The SmarK Rant for WWE Summerslam 2008

– Live from Indianapolis, IN

– Your hosts are JR, MC, JL and T.

Jeff Hardy v. MVP

MVP charges for the high kick to start, but runs away from a fight and tries to lure Jeff with a chase. Jeff ccatches him on the floor and sends him into the railing, and they head back in where Jeff comes back with a slingshot legdrop for two. He goes to the arm and they exchange kicks, but Jeff charges and takes a sick overhead suplex into the turnbuckles as a result. That gets two for MVP and he wraps Jeff up with a submission move and starts to work on the neck. He goes to a rear chinlock and Jeff monkey-flips out of it, but MVP rolls through into a half-crab and from there into a legbar, a very nice sequence. Jeff fights up and tries to springboard in, but MVP catches him with a shot to the face and necksnaps him for two. Hardy gets run into the corner and the Tree of Woe, and MVP runs his head into the mat for two. He goes for the body vice, but Jeff escapes with a neckbreaker and makes the comeback. Mule kick in the corner, but MVP gets the feet up for his own kick to counter, and that gets two. MVP dropkicks Jeff into the corner and charges, but Jeff comes out with a clothesline to block, and gets a Russian legsweep for two. Jeff sets up in the corner again for the mule kick, but MVP catches him and Jeff counters to a sunset flip for two. Whisper in the Wind and he goes up, but Shelton Benjamin comes out to distract Jeff long enough for the swanton to miss. Yakuza kick finishes for MVP at 10:12. Pretty cliché finish, but I enjoyed all the countering from MVP to out-think Hardy. He should probably have the US title back, actually. ***1/4

Winner take all: Mickie James & Kofi Kingston v. Santino Marella & Beth Phoenix.

Time to pull the plug on Kofi, I think. He’s a guy who seems like he could benefit from doing the indy circuit for a couple of years and building a buzz, like RVD did. Beth starts with Mickie and overpowers her to stop a takedown, but Mickie dropkicks the knee to take her down. That gets two. Beth comes back with a backdrop suplex and Santino comes in, but he gets monkey-flipped into a high cross from Kofi. He fires off a pair of dropkicks and hammers Santino in the corner. Santino takes a powder and jumps into Beth’s arms to protect himself, and then catches Kofi with a neckbreaker to take over. How do you not love Santino? Back to Phoenix, and she pounds Kofi with kicks, and Santino goes to the chinlock. Kofi escapes and tags Mickie, and she hammers on Beth with forearms and into a clothesline. Rana out of the corner and into a Thesz Press, but Santino breaks it up. It’s BONZO GONZO and Kofi charges and lands on the floor, but Mickie hits a DDT on Santino. That allows Beth to jump Mickie and finish her with the double chickenwing into the powerbomb at 5:44. That IC title is exactly where it belongs. Santino’s over the top celebration almost adds another star. Short and entertaining. **1/2 Thank god Beth can actually do her entrance pose with a belt now, because it just looked silly otherwise.

Shawn Michaels joins us to announce that he’s lost his smile…oh, wait, wrong interview, sorry. Close, though, as doctors have advised him to end his career, and he’s decided to heed their advice and give it up. However, Chris Jericho interrupts and he DEMANDS that Shawn retire because of Jericho, not on his own terms. What a dick. I love it. And then Shawn says, sure, he’ll admit that to his wife and kids, as long as Jericho goes home and tells HIS family now that he’ll never ever get to be Shawn Michaels. Oooooh, burn. Jericho’s a bit upset and goes after Shawn, but hits Whysper Michaels instead, just to make the feud REALLY personal, I guess. Didn’t really need the man-on-woman violence and the whole thing went on a bit long for what it was, but the blowoff at Unforgiven should be super hot now.

ECW World title: Mark Henry v. Matt Hardy

Henry uses the CLUBBING FOREARMS to start, but Matt gets the Twist of Fate and Tony Atlas yanks him out for the DQ at 0:33. Zuh? DUD Jeff saves and hits Atlas with a swanton from the apron, and the Hardyz team up and suplex Henry on the floor. Did I miss some reason why they couldn’t have done an actual match here?

RAW World title: CM Punk v. JBL

The announcers note that Punk is a different type of champion because he’s seen The Dark Knight five times. Maybe the writing team should as well so they could steal some GOOD pop culture for once. If some heel could rip off Heath Ledger’s Joker performance effectively, it’d draw millions. JBL pounds on him to start and grabs a headlock, but Punk fires back with high kicks and dropkicks him to the floor. He follows with a nice suicide dive, and back in for a high cross that gets two. JBL shoulderblocks him back down and slugs away in the corner, then hits a blockbuster slam off the top for two. Note to Michael Cole: A “fallaway slam” is traditionally another name for a samoan drop, although Cole’s insistence on calling that move as “fallaway slam” seems to have renamed the move to match. As far as I’ve always understood, though, the proper name is “fadeaway slam”. Bradshaw goes to the bearhug to work on the ribs, and a backdrop suplex gets two. Abdominal stretch and JBL pounds on the ribs, but Punk catches him with the high knee in the corner, into the bulldog. He goes for the GTS, but the ribs give out and JBL hits him with a standing lariat and drops elbows for two. They slug it out and Punk staggers him with the spinning backfist, and a spinkick gets two. He springboards in, but JBL catches him with a powerslam for two. He sets up to finish, but Punk blocks the clothesline with a leg lariat. Another high knee in the corner, but JBL blocks the bulldog this time and puts him on the top, pounding away on the ribs again, setting up a backdrop suplex off the top, which gets two. Punk appears done, but he hits the GTS out of nowhere to finish at 11:11. Now this is what he needs — strong come-from-behind, clean, wins over top guys, not fluke wins or DQs or whatever. Really good big bully against tough underdog dynamic here, as they kept it simple and within what JBL can still pull off, and it worked well. ***1/2

Smackdown World title: HHH v. The Great Khali.

Come on, they changed the ECW World title for Mark Henry, why can’t HHH use his pull to get a decent one made for himself? Khali fires away to start and HHH uses his (relative) speed to counter, but he walks into the tree slam. Head vice looks to finish, but HHH escapes and clips the knee. I am relieved to see them keeping this as quick as possible. Khali bails and catches HHH with the CHOP OF DEATH and tosses him into the railing, and back in for some punishment in the corner. Standing clothesline gets two. Khali goes to the melodramatic Vulcan nerve pinch, as I take back what I said about keeping it quick. Legdrop gets two. HHH breaks out of another nerve hold and fights back with a facebuster to tie Khali into the ropes, but HHH charges and runs into a boot. He tries the Pedigree but can’t quite muscle it over, and Khali backdrops him to the floor. HHH trips him up and posts the knee, but Khali clubs him off the apron. Back in, Khali gets another head vice, trying to contain the unstoppable force of HHH’s ego, but it’s just too much to overcome and HHH fights out of it. Khali charges and hits the corner, and KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes at 9:20. Good god, HHH actually got a good match out of Great Khali, I’m at a loss for words. You HAVE to respect that. HHH worked a totally different David v. Goliath style match and made it work. Kudos to him for that. ***

Batista v. John Cena

Cole notes that this is “no hype needed, the ultimate showdown!” Isn’t that kind of self-contradictory? This sounds weird to type, but Cena really needs the win here. Batista grabs a headlock to start and Cena escapes with a slam, as the fan bile starts spewing almost immediately. Cena overpowers him, but Batista comes back with a clothesline and a jackhammer for two. That’s actually a good move for Big Dave, although I think he was just going for a suplex there and messed it up. Cena fires back with a fisherman’s suplex for two. Batista gets a sideslam, but Cena counters into the FU, so Batista escapes and attacks the knee. Kneecrusher sets up a figure-four and Ric Flair references from Cole, and they’re talking an awful lot about someone who’s been future-endeavored. Although maybe it’s because Flair quit that he escaped the erasure from history that “best of luck in future endeavors” entails. Cena powers to the ropes to break, and then dumps Batista with an FU over the top rope, which gives him some time to recover. Back in, Cena puts Batista down with the shoulderblocks and the backdrop suplex, and you can’t see him. Five knuckle shuffle sets up the FU, but Batista powers out and puts him down with the big boot. Double KO and Batista recovers first, spearing Cena into the corner and then following with a corner clothesline, but a blind charge hits elbow. Cena charges, however, and runs into the spinebuster, but Cena counters the demon bomb with a takedown and hooks the STFU. It’s kind of interesting that they’re going with this “all big moves no filler” approach because that’s a totally different style from what you normally see in the WWE. Kind of like late-era Rock v. Austin without the crowd brawling. Batista fights it and teases the tap, but makes the ropes instead. Cena tries to finish again, but Batista reverses the FU into a rear naked choke. Nice! This of course leads to the inherent contradiction of people trying to work UFC stuff into wrestling matches, when those moves are illegal in the wrestling world. You’d think they’d just clarify and make chokes legal, but that would rob mid-level heels of 89% of their offense. Batista spears him for two, but Cena freakishly powers him into the FU out of a powerslam attempt, for two. Cena goes up and they slug it out on the top rope, doing the “boo yay” bit for the crowd, and Cena wins that one. Batista goes down and Cena follows with a legdrop attempt, but Batista catches him with the powerbomb for two. If it was anyone else but Cena, I’d have called that as the finish. Now Batista is pissed, and kicks him in the face to set up another demon bomb, for the clean pin at 13:42. Seriously, did Cena back his car over Vince’s dog or something? I really loved this match, though, with big move after big move in my favorite type of match: The heavyweight slugfest. Not like two big guys punching each other, but two top guys being all stoic and hitting their big moves until one of them can’t get up. ****

Hell in a Cell: Edge v. Undertaker

Edge slugs away in the corner to start, unleashing the full power of his crazy. Taker boots him down, however, and fires away in return. Taker tosses him and runs him into the cage, then headbutts him down and gives him another trip into the cage. And the stairs. Back in, Taker guillotines him on the apron and brings the stairs into the ring, giving Edge a Snake Eyes on them. Edge, too crazy to go down, quickly whips Taker into the stairs in return and spears him into them. Touché. Edge pounds him down with the stairs and retrieves a table from the magic void under the ring. Two of them get stacked outside as a callback to their last match, but Edge can’t suplex him through them. He manages to necksnap UT and then hits him with a chair, as Edge seems to be making this a TLC match inside of Hell in a Cell, perhaps a sly comment on TNA’s crappy booking, but probably not. Edge puts him down with a chair and gets, yes, a ladder, trying to bring the match to something he knows. Another chairshot puts Taker down as hopefully they’re finished with the setup and now can get to the blood-soaked violence. Edge puts him on a table and elbowdrops a chair onto him, from the ladder, putting Taker through the table. That gets two. He tries the concerto, but Taker blocks him and slugs Edge down. Edge retreats to the apron, so Taker boots him into the cage. JR notes that “casualties are guaranteed” for this match, so I guess it’s kind of like a metaphor for the business in general. Taker runs the stairs into Edge’s head, but gets sent into the post, and Edge spears him right through the cage. Didn’t see that coming.

Taker’s forearm is bleeding, so maybe he’s going emo as part of another gimmick change. He can have My Chemical Romance do his entrance music and blog about how his parents don’t understand him. They fight at ringside and Taker whips Edge into the railing, but Edge comes back with a monitor to the head, and then spears him from one table to another. There’s a great effect there, too, as the cameraman shook from the impact and really made it seem like an action movie scene or something. They slug it out at ringside and Taker wins that one pretty handily, but Edge comes back with his trusty ladder to take over again. A camera to the head gets two. JR notes that very move cost Taker the title last year, which is exactly what announcers are supposed to do. What a concept. Edge sets up for the spear, but Taker catches him with the chokeslam and gets two. Last Ride is countered with a low blow, which JR sadly does not call “legal as a headlock” this time. Edge with the Impaler for two. Taker sits up and goes for the powerbomb, but then changes his mind and wants the tables instead. That allows Edge to escape and spear him for two. Edge slugs away in the corner and that allows Taker to powerbomb him for two. Then Taker gets a little crazy and sets up for the tombstone on the stairs, but Edge reverses out with the Edge-O-Matic onto the stairs, for two. Man, those tables are just hanging over the match like the Sword of Damocles. And then Edge tries to go old school, but since he was in high school in 1990 Undertaker is able to counter it and chokeslam Edge through those damn tables. Well at least they finally paid it off.

Back in, Taker gets cheeky and spears Edge, then sets up with the camera and just unloads on him with it. And then for the encore, he delivers his own concerto and Edge is pretty much dead and buried. Message delivered, I’d say. Tombstone kills him officially at 26:40. OK, now I never want to see this match on PPV again. Feud is OVER. Very enjoyable but somewhat antiseptic Hell in a Cell match (I mean, no blood?) with a lot of setup time from Edge and some good brawling to end the feud…but no blood? Really? And it didn’t really make use of the gimmick, being more of a TLC match that happened to be inside the cage. And no blood? ****1/4 And then they go and ruin all the good hatred with a stupid gimmick moment to end it, as Undertaker chokeslams Edge off a ladder and through a gimmicked part of the ring, which breaks and then bursts into flame at UT’s command. Oh come on now. I know they’re booking for children, but this is ridiculous.

The Pulse:

The top two matches were supposed to be great and delivered, while the two World title matches were probably going to suck and both ended up being pretty great all things considered, so that makes this show an easy thumbs up. Edge-Undertaker have great chemistry together, but they’ve pretty much hit the wall of where they can go from a match quality standpoint and the main event showed that to me. It was good, but I just don’t care about them anymore. Still, well worth checking out.

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