The pre-show opened with Antonio Cesaro defeating Santino Marella fairly quickly, albeit with the requisite clowning around for a Santino match. At one point Cesaro kicked away Santino's cobra glove (later ripping it up), which the commentators seriously treated as a big problem for Santino.
My suspension of disbelief just won't extend that far, I'm afraid. The important thing is that a proper credible wrestler is now US Champion, which was a big step in the right direction before the PPV even started.
The show proper opened with what was easily my most anticipated match, Dolph Ziggler vs. Chris Jericho. I was a little disappointed by Jericho sporting taped ribs, which usually signals a justifiable loss—sure enough, he did act hurt throughout—but it did make the result a little more surprising. It may not have been the match of the year candidate I was hoping for, but it was a good opener.
Kane vs. Daniel Bryan was a good match. Every time I see Kane indicate he'll be going for a tombstone piledriver, I get briefly excited that it might actually happen. Kane tearing things apart at the back afterwards and throwing Josh Matthews about was a pleasant surprise; we haven't seen him really tear it up like that for a while, and I always get a kick out of it.
Rey Mysterio vs. The Miz featured Rey dressed up as Batman and a big inflatable "AWESOME". In spite of this though, the match itself was actually very good with great back and forth action that kept me guessing all the way. A rule of thumb I follow is that if you can't take your eyes off a match until it ends, it's a really good match.
Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio was the match with the most to prove for me. After a really poor outing at Money in the Bank, I could not believe that the WWE was going with this again. The feud has been one that I can't wait to see the back of. Who I wanted to win was conflicting; I prefer Del Rio over Sheamus, but had he won, I really couldn't take the build to Sheamus' obligatory rematch at the next PPV.
The match was better than their last, and to Sheamus' credit, he managed some great late kick outs. The ending was disappointing, not just because I'm an old-fashioned sort who likes to see the faces perform cleaner than the heels, but also because there's grounds here for them to face each other yet again.
R-Truth and Kofi Kingston retained the tag titles after a great match with the Prime Time Players. I do wonder what the point of the week-after-week build with the Prime Time Players was for them to fall short again, unless plans were to make changes following the firing of AW.
Truth and Kofi are undoubtedly the better wrestlers, but they have tag matches so rarely of late that the WWE can never have a proper tag team division so long as they only have matches every PPV or two and the only built up competition keeps coming up short.
We then discovered that if you thought John Cena being in the WWE title match would guarantee that it would be the last match of the night, you were wrong. A minor gripe perhaps, but having it take the real main event spot of a PPV (which hasn't happened since last December's TLC) would help the credibility of what is supposedly the company's top prize.
The lion's share of the match featured The Big Show dominating only to later be the one pinned, which has been something of a commonality for multi-competitor world title matches involving The Big Show stretching all the way back to WrestleMania 2000.
The match wasn't particularly good and was clearly just a vehicle to set up the next one between just CM Punk and Cena. So why couldn't we just have that match in the first place? Especially considering SummerSlam is one of the big 4 PPVs.
As with the repeat of Sheamus vs. Del Rio, it just feels like treading water.
What we then have to tolerate, I disapprove of a good deal more: a look across the celebrities in the audience (including Piers Morgan and a non-PG hand gesture from Fred Durst), an ad for another surefire classic from WWE Films and a live performance of the PPV's official song—the only redeeming feature of which was the brief cut to Michael Cole dancing.
Some jubilation follows, as this is the final time I will have to sit through a Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H promo package.
I only watch Raw and SmackDown—even so, I must have watched two dozen of these since this feud started—and to be honest, watching Steph slap Paul Heyman was barely interesting the first time. The match itself was pretty much a brawl.
I've never liked this kind of wrestling match for the reason that I watch wrestling to see people do things that are special. I'm certainly not saying that anyone could do it or that it's not skilled, but two men pretending to punch each other is nowhere near as impressive as big shows of strength and slams, high-flying flips or technical competition.
Nevertheless, if not especially interesting as a wrestling match, at least it did what it had to. As we watched the show carry on longer than usual to follow Triple H back up the ramp, I did wonder if Lesnar would show again to clock him with a chair, but he didn't.
So for the purposes of this series, the question is whether Summerslam was better than last week's TNA Hardcore Justice.
I would say yes, though not by a huge margin. The surprise standout match was The Miz vs. Rey Mysterio, though the whole undercard was pretty decent; if anything, the let down in terms of quality was the last two matches.
Overall, I'd say SummerSlam was the WWE's second or third best PPV of the year so far after Extreme Rules and maybe WrestleMania.