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Triple H, October 2011:

“When I grew up, I hated Hogan. I thought he was terrible and didn’t like to watch him. I was like Punk in a way. I liked the Steamboats and Flairs and the ones that could go. Would I be right in saying that Hogan was the wrong guy to go with, and they should’ve changed directions and gone with Steamboat because he was the better wrestler? Ludicrous.” - Triple H. October, 2011.

Summer Slam 2015

Tuesday, August 02, 2016




Summer Slam 2015 comes to you from Brooklyn.  Which, as maybe you’ve heard, is in the house. It is the 28th Summer Slam and the 114th WWF PPV. 

(Dark Matches have always been an element of the PPVs; collections of which were staples of the 90s tape trading movements. The WWF Network now has every dark match available for viewing – here, we see the dark matches aired live as pre-show matches, although without commentary.  I don’t hate wrestling without commentary to be honest – I also care less about crowd reaction than do others, but note here that going forward, all the dark matches air live on the Network as pre-show matches, even though the PPVs themselves are still actually PPVs – you can watch them on the Network a month later.

Prince Devitt d. Jushin Thunder Liger
Samoa Joe/James Storm d. Ciampa/Gable

It’s Liger’s long promoted WWF match, he does a second match on Dark Ride the following week, putting over La Sombra.  The second match continues a program, Storm is a mystery partner supporting Joe against a combined GDI/Underground team. Joe and Storm win, meaning Dark Ride 
Wrestling becomes the permanent name of the WWF Network show previously called GVU. 

The following week, Storm and Joe beat Gargano/Jordan – that’s enough to break up the G’s and the U’s, there’s squabbling after that loss which is going to lead to a Jordan/Gable v Gargano/Ciampa program, with Swagger and Noble as their respective mouthpieces. 

Storm cuts promo postmatch saying he and Joe are together – and together they run Dark Ride Wrestling – and together they can’t be stopped – Storm holds up four fingers (Storm was part of the final configuration of the Horsemen in TNA with Joe and Roode) and then Joe wipes him out.
Storm cuts the “is that how it is, you selfish prick” promo on Joe the following week.

Joe cuts a “yeah, I am a selfish prick, yeah, that is how it is – there’s no we, there’s no stable, this isn’t an invasion – this is Samoa Joe running this place on his own” response.

They have a match on Dark Ride – Joe goes over very strong and that ends Storm’s run.)

Your announce is Joey/Regal/Christian

1.       Ka$h Kingston (w/Woods) d. Tyler Perry Presents the Prime Time Players
-Bait and switch, it’s billed as the in ring debut of Woods in a tag team called The New Day, based on Woods’ catchphrase. But Woods remains in his professorial street clothes, cutting an in ring promo that he’s too woke to lay hands on these bougie brothers.  Kingston wins from the short side of a handicap match.

2. Number One Contender Triple Threat: Charlotte Flair d. Becky Lynch/Sasha Banks
-Paige is Women’s Champion, she grabs a headset and joins commentary; all four women are in a stable, 4-Ground, managed by Ric Flair.  This is one final to a finish – two important spots, one is Flair preventing his daughter from some form of rule breaking, say she’s trying to hold the ropes during a pinfall attempt and Flair breaks it up.  Flair was very public in not being happy this match was made, saying it was an attempt to drive a fissure into the stable, and has been preaching the need for the whole group to play fair and stay intact regardless of the result.  The build for match has seen Flair emerge as the manager of the stable and gain a lot of credibility by not promoting Charlotte at all; there’s no way to read 4-Ground coming into the match except that Charlotte is fourth. 

The second spot leads to the finish; Becky is down in the ring, Sasha and Charlotte are outside – 
Charlotte is on her knees doing the beg off spot, and Ric somehow gets in the way of Sasha taking advantage, say he accidently trips over Charlotte so he can take a bump – that puts him on the ground between the two women, Charlotte takes advantage and lays Sasha out, then returns to the ring, has a finishing sequence with Becky and gets the fall. 

Paige joins them in the ring – there’s some hesitance by all the women, but Flair consoles Sasha and Becky, tells them how well they fought, largely ignores Charlotte, and all seems fine is a bit uneasy as the group leaves the ring.

And now – a very special appearance by the senior US senator from the great state of Connecticut, Linda McMahon.

Linda comes to the ring, says it’s great to finally see women’s wrestling in the WWF – says it’s great to be in Brooklyn as New York has always been home of the WWF and the place with its most loyal fans.

And after a couple of additional platitudes, Linda McMahon announces her candidacy for the Presidency of the United States.

This is several years in the making, from her populist “tax millionaires+rebuild Infrastructure” campaign to her governing as an Elizabeth Warren style liberal to her book “Tonight…In This Very Country” detailing decades of wage stagnation and upward wealth distribution.  This announcement was expected, with McMahon providing the left flank challenge to Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders chooses not to run and throws his support behind Linda in her effort to become the first woman elected President of the US.

3.Roman Reigns Uso d. Randy Orton
-Following the Usos loss to Direct to Video at Mania, the latest in a line of big match losses for the Usos, Reigns essentially snapped, saying he would spend the next year killing each member of D2V dead.  He starts here with Orton and kills him dead, Orton’s off the booking sheet for at least a year, he’s left in scraps following this match.  Reigns yells “one down, two left” postmatch. 

4. Rusev (w/GHB and Lana) d. Luke Harper (countout)
-GHB cuts promo pre-match, says that a lady socialist like Linda McMahon, who just wants to give people health care and education and internet access and clean water, can run for President is exactly why the only real American men left – are Russians.

Finish comes when Harper (Sandow) comes to ringside – that just drives Luke nuts, he has no chill when it comes to his doppelganger, he chases him up the ramp, but never catches him – because as Lana distracts the official in the way you’d expect, someone emerges from GHBs limo which is parked on the top of the ramp…

…Dos Caras Jr.

Dos Caras wipes Luke out, by the time the official recognizes that, Dos Caras is back in the car, Luke is down, and a 20 count later the match is over with Rusev’s unbeaten streak intact.  Dos Caras comes to the ring postmatch and he poses with the rest of the group.  Dos Caras has returned to WWF and joined Rusev. 

5. Kalisto d. Pac
-Both men making their PPV debut; it’s the rookie, Kalisto who gets the fall in what is played as a sizeable upset.  They shake hands postmatch; Pac is noticeably frustrated, Steen has been pressing he and Claudio all summer to get tougher (and other euphemisms for turn heel) and Pac wrestled a totally clean match against a younger high flyer and got beat.  Regal is excited at the announce, standing and applauding for the Underground win. 

6. Number One Contender: Nick Nemeth d. Claudio Castagnoli
-Same essential story as the prior match, save for Nemeth’s matching Claudio in experience.  There are currently three former WWF Champions on the roster, one is the current champion Lesnar and these are the other two.  Nemeth and Claudio have built a friendship so despite Steen’s admonishment as expressed in the prior match, Claudio goes entirely clean.  Nemeth does not; he’s a tweener, and friendship isn’t as important as getting a shot at regaining that title. Nemeth grabs the tights to get his win, offers a handshake postmatch and Claudio accepts.  Regal again celebrates, high fiving Nemeth postmatch.  Nemeth will go to Survivor Series against the Lesnar/Steen winner later.  Claudio lost two straight matches against Lesnar and now loses to his friend Nemeth - like Pac in the prior match, it's an enormously frustrating night for stablemate Claudio.

SummerSlam IC Match History:
'88...Bret keeping his title over tag partner Davey Boy, who turned on him postmatch...
'89...Rude keeping the title over stablemate Hennig...
'90...Bret keeping over Jake...
'91...Bret keeping over Steamboat...
'92...Savage keeping over Jacques...
'93...Shawn keeping over Hennig...
'94...Razor keeping over Diesel in a no DQ...
'95...the first ever Summer Slam IC switch, Shawn beating Razor in a ladder match...
'96...Vader keeping in a wild brawl over Cactus...
'97...Cactus gets DQ'd in what was supposed to be a straight match against Shamrock in the Octagon, pouring thumbtacks all over the canvas...
'98...Austin wins the Triple Crown, submitting Shamrock...
'99...the first Summer Slam IC 3 way, Waltman takes Al Snow's title, DLo is the third man in the match...
'00...the first multiple falls match, Jericho takes from Eddy in a 2 of 3 falls...
'01...the unification of the IC, NWA US, and ECW TV belts, Tajiri winning all 3, beating Austin and Lance Storm...
'02...the titles remain unified, HBK taking his 4th IC title, beating RVD...
'03...Tajiri taking the titles from Rey...
'04....Jericho doing the Lizard King gimmick takes the belt in a three way over Eddy and Paul London...
'05...vacant...
'06...Hunter keeps over Leviathan with aid of the 51% Solution...
'07...Orton keeps over Kendrick...
'08...once again just the IC belt as the others are decommissioned, MVP keeps over Jeff Hardy...
'09...Shawn beats Rey to win his 5th IC title...
'10...Johnny Nitro takes from Matt Sydal....
'11...Sheamus keeps over Christian and then sends him shoulder first into the ringpost...
'12...title not defended...
'13...two defenses to make up for the previous year...Nemeth kept the belt over Christian and then lost to Ambrose...
'14...it took twenty years, but there was another IC ladder match at SummerSlam, Nemeth beating Jericho...


7. IC: Bray Wyatt (w/Harper) d. John Cena
-We continue to see the splitting of the Wyatts; first Luke Harper, then Dustin, now Cena – he didn’t intend to turn against the Family, but this match is positioned as the counterpoint to the women’s match, and instead of staying aligned, they bust apart – Harper (Sandow) plays the old Luke Harper bodyguard role early on – but Luke charges the ring and runs him off, leaving the playing field level to tease the possibility of a switch.  But it doesn’t happen, Bray wins and then gives Cena a postmatch beating.  Nothing on the booking sheet for at least a year for Cena.

SummerSlam tag title match history...
'88...the Rougeaus, Jacques and Ray with the Anvil as their bodyguard, kept over Demolition...
'89...the Rockers took the titles in a bloody battle over the Brainbusters who broke up postmatch...
'90...Kato and Tanaka, the Orient Express, took the belts over the makeshift team of Jannetty and Rude...
'91...the Road Warriors kept over Power&Glory...
'92...Money Inc kept their belts over the Road Warriors....
'93...the Steiners kept their belts over the Headshrinkers...
'94...the big man duo Luger and Bigelow kept their titles over those same Headshrinkers...
'95...the Smoking Gunns walked in and out with their belts, over the Harris Brothers...
'96...Bart had a new partner, Marc Mero, and they took the belts from Austin and Dustin Rhodes when Austin turned on his partner...
'97...the Road Warriors became tag champs again when they beat Owen and Davey Boy...
'98...a three way, Rock and DLo taking the belts from the New Age Outlaws with the other team being Hunter and Waltman..
'99...the Hardys beat Edge and Christian by DQ when Clique stablemates Hunter and Waltman joined E&C for a Hardys beatdown...
'00...TLC2, Edge/Christian taking the belts over the Hardys and Dudleys...
'01...the unification of the tag titles with NWA and ECW, the Dudleys beating Spike/Rhyno and DDP/Kanyon...
'02...a masked team which would reveal themselves postmatch as Benoit/Guerrero took the belts from Jericho and Storm...
'03...Hunter and HBK kept the belts over Dead Men Walking...
'04...rivals turned partners RVD/Mysterio took the belts over Flair/Leviathan...
'05...young tag champs Orton and Cena kept their belts over Bradshaw and Nick Dinsmore...
'06...the Dead Men Walking configuration of Hulk Hogan and PAUL kept the belts over Booker and Conway...
'07...the Superstar and the Sidekick took the belts from the LWO...
'08...Weapons of Mass Destruction kept their belts, beating Hunter and Edge...
'09...Division One took the belts from Dead Men Walking...
'10...Young Money kept over Dead Men Walking...
'11...Empire, Wade Barrett's original team, kept the belts over Nitro and the Miz...
'12...a rematch of 2010 and it came out the same way....
'13...the Shield came into Summer Slam two years ago with the belts, beat Defiance, and left with the belts....
'14...Orton again was on the wrong side of The Shield, this time as part of Direct to Video...

8. Tags: Sheamus/Barrett d. The Shield (Black/Ambrose w/Langston)
-It ends.  2 1/3 years later, the longest of any title reign in the Mania era.

It ends the way the Hart Foundation’s long run ended 30 years before, with the third man turning on the team.  Langston pulls Black off the apron, incapacitates him with a power move, sets him up on a table and splashes through it.  It needs to be enough that Black gets stretchered post-match. 

Underground doubleteam on Ambrose after the Langston attack on the outside leads to the fall.  Ambrose runs from the ring to aid Black, who is surrounded by ringside personnel – Sheamus/Barrett and Langston celebrate in the ring – it’s Barrett’s third tag title – that celebration ends when Kingston and Woods curiously make their way down the ramp, both applauding – Woods says that this is indeed a New Day for the WWF tag team division – and then Langston attacks Sheamus and Barrett, Woods and Kingston hit the ring and they lay out the brand new tag champs as Black is being stretchered away with Ambrose, not at all paying attention to the goings on inside the ring, is in tow.  Kingston/Langston and Woods pose over Barrett and Sheamus, all three men chanting “New Day…New Day…New Day…”

The Shield are busted up; Langston is a member of the New Day, Black is on his way to the hospital, and Barrett/Sheamus are the first new tag team champions since early 2013.

SummerSlam WWF Title Match history

'88...Dynamite keeps his belt over Savage...
'89...Savage keeps the belt over Bret...
'90...a cage match, Hennig keeping over Savage, Randy uses what becomes known as the WWF fork postmatch...
'91...Hennig was still the champ a year later, but dropped here to Davey Boy...
'92...Bret kept over Davey Boy in Wembley, HBK hit an elbowdrop on Owen through the announce table...
'93...a year later, Bret was still the champ, and he walked out with the belt after beating Razor...
'94...another cage match, this time it was the champ, Owen, successfully defending against Bret...
'95...Bret had the belt again, he kept it over Hakushi...
'96...HBK was the champ and stayed the champ, beating Owen...
'97...the title got held up after an Austin/Bret draw with Michaels as guest referee...
'98...Cactus won the title in a No DQ match after setting Owen on fire...
'99...can you believe there's a match without a Hart?...it was Career vs. Career, Cactus keeping the belt over Austin...
'00..Benoit kept the title here, beating the Rock...
'01...the WWF and ECW titles were merged here when Angle kept over RVD....
'02...a year later the NWA title was added too when Angle beat Rey...
'03...the culmination of a 64 man tournament for the vacant belt, Eddy beat Brock...
'04...in a 2 out of 3 falls match in Toronto, Benoit kept over Angle...
'05...another 2 of 3 falls match, Rey taking Eddy's belt...
'06...can you believe the Nature Boy won one last title...he beat Rey with the aid of the 51% Solution...
'07...this was the year there were 3 champs, the WWF champ was Rey, who took Booker's belt...
'08...the WWF belt was the only one left standing here, it was Punk's and he kept over Matt Hardy...
'09...Jericho walked in the champ and left the champ, beating MVP...
'10...Jericho was still the champ a year later, but lost to Edge, who won the Triple Crown...
'11...Nemeth kept his title here, beating Rey...
'12...Danielson was the champ here and kept over Sheamus...
'13...a cage match, Danielson regaining the title over Brock..Punk attacked Danielson with the WWF fork postmatch...
'14...Claudio was the man a year ago, he kept the belt over Bray Wyatt...

9. WWF Championship: Kevin Steen d. Brock Lesnar (w/Heyman) (Special guest referee-Ricky Steamboat)
-The 54th WWF Heavyweight Champion is Kevin Steen.

So, Brock takes everyone lightly - save Danielson, he doesn't know who anyone else is.  It really only caught up to him once, in his title win over Claudio where Castagnoli's strength was a big surprise and almost got Brock beat.  Other than that, he's had his way with the roster in this run.

Steen surprises him a little here - he's willing to brawl and willing to bail to the outside; he's a heel, so cheating isn't bug, it's a feature, and much of the match is frustrating for Lesnar, despite his physical advantages.

Steamboat is the finish.  We establish with multiple nearfalls early that Steamboat has a little hitch in his three count, it's 1-2--3, with the slight pause before the third hand drops.  He has the same hitch for every fall - except the last one, when Steen gets the fall it's 1-2-3-kickout-too late-new champ.

Steen has won, GDI has the title again - in streetclothes the injured Generico is first from the back, he and Steen hug - Claudio and Pac, both a little sheepish given earlier events, come out later and shake Steen's hand.  Like Punk, Danielson and Claudio before him - Kevin Steen has won the WWF Title for GDI.

On the other hand - Lesnar, believing he has been screwed by a fast count, freaks out.  He rips up the monitors.  He breaks a camera.  He rips up a mat on the outside.  He grabs Joey Styles over the announce table and F5s him on the floor.

Thats a full freak out moment - Heyman grabs Lesnar forcefully, screams at him to leave as personnel and security swarm the area.  Christian and Regal both drop their headsets and shout at Lesnar - Joey appears dead on the outside - it is chaos and pandemonium as Summer Slam comes to a close.

I'll come back in September with a list of some type, then October for the preview of Survivor Series 2015, the main event for which is Kevin Steen defending the title against Nick Nemeth.




Road to Summer Slam 2015

Friday, July 01, 2016


Summer Slam 2015 is coming in August from Brooklyn.

Let’s reset. 

RAW is real world RAW, the show that drives story. We try to avoid too many in ring promos and the away from the ring stuff is designed to either appear raw or stylized, with no backstage stuff in the manner of real world RAW.  We do some blue screen promos, some ECW style Pulp Fiction segments, a lot of highlight packages and taped pieces.  The announcers are Joey Styles, Christian, and Renee Young doing Gene Okerlund’s old job. 

Fight Night is real world Smackdown, it’s all matches and highlight packages.  If there’s a promo it’s presented as spontaneous.  RAW should feel as big as it can, Fight Night should feel small, intense, you want to hear the impact of the blows, smell the sweat, flinch from the violence.  Joey and Steve Regal are your announcers. 

GVU is NXT.  There’s a name change coming.  GVU is GDI v. Underground which I’ll explain momentarily.  It’s at Full Sail, which we call WWF University.  Scott Stanford and Corey Graves is your announce. 

There’s other Network programming.  For years there’s been a livestream of developmental, it predates the creation of the Network and continues thereon.  Just a raw feed of training and in the house where many of the developmental prospects live.  Developmental is called Underground, and a recap show, Notes From Underground, appears on the Network where the best moments from the week are in clip form, like The Soup.  They do one segment where they do clips from the rest of the programming as well.

There’s a First Take/PTI style debate show where the issues currently existing in the promotion are debated, kayfabe intact.  There’s a straight news show, like a Sportscenter, which covers the entire sport, anything going on in every promotion.  There’s a sheet show which isn’t listed as programming, it’s “off the menu” and it takes a code sent out on twitter to access it.  It’s a total shoot, we’d start off by trying to either hire Meltzer or just broadcast his podcast and failing that we’d work our way down. No holds barred. 

There are events, such as a ten week counting down of the 100 Greatest Wrestlers of all Time, there are clip shows recapping “this year in wrestling” – where we go through the pivotal events of a past year, mini documtentaries, round tables like the one Okerlund used to host, list type countdown shows - I could go on – there’s plenty of original programming is my point. Every single day of the year there should be at least one piece of original programming on the Network.  

Let’s get to the build for Summer Slam.

Here’s the card, every match is made by the newest member of the Championship Committee, Edge.

WWF Title: Brock Lesnar (w/Heyman) v. Kevin Steen (Special Guest Referee-Ricky Steamboat)
Tags: The Shield (Black/Ambrose w/Langston) v. Underground (Sheamus/Barrett)
IC: Bray Wyatt (w/Harper) v. John Cena
Number One Contender: Claudio Castagnoli v. Nick Nemeth
Pac v. Kalisto
Luke Harper v. Rusev (w/GHB and Lana)
Randy Orton v. Roman Reigns-Uso
Number One Contender Triple Threat: Sasha Banks v. Becky Lynch v. Charlotte Flair (w/Ric)
New Day (Kingston/Woods) v. TPPTPTP (Young/O’Neil)

Here’s how we get there.

The driving force through the summer is factional warfare.

GDI (Steen/Generico/Claudio/Pac)
Paul Heyman Guys (Lesnar/Kenta/Devitt/La Sombra)
Underground (Nemeth/Sheamus/Barrett/Swagger)

GDI stands for God Damn Independent; it’s a nearly ten year old faction started by Punk designed to be the proxy for an ROH invasion of WWF.  Steen’s a heel, the other three are white meat babies, Claudio was WWF Champion when Steen arrived, so even though Steen assumed a leadership role he deferred to Claudio’s desire to work in his chosen manner.  Now, however, Steen increases the pressure on Pac and Claudio to toughen up – GDI is down, currently and Steen says it’s due to their being soft.  Pac and Generico both wear masks, Pac is making his PPV debut at Summer Slam.  Steen browbeats Claudio and Pac pretty intensely, using all the codes for "be heels now" that you can think of.

If GDI is down, it’s the Paul Heyman Guys who are up, Lesnar is WWF Champion, Kenta beat Danielson at Mania in what appears to be his last match.  La Sombra is new, he shows up this summer to balance out the numbers. 

Here’s how long we’ve been doing a developmental storyline – the original head trainer was Taz. 

WWF University is also known as WWFU and most commonly referred to as Underground.  Once guys move through developmental and hit the main roster they’re affiliated, however Nemeth has been on opposite sides of the babyface/heel divide from former friends Sheamus/Barrett for years and just reunited to beat down The Shield at Mania.  Nemeth /Swagger establish themselves as tweeners during the summer, Sheamus and Barrett remain complete heels. 

They all meet in multiple combinations for most of the summer, Lesnar’s used sparingly, Steen and Generico never work as a two man tag, Nemeth and Claudio built a friendship the prior summer and that carries over.  Underground gets peeled off mid build when The Shield returns.  The Shield will defend their tag titles at Summer Slam as the longest reigning champions of any type in the Wrestlemania era, when they return they kill Swagger, that results in his leaving the main roster to go down to developmental to serve as trainer for Jordan/Gable.  Kalisto takes his spot.

The culmination is War Games, which we do every few years as needed – it’s GDI v. Paul Heyman Guys, the stakes are to get to name the special guest referee for Summer Slam.

GDI goes over, Steen gets the submission on Kenta, who is severely injured in the match.  Also injured is Generico, who fought through it, avoiding elimination, saving his team. Both men go on the shelf.  

In the subsequent RAW, we get the decision – GDI picks Steamboat as guest referee.

Steamboat has been involved with GDI since its inception, first as it’s chief antagonist as he was WWF Commissioner (currently, WWF has a Championship Committee, Austin, Michaels and Edge, all past Triple Crown winners…the Triple Crown means they’ve held all 3 WWF titles…the Championship Committee is rarely seen, rarely more than once for each man a cycle, Edge just took his spot at Mania which is why his profile is higher in this build) and a feud with Punk from their mutual days in both TNA and ROH carried over to WWF.  Eventually, Punk would beat Steamboat at Mania.  Eventually, Steamboat would become the owner of GDI, but divested himself over the past year. 

Steamboat appears with everyone from both factions and Edge in the ring.  Heyman, obviously is angry given Steamboat’s GDI association – but Steamboat makes clear his unimpeachable honesty and suggests that Steen is the reason he left GDI so we can add intrigue to that element of the match. 

The overall storyline of the match is Lesnar’s an unstoppable monster, beaten only by Danielson in this run, and the Lesnar matches clearly impacted all of his opponents, and how will Steen stand up to that onslaught?

The Shield’s held the tag titles for two years+, it’s the longest reign of any titleholder in the Mania era, and they haven’t been afraid to tell you about it.  But after their win over a reunited Division One (Nemeth/Swagger) at Mania they were attacked by Sheamus/Barrett with Nemeth and Swagger, both babyfaces, joining in.

That version of The Shield was Black/Ambrose – they’re largely who works in regular tag matches with Langston as their bodyguard who also works in 6 man matches, of which there have been many in this run (a really good analogue is the Hart Foundation, which was Bret and Davey Boy with the Anvil as the third guy; there were two primaries, but they also had a lot of 6 man matches and their title reign was Freebird rules).  At Mania, however, Langston lost a singles match to Rusev, so he was not present for either the record breaking win or the post match attack.  Ambrose and Black make a couple of references to that during the build – the build is fast, they take off most of the summer, returning at the top of August to kill Swagger and kick off the program where they swear vengeance on Sheamus/Barrett. 

Barrett and Sheamus were tag rivals turned stablemates when all of the Underground members on the main roster banded together in a big angle several years ago.  Barrett’s been tag champ, Sheamus has been IC champ, both have missed lots of time recently with injuries – this is their first tag effort together, both have been on the wrong side of The Shield during this run, as has been most of the roster. That's the thing - The Shield hasn't just squeaked by, they've been the Road Warriors, they've killed errrrybody.  

The Wyatt Family was Bray, Luke Harper (who was then called Harper) Cena and Virgil (Dustin Rhodes) – over the past year we’ve seen them split off, Harper added a first name, turned face and won the IC title.  He then defended it against Virgil, who turned face and returned to his old name.  The Wyatts added a man, Harper (stay with me) who is Damian Sandow (formerly of Underground, but now under the cult like sway of Wyatt) doing all the mannerisms and wearing the clothes of Luke Harper (Bray replaced Luke, see?).  Bray, with aid of Harper, took the IC from Luke at Mania.  Edge, as mentioned, puts the card together for Summer Slam – he brings the Wyatts (at this point, Bray, Cena, Harper) to the ring and says he was a tag champ who had to struggle to get singles opportunities.  He once felt lost in a stable (Edge and Christian are members of the Clique; the Clique was once in a year long feud with Team Angle, the enforcer for which was Regal, that animates the tension among the two color announcers; additionally, Regal is the leader of Underground, he became head trainer after Taz and then Rotundo left and is credited with the creation of the performance center.  Regal is an enormous figure in WWF; he is the template for the future of the promotion. Even in his role as color announcer, Regal makes no secret of his preference for Underground) and in the spirit of pay it forward, Edge says at Summer Slam, Bray will be defending against Cena (Cena’s a former tag champ, never had a singles shot).

That serves to do what you’d expect – Cena, unlike Dustin or Harper, doesn’t jump at the chance – he’s the most loyal to Bray, Cena's defining character trait has always been loyalty, so for weeks he says he isn’t going to do it or will lay down and give the win the Bray, but Edge needles him, that maybe it’s for the best, could be that rap that Bray laid on Cena that he was, in a different world, a multi time world champion movie star, was just a bunch of nonsense and as long as Cena doesn’t try to beat Bray, he’ll never have to find out.

It gets under Cena’s skin enough that by show time, while Cena hasn’t left the Family, he’s fired up to find out, to get what might be his only singles shot.  Bray takes it well, doesn’t look to smack Cena down, says win, lose, or draw, when the night is over the IC belt stays in the Family and everything is fine. 

Other than Lesnar, who is also the current champ, there are only two former WWF Champions on the roster, Nemeth and Claudio.  Edge puts them together, winner will wrestle for the WWF Championship at Survivor Series.  Nemeth is also the most recent Triple Crown winner, he’s been a babyface for awhile, but now becomes a tweener; a year ago, he and Claudio formed a friendship as they joined to battle the Wyatts, and they were able to keep that friendship all summer despite the factional warfare and Steen increasing his pressure on Claudio to stop being a pussy. 

Pac, in a mask, makes his PPV debut (international commitments, contractual holdups, that’s the kind of thing given as reasons for guys not doing PPVs) against young Kalisto, also making his PPV debut in what is expected to be a spot fest (not a pejorative).  Steen is glad Pac’s finally put his outside obligations being him and wants to see Pac really take advantage of the kid. Really work him over,

Luke Harper, as mentioned, lost the IC at Mania – Edge puts him in a match with the undefeated powerhouse Rusev, doing the Russian gimmick with Lana, but also with GHB (Bradshaw) as a wealthy right wing benefactor. 

The Usos failed again at Mania, they’re the always a bridesmaid tag team and at Mania they lost to the Direct to Video team of Miz/HHH-M and Randy Orton.  Reigns, coming off that loss and the other big match losses which have proceeded it, vows to exterminate each of the three members of D2V and that starts here with Orton. 

Paige is Women’s Champion, she’s in a stable, 4-Ground with Sasha/Becky/Charlotte.  Ric Flair, who returned to the promotion in the build for the Sting/Undertaker Mania match, now joins the act, sort of like how in a young musical act a parent might act as a manager – that’s the role Flair assumes for 4-Ground.  They adopt a Four Horsemen shtick, expensive clothes, limousines, VIP at all the clubs – and they do a lot of gang style beatdowns of every other woman in the promotion and developmental. There’s a couple of months of 4-Ground wiping out the rest of the women’s roster and establishing their personas within the group under Flair’s direction – Sasha’s the worker, Becky’s the enforcer, Paige has the strap and Charlotte….Charlotte largely lingers in the background.  There’s wariness that, given that Flair is her father, he will favor her, but there’s been no evidence of that and everyone trusts Ole’ Naitch.

Shawn, on tape, says he asked Edge if he could put together the women’s match – and what he wants to see is a Three Way Dance to determine the number one contender.  Becky v. Sasha v. Charlotte.
Flair does the full “I’m furious Ric Flair” bit – says WWF is trying to break apart the finest faction of women’s wrestlers ever created, says his women will stay together, that 4-Ground will remain intact regardless of who comes out ahead.

And that becomes the talking point for all of them – regardless of who wins at Summer Slam and who goes on to face Paige at Survivor Series, they will all stay together no matter what. 

The last match on the card features an African-American comedy tag act that is designed as a parody of what can be the minstrelization of black acts in wrestling…and also the New Day.

A couple years ago, we put together Tyler Perry Presents The Prime Time Players, Young and O’Neill, saying that we wouldn’t be using them on cards, given their working limitations, but they’d be out there, on the programming, doing comedy that could too easily move from parody to stereotype for me to feel good about trying to write it.

I’d suggest to you that’s an excellent way to think about real world New Day.

So, they’re here – taking on New Day which is Kingston and, making his in ring debut, Woods.
Except Woods can’t actually work the show, so he won’t be working, it’s a bait and switch.  New Day is doing a black identity gimmick, Kingston changes the name of Trouble in Paradise to Intersectionality.  They’ve got t-shirts that say #blackwrestlinglivesmatter.  Woods is a professor, strictly a manager type thusfar, but he makes his in ring debut (except not) at Summer Slam. TPPPTPTP clowns their seriousness, calls Woods Dr Harry Edwards, Woods asks Young and O'Neill which one is Step and which one is Fetchit.  And that's why it's better that I'm not trying to navigate that comedy space.  

That’s the card.  Two more items.

We’ve got two dark matches on the show – the first features an appearance advertised for months, Jushin Thunder Liger will appear in a WWF ring for the first and perhaps only time, he’ll wrestle Prince Devitt. There's been history of NJPW pieces on the Network to provide context for Liger and NJPW has gotten some plugs for the AXS show and PPVs. 

And then there’s Samoa Joe.

Joe made his WWF debut running in during the Sting/Undertaker Mania match.  He killed lots of guys and left without speaking.

He now starts to show up on GVU.

Unannounced, without music, he walks out just before a random match, say Tyler Breeze against an enhancement guy – he tells the enhancement guy to beat it – he does – he takes the spot, and kills Breeze dead. 

Renee Young tries to talk to him in the aisle, he blows by like she’s not there.

A couple weeks later he does it again, say to kill Baron Corbin. 

This time when Renee tries to stop him, he stares hard as if considering if he wants to speak, but does not.

A week later he’s called out by SG Ryback, who does Joe think he is to show up in his house, that kind of thing.  He challenges Joe to meet him next week.

Joe does, Joe kills him, Joe talks.

He says he’s been dominating this sport for a dozen years.  Longest running champ in ROH and TNA history.  He’s not a G or a U.  He’s the OG. 

And every year, WWF would call with a money offer – an embarrassingly low offer.  And he’d watch GDI grow, watch guys who he beat, who he was better than, win titles – and it fueled him with a darkness that he cannot express. 

Joe didn’t come to Mania to be a Horseman, to save his brothers – Joe came to Mania because he got paid; because in 2015, WWF finally made him a decent offer – and no surprise, it came on Bryan Danielson’s last day.  They needed Joe so they paid Joe. They finally needed Joe enough to pay him.  Joe says they could have gotten him in his prime.  They could have gotten the guy who wrestled Kobashi.  Could have gotten a Wrestlemania main eventer for years. 

Instead – they got the guy who now runs GVU.  You're not gonna see him in RAW, on Fight Night, on PPV.  Not gonna see him win titles.  That's not the Joe they got.  They got the Joe who owns GVU.  
This is my ride.  And it is a dark ride.

In fact – that’s what we’re calling this place now.  Dark Ride Wrestling.  GDI can come, I’ll whip their ass.  Underground can come, I’ll whip their ass. Anyone in the world can come to Dark Ride Wrestling, as long as they understand one thing.

Joe is gonna kill you.

The next week, all of the signage has changed, all of the advertising has changed, there's new theme music, it’s Dark Ride Wrestling, which pisses off everyone.  Jamie Noble returns to an on camera role after several years away; he was last seen as part of GDI.  Noble’s with Gargano and Ciampa, making their debuts.  He says he’s a former ROH Champ, just like Joe – and unlike Joe, he actually is a GDI OG.  And the idea that Joe thinks he can walk into the WWF and change the name of this show is the height of arrogance. 

Joe enters – asks Noble to pick a guy – he picks Gargano – they have a back and forth match, and Joe goes over. 

The next week, it’s Swagger making his debut as trainer for Gable/Jordan.  His arm is in a sling to sell the Shield beat down.  He says he’s a WWF tag champion, he’s actually main evented WWF PPVs, and for Joe to come in here and change the name is the height of arrogance.

Joe enters – asks him to pick – he picks Jordan, Joe beats him.

The next time we see Joe, he’s attacked by both teams, full four man beat down and Joe’s left laid out.

A dark match at Summer Slam is set, it’s going to be Gable and Ciampa teaming up against Joe and anyone he can get to work with him – if Joe wins, the show will permanently remain Dark Ride Wrestling.  If he loses, it reverts to GVU. 

One more item – a special announcement by Senator Linda McMahon (Linda won her first Senate election and has governed as an Elizabeth Warren style economic populist), Linda’s traveled the country for a year, doing talk show appearances, going to multiple states to speak, she wrote a best selling book, and now, in August, 2015, she’s coming to Brooklyn for a special announcement.

Whatever could it be?

So, here’s your card.

WWF Title: Brock Lesnar (w/Heyman) v. Kevin Steen (Special Guest Referee-Ricky Steamboat)
Tags: The Shield (Black/Ambrose w/Langston) v. Underground (Sheamus/Barrett)
IC: Bray Wyatt (w/Harper) v. John Cena
Number One Contender: Claudio Castagnoli v. Nick Nemeth
Pac v. Kalisto
Luke Harper v. Rusev (w/GHB and Lana)
Randy Orton v. Roman Reigns-Uso
Number One Contender Triple Threat: Sasha Banks v. Becky Lynch v. Charlotte Flair (w/Ric)
New Day (Kingston/Woods) v. TPPTPTP (Young/O’Neil)

Add in the appearance by Linda and, at least for those in attendance, the two dark matches, you’ve got a pretty good event.  Coming in August – Summer Slam 2015!

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