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This Day in Pro Wrestling History: Summerslam '05

On this day just 5 years ago the WWE held their annual summer time event Summerslam. I know I just did one of these on Summerslam '96 but I wanted to do one for this one too because of how significant it was, for a variety of reasons. It was a loaded up card from top to bottom that didn't pull through as well as was hoped. There were some really interesting things that happened though and we'll get to them in the extended entry.

The main thing that I wanted to get to out of this was my favorite wrestler of all time, Shawn Michaels, and what he did to Hulk Hogan in the main event. No one can deny that Hogan is one of, if not the, most popular pro wrestler of all time. He was the original house hold name. You don't have to be a fan to know who he is. For as much fame as he gained his ego got just as big. Known as a ruthless political player in the back, Hogan would do anything to keep his spot at the top. He also had an aversion to smaller wrestlers who actually had more than a Hulk-up, punch and leg drop moveset. Throughout his career he routinely buried guys like that. And who is THE guy like that? HBK.

Hogan, having never been a very good worker, was completely shot by this time. His knees were gone and so was his back. But if there was anybody in the WWE who could carry him to a great match it was Shawn Michaels. So of course Hogan was in. Now comes the political part where Hogan wants to dictate the feud and how it plays out. He says he wants it to be the traditional babyface vs heel build up where Michaels is the heel and Hogan is the babyface who goes over in the end. This made no sense at all, as Michaels would wrestle another 5 years for the WWE and Hogan would be gone after trying to bury Randy Orton and then trying to play Vince McMahon for a fool. That's a story for another time though.

Throughout the course of the feud, Hogan reportedly wanted Michaels, who had become a devout Christian in his time away from wrestling after his back injury at Royal Rumble '98, to revert back to his 1997 form on the mic. HBK said he didn't like it but decided to roll with it. He wasn't as vicious as he would have been back in '97 but he was still doing some great stuff including the infamous spoof of Hogan appearing on the Larry King show. Here's the video and it's just as great now as it was then.

That is pure brilliance. HBK was shooting under the guise of a work and needless to say, Hogan didn't like it. I don't mean that in terms of just the storyline either. Apparently Hogan wasn't happy with Michaels making a mockery of him like that and bitched about it but what could he do? That's what he asked for. So they made their way to the match and the only thing that HBK could do to mock him any further was what he ultimately ended up doing. Another video to show what I mean.

If I ever were to meet Michaels I would have to shake his hand just for this alone. More about Summerslam '05 in the extended entry. 

A few other things are worth a mentioning regarding this show. HBK wasn't the only one doing some shooting in the guise of a work. This Summerslam was the first match in the real life feud between Edge, Lita and Matt Hardy. In case you haven't heard it the story goes a bit like this. Matt Hardy had been on Smackdown for quite a while and had even amassed quite the cult following with his V1, MFer gimmick. Paul Heyman was running things on Smackdown at the time and he usually let guys have plenty of free reign with their characters. So Hardy, although maybe not as creative as his brother Jeff but creative nonetheless, managed to get himself over. The problem for him was that his woman, Lita, was over on Raw and he wanted to be able to spend more time with her. So he managed to make his way over to Raw. Shortly after he made this jump he had to take time off to rehabilitate a knee injury. During this time off he was fired. Rumblings in the back were that it was because of a certain married wrestler having an affair with Hardy's girlfriend. That wrestler? Edge.


Those rumors turned out to be incredibly true. Hardy, in a Hardy Boyz DVD, says he found out by listening to some of the voicemails that Edge, whose real name is Adam Copeland, had left on her phone. Matt pretty much went off the deep end. He was putting up some really crazy stuff on his website and even appeared at a Ring of Honor show. The WWE, being what they are, marks for themselves, decided that the only thing to do with this real life issue was put it on TV. So they brought Hardy back and the angle was on. It was again the perfect mix of work and shoot and I couldn't get enough of it. Here's a video of the three appearing on the WWE show Byte This:

Again, the perfect mix of work and shoot. Edge would come out on top in the feud, as he did in real life, and sent Hardy back to Smackdown after their series of matches. Lita, who had been a babyface her entire career, was now a full blown heel. The fans were merciless in the way they treated her with frequent chants of slut and whore. Her treatment in part led to her decision to leave the wrestling business. Can't blame her. Don't feel any sympathy for her either. I'm not much for someone who would cheat like that but whatever. It was great TV.

This also happened to be the final Summerslam before the tragic death of Eddie Guerrero. One of the best gimmicks, in my mind, in the history of the business was Guerrero's lie, cheat and steal character. His story has been told many times and I won't go too much into his life here but I just want to say that the match they had him in at this event was ridiculous. I loved the idea that he would be working with Rey Mysterio but the idea behind the feud was terrible. It started with Guerrero claiming that Mysterio's son Dominick, who is actually Rey's son, was in fact not his son and Eddie was his real father. This was pretty silly to begin with but add in the fact that Dominick looks exactly like his dad and it was just downright unwatchable. They decided to make the match at Summerslam a ladder match. They suspended a briefcase that had Dominick's custody papers inside and whoever grabbed the briefcase got to take him home. Yes, they actually did this. The match wasn't horrible but it was overbooked and ultimately in the end you were glad when it was over.

Chris Jericho was also on his way out of the WWE at this time. This was to be his last PPV before taking an extended hiatus from the business. He was one of the guys to get the honor of helping to put John Cena even more over than he already was. That was fine with Jericho since he was on his way out and not sure about ever coming back. The match wasn't great and the way they fired him was lame. I was hoping that when Jericho came back he would be a monster heel like he was in his late WCW days but I didn't get my wish. 

The rest of the card featured the continued push of Batista and the re-building of Randy Orton. The matches that Randy had with Undertaker really went a long way in legitimizing him again after what Triple H did to him in 2004. I loved what they were doing with Batista, if for nothing else, they were consistently having JBL job to him. The rest of the show featured Kurt Angle beating Eugene in a garbage match and Chris Benoit squashing Orlando Jordan for the U.S. title. Summerslam '05 may not have been the best wrestling show but it delivered in terms of entertainment. 



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