Reunited, and it feels so good. After the Raw-only stinker Badd Blood and a solid Vengeance from the Smackdown crew, the rosters of both shows converge on the America West Arena in Phoenix, Arizona to bring us the second biggest WWE Pay-Per-View of the year, SummerSlam. While SLAM! Wrestling’s usual reviewer John Powell attends to his massive work backlog, Raw reporter Nick Tylwalk and Smackdown reporter Dale Plummer converge on a TV in Lebanon, Pennsylvania to bring you a tag team recap. Despite some conservative booking and a finish that surely disappointed an otherwise live crowd, this year’s SummerSlam backed up the theory that many critics of the brand extension have been making for quite some time: combined shows are the way to go.
Kurt Angle defends his WWE Championship against former friend Brock Lesnar in the Smackdown main event. Which, by the way, took place halfway through the show. Lesnar enters the PPV with monster heel heat, I mean he only turned on his best friend, aligned himself with Vince McMahon, and then destroyed a one-legged wrestler, in front of his mother, in the kid’s hometown. I can see the copy of “Generating Heel Heat for Dummies” sitting on the writers table right now. Angle on the other hand is still enjoying the love fest from his successful return from neck surgery. I will give credit to the writers here. Angle is not being used as a goofy face, as he was in the past. His character has tremendous upside for Smackdown.
The referee gives instructions to both men before the match and asks them to shake hands. Is this wrestling or boxing? I half expect Jim Lampley to show up and call the action. Anyway, neither man shakes. Lesnar wants a fight, and Angle won’t have any part of it as he takes the “Manster” down with some good, old-fashioned mat wrestling moves. A frustrated Lesnar storms out of the ring, and starts throwing the ring steps around. He then grabs the WWE title belt. He doesn’t use though, he just starts to head back up the ramp. Um, Brock, title changes don’t work that way. Angle chases the former champ down, but Lesnar gets the upper hand and whips Angle into the ring apron. Lesnar fought with pure emotion, while Kurt took a page out of the thinking man’s playbook. Lesnar is the first to attempt a finisher. Angle counters with a DDT, but can only get a two count. An Angle Slam can’t finish off Lesnar, either. Angle then slaps on the Ankle lock, which Brock counters, and knocks down the ref in the process. Angle charges Lesnar, who gets the champ up, but Angle applies a leg vice around Lesnar’s neck, while hold on with a waistlock. It’s a very interesting looking and effective sleeper hold. When the big man goes down, Angle applies the ankle lock, once again. By this time, Vince McMahon makes his way to the ring. A chair shot to the back breaks the hold, and takes down Angle. Lesnar, selling a knee injury, hits a one-legged F-5, but cannot keep Angle down for a three count. Vince calls for another F-5. Lesnar gets him up, but Angle escaped and rolled Lesnar into the Ankle Lock. Vince pleads with Lesnar to roll it over, but Angle keeps a good grip on the ankle. Every time Lesnar tries for the ropes, Angle just pulls him back into the middle of the ring. Lesnar taps, and Angle retains his belt.
After the bell, Vince tries to get in a cheap chair shot. Angle sees it coming and ducks the attack. He proceeds to set up the chair, and Angle Slams Vince through it, flattening the chair to the mat. I’m starting to get a little worn down here, so I’ll make the hot tag to Nick Tylwalk with the Raw Main Event.
Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels draw the short straws and have to start out the Elimination Chamber match, with another wrestler chosen at random to follow every three minutes. Y2J tries for the Walls of Jericho right away but has to settle for a bulldog. The third man in is Orton, who nearly gets Michaels with a high cross body. Nash follows three minutes later and spends a few minutes tossing Orton and Jericho into the steel cage. HBK aims a superkick at Jericho, but he ducks and Nash takes it on the chin. He’s covered and pinned by Jericho to be the first wrestler eliminated.
Defending champion Triple H is next, wearing long trunks that look suspiciously like Capri pants, no doubt to keep his injured groin warm. He runs into some Sweet Chin Music and is left lying in his own chamber for quite some time. Meanwhile, Nash lingers in the cage long enough to hit Jericho and Orton with Jackknife Power Bombs. When he finally takes off, Michaels tries in vain to take advantage by covering both men for two counts.
Goldberg finally enters the fray to a big response from the crowd. He quickly eliminates Orton with a spear and drives Jericho through the walls of his chamber (not without trouble though) with another. Quick Jackhammers take care of Michaels and Jericho in succession, leaving only the world champ. Helmsley looks like he wants no part of Goldberg and Flair helps keep him in his chamber.
Undeterred, Goldberg smashes his way through the side of HHH’s chamber. A series of moves has the world champ in trouble, but Flair sneaks in an equalizer in the form of – wait for it – a sledgehammer. A collective groan can be heard from living rooms everywhere as Helmsley tags Goldberg in the head during an attempted Spear and manages to cover him for the pinfall. To really drive home a point, Evolution reassembles in the cage to batter Goldberg with a few more hammer shots and handcuff him to the cage. This just in: Triple H wins again.
The next WWE pay-per-view is the Raw-only event, Unforgiven, on September 21st.
To avoid incurring the wrath of Shane McMahon, we will enforce the hard split in this recap. Nick will play the “J.R. and King” role writing the Raw segments while Dale takes the more popular “Michael Cole and Tazz” job handling the Smackdown bits.
Dudley Boyz versus La Resistance
The Dudleys look like they might get their long-awaited revenge on the Frenchmen by dominating the early going and getting in almost all of the offense. Even when the tag champs do hit their finisher, D-Von manages to kick out. Rene Dupree falls to the Whassup headbutt and 3-D, but his partner is able to pull him away from what looks like a sure pin. A ringside cameraman takes an unusual interest in the match, helping Dupree to ambush D-Von and rolling him on top to retain the straps. You guessed it – it’s the “serviceman” from this Monday’s Raw. Spike tries to aid his brothers but suffers the same fate. After the match, the Coach asks the Dudleys what they’re going to do about La Resistance’s tactics and Bubba replies, “Whatever it takes.” Good plan.
Winners: La Resistance at 8 minutes
Match Rating: 5/10
Christian sarcastically introduces himself to Eric Bischoff, who is busy preparing for his match with Shane McMahon. When the Intercontinental champ wonders why he doesn’t have a match tonight, Bischoff places the blame on his partner, Stone Cold Steve Austin. Christian offers his help against young Shane but the co-general manager claims he already has a back-up plan in place.
Undertaker versus A-Train
This has to be the least attractive match on the card, which is probably why Sable accompanied A-Train to the ring. The “shave your back” chants were silent, because it looks like A-Train at least trimmed some of his summer sweater. A-Train immediately went to work on ‘Taker’s injured ribs. The dead man counters with a DDT. A-Train recovers and goes back to work on the ribs. Undertaker fights back with a flying clothesline. Taker charges A-Train, who pulls down the top rope, and Undertaker sails to the outside. A-Train rams Taker into the ring post and continues to focus on the ribs. The action spills back into the ring, and Undertaker slows things down with a sleeper. A-Train is set up for the last ride, but pushes Taker into the ref. A-Train hits the De-railer, but a woozy ref can only make a two count. Undertaker tries a clothesline, which connects with the ref. A-Train nails the dead man with a bicycle kick, but cannot get the pin. Undertaker ends the misery with a chokeslam, after ducking an A-Train clothesline.
Winner: Undertaker in 9 minutes
Match Rating: 4/10.
After the bell, Undertaker isn’t finished. He sets up A-Train for the Last Ride. Sable, who hasn’t been seen or heard up to this point, jumps in the ring. She tries to seduce Undertaker. Silly girl, don’t you see the HUGE “Sara” tattoo on his neck? Undertaker drops A-Train and grabs Sable by the neck. Instead of a chokeslam, Stephanie McMahon’s music hits, and the Smackdown! GM runs to the ring. Steph extracts a tiny bit of revenge on Sable, before A-Train pulls the former playmate from the ring.
The Coach gets busy again, asking some fans in the front row who they think will win the Elimination Chamber match. They both say Goldberg, meaning they must not be “Internet” fans. Next up is a recap of the feud between Bischoff and Shane that has led to tonight’s match. Sadly, we have to watch Bischoff kiss Linda again.
Eric Bischoff versus Shane McMahon
Just to set the record straight, Bischoff grabs a mic to announce an end to the speculation about whether “it” happened in the McMahon bedroom. It didn’t just happen, it happened again and again and again. That kind of talk inspires Shane to kick the crap out of Bischoff, who can’t even escape back up the ramp. But his back-up plan kicks in a minute later when Coach whacks Shane from behind with a chair. Referee Charles Robinson wants to ring the bell, so Bischoff quickly makes it no DQ, falls count anywhere. Yes, Coachman has shown some testicular fortitude. Bischoff orders J.R. and the King’s mics cut so Coach can do mock J.R. commentary as he helps Bischoff beat up the boy wonder. Austin comes to the ring, and he’s able to lay a beating on Coachman when Shane bumps him into Stone Cold to provoke him. Shane resumes his thrashing of Eric and uses his foe’s arm to slap Austin, giving him justification for a Stunner. It doesn’t stop there, though, as Shane puts Bischoff on the Spanish announce table and hits him with a high-flying top rope elbow that he almost overshoots. The pinfall is counted on the floor and Austin starts the beer party.
Winner: Shane McMahon at 11 minutes.
Match Rating: 7/10.
Ric Flair and Randy Orton go over Evolution’s strategy for the Raw main event, which involves Orton making sure Triple H leaves with his world title. The youngster starts to ask “What if?” but the Nature Boy quickly squashes any such thoughts. A slightly peeved Helmsley shows up a second later to reinforce the idea that there is no what if for Orton. Sowing the seeds for future dissension, I presume.
U.S. Title Match – Fatal Four-Way – Eddie Guerrero versus Chris Benoit versus Tajiri versus Rhyno
Despite being tagged with Rhyno on Thursday, Guerrero has no friends in this match. All three men go after Latino Heat as he tries to enter the ring. Tajiri is sent sailing from the ring by Benoit, who then slaps the Crippler Cross Face on Rhyno. Guerrero jumps in to break it up. Very rarely are all four men in the ring at the same time in this match. At one point Tajiri and Rhyno were in submission holds at the same time, with the ref trying to watch for the tap. Tajiri made it to the ropes to break the hold, and Guerrero broke Benoit’s hold on Rhyno. Rhyno doesn’t repay the favor, as he tries to Gore Guerrero. Cheating, as usual, Guerrero blocks the blow with the title belt. With Rhyno out cold, Benoit goes to the top rope and lands a flying headbutt. Tajiri, who was hanging in a tree of woe, breaks free and stops Benoit’s pin on Rhyno. Tajiri misses a kick on Benoit, who sets up the Japanese buzzsaw for a powerbomb. Tajiri counters with a ‘rana that sends both men sprawling out on the floor. Guerrero seizes the opportunity and hit a still knocked out Rhyno with a frogsplash. Guerrero pins Rhyno to retain his U.S. Title.
Winner and still U.S. Champion in 11 minutes: Eddie Guerrero
Match Rating: 7/10.
A video recap of Zach Gowen versus Brock Lesnar is shown. Lesnar destroyed Gowen, and Michael Cole informs us that Gowen’s leg is broken in two places. I guess a couple F-5 into the ring post will do that. But what about the unprotected chair shot to the head? The kid seriously has to have a mean concussion. Cole goes on to say, obviously, Gowen will not be taking on Matt Hardy tonight. We then see Matt Hardy on Heat earlier in the night, accepting a forfeit victory over Gowen.
WWE Title match – Kurt Angle versus Brock Lesnar
Winner and still WWE Champion in 21 minutes: Kurt Angle
Match Rating: 9/10.
A video package gives the lowdown on the Kane saga, with special focus on his relationship with Rob Van Dam. But you already know all about that because you’ve been reading the Raw report on SLAM! Wrestling every week, right?
Kane versus Rob Van Dam
Fink informs the thousands in attendance and the millions watching at home that the match is now no holds barred. It’s hard to tell if he’s saying it with sarcasm or enthusiasm. RVD uses his speed advantage to keep Kane off balance, and a ladder adds to the fun. Kane also uses the ladder to fight back, but Rob mounts a rally that is aided when Kane misses flying off the top rope to the outside and hits the restraining barrier. Van Dam dropkicks Kane over the barrier into the crowd and drags him back into the ring for some chair-assisted Rolling Thunder. He goes for the kill by attempting a Van terminator, but Kane rolls out of the ring just in time. The Big Red Machine catches RVD in mid-air coming off the apron and decides to Tombstone him on the stairs. Van Dam gets rolled back into the ring and pinned in a rather anticlimactic conclusion.
Winner: Kane at 13 minutes.
Match Rating: 6/10.
Going for the Miss Obvious title, Terri asks Bischoff how he’s feeling while he’s receiving some medical attention. He quickly sends her away but is soon visited by another guest: Linda McMahon. Bischoff tries to stammer his way out of trouble but gets a weak slap for his efforts. Back in the locker room, the world champ meditates in front of his world title until Flair summons him and tells him he’ll be fine in the Elimination Chamber.
Elimination Chamber: Randy Orton versus Kevin Nash versus Triple H versus Goldberg versus Chris Jericho versus Shawn Michaels
Winner and still World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H at 20 minutes.
Match Rating: 8.5/10.
Finish Rating: 1/10.
Total Event Time: 2 hours and 49 minutes
Overall Event Rating: 7/10.