SummerSlam Reaction

Last night the epic clash of SummerSlam took place live on PPV.  We entered this show with many questions swirling around out there in the ether.  Would we witness the return of the WWE Divas title to a woman who has the skill to carry it?  Would Christian’s surprise insurance policy help or hinder his no holds barred title match against Randy Orton?  When dual WWE Champions clash in the ring for the first time in WWE history who would walk out as the undisputed Champion and would the special referee play a pivotal role in that finish?  All of these questions were answered but in at least one circumstance we find ourselves with new questions we’d not even considered prior to the show.Mysterio, Morrison & Kofi vs Miz, R-Truth and Del Rio:

The non-title matches here were entertaining if somewhat less than stellar.  The show opened with an unnanounced six man tag match with the team of Rey Mysterio, John Morrison and Kofi Kingston squaring off against The Miz, R-Truth and Alberto Del Rio.  The basic drive of this match was to put some known names into the show (names that should have been there in the first place) and to kick things off with an exciting, crowd pleasing match.  Nothing special here, team Mysterio takes the victory.Sheamus vs Mark Henry:
The Celtic Warrior Sheamus next clashed with Mark Henry.  This match could have been a total disaster but turned out to be pretty decent, perhaps thanks to an excellent spot which saw Mark Henry driving Sheamus through the ringside barricade.  Ultimately Sheamus could not make it to the ring in order to beat the ten count and Henry won via countout.  I’m not personally a massive fan of countouts in wrestling but this one was done right and provided a finish to the match which damaged neither competitor.  Mark Henry is still a human wrecking ball who has yet to be stopped and Sheamus continues down the path of his face turn by showing his fighting spirit and gaining the sympathy and respect of the crowd as he desperately tried to make it back to the ring but was unable to do so.  I do not think we’ve seen the last of Mark Henry and Sheamus coming together but hopefully we won’t be subjected to anything resembling a long bout between the two.


Daniel Bryan vs Wade Barrett:
Daniel Brian was up against Wade Barrett in what could only be described as a grudge match.  It is interesting to recall that at last years SummerSlam it was Bryan who returned to assist team WWE in a losing effort against the invading team Nexus.  In a turn which I don’t think most people expected, Barrett who was a major heel at this time last year has fallen down the ladder several rungs to the point that it is now Daniel Bryan who holds the Money in the Bank briefcase.  If asked at this time last year I think more people would have put their money on Barrett being the man with a gaurenteed title shot.  Either way these two put on an excellent, though short, match against one another.
I had predicted this match to go to Bryan and have to admit some level of surprise to see Barrett go over.  Bryan should be being built toward his briefcase cash in at Wrestlemania next year, not buried by someone who is, at best, currently trapped within the mid-card.  I also don’t feel that they played up the angle of these two having a colored past together and frankly the only interest I had in this match was my interest in seeing Bryan wrestle.  Either way I don’t think the outcome of this match means much of anything in the grand scheme of things and perhaps now that we’re over the SummerSlam hump we’ll see Bryan start getting built up.
Beth Phoenix vs Kelly Kelly (Divas Title):


When I imagined this Divas title match I thought of several things.  First of all I thought of the massive weight on the shoulders of Beth Phoenix to carry this match and make it something worth watching.  Secondly I feared seeing someone with the poor abilities of Kelly Kelly attempting to look like she could successfully deliver offense and thirdly I hoped beyond hope to see Beth Phoenix capture the divas title and restore credibility to a division which is floundering at best.  Kelly surprised me in the sense that she performed more than her typical three or four moves, Beth sold for her in a mostly believable way although watching a stick figure battle an athletically sculpted woman always tests ones ability to accept it.  In the end, Beth took over and absolutely dominated and while setting Kelly up for the Glam Slam found herself caught in a roll-up which led to Kelly winning and retaining the title

Yes it was a good match, and yes I absolutely believe their will be a rematch in which Beth is going to take the title off of Kelly but I think the storyline could have worked better with Beth as the champion defending on the next PPV.  Perhaps they wanted to give us a feel good moment and stretch this feud out, and if handled properly they can avoid doing any damage to the credibility of the Glamazon.  Also, just as an added note, the idea was that Beth and Natalya are saying that the days of the pretty model-looking divas are over so perhaps someone can answer for me why Beth came out in what appeared to be a cocktail dress?  She looked gorgeous, as did Natalya at ringside, but I think her other ring gear probably would have worked a little better.  Especially considering that Kelly Kelly came out dressed as a candycane.  Either way, K2 is still your Divas Champion.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see the title change hands sooner than the next PPV, however.

 Randy Orton vs Christian – No Holds Barred (WHC Title):

The World Heavyweight Championship match between Randy Orton and champion Christian was to be no holds barred.  A lot of times when it comes to matches like this there is a certain level of groaning that can be heard worldwide when they announce a stipulation like that in what is known as the PG era.  Not helping the matter was that this was yet another Orton / Christian match which we’ve been experiencing a whole hell of a lot lately.  Christian had an insurance policy, which everyone knew was going to be Edge, but surprisingly Edge turned on Christian before the match and cut an excellent promo on him leaving Christian screaming in anger moments before Orton made his entrance with a big grin.
I had supreme confidence in these two to pull off an excellent match and, that being said, they exceeded my expectations.  This was a masterfully planned, excellently executed (sorry Bret) match which did exactly what it needed to do:  it delivered.  Christian was in command in the early part with Orton fighting back here and there only to capture control towards the end.  We got to see some spots involving the Spanish announce table, kendo sticks, trash cans and two tables (including a superplex onto a table which was not set up but laying flat on the mat.)  Ultimately the final spot was Randy Orton catching Christian, who was leaping from the top rope, in an RKO on a the steel steps for the win.
This was a great match, and definitely in the top two that have taken place between these two guys.  The final spot involving the flying RKO on the steps not only looked amazing but painful.  Orton held the back of his head following that move for a few moments before making the cover and hopefully didn’t give himself another concussion.  That was one hell of a spot and definitely got the crowd to pop.  The RKO is a fun move to watch because you never know where it is coming from and though we’ve seen it done reversing top rope manuevers before we had not seen that in conjunction with the steps.  I saw a lot of angry twittering following this match as people wanted Christian to win but I really don’t know what there is to complain about.  Orton was winning this match, it was inevitable.  Smackdown is built around him and this feud needed to end, and when it did the title had to be on the guy who is going to carry the show.  Orton will now move on to feud with, probably, Mark Henry while Christian will remain the top heel of Smackdown and will work to build others, Sheamus for instance.  Keep your eyes open for the possibility of a Sheamus and Randy Orton vs Henry and Christian tag match in the future. John Cena vs CM Punk w/ Triple H (WWE Title):

Finally we’ve come to it, the match that SummerSlam had been almost entirely built around.  Triple H as the guest referee while WWE Champion CM Punk butted heads with WWE Champion John Cena.  This match was fun to watch though it was a notch below their previous clash at Money in the Bank but that is hard to live up to either way.  It was good back and forth, reversals, submissions and some great spots.  I can’t say there was ever a point at which one guy was completely in control for more than a minute or two.  The crowd began as somewhat divided, lots of booing for Cena when he entered followed by the battling “Let’s go Cena / Cena Sucks” chants.  However, the longer the match progressed, the more it seemed the crowd was getting firmly behind CM Punk.  At one point, Punk performed Randy Savage’s flying elbow which resulted in a large “Randy Savage” chant.  The divide of the match occurred when Punk landed a suicide dive outside the ring and both he and Cena lay in danger of a countout.  Triple H threw both men back into the ring where Cena landed an AA, Punk kicked out.  Cena got the STF on, Punk made it to the ropes and following a succession of GTS hits, Punk finally got the cover and the win.  This, however, is where the controversy began.

First of all, John Cena had his foot on the bottom rope.  Triple H either chose to ignore this or did not see it which immediately taints Punks title win and ignores the idea that we’d have an “undisputed” champion.  Following the match, Punk shook hands with Triple H who then headed up the ramp only to turn and witness Kevin Nash flying through the crowd, entering the ring and laying Punk flat on his back with the jacknife powerbomb.  Triple H looked shocked and made his way to the barricade to see where Nash was going while simultaneously Alberto Del Rio ran out with a referee, cashed in, delivered one kick to Punk’s head and won the WWE title in less than ten seconds.  Oddly they seemed to ignore their usual stipulation of making sure the defending champion is actually on his feet before the bell is rung.  So Del Rio leaves as Champion while Triple H is arguing with the referee.  So did this answer questions?  I suppose but now we have to wonder:  Was Triple H in on this?  Did he purposefully screw Cena and allow Punk to get crushed?  Who is Kevin Nash working for?  Who has a rematch clause?  I dread the possibility of a three way title match at next months PPV involving Punk, Cena and Del Rio.  No matter what, though, WWE successfully delivered an exciting, surprising and buzzworthy PPV which will have a lot of eyeballs focusing in on RAW tonight to see just what the hell is going on here.

In conclusion, SummerSlam was a worth while PPV to purchase and definitely paid out better than it charged.  The Punk / Cena / Triple H / ADR / Kevin Nash finale was done tastefully and leaves an opportunity for a really strong storyline to develop.  I think Kevin Nash, if used properly, can be a major asset here.  I can’t imagine being let down by this PPV and most of the negative talk I’ve personally witnessed has been as a result of fanboys or girls who don’t understand the concepts that were laid out for us tonight and just wanted to see their favorites win.  Hopefully they’ll be rewarded tonight on Raw and Friday on Smackdown.  I give this PPV a big thumbs up and highly recommend catching a replay.

SummerSlam 2011 Notes:  Jim Ross, though advertised, was in fact not on commentary and was replaced by Booker T who did an absolutely dreadful job.  Stephanie McMahon made her on screen return last night, seen talking to CM Punk as well as exiting Cena’s lockeroom and talking to her husband, Triple H.  Whether or not this is permanent or just a one shot deal remains to be seen.  The Anonymous GM podium was set up at ringside though never acknolwedged.  Mouth of the South Jimmy Hart took part in a funny promo with R-Truth.  Edge returned to cut a promo before walking back out, the crowd seemed happy to see him there.  Kevin Nash made his first on screen appearance for the WWE since his entry into the Royal Rumble seven months ago.  
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