Remembering Summerslam 2008 - Ten Years On
The 2008 edition of Summerslam broke with the tradition of the first Summerslam event and it's tenth-anniversary edition which both emanated from WWE’s spiritual home, Madison Square Garden. Summerslam 2008 instead took place in the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana on the 17th August 2008.
Boasting Championship matches from all three of WWE’s brands, Raw, Smackdown and ECW, Summerslam was a major showing from the company.
On the undercard, the opening matchup pitting MVP vs Jeff Hardy was only decent and CM Punk’s successful World Heavyweight title defense against JBL was hampered by the storyline which presented the immensely talented and popular Punk as a lucky champion. It made a mess of the psychology of the match, particularly as Punk’s opponent JBL traditionally played a heel version of the character that Punk was portraying, but Punk was a face. Confused? It was a bit of a mess to be frank from a storyline perspective, however, the match was good. Punk carried his older adversary to an entertaining outing.
In another mess of a match, hampered rather than enhanced by the booking was the ECW title match wherein Matt Hardy defended his belt by DQ in just thirty seconds after he was illegally assaulted by opponent Mark Henry’s manager, Tony Atlas. It was a deeply unsatisfying result to a match that had been widely anticipated.
The team of Santino Marella and the Glamazon, Beth Phoenix, collectively known as Glamarella defeated Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston and Women’s Champion Mickie James to win their respective titles in an Inter-gender Tag Team match. A triumph in layout and story, this was much better than it had any right to be and the odd couple team of comedy character, Santino Marella and his ultra-focused, emotionless beau, Phoenix is extremely underrated when looking back at the most entertaining couples in WWE history.
In a killer angle, Shawn Michaels, accompanied by his wife, Rebecca announced his retirement from wrestling due to the injuries he had suffered throughout his career. This brought out Chris Jericho with whom Michaels had been feuding, who wanted to know whether the eye injury he had inflicted on Michaels the previous month was the reason for him stepping away from the ring.
Refusing to be drawn into Jericho’s goading, Michaels walked away. Jericho attempted to punch Michaels but hit Rebecca instead. Michaels was incensed. This segment led to an entertaining match at Unforgiven 2008 followed by a stunning Ladder Match at No Mercy 2008 by the pair.
Triple H defended his WWE Championship against The Great Khali in a surprisingly good match. Triple H did an excellent job of carrying his limited opponent to an acceptable contest and made Khali look like a genuine threat to his title. Triple H retained of course.
From there, WWE presented the first-ever meeting between Batista and John Cena. The two biggest stars of the post-2005 era, both had won their first World Championships at Wrestlemania 21 and had had similar career paths. The match was heavily hyped but in truth was rushed onto the card with little storyline support. This meant that unfortunately, the crowd was not as invested in this match as they should have been. Further hampering the pair’s chances was the fact that both were presented as baby-faces which divided the audience and lessened the crowd noise. The action was good however and Batista picked up the clean win.
The best feud of 2008 had a fitting conclusion in the confines of the demonic Hell in a Cell structure. Edge and The Undertaker had been battling since Wrestlemania, trading the World title back and forth and the Summerslam match was their fifth pay-per-view outing of the year.
All of their contests were excellent, which was a testament to the talents of both for keeping a long-term feud entertaining in the modern era of multiple hours of television per week.
The Undertaker defeated Edge after a succession of brutal finishing moves. While “The Phenom” was leaving the ring, he saw Edge begin to move on the Titantron. Returning to the ring, Undertaker grabbed Edge by the throat and chokeslammed him off a ladder.
Such was the force of the chokeslam, Edge crashed through the ring canvas disappearing from view. Moments later, flames engulfed the hole Edge had created, whilst commentator Jim Ross declared that Edge had been sent to Hell.
Despite the silliness of this supernatural ending to the show, it was a visual that will live long in the memory as will the match. Summerslam 2008 belonged to Edge and The Undertaker.
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