WWE Hall of Fame announcer Jim Ross wrote on his blog Sunday morning that the SummerSlam pay-per-view taking place later that evening was "essentially a three-match show."
As it turned out, it was actually a one-match show. Fortunately, that match – the seven-on-seven elimination main event between Team WWE and The Nexus – delivered in a big way and saved the pay-per-view from being a major disappointment.
Even with the well-booked, exciting main event, SummerSlam was a mediocre show and did not live up to its standing as WWE's second-biggest event of the year.
The big news is that the seventh man on Team WWE turned out to be Daniel Bryan. It had appeared that it was going to be The Miz, who had said earlier in the show that he would join the team, but captain John Cena told him that he waited too long to make up his mind and they had to get someone else.
Bryan joining Team WWE makes perfect sense in the story line and the crowd popped when he was revealed as the final piece to the puzzle. I was all set to give WWE credit for booking a nice surprise, but then I read that wwe.com actually spoiled the angle by announcing before SummerSlam went on the air that Bryan had returned to the company. Once that post went up, the news quickly spread on Twitter.
I'm not sure if that was a blunder on WWE's part or a deliberate attempt to gain some last-minute buys. Luckily, I wasn't on Twitter at that point, because as someone who likes to be surprised and avoids spoilers, I wouldn't have been too pleased about WWE letting that get out.
(CLARIFICATION FROM KE: I was incorrect about wwe.com posting the story on Bryan returning before the show went on the air; it was actually posted during the show prior to Bryan being revealed as the seventh man. So it looks to have been a mistake of someone hitting the button a little too early but obviously was not done to create a buzz and spark last-minute buys).
The result in the main event was a bit of a shock, as I think most people expected The Nexus to win, but Cena ended up being the sole survivor. The rest of the show was pretty predictable, including The Undertaker appearing at the end of the Kane-Rey Mysterio match and revealing that it was Kane who had attacked him, and Sheamus retaining the WWE title by disqualification over Randy Orton.
Here is a match-by-match look at the show:
Team WWE (John Cena, Bret Hart, Edge, Chris Jericho, John Morrison, R-Truth and Daniel Bryan) defeated The Nexus (Wade Barrett, Justin Gabriel, David Otunga, Heath Slater, Skip Sheffield, Darren Young and Michael Tarver) (35:18): The Miz cut a great promo earlier in the show in which he declared that he would be the seventh man on Team WWE. When Miz's music hit during the entrances and he made his way to the stage, however, Cena interrupted and said that they already had their seventh man – Bryan. Michael Cole – who was very entertaining throughout this match insulting Bryan and putting over The Miz – went nuts. Bryan made an immediate impact, as he locked the crossface on Young and forced him to tap out just 42 seconds into the match. Three minutes later, Morrison hit Starship Pain on Tarver and pinned him. It was noted in commentary that this was the first time Nexus has ever been at a numbers disadvantage. Sheffield evened things up by using wicked clotheslines to pin Morrison (at 7:32) and R-Truth (7:59). Hart entered the match at the 10:30 mark and began wailing away on Slater. Hart, wearing jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers, looked old and out of shape and seemed to get winded pretty quickly. He was disqualified for hitting Sheffield with a chair at 12:08, giving Nexus its first advantage at 5-4. It's painfully obvious that Hart just shouldn't be in the ring anymore.
After Jericho hit the Codebreaker on Sheffield, Edge speared the big man and pinned him at 13:13. It would be six minutes before the next elimination, which saw Jericho make Otunga tap out to the Walls of Jericho. Team WWE had a 4-3 advantage at that point, but then things started to fall apart for them. After Jericho and Cena collided accidentally, Slater pinned Jericho at 20:05. Edge and Cena began to argue, and Slater knocked Edge into Cena and pinned Edge at 20:38 to give Nexus a 3-2 advantage. Edge speared Cena off the apron onto the floor, where Jericho kicked and slapped him and yelled, "You're a stupid man!" before he and Edge left together. Cena took a beating in the ring for a while before making the hot tag to Bryan, who turned Slater's roll-up attempt into a crossface, and Slater tapped at 29:02. With the referee distracted, The Miz then entered the ring and clobbered Bryan with the briefcase. That allowed Barrett to pin Bryan at 29:32 and it was down to Barrett and Gabriel against Cena. Barrett took Cena outside the ring, moved the mat away and landed a DDT on the floor. He then threw Cena back in the ring and tagged Gabriel, who attempted to finish off Cena with the 450 Splash. Cena moved out of the way, however, and pinned Gabriel at 34:50.
That left the two team captains – Cena and Barrett. Cena quickly caught Barrett in the STF, and Barrett tapped out at 35:18 to give the match to Team WWE. I was surprised that Nexus didn't win, but I really liked how the match was laid out. I'm sure the Cena detractors will be upset that he once again overcame the odds, but that's what his character is all about. Plus, Nexus has been getting the better of him for the past two months; it was probably time for Cena to win one of the battles. My guess is that Nexus does something on Raw tonight to get its heat back. I also liked the angle to bring Bryan back and I'm really looking forward to a program between him and Miz. I also have to give WWE credit for being able to take eight mostly green guys who were wrestling in obscurity in Florida Championship Wrestling six months ago and get them over as legitimate threats in the main event of a major pay-pay-per-view. Think about that.
Randy Orton defeated WWE champion Sheamus by disqualification (18:55): The stipulations were that if anyone interferes on Sheamus' behalf, they will be indefinitely suspended, and if Orton loses, he does not get a rematch and goes to the back of the line. The match had a slow pace most of the way but the last five minutes or so were good. There were some nice near falls, including one sequence that saw Orton slip out of the High Cross and go for an RKO, but Sheamus escaped it and then connected with the Brogue Kick for a two-and-a-half count. Sheamus was stunned that Orton kicked out. The champion grabbed a chair and brought it into the ring, but the referee tried to take it away from him. Sheamus won the tug of war and sent the referee tumbling to the floor. The referee called for the bell and disqualified Sheamus, who smiled. After the match, Orton ducked a chair shot and landed a low blow. He then hit an RKO on Sheamus on the announce table (which did not break). With Sheamus laid out on the floor, I was half-expecting The Miz to show up and cash in his Money in the Bank contract, but it didn't happen. Jerry Lawler said, "That was about as good a match as you're ever going to see." Come on now, King.
World heavyweight champion Kane defeated Rey Mysterio (13:31): The crowd was pretty quiet for most of the match. With a casket sitting ringside that Kane had brought with him, I think everyone was just waiting for the spot when The Undertaker was going to pop up out of it. The match was not as good as the Kane-Mysterio pay-per-view matches from a couple years ago, but it was serviceable. Kane won clean after a big boot to the face and a chokeslam. After the match, Kane continued to assault Mysterio and then attempted to put him in the casket. When Kane opened the lid – surprise! – The Undertaker was inside. The Undertaker was wearing makeup that made him look haggard to sell the effects of being in a "vegetative state" the past few months (well, either that or Michelle McCool must have been a wild woman on the honeymoon). Undertaker confronted Mysterio about being his attacker, but he concluded that Mysterio was innocent. He then turned his attention to Kane and grabbed him by the throat. Kane, however, also grabbed Undertaker by the throat and was able to overpower him and deliver a Tombstone Piledriver. So the new wrinkle in a feud that has – pardon the pun – been done to death – is that The Undertaker is not as powerful as he once was, thus making him vulnerable against his "brother."
Intercontinental champion Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston wrestled to a no-contest (7:05): Kingston's aggressiveness cost him early, as he knocked Ziggler outside the ring and attempted a dive, but Vickie Guerrero moved Ziggler out of the way and Kingston crashed. Ziggler dominated the next four minutes or so before Kingston mounted a comeback. After exchanging near falls, Ziggler locked on the sleeperhold. A few seconds later, The Nexus hit the ring and attacked both men, causing the match to be thrown out. The Nexus tossed Ziggler out of the ring and proceeded to beat down Kingston. I hate to see any match that I'm interested in – much less one on a pay-per-view – end like that, but I understand what WWE was trying to do. This was the opening match and WWE wanted to establish The Nexus as a dangerous threat right from the start.
The Big Show defeated CM Punk, Luke Gallows and Joseph Mercury in a handicap match (6:45): Before the match started, The Big Show removed the tape from his "broken" hand to reveal that it was fine. The big guy sure is a fast healer. The action was OK, as the Straight Edge Society tried to make the most of its numbers advantage and Big Show kept thwarting them. It was kind of funny that the announcers weren't even sure about the rules as far as whether the SES would have to tag in and out or not (they didn't). Punk eventually decided to bail with Serena, leaving the overmatched Gallows and Mercury alone with Big Show. Big Show choke-slammed Mercury on top of Gallows and pinned them both. I'm not crazy about the finish, since the SES now has zero credibility, but it does reinforce Punk as a self-serving leader and sets up a singles match between him and Big Show.
Melina defeated WWE Divas champion Alicia Fox to win the title (5:20): Melina looked as if she had raided Cher's closet, as she came out wearing this ridiculous-looking outfit with feathers and a headdress. I haven't seen a wrestler look that silly since Triple H dressed up like Conan The Barbarian at WrestleMania 22. I thought these two would have a decent match, but it was nowhere close. Melina appeared at one point to injure her left knee, but Fox for some reason then started working over her arm and shoulder. The match just never got going and then the finish came out of nowhere, as Melina got the pin with a variation of The Stroke and The Skull-Crushing Finale. A flat finish to a flat match. After it was over, Melina, who is now a five-time champion, had a "Tommy Dreamer moment" as she was about to be interviewed in the ring by Josh Matthews. Before Melina could say a word, however, self-professed co-WWE women's champions Lay-Cool came out and attacked her. When Fox tried to get in a cheap shot on Melina, Lay-Cool took her out as well. It appears that WWE may be doing a women's title-unification match at next month's Night of Champions pay-per-view.