The Anderson Breakdown: Summerslam 2005 Instant Thoughts

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Summerslam 2005: Instant Thoughts

Hey, what’s up guys. It’s just me, your sporadic, inconsistent IWC Contributer Ken Anderson. Before we start dissecting this here Summerslam PPV and assigning obligatory, geeky star-ratings, let me once again state what I always do before beginning this PPV recaps:

The thoughts you are about to read are 100% unaffected. There’s no taint if you will. For whatever reason, alot of the IWC tends to do a follow-the-leader type dance post-PPV, withholding comment until a consensus is reached on the quality of the event. Because of this, and because I find my viewpoint on the product to be a little more positive and less jaded than a lot of the net, I like to throw in my two cents from time to time.

As always, I’ve come directly home from the event and haven’t read a single outside opinion of the event yet. I will eventually, but I don’t want my take to be slanted or affected, so I’ll withhold doing so until this here report is signed, sealed, and delivered to the handsome Jonathon Widro.

And finally, before we start, I think I should probably also mention that I was extremely, extremely excited for this PPV. I think the WWE did a fantastic job building most of the card, especially on the RAW side, and as I walked in, I was honestly expecting a PPV that I would never forget.

Did the WWE deliver?

Was I pleased?

Well friends, there’s only one way to find out.

Read on!!!

I’m still a tiny bit buzzed from the watery beer provided at the Sports Bar, so the backspace just isn’t an option tonight. Nope. No sir. And for the record, I’m not mentioning the effects of the adult beverage to sound c00L or fresh, because I’m probably not either, but if I ramble a bit, at least you’ll know why.

Let’s Rant!!!!!

Haha.

Summerslam 2005:

As you may or may not know, the show started out with Lillian Garcia leading the crowd in a somewhat rousing addition of the national anthem. Of course, the rouse involved probably had much more to do with her short skirt and unquestionably sexy noodles than her singing ability, but I guess that’s beside the point. As the national anthem came to a conclusion, Lillian then led the crowd in an awkward, somewhat forced “USA” chant. I love my country as much as the next guy, but I always find the “USA” chant, especially when forced, to be a little dimwitted. It just seems rather obvious, you know. I mean, you’re at Summerslam in Washington DC, and if you’re 99% of the fans in attendance, you live in America. The viewers probably “get” the fact that you at least like it here.

Chris Benoit vs. Orlando Jordan

For obvious reasons, I don’t really have much to say about this match. I’m no human stopwatch, but if forced to estimate the length of this match, I’d probably guess it went around 17 seconds. Chris Benoit hit the ring, delivered a few suplexes, and locked on the crossface for the submission. I wasn’t excited, nor was I disappointed. In fact, after a night of several long matches, it was probably for the better.

I guess it’s good that Benoit “got his win back,” but I’m definitely not one inclined to think that wins and losses really mean that much these days either. After the last Smackdown PPV, a lot of people were genuinely pissed that Chris Benoit lost to Jordan. They spoke in dramatic and extremes, feigning that the mighty Crippler’s career might come crashing to a head because of this loss. I don’t know. There’s just so much television these days and so much exposure that people tend to forget two weeks later who was even feuding earlier in the month, let alone who “won.” Hell, if JBL and Batista can be perennial low-carders for years (in JBL’s case, many years) and end up headlining Wrestlemania, I wouldn’t be too worried about Benoit.

As long as I’m rambling about the Crippler, as much as I like him, I don’t think he really has much business headlining anything right now, unless it’s help put someone over. I love the guy in the ring, but let’s face, he’s about as bland as they come character-wise. He’s not going to sell many PPV’s or tickets to the casual fan. I know that’s difficult for alot of the smart-marks to swallow, but sometimes you’ve got to look at wrestling from not only a business sense, but a reality-sense. Ricky Steamboat was probably one of the top five workers or all time, and his ’89 feud with Ric Flair has become legendary, but that doesn’t change the fact that it just did NOT draw. At all. I like Benoit, but I think he’s probably around (or a little below) where he needs to be right now.

I’m not really sure what kind of a star rating to give to a match like this, so I’ll just sit here, pretend to stroke my non-existent beard while intensely debating over that last quarter-star, and then, in a moment of pure agony, type the following:

3/4*

Matt Hardy vs. Edge

I was really, really excited for this one. Even though Matt Hardy’s stock has plummeted in recent weeks, the intrigue of seeing a man fight his ex-girlfriend’s secret lover still had me hooked. Yes, the WWE has made a few poor decisions with this angle (Snitsky and Vince’s involvement), and yes, Matt Hardy just totally botched the promo that he needed to nail, but still, the real-life heat here (which was massively evident on Byte This, which in turn was a better sell for this match than ANYTHING that’s happened on RAW) was more than enough to sell me on this one.

At the risk of re-stating the obvious, over the course of the last three weeks, Edge has somehow become a near babyface in this feud. Even the biggest Matt Hardy fans have got to admit that (especially on Byte This), Edge has just totally made Matt hardy into his prison wench as of late. Matt Hardy’s gone from sympathetic everyman, screwed by his company and thrown out on the street, to bitter, cooze-whipped crybaby, pining endlessly over a woman situation that — like it or not — has happened to ALL of us at least once in our lives. It’s part of growing up.
If Matt honestly believes that his “chances at having children and a family” are legitimately destroyed because Amy DumAAAAAA left him for another guy, he should seriously get Mom’s medical encylopedia down off the shelf and thumb through it until he find the section on reproduction.

Anyway, this match was AWESOME.

Seriously.

It was exactly what it needed to be, and more.

Even though certain spots were obviously planned (like the AWESOME spear/suicide dive by Edge), the majority of the match appeared to be very, very stiff. I’m sure it was all pre-arranged in the back, but to the more casual fans, it really must have appeared that Edge and Hardy were legitimately beating the tar out of each other. I loved it. Even though a lot of punches were obviously pulled (or faked), just as many resulted in loud, uncomfortable thuds.

I loved it.

In order for this feud to continue, which it almost certainly will, Edge almost had to go over. I know a lot of people will disagree, but if Matt Hardy would have won tonight, the entire angle would have been pretty much blown off. I loved how they chose to end the match (the referee stoppage), and even though Matt Hardy walked away a bloody mess and Edge walked away calmly flashing those million-dollar chompers, I don’t think Hardy lost much face here tonight.

A memorable, stiff match that is all but assuredly a sign of good things to come:

***1/2

Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero

EASILY the Match of the Night.

If I was super-smarkish I’d even go as far as to call it a Match of the Year Candidate, even though let’s face it, every single match out there is technically a candidate to be the best of the year. It’s just common logic.

Alright, I know I might be in the minority here, but I actually ENJOYED the whole Dominic angle. I haven’t watched that much Smackdown in the last few months, but from the pieces I’ve seen, along with the PPV stuff, I don’t see what the massive offense is with it. Dominic’s involvement puts MASSIVE heel heat on Eddie Guerrero, and puts a TON of sympathetic babyface heat on Rey Mysterio. Everyone wins. And at the very least, it’s something unique and original. I’ve also heard that Dominic’s been a little weirded out by the whole angle. I don’t know whether that’s true or not, but if Rey Mysterio let his son be at ringside tonight, I’m guessing it can’t be that bad.

Anyway, this match was defnitely the best match that Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero have had since their now famous Halloween Havoc match back in the ’97. I loved every second of this one. A lot of the spots were pretty original (and downright brutal), especially the ladder-top backdrop Rey did on Eddie, which resulted in both men landing incredibly awkardly on their respective ladders. The spot where Rey was dangling from the briefcase and Eddie caught him in a powerbomb was also AMAZING. I seriously loved this match.

Even the involvement of Dominic and Eddie’s wife added MUCH more to the match than they took away. I know people will complain about it, but when you’re working with this type of storyline, the outside interference actually makes a ton of sense. I loved Dominic shaking the ladder to try to get Eddie down, and I loved Eddie getting in the kid’s face. I loved Eddie’s wife doing the right thing and helping Rey Mysterio out. I loved seeing Rey acting so serious and so intense tonight. It was all just great.

And, whether or not you liked the angle, you’ve got to admit that the aftermatch was just fantastic. The fans popped huge for Rey’s win, and it was just great to see him celebrating with his wife and son. It brought back shades of the previously mentioned Flair/Steamboat feud for me. We all know wrestling isn’t real, but in the rare cases where a man’s family is involved, I honestly think it just adds a ton of heart to the angle.

I’ll probably get net heat for my star-rating, but so be it. The match DESERVES a high rating. Both from a storyline prospective and a workrate one as well.

****3/4

Kurt Angle vs. Eugene

This is another feud that much of the net seemed to take massive offense with, but that I actually liked. I honestly believe that Ang’e’s at that Steve Austin, Rock, HBK level where his place as an upper-card wrestle is so firmly and permanently solidified that no lower-card feuds, losses, or anything else are going to really “damage” their spots.

Personally, I thought this was the perfect place-holder feud for Kurt Angle. I know a lot of people would have preferred to see Angle and Shelton Benjamin going at it, but I tend to think that that particular feud should be saved until it means a little bit more. With Shelton’s rise, and Angle supposedly getting a main event push after Summerslam, a feud between the two would mean a lot more six months down the road than it would being stuck early into an already-stacked Summerslam card.

I couldn’t hear the crowd that clearly, but from what I could gather, it sounded like Angle might have actually been getting more cheers than Eugene tonight. That’s surprising, as the casual fans tends to be pretty big on Eugene, but I guess Angle’s always got a bit of an 80’s Flair like cult following everywhere he goes.

I thought the match itself provided a nice, entertaining break from the previous two highly-intense matches, and Eugene’s use of other people’s moves always makes me laugh. I’m glad Angle’s showing some serious, non-comedic fire as of late, and I must admit, Angle standing on the chair and demanding to have his medals placed back around his neck was one of the highlights of the show for me. People just went CRAZY at the Sports Bar when Angle stood on that chair.

**1/2

Vince McMahon Limo Spot

When the “divas” were soaping up the car (and each other), I’ve gotta admit, seeing the window roll down and Vince smiling all big was seriously hilarious. Equally hilarious was the “Vince McMahon for President” bumper sticker. It was of course funny because I have no doubt that Vince was semi-serious about this ridiculous notion. We all know a Vince McMahon Presidential run would end about as abrubtly as the WBF, but it’s definitely a funny thing to think about.

The Undertaker vs. Randy Orton

I’m getting tired, so I’m going to be incredibly brief on this one.

I’ve never been a fan of this feud. People loved the WM match, but personally, it almost put me to sleep. I don’t doubt his value to the company with the casual fans, but personally, I find it almost impossible to sit through an Undertaker match these days. He’s the kind of guy that really needs to be taken off television for awhile, brought back until his act gets a little state, and then given a little more time off again. It’s just too much to sit through on a regular basis.

I was on my cell phone for most of the match, and honestly don’t know how good or bad it might have been, but I did catch the ending. I find it a little pathetic that the WWE has to come up with an incredibly stupid ending to the match, seemingly just to protect a man who has NO business even needing protection.

All signs points to this feud ending here tonight, which makes the ending of this match even more absurd. If the Undertaker can’t job clean to the RKO, especially after Orton put him over strongly at WM, then it’s truly pathetic how insecure he must be. Not only does Cowboy Bob Orton’s interference not help Randy Orton, it actually hurts him. Why should one of the WWE’s hottest rising stars need the help of a 55 year old man to beat the Taker. It’s just stupid. To have an ending like this is to basically have wasted EVERYONE’s time with this entire feud to begin with.

Oh well.

Star Rating:

** (From what I saw)

John Cena vs. Chris Jericho

I absolutely loved how this match was built over the last month, but was skeptical about how well the match itself would actually come off. I’ve never been a huge fan of Cena in the ring, but after seeing his match with JBL a few PPV’s ago, I actually started to warm to his in-ring work a bit. Still though, the card was so stacked that I was afraid that this match would get kind of lost in the shuffle, much like Cena’s title win at this year’s Mania did.

Lucky for me, I was very, very wrong.

Both men seriously delivered BIG-TIME.

The live crowd might have even delivered bigger than Jericho and Cena though.

The scene in the sports bar was pretty quiet during this match, so I was able to really pay attention to the DC crowd. Surprisingly, they seemed to be split directly down the middle in who they supported. It reminded me a lot of that Cena/Angle match from a Smackdown PPV last year, or Rock/Jericho from 2000/2001. I loved the continual “Let’s Go Cena,” “Let’s Go Jericho” duels, and I also loved how rowdy Jericho’s fans were in booing Cena.

All crowd observations aside though, the match was rock-solid. It’s almost a shame that it was semi-wasted behind two other matches on Summerslam. I’d love to see the feud comtinue for another PPV or two, but at this point, that doesn’t seem likely.

Awesome, if predictable match, and hopefully we’ll get more out of these two soon.

***3/4

Batista vs. JBL

I don’t watch much Smackdown, but I’ve become a big fan of JBL over the last few months. He makes a great, old-school heel, and even though he hasn’t been able to deliver with Batista in-ring too well, I’ve still found the actual feud to be intriguing.

Unfortunatley, the two were basically fighting a lost cause tonight. By the time they went on, it was nearly 10:00. The crowd was obviously tired and clearly looking past the Smackdown title match to Hogan/HBK. In some ways, it might actually have been better keeping the Smackdown Title off of Summerslam, just to avoid making it look cheap or inconsequential when the card is so stacked to begin with.

Batista does look AWESOME with Big Gold though.

I liked this match, but I have a feeling I would have liked it a lot more if it would have been saved for a Smackdown exclusive PPV. I don’t know the exact time of the match, but from what I remember, it definitely only seemed to last about 8:00 minutes total.

Overall, I guess the match was ok, but ultimately, it just seemed like a bit of a waste.

I loved seeing Batista looking into the camera though and ripping up the JBL currency. Batista’s got a great look and he’s improving in the ring. I still think this guy can be HUGE if played properly.

**3/4

Hulk Hogan vs. HBK

In the weeks leading up to Summerslam, Shawn Michaels was nearly as good as he has ever been in a heel capacity. The brilliance he showed last week in Montreal was seriously one of the single greatest moments in Monday Night RAW history. Even with all the Bret Hart teases, Michaels still did a tremendous job building towards his match with Hogan. More than anything else on the card, this match is what I was looking most forward to.

And I absolutely hated it.

Yes, Shawn Michaels carried a 50+ year old Hulk Hogan to one of the greatest matches of the man’s career, but it was still weirdly painful to watch. As good as this contest was, Hulk Hogan had almost literally nothing to do with that. Shawn Michaels, in the truest sense of the word, carried a beaten-down, painfully old Hulk Hogan to a satisfying finish, entirely on his own.

Hulk Hogan himself, aside from his presence, added NOTHING to this match. ZERO.

He didn’t sell for HBK.

He didn’t put him over as a credible threat.

Hell, his knees can’t even take a proper sharpshooter.

I know life’s not fair, and I realize that Shawn Michaels’ probably volunteered to put Hogan over, but it just absolutely sucks to see one of the greatest of all time (Shawn Michaels), bump his ass off, sell like a million bucks, and string the crowd along in the palm of his hand for over 20:00 while guiding a broken down Hogan by the hand, only to job WAY more than cleanly to a 50+ year old man.

I respect what Hogan has done for the WWE, and I love the guy personally, but at this point, he’s just giving NOTHING back to the company. And that’s the truth. He can barely move and he’s just got no business being in the ring.

To have him come in for one month, promote the hell out of his new show, and beat a full-time wrestler who has shown in the last month that he’s capable of carrying the entire company on his back if need be, I just hate that. I literally do. It almost ruined my night, as sad as that is.

Hulk Hogan going over Shawn Michaels’ clean tonight, and then presumably ending the program with a handshake, I’m sorry, but that’s just total bullshit as far as I’m concerned. It seems to be an affirmation by Hulk Hogan that what he said about Shawn Michaels on the Larry King Show (“not on my level”) is completely true in his mind. Hulk Hogan did nothing for Shawn Michaels during his career, and I think it’s ridiculous to think that Shawn Michaels should respect Hogan enough to just lay down for him, despite still being one of the BEST IN THE WORLD.

Part of me genuinely misses the HBK who would have held up Vince before the match and refused to job.

I love Hogan, he’s done a great deal of good for the industry, and the fans still love to see him. But to have a geriatric coming into the company for a few weeks on his own time, nearly squashing one of your full-time, top level wrestlers, and then leaving as quickly as he came, that’s bullshit.

I know the fans were happy to see Hogan win, but I hated it.

Personal preference, I know.

But still, it made me mad.

It’s also why I just don’t think it’s a good idea for the Hogan/Austin “Dream Match” to happen. Hogan would have to win, and that just doesn’t sit right with me.

Shawn Michaels’ as a heel has just been amazing as of late, and in the short term, I honestly believe that he’s the future of the RAW brand. He’s as over as anyone on the roster, and he can go in the ring. That needs to be capitalized on, and hopefully, if there’s any justice in the world, he won’t turn back into a somewhat boring babyface again tomorrow night on RAW.

Anyway, the match was a legitimate **** affair, no doubt about it, but each and every one of those stars should go directly to the Heartbreak Kid.

I’m as big of a Ric Flair fan as ANYBODY in the world, but with each passing month, it becomes obvious that Shawn Michaels is as close to anybody’s ever been to being at that same level.

The man deserves all the respect in the world for delivering, almost single-handedly in the main event tonight, and for (as much as it sucked to see) doing what was required of him in the most professional way possible.

————–

Overall Thoughts

Overall, Summerslam was just an awesome show. Absolutely nothing actively sucked, and at least two of the matches were worth the price of admission alone (Rey/Eddie, HBK/Hogan). If you’re a Shawn Michaels’ fan, or someone who respects Hulk Hogan but doesn’t necessarily enjoy seeing him have to be dragged around the ring, the ending of the show is probably going to put you in a bad mood. But if you can look past that and appreciate the effort Shawn Michaels gave tonight, as well as some of the other great action, Summerslam truly is a can’t miss show.

Check out the replay.

You’ll be glad you did.