Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2006)

This is what I like to call The Era of the Phoned-In SummerSlam, starting with a show I went to live and wish I hadn't....


SummerSlam '06 - TD Banknorth Garden - 8/20/06

What a stinker of a card this was.  I was in attendance at this show, sitting in the loge opposite the hard cameras, and when I watched this on DVD a month later I actually spent more time looking for myself in the crowd than watching the matches (I was wearing a bright red football jersey so I was easy to spot).  That's how spectacularly dull SummerSlam 2006 was.

The show opened with a passable but uninspired bout between Rey Mysterio (fresh off his terrible World Title run where he was booked as the weakest champion ever) and Chavo Guerrero.  These two have had excellent matches over the years - just check out No Way Out 2004 - but this wasn't one of them.  It was an okay opener but not at all memorable.

Next up was Big Show defending the ill-conceived new ECW Title against Sabu in a watered-down hardcore match.

Attempting to recreate the buzz of 2005's SummerSlam, WWE brought Hulk Hogan back yet again and had him wrestle Randy Orton in the third match of the night.  Keep in mind how unimpressed I was with Hogan vs. HBK.  That was a masterpiece compared to this.  Hogan won by DQ in under eleven minutes.

One of the two watchable matches was next, as Mick Foley and Ric Flair had a bloody I Quit match which was going pretty well until the abrupt finish.  Flair threatened to beat up Foley's crush Melina, prompting Foley to give up.  Melina of course turned on Foley the next night. 

Look at that blubber fly!



Match five was one of the worst of the bunch, as Batista attempted to regain the World Title from King Booker.  Booker finally got a proper World Title run in WWE by defeating Mysterio, but he also won the King of the Ring tournament and adjusted his gimmick to include a crown & cape, and a comically fake English accent.  This match was shockingly bad.  These two didn't gel at all and the match was full of awkward exchanges, including Batista stealing Goldberg's Jackhammer finisher (and performing it badly).

The semi-main slot went to probably the worst feud of 2006 - the reunited DeGeneration X vs. The McMahons.  This feud all started at the beginning of the year, when Shawn Michaels somehow (don't remember exactly) fell afoul of Vince and Shane.  Shane's interference led to Shawn's elimination from the Rumble, and it all built to WrestleMania, where Shawn beat Vince up for 18 minutes in one of the most overrated matches of all time. 

Post-Mania we got to see Vince & Shane vs. Shawn & "God," or as they call it in the biz, a Handicap Match.  Then after a couple more months Triple H eventually came to Shawn's aid and DX was reborn.....as two middle-aged dudes pretending to still be in their twenties.  Seriously, watching two 40-year-olds (one of whom was now a born-again Christian) trotting out the same old dick and poop jokes nearly a decade later was so excruciatingly unfunny I can't even begin to describe it.

So DX feuded with Vince and Shane, but first they had to get through the Spirit Squad, a stable of five guys (including the future Dolph Ziggler) with a cheerleader gimmick.  The two members of DX repeatedly beat the shit out of all five SS members (really, five guys can't beat TWO??) and thus earned the right to wrestle the McMahons.  What ensued at SummerSlam was a dumb comedy match (the only highlights of which were Vince and Shane using the tandem finishers of several legendary tag teams) that should've mercifully ended this agonizing feud.  Sadly it wasn't even the blowoff match - that would come at Unforgiven as the McMahons added The Big Show to their team and DX still beat them in a Hell in a Cell match (which ended when Vince's face got shoved between Show's bare buttcheeks - how tasteful).

The one truly good match of this suckfest of a card was the main event - Edge vs. John Cena for the WWE Title.  This was Edge's first run as a headliner, and he played the part of the cowardly, odious bad guy to perfection.  This match had a stipulation where if Edge got disqualified he'd lose the belt.  Unlike their previous matches where Edge was basically dominated from start to finish, this match was a good back-and-forth bout with a nice story.  Several times Lita came close to getting Edge DQd and it created a good subplot.  A very entertaining main event to an otherwise terrible SummerSlam. 

John, I'm beggin' ya to tighten up that STF.
Look how much strain he is NOT putting on Edge's neck.

2006 was such an awful year for WWE creatively.  They were still clinging desperately to the tone of the Attitude Era despite the novelty having long worn off.  The ECW relaunch experiment was an abysmal failure right out of the gate but they insisted on riding it out.  John Cena was the new face of the company but only the women and young fans truly liked him.  The mindset of only pushing cookie-cutter bodybuilder types as top stars was still prevalent and the in-ring product suffered tremendously.

This PPV had seven matches, only one of which exceeded fifteen minutes (seriously where does all the time go on these SummerSlam cards??), and several of the best workers were either injured or suspended.  Benoit and Angle were on the disabled list (Angle would leave the company soon after), and Rob Van Dam was still under suspension for his weed bust while WWE Champion.  Shelton Benjamin was once again bafflingly left off the card entirely, and CM Punk was brand new and I guess hadn't "earned" a PPV spot yet.  The result was a wholly forgettable PPV with a pretty good main event.  At the time I considered this possibly the worst SummerSlam ever.

Best Match: Edge vs. John Cena
Worst Match: Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Orton
What I'd Change: Christ, throw Shelton a bone!  Also RVD's presence could've helped this card a great deal.  Give CM Punk something to do - he was already way over.  The DX reunion flat out sucked.  It was based on dated comedy and felt horribly manufactured.
Most Disappointing Match: Mick Foley vs. Ric Flair - This could've been quite good but it was too short and had a stupid ending.
Most Pleasant Surprise: John Cena's blossoming into a proper main event wrestler.
Overall Rating: 2.5/10
Better than WrestleMania 22?: No way.


2005


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