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10 Things We Learned From WWE SummerSlam 2008

Edge wanted The Undertaker to do something really, really risky....

What's the most underappreciated SummerSlam of all time? The 1995 show was a thumbs-up event in trying times, while 1989 ranks among WWE's best pay-per-views of the Hulkamania era. You could just as easily carry the flag of 2008, a card that was as innocuous as it was enjoyable. Matches like CM Punk vs. JBL for the World Heavyweight Championship and Jeff Hardy vs. MVP don't immediately inspire flashbacks, but they added to what was a well-above-average rendition of WWE's August tentpole.

The double main event alone should've positioned SummerSlam 2008 among esteemed company. A babyface battle that pitted Batista against John Cena, as well as a brutal-enough Hell in a Cell match between Undertaker and Edge that was heavy on stunts, made this SummerSlam feel a little more special. Yet, for reasons that are a little hard to comprehend, this one seems to get the shaft in everyone's memory banks.

Perhaps it was the lack of title changes, or maybe even the absence of a genuine five-star match (despite Taker/Edge being a firm match of the year candidate). If you've never seen the 2008 SummerSlam, fire it up on the Network sometime soon. I think you'll agree that it certainly belongs in the category of forgotten gems.

10. Escape From Indianapolis


WWE


Indianapolis, IN is the home of three important elements of wrestling lore: it hosted The Main Event in 1988 (when Andre beat Hogan for the title), it's the hometown of WrestleCrap founding father RD Reynolds, and it hosted the last SummerSlam to take place in a seemingly random location. When the dust settled on the 2008 show, it was off to some perpetual locations.

From 2009 through 2014, SummerSlam would take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, while every edition since 2015 has emanated from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. WWE has been able to turn the two latter locales into destination weekends for SummerSlam, with galas and other assorted events, as well as incorporating NXT TakeOvers into the Brooklyn versions of the show. Indianapolis was the last time SummerSlam was treated as something little more than a nominal A-show with an absence of promotional pomp otherwise.

9. Cleaning Up Their Act


WWE


Two days after The Great American Bash pay-per-view, WWE announced via press release that they would be shifting the content of their programming, adhering to guidelines necessary for achieving a PG rating. Yes, the company's "PG" status has now been in effect for more than 10 years. And despite your complaints, you're still following what's going on every week, aren't you?

SummerSlam 2008 was the first event to fall under the PG banner, although it wasn't exactly the most squeaky clean of events. Chris Jericho decked Shawn Michaels' wife Rebecca (by accident, so that wasn't as outright vile as it could've been scripted) and Undertaker and Edge battled inside Hell in a Cell, though that was admittedly a bloodless outing. Another fun fact: this would be the last time that anybody ever complained about WWE's change in direction.

8. Have A Nice Day, Indeed


WWE


Conspicuous by his absence from the SummerSlam pay-per-view was Mick Foley, who by now was donning the headset on Friday Night SmackDown telecasts as colour commentator. Though the role seems like it was tailor-made for witty, intelligent Foley, he would clash on many occasions with Vince McMahon, whose coarse and reportedly abusive verbiage over the headsets had worn on Foley.

Originally, Foley's presence at SummerSlam would have also tied in with the Undertaker/Edge cell match, commemorating 10 years since Undertaker and Mankind's iconic brawl. Foley gave his notice to the company that he would be leaving after the expiration of his contract on September 1 (two weeks after SummerSlam), and intended to work the pay-per-view. However, WWE chose to write him out via a beatdown by Edge, and told him his services wouldn't be needed come August 17.

7. Charismatic Enigma Guts It Out


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You've heard this one before: Jeff Hardy is at less than 100 per cent physical capacity, but nobody notices, because his work is typically stellar. Hardy performed in the SummerSlam opener against MVP in a very good match, one in which MVP would vanquish Brother Nero with a Drive-By kick (not the Roman Reigns version) after 10 minutes of action.

As far as Hardy's health is concerned, he was working his way through a nasty elbow infection that he had already had drained on one occasion. Hardy was taking antibiotics to help cope with the hindrance, and was far from optimum health come SummerSlam Sunday. But as noted, you'd have never known it by watching him and MVP get the show off to a great start, with a nice, no-BS wrestling match.

6. Ending The Intercontinental Divide


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After the last handful of SummerSlams skimped on title changes, the 2008 version of the show made up for things by delivering two in one match. Santino Marella and Beth Phoenix, the couple soon to be known as "Glamarella", defeated IC Champion Kofi Kingston and Women's Champion Mickie James in a match where both championships were at stake.

Marella became the first man in six years (since Rob Van Dam in 2002) to win the Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam. The title changed hands 12 times in the first 15 SummerSlams, but only twice in the latter 15, with Marella's win being the first of the two swaps. It also marked the second time in SummerSlam history that the IC title changed hands in a Mixed Tag Team Match, after Chyna pinned Trish Stratus to win Val Venis' gold in 2000.

5. Shawn Michaels Had The Blow-Off Postponed


WWE


WWE's top feud of 2008 pitted Shawn Michaels against Chris Jericho, and this cannot be argued. Jericho's transmogrification into the suit-wearing, self-righteous dick coincided with his icy attempts to cause Michaels' ruin, and it was the most intriguing part of weekly WWE programming. After the bloodbath between the two at The Great American Bash, you'd think SummerSlam would feature a rematch, but no.

McMahon wanted to have the two blow off the rivalry at the event, but Michaels argued against it. Putting their match on underneath a Hell in a Cell match *and* Cena vs. Batista would only dampen the effectiveness of the feud ender. McMahon saw things Michaels' way, but wanted there to be some form of heater at the pay-per-view, leading into Unforgiven three weeks later. And boy, is that exactly what we got.

4. A Little Too Snug


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The SummerSlam segment would involve Jericho, Michaels, and Michaels' wife Rebecca. As was mentioned earlier in this list, Jericho ended up striking Rebecca during the in-ring bit, which saw Jericho interrupt the ostensible retirement speech of Michaels (owed to Jericho injuring his eye on several occasions).

During the course of Jericho and Michaels' heated row, Y2J was to swing at Shawn, only for Michaels to evade the punch, causing Rebecca to be clocked in the face by the errant hit. Though Jericho showed Rebecca how to bump off of the pulled blow, when the moment came, they moved too close towards each other, and Jericho struck her harder than intended in the mouth. As Rebecca was being checked out by medics backstage, Jericho and Michaels were both upset by the accident. That's when Rebecca sat up and cracked, "Is that the best you got, Jericho?", breaking the tension with some playfulness. Thankfully, she was okay.

3. The "Hustle" In "Hustle, Loyalty, Respect"


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In what may have been their best match against one another, John Cena and Batista delivered precisely the type of hero vs. hero epic battle that you'd expect from the duo. In the end, Batista would reign supreme, delivering a jarring Batista Bomb that would be credited in storyline for giving Cena the neck injury that would sideline him from the ring.

The neck injury was very real, however - for some time before SummerSlam, Cena had been working through discomfort in his neck, and would soon take time off to address the damage. Though he appeared in matches at house shows the weekend after SummerSlam (doing minimal physical activity, owed to the ailment), he would have surgery days later. After having a piece of bone removed that was blocking a nerve, Cena would be out for three months.

2. Edge's Suggestion Was A Bit Too Risky


WWE


The Hell in a Cell match between Undertaker and Edge was as excellent as it could be, even with the restrictions of a family-friendly product taking away the potential for some welcome gruesomeness. The creative violence and weapons-based mayhem were well-executed, and the match itself was more than satisfying. What was missing was a helluva crazy spot that came up in discussion.

Edge had suggested that Undertaker Tombstone him on top of the Cell, presumably as a finish. It would've looked cool, and would've got the crowd buzzing, but it was decided that it wouldn't be the right thing to do. Given how one of the partitions broke away a decade earlier when Undertaker Chokeslammed Mankind, the move may have been asking for more trouble than it was worth. To make up for the lost opportunity, Edge was instead Chokeslammed into the fiery pits of hell. So there was that, at least.

1. Death Takes A Holiday


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From 1992 through 2005, Undertaker took part in a match at each of those 14 SummerSlams (record over that stretch: 8-5-1), before missing 2006 (due to Khali-related awfulness) and 2007 (due to injury). His win over Edge at the 2008 show marked his 15th match at the event, though it would be a long time before we'd get his 16th.

Undertaker would sit out of the next six SummerSlams as far as active wrestling goes. He appeared at both the 2009 and 2010 events in order to set up feuds with CM Punk and Kane, respectively, while going unseen from 2011-14 altogether. He wouldn't work the big summer spectacular again until he and Brock Lesnar headlined the 2015 edition. Going forward, it became rarer to see Undertaker outside of WrestleMania season, but he still delivered big whenever we'd see him next.

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Justin Henry

Written by Justin Henry

In addition to writing lists and commentaries for Cultaholic, Justin is also a features writer and interviewer for Fighting Spirit Magazine, and is co-author of the WWE-related book Titan Screwed: Lost Smiles, Stunners, and Screwjobs.