WWE Summerslam 2011
August 14th, 2011
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
August 14th, 2011
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
We open the show with Adam Jones (the guitarist from Tool) playing the National Anthem on the electric guitar. Pretty good stuff, I've always liked Tool. We get the usual pyrotechnic work followed by the typical pre-PPV hype video package, this time focusing on the great Punk/Cena rivalry that's been going strong for two months now.
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and Booker T
The Miz's music hits and the former champ makes his way to the ring as apparently he's involved in an opening six-man tag team match to start the show off. Miz tries to cut a promo but gets interrupted by R-Truth, who is then promptly interrupted by Alberto Del Rio. Not a bad match to throw together to start the show I suppose.
Rey Mysterio/John Morrison/Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz/R-Truth/Alberto Del Rio
Cole reminds us that Rey will face the winner of the WWE title match tonight tomorrow night on Raw. Miz and Kofi start us off, with Kofi launching Miz with a monkey flip before tagging JoMo in for some double-teaming. Truth tags in and eats a springboard spinkick from Morrison for a quick pin attempt. JoMo gets sent to the floor but Truth tosses him right back in and slaps on a chinlock. Miz tags back in applies a sleeper onto JoMo as the crowd is hot to start and already rallying behind JoMo. Morrison hits a pele kick on Miz and tags Kofi in. Kofi takes out Miz with a dropkick and then a nifty leaping cross body off the top turnbuckle. Kofi hits the Boom Drop on Miz and sets up for the Trouble in Paradise, but Miz avoids it. No worries though as Kofi gives him the SOS anyways for a near fall that's broken up by Del Rio, who nearly superkicks Rey's face off on the apron. Miz hits a nasty sort of RKO into a DDT move on Kofi for another near fall. Truth gives Kofi a big gourdbuster, but again Kofi kicks out. The heels try isolating Kofi in their corner, working your basic tag match formula. Kofi manages to eventually get the hot tag to Rey, who hits a seated senton off the top on Truth, followed by a springboard cross-body. Truth and Miz both get set up for the 619, but Del Rio breaks it up so Morrison takes out Del Rio with a corkscrew plancha over the top!. Kofi springboards out onto Miz while Rey hits a big splash off the top onto Truth for the win at 9:37. Pretty good for a thrown-together opener, and pairing them all into one match leads me to think that the title matches later tonight are going to get some serious time. Hot finish to a solid but unremarkable opener. **1/2
Backstage CM Punk is with John "Funkhouser" Laurinaitis, who wants a public apology from Punk for attacking him on RAW last week. Punk gives him an extremely sarcastic apology and turns around right into Stephanie McMahon! She wishes Punk luck tonight, much to his disbelief. Punk tells her to run along and talk to her husband Triple H or her daddy Vince McMahon. She says she spoke to both of them and they both wished him and Cena good luck tonight. Steph offers him her hand, but Punk refuses on the grounds that he "knows where that hand has been", which gets a big pop from the crowd. Oh no he didn't! Damn, Steph still looks great for her age.
Sheamus vs. Mark Henry
This match just sort of came together as both guys were listlessly meandering around on Smackdown over the summer. Henry is in his usual annual heel monster push while Sheamus had just turned babyface and has been getting some huge pops as of late. Thankfully he's still using his original music and not the faux Dropkick Murphys rip-off they recently made for him. Henry overpowers Sheamus to start as I don't think we've ever had a match with two men of such opposite pigmentation as these two before. Sheamus lays in hammer fists to little luck and Henry tosses him out of the ring. Henry gives him a press slam back into the ring and then hits the big splash for a two count. Henry chokes Sheamus on the second rope as a big "Let's Go Sheamus!" chant starts up. Henry lifts Sheamus up into a torture rack bear hug and then tosses him sternum-first into the turnbuckle as this has been total domination by Henry so far. Henry misses a Vader Bomb in the corner and Sheamus tries to start a comeback with big forearms and knee strikes. Sheamus comes off the top with a shoulder-block, but Henry kicks out at two.Sheamus misses the Brogue Kick and eats a clothesline. He avoids a slam though and Brogue Kick's Mark Henry out of the ring. Sheamus goes out to bring him back in but Henry winds up slamming him first into the steel post and then into the guard barrier, which totally collapses in an impressive-looking spot. Sheamus can't make it back into the ring by the ten count and is counted out to give Henry the win at 9:22. Crowd doesn't like that finish and neither do I. I understand the idea of keeping both guys strong by not giving either man the loss, but then why book the match on PPV in the first place? Just throw them in a tag match and have someone else take the pin or something. This was shockingly decent until the finish though. **
Josh Matthews is backstage with the World Heavyweight Champion, Christian. He asks Christian about the big news Christian apparently got, but all Christian will say is that Orton won't walk out with the title tonight and that he has an "insurance policy" tonight. I smell a run-in, could Edge be in the building tonight?
We get a trailer for the upcoming action film Killer Elite, starring Robert De Niro, Jason Statham, and Clive Owen. Not sure what the connection this has to the WWE, but they plug it nevertheless. Looks like a decent action flick.
Cee-Lo Green is introduced next for his musical performance of the Summerslam theme song, "Bright Lights, Big City" off of his debut solo album, which I highly recommend to anyone looking for a modern take on soul music with some hip-hop influences. He segues right into the censorship-friendly version of "Fuck You" (entitled "Forget You") as some of the divas show up behind him as his back-up dancers. I'm a fan of Cee-Lo's, but this wasn't exactly one of his better performances honestly. It wasn't bad by any means, it just wasn't particularly exciting. Thankfully the whole performance only lasts about seven minutes before ending. I see they've learned from their past mistakes with Kid Rock.
WWE Divas Title Match
Kelly Kelly © vs. Beth Phoenix
Kelly has Eve at her side while Beth has Natalya. That doesn't bode well for K2. Apparently Nattie and Beth have dubbed themselves the "Divas of Doom". Kelly is fired up to start with kicks and forearms in the corner. Beth grabs her leg and Kelly flips out of it before delivering a flying headscissors to Beth. Kelly tries her handstand-tarantula submission briefly before knocking Beth off the apron and then giving her an axe-handle to follow up. Damn Kelly looks good tonight, and not just in her usual aesthetic way either, she's actually bringing some fire to her work tonight. Back inside Kelly walks into a lariat by Beth and gets hung-up on the top rope. Beth delivers the old Cabana flying ass into the corner and then hits a snapmare for a two count. Beth lifts Kelly up into a bear-hug/torture rack submission, but Kelly is able to counter into a neckbreaker. Kelly gets hung up in the tree of woe in the corner but she manages to escape and roll-up Beth for a near fall. Sidewalk slam from Beth only gets two. Kelly channels her inner Daffney and starts screaming at the top of her lungs while stomping away at Beth in the corner. Kelly tries for her handspring back elbow, but Beth catches her and tries for the Glam Slam. Kelly counters into a roll-up though and is able to get the pin at 6:33. Kelly has seriously improved in the ring over time while Beth is one of the best women the WWE have, so this was much better than you might have expected. **
Backstage we see Stephanie McMahon leaving John Cena's locker room. Drama!
Elsewhere R-Truth tries to spell the word conspiracy when Jimmy Hart of all people shows up. Jimmy talks about his success in the past as a manager and offers his services to Truth. Truth then asks whether Hart is a "Little Jimmy" and he freaks out on him. He takes off while the Lakers' Ron Artest and his daughter watch on and shake their heads. Cute little segment.
Wade Barrett vs. Daniel Bryan
Barrett comes out to utter apathy, though to be fair Bryan doesn't get much of a pop either. If you had told me a year ago that DB would be carrying around a Money in the Bank briefcase with him by this year's Summerslam, I'd have called you a crazy man. Cole actually does his job for once and brings up how both men were on opposing teams in last year's Summerslam main event as Barrett works a loose wristlock to start. Bryan does some nifty matwork and dropkicks him before applying a hammerlock of his own. Another dropkick gets Bryan a two count. Dragon screw legwhip from Bryan followed by another dropkick sets up a Mexican Surfboard submission for Bryan. Bryan backflips out of the corner but walks right into a monstrous sidewalk slam from Barrett for two. Barrett delivers an impressive slingshot backbreaker with the assistance of the top rope before locking on a loose chinlock as the crowd tries to rally behind Daniel Bryan. Barrett sends Bryan to the floor with a huge boot between the ropes and this has by far been the most engaging I've ever seen Barrett look on offense. He's actually mixing in some new stuff tonight for once. Both men trade shots on the apron and Bryan sends Barrett to the floor with a dropkick. He follows up with a big running knee off the apron onto Wade on the floor. Back in the ring a missile dropkick only gets Bryan a two count. Bryan counters a pumphandle slam attempt and lays in some vicious kicks into Barrett's chest and legs before practically knocking him out with a kick to the side of the head, but again Barrett manages to get his shoulder up. Barrett tires for the Waste Land, but Bryan counters right into a guillotine choke before transitioning into the LeBell Lock! Barrett gets the quick rope break however. Bryan tries for a top rope frankensteiner but gets crotched on the top rope and then taken out with a lariat. Barrett gives him the Waste Land and picks up the clean pin at 11:47. On my first viewing of this match it sort of came off as average because of what I've come to expect out of Bryan's matches these days, but upon a second viewing I realized this was in-fact an excellent and well worked little contest that let Bryan show off his trademark goods while putting Barrett over strong. Very good match. ***1/4
Up next is the big Christian vs. Randy Orton no holds barred match for the World Heavyweight title. These two have been feuding for months now, putting on several great matches and even a possible Match of the Year contender if Cena and Punk hadn't practically ended that discussion already last month. Christian comes out before the match with a mic and he introduces his big surprise, none other than his best friend Edge to be in his corner tonight. Big pop for Edge, who's sporting a new haircut. Edge talks about how he was alright with retiring because he passed the torch to Christian and he finally won the World title he deserved. Edge doesn't seem to approve of Christian's actions of late though, accusing him of being a disgrace to himself and being better than that. He says Christian will always be his best friend and brother, but Edge says he never knew his best friend would become whining, crying little bitch. Edge walks off, leaving Christian in the ring. To my utter amazement the crowd doesn't seem to react at all to Orton. Weird, Randy usually gets some of the best pops in the company but not tonight I guess. Finally, onto the match itself!
No Holds Barred World Heavyweight Title Match
Christian © vs. Randy Orton
Edge's disloyalty doesn't bode well for Christian's retaining hopes tonight methinks. They trade right hands to start and a flying elbow from the second rope gives Christian the first near fall of the match. They go into a neat little spot where each man counters one of the others signature moves (the baseball slide right hand for Christian and the second-rope DDT for Orton), showing just how well these men know each other. PSYCHOLOGY! The action spills to the floor and Orton sets up for an RKO on the announcer's table, but Christian is able to escape, grab his title belt, and he heads off into the crowd to try and make a run for it! See now these are the kind of heel tactics I love to see from a character like Christian. Orton of course catches him before he can take off in the crowd and they brawl for a bit among the people. They make their way back to the ring and a big "Let's Go Christian" chant starts up surprisingly (though a small dueling "Christian sucks!" chant pops up as well). Christian grabs a kendo stick from underneath the ring and starts slapping Randy around with it a few times. Orton responds with a roll-up that nearly wins it for him, but he eats a spinebuster and Orton's bleeding lightly from the mouth. Christian tries to hit Orton with the kendo stick off the top rope but eats Orton's picture perfect standing dropkick. Powerslam from Orton and he's starting to get into Viper mode. Orton gets another close near fall with a jack-knife cover and Christian bails to the apron to try and escape. Orton tries for his second-rope DDT unsuccessfully but manages to fight off a Killswitch attempt by Christian. He misses a Punt attempt and Christian tries to crotch him on the steel post, but Orton slams him into it instead. Orton pulls two tables out from under the ring and sets one up outside of the ring and slides the other inside the ring with the legs folded up. He grabs a hold of Christian, drags him to the top rope and superplexes him back into the ring on top of the seated table! Creative spot there, but it only gets Orton a two count. Randy sets up a table in the corner but eats a reverse DDT from Christian. Orton leapfrogs a spear attempt by Christian and Christian escapes an RKO attempt by tossing Orton over the top again. Christian gets absolutely launched into the steel steps and Orton sets up the lower ring step against the ring apron. He tries tossing Christian into it, but Orton is the one who winds up eating the steel. Christian drags Orton to the Spanish announcer's table and then drives one of their TV monitors into Orton's skull. Christian mimics Randy's Viper routine on top of the table, so of course Orton turns around and RKO's him right through it! Both men stumble back into the ring after a bit of selling and bump into each other like drunks in the dark. Orton tries for the RKO, but Christian counters into the Killswitch. Orton, however, kicks out so Christian grabs two steel chairs and sets up for the Con-Chair-To. Orton moves out of the way and waffles Christian over the back with the chair once, turns around, and waffles him again with the chair, sending Christian flying out of the ring and through the table set up at ringside! Orton throws a few garbage cans into the ring and drags Christian back inside. He tries to punt him against the steel steps in the ring, but Christian avoids him only to be powerslammed into another table set up in the corner! Orton grabs the kendo stick and starts wailing away on Christian's back. He sets up a garbage can and then gives Christian the second-rope DDT he had been trying to use all match long, crumpling the trash can in a nasty manner. Orton sets up for the RKO, but Christian grabs the kendo stick and nails him. Christian tries the cross body from the second rope (which if you'll remember was one of the ways he'd lost a previous match against Orton) but Orton gives him an RKO in mid-air right onto the steel steps in the middle of the ring for the definitive victory and his 9th World title at 23:42! This was an outstanding way to blow off their great feud and this match ranks right up there with the stellar match they had at Over the Limit. There were all kinds of subtle bits of psychology thrown in too to show us how well each man knows the other after so many matches together, and some of the spots were pretty brutal as well. A great match to (seemingly) end a great feud. ****1/4
We get some clips of Sheamus on the Conan O'Brien show (which was hilarious) as well as the usual Summerslam in LA red-carpet stuff that the WWE does every year. They plug their anti-bullying campaign a bit to wrap things up.
Elsewhere backstage Triple H shares a few words with his wife Stephanie before making his way out in his referee shirt for our main event.
Undisputed WWE Title Match
CM Punk © vs. John Cena ©
These two have one hell of a task ahead of them to try and live up to their five-star-adorned match from last month at Money in the Bank. Cult of Personality still rules as Punk's theme and the crowd gives him a very warm response. Unsurprisingly they aren't as kind to Cena. They lock up to start and the dueling chants start already. The crowd may not be as hot as Chicago was, but there's still already an incredible atmosphere in the building. Major feeling out process in the early going here with both men working holds and counter-holds on one another. Sleepers, wristlocks, even a reverse chinlock from CM Punk with his legs hooked around Cena's waist. Gut-wrench suplex from Cena only gets a measly one count. The crowd chants "You can't wrestle!" at Cena while he works a very long chinlock. Punk counters with another legscissors attempt and Cena tries for the STF, but Punk shakes it off. They both trade suplex attempts and Punk sends Cena to the floor with a leaping dropkick. Back inside Punk works an abdominal stretch variation on Cena, but Cena picks Punk up onto his back and delivers a huge swinging sidewalk slam. Cena tries to start a comeback with some patented shoulder-blocks but Punk cuts him off early. Cena eats a Muay Thai knee and tries for a bulldog, but Cena counters into gut wrench slam. Cena tries again for the STF, but Punk counters with a reverse STO and then wraps his legs and hands around Cena's neck into a unique submission whose name escapes me at this time. Cena counters into the STF, but Punk counters that into the Anaconda Vice. Cena takes a few nearfall attempts and then counters that into a crossface! Punk gets the rope break though. Some excellent chain and counter wrestling here so far. Cena gets sent to the floor and Punk takes him out with a tope suicida. Triple H counts up to 9 but doesn't count them out, instead tossing both men back into the ring so we can have a decisive winner tonight. Both men trade blows as the fans have dueling cheers and jeers. Cena hits a CRAZY dropkick that nearly knocks Punk's head off and then hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle. He tries for the AA but Punk counters out. They trade cradle and bridge attempts and Punk nails Cena in the side of the head with a stiff kick for a two count. Cena hits a powerslam but Punk kicks out this time. Cena goes to the top but Punk nails him with another running knee strike before hitting a bulldog variation off the top. Punk springboards right into the STF from Cena in a nifty spot, but he gets the rope break. Cena and Punk trade finisher attempts and Cena hits the AA on Punk, but Punk kicks out at two! You see when you've got a guy as protected as Cena is, having someone kick out of his finisher actually means something here and the crowd totally bought into the near fall because of it. Cena misses his top-rope legdrop and Punk lifts him up and nails him with the GTS, but it's Cena's turn this time to play the finisher kickout game! Punk hits a Macho Man-esque elbow drop from the top, but again Cena kicks out. We get a loud "Randy Savage!" chant in a nice moment. Cena tries to start a comeback but Punk nails another Muay Thai knee and gives Cena a second GTS and pins him (although Cena's foot was clearly on the bottom rope before the three) to retain at 24:09! There was no way these guys were going to top their match from last month, so luckily they didn't try to work the same kind of match, instead relying on solid psychology and an old-school approach of working and milking holds on one another. This reminded me alot of an old Destroyer match from the 70s in that regard, and while it's probably not for everyone, I enjoyed it immensely and so should anyone with an appreciation for this kind of old-school style of wrestling. ***3/4
After the match Triple H raises Punk's hand and claps a few times on his way to the back. Punk celebrates in the ring when suddenly Kevin Nash of all people hops in the ring and destroys Punk with a Jacknife powerbomb! Pretty big pop for Nash as he takes off into the crowd afterwards. Triple H doesn't look happy about that. So of course who should come out but Alberto Del Rio with his Money in the Bank briefcase! The bell rings and we've got ourselves a title match with an exhausted and destroyed Punk in the middle of the ring...
WWE Title Match
CM Punk © vs. Alberto Del Rio
Del Rio hits his stiff step up enziguri on Punk as soon as the bell rings and that's enough to pin Punk and give Del Rio his first WWE title at 0:12. This wasn't really a match so I can't really rate it as such. [NR]
Del Rio celebrates with the WWE title as we go off the air.
Bottom Line: This was actually a pretty good show. On my first review I gave the show a thumbs in the middle but after thinking about it a bit and looking back on the star ratings, it was a bit better than that so I'm going to go ahead and give it the Thumbs Up here. There were no bad matches on the show and several solid if unmemorable bouts on the undercard and the two main events were fantastic, so I think I'm going to go with a Thumbs Up here.