Last night I was at The Staples Center for WWE SummerSlam 2012. It was a strong show live, but I’m not sure how it came across to fans watching via PPV. What stood out for me was watching Antonio Cesaro (Claudio Castagnoli), Daniel Bryan (Bryan Danielson), and CM Punk (Phil). I loved watching these guys wrestle in Ring of Honor. It’s awesome that they’ve gone from performing in bingo halls and high school gymnasiums to wrestling in huge arenas. Here are some random match-by-match thoughts (not a review!) on SummerSlam 2012.
Antonio Cesaro vs. Santino Marella: This dark match was free on TV, YouTube, and Facebook. Before the match started, I asked my friend Jose, “Why is this the dark match? We’re darker than both of these guys!” Seriously though, I found it funny that two European wrestlers were fighting for the U.S. Championship. I found it awesome that Cesaro won. It was a decent match that had Santino deliver his comedy spots and Cesaro get in a few solid moves (though not nearly enough “Very European” uppercuts).
Although he hasn’t gotten to show how incredible he is in the ring on WWE TV, this could be the start of an awesome run for Cesaro. Remember, Bryan Danielson wasn’t given enough time to show off his formidable arsenal on WWE TV for like 18 months. Hopefully things move faster for Cesaro. Dude is very tall, very European, and an outstanding wrestler. Signs point to Cesaro and Christian feuding for the U.S. Championship. The matches should be awesome since both guys are strong workers, but it’s funny Cesaro went from wrestling an Italian to wrestling a Canadian for the U.S. strap.
[Jose and I were trying to work the old Claudio Castagnoli gimmick, shouting, “Heeeeeyyyyyy!!!” for much of Cesaro’s offense. It was funny to approximately five people in the audience.]
Chris Jericho vs. Dolph Ziggler: The PPV started off with a great match from two great wrestlers. Jericho can work with anyone. Ziggler has always been fantastic at selling and his offense has gotten much smoother over the last few years. The highlight was Ziggler attempting a Jericho-style pin by putting his foot on Jericho, flexing, and yelling, “Come on baby!!!” A lot of people were surprised that Jericho got the win considering that he’s set to tour with Fozzy shortly. For me, it made sense because he hasn’t won much of anything in his latest WWE run. Dolph will get his eventually, but it was important to give Jericho some credibility considering how much he has lost in 2012.
Since this was the first PPV match, many people expected Ziggler to cash in his “Money in the Bank” suitcase later on in the show. It was a bit disappointing that he didn’t. Storyline-wise, he’s demanding a rematch. It looks like he’ll be sending Jericho on the road with a loss before moving onto his World Heavyweight Championship challenge.
[Naturally, Jose and I spent a large portion of the match screaming, “Ask him!!!” We do that for every match, but it’s especially meaningful during Jericho matches. Both of us have this t-shirt too. For Ziggler, we tried to bring back his old Spirit Squad gimmick by shouting, “Nicky!!!”]
Daniel Bryan vs. Kane: The crowd was hot for this match, with plenty of “Yes! Yes! Yes!” and “No! No! No!” chants. It’s awesome that Danielson is getting over like this, but I fear that his comedy act will restrict him to mid-card status. Things started slowly, with Danielson trying to use distance to keep away from the larger Kane. There were some good near-falls and near-submissions too. I’m happy that Danielson got the rub, but I’m kind of annoyed that it looks like these two will have a few more matches. Most of you know that I’m a big Danielson mark. I want to see him move onto bigger and better things. For my money, he’s the best pure wrestler in WWE today.
[Jose kept using “Shades of (insert wrestler here)” lines. When Danielson went for a flying head butt, Jose said, “Shades of Chris Benoit!!!” Things got quiet in the suite, so I asked, “What? Too soon?!?”]
The Miz vs.
Raymond Stereo Rey Mysterio: The crowd was surprisingly flat for this match. I was expecting a bigger reaction since Rey hasn’t been back that long and he’s from SoCal. It was a good match, but it felt more like a SmackDown main event rather than a PPV match. Rey wore a Batman mask…but jobbed like King Tut.
[G4tv Blair Herter was in our suite. He’s pals with The Miz from those Real World / Road Rules Challenge shows. Remember when Miz had those “Hello, I’m Awesome” t-shirts that looked like those stickers you write your name on? Blair had a similar business card…like in 2004. I’m convinced that The Miz stole this idea from Blair.]
Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio: Initially, the crowd was flat for this match, but things picked up in the second half. Personally, I couldn’t get into it. This program should have been over a month ago. More importantly, I just don’t like Sheamus as a face. Yeah, I know he’s doing all those anti-bullying commercials, but he’s much better as a bully. Besides, he stole Del Rio’s car. That’s something a bully would do. The match ended with Sheamus pinning Del Rio while the latter’s foot was on the rope. Sheamus quickly got the foot off the rope so the referee couldn’t see it. That’s more bully-like behavior! Unfortunately, it looks like this program will continue until Ziggler is ready for his shot. I know that Sheamus is pals with Triple H in real life, but I much rather have Ziggler as the World Heavyweight Champion.
[When Sheamus wrestles, Jose and I abuse the world “fella”. We yell things like, “He punched him right in the fella!”, “Oh, a kick to the fella box!”, and, “He’s trying to use the fella-nator!”. When you say those things with a bad Irish accent, it’s hilarious.]
Kofi Kingston & R-Truth vs. The Prime Time Players: The WWE doesn’t care about tag teams anymore and has conditioned its fans to not care about tag teams, ergo nobody really cared about this match.
[The best thing about R-Truth matches is making fun of his “What’s Up?!?” song. We would randomly rap to the waiters in the suite, “People getting plates, what’s up?!? When you’re clearing our cups, you say what’s up? What’s up?!? What’s up?!?” You can use this stupid song in countless situations.]
CM Punk vs. John Cena vs. The Big Show: The right guy won the match. Cena has gotten to the point where he doesn’t need belts to get over. It would be terrible if Show had the strap. Punk benefits from having the belt way more than the other two. Some dirt sheets are hating on this match, but I thought it was well done. All three did a great job at playing up the “Triple Threat” angle. What really impressed me was that Show worked the entire match. Most triple threats have one wrestler getting tossed out of the ring for a rest period, changing the action to one-on-one for a bit. Cena and Punk had their rest periods. Show — clearly the wrestler with the worst cardio out of the three — never got a chance to rest and did a great job for a long period of time. It’s not something most fans would notice or care about, but it made me respect Show more as a worker.
[Punk is the coverboy for WWE 13. It would have been…awkward if he lost during a THQ-sponsored weekend. During the press event for the game, there were gift bags with either Sheamus or Cena stuffed toys. All the cool kids took the Sheamus bags…because Cena sucks.]
Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H: The dirt sheets are also hating on this match, but it was very good live. It felt intense (until the end) and the storytelling was good. Lesnar kept working Hunter’s arm, while Triple H kept attacking Lesnar’s midsection (remember, he had diverticulitis). I liked this match…except for the placement. The WWE Championship match should have closed the show. The crowd would have went home happy with Punk’s win. Instead, Triple H’s ego demanded that he was the last thing the crowd saw. It was just strange and awkward to have Hunter apologizing while the crowd chanted, “You tapped out!” He also looks like a dweeb for getting his arm broken twice in one year by Lesnar. As for Brock, it was important for him to get the win. Losing to Cena really cut into his “monster” persona. If the Fruity Pebbles guy can beat a supposed MMA badass…it just looks bad.
[Jose made me spit out my drink when Triple H approached a little boy in the audience to say he was sorry. In a gruff Hunter voice, Jose said, “I’m sorry for tapping out little boy.” The Maker’s Mark shot out of my mouth. The match also had plenty of, “Kick him in the intestine!” and, “Punch him in the colon!” chants from Jose and me when Hunter was on offense.]
Anyway, those are my random thoughts on SummerSlam 2012. Let me know what you thought of the results and the show when you have a chance (please)!