For the third consecutive year, "The Biggest Event of the Summer" hits Staples Center in Los Angeles tonight. Featuring quite possibly the "Rematch of the Year" in the hottest feud to hit WWE in years, The Daily Zombies take on the 24th edition of SummerSlam.
Commonly known as the number two show (right behind the grandest stage of them all, WrestleMania) in a year and among the traditional big four (along with Survivor Series, and Royal Rumble), SummerSlam is also ranked second in terms of longevity, being in its 24th installment tonight. Last year's SummerSlam saw a particularly top-heavy seven-on-seven main event that served as the blow-off match for the Nexus angle (one might argue that the Nexus angle ended in Survivor Series, but it started its long painful struggle to its death right here) and as a result, we saw a lack of matches being announced. This year, history repeated itself entirely with only five matches announced (one being belatedly announced online) as the "Summer of Punk" angle continues to remain red hot, thus getting more than seventy percent of WWE's attention. As a result of that, only four out of the twelve WWE Superstars on the official SummerSlam poster are involved in announced matches. Speaking of the poster, we take a short depart from the topic to look at the mentioned poster and state of WWE's graphic department.
Yes, a massive improvement over the worst WWE PPV poster ever, as well as the current crop of shitty poster designs starting from May's Over the Limit and June's Capitol Punishment. Please keep it up. Seriously, we don't see how hard it is to feature a decent cool shot of one or two WWE Superstars on the poster which is meant to entice people to buy the show.
Last month's Money in the Bank was truly one of the best WWE PPVs to come in a long time. It's almost like the some higher power of the celestial kind intervened and brought us one hell of a feel-good show (something that WWE, more often than not, stubbornly refused its fans). Daniel Bryan winning the Money in the Bank briefcase (and stating he's gonna hold on to the title opportunity till WrestleMania 28!), Christian finally a Champion (after his disastrously short run the first time round), and last but certainly not the least, Punk wins! Punk wins! (Channel a little Jerry Lawler here please)... CM Punk defeated John Cena for the WWE Championship, gave a knock-out kick to Alberto Del Rio, who failed to cash out his Money in the Bank opportunity, and leaving the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, Chicago (and WWE) the WWE Champion.
Now that (kayfabe) change is in the air with Triple H taking over the authority figure role from Vince McMahon, can we expect yet another feel-good show with SummerSlam?
Former Nexus compatriots taking on each other in a potential interesting encounter. The Celtic Warrior takes on the World's Strongest Man. The Glamazon takes on the Divas Champion in a title match that could rejuvenate the dead-in-the-water WWE Divas scene. Orton and Christian in the fifth and probably final installment (four from PPVs, and one from SmackDown) of their extended feud. And finally, the Rematch of the Year with WWE Champion John Cena taking on WWE Champion CM Punk for a sequel to their epic encounter last month in Chicago, and with newly-promoted WWE COO Triple H as the special referee.
Pretty captivating, isn't it? Despite the lack of matches announced. While we continue to be bewildered by the booker's decision for booking matches that could have easily be featured on the SummerSlam card on last week's TV(John Morrison vs. R-Truth on Raw, and Ezekiel Jackson vs. Cody Rhodes on SmackDown of which a surprising title switch happened), we can imagined that some match-ups involving these Superstars mentioned above should be featured during the show.
Before we move with the show, let's take a look at our prediction for last month's Money in the Bank for those who are keeping the score: Four out of six prediction was on the money. Out of the two Money in the Bank matches, we again accurately predicted one (just like last year's when we bet on The Miz) with Raw's Alberto Del Rio. And seriously, who would have imagined that Daniel Bryan would turned out to be the winner for SmackDown's despite its thin roster? Personally, I thought we did just fine by specifically sticking with Punk to leave Chicago the WWE Champion. Can we still manage to continue our accuracy this month with the rematch in place?
Now on with the show.
John Cena vs. CM Punk (Undisputed WWE Championship Match with special guest referee Triple H)
Since the end of WrestleMania XXVII, we have been complaining incessantly about the state of WWE's business. And out of nowhere, we have an epic feud on hand, which is in my opinion, one of the hottest angle in years. We all know how last year's Nexus angle diminished to nothing despite its much-hyped beginning that have gotten many wrestling fans interested. However, even at the peak of the angle, the storyline can't compared to this feud that many has come to call, "Summer of Punk". Allow us to chronicle the story thus far following last month's Money in the Bank.
After Punk left his hometown of Chicago on the very last day (purportedly) of his current WWE contract the WWE Champion, WWE was shaken to its core and the shake-up continues with Triple H replacing his father-in-law, Vince McMahon, after his removal from the office by the board of directors. Then came San Diego Comic-Con, where Punk crashed the WWE Panel with his trusty pipe bomb (that's megaphone for us normal people) in one hand, and the WWE title in another, to confront Triple H.
On the following Raw, Rey Mysterio defeated The Miz to become the new WWE Champion in the finals to the 8-man tournament to decide the new WWE Champion following Punk's departure with the WWE Championship. However, Mysterio was unfairly ordered to defend his newly acquired title on same night against Cena, who of course defeated Mysterio to become a record ninth time WWE Champion. That is when Punk made a surprising entrance (complete with a more expensive entrance theme, "Cult of Personality" by Living Colour. Sorry, Killswitch Engage) with his very own title belt. Punk has re-signed with WWE and here we have an unprecedented situation in WWE's storied history: Two legitimate WWE Champions. As expected by everyone, Triple H announced a rematch from Money in the Bank pitting Cena against Punk to crown the Undisputed WWE Champion at SummerSlam. However, Triple H later inserted himself as the special guest referee for the match.
Need more excitement to get interested in the match? Check out the awesome contract signing (arguably the best contract signing session in the history of pro-wrestling) of the match featuring Cena, Punk, Triple H, and John Laurinaitis.
So yes, WWE has rehired Punk despite WWE reaffirmation to GLAAD (that's Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for you. I know it's hard to remember this one) that Punk will indeed be legitimately leaving WWE after the Money in the Bank PPV and that fact is "not part of a storyline." to pacify them over Punk's perceived homophobic slur during the WWE tour in Adelaide (embedded below for those who missed it).
Not that we have a problem with it. In fact, we are overjoyed with excitement that Punk has re-signed with WWE. Although we are of the mixed opinion that his return was a little too rushed. WWE could have had Mysterio vs. Cena (a pretty decent match-up in the aforementioned title match between the two) at SummerSlam while slowly play out the Punk sightings at the independent shows with title belt in hand. In that way, Punk's return would have been more impactful and shocking, and the eventual title unification would be more meaningful. That said, Mysterio is now injured and in retrospect, WWE was right to have booked this match-up instead of having Mysterio wrestling in such a high profile main event risking his injury or a last-minute change which would no doubt hurt the final product.
What we have a problem with is Triple H's involvement as the special guest referee. Punk and Cena's main event at last month's Money in the Bank is undoubtedly a "Match of the Year" contender, and this is no doubt a "Rematch of the Year". However, a big part of the magic of last month's match was admittedly the amazing response from the rabid fans behind Punk in his hometown Chicago. Apart from the obvious difference being the change of venue, the insertion of Triple H as the special guest referee automatically eats away at both Superstars's heat and kills off the excitement. The wild unpredictability of last month's match towards the end where any moves could have ended the match will not be available here as fans will no doubt expect the involvement of Triple H in the finish.
That said, this will no doubt be the match of the show, and with WWE fully behind the push of the angle, this is definitely the match that will sell the show on its own strength. Will lightning strike twice tonight?
Predicted Winner: CM Punk
As we mentioned earlier, the involvement of Triple H as the special guest referee just scream "SCREW JOB" in any angle we look at this one. We accurately bet on the more surprising outcome last month. But will WWE chicken out by going the more conventional way (by their standard) by letting Cena win clean and end the "Summer of Punk" with this match being the final encounter? Like last month, numerous theories on the finish of this one have been much speculated by the online community. Let's run through these theories before making our final decision:
Scenario 1: John Cena wins clean. The most likely scenario that doesn't involve a screw job by Triple H. Which makes it unlikely. The most god-awful boring one by the way. It has been much speculated that a Punk vs. Triple H feud is on the horizon (probably WrestleMania 28 if the much talked-about potential match-up between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Punk did not materialized after all) and this clean finish can still lead us there. A heel Punk can still complain about his perceived unfairness from Triple H and come out with more conspiracy theories (to feed to The Miz and R-Truth too since they are having these as well) accusing Triple H.
Scenario 2: John Cena wins clean, but... with his arm raised up high by Triple H, the Cerebral Assassin delivered a Pedigree to him. Alberto Del Rio was then summoned to cash out his Money in the Bank title shot. Triple H officially turned heel. Unlikely as this makes Cena and Punk best buddies in their battle against Triple H and his new Corporate Champion.
Scenario 3: CM Punk wins clean, but... the same scenario as above happened to him this time. Triple H again officially turned heel here. While likely to happen as this still sets up Punk/HHH and Cena/Del Rio respectively, we beg to differ.
Scenario 4: John Cena begrudgingly wins, after Triple H screw Punk by interference or a blatant fast count. Unlikely to happen as this will hurt Cena's babyface character despite not turning heel, and as demonstrated by the ever-honorable Cena, he would not accept such victory.
Scenario 5: John Cena wins, after Triple H screw Punk by interference or a blatant fast count. And ladies and gentlemen, this is officially the episode where Cena truly channel his inner heel and turned. Which is of course unlikely.
Scenario 6: CM Punk wins, after Triple H screw Cena. It's a conspiracy theory-style finish, having Triple H either bearing grudges from his defeat at the hands of Cena at WrestleMania 22, or being committed in the wind of change that he promised the WWE audience. And certainly, that's both Triple H and Punk officially turned heel here, with Punk being some kind of a new Corporate Champion. Not unlikely, as this furthers Punk/Cena but we still think this is not the swerve we are expecting.
Scenario 6: CM Punk wins, due to run-in interference from The Rock who took a break from the G.I.Joe 2 filming. Now, all these thrash-talking on The Rock finally paid off. After Punk won, The Rock gives him a Rockbottom. Likely, but not as likely as the next scenario...
Scenario 7: John Cena wins, due to run-in interference from The Rock who took a break from the G.I.Joe 2 filming. This is an alternate theory to the above one: The Rock, who must have had a problem with both Cena and Punk, screws both of them but made Cena win so that they can still face each other at WrestleMania 28 for the WWE Championship. Likely, but our final decision lies with the last scenario below...
Scenario 8: CM Punk wins, despite Triple H's not-too-obvious attempts to aid Cena. There might be some mix-up in between (for example, Triple H accidentally hitting Cena, etc.) to make Cena look good in defeat. Cena will then get screwed out of his rematch clause at Night of Champion with another heel (most likely The Miz or R-Truth) positioned to face Punk. Then at Hell in a Cell, Punk will face Cena in a final blow-off match in the eponymous match.
The reason why we chose this over the other equally likely options is simply put what happened after Cena wins. The wind of change has been pushed strongly by the bookers and with Cena back where he usually are as "The Champ", things are just as stale as before. Unless Triple H really turned heel on Cena and failed in screwing him (which is unlikely given that he is Triple H), there's really nothing much to look forward to following this and the white hot "Summer of Punk" would be over with Punk losing all momentum just like what Cena mentioned at the contract signing. What followed by our prediction might not be in that exact order, but we opine that Punk will win (one way or the other and none-too-clean in its finish, that's for sure) but will remain in his tweener way. We are sticking to Punk and the guts of WWE for this one, just like last month.
World Heavyweight Champion Christian vs. Randy Orton (No Holds Barred Match)
Orton vs. Christian, round five.
With last month's fourth installment of the series of encounter between Orton and Christian slapped with a special stipulation (if Orton gets disqualified or if "if the referee makes a bad call", the title changes hand), Christian finally became World Heavyweight Champion. And things are all the better for that.
While Christian's current heel run surprisingly did not connect with the audience as well as we would have thought due to the lingering warm reception to the Captain Charisma, positioning him as a cocky heel champion and Orton as a keen contender chasing for the title is a better progress of the angle, and for the thin roster at SmackDown.
Despite being extended beyond its natural lifespan, the feud has been fairly entertaining and the series of match-ups between Orton and Christian have been consistent with engaging in-ring story-telling abilities from both Superstars. While this might not be the blow-off match (! Yes, they might drag this feud all the way to Hell in the Cell two months later) yet, it should be every bit as good as their best encounter in the series if not better, given the fact that this is SummerSlam. And the probable run-in cameo might also be helping the match. More on that later.
Predicted Winner: Christian
We were wrong in picking Orton last month, and we are happy of that. However, with Sheamus and Mark Henry being the next two likely contenders to the World Heavyweight Championship, it is more likely that a triple threat involving Sheamus (or even a Sheamus vs. Christian) being the more likely route to take.
And with Christian being cocky over his chance at the end of SmackDown, and Edge being coy about his involvement at SummerSlam (despite his involvement at the Fan Axxess signing event in Los Angeles), we strongly suspect something at work here with the Rated-R Superstar.
Sheamus vs. Mark Henry
The build-up to this big man feud worked surprisingly well, with the transition of Sheamus's face turn being unexpectedly smooth. The simple, old-school "stand against bully" (as a part of WWE's ongoing anti-bullying campaign) probably worked this fine due to the time invested in Mark Henry's heel turn with Big Show, Kane and (the dearly future-endeavored) Vladimir Kozlov being destroyed in the wake of his monster push.
With Sheamus improving tremendously from his earlier days both in terms of in-ring abilities and showmanship (hell, he can even make his match-up with Great Khali watchable), this should be one of those better big-man matches.
Predicted Winners: Sheamus, or Double DQ or count-out
Both are getting considerable pushes from the management, yet both can ill afford a stop to their respective momentum. WWE might have a booked themselves into a corner with this one, but with every difficult bookings, there are always short cuts to ensure everyone got away with momentum. Things like disqualification due to interruption or count-out, etc. And in this case, it is more likely a case of double count-out. And if someone needs to come out of this on top, it had to be the Celtic Warrior.
Daniel Bryan vs. Wade Barrett
During last year's SummerSlam, we saw both Daniel Bryan and Wade Barrett at the seven-on-seven main event. And if you think that both of them are in a worse position this year, think again. Not even The Miz, who has been the WWE Champion for a considerably long duration at the turn of the year, had an announced match at this year's show. And with Bryan being the blue version of Mr. Money in the Bank, and Barrett settling down in his upper-midcard position after an otherwise unfortunately insignificant Intercontinental Championship run, both are doing relatively well.
With both Bryan and Barrett are sufficiently talented in their capacity, this should be an interesting match-up to look out for.
Predicted Winners: Daniel Bryan
What really mattered here is the level of WWE's support behind Bryan's statement of cashing in his Money in the Bank opportunity at next year's WrestleMania 28. If this is indeed the way to go for Bryan, he needs to be build up relatively fast in this six months. He can't be struggling against opponents the likes of Tyson Kidd or Ted Dibiase. And a win over Barrett is only a small step in achieving that if WWE is serious in airdropping Bryan into the title picture by WrestleMania 28.
Divas Champion Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix
At our preview for last month's Money in the Bank, we have typically only one sentence for the match-up between reigning Divas Champion Kelly Kelly and Brie Bella: "Here's a most bathroom break classic in the making". And now, with actual wrestlers Beth Phoenix and Natalya (we will avoid calling them "Divas of Doom" for now)'s renewed initiative to removed the hordes of swimsuit models from the Divas division, we have finally picked up our interest in the otherwise god-awfully boring division.
While both Phoenix and Natalya are heels in this angle by design, it seems that most of the audiences shared our sentiments with them not getting the usual boos and jeers typical of heels. Seriously, most wrestling fans would actually like to see an actual wrestling matches between female wrestlers without a series of botched moves.
Predicted Winners: Beth Phoenix
In fact, we opined that this match-up can only be successfully booked with a squash by the Glamazon in less than a minute. With Phoenix's victory, she can start her domination on the entire Divas roster by running them down one at a time with Natalya by her side.
Continuing from the white hot Money in the Bank PPV, this is yet another hot show from WWE despite the lack of matches announced. However, similar to last month;s show, the selling point of the show is one match, and one match only. Punk vs. Cena II. And with the rest of the card being potentially interesting, this is a PPV not to be missed by any self-respecting WWE fans. That said, the moniker of "The Biggest Event of the Summer" in pro-wrestling is only all too true with the only thing that resemble a competition being TNA and its unintentionally sarcastic renewed slogan "Wrestling Matters".
In parting, we bring you the video clip of the interview of Austin on G4TV's Attack of the Show that intensified the talks of a Punk vs. Austin at WrestleMania 28.
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