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Case Number 17492: Small Claims Court

Buy WWE: Summerslam: The Complete Anthology, Volume 4 (2003-2007) at Amazon

WWE: Summerslam: The Complete Anthology, Volume 4 (2003-2007)

WWE // 2003 // 900 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis (Retired) // October 15th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge Daryl Loomis has no hustle, no loyalty, and no respect. He and John Cena would not get along.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of WWE: SummerSlam 2008 (published October 10th, 2008), WWE: SummerSlam 2009 (published November 6th, 2009), WWE: SummerSlam 2010 (published November 7th, 2010), WWE: Summerslam 2011 (published October 27th, 2011), WWE: Summerslam: The Complete Anthology, Volume 1 (1988-1992) (published May 16th, 2009), WWE: Summerslam: The Complete Anthology, Volume 2 (1993-1997) (published May 16th, 2009), and WWE: Summerslam: The Complete Anthology, Volume 3 (1998-2002) (published October 5th, 2009) are also available.

The Charge

From the mind of Eric Bischoff.

The Case

We begin our fourth and, for now at least, final installment of WWE's Summerslam: Complete Anthology, with a bang and end it with a whimper. 2003 features the best new gimmick match in many, many years, the Elimination Chamber. 2007, because of sheer creative banality, was the last Summerslam I have seen live. If that was what they were giving me, I have better ways to spend fifty bucks. As I mentioned in Volume 3, the purchase of rival promotion WCW brought an influx of fresh wrestlers and storylines that were a natural fit simply because so many of these people had never worked together before and, for those who had, it may have been years. However, a Capitalist society will always dictate that competition breeds innovation. With WWE left as the only viable wrestling organization, they had no reason to change what they were doing. You go home with who brought you to the dance, right? Well, sometimes, that person isn't so great and maybe you should think about dumping them and finding some fresh meat. This isn't to say, however, that there aren't good matches on these five discs. In fact, some of the best wrestling occurred during this stretch, but the storylines, Lord help us all. Anyway, on to the matches.

The hallmark of this year's event is the Elimination Chamber, the best conceived gimmick match since Hell in a Cell. This massive cage (they claim it contains ten tons of steel, or some kind of wrestling hogwash) features six wrestlers, four of whom start encased in smaller chambers. Two wrestlers start wrestling and, every few minutes, another is released until all six are in the mayhem. The last man to score a pinfall or submission wins the match. It's a great concept; an update of NWA's old "Wargames—the Match Beyond" gimmick that works really well. This, the second time they put on the match, was not the best one they put on, but with wrestlers such as Goldberg and Kevin Nash, you can't really get your hopes up. We also have a great championship match between Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar. I loved their feud and they put on a wrestling clinic, which you'd expect from two amateur champions. It's not all great; all the storyline business with Eric Bischoff is terrible. They would have been a lot better off had they left the plot to the television shows and kept the show to wrestling, but they were (and still are) under the impression that people actually care about the writing.

This may have been the pinnacle of Summerslam. It's pretty hard to beat this card, thought here are a couple of missteps along the way. There was a time when it looked like John Cena would break through and be a really great wrestler. That time started here, with the first match in a best of seven series against Booker T. This was a mimic of the series he had with Chris Benoit many years before; the series that made Booker a star. Now, he was slated to do the same for Cena. Cena took the ball but, unfortunately, ran with it in the same direction as The Rock and, now, he's a caricature. The Benoit match against Randy Orton is a particularly good main event. Sadly, however, this is the first of two consecutive years featuring Lita in a romantic role, though I'm not sure which angle was worse. This one was a "'Til Death Do Us Part" match, between Matt Hardy and Kane, but don't mistake this for a reasonable gimmick. The loser isn't forced to marry Lita, which would have made sense; the victor wins the right to marry her. How that's a reward is beyond me.

Now, we start our slide. It's amazing how much is similar this year to last, not least of which is the Hardy versus Edge match. This year, Hardy returns to get revenge on Edge, who stole the heart of Lita from him. You should be thanking him, Hardy, but what do I know? What I do know is Lita was one of the very worst female performers the promotion ever had in a major role and to see people trying to be emotional around her is laughable. The ladder match between Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero is phenomenal action, but it's saddled with one of the worst stories ever: the winner gets custody of Mysterio's real life son, Dominick. Indeed, they truly have no shame. The female wrestlers get treated worse and worse every year, this time featuring a car was instead of an actual match. With a "Legend vs. Icon" match between Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels, one of the last matches I've ever wanted to see, this show is pretty much terrible.

The year in between this year and the last was a sad one; legend Eddie Guerrero died suddenly three months after his ladder match with Mysterio. Leave it to Vince McMahon to exploit personal tragedy, though, because this year's show opens with Rey against Chavo Guerrero, Eddie's nephew, for no other reason than to talk about Eddie's death. I don't care how good the match is, there was no excuse for them to do this angle. ECW legend Sabu makes his only Summerslam appearance in an odd match with the giant Big Show. It's an okay match, but it's not the best way to showcase the homicidal, suicidal, genocidal former ECW champ. A worse showcase, however, is the up-and-coming Randy Orton taking on Hulk Hogan. Really? Another Hulkster match? Does anybody care about him at all anymore? Worst of all, however, is the rehash of Shawn Michaels and Triple H as Degeneration X. The only thing more lame than the last days of DX is the same bit seven years later. These are two legends and this is the best they could come up with for them. What they apparently believe is that men holding hot dogs equal ratings. On the plus side, one of the only bright spots of the show, is the "I Quit" match between Ric Flair and Mick Foley. These are two wrestlers doing what they do best: beating the living hell out of each other. This is classic Foley with a compelling, surprisingly unexpected ending.

Oh, good wrestling, where hast thou gone? It isn't that they didn't have good wrestlers, but the characters by now have become so one-dimensional and the matches so predictable that it just stopped being worth watching. The biggest example of this is the giant Great Khali, one of the single worst champions the promotion has ever carted out. Immobile and pathetic, Khali is a disgrace with a surprising shelf life with the company. In Vince's head, big is better than good any day, so I guess I shouldn't be so disgusted, but to see his championship match with Batista, a wrestler I really like, is like being smacked across the face with the title belt they're fighting over: painful with the ability to knock you out. Triple H returns from injury to take on Booker T in a very good match and the show has a reprisal of Mysterio versus Guerrero, so there is some good wrestling here. I'm also happy that John Morrison has seen success. I used to watch him when he wrestled in Sacramento as Johnny Onyx and, in that small arena, I had a blast giving him a really hard time in his Hardy Boys knockoff character. That interaction is what professional wrestling is all about and it's always good to see a hometown boy make good. This show isn't all bad, I guess. The problem with this show, however, is that they decide that Matt Hardy and MVP should not have a match on this show and, instead, should have a beer drinking contest. Sure, this is a reason to bring Steve Austin out to give a couple of stunners, but why exactly would I spend forty dollars to watch to guys drink beer?

On a technical level, again, these five discs look identical to their original broadcasts. The full frame image look crystal clear, and the surround sound mix is great, though there are no extras. I just wish the content was better. For the first time in any of these four sets, I'm sad to say that there's more bad than good here.

The Verdict

No matter the quality of the good, the bad is atrocious and this set is guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 84

Perp Profile

Studio: WWE
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• None
Running Time: 900 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Sports
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None

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