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The Katz Files – Arnie Katz

SummerSlam: Recap & Analysis!

The Kingfish Arnie Katz reports on the highlights and sidelights of the summer’s biggest wrestling blockbuster – and offers some insights into what fans saw and heard at SummerSlam.

Jack Korpela hosted the Free for All. The half-hour emphasized the Cena-Batista match, Undertaker vs. Edge and CM Punk defending against JBL, but all the matches got some hype.

Korpela gave himself an award for hosting the show. He opened the envelope contain the winner’s name and gushed his thanks.

The Kingfish Comments: A little ice-breaking humor is a step in the right direction. Truthfully, I miss the old pseudo-sports center production with two co-hosts, In Las Vegas, we don’t see Free for ALL unless we’ve already purchased the PPV.

SummerSlam 21, from the Conseco Field House in Indianapolis, IN, opened with a very straight-forward video that reviewed the matches on the PPV card.

MVP d. Jeff Hardy

The Story: Jeff Hardy and MVP have traveled a long, hate-filled road together. They have been uneasy partners and merciless foes. It looked like the feud had died down, but Porter has been a thorn in Hardy’s side for the last several weeks. On the Smackdown before SummerSlam, MVP probably cost Jeff the United States Championship. The hit-and-run attacks are over; now they’ll settle it in the ring.

My Prediction: Montel Vontavious Porter has a new look and a new push. That could be bad news for Jeff Hardy, whose own push seems to have wound down a little in the last month. After all his big wins, The Rainbow Warrior should be able to absorb a Tainted Loss to help set up MVP for either a match for the WWE Championship or at least the US title, not too far down the road.

Predicted Grade: B

The Actual Match: When Jeff tried to attack MVP from the ringside area, his old enemy kicked him. Hardy shrugged off the blow and yanked him out of the ring by his feet and threw him against the outer barrier! The Rainbow Warrior Bodyslammed MVP and executed a Springboard Legdrop from the apron over the top rope. If he thought he could end the match that quickly, he found out he was mistaken.

After his Suplex failed to get a cover, MVP worked on his adversary with a painful submission hold that put terrible pressure on Hardy’s neck. When that didn’t get the desired effect, MVP switched to a Rear Chinlock along the ropes.

Jeff Hardy tried to Monkey Flip MVP coming out of the corner, but the intended victim blocked the roll up and applied a painful leg hold. His strategy was clear: take away Hardy’s aerial game.

When Hardy tried another Slingshot move form the apron, MVP smashed him in mid-air! MVP threw Hardy into a turnbuckle and hung him in the Tree of woe. Then he lifted the trapped man’s head and bashed it against the canvas.

MVP hung Hardy over his shoulder in a Backbreaker, but Jeff broke free and immediately pulled off a Neckbreaker! When MVP launched into the Drive=by Kick, Hardy ran right at him and leveled him with a Lariat before MVP could launch the lethal bow.

Hardy scored with a Side Russian Legsweep and a Legdrop, but it didn’t translate into a pin.

Jeff Hardy stunned MVP with a Whisper in the wind! He climbed to the top turnbuckle, preparing for the Swanton Bomb, but Shelton Benjamin attacked! Hardy fought off the US Champion, but by the time he was ready to fly, MVP had recovered enough to move out of harm’s way!

MVP blasted Hardy with the Drive-by Kick for the win.

Actual Grade: B

The Kingfish Comments: This was a good match and, from the booking standpoint, achieved the desired result. MVP got a win over a name opponent, Hardy’s loss wasn’t his fault and Jeff and Shelton Benjamin can now battle over the belt and personal issues.

Maria interviewed Santino Morella and Beth Phoenix. Santino claimed the press now called them “Glamorella” and took some abuse fro Maria about his unibrow look.

Beth Phoenix and Maria had an intense staring contest. The Glamazon warned Maria that Santino was now her man.

The Kingfish Comments: Maria has adopted a much more sophisticated look, especially the dark red hair in an “up” style. She looks very sophisticated, but I don’t know if she will want the extra trouble of maintaining that style if she has a program with Beth Phoenix.

They announced a poll to see if fans think Vickie Guerrero and Edge will divorce.

The Kingfish Comments: And they don’t thin that dumb stuff like this shoots the promotion’s shaky credibility?

Santino Marella & Beth Phoenix d. Kofi Kingston & Mickie James
Intercontinental and Women’s title match.
Winner Takes All

The Story: It all seemed to get rolling when Beth Phoenix fought, and defeated, Santino Marella. That seemed to spark an infatuation on the part of the big-mouthed Italian. Now the pair is an item and they have made common cause against two popular champions. RAW General Manager Mike Adamle decided to put two title fights together into one match – with both titles up for grabs.

My Prediction: I don’t think WWE will want to change two titles this way. Well, at least I hope they wouldn’t. The best way to book this is that Kofi Kingston will set up Marella for the pin, which James will execute to help her and her partner retain the titles.

Predicted Grade: B-

The Actual Match: The women started the match and Beth Phoenix almost immediately displayed her strength by tossing the small Mickie James around the ring. James kicked Beth in the stomach and then scored with a Low-Altitude Dropkick. Not only didn’t she get the pin, but Phoenix roared back with a powerful Suplex!

When Santino Morella came in to attack Mickie, she turned the tables with a Monkey Flip! Kofi Kingston replaced her in the ring, much to Santino’s discomfort. The Intercontinental Champion just plain destroyed the mouthy Morella. With some help from his partner, Santino took control and rocked Kingston with a Suplex, though it wasn’t enough for a pinning cover.

Mickie James hit a Huracanrana and then a Thesz Press from the top, but Santino saved his teammate. But he couldn’t save himself from Mickie James’ Tornado DDT! Beth made her pay with a blindside shot that led to the Double Hammerlock. The high-speed Face Plant that followed finished off James and won both titles for Phoenix and Morella!

Actual Grade: B

The Kingfish Comments: I still think it’s a mistake to change two titles like this, but it will lead to a couple of intriguing rematches.

Shawn Michaels discussed his career crisis in a video that alternated close-up head shots with action sequences.

When Shawn came to the SummerSlam ring accompanied by his wife Rebecca, Jerry Lawler observed that that might be a bad omen.

That seemed to be the case as a subdued HBK announced that doctors had advised him to quit and that, for once, he was taking the advice.

Shawn reminisced about the ups and downs of his career, from being the Showstoppa to losing his smile. He was just getting into the heavy-duty “thank you’s” when Chris Jericho’s music blared and the sometimes-rocker joined him in the ring.

Jericho demanded that Michaels admit that it was he, Jericho, who had forced the retirement. HBK did so, grudgingly, but told his tormenter that he would never be the equal of Shawn Michaels.

That riled Jericho who took a swing at Michaels – and hit Rebecca instead. She fell right over and it was quite a whole before a hysterical Michaels and some WWE people got her back to her feet an out of the ring.

The Kingfish Comments: Rebecca Michaels is beautiful, with an absolutely perfect face. It didn’t appear that that perfect face had a bump, a bruise, a scrape or any other sign of contact with Jericho’s fist. HBK will, of course, come after Chris Jericho, guns blazing.

As someone who had a detached retina – two columnists with the same condition. Go figure – I can say that it is not standard practice to “evaluate” such an injury. It’s considered an emergency operation and would be done immediately. Waiting would only lessen the chances of success.

Matt Hardy d. Mark Henry via DQ
ECW Championship match

The Story: These two have been at each other’s throats since before the raft Lottery. Hardy wants to get some gold, but Henry certainly has a different slant on the situation.

My Prediction: Mark Henry will retain the title, possibly on a DQ. This won’t be the night’s most thrilling contest, either.

Predicted Grade: C+

The Actual Match: The new Todd Grisham-Matt Stryker announce team handled this one. They didn’t get much chance to show their skill, though,

Matt Hardy caught Henry coming out of the corner with a surprise Twist of Fate. He would’ve won the match and the title if Tony Atlas hadn’t pulled Mark Henry out of the ring.

The referee awarded a DQ victory to Matt Hardy.

When the heels attacked Matt, his brother raced to the ring and the duo made life miserable for Atlas and Henry.

Actual Grade: Upgradeable

The Kingfish Comments: I hope no one took a bathroom or kitchen run when this one started, because they probably missed most of the next match, too. Talk about perfunctory!

The camera caught CM Punk doing his pre-match stretches. A video synopsized his title run.

CM Punk vs. JBL
World Heavyweight Championship

The Story: John Bradshaw Leyfield has gunned for the World Heavyweight Championship ever since he put down the microphone and laced up his boots to return to the ring. He has repeatedly called CM Punk a temporary champion and now will try to make his claim real with a title triumph.

My Prediction: Prognosticators can get into trouble banking on WWE to do the right thing, but I believe that’s what they will do in this case. CM Punk is turning into a marketable star, one of the youngest in WWE, and it would be a serious mistake to feed him to JBL. Still, WWE has plans for the Cowboy Financier, so he’s going to look good before he meets defeat via the Go To Sleep.

Predicted Grade: B+

The Actual Match: After a Collar-and-Elbow stalemate, Leyfield went to bone-jarring right-handed punches that led to a Side Headlock. The Cowboy Financier hit a Shoulder Block and stymied Punk’s attempted Hiplock, but the champion scored with several well-placed kicks. He knocked down JBL and, when the challenger fled to the outside, took him out with a Dive through the ropes!

When Punk climbed onto a turnbuckle, Leyfield crashed him to the canvas with a Fall-Away Slam from the middle rope. He covered, but it wasn’t enough.

Punk elbowed his way out of a Reverse Bearhug. His charge into the corner proved too reckless and he found himself on the wrong end of Leyfield’s massive boot. Punk kicked out of the cover. JBL hit a pair of Suplexes, but they didn’t bring him the desired one-two-three.

JBL trapped CM Punk in an Abdominal Stretch and added a Stomach Claw for good measure. Punk scored with a High Knee and then a Bulldog coming out of the corner, When Punk tried for the GTS, Leyfield flattened him with a Clothesline!

The Megalomaniacal Manhattanite hit five Elbow Drops in rapid succession. He still couldn’t get the pin, though.

CM Punk surprised Leyfield by getting the better of an exchange of punches. He followed up with several Forearm Smashes to take his foe down to the mat. The one-time Texan kicked out at “two.” Leyfield caught the champion in mid- move, coming off the turnbuckle, and nearly translated it into a pinning cover!

When Leyfield went for the Clothesline from Hell, Punk kicked him in the jaw. That didn’t stop Bradshaw, who followed Punk to the top and brought him low with a Suplex!

When JBL missed a haymaker, Punk saw an opening and executed the Go To Sleep for the win.

Actual Grade: B

The Kingfish Comments: The big question is whether Punk will now fight Jericho or whether Michaels is ready to get in the ring with Chris.

It looked like they brought the match home double-quick after what could’ve been an inadvertent head-to-head collision.

We saw The Great Khali limbering up for his match. A video detailed the mounting hostility between Khali and Triple H.

Triple H v The Great Khali
WWE Championship Match

The Story: If Triple H thought it would be easy to rule his new domain of Smackdown, he has certainly abandoned that notion. The Punjabi Nightmare wants the title and the Colossus has the size and strength to give the popular champion a lot of trouble.

My Prediction: Triple H will keep the title in a match that features a lot of punching and shoving – and probably some blood. The real question is how they’ll book the match to leave the door open to a re-match in a cage or something like that. The normal approach would be to have Khali win an underhanded victory, but I don’t think HHH will want to take any kind of loss to this guy. One save prediction is that, despite Triple H’s best effort, this won’t be a match for the ages.

Predicted Grade: B-

The Actual Match: After a stare-down, Great Khali disdainfully shoved Triple H, who exploded with fists of fury! Triple put up some good defense, too, ducking under Khali’s sledgehammer punches.

Triple H attempted a Pedigree, but the Punjabi Nightmare brushed him aside! The Game landed a Forearm after bouncing off the ropes, but Great Khali Chokeslammed him with ring-shaking force! Khali waited for Triple H to rise and then subjected him to the Vise Grip. The Game kicked his way out of the predicament – and added a low blow right out of the Ric Flair playbook.

The Kingfish Comments: When Jim Ross said that the shot to the jewels “destroyed Khali’s vertical base, I immediately thought, “and perhaps his ability to reproduce.”

When they battled into the ringside area, Great Khali smashed The Game’s face against the ring post. The Bombay Bomber dragged Triple H back into the ring as referee Mickey Henson counted, “Six!” He went into a stomp-and-punch assault on the wobbly champion.

Great Khali knocked Triple H to the mat with unbelievable overhand blows. He Bodyslammed HHH and added a Legdrop, but he couldn’t cap it with a pin.

Khali worked a Nerve Hold a couple of time during the match. This tactic slowed down the Game, but it couldn’t stop him for long or set him up for a pin.

When Triple H surprised Great Khali with a Facebuster, the Punjabi Nightmare got tangled in the ropes. Triple H charged across the ring, intent on delivering a High Knee, but Khali struck first with a boot that laid out the champ. When Triple H tried for the Pedigree again, the Bombay Behemoth Back Body Dropped him over the top rope to the floor! When he tried to haul The Game back into the ring, Triple H grabbed Khali’s leg and banged it against the ring post.

Khali went back to the Head Vise with visible effect on The Game, who fell to his knees as his strength ebbed. Triple H actually removed Khali’s hands with pure strength, but the effort was too much and the challenger re-asserted the Head Vise. The Game fought out of it a second time and scored on Khali’s unwise Corner Charge.

Triple H applied the Pedigree and this time he introduced Khali’s face to the mat with extreme violence. The pin quickly followed.

Actual Grade: B+

The Kingfish Comments: The high grade is a testament to Triple H. Wrestling Great Khali has got to be even harder than those odd exhibitions Ric Flair used to do where he wrestled thin air. You can move thin air a lot better than this stiff, heavy man.

In boxing, they say that styles make fights. In this case, Triple H’s strike-oriented style meshed with Khali’s limited ability. Great job by both men.

Batista d. John Cena

The Story: The reverberations from Ric Flair’s retirement continue to rip through WWE. Batista and John Cena briefly held the tag team titles as skittish allies. This time, they are opponents in a match intended to show which one is better.

My Prediction: The fans have picked (or WWE says they picked; it’s never certain) Cena over Batista. That may eliminate any temptation to give the win to the Animal. The real question, as I see it, is whether WWE wants to give either man a win that will lower the other’s reputation. Much better to have them fight a terrific match and then have Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr. interfere and disrupt the match. Having Cena and Batista unite to thrash the tag champs would provide SummerSlam with a very necessary “feel good” moment. My prediction is a “No Contest” or “Double DQ” ending.

Predicted Grade: A

The Actual Match: After some preliminary circling, Batista grabbed a Side Headlock off a Collar-and-Elbow. Cena fired him into the ropes and Shoulder Blocked him on the rebound. Cena came back with an Armdrag.

The animal thought he had Cena trapped in a Batista Bomb, but Cena blocked it. Reacting quickly, Batista steamrollered him with a Clothesline. Cena caught Batista with a kick to the midsection as The Animal roared out of the corner and paid him back with a Suplex! It didn’t cinch a victory, though.

Batista shook up Cena with a thunderous Side Slam. Cena blocked a Batista Bomb and lifted him for a potential FU. Batista foiled that plan. Cena went to the STFU, but he couldn’t hold it for long.

Batista applied a Figure Four Leglock! Cena tried to break it with brute strength. He made some headway, but he couldn’t quite free himself. He then turned his attention to reaching the ropes and, with one final lunge, grabbed the bottom rope.

John Cena hoisted Batista on his shoulders for an FU, but his legs seemed a little shaky. He settled for flipping The Animal over the top rope to the arena floor!

Cena hit two Flying Shoulder Blocks and then a variation of an Atomic Drop that crashed Batista to the canvas. John gave the “You Can’t See Me” sign and then uncorked a Five-Knuckle Shuffle. He went for the FU. Batista evaded the move and decked his rival with a boot to the face!

Batista shook up Vena with a series of Shoulder Blocks. Cena bounded off the ropes – and right into Batista’s arm’s for a Spinebuster! The animal tried for a Batista Bomb. Cena twisted out of his grasp. By attacking Batista’s already injured knee. Cena slid right into an STFU that put Batista in serious trouble.

Batista struggled toward the ropes. Cena voluntarily gave up the STFU to drag The Animal as close to the center of the ring as possible. It looked like Batista was seriously considering submitting. He gave it one last lunge and made it!

Cena tried for the FU again. This time Batista dropped down and came up with a devastating Rear Naked Choke! Cena again took dead aim at the knee to extricate himself.

Suddenly, Batista got a second wind. He zoomed across the ring and unloaded on his foe with a Spear that came very close to gaining him victory.

Cena reversed a Batista move into a Dragon Drop, but instead put him on his shoulders for an FU!. Unfortunately for him Cena was in no shape to make a quick cover. By the time he got in position, Batista had just enough time to beat the county.

When John went to the top, Dave went right up after him. The two had an amazing slugfest while standing on the ropes. The Animal fell to the mat, seemingly exhausted. But when Cena came off the top turnbuckle with what looked like an attempted Legdrop, Batista plucked him out of the air and dealt a Powerbomb!

Batista got back to his feet and kicked his opponent to set him up for a BatistaBomb! Batista scored to win his first singles match against John Cena.

Actual Grade: A

Michael Cole observed that Batista was “three seconds better” than John Cena.

A tired Batista trudged up the ramp, waving to the fans, but he was clearly spent.

The Kingfish Comments: Give WWE credit for bring this first-ever match between its two rising young faces to a definite conclusion without outside interference or other gimmick. Having blown this prediction, let me make another: If these two meet again at WrestleMania or beyond, Batista will be a heel.

The night’s fan poll ended with 78% of voters saying that Edge and Vickie will divorce.

They filled the time needed to set up the Cell with a series of long videos that presented all the ramifications of the Edge-Vickie-Taker plotline.

Edge vs. The Undertaker
Hell in a Cell Match

The Story: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Vickie Guerrero struck back after Edge cheated on her with Alicia the wedding planner and reinstated Undertaker as an instrument of revenge. Since then, three members of La Familia have bitten the dust, Edge has gone stark raving mad and Vickie Guerrero has screamed, shaken and cried through several episodes of Smackdown Now Edge must step into the cell with the Deadman.

My Prediction: Undertaker is a devoted company man, which is how he gets those long vacations. Still, doing a job in his first match seems like a lot to ask. I predict a lot of booking for this one, possibly involving Ryder, Hawkins and Neely. They will do something that gives Undertaker the margin of victory – and sets up the next leg of the Edge vs. Vickie storyline

Predicted Grade: A

The Actual Match: Jim Ross called Edge “a big match performer” and mentioned that the Rated R Superstar is 7-0 in SummerSlam matches. He also pointed out that Undertaker had had much more experience with Hell in a Cell He has been in eight of the 15 Cell matches in WWE history, while this is the first Hell in a Cell appearance for Edge.

The announcers stressed the fact that Edge didn’t seem to be intimidated. Prior to that match, Edge’s face went through a stunning transformation. He looked very normal before he got inside the steel cage, but after that he began to contort his face in ways that verged on the frightening. Undertaker is no slouch in that department, either so the pre-match size-up had an eerie quality to it.

Edge tried to overwhelming Undertaker with opening-bell offense, but the Phenom picked him up and threw him at a turnbuckle and kicked him in the face. Taker threw his opponent over the top rope into the cage wall. He followed Edge to the ringside area, hoisted him on his shoulders and rammed him into the cage at top speed! The brutality continued as Undertaker used the cage and the ring steps to devastating effect.

After Undertaker brought the ring steps inside the ropes, he threw Edge at the unyielding metal. Somehow, the Great Opportunist stopped short and then he sent Taker into the stairs! Edge employed a Dropkick and a Spear to send Undertaker into the stairs in painful collisions.

Edge didn’t make a mistake that many wrestlers commit when they go searching for weapons while their adversary is temporarily out of commission. Edge did a lot of redecorating, but he paused every half-minute or so to pound Taker and keep him from recovering too rapidly.

After he set up a pair of tables in the ringside area, Edge mounted the ring apron for a slugging match with Taker. The Dead Man doesn’t lose too many of those exchanges, but Edge got the better of it this time by snapping Taker’s neck across the top rope!

Edge has always been the master of the chairshot and he sure proved it this time. Every time The American Badass started to rise, Edge was right there with a hellacious chairshot! Edge set Undertaker up on one of the tables he dragged into the ring. He then climbed a ladder and, chair in hand, jumped down onto the prone Undertaker to deliver a catastrophic chairshot!

Edge got ready to obliterate Taker with a con-chair-to. Taker sat bolt upright, grabbed Edge by the throat and rocked him with a barrage of punches! The Phenom’s running boot sent Edge all the way to the cage wall, where a rough landing left him slumped on the floor.

Undertaker hit Edge with the steps again. He picked him up, intending to ram him into the cage, but the Rated R Superstar got free and sent Taker crashing into the unforgiving steel.

Edge Speared Undertaker so hard that the Cell imploded!

Undertaker fought back with right-hand haymakers, but Edge gave as good as he got. Taker grabbed Edge by the hair and bashed his face against a section of fallen cage wall. The two men tore into each other without rest or let-up, both inside and outside the Cell!

Edge cracked Taker in the head with a monitor. He followed up with a second and third leg wobbling shot! The Great Opportunist then Speared Taker into one of the wall segments! Edge ran across the tops of the announce table to deliver a mid-boggling Spear.

Just as the Phenom got back in the ring, Edge harpooned him with a ladder! Edge found a camcorder under the ring and delivered a couple of incredible shots to the head! Edge was thinking Spear, but Taker had a better idea in the form of a Chokeslam. Edge barely beat the referee’s count.

Undertaker tried for a Powerbomb, but Edge got in a low blow! Edge scored with an Impaler DDT, but his slow cover fell short of the needed one-two-three.,

Undertaker wanted to try the Powerbomb again, but he took much too long to get ready. That allowed Edge to escape – and deal a vicious Spear!

Edge hit Undertaker with four punches, but Taker brought him out of the corner with the Last Ride. Suddenly, it was Edge who had to beat referee Scott Armstrong’s count!

The Dead Man climbed the ring steps and positioned Edge for a Tombstone Piledriver. The intended victim blocked the move and brought Taker down on the steps with extreme force!

Edge had Taker at his mercy as he fired shot after shot at the big man. Edge tried to go Old School, but Undertaker yanked him down to the turnbuckle! Undertaker climbed up to meet Edge and Chokeslammed him over the top rope through two tables stacked at ringside!

Undertaker gave Edge a taste of his own medicine with a ring-rocking Spear! Taker had trouble getting to his feet, but when Edge tried to renew the attack, he took a camcorder shot to the head! Undertaker then pulverized Edge with a con-chair-to! The Rated R Superstar was in no shape to appreciate the irony, though.

Undertaker scooped up the limp Edge and finished him with the Tombstone Piledriver!

Actual Grade: A

The Kingfish Comments: Maybe the implosion of the Cell was a little contrived, but it sure was a terrific match. Both men performed in stellar fashion.

Predicted Grade for SummerSlam: B

Actual Grade for SummerSlam: B+

That’s it for today. I’ll be back on Monday with another installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising daily wrestling column. Bring your friends, too.

— Arnie Katz
[email protected]