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 2008 to 2013
WWE Summer Slam 2008
Hell in a Cell (PG Edition)
Edge Vs The Undertaker
This one came about because Edge was having a love affair with Smackdown General Manager Vicky Guerrero but ended up getting it on with wedding planner Alicia Fox. Obviously a bit miffed by this, Vicky brought back the previously sacked Undertaker and booked a Hell in a Cell match (The first since the company’s move to presenting a PG product) in order that Edge would get a good kicking. Edge had previously been the reason that Taker was gone to begin with as he’d beaten him in a TLC match. They tried to make Edge go all psycho in the build up to make people think he had a chance of winning, including a vicious chair assisted beat down on colour commentator Mick Foley.
Edge does intense creepy facial expressions on the way down to the ring to sell the crazy angle. Taker clobbers Edge in the early going, with Edge selling it all well. It feels like they are borrowing from the Shawn/Taker match at Badd Blood 97 actually, with Taker getting a big shine where he batters the heel until the heel finally finds a way in to get some offence of his own in, because it’s either that or be killed once and for all.
My only critique is that once Edge finally gets some control they dedicate a lot of time to him setting up assorted stacks of weaponry like he’s Wile E Coyote rigging a bunch of traps in a Roadrunner cartoon. It takes away from the heated grudge match feel the bout had in the early going and makes it into more into a standard Main Event spot fest, where the big weapon spots are the focus rather than the heated brawling between the two mortal enemies. It also kind of halts the momentum they were building too, as Taker has to lay around dazed in the ring to give Edge time to set everything up.
As a stunt show though it’s done well, especially as Edge knows what to do in that sort of match. These two had really strong chemistry as opponents too, so that helps with making the match exciting. Both men sell consistently throughout, and take some great bumps for good measure, such as when Edge Spears Taker through the cell wall to send them out to where the announce table is. That was done really well, as is another big spot where Edge runs across one commentary table to Spear Taker through another one.
This one is starting to feel a bit more like a hate filled fight to me again, as they are fighting and stuff just ends up happening around them rather than it feeling like they are doing pre-planned spots. They head back into the cell, which some of the crowd boo’s as they were hoping for them to climb up and fight on the roof, but COME ON, as if Taker and Edge with their combined age and injury issues were going to do that, especially as this was after they made the cell even bigger than it used to be. In a nice call back, Edge hits Taker with a camera like he did at Survivor Series 2007, but Taker kicks out at two and then gets a choke slam for a two of his own.
Edge hits Taker right in the Death Valleys to put a stop to his rampage and gets an Implant DDT for two. More near falls follow and they are all really well done, as I’m getting more and more into this. Some people just have that Main Event chemistry, and these two definitely do. Edge finally goes through a stack of tables he himself set up, with them just disintegrating on impact in a wild bump. Taker lays a big whupping on Edge back inside, getting a Spear, camera shot and a Con-Chair-To in order to give back to Edge everything he took from him in the feud. That’s a great bit of storytelling that works fantastically in a feud ending bout. The Tombstone follows, and that’s enough for three.
WINNER: THE UNDERTAKER
I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t really feeling that one during the middle part, but it won me over once they got into the final third. An excellent match that worked great as a way to end the feud once and for all. I will say though that the lack of blood hurt it somewhat. I’m not a gore freak by any means, but the cage match is the one match type where you really need to have blood unless you go all in on the “escape at any cost as quickly as you can” approach used by the likes of Bret and Owen Hart. Seeing both guys get thrown into the mesh and get smashed with assorted weaponry with nary a drop of plasma getting lost kind of got silly after a certain point.
They also spoil the serious blood feud feel they had with it all as Taker choke slams Edge through the ring mat to send him all the way down to heck itself, with wacky screen effects and flames coming from the hole to signify it. Again, that was just silly and felt really out of place in the story they were trying to tell.
WWE Summer Slam 2009
Tables, Ladders and Chairs
Champ: Jeff Hardy Vs CM Punk
Punk had cashed in Money in the Bank on Jeff Hardy and then outright done a heel beat down on him later on in order to turn to the dark side and start espousing his Straight Edge persona like he’d done in ROH. It freshened him up, even though they quickly took the belt off him and stuck it back on Jeff for whatever reason. This was built up as a result of Punk putting a chair over Jeff’s head and throwing him into the ring post, thus setting up a match with hardcore styled rules so Jeff could have some weaponry based vengeance.
Todd Grisham notes on commentary that Punk has never been in a TLC match before, but fans of IWA Mid-South might have something to say about that! I will say that this heel turn from Punk was missing some new music, as coming out to Killswitch and essentially doing the same entrance made it harder to separate face Punk from heel Punk. It’s why I always thought it was smart to go with Cult of Personality in 2011 as it clearly drew a line under Punk’s previous gimmicks and let you know that this was a new Punk that wasn’t constrained by the past in some way.
Jeff gets to shine on Punk in the early going but ends up getting suplexed on a chair for the cut off. Punk does some good character work and Jeff of course sells the heat well. That being said, I’ve never really “felt” these two as opponents and something always seemed to be lacking for whatever reason. Their better matches were with other people is the best way I could describe it. They use the weaponry well and smartly build up to bigger weapon shots in order not to burn the crowd out too quickly.
The fans are into the action and clearly behind Jeff, as he recovers from missing a splash through a table to sunset flip bomb Punk off the ladder down to the mat. In a frontrunner for “nastiest bump of the match” award, Punk superplexes Jeff off the top rope onto the ladder in a landing that looked super painful. Jeff sadly negates it by almost popping up straight into a Twist of Fate though, which is the issue when you do this sort of match in a 1 v 1 format. It’s a lot easier to sell big spots and let them sink in when you have 4 other people who can come in to do stuff whilst you roll outside for a bit to sell it.
Jeff shows some good fire and intensity by destroying Punk with a chair and then busts out the super-tall-emergency-WrestleMania-ladder to Swanton Punk through a commentary table in an amazing spot. That looked incredible! There are stunt people in Hollywood who might have balked at doing that just off the cuff after wrestling for something like 20 minutes, but Jeff just climbed up there and did it. They tease that Jeff possibly got the worst of it as Punk makes it back in first whilst Jeff nearly gets stretchered out, but he refuses to go and gets back in the ring. Punk sells it great by looking like he wants to cry that he can’t stop this man. However, brave as Jeff is the fall took too much out of him and Punk is able to win the fight on the ladder to knock him down and grab the belt.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: CM PUNK
There were some chemistry issues at points, but they just kept going until they forced it into being an excellent match. Some of the bumps taken here were incredible. Jeff was gone soon after this, so they wisely set up Undertaker as a future challenger for Punk by having him come out and choke slam him.
WWE Summer Slam 2010
Seven Vs Seven Elimination Match
Nexus (Wade Barrett, Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater, Skip Sheffield, Michael Tarver and Darren Young) Vs Team WWE (John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Edge, Chris Jericho, Bret Hart, R-Truth and John Morrison)
Following the first series of NXT they decided to turn all of the rookies into a heel stable and had them batter John Cena in a strong angle. Sadly for Daniel Bryan he attacked Justin Roberts and choked him with a tie, which WWE found to be going too far and thus he was sacked for it. The fans obviously thought this was exceptionally unfair and spent plenty of shows chanting for him, so WWE decided to bring him back here as a replacement for the injured Great Khali to give Team WWE a full quotient of seven guys to take on the rookies. There was also an additional storyline where heel Jericho and Edge didn’t like Cena, with it being teased that it might end up leading to tension. The match itself was built up really well and they did a good job of making Nexus look like a threat whilst hiding some of their greener members.
Miz comes out before the match starts to be the seventh man, but Cena shoots him down and says it will be Bryan instead, which is an extra slap in Miz’s face considering that Bryan was his rookie on NXT. This was during Michael Cole’s insufferable heel commentator phase, where he was still ostensibly the chief play by play guy but was also a constant annoying heel, which is the last thing you want the play by play “voice of the company” to be. As a big Miz fan, he is of course furious at Bryan’s inclusion. They quickly establish Bryan as a threat as he taps out Young with the LeBell Lock to eliminate him for a pop.
Darren Young Eliminated by tap out (Daniel Bryan, LeBell Lock)
Team WWE keeps doing well in the early going, with Morrison eliminating Tarver (One of the weaker guys in the match) with the Starship Pain.
Michael Tarver Eliminated by pin (John Morrison, Starship Pain)
This is all done so that Sheffield (Ryback) can come in and look like a monster for a bit. He does well in that role due to his size and he has some decent poise too. Morrison sells it well and it leads to crowd getting behind him as it looks like he’ll make a comeback, only for Gabriel to cheap shot him so that Sheffield can eliminate him with a clothesline. R-Truth goes almost straight after too, in order to make Sheffield look like an absolute tank.
John Morrison Eliminated by pin (Skip Sheffield, Clothesline)
R-Truth Eliminated by pin (Skip Sheffield, Clothesline)
This has been worked well for the most part, with them keeping the greener Nexus guys limited to what they can do and allowing Sheffield to look strong without needing him to do anything overly taxing or difficult. Bret finally gets tagged in next and he tees off on Slater with punches. Slater sells all of that well and doesn’t really get to respond due to Bret not really being allowed to take bumps because of his previous health issues. Bret actually looks a bit like John Zandig here with his slapdash wrestling gear. They work a way of getting him out of the match without having to take any bumps, as the Nexus bring in a chair and he takes control of it before attacking Sheffield for the DQ.
Bret Hart Eliminated by DQ (Hitting Sheffield with a chair)
The crowd are annoyed at that, but they really didn’t have much choice when it came to ways for Bret to get eliminated and it at least gives Sheffield an out for his upcoming elimination, as Edge and Jericho hit him with their finishing moves to send him to the showers.
Skip Sheffield Eliminated by pin (Chris Jericho Codebreaker and Edge Spear)
This has been a well-structured match thus far and it’s told a good story too. Slater, Gabriel and Barrett are the three most competent Nexus guys in the ring, so it makes sense that you’d want them in the final four and they should be good enough to carry the rubbish Otunga. They’ve protected Sheffield well with his segment, as they gave him two pins before using a chair shot and two finishers to get rid of him, whilst they were smart to limit the likes of Tarver to spots in the early going so that he couldn’t drag it down when it reached the business end. Edge takes some heat, which the heel side do a good job with, but he manages to DDT Otunga and then tag in Jericho, who momentarily switches back to his old babyface persona to run wild and tap out Otunga for a big pop.
David Otunga Eliminated by tap out (Chris Jericho, Walls of Jericho)
Jericho seems to be enjoying the fact he can be a face again and the crowd is into it too. However, babyface miscommunication between him and Cena leads to Slater catching him with a neck breaker to eliminate him.
Chris Jericho Eliminated by pin (Heath Slater, Neckbreaker)
Edge and Cena argue following that, which leads to Slater rolling Edge up to eliminate him too, causing Edge and Jericho to put the boots to Cena before leaving in disgust.
Edge Eliminated by pin (Heath Slater, School Boy)
So Cena is now hurt and Team WWE is two on three. This is another example of how well-structured this match is, as they keep upping the ante and building the drama. It’s been booked and paced perfectly so far. Cena gets to sell for a bit, which is all building to a big Bryan hot tag segment, as they’ve made him look like a star with the booking here. He eventually gets it and runs wild with some nice stuff on Slater. Slater has been a bumping and selling machine throughout this match and has done a fantastic job. Bryan once again looks like a star and the crowd his behind him. The LeBell Lock follows on Slater and he uncles, but whilst the ref is getting him out of the ring a bitter Miz comes down and attacks Bryan with his Money in the Bank briefcase, which allows Barrett to pick the bones for three.
Heath Slater Eliminated by tap out (Daniel Bryan, LeBell Lock)
Daniel Bryan Eliminated by pin (Wade Barrett, Miz attack)
Barrett and Gabriel get some more heat on Cena now, with Barrett even giving him a DDT on the concrete outside the ring. Sadly this is where the match comes undone, as they decide to go with the heroic last gasp win for Cena, where bravely fighting on only to be defeated would be the better finish. Gabriel misses a 450 splash attempt and Cena is able to nab a pin on him, which would be absolutely fine if Barrett still went on to beat the exhausted and beaten down Cena like Andre The Giant did to Bam Bam Bigelow at Survivor Series. It would be a miserable flat ending, but it would have put heat on the Nexus and also allowed Cena to be gutsy with the last gasp Gabriel elimination. However, Cena instead counters whatever attack Barrett has planned into the STFU and Barrett taps to give Team WWE the win.
Justin Gabriel Eliminated by pin (John Cena, missed 450 Splash)
Wade Barrett Eliminated by tap out (John Cena, STFU)
WINNERS: TEAM WWE
I know I regularly complain about the “LolNwoWins” finish WCW used to do all the time, but even I’ll concede that it was essential in the early stages of the storyline for the nWo to win a lot so as to establish them as a credible heel threat. The problem was that after they established them as that credible heel threat they continued to have the nWo beat on WCW like a drum until the WCW guys were no longer credible babyfaces. Nexus needed to win here and they lost a lot of steam with the defeat, especially considering they had the two on one advantage in the closing stages. As a match it was structured perfectly all the way up to it being Barrett and Gabriel Vs Cena, which is when it went off the cliff. Up to that stage though they did a fantastic job here, with Bryan and Sheffield looking like stars, Bret getting to do some of his trademark spots to pop the crowd and the Edge/Jericho situation getting paid off logically. It’s just such a shame about the finish.
WWE Summer Slam 2011
WWE Champion Vs WWE Champion
Guest Referee: Triple H
Champ: CM Punk Vs Champ: John Cena
Punk had won the Title at Money in the Bank but had left in the process, so the WWE decided to hold a tournament for the now vacant Title, which Rey Mysterio promptly won, only to then drop the belt to Cena on the same show. No sooner had Cena got his hand on the belt, CM Punk made his return, thus leaving us with two Champions. As a result, a match was booked between the two in order to unify the belts, with Triple H getting the ref gig to ensure the match had a proper finish.
Punk is the crowd favourite, as they keep it on the mat in the early going, and it shows that Cena can do the technical stuff if called upon now and then. Punk actually busts out the Aftershock at one stage, which is quite a funny visual when a normal sized guy does it. Cena takes a spill outside at one stage and that allows Punk to control things for a bit, even busting out a Koji Clutch in the process.
Both men trade submission attempts out of that and it’s done well. This match has been worked well and they are gradually building it up as it goes on. It hasn’t hit the epic level of their Chicago match, but it’s still been a good match that has been structured well. Punk at one stage dives out onto Cena and looks like neither man will break the count, so Triple H takes matters into his own hands by throwing both men back into the ring so that they can wake up and do the punch exchange and then trade pinning hold attempts.
This one has been built so well, as they are now pulling out the bigger moves and the crowd is digging it as a result. As usual between the two there is a bit of sloppiness here and there, but the drama and chemistry make up for it. Both men get to kick out of the others’ finishing moves, with Triple H reffing it all fairly. It’s a really good finishing stretch, with the near falls being executed well. Punk finally manages to get the Go To Sleep for the second time and picks up the three count, but Triple H missed Cena’s foot on the ropes to set up a further chapter in the story.
WINNER AND OFFICIAL CHAMP: CM PUNK
Great match, if not the best one the two men would have together due to some sloppiness in places. Following the match Kevin Nash returns to the company and sticks Punk with a powerbomb, which allows Alberto Del Rio to cash in his MITB briefcase and win the belt, setting up months of insipid “who sent the text message?” storytelling and jobbing for Punk
WWE Summer Slam 2012
Brock Lesnar w/ Paul Heyman Vs Triple H
I think a lot of people have understandably tried to forget Brock’s initial run prior to him ending the streak, mostly because it was such a non-event aside from a great match with CM Punk. Brock’s first match back had been an exciting brawl with John Cena, where they had inexplicably had Brock do a clean job in order for him to show that he’d do business. The fact this took a shedload of steam off him and essentially made him just another guy didn’t really seem to matter to them. Triple H decided that he would remove a lot of nice perks from Brock’s contract in storyline due to his defeat, so Brock responded in a calm and measured way by breaking both his and Shawn Michaels’ arms to set this one up.
Triple H is in fantastic shape here, I must give him that. You can tell that they hadn’t really gone full beast with Brock yet at this stage, as Triple H gets a full babyface shine and even gets to bump him around for good measure before Brock really gets to do anything. A couple of years later and that wouldn’t be happening, but at this stage Brock was just another wrestler, which consequently was probably why this match has quite a flat crowd reaction despite being well worked, with Brock gaining control by targeting Triple H’s previously broken arm.
Triple H sells the arm work well; getting the odd hope spot here and there, but Brock shrugs those off and keeps attacking the appendage. Again, the work is fine but they just hadn’t found the formula that worked for Brock yet and it took the Hail Mary of having him defeat Undertaker and opening Suplex City to finally rejuvenate him as an act.
Triple H manages to send Brock gut first into the commentary table outside the ring, which Brock sells big due to his previous Diverticulitis. Brock does an excellent job selling it actually and it’s a completely logical way for Triple H to hurt him. Take out the shine and have this be the first time that Triple H really got any offence in and I think the crowd would have exploded once they started having Triple H fight back and actually manage to hurt Brock,
Brock gets to kick out of a Pedigree and Triple H likewise to gets to kick out of an F-5, although Brock has to set it up in a cowardly heel fashion by hitting Triple H right in the Terra Ryzin’s first. The heat still isn’t what you’d want it to be, even with finisher kick outs and good pacing. Brock tries the Kimura but Triple H attacks the gut to fight out of it and gets another Pedigree. However, when he goes for the pin Brock is able to counter to the Kimura and breaks Triple H’s arm again for the win.
WINNER: BROCK LESNAR
The work was fine but Brock was just another monster for Triple H to fight and it showed in the crowd reactions. Believe it or not they’d have two more matches to dead crowds like this until finally killing the feud off and setting Brock on his way to end the streak in the last gasp attempt of making him worth the money they were spending
WWE Summer Slam 2013
Guest Referee: Triple H
Champ: John Cena Vs Daniel Bryan
The story here was that they let Cena choose his own challenger, so he chose Daniel Bryan because he thought he was the best challenger and he wanted to test his skills against him. Triple H ended up getting the referee gig in order to stop heel ref Brad Maddox getting the gig instead.
Bryan is outrageously over here; with possibly the whole building cheering for him during his entrance. Cena has an injured left elbow coming into this one, although he tells the ringside doctor early on that it’s fine and not bothering him. Cena shows again that he can do this technical wrestling stuff when required, as he and Bryan do some chain wrestling in the early going until they head outside for some brawling. Cena gets the better of that by giving Bryan a suplex off the ring steps and then controls things inside the ring.
The heat for this match is incredible, with Cena getting booed viciously whilst the crowd cheers pretty much anything Bryan does in reply. It’s a well worked match too, with both men doing some nicely timed counters. Whenever Cena kicks out of something big or escapes a submission hold it feels like the air completely goes out of the crowd, they want Bryan to win so much. It’s incredible really. How could you see these reactions and NOT want to belt this man, if only so you could ride it for as long as possible whilst he was at his hottest?
In a nice moment Bryan puts Cena in an STFU of his own, applying it snugger in the process. Cena survives that, so Bryan gets a couple of German Suplexes before going to the LeBell Lock. Cena manages to power out of that, as it seems his gutsy efforts have made the women and kids pluck up the courage to chant for him, although they are definitely outnumbered. As we enter the home stretch, both men move on to finisher kick outs, with the crowd heat remaining superb.
The work has been very good too, from Bryan especially, as he’s looked almost like his former ROH self in this one, with the sustained heat really adding to things. The near falls are tightly done, with Bryan kicking out of an F-U and Cena kicking out of a diving head butt. Cena tries putting Bryan away with a Super F-U, but Bryan busts out the ROH elbow strikes to block that and tries a rana, only for Cena to hold on and then counter it into the STFU in a great sequence. Seeing the way Cena applies the hold contrasted with the proper way kind of helps me understand why he does it his way, as it allows you to see the face of the person selling. I understand why people hate that of course, but I get why he does it that way. It makes sense in a camera angle obsessed company like WWE.
Bryan manages to slip out of that into the LeBell Lock, but Cena makes the ropes and the crowd isn’t happy with that. In a great spot, Bryan dishes out a pair of running dropkicks, only for Cena to do the old King’s Road delayed sell by flying out of the corner with a lariat before collapsing for a double down. We get the big strike battle after that, followed by both men bonking heads for another double down. They’re doing a great job of making this into a dramatic back and forth war, with them even trading slaps at one stage like they are Suzuki and Ishii or something. Bryan busts the small package out of retirement for two before following up with the Busaiku Knee for the three count.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: ****1/2
Fantastic match, that ebbed and flowed like it was a great Japanese match at times. The selling was consistent, the work was mostly executed well and the crowd was hotter than a Lamb Madras for the whole thing. Great, Great, GREAT wrestling!!!
Following the match, Triple H turns on Bryan so Orton can cash in his MITB briefcase to set up months of Bryan getting laid out by The Authority
Another collection of mostly great matches this time out, with nothing bad. A hearty thumbs up from yours truly!
I’ll hopefully see you all next week when we close things out with 2014 to 2019