SummerSlam 2008: Biggest Blockbuster of The Summer Exceeds All Expectations

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SummerSlam 2008:  Biggest Blockbuster of The Summer Exceeds All Expectations

As a wrestling fan of over 10 years, one would think that I would have ordered a Pay-Per-View by now.  Unfortunately, anyone who shares that belief would be incorrect.  August 2008 was no different than any other August, as I did not order WWE's main summer event, SummerSlam.  Thanks to the magic of newsgroups, however, I was able to view this event today and bring you the results.

The first match on the SummerSlam 2008 card was Jeff Hardy versus Montel Vontavious Porter: two United States Championship contenders in a match at a "big four" pay-per-view event with the actual champion left off of the card.  Supposedly the original plan was to have a title match between Shelton and Kennedy, but with Kennedy becoming injured they decided to change the match to Hardy vs MVP.  Apparently a Triple Threat was out of the question.

The show begins with a shot at the entrance from the nosebleed sections in the arena.  Ross comments that this was Hardy's first SummerSlam in seven years.  MVP wins this after a "Drive-by Kick" and interference from Shelton Benjamin, which was rather unnecessary, but at least they involved the US Champion somehow.  This match really did nothing for me.  **

My Pick: Jeff Hardy
Winner: MVP
SummerSlam Batting Average: 0/1: .000
Career: 0/1: .000

After the replays, Maria interviews "Glammerella" backstage.  Santino says his unibrow drives the Glamazon crazy.  This match will be great.  Mickie and Kofi come out first, separately.  I can't for the life of me understand why Kofi Kingston gets both the Intercontinental Championship and an entrance with pyrotechnics yet he is not given any promo opportunities.  Granted I am not able (or willing) to see every single episode of Raw, I have yet to hear word of him doing any promos.

Santino and Beth come out together, as expected.  It's impossible to look at Santino without laughing--his uni-brow looks ridiculous.  James/Phoenix start the match with some good displays of power vs speed/athleticism, and soon Marella and Kingston are tagged in for their SummerSlam debuts.  Kingston's first act is a perfect springboard flying cross body block.  Santino continues the heel comedy throughout he entire match, getting manhandled by Mickie James, and jumping into Phoenix's arms to avoid a aerial attack fake by Kingston.  Beth wins the match with the Glam Slam, capturing a second Womens' Title run for herself, and a second Intercontinental Title run for her partner, Santino Marella.  Santino gives a celebration performance reminiscent of Kurt Angle, falling to his knees with joy despite winning the match while knocked out on the floor.  He leaves the ring sitting on Beth's shoulders, raising both belts high.  Classic.
"I did it all by myself.  All by myself." -Santino
"I missed you.  I missed you." -Santino to Intercontinental belt

Again, classic.  The match itself deserves *** 1/2, but Santino bumps it up to **** for his added comedy work.

My Pick: Glammerella
Winner: Glammerella
SummerSlam Batting Average: 1/2: .500
Career: 1/2: .500

Shawn Michaels comes out to the ring with his wife, Rebecca, to announce his retirement.  I'd say I'm excited to see him on my TV less for a change, but a Jericho run-in is completely telegraphed.  The camera cuts to various fans in the crowd with tears in their eyes, and while I'm glad that people still buy the angles, I'm also embarrassed that there are fans that thought he was actually retiring and that this angle would not continue.  Will he retire soon?  I hope so, but not without one more match, at the very least.  My assumptions are correct, as Jericho comes out and cuts one hell of a heel promo, as usual.  Jericho takes a cheap shot at Michaels, who ducks.  Jericho's fist connects with Rebecca and it looks more realistic than most punches done in matches.  Jericho sneaks out of the ring.  HBK looks furious and it looks like we'll get that blow-off match I correctly predicted.  I'm including this in my averages because like  a regular match there were two main outcomes: retire or continue feud.

After a little while, Rebecca sits up, stands up, and gets a decent pop from the crowd.  Her lip is SWOLLEN.  This was done really well; I'm not sure how they did it, as I doubt anyone would approve of an angle where Rebecca REALLY gets punched in the mouth. *****

My Pick: Feud Continues
Winner: Feud Continues
SummerSlam Batting Average: 2/3: .667
Career: 2/3: .500

We see an ad for Street Kings on DVD, because apparently the pay-per-view doesn't cost enough for viewers to see it commercial-free.  I suppose I can't complain since I'm seeing it cost-free.  Matt Striker and Josh Matthews are announcing (YES!) and it's time for Mark Henry versus Matt Hardy.

As Hardy makes his entrance, both Striker and Matthews do a great job putting over the ECW title, saying that this is the biggest night of Hardy's career because he has yet to win a 'major heavyweight title.'  Mark Henry comes out with the world's largest grin on his face, expecting the match to be a walk in the park.  Striker adds suspense to the match, pointing out that it would be virtually impossible for Hardy to use either of his finishers against Henry.  Tony Chimmel waits to announce the competitors to both be in the ring and it gives it an important, main event feel.  I get the idea that WWE is giving the ECW brand and title importance finally.

Or so I thought.  Surprisingly, Matt Hardy almost immediately nails the Twist of Fate on Mark Henry, completely contradicting what Striker said earlier.  Hardy goes for the cover.  One, two, Atlas pulls Hardy out of the ring.  DISQUALIFICATION.  Not only is Henry disqualified for a terrible reason, but Jeff Hardy runs to ringside to help Matt take care of Henry.  While it takes two of them to suplex Henry, it still would have been better to have Henry get the best of both of them.  The only thing that saves this is that the angle will continue.  It will probably end at Unforgiven, with Hardy winning the ECW title.  This was bad, almost as bad as Kane vs Chavo.  Normally I'd expect a terrible match from Mark Henry, but given how good this angle has been, this was an unfortunate and unexpected result.  I'm not taking credit for guessing this correctly.

Rating:  .  No, those are not invisible stars.  This match was just not worthy of a rating.

My Pick: Mark Henry retains in a show-stealing match
Winner: Mark Henry retains in an shockingly terrible match
SummerSlam Batting Average: 2/4: .500
Career: 2/4: .500

On the bright side, we may now see Henry team with either Shelton or MVP to take on the Hardys on either ECW or Smackdown.  Everyone loves a Hardy reunion.  An ad is aired to showcase the SummerSlam anthology set, to remind us of the days when SummerSlam was AMAZING.  Punk vs JBL is up next.

Again, in order to make it feel like we are seeing a major main event match, the competitor announcements are not given until both JBL and Punk are in the ring.  JBL has the upper hand for most of the match, but Punk manages to land a suicide dive and a flying cross bodyblock.  JBL connects a fallaway slam from the second rope.

Punk is still being booked as an underdog, which is disappointing, but this match was still impressive.  Punk goes for a springboard lariat, which JBL reverses into a powerslam.  JBL was also on the receiving end of reversed maneuvers, as Punk nailed a side heel kick on JBL as he was trying to connect a Clothesline from Hell.  Punk reverses another clothesline attempt into a Go 2 Sleep and retains the title in a solid, clean victory on a major event. ***1/2

My Pick: Punk
Winner: Punk
SummerSlam Batting Average: 3/5: .600
Career: 3/5: .600

The WWE Championship match is up next, and hopefully Triple H can carry the Great Khali to a rating-worthy match.  Triple H tries for the Pedigree early on but is unsuccessful.  Khali nails a double-handed choke slam and applies the Vice Grip.  You can't expect a lot from Khali as he has never displayed a great deal of ability, but he can't really be expected to, as his primary function is to serve as a slow, powerful big-man type of wrestler.  Triple H does a good job selling and making Khali look strong.  Khali gets a 'you can't wrestle' chant, but on the contrary he does a fairly acceptable job of doing what he is supposed to do.

Triple H hacks away at Khali like he is trying to chop down a tree, Khali poorly takes a facebuster, and gets tangled up in the ropes.  Nothing worthwhile happens here, though, as Khali reverses an attempted attack with a big boot.  Triple H again tries to mount an offense but Khali backdrops the Game over the top rope to the outside of the ring.  Triple H tries to connect a clothesline or diving attack from the ring apron to the floor, but Khali hits him with a stiff clothesline from the floor.  He's that tall.  Shortly after, Triple H somehow lands a Pedigree and gets the win.  This match had a decent Hogan/Andre feel to it but I don't dare compare Khali with Andre.  Besides, it lacked a moment comparable to that epic body slam heard around the world, brother.  This wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be.  ***

My Pick: Triple H
Winner: Triple H
SummerSlam Batting Average: 4/6: .667
Career: 4/6: .667

Let the "You Can't Wrestle" chants continue; Cena vs Batista is up next.  The match is full of reversals and finisher teases.  Batista pulls out a few Ric Flair moves--a chop block and a figure four leglock--but Cena keeps on fighting.  Cena applies an incredibly sloppy looking STFU and Batista makes it to the ropes.  Cena pulls him back to the center of the ring and reapplies it, but Batista breaks the hold.  Cena then attempts an FU, which is reversed into a rear-naked choke with a body scissor.  I don't think I've seen that transition before.  Cena does not submit and the two make it to their feet.  Batista spears Cena for a two count.  He then lifts up Cena onto his shoulder as if he was going to give him a backbreaker, but Cena slides off, reverses into an inverted DDT position, and powers through into an FU.  Wow.  Say what you want about Cena, but that man is strong, and while he may have a terrible finisher, he has come up with some extremely unique reversals for it.  Cena is slow to cover and only gets a two.  The crowd is hot after that reversal, and it should be.

Cena climbs the top rope, but Batista cuts him off.  The two go back and forth with punches, and the crowd responds with "boo" and "yeah" for each exchange.  For some reason, Cena gets boos, still, yet Batista gets a pop.  Cena wins the exchanges and Batista falls back onto the mat like dead weight.  Cena waits for Batista to stand and attempts some sort of sloppy-looking attack.  I don't even know what he was trying to do.  It looked like he wanted to do a head-scissors or a Rey Mysterio style maneuver.  Michael Cole said he went for a leg drop, but it didn't look anything like a leg drop.  It doesn't really matter, because Batista reversed it into a Batista Bomb (I guess).  Two count, and the crowd is into it.

Batista Bomb, one, two, three.  It's not Rock-Austin--not even close--but it was exciting and better than expected.  ****

My Pick: No winner, Batista turns heel
Winner: Batista, no one turns heel
SummerSlam Batting Average: 4/7: .571
Career: 4/7: .571

The blowoff match for the Edge/Undertaker feud is up next and it should be a good one. The cell is lowered, and Chimmel announces that this match will be "Hell in a Cell," and the crowd says it with him.  Edge makes his way to the ring, with a twisted/determined look on his face.  There is a long dramatic pause as Edge anxiously awaits the entrance of the Dead Man.  The deep, bellowing bell sounds as the Undertaker's music plays.  The crowd gives him a big pop but not as big as I expected, and it makes me wonder if a lot of people are being converted into Edge fans.

This match is already quite creative.  Undertaker brings the ring steps into the ring and props them in the corner.  He then drops Edge on them with the Snake Eyes maneuver.  Edge reverses an Irish whip into the steps and then spears the Undertaker into them, who was sitting in an upright position in front of the steps.  Edge then sets up two tables stacked outside the ring and attempts a suplex, but is blocked.  Undertaker attempts a Choke Slam but his attempt is blocked, also.  Obviously these tables will come into play later.

After working 'Taker over with a chair, Edge pulls two ladders out from under the ring.  It's starting to look like "TLC in a Cell."  This is a great way to really put Edge in his element and make this match unique when compared to the previous Hell in a Cell matches.  Edge sets up the Undertaker on a table and climbs the ladder with a chair in hand.  He says "I understand," and jumps off the ladder, recreating the same attack he made on Mick Foley on Smackdown a few weeks ago.  A 'this is awesome' chant would be great here but the crowd seems to be more behind the Undertaker.  Edge set Undertaker up for a Conchairto, but Undertaker sat up and grabbed Edge's throat for a Choke Slam, which was blocked.

The action is taken to ringside within the cell, and Edge has the Undertaker staggered up against the cell wall.  Edge runs and jumps off of the ring steps and plows through both the Undertaker and the cell wall with a flying shoulder block.  I repeat, a 'this is awesome' chant would be completely warranted.  Edge spears the Undertaker from the Raw announce table into and through the ECW announce table.  It's hard to believe that ten years ago, Edge was starting his WWE career, AND, ten years ago, Undertaker was making this same match type famous.  The fight goes back into the ring.

Edge nails the Dead Man with a ladder and a television camera, but can not get the three count.  He goes for a Spear but runs right into a Choke Slam.  Two count, and a Last Ride attempt is thwarted by a low blow, which is fully legal in a Hell in a Cell match.  Edge hits an Impaler, which I can't recall seeing in a while.  After kicking out, Undertaker tries for a Last Ride towards the two tables outside the ring, but Edge slides off and hits another Spear for a two count.  Edge pummels Undertaker in the corner and Undertaker lifts him into a Last Ride for yet another two count.  He then tries a Tombstone Piledriver onto the ring steps but it is reversed by Edge!  I may need a new keyboard.  I will most likely wear out my asterisk key when the time comes to give this match a star rating.

Just when I thought this match couldn't get any better, Edge attempts an Old School, but is blocked.  Undertaker Choke Slams Edge off the top rope, to the outside of the ring, through the two stacked tables.  He rolls Edge back into the ring and SPEARS HIM.  He sets Edge up for a Conchairto, and hits it.  Tombstone Piledriver, rest in peace.  This was possibly the best match I've seen in the past year, if not the past five years.  *****

My Pick: Undertaker
Winner: Undertaker
SummerSlam Batting Average: 6/8: .750
Career: 6/8: .750

Just when I thought it was over, Undertaker stops at the entrance and turns around.  He power-walks back to the ring and sets up a ladder.  He picks up Edge for a Last Ride, but instead of dropping him, he throws him over his head so that he will land on the ladder.  He sets up another ladder, climbs it, and has all the space he needs to deliver one hell of a Choke Slam--through the ring.  The hole in the ring then bursts into flames, and Ross says that Edge was sent 'straight to hell.'  I think they overdid it a little bit here, but it was still great.

SummerSlam was pretty good this year. Nearly all of the matches delivered, and the number of disappointments were fairly minimal.  The main event cancelled out any prior disappointments, anyway.  I doubt a single person in the arena was thinking about Mark Henry while the Undertaker was delivering Spears and Conchairtos to Edge.  ****

 

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