Torch Flashbacks WWE SUMMERSLAM FLASHBACK SERIES - 2007 REPORT: Post-Benoit tragedy with Cena-Orton, Batista-Khali, Hunter-Booker
Aug 14, 2010 - 5:30:54 PM
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WWE SUMMERSLAM PPV FLASHBACK REPORT
AUGUST 26, 2007
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.
REPORT BY WADE KELLER, PWTORCH EDITOR
-After a video introduction package, Michael Cole and JBL introduced the show. Then they threw to Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, then Joey Styles and Tazz.
1 -- KANE vs. FINLAY
At 5:00 Hornswoggle came out from under the ring. He distracted both wrestlers. When he tried to scurry back under the ring, Kane caught him and threw him into the ring. Hornswoggle stood center-ring. Kane tried to knock his hat off, then went for a chokeslam. Kane grabbed both Finlay and Hornswoggle, but Hornswoggle escaped. Kane went to lift Hornswoggle, but he favored his injured ribs. Finlay took over. He took off a top turnbuckle pad, but that gave Kane a chance to recover and knocked him down. Finlay ended up getting a roll-up for a near fall. Finlay attempted a shoulder tackle in the corner, but Kane moved and Finlay went straight into the ringpost. Kane then successfully chokeslammed Finlay for the win.
WINNER: Kane in 9:00.
STAR RATING: * -- Fine for what it was.
-Backstage, Coach, Vince McMahon, William Regal, Teddy Long, and Armando Estrada praised themselves for the great party set up they had backstage. Santino Marella sang for Vince, "Oh my papa!" MVP walked into the room. He said he doesn't know if he's his son, but Long is biased against him for keeping him off the show. He said he had an idea for a contest with Matt Hardy worthy of the 20th edition of Summerslam for later. Vince said he was looking forward to it. Regal said Vince's son would be dignified and "more regal." Vince commented to Coach that the party office was gaudy. Coach said, "Yeah, great." Vince leaned in and said, less than pleased, "No, gaudy."
-A new short music video aired hyping Rey Mysterio's return.
2 -- UMAGA vs. MR. KENNEDY vs. CARLITO - IC Title match
After a few minutes of back and forth (and forth) action, Umaga jerked Kennedy to the floor and then entered the ring and worked over Carlito. As he went for a running corner splash, Kennedy pulled Carlito out of his path. he then disassembled the announce table. He hit Umaga with a part of the table. Carlito scored a near fall. Kennedy entered the ring steamed. Carlito tried to talk Kennedy into a double-team on Umaga. At 6:00 Umaga made a comeback with a clothesline of both men at once. He gave Calito a quick Samoan drop, then slammed Kennedy for a two count. Carlito broke up the pin attempt. Umaga nailed Carlito with a butt splash in the corner a few secconds later. When he charged at Kennedy, Kennedy pulled the top rope down. Umaga flew to the floor. Kennedy then lifted Carlito and gave him his finisher for a near fall, broken up by Umaga. Umaga gave Kennedy the Samoan Spike for the win.
WINNER: Umaga when he pinned Kennedy in 8:00.
STAR RATING: *1/2 -- The least likely finish of the night - other than Hunter or Rey losing, I supposed, just happened - as it seemed Kennedy was someone they'd be protecting.
-A promo aired for Unforgiven, now being subtitled "The Return of the Undertaker."
-The new Rey video aired again. Then a recap aired of the Chavo-Rey feud.
3 -- REY MYSTERIO vs. CHAVO GUERRERO
There was silence in the arena after Chavo's ring entrance followed by a "Rey, Rey" chant. Then Rey's music played to a pop, and then Rey popped up from under the rampway for a bigger pop. It looks like the ghost of Rey as he was all one color with a silver/white mask, tights, and bodypaint. It was kind of erie. Rey hit some nice spots early including a lucha exchange with Chavo that felt like old school Nitro in the late-'90s. JBL said Rey may look good, but in his mind he knows he's working on a rehabbed knee. "You will never know until it is tested under fire," he said, comparing him to Pedro Martinez being hesitant until his arm is proven. At 4:00 Chavo knocked Rey off the top rope and Rey ended up hanging upside down in the corner. Chavo worked over his knee and told him to quit. That went on for several minutes until Rey made a comeback and got Chavo briefly in the same position. Rey leaped onto Chavo at ringside, but back in the ring when he landed, he favored his knee. Rey went for a pin and got a two count. Rey hit a springboard moonsault at 10:00, but Chavo caught him, and then Rey reversed that with a somersault DDT for a two count. Rey went for a crossbody block, but Chavo moved. Chavo then hit a Gory Special for a near fall. A minute later Rey came back with a 619 attempt. Chavo moved. Chavo then went for the Three Amigos suplex series, but Rey esceaped and then hit the 619. Chavo bumped like he was hit with a cannonball. Rey followed with a springboard splash for the expected clean three count.
WINNER: Rey Mysterio in 12:00.
STAR RATING: **1/2 -- Solid, satisfying, well-executed return match for Rey. It didn't feel epic, but it just did enter the range of satisfying given all of the hype.
-Todd Grisham interviewed King Booker and Queen Sharmell backstage.
4 -- DIVA BATTLE ROYAL
Candice Michelle sat at ringside with peacock feathers behind her like a queen watching armies fight over her kingdom. It looked like about half the moves could have ended up with someone being genuinely injured by accident when someone bumped into another. It came down to Torrie Wilson, Michelle McCool, Melina, and Beth Phoenix. It came down to McCool and Phoenix. Phoenix easily overpowered McCool and tossed her over the top rope to the floor.
WINNER: Beth Phoenix in 7:00.
STAR RATING: 3/4* -- Served it's purpose well enough.
-MVP interrupted Phoenix's celebration. He said the divas may be sexy, but nobody paid to see them. He said they came to see him, the most valuable player in the game. He said he used to drink, but now that he is the highest paid entertainer in the history of Smackdown, his taste has become more refined. "Now I only consume beverages that are suitable to an MVP," he said. He said he's better than the fans, so he's going to lower himself and engage in a common fan's activity - something they and Hardy can relate to, a beer drinking contest. Hardy came out. They both grabbed a Miller Lite. Hardy wanted to know what the rules were. He said in these contests, they each will some and lose some. He said what he won't accept is MVP saying he's better than everybody else. Hardy said he is a common man and he is proud of that fact. He brought up the boxing match they were supposed to have. He said since he picked a substitute for that contest, he ought to be able to pick a substitute for this contest. The fans chanted, "Austin, Austin." At that point, if Sandman was the designated replacement, they were in trouble. Sandman, though, isn't allowed to drink anymore; that's Stone Cold's exclusive domain. The glass broke and the fans went nuts. Hardy and Austin shared a beer. Austin ran the ropes a few times to warm up for the beer drinking, then he did some push-ups and jumping jacks. Austin ended the competition before it started by giving MVP a Stone Cold Stunner. Cole said that means MVP has to forfeit. Strange rules. Austin guzzled some beer as the fans cheered. Cole asked JBL to give him an "Oh hell yeah!"
-A WrestleMania 24 commercial aired hyping it as the first-time ever in Florida.
-Backstage, Vince told Long that one of these days, MVP is going to wipe the smile off his face. Cryme Tyme walked up to Vince and the GMs and Coach. Shad called him V-Mac. He said maybe one of them is his son because they share in common the love of money. They sang they're song, "Money, money, yeah, yeah." Coach and Long sang with them. Eventually Regal joined in. That prompted Ron Simmons to walk up to him and say, "Damn!" Regal looked like he sucked on an apple.
-They showed Kat Deluna in the front row.
-Styles and Tazz spoke about the upcoming title match, then went to a video on Morrison that introduced his character to the half to two-thirds of WWE fans who rarely if ever watch ECW on Sci-Fi.
5 -- JOHN MORRISON vs. C.M. PUNK - ECW Hvt. Title match
Punk got introduced second. Good back and forth action in the early minutes. At 5:00, Punk hit a moonsault for the first near fall of the match. Styles snuck in a plug for the timeslot and channel for ECW on Sci-Fi. Punk nearly pinned Morrison with a small package. He followed with a roundkick to the neck. He followed up with a top rope huracanrana attempt, but Morrison held on. Then Morrison covered Punk and sorta put his feet on the middle rope for leverage to score the tainted pin.
WINNER: Morrison in 8:00 to retain the ECW Hvt. Title.
STAR RATING: ** -- Basic match with enough nice spots to bring it to average for being just eight minutes in length. The finish was a little botched was a bit of a downer.
6 -- TRIPLE H vs. KING BOOKER
King Booker came out first. Then the Six Million Dollar Man style video aired. Then Hunter walked out onto the stage to his music with his signature water bottle. He didn't seem bloated and his ab definition was better than in the past when he's tried to bulk up for big shows. One real test for Hunter is cardio in an actual match. Ross said moments like this are moments you remember when you're part of this industry (yeah, the pressure as an announcer to be sure you kiss up to Hunter just enough to satisfy him without being a transparent suck up - a delicate, challenging balance to strike). it was tough to tell how Hunter's pop compared to Rey's, but it did seem to be decisively less than Austin's. Booker and Sharmell watched from ringside, looking nonplussed if not perturbed by the production. Hunter milked it all with posing on the ropes in various corners off the ring. Booker opened with a kick to the gut to jump-start the match at the bell. Hunter came back right away. At 2:00 Hunter pursued Booker at ringside as Booker tried to catch his breath. At 3:00 Booker dropkicked Hunter in the thigh. Hunter came right back and applied a figure-four leglock in center ring. Sharmell broke that up with a rake of Hunter's eyes. Booker superkicked Hunter for a quick two count. Hunter came back at 6:00 with a spinebuster. Booker took over offense for a couple minutes, but when he went for a flip legdrop off the ropes, Hunter moved. Hunter stood and did the crotch chop before going for the Pedigree. Booker escaped, but Hunter went for it again, hit it, and scored the clean win. Ross and Lawler stood and gave Hunter a standing ovation for his heroic effort in his comeback. It was a little much.
WINNER: Hunter in 8:00.
STAR RATING: ** -- Just very basic. Hunter didn't pull a quad, so that's a victory. He seemed nimble and athletic, which is a good sign for us since we're going to be watching him in top PPV matches for the foreseeable future. At just eight minutes, they didn't push his cardio yet, which was smart.
-Another Undertaker video aired, then a recap of the Batista vs. Great Khali feud. Not that this it the night to do it, but if WWE wants anyone to take them seriously when they say there isn't an A-brand (Raw) and a B-brand (Smackdown), the Smackdown title match has to follow the Raw title match on a tri-branded PPV.
7 -- THE GREAT KHALI vs. BATISTA - World Hvt. Title match
Khali took control early with some short-arm clotheslines to take Batista down. At 3:00 Khali applied a nerve hold on his shoulders. Then he hit him over the back with forearms and repallied the nerve hold. JBL talked about how that hold causes you to lose feelings in your hand and you worry more about the blood flow returning to your hands than your opponent. JBL and Cole did a good making nothing much happening in the ring feel monumental and suspensful. JBL said Khali is not a mindless brute. He said he is dismantling Batista and thus could be a short match. The crowd didn't benefit from hearing JBL and Cole give the nerve hold meaning as they loudly chanted "boring, boring." Batista blocked Khali's nerve hold atttempt at 6:00. Then he gave him a spinebuster. He shook the top rope and set up a Batista Bomb. Khali shoved him off. Baitsta climbed to the top rope, but when he jumped off, Khali caught him and gave him the Khali Bomb chokeslam for a very near fall. Cole said, "This match is over," so we unfortunately knew Batista was going to kick out because, as you know, announcers would never "ruin the surprise" by saying a match was over if it really was. Khali got a chair from his handler and bashed Batista with it. The crowd booed instantly. To give the fans a little something to cheer about, Batista speared Khali to the mat, then bashed him more than a dozen times with a chair after the match. His music played.
WINNER; Batista via DQ so Khali retained the title in 8:00.
STAR RATING: 1/4* -- Boy, they didn't trust those two to do much of anything in that match. It's a good thing they run tri-branded PPVs, because if that headlined a Smackdown-brand PPV, that'd be terrible. They'd have stretched it out longer, but it wouldn't have been any better, and that DQ finish was such a copout for a major show like Summerslam.
-McMahon backstage told Coach that Batista proved he was an animal. Regal brought in Mae Young and Fabulous Moolah. Vince asked what the meaning of it was. Mae said she wants relations with him so she can have his basard son. She dove onto Vince and tried to dry hump him. She had to pulled offf of Vince's lips. Vince growled, "Get her out of here, dammit!" She was dragged out of the room. Vince gagged and caughed. Coach told Vince she was strong as an ox. Vince said, "You wouldn't believe the taste in my mouth." Coach offered him a Tic Tac. Vince smiled after taking one. He said, "It may be a little kinky, but I kinda liked it. It turned me on." Coach said that was disgusting. Vince said, "I guess you've never heard the expression, old chicken makes good soup." Ross said he's never eating chicken soup again.
8 -- JOHN CENA vs. RANDY ORTON
The match began with the two wrestlers circling each other. Great heat from the fans who cared passionately for or against John Cena. They locked up in a realistic test of strength. Cena then applied a side headlock immediatley. He wrenched it on hard and Orton appeared to want to get out of it. He pushed Cena into the ropes ten seconds later. Cena went right back into it and applied a headlock on the mat at 0:55. A nice touch at this point would have been Orton throwing some punches at Cena to irritate him into breaking the hold, as fans of MMA have learned is common anytime someone is locked in a hold on the mat.
At 1:30 Orton broke free when the ref forced a break of Cena's headlock. Orton immediately applied his own for ten seconds. Cena threw Orton off into the ropes. Orton repplied the headlock immediately at 1:50. He wrenched it and Cena worked his way to his feet after 30 seconds. He threw Orton off and went for an early STFU. Orton desperately crawled to the bottom rope and then began htting Cena with forearms and punches and stomps after getting back to his feet. Cena struggled to get back to his feet. Orton moved in and punched him at 3:00.
Orton threw Cena into the corner, but Cena bounced off and surprised Orton with a bulldog for a quick two count. The match was building nicely at this point. Orton kicked Cena in the face on a backdrop attempt by Cena, then hit Cena with a forearm from behind and went for a cover. Cena kicked out at two. Cena went for a bodyblock, and Orton ducked. Cena flew over Orton and crashed on the mat, gasping for breath as he crawled to the ring apron for cover. Orton surveyed the situation, then charged at Cena and knocked him off the apron into the announce table at 5:15.
Orton threw Cena back into the ring and went for a pin. He got a two count. He then apllied a chinlock at 5:55. He winced as he squeezed and Cena struggled pull Orton's hand off of him. He began going limp as Orton dropped him to the mat. Cena gasped for breath, but began to lose consciousness at 6:55, one minute into the chinlock. At 7:05, Cena backdropped out of it. Cena charged at Orton in the corner, but Orton moved and then went for a quick pin. Cena kicked out. Orton then began a methodical Orton Stomp routine. He looked to the crowd briefly, then stomped at Cena's leg, then his arm, then his head. He played the crowd with heelish looks of satisfaction. He paused more, then went for a kneedrop. Because Orton stalled so long, Cena moved. When Cena attempted a comeback, Orton quickly powerslammed him, scored a two count, and then went back to a chinlock at 9:20.
Cena was beat down enough at this point from the stomps and other punishment that it was believable that he wouldn't put up more of a fight. The fans had some Cena hant contests. Cena powered out at 10:20, a minute later, but Orton immediately hit him with a dropkick and scored a near fall at 10:30.
At 11:40 Orton applied a lseeper. Cena fought it off by lifting Orton, but Orton took Cena back to the mat and shifted into a side headlock. Cena again struggled a little to get out, but went limp pretty quickly. He rolled onto his back and shifted Cena into a sleeper at 12:15. Cena began to struggle to get out 30 seconds later, trying to stand. He eventally did get to his feet. Orton looked worried. Cena made a bit of a superman comeback as he went from dead to powerful enough to back Orton hard into the corner to break the hold at 13:30. He then made a full-fledged comeback and fired up his fans with a high-energy explosion. He went through his routine including a Five-Knuckle Shuffle. When he lifted Orton for an FU, Orton slipped out and countered with an inverted backbreakers at 14:30. That move looked vicious. I'd like to have seen that earlier before Orton settled into the chinlocks and headlocks.
At 15:00 Orton gave Cena a DDT as Cena's legs were on the middle rope, giving it an appearance of extra umph. Orton got down on the mat and just stared down Cena and trash-talked, encouraging Cena to get up so he could give him his RKO. He got more excited with anticipation as Cena began to get to his feet. He went for an RKO, but Cena blocked it. Cena charged at Orton, but Orton ducked and pulled down the top rope. Cena flew to the floor.
Orton pursued Cena and threw him into the ringside steps at 17:00. Then he dragged him into position remniscent of the SNME scene. He lifted Cena's dead weight - a nice touch, because it didn't appear that Cena was helping Orton as he tried to get him into the ring. Orton went for a pin, but Cena kicked out. Orton went for a superplex on Cena. Cena struggled to block it, shoved Orton to the mat, and then hit a legdrop off the second rope to the back of Orton's head. Cena then went for an FU, but Orton blocked it and dropped down, snapping Cena's neck across the top rope. Cena bounced to the mat and his head hit hard on the fall.
Orton again got into all fours and anticipated Cena rising to his feet. He seemed to get a new thought and rose to his feet. He began kicking the mat lightly to signify the Legend Killing punt was going to replace his plans for an RKO at 21:00. Cena moved to avoid the telegraphed kick and applied an STFU immediatelly. Orton struggled and crawled to the bottom rope. He did reach the bottom rope, which popped the crowd big-time. Orton then surprised Cena who had turned to catch his breath briefly, with an RKO out of nowhere. Orton grasped his left knee in pain. he crawled over to Cena and made a cover. Cena kicked out to a mix of loud boos and cheers. Cena got up and hit an FU for the clean, rather sudden pin.Ross called it "one of the most stimulating, scintiliating WWE Title matches I've called in years." Hardly.
WINNER: Cena in 20:00 to retain the WWE Hvt. Title.
STAR RATING: ***1/2 -- I rated the match under three stars after first viewing, and am willing to give it above three stars after the second and third viewings. That first half could turn people off from investing 40 dollars in these PPVs if the top acts can't give a 20 minute effort, but instead spend so much of the the first half of their match in first or second gear applying stigmatized headlocks and chinlocks. The crowd was entertaining itself with pro-Cena and anti-Cena chants. The headlocks by Orton made sense, since he was trying to capitlize on the damage he did at SNME with the running bulldog onto the chair at ringside, but why was that also Cena's unimaginative hold of choice. Plus it was too early to do them in the match. The headlocks applied by both were intense, and there did appear to be a struggle to get out of them each time, but still, it was monotonous and headlocks carry a stigma from years of it being applied a half-hearted stalling resthold. It also just didn't seem credible that both wrestlers would feel their best strategy early in a match before they were tired or beaten down would be to sit on the mat and wrap their arm around their opponent's head or chin time after time while lying on the mat. The second half was very well done - excellent in spots, with a nice attention to detail - and showed that when they want to, they are two pros who can turn it on and have a good match.
KELLER'S POST-SUMMERSLAM BLOG
There's a discussion in the VIP Forum on my harsh initial judgment of the John Cena vs. Randy Orton main event from the Summerslam PPV - particularly the first half (as I liked the second half a lot). After discussing the match last night with Torch columnists Pat McNeill and Bruce Mitchell in our post-PPV VIP Audio Roundtable, rewatching the match last night and again this afternoon, and today reading other cases made by VIP members for why I misjudged the match - I have been swayed.
I was indeed too harsh on it after first viewing. I still have a problem with the approach they took early in the match. I've consistently said I thought the last half was really good.
Here's where my problem still lies: (a) They went to the headlock/chinlock too early and too often in that opening ten minutes; (b) Orton and Cena both have a history of settling on the mundane headlock too often for just time-filling, and I let that affect my judgment on this occasion. (It also didn't help that the show was so mundane, and the previous match so bad with such a lame finish, that my state of mind was more negative than typical headed into a main event.)
I think they did a nice job applying the headlock, actually. It wasn't up to the levels of superb application and selling between Chris Benoit and MVP a few months ago, but it was much better than Cena or Orton six and twelve months ago when utilizing that hold. Orton was better than Cena overall in this case, as Cena still seems cartoonish with his facial expressions; Orton has gotten better about looking like he was in a fight.
If the headlocks had come at eight minutes into the match rather than a minute or so in, so there was a reason for Orton to neutralize Cena and catch his breath a bit, I would have been okay with it. The fact that he dropped down into a headlock/chinlock four times in the opening ten minutes did drive me a little nuts - in part because the spurts of action in between were so promising.
I understand that Orton was trying to capitalize on the Cena concussion storyline by going after his head. I wish there was a greater sense of urgency, though, in what he was doing, and a greater variety. His Orton Stomp was methodical, like he was slowing down to fill extra time rather than in a rush to destroy a hated rival and win the coveted World Title as soon as possible.
I do understand why many people think it was a great match now. It took a second (and third) viewing and an open mind (and some distance from an otherwise mundane show) to not let the headlock/chinlock frequency early - no matter how intensely applied - drag down my enjoyment of what was very good about the match. So it's not a Match of the Year level effort in 2007, but it deserved more credit than I gave it last night. With some reservations still (noted above), I withdraw some of my harsher comments about the match last night.
In fairness, too, I want to mention a few things I think were excellent about the match:
-The struggles to get out of the headlocks and chinlocks were most very good, sometimes excellent, and added a sense of drama and realism to a hold that so often in the past has been used to kill time and rest.
-The particular spot where Cena was on the ring apron early trying to recover, and Orton saw it and charged at Cena to knock him to the floor was really well executed. What really stood out was how Orton's facial expression communicated that he realized he had a great opportunity to knock Cena off the apron. It felt improvised, like he "just had a great idea," rather than something planned.
-When Orton went for a superplex and Cena blocked it, that was especially well done. When Cena shoved Orton to the mat, then came off with a legdrop to the back of his neck, it was more realistic than when Booker T does the scissors kick usually because the opponent has to stand there awkwardly bent over waiting for the kick. In this case, it seemed totally natural and had a good flow to it.
-The moment where Orton was setting up for the RKO for the second time, on all fours, waiting for Cena to rise, and then changed the gameplan to the Legend Killer punt kick, was a really effective moment at drawing from his arsenal and what's been established as a devastating kick in recent months.
It really is clear that a lot of thought went into this match and a lot of things were done that were smart and realistic. There were a lot of parts of this match that would be good to use when showing developing wrestlers small things they can do to make a match better and more realistic. So, if it sounds like a loved this match, well, that's not true. But there were parts of the match I really did like a lot and they deserve credit for. Maybe after a year of the headlock and chinlock being applied as well as Cena and Orton did, I will be over my bias against the hold - and my belief that fans have been conditioned to look at it like a rest hold due to years of people like Orton and Cena applying it half-heartedly to catch their breath. My statue of limitations on that hold being a crowd-killer isn't up yet, but they're working on fixing it. So I give them credit for correcting course.
There's still that little problem of pro wrestling fans who also watch MMA wondering why headlocks and chinlocks are never applied in an MMA match. That can be a non-factor as long as WWE producers make sure the headlock and chinlock is never applied in the half-hearted way it was the past decade or two.
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