Wednesday, April 12, 2017
SummerSlam is usually a big event and gets hyped as the second most important show of the year most of the time. The card for this year is actually pretty stacked, so it makes sense. This show is rather noteworthy because it would prove to be the last Pay-Per-View appearance that Jeff Hardy made for the WWE. This also started the trend of holding SummerSlam in Los Angeles, which lasted about five years. It is the 22nd SummerSlam even in history.
As the intro video starts running down the card, shadow puppets interrupt. It’s just DX parodying the Gremlins 2 movie theatre scene. Commentary is different for each brand. We start with Jim Ross and Todd Grisham for Smackdown.
These two had a match for the belt at the previous month’s Night of Champions, which I cite as the match that showed me how good Dolph Ziggler could be. Dolph is aggressive at the start, picking up some quick near falls. Mysterio uses that over aggressiveness against Ziggler like you’d expect a wily veteran to do. Rey leaps into Dolph, who barely catches him, but then powerbombs him into the turnbuckle. Ziggler starts targeting the neck and midsection while using his size advantage. Each time Mysterio seems to rally, Dolph is prepared. He continually goes for pin attempts too, which I really like. Mysterio finally is able to rally and scores a close near fall. He goes for a springboard cross body, but Dolph has it scouted and dropkicks him in midair. Dolph comes very close on a rollup counter and then nearly decapitates Rey on a clothesline. An enziguri sets Dolph up in 619 position, but he dodges it and nails a Fameasser for two. JR calls it a “running leg drop.” Rey hits a big DDT for what has to be at least the 15th near fall of the match. He dropkicks Dolph into position and connects with the 619. He tries the springboard splash but Dolph sits up to avoid it and pulls Rey into an amateur like rollup for a seriously close call. The fans have now gotten behind Dolph. Looking to find something to earn the win, Dolph puts Rey on his shoulders up top. Rey reverses it into a top rope rana to retain.
If the match these two had at Night of Champions showed me Dolph Ziggler had potential, this solidified that. They built on a really good match from the previous month and made it better. Dolph was the desperate challenger who tried everything he could, while Rey was the resilient veteran who had just enough in his bag of tricks to retain. A thrilling opener.
Josh Matthews interview upcoming opponents, Jack Swagger and MVP. He calls the match a culture clash. Both guys talk about the difference in their upbringing. Swagger played arrogant so well here. Of course though, when he won the World Title less than a year later, he was stripped of all personality.
Apparently, Jack Swagger called MVP the MVP of the Prison Hoops League. They get right into the action and MVP looks for the Ballin’ elbow but Swagger rolls outside. MVP follows with a plancha. Inside, Swagger starts to wear down MVP. It’s all very uninspired work. MVP starts to rally and hits the Ballin’ elbow this time. MVP follows with the Player’s Boot and Playmaker, one of my least favorite finishers ever, for the win.
Well that was…there. The crowd was beyond dead for this and there was nothing about the match to get them involved. It’s like they had time to fill on the show and said, go out and there and just do moves for six minutes. All the hype the crowd had from the opener is gone.
A video package airs to show some of the “highlights” of the celebrity guest host era of Raw, which was going on at this time. Freddie Prinze Jr., who was a host that got attacked by Randy Orton, is interviewed at ringside.
JeriShow cut a pre-match promo to draw some heat until Cryme Tyme interrupted. Chris Jericho and JTG trade some early stuff. Big Show comes in and JTG starts to take a beating. Shad gets a relatively hot tag, cleaning house until Big Show spears him in half. Surprisingly, this now leads to some heat on Shad. I kind of like it because it shows that the plan is to cut the ring in half no matter who is the legal man. The champions use quick tags to wear down Shad. JTG gets the hot tag and hits Jericho with some offense. He even nails Big Show on the apron, though that might not be the best move. JTG gets two on a rollup that the crowd completely buys. Jericho manages to turn things around though and gets JTG in the Walls of Jericho. JTG fights it and muscles to the ropes. Unfortunately for him, Big Show instantly hits the WMD to knock him out, opening the door for Jericho to get the pin.
That was better than I expected. Cryme Tyme was one of the most over tag teams in recent memory and JeriShow were great heels, so the crowd was into this. The hot tag to the smaller guy was different in a good way and the finish was creative. I didn’t think JTG would survive the Walls, but to do so, only to get knocked out was great false hope for the fans.
CM Punk is interviewed about the main event. He brings up a screenplay for the “Jeff Hardy Story” and puts down the fans for their lifestyle.
I remember these two wrestle at WrestleMania, though the face/heel roles were reversed. This gets the Jim Ross “bowling shoe ugly” treatment. They hammer away at each other in the early stages. Khali gets in some corner shots as he’s supposed to be mad because Kane attacked his brother, Ranjin, on Smackdown. Kane hits the first big spot with a flying clothesline for two. Khali starts his comeback and nails the brain chop but Kane kicks out. Kane eventually pulls Ranjin into the ring and chokes him. He throws him into Kahli and then dropkicks the knee. He hits a running DDT to win.
Man that was incredibly dull. I give them props for keeping it short and trying to play the Ranjin angle into the finish but nothing about this was interesting at all. I’ve seen worse, but not by much.
DX gets a very over the top entrance that takes a while. Triple H begins with Ted Dibiase and takes him to school for a bit. There is a tag to Cody Rhodes who blatantly slaps Shawn Michaels on the apron. Shawn comes in and goes back and forth until Cody slaps him again. This pisses off HBK, who kicks Cody’s ass until he regroups. Dibiase turns the tide and Legacy start to beat on Michaels. DX works as a great team because Shawn takes a beating better than almost anyone and Triple H is great for the hot tag. Commentary does a good job in pointing out the fact that Michaels has had some time off and it could be affecting him here. Oh, they do a mild tag to HHH already. He back drops Shawn out onto Cody in a cool spot. Again it’s Dibiase who takes down HHH and they start to wear him down in the corner. Triple H comes close to the tag but Dibiase has him in a tight sleeper hold. They tease the hot tag until Triple H finally sends Dibiase outside and makes it. Shawn does his thing but when he does the kip up, Dibiase takes him out with a clothesline. Triple H gets pissed and tosses Dibiase into the crowd. Cody takes a risk by trying Shawn’s flying elbow and misses. Shawn then goes for his own but Cody gets the knees up. He goes to tag but realizes that his partner is gone. Dibiase shows back up to save Cody from the figure four. Cody then hits Cross Rhodes but HHH breaks the pin in an incredibly close call. Both Triple H and Dibiase come in and hit Rhodes and Michaels with their finishers behind the official’s back, one after the other. Ted and HHH take each other out on the outside. Cody and Shawn struggle to their feet, actually leaning on each other to get up. Then, from out of nowhere, Michaels hits Sweet Chin Music and gets the three.
That is how you book veteran faces to beat young heels. Legacy came off looking like they absolutely belonged with two of the best ever. They got a bit too cocky at times, which cost them. The finish kept them strong too as Shawn and Cody were both in trouble and it took a desperation superkick for the vets to win. Just a really well done tag team match.
So far, Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole did commentary for Raw, while Jim Ross and Todd Grisham handled Smackdown. They throw it to Matt Striker and Josh Matthews for this, which is funny given the match length. William Regal turns to his guys outside once the bell rings. Christian hits the Killswitch and wins.
I loved ECW at this time and was so excited for this match. Instead of giving me what would have been a really good match, they did this. Really? You couldn’t have had Swagger/MVP go this long or just be completely cut?
Ezekiel Jackson and Vladimir Kozlov enter the ring and beat up Christian. William Regal puts him in the Regal Stretch.
Coming into this match, these two had met a few times in 2007. This was the start of the program that absolutely DESTRYOED this feud as they just had countless matches that never seemed to end. Wow, both guys were only on their fifth World Titles at this point. Randy Orton is in the driver’s seat early, working a calculated attack on John Cena. The crowd is split as Orton hits his signature backbreaker. Cena starts to make the babyface comeback with the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM but Orton stops him in his tracks. Orton hits some more offense and starts to “Viper” up. He looks for the Punt but Cena avoids it and hits the throwback. Cena’s AA is blocked right before a double clothesline spot. When they get up, Cena goes into a series of offense so Orton just shoves the referee to get himself disqualified. Lillian Garcia botches the announcement, saying Orton won. Then she tells us that Mr. McMahon ordered the match to restart and if Orton gets DQed, he loses the belt. Cena starts to kick Orton’s ass on the outside. Orton turns things around a bit and gets his belt. He walks out to get counted out. Guess what happens next? Mr. McMahon restarts it again and if Orton is counted out, he loses the belt. You know Vince was salivating over this match considering how is involved. He just HAD to see more. Orton escapes the STF and rolls Cena up with his feet on the ropes, scoring the three count! Now, a second referee shows up to point out what happened so we restart again. Oh good lord, this restarts again. STF is applied until a fan runs in to attack the referee. Things stall until the official regroups and tells them to start again. Orton catches Cena on the bottom rope before hitting an RKO to retain.
As usual, the chemistry between these two just isn’t there. The WWE wants you to believe this is a legendary rivalry but it just never clicked. The restarts were terrible television. You kept adding on to a match that was already not very good. It was a giant cluster of stuff I didn’t care to see.
This was a damn near perfect rivalry. Their styles just complemented each other so well. Punk just beats the hell out of Hardy to start the match. He gets a ladder first, but Hardy cuts him off and starts hitting some of his trademark offense. Punk catches a Poetry in Motion attempt and just slams Hardy onto the open steel chair. Punk sends Hardy outside and hits a suicide dive, in complete control. The fight continues outside until a series of reversals results in Punk jumping off the steps right into a steel chair shot from Hardy. Jeff lays Punk on a table outside and climbs up top. However, Punk moves and Hardy splashes through the table. Punk uses this time to climb up but Hardy is able to get up and stop him. He ends up ahead of Punk on the ladder. Punk teases a major GTS but Hardy slips free with a sunset flip bomb off the ladder. Hardy comes close but Punk tilts the ladder over. In a ridiculous spot, Punk hits a superplex onto one of the ladders. Like, that takes some balls. From out of nowhere, Hardy nails a Twist of Fate. The Swanton Bomb fails though as Punk gets his knees up. He doesn’t take control for long as she’s soon thrown outside through a table. He’s up quick enough to springboard in and stop Hardy’s ascent. During the build up to this match, Punk put Hardy’s head in a chair and rammed him into the turnbuckle. He tries it here but Jeff blocks and wails on him with the chair. He gets a really big ladder and sets Punk up on the announce table before climbing. The insane Jeff flies off, connecting with a swanton through the table. Officials and medics come down to check on both men. Punk gets back in and Jeff refuses medical attention when he sees this. They both struggle to climb up and get their fingertips o the belt. Punk gets a kick to the ribs, knocking Hardy off the ladder. He retrieves the gold to become champ.
A great main event that would have been a fitting end to such a great rivalry. They would have one more match on Smackdown, but if this was it, that would have been fine. They brought past things from their feud into the match which is appreciated. Punk was vicious and Hardy reached down deep to match him, making for a pretty great war. There were big spots but not as many as some other high level TLC matches, though the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
CM Punk celebrates over Jeff Hardy’s body when a gong is heard. The lights go out and when they come back on, Undertaker is under Punk where Jeff’s body was. He Chokeslams Punk to close the show.
Overall: At first glance, this show is a mixed bag. The good stuff (TLC, DX/Legacy and IC Title) is really good, but the bad stuff (WWE Title, Kane/Khali and Swagger/MVP) are pretty bad. However, I enjoyed the overall event because the bad stuff is mostly kept short. The highs on the show certainly outweigh the lows, making this a recommended show. My next will be none other than !