Another summer, another WWE grand slam PPV. Summerslam 2004 is just around the corner, and you know your life would be empty without me to moan about the state of affairs in the “number one” wrestling company in the world. Of course, like at Wrestlemania and the other grandslam PPVs, the wrestlers always seem to give that bit extra… though can that compensate for what is again perhaps a bit of a disappointing card?
Firstly, let’s look at the card at the time of writing:
- Chris Benoit © v Randy Orton – Raw World Title
- JBL © v Undertaker – Smackdown World Title
- Triple H v Eugene
- Kurt Angle v Eddie Guerrero
- Kane v Matt Hardy
- Edge v Chris Jericho v Batista – Intercontinental Title
- Booker T v John Cena – US. Championship (1st of a series of 5)
- Spike, D-Von and Bubbah Ray Dudley v Kidman, London and Mysterio
- DIVA DODGEBALL!
Now I think you’ll agree with me when I say that it isn’t exactly brilliant… it certainly isn’t what you would spend money on unless you just are like myself and have to see the big 4 no matter what (well these days anyway, particularly since the other PPVs are only praised by the people who end up paying for them who in turn feel they have to justify it. ‘Vengeance was… err… better than expected!’ is the annual cry). I’ll go through it match by match in a bit, but for now I want to continue on about with the whole PPV ‘big 4’ idea.
What I’m talking about is of course the fact that when it comes to Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, Summerslam and Survivor Series you expect the WWE to save its guaranteed money drawing matches. The formula I personally always thought was best was always: lesser PPV = gimmick title matches/fatal four ways/six pac challenges. Big PPVs = big singles matches that everyone wants to see (or sometimes even just the ones that need a big payoff). For me… as much as I was starting to like Randy Orton, him taking on Chris Benoit wasn’t exactly the match that was going to have me go ‘ooooh’ (obviously with nobody else around, otherwise I’d just look silly). Nor was Bradshaw against Undertaker.
Last year’s Summerslam wasn’t anything special either, with the elimination chamber stinking up the event. Lesnar v Angle of course was the real decent match on the card, kind of like Guerrero v Angle is this year. Still, it was nowhere near as jam packed with goodness on paper or in the flesh as years such as 1991, 1997, 2001 and 2002. And I doubt this year’s will be either.
I personally have always felt that wrestling, and the WWE in particular deteriorates soon after Wrestlemania, before then picking up again soon after Summerslam when Survivor Series and Royal Rumble goodness cheers us all up. I’ve never been sure why that seems to be the case; perhaps it’s linked with the WWE creative being so crap when it isn’t building towards Wrestlemania.
And to be honest, barring Eugene, the WWE is pretty boring at the moment when you get down to the bottom line. Smackdown is atrocious, and is probably now only enjoyed by the type of morons who always thought that Raw was the better show and now probably think that Smackdown is the better show. ‘UNDERTAKER RULZ’ and all that. The type of person that is quite content for Orlando Jordan to be in the main event scene. The type of person, that if I ever met, I’d have to hit with a very large stick.
Bradshaw’s title reign has been nothing more than something to pass the time before someone else can hold the title. Don’t get me wrong, JBL can be entertaining but the man will always be seen as midcarder for life and no title will change that. The worst WWE champion of all time should instead be holding the US title, giving it some credibility and a decent angle. Certainly not world title material anyway. But sometimes Vince McMahon likes to show us why people use the word ‘genius’ in wrestling too loosely.
And as for Raw, whilst I’m relishing Benoit have the title as much as the next fan (again I apologise for doubting him… his title run has been booked generally very well and his great matches have really helped him prove all his critics wrong) the whole feud with HHH that seems to have lasted for eternity has kinda made it boring. You want to remember Benoit’s title run for him having good matches with all the big Raw guys. Instead all you remember is his long lasting feud with HHH. The man has never effectively been out of the title scene, and it really is boring. When Benoit was fighting Michaels, HHH was still technically feuding with Benoit. When Benoit was fighting Kane, HHH was still technically feuding with Benoit. And now when Benoit is fighting Orton… HHH will still technically be feuding with Benoit. The feuds are always annoyingly linked in some way.
As a result, bar watching Bottom Line for the Eugene bits, I can’t say I’m ever in a situation where I think ‘ooh I MUST watch Raw tonight’. I haven’t been like that for a WWE show since the Lesnar-Angle-Big Show days of Smackdown. Eugene has been the only thing that has really kept Raw from feeling like it was just trodding along waiting for the Wrestlemania feuds to have their long term seeds planted. I’ve enjoyed Raw throughout Benoit’s title reign yes… and it isn’t awful, but it still isn’t great. And that isn’t me nitpicking and being an evil smark etc. That’s me genuinely feeling like I’m mainly not watching entertaining TV.
Before I start going over the Summerslam card, I have to say something about that Iron man match between Benoit and HHH. The other night I was watching Lesnar v Angle’s Iron Man match again and I have to say I really enjoyed seeing it again. It served a good purpose, since both guys had wrestled each other and come out on top on separate occasions. The time was right for such a gimmick match. Now I can’t help but feel it was too soon for another one with Benoit v HHH, and in the end it didn’t serve its purpose.
It won’t surprise you to hear that I didn’t enjoy the HHH v Rock Iron man, and one of the reasons I didn’t was because it felt like a waste to have it finish with a run in. And a silly biker Taker one at that. For HHH v Benoit though, to have a 60 minute smokescreen over a Eugene run in to set up a HHH v Eugene feud was a waste of time in my opinion. Why not have used another of their washed up gimmicks instead like a cage match, or HHH’s favourite… a chain match. Bwha. Just thought I’d add that.
Anyway, on to looking at the Summerslam card. And why not start with the standard big PPV 6 man tag. It’s pretty harmless, Spike, D-Von and Bubba Ray Dudley v Kidman, London and Mysterio. Whilst I’m never pleased when Kidman gets PPV time, its pretty much there to fill the card and please the crowd. These types of matches have always been part of the classic big WWE PPV and so I’m not complaining really here. The attempt at a storyline here is pretty pish granted, and the Kidman/London tag team one that would only excite those who enjoy the flip/flop cruiserweights, and the really generic boring ones at that. London’s wrestling boots are even more interesting than Kidman.
Then we have Booker job take on John ‘I’m a wrestler in limbo, get me outta here’ Cena. Can you smell the pure unadulterated midcard action? I sure can. Glad to see the marketable Booker T has well and truly been wasted and in turn ruining any credibility John Cena had given the US title. I just wish the WWE would realise that giving titles to people who are too good for them actually damages the credibility of the title and the wrestler. And as I say that, they’re probably planning to give Jericho the IC title. Ah well.
Cena v Booker T, since it’s the 1st of a series of 5 matches (not all taking place on the PPV of course) will probably by default be nothing special… it’s a weird angle and one I’ve not seen before, particularly how they’re booking it. So I have no idea how it’ll turn out. If each match had a gimmick it’d maybe be more interesting, but as a straight wrestling match it should still be alright. Should be ok, but shouldn’t be happening in the first place.
Edge v Batista v Jericho for the Intercontinental title next, and although I was originally sceptical about this match, after seeing Jericho and Edge’s duel on the highlight reel I think this could actually turn out to be exciting. Sensible booking would keep Jericho away from the IC title and also have it prised from Edge’s waist, with the angle perhaps being that both guys’ egos got in the way and ended up giving Batista the title. The most exciting prospect to come out of this feud though… Edge heel turn! How exciting! Upper-midcard limbo matches for everyone!
Kane v Matt Hardy next. I have to say I like the angle in a way, though I do hate Lita with a passion. You don’t need me to tell you how bad her acting is of course, and though this angle may mean we have to put up with it, hell it’s giving Kane and Matt Hardy a high profile feud with TV time. This match should be good, and I want Kane to win to continue the feud. I’ll admit that’s my personal preference though and whether you’ll enjoy this one is probably a matter of taste. It’s got a silly gimmick, but so was loser goes to jail (SummerSlam 91) and that was still brilliant!
Now… before you thought I wasn’t going to mention it, I have to. Diva dodgeball. That’s right. I can’t believe it either, what an appalling idea. 7 Divas against 7 diva hopefuls in a game of dodgeball, a game played all over… the worl… I mean America. Wrestlecrap probably has a place reserved for it since this truly will stink, worse than the rest of that awful diva contest. If you enjoy that type of thing, good for you, but I’m sure the majority of you people out there don’t watch PPVs, let alone buy them to see women wear lingerie, wrestle, or in this case play dodgeball, when you could probably watch them without underwear on other channels. I’m with Bret Hart and Ted DiBiase on this one, particularly if that means stuff like this will stop wasting PPV time. And I thought Stephanie McMahon GM backstage skits were a waste of time. Well… they are, but so is this.
Kurt v Eddie is another one that I won’t linger on since we all know that after their classic at Wrestlemania XX that this one should be good, even with Angle’s supposed ‘new’ style. The feud has been built up brilliantly even though Angle should have remained as the serious, bitter anti-Eddie Guerrero character rather than the cowardly goon. That’s about the only thing I’d complain about there, and although I’m not dying to see the match or anything since we’ve already seen a match between them that’ll be hard to top there’s no getting round that this is one of the best matches on the card feud-wise and wrestling-wise.
Triple H v Eugene, everyone’s favourite retard gimmick that I can still proudly say that I stuck for originally, should be an interesting one too. Maybe. They’ve already had this match on Raw without finishing it of course, but since then the storyline has progressed a fair bit, and has been pretty entertaining in doing so. I don’t like badass HHH, never have done, never will, and would have found this whole thing far more entertaining if HHH was playing the cowardly heel taking advantage of a poor disabled kid (no jokes ok, though I should mention I am laughing my ass off here reading what I’ve just written). To be a badass heel you have to actually be… well… a big badass. HHH isn’t.
As for the match, I’ll be honest and say I don’t really care who wins, but the Eugene thing really needs some new direction quickly before it runs out of steam. A HHH win here could maybe give the feud another month but I don’t think that’s what it needs. A Eugene win would pretty much allow him to do anything, but some decent booking is needed soon to give the fans something to cheer Eugene for. I think maybe HHH needs to cheat and injure Eugene, and maybe set up a storyline where it looks like Eugene can’t wrestle anymore. Instant sympathy. Plus unless he’s been reading the same bible as Shawn Michaels, he isn’t going to job on PPV another month in a row.
Moving on to the first of the two title matches, and hopefully that’ll be the way it’ll be on the card for it would indeed be a sad day if this was to be the main event of a Summerslam. Bradshaw, and yes I’m still calling him Bradshaw because he’ll always be to me the midcarder that couldn’t, and still can’t. I won’t lie to you, I’ve not been watching Smackdown since he became champion (I finally kept a promise to do with wrestling… I’m hoping nobody remembers my countless nonsense promises such as to never watch wrestling again if HBK jobbed to HHH) and I have genuinely only seen Bradshaw with the title twice. And whenever I feel the evil urge to just flick over and see what Smackdown is like, it’s actually so bad that it helps my quest to keep my promise to not watch it. I mean… picture this: ‘Smackdown? Agh… well, ok… just for one second. I’ll see what’s going on’
Click- TV comes on to show Bradshaw in ring, before Undertaker midget comes down the aisle. Hilarity ensues, showing just why Bradshaws mic skills make him a worthy WWE champion (sarcasm ok). Then… here comes the real Undertaker behind Bradshaw. Whoopee-do. Cole: “Th-th-th-that’s the real Undertaker”. Cringeworthy. Needless to say the channel was changed.
If any of you reading this are still watching that monstrosity of a show, and it isn’t out of boredom…. If it’s out of choice is what I’m saying… then there is something seriously wrong with you. And if you have access to the wrestling channel on top of that… then do me a favour and jump off a very tall building. There is no room in society for people that find Smackdown entertaining these days. I hate Ring of Honor as much as the next old school wrestling fan… but I’d rather watch the skinny little boys jump around over there than watching Bradshaw and Taker constitute the highlight of the show.
Before I get any angry e-mails from RoH fans I should correct myself. I just said they were all just skinny little boys. I am wrong. There is one useless fat guy too… Samoa Joe. Anyone who thinks that RoH is the credible alternative to the WWE should have their head examined along with the Smackdown lovers. And whilst I’m ranting, all you people out there who go on about the Cruiserweights… ‘The cruiserweights don’t get this, the cruiserweights don’t get that… bla bla bla’… for the love of God, just shut up. The truth is that nobody apart from you cares about the flip-flop wrestlers. It’s a minority taste amongst wrestling fans who watch the WWE, so deal with it. There are plenty of other places where you can go and watch that type of wrestling. Just be happy there’s at least some kind of cruiserweight division in the WWE. Please.
In fact I’m going to state now that I want the cruiserweight matches to be even shorter, that all cruiserweights must wear ridiculous looking masks, not be allowed to speak and get no interview time, so that the important wrestlers can get some time back to cut some good old fashioned promos. This is the WWE, enough of this trying to appease ex-WCW fans already. They sucked.
Anyway… back to the point. I should apologise for that complete derailment of thought but this will probably be one of my last articles for Wrestling 101 so bear with me. Bradshaw as champion is a joke in itself… And I really don’t think when you add the deadman Undertaker that was stale even before Kane was pinned at Wrestlemania XX that you need me to point out how much this will suck. If you’re reading this then you probably don’t need me to say any more here other than that if this is the final match on the card, then only Bradshaw being covered in real cement will save this PPV from being remembered as yet another reason not to watch wrestling.
I have to say it reminds me of the upcoming Bush v Kerry presidential election. It’s a choice between two evils as to who you want to win. Both are terrible, and you don’t want either to win… so really nobody wins here. I honestly haven’t been following the Smackdown backstage news at all, and I didn’t say I was going to predict anything, but if Undertaker does get the title for some strange reason again then really I don’t see the difference. It’s amazing how wrestling can make you so angry sometimes. At the end of the day though I watch wrestling to be entertained, and when I don’t get entertained and actually end up getting pissed off and coming away from a PPV feeling cheated out of 3 to 4 hours of my life (including pre-PPV preparations of course… though for me the fun has gone, I’ve been so bored with wrestling that the last one I watched live was Summerslam 2003. What a coincidence eh…. Though perhaps it was the letdown then that’s inspired me to write this).
There’s actually nothing to say about the Smackdown title match if you think about it. If Bradshaw wins… we wait and pray for another person to take it off him, whilst also saying a very large number of prayers that the feud doesn’t get another month… or… agh… longer. If Undertaker wins, it’ll just be a little ego stroker for him before he hopefully just F**KS OFF and retires. I’m really not sure just how Undertaker has managed to bore me so much ever since he dropped the badass respect teaching heel all those years ago.
Of course the final match should probably end up being Chris Benoit v Randy Orton for the Raw World Heavyweight title. Now I think most wrestling fans know that the WWE management obviously likes Randy Orton, and that one day Randy ‘I’m just like Rock, honest’ Orton would end up main eventing. I don’t think many however either wanted it or expected it this quickly though.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind Randy Orton, and I understand why a lot of wrestling fans, in particular a lot of our own guys here at Wrestling 101 would like him. He’s fresh air in the once stale Raw main event scene, he looks good, and he has a decent character and a decent finisher and all that jazz that makes a decent WWE star. Although at first his big matches were pretty much forced down our throats (i.e. Randy Orton v Shawn Michaels) along with the Mick Foley feud that I personally didn’t enjoy, the Intercontinental title run was exactly what him, and surprisingly, the Intercontinental title needed. Then they went and gave it to Edge and ruined all the good work that had been done, but hey I’ve ranted about that already.
So I’m not saying I don’t like Randy Orton. It’s just that I dispute that the time is right for the final part of his push. We’ve all heard that WWE management is very keen to give Orton the title in the future supposedly, and despite what you may hear they might not give it to him just yet. Either way it’s not like Bradshaw v Taker, in that most people will probably be pleased for either guy to win in this one, though I dunno who to root for. I honestly believe a loss for Orton would be the worst thing that could happen to him after losing needlessly to Edge and could kill any heat that the WWE had actually managed to squeeze out of the man. If Benoit loses, then Randy Orton will anti-climactically and arguably become World Heavyweight champion undeservedly however.
Perhaps it’s because I’m such a massive Lesnar mark, but I don’t want Orton to become the youngest WWE champion ever. Whilst he’s a fresh face on the main event scene and all that he just isn’t a Rock or a Brock Lesnar, he just doesn’t have anything special about him in my eyes, and I don’t want him to win it without having actually achieved anything to deserve it (Lesnar had the NCAA achievements before you moan). This isn’t hypocritical before you start complaining, since Lesnar was an outstanding talent and was in a different league from Orton. I’m hoping even if you dislike Lesnar that you will be able to admit that he was a special talent. Then again if you didn’t like Lesnar, you probably didn’t like Austin or Rock either.
Even then, that might not stop you from agreeing with me that it’s just too soon for Orton. It’s like the prospect of John Cena winning the title against Lesnar at Backlash 2003. It took Cena a long time to recover from being dumped in the deep end too quickly, and I don’t want them to screw up Randy Orton’s long term chances of success, since hopefully in getting even more experience he’ll become less and less bland. Just look how far he’s come along since the WWE originally started pushing him into our face.
Just think though, after Summerslam 2004, Randy Orton and Bradshaw could be the WWE’s world champions. It’s a worrying prospect. Hopefully the show won’t be a let down, and be a genuinely decent PPV. As soon as you read a review saying ‘it was better than expected’ then you know it probably wasn’t. Saying that, perhaps since the expectations aren’t going to be too high we might actually be treated to a proper, decent PPV.
Try to have a good Summerslam everyone in the meantime.