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Looking back on a mediocre SummerSlam

Brock Lesnar reacts to his first round TKO

Brock Lesnar reacts to his first round TKO loss by Alistair Overeem, of the Netherlands, right after their UFC 141 heavyweight mixed martial arts match, Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, at The MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Lesnar retired after Overeem stopped him with one vicious kick to the body at 2:26 of the first round. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison) Credit: AP Photo/Eric Jamison

 It’s hard to be disappointed when you don’t have very high expectations. And so, I can’t say I was let down by last night’s SummerSlam—a show that was entirely unremarkable, but not surprisingly so.

 The hype for SummerSlam made it clear that this was as much a one-match show as any in history. WWE was counting on Brock Lesnar vs. Triple-H to pretty much single-handedly carry what is traditionally its second or third-biggest show of the year. The bout, which was built over months, was such a big deal for WWE that it seemed to deliberately hold back on offering much else on the card, so as not to challenge Brock vs. Triple-H’s spot as the center of attention. Even the WWE Championship match featuring the company’s biggest star, John Cena, seemed like something of an afterthought.

 In the end, Hunter vs. Brock was a fine match, but not much more. It was not the jaw-dropping spectacle that Brock and Cena put forth at Extreme Rules, nor was it the dramatic masterpiece that Triple-H vs. The Undertaker was at WrestleMania. WWE swung for the fences with this one, and maybe got a double. Considering the kind of epic, five-star classic that you got the sense Triple-H, Brock and Paul Heyman were aiming for, it may have been a disappointment.

 But for realistic fans, it’s about what they expected out of a 40-something year-old part time wrestler, a 300-pound behemoth with nearly a decade of ring rust, and a slew of questionable creative decisions that have lessened the potential impact of Brock’s latest WWE run.

 Nevertheless, this was the quintessential Triple-H match, for better or for worse. Hunter loves to put together these deliberately-paced, high-concept matches that are meant to take fans on an emotional roller coaster. When they work, they can be something really special, as was the case at WrestleMania. When they don’t, they can stink up the joint, as Triple-H vs. Randy Orton did in the main event of WrestleMania 25.

 By no means was Brock vs. Triple-H a stinker, but it also did not accomplish its apparent goal of captivating fans like few other matches have. That much was apparent at the end of the bout after Triple-H had submitted to Lesnar’s kumra arm bar. Hunter was clearly expecting a standing ovation for his valiant effort in the match. Instead he got a smattering of applause and a “You tapped out!” chant from a largely-underwhelmed Los Angeles crowd.

 But while Triple-H vs. Brock may not have been a match of the year candidate, it was, in one very important way, an unmitigated success: It got Brock Lesnar over as a killer. It’s the role he should have been playing since his return. Instead, he’s repeatedly been made to look vulnerable. Now, headed toward what many expect will be a clash with The Undertaker at WrestleMania, he’s got some real momentum going for him.

 There’s little else to comment on what was a fairly non-newsorthy SummerSlam. The triple-threat WWE title match involving CM Punk, John Cena and The Big Show might as well have taken place on Raw, or your local house show for that matter. The same could be said for pretty much every match on the card. They all hovered in that two-to-three star range, where they are entirely watchable, but also forgettable. A possible exception may have been the Chris Jericho vs. Dolph Ziggler opener, which was very good, as I expected considering the two participants.

 But, in the end, this may go down as one of the least memorable SummerSlams in history. There were no title changes on the main show. No major storyline developments. No surprise returns or big angles. It was just a collection of mediocre-to-good matches.  

 Not a bad show at all, but with Raw now going three hours every Monday, “OK” is not good enough—especially for one of the biggest shows of the year.

New York Sports