Monday, August 31, 2020

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2017)

Another mixed-bag PPV from WWE in 2017....


SummerSlam '17 - Barclays Center - 8.20.17

SummerSlam 2017 felt a bit like one of those older WWF PPVs that had a ton of variety and was oddly more enjoyable than it probably deserved to be.  The ten main PPV matches cruised by at a decent pace and this show never felt to me like a slog, a la SummerSlam 2016.  There wasn't anything truly great on the show, but there were several very good matches, most of which occurred in the second half.  In that way this was like the anti-WrestleMania; the previous two 'Manias started out strong and become a major drag by the final hour.

Of note, the crowd for NXT TakeOver the night before was electric from start to finish.  The SummerSlam crowd was mostly pretty dead except during a few select matches.  I've asked this before, but isn't Vince bothered by this phenomenon?  You'd think he'd figure out a way to make the main roster crowds' enthusiasm match that of the NXT audience.

Things kicked off in very strange fashion, with the John Cena-Baron Corbin match.  I'm not sure who thought this would make for a hot opener, but it wasn't; Corbin's nondescript offense and Cena's seeming lack of motivation of late failed to jumpstart the Brooklyn crowd.  There was a nice callback near the end of the match, where Cena tossed Corbin to the buckles, Corbin slid out of the ring, and immediately slid back in.  Earlier in the bout this spot resulted in Corbin leveling Cena with a clothesline, but Cena turned the tables the second time, hitting a clothesline of his own, followed by the AA for the win.  Not much of a match, but I got some enjoyment out of it because my son watched it with me and he's a big Cena fan.

Next up was a much stronger match, pitting Smackdown Womens' Champ Naomi vs. Natalya.  These two strung together some nice, innovative offense, the wrestling was fairly crisp, and Nattie finally got a well-deserved Title win with the Sharpshooter.  Perfectly serviceable undercard match with the right winner.

The worst match of the night was third, as Big Cass and Big Show sleepwalked through a fairly excruciating ten minutes.  I'm not sure why this needed to be on the main card while the Smackdown Tag Title match wasn't, nor were The Miz or The Hardyz, and Sami Zayn and Dolph Ziggler were absent from this show completely.  The only memorable bit was Enzo squeezing out of the shark cage, which immediately led to him getting murdered by Cass.  Pointless, particularly since less than a year later both Enzo and Cass were gone.

Speaking of pointless, Randy Orton beat Rusev with an RKO in ten seconds.  Poor Rusev.  Not that I was excited about this match anyway, but Jeezus this was a waste.

Things picked up again with the RAW Women's Title match, as Alexa Bliss and Sasha Banks delivered a well-worked 13-minute bout on par with Naomi-Nattie.  This wasn't on the level of Sasha and Charlotte's matches, and certainly nowhere near as good as the show stealing Asuka-Ember Moon match from the night before, but Alexa played the douchebag heel to perfection and these two had undeniable chemistry.  Sasha won the belt for the fourth time via Bank Statement tapout.


So the first five matches definitely felt like an undercard, in the same way that New Japan structures their PPVs.  The last five matches felt like the real meat of the show.

Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt was a solid outing, with Balor no-selling Wyatt's theatrics.  The action was just pretty good, but it was interesting to see Balor throw everything back in Wyatt's face, so to speak.  Balor was one step ahead most of the bout and finished it with the Coup de Grace for the decisive win.  This unexpectedly ended the feud, as the blowoff match scheduled for No Mercy that fall was derailed by a Wyatt stomach bug.

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2016)

The 2016 edition was like a demonstration of everything that was good and bad about the WWE product.  The highs shined, the lows sucked....


SummerSlam '16 - Barclays Center - 8.21.16

What an exhausting show this was.  It went four-plus hours and by the second half both the live crowd and I were drained, to the point that when the second-to-last match for the US Title was a non-starter I was actually kinda relieved.

This lineup was the most stacked in many years, with no fewer than four potential Match of the Year candidates (on paper anyway), plus a good amount of variety in the undercard.  Had the execution been stronger we'd likely be including SummerSlam 2016 in the "Greatest SummerSlam Ever" conversation.  But a few things kept it from reaching that level.  First though, let's talk about what did work.

I would've liked to see Cesaro vs. Sheamus actually open the PPV, since these two always work well together and this was no exception.  It wasn't anything amazing but in the first slot this would've fit perfectly.  Sheamus won the first match of the Best of 7 series.

The actual opening match, JeriKO vs. Enzo & Cass, was just fine but it was very strange to see Kevin Owens, seemingly on the verge of breakout status at that point, relegated to an opening tag match (Though nowhere near as infuriating as Sami Zayn's position in a preshow tag match). This of course led to one of the best ongoing angles of that time period, the bromance between Owens and Jericho.  As for the match, it was okay.

Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte was the first of probably three instances where I said aloud, "This match is happening already??"  Putting this match so early on the card seemed to undermine the importance of the Women's Title and the company's new outlook on the division.  That said, this was a fine contest that suffered from a few sloppy moments and an over-reliance on big risks.  These two would go on to trade the Title back and forth throughout the fall (including a headlining Hell in a Cell match), before Charlotte finally won the feud.  Anyway, this was a splendid match all things considered, though this feud really peaked with their first meeting on RAW at the end of July.

One of several moments in this match where I feared for Sasha's life

Thursday, August 27, 2020

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2015)

Here's a show I wasn't excited for that turned out to be pretty great....


SummerSlam '15 - Barclays Center - 8/23/15

Sometimes it pays to have low expectations.  Case in point the 2015 SummerSlam extravaganza.  I went into this show with the mindset of "I'll be content as long as I don't feel like my night was wasted," and what I got was a consistently very entertaining wrestling show with a ton of variety where every match felt like it got enough time, and a few actually stood out.

The much-dreaded-by-me Brock Lesnar-Undertaker main event was easily the best match delivered by these two since their No Mercy 2002 Hell in a Cell.  It was streamlined, hard-hitting, full of nice little nuances (the double situp for example), and while the ending left me baffled at first, once the replay explained everything I actually kinda liked it.  Granted we've been conditioned that the timekeeper never rings the bell until the official calls for it, but in all these years you'd think human error would get in the way at least once.  Well, this was that one occurrence.  Taker tapped out and the timekeeper jumped the gun.  It was a realistic screwup and it protected Lesnar as an unstoppable monster while reframing the feud with Taker playing more of a heel.  I liked this match a lot, and the lasting image for me was of the defiant Lesnar flipping Taker off just before passing out to Hell's Gate.

Ok this was pretty boss.

The Match of the Night however was Seth Rollins vs. John Cena.  Both guys were motivated to overshadow every other match despite being placed only 7th of 10 bouts, and aside from a couple miscues, this was a helluva contest.  Rollins essentially worked babyface, pulling out every crazy, crowd-pleasing move he could muster.  My fellow New Japan fans surely noticed Rollins borrowing from Hiroshi Tanahashi's moveset (High Fly Flow, Slingblade), and even Kota Ibushi's (standing shooting star press).  The finish, where Jon Stewart stormed the ring and whacked Cena with a chair to cost him the match, was met with a lot of scorn, but WWE covered it brilliantly the next night by having Stewart say he couldn't bear to see Ric Flair's 16-time record tied.  Simple, logical, and made for a nice little moment where Cena gave Stewart the AA.

This was even more boss.

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2014)

Considering how upset I was not to see Bryan vs. Brock on this show, it turned out pretty damn good...


SummerSlam '14 - Staples Center - 8/17/14

The 2014 SummerSlam was a rock-solid show with a pretty stacked lineup and no bad matches.  It almost resembled the 2012 edition but was infinitely better-executed and boasted one of the most unusual and memorable main events in a long time, while also spotlighting several strong midcard feuds.

The opening match was yet another I-C Title meeting between The Miz and Dolph Ziggler.  While their feud was never treated with much importance, these two always had decent chemistry in the ring, and this was an enjoyable 8-minute kickoff.  The Title itself was long-dead, thanks in part to becoming such a hot potato, but no complaints about the match.

Next up was the second PPV bout between AJ Lee and Paige.  As with the I-C Title, the Divas Championship had been bouncing back and forth between these two.  Paige won here in just under five minutes, which sadly wasn't enough time to have the barn burner AJ and Paige were capable of.

Rising heel Rusev was third, in a Flag Match with recently-turned "Real American" Jack Swagger.  Swagger provided a somewhat credible midcard challenge for the undefeated Bulgarian, but the nature of Swagger's (and especially manager Zeb Coulter's) in-ring persona kinda prevented him from fully connecting with the audience.  Had this not been a USA vs. Russia feud, there wouldn't have been much heat.  But this match was fine.  Nothing amazing, but a good power vs. power matchup.

Things picked up big in the fourth slot as Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins finally had their much-anticipated first match.  The previous month at Battleground, Ambrose had been thrown out of the building for attacking Rollins backstage, and Rollins won their scheduled match by forfeit.  The extra month of buildup made this feud red-hot, and Ambrose's loose cannon persona coupled with the host of Lumberjacks outside the ring made this a wildly entertaining brawl.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2013)

Goddamn, this show was awesome.  Maybe the best main roster PPV of this decade.  Certainly in the running anyway....


SummerSlam '13 - Staples Center - 8/18/13

After a slew of disappointing and lackluster PPVs in 2013, WWE finally brought the goods that August, presenting an absolutely killer Summerslam card.  The show was built around two incredibly intriguing main events and fan enthusiasm was riding high on the wave of Daniel Bryan's YES movement.  Much like the 2011 edition, this show is fantastic, but you should turn it off before the final minute.

The show opened with a real dud - Bray Wyatt's in-ring debut in an Inferno Match against Kane.  The Inferno Match first appeared in 1998 as Kane introduced the gimmick during his feud with The Undertaker.  That match was novel and somewhat entertaining, but this match was not.  It was too short to amount to anything and not much happened.  Fortunately this would be the only bad match on the card.

The former Rhodes Scholars faced off next, as estranged allies Cody Rhodes and Damen Sandow had a nice little six-minute bout.  It was well-worked and fast-paced, and while it could've been a bit longer, got the job done.

Highlight #1 of the night was up next as Alberto Del Rio defended the World Title against Christian in a superb 12-minute match.  The action here was crisp and agile, and these two worked great together.

Natalya then faced Brie Bella in something of a throwaway bout, but this was fine for what it was.  Nothing offensive here.

Highlight #2 was fifth, and boy was it a doozy.  Brock Lesnar faced CM Punk for the first and only time ever, in a brutal, intense, smartly-booked No-DQ match.  The month before at Money in the Bank, Paul Heyman betrayed Punk, costing him the briefcase, and Punk vowed revenge.  Heyman then brought back his number-one client Lesnar to take Punk out.  This match told a fantastic story of the giant bruiser pummeling his smaller, scrappy opponent who refused to back down.  Punk managed to outsmart and outmaneuver Lesnar throughout much the match which made for a believable back-and-forth contest.  Finally after several interference attempts by Heyman, Punk's focus shifted, allowing Lesnar to take advantage and score the win.  This was near-perfect for the gimmick.  My only complaint is that Punk fell for Heyman's interference too many times.  At a certain point he should've been smart enough to keep his eyes on Lesnar.  But otherwise, great, great match.

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.


KA-BOOM!!

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.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2011)

Now this here was a goddamn SummerSlam, my friends.....


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.

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2010)

WWE catches lightning in a bottle, and then throws it away....


SummerSlam '10 - Staples Center - 8/15/10

This here is what you call a one-match card.  The summer of 2010 belonged to the WWE-Nexus feud, and it culminated in a huge elimination tag match at SummerSlam (this probably should've happened at Survivor Series, but whatever).  The match was so big there was little room left on the card for an undercard.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston opened the show, and these two worked well as always.  Unfortunately the Nexus interfered seven minutes in and the match was thrown out.  So pretty pointless.

Melina vs. Alicia Fox had the obligatory forgettable Divas Title match.  The Divas division was still full of interchangeable model types who swapped the belt back and forth like a tube of sunblock.

CM Punk went from new headliner in 2009 to fodder for The Big Show in 2010.  Show beat Punk's entire Straight Edge Society (a fantastic gimmick that never got the respect it deserved) in a 3-on-1 handicap match.  Always a great idea to have three people lose to one.  Does wonders for the three.

A forgettable WWE Title match was next as Randy Orton challenged Sheamus.  These two had worked together before and they would again.  Only one of their matches really clicked for me and this wasn't it (Hell in a Cell 2010 - check it out).  This was the second Championship match on the card to end with a DQ of some kind, which further made the undercard feel phoned in.

Look how spiky Sheamus's hair was.  Kinda looks like Sonic.

Monday, August 24, 2020

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2009)

We're back with another installment of Enuffa.com's SummerSlam history - finally they rediscovered strong SummerSlam lineups....

SummerSlam '09 - Staples Center - 8/23/09

Finally, FINALLY in late 2009 the WWE was starting to reinvigorate the product with some new faces in prominent spots on the card.  After years of the same five or six guys headlining every show, a few young lions were beginning to break through and the results were pretty exciting.  Also, in contrast with earlier SummerSlams, this show wasn't missing many active stars and nothing felt like it got shortchanged (with one obvious exception).

To open the show we got a blistering speed vs. flash match for the I-C Title between Rey Mysterio and Dolph Ziggler.  Dolph had been around for most of the previous year but it was around this time that his in-ring skills were starting to click.  Working with Rey doesn't hurt of course, but I became a Ziggles fan during the second half of 2009, in no small part due to his work here.  A helluva nice way to kick off the show.

Ka-POW!!!

A nondescript Jack Swagger vs. MVP match was next.  Both of these guys showed some solid potential but the company didn't really move on either of them, and this was your garden-variety free TV match.

Tag Team Champions JeriShow defended against Cryme Tyme in a surprisingly good bout.  JeriShow were able to restore a bit of prestige to the long-useless Tag straps, and this was just one of their successful defenses.

In one of two baffling inclusions on this card, we saw a rematch from WrestleMania 23 as Kane once again took on The Great Khali.  This match sucked just as much as the first time, and oddly no one cared about it.

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2008)

Well, the first half of this show was garbage filler, but it picked up huge in the second half....


SummerSlam '08 - Conseco Fieldhouse - 8/17/08

As with the 2008 edition of WrestleMania, I went into this show not excited at all.  The two World Titles had lost so much value from being deemphasized it was absurd.  Just take a look at the lineup for this card.  Seven matches total.  Matches 6 and 7, the co-main events, had no championships on the line.  The two Title matches are 4th and 5th on the card.  What. The hell.  Also despite CM Punk cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase and winning the World Title, he was booked as a fluke Champion, unable to beat anyone decisively in free TV matches and paired on this show with the less-than-relevant JBL.  Then again he got a great gig on this show compared to his counterpart Triple H.  The WWE Champion was booked against the world's largest deadweight, The Great Khali.  I guess no one learned anything from SummerSlam 2007?  Still the 2008 'Slam ended up being a pretty good show, mostly due to a pair of excellent main events.

It should be noted there was also a well-done RAW angle on this PPV, as Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels reignited their amazing blood feud.  I'm not sure why this had to happen on a PPV, especially one where WWE struggled to find worthy challengers for the top two belts, but whatever.

The opening match was forgettable but not bad, as Jeff Hardy took on MVP. Hardy had an up-and-down 2008, finally getting main event-level pushes but also getting caught with controlled substances and getting suspended.

Second was a match reminiscent of the Val Venis/Trish Stratus vs. Eddie Guerrero/Chyna match from SummerSlam 2000, as Santino Marella/Beth Phoenix took on Kofi Kingston/Mickie James, where the winning team would walk out the Intercontinental and Women's Champions, respectively.  This wasn't good but it was inoffensive.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

WWE SummerSlam 2020 Preview & Predictions

Welcome to another round of WWE Predictions, here at Enuffa.com!


This Sunday is SummerSlam, apparently.  The third biggest show of the year.  And this is the lineup?  Okie dokie then.  Once again loads of top-notch stars are absent from the card.  Second SummerSlam in a row with no Daniel Bryan, by the way.  Super.  Also no AJ, no Owens, no Cesaro/Nakamura, no Shayna.  I know I need to quit trying to assign logic to WWE but I can't help it.  Anyway, this will be the first PPV under the ThunderDome format, where fans are virtually in attendance on LCD screens.  Yeah, that'll fix everything.  When is this company going to figure out that gimmicks and cosmetic changes aren't what will make the product good again?  Christ...

Let's pick some winners.




RAW Tag Team Championship: The Street Profits vs. Andrade and Angel Garza


This should be a solid match with a lot of athleticism, thus the opening slot would be a good fit for it.  Not much more to say about it than that really.  In a better company a match like this could steal the show, but it won't get enough time to do that.

Pick: Street Profits retain




US Championship: Apollo Crews vs. MVP


Here's a question, why the FUCK is MVP contending for a championship on a PPV in 2020?  Bruce Pritchard sucks as a lead creative guy in this day and age.  Stop pushing guys from your last stint with the company and create *new* stars.  Hasn't Crews already beaten MVP a bunch of times already? 

Pick: Crews retains.  Unless stupider heads prevail.



Friday, August 21, 2020

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2007)

I hate this show.  Hate it.  So I hope you're ready for some anger in this review.  Fuckin' hell, let's get started....


SummerSlam '07 - Continental Airlines Arena - 8/26/07

I take it back.  Every horrible thing I said about SummerSlam '06?  Forget it all.  That show was a paragon of wrestling awesomeness compared to this phoned-in fiasco.  Holy lord, I can't believe this show made the air.  Legit, looking back on the match lineup and how brutally half-assed everything was, this looks like a WCW PPV circa 2000.  I'm pretty sure WWE was daring people NOT to buy this show.

Kane vs. Finlay?  Crap.

Umaga vs. Carlito vs. Mr. Kennedy?  Three-way Intercontinental crap.

Rey Mysterio vs. Chavo Guerrero?  Saw it the previous year and it wasn't that great then.  Chavo was heatless and basically just jobbing to the stars in 2007.  Two years later he'd be jobbing to Hornswaggle.

Divas Battle Royal?  Nice-looking crap.

John Morrison vs. CM Punk - Okay match but it only went seven minutes and the company had no plans for Punk at all until Morrison got nailed for steroids two weeks later, and they finally put the ECW Title on Punk.  But this match wasn't a tenth as good as that one.

Jeezus, JoMo is pretty.  I mean I'm not gay, but he's BEAUTIFUL.

Triple H vs. King Booker - Watch WrestleMania XIX to see what these two were capable of.  Watch this match to see Triple H bury the shit out of a top-flight semi-main eventer.  Seriously, this is basically an eight-minute squash.

The Great Khali vs. Batista - Get the fuck outta here.  Khali was actually the World Champion at one point??  Khali can barely walk upright.  What dipshit put the company's number-two championship on him?  In case you were wondering, unwatchable crap.

John Cena vs. Randy Orton - Finally, one good match on this putrid card.  John Cena was Mr. SummerSlam three years running, two of them as one half of the only good match.  This was fine, but I had zero emotional stake in it.  In 2007 I was really only watching WWE programming to see CM Punk (who got no push at all), and the occasional Shawn Michaels classic.  At the time the company was frantically trying to convince everyone that Cena and Orton were two of the greatest of all time, so they completely oversold this match.  It's a good main event, but not at all a standout, except on this absolute dud of a PPV.

This one stupid move was better than the entire rest of the card.

2007 was another pretty awful year for WWE, when I was paying much more attention to TNA and especially Ring of Honor to get my wrestling fix (ROH circa 2007 was AMAZEBALLS).  WWE was doing whatever they wanted, regardless if it worked or if it was what the fans wanted to see.  They were attempting to create new stars, but pushing the wrong ones, and they were still stuck on the Attitude template.  By year's end they had finally started to refocus and were at least putting on good solid PPV events.  But SummerSlam '07 is one of the worst shows I've ever seen and is probably the worst SummerSlam in the event's history.

Best Match: John Cena vs. Randy Orton - Cena was in the best match of the night three years running.
Worst Match: Great Khali vs. Batista - Big Dave stunk up the joint two 'Slams in a row.  This one wasn't really his fault though.  Shawn Michaels couldn't make Khali look good.
What I'd Change: Ya know what, if this is your SummerSlam card, cancel the whole show.  Just toss it all out.  Christ!
Most Disappointing Match: John Morrison vs. CM Punk - These two got to show what they were capable of two weeks later on free TV, but on this show they got a scant seven minutes.
Most Pleasant Surprise: That the universe didn't collapse on itself under the gravity of this black hole of anti-entertainment.
Overall Rating: 1.5/10
Better than WrestleMania 23?: Ask me that again.  I double-dog dare ya, motherfucker.  Ask me one more goddamn time!

2006

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Thursday, August 20, 2020

NXT TakeOver XXX Preview & Predictions

Welcome to another round of NXT Predictions here at Enuffa.com!


It's the thirtieth NXT TakeOver this weekend, and WWE's one good brand is hoping to once again upstage the train wreck that is the main roster.  Which gets easier by the year.  NXT is currently led by breakout star Keith Lee, who ended Adam Cole's historic 13-month reign to temporarily unify the two men's singles belts (He quickly vacated the North American Title to focus on the big belt).  We'll see a new North American Champion crowned, plus an Io Shirai Women's Title defense.  Should be another strong showing, so let's take a look...




North American Championship Ladder Match: Bronson Reed vs. Damian Priest vs. Cameron Grimes vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Velveteen Dream


NXT ladder schmozzes are always entertaining and this should be no different.  Gargano and Dream are former North American champs so I can't see either of them winning it back here.  Now would be a good time to elevate one of the other three.  I guess I'll go with Priest.

Pick: Damian Priest




Adam Cole vs. Pat McAfee


The hell is this about?  Adam Cole is feuding with an ex-football player turned wrestling analyst?  Ok then.  I'm sure this will be fine, it's Adam Cole after all.  I fear WWE will once again sacrifice a full-time wrestler to a quasi-celebrity.  If it were a main roster show that would almost certainly be the case.  Hopefully not here.

Pick: Cole

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!

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.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2004)

A step up from 2003 overall, but this edition was still not the on-paper classic it looked like....


SummerSlam '04 - Air Canada Centre - 8/15/04

This SummerSlam was a bit underwhelming for me.  I had extremely high expectations for an overall great card with multiple classics, and other than two predictably great matches there wasn't much else going on.  It seemed like there were some time management issues given how short some of the bouts were, but I can't figure out where all that time went.

The opening six-man between the three Dudleys and Rey Mysterio, Paul London & Billy Kidman was a fine way to kick off the show.  Very quick and exciting, and showcased some nice Cruiserweight action, plus Bubba and Devon.

Second was the payoff to one half of one of the stupidest ongoing angles I can remember: Kane had been stalking Lita, trying to hook up with her.  Lita was dating Matt Hardy at the time, who ran to her rescue.  Kane challenged Matt to a match, where if Kane won, Lita would be forced to marry him.  First, in what universe would any woman agree to marry a guy she hated, if her boyfriend couldn't beat up said creep?  Why wouldn't Lita have just gotten Kane arrested for stalking her and repeatedly assaulting her boyfriend?  Second, in what universe would a marriage under duress be legally binding?

Kane beat the bejeezus out of Matt to win the match, and Lita ended up having to marry him.  Then Kane impregnated her, about which she was horrified, until Gene Snitsky showed up one day and bashed Kane with a chair, causing him to land on top of Lita, causing a miscarriage, about which Lita was devastated.  So she was upset that the demon spawn her evil stalker husband gave her would never be born.  And then Kane became the babyface in a new feud with Snitsky, only to later feud with Edge, for whom Lita dumped Kane, turning heel in the process.  Unbelievable.  Sorry for the tangent.  This Kane-Hardy match stunk.

Next up was John Cena vs. Booker T in a Best-of-Five series for the vacant US Title, and the company inexplicably put Match #1 on the SummerSlam card.  I was looking forward to this, but being the first match in the series it only went 6 minutes and amounted to very little.

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2003)

In 2003 the company snatched a stalemate from the jaws of certain victory, with a half-good SummerSlam....

ASummerSlam '03 - America West Arena - 8/24/03

The 2003 edition of the summer extravaganza is probably the most infuriating, in that it was so very close to a great PPV and somehow managed to fall spectacularly short.  With only a few adjustments this show could've been awesome.  Instead it was just a pretty good show that had the stupidest ending since WrestleMania IX.

The show opened with a throwaway World Tag Title match - La Resistance (more or less a carbon copy of the Rougeau Brothers from the 80s) vs. The Dudley Boyz.  This was, I believe, the 387th time these two teams had faced each other in televised matches, but that didn't stop WWE from throwing this match on the show.  Nevermind that the previous month's Smackdown-only PPV had an amazing WWE Tag Title match of Haas & Benjamin vs. Mysterio & Kidman, and literally everyone who bought this show probably would've rather seen that again.  But whatevs.

Next up was Undertaker vs. A-Train (yup, they repackaged the big fat hairy bald dude Albert as the big fat hairy bald dude A-Train).  This was during the year or so where Vince was convin....um, CERTAIN that Albert was gonna be a huge main event heel.  He had thrown Edge at him, and when Albert didn't get over they kinda blamed Edge.  Then they started a months-long feud between Taker and Big Show/Albert.  That didn't work either.  A couple months after this show they even stuck Albert in there with Chris Benoit, hoping the latter's impeccable workrate would get Mr. Train over.  By the beginning of 2004 they finally realized Albert was destined to be a midcarder (Until 2012 when they put a bunch of fake Japanese tattoos on his face and called him Lord Tensai, with the intent of feuding him with John Cena).  Anyway, this match is about what you'd expect.  Slow, plodding, and inconsequential.

Third was one of a slew of 2003 PPV matches featuring non-wrestlers (holy jumpin' Christ there were a lot of these), as RAW GM Eric Bischoff faced WWE heir-apparent Shane McMahon.  This whole feud was built around Bischoff coming on to Shane's mom, and Shane vowing revenge.  The angle was super creepy and at the same time defied anyone with more than 150 brain cells to care in the slightest.  The match was a total waste of ten-and-a-half minutes of my life (by comparison the Cruiserweight Title match that got bumped to the pre-show got roughly one-fifth of this running time), and is one of many examples from 2003 of just how delusional the McMahon family was about their own drawing power.  Lotta that still going on......

Not a good first hour for SummerSlam '03.

These two couldn't have a sucky match if they tried.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2002)

Greatest SummerSlam of all time, comin' atcha.....


SummerSlam '02 - Nassau Coliseum - 8/25/02

One of the best WWE events I've ever seen.  This show ranks up there with 'Mania 17 and 19.  Eight matches, not one of them bad, and a few of them in the four-star range.  Literally the only thing missing from SummerSlam 2002 was a five-star classic.  This show took place during the red-hot RAW vs. Smackdown feud, where GMs Eric Bischoff and Stephanie McMahon were constantly trying to one-up each other each week.  Behind the scenes Paul Heyman was writing Smackdown and just knocking it out of the park every week (this was the beginning of the orgasmically good Smackdown Six era).  SummerSlam '02 is a perfect illustration of how much better the blue brand was at this point.

The show opened in impossibly spectacular fashion with Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio.  This was nine minutes of awesome.  Mysterio was still healthy at this point, and could do absolutely astounding things in the ring.  Paired with a general like Kurt Angle, there was no way this match couldn't be incredible.  My only complaint is that this match wasn't twice as long.

This match was nine minutes of fuckin' great.

Chris Jericho was enjoying one of the worst, most depressing examples of misuse in wrestling history.  He had just been traded to RAW, where there was almost no one really great to work with.  Had he stayed on Smackdown he could've been part of the Smackdown Six (or Seven I guess).  Sadly Jericho went from headlining WrestleMania to floundering in the RAW midcard for the next three yearssince there wasn't an available top heel spot for him there.  He had a brief and unremarkable feud with Ric Flair and bafflingly lost clean to the 53-year-old in this match.  It's a pretty good match, it's just that Jericho deserved so much better.

Smackdown was well-represented by the third match: Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero.  This feud produced a trilogy of absolute classics, the first of which took place here.  Excellent 11-plus-minute bout that showcased both guys as future main eventers.  After you watch this match, go and find their no-holds-barred rematch from Smackdown which took place about a month later.  You will not be disappointed.

Next up was the Tag Title match between Lance Storm & Christian, and Booker T & Goldust.  Booker and Goldust had been paired as an unlikely babyface duo, and managed to get hugely over.  This match is no classic but it's not too shabby either.

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Empire Records

Welcome to another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies here at Enuffa.com, where I take a closer look at either a flawed old favorite, a lofty disappointment, or a cult flop.  Today's subject is the latter.  It's the 1995 box office bomb Empire Records, a film that was little more than a thin excuse to sell a soundtrack album, but with a surprisingly accomplished cast and a heart that's actually in the right place.


Empire Records is yet another 90s slacker comedy that takes place in one day, centered around a group of teens working in a music store.  The assistant manager learns at the outset that the store's owner is getting ready to sell this Delaware fixture to a retail chain, and takes drastic measures to try and prevent this tragedy.  The rest of the story sort of hinges on this moment, but each character has his or her own personal arc, and for a critical and commercial bomb the screenwriters juggled all these threads somewhat admirably.  But yeah, this movie absolutely TANKED at the box office and didn't gain any real recognition until its home video release, where it became a cult favorite.

Side note, Regency Enterprises executive Michael Nathanson greenlit this film, and was approached two days later with the script for a little movie called Clueless, which he promptly turned down because he was already making a teen movie.  Clueless of course went on to make a huge profit for Paramount.  Goddamn, that's gotta sting.

So let's settle into this record store groove and separate the hit songs from the stinkers....



The Awesome


Cast/Characters

For a teen comedy that flopped with both audiences and critics, this movie has a helluva lot of acting talent and future-star power.  Two-time Oscar winner Renee Zellweger, Liv Tyler, Anthony LaPaglia, Debi Mazar, Robin Tunney, Maxwell Caulfield, and a few future character actors in Ethan Randall, Rory Cochrane, Johnny Whitworth and Brendan Sexton.  That's a pretty deep cast, and their respective characters are one of the film's charms.  Pretty much every character is likable/relatable in some way.  Joe is the reluctant father-figure who'd do anything for his staff, Corey is the anxious overachiever, Gina is the loose girl with a heart of gold, AJ is the likable art student who's heartsick for Corey, Lucas is the lovable scamp who wants to save the store from becoming a stuffy corporate retailer.  This cast and their performances elevate the trite script above its station.

I like this group of crazy kids....




Capturing the 90s

90s nostalgia is big these days, and Empire Records has a ton of it.  Thus for us sad old adults, watching it now is like being transported back to those carefree college days of short skirts, Doc Martens, mom jeans, flannel shirts, front-curtained men's hairstyles (think 90s Johnny Depp), and post-grunge alternative.  Which brings us to the soundtrack, really the driving force of the film.  Empire Records was reviewed at the time as "a soundtrack in search of a movie," and I can't really argue much.  This movie feels like it was made just to sell records, thus the CD is loaded with transitory 90s artists like Gin Blossoms, Edwyn Collins, The Cranberries, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and Better Than Ezra, while the film also includes Sponge, Dishwalla, Ass Ponys, etc.  Empire Records is exploding with 90s pop culture and it's hard now not to get swept up in all of it, particularly as someone who lived through that era.

Short-ass skirt? Check. Bare midruff? Check. Sad clown hair? Check.


The History of WWE SummerSlam (2001)

In the midst of the worst-botched wrestling angle of all time came an incredible SummerSlam....


SummerSlam '01 - Compaq Center - 8/19/01

This show was awesome.  SummerSlam 2001 took place at the height of the Invasion angle which, while remembered by history as an abysmal failure on a massive scale, did produce a few good PPVs, most significantly this one.

From top to bottom nearly every match on the card was good to great, a few of them were first-time dream matches, and there was a big-time feel to the whole proceeding.

The show opened in style with an I-C Title match between WCW's Lance Storm and the WWF's newest King of the Ring, Edge.  This was short and to the point, but featured fast-paced back-and-forth action.  Great way to kick off the show.

Next up was a fun little six-man tag: The Dudleys and Test vs. The APA and Spike.  Nothing spectacular here, but it was a nice addition and brought some variety to the show.

In the third slot was an excellent Cruiserweight Title Unification match between X-Pac and Tajiri.  This match existed outside the Invasion angle as neither man was part of the Alliance.  Nevertheless it was a blistering small-man contest and marked the end of the WWF Light Heavyweight Title, which was absorbed into the Cruiserweight belt (I mean that literally; the Cruiserweight belt swallowed the other one like an amoeba).

Chris Jericho and Rhyno were up next and had a match nearly worthy of a semi-main slot.  Jericho had some trouble with the overly loose ropes, but managed to hold his own in this very solid undercard bout.

Bout 6 was a rematch to the amazing RVD-Jeff Hardy spotfest from Invasion.  To up the ante, this was made a Hardcore Title Ladder Match.  While it wasn't quite up to the high standard set by the first encounter, this was a fine, brutal Ladder Match and helped cement RVD as the hottest star in the company.

This led to a terribly botched spot that could've been awesome.
But at least no one got hurt.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Parents' Night In #43: Dick Tracy (1990), an Underrated Masterpiece

Justin and Kelly are back to talk about an old-school comic book movie that didn't get enough love, Dick Tracy!  Starring and directed by Warren Beatty, with Madonna, Al Pacino, Glenne Headly, Dick Van Dyke, William Forsythe, and a host of other supporting actors, Dick Tracy was a precursor to modern comic book films like Sin City and 300, using exaggerated makeup effects, colors and sets to create an immersive, living comic strip.  Deemed a box office disappointment at the time, Dick Tracy has nonetheless aged better than its contemporaries in our opinion and remains a visual feast to this day.  We'll talk about the film itself, Madonna as a pop icon, Warren Beatty's prodigious love life, Al Pacino's 90s overacting, and we'll take a deep dive into the expression "You don't know your ass from your elbow."  Join in on the fun!



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Excerpt of "Sooner or Later" from Madonna's album I'm Breathless.

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The History of WWE SummerSlam (2000)

In a year when the WWF was firing on all cylinders, this overcrowded show has to be considered a disappointment.  Still it had its high points....


SummerSlam 2000 - Raleigh Entertainment & Sports Arena - 8/27/00

Here's a bloated PPV lineup.  As with that year's WrestleMania, the company decided to put entirely too many matches on the SummerSlam card.  Unlike 'Mania, they only had the standard three hours to squeeze in ten matches.  As a result the show was very diluted, despite about half of it being quite good.  But even some of the good matches weren't really given enough time to breathe.

For the second consecutive year the main event was a Triple Threat for the WWF Title, this time between The Rock, Triple H, and Kurt Angle.  This was a pretty damn good 3-way match, and was probably the first time the Triple Threat became worthy of headlining a PPV.  Where just about every previous incarnation of this gimmick was either slow, sloppy, overly chaotic, or all three, this match had a much clearer flow to it.  It was a blessing in disguise that Kurt Angle was legitimately knocked out of the match for much of the running time due to a botched table spot, as it left Triple H and The Rock to settle the match down for a while.  When Angle returned late in the match it created a nice dynamic shift.

Just before the table pulled an ad lib and smashed Angle's face.....

The show featured a pair of awesome undercard matches.  The first was a 2-out-of-3 Falls match between the two Chrises - Jericho and Benoit.  These two had spent much of 2000 feuding over the I-C Title and had both been elevated to semi-main event players.  This match was the third in an excellent trilogy of PPV bouts.  While not up to the standard of their Backlash match (which IMO was one of the best matches of 2000), this was a pretty great undercard match.  It was only given about 16 minutes, which given the stipulations is pretty skimpy.  Had this been an 8-match card they could've had probably another ten minutes to make this match epic.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

The History of WWE SummerSlam (1999)

Vince Russo's final PPV with the company was kind of a mess but still managed to be a very fun show....

SummerSlam '99 - Target Center - 8/22/99

SummerSlam 1999 is one of those PPVs where you know you've basically been fed a platter of garbage, but you kinda couldn't help enjoying it.  This show was essentially the climax of the Vince Russo era as he left for WCW a month later, and the booking leading up to this show was sloppy and nonsensical.  At this point Titles were changing hands on an almost weekly basis so their value took a nosedive and it was sometimes even hard to remember who was a Champion.  The Steve Austin phenomenon had become a bit stagnant and it seemed clear it was time for a new star to break out while Austin took a little break.

That new star was Triple H.  Repackaged as a ruthless, cunning superheel, Hunter made a bold move to go against the grain and not rely on catchphrases or flash.  Rather, he went old-school and just became a big sadistic bully who liked to dissect opponents.

It seemed clear Hunter would be the one to dethrone Austin at SummerSlam, but then the booking took several confusing turns, starting with Chyna winning a #1 Contender's Match on RAW.  Then the following week Hunter got his Title shot back.  Then the following week Mankind was added to make it a Triple Threat (from what I've read this was due to Austin not wanting to drop the Title to Hunter, but I don't know for sure).  Anyway, that's how it ended up, and in a stunning publicity stunt, Jesse Ventura would return to the WWF as the guest referee.

The match itself was your typical 1999-era WWF brawl.  Wild action, little real wrestling, some shenanigans between Ventura and Shane McMahon (it was fun to see Ventura back in a WWF ring).  The match was ok but not great.  Mankind won the Title and then lost it to Triple H the next night, begging the question "Why not just have Hunter beat Austin," which lends credence to the above rumor.  Triple H attacked Austin after the match as a way to write him off the show for a couple months.

WHACK!


Saturday, August 15, 2020

The History of WWE SummerSlam (1998)

The Attitude Era was in full-swing, and in August 1998 the WWF presented a huge event....


SummerSlam '98 - Madison Square Garden - 8/30/98

The 1998 edition felt like a monumental event.  At a time where the company was still rebuilding from the roster holes left by Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart and others, they made the most of things and began manufacturing new exciting characters like crazy.  Led by Steve Austin and the "Attitude" formula, the WWF was riding the biggest wave of momentum in a decade.

SummerSlam was headlined by a huge face vs. face match for the WWF Title - Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker.  This would be Austin's biggest Title defense to date, and the result was a helluva good brawl.  An accidental head collision early in the match knocked Austin loopy for a minute but he gutted it out and managed to deliver a main event-worthy bout that included an insane legdrop-through-table spot by Taker.

Right.  In.  The Dick.

The semi-main spot featured an Intercontinental Ladder Match between the company's two biggest rising stars, The Rock and Triple H.  These two would feud on and off for the next two years, but this is the match that really catapulted both to the next level.  While not a gasp-inducing spotfest like the two HBK-Razor matches, this one featured gritty, hard-hitting action, some outside interference, and a nuclear crowd who cheered for the heel Rock just as much as for the babyface Triple H.  In fact this match led to a brief face turn for Rocky, before he swerved everyone and joined Mr. McMahon's Corporation.

The third-most hyped match was for the Tag belts, as the New Age Outlaws attempted to regain the Titles from Kane & Mankind.  Unfortunately this didn't end up being much of a match due to the storyline falling out of the two heels.  Kane no-showed the match, leaving Mankind in a handicap situation.  The Outlaws made rather short work of him, especially after Kane showed up and bashed Mankind with a sledgehammer.

The History of WWE SummerSlam (1997)

In the late 90s SummerSlam returned to a Big Four feel, starting with the 1997 edition....


SummerSlam '97 - Meadowlands Arena - 8/3/97

Now this is a fuckin' SummerSlam, part 2.  SummerSlam '97 was the climax of the awesome USA vs. Canada feud that resulted in a slew of singles matches involving the Hart Foundation vs. their American opponents.  The stakes of each match was very high, particularly the World Title match, where if Bret Hart failed to beat The Undertaker, he would never again be able to wrestle in the US.  Special referee and Bret's mortal enemy Shawn Michaels was also subject to a stipulation, whereby if he showed any favoritism toward Taker, HE would never be able to wrestle in the US. 

The match itself was a methodical but drama-filled epic, with the Bret-Shawn dynamic adding another layer to the tension.  Taker almost seemed like a third wheel as the power struggle between the other two took center stage.  After 25 minutes of action, Bret and Shawn got into an argument, where Bret provoked Shawn into swinging a chair at him, only to duck as the chair knocked out Taker.  Bret covered him for the pin and Shawn was forced to make the count.  This was absolutely genius booking, but had the unfortunate effect of making Bret the third wheel as Shawn and Taker then engaged in a landmark feud.  Odd that both the prologue and aftermath of this match saw the WWF Champion as the afterthought.  Anyway, damn good main event.

Some belated 4th of July FIREWORKS!

Friday, August 14, 2020

The History of WWE SummerSlam (1996)

The year of Shawn Michaels included a pretty damn weak overall SummerSlam, but that didn't stop Shawn and Vader from putting on a classic....


SummerSlam '96 - Gund Arena - 8/18/96

The 1996 edition was pretty indicative of the overall roster depth, or lack thereof, at that time.  Almost every PPV event that year had a very strong upper card with not much below the top two or three bouts.  SummerSlam felt a little skimpy as a result.  There was an amazing main event, a couple of decent undercard matches, and a whole lotta filler.

Shawn Michaels defended the WWF Title against monster heel Vader in a spectacular clash of styles.  This match was one of a whole string of awesome HBK main events that year.  Despite a miscue or two (which Shawn rather shamelessly called attention to during the match), and an overbooked pair of false endings, this was one of the best matches of 1996.  Considering how much difficulty Shawn had beating Vader, they probably should've had the planned rematch at Survivor Series, but alas backstage politics put the kibosh on that.

Wait, why is Shawn in the ring with that fan wearing a jockstrap on his face?