Summerslam 2001 has a great card on paper. The double main event is as unique and fresh a pair of top card matches as the WWF has featured in years. The undercard is filled with matches that are designed to get new stars over and will certainly impress.
But even though the top matches are fresh, something tells me that the winners of all three matches will not be fresh.
The key to creating new stars in the world of wrestling is by having existing stars lose to up and coming wrestlers, to give them credibility. It’s easy to bring up WCW as an example, but in its heyday, the top stars never put over the mid carders. When Vince Russo cleaned out all the old stars, he had no one to give the rub to his hand picked successors, and he also failed.
The WWF has a unique opportunity to create a half dozen new, bona fide, money-drawing stars in the next few months. Lance Storm, DDP, Booker T, RVD and to a lesser extent Kanyon and Tajiri all have the chance to be top stars in the WWF in 2002. But they can’t do it on their own.
At this point, the top three WWF stars, Steve Austin, The Rock, and the Undertaker are on the way down from their career peak. The Rock is probably still at his peak, but he’s not getting any higher. They all will need fresh faces to continually go against to pop ratings and buyrates. If the predicted buyrate for Summerslam (very high) is any indication, the fans are very interested in seeing Austin, Rock and Taker fight new faces, rather than each other.
In the short term, it is probably a good idea to have all three go over, and prove once again why they are the top stars in the business. However, if the WWF has ideas of prolonging itself after the careers of its top stars end, then they would have one of these veterans take a loss on Sunday night at Summerslam.
Booker T has had a meteoric rise through the WWF in the past three months. He went from being vilified for injured Steve Austin at the King of the Ring, to co-headlining Summerslam against the Rock in his return to PPV. A win over the Rock at Summerslam would cement his status as a major star. A loss, especially a clean one, could derail all the momentum he has amassed over the past few months.
Kurt Angle has had a super-hot run as a top level babyface for the past month or so. He has held his own in all types of matches, and has a very high level of popularity right now. He could withstand a loss to Austin, but could benefit greatly from winning. Also if Booker T would win, he would bring the WWF Title back to the WWF.
There is absolutely no reason why DDP and Kanyon shouldn’t defeat the Undertaker and Kane for both tag team titles. DDP hasn’t really been allowed to get anything over on the Undertaker in their feud. The Undertaker isn’t doing the federation any good at this point if he isn’t helping to create new stars. If his recent feud with DDP and his squash of Rhyno are any indication, elevating new guys doesn’t appear to be in his plans. A loss at Summerslam would be a good start.
In the Roundtable for Summerslam, I predicted that Taker, Austin and Rock would all win their matches, but in reality, at least 2 should lose. It’s similar to Fully Loaded 2000, where the Undertaker, Rock and HHH faced Angle, Benoit and Jericho respectively. At least one of those upper mid carders could have gotten a win and propelled themselves into the top tier of the promotion, but instead all three veterans won.
Austin vs. Rock to unify the World Titles could easily be held off until Wrestlemania, where it would certainly garner the biggest buyrate in history. Instead, as has been the WWF’s tendency since buying WCW, they will blow they wad early, and put that matchup at Unforgiven in September and be done with it.
It’s not very often that a promotion has a chance to instantly create a bunch of new stars to keep their product fresh and exciting. The WWF has that chance at Summerslam, and will hopefully do the right thing.