Monday, July 22, 2024

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.

Friday, July 19, 2024

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, July 18, 2024

NJPW G1 Climax 34 Preview & Predictions

It's time once again for NJPW's vaunted G1 Climax tournament, what has historically been the most fun four weeks of wrestling all year.  The company in recent years hasn't exactly earned that title, but there's always hope....


Thank Christ, New Japan has returned to the classic two-block format this year, as that four-block experiment the last two tournaments stunk.  So right off the bat we have an inherent improvement in the 2024 edition.  Also you'll notice some stunning omissions in this year's field.  For the first time since 2001, we'll have a G1 Climax without Hiroshi Tanahashi.  End of a fuckin' era.  Also for the first time since I think 2009 there's no Tomohiro Ishii, historically one of the tournament's perennial MVPs.  Time marches on, as they say.  Couple that with the absences of recent AEW signees Jay White, Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay, and this field looks VERY different from last year's.  But that actually sets the stage for a very refreshing tourney.  We'll see some new faces and many others who have only just begun their G1 tenures.  Also the winner is somewhat hard to predict this year, which is always fun.

Let's look at the blocks below:


Block A: Shota Umino, Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, Sanada, Great O-Khan, Zack Sabre Jr., Gabe Kidd, Jake Lee, Evil, Callum Newman


Block B: El Phantasmo, Hirooki Goto, Yota Tsuji, Yuya Uemura, Jeff Cobb, Henare, David Finlay, Ren Narita, Konosuke Takeshita, Oleg Boltin

 

As usual I'll only go through the individual names who have a snowball's chance in hell of winning this thing (or at least their respective blocks), rather than the entire field.  


Block A: Shota Umino, Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, Sanada, Zack Sabre Jr.

Block B: Yota Tsuji, Yuya Uemura, Jeff Cobb, David Finlay

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.

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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: 1/10
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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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

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...

Monday, July 15, 2024

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.

Friday, July 12, 2024

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.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

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.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

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.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Oscar Film Journal: The Long Voyage Home (1940)

Welcome back to the Oscar Film Journal, here at Enuffa.com!


Still toiling back here in the 1940s and still on the theme of "films photographed by Gregg Toland," today I'll be reviewing one of John Ford's lesser known films, The Long Voyage Home, starring John Wayne, Thomas Mitchell, and a host of character actors as a ragtag group of merchant marines tapped by the British government to deliver a shipment of explosives to London, around the start of World War II.  The sailors are a rowdy lot, prone to drunken debauchery and very bad decisions.  Case in point, while the ship is docked in the West Indies at the film's outset, Mitchell's character Driscoll, the group's de facto leader, sneaks ashore one night to arrange for a host of native female guests to smuggle booze aboard the ship so the crew can party.  Later in the film the crew, prone to mob mentality, begins to suspect one of their own, a shifty Englishman named Smitty, of being a German spy because of his secretive behavior.  Smitty isn't, but that doesn't stop them from tying him up and raiding his possessions, determined to prove his guilt at all costs.  In the film's third act when Wayne's character, a rather dimwitted Swede named Olsen decides to return home after ten years at sea, but he and the group can't help getting roped into one last blowout at a seedy tavern, where the waitstaff and a sailing agent have ulterior motives to keep Olsen from leaving.

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, July 8, 2024

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.

Friday, July 5, 2024

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!

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

WWE Money in the Bank 2024 Preview & Predictions

Time for another skimpy five-match B-PPV from WWE that everyone will claim is the greatest piece of "cinema" they've ever seen....


It's another internationally hosted show that's light on star power and outrageously expensive to get a ticket for, WWE Money in the Bank.  The most tired gimmick in WWE gets another go-round, in its 19th year of existence.  Jesus, next year will be the two-decade mark, for a gimmick that's barely ever elevated anyone.  So we have two ladder matches, a World Title match, an Intercontinental Title match that should steal the show, and a trios match to set up one of the weakest SummerSlam main events in recent memory.



Women's Money in the Bank: Iyo Sky vs. Chelsea Green vs. Lyra Valkyria vs. Tiffany Stratton vs. Naomi vs. Zoey Stark


This one could not be more telegraphed given how weak this field is.  Iyo's already won MITB, and of the remaining five women Tiffany is the only future main eventer.  She and Iyo will do some cool spots, but man is this lineup thin.

Pick: Tiffany

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.

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Oscar Film Journal: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

And we're back with another entry in the Oscar Film Journal, here at Enuffa.com!


Today's subject is a film I resisted watching for many years due only to the fact that it beat out It's a Wonderful Life for Best Picture of 1946 (along with an astounding eight more trophies).  But I finally gave it a whirl after learning that the cinematographer on this film was Gregg Toland of Citizen Kane fame.  I'm talking about the post-WWII drama The Best Years of Our Lives, starring Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Theresa Wright and Virgina Mayo.  

TBYOOL was one of the first films to tackle the subject of war veterans struggling to readjust to life in the world after coming home from battle.  In the opening scenes we're introduced to three vets all headed to the same hometown, who quickly form a bond during their flight.  March's character Al Stephenson is a middle-aged husband and father of two who left a lucrative but unfulfilling banking job to enlist, and now finds everyday civilian life rather dull unless he's heavily alcohol-medicated.  Andrews' character is Fred Derry, a bomber pilot who suffers from PTSD and has no viable job skills, whose vapid, gold-digging wife seems uninterested in him without his uniform.  The third vet is a young sailor named Homer Parrish (played by actual veteran Harold Russell, in his feature debut), who lost his hands and had them replaced with hooks (Parrish actually suffered this disability in real life), and can't bring himself to resume his relationship with fiancĂ©e Wilma, fearing that she won't want to commit to taking care of him.

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!

Monday, July 1, 2024

AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door 2024 Review: Swerve and Will Have Arrived

Never doubt AEW when it comes to PPV.  Just don't do it.  This company is untouchable at putting on absolute banger shows.  Case in point the 2024 edition of Forbidden Door, a ten-match main card (plus some very fun pre-show bouts) where the worst thing on the show was the perfectly fine opening match.  The match layout also made it fly by, as they saved most of the longer matches for later in the show.


After an enjoyable Mariah May-Saraya tournament match that saw May steal a win with a rollup, and a blazing lucha trios match featuring the legendary Mistico, Forbidden Door kicked off proper with hometown hero MJF vs. technical lucha wizard Hechicero in a fast-paced clash of styles.  This only got ten minutes but they had enough time to tell the story of Hechicero targeting Max's recently rehabbed shoulder, and Max keeping up with Hechicero's technical prowess.  Max escaped a double arm submission and hit Adam Cole's Tequila Sunrise destroyer and his own brainbuster to win the match and foreshadow his impending date with Cole.  Solid stuff to get the PPV started.  ***1/2

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 - is that where Randy Orton learned it from?), 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?

Friday, June 28, 2024

The History of WWE Summerslam (1995)

In 1995 the WWF was running on Diesel Power, and it was fairly disastrous both commercially and critically.  But this show was pretty decent in spite of itself....

SummerSlam '95 - The Igloo - 8/27/95

Here's a show that on paper looks absolutely wretched.  A weak main event, a slew of free TV-caliber matches, a host of top talent missing from the card (seriously, were Owen, Bulldog, Yokozuna, Sid & Luger booked elsewhere that night??), and only one PPV-worthy bout.  Yet somehow this was a pretty good PPV with a host of entertaining matches.

The main event is one of the weakest in SummerSlam history.  In yet another attempt to recreate Hogan vs. Andre, they booked Diesel to face the newest King of the Ring, Mabel.  There was literally zero heat between these two, and if they insisted on doing another Power Wrestler vs. Fat Guy match, why not book Yokozuna to win the KOTR tourney and challenge Diesel?  At least Yokozuna had Championship credibility, ya know, having been a former Champion.  The match was predictably underwhelming and short.

Wait, why is Diesel in the ring with a guy in a Grimace costume?

The real standout of this SummerSlam was of course the Ladder rematch for the I-C belt between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon, the two men who defined the Ladder Match 17 months earlier.  While not up to the legendary status of their first go-round, this is still a damn fine Ladder Match with memorable spots involving TWO ladders (In 1995 the idea of a second ladder being introduced was mind-blowing. No I'm serious.) and a different dynamic being that both guys were now babyfaces.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door 2024 Preview & Predictions

This Sunday it's the third-annual AEW x NJPW (xCMLL) Forbidden Door extravaganza!


This time of year is generally a tough sell for AEW, as it is geared to a smaller segment of the fanbase that also enjoys NJPW and other international promotions, but the show is always a ton of fun and this year's edition should be no different.  From a wrestling standpoint there are no fewer than 7 or 8 potential ****+ matches on this show, including a huge babyface vs. babyface main event and two women's championship matches that should be stellar.  There are a couple of head-scratching inclusions too but they should deliver regardless.  Let's take a look.....




JUST ADDED: Mariah May vs. Saraya


I usually don't do picks for the pre-show matches but this is an Owen Cup match so I'll add it.  By the way, this pre-show also has Mistico/Lucha Bros vs. Yota Tsuji/Hiromu Takahashi/Titan??  Holy shitballs, I dunno who's gonna win that (probably Team Mistico), but it'll be a banger. 

But back to the Mariah match.  Should be a solid outing.  Mariah is clearly going all the way in this tournament, so kaboom.

Pick: Mariah




Samoa Joe/Hook/Katusyori Shibata vs. Chris Jericho/Big Bill/Jeff Cobb(?)

This one hasn't officially come together yet, as Bryan Keith's injury left an opening in the Learning Tree trio, which Jericho intended to fill with Minoru Suzuki, only to be rebuffed with extreme prejudice.  Elsewhere, Jeff Cobb was supposed to be defending his NJPW TV Title in an open challenge but that apparently fell through.  I wonder who the intended opponent was.  Anyway, it seems at last night's Collision tapings they revealed Jeff Cobb as the third man, which should make this match better.  Not sure when Suzuki's challenge to Jericho one-on-one will play out, maybe next week's Dynamite?

Pick: I think team JoeHookBata probably wins.


The History of WWE SummerSlam (1994)

Taker vs. Taker - what a shitshow.....

SummerSlam '94 - United Center - 8/29/94

This here is about half of a good PPV.  The summer of '94 in the WWF was largely centered around the Bret vs. Owen feud, which was fantastic.  It would come to a head at SummerSlam, as the two brothers dueled in a steel cage.  Unfortunately the match didn't quite live up to my expectations, nor was it even the main event of the show.

Bizarrely they decided to have the returning Undertaker (absent since January after losing a Casket Match to Yokozuna) fight his doppelganger in the main event of SummerSlam, without really establishing first that the doppelganger was a fake.  Ted Dibiase showed up on WWF TV and announced Taker's return, then brought him out to wrestle.  And it was fairly obvious this was not Mark Callaway, but not obvious enough that we the audience could see where they were going with it.  It was as though Callaway had been fired and they tried in earnest to pass off impostor Brian Lee as the same man.  Then suddenly there were house show cards being booked with two separate Undertakers, but none of this was mentioned in the actual storylines.  And then the announcement came that at SummerSlam the main event would be Undertaker vs. Undertaker.  Just a very sloppily thrown-together angle.


Wait, why is Taker in the ring with that cosplayer?

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

The History of WWE SummerSlam (1993)

Welcome to the most mediocre PPV ever, SummerSlam 1993!

SummerSlam '93 - Palace of Auburn Hills - 8/30/93

Here's a show steeped in mediocrity.  SummerSlam '93 is an odd case of a PPV event providing neither highs nor lows.  Every match except one (Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzales) is watchable, but almost none of them are memorable.

The big story going into this show was the rise of Lex Luger as the All-American hero who bodyslammed Yokozuna on the 4th of July.  Luger had been using the goofy Narcissist heel persona that understandably didn't light the world afire, and with the departure of Hulk Hogan the company felt it needed another musclebound superhero to build the company around.  Luger toured the country in a bus to promote the event, and all signs pointed to him becoming the next WWF Champion and posterboy.

The match itself was underwhelming.  It wasn't a bad match per se, but also not terribly exciting.  Luger winning the Championship would've at least provided the big moment the bout (and PPV) needed but strangely the company didn't pull the trigger, instead booking a countout win for Luger, complete with a post-match victory celebration generally reserved for an actual Title win.  This moment was just baffling; Luger and other babyfaces basking in the glory of his All-American win......by countout.  Just bizarre.

YAAAAYYYY!!  Congratulations Lex, on winning........nothing.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

The History of WWE SummerSlam (1992)

This right here is a helluva SummerSlam - emanating from Wembley Stadium, this show turned the WWF formula on its head.....

SummerSlam '92 - Wembley Stadium - 8/29/92

Now this is a fuckin' SummerSlam.  The 1992 edition was not only the best PPV of the year, but would remain the best SummerSlam PPV until at least 1997.  This show featured two very good to excellent main event matches, some decent midcard bouts, and very little filler.

The World Title match between Randy Savage and Warrior probably wasn't quite up to their WM7 match, but this was still good stuff.  The face vs. face dynamic added a new wrinkle and these two both worked hard to pull off an epic.  Inserting Ric Flair and Mr. Perfect into this angle was pretty stupid, as the feud became a bickering contest about which babyface sold out by hiring Mr. Perfect.  As it turned out the answer was "neither."  Flair and Perfect showed up and more or less ruined the ending of the match.  I'm actually not sure why Flair wasn't given his own match for this show.  Still a fine WWF Title match, even if it would be massively upstaged later in the evening.

These two were really fighting over who
had the more obnoxious outfit.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Oscar Film Journal: Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

Welcome back to the Oscar Film Journal, here at Enuffa.com!


Time to take a little trip back to the mid 80s with a look at Woody Allen's acclaimed comedy-drama Hannah and Her Sisters, an ensemble piece about middle-age angst, starring Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey, Dianne Wiest, Michael Caine, Carrie Fisher, and Allen himself, plus a veritable who's-who of future film and TV stars (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lewis Black, Julie Kavner and John Turturro for example).  The film centers around the titular three sisters and their sordid romantic entanglements with deeply insecure, troubled men.  Hannah (Farrow) is a self-assured actress who is always emotionally available to support her siblings and her former and current husbands, but everyone seems to resent how together she is and how she never seems to need that support reciprocated.  Her husband Elliot (Caine) is obsessively infatuated with her sister Lee (Hershey), who is dating an eccentric, reclusive artist (Max Von Sydow).  Hannah's other sister Holly (Weist) is a recovered cocaine addict struggling with her own acting career and running a catering business on the side with her friend/rival April (Fisher).  Meanwhile Hannah's ex-husband Mickey (Allen) is in the midst of an existential crisis brought on by a health scare, which sends him scrambling to find real meaning in his life.

The History of WWE SummerSlam (1991)

We've reached the early 90s, when the WWF presented a pretty bad SummerSlam that everyone for some reason remembers very fondly.......

SummerSlam '91 - Madison Square Garden - 8/26/91

Time for some more mediocrity with SummerSlam '91, which many fans strangely hail as a classic.  I'll grant that it was a somewhat stacked show where multiple feuds were blown off, but there's very little good wrestling here.  The Savage-Elizabeth wedding angle also took up way too much time and probably should've happened on free TV to set up Savage's return to the ring.

The main event was the continuation of one of the least fun feuds in wrestling history, Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter.  I cannot believe the WWF was still trying to exploit the Persian Gulf War six months after it ended.  Just pitiful.  This time it was Hogan teaming with Warrior against Slaughter, Col. Mustafa (a repackaged Iron Sheik, as though we wouldn't recognize him), and Slaughter's manager Gen. Adnan.  Here's a question, if Slaughter was the lowest ranked of the trio, why was he the leader?  Anyway the match stunk and was notable only for the inclusion of Sid Justice as the guest referee, and for being Warrior's last match for a while after backstage contractual shenanigans led to his firing.

The match this show is most remembered for was Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart for the I-C Title.  This would be Perfect's final match for over a year as nagging injuries forced him to the sidelines.  This match was quite good (though I don't rate it as highly as most do), and Bret's singles career took off from this point.  Given how much pain he was in, Perfect did a helluva job elevating "The Hitman."

Perfect submitted the second the hold was applied.
Given his real-life back issues this is not surprising.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

The History of WWE SummerSlam (1990)

The 1990 edition was a major step down from the first two, which were flawed shows to begin with.  This one's pretty terrible....

SummerSlam '90 - Philadelphia Spectrum - 8/27/90

What a mess this show was.  They tried to cram 10 matches in, only 9 of which happened due to a forfeit, the WWF Champion was given an opponent who was never built up to be a World Title contender, thus stripping the main event of any suspense, and Hulk Hogan was once again paired with an obese monster heel.

First we'll highlight the good parts: The Rockers fought the new tag team of Hercules and Paul Roma, dubbed Power & Glory in more of an angle than a match.  Shawn Michaels was "injured" at the outset, leaving Marty Janetty in a handicap situation.  But it was a nice introduction of the new heel team, who unfortunately never got much traction after this.

The Hart Foundation once again challenged Demolition for the Tag belts, this time in a 2 out of 3 falls match.  And once again the Harts stole the show at SummerSlam, supplying 15 minutes of solid tag team action.  The Harts finally won the Titles and the recently-debuted Legion of Doom were set up to feud with their WWF imitators.


The main event cage match between The Ultimate Warrior and Rick Rude was a pretty good ten-minute bout.  Nowhere near as good as their 'Slam '89 match, but not bad at all.  Unfortunately Rude hadn't ever been positioned as a serious WWF Championship challenger and since Warrior defeated him the previous year (and a month before this PPV on Saturday Night's Main Event) there wasn't much heat for this match.  Rude would leave the WWF shortly after this.  Sadly for Warrior he was never really pushed as the #1 guy in the company after winning the Title from Hogan.