Friday, August 25, 2000

The World's Greatest WWF Summerslam 2000 Preview

Moreso than its predecessors, the Survivor Series and Royal Rumble, the WWF's ongoing Summerslam PPV holds a rich history in my mind. I spent many a late August night throughout my youth attempting to decipher the scrambled lines on my non-PPV television, while Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura told me what I was missing. I'd shout when the Hart Foundation dropped the tag belts, cheer when the Ultimate Warrior held the Intercontinental gold high above his head and blink the lights on and off as the PPV went off the air, announcing to the neighborhood that Hulk Hogan had indeed successfully defended his World Title on this night. While we've all grown a little since those warm nights in the mid 80s, and I won't be flashing the lights in my apartment come this Sunday, I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a little extra something in the air heading into another of the "big 5" PPV events this year.

While the lineup this go 'round seems sub par when compared to the masterpieces Vince has been plugging out since January 1st, I won't even pretend we won't see something special out of the Tag Team or number one contender's matches.. nor from the main event, Kurt Angle's first on PPV. The card's a bit crowded with ten matches, something I also complained about with WCW's New Blood Rising, but several of the said matches should take up less than three minutes of time.. leaving plenty of room for the epics at the top of the roster. So, while we aren't likely to see the Ultimate Warrior taking hold of another IC title or the Hart Foundation in the TLC match, I'd be willing to bet this year's Summerslam will inspire similar memories in the minds of today's viewers, young or old.

Rikishi and Too Cool vs. Right To Censor

If nothing else, I'll cheer this because it means the active return of Stevie Richards. Though he's playing the part of a man with no offense, I'm hoping upon hope that doesn't last and he just pops open a can over anyone that gets in his way.. while the crowd watches, jaws on the floor. Too Cool and Rikishi really need something to break them out of the rut they're riding, which is what makes me believe they'll shock the world and align themselves with the RTC, rather than continuing to oppose them. If, per chance, that doesn't go down, I'm going with the RTC here. Fans haven't accepted them as a threat (who can blame them?), and a victory over a big time stable would be the first step.
Winners: The RTC

Terri vs. The Kat
Stinkface Match

Let's see, what were my words over in the New Blood Rising Preview..? Ah, yes.. "Boobs, mud and boobs. Should I say anything more? Nah.. that's probably about all they've booked". Replace 'mud' with "gratuitous ass-rubbins in the face", and it's universally applicable. Woohaaa!
Winner: The Kat. Because I still think she's fine.

X-Pac vs. Road Dogg

..and lo, DX lay strewn about the floor. And the fans decided that it was good.. and about time. Seriously, here's a loose end that's been dangling behind the WWF's arsehole all year. DX hasn't worked as a cohesive unit since HHH went main event, and I'm utterly amazed its taken them this long to see that. This won't be anything worth remembering a couple years from now, with the Dogg's suck pretty much equaling X-Pac's potential and dragging the match into the gutter with him for another joint. I've honestly lost all interest in the lagging stable, and hope they take this opportunity to put it out of its misery for good.. with Jesse James holding the short end of the stick.
Winner: X-Pac

Shane McMahon vs. Steve Blackman
Hardcore Title Match

Guarantee you the crowd doesn't give a shit for this one. Blackman, the man with no personality, and McMahon, the one without a solid ring presence. I can't really see this one going in a positive direction. Perhaps we'll be treated to the further presence of the Big Boss Man, Kama Mustafa, the Big Show and Mae Young.. and the match can achieve some sort of merit as 'worst of breed'. Twenty bucks says this one sees a garbage can that's just a little too flimsy, nunchukus, and a "cinder block". The great American hero, Steve Blackman, walks away from this with his broken gold securely around his waist.
Winner: Steve Blackman

Jerry Lawler vs. Tazz

This one.. I'm not too excited about. Sure, it was surprising and cool when Lawler defended JR's honor earlier in the month. It was nice to see there was more than a comical attitude to the man in the crown. The week after, more of the same. It wasn't nearly as surprising and it was a bit too dramatized. By the time he was jumping Tazz in the loading docks, throwing boxes of viciously empty soda cans at him and ...very...slowly...climbing...down, I'd already lost any interest in their match at Summerslam. I despise the use of the word 'hypocrite', but it's the only one that really fits in this instance. For years, the WWF has been giving their competitors a hard time, calling them 'wheel chair wrestling', among other things. Hey, it was true. Hogan was pulling the same old matches out of his ass, Flair wasn't half the man he used to be, and Savage was injuring referees with his redundant elbow from the top. Taking a look at this month's cards, though, will reveal a much younger WCW.. and the WWF showcasing Jerry Lawler. Again. This one didn't really work when Bret Hart opposed him, and the Hitman was almost a god to the fans at that time. Tazz is coming off a failed launch in the fed and an early injury, killing his big momentum after an ECW World Title win. Somehow, I don't see Lawler giving him much to work with here.. and if the Human Suplex Machine does the job, they may as well just set him loose now.
Winner: Tazz

Val Venis & Trish Stratus vs. Eddy Guerrero & Chyna
Intercontinental Title Match

I'd really like to see Eddy Guerrero as an Intercontinental champion. Unlike Benoit or Jericho, who were pushed to this level almost immediately (and put a dent in the worth of the titles along the way), Guerrero's done things the right way. Slowly, patiently, and firmly. He's established himself as a competitor in the tag ranks and the singles ranks, he's proven he can get the job done cleanly on his own as a solid European champion, and he's shown he's more than just 'the guy who says mamacita'. While it may still be a bit early for an Intercontinental reign, it wouldn't seem out of place, either. Guerrero's a good guy, and it's nice to see somebody climbing the stairs in the right order, rather than skipping all the way to the top. The same can be said of Venis. He's doing a decent enough job of defining himself as a personality apart from the porn star, and has been playing the part of a great heel for the better part of two months. While he's still a bit wishy-washy and hasn't found a definitive look that's dynamic, sticks, and interests crowds, he's definitely on the verge. Despite the needless inclusion of the women into the action (a move which will drag the quality of the match down considerably), Guerrero and Venis should be able to give us something of a show on their own. I only hope it's a show that doesn't end with another Chyna title reign.
Winner: Eddie Guerrero

Undertaker vs. Kane

The arrival of this one heralded the death of one of my favorite spots of all time; the 'through the ring apron slam'. When they pulled that out on Raw, the feeling of surprise and excitement just wasn't in my system any more. It meant something when the Big Show did it. Seeing Mick Foley thrown through the top of the Cell into it gave the ending more credibility than anything else. Kane's delivery just didn't have as much meaning (if any at all), and left me with a sour taste in my mouth.. a taste that's likely to last throughout this feud. I'm glad Kane finally made the turn John and I have been predicting for.. oh, say 6 months now, but another brother vs. brother feud isn't really ringing my bell here. Kane should take this one, only to job to big bro Mark either next month or the next night.
Winner: Kane

Edge & Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz w/Lita
Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match for the Tag Team Championship

Here's one that's been a "lock" for months now. The Hardys, in their big chance on the home field, making a run at their second Tag Team Title reigns. Contrasted with their long time opponents, Edge and Christian, and the immensely popular Dudley Boys, there won't be a lack of heat here.. nor a lack of effort. Much like the rest of the upper card, the competitors here have met before, to stupendous results, but have yet to reach that defining moment of excellence. The spots have been too spaced out, the action a little too slow and the timing a second too late.. not that I'm complaining. This should be sweet, and every arrow on the board points to the Hardys.
Winners: The Hardy Boyz

Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit
Two out of Three Falls Match

Hot damn. Hot damn. This is the textbook definition for the right way to seal off a strong, lengthy feud.. and a picture perfect set of competitors to make it work. Jericho and Benoit have had some great meetings in the last few months, but haven't quite reached the peak of excellence they should've. Their submissions match was beautiful, but not perfect. Their Wrestlemania triple threat was great, but limited due to the third competitor. A best two out of three match should be unbelievable. I want to see Benoit locking in the liontamer.. the right way. I want to see Jericho follow suit, with more of the insane reversals and combos that made the move a legitimate finisher in WCW. I want a 5* match, and this is the combo to provide it. Though the feud had apparently ended in Benoit's favor earlier in the year, this blowoff should end with the right man on top.. Chris Jericho. His year-long ongoing bitterness with HHH needs to hit the big time, and Benoit is the only thing standing in his way. This time, Jericho won't be denied.
Winner: Chris Jericho

The Rock vs. Kurt Angle vs. Triple H
World Wrestling Federation Championship

So we're back to try it one more time again. HHH and The Rock, with Kurt Angle thrown into the mix to provide a little spice to what would otherwise be a flat, overdone encounter. The long-anticipated storylines have finally come to pass, with Kurt Angle and Stephanie's big, friendly kiss this past Thursday on Smackdown.. and the resulting explosion about to hit the Summerslam card Sunday night, so the crowd has more than one reason to cheer. Rocky's been putting on better matches lately, and with the growing expertise of HHH and proven knowledge / experience of Angle, this could be a worthwhile follow-up to Chris Benoit's shot at WWF gold. Not a bad way to cap off the night.. and I'd expect some sort of swerve to bring us home. Predicting a Angle or Helmsley title reign might seem out of left field, especially since neither needs the added momentum of the title to make their feud work, but I've got a gut feeling we may just see one of Stephanie's love interests wearing the strap this weekend. Just how crazy would a HHH / Angle / Jericho World Title match be for next month's PPV? Quite, and that's got my money.
Winner: HHH

In Closing...

To say that this card is at the bottom of the WWF's cards this year says a lot. 2000 has been a spectacular year for the Federation on Pay Per View, and to have a card this strong at the bottom of the barrel is quite a statement. This Sunday's the proper blowoff for three distinct feuds, which is both a bit boring (since we've seen the matches before) and cause for excitement. These men know each other in and out, after working the roads for months in the past, and should have everything down to a science by now. Ideally, they'll each produce as perfect a match as possible here.. since they won't have a chance to do so in the future. Add to that the historical significance of Summerslam, and you've got another great program in a line of great programs. If you want my opinion, it's worth checking out.
until next time, i remain

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