Written By: Alexander Settee
Summerslam 2008, August 17, 2008, Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
Announcers: The Teams of: Jim Ross & Tazz, Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler, and Todd Grisham & Matt Striker
So here we are with the 21st annual Summerslam. Crazy how it’s gotten to be that many. I’m starting to feel old. Looked like it was shaping up to be a pretty good card too with basically all the matches having some sort of issue behind them, and nothing just slapped together for the sake of doing it. See how easy that was? Well maybe you do, but I bet that they don’t. Scramble Matches, anyone? But that’s a complaint for next month; let’s get on with Summerslam 2008!
Opening Match: Jeff Hardy vs. MVP
Hardy avoids a charge and gets in some punches, so MVP runs. Hardy chases him outside, where he avoids a kick and sends him to the barrier. In the ring, that gets 1. Slam sets up a slingshot legdrop from the apron for 2, and next he goes to the armbar. MVP tries to armdrag his way out, but Hardy holds on, so MVP has to make the ropes to escape. Corner whip by Hardy, but he gets caught on the charge with a belly to belly suplex that gets MVP 2. Now MVP hooks a sort of headlock that he’s using to work over the neck. He changes to a camel clutch, but soon just lets it go. Hardy kicks him away, but then when he tries a monkey flip, MVP holds on to the legs and goes to a leglock. Hardy makes the ropes and comes back with some punches from the apron, but when he tries to springboard in MVP catches him with a good shot and gets 2. He puts Hardy in the Tree of Woe and drops him on his head for another 2. Powerbomb is tried, but Hardy slips out and gets a neckbreaker, followed by a spinkick, but when he tries a slingshot seated dropkick, MVP gets the feet up and nails him, which gets another 2 count. Corner whip and dropkick hit, but on a charge, MVP gets clotheslined. Both guys sell for a bit and when they get up, Hardy nails a Russian legsweep for 2. Sunset flip also gets 2. Whisper in the Wind hits and he goes for the Swanton Bomb, but Shelton Benjamin is out for the distraction, so Hardy dives down on to him. He’s back on top to try again, but now MVP has had time to recover, so the Swanton misses and MVP gets the Drive By Kick for 3 at 10:13. Really good match and a great way to open up the show. Presumably this means that Shelton/Jeff for the US Title is on the horizon. I was going to suggest that with a babyface champion like HHH and so few good heels, MVP is the kind of guy who with the right build up, could be used as a solid PPV challenger for him. He’s in the Smackdown Scramble match at Unforgiven, I know, but I think they’re missing the boat not going one on one with him. ***
Intercontinental & Women’s Championship Match: Kofi Kingston & Mickie James vs. Santino Marella & Beth Phoenix
Winning team gets both titles here, although I don’t believe they ever specifically mentioned who gets which title in the event of a win by Glamarella. Given the buildup, it may not be as obvious as it seems. The women start off with Mickie failing to get a takedown and Beth dropping her. Now Mickie tries a go behind, but Beth just overpowers her. She gets sent off the ropes, ducks, and comes back with a dropkick to the knee. Second one takes Beth down for 1. Beth recovers to hit a back suplex and tags Santino. Mickie has some success with a kick to the head and a monkey flip, but then makes the tag to Kofi. Kofi is in with a flying bodypress and dropkick. Corner whip, and he jumps onto Santino’s shoulders hitting some punches. Big uppercut causes Santino to bail. Beth gets on his case until Mickie comes from behind and dropkicks her off the apron. Now Kofi feigns a dive to the outside, which has Santino jumping into Beth’s arms. This guy is gold. Kofi gets him back in the ring, but Santino catches him with a neckbreaker for 1. He goes to a rear chinlock, which Kofi tries to elbow out of, but Santino goes to the eyes to control. Tag to Beth who gets in a kick before tagging right back out again. Santino gets a suplex for 1 and goes back to the rear chinlock. Kofi hiptosses out, but runs right into a shot from Santino. Both guys tag the women and Mickie tries some punches again and gets a clothesline. Second clothesline also hits and she even takes a shot at Santino. Rana is next for Mickie, and then she comes off the top with a Thesz Press for 1 as Santino makes the save. Kofi comes in and charges at Santino, but is dumped outside. Mickie gets a DDT on Santino, but Beth is right there to catch her with the Glam Slam for the pin to win the titles for her team at 5:42. Beth takes the Women’s belt and Santino gets the IC one with no tease at all of going the other way with it as I thought they might. Short, but good while it lasted. Santino and Kofi are two of my favourite guys to watch on Raw right now, and I hope Kofi doesn’t get forgotten about now that he’s lost the title. **
Time now for the big announcement from Shawn Michaels, who is accompanied by his wife, Rebecca. She was Nitro Girl Whisper way back in another lifetime in case you weren’t aware. He cuts a really good promo talking about how the doctor has advised him to retire, and his family thinks that the time has come to listen to the doctor. Chris Jericho comes out and refuses to accept that Shawn won’t give him proper credit for retiring him. This may be the best pure pro wrestling feud they’ve built up in many years. Ends up with Shawn pushing Jericho’s buttons too hard, but when Jericho tries to attack, Rebecca gets punched in the face. Well, Shawn has to come back now, doesn’t he? I also like how they didn’t oversell it like she was seriously hurt or anything, and that she did get up and walk out. That adds a nice touch of realism. I’m looking forward to the match this is building to.
ECW Championship Match: Mark Henry (w/Tony Atlas) vs. Matt Hardy
Hardy ducks a lockup and hits some punches, but Henry comes back and shoves him to the corner. Charge misses and allows Hardy to hit the Twist of Fate, but Atlas pulls him off at 2 and Henry is disqualified at 0:34. What the hell was that? We know there were no time issues on this show, and I didn’t hear anything about one of them being hurt, so who could have thought that this was a good idea? Atlas goes to work on Matt after the match, but Jeff Hardy makes the save, and even hits a Swanton off the apron on to Atlas. The Hardyz then team up to hit a suplex on Henry on the floor. Striker calls them the greatest tag team of the last 20 years. I don’t know about that one. DUD
World Heavyweight Championship Match: CM Punk vs. John “Bradshaw” Layfield
Lock up and a break kick things off, followed by JBL getting a knee and hammering away. Side headlock by JBL, Punk fires him off and gets shoulderblocked. After blocking a hiptoss and ducking a clothesline, Punk gets a flying forearm and a dropkick to send JBL out. Dive to the outside hits and back in the ring, Punk then gets a flying bodypress for 1. Off the ropes, but JBL gets another shoulderblock. He whips Punk to the corner but eats boot on a charge. Punk goes up, but is caught in a fallaway slam off the ropes for 2. JBL goes to work on the back with a corner whip and hooking a bearhug. Punk elbows out, but runs in to a big boot, which gets 2 for JBL. Suplex also gets 2 as does a waistlock side suplex. He reapplies the bearhug, on the mat this time, from which Punk escapes, but gets nailed again coming off the ropes. Abdominal stretch now by JBL, but Punk hiptosses out. He finally gets a bit more offence in with a high knee and bulldog, but can’t get the GTS. JBL takes him down with a clothesline and drops five elbows for 2. Slugfest breaks out and Punk ends up ducking a short clothesline. Nice kick to the head gets 2 for Punk, but when he tries a springboard move he gets caught with a powerslam for 2. JBL tries the Clothesline From Hell, but Punk catches him with a spin kick. Corner whip and high knee hit, but he can’t get the bulldog this time, and JBL places him on the tope rope. Back suplex from there hits as Punk appears to be bleeding from the back of the head. Replay shows a nasty looking back-of-the-head to back-of-the-head collision a few moments ago as they went down on the spin kick spot. Blood aside, they don’t look to be any worse for wear though. JBL gets 2 from that back suplex, but when he tries a short clothesline, Punk ducks it and hits the Go To Sleep for the pin to retain the Title at 11:14. Finally, a good strong win for Punk. You’d almost think they want him in this spot or something. He’s really good at playing the underdog face, and here was no exception. ***
WWE Championship Match: HHH vs. The Great Khali (w/Ranjan Singh)
Ah-ha! I’ve figured out the reason behind the strange booking of the ECW Title Match earlier tonight. HHH has used his influence to make sure that match left such a sour taste in the mouths of the fans that they won’t even notice how bad this one is going to be. He really is the smartest man in the business. Khali shoves him back to start us off. HHH uses speed and punches to control for a bit, even trying and failing to get the Pedigree, but is soon caught by the throat and hit with a chokeslam. The Vice Grip is hooked already, but HHH knees his way out and clips Khali’s leg. Khali bails to shake it off, but when HHH chases, Khali nails a big chop and whips him to the barrier. In the ring, he hits some elbows in the corner and a short clothesline for 2 with an arrogant one footed cover. To a nerve hold now, which he holds for a bit before letting go to hammer HHH and drop a leg for 2. Back to that nerve hold, but HHH makes a comeback with some punches and nails a facebuster. Khali falls back and is tied in the ropes. HHH charges, but runs into a boot. By the time Khali gets loose, HHH is back up, and he tries the Pedigree again only to be backdropped outside. However, he grabs Khali’s leg, drags him to the corner and posts it. Getting back to the apron, Khali catches him with a clothesline and then gets him in the ring for the Vice Grip. HHH tries to power out of it, but gets tossed to the corner. Khali charges and misses, which allows HHH to finally hit that Pedigree, and of course, it gets the pin to retain the Title at 9:20. I think I have to take back what I sad about the match being bad. This was not a great match by any means, but still, hats off to HHH for carrying this thing to the realm of respectability. The match told a good story, with HHH playing the overwhelmed and overpowered babyface (a role we’ve never really seen from him) well, and really putting Khali over quite a bit before getting the win. It would have been so easy, and so like him to go out there and make Khali look like the buffoon that he is, but HHH was obviously determined to prove something here. *1/2
John Cena vs. Dave Batista
I spent the week prior to this show trying to get my hands on a copy of Prototype vs. Leviathan from OVW so I could write a mini-review of it, both because it would be a cool thing to do to counter the “first ever meeting” hype, and as a point of comparison to see how far these guys have come in six and a half years, but sadly that didn’t work out, so all I have is this one. Going in, I thought that the match was pretty much a pick’em. Neither guy really needed the win more than the other, although I did think Cena should have taken it due to his clean loss at the GAB. Not that there’s a wrong way to go here, I just think the other way from what they did was preferable. Batista gets a side headlock and is fired off the ropes, but comes back with a shoulderblock. Coming off again, Cena catches him with a slam, hiptoss, and second slam. Now Cena goes to the side headlock, gets fired off and knocks Batista down with a shoulderblock. Off the ropes again, Batista gets a big boot, and tries the Batista Bomb, but Cena escapes, only to get clotheslined. Jackhammer gets 2 for Batista. Corner whip is reversed and Cena then nails a suplex for 2. Irish whip is reversed, and Batista hits a side slam for 2. Both finishers are teased, but don’t hit, so Batista clips the leg and goes to work on it. Figure four, which I don’t recall from him before off the top of my head, is hooked, but Cena fights it and makes the ropes. Cena dumps him outside to get a chance to recover. Back in, Batista charges, but Cena avoids him and nails a couple of shoulderblocks, followed by an atomic drop slam. Five Knuckle Shuffle hits, but when he goes for the FU, Batista elbows out and hits a big boot. Both guys down for a bit, and when they get up Batista drives Cena back to the corner. He gets a corner whip and clothesline, but when he tries it again Cena gets the elbow up. Batista still manages to get Cena with a spinebuster. Batista Bomb is attempted again, but Cena blocks it and hooks the STFU. Batista struggles to the ropes, with Cena dragging him back, but finally Batista is able to make it. Cena goes for the FU, but it’s reversed to a rear choke by Batista. Cena elbows out of that, but ends up getting speared for 2.5. Batista tries a slam, but Cena slips out and finally hits the FU. Cover is delayed by selling, and it only gets 2.5. Cena goes up top, but Batista gets up there with him and they have a slugfest up there. Cena knocks him down and tries a dropkick, but is caught and powerbombed for another close 2.5. Batista then gets him with a boot to the face, and finally hits the Batista Bomb. No more kickouts left for Cena as Batista gets the 3 count at 13:43. They were built as equals, and worked the match as equals. It was booked to show that it easily could have gone either way, but Batista got the right move at the right time and finished Cena off. It was maybe a little on the short side for the “epic struggle” story they were telling, but that’s only a minor fault really. Great job by both guys. ****
Main Event, Hell in a Cell Match: Edge vs. The Undertaker
Edge comes into the cage with a look on his face that I would describe as psychotically focused. You would not want to run into someone with that look out on the streets after dark, that much I know. Undertaker is making his return from yet another layoff here. I know that he can still deliver when he’s called on, but it’s getting to the point where the injuries are coming more and more often, and he needs to think about walking away while he can still walk. Edge comes out firing with some success, but soon gets hit with a big boot. Taker gives him some shots in the corner, and tosses him outside. Edge gets run to the cage a couple of times, as well as to the stairs. The stairs are now placed in the ring and set up in the corner. Taker drops Edge on the stairs in snake eyes fashion, but Edge actually no sells it and just runs Taker backfirst to the stairs. Dropkick and spear against the stairs give Edge time to stack some tables on the outside. He tries to suplex Taker onto them, but that doesn’t work. Taker goes to choke slam Edge through them, but Edge counters by dropping Taker on the top rope. He brings a chair out now and nails Taker. A table gets set up in the ring, as does a ladder. Taker is hit with the chair again and placed on the table. Edge gets the “Foley style” elbow with the chair off the ladder, which gets 2. More chairs are brought in, and he tries a Conchairto, but Taker grabs him by the throat and knocks him out to the apron. From there he boots Edge off the apron and into the cage. He hits Edge with the stairs and goes to post him, but Edge slips off the shoulders and Taker goes to the post instead. Now Edge runs Taker back to the cage, and it breaks, allowing them outside around the announce tables. I can’t believe they made Grisham and Striker sit there all night when they only had one 30 second match to call. Edge ducks a monitor shot and gets one of his own. They climb on the tables with Edge running across and spearing Taker on to the ECW table, which I guess is the new whipping boy table with no room for a Spanish one, and breaking it. Both guys slug away and they make it back in the cell. Crowd actually boos that, probably because they were expecting them to go up top. Edge nails him with a ladder, and then uses a spare camera that was under the ring for some reason for a close 2.5. He sets up for another spear, but Taker catches him and chokeslams him for 2. He sets up the Last Ride, but Edge low blows his way out. Impaler hits for 2, and Taker sits up. He gets Edge with a boot and goes to powerbomb him through the tables, but Edge slips out and gets a spear for 2.5. Edge mounts him in the corner for punches, but Taker gets the Last Ride off of that, but it too only gets 2.5. He picks Edge up while standing on the stairs, but Edge slips out again, and slams Taker down on the stairs. That gets another 2.5, and Edge actually tries the Old School rope walk, but Taker crotches him on the corner, and then chokeslams him down through the stacked tables from earlier. Edge is officially dead at this point. Taker gets him back in the ring and hits a spear. He then uses the camera and a Conchairto of his own. They’re playing up that Taker is getting revenge by doing to Edge all the things that Edge has done to him. Tombstone finishes Edge off for good at 26:42. It then gets a bit silly as Taker makes his exit. He sees Edge stirring on the Titantron, so he goes back for more. He sets Edge on a ladder and chokeslams him off of it down through the ring to, I guess, symbolically send Edge to Hell. Flames start coming up out of the hole to emphasize that part. Well, post match silliness aside, this was a hell of a match. They worked their asses off to put on a show and it worked. The only real problem: No blood. This match was begging for Edge to be bleeding like a stuck pig at the finish, but we get nothing. I don’t know if that has to do with the new child friendly direction or what, but I think it really needed to be there. Also, this is the fifth time they’ve wrestled on PPV this year, so hopefully it’s the end of the feud, because there’s nowhere else to go after this. ****1/2
Now this was a great show. The main events both delivered big time, and the undercard, with one 30 second exception, supported them well. Throw some great development in the Michaels/Jericho saga, and we have a winner. Biggest surprise was HHH pulling a decent match out of Great Khali as I was not expecting much there at all. Only one low point, but really, who cares about ECW anyways? Thumbs up for Summerslam 2008.