Unlike the previous week, the last seven days in professional wrestling have been filled with a more excitement, as WWE had two interesting showings with RAW on Monday and ECW on Tuesday night. To add to that, a few news items have circulated around the ‘net that deserve some attention, so away we go.
WWE held the Supershow taping on Monday night, live from NJ. We didn’t get any crossover appearances from one show to another, and it became clear by week’s end that there will be no inter-promotional matches at SummerSlam, which is probably for the best. The main event was Umaga defeating Shawn Michaels, which was good for the Samoan’s push, as well as for the DX/McMahons angle. They also made the tag team match Shane/Vince vs. Triple H/HBK for SummerSlam, as predicted last week. It was important for the McMahons to finally get the better of DX, and they did so on Monday, although it was in a somewhat lame manner creatively – getting Triple H arrested over possession of Cuban cigars (planted by Estrada, supposedly). They set up Triple H vs. Umaga for tonight in Memphis, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens there, and if the King of Kings will get to end the streak of the Samoan Buldoser.
Elsewhere on the show, Ric Flair was finally given an open mic to respond to Mick Foley’s amazing vignettes, and Flair did an amazing job. He hit Foley pretty well on most topics Mick spoke of in the vignettes (specifically the “imaginary badasses” part), but then the promo went into Bizzaroland when Foley somewhat decided he doesn’t want to be heel and started doing a rebuttal to top Flair yet again. Overall, it was very good, because the delivery was strong, and that segment alone made this a good show, worth you getting a tape of it if you missed it.
The SummerSlam card is slowly taking shape, as previewed last week. The Highlanders and the Spirit Squad continued their feud on RAW with a singles match between Rory and John Jetter. I expect the PPV bout to be of good quality, and I believe the plan is for the Squad to be broken up still, though I am not sure when that will happen, and how. It looks like we might be headed to another three-way for the Intercontinental Championship, as Benjamin, Carlito, and Nitro have all improved their work with each other as of late. The three had another wonderful match on RAW, and there’s now no question in my mind that Carlito should be the main focus when it comes to the future of the company.
Edge and Cena were once again stuck in the middle of the card, and were given even less time this week, as Cena squashed Striker and Edge did commentary from his “Rated R” announce table. This feud is just about ready to be flashed down the toilet. I guess the only other thing I can add here is a newsworthy item for those unaware – Lita is pretty much done with WWE once her contract expires in September. She’s chosen to take a break from the road and the wrestling lifestyle, and she’ll probably also try to pursue a career in a different field (acting). She’s leaving on good terms, but having in mind how unhappy she’s been with her role in the company since the Kane pregnancy angle, I doubt she’ll want to return, unless she needed to financially.
Randy Orton had a very boring “Orton Knows Best” segment on RAW, where he mocked the reality show by bringing up the faux Hogans and RKO’ing Faux Hogan, and making out with Faux Brooke. This was the definition of a DUD. The crowd didn’t care for this, nor did the plan that the Faux Hogans would be face worked. And of course it had to drag. Things got even worse for that SummerSlam match up when news came out on Sunday that Hulk Hogan has a partially torn meniscus in his right knee. Although he’s wrestled in much worse of a condition before, his right knee is his only good knee (he’s had his left replaced) that he uses, so right now the SummerSlam match with Orton is a question mark. Hogan was scheduled to appear on tonight’s RAW, two weeks from now on RAW, and at SummerSlam. Tonight’s appearance is already canceled, at least as of this writing. The Hulkster hasn’t committed to do SummerSlam yet, but is expected to make that decision shortly. This will be a huge blow to WWE, seeing as Orton-Hogan was really the main program of the PPV, and the stepping stone for Orton’s lead heel role on RAW for the rest of the year. Hopefully things will change up over the next few weeks, but you have to believe that at his age, with that condition, the smarter thing to do for Hogan is not stink up the joint at SummerSlam and risk even worse of an injury.
Jeff Hardy has been resigned by World Wrestling Entertainment, in a move that was expected in the last few weeks but still had many reacting with a surprise upon its delivery. Hardy’s last run with the company ended when he got involved with drugs, and Jim Ross offered him to either go to rehab and get help, or stay home. Hardy chose to stay home, saying he didn’t have a drug problem. A run with TNA followed, where he no-showed a few dates, but was backed up by Jeff Jarrett, whom admires him. However, when Hardy no-showed a PPV, things escalated and even Jarrett had enough, and Hardy was out. Long and behold, before Jeff improved himself somewhere else, WWE has hurried to resign him, which is an interesting move. Although close ones are saying he’s cleaned up, the move seems to be more of a rushed decisions on the company’s part before anyone else can get their hands on Hardy. Matt being pulled from shows last week seems to be due to that signing (which was expected within company circles), and the current plan is for the Hardy Boyz to reunite. With no tag team wrestling left in WWE today, this will be interesting, to say the least.
ECW delivered its best, yet, show on SciFi this past week, which saw the return of Kurt Angle, the debut of CM Punk, an old-school Extreme Rules match between Dreamer/Sandman vs. Test/Knox, and a horrible main event between Big Show and Batista. The story of this show was the audience. Since there was a supershow for RAW and SmackDown! on Monday, ECW went live on the air on Tuesday from the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, in front of a mixed crowd of dominating in numbers old-school ECW fans, and current WWECW and WWE fans. It was the loudest and most clear message fans could ever send, as throughout the night, the audience was into everything they saw, especially CM Punk, who old ECW fans see as a savior and a bright ray of light in this gloomy WWE version of their product. Punk had a very good showing in his debut, defeating Justin Credible in a very decent match that allowed him to show some of his wrestling skills, yet saved the best for a latter time, which was smart. The audience made him look like a legit superstar, with loud “C-M-PUNK” chants throughout his match, and plenty of signs saying “I Paid to See Punk,” “CM PUNK,” and “WELCOME HOME CM PUNK.” The heat he received reminded me a lot of the type of heat RVD would get a few years ago, where fans used to chant his name (initials rather) from the beginning of his matches until the end, in true ECW fashion. Punk is one of the few guys, who after coming to WWE from other promotions were allowed to do their own character. WWE let him run with the “straight edge” gimmick, and after solid build-up of short promos over the last few weeks, the character worked. Angle destroyed The Brooklyn Brawler, as the New York crowd chanted “Welcome Back” throughout the bout. It was clear by this point that the true ECW fans are not afraid of changes, and don’t mind new people on their show… as long as those people belong there and are worth it, as is the case with Angle and Punk. When the main event of the evening got in the ring, things got ugly. The fans weren’t going to let Big Show and Batista have anything but a horrible match, and they were once again loud and clear about it. “You Both Suck,” “Same Old Shit,” and the very catchy “Change the Channel” were the chants directed at both wrestlers the entire match. This was reminiscent of Lesnar-Goldberg from WrestleMania, although I’d argue that the fans didn’t have as much of an argument to crap on that match as they did on this one! As Taz tried to cover up the “Change the Channel” chant by saying “But we like it here on SciFi, what’s that all about?” and responded to “Boring” chants by saying “This match is nothing but boring,” it was a very good reality check. With Rob Van Dam returning to action this past weekend (and hurting his neck on his first night back), I will repeat what I said last week – the focus of ECW should be in guys like RVD, CM Punk, and Kurt Angle. Those are guys that will be accepted as ECW Champions, and guys who can bring a lot to the table when it comes to differentiating the brand from anything else on TV. Big Show, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of that. With a few storylines, such as Sabu-Big Show, and Tommy Dreamer-Paul Heyman brewing, hopefully the promotion will take a big turn in the right direction soon, and they will listen to the crowd. But knowing WWE, the booing of the main event will only make them thing “The same idiots cheered for Punk,” and there goes your sabotage. Next week’s show is of vital importance for the brand, as important as this week’s was, perhaps.