Friday, 12 August 2011

Where's the rest of Summerslam gone?

Warning: this post contains spoilers for Friday 12's edition of Smackdown.

SummerSlam is this Sunday and is one of the WWE's "Big Four" pay-per-view events. It's one of the nights that, along with the Royal Rumble, Survivor Series and - most importantly - WrestleMania, is supposed to go some way into defining the WWE's year.

Big things need to happen at these events: major matches happen in front of an enthused, excited crowd, storylines reach their climaxes, titles change hands and hyped-up stars make show-stopping debuts.

The feud between CM Punk, John Cena and Triple H is riveting, easily a Wrestlemania-calibre main event, and I can’t wait to see what happens on Sunday. I'm hoping for something massive, I don't know what, and I hope I'm not let down.

Slim Pickings

Look beyond that match, though, and there's precious little else that'll make people part with their cash. Smackdown's main event sees Christian defending his World Heavyweight Championship against Randy Orton in what’ll be the fourth PPV match they’ve shared over a feud that’s seen precious little progression since Christian’s initial heel turn.

The other matches announced so far don't exactly hold my interest. Sheamus will try to halt Mark Henry's recent destruction but, after his recent rampages took care of Big Show and Kane, he’s floundered; WWE gave away many of his big destructive moments already and, short of Big Show and/or Kane returning to take him down, I can’t see how this bout is good for either man: if Sheamus wins, Henry’s destructive streak is, well, destroyed. If Henry wins, Sheamus looks weak.

The fourth match announced so far is Kelly Kelly defending the Diva's title against Beth Phoenix. Oh goody.

And that, so far, is it.

There’s a Cee-Lo Green performance to factor in - his song Bright Lights, Bigger City is the SummerSlam theme - but I’m certain WWE will add more matches to the card, although I’m not sure if any will be announced on its website or Twitter feed beforehand – more likely is the growing trend for just throwing matches onto the show without any promotion. That, surely, is not the way to properly hype a PPV event.

Smacked Down

Take this week's episode of Smackdown: Alberto Del Rio defeated Daniel Bryan in a battle between the two Money in the Bank briefcase holders, Cody Rhodes beat Zeke Jackson for the Intercontinental strap, and Sin Cara (well, Hunico) returned and beat Tyson Kidd.

I’d be shocked if a Rhodes v Jackson rematch doesn’t make the SummerSlam card, but what harm would it have done to announce it on Smackdown? Let’s say Rhodes is celebrating after Ted DiBiase has helped him win the belt. Jackson grabs a microphone, calls out to Rhodes as he’s walking up the ramp, and challenges him – or invokes the WWE’s best plot device, the rematch clause. Rhodes accepts, job’s done. Neither are main event workers but Rhodes, especially, is a compelling character, and might sell SummerSlam to more fans.

Similarly, Daniel Bryan. Once again, I’m pretty certain that Bryan v Wade Barrett will makes it way onto the SummerSlam card, but they’ve missed a trick by not announcing it – and building it up more – on Smackdown. The pair’s shared history on NXT and in Nexus makes for an immediately compelling story, and setting up a match isn’t exactly difficult – Barrett attacks Bryan, Zack Ryder comes out, offers Bryan a chance for revenge at SummerSlam. WWWYKI.

And instead of having Sin Cara return in a nothing match against Tyson Kidd on PPV, how about announce that he'll return at SummerSlam and have a heel - Kidd, if needs be, or perhaps Del Rio - call him out in a promo. Sin Cara's a huge Hispanic star and, again, he's another wasted draw for SummerSlam.

A Raw Deal

It’s the same story, or lack of, over on Raw. Alex Riley and Dolph Ziggler have had some nice verbal exchanges on the past couple of shows, but it's not progressed into the expected SummerSlam match. And, while his injuries might yet keep him off the card, Rey Mysterio taking on The Miz for the number one contendership is a PPV-quality bout that simply shouldn’t be thrown away on Raw.

The missed opportunities rumble on. John Morrison and R-Truth have the perfect opportunity for a blow-off match at SummerSlam, with Morrison recently returning from an injury Truth caused. Instead? It's given away on Raw, with little fanfare.

That's current storylines. Several others aren't on the show yet, either: the tag team champions will probably be tossed into another pointless match with The Usos or Santino and a mystery partner. Drew McIntyre, Evan Bourne and Jack Swagger now seem to appear more on Superstars than their main shows, and what next for Kofi Kingston now his never-ending series of matches with Ziggler seems to have fallen by the wayside.

In the run-up to SummerSlam - which WWE is trying to increase in important, even giving it a Wrestlemania-style Fan Axxess festival - I would have considered Rhodes v Jackson (or even DiBiase), Barrett v Bryan and Riley v Ziggler locks for the show, and that's before guys like Del Rio, Mysterio, Sin Cara and others are considered. I’ve no doubt some of these matches, if not all of them, will eventually take place on Sunday night.

These workers might not draw like Cena and Punk do, but they've all got fans, and announcing matches beforehand has no downsides as far as I can see - but throwing them onto the card, on the night, benefits no-one. The end result might be a very good SummerSlam - but it's a shame that potential customers might not be there to see it.

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