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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: WWE Summerslam is Sure Looking Good on Paper
By The Doc
Aug 5, 2014 - 4:56:06 PM

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The Snowman is a genius

QUESTION OF THE DAY: On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the Summerslam card (not the hype)?

I have not attempted to keep hidden my lack of enthusiasm for the current WWE product. Since Money in the Bank’s main-event result, I have been feeling pretty jaded. It was about two weeks ago when I sat down to explore column topics and could muster nothing beyond Doctor’s Orders: Why WWE Sucks Right Now that I realized, “Hey, you need to take a break and do something else with your time.” Life is too short. No different than I would not suffer through the back end of a terrible Notre Dame Football season out of blind loyalty to the Fighting Irish, I have no desire to pretend to be excited about wrestling when I’m not connecting with it. There are plenty of other things to enjoy.

That being stated, when I saw the updated Summerslam card, I found myself grinning from ear to ear. I may not be itching to flip to Monday Night Raw lately (I have watched only once in 6 weeks and have been following mostly via YouTube), but that does not change the fact that the line-up for WWE’s second biggest event of the year looks stacked. I have legitimate interest in all but one match. Unless the internet deceives me, each bout has received plenty of TV time to build. Summerslam has been prone to, in recent years, spend all of its attention on one or two matches and leave merely scraps for the rest. Whatever the reason for the change in tune, be it the Network’s disappointing numbers or otherwise, it’s a welcome sight. Even the Intercontinental and Diva’s Championship matches, the low rungs on the monthly PPV totem pole generally, have managed to get a fair amount of hype.

It starts at the top with a match that I’ve been critical of more for personal reasons than WWE reasons. Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship is a marquee match. I’m sick to “stop watching Raw” proportions of Cena’s act, but that video that they made for Lesnar-Cena II was very well done and just the type of thing that they should be emailing to every news outlet in the world. THAT can sell people. I love it when they accentuate what makes Brock special. I like hearing what he has to say. Giving him a live mic and a script every week is ludicrous, but he thrives in taped, sit down interviews where he can be himself turned up to the nines without having to worry about nerves and lines. I stated numerous times last year during the Punk vs. Brock feud that the major thing I would need to see to get 100% invested in their rivalry was Lesnar speaking his mind. Paul Heyman is currently the best talker in the business, but people are not paying to see Brock’s opponent vs. his advocate. So, I was thrilled with that video. I’m so exhaustedly over “The Champ” that this match just is not designed to cater to me, but Cena vs. Lesnar is one of the biggest matches in Summerslam history. They are the two biggest active names in the industry today with kayfabe accolades out the wazoo. The hype video from last night was a real “win” for the production staff and exactly what Cena-Brock needed to gain an aura of “you can’t miss this.”

As you move down the card, there are a handful of really strong headlining bouts. Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt vs. Chris Jericho, and Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins are almost inseparable when attempting to choose which one is this PPV’s clear cut #2. Yeah, I know; based on TV quarter hours, the horrendous Brie Bella vs. the incredible Stephanie McMahon is the beta to Cena-Brock’s alpha, but I assume that elementary-aged Mark Markinson is not reading this column. Brie vs. Steph is not quite Hornswoggle vs. Great Khali or Teddy Long vs. Eric Bischoff or Earl Hebner vs. Nick Patrick, but it’s pretty close…at least on paper. Give credit to Brie for her skills in the ring, though; she’s quite serviceable there. It’s her inability to take her E! reality persona and translate it to her WWE character that makes her the epic fail of the product every week. I expect the match at Summerslam will be more than watchable and that Stephanie, in particular, will rise to the occasion much as her father did years ago.

Anyhow, back to the competition for the second banana. Ambrose vs. Rollins is a bit of a throwback to days gone by. You’d have to think of both as upper mid-card acts on the brink of the main-event, so there’s not an exact historical comparison to be made for their match. However, it reminds me of Ted Dibiase vs. Virgil or X-Pac vs. Jeff Jarrett in that there is a compelling story being told that feels as though it’s reaching its climax at Summerslam. The aforementioned examples provided us with great memories from strong outings. I have no doubt that Ambrose and Rollins will do the same. Ditto for Bray and Jericho. Their feud has been sort of a dud in my eyes and far more “paint by the numbers” than I ever would have expected, but it’s still Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt on a big stage. I find it refreshing to see a “blast from the past” like Jericho coming back during Summerslam season, presumably to put over Wyatt. The one-on-one with no interference stipulation could make this a real barnburner. Orton vs. Reigns, meanwhile, is the classic case of the veteran vs. young lion. Y2J’s work with Cena a decade ago was a turning point in the Golden Boy’s career. It’s not out of the question that history repeats itself for Reigns in a similar circumstance. Reigns will head to Los Angeles with tons of questions about his ability to carry his end of a featured singles match. Personally, I think that Orton’s methodical style will mesh well with Roman’s intense set of high spots. It’s what he does during the middle parts of the match that I’ll have my eye on.

Then, you’ve got Dolph Ziggler challenging Miz for the Intercontinental title. I’m thrilled to see that this is making it to PPV and wasn’t just thrown away for free. It’s about time that Ziggler’s popularity was rewarded. He and Miz had a great match a few weeks ago to set up this angle; the rematch could be a good choice for a hot opener. The Miz needed the tweak in character and he’s thriving in his role. Speaking of thriving, Paige has been awesome as a heel. Finding a comfort zone for your on-screen persona is so important in wrestling. Being authentic matters and, if you’re not, it doesn’t take an HD camera to capture it. Paige vs. AJ is one of the few title matches in recent division history to actually carry an aura of importance. Add in Jack Swagger vs. Rusev in the continuation of the surprise hit story arc of the summer and I don’t see anything on this card that makes me believe it won’t be a memorable show.

Jaded as I may be, overall, I’m starting to get excited about Summerslam. The hype has not delivered for me, but I sure hope that the show does.


The Doc Says LIVE CALL IN EDITION (Wednesday at 6PM EST)

On this week's episode, The Doc invites callers to join him live as he discusses the WWE Network and the recent figures that make him think that WWE could be in serious trouble if the apologetic blinders are removed to reveal the fiscal realities. Also, callers are encouraged to give their Win and Fail from Raw, as The Doc looks back at the second to last WWE flagship program before Summerslam.

Brought to you by The WrestleMania Era: The Book of Sports Entertainment (Kindle Edition)

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