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411’s Instant Access 08.19.12: WWE SummerSlam 2012

August 20, 2012 | Posted by Scott Slimmer

Hey kids, I’m Scott, and this is 411’s Instant Access: WWE SummerSlam 2012. Instant Access is the companion piece to 411 Live Pay-Per-View Coverage and features immediate reaction to wrestling pay-per-views. The focus in Instant Access is on first thoughts and initial reactions instead of play-by-play with the goal of providing you with instant access to one writer’s thoughts on the show. Here’s the team for SummerSlam:

Scott Slimmer, author of Don’t Think Twice.

Okay kids, enough with the explanations. Let’s get to the wrestling.

Pre-Show United States Championship Match
Santino Marella (Champion) vs. Antonio Cesaro w/ Aksana

Match Result: Antonio Cesaro defeats Santino Marella with the Neutralizer.
Match Length: 5:05
Slimmer: I’ve been saying for months that these pre-show matches are useless and unimportant, so I was sure that we wouldn’t see the United States Championship change hands in this match. I mean, I was sure of it. But to give credit where credit is due, 411 legend Michael Melchor (@MMelchor) told me that he had a feeling that Cesaro would pick up the win and the title. Great call, Double M. I have all the respect in the world for Santino Marella and the unlikely way that he’s found success in WWE, but I’m also glad to see the title back around the waist of a non-comedy wrestler. This should lead to much greater exposure for Cesaro on Smackdown and possibly on Raw as well, and I’m sure I don’t have to sell the IWC on the merits of that plan. The match itself was all about Marella having trouble connecting with the Cobra, and I suppose that’s an appropriate way for Marella to drop the belt. This certainly wasn’t a great match – heck, even calling it a good match would be a stretch. But this was a somewhat important match, because it saw Antonio Cesaro win his first gold in WWE and it proved that these PPV pre-show matches can have actual consequences.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: **

Chris Jericho vs. Dolph Ziggler w/ Vickie Guerrero


Match Result: Chris Jericho defeats Dolph Ziggler with the Walls of Jericho.
Match Length: 13:03
Slimmer: This was the best technical wrestling match of the night, but maybe that’s to be expected when you have Jericho and Ziggler in a match with each other, Daniel Bryan in a match with Kane, and CM Punk in a match with Big Show. Jericho and Ziggler had great chemistry with each other, and Jericho once again did everything in his power to make a young start look great. Ziggler more than held up his end of the bargain and continued to build his case for being a main eventer sooner rather than later. There will undoubtedly be those who say that Ziggler needed the win far more than Jericho, and I suppose I can see their point. However, what’s important to remember is that you don’t make or break a career in a single match, especially a non-title curtain jerkin’ match. Ziggler accomplished everything he needed to accomplish tonight by once again having a solid match, and I tend to not be too concerned about the career prospects of a guy who’s still carrying a Money in the Bank briefcase around with him. As for Jericho, I’m perfectly happy to see him finally pick up a win on PPV, especially if the rumors of his impending departure are true. In fact, having Ziggler viciously attack Jericho in revenge for his loss tonight would be a great way to explain Jericho’s absence while also setting up Ziggler’s eventual MitB shot.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: ***½

Kane vs. Daniel Bryan


Match Result: Daniel Bryan defeats Kane by countering the Tombstone Piledriver into a roll-up pin.
Match Length: 7:58
Slimmer: I suppose there was a part of every IWC fanboy that was hoping Daniel Bryan would perform a miracle and drag Kane to a mat classic in a one-on-one match, but it simply wasn’t meant to be tonight. I was a huge fan of the Punk / Bryan / Kane Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship at No Way Out, and I went so far as to give that match ****½. Many said that I over-rated that match, but I loved how Punk and Bryan incorporated Kane into the match. Unfortunately, in Punk’s absence, Bryan simply wasn’t able to produce the same kind of magic with Kane tonight. This was a decent match, and I suppose Bryan and Kane did a decent job of telling the standard big man / little man story. The problem was that they just didn’t give us anything that we haven’t seen numerous times in the past, many times in far more compelling fashion. Kane’s actions after the match, including his attack on Josh Mathews, will definitely have repercussions on tomorrow night’s raw. Will Kane be able to exact revenge on Daniel Bryan before General Manager AJ can stop him? And maybe more importantly, given the history between Bryan and AJ, will she even want to stop Kane?
Match Rating:
Slimmer: **½

Intercontinental Championship Match
The Miz (Champion) vs. Rey Mysterio

The Miz vs. Rey Mysterio

Match Result: The Miz defeats Rey Mysterio with the Skull Crushing Finale.
Match Length: 9:03
Slimmer: This was a decent wrestling match that suffered from the fact that both competitors have recently been absent from television for extended periods of time. Miz and Mysterio worked together reasonably well, but their repeated attempts to showcase Miz’ new offense seemed a bit contrived at times. However, I suppose sometimes you do need to sacrifice a match or two when you’re trying to re-work someone’s entire offense. The bigger problem here was that I’m just not sure why we’re supposed to care about either guy at this point. Miz had been significantly de-valued prior to his movie star sabbatical, and Mysterio has been MIA for almost a year. Mysterio may be a legend, but he’s not the kind of legend that can return from a long absence and automatically be a big deal again in the way that the Rock, the Undertaker, or even Brock Lesnar can. However, with all of that being said, I will give Mysterio credit for selling Miz’ offense like a champ and doing what he can to make Miz look good. WWE seems ready to finally give Miz another real push, and maybe this match started to do what I wish had been done before the match – make us care about the Miz again.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: **¾

World Heavyweight Championship Match
Sheamus (Champion) vs. Alberto Del Rio w/ Ricardo Rodriguez

Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio

Match Result: Sheamus defeats Alberto Del Rio with the Irish Curse Backbreaker.
Match Length: 12:00
Slimmer: This match was on par with the match that Sheamus and Del Rio had last month at Money in the Bank, and in many ways “par” is a good way to describe both matches. They were decent enough matches, they were solid matches, but they weren’t spectacular matches, and they weren’t particularly memorable matches. This may be a bit unfair, but I still put the bulk of the blame on Del Rio. His character doesn’t enthrall me, and his ring work doesn’t excite me. I hope that this Sheamus / Del Rio feud is over, because I know that Sheamus can have much better matches with a variety of opponents. In just the last year, he’s had great matches with both Daniel Bryan and Mark Henry, two guys who are about as far apart from each other on the spectrum as humanly possible. However, given the fact that Sheamus “stole one” in this match, my fear is that we may see one more month of this Sheamus / Del Rio feud. Either way, having Ziggler cash in sooner rather than later would definitely bring a new sense of excitement to the World Heavyweight Championship. In addition, Sheamus needs to re-capture some of the viciousness that he had as a heel. There’s nothing wrong with an affable face who truly does enjoy kicking ass in the ring. Sheamus is a big guy, and he’s a talented guy, and letting him turn up his aggression in the ring may be the final step in making him one of the top tier talents in the company for years to come.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: ***

WWE Tag Team Championship Match
Kofi Kingston & R-Truth (Champions) vs. The Prime Time Players

Kofi Kingston & R-Truth vs. The Prime Time Players

Match Result: R-Truth defeats Darren Young with the Little Jimmy.
Match Length: 7:04
Slimmer: This was a totally by-the-books formulaic tag team match, but I suppose that may not be the worst decision when you’re a promotion trying to rebuild your tag team division. You have to walk before you can run, so maybe WWE needs to get back in the habit of having solid tag team matches on PPV before they can think about having great tag team matches on PPV. So that being said, I won’t fault this match for being solid but unspectacular. However, I was prepared to say that the Prime Time Players should have picked up the win and the title in this match. It seemed like their time, and during the show I wondered why WWE was so hesitant to actually pull the trigger. But as I was typing about WWE’s attempt to rebuild their tag team division, I realized that there’s no need to push the PTP into a title run when the titles themselves may not be ready for the PTP. I actually can see the value in letting established stars like Kingston and Truth carry the belts while the value of the belts are rebuilt and while the value of young tag teams like the PTP, Primo & Epico, and the Usos are established. The belts and these young tag teams can grow together, and one day WWE may have the kind of tag team scene that they did at the end of the Attitude Era. I absolutely believe that O’Neil and Young will be the WWE Tag Team Champions, maybe even before WrestleMania XXIX. But as for tonight, I suppose I can see the value in making them wait just a little longer.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: **½

Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship
CM Punk (Champion) vs. John Cena vs. The Big Show

CM Punk vs. John Cena vs. The Big Show

Match Result: CM Punk defeats the Big Show after an Attitude Adjustment from John Cena to the Big Show.
Match Length: 14:16
Slimmer: This is CM Punk’s most disappointing WWE title defense in a long time, but that really shouldn’t be surprising. Punk has been working title matches with guys like Ziggler, Jericho, and Bryan all year, so it only makes sense that he wasn’t able to produce the same kind of magic with less talented in-ring performers like Show and Cena. However, that problem is compounded by Punk’s recent semi-heel turn. The reason Punk’s semi-turn is so perplexing is that no one – not the fans, not CM Punk, and not WWE – seems to know how much of a face or a heel Punk is supposed to be at this point. Defending the honor of the WWE Championship and demanding that it be respected doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that should make someone a heel, and so using that as the basis of Punks turn seems to have left everyone a bit confused. I suppose you can argue that makes Punk a tweener, but I tend to believe that a great tweener is both a compelling face and a compelling heel (as was the case with Shawn Michaels in the build to SummerSlam 2005 when he would be the voice of the fans when he called out Hulk Hogan and then totally troll the fans by teasing a Bret Hart return). In this case, Punk has become a fairly neutered face and heel, and that definitely doesn’t make him a tweener in my eyes. However, it’s never safe to doubt Punk’s talent on the mic or in the ring, because he’s the kind of guy that can easily turn things around with one great promo or one great match. The ending of the match would seem to indicate that Punk / Cena will continue as a one-one-one feud, and if they can recapture a fraction of the magic they had together last year, then this one small misstep in Punk’s title reign will be easily forgotten.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: ***¼

Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar

Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar

Match Result: Brock Lesnar defeats Triple H with the kimura.
Match Length: 18:36
Slimmer: Say what you will about Brock Lesnar (and there’s a lot to be said), but the man is the definition of a special attraction. The energy in an arena changes the minute he steps into the ring. His matches feel different than every other match on the card. More than even the Rock or the Undertaker, Lesnar is the special attraction in WWE that I most look forward to at this point. This was a great match, but it didn’t have quite the same level of magic as Lesnar / Cena did a few months ago. The absolute brilliance of Lesnar / Cena came from the fact that we had absolutely no idea what the hell was happening. With the perspective of time, I’m fairly certain that what we saw was a well working professional wrestling match. But at the time, in the moment, all we knew is that WWE had let a wild man into the ring with their golden boy. Like Punk / Cena in 2011, Lesnar / Cena in 2012 was one of those rare moments when even the most jaded fan has trouble knowing what’s kayfabe and what’s a bit more real. And so while Lesnar / Triple H was a great match, it never felt like anything more than that. But with that being said, I have to give credit to Lesnar and Triple H for working an extremely psychologically sound and absolutely brutal match. Lesnar focused on Triple H’s arm, which made perfect sense given the months of build to this match. But even more interestingly, Triple H focused on Brock Lesnar’s gut. This makes perfect sense given Lesnar’s history of intestinal disorders, and bringing that extra bit of reality into the match without any previous on-camera build was a great decision. And then, on top of the great psychology, there’s the fact that Lesnar and Triple H just beat the hell out of each other for almost twenty minutes. Those two guys were throwing stiff shots, and you could tell that’s how they both wanted it. Lesnar probably won’t wrestle again until at least Survivor Series, and given the post-match drama, who knows when Triple H will wrestle again (if ever?). And just like ten years ago when Triple H and Shawn Michaels stole the show at SummerSlam 2002, there will definitely be those who question in the point in a match where two veterans stroke each other’s egos without doing a damn thing to build the future of the business. Of course, my response tonight will be the same as my response was ten years ago. Yes, you have to always continue to build the for the future, but that doesn’t change the fact that the single most important goal of this industry should always be to put on great wrestling matches. Triple H and Shawn Michaels did that ten years ago, and Triple H and Brock Lesnar did that tonight. And that’ll always be good enough for me.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: ****

Final Thoughts

Match of the Night:
Slimmer: Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar (****)
Jericho / Ziggler was a better technical wrestling match, but Triple H / Lesnar had great psychology and sheer brutality. Despite what CM Punk and many IWC critics may claim, this was the right choice for the main event, because it was the best damn match on the card.

Trash of the Night:
Slimmer: NONE
Every match on the card got a decent amount of time, and there weren’t any throw-away impromptu matches. There weren’t any nonsensically screwy finishes (other than possibly the Cobra-related shenanigans in the pre-show match), and every match on the card at least made it to passable (even though very few made it much past that point). That’s more than enough for me to say there wasn’t any true trash on this show.

Final Analysis:
Slimmer: This was a decent show, and it was a passable show, but it definitely wasn’t a very memorable show. “Middling” would be a fairly apt description, but that’s probably not what you want out of the second biggest show of the WWE year. This would have been a fine second-tier PPV, but somehow I have to think we deserved a bit more out of SummerSlam. But I do give credit to WWE for having the restraint to not fill the card with impromptu matches, and Lesnar / Triple H was definitely a SummerSlam-worthy main event. It probably wasn’t worth the full $44.95 price, but at the same time I don’t walk away feeling completely cheated.

Slimmer: **½

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Scott Slimmer