SummerSlam 2009 emanated from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, an appropriate place for WWE, given the amount of excessive stargazing that had become the norm in recent times. A bevvy of celebrities would be spotlighted throughout the night, and it felt more hollow than your usual WrestleMania brush with the cultural elite.
That's not to say SummerSlam 2009 wasn't a great show - in fact, it rates with the previous year's show highly among the most underappreciated 'Slams to date. A TLC main event, a wonderful IC title opener, and a heated Tag Team battle pitting youth against experience helped make the 2009 event feel pretty special. In the barren wasteland of Hollywood rubs that was the 2009-10 WWE calendar, SummerSlam was a definite oasis among the ungodly humidity.
10. What's That Name Again?
Yes, this would be the year in which SummerSlam was nominally retitled "SummerFest". Jeremy Piven is no Bob Barker, but I doubt the fast-talking Entourage star gives a fraction of a damn. His guest hosting appearance on Raw in early-August was more about promoting his movie The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard than it was pretending to be invested in the WWE product (Not that most other hosts were avid wrestling fans, either).
It was during his Raw appearance that he flubbed by calling the forthcoming pay-per-view "SummerFest", which gave way to potent meme'ing, and served to signify what the entire Guest Host era of Raw amounted to in the eyes of dedicated fans: apathetic ignorance. It was reported by The Wrestling Observer that behind the scenes, many WWE personnel had taken to calling the show in light of Piven's gaffe, and Shawn Michaels even spoofed the moment on Raw the following week.
9. California Dreamin'
As noted, SummerSlam 2009 emanated in Los Angeles, from the same Staples Center that had previously held WrestleMania 21 in 2005. The venue would serve as the location for the next six SummerSlams, culminating with Brock Lesnar contorting John Cena's spine into a calcium pretzel at the end of the 2014 card.
Somewhat surprisingly, this was only the second SummerSlam to that point (22nd overall) to take place in the state of California. The only prior SummerSlam to come from the Golden State was the 2001 show, which ran out of the then-Compaq Center in San Jose. You would think that an event called SummerSlam (or even SummerFest) would be more prone to go to beachier areas like California or even Florida (which has, even more shockingly, never had a SummerSlam).
8. On The Cutting Room Floor
In all, eight matches made it to the main pay-per-view broadcast, including five championship bouts: three top-brand belts, the IC title, and Tag Team titles would all be at stake. At one time, there could have been upwards of seven title matches on the main broadcast, but a couple of the floated-about showcases would be axed long before showtime.
According to The Wrestling Observer, earlier plans for SummerSlam 2009 would've seen Mickie James defending the Divas' title against Gail Kim, while Kofi Kingston would've put his United States belt on the line versus Carlito. In the case of the former, the women were instead put into a pre-show battle royal, which was won by Beth Phoenix. Both planned matches actually took place on the go-home Raw on August 17, with the respective champions winning cleanly.
7. Always Leave 'Em Wanting More
The opening match of the 2009 SummerSlam was a doozy, as Rey Mysterio successfully defended his Intercontinental Title against a coming-of-age Dolph Ziggler. The barrage of near-falls down the stretch made it one of the first potential show stealers of Ziggler's career, whereas it was just another day at the office for the ever-reliable Rey-Rey.
Just days after the pay-per-view, however, it was announced that Mysterio was subject to a 30-day suspension for violating the company's wellness policy, though the suspension would be held off until the following week so that he could drop the belt. Mysterio would lose the IC title to John Morrison in an excellent match on SmackDown, before going off to serve his 30 days at home. Mysterio was reportedly furious about the suspension, however, claiming that he'd had a valid prescription for the substance that he was popped for.
6. Take A Swiffer To Those Belts
The summer of 2009 gave us one of the more unique tag team combinations in the modern era, that being (don't call us) Jeri-Show. Chris Jericho and Big Show's sorta-callback to the Mega Bucks tandem of Ted DiBiase and Andre the Giant came with a nice five-month reign as Unified Tag Team Champions - a run that saw them defeat Cryme Tyme at SummerSlam.
The match was notable for being the first time any set of Tag Team Titles was defended on the SummerSlam main show since 2003, when La Resistance defeated The Dudley Boyz. That's five straight SummerSlams without any form of Tag Team title match, which is kinda infuriating. As a side note, Raw's Tag Team titles were actually defended in the dark match of the 2007 show, when Trevor Murdoch and Lance Cade defeated Paul London and Brian Kendrick. But otherwise, the belts were stamped onto the side of a milk carton.
5. A Tag Team Main Event?
It was reported by The Wrestling Observer that up until just days before SummerSlam, WWE still wasn't quite sure what match would go on last. One of the viable candidates for the main event was the tag team match pitting Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase against Shawn Michaels and Triple H, in what was Michaels' first match since WrestleMania XXV.
The argument for putting DX vs. Legacy on in the main event was to send the fans home happy with a babyface victory, as Randy Orton and CM Punk would be winning the respective World Title matches at the end. Ultimately, Punk and Jeff Hardy's World Heavyweight Title match would conclude the show, the blow of Hardy losing softened by having Undertaker re-emerge to assault Punk in a really awesome visual.
4. A Notable HBK Win
Shawn Michaels has won plenty of times at SummerSlam previously, including victories in World Title matches, IC title Defenses, Street Fights with Triple H, and the like. Scoring a win alongside his fellow Kliqster over two sons of wrestling royalty doesn't necessarily stand out as one of Michaels' keystone wins, but the SummerSlam victory over Legacy has a footnote all its own.
The win marked the last time Michaels would be victorious at one of the classic Big Four pay-per-views. Following SummerSlam, Michaels would lose in a WWE Championship Triple Threat at Survivor Series, fail to win the 2010 Royal Rumble match, and finish his career with a loss to Undertaker in an epic match at WrestleMania XXVI. His SummerSlam record would settle in at 6-4-1 with the 2009 victory.
3. Short And Unsweet
The ECW Championship was beyond corpse-like at this stage of the game, and the belt would officially be buried in a roadside ditch within six months of SummerSlam 2009. While Christian vs. William Regal sounded like an intriguing battle of gifted veterans, the match would be over in eight seconds, as Christian planted Regal with the Killswitch while the challenger was still removing his frilly overcoat.
The eight-second match would set a new record for shortest SummerSlam match ever, beating the 25-second Chris Benoit/Orlando Jordan marathon from the 2005 card. Randy Orton's cash-in victory over Daniel Bryan in 2013 would actually tie Christian/Regal at eight seconds, but this ECW Championship match still holds the mark for shortest scheduled match in SummerSlam history. Meanwhile, Kane vs. Khali got six minutes, because life is cruel.
2. The Hardy Party's Over
In the evening's main event, CM Punk triumphed over Jeff Hardy in an appropriately-crazy Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match to capture the World Heavyweight Title. Two nights later at the SmackDown tapings, Punk defeated Hardy in a rematch where not only was the belt on the line, but also both men's WWE careers. SummerSlam would mark Jeff Hardy's last WWE pay-per-view appearance for more than seven-and-a-half years.
Initially, Hardy was only leaving WWE for what looked like the short term, but real life would intervene. Less than three weeks after SummerSlam, Hardy was arrested after a search of his home turned up 262 Vicodins, 180 Somas, 555 millilitres of anabolic steroids, as well as trace amounts of cocaine, and other drug paraphernalia. Hardy would ultimately plead guilty to trafficking prescription drugs and possessing the steroids, and would serve a short prison sentence in 2011.
1. Popping Of The PPV Bubble
No matter how much WWE tried to prop up their flagship show with celebrity guests (and actually, perhaps in small part because of it), SummerSlam 2009 did some of the worst pay-per-view business in some time. Blame can also be allotted to the rise of illegal streaming sites, but the decline in fan interest likely played a part.
In all, SummerSlam 2009 did 369,000 pay-per-view buys, the lowest of any SummerSlam dating back to 1997, and was good for the seventh-lowest total of buys for any SummerSlam to date every SummerSlam between 1988-91 and 1998-08 did better numbers). In all, the 2009 show was down almost 23 per cent from the 477,000 buys pulled in by the event one year earlier. That would be a dramatic drop-off in just one year, but it should also be noted that each of the Big Four from 2009 had fallen considerably from their 2008 counterparts.