Tuesday, August 1, 2023

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2005)

2005 - the year Shawn Michaels slummed it by carrying Hulk Hogan to one of his best matches....

SummerSlam '05 - MCI Center - 8/21/05

The 2005 edition was a strange one indeed.  A dream match main event with no championships involved, two pretty good but rather short World Title matches, Matt Hardy getting utterly destroyed again, Kurt Angle vs. a jobber, and a 30-second squash.  Alrighty then.

In the opening contest, Chris Benoit (going from the 2004 main event to the 2005 curtain jerker) defeated Orlando Jordan for the US Title in 25 seconds.  Umm, ok.  Good rule of thumb for PPV matches: don't ever include a match on the card that's shorter than the ring entrances.  Kinda makes people resent that they paid to see the match.

Match #2 was Matt Hardy's second brutal SummerSlam ass-kicking in a row, as Edge beat him so badly that the match was stopped.  Now just to give you all an idea how moronic this was, Matt Hardy had legitimately been fired from the company a few months back for airing online that his girlfriend Lita was cheating on him with Edge.  Why this is a fireable offense I'm not sure, but I guess Vince just hates a cuckold.  Anywho, the fans lashed out at WWE for firing Matt, demanding that he be brought back.  Vince obliged and smartly used the real-life drama as the backdrop for his feud with Edge.  This was spectacular television and should've led to an absolutely thrilling blood feud between the two.  Unfortunately Matt got his ass handed to him by Edge at nearly every turn and therefore the heat for this rivalry dissipated almost immediately.  Matt got crushed in under five minutes and the match was stopped after Matt bled a lot.  Nevermind that the main event featured much more blood and no ref stoppage.  Matt then went on to lose to Edge several more times before finally beating him at Unforgiven in a cage match.  But by then it was clear Matt wasn't really in Edge's league, and he was moved off RAW shortly thereafter.  This was probably the worst-botched feud since the Invasion angle.

The big-time SummerSlam feel finally arrived in match #3, as old frenemies Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio lit it up in a splendid Ladder Match.  While the angle behind this is one of the stupidest in recent memory - the idea was that Mysterio's son Domenic was actually adopted and Eddie was his birth father (nevermind that if you've seen Mysterio's face or you know what his wife looks like, Domenic is very clearly THEIR son), who wanted custody of the boy.  Hanging over the ring was a clipboard with Domenic's custody papers.  Now, I'm of the opinion that a wrestling match should basically never, ever, ever, EVER resolve any kind of real-life legal dispute.  It's patently ridiculous that any legitimate court would accept a pretend fighting contest as an acceptable way for two parties to come to an agreement over things like marriages, child custody, ownership of a car, intellectual property, etc.  Wrestling matches should resolve wrestling feuds.  That's it.  That being said, this was a helluva good ladder match and thankfully put the stupendously idiotic custody battle to bed.

It wouldn't be a WWE card if at least one tremendous talent weren't totally wasted, so at SummerSlam '05 Kurt Angle was paired with the long-since-irrelevant Eugene in a throwaway four-minute squash.  Remind me again, what was Shelton Benjamin doing that night?  Could Angle not have wrestled him instead?  For the love of Jeezus??

In a 'Mania rematch Randy Orton made his comeback from an arm injury to once again face The Undertaker.  These two worked great together, and this bout was just as good as their 3-star-plus WrestleMania 21 match.  Orton finally got the win here to continue the feud.

It's the Clothesline from Hustle Loyalty Respect.

The show-stealing WWE Championship match was next (oddly in the 6th spot out of 8) as Chris Jericho got his first one-on-one PPV WWE Title match since 2002, and carried the still-clumsy Cena to a damn fine 15-minute contest.  The next night Jericho would repeat this performance before walking away from the company for two years.  It was nice to see him finally get a real title shot after three full years of criminal misuse.

Batista then defended the World Title against JBL in a match I didn't care much about, but it was a solid 9-minute no-DQ brawl.  Batista made convincing use of the ring steps to put his challenger away, via a Batista bomb.

The main event saw the first-and-only-time dream match of Hulk Hogan vs. Shawn Michaels.  Two months earlier on an episode of RAW, Michaels turned heel on Hogan to set this up.  Hogan was then absent for almost the entire build of this match, leaving Shawn to tackle all the hype (which yielded a pretty hilarious Larry King parody sketch where Shawn impersonated Hogan).  The match itself was probably one of Hogan's best, but far from Shawn's.  It was about five minutes too long and featured Shawn extensively beating the tar out of Hogan, bloodying him profusely with a chair (yet no ref stoppage - hmmmmm), and nailing him with the superkick before Hogan's inevitably trite, outdated no-sell comeback.  Seriously, this match really illustrated how comically obsolete Hogan's cartoonishly powderpuff offense was in 2005.  Hogan hit the big boot, which Shawn sold like James Caan being riddled with several dozen bullets in The Godfather.  He looked like a dying fish out of water having an epileptic fit.  Then Hogan paused for what felt like seventeen minutes to mug for the crowd before finally, mercifully hitting his stupid legdrop.  One of the worst-executed "Hogan comeback" endings I've ever seen.  This match really kinda stunk and I question whether it was a dream match we really needed to see.  Originally the plan was for Shawn to win here and set up a steel cage rematch at Unforgiven, where Hogan would've triumphed.  But Terry wanted no part of jobbing to a 220-pounder, so Shawn agreed to lose and they dropped the planned rematch.  The following night on RAW Shawn went back to being a babyface after verbally sticking it to Hogan one last time.  So this match had essentially no consequences and therefore no purpose.

Look at Shawn just bouncing around like a SuperBall for that old fool.

SummerSlam 2005 was a very mixed bag - four of the matches were good to very good while the other four were varying degrees of pointless despite a couple of them having quite a bit of potential.  Following this show the company shifted some talent around and had a decent fall season built on the OVW Class of 2002, but this show sorta feels stuck out of time.

Best Match: John Cena vs. Chris Jericho - an unexpected hit from the inexperienced WWE Champ
Worst Match: Orlando Jordan vs. Chris Benoit - 25 seconds. Why bother at that point?
What I'd Change: Swap out Eugene for Shelton Benjamin and you'd have the match of the night.  Make Matt vs. Edge an actual contest where Matt goes too far and gets DQ'd to set up a rematch, give Benoit-Jordan at least four minutes to have a real match, and cut Hogan's match down to about 16 minutes and force him to come up with a realistic finish.  Or better yet, screw Hogan.
Most Disappointing Match: Edge vs. Matt Hardy - what a waste
Most Pleasant Surprise: Cena vs. Jericho
Overall Rating: 6.5/10
Better Than WrestleMania 21?: Certainly not.


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