WWE Summerslam 2004 Review

WWE Summerslam 2004 Review - Event poster

August 15, 2004,
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

By the time Summerslam 2004 rolled into Canada, it seemed like WWE had completely stopped caring about their fans. 

After all, it had been three years since the company had bought out its competition and, despite attempts by the likes of TNA and the World Wrestling Allstars to fill the WCW-sized gap in the pro wrestling market, World Wrestling Entertainment was pretty much the only game in town. 

Watching these 20044 shows back, it seems clear that since there was no need to try and please their hardcore audience, WWE simply didn't bother. 

The result was a lackluster run of stagnant shows that were nowhere near as good as the talent involved were capable of. 

Still, 17,640 fans packed into the Air Canada Centre for Summerslam 2004, so surely things couldn't be that bad, could they?

As you're about to find out in this review, the answer is yes, yes they could:

Summerslam 2004 - WWE’s Summer Games

If you recall, 2004 was the year that the Summer Olympic Games emanated from Athens, Greece.
It was a big deal, partly because the Olympics always are, but mainly because Greece was the birthplace of the games themselves.

What does that have to do with WWE?


That year, the company capitalized on the Olympic Games hype by making it the theme for Summerslam 2004.

As such, our opening video tonight began with a sports-themed montage featuring
Eddie Guerrero on the running track, Triple H punching out an umpire, and, naturally, Torrie Wilson bouncing up and down in a bikini.

Summerslam 2004 review - Jim Ross & Jerry 'The King' Lawler

This led us into a rundown of tonight’s card before we went live to the arena for pyro, ballyhoo, and an official welcome to “WWE’s Summer Games” courtesy of Jim Ross.

Summerslam 2004 review -  Tazz & Michael Cole

Ross and Jerry Lawler were as pumped for this show as their Smackdown counterparts Michael Cole and Tazz who were set and ready to call our opening match.

Six-Man Tag 
The Dudleyz (WWE Cruiserweight Championship Spike Dudley, D’Von Dudley, and Bubba Ray Dudley) vs. Rey Mysterio and WWE Tag Team Champions Paul London & Billy Kidman

Spike Dudley had recently turned heel by kicking Rey Mysterio in the goolies and establishing himself as “The Boss” of The Dudley clan.

WWE Summerslam '04 - Spike Dudley

That was enough to set up this six-man tag, with Mysterio recruiting tag team champions
Billy Kidman and Paul London to help combat the brute force of Bubba Ray and D’Von.

Making his WWE PPV debut, London looked impressive in the early going as he flipped, flopped, and flew around the ring in complete control.

It wasn’t long, however, before a rogue hair tug from Bubba Ray slowed him down and allowed The Dudleyz to gain the advantage.

WWE Summerslam '04 - D'von Dudley works over Paul London

Cue a typical face-in-peril spot which eventually resulted in Mysterio getting the hot tag before all hell inevitably broke loose.

There was a moment when it genuinely looked as if the babyfaces would steal this one. Mysterio hit Spike with a 619 after which Kidman splattered the cruiserweight champion with a 450 splash.
Alas, it wasn’t to be. 

D’Von broke up the pin attempt and, moments later, it was London who ate the 3D before Spike covered him for the match-winning fall.

This wasn’t the greatest opening match in history, but it was a perfectly serviceable contest which got Summerslam off to a good start.
Your Winners: The Dudleyz

Ross and Lawler next took us back to Raw, where
Lita revealed she was having Kane’s baby.
Understandably, that made her boyfriend,
Matt Hardy, a little upset.

WWE Summerslam 2004 - Kane vs. Matt Hardy - Til Death Do Us Part match graphic

Tonight, we’d settle this thing in a “‘Til Death Do Us Part,” match between Kane and Hardy, with Lita agreeing to marry whoever the winner was.

‘Til Death Do Us Part Match
Matt Hardy vs. Kane 

Two guys scrapping over the love of a woman is a story as old as time itself. 

WWE Summerslam 2004 - Lita

So it’s hard to fault WWE for returning to that particular well every now and again, even though the resulting match wasn’t something that initially filled this writer with any excitement.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the talent of both Matt Hardy and Kane, but I doubt this was a bout what many folks were clamoring for.

Much to my surprise then, this one actually turned out pretty well.

The contest’s short length and use of big spots (such as Lita giving Hardy the ring bell to knock out her baby daddy) helped steer this one away from mediocrity and towards something passably entertaining.
The highlight of the bout came right at the end.

Kane countered a top rope attack and destroyed Hardy with a huge top rope chokeslam to win the match.
Your Winner: Kane 

After the bell, a clearly disturbed Lita stood dumbfounded in the entranceway, finally fleeing as the maniacal Kane came after her for a hug.

John Cena Interupts Randy Orton

Out in the back, Randy Orton spoke to Todd Grisham about his upcoming title fight against Chris Benoit. 

WWE Summerslam 2004 Review -  John Cena interrupts Randy Orton

Brushing off a brief and amusing interruption from
John Cena, the headstrong challenger vowed to emerge victorious and become the youngest-ever world champion in WWE history.

We’d get to that later.

First, there was this:

Best of 5 Series: Match 1
WWE United States Champion Booker T vs. John Cena

When you consider the caliber of Booker T, and you consider what John Cena would go on to become, it’s hard not to watch this match and be anything other than majorly disappointed.

WWE Summerslam 2004 Review -  Booker T vs. John Cena

Booker dominated the bout, taking his less-experienced foe to the proverbial woodshed with clobbering blows and grinding him down with a series of holds.

Then, from nowhere, Cena pulled out an FU and that was that.

I’m more than sure that Booker T and John Cena were capable of having a great match, but this certainly wasn’t it.
Your Winner: John Cena

Cena only needed two more wins in their best-of-five series to reclaim his US title. 

Let’s hope those matches proved better than the first one.

Eric Bischoff Confronts Teddy Long 

Backstage, cameras found new Smackdown General Manager, Teddy Long, quietly expressing his joy at our last match.

Summerslam 2004 - Eric Bischoff confronts Teddy Long

Hey, at least someone enjoyed it.

Before long, he was interrupted by Eric Bischoff. The Raw GM stopped by to gloat about outlasting three other Smackdown General Managers and warned Teddy not to cross him.

Long soon wiped the smirk off Sleazy E’s face by promising to sign his nephew, Eugene, to a Smackdown contract and make him “the biggest star ever.”

Oof. That’ll show him.

Triple Threat Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship 
WWE Intercontinental Champion Edge vs. Batista vs. Chris Jericho

From one disappointment to another, this one certainly had its moments but was mostly a letdown.
Half the problem was that, despite being advertised as a triple threat, we rarely got to see all three men in the ring at the same time.

Summerslam 2004 - Chris Jericho puts Edge in the Walls of Jericho

Sure, WWE’s standard triple threat formula meant that most bouts of this nature had two guys fighting in the ring and one on the outside, but here that formula was relied on so heavily that it had a detrimental impact on the quality of the match.

Even the crowd was unhappy, turning on their own hometown hero,
Edge, and booing him mercifully throughout the match. 

I couldn't tell  you whether this was because they were so fed up with the show so far and used babyface Edge as a scapegoat to voice their displeasure, because they genuinely liked
Chris Jericho and Batista more, or, as Jerry Lawler explained, it was simply because they were in “bizarro world."

What I can tell you is that they hated Edge, even though his exchanges with Batista and Jericho were the highlights of the bout.

In the end, the reigning champion took out Jericho with a spear to keep his championship reign intact.
Your Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: Edge 

Up next, we got a video package for the highly-anticipated Wrestlemania 20 rematch between
Kurt Angle and Eddie Guerrero.

Summerslam 04 review - Kurt Angle vs. Eddie Guerrero match graphic

There’s no way this could suck, right? 

Kurt Angle (w/ Luther Reigns) vs. Eddie Guerrero

Of course not. This was Angle vs. Guerrero, two of the greatest of all time. So something pretty drastic would have needed to occur for this to be anything less than a solid bout.

Summerslam 04 review - Kurt Angle vs. Eddie Guerrero

It was certainly that. However, it failed to live up to the magic of their ‘Mania bout.

This was at least in part due to the crowd. Or, rather, due to what the crowd has been presented with so far.

After a lackluster first half of the card, it wasn’t surprising that Kurt and Eddie’s predominantly mat-based performance struggled to inject enough excitement into the audience.

Still, despite its shortcomings, this was a gripping bout that was thus far the best thing on the whole show by a wide margin.

If you recall their Wrestlemania 20 battle, Eddie had slipped out of his boot to escape the ankle lock and ultimately go on to claim the company’s top prize.

This time around, Kurt played his rival at his own game, unlacing Guerrero’s boot so that it came off, leaving Eddie’s ankle exposed, unsupported, and prime for a match-winning ankle lock from which there was no escape.
Your Winner: Kurt Angle

Up next, we got a quick look at the ongoing conflict between Triple H and Eugene.

To sum up, The Game had taken advantage of his status as Eugene’s favorite wrestler by recruiting him as an “honor member” of Evolution, all part of a master plot to get Eugene to help him regain the World Heavyweight Championship from Chris Benoit.

When that plan backfired, Hunter responded by beating the crap out of both Eugene and William Regal, leading us to this: 

Triple H vs. Eugene 

This being “Bizaro World,” Eugene was roundly booed by the contrarian Canadian crowd. The occasional tribute to the likes of The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin won him a few moments of approval here and there, but needless to say, he was not well-liked here.

That’s a shame, really, because Euegene was a solid wrestler stuck with a gimmick that had a limited shelf life. 

In another world at another time, his match here with Triple H could have been something tremendous.

In this world and at this time, however, the crowd was most likely sick of Eugene. He had been featured so heavily in the last few months that it was hard not to be sick of him. 

Heck, the entire Vengeance 2004 PPV  was practically built around him, and the payoff was not good. 

Back to tonight, and what we got here was 15 minutes of Hunter beating up on his opponent with brief but entertaining spots from Eugene.

It wasn’t bad by any stretch, but it certainly wasn’t a match anyone -this fan included- really wanted to see.

In the end, Eugene looked like he could steal an upset from The Game, only to have Ric Flair intervene, turning the tables in favor of his Evolution teammate.

While HHH sealed the deal inside the ring, William Regal came out and took Flair down with a pair of brass Knucks.
Your Winner: Triple H

I would love to have seen this be the end of Eugene’s “idiot savant” gimmick. 

Wouldn’t it be great if he came out the next night on Raw and declared he was tired of playing games and was going to be a more serious wrestler from now on?


Ok then. 

Divas Dodgeball
Team Diva Search (Amy Weber, Christy Hemme, Joy Giovanni, Maria Kanellis, Michelle McCool, and Tracie Wright) vs. Team Diva (Gail Kim, Jazz, Molly Holly, Nidia, Stacy Keibler, and Victoria w/ Team Captain Trish Stratus)

Next, we interrupted our professional wrestling Pay Per View to watch scantily-clad women playing dodgeball in an empty gymnasium.

WWE Summerslam 2004 - Diva Dodgeball game

Remember, people paid money for this show. For their money, they got a five-minute dodgeball game which the Diva Search girls won when Michelle McCool eliminated Nidia.

I really don’t know what else I can tell you about it.

Afterward, Team Captain Trish Stratus blamed Victoria for the loss, and the two briefly got into it.
Your Winners: Team Diva Search

Returning to the arena, Jerry Lawler couldn’t believe the fans had booed the dodgeball interlude.

These people don’t even like women!” He exclaimed as if the fans were at fault for being unhappy with being made to sit through a random dodgeball game when they’d paid money to see wrestling.

Sure enough, we got more wrestling next, even if it did involve JBL

WWE Championship 
WWE Champion John Bradshaw Layfield (w/ Orlando Jordan) vs. The Undertaker 

By now, Summerslam 2004 had been dragging on for the better part of two hours and getting harder and harder to watch with every passing minute.

WWE Summerslam 2004 - Undertaker vs. JBL - Tale of the Tape

So it shouldn’t have come as any surprise when the audience totally lost interest in this match and began entertaining themselves with a Mexican wave.

It shouldn’t have, but of course, it did to Tazz.

“This really is Bizarro World!” He declared. “These fans booed Eugene, they booed the girls playing dodgeball, and now they’re doing a Mexican wave!”

What a great way to remind the audience at home how 
much this show had sucked so far.

Taz might as well have blurted out "Look at the crowd! They don't give a sh*t about this match at all!"

To be fair, Undertaker and JBL didn’t give up on an audience that had clearly given up on them.

WWE Summerslam 2004 Review - The Undertaker vs. JBL

Despite the match going on far too long, the two finally managed to capture the crowd’s attention in a heated finish that saw the referee take a tumble.

At that point, Bradshaw’s right-hand man,
Orlando Jordan got involved, bringing the title belt with him.
‘Taker seized control of the international object and clocked the champion with it.

Unfortunately, he did so right as the official came to and saw the whole thing.
Your Winner Via DQ and Still WWE Champion: JBL 

Afterward, an irate Undertaker chokeslammed Layfield through the roof of his own limousine. 
Said roof tore so easily you’d be forgiven for thinking it was made of toilet paper.

WWE Summerslam '04 Review - The Undertaker

As your bored writer began wondering how a limo with such flimsy construction ever passed quality control, The Phenom wiped himself in JBL’s blood, stuck his tongue out, and left. 

Once The Dead Man departed, a bloody and lifeless JBL was hauled off on a stretcher, clutching his title belt as the ever-sympathetic audience sang Bananarama at him.

That makes this the second WWE PPV in a row where the fans had chanted that song even though neither of the two men they directed it at were actually leaving the company.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship 
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Chris Benoit vs. Randy Orton

Our main event began with the Canadian audience rattling Earl Hebner, showering the official with deafening “You screwed Bret!” chants.

Summerslam 2004 - Randy Orton locked in a submission move

Unfazed, World Champion Chris Benoit and challenger Randy Orton greeted one another with an ice cold stare before launching into a very solid match.

Much like Angle and Guerrero had done earlier, Benoit and Orton spent much of their time on the mat, but the intense and exciting moments that occurred in between the ground-based offense elevated this to something good.

Though it certainly wasn’t a “must-see match,” and though both men would each have better matches, it’s hard to say anything bad about it.

The real highlight came at the finish.

Orton countered a Crossface attempt with an RKO, made the cover, got the count, and became the youngest World Champion in WWE History.
Your Winner and NEW World Heavyweight Champion: Randy Orton

Benoit interrupted the post-match celebration, returning to the ring and urging Orton to shake his hand and “be a man.”

WWE Summerslam 2004 - New World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton

After some deliberation, Orton accepted the handshake. The crowd went wild, and a new babyface was born.

Buy The Complete History of Wrestlemania on Amazon

Summerslam 2004 was a chore to watch. Though the opening match was fun and both Angle/Guerrero and Benoit/Orton delivered to an extent, nothing stood out as worthy of a rewatch.
In fact, had it not been for Randy Orton’s history-making championship victory, the whole show would have been long forgotten about by now.

The most frustrating thing was how much potential Summerslam had. Many of the talents were better than what they brought to the ring here. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some bizarre edict had been issued demanding everyone dial it back 20%.

Why would anybody do that?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Until next time, thanks for reading.

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