World Wrestling Entertainment’s road to SummerSlam has been a roller coaster ride of epic proportions.
But the big match is pretty well set in stone since Monday Night RAW two weeks ago, when CM Punk appeared at the end of the show, with the belt he won from John Cena raised high above his head.
In a confusing storyline, Cena also lays claim to being the current WWE heavyweight champion, having defeated Rey Mysterio that same night, just less than two hours after Mysterio won the title (I’d call it a belt, but the WWE frowns on that terminology).
Mysterio won the belt after an eight-man tournament created because Punk had his contract end a week or so before he challenged Cena for the championship. Neither Punk nor Cena were involved in the tourney set up by Vince McMahon to fill a Championship that was no longer held by a WWE Superstar.
Punk was running around the indies and appeared at the San Diego Comic Con to stir up some controversy, and later showed up at the AAW’s Scars and Stripes event to praise Gregory Iron after a match where Iron and Colt Cabana defeated the Awesome Threesome of Jordan McEntyre and Knight Wagner (with Eryn).
Meanwhile, McMahon was relieved of his duties in running WWE, which is ironic since he was and is chairman of the board of this publically traded company.
McMahon was dumped before he could fire Cena.
HHH, who happens to really be Vince’s son-in-law, is now running things. He really did re-sign Jim Ross to be back on the Monday Night RAW show as announcer. And he really did apparently re-sign Punk to cut short what was becoming a very interesting storyline.
No matter, SummerSlam 2011, emanating from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, is looking to be a bigger event than most years. Not just because of this rather unique (for the WWE, that is) Champion vs. Champion match with a disputed set of championship belts, but because there are feelers out there with SummerSlam to make Los Angeles the permanent home of the event and make SummerSlam closer to WrestleMania, with the associated fan fests and a multiple day event.
Whether that happens or not likely won’t be on the back of the Cena/Punk match, but whether or not the Cena/Punk angle hypes up the pay-per-view rates will play is part.
What it will also do is either establish Punk as a main event player in the promotion or drop him back into the realm of ‘never-has-beens’ that seem to pile up with every attempt by WWE to establish new talent at the top.
And that’s the scary part of WWE, since HHH is now an administrator and hasn’t headlined too often in the past two years, and the Undertaker is very much in semi-retirement and Randy Orton has seemed to slide from a sure thing headliner to a little less of a headliner.
But what began to look as a same-old, same-old routine turned rather interesting this past week, when Punk turned the typical signing ceremony into one more insider-laced promo, pulled in a clip from YouTube that the Rock (yes, movie star and former WWE superstar Dwayne Johnson) and pretty much called Cena a phony, to the point of them nearly coming to blows.
The most interesting part was Punk’s inclusion of several recently fired WWE performers - Harry Smith, Vladimir Kozlov to name two, to put down John “Ace” Laurinaitis as nothing but a gutless stooge. Punk then gave Road Warrior Animal’s brother a kick in the back of the head when Cena began the physical violence to combat Punk’s verbal assault.
Another official match for SummerSlam is one more headline match between Orton and Christian. This month, Christian is the world heavyweight champion of the SmackDown! brand, having won the title by having Orton disqualify himself at the last epic battle.
Christian is poised to sue WWE if it doesen’t change his opponent from Orton and while these two often put on a great match - at worst - there’s only so many times anyone wants to see the same match.
Sheamus is looking to be the ‘good guy’ as he faces Mark Henry. Kind of an interesting match here, but the direction of having Mark Henry be a devastating force may run into its end, or will it be Sheamus to be the next on a list that includes Big Show, Kane and Vladimir Kozlov?
SummerSlam is being built up to be the No. 2 event of the year and all indications point towards Los Angeles being the permanent home for the event, with supporting Fan Fest activities and a way for WWE to be ‘cool’ in California.
The main event is definitely interesting despite its ups and downs, but otherwise there’s nothing tremendously compelling about the undercard. Can the WWE make SummerSlam a must-see? That’s the biggest question.
Joe Babinsack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.