On a recent episode of a recent episode of ARN, WWE Hall of Famer Arn Anderson and co-host Conrad Thompson went through SummerSlam 2010. The PPV was highlighted by the return of Daniel Bryan as Team WWE took on Team NEXUS. Anderson talked about Bryan's return, and how Bryan had cancelled bookings he had made thinking he had actually been fired by WWE.
"I don't think this was something that was planned from the beginning. I think he did get fired," Anderson recalled. "100% got fired, but I think the backlash from the audience maybe caused him to rethink it and put it back together, because Daniel would have never booked himself if this was going to be just some phantom angle. He would not have booked himself for those other promoters because that was where his beginnings were.
"He was loyal to the indies, he was loyal to those promoters. He would not have booked himself with those companies knowing that he was going to cancel later. That doesn't sound right to me. He was just booking his living going forward, figuring it it was over with WWE. So I think that the backlash caused them to rethink this and they put this angle together. And they sat on it pretty good, and so it was a surprise for the most part, I think."
Anderson talked about how Bryan's return was perfect for him. He said that it was the beginning of the main-event level star he is now due to the audience reaction he got that night.
"It was the right thing to bring Daniel Bryan back," Anderson stated. "It was all about him and it was the beginnings of the guy becoming a megastar, and if you didn't just see it with your own eyes and understand what you were seeing, then it was just too bad because they got behind him that night in a very real way. And when a guy gets over, when it clicks for a guy and the audience accepts him and he makes the connection with the audience, it's crystal clear to see. And that's what you took away from that night, that was the positive."
Anderson was asked if the main event was the best match of the night. Anderson said it was, because not only the people involved, but it was also a culmination of the storylines built up to that point with The NEXUS reeking havoc throughout WWE for weeks.
"Well, probably so," Anderson admitted. "You got to remember you had some pretty good performers in there, you know, the Jerichos, the Edges, and there were some other underlying stories within that match too. And they had plenty of time, and the main event on a PPV should be just that - the main event. And it should button up your stories that are drawing the money, and selling the tickets, and you build your show least to most. And I think that was a main event and told a lot of stories, and you could have still got out of there, I think, with some serious heat with The NEXUS, but that's just my opinion."
Despite the impact The NEXUS made upon their debut and their influence on wrestling today, Anderson said that it was too soon for The NEXUS to lose. He talked about how they were the perfect team of young wrestlers that could have done good business for WWE if they were able to maintain their heat for another year and a half.
"Those guys should have been shoved for another year and a half before you ever put a chink in the armor," Anderson said. "I mean, you said that the quote was, 'we're going to turn this thing around to the stockholders,' right? 'We're going to integrate our new talent with our old talent and we're going to get business turned around.' Well, the one thing that takes forever to accomplish, and it's not that easy these days and it wasn't that easy back then, the hardest thing to do is get heat. To get legitimate heat on talent. And you had these NEXUS guys who were everything that Vince wanted.
"They were young, they were athletic, they were all different, but it was an influx of young guys. And some of them were very good performers, a lot of them good performers for that time, and when you've got seven in a group, they should have dominated everything and everybody on both shows. Get your booking creative enough to make that happen because those guys, they shouldn't have got beat for another year and a half because the story was in place.
"They were a team of seven. You jump on one of them or two of them, you jump on seven of them and it'll work if you just do it in the proper context. So, I don't think any of them should have gotten beat that night, or any of them should have got left laying."
One of the biggest stories to come out of SummerSlam 2010 was John Cena changing the finish of the match. Cena had explained why he changed the finishin the past to his team winning the match, and former NEXUS member Justin Gabriel (now PJ Black in ROH) talked about the discussions behind the scenes of the changed finish. Anderson reiterated that The NEXUS would have drawn more money if they had won the match that night.
"It would've been very easy to write the story that everybody was jealous, you know, on the babyface side of Cena, or you assumed that was the perception of it. And he's having a hard time getting partners, because everybody wanted to see him out of the way so they move up the ladder," Anderson explained. "There were so many stories you could've written which would have made sense, but in the process, The NEXUS were the benefactors because the fact that all the other guys couldn't get together in the company to form a team strong enough to beat them and let those guys just continue to have their way, and it would've worked in order to draw on money.
"But the minute you start beating them and leaving two or three of them laying when it's just one guy, just doesn't make sense. You know, you have to make sense where the numbers are involved."
Anderson spoke more on Cena not putting over The NEXUS, pointing out that finishes like the one at SummerSlam are the root cause of the hate Cena gets from fans. He explained why it hurt Cena more than it made him look good, and Arn gave his own version of how the finish should of ended if Cena were to remain the victor of the match.
"I think that when you got down to the last three or four guys, you're talking about overcoming that DDT on the floor and all that. That probably would have been a closed-door meeting with only one person that could make that happen because to anybody that knows anything about the business, why you would basically no sell that, and become Superman, and overcome all the other odds to just win, it's part of the reason that Cena gets all the backlash from everybody that he does," Anderson laid out. "All those that are anti-Cena, it's for situations just like that. And if all those minds that you're talking about are feeling the same way that if John's going to win and survive, okay, but it should be by the skin of his teeth.
"Everybody can't be wrong, and so I think they were correct in that. I think you hurt John more than you helped him. And again, even if you did have John sneak one out, you know, a quick one, two, three, you could let that sink in for just a second and still have three of The NEXUS guys there to go ahead and just squash them."
While discussing an alternate finish, Anderson thought about the idea of "leave the people happy going home". He questioned that philosophy of having The NEXUS beat Cena because it would only encourage fans to return for the anticipation when The NEXUS gets what's coming to them.
"And here's another mistake just while I'm thinking about it, that was made over the years. There's this ongoing feeling that the end of any PPV, or any house show for that matter, or any event, you want to leave the people happy going home," Anderson said. "Why? Why do you always have to do that? The difference is you never, ever booked heat at the end of the night for a PPV and a house show, and why not?
"That would have been a classic example of getting a victory but having the young guys leave Cena in a heap. You would have gotten to that next RAW, and I would have still been chomping at the bit for the good guys to shut these guys up. And you just don't give it to him. You keep it going."
Anderson then went on a small tangent talking about how those kinds of finishes were booked back in the NWA. He reiterated that the time was not right for Cena to become Superman and beat The NEXUS, and agreed with Chris Jericho and Edge, who apparently tried to convince Cena to stick with the original finish of the NEXUS going over.
"In the old days, in the NWA, a lot of times, most times on television, we would go off the air with heat because you wanted people to come out to the live events and see you get your ass kicked. But you had to pay for it," Anderson stated. "You didn't give it away on TV. You would have in live events. I know this is a little bit off the subject, but you would have a finish, you know, where there would be the babyface getting slapped, getting splattered. There would be a DQ, maybe a chair shot or something from the hill, so the babyface technically won. Then, he would overcome the chair shot and end up kicking everybody's a-- anyway, just so you sent the crowd home happy.
"Well if you can't hit a guy with a chair and make it stick, why do it anyway? We would do that time, after time, after time, and if you go back to check the house show business, we weren't full every night, so something needed to be changed. And I feel like this was one of those nights just to Hulk up, and become Superman, and cream everybody, and go over. I agree with Jericho and Edge! [They] should've went another route."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit ARN with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.