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Tom Dean




What's up, and how ya be? How about that Summerslam? Best PPV in a while, I think it's very safe to say. Right now, I have HHH-HBK as my Match of the Year, knocking Rock-Hogan to #2. It benefits from half a decade of history (not to mention Shawn Michaels' real-life back injury). That's the kind of thing you can't plan on purpose, but it's still there, and it adds so much to a match. Michaels may very well never have wrestled a better match as a babyface. He nailed the part of a never-say-die cripple 100% perfectly... selling the hell out of the back, making every comeback mean something, making the "holy shit" spots show his desperation, giving off a little bit of attitude but not too much... amazing. And HHH rechanneled his old brawling killer heel persona. (Aside: I loved how he shaved, getting an allusion to his DX past in there as well). Just a monster match. If you want me to sprinkle snowflakes on it, ****1/2.

(Please don't write to me to tell me that anything involving Edge has been a Match of the Year candidate. Edge is a solid wrestler and has had a lot of *** matches, maybe even ***1/2... but nothing TRULY compelling, in my view. One thing that would help him get to the highest level is if he were involved in an angle that anyone cared about. As for the NWA-TNA X Division matches that a lot of people loved, I haven't seen them so can't comment.)

(The one thing that bothered me about the HHH-HBK match is, why would an unsanctioned match have a referee?? This would be a nitpick if Hebner just stood there, but considering that he got very involved in the action, I think it's a legitimate problem with the match. Hell, they wouldn't even allow pins outside the ring! So it basically ended up being a no-DQ match... which is not even one of the more anarchic established stipulation matches! There should have been no ring entrances, referee, timekeeper, etc... the crowd is more than capable of counting to three. Ever since Bischoff came in, it seems like there has been a lot more attention to detail and to making things believably shoot-y, but they missed it here. One thing that HELPED the HHH-HBK match was terrific announcing. Unfortunately, that was the exception, as the announcing tended for some reason to be rambling and unfocused.)

Anyway. Rey-Angle, Edge-Eddie, and Rock-Brock were also excellent... I would put them in that order. (Where was the Shooting Star Press by Brock, for Crissake??) Benoit-RVD was disappointing (for the second time) to me, as was Flair-Jericho, but both were at least good. (Although he will probably never do it again, RVD's Crippler Crossface may deserve "Worst Move" RSPW Award consideration). One awesome match, three excellent ones, and two good ones make for a hell of a PPV. Outside of HHH-HBK, the most memorable thing about the show had to be the crowd turning on the Rock. I haven't seen a really convincing explanation of it, and I don't have one to offer myself. Maybe, since I think even marks knew Rocky was losing this match, a small number of vocal Rock-haters were able to bring frontrunners over to their side. (Remember how dead Nassau Coliseum always is... it might not take much. Oh, by the way, I liked how Christian and Storm worked that notorious deadness into their promo.) Maybe it's like when they tried having the public vote people off on Big Brother, and they voted off the people who were the most visible, regardless of whether they were popular or not. I don't know. I don't buy that people are mad at Rock for making movies, or that they are fed up with his promos. Neither of those things seems like they would come out of nowhere on this particular night. People have had months if not years to be mad about that stuff. I also don't buy that it signifies that Brock is over as a face. If that were the case, they would have cheered for him when he came down to the ring, which they certainly did not. Needless to say, because he is a master, Rocky noticed it, worked it into his routine (which encouraged the anti-Rock chanting further), and the match was better off for it.

I can't explain why this turn of events occurred, but it sure could set things a little askew, huh? If the crowd doesn't buy Rock as a face, that leaves Taker and (arguably) Kane as the only faces who have been presented as being on a level with the heel crew of HHH, Angle, and Lesnar. Never a good sign. I don't think it is all that likely that crowds everywhere will turn on Rocky... I suspect it was just a one-night aberration. (Once the Nassau crowd got the Rock loss they claimed to want, they seemed far from ecstatic about it). But it will sure be interesting to see.

A lot of people had very harsh words for the RAW just before Summerslam. I thought it was fine. The basic thing about it was that, for once, they set up the PPV card way ahead of time. So on that final show, they didn't have much to do besides just reinforce what we already knew. It was a little boring, but I'll take that any day in exchange for a PPV card that doesn't feel like someone put it together with glue and construction paper the day before. The RAW just after Summerslam... same deal... perfectly ok. Sure, the Fink angle was pretty pointless (and JR recycled his own commentary from the Patterson-Brisco evening gown match). And sure, since everyone knew WWE would never actually let someone burn a flag on TV, that angle came off a dud. (I'm not offended that they threatened it. I just don't think it works as a heat-getting mechanism because no one buys it). Still, the show as a whole was all right.

I was, however, disappointed in yesterday's Smackdown. Okay, I grant you that the Matt Hardy turn rules... doing it away from Jeff was smart, and he is really nailing the role. But... Taker on Smackdown? Yeah, I like getting him away from Kane, and I suppose it could mean RVD and Booker T will be elevated on RAW... but Smackdown was just starting to establish a style and Taker just doesn't fit it at all. Or will they just put Taker back on RAW after Lesnar beats him? Also lame. Another thing that sucked... John Cena losing to D'Von? Mondo lame... I can't imagine what purpose it serves.

Furthermore, if Chris Jericho lost to Cena, and Cena is now a nonentity, what does that say about Jericho? Nor does Jericho get a clean win over Jeff Hardy, who as a solo wrestler usually jobs to anyone higher on the card than Spike Dudley. Jericho just cannot win a match! It's hard to build heat off that. He can't even get Honky Tonk Man "you suck, but you might beat someone by cheating" heat. I understand that Jericho is not the top heel, and with HHH on one show and Angle and Lesnar on the other, he shouldn't be either. But that doesn't mean you kill the guy! I see Jericho as being a guy who has tremendous potential to make a lot of money for the company. My personal opinion is that a well-booked Y2J, heel or face, could sell a main event a lot better than the Undertaker. As a face, he could sell a main event a lot better than HHH or Angle, although probably not as a heel. You don't have to buy those opinions if you don't want to, obviously... I can't prove them. But to me, this is very apparent. And it's not like they would have to like they did with Lesnar. He is already a former world champ with a reign. All they have to do is mix in some wins with the losses. Hmm, maybe they should turn Jericho face? Just tossing the idea out there, it definitely has its cons as well as its pros.

Basically, my feeling right now is that they are flirting with making "Raw vs. Smackdown" the primary storyline, overshadowing the wrestlers, and they probably need to quit it. We shall see... maybe they can make it more interesting than I suspect it would be. KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES!!

Tom Dean
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