Summer Slam: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IAugust 17, 2008

WWE held one of it's big four pay per views this evening.  The 20th anniversary of Summer Slam, the biggest party of the summer.  Overall, a good show.  Much better than what WWE puts on a monthly basis.  But it's time to break it down, and figured out what worked and what didn't.

First off, the set looks great.  Ever since they moved to High Definition and obtained the new set, the WWE has had to try to out do themselves with impressive PPV sets.  They finally got some designs that are working for them and it's a good thing they picked a nice looking set for the 20th Summer Slam.

The opening match of Jeff Hardy versus MVP was a good call.  With only two non title matches for the evening (not counting Hell in a Cell because it is a marquee match that should always be in the main event) they only had two options for the opener.  Both Jeff Hardy and MVP have and amazing amount of talent and are a great way to start off a pay per view.  Jeff Hardy has grown so much as a wrestler ever since he came back to the WWE.  He has stepped up his game and is attempting a more technical aspect of wrestling.  It was a great choice to pair him off with MVP.  MVP is quite possibly WWE's best kept secret.  This man will one day main event Wrestlemania.  The action was very well paced and the storytelling from the two was well told.  The ending may have hurt MVP's credibility.  Shelton Benjamin should not have interfered in the match and caused Jeff Hardy to lose.  This makes it seem that MVP can't beat Jeff Hardy.  Which would be okay, if the WWE plans on continuing their feud.  But with Shelton getting involved, it seems that Jeff Hardy has found a new sparing partner.  MVP was the longest running US Champion in the WWE.  He beat Chris Benoit in two consecutive falls to win that title.  Jeff Hardy is at such a high level with the fans that one loss would not have hurt him.  MVP should have won this match clean and Shelton should have attacked Jeff afterwards.

We have an interview with Maria.  Usually, I believe that interview time should only be on television shows and not pay per view.  The fans paid to watch matches not listen to people talk.  The time for talk is over.  You use your TV time to build the pay per view.  You shouldn't use pay per view time to hype something that people have already paid for.  However, it is always entertaining to see Santino Marella.  But this segment really could have been removed to allow another match some more time.

Up next is the Winner Take All Intercontinental and Women's Championship match.  Kofi Kingston and Mickie James, the champions, versus Santino Marella and Beth Phoenix.  This was a well worked match.  Everyone in the ring is entertaining to watch and knows how to work the audience.  It had a good combination of technical wrestling and comedy.  Mickie James and Beth Phoenix are slowly showing the WWE audience that the women's division is something to pay attention to.  The ending to this match was very well thought out.  With Beth pinning Mickie, it shows the dominating force that she posses.  Mickie doesn't lose any credibility because it is a known fact that Beth is the toughest women on the RAW roster.  This was also a brilliant way of getting the Intercontinental Title off of Kingston.  It was still way too early in his career to hold the number two title in the company.  He is over with the audience, but he's still green and needs to establish himself first.  Putting the titles on heels always makes for a better story.  It's always easier to sell tickets when everyone wants to see the bad guy get beat up.  Now that Beth Phoenix and Santino Marella hold the titles and are an on screen couple, the chemistry between the two should be interesting to watch on RAW.

Shawn Michaels comes out and makes his speech about retiring.  Did anyone think that Chris Jericho was not going to show up?  Again, an entertaining segment but unnecessary for a pay per view.  We can see people talk on RAW for free, no one wants to pay for it now.  Jericho clocking Michaels wife was slightly unexpected.  Him actually hitting her and causing her lip to swell up and bleed was hardcore.  She's a worker but I hope we don't see her get involved in this story line.

Up next is the ECW Championship match pitting Mark Henry, the champion, against Matt Hardy.  They so a traditional Japanese style opening when they wait for both of the wrestlers to enter before they announce either one of them; challenger first, then the champion.  This is the way it should always be in championship matches or at least always have the champion come out last.  This match was way too quick and didn't highlight anything about the two men in the match.  Both Matt Hardy and Mark Henry are good at what they do and should be allowed to showcase themselves.  But for whatever reason, they weren't given the time of day.  This was the first match that was advertised for Summer Slam, so they really should have put more thought into it.  It was a good move to have Tony Atlas pull Matt Hardy off of Mark Henry following the Twist of Fate.  This really protected the move as no one has kicked out of it in over a year.  The brawl after the match worked pretty well.  When Jeff Hardy came out and preformed the Swanton off the apron onto Tony Atlas, that was a moment to watch.  The double suplex from the Hardys to Mark Henry to the floor was amazing.  Interesting concepts in the after match brawl, but pointless.  They could have used all of this time to devote to the match to show off what these two men can do.

The World Heavyweight Championship match follows right after.  C.M. Punk, the champion, versus John Bradshaw Layfield.  As much as I like C.M. Punk, and has great of a worker he is, he's no miracle worker.  When Bradshaw came back, he become very sloppy.  He should have stayed retired because now, he's slowly destroying his legacy.  The pace was very slow for a C.M. Punk match.  The crowd was still hot for him throughout, which should mean that he will keep the title for a little while longer.  The only thing to notice about this match was the scary moment they had when JBL and C.M. Punk heads collided with each other, causing Punk to open up and bleed.  Shortly after, they took the match home, which was understandable.  Both men should have been rushed to the back and checked for concussions after a hit like that.  Both seemed a little out of it after the hit but were able to continue to the finish.

Triple H defends his WWE Title against The Great Khali.  The biggest problem with the Great Khali is that he only has the ability to tell one story in the ring and the fans are catching on to it.  Khali will always play the giant that can't be stopped but somehow is.  Every single one of his matches against a main eventer has been like this.  Start off with the stare down, go to strike with a quick attempt at your finisher, followed by Khali gaining the advantage.  The match continues until his opponent figures out that he should take out the legs and it always ends with his opponents preforming their finishing move, which we were lead to believe is physically impossible at this point.  Now, Triple H is an amazing worker and can pull off some great matches with almost anyone in the locker room.  But there really isn't an interesting way to tell this story and it showed.  The "can Triple H pedigree Khali?" story was slightly interesting, only because no one had ever seen Khali take a bump like this before.  Usually, the impossible move is a slam of some sort.  It was expected for Triple H to retain the title and that's exactly what happened and it was a good idea on Triple H's part to hook the leg.  This really made Khali look better because he is losing credibility with how often he jobs to main eventers.  Khali's size should really dictate the fact that he should be champion.  If they wanted to make wrestling more believable, Khali should be champion for almost a year.  There's a lot of money involved if you have a heel champion that seems to be unbeatable, limited talent or not.  Every month, you could blow up that this might be the one he loses.  But the WWE missed their chance when Khali lost his first match.  He should have went on a several year long winning streak, that way his loss would mean something.

The first ever encounter between Batista and John Cena is up next.  First off, this match had the worst build up for a marquee match I have ever seen.  This match should have been building for at least six months, just so that the fans could become emotionally involved in what they were about to watch.  This should also have been the main event on any other pay per view and shouldn't have been wasted on a card that also had the Hell in a Cell.  With that said, let me say these two men have grown so much since they first arrived.  Both were known for having their "5 moves of death" but now, they continue to surprise me with every match they are in.  This one was no exception.  They both seemed a little hesitant in the ring against each other but they eventually picked it up.  This match saw some great counters to the FU and the Batista Bomb.  It was very entertaining and should have pleased Cena and Batista fans.  Was it a wrestling clinic?  Not by a long shot, but that doesn't mean it wasn't worth watching.  The storytelling was hit and miss.  Somethings worked out great but others didn't.  John Cena's STFU seems to be losing it's potency.  For a move that should be this devastating, Batista was in it for way too long.  Submission holds should be treated as if they were legitimately applied.  Once a submission hold is locked in, it should be no more than five seconds before someone taps.  I understand that it is easier to build drama when someone is in a hold for awhile but at the same time blocking submission holds can tell the same story and it protects the move.  It was a good idea to have Batista win clean.  Cena is bullet proof at this stage in his career but Batista still needs the big wins.  Hopefully, this doesn't lead to a long and extended program.  This really should be a one time match.

Hell in a Cell, Undertaker versus Edge, has finally arrived.  They build this story very well.  With Edge and Vickie breaking up and the reinstating of the Undertaker, this shows that the WWE can plan out massive multi-layered story lines.  It's just sad that they use all of their resources on one story when they should be concentrating on every single wrestler.  Bringing back the "crazy" Edge was a good idea.  With Hell in a Cell being Undertakers specialty match, they needed to do something to make Edge not seem weak.  The problem with Hell in a Cell now is the fact that their have been so many of them, that it's hard to surprise the audience with anything.  So you have to become creative.  Edge spearing Undertaker through the wall of the cage was unexpected and was possibly the highlight of that match.  The match was more or less a typical Hell in a Cell leading up to and after that.  Everyone knew Undertaker was going to win his return match, but they did a great job protecting Edge.  Undertaker choke slammed Edge through two stacked tables, hit him with a video camera, nailed him with the one man con-chair-to, and then puts him away with the tombstone.  The fact that Taker doesn't attempt to pin him in between these spots was brilliant.  It makes Edge look so much better to lay down for all of that as opposed to just one.  It was interesting to see Taker come back after the match and choke slam Edge off a ladder and through the ring.  I felt that it was unnecessary to have the hole catch on fire.  It always seems that the WWE wants the audience to believe that their wrestlers are super heroes and can't die.  It always seems a little insulting to try and make the fans believe that a wrestler just "killed" another wrestler and it always seems to happen on pay per view.

Overall, a good show.  We worth the price and well worth the time.  Very few mess ups on the WWE's part but everything is salvageable.  There were no mistakes storyline wise that can't be fixed.  My rating: B+