Andy’s Angry: The SummerSlam Build and Breaking Up Like Adults

It’s supposed to be the company’s second-biggest annual show, right behind the granddaddy of ‘em all, WrestleMania.  And while SummerSlam looks like a decent show — I’ll likely chip in to watch it somewhere this weekend —  what would make show truly amazing and memorable is if everything being sold to us actually feels like it matters.

Nobody watches TNA pay-per-views (Sorry, Dave) for this exact reason.  Gimmick matches for the sake of gimmick matches, then it’s over, and never addressed again.  The best numbers TNA ever did was for Joe vs. Angle – which was built up for months and made to feel like a legitimate fight, with legitimate consequences. This was not a coincidence.

While many of the builds have worked on some level, beyond “winning” a series of awkward break-ups, almost nothing is on the line. The 2 World titles, and a pre-show match for the U.S. title. That’s it.  No Intercontinental title match. No tag title match. Divas Champion AJ Lee is booked…in a throwaway tag match. A MIXED GENDER throwaway tag match. Because nothing says “pushing a feud for the women’s belt” like “the champion has to leave every time a big strong man comes in the ring”.

The Shield should be defending the tag titles against SOMEONE.  You’ve got the Usos, Prime Time Players, the Real Americans (remember when Swagger fought for the World title a few months ago at WRESTLEMANIA?), The Wyatt Family, Tons of Funk, 3MB…maybe even Air Boom?  You’re telling me NOBODY thought to challenge for a title match even after Roman Reigns practically begged for some competition?  Not one team?  Doesn’t that make all these tag wrestlers look bush league?  Remember the days of the tag title gauntlet match?

Also for the love of Flying Spaghetti Monster and all that is holy, Dean Ambrose should be defending the US title on the main show.  This could have been a good spot for Mark Henry.  Or Truth. Or Kofi. Or a returning Evan Bourne. How long would it really take to squash Zack Ryder?  Don’t worry, though. You get RVD.

Finally, if being a “Paul Heyman guy” is worth anything, you think Curtis Axel could at least get on the show. He’s the Intercontinental champion!  Two of my favorite matches in the history of this event were IC title matches – Bret Hart vs. Bulldog, and Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect.  Cards are subject to change, but I’m not holding my breath for a Perfectplex on this show.

And, listen, I’m not just a curmudgeon. Okay, I am, but for the sake of not sounding like I hate wrestling, I’m willing to talk about what has (and hasn’t, because [again] curmudgeon) worked so far as the WWE Universe (I just threw up in my mouth) hurdles towards SummerFestSlam:

I know it’s cool to hate everything about Cena, and everything he’s involved in, but this may be the most well-built program of the year.  Seriously. Take a step back and look at how well they’ve done building Daniel Bryan as the underdog who isn’t really an underdog.

He was the “weak link” in the tag team with Kane, or so he thought.  So he came out, had fantastic matches with incredible babyface rallies, making the crowd believe that he could and would win every time out.  He rallied that fan support into a WWE title match, much to Vinnie Mac’s supposed displeasure (though it’s hard to imagine him actually getting pissed off by a dude that can sell that many t-shirts/doesn’t have half the crowd saying he sucks).  So now instead of proving he deserves to be tag champ, he’s proving he deserves his shot at the big boy title.

And the fans LOVE IT.  They’re rallying behind their underdog, ready to see him prove the world wrong.  D-Bry fans will get that moment of triumph.  It just won’t last long, thanks to Randy Orton and that silly red briefcase.

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What can I even say about this? Minus a meathead promo or two by Brock, this has been pretty good, albeit incredibly simple.  Heyman betrays Punk, Punk goes for revenge.  The “Best in the World” cuts intense promos and has intense, violent brawls, building up to his moment against his betrayer’s hired gun.  If Punk can get past Lesnar, he gets his hands on the weasel who screwed him over.  Wrestling 101, and these guys get an A+.

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I’m baffled.  Watching Smackdown! Friday, I had no idea that Christian was even in this match.  I still don’t understand how Ziggler just gave up on getting the title back, for some subpar mid-card feud (which we’ll get to later).  They’ve basically Benoit’d the double-turn from a few short months ago, outside of a barrage of lame jokes and underwhelming promos from Ziggles.

Also, how did Christian even earn a title shot?  Actually, more accurately, how did he even earn a chance to earn a title shot?  I like Christian, but he hasn’t done anything to warrant a position in a supposed top-level title match on the biggest show of the year. He’s a solid hand, but really, he doesn’t belong in this match.  Especially not on THIS show, no matter how good that hype video was on Raw. (For the record, it was REALLY good.)

This match has no heat. It’s filler. It’s a Smackdown main event at best, and it’s for the World Heavyweight title? Like most matches these guys have, it’ll probably be fine… but ultimately, totally forgettable.  On the second biggest show of the year, in what’s ostensibly a “World” title match, that’s just not enough.

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Sandow cheated Cody out of the Money in the Bank contract, giving Cody a big babyface rub and sparking a pretty fun little feud.  These guys work really well together.  I can’t help but feel that something’s missing here, especially on a show totally void of midcard title matches.  Couldn’t the briefcase be on the line, perhaps in a ladder match?  Or some other gimmick?  I’m worried there just isn’t enough at stake in this match, and it’ll be forgotten as quickly as it happens.  I hope I’m wrong.

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Love it, love it, love it… because of the promos.  Bray Wyatt (and his “Wyatt Family”, for that matter) have been fantastically creepy since the long-awaited debut.  The promos are solid, and I’m glued to the TV as soon as the music hits.  Kane is Kane, and custom-built for something like this.

Even though I’m captivated, something’s missing.  A couple weeks of vague promos by two intense, dark characters aren’t enough to tell me why these two guys are fighting  It doesn’t explain why they’re in a “ring of fire” match, and it sure as hell doesn’t tell me what’s at stake.  As far as I can tell, NOTHING is at stake.  Does Kane get kidnapped and brainwashed?  Will Luke Harper and Erick Rowan execute him in the ring, while Bray sits on his rocking chair?  Does Bray get to take Kane’s seat at Undertaker’s dining room table this Thanksgiving, cutting a promo on Michelle McCool’s home cooking?  I’m excited – just tell me WHY.

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I don’t think anything on the card infuriates me more.  Ziggler should be 100% focused on regaining the World Heavyweight title.  He spent the better part of a year carrying around the MITB briefcase, teasing a cash-in until fans in New Jersey were ready to kill Del Rio just to see Dolph take the title.  Then he loses the damn thing as quickly as he won it, goes full-on babyface…and suddenly the title ceases to matter?  No buys.

I’m a fan of all 4 people in this match, but the ideas behind this make it so I almost don’t want to order the PPV just to let the WWE know how annoying booking like this is. What does Dolph gain from this match?  The chance to pin Big E Langston?  I dig the big guy, but what has Big E done that makes beating him mean ANYTHING?  Why should anyone care about babyface Dolph defeating the heel who used to watch his back? NOTHING.  No extra heat, and it doesn’t move him any closer to getting his belt back.

And finally, why isn’t Kaitlyn DEMANDING a Divas title match against AJ, who stole the title from her? Why is she satisfied with this BS mixed tag match?  Is the opportunity to pin AJ here better and more rewarding than the chance to beat her and REGAIN HER TITLE?  No buys.  Matches like this make the babyfaces look stupid and shortsighted.

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1 week’s build to what could have been the biggest match in Dean Ambrose’s career.  A clean win over an established star on the second biggest show of the year?  Highlight reel.  What’s more likely – a title change or a bullshit finish on the pre-show gets nobody over.  Here’s hoping Ambrose wins, then holds the top of the show hostage.  I’d rather see an Ambrose promo on the main show than…

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Thank you, Stephanie McMahon and WWE Creative, for building a 4 minute bathroom break into the show.

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Alright. I’m done. Thinking about convoluted booking of the undercard is giving me diabetes. . I’ll see you next week.

Agree? Disagree? Think You’re Better Than Me? Tell me @AndyMillerJMS