August 15, 2010
The Daniel Bryan era of WWE pay per views is finally here! After months of attacks, Team WWE has its first big showdown against the Nexus!
Kofi Kingston . . . unleashes an awesome mean streak that I really hope to see more of.
Kane . . . puts on a better performance than Rey Mysterio, who’d have ever thought that would happen?
Daniel Bryan . . . makes quite an impact in his WWE return.
DOLPH ZIGGLER © vs. KOFI KINGSTON (WWE Intercontinental Title)
I was fine with Nexus interfering in the cage match the previous month since Sheamus and Cena weren’t exactly setting the world on fire. I was fine with their interference the month before that since the run-in lent itself to the story the four-way match was telling. But, in this case, I wished they’d have left well enough alone. Kofi’s intensity was a pleasant surprise, especially seeing him use Steve Austin’s Thesz press (although with quite a bit more height on the vertical leap). Kofi’s missed dive was the perfect way to hand the match over to Ziggler, who showed his own nice little mean streak. The match slowed down a lot when Ziggler was in control, but he had his nice moments, such as breaking the chinlock while Kofi was fighting out of it and dropping an elbow on him, and then going back to the hold. It looks like it’s anyone’s match when Dolph narrowly avoids Trouble in Paradise and gets the sleeper hold on, but Nexus hits the ring and beats them both down before we can find out. Good enough for what we got.
ALICIA FOX © vs. MELINA (WWE Diva’s Title)
The Alicia Fox streak of watchable matches continues! Between Melina’s knack for pulling off spots out of nowhere that still manage to look smooth, and Alicia’s ability to provide decent filler between Melina’s spots, this is good more often than not. Alicia’s headlock is the highlight of the first minute or so, the way she wrenches on the head and shows that she’s doing all she can to make the hold work. When Melina hurts her arm a bit later in the match, Alicia is right there to work it over and provide serious doubt that Melina can win the title. Melina’s sliding trip and curb stomp to Fox is the first really mind-blowing spot of the night, and her cradle after she hurts her arm is a very good near fall. The facebuster that Melina uses to win the title is a bit out of nowhere, which isn’t entirely a bad thing since that’s how she’d been hitting her best stuff, but it’d have been nice to see a little build to the finish.
THE BIG SHOW vs. CM PUNK/LUKE GALLOWS/JOSEPH MERCURY
This is a rather inoffensive way to kill seven minutes, unless you take issue with the Straight Edge Society looking like a joke (which I don’t). Punk is above this sort of thing, but the Marty Jannetty of MNM and Lenny Small don’t lose anything from this match. The three of them stooge for Show for a bit, take over when he misses the big chop and hits the stairs, and then he comes back to win by chokeslamming Mercury onto Gallows and pinning both. The only thing nice thing to see here was Punk escaping the chokeslam by scrambling Show’s brains for a minute. Punk’s attempt at Danielson’s elbow flurry was more comical than anything else and wasn’t anything more than an excuse to get Punk out of the ring for the finish.
SHEAMUS © vs. RANDY ORTON (WWE Heavyweight Title)
Out of the three main events I’ve seen him in, this is easily Sheamus’ best one. Of course, that doesn’t particularly say a whole lot, because it’s still not good. When eighteen minutes feels like forty-eight, you’re not putting on a very engaging match. Most of the reason this is so dull is Sheamus’ uninteresting offense, it’s mostly just generic kick and punch stuff, the norm for WWE main events, but it lacks the emotion that previous main eventers like Hogan, Austin, Rock, Michaels, etc. were able to provide. At one point, he throws Orton into the stairs and then starts using armbars for an extended time, which would have been good if he wasn’t working over the wrong arm. Sheamus pulls off a couple of smooth looking counters, the one to the RKO was his best moment of the whole match, but those are the exception, not the rule.
Orton isn’t a whole lot better than Sheamus here, but he is definitely better. He plays the punch and kick game too, but he changes things up with the various stomps whenever Sheamus is in a compromising position. As dull as Sheamus was when attempting to work over Orton’s shoulder, Orton wasn’t helping matters at all with his selling. The only good moment from him in that regard is when he sells his shoulder before he attempts the hanging DDT, which allows Sheamus to overhead Orton to the floor. The crowd roars to life when Orton finally makes his comeback, but it seems more like they’re excited that something good might finally happen instead of being happy that babyface Orton might be able to defeat heel Sheamus. The booking here is just as bad as it was the month before, another case of something being better done on TV than the second biggest show of the year. Sheamus gets fed up that he can’t put Orton away, so he shoves the referee for the disqualification. Yes, this is the same guy who put HHH on the shelf.
KANE © vs. REY MYSTERIO (World Heavyweight Title)
All things considered, this will probably wind up being more remembered for the shenanigans after the match, with Undertaker’s return and Kane’s heel turn when it’s revealed that it was him who attacked UT all along. It’s too bad too, because this winds up being a pretty good match, with some smart work from Kane. It starts out looking like the typical match that puts power against speed, until Kane slides Rey into the post and then baseball slides into him, and then keeps working over his midsection. Kane busts out some surprisingly good offense, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him use a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker before, and even when he uses something simple such as bending Rey’s back over his knee, he makes it work.
The only downfall to the match, believe it or not, is Rey. As good as Kane is with his offense, Rey doesn’t follow suit with selling. He pulls off counters and spots a bit too easily for someone who’s had his back and ribs worked over to the extent that he has. There are four separate spots where Rey flukes Kane into position for the 619, but it’s never due to Rey’s midsection being hurt that he doesn’t hit it. It’s Kane just being too strong for Rey to hit it and Kane blocking it somehow. Of course, given the size difference, there isn’t much that Rey can really do to Kane anyway. Rey’s best stuff was early on, such as Kane trying for the chokeslam early and Rey dropping his arm over the top. The chokeslam doesn’t seem like much of a finish, but I don’t know if anything really would have. The way Rey kept countering and hitting Kane with big moves out of nowhere, it’d odd that a single chokeslam finished him off, especially since Kane’s body work really didn’t factor in too much. The only thing that really sets this apart from Rey’s match with Swagger the month before is that Kane puts on a better performance than Swagger did, but Rey still disappoints. ***
JOHN CENA/CHRIS JERICHO/EDGE/BRET HART/JOHN MORRISON/R-TRUTH/DANIEL BRYAN vs. WADE BARRETT/DAVID OTUNGA/JUSTIN GABRIEL/HEATH SLATER/MICHAEL TARVER/DARREN YOUNG
This is a pretty fun main event from a booking standpoint, if you’re okay with Nexus getting exposed as a pack of goons and little else. The only clean eliminations from them are Sheffield’s eliminations of Morrison and Truth. Jericho and Edge were eliminated due to issues with Cena while Slater was at the right place at the right time. Miz interfered and attacked Bryan to continue their rivalry from earlier in the year, and Hart got himself disqualified. Compare that to Young, Otunga, Slater, and Barrett all tapping out cleanly, along with Gabriel, Sheffield, and Tarver getting pinned (and Gabriel after taking very little damage and simply missing the 450). The match may have come down to Cena vs. Barrett, but Nexus looked far from the dominating force that the announcers try to make them out to be. The only Nexus member who gets to look good is Sheffield. He packs some decent power offense that he shows against Morrison, and his quick eliminations of Morrison and Truth ties up the match after Nexus was down. Sheffield even gets put over in his elimination with Bret using the chair that got him disqualified, and then Jericho uses the Code Breaker *and* Edge does the spear to finally take him out.
While the booking is fun, the actual work between eliminations leaves a lot to be desired. The only good stuff to be found is the Bryan/Slater segment after Cena’s tag, with Slater stooging left, right, and center while Bryan decimated him before the LeBell lock. But the work between eliminations was mostly pedestrian brawling (from Nexus) or Team WWE members running through their spots before dispatching a Nexus member (Morrison/Tarver, Jericho/Otunga, and Hart/Slater, before the chair comes in, are all examples of this). The brawling makes sense in a way, this was supposed to be something full of hate, but the Nexus doesn’t deliver the mean streak that they’d been showing up until now.
Of course, the seven Nexus members were fresh out of developmental when they went to NXT, and the Nexus angle started the week after NXT finished, so it’s not like they’ve got a wealth of experience to their credit. But it should have dawned on one of them to try to make a control segment mean something, the best thing that they come up with is Barrett’s DDT to Cena on the exposed floor, but it happens way too late in the match. Nexus needed to bring a lot more and be a lot more consistent. Thanks to Team WWE, this is a decent match, but that’s almost entirely due to the fact that they have real offense and have the ability to put it together in the right way. ***
Conclusion: This is disappointing for the second biggest show of the year. It’s not horrible or anything, there is some good stuff here, but an event as big as Summerslam should have more to it than just “some good stuff.”