Held at the Staples Convention Center in Los Angeles on August 23, 2009, Summerslam 2009 was widely regarded as one of the best WWE events of the year, bringing together top contenders from not only the RAW and SMACKDOWN leagues, but from the ECW league as well for an eight match event that definitely delivered some really solid action.
Here's a look at the matches that make up the event, but without the winners revealed, so feel free to read on without fear of spoiling the event for those who haven't seen it.
Rey Mysterio Vs. Dolph Ziggler: The night starts off very strong with this opening match for the Intercontinental Championship title. These two really get the crowd pumped up from the get go, with Mysterio providing plenty of his trademark high-flying jumps and rope work and Ziggler countering with a more aggressive, traditional brawling style. It's a solid fight that will keep you interested until its conclusion, and it's pretty exciting stuff with a lot of great and infectious crowd interaction from both parties.
MVP Vs. Jack Swagger: The fantastic opening bout makes this second match seem fairly weak in comparison, though on its own merits it isn't a bad fight - it's just too short. There was a lot of hype around this one and a fair bit of that, in hindsight, feels a bit undeserved - consider this one a freebie and move on to the third brawl....
Chris Jericho And Big Show Vs. Cryme Tyme:The first of the two tag team matches is a rock solid Tag Team Championship title match that starts off a bit slow but builds really nicely. The crowd starts to really get into this about half way through, which is sometimes half the fun of wrestling, and the guys seems to feed off of that a fair bit. It comes to a pretty predictable ending and even casual WWE fans will be able to figure out who is going to claim victory here, but it's a fun fight and definitely worth watching.
Kane Vs. The Great Khali: By far the weakest of the matches held this night, this one is fast and sloppy and not really worthy of being in a PPV event such as this when you consider that these types of events are supposed to bring you the best of the best. Regardless, Kane shows a few good moves towards the end but that's about the best you can say about this otherwise forgettable match.
Shawn Michaels And Triple H Vs. Cody Rhodes And Ted Dibiase: The first of the main event matches reunites D-Generation X, Michaels and Triple H, and squaring them off against Legacy. The fans go nuts for Michaels and Triple H as soon as they make their entrance and their enthusiasm reaches a fever pitch. This is a good, long, well calculated match that makes these two teams look pretty even throughout most of its running time. The action spills out of the ring and onto the floor for a bit and it gets pretty rough - a highlight of the night for sure, and a lot of fun to see DX back together again.
Christian Vs. William Regal: With the ECW Championship title on the line, it wasn't surprising to see Christian and William Regal working their collective asses off out there on the mat - or so you'd think - this one is over before it even begins, though the aftermath is fairly surprising. It's so short though that it's almost an insult to the ECW fans who were likely really looking forward to this one.
Randy Orton Vs. John Cena: The long running feud between these two, some of the finest talents in the WWE at the time, comes to a boil with the WWE Championship title on the line. This one starts slowly, with Orton showing off his patented slow burn/pace/fast strike technique, stalking Cena through the ring. It gets a bit crazy with some odd twists and a bit of drama thrown in to keep things interesting and the fans seem to be eating it all up. It comes to a pretty exciting conclusion and you won't know ahead of time who is going to take the belt until the 1-2-3 count has actually been laid down.
Jeff Hardy Vs. CM Punk: Last but not least is a TLC match with the World Heavyweight Championship title on the table. This match is the result of yet another long standing WWE rivalry and a lot of the back-story comes into play in this bout. These two put themselves through some pretty serious pain as the match plays out, though this match isn't nearly as insane as other TLC fights have been known to get. By the time the winner is declared, you'll be surprised but so much by the outcome as by the return of a certain WWE superstar, an event that would have some long lasting implications across the board.
All in all, this is a pretty solid event from start to finish. The ECW match barely counts and the Kane Vs. Khali fight is a disappointment but those two fights aside, the other six are all definitely better than average with some standing out as some of the best of the year. The after effects of the event would ripple through RAW and SMACKDOWN for some time, making this an important bout for those interested in the 'continuity' of the storylines that the WWE has been so keen on over the years, but the fights are strong enough that even for those who don't care about such things, there's enough action and intensity here that it's still very worthwhile.
One thing worth noting is that those who saw this special when it was live on pay-per-view might notice some editing on this release, not in terms of the matches, but in terms of entrance music and in terms of the various corporate sponsors that were mentioned throughout the special. 7-11, for example, was mentioned a few times and all of those references have been edited out. Most viewers won't notice or even care, but these slight alterations and the omissions of an Aerosmith song that was used might irk some.
This pay-per-view event was broadcast in anamorphic 1.78.1 widescreen and that's how it's presented on this DVD, even if the picture is interlaced. The quality is pretty decent, not showing any annoying compression artifacts e during any of the matches and only showing some minor shimmering in some scenes. Color reproduction looks alright and skin tones are fine but the black levels can sometimes be a little less than perfectly defined.
WWE Summerslam 2009 has a strong Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix. There are no alternate language dubs, subtitles or closed captioning options. The audio here is fine, there aren't any obvious problems to report. The dialogue is always easy enough to understand and there are no issues with hiss or distortion worth complaining about. The 5.1 track sounds nice and full, with some nice crowd noise coming from the rear channels but it remains front heavy for the most part. There's nothing reference quality here, but the sound is good. An alternate Spanish language dub is also included.
There's not much here in the way of supplements but the extras section does contain the Summerslam 15 Diva Battle Royale that took place the same day as the main roster. Don't get too excited, however, as this poorly compressed video runs just over two minutes in length and it's an edited highlight reel, not the complete match. Aside from that, there are menus and chapter stops and an annoying army recruiting advertisement that plays before you get to the main menu which you cannot skip past or fast forward through.
While it would have been nice to see more extra content provided on this disc, Summerslam 2009 is a WWE pay-per-view event done right. It's got a bigger scope than some of the other recent specials and it's almost all killer, no filler from start to finish. The audio and video quality are on par with other recent releases from the company, and for wrestling fans, this one easily comes recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.