this match is a given. Chris Jericho is only back for this program with Wyatt, then I think he’s running off again to tour with Fozzy. Jericho won the first encounter at Battleground, and now Bray Wyatt has won the second encounter at SummerSlam. They need a blow off to break the tie, which we will get at Night of Champions. Bray Wyatt will win, of course. Kind of expecting this to be a gimmick match as well. A Best of 3 falls match could be fitting.

WWE Diva’s Championship: Paige (c) vs. AJ Lee Part III
Another no brainer. To me at least. I mean, it’s Night of Champions and so the Diva’s title of course needs to be on the line. AJ lost the belt clean to Paige at SummerSlam, and we’ve seen the hijinks continue on Raw. I have a feeling we’ll see Paige go over AJ, solidifying herself as a heel champion, then perhaps a push for Emma?

Brie Bella vs. Nikki Bella
I’m not sure if this match will happen like this. It was ballsy enough for the WWE to promote Brie vs. Stephanie, and it paid off. But the great Bella feud of ‘14 almost certainly will fail, especially if they give them any substantial in-ring time together. They both look good and they at least try hard, but let’s face it, they’re no Trish Stratus. Nevertheless, it’s looking like we’ll be headed towards some configuration of Nikki vs. Brie.

Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins
With Rollins winning at SummerSlam AND decimating Ambrose on Raw, there has to be some kind of payback. Ambrose needs to get his heat back and it’ll surely be in another kind of gimmick match. A steel cage match makes sense to me. It’s violent, brutal and also keeps the likes of Corporate Kane out and stops Rollins from trying to run. I might be wrong though, it all depends on what happens with Dean Ambrose in the next couple of weeks.

Tag Team Turmoil
There really hasn’t been any strong feud for The Usos since they beat The Wyatt Family at Battleground, and as awesome as that match was, I’m still feeling like the Wyatts should have perhaps gone over on the Usos then. I’m predicting that we’re going to get a big tag match for the belts given the amount of tag teams floating around at the moment. We haven’t had a shitty “turmoil” match in a while. They could easily cram The Usos, Rybaxel, Henry & Show, The Dusts, The Wyatt Family, Los Matadores, hell even “The Slater Gator” into the match as a time filler.

Rusev vs. Mark Henry
After SummerSlam, I was really onboard with the idea of Rusev going after the United States title, because it just makes sense to me. But given the segment with Henry on Raw, I guess the ‘E don’t think Rusev is ready yet? Henry might actually prove to be a decent opponent for Rusev. It will be good to see him go up against someone who has such a significant size advantage, and Henry could really put him over as well. 

Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns
I feel like we haven’t seen the end of Roman and Randy’s program. It’s probably safe to assume that we might see a rematch at Night of Champions of some description.

WWE United States Championship: Sheamus (c) vs. Bo Dallas vs. Jack Swagger?
Yeah I don’t know about this one. All I know is that it’s Night of Champions and so, surely the US title is going to be represented in some capacity? We really haven’t seen a lot from Sheamus recently. I mean he wasn’t at SummerSlam and we haven’t seen him much on TV either. I would have picked him to face Rusev, but given that Rusev seems to be headed into a program with Mark Henry, we might end up with something else. It’s probably worth noting the exchange between Bo and Jack Swagger on Raw, and Swagger’s “faliure” at SummerSlam. Further to that, Bo is someone could benefit from a US title reign. And Swagger could definitely use a boost after his loss. Why not throw them all in the mix in a triple threat or something? Of course, I might be super reading too much into Bo’s promo.

WWE Intercontinental Championship: Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. The Miz
Seems like a no brainer to me. Dolph’s title win was a bit of a surprise at SummerSlam, given that Miz is doing some really solid work lately. Maybe not everyone agrees but screw them. There doesn’t seem to be anyone else in the position to challenge for the belt, except for maybe one person I bolieve. But I see a rematch for the belt happening instead, and I wouldn’t rule out Miz getting the win.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. John Cena
It’s got to happen. There’s nothing else that makes any sense in the main event. I know Lesnar isn’t going to be around always to defend the belt, but you would assume the PPV after his big win would be something he would work - plus I mean, Night of Champions ya know.
Cena was beaten to a pulp at SummerSlam, and as amazing as it was of him to job out like that and for WWE to book Lesnar in such an incredibly strong fashion, you have to believe that they won’t just let their poster boy roll over like that without trying to get some degree of retribution. I would expect a rematch and wouldn’t be shocked if it ends over a technicality to avoid Cena jobbing at two PPVs in a row. Think messy DQ finish or ref stoppage or double count out or something weak like that.


Of course, this is all too early to tell, NoC is over a month away yet and anything could happen in that time. Plus it’s unlikely that WWE would book a ten-match card when they chopping time off of matches in 7 and 8 match cards.

WWE SummerSlam 2014

Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Approx 17,500 in attendance
Announce Team: Michael Cole; Jerry “The King” Lawler; John Bradshaw Layfield

Champions going in
WWE World Heavyweight Champion: John Cena
WWE Intercontinental Champion: The Miz
WWE United States Champion: Sheamus
WWE Diva’s Champion: AJ Lee
WWE Tag Team Champions: The Usos

Show kicks off with The Hulkster coming onto the stage and making a sales pitch. Did you know that the WWE Network costs only $9.99? I know they really want to be trying to sell as many subscriptions as possible, but something about trying to make sales on an event that everyone’s already paid to see just seems a bit much to me. 

Regardless, the crowd is pretty hot as we’re introduced to our usual three-man announce team, as well as the Spanish announce team and… the four-man German announce team? Is this new? I missed about a week or so of programming due to Dungeons & Dragons and dealing with my crippling loneliness, but since when have we had a German announce team? And why do they need four of them? A three-man announce team is one too many if you ask me but eh, what do I know? 

WWE Intercontinental Championship
The Miz (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler

Miz comes out and gets some nice cheap heat from the crowd with a dig at the Lakers. Of course he throws in a Hercules and a Guardians of the Galaxy reference for good measure. What I love about this gimmick in comparison to say, The Rock’s “Hollywood” gimmick from 2003, is just the pathetic value of it. The fact that Miz’s Hollywood claim to fame is basically The Marine 3 and 4 just makes his gimmick so much more conceited and arrogant. I love it.
Dolph gets a nice big pop from the audience. Do management just not hear the monster applause he gets night in/night out while simultaneously not noticing the excellent in-ring work he constantly delivers?

Lock up starts us off with some fast paced chain wrestling. Miz slaps on a headlock and we go into the old shoulder block + leap frog spot. Miz goes for a hip toss, Dolph blocks it and misses a clothesline but lands a sunset flip for a near fall. Schoolboy gets another near fall. Miz retreats from the ring to protect “the moneymaker”, but Dolph intercepts him with a big ringside clothesline. Back in the ring, Dolph gets another near fall before getting whipped into the corner with full force, giving Miz control of the match.
Miz maintains control with a big boot and a chin lock amongst “you can’t wrestle” chants. I’m afraid you’re wrong, audience, Miz actually isn’t all that bad.
Dolph mounts a comeback, catching Miz off the top rope with a gut punch. He hits a pair of flying clotheslines followed by a big splash in the corner, but he misses the Fameasser. Dolph escapes from the Skullcrushing Finale and the Figure Four attempt before nailing the moneymaker with a super kick for a near fall!
Miz decides “fuck this”, grabs his belt and starts walking out, but he gets caught with a baseball slide. Back in the ring, he has Dolph scouted and crotches him on the second rope before locking in the Figure Four Leg Lock. Ziggler has to be one of the best and most consistent sellers in the WWE right now. Ziggler gets the rope break and goes for the Fameasser, but Miz slips out and hits the Skullcrushing Finale. Pin only gets two and The Miz can’t believe it. Miz goes for a running boot but Dolph rolls out the way before hitting the Zig Zag for the three-count at 7:52.

Very tight, fast-paced and enjoyable match. I resent the fans that hate on The Miz because IMO he’s actually one of the more enjoyable workers in the ring and on the mic right now. Although a loss from him says to me one of two things. Management aren’t behind his moneymaker gimmick or they are and they need to take the belt off of him to give him something bigger. But a rematch probably also isn’t out of the question.
It’s also nice to see Dolph get a pay-per-view win and some gold again. The optimist in me says that he could do something good with the belt and make it meaningful again and potentially have some great feuds in the meantime. But the realist is saying “why is he wasting his time with that belt?” The IC title would be better suited on someone who could use it more (Bo Dallas), rather, Ziggler should be in contention for the world title. WWE seem adamant that he belongs in the midcard though, unfortunately.
Grade: B-

We get a backstage interview with Brie Bella. Her acting ability is very gradually getting better, but this interview dragged a bit long. She could have started and stopped at doing “what’s best for business” and it would have been fine.

WWE Diva’s Championship
AJ Lee (c) vs. Paige

Paige tries to start things off with a nice handshake. AJ connects with the HANDBITE OF BETRAYAL! She grabs a bunch of hair and rips out a big lock of it. That’s got to be fake hair right, surely? Paige escapes to ringside and has a bit of a fit. AJ takes control briefly until Paige gets her in the electric chair position and drops her over the ring barricade, nasty looking bump! 
Paige takes control in the ring with a short-lived chin lock and a flurry of headbutts. The two battle on the turnbuckle where AJ shoves Paige down to ringside. AJ goes to the top rope and hits with a huge flying clothes to the outside and it finds its mark. Nice to see a rare high spot like that in a diva match.
AJ hits (what looks like) a low dropkick in the ring but only gets a two-count. Paige fights back and goes for the Paige Turner, but AJ counters it into the Black Widow, which Paige then counters into the Rampaige! Pin gets three and ends the match quickly at 4:57 to crown a new Diva’s Champion.


This was a solid bout, and I enjoyed it more than their Battleground encounter which just failed to get the momentum together. Nevertheless, with such a short time limit (not even hitting five minutes) it would have been easy for them to just go through the motions. It was nice to see them go above and beyond to make the most of their match. I loved the high spot, I loved the ferocity with the hair removal and I really dug the finisher sequence to finish the match. 
Paige will be good as a heel champion, and I can see how they needed to take the title off of her to establish her as a heel. I hope I’m not blowing my wad prematurely here, but I haven’t been this optimistic about a women’s division since the days of Trish Stratus. Seriously, between Paige, AJ, Natalya and Emma, we’re actually beginning to see a decent little women’s roster coming together!
As for the match, like I said, good, but I would have liked to have seen a few more minutes.
Grade: C

The 2k15 ad with Sting airs. It’s pretty great. 

Flag Match
Rusev with Lana vs. Jack Swagger with Zeb Colter

Lana’s prematch “Hollywood” promo was fantastic. Seriously, she is an amazing heel mouthpiece and character for Rusev. I really don’t see Rusev being able to get over without her. She is so. Good.
The Colour Guard make a little appearance on the stage as well, which is a neat addition and a way to get a cheap pop for the babyfaces. Not that they need it. Swagger is more over than he has ever been here.

Swagger waves “old glory” around in the ring. Rusev blindsides him and beats on him in the corner for a bit before the bell has even rung. Swagger locks on the Ankle Lock in the middle of the ring and Lana is going nuts calling him a “cheat”. Swagger releases the hold and it almost looks like Rusev and Lana are about to call the whole thing off when the ref rings the bell.
Swagger goes to work on Rusev in the corner and focuses on the leg through the ropes. Rusev tries to escape and ends up at ringside where Swagger nails him with a clothesline between the two flags. So this isn’t at all a proper “Flag Match”. This is just a match that happens to have some flags adjacent to the ring.
In the ring, Swagger goes for the Swagger Bomb but Rusev blocks it with the knees. Rusev takes control and is doing a solid job of selling the ankle, like I actually believe he’s in pain. Swagger is selling the “injured ribs” while Rusev goes to town on the midsection. Swagger tries a belly-to-belly but he fails to lift him, you know, ‘cause of the ribs. Rusev slows the pace of the match down with a bear hug, but Swagger manages to fight out of it.
He hits the belly-to-belly this time because, his ribs must have gotten better I guess? He hits the big boot and lands the Swagger Bomb this time. Doesn’t get three. Double leg takedown and an Ankle Lock attempt, but Rusev slips free. He goes for an MMA kick, but Swagger counters into the Ankle Lock!
Rusev comes back with a series of kicks to ribs and goes for the Accolade, but he can’t put any weight on his leg so he modifies it a bit. Swagger rolls through and into the Ankle Lock again, beautiful, and the crowd’s going mental for it. Rusev kicks his way out of it and nails a spinning heel kick and a splash before locking the Accolade again. Swagger doesn’t tap, instead the ref calls for the bell via KO. Lana commands Rusev who boots Zeb down. We then see a giant Russian flag raised while the Russian anthem plays. Fantastic moment.

I liked this match quite an awful lot. it was leaps and bounds better than their Battleground finish and while it didn’t have a pinfall/submission finish, it still had a better ending than their last “count out” finish. I was just really grooving on the ring psychology. Rusev is a great seller and made Swagger look formidable, and Swagger put Rusev over as a monster heel. 
Next stop for Rusev? My money is on Sheamus and the United States title. But what about Swagger? This story has made him super over, the fans were 100% behind him in the ring. You have to hope that WWE does something to capitalise on Swagger here, although you also have to wonder how much weight the Pro-USA gimmick will hold for Swagger and Zeb against an opponent who’s whole gimmick isn’t “angry evil foreigner”.
Grade: B

Mountain Dew commercial… apparently $9.99 isn’t enough for WWE.

Lumberjack Match
Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose

Slugfest opens up the match and Ambrose gets the better of it. A back elbow and a hip toss send Rollins running but the Dusts and Cesaro shove him back in the ring. Ambrose clotheslines him out of the ring and the Wyatt Family dump him back in and the assault continues. 
Rollins dropkicks Ambrose out of the ring, but he beats on any lumberjack that gets close to him and returns to the ring before finding himself in the dreaded TREE OF WOE! Rollins takes advantage and locks Ambrose into the Cobra Clutch. Ambrose battles out of it and misses a running crossbody, finding himself out on the apron. Rollins intercepts him, but Ambrose ends up suplexing him over the ropes and into the crowd of lumberjacks below!
At ringside, Ambrose back drops Rollins over the ring barricade before being manhandled by the lumberjacks and dumped back into the ring. Ambrose comes out with a huge suicide dive though, taking out the crowd of lumberjacks. He then runs off of the announce tables and dives out onto Rollins in the audience.
They brawl further into the crowd with a slugfest and end up in the bleachers as Corporate Kane comes out and shouts at the lumberjacks. It looks as though Rollins is about to powerbomb Ambrose off the top of the exit but the heel lumberjacks rock up to save the day and carry Ambrose back to the ring. Rollins tries to leave the arena but he’s intercepted by the babyface lumberjacks who carry him on their shoulders back towards the ring. But Ambrose comes off the top rope and lands on Rollins and all of the lumberjacks! There’s at least a dozen guys sprawled around ringside and it looks like a car wreck. 
The very rare double “This is awesome” chant breaks out as Ambrose tries to execute Dirty Deeds in the ring, but Rollins counters with a heel kick. Ambrose comes back with a huge clothesline for the two count. Ambrose hits with Rollins’ own Curb Stomp and goes for the cover, but Corporate Kane jumps in the ring to break the pin. Goldust decides to be the upstanding citizen and gets into Kane’s face about it. Kane uppercuts him which leads to an enormous lumberjack brawl in the ring and the crowd’s going nuts. The Wyatt Family end up clearing house and Ambrose low bridges both of them out of the ring. Rollins sneaks back in and nails Ambrose with the MITB briefcase for the cheap victory at 10:52.

THAT is how you do a lumberjack match. So many times we see lumberjack matches where the lumberjacks just seem to be a non-event. This was great. It was fun and exciting, full of high spots and intensity. It gave Rollins a big win but I didn’t feel like Ambrose lost much momentum by taking the fall here, especially given the crazy overbooked ending. 
Grade: A-

Bray Wyatt vs. Chris Jericho

Wyatt’s entrance is so cool and awe inspiring. I love it. And Jericho’s jacket is about equal parts cool. I notice he’s coming to the ring with the old classic countdown again, I wonder what spurred that?
We have about a 50/50 mix of Jerichoholics and Wyatt followers in the audience tonight.

Jericho gets the early advantage with chops and elbows and a running back elbow. He nails Wyatt on the apron with a springboard shoulder block followed by a high crossbody from the top rope. Jericho gets shoved off of the top rope and to ringside and it looks like he probably hit his leg hard on the apron. It’s already coming up in a massive bruise. 
Wyatt goes on the assault, throwing Jericho into the ring steps and shoving him shoulder first into the ring post. The fans are singing to him, that’s lovely. 
Bray locks in some kind of Tazzmission, but Jericho bounces back with a running forearm and enziguiri. Jericho’s offence mostly fails and he ends up running into a standing Rock Bottom type move.
Wyatt goes for Sister Abigail, but Jericho counters with a schoolboy for two. He turns the schoolboy into the Walls of Jericho! Wyatt manages to reach the ropes and Jericho releases at 4.
Wyatt hits a major DDT over the apron for the near fall. Jericho mounts a comeback with a top rope frankensteiner for the near fall. 
Wyatt does his creepy spider walk routine and it freaks Jericho the fuck out. “You cannot kill me for I am already dead” Wyatt spouts before missing a clothesline and walking into a Codebreaker. Jericho goes for the pin and I assume that Wyatt was supposed to get the rope break as you can see his leg stretching for the bottom rope but not getting there, so he kicks out instead, yet the ref still calls it a rope break.
Jericho misses a baseball slide at ringside and Wyatt hits him with the Sister Abigail into the barricade. Back in the ring, a second Sister Abigail finishes him off at 12:57.

This was much better than their Battleground encounter. It had a much more fluid flow to it and Wyatt looked like a monster. To the people who whinged about Jericho “burying” Wyatt at Battleground - THIS is why Jericho won then. Sometimes you have to take one step back to take two steps forward. And given the fact that the buzz is that this is a three match program, we will still very likely see Wyatt get the win again in a blow off match next month. Jericho didn’t come back to bury talent. And he made Wyatt look like a monster here in a similar fashion that Daniel Bryan did at the Royal Rumble.
Grade: B

Brie Bella vs. Stephanie McMahon

I still can’t believe that this was a marquee match. The build up, disregarding whatever nonsense they made up about Bryan’s physical therapist, was brilliant. And this is some of Stephanie’s best work in her entire career.
Steph looks fantastic. Her hairstyle and get up actually reminds me of Attitude Era Steph. The smug as fuck look on her face also serves her well. 

Lock up starts off the match and Steph seems to have the power and strength advantage early on, forcing Brie into the ropes. Brie hits back with a series of arm drags. Steph regains control and keeps the pace of the match slow and steady with boots in the corner and hair whips across the ring. Fortunately the crowd are heating every minute of it up. Brie blocks a slap and goes for the Yes Lock, but Steph races out of the ring to escape it. Brie goes for a suicide dive, but Steph hammers her over the back of the head through the ropes, stopping her momentum. She tries to get the win off of a count out but Brie gets in at 9. A DDT gets a near fall. Steph hits with the neck snaps as the crowd breaks out into a “you still got it!” chant. Steph was never exactly the pinnacle of women’s wrestling but yeah, I mean, this is much better than I expected.
Steph locks in a surfboard stretch, but Brie fights out and rallies the crowd with a Lou Thesz Press! “Yes” kicks in the corner wear down Steph before a big hair whip across the ring. Brie jumps on the second rope and activates “Brie Mode” before nailing a missile dropkick for a near fall. 
Meanwhile, Triple H comes running to ringside and distracts Brie. Nikki runs out shortly after. Steph surprises Brie with a Pedigree attempt, but Brie counters into the Yes Lock. Trips pulls the ref out of the ring and Brie nails Trips with a baseball slide kick in an awesome moment.
Nikki gets in the ring and stops Steph from escaping and Brie corners her from the other side. And of course (just as I had called it weeks and weeks ago), Nikki pulls Steph out of the way and nails Brie with a shot to the face before helping Steph back up. Steph hits the Pedigree and wins the match at 10:16. 
Steph and Trips celebrate in the ring as Nikki leaves with a conflicted look on her face.

Okay. So. I have egg on my face. I’ve been telling everyone for weeks that this match is going to SUCK. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been loved the storyline and the angle and the build up. it’s solid writing with excellent delivery. But when you put a non-wrestler in the ring with a very much mediocre diva, then you’re going to produce a shithouse match.
They kind of proved me wrong. It was hardly match of the night but they managed to hold my interest and entertain the 17,000+ fans in attendance for over 10-minutes. Steph looked great, Brie had some good moments and the big twist ending was pulled off well leading to the correct ending. I’ve heard some people saying the ending (Nikki’s betrayal) as being shit because it’s illogical. Come on. This is wrestling. Since when do you need logic? Besides, there totally IS logic to it anyway. Brie fucks off from the WWE leaving Nikki to get tortured by The Authority for weeks and weeks and weeks. Some people (particularly petty people) might end up feeling a little bit betrayed by their flesh and blood for putting them in that position. On top of that, perhaps there were other motivations from The Authority for Nikki to do that? I just don’t get why some people have jumped on the “lack of logic” here without letting the storyline play out.
Grade: C

We get a segment showing Jake Tucker “The Mama’s Boy” getting trained by The New Age Outlaws and Bill DeMott. Future Hall of Famer, for sure.

Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns

The match kicks off with punches from Reigns to begin with. Orton tries to brawl back but takes a headbutt. A few uppercuts and mounted punches leads to Reigns clotheslining Orton to ringside where he slams him head first into the ring barricade. Orton reverses the momentum here and sends Reigns straight into the ring steps before returning the fight to the ring.
He slaps on a chin lock, and Reigns gradually fights out, but Orton stops him and gives us the old limb stomp routine. Reigns begins building up some steam again and jumps on the second turnbuckle, but Orton hammers away at him before delivering a huge top rope superplex. I wonder if Reigns’ vest offers much in the way of padding from those big top rope moves?
Orton goes for the pin but only gets a two-count, then goes straight back into the chin lock. Reigns powers out and puts Orton into a chin lock of his own, jumping on his back. Orton throws himself back on the mat, slamming Reigns. Reigns comes back to life with another chin lock though. Orton reverses it with a back suplex and puts in yet ANOTHER chin lock. This time Reigns powers out and hits with a Samoan drop for a short rest.
Both men get back up and get into a slugfest. Reigns gets the better off it and hits with a flying clothesline. Another clothesline in the corner and Orton conveniently lands draped over the bottom rope. Reigns runs around the ring and does his apron dropkick to the head. They brawl at ringside but Orton takes over and throws Reigns into the barricade before back suplexing him onto the US announce table (but it doesn’t break). Orton throws Reigns back into the ring and goes up top, but Reigns meets him there with a massive second rope Samoan drop for the near fall. “We want tables” says the audience.
Reigns connects with the Superman Punch and goes for a Spear, but Orton counters into one of the fastest and flashiest powerslams you’ll see. Middle rope DDT and Orton starts pandering to the crowd, almost like a babyface, and he gets his cheers. Weird. He goes for the RKO but gets shoved into the ropes. He comes back with a clothesline but Reigns ducks and goes for the Superman Punch only to jump into the RKO, great spot! Orton goes for the pin but Reigns kicks out before three.
Orton decides to try and end it with the Punt, but Reigns trips him up, ducks under a clothesline and hits with a massive Spear for the three-count. 

The match started off slow as shit and it almost seemed like Randy was adamant about not letting the match be enjoyable for a while. But once we powered through the boring chin-lockfest the match came good and ended up being solidly enjoyable. Everything from the second rope Samoan drop onwards was awesome and it made Roman Reigns look great.
I’m still not 100% sold on Roman Reigns. I think he looks great, and I think he’s fine in the ring. I still haven’t seen him deliver THE performance that makes me go “oh, I totally get it now!” That’s not to say he doesn’t have it in him though, and this match was a big step in the right direction.
Grade: B

WWE World Heavyweight Championship
John Cena (c) vs. Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman

Make sure you play the SummerSlam drinking game before you start this match. Drink 1 shot for every German suplex, 1 shot for every time Paul Heyman shouts “Here comes the pain!” and 1 shot for every F5 or Attitude Adjustment. You’ll get crazy hammered within the first minute or so.
Lesnar looks fucking amped on his way to the ring. Seriously, look at him, I actually feel like I’m being beaten into submission just by watching him walk to the ring. And Cena runs out like it’s business as usual. 

The bell rings and Cena tackles Lesnar into the corner quickly. Lesnar wrestles him to the mat and pounds away at him. They grapple around the ropes and into the corner where Lesnar gets him up and nails the F5 within the first 15-seconds or so (1 shot)! The move gets a near fall, Lesnar has a big evil grin on his face and Paul Heyman looks like he’s at half mast at ringside. The crowd are lapping this up.
Lesnar hits with the first two German Suplexes (2 shots) of the match and Cena takes them on the head. Ouch. Knee to the ribs and it looks pretty forceful, Cena sells it brilliantly to the point that I think he’s actually in a fair bit of pain. “Here comes the pain!” (1 shot) shouts Heyman as Cena takes a vertical suplex. Some annoying chump kid in the front row starts shouting “Let’s go Cenaaa” in the most pathetic voice possible.
Cena tries to mount a combat with rights and lefts in the corner, but they barely faze Lesnar who comes back with elbows and knees.
"Here comes the pain!" (1 shot) Lesnar hits four German suplexes in a row (4 shots). Lesnar pins him but gets a two and the ref begins checking on Cena. Lesnar with another knee to the ribs while Cena’s on his back. Now if my wrestling training isn’t too rusty in my head, I believe that you’re not supposed to knee the other guy in the ribs while he’s on his back because you can actually do some serious damage if you’re not careful. But then again, what do I know?
"Here comes the pain!" (1 shot) signals another German Suplex (1 shot). The ref checks on Cena to see if he wants to give up but he doesn’t. "Here comes the pain!" (1 shot) ANOTHER German Suplex (1 shot). Cena fights his way out of another German attempt. Lesnar gets him up for the F5 but Cena slips out and hits with the Attitude Adjustment (1 shot)! He pins him for the two count. A few moments later, Cena is struggling to move, but Lesnar sits up Undertaker style, completely non-selling the AA. He sticks his tongue out with a big scary laugh and Cena has a "fuck this" look on his face.
Cena charges at Lesnar but runs into a double leg take down followed by some big punches. The ref checks on Cena again and Heyman tells Robinson to ring the bell or else “Lesnar’s gonna kill him!”
Four more German suplexes (take 4 shots) and a “Thank You Heyman” chant breaks out at ringside. Three more Germans (take 3 shots). The ref looks conflicted like he’s going to call the match end but decides again it. Some morons start shouting “boring!” Shut the fuck up idiots.
Cena trips up Lesnar and locks in the STF out of nowhere, and it’s actually tight! It doesn’t look like that loose crap he normally throws on. Heyman looks like he’s shitting his pants and Lesnar has his hand out ready to tap. Instead, he simply powers out of the hold and beats on Cena before lifting him up and nailing him with the F5 (last shot) for the win at 16:06. 
That’s about 22 shots or so. Fun game.

It is a rare, RARE occurrence indeed to see a squash match in which Cena loses. They have done an absolutely amazing thing here by planning ahead for the future. They have turned Brock Lesnar into the most dominant and indestructible monster champion in the history of the WWE. I can’t think of many other guys who seem this strong and unbeatable as Lesnar. By having Lesnar defeat The Undertaker and utterly DESTROY John Cena, they have turned Lesnar into a champion worth defeating. So when it comes time for a new young up and comer to topple Lesnar, it will be an incredibly enormous accomplishment and make a star out of them.
Also, I can only assume the amount of German suplexes was some kind of nod to the German announce team. I don’t know why I think that.
I had so many reservations about this match. I was afraid we would see Cena do his usual Super Cena routine at the end and pull off another impossible win just to appease the children. I was afraid that we would see the match end on some technicality. I was afraid we would see Seth Rollins cash in and win the match. But instead, this was one of those uncommon events in which the WWE did the right thing - the ONLY thing. And it worked beautifully.
Not only that, but isn’t John Cena suddenly MUCH more interesting now after seeing him get the shit kicked out of him? Aren’t you way more intrigued to see him now? He doesn’t lose often - and when he does, he’s almost always protected in some way. Lesnar made Cena look like a god damn amateur punk, he tossed him around the ring like a rag doll and treated him like a dark match jobber. It was an amazing sight to see and I can’t wait to see where they go from here.
Grade: A-

SummerSlam 2014 - excellent event. Show of the year in my opinion. There wasn’t actually a dud in the whole card in my opinion. It was an orgasmic combination of well worked matches and excellent booking, it’s a thing of beauty when the booking team and the in-ring talent come together to deliver an awesome show. The build up to every match was solid, the execution was solid and it actually makes me WANT to tune in and watch Raw to see the fallout from this show.
I really want to say something bad about this show, but I can’t. I guess I wish AJ and Paige had more time, but that’s it really. I can’t even overly fault the announce team as Cole, King and JBL seemed more or less on the ball for me. Fantastic show and I strongly recommend watching.

Highlights
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Main Event
Lumberjack Match
Flag Match
Low Points
None that I can think of
PPV Grade: A

WWE SummerSlam 2014 Live Thoughts

- Hogan’s a good way to pump the crowd up early. Does he really have to come out and act like a shill for the WWE Network on an event everyone is already paying to see?

- is this German announce thing a new thing? I haven’t watched Raw or SmackDown for a week. Someone’s going to go through that table.

- Wrestlemania veteran Maria Menounous is at ringside!

- The Miz gets some cheap heat with a dig at the Lakers and drops a Guardians of the Galaxy reference.

- Dolph Ziggler vs. Miz, solid opener, fast paced. Miz gets “you can’t wrestle” chants. Audience - you are wrong.

- Dolph is the new WWE IC Champion. That’s one prediction I got wrong right off the bat. Good to see him with some gold again. Does this mean WWE aren’t all that keen on “the moneymaker”?

- Brie’s interview backstage actually kind of not bad. Still think their match is going to suck the big one though.

- AJ Lee vs. Paige “CM Punk” chants. The hair ripping looks pretty brutal. Nice to see a big top rope dive like that in a diva’s match. 

- Great counter finish. Way too short though. They have a better match in them still. Paige is the new Diva’s Champion. 

- The 2k14 ad is pretty great. 

- Lana’s mic work is excellent, and hilarious. Rusev is nothing without her on the mic. 

- The Color Guard is a nice touch. I’m actually kind of looking forward to this.

- The early ankle lock actually might give Rusev an excuse to lose here. Well this isn’t really a Flag match is it? It’s just a match that happens to have some flags nearby. Rusev wins via KO. The expected man wins. This match wasn’t what I expected.

- The Russian anthem/flag celebration is kind of priceless. 

- Mountain Dew ad. Not getting enough money from the WWE Network then?

- Lumberjack match time. Quite a mix of people around the ring. Why do they keep wasting Rob Van Dam on dark matches and using him as a lumberjack? The same could be said about The Dusts and Cesaro!

- A fan in the audience has a George Costanza sign. Amazing.

- Seems to me like a lot of the face lumberjacks aren’t doing much when Ambrose is dumped out of the ring. Very nice suplex spot into the lumberjacks. Some awesome big dives into the lumberjacks this match. 

- Aw shit! Chaos! I hope we’ve just seen the seeds planted for an epic Kane vs Goldust feud. That’s a crazy sight seeing all the lumberjacks in the ring. Rollins gets the ring. Regardless of the ending, that was an awesome match. Action-packed.

- I want Jericho’s jacket. Wyatt gets the decisive win in a much better match than their Battleground encounter. The right way to end the match. How does match #3 figure into the storyline now? Best of 3 match? Will there even be a third encounter?

- Oh yay, the triumphant in-ring return on Stephanie McMahon. Match of the year contender coming up.

- Steph actually looks great. She looks very Attitude Era Steph to me.

- I CALLED IT! I TOTALLY CALLED IT! NIKKI’S HEEL TURN! I FUCKING CALLED IT WEEKS AGO!
But in any case. I ate my words. Was it match of the night? No, and it never would be. But for a match between a non-wrestler who hasn’t been in the ring for 10+ years, and a pretty mediocre at best diva, they didn’t do too bad. The crowd was hot throughout the match. The twist ending (DESPITE THE FACT I CALLED IT) worked well and Steph was just excellent throughout the match. Best heel in the WWE right now. 

- Mama’s Boy for world champ.

- So the crowd seems a little deflated for Reigns and Orton. Maybe that’s just what I’m hearing though. Pretty slow and unappealing but it’s starting to pick up. Crazy fast powerslam looked pretty great. RKO counter looked pretty fantastic. Reigns wins. Predictable and slow start but ended up pretty enjoyable.

- Did you know the WWE Network is only 9.99?

- By sounds of it we have a pretty anti-Cena audience tonight. We’re either going to see Lesnar as champ, or Lesnar’s just going to destroy Cena and Rollins will cash in. There is no way this show is ending with John Cena still holding the belts.

- Early F5 like 20 seconds in - excellent! Crowd is loving it. Those release german suplexes look painful, Cena’s taking them on the head. This is a total dissection of Cena. I can hear one lone child saying “let’s go Cena” while the rest of the crowd want blood. 

- Let’s play the Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena drinking game!
Take 1 shot every time Paul Heyman shouts: “Here comes the pain!”
Take 1 shot for every German Suplex
Take 1 shot for every time that kid shouts that off key “let’s go Cena!”
Take 2 shots for every F5

So far I’m about 20 shots deep.

- That STF actually looks tight Better than his loose shit. Brock Lesnar is the champion! Fantastic! What I love is that Lesnar doesn’t look like he’s here for a fat payday. He looks like he’s there because he wants to be.
Lesnar is now an unstoppable monster champion and Cena has been destroyed. Amazing. I loved it. It’s rare you see a squash match that Cena loses.
I’m starting to buy into Lesnar breaking the streak being a good move, finally. The pay off was worth it. So. So good. I can’t wait for Raw and what happens next.

[Retro Review] WWE SummerSlam 2004

Toronto, Ontario
Approx 17,000 in attendance
Announce Team: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler (RAW); Michael Cole & Tazz (SmackDown!)

Champions going in:
WWE Champion: John Bradshaw Layfield
WWE United States Champion: Booker T
WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Spike Dudley
WWE Tag Team Champions: Billy Kidman & Paul London
World Heavyweight Champion: Chris Benoit
WWE Intercontinental Champion: Edge
WWE Women’s Champion: Trish Stratus
World Tag Team Champions: La Resistance

It’s hard to believe that this event is ten-years-old now. I still remember watching it live on PPV when I was 14, excited just because the card looked pretty awesome on paper.

We get your usual opening video montage, although it’s a little crappily edited and drags a bit longer than normal. Certainly not one of the best opening videos, but meh.

Big pyro explosions and the crowd seems pretty hot for this show. We get the usual announce team introduction, then SmackDown takes the reigns for the opening match.

Six-Man Tag
The Dudley Boyz vs. Rey Mysterio, Billy Kidman & Paul London 

The Dudleyz get boo’d. Spike comes out with the Cruiserweight title. This was when he was “The Boss” of The Dudleyz. I always thought this storyline was shithouse. We’d seen Bubba and D-Von beat the shit out of Spike for years, now all of a sudden they bow to his every command because he’s now a heel? Shit storyline.
The cruiserweight team gets a decent little pop on their way to the ring. I actually forgot that London and Kidman were a team for a while, they come out with the WWE Tag titles. They were actually a pretty decent team, if a little mismatched in the persona department. 

D-Von Dudley and Billy Kidman start the match with a lock up. A quick corner brawl kicks it off with D-Von overpowering Kidman, but the tag champ bounces back with a flying headscissors from the corner followed by an arm drag and a dropkick for a quick two-count.
Double back elbow then an assisted standing moonsault on D-Von gets the two as London maintains control. An impressive dropsault gets a little pop from the crowd. Bubba intervenes in the match and hair whips London to the mat. Clothesline gets two, only because Mysterio felt the need to break it up. No way would that tag champion have been able to kick out of that clothesline without help.
D-Von tags Spike in who legitimately seems to have some heat with the crowd. Double foot stomp from the top rope! A bit of nice heel double teaming on London while the ref takes a break to have a chit-chat with Mysterio.
Bubba gets the tag: “GOODNIGHT YOU LITTLE PIECE OF CRAP” he shouts midway through a vertical suplex. Bubba definitely wins for the mid-match smack talk. Elbow drop and a tag to D-Von who applies a chinlock. The fans start rallying behind Paul London. He fights out of the hold and runs into a powerslam. Kidman comes in and breaks up the pin. Bubba gets tagged as the legal man. He charges at London but accidentally hits D-Von and knocks him off the apron. Enziguiri takes down Bubba and both men crawl to their respective corners. Hot tags to Spike and Mysterio. Big flapjack on Spike followed by a springboard leg drop over the head for the near fall. Frankensteiner from the top rope and a springboard seated senton to Bubba. Spike with a headbutt to the gut on Rey, Kidman makes a blind tag. Top rope dive to Spike. London is back in the ring, the faces clean house. Double dropkick to Bubba followed by a big senton plancha from London.
Spike eats a 619 then gets absolutely crushed with the Shooting Star Press. D-Von breaks the count by dragging Kidman out of the ring. Mysterio goes for a springboard dive to D-Von, but misses and crashes into the barricade. Clothesline to Paul London at ringside and he sells it with force to the point that it even gets a minor “holy shit” chant. Back in the ring, Kidman walks into a 3D and takes the fall at 8:07.

Very standard tag team fare with all six men basically on autopilot, with the exception of perhaps Paul London, who was the standout performer here. The match was a bit short, the rushed ending kind of killed the crowd early as well, I think they were really hoping for a babyface win here, but The Dudleyz bland ’04 heel run would not be stopped (until their release shortly after).

Grade: D

The action gets sent over to a better announce team as we segue straight into the “Till Death Do Us Part Match”. I hope the WWE pays Kane well for the amount of horrendous storylines they’ve forced him to work through over the years. Seriously, I’m hard pressed to think of anyone who’s had to work through a bigger series of bad storylines and writing than Kane.

Till Death Do Us Part Match – Winner Marries Lita
Matt Hardy vs. Kane

This is just one of those stories that could only ever happen in a wrestling ring. I just love how it ignores everything about the legal system, society and common sense. That’s my favourite thing about it. And the fact that a woman is somehow forced into a position where she might have to marry the man that raped her.
Lita gets her own entrance and the King comments that she looks bigger than usual, she must be showing already. Jesus Christ…
Matt Hardy gets a non-reaction from the Toronto crowd. This was before Edge banged Lita making Matt Hardy hot property in the WWE.
Kane gets a bit of a heel reaction though.
Matt slugs away at Kane as he gets in the ring. Clotheslines and a dropkick in the corner. Matt hits an early Side Effect, using the bottom rope for a near fall. Kane gets dropkicked to the apron, his head hung through the ropes. Matt comes off with a second rope leg drop over the head for a bit of a pop.
A botched tornado DDT from the corner gets another near fall over Kane. The big man eventually gets some offense with an uppercut. Some typical Kane brawling action, punches, kicks and choke holds. Eventually Matt low bridges him to the outside of the ring. A big Twist of Fate on the outside drops Kane and Matt slides back into the ring while the referee counts Kane out. Because that’s how real men win matches when their bride to be is on the line – via count out. Kane does his typical sit up and suddenly gets a burst of energy at the count of 9 before jumping back in the ring. Lita puts a ring bell in the corner of the ring while Lita distracts the ref. Matt smacks Kane over the head with the ringbell – I guess you could say he “rung his bell” ha ha ha. Ugh. Kane gets a ropebreak from the pin. Matt goes up top but jumps straight into a chokehold. He fights out of it and goes for the second Twist of Fate. Kane pushes out of it and drops Matt with a big boot, before going up top himself. But Matt crotches him and joins him on the ropes before going for some kind of awkward right handed DDT. Of course, this leads to a big flying chokeslam from the top rope. I guess that did look pretty impressive. Kane gets the pinfall at 6:08. Lita looks like she’s going to be sick and does an incredibly girly run out of the arena, girly even for a girl’s standards.
Oh no, Lita will have to marry Kane now, I wonder if a “non-divorce clause” was written into their match contract?

Overall, average match, it was mostly just a one-sided brawl. It was a big too short to really become offensive, and Kane at least made Matt look like somewhat of a threat in the ring until the very end. But really, this is nothing anyone will remember.

Grade: D+

Backstage, Todd Grisham interviews “The Legend Killer” Randy Orton about his upcoming match. 2014 Randy Orton promos and 2004 Randy Orton promos have an interesting contrast, as in 2004 he’s kind of trying to show charisma rather than succumbing to his robotic personality completely.
John “The Doctor of Thuganomics” Cena interrupts the interview and lays down some phat insults on Orton. Kind of funny seeing them together here when they were both pretty young men in their twenties.
Cena’s interruption legitimately seems to throw Orton off track. You can almost see him wanting to shout out “LINE” as he fumbles over the script.

Match #1 in a Best of Five Series for the WWE United States Championship
Booker T © vs. John Cena

The audience don’t care about Booker T or his US Championship. But they cheer big time for Cena. That’s right, no boo’s here, this is 2004 John Cena where crowds gave him 100% of their support. Not 2014 where half the crowd squee and the other half boo the shit out of him.

Slugfest starts the match off with class, Cena wins the exchange with a clothesline. The two decide now’s the time to lock up. Booker goes into a wrist lock, Cena reverses with a wrist lock of his own. But the champ elbows his way out of it. Hip toss by Booker gets blocked and he takes a short arm clothesline for it. Cena comes off the ropes with a half-botched Throwback for a two count.
Booker T hangs Cena up on the ropes – balls first – then knocks him to the outside. The usual ringside brawling. Back in the ring, Booker hits his typical offense. Arm wrench heel kick. Knee drop gets two. “Let’s go Cena” chants gets The Doctor of Thuganomics fired up as he slugs his way back into the match in true Cena fashion. But Booker lets the wind out of his sails with a jumping leg lariat. Booker throws on a weak camel clutch that Cena brute forces his way out of, but Booker keeps control following a spinebuster and a sidewalk slam. Rear chinlock on Cena, just in case they didn’t catch their breath enough in the camel clutch spot.
Cena fights back, small package gets two. Booker with a clothesline. Scissor Kick completely misses its mark and Booker T lands ass first. Slugfest that Cena wins. He’s going into Super Cena mode! But Booker lands a flapjack. Highlight of the match comes, Booker T executes a perfect spinaroonie! He walks into the FU Attitude Adjustment for the win at 6:26.


I think someone forgot to give Booker and Cena the memo that SummerSlam is kind of a big deal. Fans expect a certain quality of match when they’re paying the big bucks for shows like this. It’s a letdown when two solid talents capable of so much more go into cruise control and deliver what they most likely had been delivering on house shows every week.

Grade: D+

Backstage, we see Teddy Long and Eric Bischoff planting the seeds for the great Bischoff/Long feud of ’04. Yep.

WWE Intercontinental Championship
Triple Threat Match
Edge © vs. Batista vs. Chris Jericho

Y2J probably gets the biggest pop of the three men entering, although Edge gets a nice “hometown” reaction, at least to start with.

Batista cheap shots Edge on the ropes immediately, knocking the champ out of the ring. Jericho cheap shots Batista from behind and they brawl in the corner through some “Y2J” chants.
Batista quickly takes control with a back elbow and shoulder thrusts in the corner. Jericho comes back with a cross body but Batista catches him into a powerslam for a near fall. Batista Bomb attempt, but Edge jumps in and hits Tista with a chop block. Wouldn’t want your opponents to beat each other up too much would you? Edge brawls with Batista in the corner and goes up to the second rope. He jumps off, straight into a gut kick. Snake eyes. Jericho grabs Batista from outside of the ring. Edge with a nice standing dropkick and Tista botches the fall through the ropes.
Jericho and Tista sell outside of the ring while Edge starts getting some serious boo’s from the crowd. His hometown of all places. Edge takes on Tista outside the ring, drop toe hold into the ring steps.
Jericho and Edge square off in the ring and the fans are very strongly behind Jericho – and against Edge. Slugfest leads to Edge kneeing Jericho in the gut. He goes for the Edgecution, Jericho reverses and attempts the Walls of Jericho. Small package counter gets two. Jericho hits a crossbody but Edge rolls through and uses the ropes in a pin, as if he wasn’t already getting enough heat. Jericho kicks out though. Double leg takedown in the middle of the ring and Y2J locks in the Walls of Jericho. Edge starts crawling to the ropes and the crowd are demanding that he taps. Jericho pulls him back to the middle of the ring. Batista comes in and breaks up the submission and sends Jericho shoulder first into the ring post.
Edge goes for the Edgecution, Batista reverses out of it, but stumbles into the Edgecution anyway. JR calls it a tornado DDT. Come on JR, come on. Pin gets a near fall. Edge lines Batista up for a spear, the crowd seems to even back Batista more than Edge now. Jericho comes in and saves Batista by clotheslining Edge. More of this “saving” crap in a match where it’s every man for themselves.
Batista with a big spinebuster on Jericho. Edge breaks up the pin. Spinebuster attempt on Edge but he counters into a schoolboy pin for the near fall. Edge low bridges Batista to the outside, and we have Jericho vs. Edge again. Roll up on Edge gets a near fall. Jericho ducks a big boot and lands the one handed bulldog. Batista is on the apron, Jericho hits him with a springboard dropkick, then turns around and walks into a Spear from Edge. Edge retains at 8:26.


Not a bad match, it kind of lacked in the psychology department. You could tell that the two veterans were really walking Batista through in places, but he seemed to more or less hold his own. Some of the match was silly and the most entertaining aspect was probably the completely anti-Edge hometown crowd. Not bad but not good enough.

Grade: C-

Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle with Luther Reigns

This match is probably a big reason anyone bought this pay-per-view. Angle and Guerrero had some slick chemistry both in the ring and in their promo work, and they had an excellent match at Wrestlemania XX. A rematch was inevitable. Even without the WWE Championship to drive this story, they built a nice little angle that questions if Eddie could outwrestle Kurt.
I’m only afraid that the addition of Luther Reigns in Angle’s corner could taint this match.

The two lock up, some sexy mat-based wrestling to start us off. Amateur wrestling takedown by Angle, but Eddie comes back with a fireman’s carry takedown. “Let’s go Angle” chants, Eddie goes for the ankle. Angle with the go behind into a waist lock, Eddie counters with a side headlock. Angle with a double leg but Eddie comes back with a headlock takedown. Short arm drag and a top wrist lock keeps Eddie down for a few seconds. Eddie backdrops his way out of the hold and hits an arm drag, followed by a tight arm bar. Eddie with the arm wringer and a wrist lock. My boner for how tight this bout of technical wrestling goes down to half-mast when Angle breaks up the wrestling and throws in a German suplex.
Eddie locks in the Ankle Lock on Angle and the crowd goes a bit mental for it! Angle with a thumb to the eye, breaks free, early Angle Slam brings Eddie down. Kurt lowers the straps. THE STRAPS ARE DOWN! Ankle Lock on Eddie! Eddie locks on his own Ankle Lock at the same time as we get a 69 of Ankle Locks. Kurt gets the better of the position and Eddie is forced to get the rope break. While the ref is distracted with Angle, Luther Reigns boots Eddie in the face for the hell of it. Another Ankle Lock doesn’t last so long, Eddie gets to the ropes. Angle starts working over the leg on the ring post. STF in the ring, but Angle gets bored and goes into a different leg hold where he’s more vulnerable to an attack from Eddie. Eddie rakes the eyes while Kurt undoes Eddie’s boot laces. STF again, but this time Eddie fights out of it. Jawbreaker stuns Angle. Angle Slam by Eddie Guerrero!
Both men get back up and go into a slug fest. Three Amigos, Eddie limps to the top rope. Angle gets a burst of energy and hits Eddie with a running belly-to-belly superplex from the turnbuckle. A pin gets a near fall. Angle Slam attempt is countered beautifully into a tornado DDT. Eddie goes up top, he’s feeling froggy. Frog Splash gets nothing but canvas. Kurt hits the Angle Slam this time, but only gets three-count and is somehow shocked, as if the Angle Slam only ever guarantees the victory.
Angle rips Eddie’s boot off and locks him into the Ankle Lock. Eddie rolls through and Angle collides with the ref. REF BUMP!
Eddie takes his boot and clubs Angle with it, then knocks Reigns off of the apron. Nonsensically, Eddie drops the boot and plays possum while the ref gets up to see Eddie and Angle both down and the boot in the middle of the ring – and I guess he’s somehow expecting the referee to DQ Angle? Why do we have to suspend our disbelief and believe that Eddie belting Angle with a shoe is the equivalent of the mightiest of chairshots? Why is him belting him with a shoe any more hard hitting than if he simply kicked him with shoes on?
Eddie hits the Frog Splash but Angle kicks out before three, and Eddie can’t believe it. Angle comes back to life, somehow recovering from the mighty shoe blow, and locks Eddie into the Ankle Lock for the four hundred and eighty-seventh time this match. He finally taps out and Angle is awarded the win at 13:37.


This match started off brilliantly. I loved the build-up, I loved the work and the counter wrestling and mat wrestling was brilliant. I could sit through hours of that and not get tired of it. And the story was there too. The question the story raised – can Eddie Guerrero defeat Kurt Angle without cheating? And this match answered it – no. But what tainted it was the outside interference from Luther Reigns. Sure he barely got involved, but his mere presence gives Eddie an excuse and makes Angle look like a big bald hypocrite. Meanwhile, the ending of the match with the boot being treated like a weapon? That was an insult to the fans’ intelligence in my opinion.
Ending aside, this was still a good match and thus far, the best match on the card. It didn’t supercede their Wrestlemania match in my eyes, but they still gave us a fun bout.

Grade: B- 

Triple H vs. Eugene

What an epic match this will be. Triple H comes to the ring alone, I guess after careful consideration, they decided Triple H shouldn’t need an entourage of wrestlers to help him defeat a mentally handicapped person.
Eugene more or less gets booed here. I’m not sure how meaningful that is given that so far tonight, the Toronto crowd has booed Edge and cheered Kurt Angle. I think around this time, Eugene’s gimmick was still getting cheers in most places.

Slugfest between the two men and some generic brawling from one side to the other. Eugene hits a back body drop and the fans are already sick of this match. Trips retreats to ringside and Eugene follows up with a double axe handle from the apron. Triple H grabs Lillian Garcia and uses her as a human shield, getting mass heel heat. Why are heels only just now using her as a shield?? Lillian gets dropped and Trips blindsides Eugene. A ref rushes out to help Lillian to the back from her shocking ordeal.
Triple H dismantles the Spanish announce table! They attempt a suplex from the apron to the table (because apparently the table is just THAT close to the ring), but Eugene obviously blocks it and suplexes Trips back in the ring, much to the disappointment of the audience that wanted to see Eugene get suplexed 15-feet from the ring to the announce table.
Mounted punches in the corner and Eugene gets all of it. Triple H stumbles out and sells it in true Nature Boy style. Trips starts feigning a leg injury and the ref throws up the crossed fists. It’s obviously a work but really it wouldn’t surprise me if Trips did blow out a quad from taking a punch to the head. While Eugene’s back is turned, Triple H makes a miraculous recovery and nails him from behind. A couple of backbreakers slow down the pace of the match.
Eugene counters a scoop slam and hits a few knockdowns. Triple H begs for mercy, in true Nature Boy style. I daresay Triple H has been spending some time with Ric Flair. Eugene offers his hand in mercy, but pulls Triple H into a Rock Bottom. Eugene goes for the People’s Elbow, and even flashes a priceless People’s Eyebrow, but he runs into a double A spinebuster.
The fight goes outside so Eugene can get whipped into the ring steps, and he gets a bit of a nasty gash on his arm. Back in the ring, we see the typical Triple H offense. Slow plodding match, punches and chokes. Sleeper hold! Because that’s what this match needs right now…
Eugene gets out of the sleeper. Trips goes for the Pedigree but it’s countered with a back body drop. Eugene starts hulking up! Oh no! Inverted atomic drop and a clothesline on Trips. Kick, wham, STUNNER! Trips bounces out of the ring and Eugene goes to collect him as Flair comes down the ramp. He catches Eugene’s attention while Trips recuperates. But Trips takes the Big Boot and the Atomic Leg Drop, but he kicks out at two! Must be a nice ego boost for Triple H to say he’s taken a Stunner, Rock Bottom and a Hogan Leg Drop all in one match and kicked out.
Eugene jumps into a Pedigree attempt, but he counters with a catapult into the corner. Trips stumbles out and takes a Pedigree from Eugene! Cover, but Flair helps Trips with a ropebreak. Because the Pedigree is the only move that Triple H would find impossible to kick out of, obviously.
Flair keeps interfering and the ref kicks him out. William Regal decides to come out and nail Flair with THE POWER OF THE PUNCH. Regal gets a bigger pop than anyone else in this match. Eugene turns around and eats a Pedigree for the three-count at 14:06.

I’m not going to say that the Eugene character had much long term appeal. In fact, a character like his wouldn’t survive in the more PC WWE we have today. And the fans turning on Eugene was inevitable unless they could find a way to evolve his character. But regardless of what Eugene’s future (or lack there of would have been), this match is just another example of Triple H burying another guy who was gaining momentum. We all knew Triple H wouldn’t put over Eugene here, but the fact that this program happened just reeks of Triple H flexing his creative control to hold another guy down and maintain an iron rule over the Raw roster. How nice of him though, to step away from the World Heavyweight Championship scene for a moment so he could grace us with his presence in the upper midcard dregs.

As far as match quality goes, it was dull and the live crowd turned against it.

Grade: E

Hold onto your hats because the Match of the Year is coming up…

Diva Dodgeball!
TEAM DREAM (a bunch of nobodies and Michelle McCool) vs. TEAM DIVA (Molly Holly; Jazz; Stacy Keibler; Gail Kim; Nidia; Victoria) – captained by Trish Stratus

Once in a lifetime, we see an epic match come together. A dozen of the world’s most talented models come together on the second biggest wrestling pay-per-view of the year to compete in the greatest dodgeball contest we have ever seen. And Jonathan Coachman is the only mortal with the iron will and integrity to call this clash of the titans down the middle.
Team Diva get all the balls to start with! Oh no, it’s on… They miss, and Victoria is eliminated! Stacy manages to avoid the DODGEBALL OF DOOM but she ends up eliminated too. As do Jazz and Victoria. Molly and Nidia miss both ball shots. Molly  gets eliminated. A ball comes at Gail but it seems to brush her hair. The referee calls it an elimination! That’s the biggest farce since 1997 Montreal! It’s Nidia versus Team Dream! Can she do it?? No. She can’t. She gets eliminated.
All of Team Dream survive. 
After the “match”, Trish and Victoria have a catfight because that’s what girls in the WWE do. 

This has no place on any wrestling card ever, anywhere. A total waste of time that no one gives a shit about and achieves nothing at all, short term or long term.

Grade: F-

WWE Championship
JBL © with Orlando Jordan vs. The Undertaker

I imagine JBL and Undertaker must have been feeling pretty nervous having to top the performance of Team Dream. Undertaker has some mighty big shoes to fill. He gets a decent pop from the bizarre Canadian crowd. JBL gets some heat too. Award for the guy with the worst job of the night is JBL’s limo driver, because backing that massive as fuck stretch limo out through that incredibly narrow passage is going to take an awful lot of turns in front of 17,000+
Lock up in the ring, and JBL gets thrown to ringside immediately. Brawl at ringside, Taker slams JBL’s arm into the ring steps. Inside the ring, “old schoooool”, but JBL brawls his way out of it. Swinging neckbreaker and JBL works on Taker’s arm. But Taker brawls back. Sidewalk Slam on Undertaker gets a two-count for JBL. The champ goes up top and hits a flying shoulder block. That’s something we don’t see from Bradshaw everyday. Gets a near fall though.
Undertaker battles back, “old schooool” connects and the Dead Man follows up with a reverse STO, JBL gets the rope break to escape the pin. Triangle choke by Taker and Orlando Jordan helps JBL get the rope break again. A big bootfest ensues leading to Jordan being knocked off the apron.
JBL goes low with a chop block and spends a decent chunk of the match working over the leg. Jordan distracts the ref while JBL smashes Taker’s knee with a chair. JBL works relentlessly on Taker’s leg with elbows while the crowd seem to be making their own fun with a Mexican wave. For a minute I thought the audience were actually getting into this, but no, they were just popping for themselves.
Taker counters a leg lock into a half crab and I don’t think anyone gives a shit. JBL gets dumped to ringside then gets worked over on the apron near the tables while the crowd starts chanting “Spanish table!”
Vintage Undertaker leg drop on the apron and the crowd boo when the action goes away from the table and back to the ring. JBL goes up top again, but Undertaker crotches him and nails a superplex for a near fall. Last Ride attempt gets blocked and JBL returns to the old leg assault. Taker tries to fight back with a Chokeslam, but JBL counters it, then walks into a sloppy as shit spinebuster for the near fall.
Both men get back up. Taker ducks a clothesline and hits a flying clothesline of his own. Snake eyes and a big clothesline gets a near fall. Orlando Jordan gets in the ring and distracts Taker while JBL recuperates and hits a big Clothesline from Hell! The pin gets a near fall though.
Ref bump and a double big boot spot leads to Jordan bringing the championship belt into the ring. JBL nails Taker with it and pins him for another near fall.
JBL forces the Dead Man in the corner and nails him with the mounted punches, but Taker counters with a Last Ride and somehow JBL kicks out of it. Taker goes for the Tombstone, but Jordan jumps in the ring with the title belt. Taker drops JBL and beats down Jordan, then snatches the title belt before whacking the champ with it. The ref sees and calls for a DQ and the fans shit on it. I’m surprised they even noticed the match ended.
Taker brawls with JBL to the outside of the ring and scoop slams him onto his limo. THE STRAPS ARE DOWN. Taker walks off, but of course he’s not done here, judging by the shoddy material on the roof of the limo, he’s still got to at least Chokeslam JBL through the roof. Yep, he does. Undertaker walks off and JBL gets stretchered out.



This was exactly what you expect a Bradshaw and Undertaker match to be. Seemingly endless brawling, a dead crowd, topped off with a finisher and kick out fest with the usual run-ins and ref bumps included. When the crowd is cheering for a table more than for your match, then you have a problem.

Grade: D-

World Heavyweight Championship
Chris Benoit © vs. Randy Orton

Main event time! The match WWE pretends didn’t happen. One of them at least. A couple of side notes first though. There seems to be quite a mix of Benoit AND Orton fans in attendance, judging by the signs in the crowd. It’s just surprising that there are Orton fans in the audience. Another note – neither of the world title matches received a video package or anything, not even like a recap of any parts of their feud. Meanwhile Angle & Guerrero and Triple H & Eugene both got video packages. Just thought that was a bit odd and worth a note. Maybe they were afraid the show would run over time or something, not too sure.
Orton gets a mixed reaction to the ring, and it’s awesome to see that it’s JUST Randy Orton. Being that Batista and Triple H’s matches were earlier in the night, I was a bit afraid that we would have the whole Evolution gang at ringside. But this looks like it’s going to be an old school challenger versus champion match.
Benoit gets a nice sexy pop from the Canadian crowd.

The two lock up, Orton with an arm wringer and into a wrist lock. Benoit reverses with a drop toe hold and slaps on a side headlock. Orton forces Benoit into the corner and they make a clean break. Test of strength sees Orton initially overpower Benoit, the champion being bridged over, but Benoit powers back and locks on an overhand wrist lock. Orton trips Benoit and misses a knee drop. Benoit comes back with a nice deep arm drag and into a key lock. Orton gets back to his feet and fires back with a shoulder block, but he stops to do a pretty boy pose. Benoit recovers and hits another arm drag. Orton fights his way out of an arm bar. Dropkick attempt misses, and Benoit goes for the Sharpshooter! Orton reverses into a Sharpshooter of his own for a big pop. Benoit reverses THAT Sharpshooter with his own Sharpshooter. Benoit tries to switch it into the Crossface but Orton escapes the ring. Sharpshooter looks a bit silly on Orton, being he’s half a foot taller than Benoit.
Back in the ring, Orton goes to pin Benoit but uses the ropes for leverage. It must be a blue moon because the ref actually sees and calls him on his bullshit.
Orton hangs Benoit up on the ropes and he falls to the apron. A bit of an awkward brawl and Orton for some reason joins Benoit on the apron. Benoit nails a very snappy DDT onto the apron, but it only gets a two-count.
Orton escapes the ring again. He takes a baseball slide from Benoit. Benoit then goes for a crazy suicide dive and just launches himself head first into the ring barricade, missing Orton by a mile. If you wonder how Benoit’s brain got to the way it was – you can refer to this move.
“Holy shit” chant from the crowd as Orton capitalizes with a pin back in the ring and gets a near fall. Orton nails a brutal overhead backbreaker transitioned into a neckbreaker that the fans appreciated. Chin lock of doom on Benoit! A staple of any Randy Orton match.
The champion fights out of the hold, ducks a clothesline and we have a meeting of the minds. Both men return to their feet. Benoit gets the better of a slugfest and nails a beautiful northern lights suplex with a bridge pin for a near fall.
The fight goes up to the top rope where Benoit attempts to superplex Orton. But it doesn’t work and Benoit gets chucked off back into the ring. High crossbody connects for a near fall. RKO is blocked, Benoit follows up with a clothesline. German suplex release and the Sharpshooter! Orton’s fading! Orton’s fading! Wait, no he’s not! He gets to the ropes and the ref calls for a break. Orton then takes six consecutive German suplexes. I think I would’ve just tapped.
Benoit goes up top for the flying headbutt, but he ends up eating Orton’s boots. Randy crawls in for the cover, but Benoit rolls him into the Crossface out of nowhere – beautiful! Orton rolls through successfully and then runs to the ropes. Benoit tries some forearms over the back. Orton comes back and tries another RKO, Benoit blocks it and goes for the Crossface again, but Orton spins out of it and hits the RKO! Pin gets three and Randy Orton becomes the youngest ever World Heavyweight Champion at 20:10. The crowd pops big time and Orton sells it and treats the win like the big deal that it is. The best? Benoit returns to the ring, offers his hand to Orton and shouts “be a man!” Orton shakes his hand. No sucker punch, no low blow, no RKO. Just a handshake for a well performed match.



This was excellent and a saving grace for another otherwise disappointing card. The post-match storyline sucked because Benoit quickly slipped back to being a midcard obscurity while Triple H resumed his reign of terror by turning Randy Orton into a jobber and undoing everything good about this match. Nevertheless, this was a top notch performance and Benoit put over Orton with absolute class and style. If it just had five more minutes, it would have been A grade, but I guess they needed those minutes to tell the Diva Dodgeball story.

Grade: B+

SummerSlam 2004 is one of those shows that looks great on paper. Some big main events, a Wrestlemania rematch, and a couple of decent midcard bouts to bulk up the card. Unfortunately it all just fell short. The six man tag deflated the crowd early on. Kane and Matt Hardy delivered some typical Raw brawling and Cena and Booker treated the event like a house show. The Intercontinental Championship triple threat was too short to really become anything but a time filler while Triple H and Eugene was just nonsense that no one really cared about. The Undertaker and JBL put on a match that might have impressed people in the 80s while the whole diva dodgeball thing was a blatant waste of time. Still, I guess it was a foretelling of the WWE’s attitude towards women. Out with the gorgeous, beautiful and talented divas that knew how to wrestle; in with the gorgeous and beautiful divas that don’t.
The two matches that saved the card from being the most disappointing SummerSlam in history were the Angle and Guerrero match and the World Heavyweight Championship main event. And even then, as good as these two matches were, they still had some room for improvement. It just felt like most of the workers rocked up to this show in cruise control mode and very few people stepped up to the plate to really perform. To top it off, the heels won all but one match on the card. And the match that a babyface won was part of a Best of Five tournament anyway so it didn’t really matter and no one cared.

Highlights
Chris Benoit vs. Randy Orton
Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle
Low Points
Diva Dodgeball
Triple H vs. Eugene
Most of the card
PPV Grade: D-

WWE Raw Review (04/08/2014)

The Authority cuts an infomercial in the ring to start the show. They’re in the ring to essentially hype up the matches headed into SummerSlam. They announce a “Beat the Clock Challenge” with Dean Ambrose facing Alberto Del Rio and Seth Rollins facing Rob Van Dam. The fastest winner gets to pick what match stipulation we see at SummerSlam. 
I like that, it’s basically saying “Alberto Del Rio and RVD are going to job tonight”. 
Roman Reigns comes out and demands Randy Orton in a match TONIGHT. Nope, obviously not happening. Trips books him into a Last Man Standing match with Kane, RIGHT NOW!

Last Man Standing match is solid and gets the crowd way into the show right off the bat. Both Kane and Reigns look particularly dangerous. Roman Reigns misses the Superman Punch and gets chokeslammed through a table, nice spot. He sells it like he’s completely KO’d until about the 7 count when he suddenly gets the energy to get up again. Superman Punch and a Spear takes Kane down for the ten-count. I really felt like they could’ve come up with something a bit more forceful to keep Kane down. Roman Reigns can’t be held down by a chokeslam through a table? But a spear practically knocks Kane unconscious? At the end of the day, this was an enjoyable match and really does a lot in terms of making Roman a strong opponent against Randy.

Pre-taped inteviews and montages of Lesnar and Cena. This was fine, I guess. Lesnar does better when Paul Heyman’s talking for him. This promo felt a bit shooty. Lesnar comments that had he not left the WWE, there would be no Cena. Cena says if Lesnar had stayed, there would be no Brock Lesnar. Cena also shoots on the fact that Lesnar leaves and comes back for a big fight every so often. Lesnar says he’s going to leave Cena in a pile of blood, urine and vomit. That’s worth the price of admission right there.
I guess we’re not going to see Lesnar or Cena tonight?

The Boomer Sooner song plays and I admittedly got a bit excited. I thought JR was making an unannounced comeback. But no, it’s Damien Sandow, continuing his identity crisis. Sandow shoots on Texas football, Mark Henry comes out to a big pop. Squash match ends with a very delayed World’s Strongest Slam.
Sandow is good in the ring, has solid mic skills and knows how to draw heat from the crowd. Seeing him job week in and week out is depressing.

Backstage segment with Adam Rose and his “rosebuds”. He looks into the Oculus Mirror and sees a massive “lemon” in a suit staring back at him. As much as I may not like Adam Rose’s gimmick, I still chuckled at this bit, even if it was partly just to sell The Oculus. 

Next week we’re going to get a Hulk Hogan birthday bash. Actually should be a good bit of fun. The “special guests” might draw some more viewers.

Dean Ambrose and Alberto Del Rio have an absolutely awesome match. I was expecting something short and snappy given the Beat the Clock stipulation, but instead that was just an amazing performance from both guys. Bordering on match of the year quality stuff IMO. Great ring psychology and some great spots. That reverse superplex looked insane. Loved it.

Rusev in action next. I like how everything about Rusev is Russian, down to the nameplate they show to the ring. We cut to a commercial break, and when we return, Rusev and Sin Cara have already had a match and of course, Rusev won. That was horrendous timing. See Rusev coming to the ring, ad break, Rusev is celebrating his victory. I probably should download the WWE app if this kind of thing is going to keep happening but I really can’t be bothered downloading and using it every Raw and SmackDown just to watch 30-second squash matches.
Lana sings in Russian, Swagger and Colter interrupt. Zeb delivers another inspirational American speech. Rusev and Lana feign leaving the ring but Rusev ends up whailing on Swagger with the Russian flag. Good spot. They show Zeb mercy. The promo work is pretty cheap but it works, Swagger is actually really over as a face because of it and Rusev is getting tons of cheap heat. Good stuff.

Apparently the WWE Network is going global.

Cesaro and Ziggler have a match with Miz at ringside again. Great yet short match between Ziggler and Cesaro. Loved the tilt-a-whirl backbreaker counter on Ziggler. Zigs picks up the win from the ZigZag though. The shortness of this match is a bit disheartening given Cesaro’s recent in-ring performances with guys like Cena and Ambrose.
Miz comes in and has a face to face encounter with Dolph and almost gets his moneymaker kicked in. 
"You can’t wrestle" chants, not sure I agree with that.

Paige has an interview backstage. At this point she’s just laying it on thick. I am interested in their feud though, so we’ll see where it goes.

The Dust Brothers are in action!!! The Dusts come out but don’t appear to have any form of “cosmic key” with them. Have to give Cody Rhodes credit for jumping into this gimmick head first. Decent short match to get the Dusts over with Stardust winning via some kind of reverse STO. I love and am weirded out by the “ET” finger touch Goldy and Stardust do after the match. Really intrigued as to where this team will go, I’ll be bitterly disappointed if matches against Rybaxel are all they’ll accomplish.

Backstage, Kane walks into the Authority office, takes off his mask and hands it to Stephanie. Unmasking him again? Pick one or the other!
Wonder what this means for Kane. Possible face turn?

Jericho faces Luke Harper next, with the same stipulation as his SmackDown match against Erick Rowan. If Jericho wins, Luke Harper will be barred from ringside in Jericho and Wyatt’s match at SummerSlam.
"Whole world in his hands" intro and it looks like Bray Wyatt isn’t ringside for this match.
This was a decent match while it lasted, up until Wyatt’s interference getting the DQ. I’m not sure why they had to booked his interference in such a way. He easily could have escorted Harper to the ring and they still would have had the same effect.
Ultimately, the outcome of the Harper and Rowan matches won’t matter in the grand scheme of things as long as it leads to Wyatt going over Jericho.

Of course. The blockbuster storyline between Diego and Fandango continues. Fandango’s new partner to compete with El Torito is Hornswoggle. I laughed at Hornswoggle’s deadpan delivery of his new role, and I feel incredibly filthy for doing so.
I’m glad that weeks of build up has culminated in this.
It’s all for nothing but Fandango is still a jobber. And it looks like Hornswoggle is going to be joining the ranks of Layla and Summer as scorned dance partners. Ugh. I’ve never seen a man so thoroughly buried week in, week out as I have with Fandango. Seriously, who has he pissed off?

Randy gets interviewed by Renee backstage. Typical Blandy Orton promo.

Bo Dallas versus R-Truth part three happens next. Bo gets the win by holding the tights. He’s earned that victory lap. R-Truth beats the hell out of Bo at ringside. Bo comes back with a ringside Bodog. What next for Bo? I assume we’ll get another R-Truth match. It’s nice to see this vicious side of Bo Dallas though.

We get another good backstage promo from Wyatt, but it’s a bit jarring coming out of nowhere. Why not cut it in the ring after beating Jericho down?

We get a repeat of the same pretaped Cena/Lesnar promo. Is that really necessary?

Seth Rollins needs to beat Rob Van Dam in under 15:42. Justin Roberts announces that per The Authority, Seth Rollins will not be facing Rob Van Dam in the Beat the Clock challenge. Instead we’re going to get Seth Rollins versus Heath Slater. Dean Ambrose ends up at ringside while Slater and Rollins go at it in the ring. Slater basically gets squashed while Ambrose tears up Rollins’ MITB contract, fills his briefcase with soda and popcorn and stuffs JBL’s hat inside. The distraction is enough for Slater to win with the roll up. Great win for Heath Slater, despite the fact WWE outwardly acknowledged how weak he is and that he’s supposedly not even in Rollins’ league just by including him in this match. This was good for the Rollins and Ambrose feud, which up to this point has just been brawls and beat downs.
The Texas crowd, and myself, were all pretty bummed at being robbed of what could have been an awesome match between RVD and Seth Rollins. WWE continues to waste Rob Van Dam as a talent for no reason. 

Dean Ambrose will reveal the SummerSlam stipulation on SmackDown. Who bets the Money in the Bank contract will be put on the line?

Our main event tonight is a contract signing. Michael Cole seems to be the mediator. Never thought I’d see the day where the Bella twins are one of the most over acts on Raw. Wow.
Triple H refers to Stephanie McMahon as “an icon stepping out of retirement” for an “historic match”. Oh boy…
Loud “CM Punk” chants. “Piece of trash” has replaced “bitch” as the word of the week.
Stephanie gives Nikki a Pedigree while Triple H traps Brie in the corner, then does the “yes” chants. Brie slaps Triple H, but gets blindsided by Steph who gives her a pedigree as well. Okay. This segment was actually amazing. Stephanie McMahon is the best heel in the WWE right now. Not even joking.

Really good Raw in my opinion. There was a lot more good on this show than there was bad. Most of the storylines progressed to an extent. I will say that both Lesnar and Cena being absent is incredibly noticeable. They can tape as many interviews as they want, but people want to see a confrontation eventually. We’ve only got one more Raw to go before SummerSlam, they can’t keep using the slow burn method of promotion here.
Otherwise, between the Beat the Clock matches, the opening Last Man Standing match and the McMahon/Bella signing - this was a very solid Raw.

WWE SmackDown! Review (01/08/2014)

Cesaro and Jack Swagger open up the show. A good and unexpected little gem to start things off. Neither man should really be losing this match, but ultimately it’s Swagger who needs the win more given that he actually has something booked for SummerSlam. 
Their match is solid and hard-hitting but a little too brawlier than I had expected. Nevertheless, solid match. Swagger wins with the ankle lock, nice clean victory. I hope they come up with something a bit more long term for Cesaro. He’s putting on excellent matches week in and week out. 

As far as the match goes, I don’t know maybe it’s not coming through that great on TV but the crowd seemed pretty dead for this. Maybe it’s just me, but this didn’t seem like a crowd that gave a shit about what’s going on in the ring. Still a decent performance. 

After the match, Lana comes out and offers a challenge on behalf of Rusev and the greatest leader in the world, Vladimir Putin. As expected, it’s for a flag match at SummerSlam. It’s accepted of course. Prediction: Rusev wins and moves onto the United States title.

Randy Orton comes out to a decent amount of heat. It seems like the fans have stopped playing with their phones and are now paying attention. Orton doesn’t do much. Just a short and sweet promo topped off with a recap showing Orton’s beat down over Roman Reigns on Raw. He issues a challenge for SummerSlam, which isn’t answered. I figure we’ll get that answer on Raw.
I’m starting to get behind the direction Randy is going in. He’s a bit more independent now and less of an Authority henchman. 

Bo Dallas and R-Truth have their rematch with a shitty ending. Bo keeps hammering on R-Truth, who’s on the ropes. The ref counts to five and Bo doesn’t stop, so he calls the bell for a DQ. 
After the match, Bo beats on Truth some more, then gets some genuine heel heat with a promo. You just have to Bolieve.

I really still dislike the fact that he’s losing matches - to R-Truth of all people - but I’m glad to see that they’re still trying to do something here. I’ll admit, Bo got some heat with his mic work. If he has to take a few losses to be able to do something relevant, then I guess it is for the best.

Next up, we have an epic clash between Rosa Mendes and WWE Diva’s Champion: AJ Lee. Match is a non-event as Rosa taps to the black widow immediately. 
On her way out. Paige shoves AJ off of the stage and EMTs rush out to help and end up stretchering her out with a neck brace.
AJ sells what is perhaps less than a one-foot drop off the stage (landing on her feet and rolling) as though she’s been hit by a truck. The divas take bigger bumps than that from the second rope all the time. Nevertheless, the idea of this spot worked. Paige is sufficiently solidified as a heel and their inevitable match at SummerSlam becomes that much more personal. Good stuff in my book. AJ’s certainly going to lose if she needs a neck brace after a gentle push a foot off the stage though.

Dean Ambrose takes on Kane and Seth Rollins in a handicap match. Ambrose basically sells for Kane and Rollins for almost the entire match until eventually grabbing a chair and getting himself DQ’d. Rollins bails while Kane gets DDT’d over the chair and sent out of the ring. 
Mostly good stuff, my only criticism being that the match went too long considering it was just a beatdown on Ambrose essentially. But the end result was still achieved. No one goes over clean and we want to see Dean Ambrose get his hands on Seth Rollins all the more.

Jericho delivers an enjoyable enough interview backstage. He announces that the stipulation in his match against Erick Rowan tonight will mean that if he wins - Rowan will be banned from ringside at SummerSlam. Good idea.

Stardust and Goldust have another award winning promo. These vignettes are bizarre and confusing and I’ll bet that whoever’s writing them doesn’t even understand them. Nevertheless, they are so off the wall that I find myself enjoying them every week just for the weird factor. I daresay it’s even one of the reasons I’m tuning into SmackDown. They need to get the Dusts out in the ring sometime soon. People will turn on these vignettes soon enough.

Jobdango is in the ring and I can’t help but roll my eyes as Diego comes out yet again with El Torito, Layla and Summer on his arms. Basically exactly the same thing that happened in their last match happens again. 
At this point I can only imagine Fandango stepped on someone’s shoes backstage. It’s one thing for him to job week in and week out in a seemingly directionless “storyline”, it’s another thing for him to basically repeat the exact same loss on TV to the same guy in virtually the same scenario.
Business is good for Diego though, who picks up his second TV win in a row.
This story needs to go somewhere though - otherwise just end it. 

Intercontinental Champion Miz is delivering guest commentary for the next match between Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio. Solid match as you would expect - remember when these guys were world champions??
Anyway… like I said, decent match. Alberto pulled off a beautiful bridged German suplex at one point too. Half way through the match, Miz gets on the announce table and decides to continue his “acceptance speech” from last week for the whole arena to hear. Eventually he decides to thank Dolph Ziggler for his victory, which sets him off and Miz runs out of the arena “like a scolded dog”. Ziggler gets kicked and then taps to the cross armbreaker in the ring.
Some might not like the Miz’s schtick. Some might not like that he tainted a perfectly good match by talking (although Cole does that all the time). But it works in the context of the feud. What does suck is how much of a minor character Alberto Del Rio has become. WWE have left him fall far. It’ll take some work to get him back to a point where he could be considered a big deal again.

Bray Wyatt delivers yet another excellent promo. One of the best promo guys in the company today, no doubt about it.

Y2J comes out for his match against Rowan and gets a nice big pop. A lot of people dig this match but I struggled to stay into it. I think it’s Rowan’s offence. He looks like a big scary dude. He looks mean. He looks intimidating. But his move set in the ring consists largely of punch, kick, clothesline. And when he’s in control, the match really slows down to a halt. Jericho put in a decent effort and helped carry the load though. So it’s watchable. Jericho wins meaning we won’t be seeing much of Rowan at SummerSlam.
We’ll certainly see Jericho and Harper in a similar match over the next week or so. This’ll inevitably lead to Bray Wyatt getting his heat back with a clean win over Jericho. But I have to say, Bray has been booked strongly enough over the last few weeks and has held himself so well in his promos that it feels like his loss at Battleground didn’t actually hurt his momentum much at all.

Overall this SmackDown was average. It wasn’t a bad show. It wasn’t a good show either. Like most SmackDowns it just struggles from being a secondary to Raw. You tune into SmackDown to see recaps and catch ups. It’s unlikely you’re really going to see anything major go down on SmackDown. They purposely save the big stuff for Raw, which offers little reason to tune into SmackDown.
This edition did have some better storyline progress than last week’s, so that’s definitely a good thing. Cesaro and Swagger get match of the night for me.

WWE SummerSlam 2012 Review

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Los Angeles, California
14,205 in attendance
Announce team: Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler

Champions going in:
WWE Champion - CM Punk
World Heavyweight Champion - Sheamus
WWE Intercontinental Champion - The Miz
WWE United States Champion - Santino Marella (won by Cesaro during the preshow)
WWE Diva’s Champion - Layla
WWE Tag Team Champions - Kofi Kingston & R-Truth

Shows opens with your typical PPV video montage hyping the history of SummerSlam and focusing on the Triple H & Lesnar main event.

Dolph Ziggler with Vickie Guerrero vs. Chris Jericho

Ziggler gets a mixed reaction. I think most of his heel heat is more directed at Vickie if anything, Zig’s definitely got some supporters in the crowd. Jericho gets a major pop and comes out with his ribs taped up. A video replays Ziggler’s backstage sneak attack on Jericho from SmackDown a few days earlier, which is the reason he’s hurt.
Fast paced opening. Jericho explodes with a flying back elbow, gets shot into the corner and comes out with a springboard clothesline. Jericho back drops Ziggler over the ropes and to ringside, then goes for his patented springboard dive, only to miss. 
Ziggler takes control and works over the midsection with a dropkick to the injured ribs and a seated abdominal stretch. Jericho fights out of it but takes a gutbuster followed by a neckbreaker. Ziggler pins his opponent with his foot in true Jericho style.image

Jericho fights back with a double axe handle off the ropes, picks up some momentum and lands the running enziguiri but Ziggler regains control following a fameasser. Ziggler and Jericho both end up on the second rope where Jericho hits with a frankensteiner for a near fall.
Jericho lands the one handed bulldog and goes for a lionsault, but Ziggler gets the knees up then lands the Zig Zag! Pin gets a near fall and Vickie nearly has a fit at ringside. The Ziggler fans boo as he walks into a Codebreaker. But Ziggler rolls out of the ring. Jericho follows in pursuit and returns Ziggler to the ring. Jericho’s stalled on the apron by Vickie, allowing Ziggler to capitalize with a small package for a close near fall. Jericho throws Dolph into the turnbuckle post, he comes stumbling out and walks straight into a liontamer. Dolph taps in 13:05. 

A great opener from two guys who clearly have some tight chemistry. They backed themselves into a corner with the booking of the match. Jericho didn’t exactly have a good 2012 and lost way more matches than he won. Certainly an argument can be made that Ziggler needed the win to stay strong as the Money in the Bank holder, but Jericho still needs the odd big win here and there. Even if his job nowadays is to essentially put younger guys over, that job becomes redundant if Jericho loses 100% of the time. 
That aside, I really can’t say anything bad about the performances here.

Grade: B+

We cut to a commercial for Slim Jims. Don’t you love commercials on pay-per-view?

Backstage, Lesnar and Heyman are interviewed by Josh Mathews. Heyman tells Triple H that they have two words for him: “tap out.” Excellent stuff.

Daniel Bryan vs. Kane

I think this is intended as a heel match, but the fans are very much in the corner of Bryan. Kane comes out to the ring with his double masks. Are two masks cooler than one?

Bryan starts off with low kicks on Kane and tries to chop away at the big man’s base. Kane comes back with a powerslam and a low dropkick. Kane uses his strength to control a large portion of the match, brawling and choking Bryan in the corner. He lifts him up for a powerslam, Bryan slips out but eats a big boot. Kane dumps Bryan to ringside. Some brawling before Bryan returns to the ring and hits Kane with a suicide dive outside of the ring. Back in the ring, a series of clotheslines followed by a sidewalk slam gets a two count over Bryan.
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Bryan slaps Kane across the face and it pisses him right off. He beats the hell out of Bryan in the corner. Bryan trips up Kane with a drop toe hold then goes for the LeBelle Lock, Kane avoids it though. Bryan kicks Kane down and goes up top for the headbutt. Seems to connect, but Kane catches him by the throat and drives him into the mat with a chokeslam. Rather than go for the pin, Kane does the old cutthroat sign. He lifts Bryan up for a Tombstone Piledriver, but Bryan counters into a small package for the surprise win at 8:02.

Bryan and Kane don’t have tremendous chemistry one on one, but Bryan’s skilled enough and Kane’s experienced enough to make the match enjoyable. Given more time and better booking, this match could have been better, but otherwise it’s fairly regular midcard stuff. The live crowd really dug it though, thanks to Bryan.

Grade: C

Cut to backstage and Kane is on a war path looking for Bryan. Josh Mathews gets in the way and he gets thrown aside for his trouble. Don’t slap Kane I guess.

WWE Intercontinental Championship
The Miz © vs. Rey Mysterio

Mysterio comes out dressed as Batman but Cole and Lawler argue over who it is. Ugh.
Some nice fast technical wrestling starts the match off with Rey getting the better of the exchange, tripping Miz up into a pin. Miz kicks out and decides to brawl with Rey instead. The fight ventures ringside where Rey goes for a wheelbarrow move, but Miz counters and slams him over the ring barricade.
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Back in the ring, Miz works Rey over with knees to the back and a rear chin lock. Rey battles back and counters a back suplex with a cross body for a near fall. Rey mounts some offense but Miz gets him up in a torture rack and lands a beautiful backbreaker. Why do people criticize Miz’s wrestling ability again?
Miz goes up top but gets crotched and falls off. Rey goes up top and lands a seated senton then goes for a hurracanrana, but it’s countered into a powerbomb off of the ropes for a near fall. Rey counters out of a powerslam into a DDT and ends up on the top rope. Miz goes to set him up for a superplex but gets knocked back before taking a flying hurracanrana and conveniently landing set up for a 619. The 619 connects but Rey misses the splash. Miz goes for the Skullcrushing Finale, but Rey counters with a roll up for a near fall. Miz goes back for another Skullcrushing Finale and it works this time. He gets the three at 9:09.

Mostly entertaining but it felt like Miz and Rey struggled to get a real flow going, so a lot of the match felt a bit forced. There were some nice spots, but the finish was a bit underwhelming for me and ended up being pretty standard.

Grade: C+

We get treated to an ad for the WWE app. Sellouts.

Backstage, Theodore Long leaves AJ’s office with Eve. CM Punk enters and whinges about his match while AJ gives him the silent treatment.

World Heavyweight Championship
Sheamus © vs. Alberto Del Rio with Ricardo Rodriguez

The ref checks both men for weapons.
Both men lock up and roll around the ropes trying to get the advantage. They end up in such an intense lock up that they tumble out of the ring. They brawl at ringside and soon return to the ring. Sheamus gets in a boot and a swinging neckbreaker. Del Rio tries to fight back but takes a kamikaze roll for a two-count. Sheamus looks to end it early with a Celtic Cross, but Del Rio finds safety on the top rope. Sheamus sets him up into an electric chair position while Del Rio “accidentally” pulls the turnbuckle pad off. Del Rio lands behind Sheamus and goes for the cross armbreaker. Sheamus avoids it and goes for a Brogue Kick but misses and falls out of the ring.
Del Rio takes control with a shoulder block and chin lock. Sheamus fights out of it but Del Rio maintains control and goes for a Brogue Kick of his own, but Sheamus counters it. Sheamus gets dumped onto the apron and the fight goes to the top rope. Del Rio hits Sheamus with a top rope armbreaker take down for a two-count. Sheamus goes for a kamikaze roll but Del Rio reverses into the cross armbreaker. Sheamus powers his way through it and counters it with something of a half-assed powerbomb. But hey, it works.
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Sheamus goes for the Brogue Kick but Del Rio backs into the corner and Sheamus ends up going with a shoulder thrust instead. He goes up for the corner punches but Del Rio drops him head first on the exposed turnbuckle and nails a heel kick for a very near fall. Del Rio gets all pissed and drags Ricardo into the ring. Ricardo throws Del Rio a shoe but Sheamus catches it and nails Del Rio with it while the ref is off smelling the roses. He hits Del Rio with the Irish Curse and pins him for the three-count, but his foot is on the ropes. Sheamus removes Del Rio’s foot from the ropes and the ref never notices. Sheamus retains after 11:22 and the fans boo the shit out of him.

This was well on its way to being a great match, right up until the finish. The finish spoiled the rest of the match for me. A heavyweight championship match should have a big exciting ending, but instead this ending was just a bunch of stuff that happened. And having Sheamus straight up celebrate his win despite knowing that he didn’t win clean made the babyface seem like an absolute tool. Even if the rope break didn’t happen, the ending still would have been very, very weak. This is SummerSlam, not SmackDown.

Grade: C

A video shows the National Guard in attendance. They get a bigger pop than Sheamus.

A replay from the preshow sees Triple H telling tonight’s referee not to DQ or count anyone out. The only way the main event is ending is via pinfall or submission. Maybe you should have booked this as No Holds Barred then eh?

WWE Tag Team Championship
Kofi Kingston © & R-Truth © vs. The Prime Time Players

Truth and Young start the match, Truth gets the upperhand. Shoulder block and hip toss leads to a stupid looking leg drop for a two count. Darren Young fights back and drives R-Truth into the enemy corner. Titus O’Neil gets the tag. Boots Truth to the mat and puts him into the front face lock. R-Truth fights out of it and takes down O’Neil with a back heel kick. Truth tags in Kofi who comes in hot with a springboard punch and a standing dropkick. Kofi ducks under a clothesline from O’Neil and delivers a flying clothesline followed by the Boom Drop. Kofi gets distracted by Darren at ringside as O’Neil retreats. The fight goes outside of the ring where Kofi ducks a clothesline from Darren Young but takes one from Titus O’Neil.
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Back in the ring, Kofi takes a pathetic pumphandle slam. Young gets tagged in. Back suplex and a powerslam on Kofi gets two. O’Neil gets tagged back in and he latches on an abdominal stretch. Kofi fights out and counters a slam with a DDT. Truth and Young both get tags.
Truth takes down Young with a corkscrew and a seated front suplex. Titus breaks up the pin attempt. Titus gets dumped outside the ring and Kofi takes him out with a springboard cross body.
Darren Young goes for a school boy but Truth kicks out and hits a reverse STO for the win in 7:07.

Absolutely nothing special here. And nothing particularly bad either. Really just a filler match. No one expected PTP to walk away with the belts. It’s hard to stay interested in these sorts of matches. Would have fit well on WWE Superstars.

Grade: D+

WWE show us what is legit like a 5-minute video of SummerSlam axxess with people talking about how great WWE is. Who cares, save this shit for something that people didn’t pay money for. You’re advertising footage of an axxess event that people can’t buy tickets to. Where’s the point?

WWE Championship
Triple Threat Match
CM Punk © vs. Big Show vs. John Cena

The crowd is pretty anti-Cena tonight. And despite the fact that Punk is heel more or less, the crowd is far and away on his side.
Big Show just outright dominates most of the match. This is the Big Show Show basically. Punk and Cena come at him one at a time, each time Show easily fends them off with headbutts, punches and big chest chops. Punk and Cena try to gang up on him with a double suplex, but Show counters by suplexing them both at the same time.
Show gets Cena out of the ring with the butt splash in the corner and tries the same treatment on Punk, but gets a dropkick to the knee for his trouble. Punk tries the GTS, but he can’t lift Big Show on his shoulders. Cena gets into the ring and tries an AA, he gets the big man up but Punk knocks him off balance. Show works over Punk and knocks Cena out of the ring. Punk comes back with a cross body but gets caught, Show turns it into the final cut. He then sets up the WMD but Cena gets in the ring and intervenes. He’s all fired up and punches Show into the ropes, runs off the ropes but gets speared out of his shoes. Pin gets a near fall.
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Show drags Punk and Cena to the corner where he looks to give a second rope splash to both of them, but Punk escapes just in time and breaks up a pin over Cena. Punk gets dumped to ringside as Cena and Show brawl. Cena manages to hit with the spinning back suplex then looks for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Punk hits with a flying clothesline.
Punk goes up top and hits Show with a flying elbow drop. Show aggressively kicks out. Punk locks Show into a version of the Anaconda Vise. Show powers out of it. Cena returns to the ring and hits with a shoulder block on Show, followed by the STF, but Show powers out of that too. Cena goes for a flying cross body, but Show catches him into a body slam.
Punk knocks Show down with a top rope clothesline, then gets him with three running knees in the corner. He goes for the running bulldog, but Show pushes him off. Cena hits with a leg drop over Show from the top rope. Punk gets the Anaconda Vise on while Cena locks him into the STF. Big Show taps!
For some ridiculous reason, the ref rings the bell and just shrugs as to the decider. AJ Lee comes out to the ring while Punk and Cena both lobby for the victory. Punk’s excuse is “let the fans decide!” and Cena’s excuse is “I heard the bell ring!” AJ stalls for suspense but it doesn’t build suspense so much as piss people off. Finally she orders the match to be restarted before skipping away.
Punk and Cena turn around and both get chokeslammed by Show. Show pins Cena, Cena kicks out. Show pins Punk, Punk kicks out.
Cena gets to his feet first. Show goes for the WMD but misses. Cena hits the AA. Just as he does, Punk chucks him out of the ring and picks up the three-count on Big Show to retain at 12:34.

That was one big disappointment. Yeah, Show looked strong here. Both Punk and Cena sold well for him and made him look like a big unstoppable force in the ring, but having Show control the pace of the match killed it. I’ve seen Big Show perform much better in previous triple threats before as well. Further to that, the false finish was absurd. For one thing, that kind of double submission/double pin crap doesn’t fly nowadays. There’s been maybe one or two instances where they’ve added special circumstances to an ending like that. The match never should have stopped and it shouldn’t have required having AJ come out to the ring. It just broke up the match and was completely pointless given the manner that they decided to end the match in anyway. I was expecting much better.

Grade: D

Oh look at this slew of world class celebrities in the audience. Why it’s Fred Durst, from that terrible band that hasn’t been relevant since around the last time Foley was the champ. And it’s former WCW World Champion David Arquette in probably his biggest feature role of the year as he plays Man Sitting in Audience at SummerSlam with Toy Belt. And it’s Wrestlemania veteran Maria Menounos! Ugh.

Some trailer for a WWE Studios film called The Day is played. I haven’t seen it.

Some muso I haven’t heard of plays a theme song. I find it hard to get into WWE concerts. The sound jobs are usually terrible. I couldn’t hear this guy’s guitar at all, his solo was legit almost on mute. There are at least four people in the crowd who are into this performance. Everyone else who is dancing is on the WWE payroll.

Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman vs. Triple H

Here we have it. The money match. Lesnar and Triple H.
Lesnar’s got himself a lot of heat on the way to the ring, while Trips gets a big pop. The bell rings and Lesnar immediately charges Trips into the corner with shoulder thrusts. He puts him in the Kimura Lock straight away but Triple H fights out of it. Trips clotheslines Lesnar over the ropes and Heyman doesn’t look happy about it. Lesnar goes back in with more corner brawling. A few knees and another clothesline sends Lesnar to the outside. Some tough smack talk to Lesnar from Trips who allows Lesnar to re-enter the ring. Lesnar removes his gloves and throws them aside. Oooh it’s on now! Lesnar with a double leg takedown nails Trips right in the head with a stiff as shit punch. Trips retreats selling his head well.
They brawl around ringside for a bit. Lesnar gets the advantage and hammer lock slams Trips onto the announce table. Back in the ring, Triple H tries to fight back, but Lesnar hits with another hammerlock slam. He locks him into the Kimura again. He wraps The Game’s arm around the top rope but the ref won’t DQ Lesnar for holding on too long. Lesnar lets go and throws Trips to the ring post shoulder first before going for an F5. It’s countered, Trips goes for a clothesline but misses and takes a German suplex. Stop the match!!! Lesnar has a slight nosebleed!
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Lesnar works away at the arm as Triple H retreats to the apron. Lesnar goes after him but he gets stun gunned over the top rope. Trips returns to the ring and nails Lesnar with a DDT, with the bad arm mind you. Lesnar goes straight into the Kimura Lock. Trips fights out. Lesnar with another hammerlock slam. Trips retreats and Lesnar follows. He reverses The Game into the ring steps then drives him into the Spanish announce table. The table actually tips over. Lesnar climbs up on the capsized table and improvs an axe handle on The Game.
Back in the ring, Lesnar goes for a pin with a small package, gets one. Lesnar drops Triple H with a really stiff clothesline. He goes for a suplex but Triple H counters with a suplex of his own for a short breather. Triple H goes for the Pedigree but Lesnar slips out of it and whips Trips over the ropes. Fight returns to ringside. Trips shoves Lesnar into the corner of the announce table. Actually looked to me he might have crotched himself on the corner. That face is the face of a man who’s just been nut-shotted for real. But he starts selling the stomach instead, even to the point of saying “no, not my stomach!” Michael Cole talks about Lesnar’s history of stomach problems.
Lesnar and Trips return to the ring. Triple H hits with tons of knees to the gut and Paul Heyman looks like a very concerned man. Triple H hits the AA spinebuster. Sets him up for the Pedigree, Lesnar counters into an F5 attempt. Triple H slips out of it and hits with the Pedigree this time. Pins Lesnar but doesn’t get the three count. Lesnar comes back with a desperate low blow. The ref looks conflicted as though he’s about to DQ Lesnar, but Heyman pleads with him that Triple H wants this to continue. The ref doesn’t DQ and the match continues.
Lesnar hits the F5 and goes for the pin, Triple H kicks out right before three. Crowd goes nuts. Lesnar goes for the Kimura Lock. Triple H gets to the ropes. Lesnar won’t let go though. Triple H physically punches his way out of it and hits a second Pedigree. He crawls into the pin, but Lesnar comes to life and locks him into the Kimura again with the leg vice and all. He tries to fight out of it, but eventually gives in and taps out at 18:45.

I wanted to fault this match for so many reasons, but I can’t. Because at the end of the day, this match displayed what I want from a wrestling match: story and psychology. Brock Lesnar went out there and didn’t just beat Triple H, he dissected him. He pulled him apart and destroyed him. Triple H went in with a bad wing and Lesnar relentlessly focused on it the entire match. They didn’t work this like your typical WWE main event. It felt more like a fight. And perhaps losing was Triple H’s own undoing, having so adamantly sworn the referee off of DQing or counting out anyone.
I still feel that perhaps they should have promoted this as a No Holds Barred match. But then I guess people may have expected some chair shots and more of an all-out brawl, so maybe they made the right choice, I dunno.
Heyman does some excellent work at ringside without damaging the integrity of the match. The crowd died down for parts, which took away from the drama a bit. And this kind of match really, really reminded me of how JR is several leagues better than Michel Cole as play-by-play. Cole went through the motions as per normal whereas JR would have milked every move for all its worth and helped relay the story so much better.
Nevertheless, the few minor faults aside. I really enjoyed this. I always wondered what it would have been like if Triple H and Brock Lesnar had been on the same show back 10-12 years ago. I think Triple H may have held Lesnar back, as was his MO at the time. But I’m glad Triple H put Lesnar over here. It did wonders for him and showed maturity from The Game.

Rating: A-

On paper SummerSlam #25 looks pretty good. But it just doesn’t deliver in a lot of respects. It doesn’t feel like a proper SummerSlam. It doesn’t have that second biggest PPV of the year feeling. In all honesty, a lot of it just felt like a free-to-air supershow, and I’m not sure why. The card looks solid. It just doesn’t have that big event feel, even though WWE went to disgusting lengths to talk themselves up and sell the show as a big event. There were too many downsides and shortcomings though. Bryan and Kane didn’t have enough time to really click; Miz and Mysterio never really hit their stride; the tag title match was basically your usual TV offerings but you had to pay for it; the WWE title match was booked and worked subpar; the World Heavyweight title match flopped at the end. Ziggler and Jericho put on a fantastic opening performance to pull you in, and Lesnar and Triple H go a long way to redeeming the show. They’re like two excellent quality book ends holding up a collection of shit books that you won’t want to read again.
At the end of the day, these two performances can’t wholly make up for what is a pretty damn mediocre pay-per-view. Which is disappointing when you consider the scale of the show and quality of talent involved.

Highlights
Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H
Chris Jericho vs. Dolph Ziggler

Low Points
The WWE Championship Triple Threat
The World Heavyweight Championship ending
The Tag Team Championship Match

PPV Grade: D

[Retro Review] WWF SummerSlam 1998

Madison Square Garden, New York
21.588 in attendance
Announce team: Jim Ross & Jerry “The King” Lawler

Champions going in:
WWF Champion: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
WWF Intercontinental Champion: The Rock
WWF European Champion: D’Lo Brown
WWF Light Heavyweight Champion: Taka Michinoku
WWF Tag Team Champions: Kane & Mankind

WWF European Championship
D’Lo Brown (c) vs. Val Venis

This is during the height of The Nation of Domination and when Val Venis was arguably at the peak of his popularity shortly after debuting. The weird addition to this match is the “armour” that D’Lo brings to ring. Basically a black chestplate that supposedly has some form of protection in it. Throughout the match, D’Lo no sells most moves and strikes to his chest and Venis is unable to lift D’Lo for any slams. I assume D’Lo’s supposedly wearing a weight vest.

D’Lo dominates a large portion of the match with scattered offense while Edge mysteriously watches from the audience for reasons(?) Venis won’t stay down, even after Brown counters a top rope move into the Sky High for a near fall. D’Lo goes for a few too many high flying moves and Venis comes back with a powerslam. A nice double arm suplex leaves D’Lo in the middle of the ring and Venis goes for the Money Shot, but the champ gets his knees up to block the move. D’Lo fights back and absolutely botches a powerbomb by dropping Venis on his head, this only reminds me of poor Droz. D’Lo goes for the move again and nails the running powerbomb for a two-count. Lo Down from the top rope misses and Venis pretty much hulks up. He rips the chest protector off of D’Lo for massive applause from the fans. Venis puts the chest protector on himself and for some reason referee Jim Korderas has a major issue with this. He’s perfectly fine with D’Lo wearing it though. Venis goes to the top rope with D’Lo down and sets up another Money Shot. The ref is so adamant that he take the chest protector off he inadvertently crotches Venis on the top rope. Fight goes back in the middle of the ring and the ref won’t leave Venis alone, so he shoves him away. D’Lo steals the chest protector back while the ref calls for a DQ on Venis for assaulting him. The fans hate the finish and so do I, and so does Val, who gives the ref the Money Shot after the match. D’Lo defeats Val Venis via DQ in 15:33. 

The match started off a bit meh, but they started to pull it back with some great counter wrestling. I feel like Venis carried the match for the most part, especially towards the end. The fans were pretty mixed with both men having their share of fans in the audience. I heard a lot of “D’Lo sucks” chants at the start, but then fans seemed to rally behind him later in the match.
The addition of the “chestplate” changed the match up greatly and actually made it pretty interesting in a stupid sort of way. Unfortunately the ending was dumb as hell. Is the ref some kind of Nation of Domination sympathizer or did he just have it in for Venis?

Grade: C+

Meanwhile, Michael Cole interviews Mankind who is surveying the damage done to his hearse. A ride that was trashed by Stone Cold on Sunday Night Heat who assumed Undertaker and/or Kane were in it. Turns it out it was just Mankind’s SummerSlam wheels. 

Four-on-Three Handicap Match
The Oddities (Kurrgan, Golga & Giant Silva) with Luna vs. Kaientai (Taka Michinoku, Teioh, Togo & Funaki) with Yamaguchi-San

ICP come out and play The Oddities to the ring. Ugh. This ugly slice of 90’s isn’t my cup of tea, but seeing Kurrgan dance perhaps made it worthwhile. But probably not.

This match is a crapfest. You know it, I know it, everyone in the ring knows it, the fans know it. Four Japanese cruiserweights against three giant freaks. Kaientai are constantly on the defensive with the big guys just tossing them around for a few minutes. There were one or two fun spots here that must have required some degree of coordination. All four members of Kaientai splash Golga, but Golga comes back with a double clothesline that takes out all four men. The match ends at 10:08 when everyone gets chokeslammed and Golga literally lays down and pins everyone.


I can imagine Vince sitting back there thinking this is hilarious, but it was just torture. This is the kind of stuff they play on repeat in POW camps. It went for far too long for what it was and the fans didn’t give a shit. 

Grade: F-

Hair vs. Hair 
"Double J" Jeff Jarrett with Southern Justice vs. X-Pac with Howard Finkel

A replay shows JJ shaving The Fink’s head bald on Sunday Night Heat, so the Fink accompanies X-Pac to the ring. Fink probably gets a bigger pop than X-Pac does. Fink and Pac have two words for Jarrett, take a guess what they are.

X-Pac owns JJ in the start with a series of fast-paced counter holds. Spinning heel kick and a clothesline sends JJ to ringside. X-Pac accentuates it with a springboard plancha. 

JJ eventually gets the upperhand and the match more or less stays even from there. A sleeper slows the match down in the middle, but X-Pac speeds things back up again, but loses control with a missed high cross body from the top rope. JJ locks the figure four on and X-Pac sells it like a pro to the point that you almost expect him to tap. Rope break stops the hold and X-Pac comes back in a decent way with a bronco buster and a sit-down powerbomb. X-Pac goes back to the well for another bronco buster, but JJ blatantly gets a low blow. The Fink jumps on the apron and argues with the ref over the obvious low blow. Jarrett decks The Fink, walks into the X-Factor but it’s not enough to put him away.
Southern Justice get involved with Mark Canterbury distracting the ref. Dennis Knight tries to take out X-Pac with JJ’s acoustic guitar but he misses. Pac snatches the guitar and blasts Jarrett with it to pick up the win in 11:09. 
After the match, the New Age Outlaws and the Headbangers come out to the ring and restrain Jarrett while X-Pac and The Fink give him a nice trim. Jarrett manages to escape total baldness though. Pansy.

Very solid and enjoyable match, fast paced and believable. The outside interference was expected and didn’t take away from the match either. Good performance. I liked the King’s salty words for The Fink, comparing him to as the opposite of Midas: “Everything Finkel touches turns to crap.” Jarrett arguing with Mike Chioda after the match that X-Pac used a guitar to win was solid as well.

Grade: B

A Method Man from one of those Wu Tang Clan’s all the kids talk about is in the audience, and this is somehow relevant to the broadcast.

Dok Hendrix (remember him???) is in the theatre section of MSG to unveil the Lion’s Den. It’s just a poor man’s UFC octagon. 

Meanwhile, Michael Cole interviews The Rock who gives a classic heel promo. A Sunday Night Heat replay shows The Rock taking out Triple H’s knee with the belt earlier in the night. $5 says The Rock will be working over the leg tonight.

Mixed Tag Match
Jacqueline & Marc Mero vs. Sable & a Mystery Partner!!!!! (it’s Edge.)

Might be wrong but I’m pretty sure this is Edge’s PPV debut. 
Mero and Edge start things off. Jacqueline does all she can to stay away from Sable in the earlygoings. There’s some decent ring work between Mero and Edge who gets a decent pop from the crowd for a big plancha and countering Mero’s TKO into a DDT. 

The fans are strongly in Sable’s corner though, especially after she hits a “Sablecanrana” on Mero from the top rope. This is actually about as good as Sable gets in the ring. She’s no Trish Stratus but I’ve seen her deliver much worse.
Edge hits Mero with the flatliner and wheelbarrow slams Sable onto him for the three-count in 8:24

Raw grade match with nothing special to write home about here, and the fans didn’t really know how to regard Edge being that this was his first big match. Nevertheless, this still could have been a lot worse. Edge certainly carried the match in my eyes and they clearly went out of their way to give Sable limited in-ring time. It got a bit messy in places but it didn’t drag on long enough for it to completely fall apart though.

Grade: D+

Backstage, Michael Cole asks Mankind what he’s going to do as apparently Kane won’t be appearing tonight (according to The Undertaker). Mankind suggests that he go play in front of traffic and has a bit of a freak out. Mr McMahon appears and calms him down, telling him that he should face the New Age Outlaws alone tonight. If he can beat them then he’ll surely be in the Madison Square Garden Hall of Fame within a week.
Mankind has 13-words for the Outlaws: “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” Words to live by.

Lion’s Den
Ken Shamrock vs. Owen Hart with Dan Severn

So this match isn’t in the arena area to be exact. It’s in a separate theatre at MSG. The camera angles here are pretty mediocre and the sound job is terrible. The audience just bleeds into the audio and its actually a bit difficult to hear JR and the King over them.
The Lion’s Den is basically just a small cage. Shamrock gets in a few good shots early on, but Owen takes control following a low blow and spends some time chucking Shamrock into the cage wall. Shamrock fights back and bounces off of the cage wall with some springboard elbows, then begins choking Owen out with his shirt. 
Owen eventually gets the upperhand following an enziguiri and a backbreaker. Sharpshooter looks to make Shamrock tap, but he uses the cage wall for leverage to climb up and get out of the hold before delivering a nicely executed tornado DDT. 
Owen comes back and latches on the dragon sleeper, but Shamrock uses the cage wall to flip out of it. He drops Owen into a fujiwara arm bar, then switches into the ankle lock. Owen promptly taps while Dan Severn walks out. 

It’s hard to say this was a bad match when both guys performed really well. And you can’t really fault WWE for experimenting with a new type of match here and for trying to garner some kind of interest from MMA fans. But everyone knew what this really was - a wrestling match. They built it up as an MMA fight, they promoted it as though Owen Hart had been training with Dan Severn, but really it was business as usual, just not in a wrestling ring. I would have preferred they work a steel cage match or just a standard match instead. I just didn’t buy into the Lion’s Den. Like I said, neither guy delivered a bad performances, it’s not just a match I’d want to watch again.

Grade: C-

Michael Cole is getting around tonight. He interviews Stone Cold. Short and sweet interview where Austin says he’s not above cheapshotting Taker to death if it means keeping the title.

WWF Tag Team Championship
No Holds Barred Falls Count Anywhere
Mankind (c) vs. The New Age Outlaws

Apparently there’s no Kane tonight. So it’s just a handicap match. Mankind brings the most devastating weapon he has to the ring. A baking tray. The Outlaws get a solid response from the crowd, bringing out a dumpster full of weapons. Mankind gets the first good hits of the match then gets into a chair duel with Billy Gunn. 
The Outlaws keep moderate control of the match. They set up a table in the corner of the ring, but Mankind reverses Billy Gunn, sending him through it with a hip toss. 
Gunn may as well have not sold it as he’s back up in a few seconds time to help Road Dogg powerbomb Mankind through a pair of unfolded chairs. Pin gets two. They go out and get one of the title belts and spike piledriver Mankind onto it for the three-count in 7:30.
After the match the Outlaws dump Mankind into the dumpster. Kane comes out of the dumpster with a sledgehammer and (off-camera) beats Mankind with it. Okay.

This was just perplexing. It didn’t have enough time to really go anywhere or become anything substantial. It felt like the fans were just beginning to get into it when it ended. This was just a hardcore match. It didn’t need to be promoted as “falls count anywhere” though. I think there was one pin attempt outside the ring. Otherwise most of the match was in the ring. Too short and disappointing. Still manages to not be the worst match on the card though.

Grade: E

WWF Intercontinental Championship
Ladder Match
The Rock (c) with Mark Henry vs. Triple H with Chyna

Triple H gets a live performance by “the DX band” to play him to the ring. The Rock gets the advantange in the start of the match, countering a Pedigree and back body dropping Trips over ringside. Brawling outside the ring leads to the ladder soon being brought into the match, Triple H is the first to get run into it. The Rock attempts to climb for the gold but Hunter knocks him off with an axe handle from the top rope. He gets the advantage, using the ladder as a battering ram to take the champ down before making the climb, but The Rock comes back and wrenches him off the ladder by his “injured” leg. I owe myself $5. Rock works on the leg in true heel fashion, then jams it in between the ladder and beats it with a steel chair. Rocky then uses the ladder to perform a shinbreaker on. 
Back in the aisle, Hunter mounts a comeback and goes for the Pedigree over the ladder, but gets back dropped over it instead. Chyna tends to Triple H while Mark Henry throws a second ladder into the ring from under the apron.
"I don’t think we need two ladders here, thank you very much," says JR, years before seeing the crazy arsenal of ladders introduced in TLC and MITB matches.

The fight returns to the ring and neither men are successful in reaching the gold. Chyna throws a chair to Hunter who uses it to blast the ladder in The Rock’s face. The champ manages to fight back and scoop slams Hunter on the ladder before delivering The People’s Elbow on Hunter on the ladder. Weak sell from Trips as the ladder gets set back up again, they must be short on time. The Rock gets close to reaching gold, but Hunter dacks him causing Rock to fall off and eat a Pedigree. Mark Henry throws some kind of powder in Hunter’s face, which looks a lot like flour, I can only assume Henry was baking at ringside. JR tells us that Trips is blinded. But he still manages to accurately climb up the ladder. Rock recovers and climbs the other side and races to the top. Chyna comes in and low blows Rocky, causing him to drop off the ladder as Triple H successfully retrieves the championship. D-X come to the ring and celebrate with the new IC Champion after 24:32.

It’s this kind of match that gives meaning to midcard titles like the Intercontinental Championship, and it’s this kind of match that can help launch the careers of two young upper midcarders, as it did. The Rock was WWF Champion about three months after this, and Triple H found himself in the main event soon after.
A solid match that also proves you don’t need to be a cruiserweight highflyer to put on a good ladder match. This was well paced and exciting all the way to the end, and I dare say Austin and Taker will struggle to top that. By which I mean, they won’t.

Grade: A

WWF Championship
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin (c) vs. The Undertaker

The Dead Man comes out alone with no Kane or Paul Bearer in tow. Stone Cold comes out to a huge pop because this is the Attitude Era and this is Stone Cold Steve Austin. 
Match starts off with a brawl, both men getting some good shots in. Undertaker keeps slowing the match down while Austin speeds it up. Once the brawling is done with, Austin begins working Taker’s arm with a series of arm wrenches. He works him down into the mat with an arm bar, which turns into a hammer lock. Undertaker fights out of it and regains control and starts tenderizing Austin’s back with elbows and boots. Match slows down while Taker has control, the odd uppercut and elbow keeps Austin off of his feet. Taker sends Austin into the corner where Austin decides to bail to the outside. He drags Taker out by the ankles and works over his legs on the apron and against the ring post. 
When the fight returns to the ring, Austin goes back to working the arm instead. Taker reverses into an arm wrench and begins to go “old school” on the top rope, but Austin counters with a top rope arm drag. Kane then walks out down the aisle and starts watching. Undertaker gets up and the match seems to pause while Taker tells Kane to go to the back. Kane obliges and Austin goes back to working Taker’s legs on the apron again. Chokeslam brings the champion back into the ring from the apron. He doesn’t capitalize though, and both men go outside the ring and brawl in the crowd. Undertaker takes control with a back drop on the concrete before clotheslining Austin back over the barricade to the ringside area.

In the ring, Austin goes for the Stone Cold Stunner, but Taker backs away from it and flips out of the ring. Brawl returns to ringside and Taker eventually begins dismantling one of the announce tables (Spanish to be specific). He dumps Austin onto the table and goes into the ring before delivering a huge top rope leg drop on Austin through the table, which, unfortunately doesn’t completely break. Oh well.
The fight returns to the ring where both men slug it out. Taker gets Austin into a waist lock in the corner. Austin grabs his head and both men just drop to the mat. I think it was a jawbreaker or maybe even Stunner attempt, but timing was off and they completely botch it. 
Undertaker comes back with a chokeslam, second of the match. Instead of pinning he signals for the end. He goes for the Tombstone Piledriver, Austin slips out of it and goes for the Stunner. Taker awkwardly catches Austin and dumps him on the ropes. Side Russian leg sweep sees both men down. But the Dead Man sits up and goes for the “old school” rope walk one more time. But Austin hits with a mid-air low blow that is ignored undetected by the referee. Stone Cold Stunner for the win! Match clocks in at 20:50.
After the match, Undertaker takes the title belt and offers to Austin in a show of good sportsmanship. Kane comes back out and the BoD watch Austin celebrate in the ring.

There was a lot of hype going into this match, basically the whole card was built around it. And the build up was solid. I’ve heard people refer to this as a “classic match”, but personally I don’t see a classic here. I see a very strong match, a good main event and solid efforts from both men. I also loved the decision for Undertaker to send Kane to the back. They just as easily could have turned this into a handicap type match if they wanted.
This wasn’t a technical masterpiece by any means. Austin going from working the arm to the leg and back again seemed silly and pointless with no pay off happening and Taker mostly just brawled a lot. And am I the only person that gets peeved at how inconsistent the referees are/were? Hebner didn’t even start a count out despite major portions of the match taking place at ringside and the end of the match was about as blatant as low blows get. Regardless, it was a match that held my attention and had the live crowd really into it. There were some solid booking decisions having Taker hand the belt over and keeping it (moderately) clean, and both men really went out of their way to make it feel like a big match that we should care about.

Grade: B+

1998’s SummerSlam, in the peak of the Attitude Era, was something of a mixed bag. Yeah, there’s a few duds on the card, but there’s something for everyone here. This was when the WWF felt like a big deal. Austin was huge and they were doing a solid job of promoting the hell out of their main events. Not only that, but they gave opportunities to their midcarders by giving Trips and Rock the ball and watching them run with it.
Was the Attitude Era the ultimate, perfect time for wrestling? Nope! Just look at that shambles of a handicap match, the disappointing tag title match and the cheap cash-in on a UFC style match. But hey, some people might like that. Even they don’t, there’s enough other stuff on the card for people to get into.

Highlights
WWF Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match - The Rock vs. Triple H
WWF Championship Main Event
Hair vs. Hair Match
Low Points
The Oddities & Kaientai Handicap Match
WWF Tag Team Championship Falls Count Anywhere
Mixed Tag Team Match
PPV Grade: C+