Tuesday, August 31, 2021

NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam at MetLife Dome Preview & Predictions

NJPW is back with another stadium show that in the time of COVID can't possibly sell out, Wrestle Grand Slam!


This weekend it's back-to-back nights at the MetLife Dome in Tokozawa, and we've got a slew of title matches on tap.  Night 1 especially looks very promising, with the long-awaited return of Kota Ibushi in the main event, plus a big first-time collision of former RPG3K members Sho and Yoh.  Night 2 on the other hand has Hiromu Takahashi returning to try and reclaim the belt he never lost.  Both nights will feature a Stardom exhibition match on the pre-show, which should be fun.  I've never actually seen a Stardom match but I've been meaning to.  Regardless both shows feature some potential classics.  Let's take a look.....



Night 1


Flying Tiger vs. Hiromu Takahashi & Bushi

The warmup tag match will see Takahashi getting his feet wet before his big title match on Night 2.  I don't expect this to go very long and I think Tiger Mask IV is there to eat the pin.

Pick: LIJ




Sho vs. Yoh


This should be pretty great.  Sho in particular is awesome and I'm excited to see what he can do as a new heel.  It's almost a Shawn vs. Marty dynamic.  I see some singles championships in Sho's future and maybe Yoh's as well.

Pick: Sho needs to win the first contest


Monday, August 30, 2021

Movies of Disbelief: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

Welcome to another edition of Movies of Disbelief, here at Enuffa.com!  If you're unfamiliar, MOD is where I examine a film, good or bad, that's based around a far-fetched premise, but find one aspect or scene that not only stretches or breaks the bonds of credibility, but pisses all over them.


Today's subject is a little different though.  As patently absurd, campy and over-the-top as this film is, the part of it I refuse to believe isn't even something that happened in the story.  It's the idea that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 was directed by the same guy as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1.  Yeah that's right, Tobe Hooper, the man who in 1974 created a horror masterwork with no budget, no stars, and the worst imaginable filming conditions, somehow followed it up 12 years later with a sequel that basically sprays moldy diarrhea over everything that was great about the original.  I cannot wrap my brain around the fact that the same director made both of these movies.

Before we get into the crime against cinema that was TCM 2, let's just recap the first one a little.  The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, loosely inspired by the Ed Gein murders (as well as those of Dean Corll - look up that saga, it's revolting), was shot using grainy 16MM film, on a budget of roughly $150,000.  Like Night of the Living Dead it made use of real rural locations (see Herzog, Werner: "the voodoo of location") and was filmed in a cinema verite style, allowing the horrific tale to come to life in a way that felt totally authentic and heightened the terror.  We as the audience feel like we're experiencing these ghastly events along with the protagonists.  The cast of unknowns is first-rate, playing the scenes in a casual, naturalistic way and largely improvising the loose dialogue.  By the time everything goes to hell in the second act, we've been given a reason to care about the five young adults.  We're given no background about the family of maniacs - they are simply an evil force of nature, with no discernable reason for what they do; making sense of it would undermine the senseless cruelty Sally endures in the final half-hour.  But despite the film's grisly tone and subject matter, almost all the violence and blood is left to the imagination.  Only once for example do we see chainsaw meeting flesh, and it's when Leatherface (one of the great boogeymen of horror cinema) falls down and accidentally gouges his thigh.  But the film's timbre is so intense and macabre we think we're seeing more gore than we are.  It's brilliantly understated.  The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is far greater than the sum of its parts; all the unconventional elements came together - off-putting locations, genuine performances, innovative cinematography (the closeup montage of Sally's face during the dinner scene is mindbreaking), and unsettling musique concrete-inspired score (courtesy of Wayne Bell and Tobe himself) - to create a fully immersive experience of palpable terror.  It's one of the all-time great horror films.

This guy is terrifying.

Friday, August 27, 2021

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.


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Top Ten Things: Must-See Samoa Joe Matches

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things here at Enuffa.com, where I count down the ten best or worst of whatever's on my mind.  Today it's the mighty Samoa Joe, and his fantastic career.


I first became aware of Joe in 2003 when I attended a live ROH event, and upon hearing his name thought he'd be some kind of lame cartoon character.  When he appeared from behind the curtain I still wasn't convinced, based on his unconventional physique.  And then I saw him wrestle.  Folks, from 2003-2009 Samoa Joe was as good as anyone in the entire world at professional wrestling.  Unfortunately by '09 TNA had already spent about three years either underutilizing or completely wasting Joe's immense skillset, and he became rather unmotivated as a result, failing to build on his already stellar body of work.

Joe's NXT run from 2015-2017 was quite dominant and included two NXT Title reigns (I got to witness his first championship win over Finn Balor in person), and he eventually made it to the main roster for a while, where he had noteworthy scuffles with Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman, as well as a lengthy feud with old rival AJ Styles.  An injury sidelined him for over a year and he spent some time as a color commentator before being released and re-hired to NXT, becoming the brand's first three-time champion.

Anyway, here's a look at Joe's pre-WWE classics.....



10. Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk - ROH: Joe vs. Punk II - 10/16/04


Largely credited with putting both Punk and Joe on the Indy wrestling map, the second match of their much-heralded trilogy is widely considered to be the best.  Punk and Joe went a full hour for the second time, wrestling to a draw, in a match that pulled out all the stops and earned the elusive "five-star" rating from the Wrestling Observer.  I don't love it as much as others do, but it is quite an accomplishment from two of the best workers of the past decade.





9. Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe - TNA: Final Resolution - 1/14/07


Joe and Angle fought several times on TNA PPV, and this was the third in an early trilogy that began with Angle's TNA debut.  TNA rather squandered the hugeness of the Joe-Angle feud, hotshotting this match immediately upon Angle's arrival.  However the matches speak for themselves, and their first encounter still stands as TNA's biggest PPV buyrate.  Anyway, the Final Resolution match was 30-minute Iron Man match full of drama and gutsy action.  It was evenly contested until the 25-minute mark when Angle pulled ahead 3-2, and Joe just barely failed to tie it up.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

The History of NXT TakeOver: 36

What may have been the final NXT TakeOver as we know the concept was a smashing success.  The 36th Network special from WWE's only consistently good brand featured nary a bad match, boasting two bouts that easily cruised into ****+ territory, and three others that were solid ***1/2 fare.


The show's unexpected hit opened things, as LA Knight defended the Million Dollar Belt against Cameron Grimes in a bout I had no interest in, but one that delivered in spades.  These two worked a blistering match with loads of high-impact offense including Grimes hitting his backflip powerslam after skinning the cat back into the ring and Knight hitting a top rope German suplex.  Knight tried to use the Million Dollar belt but Ted Dibiase took it away, tossed it into the ring to distract the referee, and locked Knight in the Million Dollar Dream.  He threw Knight back into the ring and Grimes put him away with his Cave-In double stomp to win back the title.  A very good opener that I enjoyed much more than I expected to.  ***1/2

Next up was the Women's title as former best friends Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai faced off in an intensely personal contest, a la Diesel vs. Shawn in 1995.  Dakota used her speed and flexibility to keep Raquel off-balance for the bout's first act.  Raquel seemed to take a little while to find her rhythm in this match but by the second half everything looked really good.  Kai at one point hit her Kai-ropractor, a Canadian Destroyer-like back-cracker that looks super cool.  She tried to finish Raquel with a Balor-esque top rope stomp but Raquel kicked out.  They fought on the top rope and Raquel withstood a yakuza kick and got off her Chignona Bomb from the second rope to retain.  Another very good match from a young champion solidifying herself as the division's leader.  ***3/4

Top Ten Things: CM Punk Matches

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com

Today I'll be counting down the ten greatest matches of one of the most controversial figures in wrestling history, CM Punk



As he did a decade ago, CM Punk just became the most talked-about star in professional wrestling, having made his long-awaited return to the business on August 21st on AEW Rampage.  One of the most gifted talkers in wrestling history, Punk gave a heartfelt speech in front of one of the most molten live crowds I've ever seen, and laid the groundwork for a whole new lease on his career.  Now freed of WWE's creative shackles, Punk will be able to fully craft his own promos and matches, and lend his considerable artistic acumen to helping build a better future for both AEW and the wrestling industry at large.  I have no doubt he will leave AEW better than he found it, and in a few years I'll need to make amendments to this list, but regardless, Punk has undoubtedly cemented a legacy as one of the most fascinating and unconventional top wrestling stars of the last twenty years.  Here now are the ten best matches in the remarkable roller coaster career of CM Punk.




10. John Morrison vs. CM Punk - ECW TV 9.4.07


In 2007 Punk was a member of WWE's third brand, the revived (and horribly watered down) ECW.  Punk was handpicked by Paul Heyman to be the show's hot new star, and despite tepid feedback from the head office, became a major cult favorite.  After over a year of flirting with the ECW Championship and being passed over in favor of seemingly less appropriate candidates (Bobby Lashley anyone?), Punk would get his one last shot at then-Champion John Morrison (a great athlete but another odd choice to represent the "hardcore" brand).  Their hand somewhat forced by Morrison's suspension for a Wellness Policy violation, WWE finally gave Punk his first taste of gold on a weekly ECW episode.  After a fantastic back-and-forth match, Punk triumphed and began a short run with the ECW Title.




9. Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk - Joe vs. Punk II 10.16.04


Largely credited with putting both Punk and Joe on the Indy wrestling map, the second match of their much-heralded trilogy is widely considered to be the best.  Punk and Joe went a full hour for the second time, wrestling to a draw, in a match that pulled out all the stops and earned the elusive "five-star" rating from the Wrestling Observer.  I don't love it as much as others do, but it is quite an accomplishment from two of the best workers of the past decade.


Monday, August 23, 2021

WWE SummerSlam 2021: Becky Returns and Then Pisses People Off

Well, as expected WWE's SummerSlam 2021 was yet another mixed bag of a show.  A few of the matches were very good, a few of the matches were utterly pointless, and God forbid we have a WWE PPV without a moment that flat-out pisses people off.  SummerSlam had all of these things.  Vince McMahon once again proved he could fuck up a bag of Doritos.


The PPV kicked off with the RAW Tag Championship, as AJ Styles and Omos defended against RKBro in a short but energetic bout that brought to mind old school PPVs where the opening match was just an easily digestible warmup.  AJ did almost all the work for his team and meshed well with both opponents, there were some fun spots later in the match as Matt Riddle took an Omos apron slam and an AJ moonsault DDT on the floor, perfectly executed.  It boiled down to AJ and Orton, who missed his first RKO attempt but scored on the second, pinning AJ to win the straps.  The crowd loved this title change and Riddle was ecstatic, and even Orton looked happy.  Decent little opener.  ***


Immediately the streak of good matches ended as Alexa Bliss faced Eva Marie in a useless regular match that didn't belong anywhere near a PPV.  There was no supernatural bullshit, which was good, but we were subjected to an Eva Marie match, which was bad.  Bliss hit Twisted Bliss off the top, followed by a DDT for the win.  I can guarantee this match did not garner a single ticket purchase or Peacock subscription.  Why was this on this show?  *

Sunday, August 22, 2021

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2020)

2020 was the year wrestling shows were mostly staged in front of no crowds due of course to the COVID 19 pandemic, and that year's SummerSlam felt those effects like every other show.  


The 2020 edition felt in a lot of ways like an old-school SummerSlam card, with only seven matches and a three-hour running time.  In that respect the show was somewhat refreshing.  It also felt like an old SummerSlam show due to the numerous big names missing from the card (AJ, Bryan, Owens, Zayn, Nakamura, Cesaro, etc.).  In that respect the show was somewhat stupid.

Kicking things off was the first of two women's title matches where Asuka was the challenger, and she took on Smackdown Women's Champion Bayley, with then-BFF Sasha Banks in the champ's corner.  Keep that in mind, as it would play into the story of both matches.  These three women nearly carried the show; Asuka and Bayley both worked hard to make this a strong opener, and it turned into a nice little rematch from their NXT rivalry.  There were some innovative moments like when Bayley countered an apron hip attack by catching Asuka's legs and slamming them into the edge of the ring.  Bayley then went after the injured leg, which would become a factor in Asuka's second match as well.  Asuka eventually snared the Asuka lock but Sasha distracted her from the outside and Asuka swung around with a kick to Sasha's head.  Asuka went for another apron hip attack but Sasha pushed Bayley out of the way and took one for the team, while Bayley got an airtight cradle to retain the belt.  Good, compact opening match with a well-executed screwy finish.


Saturday, August 21, 2021

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2019)

SummerSlam 2019, while certainly no instant classic PPV, was nonetheless a thoroughly easy show to watch, managing to stay well under four hours and providing a variety of solid undercard matches and a pretty great main event.  


The show kicked off with the Becky Lynch-Natalya submission match.  This was the exact right type of match for the stipulation, with both women working over the body part their respective finishers target.  Becky went after Nattie's arm to soften her up for Disarm-Her, and Nattie attacked Becky's historically weakened knee.  Each of them stole the other's finisher at one point, teasing the humiliation of having to tap out to their own move.  The most memorable spot was Nattie locking in a Sharpshooter in the turnbuckles, leaving Becky dangling out of the ring as she struggled to break free.  Becky nearly submitted to a second Sharpshooter mid-ring, but managed to reverse it into the Disarm-Her for the win at about 12:30.  This was a fine opening match and easily one of Becky's best that year after her goodwill had been squandered for months in a feud with Lacey Evans.


Next up was one of two matches I was dreading, as Dolph Ziggler got killed dead by Goldberg in under a minute.  But for what this was it was executed damn near perfectly.  Ziggler and Goldberg stared each other down for a moment, and suddenly Ziggler leveled him with a superkick, covered him, Goldberg kicked out at one, and the sequence was repeated.  Ziggler charged, Goldberg cut him off with a sick-looking spear, followed by the jackhammer for the win.  Ziggler got on the mic and trash talked him, Goldberg returned to the ring and speared him again.  Ziggler did it again and Goldberg hit him with a third spear before finally leaving.  Now, feeding Ziggler, irreparably damaged though he is, to a 50-year-old who hasn't had a real match since 2003, is idiotically counterproductive.  But the live crowd went apeshit for this, the tease of Ziggler winning an upset was great, and Ziggler made the spear look like a spine-shattering move.  That said, I still don't get why everyone likes seeing Goldberg's one-note schtick over and over, or how this is supposed to translate to good long-term business.  But for what it was, they nailed it.  


Friday, August 20, 2021

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2018)

SummerSlam 2018 finally saw Roman Reigns' big Universal Title coronation, as after three-and-a-half years he defeated Brock Lesnar for the first time.  This climactic battle lasted six minutes.  Six.

Barclays Center - 8.19.18

This SummerSlam was frustratingly inconsistent and suffered from repetitive booking and a nonsensical match order.  It was a middling show, despite a few of the bouts being quite good.  Things oddly peaked in the middle of the PPV, and although it never dragged like the previous two SummerSlams, by the end I walked away mildly unsatisfied.

After the disdainful crowd response Brock-Roman II got at WrestleMania 34, common sense dictated this rematch should be kept short to prevent the audience from shitting all over it.  While that was probably still the right move, what a nothing match this was.  First off, Braun Strowman interrupted the ring introductions to announce that unlike other MITB holders, he wasn't a coward who would cash in when the champ's back is turned.  "Cool" I thought, "he's adding himself to the match like a monster babyface realistically would."  Nope.  He just stated that he's cashing in after the match.  So how's that really any different than cashing in when the guy's back is turned?  You're still a fresh challenger facing an exhausted champion.  How is that not cowardly?  It turned out to be a moot point anyway, but really think about this for a second.  This is why Money in the Bank needs to go away; no one really gets elevated by holding the briefcase anymore.


Anyway, Brock vs. Goldberg in 2017 proved you can have a red-hot sub-five-minute match that is memorable and that the crowd will eat up.  But after the first thirty seconds of Punch-Spear, this match was a buncha fluff.  Brock got a guillotine choke, hit a few suplexes, attacked Braun Strowman with a chair to prevent him from cashing in, and then got speared out of nowhere to lose the belt.  The indestructible Brock Lesnar, who earlier had taken three SuperPunches and two spears but still had it in him to counter with a guillotine choke, got pinned from one spear after controlling the second half of the match.  This was the most anticlimactic title change since Cena beat JBL in 2005, and nowhere near as good as either WrestleMania match between these two.  Strowman was clearly put out there to prevent "We Want Strowman" chants and get the crowd hyped for a possible cash-in, but what does it say about your main event when you have to trick your audience into not booing it?  This more or less sucked and illustrated why people in 2018 and beyond were and are tired of Brock.  Roman had to relinquish the title only two months later when his leukemia relapsed, thus further diminishing what should have been the culmination of an emotional journey.

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.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

WWE SummerSlam 2021 Preview & Predictions

This Sunday, no wait, SATURDAY is SummerSlam 2021, and we've got ten matches of varying quality to preview!


Welp, after two years we'll finally get to see a SummerSlam take place in front of a live crowd, at a 70,000-seat stadium no less.  About half the show looks intriguing, about one quarter of the show looks pretty dull, and the remaining quarter looks like the drizzling shits.  Once again WWE has left some great talent on the shelf for the third-biggest show of the year while granting spots to numerous people who don't deserve them.  But we'll get to that, don't you worry.

Let's pick some winners....



Alexa Bliss vs. Eva Marie


What in the name of all things holy, THE FUCK, is this piece of shit match doing on a SummerSlam card?  Asuka doesn't have a match but these two zeroes do?  Don't get me wrong, Alexa can wrestle, but not as this dumbass Fiend continuation.  Fuck this storyline, fuck this gimmick, it's pure drivel and I can't believe anyone with a say in this company thinks it's quality television.  Hell, I can't believe these two women think it's quality television.  I dearly hope this gets bumped to the pre-show.

Pick: Alexa wins because we need to continue having her defecate all over the women's division with hypnotism and scary dolls.




Drew McIntyre vs. Jinder Mahal


Another piece of shit match.  Jinder Mahal has a spot on this show but Cesaro, Nakamura and Owens don't.  Let that sink in.  How the mighty McIntyre has fallen.  Dude went from the WWE Title picture for the better part of 18 months to trying to get a good match out of maybe the worst WWE Champion ever.  This is gonna suck.  Can we at least add Heath Slater so it's a 3MB Triple Threat?

Pick: Drew

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

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

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.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

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.

NXT TakeOver 36 Preview & Predictions

Welcome to the predictions for possibly the final good NXT TakeOver special before Vince totally ruins the brand.  It's TakeOver 36!


Yup, the decree has come down from on high.  NXT will no longer be a viable brand in its own right with accomplished workhorses and an eclectic collection of up and coming stars.  Nope, we'll be going back to the 2005-2013 era where developmental is just a place to try and teach wrestling skills to a bunch of uncoordinated bodybuilders who all look and wrestle the same.  Imagine how out of touch a wrestling promoter has to be in 2021 to think the key to success is for every new star to look like Batista.  Hey Vince, NO ONE GIVES A FUCK WHAT THE GUY LOOKS LIKE ANYMORE.  We want to see wrestlers who can wrestle and connect with us.  The concept of a guy having THE LOOK went out the window a long fucking time ago.  Either let this shit go or step down.

Words cannot express how depressing NXT is about to become....

Anyway here's the lineup for Sunday.




Million Dollar Championship: LA Knight vs. Cameron Grimes


I didn't give a sloppy deuce about the Million Dollar title back in the day and I certainly don't now, thirty years on.  Why they brought back this gimmick I'm sure I don't know.  Neither of these guys does all that much for me either, so I don't expect much of this match.  I do expect both of these guys to get called up in the somewhat near future and not used.  Because that's what NXT is going back to.

Pick: I guess Cameron wins the belt?

Monday, August 16, 2021

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.

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.

Friday, August 13, 2021

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.

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.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

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.

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

Thanks for reading - subscribe to our mailing list, and follow us on Twitter, MeWe, Mix, Facebook and YouTube!






Wednesday, August 11, 2021

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.  Considering the two masochistic bastards involved, this match was pretty disappointing.

Ric Flair circa 2006 had a deathwish...