July 30, 2005
Hard to tell sometimes what WWE is hocking
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun
The TV commercial for SummerSlam is a textbook example of why TiVo was created.
In the ad, a group of WWE divas (several of which will probably be released by the time you read this) are seen cleaning a car on a warm summer day.
The divas are all bikini clad, spending most of the 30-second ad writhing around on the hood of the vehicle and generally trying to look sultry (yet playful) while getting each other soaking wet.
It's a fine piece of TV, for sure, but it ultimately raises the question of what exactly WWE is trying to sell.
The WWE tends to keep its PPV promo spots light and fluffy for one simple reason -- at the time of filming, they often don't have the slightest idea what will happen at the event.
It's the downside of booking the TV product on a short term week-to-week basis. The shows often seem like they were hurriedly thrown together, with both logic and pacing tossed out the window in an effort to make all the storyline pieces fit.
The lineup for SummerSlam is still being tweaked, partially due to last minute booking and partially due to outside circumstances such as hirings, firings, injuries and character changes.
The difference in this case is if WWE bosses genuinely hadn't decided the direction as late as last month, they've done a phenomenal job of putting together what could be the pay-per-view of the year.
The main focus is the feud between Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels. It's a dream match collision between the biggest star of the '80s and the top heel of the '90s but much like the Hulkster himself, the angle has a very limited range of motion.
Hogan is 52 years old with an artificial hip. He has been kept out of one-on-one matches for years to avoid exposing how little he is physically capable of.
At 40, Michaels can still go at it with the best of them but he's going to have his work cut out for him to carry this one to a passable level.
On the storyline side, it's Michaels who is letting the team down, giving a half-hearted effort in the bad guy role because it conflicts with his real-life religious beliefs.
This past Monday, Michaels finally delivered the blistering jealousy-ridden promo he should have given the first week of the feud, which means this angle may actually have the legs to carry WWE through the summer.
In the world title picture, the plans for both the Raw and Smackdown brands have been changed over the past few weeks.
On Raw, the original idea was for Edge to challenge John Cena for the WWE championship, but when the audience lobbied for the return of Matt Hardy, WWE had no choice but to bring him back in a feud with Edge, playing up the real-life tension between the two.
This leaves John Cena with a lame-duck challenger in Chris Jericho but the company has done a great job of building up a battle based around their rival music careers.
On the Smackdown side, Batista was supposed to defend against Muhammad Hassan at SummerSlam, with rumours Hassan would win the belt and carry it through to Wrestlemania next year.
But when the media came down hard on Hassan's terrorism-inspired storyline, WWE bosses were forced to give the character the old heave-ho and move John Layfield into the spot instead.