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There were a few significant changes in WWE in 2008, which helped make the 21st annual SummerSlam have a bit of a different feel.

The first big change was that the TV14 rating for WWE programming was gone and replaced by the TV-PG rating that still exists to this day ten years later with no end in sight. That meant no more blood (unless it happened hardway), the women weren’t allowed to dress as scantily clad as they were in the past and any sort of adult language would be phased out. It was WWE’s way of trying to portray a more family-friendly product due to wanting to get better advertising partners and Vince McMahon’s wife Linda was running for political office, so that’s probably part of it too. The official day that WWE went PG was July 22, 2008 and you can read it on WWE.com here.

The other thing that was a first for this SummerSlam was that it was the first SummerSlam to be broadcast in High Definition. I don’t mind watching standard definition stuff on WWE Network because that’s how we grew up as fans of WWE, but once you go HD it’s tough to go backward. It’s just better to watch.

This SummerSlam was a disappointment as far as PPV buyrates go because it did 477,000 buys, which was a big drop from around 540,000 buys that the previous two years did. When looking at the years that followed, they were all lower than this one too. It was a combination of prices going up too high, people finding ways to stream these events illegally for free and UFC really started to grow. While UFC wasn’t direct competition with WWE, they were both competing for PPV buys and I can remember often times going to UFC PPV parties with buddies while nobody would want to do that for WWE shows. That definitely played a factor.

I remember this show quite well for the big matches. I wrote a whole column about the Undertaker vs. Edge main event for JBL’s site when I wrote for it earlier in the decade, so that match is fresh in my mind and I’ll insert some of that column into here. I also remember the Jericho/Michaels segment well since it was one of my favorite feuds ever. Cena vs. Batista was a big deal at the time too.

As a reminder, you can check out all of my SummerSlam reviews here in case you want to know what I think about a particular match whenever you feel like re-watching the shows.

WWE SummerSlam
Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana
08/17/08

It began with a TV PG logo with “V” for Violence.

The opening video package aired hyping up SummerSlam. It focused on Edge getting ready for the Hell in a Cell match with Undertaker by beating up Mick Foley and shoving over Vickie Guerrero while she was in a wheelchair. I’m surprised they didn’t mention Cena and Batista’s match.

The pyro went off in the arena and it was a sold out crowd with Jim Ross claiming it was 15,997 in attendance. The announcers hyped up the big matches on the show.

Jeff Hardy made his entrance first to a good ovation. The Smackdown announce team of Jim Ross and Tazz were shown at ringside. MVP made his entrance as Hardy’s opponent. I liked his entrance. There were clips of MVP attacking Hardy with cheap shots to build to this match.

Jeff Hardy vs. MVP aka Montel Vontavious Porter

Pre-match notes: Hardy was the face and MVP was a heel. This was a Smackdown match. Hardy was dealing with an elbow infection that he was treating with antibiotics.

Hardy was aggressive early on with a body slam followed by a slingshot leg drop. It was noted by JR that this was Hardy’s first SummerSlam match since 2001. I knew he had a TNA run for a few years, but I didn’t realize it was that long between SummerSlam appearances. Hardy whipped MVP into the turnbuckle, Hardy charged and MVP hit a belly to belly suplex that sent Hardy into the turnbuckle for two. MVP grounded Hardy in a headlock and fans were chanting for Hardy. MVP slapped on a leg bar submission to keep Hardy down leading to Hardy reaching the bottom ropes. Hardy was on the apron, he tried a leaping attack and MVP decked him with a forearm. MVP jumped on the back of Hardy with a knee drop for a two count. MVP set up Hardy upside down against the turnbuckle and sent his head into the mat leading to another two count. Hardy with a mule kick, then he went for a kick against the turnbuckle, but MVP kicked him away leading to a two count. MVP with a dropkick that sent Hardy into the turnbuckle. MVP charged in and Hardy took him down with a lefty clothesline. Hardy with a Russian legsweep leading to a double leg drop for two. MVP tried a slam, Hardy slipped out into a sunset flip for two and Hardy went up top. Hardy connected with the Whisper in the Wind attack off the top for two. Shelton Benjamin, the US Champion, showed up at ringside, so Hardy jumped on him. Hardy back up, he jumped off with a Swanton Bomb and MVP moved, so Hardy hit the mat hard. MVP with a running kick known as the Drive By for the pinfall win after 10:21 of action.

Winner by pinfall: MVP

Analysis: *** Good match that was a smart choice for an opener because the crowd was into the whole thing. Hardy was the aggressor early, MVP took control and the last few minutes were more even. Easy story to follow. The Shelton Benjamin spot led to a controversial finish since Hardy lost the match due to attacking Benjamin and it allowed MVP to recover to win.

Post match, MVP walked past a fallen Benjamin while Hardy was out in the ring. MVP stared back at Hardy.

Analysis: I thought that MVP deserved a bigger push to the main event level, but it didn’t happen for him. Even though Hardy lost here, he got a bigger push on Smackdown in the coming months leading to his first WWE Title win in December 2008.

The lovely Maria was backstage for an interview. She was looking great. Santino Marella and Beth Phoenix showed up. Santino said that Maria has fallen apart since they broke up. Santino said he’s doing just great and she said that Glamarella was a phenomenon. Maria mocked Santino’s unibrow and he claimed that Beth liked it. Santino said they had history to make, Beth told Maria that he is all hers and they left.

There was a shot of the Hell in a Cell structure above the ring. A poll was shown: Will Edge and Vickie divorce? Yes or no. Results later.

The next match is an Intergender Winner Take All match for the Intercontinental and Women’s Championships. It was the brainchild of new Raw GM Mike Adamle according to Raw announcers Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler.

Mickie James was the Women’s Champion on Raw. She was my favorite (still is) and got a nice ovation. Kofi Kingston was in his early Jamaican days in his first run on Raw. Cole and Lawler were shown on camera. Santino and Beth Phoenix made their entrance together.

Intergender Winner Take All Match for the Intercontinental and Women’s Titles: Kofi Kingston and Mickie James vs. Santino Marella and Beth Phoenix

Pre-match notes: The duo of James and Kingston were the faces. Phoenix and Santino were the heels. The first pinfall or submission wins the titles for their team. The men could wrestle the women in this match. This was a Raw match.

James started with Phoenix with Cole noting that James won the title from Phoenix about four months earlier. Phoenix tried a slam, James slipped out and hit two dropkicks for a two count. Belly to back suplex by Phoenix. Santino tagged in, James kicked him and she gave him a monkey flip. Kingston tagged in with a springboard cross body block as well as a dropkick with Cole busting out his favorite “controlled frenzy” phrase that he always said about Kingston. There was a corner attack from Kingston and a forearm knocked Santino out of the ring. James dropkicked Phoenix off the apron. Kingston followed up with a dive attempt on the floor, but Santino went into Beth’s arms and Kingston held on. That was funny. Santino with a neckbreaker against the ropes. Phoenix tagged in with a kick to the ribs. Santino back in with a snap suplex on Kingston for two. The men ran the ropes and butted heads. The women tagged back in with James hitting a forearm to the face followed by a running clothesline. Neckbreaker by James and dropkick sent Santino to the floor. Headscissors takeover by James, she went up top and hit the top rope press for a two count as Santino made the save. Kingston charged, Santino ducked and Kingston hit the floor hard. James hit a leaping DDT on Santino that looked great. Phoenix hit James in the back with a forearm. Phoenix hit the Glam Slam on James for the pinfall win at 5:35.

Winners and New Intercontinental Champion Santino Marella, New Women’s Champion Santino Marella

Analysis: ** It was a lot of fun to watch even though it was a short match. Santino’s comedy skills were great and they managed to come up with some unique spots in the match. James got in a lot of offense on Phoenix, but it was Phoenix that came up big when her team needed her. It would have been nice if this match was given a bit more time. I liked what they did in the time given, though.

After the match, Phoenix woke up a fallen Santino to let him know that they won. Beth and Santino held their titles in the air. Beth put Santino on her shoulders and Santino yelled “we did it” even though Beth did most of the work. They stood by the entrance with Santino saying he won it all by himself.

There was a commercial for a DVD called “Twist of Fate” featuring Matt and Jeff Hardy.

A video package aired about Shawn Michaels’ rivalry with Chris Jericho. There was a story that Jericho injured the eye of Michaels that could lead to the retirement of Michaels.

Analysis: This feud was awesome. I remember being a bit upset that there was no Jericho or Michaels match at SummerSlam, but what happened with this angle was brilliant.

Let’s Hear From Shawn Michaels

Shawn Michaels made his entrance with his wife Rebecca by his side. Good ovation for Michaels with Lawler saying that Shawn having his wife with him was not a good omen. Michaels was 43 years old at this point, so we all knew it was near the end of his career.

Michaels thanked everybody that has been supporting him during this difficult time. Michaels said he recently saw doctors and due to complications from his eye along with the knee surgeries and back surgeries, the doctor recommended that Michaels should walk away. Michaels said for the first time in his professional career he needs to heed the doctor’s advice and walk away. Michaels said that he had a wonderful career, he regrets nothing and he was thee in 1988 for his first SummerSlam. Michaels thanked the fans for their support to help him become the icon, the main event, the headliner and the Main Event. Michaels said he’s also the guy that screwed Bret Hart, formed Degeneration X, innovated the Ladder Match, lost his smile and will forever be known as the man who retired Ric Flair. Michaels said he now has the opportunity to be known as something else: a full time husband and full time father. That drew cheers. Michaels said he knew this wouldn’t be a popular decision, but he knew it was the right one. Michaels wanted to thank…and here comes Chris Jericho.

Jericho walked out in a suit because he was doing the heel in a suit gimmick at the time. He was the best heel in wrestling at this point. Jericho got in the ring with Shawn and Rebecca with the fans booing Jericho.

Jericho said “no,” Michaels said excuse me and Jericho said that he is not going to let Michaels leave that way. Jericho wanted Michaels to admit that he is walking away from this business because of Jericho. The fans booed. Michaels said if Jericho had even the slightest amount of human decency, he’ll get out of this ring right now. Jericho said he’s not going anywhere until Michaels admits that he is walking away because of what Jericho did. Jericho said he wants Shawn to admit that to his wife and to his precious little children. Jericho said that he needs to admit to Jericho because he deserves to hear it. Jericho wants Michaels’ last moment of his professional career to be Michaels saying that Jericho put him out for good. Jericho said it didn’t matter all of the accomplishments and accolades that Michaels had or the fans he made because the epitaph will read that Shawn Michaels was forced to walk away from the wrestling business because of Chris Jericho. Michaels said he’ll admit it, he’ll sit his wife down, he’ll sit his kids down and tell them the reason daddy can’t wrestle anymore is because of the actions of a vile, selfish, worthless human being. The fans cheered. Michaels wanted Jericho to sit his wife down, his kids and tell them that daddy will never, ever be Shawn Michaels. The fans cheered that even louder. They chanted “HBK” as well.

Michaels and Jericho had a staredown, Rebecca grabbed Shawn’s arm to leave, when Shawn turned his back to leave, Jericho threw a punch, Michaels ducked it and Jericho punched Rebecca in the face. That drew massive heat from the crowd as they booed. Michaels freaked out while checking on his wife in the ring. Rebecca sold it like she was knocked out. Michaels looked up at Jericho and Jericho left the ring. Jericho backed his way up the aisle while Michaels tended to Rebecca and doctors as well as referees went down to the ring to help her.

Analysis: This was brilliant. What a fantastic angle. Great promo from Michaels initially, Jericho was a total jerk in response to him and Michaels had a great line about how Jericho would never be the man that Michaels was. It was really well done. The part where Jericho hit Rebecca was controversial because it was a man hitting a woman with a punch and we don’t want to see that, but it was obviously part of the plan. I know Jericho mentioned in one of his books that he felt bad that he hit her as hard as she did, but she was okay with it because she knew it was all part of the show. This is an example of how you don’t always have to put your big stars in a major PPV. You can run a big angle like this one and it will stand out. It was already a personal feud going into SummerSlam, but they turned it up another notch here.

There were replays of the Jericho punch on Rebecca for a few different angles. She was helped up to her feet. More replays aired of the punch. The announcers talked in SERIOUS VOICES~! to put over the story. Rebecca’s lip was swollen, so you could see that Jericho did in fact hit her a bit more than he would have liked. Shawn helped Rebecca to the back.

Analysis: The feud continued leading to an Unsanctioned match at Unforgiven one month later. Then in October 2008 at No Mercy, they had a Ladder Match for the World Heavyweight Title that I thought was the Match of the Year. This was the WWE feud of the year and one of my favorite feuds in WWE history.

The ECW announce team of Todd Grisham and Matt Striker were shown at ringside to call the ECW Title match. A clip aired of Mark Henry hitting a World’s Strongest Slam on Matt Hardy on ECW TV leading to this match.

Matt Hardy made his entrance first. There was a decent reaction. Mark Henry entered with Tony Atlas as his manager.

ECW Championship: Mark Henry (w/Tony Atlas) vs. Matt Hardy

Pre-match notes: Mark Henry was the heel ECW Champion. Hardy was the face challenger. I have no memory of this time in ECW because I had given up watching it regularly by this point.

Hardy opened up with punches, Henry with a forearm to the back and Henry sent Hardy to the turnbuckle. Hardy avoided a charge and Hardy hit a Twist of Fate early. Hardy covered, but Atlas pulled Hardy out of the ring. The ref called for the bell due to the disqualification after 31 seconds. Match of the year! No!

Winner by disqualification: Matt Hardy (Mark Henry is still ECW Champion)

Analysis: 1/4* That was shit. See what I mean about giving up watching ECW by this point? Now you see why.

Post match, Atlas whipped Hardy into the steel steps. Jeff Hardy ran out for the save and he threw Atlas into the ring apron. Jeff hit a Swanton Bomb off the apron onto Atlas on the floor. Henry punched Jeff in the back. Matt got back into it leading to Matt and Jeff hitting a suplex on Henry on the floor. The fans cheered loudly as the Hardys posed in the ring.  Henry and Atlas left while the Hardys were in the ring.

Analysis: At least that was booked well to get a cheap pop out of the crowd for the Hardys reunion. I looked into it and couldn’t find anything about any injury to either guy. I think this was just WWE wanting to book a short match to set up the Hardy reunion for this show.

There was a commercial for the SummerSlam box set that was on sale on DVD at the time.

CM Punk was shown getting ready backstage. CM Punk was the World Heavyweight Champion at the time.

A video package aired about CM Punk showing his Money in the Bank cash in earlier in the year to become the World Heavyweight Champion. They showed John Bradshaw Layfield calling CM Punk “Cinderella” telling him that fairy tales are not real. JBL called Punk boring for not drinking or smoking and said that he had a pathetic World Championship run. Punk threw a shot of whiskey on JBL.

John Bradshaw Layfield made his entrance in the limo. He was in good shape after he stopped wrestling for about two years due to back issues. He lost weight and continued his career for a bit longer before retiring for good at WrestleMania 25 in 2009.

CM Punk got a good ovation. He was very popular as a young guy that was on the rise that was booked like an underdog for most of his run on Raw.

World Heavyweight Championship: CM Punk vs. John Bradshaw Layfield

Pre-match notes: CM Punk was the face World Heavyweight Champion and JBL was the heel.

JBL tried to ground Punk with a headlock early, but Punk hit a forearm as well as a dropkick that sent JBL out of the ring. Punk ran the ropes and hit a suicide dive to take out JBL on the floor. Back in the ring, JBL with a shoulder tackle. Punk with a boot to the face, he tried to go up top, but JBL hit a fallaway slam off the middle ropes for a two count. Two forearms to the back by JBL. Hard whip into the corner by JBL followed by a bearhug. After about a minute of that, Punk with a boot and JBL came back with two kicks to the face for two. Suplex got two for JBL followed by a belly to back suplex that got two again.  JBL continued to slow the pace down with an abdominal stretch. Punk came back with a running high knee and a bulldog. When Punk tried to hit the GTS, JBL hit a short arm clothesline. JBL dropped five elbow drops on Punk for two. Punk came back with strikes as well as a roundhouse kick to the head for two. Punk jumped off the top, JBL caught him and turned it into a powerslam for two. JBL set up for the Clothesline from Hell, but Punk countered with a jumping leg kick as the crowd cheered. Punk with a knee in the corner, JBL came back with punches to the back and JBL hit a belly to back suplex off the middle rope. Punk was bleeding from the back of his head. A replay aired of when Punk hit that kick and JBL’s head hit Punk’s head leading to the blood on the back of Punk’s head. JBL covered for two. CM Punk got back up, he hit the Go To Sleep knee to face and covered for the pinfall win at 11:09.

Winner by pinfall: CM Punk

Analysis: ***1/4 It was a good match that was exactly what it needed to be with the younger World Champion going over the veteran that was a former WWE Champion. The match followed the typical pattern that you normally see in a match like this with the heel JBL controlling most of it, Punk making the big comeback and going to the finish from there. I thought they could have set up the finish a bit better by getting some better nearfalls. Maybe they rushed it. It’s not like it was that bad, but it could have been set up better. JBL was at his best against a smaller guy like Eddie Guerrero or CM Punk in this case. When JBL worked with bigger guys like Batista or Undertaker the matches were not as good. This was also around the time when Punk was really getting to be more comfortable in WWE and having some of the best matches on the card.

Post match, Punk celebrated with the World Title with Cole and Lawler putting him over as a fighting champion that has had an unbelievable title reign.

Analysis: This was the last PPV title defense from Punk’s first World Title reign. The reign ended after a backstage attack at Unforgiven one month later because WWE wanted to get the title on Jericho for the feud with Michaels. It’s something WWE covered on the DVD about Punk where they said that certain people didn’t believe in him as a top guy, so that’s why the title was taken off him so suddenly.

The Great Khali and Ranjin Singh were shown getting ready backstage.

A video package aired for Triple H of Smackdown as the WWE Champion and he was up against The Great Khali. They had an arm wrestling competition on Smackdown where Khali beat up Triple H. The other story was that they had never had a match together, so Vince McMahon was likely creaming his pants at the thought of this match. I do not like any Khali match.

The Great Khali made his entrance with Ranjin Singh, who was really a WWE creative team member named Dave Kapoor. There was not much of a response from the fans because they’re probably hoping it’s a short match like me.

Triple H made his entrance to a good pop. Hunter was 39 years old at the time and a main eventer for about nine years before this. JR noted that WWE Champions were 14-3 in WWE Championship matches at SummerSlam going into this match.

WWE Championship: Triple H vs. The Great Khali (w/Ranjin Singh)

Pre-match notes: Triple H was the face WWE Champion with a good tan. I’ll refer to him as Hunter because it’s easier. Khali was the heel challenger.

Khali hit the two-handed Chokeslam about 30 seconds into the match. Khali didn’t cover even though that was a finishing move for him earlier in his WWE run. Khali waited for Hunter to get up and Khali slapped on the vice grip on the head of Hunter, but Hunter broke free with kicks to the knees followed by a chop block to the back of the left leg of Khali. When Khali left the ring, Hunter followed him and Khali hit a chop to the head. Khali sent Hunter into the barricade. Back in the ring, Khali with two back elbows that knocked down Hunter in the ring. Khali hit a clothesline on Hunter as fans chanted “you can’t wrestle” at him. Khali with a nerve hold on the neck. Khali with a body slam followed by a leg drop. Another vice grip by Khali led to more “you can’t wrestle” chants by the fans at Khali. Hunter came back with a facebuster leading to Khali bumping into the ropes where his hands were tied up in the ramps. That’s a spot Andre the Giant would always do. Khali still managed a boot to the head. Hunter wanted a Pedigree, but Khali hit a back body drop that sent Trips over the top to the floor. Hunter pulled Khali out of the ring by grabbing his leg. Hunter wrapped Khali’s left leg against the ring post. Khali managed to chop Hunter again. Back in the ring, Khali applied the dreaded HEAD SQUEEZE OF DEATH~! that led to Hunter going down to his knees. Hunter hulked back up, he broke the grip with kicks and Khali sent him into the turnbuckle. Hunter avoided an attack and went for a Pedigree. Hunter locked the hands enough leading to the Pedigree for the pinfall win at 9:18.

Winner by pinfall: Triple H

Analysis: ** It was about as good as you could expect from a Khali match since he was so limited in what he could do. The fans chanting “you can’t wrestle” at Khali said plenty. To Hunter’s credit, he worked his ass off, he bumped all over for him and I liked the story of how Hunter worked over the legs to weaken Khali enough to win.

Post match, Triple H celebrated with the WWE Title while looking happy that he didn’t have to wrestle Khali again.

The video package aired for John Cena vs. Batista for the first time ever. It told the story about how at WrestleMania 21 in 2005, Cena won the WWE Title and Batista won the World Title on the same night. Cena spoke about how he knew that one day they would have a big match. It was hyped up as a match that was six years in the making since they both started on the main roster in 2002. It took them three years to be main eventers and then this match was set up three years after they were established as top guys.

John Cena made his entrance first to a lot of cheers and some boos as usual. There was a “We’ve Cena Nuff” sign that made it on camera. Those were popular signs.

Batista was up next. He was a top guy on Smackdown for about three years, then he was drafted to Raw and that’s why they set up this match for SummerSlam. The fans were very supportive of him as well.

John Cena vs. Batista

Pre-match notes: Both men were faces that had never had a major match on WWE TV prior to this. They were the World Tag Team Champions for one week and then they lost the titles in a rematch.

Cena was in control early with a hip toss followed by a body slam. Batista came back with a kick to the gut, a Batista Bomb attempt, Cena slipped out and Batista hit a clothesline. Batista hit a delayed vertical suplex that was a bit like a Jackhammer for two. Cena hit a Fisherman’s Suplex for two. Cena wanted the FU, but Batista hit a chop block to the back of the leg. Batista continued to work over the knee by slapping on a Figure Four Leg Lock in tribute to Batista’s mentor Ric Flair. The fans were chanting “WOO” like Flair. After about a minute, Cena crawled to the rope to break the hold. They got back up, Cena picked him up and gave Batista a FU over the top to the floor. That’s a huge bump for a big guy like Batista to take because he went off the shoulders of Cena over the top to the floor. It was a rough landing on the knees for Batista. Back in the ring, Cena hit the two shoulder tackles and a spinning slam. Cena was grabbing at his injured left leg. Cena hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle fist drop. Cena wanted the FU, but Batista countered with a stiff boot to the face. Batista drove Cena into the turnbuckles and he hit a spinebuster with the crowd cheering. Cena avoided a Batista Bomb and Cena wrenched on the left knee of Batista. Cena slapped on the STFU submission on the leg of Batista with the crowd cheering loudly. After about a minute and a half, Batista managed to get his right hand on the bottom rope to break the hold. Cena went for a FU, Batista flipped over to Cena’s back and slapped on a tight headlock to weaken Cena, so Cena elbowed the knee to break Batista’s grip. They both got back up with Batista hitting a Spear for a two count. That was a good nearfall. Batista went for a slam, Cena slipped out of it and Cena hit the FU in the middle of the ring. Cena was too tired to cover right away, so Cena did the slow cover and that gave Batista a chance to kick out. Awesome nearfall. I remember watching this live and thinking that was it, but they kept going. They got into a fight against the turnbuckle, Cena won that with a big right hand and Cena jumped off the ropes with a leg drop only for Batista to counter with a Powerbomb. That was an amazing spot that led to a two count. Batista with a kick to the face. Batista picked up Cena and hit a Batista Bomb for the pinfall win at 13:44.

Winner by pinfall: Batista

Analysis: **** That was a great match. They went after it hard here because they didn’t do stuff like grabbing a headlock for too long. It was all about action. They used submission moves, they worked on body parts and it was Batista that got the win in a match that could have gone either. Cena tried to use the FU a bunch of times, but he was unable to win when he connected with it because he was too tired. I also give them credit for staying inside the ring for nearly all of it. They could have brawled a bit, but they barely left the ring. The key spot in the match was when Cena went for the leg drop off the top, Batista caught him, hit the Powerbomb and Batista followed with a Batista Bomb for the win. That counter by Batista was the difference in the match.

Post match, Batista celebrated the win while Cena was still down in the ring. The announcers put it over as a great match as they should have because it was very good. Batista left the ring while Cena continued to sell in the ring.

Analysis: Cena suffered a neck injury in the match when he took that Powerbomb counter after his leap off the top. Cena missed about three months of action to surgically repair a herniated disk in his neck. He was supposed to be out longer, but Cena was a freak at coming back from injury.

The result of the fan vote was that 78% of the fans thought Edge and Vickie would divorce while 22% said no.

The Hell in a Cell structure was lowered above the ring with JR noting it was a 36×36 cell that was 20 feet high.

The video package aired about The Undertaker and Edge, which was Smackdown’s biggest feud in 2008. Edge was shown cheating on Vickie Guerrero (with Alicia Fox), so Vickie made him pay by booking him against the reinstated Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match at SummerSlam. Edge attacked Mick Foley after Foley told Edge he needed to be ruthless at Hell in a Cell.

Analysis: The Undertaker and Edge had a feud that lasted for much of the year with Undertaker winning the World Title from Edge at WrestleMania 24 in an outstanding matchup. When they had a rematch a month later at Backlash 2008, Undertaker won that one too. They had another match at Judgment Day 2008 with Undertaker winning via countout. Edge finally got his World Title back at One Night Stand 2008 in a very memorable TLC match. Edge lost the World Title soon after due to CM Punk cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase. At SummerSlam 2008, the stage was set for the 5th and final Undertaker/Edge match this time inside Hell in a Cell.

Edge made his entrance first with a euphoric look on his face because he looked like he was going to enjoy this. JR did a great job of putting over how big the match was and how huge it was for Edge’s career.

The Undertaker entered to a thunderous ovation. The entrance took about three minutes. He likes to take his team. Taker was fired for about two months before this, then he was reinstated by Vickie Guerrero because she wanted him to get revenge on Edge, so Taker was fresh after taking a break from being in the ring.

Hell in a Cell: Edge vs. The Undertaker

Pre-match notes: Edge was the heel. The Undertaker was the face. I’ll use just “Taker” for most of the match. The roles were well defined. They had a lot of matches together and the fans were ready for this as the final showdown. This was the first Hell in a Cell match in WWE’s PG era. The other ones had guys bleeding in them, so this would be different. This was a Smackdown match.

The Undertaker with a boot to the face to take control early. They left the ring with Taker sending Edge back first into the cell. Taker whipped Edge into the cell again. There was a hard whip into steel steps by Taker. Running leg drop on the apron by Taker, which was a patented move for him. There was a shot of Vickie Guerrero watching on TV backstage with her “La Familia” group. Taker brought the steel steps into the ring, he sent Edge into the steps and Edge came back with an elbow and he whipped Taker into the steps. Running shoulder tackle by Edge on Taker. It was like a Spear, but not exactly. Edge pulled out a table from under the ring. Edge hit Taker in the face with the steps while Edge grabbed another table from under the ring. Edge stacked two tables on top of eachother outside the ring. Edge with a neckbreaker using the top rope. Edge hit Undertaker in the throat with a chair. Edge with a chair to the back of Taker. Edge set up a table inside the ring followed by another chair to the back of Taker. Edge grabbed a big ladder from under the ring and brought it into the ring. Chair by Edge to the upper body of Taker. Edge with a chair to the head, which would not be allowed in WWE today. Edge set up Taker on a table so Taker was laying on it, Edge grabbed a chair, he jumped off a ladder and Edge drove Taker through the table using the chair as an assist. That was good for a two count. Edge set up for the Conchairto attack, but Taker sat back up, choke and a punch by Taker. Boot to the face by Taker while Edge was on the apron and Edge went crashing int the cell. Edge had a big scar/bruise on his right side. Taker hit Edge in the head with the steel steps again. Taker tried another attack, but Edge shoved Taker into the steel ring post. Edge ran across, jumped off steel steps and Edge hit a running tackle that broke open the cell. That drew a big reaction. It was like a Spear, but it was more of a shoulder tackle to the upper body to break the cage.

The fight continued with Taker ramming Edge’s head into the announce table and Taker whipped Edge into the barricade. Edge ducked an attack with a TV monitor, so Edge grabbed a TV monitor and hit Taker in the head with it. Edge stood on the Smackdown announce table, ran across the Raw announce table and hit a Spear on Taker through the ECW announce table. That was a really innovative spot that drew a great reaction. They went back inside the cell. When Taker got back into the ring, Edge hit Taker with the top of the ladder.

Edge grabbed a camera from ringside. Edge hit Taker in the head with the camera with JR correctly pointing out that Edge did that to Taker at Survivor Series 2007 to cost Taker the World Title at that show. Edge charged in for an attack, Taker caught him around the throat and Taker hit a massive Chokeslam for two with JR calling it a “slam dunk,” which was a good description. Edge came black with a low blow punch to the groin of Taker. Edge hit the Impaler DDT for a two count. Taker sat back up and he looked at the two tables stacked outside the ring. Undertaker wanted a Last Ride Powerbomb through the tables, Edge slipped out and hit a Spear for two. Great nearfall there with Taker kicking out Edge’s finisher. Edge did the punches against the turnbuckle, so Taker hit a Last Ride Powerbomb out of the corner like he had done many times in his career. They battled on the steel steps with Edge slamming Taker back first onto the steps that was good for a two count. Edge tried to do Taker’s old school arm wringer move, but Taker tripped him up. Taker grabbed Edge by the throat while Edge was on the top turnbuckle and Taker hit a Chokeslam through the two stacked tables that were on the floor. Back in the ring, Taker stole an Edge move by hitting a Spear. Taker grabbed the camera that was in the ring and Taker crushed Edge in the head with it. That was nasty. Taker set up a chair under Edge ‘s head. Taker grabbed another chair and did a Conchairto to Edge’s head. Taker picked up Edge and hit a Tombstone piledriver. Taker covered for the pinfall at 26:43.

Winner by pinfall: The Undertaker

Analysis: ****1/2 That was an awesome Hell in a Cell match full of violence, a lot of weapons used and no blood. What I liked about the match is that you would think Undertaker would be on the offensive right from the beginning, but it turned out that Edge dominated much of the early portion of the match. In the build-up to the match, Edge became much more aggressive and even maniacal at various points. That set the tone for the match perfectly. Taker took everything could dish out, Edge came close to winning and then Taker came back like a freight train that nobody could stop. The big turning point of the match was when Edge went for the Old School clothesline only for Undertaker to counter it and Chokeslam him through tables. That was another aspect of the match I really liked. They incorporated tables, ladders & chairs into a Hell in a Cell match (they already had a TLC match), so it made it unique. Outstanding work from both men.

Post match, The Undertaker stumbled back to his feet as the winner. There was a shot of La Familia in the locker room watching and applauding the result. Taker posed over a fallen Edge. Taker teased leaving the cell, but then he went back because he wanted to do more.

Taker went back into the ring, he set up a ladder in the ring and Edge was unable to get back to his feet. Taker grabbed Edge by the head, he set up Edge on the ladder and Taker brought another ladder. It was important to watch referee Scott Armstrong because he was holding the two ladders together to keep the balance. Armstrong was literally on his knees holding the ladders. Taker said: “Now you’re going straight to hell.” Taker grabbed Edge by the throat and hit a Chokeslam off the ladder that sent Edge through the gimmicked ring, so it broke the ring. When Edge was in the ring, there was also a fire that the Undertaker signaled for, so the story is that Edge was burning in hell…in a cell.

SummerSlam ended with Undertaker in the ring with the fire going off around him.

Analysis: It was a cool visual to see the spot with Taker giving Edge the Chokeslam through the ring to “send him to hell” thanks to the fire. The gimmicked ring spot can work really well sometimes and it did in this case. Edge took about three months off to rest up from his injuries and came back at Survivor Series 2008.

The show had a run time of 2:42:06 on WWE Network.

 

BONUS ANALYSIS

Here are some comments from Edge about the Hell in a Cell match. They come from the “E&C Pod of Awesomeness” during an episode of the show in August 2017:

“Hell In A Cell… I remember going into that, and a little story about that Hell In A Cell, we got from Vince the edict that day that there would be no color in that match and I had put together this whole thing in my head that involved color and also involved me taking a chokeslam through the panel, through two tables, this whole thing. I know I have this written down somewhere. And it wasn’t going to work and color wasn’t going to work. And I’m mad. And I remember saying to Vince that day, ‘this is the most disappointed I’ve ever been in a decision that I’ve had to try and make do with, I guess, in this company’ because I really was. I thought, ‘this is the culmination of a year-and-a-half angle. There has to be that. There has to be color.’”

“I wasn’t thinking further down the road or the big picture, all of the things Vince has to think about, and in hindsight he was right. He was right and what he said that day was completely right. He said, ‘I trust you two to set the template for what a Hell In A Cell will be going forward’ and I was like, ‘oh, well s–t.’ What do you say to that? There’s the challenge. Alright, so the challenge is, we’ve got to figure out a way to do this then, and I think we did. It still got in the story I wanted to get across.”

 

FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS

– I think this was a great show. Two matches at four stars or above and several others in the three star range. Plus the Michaels/Jericho stuff was money. Other than the ECW match that was really a whole lot of nothing and Triple H vs. Khali that stunk because of Khali, I really liked everything at SummerSlam 2008. That’s why it gets a score of 8 and it is one of the best SummerSlams ever.

– The Jericho/Michaels segment was gold. It added so much heat to the story with Michaels wanting to make Jericho’s life hell for what he did while Jericho continued to get over as this dirtbag heel.

– It’s so impressive to see how well The Undertaker moved in this match at 43 years of age. He was slowing down earlier in his career, but thanks to wrestling Edge and other good opponents in the 2000s he got to have a pretty good run during the decade.

– Most people would have expected Batista to beat Cena in this match because Cena was always booked as the bigger star. That’s why I liked the finish of it so much because I don’t think as many people thought Batista could win. Mild surprises are hard to see.

– No more Khali matches please. I really can’t take another one. Serenity now!

 

OPINIONS

Show rating (out of 10): 8

Best Match: The Undertaker vs. Edge (****1/2 out of 5)

Worst Match: Matt Hardy vs. Mark Henry (1/4* out of 5)

Most Memorable Moment: After The Undertaker’s win when he gave Edge the Chokeslam through the ring and it lit on fire. That was very memorable. Also, Jericho accidentally punching Rebecca was a memorable moment too.

 

Five Stars Of The Show

  1. Undertaker
  2. Edge
  3. Batista
  4. John Cena
  5. Chris Jericho/Shawn Michaels/Rebecca

 

Matches With Ratings ****+ (out of 5*) and higher:

British Bulldog vs. Bret Hart @ SummerSlam 1992 (*****)

Steel Cage: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart @ SummerSlam 1994 (*****)

Ladder Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon @ SummerSlam 1995 (*****)

Kurt Angle vs. Steve Austin @ SummerSlam 2001 (****3/4)

TLC: Edge & Christian vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Hardy Boyz @ SummerSlam 2000 (****3/4)

Unsanctioned Street Fight: Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H @ SummerSlam 2002 (****1/2)

Hell in a Cell: The Undertaker vs. Edge @ SummerSlam 2008 (****1/2)

Ladder Match: Triple H vs. The Rock @ SummerSlam 1998 (****1/2)

Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect @ SummerSlam 1991 (****1/4)

Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar @ SummerSlam 2003 (****1/4)

Shawn Michaels vs. Vader @ SummerSlam 1996 (***1/4)

The Rock vs. Triple H vs. Kurt Angle @ SummerSlam 2000 (****)

Ladder Match: Rob Van Dam vs. Jeff Hardy @ SummerSlam 2001 (****)

Batista vs. John Cena @ SummerSlam 2008 (****)

John Cena vs. Randy Orton @ SummerSlam 2007 (****)

 

Ranking SummerSlam Reviews (on 1-10 scale)

SummerSlam 2002 (Brock Lesnar vs. The Rock, Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H) – 9

SummerSlam 2008 (The Undertaker vs. Edge HIAC, Batista vs. Cena) – 8

SummerSlam 2001 (The Rock vs. Booker T, Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle) – 8

SummerSlam 1998 (Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker) – 8

SummerSlam 2000 (The Rock vs. Triple H vs. Kurt Angle) – 7.5

SummerSlam 1992 (British Bulldog vs. Bret Hart) – 7

SummerSlam 2005 (Hulk Hogan vs. Shawn Michaels) – 7

SummerSlam 2004 (Randy Orton vs. Chris Benoit) – 6

SummerSlam 2006 (Edge vs. John Cena) – 6

SummerSlam 1997 (Bret Hart vs. The Undertaker) – 5.5

SummerSlam 1996 (Shawn Michaels vs. Vader) – 5.5

SummerSlam 1989 (Hogan/Beefcake vs. Savage/Zeus) – 5.5

SummerSlam 2003 (Elimination Chamber) – 5.5

SummerSlam 2007 (John Cena vs. Randy Orton) – 5

SummerSlam 1994 (Undertaker vs. Underfaker, Bret vs. Owen) – 5

SummerSlam 1999 (Mankind vs. Steve Austin vs. Triple H) – 5

SummerSlam 1988 (Mega Powers vs. Mega Bucks) – 5

SummerSlam 1991 (Match Made In Heaven & Hell) – 4.5

SummerSlam 1995 (Diesel vs. Mabel, Michaels vs. Ramon) – 4

SummerSlam 1993 (Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna) – 4

SummerSlam 1990 (Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude) – 3.5

 

Next up: SummerSlam 2009.

Check out the SummerSlam Reviews archive.

Thanks for reading. My contact info is below.

John Canton

Email mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

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