|SummerSlam '11 - Staples Center - 8/14/11|
SummerSlam 2011 rocked my nuts off. In the summer of 2011 (WWE's Summer of Punk), the company managed to throw together two epic, amazing PPVs in a row - something they hadn't done in literally years (2001 was probably the last time). The one-two punch of Money in the Bank and SummerSlam is one of the best pairs of PPVs I can remember. Of course they screwed everything up royally after this, and even the immediate Money in the Bank followup was kind of a mess. But that didn't stop this show from being one of the best SummerSlams of all time*.
*As long as you turn it off before the last minute of the show.
The opening match was a helluva fun six-man tag where Rey Mysterio, John Morrison and Kofi Kingston faced off against The Miz, R-Truth and Alberto Del Rio. There wasn't anything epic about this match, but it was a good old-fashioned hot opener that was presented as a bonus bout. I love a good six-man to kick things off.
Next was the re-energized Mark Henry, now packaged as an awesome wrecking machine, against the newest babyface Sheamus. Prior to this Henry push I never thought I'd be interested in any of his matches, but this was a damn fine slugfest that ended with a broken security barricade and a countout win for Henry.
Speaking of wrestlers whose matches I wasn't supposed to like, Kelly Kelly was next, defending the Divas Title against the always fantastic Beth Phoenix. Beth should've won the belt here but this match was stunningly good and displayed Kelly's in-ring improvement toward the end of her run.
After having not appeared in a PPV singles match for nine months (about which I was less than pleased), Daniel Bryan was finally given some real ring time next, against Wade Barrett. Fresh off his MITB briefcase win, Bryan had regained some of the company's attention, and these two had a splendid twelve-minute encounter. Bryan took another loss here, but this was the beginning of his rise to becoming a mega-popular WWE headliner.
The last two slots on the show belonged to a pair of just-freaking-awesome Title matches.
First, Randy Orton challenged Christian for the World Title in a No Holds Barred match. These two had already wrestled a handful of times in 2011, each match seemingly improving on the last. But SummerSlam was undoubtedly the climax of their feud and they absolutely crushed it out there in an easy Match of the Year contender. Orton and Christian's bouts were notable for building on spots that had occurred in previous matches. Orton would try a move that had worked before, but this time Christian would be ready for it, and vice versa. From an in-ring standpoint this feud was one of the best of the year.
Finally in a rematch from the previous month's balls-out spectacular MITB main event, CM Punk and John Cena wrestled to determine the Undisputed WWE Champion. Punk had beaten Cena at MITB and "left the company" as the WWE Champion, prompting Vince to stage a tournament to crown a replacement. Mysterio won the tourney and immediately defended and lost his Title to Cena (Which made no sense whatsoever - why would he agree to a match right that second against a fresh opponent? What is he, Yokozuna? And why would a babyface challenge another babyface to a match right after he won the Title? What a chickenshit move. No wonder Cena gets booed all the time.). Punk then showed up the following week saying he could do more to change WWE from the inside than by sitting at home. Frankly this was a terrible follow-through on one of the most promising angles the company ever did, but one can't deny how much chemistry Cena and Punk had between the ropes. Not one of their matches was bad, and a few of them were legitimate classics. This match couldn't possibly have been as good as the MITB one, but it was still a damn good PPV main event. Punk won in slightly controversial fashion only to have Kevin Nash show up out of nowhere and attack him, leading to Alberto Del Rio cashing in his briefcase to win the Title.
Like I said, if you shut this show off before the last minute or so it's awesome from start to finish. Sadly the last minute is so embarrassingly full of stupid (and the ensuing angles over that fall were staggeringly convoluted garbage) it ruined a great little main event run for Punk, temporarily at least. Punk would regain his mojo that fall and enjoy the longest WWE Title reign in 25 years, and in some small way his Summer of Punk did have a lasting impact on how the audience would react to the programming they were being fed. One could argue that the YES movement couldn't have happened without the Pipe Bomb. To a certain extent his breakout push that summer forced the company to really start listening to the fans and rethink what constitutes a major star. Only time will tell if this trend continues, but for now at least Punk can take great satisfaction in knowing that he made a difference.
Best Match: Christian vs. Randy Orton
Worst Match: Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix, but only by default. Not one match on this show was bad.
What I'd Change: Obviously giving the belt to Del Rio was just plain fuckin' stupid. The idea was to make Del Rio the Champion before their tour of Mexico, but he dropped the belt back to Cena a month later, regained it, and then lost it back to Punk again. Utterly pointless. Punk should've kept the belt all the way through to the 2013 Rumble, giving him an additional 98 days to tack onto his long reign. Also bringing back Kevin Nash in any on-air capacity was one of the most batshit crazy decisions ever made by a human. Nash wasn't medically cleared to wrestle, his promo ability had long since evaporated, and at no time was anyone clamoring to see Punk vs. Nash.
Most Disappointing Match: Amazingly no matches on this show disappointed. Make a note of this, because it hardly ever happens.
Most Pleasant Surprise: Probably the Divas match.
Overall Rating: 9/10 - This is an all-time Top 5 SummerSlam.
Better than WrestleMania XXVII? - You could say SummerSlam 2011 strung up WrestleMania XXVII with piano wire and bashed its stupid brains in with a croquet mallet.
Thanks for reading - subscribe to our mailing list, and follow us on Twitter, MeWe, Facebook and YouTube!