Friday, August 21, 2009
SummerSlam is Sunday from Los Angeles.
As I explain here, (and if you scroll a little bit, more thoroughly explain here) I have been doing previews of the major WWF/E PPV's for my longtime friend and occasional writing partner Kirk Hiner since 1996. Now, as we entirely communicate through our various blogs (hey, Kirk!) I do the previews in this space.
World Title TLC Match: Jeff Hardy © vs. CM Punk
-This is the Smackdown Title as opposed to the lineal WWF Title. The next time you are wandering through the dial on Monday, going in any direction other than RAW probably makes sense. But if it's Friday night and you have a few minutes - probably there's something good going on MyNetworkTV - as Smackdown has been on a helluva roll.
When last we left - Cena took this belt in a 3 way from Edge (Show was the third participant) at 25, then dropped it back to Edge at a PPV 3 weeks later:
(Imaginary Quote from Kirk Hiner as he Reads This): They have another PPV 3 weeks after Wrestlemania? Doesn't that sort of cut into the special nature of Wrestlemania? "Hey everyone, here's our Super Bowl - and three weeks later we have another one!"
That type of thinking is what kept wrestling marginalized in the state fairs before being brought into the mainstream by the benevolent and glorious McMahons. Each one more intelligent and sexier than the previous. Hey, Linda's considering running for US Senate. Which is tremendous. I assume her feud with Trish will fill up campaign ads against her.
Mmm, Trish. Makes me want to compose this list:
So, back to our story. Edge dropped to Jeff in a Ladder Match at the June PPV - and then immediately Jeff dropped to Punk. Punk, recall, had won Money in the Bank at 25 to get a title shot he could cash in whenever he wanted - and in the very first step in an awesome heel turn, he cashed it in on babyface Jeff. Punk then could take on a "why are you booing me" line with the fans - "I had the right to cash it in and I did, where's the problem" - and then a series of incidents that allowed Punk to claim the moral high ground over Jeff and the fans ensued - which allowed Punk to morph into his old heel "straight edge" indie character - Punk essentially saying that he is stronger of character than Jeff and the fans, and that is demonstrated by, among other things, his refusal to inhale.
Jeff took from Punk last month - and here we are again, in a TLC match for the strap.
Punk's had a ton of good free matches over the summer (lots of good TV matches on Smackdown and Superstars and a couple on ECW during the summer) and is a superhot act (and has made Jeff a hot act) going into the show. Jeff's wrapping up with the company, his last scheduled date is TV for next week.
Don't know if Punk takes now (that's how I'd do it) or Jeff drops next week, but this should be a real good match, my expectations are high.
(edit - expectations were rightly high, I've got it at 4 1/4 and the northern end of 4 1/4, it might move up a quarter star and into MOTY contention pending additional viewings. It's the best WWE match since Armageddon 2006)
WWE Title Match: Randy Orton © vs. John Cena
I'm less optimistic about this.
This is the WWF title belt, I'm unsure if this is the official company number - but Orton is the 92nd WWF champion, and they should make a thing about being the 100th when we get there. Back at Mania - HHH kept over Orton in a crappy match. Orton took at that PPV 3 weeks later
(Imaginary Kirk): You gotta stop saying that. There's no way there's a PPV 3 weeks after Wrestlemania 25.
Orton took in a 6 man tag (yes, the WWF Title changed hands in a 6 man tag, a 6 man tag that Skippy worked of all things)
(Imaginary Kirk): Shane McMahon is still wrestling? In 2009? How did WCW go out of business again?
Orton dropped to a returning Batista in a crappy match at the June PPV - but Batista (shockingly!) got hurt again and vacated the belt - there was a 4 way on RAW (Hunter, Cena, Show) and Orton retook.
So, it's Orton/Cena again. I have no interest in seeing it. I assume Orton keeps.
(edit - this was worse than I had anticipated. I went 1 3/4.)
DX: HBK/HHH vs. Legacy: Cody Rhodes/Ted DiBiase
Unless it's as a heel team, I have zero interest in seeing Hunter and Shawn tagging anymore.
Rhodes/DiBiase are in a stable with Orton - so the offshoot of Hunter's feud there is a feud with these guys; it's hard to say if the young guys will turn out to be any good - RAW doesn't lead to many good matches. There's nothing to dislike about either of them though, particularly young Ted. Following a beatdown of Hunter - he brought back Shawn (Shawn's been gone since his 25 loss to Undertaker, one of the better WWF matches of the year and one of the more overrated matches in years. This allows me to direct you to my ranking of every 4 star match in WWF history. ) Shawn returned; he and Hunter got beat down - and so there's a match. It will be okay and probably the babyfaces go over and I couldn't possibly care less except for the Cena/Orton match about which I do care less.
(edit - this was about what I expected, maybe a little better - I went 3 1/4 and the northern end of that, so really, it was as good as it could have been).
WWE Unified Tag Team Title Match: Chris Jericho and The Big Show © vs. Cryme Tyme
-Fortunately, we're now down to one tag champs, in the dark match at 25, the Colons (Carlito and Primo) went over Miz and Morrison to unify the belts. The Colons dropped at the June PPV to Edge and Jericho, who had aligned as a superheel team in an effort to bring some prestige to the tag belts (my suggestion would just be to have good tag matches, but nobody listens to me). Edge then got hurt (and apparently, post injury, kinda turned babyface in an effort to build to Edge/Jericho for 26) and they swapped in the Show. Paul obviously can't work even a little bit in 2009 and the act has really taken most of the heat off of Jericho's heel character, really stopping his momentum cold.
The other thing stopping the momentum is the pairing against Cryme Tyme, which has largely been a crummy act since their debut (although, they did finally have their first ever good match, on Smackdown, as part of their feud with the Hart Dynasty, Davey Boy's kid Harry along with Tyson Kidd, another former Calgary trainee, with the Anvil's girl as their valet). Cryme Tyme got this match when it was made by Shaquille O Neal.
Okay, when you turned in and saw Freddie Prinze, that was because each RAW has a celebrity host. Largely, this has led to all the awful you can imagine. One host was Shaq - they started a little feud with he and the Show - and they shoehorned Cryme Tyme into that.
The heels will keep and it won't be good.
(the heels kept and it was the definition of a 2 star match, about as anticipated, maybe a little better).
IC Title Match: Rey Mysterio © vs. Dolph Ziggler
-Rey took from Bradshaw in a squash that ended Bradshaw's WWF run at 25; he then had a terrific in-ring feud with Jericho that saw them have good matches on TV and PPV - Jericho took from Rey in the June PPV; Rey re-took (putting up his mask) at their second June PPV meeting. When Jericho then went tags - young Dolph Ziggler got the big jumpstart push into a belt feud with Rey. They met last month; Rey kept - and now they're doing it again which presumably means a switch. Ziggler looks okay - there are a dozen guys on the roster not doing anything I'd rather see get his push, but I don't hate him.
(edit - I like Dolph a little more today, this was the best match of this program, I went 3 1/2, which might be a quarter star heavy, but I really liked it. Rey's had a helluva good year.)
ECW Title Match: Christian © vs. William Regal
Everything being equal, this is the match I'd most be looking forward to. As it is, I assume it will go 8 minutes and I'll still enjoy it.
Christian returned from TNA at the top of the year; he was in Money in the Bank at 25 and took the ECW strap from young Jack Swagger at the 2nd April PPV. He then dropped to Dreamer in June - and re-took from Tommy last month. They've hot-shot this angle, Regal was just named number one contender and then this week, he seemed to form a stable, with the awful Russian Kozlov and the awful (but mean looking) black dude Ezekial Jackson. Christian's looked good - he was good before he left, he was good in TNA - and he's good now. Nothing bad to say about Christian.
Regal's the best wrestler in the company. Not "ten years ago, Regal was the best wrestler in the company" but, right now, in 2009, the best wrestler in the WWF is Steve Regal. Every time he's on TV something good happens. He had a 6 minute match with young Japanese junior Yoshi Tatsu that actually looked like a wrestling match looks in the 21st century (as opposed to a WWF style wrestling match).
Every couple of years, Regal gets a few weeks on TV - but ECW is an open field right now - and I think he might get the ball for a couple of months. I expect him to take with his heel group. I'd love it to go 20 minutes. It won't. But it would be terrific.
(edit - WWE hates us for our freedoms.)
MVP vs. Jack Swagger
-MVP was a long running heel US Champ - now as babyface isn't really getting a lot of traction. Swagger is a really good looking young heel. They won't get any time at all, and they'll do a real basic match; Swagger went over on RAW so probably they do it the other way here. These are good workers and I'd like to see them spotlighted a little more heavily than they are. Hopefully they don't cancel this match, as The Counterfactual really needs this match. I'm looking forward to however long they give this.
(I shouldn't have been. This was one star. They gave them no time and it showed. This was a bad program.)
Kane vs. The Great Khali
-There's literally nothing good that could come out of this. Don't watch it.
(edit. I took my own advice.)
So, that's the show - there have been worse SummerSlams (or as Jeremy Piven called it "the SummerFest") the TLC has a chance to be a 4 star match, the IC and ECW will probably both crack 3 stars given the match length - and we'll see if they give Porter/Swagger enough time to do anything. You're unlikely to see a Match of the Year Candidate such that I'd put it here. Hopefully they toss some workers like Morrison and Kidd into a dark match to help my little endeavor.
That's the big, big show. Coming your way this Sunday.