That might be the skinny on SummerSlam 2005 as a whole: memorable, but odd. On paper, it looked as though the card was fixing to join that year's Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, One Night Stand, Vengeance, and others as nights of excellence, where anticipated matches would be paid off in grand fashion. Instead, because of some questionable booking, SummerSlam 2005 is instead decent at best, while also viewed as a collection of missed opportunities.
Still, times were exciting for WWE. The return to their spiritual USA Network home was about six weeks away, and the celebrated nostalgia wave was a fresh one. There was a lot going on in the company, some of it new, and some of it renewed. While SummerSlam disappointed in some ways (while being morbidly fascinating in others), it didn't detract from the general fun of the period.
10. The Apple Gets The Shaft
By the time SummerSlam rolled around, Carlito had reigned for two months as Intercontinental Champion, and had only a month to go before dropping the strap to 56-year-old Ric Flair at Unforgiven. So who did Carlito retain his championship against at SummerSlam in the meantime? Would you believe it was nobody at all?
According to Chris Jericho, earlier plans for the show were to see him (still as a babyface) taking on Carlito at SummerSlam for the belt. However, Jericho knew he was flying the coop after SummerSlam, and made this clear to the company. He also stated his desire to have a bigger match, to put over WWE Champion John Cena strongly on the way out, to give the new top dog a victory he could hang his trucker cap on. Jericho got the match, and Carlito was never issued an alternative plan.
9. Quick And To The Point
SummerSlam got off to a rip-roaring start when Chris Benoit defeated reigning United States Champion Orlando Jordan for the belt in less than 30 seconds. Benoit avoided a bunch, took Jordan to the original Suplex City settlement, then rode him down with the Crippler Crossface for the very, very quick submission.
The express title match lasted a mere 25 seconds, setting a brand new record for the shortest match in SummerSlam history. From the time The Ultimate Warrior downed The Honky Tonk Man in 31 seconds at the inaugural 1988 card, no other match at the event would finish inside of one minute, let alone 30 seconds. Since Benoit's accelerated victory in 2005, his mark has been topped (bottomed?) a couple of times, and the new record would only stand for a few years. But that's a story for another list.
8. That Was It?
One of the most curious matches of SummerSlam 2005 was the battle pitting Edge against the returning Matt Hardy. Real life blended into fiction, as Hardy returned after 90 days of unemployment to seek revenge on Edge and Lita after their affair destroyed two real relationships. Fans clamoured for Hardy to get blood revenge on that bastard, Adam, and there was indeed blood - but it was Matt's. After less than five minutes of elapsed time, Hardy lost via stoppage, to the disappointment of many.
According to Bruce Prichard, the plan here was apparently not to undercut Matt any, but to set up later matches. He adds that Vince wasn't really feeling the feud, and rushed through the whole thing in a matter of weeks (a Street Fight, a Cage Match, and a Ladder Match would lead to it being wrapped up by early-October). To many, the feud remains a major lost opportunity.
7. Timing Is Everything
If you thought the Kane/Matt Hardy/Lita saga from the 2004 SummerSlam was mental, get a load of the Eddie Guerrero/Rey Mysterio Ladder Match from the following year's event. The prize for winning would the be custody papers of Mysterio's son Dominick, whom Guerrero claimed paternity of. There was even a social worker standing with Dominick, waiting to hand him over to the winner, because wrestling is f**king insane.
Late in the match, there was a notable miscue in which a sneering Guerrero has Mysterio dead to rights beneath the ladder, and is climbing up to pull down the briefcase. It was at this point that Eddie's wife Vickie would hit the ring to push her husband down, as disapproval for his months of rotten behaviour. Problem is, somebody forgot to send her out, so Guerrero had to fiddle with the briefcase awkwardly. They improvised a spot where Mysterio freed himself and pulled Eddie down by his leg, causing Guerrero to damn near blow his knee out. In anger, Guerrero smacked the canvas and audibly screamed, "Where the f**k was Vickie?!" Not exactly a hallmark moment.
6. That Jericho, Always Working The Web
As mentioned earlier, Jericho and Cena worked together in the WWE Championship match, with Jericho putting Cena over clean as a sheet. The next night on Raw, Cena defeated Jericho in yet another title match, this one with the added stipulation that the loser would be fired from the company. That, obviously, was Jericho's out, freeing him from wrestling for more than two years.
What's interesting is that Jericho's contract actually expired at the end of July, and WWE had to sign him to a one-month extension to ensure that he was under contract come SummerSlam Sunday. In an oh-so-Jericho note, Y2J requested that WWE announce his contract extension on the website, but omit the part that stated the length. This way, some fans who figured Jericho was leaving may have been fooled into thinking he might have a chance at beating Cena after all.
5. Cena Nuff Victories For Big Match John
There was plenty of juice left in Cena's maiden reign with the WWE gold, and he would in fact hold the belt into early 2006 when Edge would take away the title on a Money in the Bank cash-in. Wins like the one over Jericho at Summerslam would come to define that long first reign, but it does bring to light a curious fact.
Overall, John Cena's record in World Title matches (either WWE or World Heavyweight) at SummerSlam is a dismal 2-7. Cena's only wins came over Jericho at 2005, and over Randy Orton two years later. Otherwise, Cena's lost every World Title match he's been in at the August pay-per-view, which includes losing five straight World title matches from 2011 through 2015. In other words, Cena has not won a World Title match at SummerSlam in more than 10 years. Kinda shocking.
4. Not WWE's Finest Hour
The original plan for SummerSlam 2005 was for Muhammad Hassan to challenge for Batista's World Heavyweight Title, and ultimately defeat him for the belt, becoming a loathsome heel champion on SmackDown just as JBL was one year earlier. Problem was, Hassan wouldn't be on the roster come SummerSlam, thanks in large part to a major error in judgment on WWE's part, as well as some exceedingly-bad timing.
Six weeks before SummerSlam, Hassan took part in an angle where he ordered several men in ski masks to club The Undertaker, as well as strangle him with piano wire, making a very clear statement about what this was supposed to look like. Worse, the angle aired on the same day as the London transit bombings in 2005, so WWE only looked more crass when they aired the taped segment in full. The UPN network barred Hassan from their channel, WWE wrote him out after Great American Bash, JBL got the title match anyway, and Hassan was released in September.
3. The One And Only
"Hogan vs. Michaels: For the First Time Ever." That was the official tagline for SummerSlam 2005, calling attention to the fact that two of WWE's most storied champions and flagbearers would finally meet face to face inside the ring. It wasn't intended to be the only time the two faced off, but go figure: politics would soon rear their ugly head.
Some sources have claimed that it was supposed to be a best-of-three, with Shawn taking the first match at SummerSlam, and Hogan winning the final two (presumably at Unforgiven and Survivor Series). Figure 4 Weekly says that Michaels pitched two matches, with him taking round one, and Hulk winning the rematch. The publication goes on to claim that Hogan baulked at first, only to say he would do two matches, if he won both of them. Hulk had creative control, and since Michaels wasn't about to lose to Hogan twice, he agreed to just the one match, knowing he was losing no matter what.
2. Shawn Being Shawn
The exaggerated pratfalls and bumps that Michaels took in the main event match are the first thing anybody remembers about the match, tornado'ing around the ring and adjacent areas with flips that even Mr. Perfect might find excessive. According to Michaels, those flops were for his own amusement, having fun somewhat at the expense of the match, adding he had no regrets over doing so.
Michaels had little patience for Hogan scrapping the unabridged version of the feud, and also took issue with Hogan complaining to management about the content of Michaels' barbed promos (after reportedly telling Michaels to his face that he was fine with the remarks therein). Michaels would say that on the day of SummerSlam, he made it a point to poke the bear in regards to Hulk as much as possible, working to get under Hulk's skin, even in the hours before bell time. Hogan may have gotten the official victory, but Michaels decided that he was going to control the surrounding reality otherwise.
1. Business Is Boomin'
With Hogan and Michaels together on top, the juicy Edge/Hardy brawl looming, and other intriguing match-ups at hand, SummerSlam 2005 would end up doing far greater on pay-per-view than most other recent pay-per-view fare, WrestleManias aside. In all, the event would do 650,000 buys on pay-per-view, making it the second-most bought SummerSlam of all time, behind 1998's 700,000.
It almost marked the first time since 1998, coincidentally, that a SummerSlam did more pay-per-view buys than the Royal Rumble from the same calendar year, beating out the 2005 Rumble's impressive 575,000 buys. It also marked the last time that any non-WrestleMania pay-per-view from WWE would do more than 600,000 buys, the first since the 2002 Royal Rumble managed 670,000 buys. The build to Hogan-Michaels should get most of the credit for the big number, even if the result wasn't exactly what anyone (Michaels aside) was expecting.