IHAO on ... WWE Summerslam 2014

I cannot emphasize how much I was NOT excited about this PPV.  After everything that happened at Battleground a month ago, and looking at the card for this show ... man, I just did not care.  I had very few hopes going, and the direction of the company for the past few months has been frustrating me to no end.  Thank goodness for NXT, because it is the only alternative.  But hey, I gathered all my friends and roommates and loved ones together to watch it anyway.  So let's get this show on the road!

Kick-Off Match: RVD beats Cesaro with the 5-Star Frogsplash

This may be a first, but we had a really fun kick-off match.  It warmed up the crowd, got them cheering and clapping and enjoying themselves, and these two performers, who have had many matches before, have an excellent working chemistry.  There were some foul ups, mostly on the part of Rob Van Dam, and I still hate that Cesaro is stuck working as a heel because they don't want to pull the trigger ... and the 'E doesn't have enough good heels in the midcard so great faces are stuck.  But it is a fun match.

GOSH they have nice chemistry.  Also, all wrestling gifs provided by wrasslormonkey.  Check him out.

Verdict - Fun and good

Intercontinental Championship: Dolph Ziggler beat the Miz to becomes the new champ

Hey, remember that battle royal at Battleground last year?  That was pretty great last time, second-best part of the show.  It was fun, and the Miz did the big jerk heel thing against the fan favorite face Ziggler.  Well, now we get a very competitive championship match.  The Miz is running high on his Hollywood gimmick, which is a nice change of pace from his stale reality star run he had been doing forever.  And Ziggler is finally getting a chance to shine!  He wins!  He wins this ... perfectly fine match that is perfectly fine.  It has a very nice finishing sequence that puts it above the kick-off match, and the crowd being so excited, it makes for a really fun opener.

Verdict - Perfectly fine!

Divas Championship: Paige defeats her frenemy AJ to become Divas Champion once again, on her 22nd birthday!

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Nothing to add.

She has been in the "main event" of the Divas division since Wrestlemania, and she has drastically brought up what the viewers think of Divas matches.  Hell, we have two on this show alone, and one is a huge main event and the other is a huge title match.  And not only that, fans are watching!  Divas matches were "bathroom breaks" and it sucks to say that, but it was the thought process.  But now, no one wants to miss them!  We have good storylines, and great competition.

Golly, I wish Orton and Cena worked as hard as these girls do.

AJ and Paige both do awesomely, really working hard.  Things were brutal, and fast, and exciting.  Paige used her third finisher, the Ram-Paige, which is a FANTASTIC looking cradle DDT she used to counter AJ's Black Widow finisher.  This match was fun, and while I still wish these matches could get some more time, neither of these women were willing to go slow.  They fought and fought, and the frenemy-ship was finished.  I personally am excited to see more.

Verdict - Awesome.  Makes me giddy.  :)

Flag Match: Rusev beats Jack Swagger unconscious

I haven't liked Rusev matches.  And I hate Jack Swagger.  And ...

This match was really great.  Like, really really great.  All because of both guys working crazy hard to tell a great story.  Rusev sells a broken foot the whole match, and Swagger ... ok, he doesn't sell the busted ribs well, but they do make sure the offense goes to the two troubled areas, which really upped the enjoyment level.  Back in the day, I loved Rusev when I was watching him in developmental.  That was when he was just a monster heel instead of this tired gimmick he currently is saddled with.

But my roommate saved me.  You see, he is the mark-est of marks.  He only likes characters he has connected to for ... some reason.  It isn't about skill or look in a conventional sense.  It is just one hundred percent ... whim.  I don't say all that to insult him.  In fact, it is nicely refreshing.  The group I watch PPVs with now includes some of the greatest combination of viewers I've sat with:

  • The Mark whose favorites are Bo Dallas, Ric Flair, and Dean Ambrose.
  • The Beard, my other roommate who basically likes dudes that wear pants, have beards, and flip around.  Kofi is his favorite, with Sami Zayn at a very solid number 2.
  • The Girlfriend, the Mark's girlfriend who has most of his tastes because of similarity ... but also just has a thing for some of the big burly guys, including Sheamus and Bray Wyatt.
  • The Wife, my wife, who was a lot of my tastes because I introduced her to wrestling, though she also tends to mark out for just story.  Oh, and anything French.  She hasn't found a FAVORITE yet, but once she does, it'll be great.  
  • The Lover, a friend who started watching on a whim and has fallen in love with wrestling in the strangest way.  She loves the pageantry.  The weirder and more ridiculous, the better.  Her favorite wrestler of all time is Dusty Rhodes, big ole fat polka dots.  And her next two are Goldust and Stardust.  
  • The Boyfriend, the Lover's boyfriend.  He used to watch wrestling, gave up when it started to really tank in 2006, and just recently came back to it.  He's old school attitude era style lover, with Rey Mysterio and RVD as his favorites. 
  • The Newbie.  A baffling find, a new friend who is going to college in just a few days, but he fell in love all because of the Brie/Stephanie storyline.  Yeah, I know, crazy, right?  THAT video package during the kick-off show made him exclaim with all his joy that he LOVED WRESTLING when Stephanie slapped Brie and called her a "bitch."  Also, this Rusev/Swagger match was his second favorite.
  • And then there's me, who I should call the Smark, but I think I can be more accurately called The Technician.  I want amazing ring work above almost everything, with strong personalities and character at number 2.  I hate signature spots and wrestler's whose ring work revolve only around those spots, like Kofi, Cena, and Orton, and I love great talkers.  I tend to like either the little guys, like Eddie Guerrero or Adrian Neville and Paige, the big personalities like Mick Foley, and old school monster power dudes like Sid Vicious and Ryback.  The personality has to be there, though, as Mr. Perfect, Bret Hart, RVD, those fellas do nothing for me.  Though Dean Malenko and Lance Storm I love, as they made their "no personality" become an actual gimmick, with the Iceman and Lance Storm's serious demeanor.
We are an eclectic group.  Oh right, why I even went through that. The Mark much like the rest of us, didn't care for Rusev.  Until his perspective changed all of the sudden when Rusev won a match by DQ and looked to Lana for instructions on an episode of Smackdown.  In that instant, he went from boring Russian USA-hater to being a "confused bear."  And THAT is exactly what makes Rusev so good.  Rusev did amazingly, his acting is just superior to the vast majority of wrestlers, and certainly more than most of the guys in the main events of the WWE.  He sold that foot injury so hard the whole match, every step, every maneuver.  The look on his face when he has to lock in the Accolade and it is absolutely killing him and he sits there and weeps as Jack Swagger passes out from pain.  Whoever finally beats Rusev for real is going to do real well.  I personally suspect we will be seeing a Sheamus/Rusev feud in the future for the United States championship.

Verdict - Real good, and better than it could have been, considering the crazy stipulation

Lumberjack Match - Seth Rollins beat Dean Ambrose with some shenanigans

Speaking of "better than it could have been," this match.  Wow.  Firstly, the stipulation made me cringe when I found out.  It made me want to just pack up my TV and stop watching.  Dean Ambrose is so unique.  But this fricking stipulation is garbage.  There has never been a PPV-quality Lumberjack match in the history of the WWE.


Until now, because this match was GREAT.  It even did the stupid contrived "throw myself onto the huge pile of other wrestlers outside the ring" spot TWICE.  But it doesn't matter.  Dean Ambrose is hilarious, and is in complete control, finally getting his revenge on Seth ... until in the chaos, Seth is able to use his briefcase to blast Dean in the head and pin him.  I loved this match, it was super fun and just the best kind of huge brawl / cluster-I-don't-curse-on-this-blog-even-though-I-wish-I-did.  I look forward to the sequel.

Dean does his crazy lizard dance after knocking out EVERYONE.

Verdict - Fantastic, super fun, great, other adjectives

Grudge Match - Bray Wyatt beats Chris Jericho clean with the Wyatt Family banned from ringside

Chris Jericho is an incredible worker.  Future Hall of Famer, no doubt.  One of the best of all time.  Bray Wyatt is an incredible talent, unique with an aura of interesting.  Jericho is a returning legend, which means instant face.  Bray Wyatt is a heel who refuses to make the fans hate him which makes him a ... tweener, I suppose, but really, he's an inefficient heel with an incredible gimmick and lots of mystique.  Oh, and the two of these guys just do not click.  

Jericho's health bar did go all the way up, though.  So that's good.

Jericho can work with almost anyone.  Really, I can only think of ... one that he couldn't really have good matches with other than Wyatt, and that was CM Punk.  But these two just do not click.  I mean, the match is very good because they are both good workers.  But it doesn't go above and beyond.  It doesn't really ever get any better than TV quality.  Even worse, we are going to get this AGAIN next month before Jericho goes off away again.

Verdict - Predictably good, but I wish it was more

Grudge Match - Stephanie pinned Brie Bella after Twin Magic

I called the outcome of this match days ago.  I say that because it did not matter.  This was the best match of the show ... I think.  It is hard to say because the main event was ... well, I'll get there.  But this was really super duper good.  I forgot just how good of a heel Stephanie could be.  That natural McMahon blood runs through her veins.  But she's also been training and really can do the moves and do the work.  Brie is incredibly sympathetic as a babyface in this storyline, and the shenanigans finish was great.  It caused a collective gasp and yell with everyone watching it in me casa the first time around.  Not only that, but props to HHH for taking a fantastic bump for Brie.  

Wrestlemania 31 main event.  BOOK IT!

I'm not sure how this story will go, but this match proved that some of the main events on TV this match had setting it up were totally deserved.  Heck, with the Newbie loving it as much as he did, it reminds me that wrestling hits all sorts of fans buttons, and something that looked like it wasn't for me was amazing for others.  And even more so, this thing I thought was going to be terrible ended up being my favorite part of the night.

Verdict - Absolutely fabulous.

British Golden Girls is weird.  And flawless.

Since Divas matches are no longer bathroom breaks, we needed one.  So they shared all this stuff with some contest winner.  Good for him, but man did this waste time.

Future NXT champion.

Grudge Match: Roman Reigns speared Randy Orton

Hey, remember me mentioning above about how much I hate contrived, signature spots?  That's this match!  Let me go ahead and just give you a rundown of the match:

Bell. Brawl, brawl, brawl, rest hold, brawl escape, rest hold, rest hold, signature spot, signature spot, rest hold, signature spot, counter signature spot, signature spot, brawl, brawl, finisher, kickout, counter signature spot, finisher, pin.

I didn't like this match.  Not because it was bad.  It was perfectly fine.  For a television main event.  I just am not into these kind of matches.  Roman Reigns has learned the worst traits from HHH and Orton and is too green to be able to string things together more interestingly or fill in the blanks with some spontaneity, which was HHH's saving grace.  I like Reigns less and less the closer he gets to the main event.  He isn't ready.  Get him feuding for a mid-card title or something else.  He isn't as polished as Seth and Dean from the Shield, yet he's getting the rub.  

Whatever.  The most interesting thing was that HHH didn't screw Reigns, which I thought was a lock considering the rumor is HHH v. Reigns at Night of Champions.

Verdict - Good ... for TV.  Lame second-tier main event for a PPV.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Lesnar absolutely destroys Cena

The difference between a match like the last one, which was all brawls and signature spots, and this one, where a total of six moves were done at all, including punches and kicks, is the people involved.  I generally don't care about Lesnar.  I don't mark out for him.  He had a bad match at Wrestlemania.  He doesn't work anywhere near enough in my opinion to be as high up in the card as he is.  But man oh man does he know how to be a monster heel.  And Cena just took it all.  He wasn't given a chance to Super-Cena.  He was just destroyed with knees to the ribs, hay-makers to his head, 14 German suplexes (I counted), and 2 F-5s.  Lesnar destroyed Cena.

Leave this gif looping for 16 minutes and you get an idea of what this match looks like.

But that's not even what made this so good.  Lesnar taunted the crowd by doing the Undertaker's classic sit-up.  He yelled at Cena when he would kick out for not just laying down to die.  He yelled at the fans.  He yelled at the ref.  He laughed and snarled and sweat EVERYWHERE.  Paul Heyman, after almost every German suplex, yells out "Here comes the pain!" over and over, 14ish times!  Lesnar does all the things a heel needs to do.  I hated him for all the right reasons.  I even felt bad for Cena, which I NEVER feel.

Not only that, but this is going to be a huge deal.  Lesnar doesn't work every night.  He doesn't work every show.  I am a big fan of professional wrestling acting more like real sports.  And you don't see real boxing champs wrestle every month, or every week.  You don't see UFC guys doing that either.  You watch everyone else climb to the top.  You breed a company of competition to reach the top.  Yes, not having the champ on television every week will be weird, and potentially bad.  But we have two other titles, both held by BIG stars, in Sheamus and now Ziggler.  And the Divas and the Tag Division, which was sorely missed this PPV.  All those titles will be bigger because that is what we will see.  And whoever faces Lesnar will be a BIG deal.  And I hope they lose.  I hope Lesnar holds the title for a long time, even if he does only defend it maybe three times before Wrestlemania.  It adds credibility and makes the title important, even if he isn't on TV.

My biggest concern is "where does Cena go?"  For the longest time, Cena was treated as more important than the belt.  And we just might see that happen again.  And I really hope not.  It is the thing I'm most worried about.

Verdict - Awesome, and scary important, and just an amazing sight to behold

I'm super-excited.  Which is the exact opposite of how I felt coming into this PPV.  In three hours, I went from being a sad wrestling fan to an exuberant one.  I recently had a facebook discussion with someone worried about things, though.  And I think I'm just going to add that comment onto this, because I'm an egotistical writer, and I'm going to jam my words down your throat one way or another.

Look at NXT. HHH is the only hand on that tiller. There is no Vince, stuck in his old ways. Times they are a changing. It is slow, but it is happening. Kenta, Prince Devitt, Kevin Steen, all guys coming to be in HHH's developmental. Not the main roster, NXT. The future is bright, even if it may still be far.

Plus, we are currently in the slow season of WWE. Things will get weirder and more chances will be taken because the NFL is starting up. We may see some good things happen. Or we may see more utter garbage like Orton-Bryan-HHH nonsense we had to deal with for so long last year. 

But the future, it is bright! And in September we get NXT Takeover 2. Hell, NXT Takeover had two match of the year contenders on it. TWO. 

Also, with all the main event garbage, don't let that make you miss that we are seeing a strengthened Divas division, an emphasis on the tag division with some really GREAT tag teams waiting to come up, and the most talented midcard the WWE has had since the Invasion. And if you remember, the year AFTER the Invasion was the best year for in-ring work and storylines since 1998. WWE just ebbs and flows. We are in the ebb. Things are about to flow.

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