Whether you’re a WWE fan who is happy with the current product (I thought this past Monday Night Raw was pretty good) or who is perpetually pissed with it, one thing we as wrestling fans all seem to evangelize is the past.
Now, the common theme seems to be to go back and cover the “better days” whether it be The Golden or the Attitude Era. But what about the not-so-distant past?
I think for many wrestling fans, we all take a period of time where all stray away for a bit, but then always come back eventually. So we naturally have a “dark period” where we made have had a vague idea of what was going on, but not an in depth understanding that comes with watching Monday Night Raw and Smackdown! every week.
A particular dark period for myself was from around WrestleMania 23 to XXX.
With SummerSlam 2019 is right around the corner, rather than go back and review the 2001 event (one of my personal favourites of all-time) or anything from the Attitude Era that I know and love, I thought it would be more fun to watch and comment in real time on an event from that period.
So, we’re going back ten years to 2009. The first of six SummerSlam events in a row at the Staples Centre in LA.
Watch the event on the WWE Network and read along if you’d like, as this is not going to be a play-by-play summary of the event, but rather just some generally observations over the course of it.
Alright, here we go!
SummerSlam 2009 (Live! in Los Angeles!)
So the PPV opens with an actually pretty funny bit by Shawn Michaels and Triple H (both still with long hair!) as the re-formed DX. In know this reformation got crapped on a lot, but based off just this PPV, they’re pretty entertaining.
Jim Ross and Todd Grisham (? I don’t really remember this guy) welcome everybody to the event. Gotta say, miss hearing JR’s voice shouting over a crowd and setting the tone for a PPV…
Anyway, we have the first match.
Rey Mysterio Vs. Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler, who comes to the ring to a bizarre “I am Perfection” theme, is announced by Todd Grisham that he earned the #1 Contender spot by winning a Fatal Four-way against Finlay, R-Truth, and Mike Knox… what??
The match is great as an opening contest, with Rey doing his duty as old reliable in getting the crowd hot. From what I understand, Dolph was still pretty unknown at this point, so the crowd starts off pretty flat towards him. But after he reverses Rey’s 619-to-Flying Headbutt sequence they get redhot behind him.
But Rey gets the win.
Josh whatshisname who used to do those WWE Canada segments interviews Jack Swagger and MVP right before their apparently upcoming match. Swagger is clearly reading cue cards off-frame as he cuts his promo on MVP, while proclaiming that he’ll be a future WWE Champion. Can’t believe that he was right…
Anyway, onto the match.
Jack Swagger Vs. MVP
Did Zack de la Rocha do Swagger’s theme? If so, not even all the Rage Against the Machine rub in the world could ever make his guy cool.
This match/feud is centred around the fact that Swagger is the good guy because he’s the noble, honourable, “All-American American” (white) while MVP is the bad guy because he’s the corrupt, morally-questionable ex-con (black). Jesus Christ. Ten years ago feels like fifty years ago.
As far as the actual match goes, Swagger sucks so much that the redhot crowd that come out of the IC title match is already dead; who booked a cooler as the second match of the night?
Honestly, not much to say about this match. MVP wins out of nowhere because clearly someone in guerrilla decided to pull the pug on this technical snorefest.
I have to say, I don’t think I realized it before, but MVP was so much better than he ever got. He really was a victim of his dumb gimmick of a failed/retired professional “sports” player? Without the stupid jumpsuit and “baller” move, he could’ve been something.
Jack Swagger on the other hand sucks so much. He is so boring and can’t cut a promo to save his life. I missed the Jack Swagger World Heavyweight title run, and thank god… At least MVP goes over in this match, which is the only positive from it.
We get a recap of all the Monday Night Raw hosts (remember those??), then Nancy O’Dell is live in the arena to promote her charity before she interviews one of said aforementioned hosts in Freddie Prinze Jr, (who honestly looks like he got caught for this interview on his way out of the arena to hit up happy hour at the closest strip club). O’Dell lays it on thick, fantasizing about Freddie in the ring wearing tights before throwing to the Unified Tag Team Champions: Jeri-Show!
Unified Tag Team Championships
Jeri-Show Vs. Cryme Tyme
Chris Jerico and Big Show come out out to the always-awful-singles-themes-mashup, which is just be a cover of Jericho’s “Break the Walls Down” by what appears to be Volbeat. (a quick Youtube search tells me it’s actually “Crack the Walls Down” by Maylene & The Sons of Disaster… alright).
So Jericho cuts a promo before the match, and they’re heels? I mean, Jericho always makes a good heel, but I would’ve thought they would be a good face team… Oh well.
Cryme Tyme comes out. Oh god. Again, ten years feel like a lifetime ago…
Just no pop for JTG and Shad Gaspard, so the crowd is flat two matches in a row.
The crowd finally gets hot when JTG fight through a Walls of Jericho to get the rope break, only to immediately suffer a KO punch (though they don’t call it that yet) from Big Show, and eat the pin from Jericho.
Josh the Interviewer is back, this time with CM Punk, who’s in the thick of his Straightedge Superstar gimmick, ridiculing the “fake people” around the world who I guess are bad people because they read magazines? Those bastards…
Kane then comes out and, oh god, did JR just say that he’s facing The Great Khali?
Kane Vs. The Great Khali
Yes. Yes, that’s what he said. What’re the chances that it takes Khali longer to get to the ring than this match lasts?
While Khali lumbers to the ring, we find out that there was a Monday Night Raw that went through Edmonton in the lead-up to SummerSlam. We know this, because Rexall Place was where Kane kidnapped Khali’s interpreter Ranjin Singh and tortured him in what I imagine was the Oilers dressing room.
Ever wonder what happened to Ranjin? Well, his real name is David Kapoor and is currently the Senior Vice President of Creative for WWE. I’d say that’s a promotion.
Oh. Well the match is over. It lasted 5:56, with Kane winning with an effing DDT, making Jake “The Snake” proud. At one point, Todd Grisham clearly called Kane “Khali” when he went to the top rope, the only highlight. Probably a reason I don’t remember this guy commentating.
D-Generation X Vs. Legacy
During the pre-match package, we get some ridiculous Days of Our Lives-esque piano music while Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase beat up Michaels and Triple H thank honestly is melodramatic that I laughed and couldn’t take it seriously at all.
But things get immediately cool again with DX’s entrance. That theme is one of the coolest in the biz, and they get pyro! (Remember pyro??) and and effing tank! Is this the first of Triple H’s over the top PPV entrances? (FWIW, this entrance is for sure longer than the Kane/Khali match).
Finally, we get a really good match. I’m pretty sure this is Michaels’ first match back since WMXXV, and he looks great; when he gets the hot-tag, the roof comes off the Staples Centre. The DX win injects some much-needed energy into the arena.
Christian Vs. William Regal
Christian, the champion, comes out first, and I hate that. The champ should come out last. I don’t know why, but it bothers me when it’s reversed.
So this ends up being a squash match, with Christian hitting The Impaler/Unprettier/Kill-Switch before Regal can even get his nice purple robe off.
Then Regal’s entourage of Vladimir Kozlov and Ezekiel Jackson help Regal beatdown Christian. Read that sentence again. I swear this is only ten years ago…
But really, the card really needed that Khali/Kane or frickin’ Jack Swagger on it rather than have these guys have an actual match?
Anway, now we get one of those “Fan Axxess events are so cool” packages, where we get to see all the C-list celebrities that attended from a decade ago: Boo Boo Stewart? Some guy who isn’t Andy Samberg called “The Hot Rod?” I think “C-List” might’ve been generous… This was in LA and these are the best that WWE could get? This is the first of six SummerSlam’s in a row, so I’ll cut them some slack and assume it gets better but the time they move to Brooklyn…
Randy Orton Vs. John Cena
Lukewarm pop for Cena, but no “John Cena suuuuucks” singalong to his theme yet, or outright boos. Such a different time.
Orton comes out and someone has a sign along the rampway that says “Really Kreepy Oily” with a small “and” in between the Kreepy and Oily. Which, I guess is pretty accurate, but really? That’s the best you could come up with..?
The commentators are Michael Cole and Jerry Lawlor. The reason I bring this up is because it took me until about now to realise that this is the Monday Night Raw booth and JR has been relegated to Smackdown!… JR swapped for Cole. Awful.
Anyway, they keep bringing up how when Freddy Prinze (who, by the way, is back sitting front row in the Staples Centre, so happy hour must’ve ended and ol’ FPJ ain’t about to pay full beer prices) was host of Raw got his ass handed to him by Orton, so I’m worried that he’s going to get involved somehow in this match.
The match itself is pretty standard Cena/Orton fare, with Orton being methodical and Cena getting his power moves in, but mostly getting his ass kicked (naturally, so he can pull the Hero Moves at the finish).
The crowd’s hot, but more in a distracted kind of way. They clearly don’t give a shit about this match, but they aren’t actively crapping on it. Orton’s getting cheers, but it’s more out of vague spite for Cena.
Cena’s now actively getting booed, and then all of a sudden Orton is disqualified for hitting the ref. I honestly thought Vince just cut the match because of the reaction to Cena, but then we get the whole “this match is restarted and if he’s DQed again, he’ll lose the title.” Lillian Garcia also for sure says that Orton is the winner even though he was the one who got disqualified…
Oh god, Orton then gets himself counted out, and they pull the restart again.
Jesus, THEN Orton gets a dirty finish by pinning Cena with his feet on the top rope, then another ref runs from the back to call it out and we get another restart.
Alright, this match is just an effing mess. A “fan” then comes in and “attacks” the ref while Cena has Orton locked in the STFU, and then Orton finally wins with an RKO OUTTA NOWHERE after they start up again.
Watching this out of context, I can’t really figure out where this match falls on the Cena/Orton Rivalry Timeline. Has Orton beaten up Cena’s dad yet? I feel like he hasn’t, so if this is the start, no wonder this feud got stale real quick.
Alright, main event time.
World Heavyweight Championship (TLC Match)
Jeff Hardy Vs. CM Punk
To be honest, when I saw this was at the top of the card, I was genuinely looking forward to it.
First off, why do they announce how to win a ladder match? The belt is literally hanging from a hook, above the ring, with a spotlight on it. Should be pretty straight forward. Also, I feel like no one just stumbles upon pro wrestling and just gets into it. There’s always a friend that gets you into it, so presumably they’ll be there to explain how all these stipulation matches work… anyway.
Ah, Punk’s Killswitch Engage theme. Which, from what I’ve heard the band had actually written for Randy Orton, but he responded with, “uh, hell no, I’ll stick with my boys from Rev Theory, thanks” and that’s how he got “Voices” and Punk got this one.
Jeff is definitely cool, with the move set and the face paint, but he really couldn’t ever find a pair of jeans that fit just a little bit better? I know he’s EXTREME and PLAYS BY HIS OWN RULES, which apparently includes his fashion, but he couldn’t find EXTREME jeans that aren’t frickin’ bell bottoms?
So the match is good, with decent in-ring wrestling and really good high spots, but I can’t help but cringe watching Jeff and Punk take a bump off the turnbuckle right onto a ladder and watching Punk definitely taking unprotected chair shots to the head.
But, hell of a finish. The spot through the Spanish Announce Table was awesome, and having Jeff sell the damage and knocked off the ladder and unable to recover again was fantastic.
The Undertaker?? Wow, really a great way to finish the night. I had no idea this is how it ended, and it was shocking. Punk standing over Jeff, then the subtle flickering of the lights, before cutting them completely, sounding the gong, and then having Jeff swapped with ‘Taker was so well done.
This event as a whole was a 3/9. Mysterio/Ziggler, DX/Legacy, and Punk/Hardy were all legitimately fantastic matches, while the rest were terrible. After the opening match, it dragged for almost an hour, before the DX/Legacy match saved it. I’d say the best match was Mysterio/Ziggler, and really breaks your heart to see that Ziggler never really reached his full potential (but I honestly still don’t think it’s too late).
And that’s it! Any thoughts on the event? Is this how you remember it, or was I way off base?