WrestleWatch Vault: WWE Summerslam 2006
Trying to churn these bad boys out quickly- for the first time, I'm writing back to back WrestleWatch reviews. Just clicked "publish" on the Great American Bash one, and minutes later I'm jumping back in to write about The Biggest Party of the Summer in 2006, WWE Summerslam! A couple of reasons- one, I want to get to my first Attitude Era WrestleWatch, Survivor Series 1997, before the 2019 version of the Series happens on Monday morning local time. And two, my GAB review wasn't that positive. Mainly because it wasn't a great show, so it's on Vince, not me. But I want to finish my Ruthless Aggression viewing on a high note, and Summerslam 2006 was a loaded show, so let's get to it.
So, as the PPV poster indicates, the re-united D-Generation X dominated programming on Raw around this time. Peep Triple H there with his massive sausage. Overcompensating, much? And HBK is there with his little cocktail wiener. but he married a Nitro Girl, so he must be doing SOMETHING right. Anyway...
DX are feuding with the McMahons. Of course, DX are doing whatever they can to make Vince and Shane's life a living hell, including hijacking the production truck, pouring actual shit on them, making fireworks explode in their limo, the list goes on and on. The McMahons have sent the Spirit Squad after HHH and HBK, but the degenerates sent the male cheerleaders packing. Vince and Shane have decided that if they want the job done well, they'll have to take out DX themselves. They're McMahons with unlimited influence and bank accounts though, so they're going to have some "resources". Among those resources is the Samoan Bulldozer, the undefeated Umaga. The game is about to get interesting (pun intended).
The WWE Championship picture is heating up, as John Cena attempts to win back the title from the Rated R Superstar, Edge. Edge won the WWE Championship on Raw in a Triple Threat over Cena and then-champ Rob Van Dam. Cena is in hot pursuit, and Edge made it even more personal by going to Cena's dad's house and slapping the old man in the face. Oh, it is on!
Over on the Smackdown side, the royal World Champion King Booker has been targeted by the recently returned Batista. The Animal is coming after the championship he never lost in the ring. Will Queen Sharmell and the King's Court be enough to save the newly crowned champ?
Former champion Rey Mysterio is embroiled in a personal issue with Chavo Guerrero. Chavo cost Rey the world title at the Great American Bash. He explained his actions on Smackdown as retailiation for Mysterio leeching off the Guerrero name... which in all honesty is exactly what Rey has done since the Royal Rumble. I like Rey, but I'm sitting here saying, "Yeah, Chavo has a fair point here!"
As one of the "Big Four" PPVs, Summerslam is historically a dual-branded PPV. But this year, WWE has a third brand- ECW. Big Show became ECW Champion by defeating Rob Van Dam on ECW on Sci Fi. Gee, it's almost like they had to get all the gold off RVD because his career went up in smoke. Ba dum tssh. Fast forward 30 days and a returning Van Dam faced Sabu in a ladder match to determine who challenged for the ECW title at Summerslam. It was won by the homicidal, genocidal one.
It's a stacked card, so we're getting right to the big time action!
Match 1: Chavo Guerrero def. Rey Mysterio (at 11:01)
Thoughts: I've often said Rey Mysterio is the perfect opening match wrestler. Not that he doesn't deserve to be high on the card- I think WITH THE RIGHT BOOKING he'd be a fine WWE/World Champion- but his style is so flashy and crowd-pleasing, it's the perfect way to set the tone for the show. Chavo came out of retirement for this match- he "retired" after Wrestlemania, but was as sharp as ever. Really crisp back-and-forth action interrupted briefly when Rey lost his mask. Whoops. Some lucha libre flying around follows, and this prompts Vickie Guerrero, Eddie's widow, to come out and plead that they stop fighting. She was married to a wrestler, she should understand how this all works! Men gotta fight it out! She slaps Chavo in a weird attempt at spreading the anti-violence message. She gets up on the apron to plead with Rey, but inadvertently knocks him off the top rope in the process. Chavo takes the opportunity to hit a brainbuster, followed by the Frog Splash for the win as Vickie screams in anguish. Not their best work, but decent to start the show. Plenty more to come in this feud. (**1/2)
King Booker and Queen Sharmell are backstage preparing. Booker, in his ridiculous faux-British accent, vows to beat "that peasant" Batista. Edge and Lita walk in and they have a fun exchange over who the most powerful couple in WWE is.
Match 2: ECW Championship- Big Show def. Sabu (at 8:31)
Thoughts: You know what, good for Sabu. He had a long career maiming himself on smaller shows, must be nice to get that Summerslam paycheck. In fact, even though he was only in WWE for about a year, he managed to get on all the Big Four- Summerslam, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble & Wrestlemania. Sabu does a nice job using weapons in innovative ways to deal with the size difference against the giant Big Show. He fucks up a few times, but is it really a Sabu match if there isn't at least one botch? It's why we love the crazy bastard. Show manages to chokeslam him through a table and end the extreme onslaught. Short, but they worked hard and brought that ECW flavour- well, as much as WWE would allow, I guess. (**1/2)
JR and King recap the 2006 Diva Search. The winner was Layla! Backstage, we have Trish as the locker room leader, surrounded by all the other Divas, giving Layla a hard time. "You think you can call yourself a Diva because you won a little contest?... Because you totally can." Layla sighs with relief and asks if that was her initiation. Trish says no, and they drag her into the showers and spank her. Alrighty then. No complaints here.
Match 3: Hulk Hogan def. Randy Orton (at 10:56)
Thoughts: Speaks to what a loaded card this is, that Hulk Hogan is going on third. We had the standard "legend vs. legend killer" storyline going in, except that Hulk's daughter Brooke just turned 18, so of course Orton was trying to nail her. Hulk comes in with a bad knee, which unfortunately prevents him from doing the moonsaults and 450 splashes he was planning on busting out. Orton slows down his style about 3 gears to accomodate Hogan, and this plays out like your basic Hogan 80s match. Orton hits the RKO but Hogan gets his foot on the ropes. He Hulks Up, punches, big boot, leg drop, it's over. Never liked Hulk Hogan's act one bit, and this old guy coming in as a one-off to beat a young guy like Randy Orton is bullshit, but they pulled off a basic match that the live crowd ate up, so credit for that, I guess. (**)
Match 4: I Quit Match- Ric Flair def. Mick Foley (at 13:14)
Thoughts: This got a lot more brutal and barbaric than I was expecting- and goes some way to explaining why the ECW match earlier was "ECW-lite". Started with trash cans, but quickly moved to the barbed wire and blood. Lots of trash talking on the microphone, all in a similar vein of "Quit!" "Kiss my ass!" Thumbtacks. Flair gets slammed on them. A board covered in barbed wire. Flair gets hit with it. Flair gets the advantage with a low blow and gets sadistic with a barbed wire baseball bat. Referees try to put a stop to things, but Flair's not having it- it's an I Quit match! Melina tries to quit on behalf of Foley- nope, he has to quit! Gotta respect Flair keeping the integrity of the rules- modern WWE would have just thrown the match out because it "went too far". Melina tries to shield Foley, Flair goes to hit her with the barbed wire- THEN Foley quits, to save his friend. Foley totally wanted to bang bang Melina- and she just saw him as a cuddly uncle figure. Press F in the chat to pay respect. But this was a brutal, intense, PPV-worthy spectacle. (***1/2)
Match 5: World Heavyweight Championship- Batista def. King Booker via DQ (at 10:26)
Thoughts: Too soon in the chase and title reign of King Booker for Batista to win here, so the DQ finish made sense. Batista was able to show off his power advantage, and Booker used underhanded tricks and veteran savvy in order to hold his own. Missile dropkick and Bookend connects for the King. Batista Bomb set-up... and Queen Sharmell jumps on the Animal's back for the DQ. Some decent chemistry here before the cop-out finish. I normally hate cop-out finishes on PPVs, but this was early in the feud, so I can deal. Post-match, Batista does hit the spinebuster and Batista Bomb post-match to keep the crowd happy. (**1/2)
A video airs, promoting the return of Jeff Hardy tomorrow night on Raw. I actually got Austar/Foxtel (Aussie cable) the day after, so I watched Raw live after not seeing Summerslam, and Jeff's return was a genuine surprise to me.
Backstage, DX are telling someone that Vince said Umaga is the greatest monster in WWE, which really pisses off the unseen person. Oh, DX, up to their silly shenanigans!
Match 6: DX (Triple H & Shawn Michaels) def. Vince & Shane McMahon (at 13:01)
Thoughts: This was a lot of fun. The McMahons sent out their "resources"- including Spirit Squad, Mr. Kennedy, Finlay, Regal, and Big Show. Show chokeslammed Hunter through the announce table and beat down HBK, THEN the McMahons walked down to the ring to officially start the match. No one plays the face in peril better than HBK. Michaels endures that handicap situation for a while, and there's a fun sequence where Vince and Shane steal a series of famous tag team moves, including the Hart Attack and the Doomsday Device. "Hawk must be turning in his grave!" said JR. Then the hot tag to HHH is very well done, with The Game cleaning house. Umaga reappears, but is negated by Kane is a nice touch. Really cool spot where HBK kicks Shane out of the air mid Coast To Coast, before the Sweet Chin Music/Pedigree combo ends things. Tons of fun, loaded with smoke and mirrors, and didn't overstay its welcome. (***1/2)
Match 7: WWE Championship- Edge def. John Cena (at 15:41)
Thoughts: This was an early spark of the greatness that Edge and Cena would have as rivals (including the incredible TLC match that happens the month after this at Unforgiven). Couple of interesting dynamics at play- we are in Cena's hometown of Boston, but he still gets that infamous mixed reaction- think I used "infamous" right that time. WWE try, with both Cena then and Roman Reigns now, to say that any reaction is a good reaction, but I dunno. Another interesting factor is the stipulation that if Edge gets disqualified, he loses the WWE Championship. So we had some good shit there with Lita wanting to get involved on Edge's behalf and the Ultimate Opportunist saying no for once. The action built up nicely, it looked like Cena might finally have his moment and regain the WWE Championship. And then Lita provided a distraction- as she easily did in her 2006 attire, goddamn how did her titties not pop out of her top? The distraction enabled Edge to smack Cena in the back of the head with brass knucks to retain. William Regal would be proud. Hell, the 2003 Dr. of Thuganomics Cena might be proud of that. But alas, a crushing defeat for Johnny C in front of his friends and family. (***1/4)
If I had to sum up Summerslam 2006 in one word, it would be STACKED. Every match on the card was meaningful and received a lot of hype, and the star power and talent level of this roster was off the charts. Even Hulk Hogan was bearable in his match. Nothing truly stood out as classic on the card- although seeing Mick Foley and Ric Flair try to basically murder each other at that late stage of their careers was a shock to the system. However, Summerslam was consistently good to really good, and it was a strong representation of the talent pool and overall product that WWE had in 2006. It was the kind of consistency that Vince and co. would probably kill for these days. A very enjoyable watch.
The next WrestleWatch coming to you- hopefully tomorrow if I can sort out a few personal issues at the moment- will be a trip back to the Attitude Era, what I believe is one of the shows that truly ushered in that controversial era. It is Survivor Series 1997, main evented by Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship. You may know what goes down there, but I'm going to take a look at the event as a whole and examine why I believe it was a show where the seeds of Attitude began to sprout.
Until next time, take care,