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 2007

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The build is here.

SUMMERSLAM 2007 (East Rutherford)

Dark Matches: Shelton Benjamin d. Steve Regal
                       Rhodes/DiBiase d. Hart/Smith

The announce is sort of a clusterfuck.

Joey and Taz are your lead team and they host the show; they start it, they wrap around every match, they’ll close the show and they’ll announce all the WWF matches and the main event, even though it’s the ECW title match. And, along with JR and Bradshaw they’ll announce the tag titles.

JR and Bradshaw are the NWA team, they’ll announce the NWA and the IC title matches.

That leaves the opening tag – and with 3 of the 4 participants being GDI – the GDI team of Josh Matthews and Tommy Dreamer will call it.

1. Perejas Increibles: CM Punk/Paul London d. Brian Kendrick/Randy Orton

-This is the third year of the mismatched tag being the top of Summer Slam; Punk and London meet in the main event tonight; it was Survivor Series in ’05 when Kendrick surprised everyone, returning to the company to superkick London dead on the ramp during the Clique breakup match. Kendrick and London, we’d learn at Rumble ’06, had both been manipulated, along with Noble, by Punk – who had pit them all against each other while in ROH. Although they’d eventually all realize they were being played, Punk’s winning the Undisputed Championship at Survivor Series ’06, then throwing down the NWA and WWF belts to create GDI Wrestling caused the “indie” workers to align with his cause. London was the one who didn’t turn heel; the damage between he and Kendrick was too great to repair, and London’s motives for joining GDI were out of self interest, as Punk promised him a title shot at XXIII.

That shot didn’t happen – and looked like it would never happen as Punk froze London out of GDI after Mania concluded with GDI beating down both Hardys and Edge following the culmination of the Cell main event – until London made the monster face save.

London then spent the summer as the outsider attacking GDI – which lead to his getting the shot tonight as he finally frustrated Punk enough to sign it. The culmination of that build was London, who had laid every member of GDI out, showing mercy on his former partner Kendrick, given that Kendrick had earned a Worldwide shot tonight against Orton and London didn’t want to injure Kendrick. That mercy led to a Punk/Kendrick beatdown of London and this match.

London and Kendrick spend the entire match in the ring – ignoring Orton and Punk, they brawl full on; Punk and Orton laugh as London and Kendrick spend so much energy in this preliminary match, the two champions clearly taking the match off.

Finish comes when London hits the 450, and then Punk tags himself in and sneaks a pinfall on Kendrick. Punk, always outsmarting everyone, leaves happily – London’s furious at not getting his pinfall – Kendrick, who is Punk’s ally, is hot at Punk for beating him – and Orton, never liking to lose a match, is hot at Punk believing the two of them had made a deal during the match to stay out of it entirely.

2. The Juggernaut Eddie Little d. Ken Kennedy

-Little is Umaga. He’s a combination Kimbo Slice and the Necro Butcher; the Juggernaut was an internet sensation from viral street fighting videos, and he remains all street fighter. Steamboat already regrets bringing him in as he is impossible to control – he blows off meetings, urinates in front of the fans, doesn’t do the commercial or video game shoots and is generally incorrigible.

He blows through Kennedy here; Kennedy is half of a babyface tag with Cena that is underperforming according to Steamboat.

3. The Juggernaut Eddie Little d. John Cena

-And that’s why Steamboat made both of these matches for Summer Slam and made them to go back to back. The two fold idea is both to punish Little (who screams out his catchphrase postmatch “I’m the Juggernaut Bitch!”) and to give Kennedy and Cena a chance to prove themselves. Steamboat warned them that their continued futures with WWF were on thin ice.

Cena shows some heart here, some fighting from underneath spirit – but the Juggernaut is a wrecking machine – a beast who cannot be stopped – and he picks up two quick and decisive pinfalls here at Summer Slam 2007.

This will turn out to end Kennedy and Cena’s WWF careers for the time being; during the fall, as we approach Survivor Series, they will be traded to NWA. That will be one of two trades that will occur before Survivor Series; the other will be between NWA and GDI.

4. Unified Tag Titles: S&S: The Superstar Lance Cade/The Sidekick Trevor Murdoch d. LWO: Chavo Guerrero/Carlito Colon (w/Super Crazy)

-Both NWA and WWF announce teams, recall, doing this match, rooting for their side without any hesitation at all. LWO has had many permutations; it was once Psychosys and Juventud. But Carlito took over, then won a match against Chavo at Summer Slam ’06 that forced Guerrero to join he and Crazy. Over time, Chavo accepted the LWO as his family – and their audacity won over the crowd by the end of their program with Cena/Kennedy. They took the tag straps from Dreamer/Sandman at XXIII after a feud with both that team and Kendrick/Noble; this summer saw them feud with Heat (Porter and Burke) a feud that became connected to the WWF title match between Book and Rey tonight. Just as they finally put Heat away – the upstart NWA team of Cade and Murdoch stepped in to take advantage and get this shot.

Cade is full on cocky 1970s wrestler – long blonde hair, flowing robe – lot of smirking and posing. Murdoch is dressed in NASCAR-like ad patches; he sells ad space on his body, moves merchandise, he and Cade have a not dissimilar dynamic to Will Farrell and John C Reilly from Talladega Nights, in fact – I’m stolen the name for Murdoch’s finisher, the flip piledriver – it’s called That Just Happened.

And That Just Happened finishes off the LWO tonight; Murdoch getting the fall on Carlito to take the tag titles.

5. Worldwide Titles: Randy Orton d. Brian Kendrick

-What do you mean you aren’t electrified by this program? Yeah, I know. Okay, heel/heel here – Punk’s able to work his magic; with the full GDI roster starting to listen to London tell them Punk hadn’t delivered on anything he promised, that Punk was just about Punk, he kept the boys from looking behind the curtain by wrangling an IC shot. The full roster did a round robin thing, there were points, I’m sure it was excessively complicated – with Kendrick coming out on top; a tournament that led to the breakup of the Kendrick/Noble team.

Kendrick, as the announce of JR/Bradshaw enjoys pointing out, spent a ton of energy in the opening match, where he fought London hard before losing to Punk – and maybe that’s what gets him here – as Orton, despite being maybe a little over his head ability wise – catches up with the maybe tired Kendrick with the RKO to keep his belt.

Murdoch/Cade and Dusty then all hit the ring in their NWA gear – they join Orton – JR and Bradshaw celebrate while the NWA reps go to turnbuckles with belts – the NWA has kept the IC and taken the tags here at Summer Slam 2007 – JR and Bradshaw celebrate at ringside – all the NWA reps stay for the title match, which is next.

6. NWA Championship: Fit Finlay (w/Dean) d. Johnny Nitro (w/Melina) (countout)

-The story here is the direction of the company; Fit and Dean ooze old school toughness, they are no nonsense, the template for the new NWA, the “Where We Fight” NWA, is Fit and Dean. Over the summer, Fit’s been explicit that he won’t be around forever, that the NWA name has to be carried by a new generation of wrestlers – and he wants to see a young guy step to the challenge.

Johnny Nitro doesn’t care about any of that; he’s all style, all blowndry hair baby oil on his abs. He’s a lover, not a fighter – he wants to make out with Melina as opposed to spar with Malenko.

That’s the story going in – the story of the match is Fit kicks his ass.

Fit busts him open – the sight of his own blood freaks Nitro out. On two separate occasions Fit has a pinfall – and pulls Nitro up. He doesn’t want the win yet – he’s teaching Nitro a lesson – he’s proving a point to Nitro, to the NWA newcomers – to the Murdoch and Cade and Orton, all still at ringside – all, as heels, rooting for Nitro.

Fit beats him up badly – and then Johnny Nitro quits.

Nitro, sick of the beating, sick of his own blood perhaps scarring his face – bails out on the title match – he and Melina leaving ringside, walking back up the ramp – taking the countout loss.

This, of course, is the worst thing he could do – he’s given up his title shot – and it turns everyone on him – JR and Bradshaw trash him – Orton/Murdoch/Cade are demonstrative in how disgusted they are with him – Dusty yells out “he’s done – that boy is over in my book” and Fit and Dean both seethe.

Nitro quits, walks out on the match.

The NWA guys leave as we’ve hit the Double Main Event.

7. WWF Championship: Rey Mysterio d. Booker T

Rey regains the WWF Championship.

Rey won the Undisputed Titles and the Triple Crown at Summer Slam ’05 in Eddy Guerrero’s last match, taking 2 of 3 falls from his almost lifelong friend. He kept over Juvie at Survivor Series ’05, then kept in a handicap over Super Crazy and Psychosys at the Rumble. Rey then won the main event of WM XXII, beating another longtime friend, Chris Benoit, in what turned out to be his last match.

Rey lost the belt to Flair a year ago at Summer Slam ’06, getting taken out by Lashley as the 51% Solution came to power. A year away from the WWF – Mysterio came back this summer, getting revenge over Lashley before he left the company – and then finding himself in the middle of the Heat/LWO feud along with Booker.

Booker, after a WWF career where he had settled into the bottom of the card, began a late life renaissance when he and Bradshaw took the tag titles at Survivor Series ’05. He ran Bradshaw out of the company a year ago, in the summer of ’06, a summer which saw the debut of Heat, Montel Porter and Elijah Burke – Porter, who had spent years corresponding with Book while he (Porter) was in prison, and his childhood friend Burke moved to Houston once Porter was released, at Book’s invitation, to get trained to wrestle. After a couple of years in Book’s academy – their 2006 appearance seemed to further juice Booker’s career; he seems thoroughly invigorated by the younger men, who clearly reminded him of the old days when he and Stevie Ray were young pups.

Book gave them his old Harlem Heat colors; taught them how to do things the right way – and they pushed him to take a run at glory. Book beat Edge at Rumble ’07 in the WWF title tournament – and then became the first ever African American Heavyweight Champion by beating Executioner Lashley at XXIII.

Heat feuded with LWO over the summer; Heat taking shortcuts, going further and further heel – Booker rebuked them, which rankled Porter particularly who reminded Book that when he and Stevie Ray were at their best, Book was a rulebreaker – that Book always taught him to take his opportunities – you may recall a very specific scene where Book talked about having to leave Stevie Ray behind when he got the call to come to WWF and face Kurt Angle for the WWF title.

“‘Cause it ain’t about brothers. It ain’t about blood. It about you.”

Porter waylaid Mysterio, tentatively making his early return over the summer – an unprovoked attack that led to Book taking a shot at Porter. Heat hasn’t been seen since they then lost the blowoff to LWO, the tension between Burke and Porter evident.

Rey goes over here. Rey wins his 2nd WWF Championship – the announce noting some concerns about what Rey had lost with his year away – but still, Mysterio is an all time legend, and he is able to overcome the injury and the size difference to get the clean fall over Book in what turns out to be an all babyface matchup.

Rey accepts the pop – exiting with his belt to allow Book to accept the applause from the crowd; the veteran Booker, climbed the mountain to win the WWF title – but now slides back again, losing at Summer Slam.

Porter and Burke enter – Porter and Burke come to console their mentor and friend. Burke hugs Book – Porter and Book have not spoken since Book took the shot at him – we had seen the tension start to build between the two men, the announce totally lays out as Book and Porter stare at each other; we understand this is a long friendship, that Book isn’t just a friend – he gave Montel Porter a life; without Book, who knows where Porter would be, but we know it wouldn’t be the WWF. Porter had spent the summer bristling under Book’s thumb, but now as Book stands without his belt, the two men reconcile – Porter sticking out his hand in apology.

Except, you know, not so much.

When Book moves to take his hand – Porter gives him a Book End.

Porter lays Book out as a shocked Burke looks on – Porter stomps book out, putting the bad mouth on him until Burke moves in to save Booker – and then Porter lays him out too.

Montel Porter with Yakuza kicks to both men – leaving both men laying – Montel Porter burying his partner and burying Booker T – Montel Porter relentlessly kicking the hell out of both men until he exits the ring to the heel reaction.

And that, to date, wraps up Counterfactual Booker T.

And going forward - Montel Vontavious Porter becomes The MVP: Montel Vontavious Porter

8. ECW Title: CM Punk (w/ Maria and Colt) d. Paul London

-Just about the workrate. They put on the best match they can, Punk goes over clean. That’s it.

Between now and Survivor Series, after winning a rematch on GDI, Punk is going to brutalize London; if you saw the Age of the Fall spot where they hung Jay Briscoe (it was Jay, right, Jay and not Mark?) upside down and let his blood cascade all over Jimmy Jacobs, that’s the kind of thing I want to do. Can’t do it here since we just did the Booker angle, but it’s coming soon (and thinking realistically, putting more distance between a really heavy blood angle and Benoit’s death is a good idea)

All of the GDI guys participate – except for Jamie Noble – who walks out as the assault on London goes further than he can stand.

That walkout will lead to a series of Punk/Noble confrontations that will result in that second trade I referred to earlier – Jamie Noble getting sent to the NWA.

But like the Cena/Kennedy trade to NWA, we’ll cover what happens on the other side of both those deals down the road.

For right now – it’s Summer Slam – and it ends with the other two champions – Fit Finlay and Rey Mysterio – joining Punk in the ring for the 3 way faceoff – all three champions – all 3 belts – the 3 men going face to face to face – the eagle eyed fans noticing that in the background of the shot is the ad banner for Wrestlemania XXIV, which of course is the silhouette of the already announced stip for the main event – Tables…Ladders…Chairs.

Punk – Fit – and Rey all jaw at each other as the show ends.

I’ll be back in September as we start walking down the Road to Survivor Series 2007; it’s down my way – in Miami. Please call before you stop by.


Anonymous said...

Heya JJ.

Looks like the WWE is finally talking about the workrate aspect of the business, and admitting some of what we've known for a long time - the best performers in the business aren't always the ones at the top.

Check out the 'Life And Times Of Mr Perfect' video clip on to see what I mean.

Jim said...

You know what's disturbing though; they don't really say the best "performers" aren't the ones on top - as they distinguish work from entertainment.

And that's not even what's disturbing, they're a giant corporation, a monopoly, effectively, they create their own reality; so, they've wholly swallowed the idea that their version of wrestling is superior.

But that's not what's disturbing - what's disturbing is the degree to which "smart" fans have internalized this idea. Whenever I hear analysis of the business side mix with analysis of the wrestling quality, I shake my head with sadness. When Meltzer (for example) puts ability to draw as criterian for the WON HOF, or when a reviewer of matches talks about Cena as a great wrestler because of his "charisma", I just am amzed continually with the failure to separate church and state.

If I'm reviewing a movie, I don't talk about the box office. I don't say "he's not the best actor, but give him the Oscar anyway, 'cause that movie was real popular, and that makes the studio money, and what else matters?"

I mean - some people say that - but they're hacks. Serious criticism of any art or craft, be it literature or film or whatever it might be divorces the quality of the work from the desire to generate money based on that work. Doesn't mean both don't exist; one can analyze the business aspect of a movie studio and a wrestling promotion - it just means that saying a movie that cleans up at the box office or a wrestler who moves ratings in no way speaks to the quality of the art.

Anonymous said...

The problem the WWE faces JJ is that they know a large percentage of their fans prefer to see classic, old school, technical matches; it's part of the wrestling fans process of growing up. But at the same time they need to look to the family audiences and bring in a new generation fo fans as well. They need the outlandish and outrageous gimmicks, they need the unrealisticly big human specimens just as much as they need people who can act out a fast paced intelligent match in the ring.

They've gone some way to pacifying their hardcore element of supporters with much-deserved title runs for Guererro and Benoit, with Punk's (unwarranted, imho) push to the title, with the likes of the Hardys, Morrison, Edge etc being given more main event opportunities than ever before. But at the same time they need characters like Cena, like the Undertaker, like Batista to entice new fans in and secure there business future.

I can honestly say that without characters like the Undertaker, Hulk Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior, I probably wouldn't have given wrestling too much attention when I was a kid. I would have been nonplussed and unenthralled seing someone called Chris Benoit stride purposefully to the ring. It was the characters that initially caught my attention, and it was only through watching more and more matches that I started to appreciate the hard work put in by the people lower down the card, and the matches that told a story rather than relied on feats of strength or gimmicks.

And that will always be the case. Wrestlers who can bridge the gap between compelling, entertaining personas and exciting, work-rate based matches are few and far between. Perfect was one; Michaels another. Guerrero, Angle... then who?

Bret Hart was a brilliant performer, but boy was he dull to listen to. Benoit was superb in the ring, but the producers were frightened to give him a microphone. This is one of the reasons why I feel Triple H is so hard done by by the majority of the majority of the work-rate fans; he can play an entertaining face or a diabolical heel with ease, and will always put in a minimum 7-out-of-ten performance against whoever he wrestles (not always easy when you're regularly up against the Khalis and Big Show equivalents of this world). He bridges the gap - fans become interested in him because of his persona, and then he tells a story in his matches that has people wanting more.

It's a balance the WWE struggles to achieve at times. The need to have big characters who can sell tickets and merchandise and keep the business going, and performers who can put on a real spectacle in the ring and appease the existing hardcore element of their support ( a lot of whom are now old enough to know better, and who would rarely buy WWE merchandise). They've got to try to be all things to all people, and that's where the box offic analogy falls apart. You wouldn't take a kid to see the latest Tarantino film. You'd take them to see a Pixar film. You haven't got that luxury of choice with the WWE.

It's those damn demographics, baby dolls. Get'cha every time.

Jim said...

I don't think the analogy falls apart.

What you're doing is saying "WWE has business considerations which it places above workrate."

Agreed. We could analyze the business aspect; I generally think that the business balance they've struck is worth questioning; me, for example, I like sport - I like to feel wrestling as real, as sport-like, for me as a kid, if I wasn't watching wrestling I was watching boxing.

And, given the success of UFC, I think there's a healthy percentage of people in 2008 who would prefer a show that felt more real as opposed to more cartoon-like.

But none of that is my point; I don't really claim to have my finger on the pulse of the American public; I'm less saying "I prefer Steamboat to Hogan and I think everyone else would have too" and instead I'm saying "I prefer Steamboat to Hogan and would be happier in a world where that preference got rewarded by the giant corporation."

I think I have a money making argument, but primarily, it's wish fulfillment.

None of that is my point, however.

What I'm saying is one can totally and completely ignore the business necessities of wrestling when evaluating the quality of the product.

Even if you're completely right, and there is an "Undertaker" requirement for business reasons (as an example) the same way a movie studio needs a popcorn flick or a TV network needs to have a crappy audience pandering reality show -- that doesn't mean that movie and that show are given high artistic marks.

Children didn't watch the Wire - hell, virtually no one watched the Wire. Everyone watches American Idol. There is no serious criticism which would say the latter is qualitiatively better than the former. A TV executive might say "hey, you can't be the best show on TV if 50 people are watching - you want to be the best show, you gotta have 10 million people watching, that's what makes you the best show" But a critic wouldn't. Not a real one.

We understand why American idol is on. We understand people like it. It's okay to like it. It's okay to like the Ultimate Warrior (or John Cena). And if it makes the company money, it's understandable that they keep giving us American/Cena.

But there's no serious artistic analysis that Idol is "better" than the Wire. It's just more popular. McDonalds would be foolish to make the Big Mac taste better - people buy it the way that it is - but that doesn't mean that it's a 5 star hamburger.

Monetary needs are real and they drive business; me, I like to talk about workrate.

Anonymous said...

Changing topics on this subject...

Nice job with Summerslam 2007. I thought, given the lineup, that you'd be in serious trouble, but you pulled it out (Kendrick and London in the dark amtch helped)

Summerslam 2008 is going to be another tough one- hell, the Dark Match is Big Show against Bam Neely. I can see a couple good matchups (you've got Punk/Edge/both Hardys/MVP), but this one is going to be tough.

What's been the toughest card to re-do so far?

Jim said...

Yeah, Bam Neely. They fucked me on the dark match. I wanted Shelton in a hard way; I assume Kennedy's getting hurt is what did me in on getting him on the card. My provisional SSlam 2k8 card has me cheating again with guys working multiple shots. It serves an angle, but I know its cheating.

I don't know; it's been years now since I did those earlier cards - I started putting them up here whenever it was, a couple years ago, but I had been working on it a couple of years before that just writing longhand when I had free time... it might have been WM X, I remember being really shorthanded there - and when I had to have Von Erich fight for the title, I must have really been shorthanded for that card. There was a Summer Slam in MSG...I think when Davey Boy beat Hennig for the strap - that seemed like I had a tight crew; I wish i had time to go back; I want to look through the whole story again.

I feel a little less short staffed now; I'm spending so much more time since I caught up with the real world thinking about the company from top to bottom that I have a place to plug Mark Henry in, I know how that will serve the narrative. And that's something I just wouldn't have done with the earlier cards. It's part of the fun, working shorthanded; I wouldn't want to do it for every card - but necessity's the mother of invention; I really sort of like the "brand split" that I've done - and I never intended to do it, I got stuck in a real world quandry and had to find a way out. And now, I really like where it is and feel real good about the space between here and XXIV.

But man - did I get excited about Morishima for a second. Real world Morishima would have been a disaster in WWE - he'd eat that Pedigree and move on back across the water - but Counterfactual Morishima would have gotten pushed as hard as you could imagine.

On another unrelated note - I'm likin' WWE right now. Brian Kendrick's wrestling for the strap at Unforgiven! It's extra exciting.

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