August taught me a few important things when analyzing WWE. One is that any given year is often judged by how well WrestleMania, Summer Slam, Survivor Series, and Royal Rumble are remembered. The time between WrestleMania and Summer Slam in 2010 was quite good. In some ways better than what was done at WrestleMania or Summer Slam that year. Summer Slam has a much maligned main event and not much else that stands out.
The second thing I learned is the importance of building a relationship with the audience. Much has been made of the result of the Summer Slam Main Event. Reportedly, the result was changed to send the kids home happy. That is easy to scoff at but consider these few things. One is that Summer Slam 2010 is mostly a big night for the heels, as I will cover later. Aside from Cena overcoming the odds to defend the Nexus in the Main Event, the only other face win was Melina returning to win the WWE Divas Championship. The heels were kind of pitching a shut out at that point of the night. So ending on a down noted wouldn’t have been wise. Also the story of Team WWE coming together to get the big win on the second biggest show of the year after bickering all month is a good story. Let’s consider that John Cena has been THE top star that the company has invested in over the previous 7 years and the Nexus have been on Raw for 2 months. So who would you go with to cap off such a big show as this? Then when you consider how straping the rocket to new guys hasn’t worked this year, I really see that it takes time to get people used to a new wrestler. Jack Swagger got that rocket push and he isn’t even on this show. Sheamus is on his second title reign. While he is being treated better than he was during his first, Sheamus is still not treated like a Main Event talent. I think the general feeling was Randy Orton should have beat him for the title at Summer Slam. Building a star takes time is all I’m saying.
As has been the case for most of the summer, the Nexus storyline dominates what is happening on Raw. Match quality is sacrificed for promos and angles to advance the main storyline. The Nexus even bleeds into the Sheamus vs Randy Orton storyline for the WWE Championship. Sheamus cuts a deal with the Nexus to ensure they won’t interfere in his affairs. This gets called off after Summer Slam when Wade Barrett is announced to be one of the six men to compete for the title at Night of Champions. The only storyline not involving Nexus is Melina returning to face Alicia Fox for the Diva’s Title. It’s also worth noting that Raw celebrates its 900th episode this month.
Send the Kids Home Happy.
Going into Summer Slam, things look grim for Team WWE. Chris Jericho quits the team after Cena won’t give him control of the group. Edge follows shortly thereafter. The Nexus starts getting into the head of The Great Khali, trying to convince him that Team WWE doesn’t appreciate him.
The next week, on the go home Raw for Summer Slam, John Cena brings in Bret Hart to appeal to Edge and Jericho. Bret tries to use their shared Canadian heritage to get them back on the team. Instead, Bret and Cena will team to face Edge and Jericho tonight. It’s ridiculous they keep putting Bret in the ring but I think I’ve made my point on that matter in past articles. Mark Henry is ready to step into one of the open spots on Team WWE. Then he gets jumped by The Nexus. This pretty much sums up Mark Henry’s year. He keeps getting jumped from behind by heels and injured. Great Khali also gets jumped by The Nexus. Team WWE is looking thin. Bret and Cena, desperate for help, turn to The Miz, who says he will think about it. The Cena and Bret vs Edge and Jericho match gets interrupted by Nexus. As a result, Edge and Jericho are back on the team.
At Summer Slam, Nexus flex their muscles to open the show, beating down Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler, interrupting their Intercontinental Championship Match. Team WWE has an open spot. Miz agrees to fill it but John Cena informs in the spot was already taken by Daniel Bryan, a surprise return as he had been fired months earlier. The 7-on-7 Main Event is on. It comes down to John Cena and Daniel Bryan vs Wade Barrett and Justin Gabriel. Miz gets involved and helps Nexus eliminate Daniel Bryan. Cena gets DDTed on the concrete and all appears to be lost. Then John Cena overcomes the odds and beats Gabrial following a missed 450 Splash. Then he gets Barrett in the STFU and gets the win.
Although Cena overcomes some ridiculous odds to win this match, I don’t think this destroyed the Nexus as bad as some people think. Perhaps they could have worked out a less ridiculous finish. The next night on Raw though, this is the beginning of the end for Nexus. Wade Barrett is upset with the lose at Summer Slam. So each Nexus member is placed in a match. If they lose, they are kicked out of the Nexus. Wade Barrett gets a win in a lackluster match with Chris Jericho. Michael Tarver has his bacon saved when Miz and Alex Riley interfere in his match with Daniel Bryan. Justin Gabriel wins his match with Randy Orton by count out when Sheamus gets involved. Skip Sheffield and David Otunga win a short, uninspired match against John Morrison and R Truth. Darren Young loses his brave attempt to defeat John Cena. Darren Young is kicked out of Nexus. Look at those match results and the poor quality of the matches and tell me this company is still behind this group. Even for the people whose jobs were saved by countout or outside interference, the message conveyed was loud and clear, this group isn’t to be taken seriously anymore. A few clean wins over some top talent could have gone a long way to reestablish this group. Skip Sheffield gets injured. The next time we see him, he will be Ryback. So by the end of the month, Nexus is down to five members. They try to rehab the Nexus on the 8/30 Raw and Smackdown joint super show to celebrate Raws 900th episode. Nexus jumps Undertaker and win a 5-on-5 Elimination match against John Cena, Randy Orton, Sheamus, Edge, and Chris Jericho. It seems too little, too late but it was a good effort.
The WWE Championship.
A curious thing happens on the 8/2 Raw. Goldust is given a WWE Championship Match against Sheamus. An odd enough occurrence as Goldust has been a complete non-factor on Raw all year. Also, they refer to this being a one year anniversary since Goldust and Sheamus faced each other in ECW. It is rare at this time for WWE to refer to its recent past, especially anything that happened on ECW. On this night, Sheamus wins in a squash over Goldust. Best I can tell, the match refered to in this segment happened on the 7/28/09 edition of ECW. It’s worth watching. Goldust and Sheamus had a fine match. You can see Sheamus had an intensity that no doubt made a good impression on the WWE decision makers.
With Sheamus negotiating a peace with the Nexus, the Sheamus vs Randy Orton match at Summer Slam is built mostly on promos they cut on each other and a shared history of putting Triple H on the shelf. Sheamus saves his title at Summer Slam by getting fed up with the match and bringing a chair into the ring. Other than the poor finish, it was a quite good match.
The next time we see Sheamus on the 8/23 Raw, he cuts a good promo on the kids in the WWE Universe. The Anonymous Raw GM sets up a throne for Sheamus and he is given a chance to scout the matches for the evening. The Celtic Warrior is given the chance to pick his opponent for Night of Champions. Having watched everything that happened that night, Sheamus picks Zack Ryder as his opponent and he will face Zack immediately. Zack gets crushed in short order and Sheamus makes plans for what he will do at Night of Champions other than wrestling because he declares himself to have the night off. The Raw GM instead makes a Six Pack Challenge match for Night of Champions with Sheamus defending against Wade Barrett, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, Edge, and John Cena. But that’s a story for next month.
The Greatest Match of All Time.
Alicia Fox cuts some promos on how she felt she was being disrespected as Divas Champion. Unexpectedly, Melina makes a return on Raw during a Six Woman Tag Match. Immediately, she challenges Alicia Fox to a match at Summer Slam. Melina wins the championship in front of her hometown crowd at Summer Slam in Los Angeles. It was a good moment for Melina but the match was nothing special. Sometime later, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin asked future Funkadatyl Cameron what her favorite match of all time was. She named this match, much to the confusion of everyone. Melina hadn’t been in the ring in many months and Alicia Fox was as sloppy as ever. This was not the greatest match of all time no matter what Cameron will tell you.
Rey Mysterio has an excellent month of matches on Smackdown, even if he hasn’t much success to show for it. In terms of match quality, Rey is top notch in August of 2010. Kane accuses Rey of attacking the Undertaker and putting The Dead Man in a vegetative state. Rey turns the accusation around on Kane, accusing Kane of attacking the Man from the Darkside. Kane comes clean after Summer Slam when the Undertaker makes a surprise return. CM Punk is doing some excellent work in his feud with the Big Show, even though he had a broken arm. Alberto Del Rio makes his long awaited debut. Cody Rhodes provides us with grooming tips and starts teaming with Drew McIntyre for unknown reasons.
It Was Kane All Along!
As mentioned before Kane turns his investigation into The Undertaker’s vegetative state on Rey Mysterio. Mysterio suggests maybe Kane attacked Undertaker all along. This comes to a head at Summer Slam. The match they put together was quite clever, with Rey having been through hell recently. Kane successfully defends his championship against Rey though. Then Undertaker comes out of a casket. At first, he turns his attentions to Mysterio. Rey denies all wrong doing. Then Undertaker attacks Kane. Kane gets the better of The Dead Man and tombstones him. In a heavily edited and produced promo, Kane admits that he put Undertaker in a vegetative state. Kane always loses against his brother but this chapter of their feud will be different. Undertaker vows to finish off Kane once and for all.
The Most Interesting Man on Smackdown.
Rey Mysterio thanks the fans for all their support on the Smackdown after Summer Slam. He gets interrupted by the debut of Alberto Del Rio. ADR challenges Rey to a match that very night. Rey may still be hurting from his match with Kane but Mysterio never backs down from a challenge. Del Rio has an impressive debut, beating Rey Mysterio with a Cross Arm Breaker. Then he refuses to let go of the hold. The next week, Rey gets another shot at Kane. Weakened by the attack on his arm, Rey is no match for The Big Red Machine. With Rey down, Del Rio runs in and gets the Cross Arm Breaker on, damaging Mysterio’s Arm further.
Cult of Personality.
CM Punk is losing his patience with the Straight Edge Society. After they break The Big Shows arm, Punk tells them they aren’t allowed to feel joy. It’s a weakness. At Summer Slam, Big Show has only one arm to face Punk, Luke Gallows, and Joey Mercury in a handicap match. Punk leaves the ring and leaves his team to the tender mercies of The Big Show. Seeing the Nexus eliminate members based on a match result, he decides to do the same with the Straight Edge Society. This would be the only match in which we would see Serena. Even though Serena, Gallows and Mercury are successful against The Big Show and Kelly Kelly, Serena would be quietly taken off tv and fired. The rumor is that Serena wasn’t living the Straight Edge gimmick off camera and the company grew tired of her rebellion. Punk makes an appearance on the 900th Raw, mostly to run down Raw as an inferior brand.
Dolph and Kofi
Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston will face each other a total of 4 times in the month of August between Smackdown episodes and Summer Slam. While they have excellent in ring chemistry, the feud doesn’t really go anywhere. Dolph is using his relationship with Smackdown Advisor to the General Manager Vickie Guerrero for his own purposes. Kofi desperately chases Dolph to get his Intercontinental Championship back. At Summer Slam, both are attacked by the Nexus. They keep having rematches on TV. The matches range from fine to good. I’d just really like to see this feud go somewhere and do something.
And the Rest.
Jack Swagger fades to the background this month. Not long ago, he was World Heavyweight Champion. Swagger will not have a match at Summer Slam. Jack starts the Jack Swagger Sr Invitational. MVP answer the call. The rules are 5 take downs gets the win. Swagger gets fed up with the match and gets disqualified.
LayCool focus their bullying efforts on Melina and challenge her at Night of Champions. How is that going to work?
Drew McIntyre has a good series of matches on tv. First against Rey Mysterio, then Matt Hardy, next with Christian, then for no reason he and Cody Rhodes get a WWE Tag Team Champion Number One Contenders Match against John Morrison and R Truth. It was not very good and ends in a no contest. Drew is showing himself to be very good in the ring but creative doesn’t have much for him at the moment.
Rosa Mendes can be seen working out with a Shake Weight in one segment. Remember the Shake Weight? I did a little research and apparently it didn’t work well at all.
NXT Season 2 will wrap up this month with Season 3 on its way. In August, we see eliminations week after week until only Kaval, Michael McGuilicutty, and Alex Riley remain. We see silly challenges like who does the best job of kissing a fat girl and a power of the punch bar game. The in ring action is highlighted by a random match between The Miz and John Morrison.
The most interesting moment happens with the Season 2 finale. We get the notorious promo by Michael McGillicutty in which he completely loses track of what he is saying and goes on about the Evolution of McGillicutty. Kaval wins. He will be out of the company by the end of the year. For the moment, it is a proud moment for Kaval and LayCool. Layla and Michelle really adopted Kaval and did their best to make their segments with him entertaining. Then something weird happens. The Season 2 Rookies all attack Kaval. Well most of them anyway. He doesn’t seem to know this is coming because he is not cooperating at all. Watch the segment and see what chaos ensues. The pros hit the ring and no one seems to know what they are supposed to be doing. Possible team mates attack each other. During this mess you can spy Husky Harris has Kaval hooked in the corner and seems to be smartening him up as to what is happening. You can even hear someone say, clear as day, ” OK take his finish and where going home.” And Kaval, clearly saying “OK “. Whereas the formation of the Nexus and that chaos was perfection which set forward a hot angle, this was a complete cluster. It’s hard to tell what exactly they were hoping to accomplish here.
Season 3 of NXT will be all female. We meet some of the rookies. AJ Lee stands out as significant in this group. Alousia stands out for being a giant of a woman of the likes we have never seen. She gets fired before the show can officially start.
- Alberto Del Rio vs Rey Mysterio. Smackdown. 8/20.
- Kane vs Rey Mysterio. Summer Slam 2010.
- Rey Mysterio vs Drew McIntyre. Smackdown. 8/6.
- The Miz vs John Cena. Raw. 8/23.
- Christian vs Drew McIntyre. 8/20. Smackdown.
- Rey Mysterio vs Kane. 8/27. Smackdown.
- Team WWE vs Nexus. Summer Slam 2010.
- Edge, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, Sheamus, and John Cena vs Nexus. 8/30. Raw.
- The Miz vs John Morrison. 8/10. NXT.
- Rey Mysterio vs Dolph Ziggler. 8/13. Smackdown.
- The Miz vs Randy Orton. 8/2. Raw.
- Dolph Ziggler vs Kofi Kingston. 8/6. Smackdown.
- Sheamus vs Randy Orton. Summer Slam 2010.
Three times a year I will go to my GWWE 100 list from four years ago and adjust my rankings based on what I have seen. And after Summer Slam seems like as good a time as any to make some reevaluation.
On the Rise.
Drew McIntyre. Previously Unranked.
The run he goes on in June, July, and August is better than anything he did during his Intercontinental Title run. He really showed me that he belongs during this period of time.
Matt Hardy. Previously ranked 40.
Matt showed me that he still has a lot to offer this company at this point. He is better than his push but that’s often been the case with Matt Hardy. Also it’s going to be hard to find many spots to bumb him up past 40.
Sheamus. Previously Unranked.
I’m more impressed with Sheamus as a character at this point than his in ring ability. I’m really waiting to see a great Sheamus match.
Jack Swagger. Previously Unranked.
Once Jack loses the title and is allowed to be an interesting character again, I enjoy him. It’s going to be tough to break into this list but I like a lot of what he is doing.
Michelle McCool. Previous unranked.
She might sneak in by being the best of this era and excellent character work. She and Layla steal the show on NXT. Their relationship with Kaval and the way they take up for him is really sweet. She took what she was given on NXT and made it entertaining.
John Morrison. Previously Unranked.
Two words. Reliable and consistent. Rarely is a segment with Morrison bad.
John Cena. Ranked 4. Chris Jericho. Ranked 12. Rey Mysterio. Ranked 20. Daniel Bryan. Ranked 21. CM Punk. Ranked 23. Randy Orton. Ranked 24. Edge. Ranked 30. Christian. Ranked 43. Kane. Ranked 52. R Truth. Unranked. Natalya. Unranked.
With all these people, I have a hard time finding a spot above them that I can really justify moving them up a spot. That or i haven’t seen anything in the last few months to change my mind.
Jimmy and Jey Uso. Previously Unranked.
They make their debut this quarter. They aren’t the ones just yet. They are involved in a feud with The Hart Dynasty in which the matches are short, not very good, and they always lose. But I’ll keep an eye on them. It’s been 12 years.
Alberto Del Rio. Previously Unranked.
You may want to consider ADR. He was very good right off the bat, both in the ring and as a character. I’m not considering him because of his off the field behavior.
William Regal. Ranked 29.
I love everything about Regal. But this run he has with Kozlov and Santino is just bad. It’s hard to accomplish much in 1 minute matches and 2 minute segments. But it looks like he would rather be anywhere else.
Cody Rhodes. Ranked 61.
I like what he is doing with the Dashing promos. Cody tried really hard to stand out as a mentor on NXT. Whether or not he stays on the list will depend a lot on what he does in 2022.
Dolph Ziggler. Ranked 28. Kofi Kingston. Ranked 56.
I put them together because their series of matches in July and August are always so much like, they are like the sound of white noise at this point. I understand they aren’t booking but they could do something to have some of these matches stand out.
Heath Slater. Previously Unranked.
Slater really stood out to me on NXT Season One. As a member of The Nexus, he has just kind of blended into the background.
Wade Barrett. Ranked 86.
This period of time is one of the high points of his career. And he is barely managing 2 and a half stars for most of his matches.
Thats all for August. As always I appreciate any feedback and support. I hope this gave you something to think about and helps with your list.