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TLW: SummerSlam 2003 Thoughts



18 September 2003

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Well, hello. It's Monday, I need a drink and I could do with a shave - it must be the day after a PPV! The PPV in question would be SummerSlam, and as disappointing as my predictions were - I came to terms with my ineptitude a long time ago - the show itself wasn't too bad.

I only wish the same could be said about Heat - 55 minutes of video packages and hype, and then TWO minutes for a Cruiserweight Title match between Rey Mysterio and Shannon Moore? Why even bother? Even Matt Hardy's victory speech lasted longer... but I digress. Let's take a look back at last night's show.

The Dudleys seem to be the opening match of choice these days, and it's by no means a bad idea - Bubba and D-Von know how to work a crowd and they never fail to get a live crowd fired up and ready for the rest of the night. Add the heat that La Résistance draw into the mix, and this was quite the hot opener.

Aside from the crowd heat, this was pretty standard Dudley fare, only with Bubba being your redneck in peril instead of D-Von, but still, all the Dudley spots were in there, bar the tables. La Résistance took the win in an ending that practically everyone (bar JR, The King and The Dudleys) could have predicted when Rob Conway - "That guy from Raw" - laid out D-Von with a camera and the French National Heroes lived to fight another day.

Following on from the Tag Match was the clash of the titans - Undertaker vs. A-Train. This was my pick to be lowlight of the night, and to be fair, they did try, but it lived up to my billing. Undertaker's matches these days seem to follow the same formula - his opponent attacks his Injury Of The Month and Taker bravely fights back against the odds, kicking out of a finisher or two along the way, and takes the popular win in the end.

Can't argue with the philosophy - for whatever reasons, 'Taker is as over now as he's ever been. It would be nice to see someone fairly beat the 'Taker, just to give them a legitimate boost up the card. Anyway, both guys obviously tried their hardest to put on an entertaining match, and that's all you can ask of them. The 'Sportz Entertainment' stuff after the final bell with Sable and Steph was just... there. Chalk this one down as forgettable.

No, take a note in your diary - August 24th 2003 - Phoenix, Arizona - The America West Arena. Why is it significant? Because it's the day that The Coach FINALLY became interesting. The heel turn came right out of left-field, but Coach aligning himself with Bischoff makes sense when you examine it - Bisch fired JR, Coach took over Raw.

Austin re-hires JR, and Austin stuns Coach - there's your seeds of heel turn right there. Kudos to the booking team for a nice little piece of continuity, planned or not. Even Coach's interview with the Dudleys right after their match seems a little heel-ish if you watch it again, as I did - no, save your voice - I know I have no life!

For once the overbooking of run-ins and heel turns made the match more enjoyable than it had any right to be. Shane's Big Bump O' The Night was a nice throwback to SummerSlam '99 and the Greenwich Streetfight, with Bisch substituting for Test in this occurrence. Not much else to be said about the match. Not a great wrestling match, but good entertainment.

And now we come to the biggest disappointment of the night for me - the Fatal Fourway. Don't get me wrong, the match itself was quality - relentless action, near falls, nice exchanges between all the players and not one dull moment - but it was too short. At just over 10 minutes, I was shocked when the referee counted the three to signal Eddie retaining his belt. I thought this was at least 15-20 minute match of the year contender in the making.

The four men were just getting into their stride as the final bell rang, and this was a great opportunity missed by the WWE to really put on a decent show. I don't pretend to understand the reasoning behind it, if any, but what can you do? Eddie doesn't deserve to lose his belt at the moment, and hopefully, it'll propel him to main event status - Angle vs. Guerrero? Yes please! - but somehow I doubt it. All of this just makes me want to see that Benoit vs. Guerrero ladder match that I dream of at the next Smackdown PPV even more...

If the US Championship match was slightly disappointing, the WWE Championship match was not. Kurt and Brock put on a great match, as they said they would. Vince's expected interference was kept to a bare minimum, and in the end, didn't affect the result anyway. Before that, Angle and Lesnar demonstrated how to build a match and keep momentum going while telling a story in the ring. This is easily Brock's finest moment in the WWE.

The finish was surprising - Brock tapping and Angle retaining all but ends the Angle/Lesnar feud for the time being, but the aftermath, with Vince being Angle Slammed onto a chair suggests to me that another Angle - Big Show match may be in the offing, as Vince will surely be out for revenge now. Austin-McMahon all over again? Looks like it. All in all, a great match, but still not the blowaway match of the year that knocks the Rumble's Benoit-Angle showdown off it's perch...

Neither was the next match - the showdown between Kane and Rob Van Dam. Don't get me wrong it was certainly a lot easier to watch than I thought it would have been - and Kane falling off the top rope provided one of the funniest moments of the year, albeit unintentional. Jim Ross seemed intent on painting RVD as the second coming of the Messiah with his commentary - for whatever reason, it just seemed entirely out of pluck, and took away from what was going on in the ring.

Rob pulled out a couple of his moves from ECW days gone by - the guillotine legdrop to the outside and the (unassisted) Van Terminator - but still it wasn't enough to kill "the monster" Kane. Pardon the pun, but Kane is on fire at the moment, and I suspect there may well be a rematch in this one down the line. As a stand alone match, it delivered everything it promised, nothing more, and nothing less.

Which brings us to the main event - the Elimination Chamber. By now you'll know that Triple H walked out as Champion, retaining his belt, as is seemingly his divine right these days.. but that doesn't tell the true story of the match. The star, and I'm guessing that was the intention of this - was undoubtedly Goldberg. As you may know, I'm not exactly a fan of his, but when he's on his game, can't take anything away from him - he looks every inch the superstar he's made out to be.

Trips added to the Goldberg mystique also, though - the fear he showed when Goldberg was stalking him in his chamber was what has been lacking from Trips' act over the past few months. It's fine for heels to be bad-ass, but at some point, they have to appear vulnerable and scared of the Good guy coming after them. Trips showed that last night, and the rivalry he has with Goldberg will benefit from it in the long run.

The heel beatdown after the match - strength in numbers, another good heel tactic - just added fuel to the fire. Hopefully Trips will stay fit long enough to finally have that singles showdown with Goldberg next month and the heat established in this match will not be wasted. As for the match itself, it did what it set out to do - and establish Goldberg as a legit threat and demonstrate his power.

The other 4 people in the match were merely there to kill time and act as cannon fodder. The way they kept Trips out of the match for so long was very smart booking, IMO. Having him "knocked out" in his chamber kept his actual participation in the match to a minimum, meaning he hopefully hasn't aggravated his injury any further. Throw in a couple of highspots - Jericho being speared through the chamber; Goldberg KICKING through Trips' chamber - and fantastic heat from the crowd, and it all made for a successful main event.

While there was nothing too awful on the card, it didn't really ever move out of 2nd gear, only the Angle/Lesnar match and the painfully short US title match being exceptions to that, and it remained just another PPV, rather than one of the biggest events of the year. Oh well. Roll on Unforgiven.

Tony Cottam

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