Wednesday, August 9, 2023

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2012)

Brock's first SummerSlam back in WWE has to be considered one of the more disappointing editions....

SummerSlam '12 - Staples Center - 8/19/12

One of the more disappointing editions occurred in 2012.  Here was a show that on paper looked quite stacked and featured a dream match with some real intrigue. 

Ten years earlier Brock Lesnar and Triple H were on top of their respective brands and arguably the "co-faces" of the company.  Before Brock's hasty departure in 2004 there were plans in place for these two to clash at the following WrestleMania.  Alas Brock's exit thwarted this plan and instead Dave Batista became the new monster babyface.  But in 2012 we would finally get to see this long-awaited battle, and given how well Lesnar performed in his big return against John Cena that April, it seemed we were all in for a treat.

Unfortunately Triple H proved to be one opponent with whom Brock didn't click in the ring.  This match was slow, plodding, and overall pretty dull.  The crowd was fairly anemic too which didn't help.  WWE made a mistake putting this match on last; had it been placed in the middle of the card maybe the crowd would've had more energy and wouldn't have expected this to save what had been a lackluster show.  Lesnar predictably won by "breaking" Hunter's arm, and this should've put an end to the rivalry.  But of course eight months later Triple H had to have a rematch, which as it turned out was even worse, and received with even greater apathy.


Side note about Triple H (indulge me for a moment): From an in-ring standpoint he really doesn't work as a babyface.  Hasn't since he turned heel in 1999 and became The Cerebral Assassin.  His whole character is based around being a dangerous, sadistic bastard.  His wrestling style is slow, methodical, and generally involves dissecting an opponent and trying to permanently injure them.  When you put him in the face role and expect him to carry the offense for the first and third acts of a match (traditionally the segments where the face is on offense) it makes for an extremely dull affair and doesn't rev up the audience like it needs to.  And for the middle third of the match when the heel is in control, the very nature of Triple H's character undermines the whole purpose of the second act - vulnerable babyface in peril.  Hunter's character is almost never presented as vulnerable, so there's no real suspense during his big selling segments and therefore nothing to root for.  End of tangent.

The rest of the show consisted of a series of decent matches, all of which would've been welcome on any episode of RAW.

Chris Jericho and Dolph Ziggler had a fine contest to open the show, and Jericho won his only PPV match of 2012 (even though Ziggler really needed a win here).  The following night they'd have a rematch where if Jericho lost he'd be fired (hmmm, that sounds familiar).  He did, and he was.

Nice girdle, fattie!

Next up was Daniel Bryan facing Kane.  These two had a very entertaining comedy feud which of course led to a wildly successful tag team run and demonstrated that Bryan was much more than just a technical workhorse.  This match was decent but nothing special.  They did what they could with the eight minutes allotted.
The Miz then faced Rey Mysterio in a solid TV-caliber Intercontinental Title match.  By this point Miz's stock had dropped so severely it was just nice to see him get a decent midcard title run.

For the World Title, Sheamus defended against Alberto Del Rio, in one of about 900 matches the pair would have in 2012.  This was fine, but I never felt Sheamus and Del Rio meshed all that well.  By this point the World Title's stock had dropped almost as much as Miz's, hence an eleven-minute match placed fourth on the card.

The tag team division was on the upswing in 2012 and so the tag champs R-Truth and Kofi Kingston actually got to defend the straps on PPV against The Prime Time Players (one of probably dozens of teams over the years that showed great promise but were prematurely split up only for both partners to vanish into obscurity).  This was fine.

Once again the WWE Title match was not in the main event slot, for the eighth PPV in a row mind you.  I honestly don't know what the company was thinking in 2012.  CM Punk was the Champion for the entire calendar year and only main evented three PPVs.  I get that John Cena is the face of the company but there is no excuse whatsoever for Cena's match with GM John Laurinaitis to headline a PPV over the Punk-Bryan WWE Title match (2012 Match of the Year as far as I'm concerned).  Then SummerSlam rolls around, and even with Cena IN the Title match it still doesn't get the main event.  Unbelievable.  Anyway, this was probably the second-best match of the night, as Punk got a slightly underhanded 12-minute win over both Cena and The Big Show.  But seriously, 12 minutes for the WWE Title match, which didn't even go on last.  How underwhelming can an important match get?

2012 was a year of inconsistency for WWE.  CM Punk had a nice epic run with the Title but still wasn't treated as the top guy much of the time, Brock Lesnar made his long-awaited WWE return but only wrestled two matches on the year, one of which was a loss, the company was heavily relying on past stars to carry major shows, and multiple events looked great on paper but failed to live up to expectations.  WWE had listened to the fans in pushing Punk as a top guy but it was done very begrudgingly it seemed.  Meanwhile they tried really hard to elevate Ryback as Cena's eventual heir.  Yeah that worked out great, didn't it?  Hmm, actually this whole scenario would happen again, wouldn't it?

Best Match: Dolph Ziggler vs. Chris Jericho
Worst Match: Probably the Tag Title match, though it wasn't exactly bad.
What I'd Change: First, put Brock-HHH fourth on the card and keep it under fifteen minutes.  Just have them beat the absolute bejeezus out of each other to make it fast-paced.  Give the WWE Title match the twenty minutes it deserved.  Other than that, it was just a matter of the overall show not delivering.
Most Disappointing Match: Brock vs. Triple H - I had very high hopes, and while this was a watchable match, it was nowhere near as good as it should've been.  We certainly didn't need to see it twice more.
Most Pleasant Surprise: I guess Daniel Bryan getting a win over Kane.  After the WrestleMania 28 debacle I didn't trust WWE to not screw Bryan once his feud with Punk was over.
Overall Rating: 6/10
Better than WrestleMania XXVIII? - No


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