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OO PPV RECAP
WWE SummerSlam 2005 
August 21, 2005

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com

 

This just in: Shawn Michaels is good. Very good.
  
On a show that featured a very strong (albeit slightly flawed) Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio Ladder Match, Shawn Michaels still managed to live up his reputation as the Show Stopper. He still managed to have the Match of the Night. And kids, hear me now and believe me later, he did it against Hulk Hogan.
   

Oh sure, Hogan won. And he did so in dramatic come-from-behind fashion that had even hardened cynics like me briefly flashing back to his days of naive Hulkamania. But even as you were watching it play out, you could kinda tell: this is clicking because of one man, Shawn Michaels. Good times.

In other action: Batista and John Cena predictably retained their titles, while the aformentioned ladder match saw Rey "retain" custody of his son by winning. Just about the only other highlight worth noting (and actually: the Batista/JBL match is NOT a highlight, it's just something I felt compelled to mention as newsworthy) is that WWE came as close as they ever will to admitting "Hey, internet guys like the Incredibly Dashing Rick Scaia: You were right. We were wrong" when they had Chris Benoit squash Orlando Jordan in 30 seconds to win the US Title.  

For me, it was back to Hooters this month, so as recap-quality goes, I'm also stuck having to throttle it back a few notches; such is life when you can't really hear the audio and get roped into various conversations instead of paying attention to the rasslin' like I can when I sit on my couch.

So with that caveat, here are the full results of tonight's just-completed SummerSlam PPV pay-per-view (with some additional editorial commentary tacked on in the customary red italics):

  • I don't have a friging clue what happened on Heat. I spent the afternoon at my mom's house, and didn't even get to make a quick flip past SpikeTV before leaving for the PPV, so I'm completely clueless. I can only assume I missed nothing.
     
  • Long Ass Video Package Opening. Seriously, it was a good 5 or 6 minutes, covering the top 4 matches. Way to electrify the audience out of the gates.
     
  • Lillian Garcia sings the National Anthem. This whole bit -- with fancy lighting and dramatic shots of US Troops seated at ringside, and all that -- would probably have made a hell of a lot more sense if Muhammad Hassan was headlining this PPV, and was bitching up a mighty anti-American storm. As it stood, though, this struck me as completely superfluous. Finally, at about the 8 minute mark, we've handled all the video packages and jingoism, and also met all three of our announce teams, so let's head to the ring....
     
  • Chris Benoit beat Orlando Jordan to win the United States Title. As the match starts, I'm loudly opining to anyone who'll listen that it's not just enough to have Benoit win the damned match, but he'd better win it in a pretty quick match because last month's 16 minutes of Orlando Jordan resulted in an orgy of fan apathy. I'm just wrapping up my spiel when a guy sitting near us yelled out "Holy shit, that's awesome." We all look up and realize "What the fuck? Why is Chris Benoit's music playing again already?"... turns out, Benoit just made Jordan tap out. Elapsed time: maybe 45 seconds, tops. Definitely less than a minute. And needless to say, the guy who shouted out "That's awesome" sort of became an honorary member of our group for the rest of the PPV, as he was watching the show alone, yet clearly had his head screwed on straight. A series of replays shows that Jordan got about one offensive move in, then tried showboating with a little Ali Shuffle, and then Benoit kicked his ass. There was a German in there, and then the Crippler Crossface, and that was it. [I guess this is as close as the asshatted WWE Created Team will ever get to a public mea culpa and admission that they fucked up last month. Not a good "match," but definitely a surprising and satisfying way to kick things off... sweet sweet vindication for my month of bitching about the moronic booking decisions last month! *That* is good TV. And BTW, we're now only *10* minutes into the PPV; I immediately declare that what this show needs is Christian getting all up in Benoit's face and demanding a US Title Match RIGHT HERE, TONIGHT, IN THIS VERY RING. Sadly, this doesn't materialize, and we'll have to make do with 45 seconds of Benoity gOOdness on this night.]
     
  • Backstage: Eddie is getting geared up for his match, and his wife walks in. The audio is not clear, but trying to piece it together, it SEEMS like she's almost speaking on behalf of The Me, telling Eddie to forget all this crap about Dominick, because it's not about him: his real issue is with Rey and the fact that he can't beat Rey. So forget all the other melodramatic nonsense, don't go trying to screw with Rey's family, and just try to beat Rey, like the Man she knows he is. Eddie, sadly, thinks this really is about Dominick, and questions his wife's devotion. So she leaves kinda miffed. Then Eddie starts muttering to himself. Dammit, Eddie: listen to the woman... she's making a lot of sense.
     
  • Edge beat Matt Hardy via Referee Stoppage. Continuing the trend of the night, this was preceded by an overlong and unnecessary video package (albeit one that DID cleverly omit all mentions of Kane so as to avoid certain Continuity Black Holes); christ, WWE, using a nicely-done package for one or two major matches on the card is a good thing, but other than the opener, there was the 4 minutes of downtime before EVERY MATCH on the card. It just seems like.... I dunno.... filler. Who the hell do you think is still shelling out for your PPVs, anyway? Cuz it ain't casual fans who all need the backstory spelled out for them in more detail than the announcers can give it during ring entrances. Honestly: when creating a "big event atmosphere," I'd like to see more effort going into creating a cohesive 3-hour product with ebb and flow and over-arching themes and segues and stuff. Not 8 herky-jerky self-contained segments. Something else to consider as WWE continues to present a product that just seems remarkably one-dimensional, uncreative, and lazy; they may be avoiding outright AWFUL show elements, but the truly SATISFYING moments are pitiably few and far between.
     
    But the match.... oh yeah.  Matt jump starts it, and using all the powers of Righteous Indignation that it's now been six months since he broke up with his girl and he's still not fricking over it, he beat the crap out of Edge for a few minutes, including a trip to the outside. And that's pretty much the way the match went: the two guys hate each other too much to do any wrestling moves, so they brawled intensely, with Matt generally getting the better of it. Punchy-kicky, punchy-kicky, and then it would be Edge would would get to hit some cool big spot (including a SWEET diving Spear that left both men in a pile at ringside). Odd; usually the "formula" is to have the babyface hit the big hope spot, and then the heel comes back with the methodical offense. Not that I want to pile on as Internet Jackoff #98983 to wonder if maybe WWE isn't trying to paint Hardy in a bad light for their own amusement.
     
    Anyway, finally Hardy's brawling was stopped when Edge hit another sweet move: he countered some attempted top rope move by Matt, and turned it into "snake eyesing" Matt onto the ringpost. Matt came up from that bleeding. Edge just pounded away again with fists and stomps. And then, after about 90 seconds of that, the ref just said, "Enough," and called for the bell. The hell? You want to bust out that finish, you gotta make it look a whole lot more convincing than *that*... and after that showing, I'd be damned surprised if Matt Hardy has any juice left for a rematch. They could have at LEAST had him do the UFC thing where he acts indignant at the Ref Stoppage, like he still wanted to fight; but noooooo, they just had him completely zoned out and unable to leave the ring under his own power. I'd say "Welcome back to Heat, Matt Hardy." Except that show's getting cancelled in a month. [I'm gonna guess about 8-10 minutes on this one. And while the brawling was intense, and I was digging some of the highspots where Edge would briefly put a stop to Matt's punchy-kicky, the finish just sapped whatever growing interest I'd had in the match. Only a lazy double-DQ would have been a worse ending, I think. This was not only unsatisfying -- because it was so unconvincing, as tends to be the case anytime the Fed busts out the "ref stoppage" finish in a situation that has NOT gotten ref-stopped in 99% of past similar situations -- but it also does absolutely nothing to keep Matt Hardy as an upper-card player. So dumb.]
     
  • Rey Mysterio beat Eddie Guerrero in a Ladder Match to "retain custody of his son." Hey, I feel as dumb typing that last sentence as you do reading it. Doubling the Stupidity Factor, I was on the way back from the boys' room and did have a clear shot on the audio for a bit during the introductions of this match, and Cole (with no sense of irony or how retarded he sounded) actually uttered the line, "For the first time every, custody of a child is going to be determined here in a WWE ring." Oh gawd... 
     
    You're crazy if you think you're getting play-by-play on this one. Because by and large, it really was sweet and action-packed, and I just couldn't do it justice. I do know that they wasted no time at all getting the ladder introduced; it took maybe 2 minutes for that. A minute later, they had a second ladder in the ring. And before the 5 minute mark, they'd gotten their first "Holy Shit" chant with a double-ladder spot Shortly thereafter, they got a "You fucked up" chant when an attempted Super Sunset Flip spot didn't go smoothly (and the monkeys in the truck STILL decided to show a replay of it). Another sweet spot was one ladder in the middle of the ring (with Eddie going up), while Rey set up another ladder as a "ramp" up to the top of the other ladder (take a moment and envision it).  Rey walked up the ramp, and suplexed Eddie off the top of the main ladder onto the "ramp" ladder. The main ladder collapsed and took Rey down with it in a second sick-looking bump. "Holy Shit" indeed.
     
    So that's kinda how things went: spot, spot, spot, with neither man really holding much of an advantage, because the whole gimmick of the match is to do a ladder tease and then have the other guy make a dramatic last second save. You konw the deal. And in this case, just know they were doing it well. And the crowd was appreciating it, preferring to forget all the shittiness of the storyline and how it casts Eddie as the ultimate Springer Caliber Heel, and was actually chanting for BOTH men. See that, WWE: you can put however much energy you want into The Suck, but when fans plop their money down, they're going to do their best to ignore it and focus on what they actually WANT to see. Make a note of it, monkeys. 
     
    But then, sadly, things DID eventually start to get sorta lame.... Eddie finally began a genuine offensive flurry, and it looked like he might win the match. So Dominick (who was at ringside with who I THOUGHT was Mrs. Mysterio, but I guess I was wrong, because Mrs. Mysterio then showed up after the match) hopped the barricade, and got in the ring and tried to push the ladder over to stop Eddie from winning. Of course, the kid's too weak to pull it off, but Eddie still decided it might be time to do some Fathering, and starts giving Dominick a little Manners Lesson. This is exactly what the crowd seemed to not want to have to deal with in this previously excellent match... but before we can get the "money shot" of Eddie spanking Dominick for no good reason or whatever, Rey made the save and started a flurry of his own. Still, after that interlude, I had visions of a nightmarish September in which Eddie (after winning this match and winning "custody") would be cast as the Bad Father for another 6-8 weeks of utterly crappy storytelling...
     
    There's some more great stuff here (including dueling spots where both men ended up hanging from the briefcase for more "Holy Shit" caliber goodness). But Rey's flurry is snuffed out soon enough, and Eddie again seems on the brink of victory... this time, it's his wife who comes out to interrupt. In a sloppy spot, she and Eddie seem to be openly discussing the next move, and when she finally follows through, she REALLY nancies it: she's supposed to shove the ladder over to stop Eddie from winning, but instead, she just kind of nudges it. Eddie has to really bend the laws of physics to make it look like he fell into the ringropes. Rey then took advantage to set the ladder back up and climb... as soon Eddie gets up and thinks about getting on the ladder to stop Rey, his wife AGAIN stops him, this time doing a far more convincing job of just kinda climbing on Eddie's back so he can't do anything. So that's how Rey manages to win: thanks to Eddie's wife stopping him from doing anything. Meh.
     
    After the match: Eddie's wife just kinda powdered out, leaving Eddie to pitch a mild fit in the ring, but I have to assume this story has moved from shitty melodrama involving a 10-year-old kid to shitty melodrama that will involved Eddie getting mad at his wife. A very tiny stop forward, but still not the sort of thing that instills a lot of hope in me. Then Rey and Dominick celelbrated and were soon joined by the actual Mrs. Mysterio. In an hilarious moment, a bunch of us simultaneously turned to each other to make a Wittily Incisive Comment and realized we were all about to make the exact same joke: that Mrs. Mysterio looked like a freaking giant next to Rey and Dominick. D'oh. [A very good 20 minute match. Mild deductions because I really see no reason to have done such a crap-ass finish that seems destined to lead to more crap down the road. The little mid-match thing with Dominick was OK, I guess, since it didn't really hurt the overall pyschology of things... but having Eddie's wife just decide -- for no other reason than she's now required to act as hyperdramatic and stupid as everybody else in this storyline -- to stop Eddie from being able to compete, and having that be the finish? Lame. So lame. If I were a "star ratings" type of moron, unable to use my Words to explain a match's quality, I might opine that this was in the **** to ****1/4 range, but the finish was a half-star deduction, leaving the final rating somewhere just shy of ****. Luckily for you, I'm not the kind of jack-ass who thinks star ratings have any value whatsoever.]
     
  • Backstage: Todd Grisham interviewed Chris Jericho. I could tell that Jericho once again busted out his resume item about beating Rock and Austin on the same night, but other than that, I'm just gonna have to pretend that he was at his witty and clever best, and not just spouting off some flaccid crap handed to him by a creative team that has done him no favors in roughly the past 18 months. He does make the International Gesture for "I will put the belt around this sexy waist" at one point, which pretty much says everything that needs to be said... for once, hopefully Jericho was talking about winning this match for HIM, instead of doing it for Mr. Bischoff. Except.... well, just wait for it....
     
  • Kurt Angle beat Eugene to regain his Olympic Gold Medal. Jumpstart by Angle, but then Eugene was able to fashion a comeback after about a minute or so. His offense? People's Elbow, Rock Bottom, and a Stone Cold Stunner. Ummm, and at first, I really wasn't sure because of the shitty audio (the crowd MIGHT have been chanting "EUUUUUUU-gene"), but yep: they are booing the hell out of our favorite Wrestling Retard. Well, WWE, not to beat a dead horse, but this is your own damned fault for having your own head so far up your ass that you've completely lost track of what your fans want and how they'll react. Eugene is a banquet of tasty alternatives for kitschy, cute little bits, but you still have him doing the exact same lazy crap that served him well a freaking FULL YEAR AGO. Nice work. So Eugene's getting booed to high heaven, and it only gets worse when he decides to pantomime "pulling down the straps" to put the Anklelock on Angle (after an Angle Slam, no less). Kurt manages to kick out of this, and less than 30 seconds later, he pretty much just hits his own Angle Slam, pulls down his real straps, and cinches in the Anklelock. Eugene doesn't even fight it; he taps out about 5 seconds later. Perhaps he's been consorting with Matt Striker and contracted a wicked case of JobbyJobberitis (a virus identified and isolated by OOur Very OOwn Erin Anderson during her work moonlighting at the CDC in Atlanta)? In any case, I half wonder if they didn't just go straight for the finish just because they didn't want to leave Eugene out there any longer to keep getting crucified by the fans...
     
    After the Match: Kurt made like he was gonna whap Eugene with a chair, but instead, he was just setting up the chair in the middle of the ring as a podium. Which he stood on. And then forced the referee to go through a big, fat, hairy deal that looked roughly like an Olympic Medal Ceremony. Funny. Angle tried to gesture (Broadly, of course) to get the crowd to consider this an assholish move, but they weren't buying it. [Well, if this was over 3 minutes, it wasn't by much. No way it was 5. Which kinda makes all the talk of "No Time Limit" exceptionally pointless. I had visions of a rare Eugene WRESTLING Performance, and a nice 10-12 minute show-stealer. Instead, the crowd turns on Eugene because the Creative Team are morons, and they have to head for home at the 3 minute mark. It might as well have been conducted under Eugene Invitational Rules. Very disappointing, but at the end of the day, a very strong outing for Kurt, since he came off so well.]
     
  • Backstage: the Useless Diva Brigade are washing a big black limousine. Sadly, they are joined by Diva Search Ashley, who will apparently be not passing Go, not collecting any Actual Credibility with fans, and will be reporting directly to "Pointless T&A Jail." Oh well. The punchline: we get to the back of the limo, and see a "President of the United States" seal on a door. That window roles down. Mr. Vincent K. McMahon's mug appears, and utters the line, "Hey, why not?". Ummm, you don't really want an answer to that, do you? Granted, Vince probably couldn't fuck things up much worse than the monkeys in office right now, but the man who brought you the XFL, the WBF, and Randy Orton As A Babyface really can't be trusted to take a job where you need decision making skills where you're right more than half the time. Still, it was a funny little throwaway gag. If I didn't know any better, I'd say the assembled crowd (myself included) responded to it with a "Snerk."
     
  • Randy Orton beat the Undertaker. And now, we kick it old school; standard headlocks and other stuff to start, which sends the message "hey, we're settling in for 15-plus minutes, so get comfy." Not bad, mind you, but considering that the build-up didn't exactly set the world on fire, I'm not sure you can get away with that kind of thing... luckily, things started picking up SUBSTANTIALLY sooner than I'd have thought, as Taker decided "To hell with this" only 2-3 minutes in. He began a lengthy offensive, mostly targeting Young Randall's surgically repaired shoulder (the same shoulder Benoit had worked over in a grueling match a few days before on SD!). Nice touch. And although Taker's early dominance was a deviation from "formula," it also kinda telegraphed the finish to me (no way would Taker control that much early if he was gonna win the match, I figured)... but also: Taker in control DID seem to get the fans a little bit more into the match, since it WAS unexpected. 
     
    Orton finally countered an "Old School" by Taker, and had nominal control for a bit. Although Orton's attack was also concentrated (on Taker's leg/knee), things did start to feel like they were dragging again. No worries: Taker took over a few minutes later, following his Ouchy Guillotine Legdrop on the apron. But of course, that does no favors for a man with a bum wheel, so it wasn't to be an extended flurry.
     
    So we kinda eased into End Game without passing a notable Line of Demarcation. All of a sudden, it was back-and-forthy, with Orton trying for RKOs, Taker going for chokeslams, and even a quadruple-reversed Tombstone spot. Neither man can hit the Big Move, though. But finally: Taker seems like he might have it sown up. He hits the chokeslam, and gestures for the Tombstone... but that's when some "fan" (a mustachioed guy in a wacky suit/hat) got in the ring and created a distraction. The ref and security were briefly more concerned with that guy, so Taker couldn't follow up and finish off Orton. Instead, Orton had time to recover, and as soon as things had cleared out and the ref was paying attention again, Orton was playing possum, and lured Taker into an RKO Out Of Nowhere. One, two, three. And that's it. Holy shit: we were convinced that wouldn't be the finish, because Taker hadn't yet done a Zombie Sit-Up. And isn't WWE Bylaw #923457 "No Undertaker Match shall end without at least one (1) Zombie Sit Up"? But I guess that was it. The RKO, it's just that fricking deadly. 
     
    After the Match: Orton goes and "saves" the wacky old coot from security, and the guy removes his wig and make-up to reveal.... Cowboy Bob Orton. The two team up to hit the Stereo Pose of Douchebaggery (note to Bob: don't... not ever again... your son may look like a tool when he does it, but you just look like you don't know what you're doing). I guess maybe Bob's gonna stick around and do Randall's talking for him? Lord knows somebody needs to step up in that role. [Up in the 15 minute range, and definitely short of the WM21 match the two had, simply because there was no big build-up to a similarly big finish. Instead, I honestly thought the finish came out of nowhere. So instead of a competent match with a sweet ending, we only got the "competent" part this time out. Not bad, but definitely nothing you'll remember when you wake up tomorrow, either.] 
     
  • John Cena beat Chris Jericho to retain the WWE Title. Ugh, that thing I said earlier about maybe Jericho being his own man tonight, with his own wants, dreams, and desires? Forget it, as there is a Touching PreMatch Meeting between Jericho and Bischoff in which the two solemnly shake hands and promise to make this the End of Cena. And then any time I caught a snippet of announcing, it was something about how Jericho is doing all this for his Very Special Friend, Eric Bischoff. I repeat: ugh.
     
    Some higher-energy back-and-forthy to start (well, compared to Taker/Orton, anyway, it was "high energy"), but then Jericho settled in on offense, and seemed to decide he's go after Cena's lower back. Makes sense if he's planning on hitting the Walls of Jericho. This continues to probably about the 8-9 minute mark, with Cena's hope spots peppered in. And curiously: after a tepid fan response to start, something strange happened. A vocal Jericho contingent would start "Let's Go Jericho" chants and boo anytime Cena hit a Hope Spot. These actually got louder as we approached the 8-9 minute mark, and got to the point where some Cena fans, sensing there finally WAS a reason to be worried about their favorite homey, decided to quit sitting on their hands. But still, the TNA-style dueling "Let's Go Jericho"/"Let's Go Cena" chant was probably about 2-to-1 in favor of Jericho. What incredibly wise, perceptive, sagacious, and ruggedly-handsome Internet Personality said just yesterday that WWE is getting to the point where they need to be careful with how they present Cena if they don't want fans turning on him? Oh yeah, right.... twas ME!
     
    So all of a sudden, as Cena finally starts a genuine comeback around the 10 minute mark to signify End Game, the crowd is REALLY into it. The result was a Big Match Atmosphere suddenly materializing. I hadn't really expected that. Cena' comeback is met with at least half-boos, which is also a bit surreal, and also adds to my perverse enjoyment. His signature spots don't go over too well, and finally Jericho says "No way are you hitting me with that gay-ass Five Knuckle Shuffle, Dawg," and bounces up to eventually counter it with a Walls of Jericho. Cheers. Cena fights valiantly and makes the ropes. Boos. More back and forthy and counter-wrestling, but with Jericho nominally in control and maybe looking for a bulldog/Lionsault combo, or something, Cena just pulled the F-U out of left field and scored the pin. Cena celebrates like he's a conquering hero, but there's a good percentage of the crowd that ain't down with the Chain Gang. [Probably in the 12-14 minute range, and not too hateful. The early build-up portion was better than Taker/Orton, and once the crowd got into it, the last 3-4 minutes were really fun, too. Once again, the WWE fans decide "If the fucking monkeys on the creative team won't give us what we want, then we'll pay our money and MAKE OUR OWN FUN"; the support for Jericho lent more drama and intrigue to the match than anything WWE did in the preceding two months. Seriously. Oh, and: if Cena had this much trouble getting cheered against Jericho, he's gonna get fucking SLAUGHTERED when he goes up against Angle, if tonight's crowd reactions are any indication. That might be fun and vindicating to watch, though, too. I mean, I don't want to say I told you so, but.... well, I've been telling you so for freaking MONTHS since Cena and Angle were last feuding back on SD! And I'm gonna love watching it pan out.]
     
  • Batista beat JBL to retain the World Heavyweight Title in a No Holds Barred Match. JBL tries to interrupt Batista's ring entrance, but instead, ends up on the short end of the brawl as the two go at it in the staging area near the entrance set. Then they meander through the crowd for a bit of tepid brawling, eventually worming their way back to the ring at about the 3-4 minute mark. There, they hit one of only two really big "no holds barred" spots, as Batista tackles JBL through a section of the ringside barricade. Back in the ring, you'd be hard-pressed to remember there was a stip to this match, cuz it's pretty much just the exact same thing that they did last month. Punch, kick, punch, kick. JBL gains control with a short clothesline, and puts a restaurant quality slobberknockering on Batista for a few minutes. This culminates in a Clothesline From Hell, which Batista, naturally, is more than capable of kicking out of. So, frustrated, JBL decides he'll go to the outside and get some ringsteps to assist him. But before he can use them, Batista fires up, nails JBL with the spinebuster, does the Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down things, and hits teh BatistaBomb. Game over? Nope. Because Batista spies the ring steps, and has a brainstorm. He hoists JBL up again and this time, BatistaBombs him onto the steps. Ouch. OK, so that's two nice spots in this match. For some reason, it is determined that pinning JBL on the steps is fine, so 1, 2, 3, and that's that. [Maybe 8 minutes, tops. And again, the booking here to finally, mercifully let the right guy score a win and send the other guy back for retooling and a reduced role almost felt like a mea culpa. This was maybe "better" than their match last month, but mostly only because it was half-as-long and had the right finish. But it really wasn't very good. Seriously, this is like the Angle/Eugene match, where they went out of their way to add a stip, but then did absolutely nothing with it. Two cool spots, that's really all we got that distinguished this from any normal match. Bleh. The worst part is: Batista's doing the best he can with this, but what WWE's handing him is going to end up having the net effect of turning him into a flop of a champ. What's going on in the SD! main event picture right now is no more his fault than it was Eddie's last year. It's one thing when the fans are victims of WWE's creative short-comings, but it's somehow a bit more vivid of a problem when you can see the actual talents being victimized. It's "uncool" to say in internet circles, but Batista's not THAT much different from Jericho or Christian in this regard. Is he really as "good" as Jericho or Christian? Nah, not by the metrics us jackoffs like to use; but he's also not Proven-to-be-Horrible, either, and to my way of thinking, your World Champ SHOULD get at least as much promotional energy/effort as somebody like, oh let's say, Chris Goddamned Masters. Batista, since ending the HHH feud, hasn't been even remotely well-booked. And it'll end up costing him if something very interesting and cool doesn't happen now that JBL is finally done.]
     
  • Hulk Hogan beat Shawn Michaels. They go for the Hogan/Rock vibe at the start, with the staredown of ultimate intensity. And in a nice moment, Shawn No-Sells it. Dick. Instead of doing that "stare, look right, stare, look left" thing, Shawn just keeps Death Staring at Hogan the whole time Hogan's trying to play to the crowd. A small thing, but a dead-on perfect minor detail. And a harbinger of just how Shawn would be the one doing EVERYthing in this match to help it come off as well as it did.
     

    Considering the "civil disobedience" shown by fans earlier in the show, the crowd here seems probably about 90% pro-Hogan. So it's not some wacky bizarro world crowd. In the right cases and with the right personalities, and with a well told story, they WILL react as "expected."
     
    Early vibe: Hogan's all Mighty He-Man, overpowering Michaels. So Michaels plays the chickenshit once or twice (by just rolling out of the ring). Then he plays the cocky prick once or twice (but strutting away from a tie-up). Then Hogan's power comes back into play. And kids, I've gotten some funny looks (well, at least some funny e-mails) because I've unabashedly put Shawn Michaels on my "Wrestler of the Year" shortlist more than once since his return.... "you're voting for an old man, a has-been," people say. Fuck you.  Shawn, even if he suffers a catastrophic systems failure and misses  the last four months of the year with an injury or something, *is* the Wrestler of the Year for 2005. And he's earned that with a killer feud/matches with Angle, general gOOdness during slack phases in his storylines, the Free TV Match Of The Year against Shelton, and basically just doing all the same things he's been doing the last 3 years since he came back. And then, kids, he had a match like tonight, where he might as well have been wearing a t-shirt that said, "Hulk Hogan is a Samsonite without a Handle, and I'm STILL gonna carry him like he's never been carried before." 
     
    A lot of guys (I dare say MOST guys) WANT to have good matches. But Shawn is one of a very small subset who can DECIDE to have a good match, and then just do it. And that's 80% his physical ability and knack for psychology (things I wish everybody had), along with the admitted 20% of "glossy sheen" all his matches get just because of his legendary icon status and all the goodwill he's built up over a decade-and-a-half that somebody like (oh, let's just say) John Cena is woefully lacking. [PS: Erin just decided to interrupt my recappening -- eh, my own fault for running a tad late; I'd told her I'd be done by 12:30 and free after that, but then I didn't even get back and start typing this up till just after midnight --  and after making a few other spOOkily similar observations about various SummerSlam happenings and basically doing her level best to distract me so that this recap won't get published till 2am, she just blurted out that Shawn Michaels is now her Wrestler of the Year. Out of the blue and before I could say Word One about the issue. So see, clearly it's true. We have a unanimous consensus. Of two. So you clearly have no choice but to agree. Unless you want to be wrong. You don't want to be wrong, do you? Then again, if Erin and I got to govern the entire universe just between the two of us, I'd be single-handedly running WWE's creative team at a salary in the low six-figures and would be well-en-route to saving the company (and unlike Vince Russo, I'd never be in danger of putting myself into storylines; or in danger of hitting rock bottom and then finding The Jesus, either), and it'd be legal to put a bullet in the skull of all rude-customers/bad-tippers/tools-who-hit-on-their-waitresses, so I don't know if that's the world any of you want to live in or not....]
     
    But I digress. Loudy, loudy, how ah do digress. The match: the whole reason why that Michaels Rant occured to me is because once Hogan's very basic, very simple Power Arsenal kicked in, Michaels did everything humanly possible to make it look like Hogan was the Greatest Ass-Kicker of All Times. He was bouncing around like a pinball. He took his Bump Dial and trust me, I've seen the movie and know that "eleven" is good, but Michaels had it up in the mid-teens. He was flying out over the ropes, putting extra tumbles and twists on just about everything; in the hands of a lesser man, it would have looked ridiculous. But with Shawn doing the bumping, it's so fricking SMOOTH; and with Hogan throwing the shitty punches that resultin the crazy Pinball Bumps? Hey, if ANYbody in the business is allowed to throw a right hand that has Magical Powers, c'mon, it's probably Hogan. I'm not sure how all this will "age" (it might end up looking like a 20 minute Ric Flair Flopfest), but in the heat of the moment, it was REALLY easy to get into it, and do running commentary that made Joey Styles look like a Prozac addict. Hogan was En Feugo, and Michaels was the reason why he looked so.
     
    Things eventually went outside, and Hogan foolishly thought he might put Michaels through a table. But honestly? What's Hogan got in his Old Man Arsenal that'll put Michaels through a table without also putting Hogan in the hospital? So that kind of backfired, and Michaels rallied as a result of the ringside brawling. He sent Hogan into the ringposts a few times, and that was enough to cement his advantage. Back in the ring, Michaels continued a very brief Standard Heel Beatdown... except that somehow, his mere punches managed to bust Hogan open. Huh. If I missed something there, lemme know, but Michaels was really just doing that "mount-and-punch" thing in the turnbuckle a few times (Hogan would shove him off, but Michaels would tenaciously re-mount and do a few more), and suddenly, I think Hogan came up bloody out of nowhere.
     
    And then (we're at about 12 minutes, now), Hogan tried to Hulk Up. But Michaels was having none of it. GORGEOUS! Turnbuckle head-slam. Hogan gets that Look In His Eyes. Michaels says, "C'mon, gimme SOME credit." And he smirks. And BITCHSLAPS Hogan. Holy shit. Hogan seems unable to begin his usual convulsing and what-not after such a rude move. He tries a right hand, but Michaels ducks it. And bitchslaps Hogan again. Hee. Hogan has no idea how to Hulk Up out of this, so Michaels keeps on keeping on. Since Hogan is still, at the end of the day, Hogan, he can't match Michaels' bumptastic performance from earlier. Instead, it's now up to Michaels to carry a polarly opposite portion of the match by bringing the 110% Prickishness. There was one or two more bitchslaps in here. And just a generally assholish vibe to Michaels beatdown. He didn't even bother picking a body part to focus on, he had Hogan bloody, and he just made a big show out of beating the guy up, pausing to gloat about it, and then going back for more.
     
    This all led up to the Main Event Sleephold. Christ, I didn't think Hogan had really been busted open that bad, but before too long, Michaels had Hogan's blood all over him. The Arm Raise Bit predictably ends with Hogan firing up on the third one... but it's STILL not a full Hulk Up, because 10 seconds into it, Michaels comes off the ropes aiming for Hogan, but Hogan dodges, and the ref gets bumped out of the ring. Hogan took a glancing blow, too, and Michaels quickly follows that up with a bodyslam, and looks to be going up top for the Macho Man Elbow. Except halfway out, the crowd starts chanting "We Want Bret." Shawn: "Oh, really?". So I don't know if it was a pure audible or not (I almost think it was, and that the Elbow was supposed to hit first, but Shawn was Feeling It), but Shawn stuck his chest out, strutted over to Hogan, and locked in the Sharpshooter. Dick. And again: a dick, but also my Wrestler of the Year at this point. A second ref comes out. Hogan is on the verge of tapping out. But finally, he gets a rope break. As Michaels drags Hogan back up, there is another spot where Hogan tries to muster some offense, but this time, it's Michaels who dodges, and the SECOND ref gets bumped, too. So we're back to lawlessness.
     
    Michaels takes the opportunity to just bust out every asshole, chickenshit heel tactic in the book. He sac punches Hogan, he uses a steel chair (although, if we're being honest and not trying to Virtually Fellate Michaels, it was the Shittiest Chairshot Ever, because lord knows we have to protect that bald pate of the Hulkster's). The cheating went on for another good 90 seconds or so, and then Michaels really played it up as he "tuned up the band" to boos. He milked it as long as he could, and then.... BAM! He nails it. Clean. I think the crowd was expecting something different (I know I kinda was). The ref wakes up. He's a bit groggy, so the count is extra slow (and extra dramatic). One...... two..... thr...... KICK OUT~! CONVULSING~! CLENCHED FISTS OF RAGE~! Hogan's Hulking Up!
     
    Heh. I gotta say, having Michaels hit the superkick and then having the Hulk Up come out of left field like that? Even *I* was getting into it. And the crowd (live, and doubly so at Hooters) was going nuts. Hogan did absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, if anything was odd, it was that Hogan did nothing odd at all. Once he began the Hulk Up, it was three punches, a big boot, and a Leg Drop o' Doom. One, two, three. Hogan wins. Just like that. Whoa. 
     
    After the match: Hogan started his posedown, but Michaels came back into the ring. I was cheering for a superkick. No dice. Instead, a Handshake of Mutual Respect. I guess Michaels doesn't want to be a heel if he knows he bud Triple H is coming back in a few weeks, and needs that slot, eh? Too bad: Michaels as a heel was doing things this last two months that RAW needs a LOT more than droning 15 minute HHH promos that could easily be Cliffs' Noted into 5. But I digress. After the handshake, Michaels leaves, and Hogan poses down for the final minute or so of satellite time before the Fade To Black. [This match was more than 20 minutes. Probably not quite 25, though. And I can't imagine it being much better than it was. The early portion? Michaels carried that with his pure bloody-minded bumpery. The middle portion? Michaels carried that with his pure bloody-minded prickishness. And the end? Lots of drama and teases with the ref bumps, and I cannot overstate how PERFECT it was that Hogan failed to "Hulk Up" twice, but then when he finally got to do it, he kept it short and sweet, and didn't try to "over-wrestle" it (because if he had, he'd probably have been in over his head and it would have looked bogus). In short, this was a 1986 Formula Hulk Hogan Match... but it was just about the best one ever. Everything was amplified just because of how good Michaels was, and in the end, Hogan still only had to hit his 30 seconds worth of Money Moves to score the pinfall, and it still just felt.... right. All due credit to the ladder match, which was incredibly athletic but with shitty storytelling/drama, and with the full knowledge that I'm probably giving up my "Internet Jackoff" Membership Card (albeit for about the three-hundredth time, since I tend to not be too jackoffish, if you really think about it), I say this is my Match of the Night. It's close, but this is it, I think. There is a place for drama and storytelling in wrestling, just as much as there's a place for fast-paced action and highspots, no matter what Workrate Freaks say. This match was a prime example of how things can click when simple drama and storytelling are done right.]

As a whole? Not a blow-away show at all. Definitely some good matches (Eddie/Rey and Shawn/Hogan are ones any fan would like, and I also think Jericho/Cena exceeded expectations, even if only because of the fans and the atmosphere), but also some rather underwhelming ones (Taker/Orton came up short versus their last outing, Angle/Eugene seemed like it could have been a billion times better if a bit more forethought had gone into the intra-match booking). 
 
And more than anything, I go back to the little mini-rant I did in one of the above matches: instead of getting to the end of the show and feeling like "Whoa, I just sat here and enjoyed 3 great hours," it was more like "Whoa, I just sat here and enjoyed one great half-hour match." That's because WWE puts so damned much pointless filler in between matches; every single segment but the opening match had a 4 minute video package that essentially counted as a "reset." There was no flow between segments. It was "Here's one. Now we stop. Reset. Here's another one. Stop. Reset. Lather. Rinse. Repeat."  It's.... I dunno, it needs "connections," it needs segues to feel like one whole show, instead of like some boring-ass boxing or UFC PPV (where sure, maybe you get those two good matches on a show, but the event as a whole doesn't hang together cohesively, like three hours well spent). 
 
For as much as I demand WWE to be "realistic," this is one area where not being "real" is a plus for them: there should be NO fricking deadtime on a PPV fans are paying for. Just like it isn't hard to come up with 2 hours of good ideas per week for RAW and SD!, it shouldn't be that difficult to come up with an ultra-dense, super-creative, mega-clever, non-stop thrill-ride for fans once a month on PPV. Instead: Segment, Break, Segment, Break, and so on. Even if one segment kicks ass, you lose all momentum before you start the next one. It's a bit of an annoyance, cuz really: a show should have one (maybe two) piss break spots. A PPV laid out like SummerSlam? It had seven. SEVEN. C'mon, guys: again, it's not enough to put on a show that Doesn't Suck... at some point, you oughta have the personal pride to put one on that Actually Kicks Ass.
 
And although SummerSlam ended strong, and thus, strikes me as a pretty entertaining show, it's also another outing where WWE did NOT Kick Ass. Satisfying the fans (like they did tonight with booking decisons involving OJ and JBL that SHOULD have been made last month) is all well and good. But blowing the fans away SHOULD be the goal on PPV (and that's impossible when you're so short-on-ideas that your bag o' tricks includes asking your fans to wait an extra month before satisfying them). More momentum, more flow, less five-minutes-worth-of-knowing-you-don't-have-to-pay-attention: it ain't that hard to do, guys....
 
Trust me, I'm not TRYING to find excuses to hate on SummerSlam, but for as mostly-amusing a three-hours as it was, it's also a show that does nothing to signify that the company as a whole is back out of this rut its fallen into.
 
Good, solid show. Slightly above average. Nothing major to complain about here. Which, in itself, is a victory considering the subpar build up. Perhaps I'll just save the rest of the theoretical ranting for tomorrow's OO (where we'll have other PPV fall-out and other news), and focus on those positives for tonight.

Later on, kids....

E-MAIL RICK
BROWSE THE RAW RECAP ARCHIVES


  
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RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
 
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 

 

 


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