The WWE’s biggest event of the summer is officially over and the following are my thoughts on last night’s SummerSlam PPV from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Overall, it was a very lackluster card. The crowd was dead for so much of the show, and it ended up hurting the quality of the matches. With the exception of the main event (Lesnar vs. HHH) and Chris Jericho vs. Dolph Ziggler, the rest of the show came across as filler. A hotter crowd would have certainly helped matters. I think it’s time for WWE to seriously consider moving SummerSlam out of Los Angeles. Even though L.A. is a major media market, the lack of crowd reaction may have been a message that it’s time to relocate. I can only imagine how much hotter the show would’ve been had they been in a city like Chicago, Boston or Miami. Heck, I guarantee that any other city in America would’ve been better than the Staples Center crowd.
The opening bout of Jericho vs. Ziggler was awesome and one of the better opening matches I’ve seen this year. These two have been locked into a great feud for the least several weeks and I was honestly surprised that Jericho came out with the win (being that he’s leaving soon for another tour with his band Fozzy). Then again, it was poetic justice since their entire storyline revolved around Jericho never being able to win the big one. Ziggler is one of the best young talents in the business and Jericho proved, even at 41, why he is still in the upper echelon of great workers on a worldwide basis (with TNA’s Kurt Angle, AJ Styles, and Austin Aries along with New Japan’s Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tetsuya Naito and Kazuchika Okada). The two most memorable spots of the match were Jericho’s huracanrana off the top rope and the old school version of the Lion Tamer submission he used to score the win
Kane vs. Daniel Bryan was nothing special, but I was glad to see Bryan come out with the clean win.
Miz vs. Rey Mysterio for the Intercontinental title was also nothing special. This was the first sign of the crowd losing major interest as the show went on. Mysterio did come out in a cool Batman costume.
Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio for the world title was a very boring. Unless Sheamus is in with a wrestler the caliber of Jericho or Bryan, I tend to find his matches difficult to watch. He’s a hard worker, but he just doesn’t do anything for me. And Del Rio is worse than that. Sheamus got the pin while Del Rio’s foot was on the rope so I’m pretty sure their program will continue. Crowd continued to be mostly dead.
Kofi Kingston and R-Truth beat Darren Young and Titus O’neal to retain the tag titles. The match was well worked and all four deserve credit, particularly O’neal, but the lack of crowd reaction didn’t help them. I also noticed something interesting. Even though Young and O’neal lost their manager A.W., they still seem to possess some degree of charisma. I think they still have a reasonable shot at getting the belts sooner than later.
C.M. Punk defending his WWE title against John Cena and Big Show was exactly what I expected as far as the body of work was concerned. The match ended in a double submission on Show until AJ came out to restart it. Cena laid out Show with an Attitude Adjustment before Punk pushed him out and stole the pin. Pretty good finish for continuing the Cena vs. Punk storyline, but there was nothing special about the match from any of their similar encounters on Raw. The audio in the restaurant where I watched the show was acting up at this point and I couldn’t really tell how hot or cold the crowd was. I heard Big Show got more cheers than Cena.
There was a performance by Kevin Rudolf (who sang the SummerSlam theme song) which was just an excuse to have all the Divas on stage dancing around in their short dresses. I assume this will become an annual tradition since the same thing happened during Cee Lo’s performance last year.
The funniest and somewhat coolest segment of the show occurred when they introduced the various celebrities in attendance on the front row. David Arquette was shown proudly displaying a replica of the WCW world title belt. This was very funny since Arquette actually held the WCW title in 2000. Maria Menunous sported a cool Bob Backlund shirt (Backlund is the second longest reigning WWE champion in history). Music mogul Rick Rubin was shown and Fred Durst shocked everyone, especially WWE officials, by flipping the middle finger right in front of the camera. Talk about an unpredictable moment!
HHH vs. Lesnar was the only thing that felt like a big time match. It was way better than I thought it would be and featured some of the best storytelling of any match I’ve seen this year. It was excellent from a psychological standpoint. Both guys deserve credit for going out and doing an extremely physical match. Unlike Lesnar vs. Cena, this match was more wrestling oriented. The story was Lesnar continually working over HHH’s arm to set up the kimura lock. Lesnar kicked out of two Pedigrees and made HHH tap out to win.
The finish was shocking for the mere fact HHH rarely taps. The only three instances I can ever remember him tapping, since being a major star, was at Wrestlemanias 20 and 27 and an episode of Raw in 2005. The match went a long way towards establishing Lesnar’s credibility as a legit monster. So far, he’s lost to Cena, but gave him the worst beating of his career and now he’s beaten another of the biggest stars in company history. I felt it was an excellent match that could’ve been a classic in front of another audience.
Afterwards, HHH and the announcers played it up like it was his farewell match. Unfortunately for him, the fans ended up chanting “you tapped out.” I’m sure he didn’t expect that.