We continue on with WWE’s traditional biggest event of the summer. Summer Slam was always my favourite WWE show during my younger days and I would excitedly look forward to it through the years.
I’m going to break this one up a bit into roughly something like 6 parts, so by the time we reach the end we should be in August and I’ll then leave myself some time to cover WCW Road Wild (Shudder)
Along the way we’re going to see some great matches and some…not quite as good to put it nicely. Regardless I hope we all have fun together!
This week it’s 2003 to 2007
WWF Summer Slam 2003
Champ: Triple H w/ Ric Flair Vs Randy Orton Vs Chris Jericho Vs Kevin Nash Vs Shawn Michaels Vs Goldberg
This was originally supposed to be Triple H defending against Goldberg singles match, with WWE even going as far as to announce it and start hyping it. However, Triple H ended up tearing his groin, so they decided to turn the match into a Chamber bout instead so that five other guys could do the wrestling and he wouldn’t really be required to do much. They pushed heavily in the hype that Triple H had lost the first ever Chamber match back at Survivor Series 2002 so as to make the fans think that it would happen again.
Goldberg is insanely over here, so much so that he gets a bit overly excited and falls over during his entrance. Triple H has long trunks on, which I think was because they would support the groin. They don’t look too good on him though and it’s no shock that he went back to normal trunks once his injury issues subsided. For some reason they dub Goldberg’s WCW music in over his WWE theme here, even though it always used to be the other way around with WCW footage for years prior to The Network era. I honestly have no idea how these music rights even work anymore. Do they not own their own theme that they created for Goldberg?
Jericho and Shawn start us out and it’s the usual good action between the two, as they trade pin attempts and dodge the others’ finisher attempts. It’s a fun little segment actually. Orton is the first out of his pod and he was already mechanically sound at this stage but hadn’t quite fully formed his heel character yet. The action remains good, but the crowd isn’t massively into it for whatever reasons and spend large chunks of it chanting for Goldberg.
The steel floor around the ring always looked awful to take bumps on and I think they’ve made it less treacherous in recent years. Nash is out next and goes right after Jericho due to Jericho giving him a haircut on a previous addition of Raw. Jericho bleeds as a result of that attack, which leads to Nash attacking his buddy Shawn for good measure. That proves to be his undoing however as Shawn plays him some Sweet Chin Music in response and that allows Jericho to pin him for three.
Kevin Nash Eliminated by Chris Jericho
That was a good use of Nash actually, as he came in and got to look like a monster for a bit before getting eliminated before he could really drag the match down in any way. He decides to be a sore loser and attacks everyone. Triple H is supposed to be next out of his pod, but Shawn hits him just as it opens, which sends him back into the pod so he can sell and not have to do anything. Everyone starts pulling themselves up following Nash’s rampage, just in time for Goldberg to be released from his pod. That goes exactly as you’d expect, with Orton eating a Spear and getting pinned.
Randy Orton Eliminated by Goldberg
Jericho is next up to the slaughter, as Goldberg Spear’s him through one of the pods in a great spot. Not only has Goldberg’s execution been spot on but everyone is selling his stuff really well also. This whole section of the match is just done perfectly by all involved. Shawn does get a flurry on Goldberg, but that doesn’t last long and a Spear and Jackhammer end his night soon after.
Shawn Michaels Eliminated by Goldberg
It’s not long before Jericho’s night is over also, as a Spear and Jackhammer send him to the showers.
Chris Jericho Eliminated by Goldberg
Triple H tries to stay in his pod, with Flair holding the door shut, but Goldberg punches his way in like he’s in an action movie and then drags Triple H out to lay a whupping on him. The crowd is absolutely loving it and is all on board with a Goldberg win, but sadly they are to be denied as Flair passes Triple H a Sledgehammer through the holes in the cage and Triple H catches Goldberg with it to pick up the last gasp win and deflate the crowd.
Goldberg Eliminated by Triple H
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: TRIPLE H
I’ve heard the defence for Triple H winning here (This meant Goldberg could now chase and win it from Triple H in a singles bout to make it mean more, this would give fans a reason to stay invested as football season began instead of tying things up in a nice bow with a Goldberg Title win, Goldberg hadn’t been getting reactions like this very often so WWE would have had no idea how into him the crowd would be etc) but my opinion is that they should have just pulled the trigger here.
Goldberg was the hottest he’d ever been in his first WWE run and failing to win here took considerable steam from him. Triple H had an out due to his injury and rematches could have been sold on that story point once he’d healed. Obviously Goldberg’s second WWE run has kind of overshadowed this whole period, and that’s probably how people will remember his WWE days in the future, but this was still a missed opportunity in my opinion.
The match itself was fun and fought at a quick pace, with something interesting usually happening at all points and some great selling by the likes of Shawn and Jericho to get the two big monsters over. Evolution do the big Horsemen beat down on Goldberg post-match to anger the crowd even more, but by the time Unforgiven came around the feud had cooled considerably and Goldberg’s eventual revenge didn’t really mean much.
WWF Summer Slam 2004
Champ: Chris Benoit Vs Randy Orton
Benoit had won the belt back at WrestleMania XX and had enjoyed a solid if not especially spectacular run with the belt. In ring wise he was a strong Champion, but he hadn’t really had much in the way of interesting feuds, with Kane and Triple H mostly taking up his time. Orton had been kept strong but also hadn’t really been pushed like he was a World Title level guy, with him winning a battle royal to earn the shot with just a couple of weeks left in the build for the show. At the time I personally felt that they’d do something screwy here like a DQ and Benoit would lose it to one of Orton or Triple H at the next show, but WWE had other plans.
The Canadian crowd is more interested in hassling Earl Hebner in the early going rather than focusing on Orton and Benoit’s solid grappling. Orton actually manages to get a Sharpshooter during the early exchanges, but Benoit manages to counter that into a submission attempt of his own. Orton drags himself out of the ring to escape that and then flings Benoit into the ring post whilst out there.
The action in this one is good, with both men working hard and executing their moves well, which leads to them gradually getting a somewhat indifferent crowd a tad more invested. In a brutal looking spot, Benoit goes for a running dive but Orton moves and he ends up going flying into the barricade with a sickening thud. Stuff like that probably didn’t help with his increased physical and mental deterioration.
Orton of course breaks out his customary chin lock, but it actually makes sense on this occasion due to Benoit’s aforementioned meeting with the barricade. Benoit fights up and makes a comeback, although the crowd heat isn’t exactly what you’d expect considering Benoit is in his home country and is also the Champ. Maybe this was the chickens coming home to roost in regards to the WWE refusing to allow the Canadian wrestlers to actually be announced as being from Canada? Benoit gets a submission tease with the Sharpshooter, but Orton makes the ropes to break.
They gradually start upping the ante, with Benoit getting the multiple German Suplexes to finally wake the crowd up a bit. Orton manages to get his feet up on a diving head butt attempt though, in a great vicious looking counter. Benoit comes back with the cross face, but Orton wriggles out and gets the RKO outta nowhere in the rather abrupt finish.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: RANDY ORTON
This one felt rather flat to me, as they took it home just as it felt like they were finally getting things going and picking up the pace. The match didn’t really hit the peak for me, even though the work in general was fine. Having Benoit transition the Title clean to an up and coming guy was the perfect way to end his reign and it at least prevented Triple H from getting his win back (Although the belt itself would soon be coming home to daddy)
WWF Summer Slam 2005
Shawn Michaels Vs Hulk Hogan
This one came about due to Shawn playing some Sweet Chin Music for Hogan following a tag match they were in. This led to some great heel promo’s from Shawn, including one in Montreal where he drew nuclear heat. Apparently the WWE wanted this one to be a multiple match series, but that didn’t end up happening. This was before they had overdone it with former stars coming back to beat up regular roster members, so this match was a fun novelty and the crowd is super into Hogan’s entrance.
Shawn’s overselling in this match has become the stuff of legend, as he starts taking big melodramatic bumps the further the match keeps going, which was likely due to him getting in a strop over Hogan being difficult to work with and wanting to show him up. It’s not massively noticeable at first but it becomes kind of un-ignorable after a certain point. Despite it being a bit silly it’s still entertaining and does kind of play into the idea that Shawn is a smaller cheating heel taking on the bigger heroic babyface. It reminds me a bit of that great Hogan/Warrior Vs Curt Henning/Lanny Poffo match from 1990 where the heels pinball all over the place for the faces, but it’s done with considerable less subtlety.
After getting battered for a lot of the first half of the bout, Shawn is able to slip out of a Hogan powerslam attempt and sends him into the ring post outside the ring a few times before targeting Hogan’s head with punches back inside. Just like in one of the 2K games, if you keep punching someone in the head then you’ll eventually draw some blood, and that’s what happens here. It’s a good use of blood as it gives a previously quite cartoonish match some much needed drama and allows Shawn to be vicious whilst Hogan sells to draw sympathy. It’s a really gory blade job too, with Shawn’s arm getting caked in Hogan’s blood when he locks in a sleeper.
Hogan manages to back suplex his way out of the hold for a double down, selling it all great, but Shawn manages to regain control with a running forearm before heading up for an elbow drop. Hogan dodges that one though and then comes alive once he realises the blood on his face. The ref gets bumped whilst Hogan tries fighting back, which leads the crowd to think that Bret Hart is going to come down due to WWE teasing it would happen on that episode of Raw in Montreal. It’s probably a good example of why you shouldn’t tease things you can’t deliver, as the crowd is disappointed when it doesn’t happen.
Shawn goes to the Sharpshooter just to rub it in, but Hogan drags himself to the ropes when a second ref comes down, only for that ref to get bumped too. This is starting to get a bit silly now with all the needless overbooking. Shawn hits Hogan right in the Linda’s and then heads outside for a chair, which he successfully hits Hogan with back inside. The elbow drop leads to the band getting tuned, but Hogan kicks out of the resulting chorus of Sweet Chin Music and goes to the full Hulk Up routine. Shawn oversells all of that like nuts and the resulting leg drop ends it right after.
WINNER: HULK HOGAN
This one got a bit silly with Shawn’s selling and all the ref bumps, but it was still a fun match that still holds up for me. The crowd was into Hogan’s act and they got exactly what they wanted from this and it’s not like it hurt Shawn to do a job either. I enjoyed coming back to this one.
WWF Summer Slam 2006
The DQ and Count Out rule is waived
Champ: Edge w/ Women’s Champ Lita Vs John Cena
Edge and Cena of course spent a large chunk of 2006 feuding with one another, with this one being the second part of the feud following a brief break when Cena dealt with the guys from ECW. Edge had slapped Cena’s dad during the build up as a way to heat this one up, with the stipulation being added that he’d lose the belt on a DQ following a cheap finish between the two on TV. This match is also in Cena’s home state of Massachusetts.
Lita is somehow keeping her flowery baps inside her shirt here in a gravity defying display. Cena still gets his fair share of boo’s, even in his home state. Do West Newbury and Boston have some kind of feud that I’m not aware of? Cena gets a shine to start things off but Edge Spear’s him off the apron for a count out tease and then works some heat back inside. The work is pretty basic, but the match itself has good heat and Edge executes it all well whilst Cena does a good job selling.
It’s wild how hated Cena is, even here. Edge slows things down with a chin lock, and then takes Cena down with a Yakuza Kick when he manages to fight out. Edge gets a very nice clothesline off the top rope at one stage, which finally succeeds in getting the women and kids to start making some noise for Cena. Cena fights out of another rest hold and gets a face buster for a double down, which leads to a funny spot where Lita passes Edge a chair, but he doesn’t want it as a DQ will lead to the Title changing hands.
We hit the home stretch with both guys trading finisher and pin fall attempts, with the action being fun and executed well. These two definitely had that special Main Event chemistry when it came to these sorts of finishing sequences, even if the body of the matches weren’t always especially exciting. Some of the near finishes are done very well here, with Edge making the ropes on the STFU in one instance. The finish is good also, with Lita passing Edge some brass knuckles and then keeping the ref occupied so that Edge can hit Cena with them and steal one.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: EDGE
It’s a Cena Vs Edge Main Event, so “good” is the baseline you’d expect, and that’s what we got here. Not their best meeting, but still a good match that told a fun story with Edge having to go the extra mile in order to cheat.
WWE Summer Slam 2007
Champ: John Cena Vs Randy Orton
This was the first big singles match between the two on pay per view. Orton had started doing the Soccer Kick of Doom earlier in the year and succeeded in getting it over as an MDK Move by this stage. The crowd is jazzed for this one and Cena surprisingly doesn’t get much in the way of a shine, as Orton dominates almost right from the beginning, with Cena on the defensive and spending the majority of the bout selling. Orton executes all of his offence well and Cena does a good job bumping and selling it all. They don’t do anything especially flashy, but the crowd is with everything they do and both men play their respective roles well.
We of course get a chin lock from Orton, but he makes some good facial expressions and Cena actually treats it as something that would hurt rather than just a rest hold, so they keep the crowd invested as a result. Orton was still in the early stages of morphing into what would become his viper character, which he wouldn’t get completely down until 2008. At this stage he was kind of between his cocky Legend Killer and Viper gimmicks, but you could see the latter starting to come through. His facial expressions in general are just fantastic here, as you can see how much he’s developed from that 2003 match earlier in the review.
This is quite a simple match in a lot of ways, but they squeeze as much as they can out of everything they do, and the result is that it’s an engrossing match to watch, with the story of Cena continuously struggling to find any sort of a foothold in the bout being well told. The story allows Cena to sell and fight from underneath whilst giving Orton the chance to control things in a near maniacal manner, which are roles they are both suited to. They hadn’t run this match into the ground yet either, so the crowd heat is sustained throughout and it really adds to things.
Of course it’s all building to the spot you would expect, with Orton having Cena on the ropes but deciding he wants the Soccer Kick of Doom rather than just finishing Cena off with something simpler, only for Cena to dodge it and lock in the STFU. Orton manages to make the ropes and then snaps off an RKO outta nowhere for a nail biting two count. In a really nice touch Orton took a moment to sell his leg before making the pin, thus giving him an out for not picking up the win. Orton pulls Cena up to finish him off, but Cena just doesn’t know he’s beat and pops up with a Hail Mary FU to pick up the last gasp win.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: JOHN CENA
This was an excellent match, as Orton took nearly all of it so that he looked strong even in defeat whilst Cena looked gutsy in pulling out the win at the end by refusing to be defeated. The crowd definitely made it far more enjoyable too, as they were into everything and it really elevated the action.
Nothing but good matches this time out, so I have no complaints
I’ll hopefully see you all next week for 2008 to 2012