The WWE always has the hottest, wildest summers with tons of red-hot, hard-hitting action. Whether it is just beating the heat or celebrating the stars and stripes of the red, white, and blue; Vince McMahon and company know how to throw a big time party. And there is no better party then the end of the summer spectacular, Summerslam. They always want to go out with a bang and the superstars want to head into the cooler months proving that they are a force to be reckoned with. Summerslams of the past have provided some of the most memorable moments in WWE history; would this year be any different?
On August 17, 2008 from the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana came the twenty-first annual Summerslam. This was a night full of fierce grudges and big time names coming together in the ring for the first time. All three major world titles would be up for grabs as the superstars of Raw, SmackDown, and ECW would step into the ring. Not only was it a night when championships would be decided, but one that would determine which popular superstar would come out on top in a first ever meeting between John Cena and “The Animal” Batista. With a crowd split down the middle, it would be a fight to the finish for the two fan favorites.
In a world full of big time title matches, Triple H was hoping he could overcome a mountain of odds against him as the Great Khali attempted to capture his WWE Title. -The Raw main event would see the up and coming straight-edge champion CM Punk defend his gold against the evil businessman, John Bradshaw Layfield. And Matt Hardy would look to accomplish the unthinkable and bring home his first-ever world championship gold if he could wrestle the ECW Title away from Mark Henry. Seven matches in all would fill out the card for Summerslam, but would it bring about all the excitement that past year’s shows have?
~ Jeff Hardy Vs. MVP – Two of the biggest and quickest rising stars on SmackDown are in the curtain-jerking opener? Odd, but they have the talent to make for a great opener to Summerslam. MVP seems to have lost a bit of steam since losing the United States’ title and Hardy has been on fire since his return from suspension; so you can kind of guess how this one would go, but you’d be wrong. This match is very good and almost a technical masterpiece at times with the counters and reversals thrown in. The finish comes mostly clean, but could have been done without the outside distraction of Shelton Benjamin.
~ Maria Interviews Santino Marella and Beth Phoenix
~ Winner Take All Match: Kofi Kingston (Intercontinental) & Mickie James (Women’s) Vs. Santino Marella & Beth Phoenix – Kofi Kingston showed up with a bang in ECW and now is burning up the popularity aisles on RAW so he’s teamed with the ever popular women’s champ in Mickie, who is looking gorgeous as usual. This Glamorella team-up of Santino and Beth is pure brilliance and can go a long way. Speaking of long ways, Santino has certainly had a rocky road from being hated shortly after his debut to becoming a wrestling cult phenomenon. This match wasn’t going to be much from the time it was made, but it does a good job of being entertaining and fun for five minutes. Good stuff.
~ Shawn Michaels’ Announcement – Shawn Michaels wants to let everyone know that it is time for him to follow doctor’s orders and never wrestle again. I do believe we get one of these speeches from HBK at least once every four to five years. Anyway, Chris Jericho comes out and lays down the threats and ends up punching Shawn’s wife, former Nitro girl, in the mouth. And hoo boy has she got a big old fat lip now. Not bad. Obviously that pisses off Shawn and it’s on like Donkey Kong. I seriously hope that the old “retirement speech” thing is gone from his arsenal until he really is ready to hang up the boots.
~ ECW Championship Match: Mark Henry (c) Vs. Matt Hardy – A world title match that lasts just over thirty seconds and we don’t even get a clean finish? Booooo!
~ World Heavyweight Championship Match: CM Punk (c) Vs. JBL – Punk and JBL have already had some decent matches against one another, but seeing Punk defeat JBL on his first night as champion takes a little away from this one. They go back and forth with JBL dishing out the power moves and pretty much working over Punk throughout the entire duration of the bout. I still think that Punk really needs to have another finisher for when he goes against bigger opponents because the GTS is so incredibly unbelievable for guys of Layfield’s size.
~ WWE Championship Match: Triple H (c) Vs. Great Khali – I’m sorry but Khali will never have the ring presence or charisma of Andre or even the Big Show for that matter. He just is so incredibly slow and doesn’t deliver much in way of a personality either like other big men have done. Triple H does everything he can here to get a good match out of the big guy, and he does a mildly successful job at it too. Khali is just too methodical and prods along in slow motion like he always does.
~ Batista Vs. John Cena – A match that has somehow not happened in the four or so years that both guys broke onto the scene in WWE. Neither Cena nor Batista is a favorite of mine, but knowing this match was happening intrigued me like no other. Happily they did not disappoint as both men put on a WrestleMania-caliber match that is one for the ages. The action goes back and forth throughout and they do so much more then just punch and kick each other which keeps it fresh all the way. Both have so many signature moves and they unleash every single one of them here and beat on the other guy until it’s impossible for him to even attempt a comeback. I don’t blame them for putting this match later on the card then all three world title matches because if not for the one remaining match, this deserved to be the main event.
~ Hell In A Cell Match: Undertaker Vs. Edge – Undertaker and Edge have been feuding for months and it has been great from beginning to end. This would be the bout where Undertaker is returning after being reinstated by Vicki Guerrero. Edge forced Taker out of WWE after defeating him earlier in the summer, but now the Dead Man is back and wants revenge. This is a fantastic match that ends up being more like a hardcore or TLC match then a hell in a cell because you never quite see either man use the cell as a weapon. Lots of big time shots and some really good action on the parts of both men. The match couldn’t have really been better, but I do wish the whole dramatic storyline thing after it hadn’t happened. It would have been nice seeing Taker just end up decimating Edge at the end of the match so he could just prove his worth in the ring as the phenom.
The event is shown in 1.33:1 Full Screen format and not a single problem to be found. As of about a year ago, WWE really jumped on the ball with their production values and haven’t looked back since.
The event is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and it also comes through splendidly.
WWE Summerfest – This is a look at the Summerfest the WWE put on in preparation of Summerslam. Wrestlers, announcers, and numerous stars from the WWE held a festival out on a beach to promote the event. It’s a quick look though as it clocks in at less then a minute.
Post Summerslam Interview – Michael Cole had a quick backstage interview with Shawn Michaels and his wife Rebecca after she was hit in the mouth by Jericho. In short, Shawn is pissed.
ECW Championship Match: ECW 8/19/08: Mark Henry (c) Vs. Matt Hardy – This match took place two days after Summerslam on Tuesday night’s episode of ECW. Again, I’m rather confused as to why they didn’t simply put on this match at the PPV unless they were running short of time or something. It ends up being a really good match with Hardy focusing on keeping the big man down so he can’t use all of his power.
Wow, the WWE has actually continued their run of good action this year with another fantastic PPV. Summerslam delivers with almost every match and makes for a great event that only has one or two dull moments. Except for the joke of an ECW Title match and the humorous mixed tag match; everything else is top notch with great action and some awesome story telling. Well, the WWE Title match with Triple H and Khali wasn’t that much of a gem, but don’t blame Trips for that one. Batista/Cena and the Hell In A Cell match were great ways to bring a fun night of wrestling to a close at one of the WWE’s big four PPVs. Surprisingly enough too, there is more special feature content then I’ve seen in a long time. Of course the tribute DVDs to particular wrestlers always has a lot, but the PPVs are usually lacking in extra content. Not so the case here as we get a couple good segments and even an extra match. Bravo WWE for maybe you’re getting the message now. Summerslam aims to take out each summer with a bang, and it certainly does this year with a fun event worth watching.
WWE Home Video presents Summerslam 2008. Featuring: Triple H, Great Khali, Mark Henry, Matt Hardy, Rey Mysterio, Batista, John Cena, and more. Running time: 180 minutes. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: September 16, 2008. Available at Amazon.com