The Grading System:
A – Mike Awesome
B – Good ol’ JR
C – Michael Modest
D – Bad News Brown
E – Hilary Duff
We’re live from your nation’s capital, DC, with complimentary Lillian Garcia annoyance to open the show. I still think that the alternative America the Beautiful from WMXIV was the more acceptable way to open a show and piss the crowd off at the same time. For some odd reason, the USA chant didn’t really take off this year at SummerSlam. Ah well, let’s have a Canadian trounce the only coloured fellow on the card in the opener, that’ll be good for a laugh.
The Match: Chris Benoit vs Orlando Jordan (US Champion)
Who we thought would win: Chris Benoit
Who we wanted to win: Chris Benoit
The Finish: One german suplex, one Crossface and about 19 seconds of action before Orlando tapped out and Benoit went nuts with joy at winning a title well below the stature of his last PPV singles title win.
The Verdict: Superb way to get the crowd into things and a decent payoff for all those who wondered what the hell Benoit was doing wasting 10 minutes of his time before LOSING to Borelando last month. Not much to say about the match but you’ve got to give Benoit credit for making a US belt win look like it mattered AND for his smooth segue from German suplex into Crossface – and a thumbs up for Jordan for disguising what was about to happen with arrogance – where he looked like a total jobber but was booked like a star at the Bash, he was booked like a jobber here but made much more of an effort to look like a star and that deserves a tip of the hat.
Chris Benoit: C+
Orlando Jordan: C+
The Match: C
The Match: Matt Hardy vs Edge
Who we thought would win: Matt Hardy
Who we wanted to win: Matt Hardy
The Finish: When Matt got carried away with mounted punches in the corner, Edge scooped the legs and dropped his foe nose-first on the steel ring post. Hardy was busted wide open and eventually dragged his carcass back into the ring where Edge wailed away on him with stiff-looking punches and kicks until the ref jumped in to stop the match giving a very unpopular win to Edge.
The Verdict: Mixed emotions about this one – it seems harsh to not give Matt the win after the build-up to the situation but, on the other hand, if he pulverises Edge and that’s all folks, we’ve got no mileage to his re-signing. I guess Edge really had to go over if they weren’t going to pull the trigger on his winning the World Title later in the evening and the way they carried that out was pretty good in theory, if not in execution. The story of Matt Hardy’s rage building up to fever pitch but causing him to leave himself open for the telling drop on the ringpost was a good one – it made Edge look like he was thinking and desperate at the same time. The blade-job was a good one and the ref stopping the match was a smart move, because it gives them a chance to build to a rematch at the next RAW PPV where they can attribute this one a solid half hour and let them *really* perform as one of the upper card matches, rather than opener. Two rather large marks against them though – in their keenness to make Hogan look great, they may have squashed another young career yet again – Hardy is busted open and can’t continue, but 52 year old Hogan spouts a gusher and makes the superhero comeback? Say what you will about “yeah, but it’s a Hogan match, you can’t treat it the same way as Matt Hardy vs Edge, which is more “real”” – it’s all willing suspension of disbelief and you’ve got to treat each match with the same level of this. Secondly, I thought that they’d be fine to put Edge over as long as they made Hardy look strong the next night on RAW. I’ve checked out the results and it doesn’t look like they’ve done too well on that one…
A decent effort to both, because they managed to work together professionally yet still made their punches look stiff as hell a lot of the time – how do I know they *weren’t* real? Because if they were, both men would have been battered, bloody and pretty much unconscious after the first 2 minutes. The match didn’t quite live up to the performances of the individuals, but that would be a recurring theme of the night for me.
Matt Hardy: B
The Match: C+
The Match: Eddie Guerrero vs Rey Mysterio (Ladder Match for custody of Dominick)
Who we thought would win: Rey Mysterio
Who we wanted to win: Rey Mysterio (although the Devil on one shoulder kinda wanted to see Eddie go over)
The Finish: With Eddie poised to win, his wife did a rather surprising run in and eventually pushed the ladder (with Eddie thereupon) over. Some moments later, with Rey ascending the ladder, Vicky Guerrero held her husband back and enabled Rey to scoop the briefcase hung aloft for the win.
The Verdict: The best match of their series by a country-mile, let’s please let them finish it here. I was worried that they were peaking too early by bringing the ladder into play a bit too soon but they carried on for a good long while after the rungs were in the ring and pulled off some very good spots – even though Eddie looked a smidge off on a few of them. Eventually, they put something together that had a lot of drama, genuine second guessing of the result and some incredibly uncomfortable moments created when Eddie and Rey both landed awkwardly from bumps. Stellar effort from both guys and the only reason I’m dropping the rating below an A is that I wanted to see a cleaner finish, without run-ins from Dominick and Vicky – one of ’em, I could have coped with and I do understand the reason for them both but personal preference says that a finish without Mrs. Guerrero would have nudged it up to the A.
Eddie Guerrero: A
Rey Mysterio: A
The Match: B+
The Match: Kurt Angle vs Eugene
Who we thought would win: Kurt Angle
Who we wanted to win: Kurt Angle
The Finish: Ankle-lock = very quick tap out.
The Verdict: It’s pretty rare when Kurt Angle has the most forgettable match of the night but that’s what this was. It wasn’t bad or anything – in fact, Kurt’s performance was pretty good and he did make you wonder if he was actually going to attempt homicide at several points. Still, Eugene’s tribute to greater wrestlers is wearing remarkably thin and the crowd are turning on him with alarming rapidity – it’s all over for Dinsmore, I’m afraid – they’ve either got to reveal his retardedness as a ruse constructed by Bischoff and the cretin himself (and it’s a shame to do this now, since if they’d done it a year ago, it would have got Dinsmore over massively as a heel if he’d turned on the right guy) or they could just keep him in character and turn him heel – although quite how you make a person with learning difficulties into a heel, I’m not entirely sure. I guess we’ll have to see… still, credit to Eugene here, I was worried that they’d drag out the tap-out segment when it makes much more sense that someone like Eugene would tap out very quickly when a painful submission hold goes on.
Kurt Angle: B
The Match: C+
The Match: Randy Orton vs The Undertaker
Who we thought would win: Randy Orton
Who we wanted to win: The Undertaker
The Finish: Just when ‘Taker was about to finish No-Mates off with the Tombstone, an errant old man stumbled into the ring, apparently begging for alms. After the dangerous old fool was subdued, Smug-O leapt to his feet and hit the Table for One for the three count.
The Verdict: Amazingly, this was nearly as good as their match at WrestleMania, again massively assisted by the Undertaker’s willingness to sell practically nothing that Orton was throwing at him. Where it would be annoying against others, against Orton it’s an absolute pleasure. We did wonder if he might indeed consider lighting up at one point, or perhaps flicking through a magazine at ringside to complete the illusion of not caring at all, and his all-jumping, all-somersaulting clothesline thing that ended up being a punch on the shoulder was probably the best move I’ve ever seen that wasn’t meant to look like it did. Orton actually worked quite hard here and ‘Taker has to get the thumbs up for being good value for money and also for having been revealed as a RED KNEEPAD WEARER!!! Ha-ha! Fruit-booty! WHY would you NOT wear BLACK kneepads like most of the roster, especially given your character? Awesome, just plain awesome.
Randy Orton: B
The Undertaker: B
The Match: B
The Match: Chris Jericho vs John Cena (WWE Champion)
Who we thought would win: John Cena
Who we wanted to win: Chris Jericho
The Finish: An outstanding back and forth display culminating in Cena rather impressively turning an attempt at a bulldog into a tilt-a-whirl suplex setup but merging it into the match winning F-U – full marks for effort there!
The Verdict: Far, far better than expected and almost all the credit has to go to Jericho, who worked like an absolute demon, as if his upcoming holiday depended upon it (and perhaps he wanted to leave WWE with a good taste in their collective mouth so they’d bring him back with welcome arms when he gets bored of annoying rock crowds with his caterwauling). Cena did better than usual too, not quite carrying his end of the bargain but certainly showing willing. He’s not quite got the hang of listening to the crowd yet, since he carried on with his “I’m lovely, I am” schtick even though the crowd were turning on him – not sure what he could have done, but something cool would have been a good start, something like telling Jericho to go fist himself. The crowd were a very helpful factor in this one as, unless I’m wildly mistaken, they got more into this match than any other on the card and I include Hogan/Michaels in that statement.
Chris Jericho: A
John Cena: B
The Match: B+
The Match: JBL vs Batista (World Champion)
Who we thought would win: Batista
Who we wanted to win: Batista
The Finish: Bored with the simple concept of a sit-down powerbomb, DAVE decided it would be much more fun if he powerbombed his mate Bradshaw onto one part of the ring-steps. Which he did, with hilarious results. Well, more pinfall-achievement, less hilarity, but it did the trick.
The Verdict: Expectations were low for this one in terms of match quality but high in terms of audience reaction, since hometown boy Batista was in a prominent spot. Unfortunately, the crowd was hotter for Jericho/Cena than this one by a considerable margin which either says something about Batista not being the heat machine he was six months back OR JBL being massively overexposed as a top liner OR both. I tend to think it’s more JBL being in the wrong spot for now than the Batista problem, but Dave could do with learning lessons in “when to do things” and “getting the most out of not a lot” from Mr. Calloway. Decent brawl, don’t get me wrong, and JBLs a good man for taking that powerbomb on the steps which looked sodding painful, but one of the lesser matches on the card. I think the next step could well be to put Eddie Guerrero over Batista for the World Title at No Mercy and see how Dave fares in that program. If the crowd go for it and the match quality is sufficiently high, trade the belt back to him at the Rumble and, if not, move the belt on to The Undertaker or Chris Benoit. Iain Burnside is dead right with regards JBL – time for him and OJ to form a tag team.
The Match: C+
The Match: Hulk Hogan vs Shawn Michaels
Who we thought would win: Hogan
Who we wanted to win: HBK
The Finish: Surely we all know the score by now? Superkick, cover, 1 – 2 – kick out, Hulk up, pointy finger, 3 punches, Irish whip, boot to the face, ask the crowd if they’d like to see a three count for about a gazillion years, legdrop, trip to the ER to have his hip re-set, three count, much posing.
The Verdict: I’ve already covered the blading aspect of this bout in the Hardy verdict but it was kinda cool to see Hogan looking like a Walrus post-feeding frenzy, blood all over his moustache. Unfortunately, other than bleeding like a good ‘un, his other contributions to the match were limited – he bumped as best he could given his advancing years, I suspect, and his comebacks were pretty well timed but I suspect he could have done anything out there and the crowd would have gone for it, such is his current level of overness. I think Shawn deserves a major doff of the hat here because he carried the whole feud, not just this match and made it the first Hogan match in about 15 years that was genuinely watchable (and I include the Rock/Hogan match at WrestleMania X8 in that statement, which was purely elevated by crowd reaction). Cripes, that’s a scary thought – the last Hogan match that was anything special was against Savage at WrestleMania V… Alright Hulkster, you’ve had your big match, it was a good send-off, PLEASE treat it as such. And no, Iain, although Hogan vs Austin would be a big draw for ‘Mania, it would be an absolute stinker and probably tarnish both of them. Neither can do for the other what Shawn did here for Hogan, so it’s best left alone.
Shawn Michaels: A
Hulk Hogan: D
The Match: B
Overall: With nothing below a C (and the only match below C+ due to it being less than half a minute in length), this card was solid overall with a sprinkling of surprisingly enjoyable matches (‘Taker/Orton and Hogan/Michaels especially), topped off with an expected cracker by Rey vs Eddie and an unexpected cracker in Jericho vs Cena.
Final Grade: B+
I love it when I feel like I’ve got my money’s worth – thumbs up to the guys in the office and MORE CHRISTIAN NEXT TIME PLEASE.