Wrestling Review: WWE SummerSlam 2006 feat. John Cena vs. Edge

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WWE SummerSlam 2006

WWE SummerSlam 2006 is one of the most stacked non-WrestleMania cards ever. The show had three heavyweight title matches (when the ECW Championship was still presented as being on the same level as the WWE and World Heavyweight crowns), Hulk Hogan, DX, The McMahons, Mick Foley, Ric Flair and many of the era’s top names, with I Quit and Extreme Rules stipulations thrown in for good measure. With all that in mind, there was a hell of a lot to expect from this card.

Rey Mysterio vs. Chavo Guerrero

There was a lot going on, but it doesn’t mean that it was all in the best taste. Take the opening match, where the action between very familiar rivals Rey and Chavo was overshadowed by the continuous Eddie Guerrero tie-in, which had started off heart-warming when Rey won the Royal Rumble match in his honour, but had become so heavy that fans eventually became desensitised. If you could ignore what some may see as a fitting link between the two adversaries and others would deem to be exploitation of the worst kind, this was an enjoyable match with the expected high-flying offensive manoeuvres by both. At the time, Vickie Guerrero had just been introduced as a recurring character, and her involvement here dragged the entertainment of the match down as opposed to enhancing it, but it did allow Chavo to take the advantage and earn a heelish victory via a Frog Splash. As if things hadn’t gone far enough, Vickie would officially align herself with Chavo shortly afterwards on SmackDown.

ECW World Heavyweight Championship Extreme Rules Match
Big Show (C) vs. Sabu

This was the first ECW Title match on a WWE PPV following the revival of the brand. At the time, Sabu was being built up relatively well against the monster giant heel, and it seemed like Sabu had a decent chance of winning the ECW Title, but it was not to be. Along the way, we get plenty of spots involving chairs, stairs and tables, though not all of them went to plan, and whilst the Boston crowd were on board with the hardcore action, they were non-plussed by the botches that led them to begin booing noticeably. Their interest was retained long enough for them to still rally behind Sabu towards the finish though, but despite the challenger’s best efforts, Big Show was able to pick up the victory with a Chokeslam through a table to retain the gold. Show’s reign continued, which probably wasn’t the best thing for the second coming of ECW (mind you, that was obvious to most people at the time, to be fair).

Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Orton

Hulkamania was running wild once again as the ultimate legend battled the resident Legend Killer. Hogan suffered a knee injury shortly beforehand, but he was insistent on the match going ahead. Hulk received the expected huge reaction from the Hulkamaniacs, who were loving every second of his pre-match posing routine. The bout itself was a typical Hogan match, with basic offence maximised for major responses. Orton almost knocked off the icon with an RKO, but the referee only discovered after the fact that Hogan’s foot was on the bottom rope. From there, it was Hulk Up, three punches, big boot, Legdrop and victory for the icon. Though we didn’t know it at the time, this would turn out to be Hogan’s final match in a WWE ring, unless he laces up those boots one last time for a supershow in Saudi Arabia (which could happen; don’t rule it out, brother!).

I Quit Match
Ric Flair vs. Mick Foley

Next, we had a rather violent and very bloody I Quit scrap between two veterans in Flair and Foley. Their worked-shoot feud culminated with this brawl, and the ending overshadows that this was a guilty pleasure for fans of this style of wrestling. Flair didn’t need a match like this to bleed all over the place, but he was still happy to oblige with the claret as Foley smashed a barbed wire board into his head, before Foley bodyslammed Naitch onto a pile of thumb tacks. Add to this a barbed wire-wrapped Socko attack and a barbed wire baseball bat, and Flair was facing serious jeopardy here. But Naitch rebounded, with low blows, barbed wire attacks of his own and knocking Foley hard onto the floor off the ring apron. Officials tried to stop the match, but Flair wasn’t having that, insisting that Mick himself had to quit. After further attacks, Melina ran in to throw in a towel, but Ric was not backing down, and he even threatened her with the bat (bear in mind that Ric was covered in blood at this stage, meaning that he looked pretty damn frightening to anybody, never mind a young Diva), which led Foley to say “I Quit!” for her honour. The finish would have made more of an impact if Melina wasn’t a heel and this action didn’t make Foley seem like a babyface, and if it didn’t make Flair look like a real villain, not to mention that the on-screen Foley-Melina alliance had yet to be fully established. Nevertheless, before the last two minutes, this was a pretty enjoyable war, though you do have to be a fan of this genre of wrestling to appreciate it. If you are, then it’s a forgotten treat. Incidentally, this was the last time that Foley had such a brutal match in WWE, which combined with Hogan’s unknown in-ring swansong for the company makes this a historic card in hindsight.

World Heavyweight Championship Match
King Booker (C) vs. Batista

These two had gotten into a real fight back in May, ironically on the set of the SummerSlam advertisement production. It’s debatable as to whether their previous heat affected the quality of their matches (they seemed to have made peace after their actual handbags), but if that wasn’t the explanation, then it simply has to be said that these two could not put on a good match with one another. Their styles just did not mesh, and on a show like this where there were so many other potentially big attractions, the odds were high that this would be forgettable. As it turned out, they were handicapped further by the finish, which saw Queen Sharmell run in and start smacking The Animal as he attempted a Batista Bomb. Poor match, poor ending, fairly poor storyline; this was not a peak period for SmackDown’s top title. They would have a rematch at Survivor Series that was only slightly better, where Batista regained the WHC.

D-Generation X vs. The McMahons

People will tell you that the DX reunion of 2006 was a complete disaster, being both unentertaining and unproductive. Watch this match back, in particular their entrance and the accompanying crowd reactions, and tell me if you agree with those sentiments. DX were hugely over in the summer of 2006, satisfying longtime fans who remembered their heyday as a group and newer followers who got a kick out of their often-lowbrow shenanigans. Here, they were finally facing off against Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon as part of a long-running storyline. Given their influence, Vince and Shane were able to call on The Spirit Squad, Mr. Kennedy, Finlay, William Regal and Big Show just to gain an advantage, at which point they used basic offence and classic double-team moves to wear down Triple H and Shawn Michaels. Even then, they called on Umaga to interfere, but Kane chased The Samoan Bulldozer away. In the meantime, Shawn superkicked Shane on a Coast To Coast attempt, and Vince tasted the same trash can to the skull, Sweet Chin Music and a Pedigree to give DX the victory. The feud would actually continue into a Hell In A Cell match at Unforgiven the following month, but it was still the win that the green and black boys had been looking for. And as I mentioned earlier, the response from the Boston audience here was sufficient evidence that, far from a flop, the DX reunion was actually a major commercial success for WWE, and the rekindling of their alliance provided me with several moments that I still remember to this day.

WWE Championship Match
Edge (C) vs. John Cena

In the main event spot, we had the latest chapter of another long-running dispute between Edge and John Cena, the last of whom had seen his father slapped in the face via a home invasion by the champion the previous week. Cena was performing in his hometown, and yet he was still booed (as he was almost everywhere at that stage), though admittedly Edge was absolutely on fire at this point as WWE Champion, and with Lita by his side to make him even more reviled. In comparison to other matches that they’ve had, a straight wrestling bout might seem a bit weak to headline SummerSlam, but it’s actually pretty good, if not quite as exciting as their subsequent TLC and Last Man Standing matches. The assumption was that home state hero Cena would capture his third WWE Championship here, but while he managed to drill Lita with an FU while he simultaneously had Edge in FU position, he didn’t know that his opponent had been handed brass knuckles, which he used to clobber John in the back of the head with. This earned Edge the victory on the night, but their classic rivalry would continue for a little while longer yet.

As mentioned earlier, WWE SummerSlam 2006 is as jam-packed with star power as you would find from any card not named WrestleMania (and originally it was meant to feature a LMS bout between The Undertaker and The Great Khali as well, but that was moved to SmackDown the previous week instead). It doesn’t feature a classic match, one that has you wanting to see this show again and again; however, there is a lot of entertainment to be found, and besides the two SmackDown brand contests, each of the other five matches has something to offer, whether it be dramatic near-falls, blood-pumping high spots for legendary babyfaces or unbridled violence. It doesn’t get the same praise as other shows in the series, but SummerSlam 2006 has a lot to offer, and the sum of its parts makes it a top ten SummerSlam show in my opinion.