Welcome to another look back at one of WWE’s best pay-per-views of this decade. As I mentioned last time when I posted the Extreme Rules 2012 review, I’m going to be re-posting some of the best WWE PPVs of the last ten years. This version of TJRWrestling (the .net period) started in February 2015. Everything I wrote before that was on the .com site, which unfortunately we lost because I trusted somebody that ended up screwing me over and we lost everything. The good news is I was writing at other sites too, plus I have everything saved going back to around 2006 or so, which means I can re-post older stuff once in a while.
Today, I’m posting my review of WWE SummerSlam 2013 as one of the best WWE PPVs this decade. This review has been in our SummerSlam section of the site for a few years, but in case you haven’t read that, you can check it out below. They aren’t going to be posted in any particular order. I don’t know if I’m going to post five of them or ten of them or what I might do. It’s just a way to look back on a good show. At the end of the month, I’ll post the ranking of the top 10 or maybe 20 WWE PPVs this decade. I haven’t decided how long of a list it will be, but I’ll do it.
Here’s SummerSlam 2013 featuring big matches with John Cena facing Daniel Bryan and Brock Lesnar against CM Punk. What you’ll see here is the play by play, my reactions at the time, my star ratings and then I’m going to add some 2019 thoughts in blue as well. Let’s roll.
From Staples Center in Los Angeles, California
August 18, 2013
(Here’s the Kickoff Show match.)
United States Title: Dean Ambrose vs. Rob Van Dam
Ambrose entered alone. RVD got a big ovation. The match started with 25 minutes left on the pre-show, so they have plenty of time. The crowd was hot early on although you could see they were still filing into the arena too. Ambrose was in control early with a boot to the face that slowed down RVD. There was a dueling “Let’s Go Ambrose / RVD” chant. That’s unique. Ambrose got a two count after a dropkick. RVD came back with a nearfall after a cross body block, but Ambrose blocked the split legged moonsault by getting his knees up. RVD hit a spin kick. When RVD went to the top rope, The Shield’s music started up. The match was about six minutes old at that point.
Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns made their way down to ringside. Before they hit the ring, Mark Henry’s music hit and then Big Show’s music started. They went to some commercials for WWE 2K14 with Ultimate Warrior and Lesnar vs. Punk.
Back from that break, Ambrose was in control of the action as the other four guys were at ringside. RVD came back with a suplex on Ambrose outside the ring. RVD did the spot where he hit a spinning legdrop off the apron while Ambrose was hanging on the guard rail. In the ring, RVD hit a somersault dive for a two count. Ambrose came back with a spinebuster for two. RVD came back with a variety of kicks and then he hit Rolling Thunder. RVD went to the top rope and he hit the Five Star Frog Splash. Reigns ran in and hit RVD with the Spear. The ref rang the bell for the DQ ending after about 14 minutes.
Winner: Rob Van Dam via DQ (Ambrose is still US Champ)
The Shield quickly left before they could get attacked. Smart move.
Analysis: **3/4 Good match on the pre-show for the second month in a row. I think the finish was very predictable considering I got it right and I’m sure many others did too. It was still entertaining with a lot of good nearfalls for both guys. The crowd was very hot for RVD and they didn’t like how the match ended. I think this match could have been on the main show and nobody would have complained, but I’m okay with having a hot match on the Kickoff show too. This feud will likely continue.
(The only thing I remember about Ambrose’s run as US Champion is that he barely defended the title.)
Let’s get to the main card.
The show began with the SummerSlam host The Miz reminding us what the main events were. Fandango came out to dance with Summer Rae.
The video package aired highlighting the Lesnar/Punk and Cena/Bryan matches. Michael Cole announced 17,739 people in the crowd at Staples Center in Los Angeles. JoJo from Total Divas sang the American National Anthem. She did a great job.
(Jojo went on to be a ring announcer for a few years and then had a son with Bray Wyatt earlier this year.)
The announcers for the show are Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield and Jerry Lawler. The Spanish announce team was there too. No idea what they said, but it was probably something about how they hope nobody breaks their table.
Ring of Fire Match: Kane vs. Bray Wyatt (w/Erick Rowan & Luke Harper)
Pre-match notes: Kane was the face and Wyatt was the heel in his first match on the main roster.
The flames were on the ring apron and they were below the bottom rope except when somebody hit the match, which led to them shooting up. Wyatt hit Kane with a splash in the corner. Running body attack by Wyatt knocked Kane down. Kane was able to hit a sidewalk slam. Harper was going to give Wyatt a kendo stick, but the flames kept going up to prevent Wyatt from grabbing it. Kane knocked down Wyatt with a slam. A fireman used a fire extinguisher to stop the fire that was on the kendo stick. Rowan used an extinguisher on the Ring of Fire. It didn’t totally kill it as the flames shot back up. Kane hit a Chokeslam on Wyatt and then another one. Harper & Rowan used a blanket to cover one side of the ring with the flames. They are a smart bunch of crazy guys. Harper & Rowan destroyed Kane with a slam and then a big splash. The ref couldn’t do anything because there were no rules in a match like this. Wyatt hit his neckbreaker variation (later known as Sister Abigail) for the victory at 7:49.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
Analysis: * This was the biggest lock of the night. It was more of an angle than a match. It didn’t make sense for Kane to win. Wyatt was in his “debut” match, so it was the right choice to give him the win. Obviously, the interference from the Wyatt Family is what earned him the win. It showed that they will do anything they have to in order to get a victory.
(The match sucked from a technical standpoint and the concept of the match was the main reason for it. It was like an inferno match although I didn’t think those were good either. I think my one star may be generous because it may have been worse than that, but I’ll keep the rating for now. The purpose was to put over Wyatt.)
After the match, Rowan and Harper placed Kane’s body on the steel steps. They picked up another set of steps and slammed them on Kane’s head. The steps had a huge V of empty space, so really nothing hit Kane. They shot it from the side while the announcers sold it as a big deal. The lights went out as Wyatt lit his lamp. Rowan and Harper walked Kane from the ring by dragging him away with his arms around them. There was nobody to help Kane.
Analysis: This is likely the angle that writes Kane out of storylines while he goes to film See No Evil 2 in the near future.
(Wyatt got a huge push on the main roster and Kane was one of the first victims.)
The panel of Josh Mathews, Booker T, Shawn “Beard” Michaels and Vickie Guerrero talked about what we just saw.
They aired the video from Paul Heyman earlier in the night when he informed us that Punk vs. Lesnar is now a No Disqualification Match. Most Lesnar matches have that kind of stipulation, which is smart.
Damien Sandow entered the arena with his Money in the Bank briefcase. He delivered a promo on his way to the ring as he said that Cody Rhodes was his sidekick when they were tag team partners. Sandow called Rhodes and his dad “Dumb and Dumber” because he’s mean like that. In other news, Rhodes no longer has his mustache.
Damien Sandow vs. Cody Rhodes
Pre-match notes: Sandow was the heel that was holding the Money in the Bank briefcase while Rhodes was the face.
Sandow was in control in the early going as he hit the Elbow of Disdain. Rhodes came back with a nice counter into a Samoa Joe-like Muscle Buster while they were in the corner. Rhodes hit a Goldust-like uppercut, then a Dusty Rhodes elbow before hitting a springboard dropkick. Rhodes wanted the Disaster Kick, but Sandow moved and hit a neckbreaker for two. Rhodes was able to connect on the Disaster Kick for a great nearfall. Sandow came back with a rollup out of a corner for two. Rhodes came back to hit Cross Rhodes. He covered to win the match at 6:40.
Winner: Cody Rhodes
Analysis: ** I would have liked to see a longer match that got over ten minutes. It felt rushed. When Rhodes hit his finish, I was surprised that it was done so quickly. I had Rhodes winning in the preview because WWE usually books Money in the Bank holders to lose matches since they are likely going over soon. It builds up future challengers for them. I’m not sure if there will be other matches for them or if this is the end of the rivalry already. I’d like to see more.
(The match was too short. They deserved a chance to have a longer match and tell a better story because this felt rushed. Sandow losing as MITB contract holder was not much of a surprise since that’s how WWE booked MITB contract winners. As for Sandow’s future, he failed to successfully cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase. Both of these guys had the tools to become a WWE Champion, but neither man got there. This match should have been longer and this feud should have been given a bigger spotlight.)
There was a video package for Christian prior to his World Title match against Alberto Del Rio.
(This was near the end of Christian’s career. He was a heel for most of his run, so they turned him face to make him a contender for Del Rio’s World Title, which is a title Christian won twice in 2011.)
World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian
Pre-match notes: Del Rio was the heel World Champion that won the title about two months earlier. Christian was a face. Christian won a triple threat match to earn “one more match” for the World Title. Del Rio had a black eye on his left eye.
(The reason for Del Rio’s black eye was that he got into a bar fight on the Saturday night before SummerSlam when he was in a bar with Drew McIntyre. It’s not like WWE was going to mention that, but that’s what happened.)
Alberto made Lilian introduce him in Spanish because he’s mean like that. Apparently #SummerSlam is trending on Twitter, so congrats to those that care about trending topics. Del Rio hit one of his hard kicks to the head to take control early on. JBL does a great job of putting over how aggressive Del Rio is once he realizes his opponent is hurt. Del Rio slammed Christian’s left arm into the security wall (I like calling it that instead of guard rail). Del Rio hit a nice dropkick followed by another attack on the left arm of Christian. Del Rio missed an attack outside the ring, which led to Christian hitting a splash off the top onto the floor. Both guys were down outside the ring before crawling back inside. Del Rio was sporting a black eye. Christian got a boot up to block an attack off the middle rope by Del Rio. Christian avoided a Del Rio kick and hit a cross body block off the top for two. Very good nearfall there. Del Rio hit a huge Back Stabber off the middle rope for a good nearfall of his own. Del Rio’s nose was bleeding, but that didn’t stop him as he hit a running enziguiri kick to the head for two. After Del Rio missed a splash off the middle rope, Christian hit a flying back elbow.
Christian got another nearfall. He set up for a Spear, but Del Rio countered with a dropkick. Uppercut by Christian outside the ring was momentarily successful because Del Rio came back with another kick to the head. Del Rio went for a knee attack, but Christian countered into a nearfall. Christian hit a Spear on Del Rio using his bad left shoulder. He couldn’t cover because he was in too much pain. Del Rio slapped on the Cross Armbreaker. Christian tried to fight it off, but instead, he tapped out. Del Rio wins via submission at 12:30.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
Analysis: ***1/2 That was an outstanding matchup between two of the best wrestlers in the company. The crowd was into everything they did as each guy got a number of great nearfalls throughout. I thought Christian did an excellent job of selling the left arm injury and it played into the finish as he couldn’t get the cover due to the injury. Del Rio looked great throughout the match and I loved that it was competitive with a clean finish. Those are the kind of matches that make a title look valuable. I picked Del Rio to win, so I am 4 for 4 in predictions so far. I have to brag a bit while I can lol!
(Christian had his last match in March of 2014 and had to retire due to a number of issues including serious concussions, so this was his last SummerSlam. This was a reminder of how both of these guys did the little things right like selling moves the right way. Christian was dealing with the left shoulder injury all match, then he hit a Spear using that shoulder and he still sold it after delivering an offensive move. Del Rio lost the title two months later to a returning John Cena.)
Post match, Renee Young asked Del Rio if he was proud of his victory. He said he was there to represent the Mexican people. He said he’s there for them. He held up the World Title. They don’t usually do promos after wins like that, but I have no problem with it. It’s more of a UFC thing.
They aired some clips from Axxess as Natalya & Maria Menounos beat Brie Bella and Eva Marie. Natalya won via rollup on Eva Marie.
(I miss Eva Marie. I’m not even joking…or maybe I am.)
Backstage, The Miz interviewed Maria Menounos. Fandango and Summer Rae showed up to dance. Miz danced with Menounos to upstage Fandango as the segment ended. Then there was a commercial for Total Divas.
Natalya (w/Naomi & Cameron) vs. Brie Bella (w/Nikki Bella & Eva Marie)
Pre-match notes: Natalya and the Funkadactyls were the faces. The Bella Twins and Eva Marie were heels. This was when Total Divas first began as a regular WWE reality show.
All six girls are on the Total Divas “reality” show on E! Network. Brie and Natalya took turns slapping each other until Natalya attempted a Sharpshooter. Brie got to the ropes. Natalya was distracted by Nikki and Eva Marie, who pulled the ring apron out. Natalya was tripped up. Brie hit a dropkick that knocked down Natalya. Some fans chanted “JBL” randomly and then a “Jerry” chant. There was even a brief “Michael Cole” chant. In ring, Brie applied an arm submission. Brie hit a clothesline and then she slammed Natalya’s head into the mat. Natalya hit a jawbreaker followed by a clothesline of her own. Natalya successfully applied the Sharpshooter. Brie countered by shoving Natalya into the turnbuckle. Good counter there. The heels tried to attack Natalya, so Cameron & Naomi took them out. Brie was able to get a two count followed by a running knee to the face. Natalya slowed her down with an Alabama Slam followed by another Sharpshooter in the middle of the ring. Brie tapped out as Natalya won via submission at 5:19.
Winner: Natalya via submission
Analysis: *1/2 It was a basic five-minute match. I was impressed by Brie’s offense. It looked good. Perhaps she has learned something from boyfriend Daniel Bryan. Natalya wasn’t on offense too much, which made sense for her babyface comeback. I thought the involvement of the girls outside the ring was well done. It’s better that they did a singles match here. I’m glad Natalya got a clean win. She deserves it and I hope this means a Divas Title shot for her soon. I’m 5 for 5 in predictions at this point.
(This was when Total Divas started, so it was a way to have the announcers talk about the show to promote it. Putting over the face Natalya was the right call. I had no memory of this match before I just watched it. Nikki looked fantastic. The others were cool too. Getting only about five minutes for a women’s PPV match was standard in those days. It changed in 2015 for the better.)
Backstage, Ryback told a catering guy that the food sucked. Ryback said the soup was cold, so the catering guy told him it was supposed to be cold since it was Gazpacho. Ryback poured the soup down the shirt of the catering guy and then he dumped the bucket of soup on his head.
Analysis: Filler. Ryback has fallen far after getting WWE Title shots a couple of months ago.
(I was never a big Ryback fan, but I think the heel turn hurt his career because the fans liked him a lot as a face. Ryback was so popular when he was a face and the heel run was largely forgettable for him.)
It’s Punk vs. Lesnar time with the theme of the match being The Best vs. The Beast. The video package aired showing Paul Heyman turning heel on CM Punk after they had been allies for years and that led to Heyman’s original “Heyman Guy” Brock Lesnar stepping up to face Punk.
Justin Roberts announced it was a No Disqualification match to a big ovation. Brock Lesnar made his entrance first along with Paul Heyman. Huge ovation for CM Punk’s entrance.
No Disqualification Match: CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman)
Pre-match notes: Punk was the face that had the Wolverine-like facial hair. Lesnar and Heyman were the heels.
Lesnar dominated the action in the first couple of minutes with a series of shoulder tackles in the corner. Punk came back with a running knee followed by a second one that knocked Lesnar outside the ring. Punk hit a dive outside the ring to knock Lesnar down. Punk tried to attack Lesnar with the steps, but Lesnar knocked Punk down instead. Punk drove Lesnar face first into the steel post and then hit a double axe handle off the top onto Lesnar on the floor. Punk hit a clothesline off the announce table. Heyman tripped outside the ring when Punk went after him. Punk grabbed Heyman, which led to Lesnar hitting Punk in the back with a forearm shot. Lesnar gave Punk a two-handed toss over the Spanish announce table as Punk crashed hard on his knees. Lesnar gave Punk an overhead belly to belly suplex outside the ring and then yelled “best in the world.” Back in the ring, Lesnar knocked Punk down with a clothesline. Punk fought out of a bearhug, but then Lesnar buried his knee to the ribs of Punk. Punk came back with some kicks and he went to the top rope. Lesnar caught him and hit a Fallaway Slam. The crowd let out a big “oooohhhh” for that spot. That was sweet. Lesnar got a nearfall after an overhead suplex as we go past the ten-minute mark.
Punk broke free of Lesnar by biting him in the face. Punk rocked Lesnar with some forearm shots and then hit a flying knee off the top rope. Running knee in the corner by Punk. He hit the running knee in the corner again. Punk dropped Lesnar with a roundhouse kick to the head and then he hit a Flying Elbow off the top rope for a two count. That was a very good nearfall. Punk and Lesnar each went for their finisher, but neither hit as Punk hit a roundhouse kick to the head. Punk wanted the GTS, but Lesnar countered it into the Kimura Lock on Punk’s left arm. Punk countered it into an armbar and then a Triangle Choke as they incorporated some MMA moves into the match. Lesnar powered out of it with a slam. Punk applied the Triangle Choke again. The crowd was going wild for this. Lesnar broke free with a running Powerbomb. Wow. What a sequence. The crowd was chanting “this is awesome.” Lesnar hit three vertical suplexes in succession Eddie Guerrero-style. Good tribute to the late Hall of Famer that beat Lesnar for the WWE Title at No Way Out 2004.
Lesnar went outside the ring. He grabbed a steel chair. Punk went to the top rope and jumped onto Lesnar, who held the chair up. That move hurt both guys. Punk hit Lesnar in the back with the chair two times. Lesnar went back into the ring. Lesnar grabbed the chair, so Punk countered with a low blow. Woo! Punk went to the top with steel chair in hand and he drove it into the face of Lesnar. One…two…no! That was an excellent nearfall. Punk hit Lesnar in the back with the steel chair again. Heyman went on the apron to grab the chair from Punk. Lesnar came back and he wanted the F5. Punk held onto Heyman’s tie to block the move. Punk hit the Go To Sleep. Heyman crawled into the ring to break up the pin. It’s No DQ after all. The crowd cheered loudly for the GTS and they were so mad when Heyman broke up the pin. Punk chased Heyman outside the ring. They went into the ring and Lesnar wanted the F5. Punk countered the F5 into a DDT! Holy shit! That was incredible. Only a two count. Punk applied the Anaconda Vice to Lesnar. Heyman slid into the ring with a steel chair. Punk punched Heyman in the face. He applied the Anaconda Vice to him. Lesnar broke that up with a steel chair to the back. He hit Punk in the back three times. Lesnar picked up Punk and hit the F5 with Punk’s face hitting the steel chair. Lesnar covered for the victory at 25:17.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Analysis: ****1/2 Awesome match. It’s one of the best matches this year. I think Punk was a part of three or four of the best of the year with the matches against Cena on Raw and Undertaker at WrestleMania 29 as the other two that come to mind. Lesnar is the perfect bully who has as much credibility as anybody in the history of wrestling. He dominated the first ten minutes of the match, which made Punk’s comeback all the more inspiring because it showed how much heart he had in his ability to keep coming back for more. He also did an amazing job of countering Lesnar’s offense. I also liked how close Punk was to winning not just once via pinfall, but twice via submission. Heyman had to interfere to save Lesnar, which gives Punk an out as far as why he lost. He can just say that he would have won if it wasn’t for Heyman, which is true. I’m not going to say the interference kept it from being a “perfect” match, but it played a small part in why it wasn’t five stars. Really, though, we’re talking about one of the best matches of the year so that’s just a minor gripe. I absolutely loved this match. For the record, I’m 6 for 6 in predictions so far. I just did a Barry Horowitz-like pat on the back for that.
Post match, Lesnar walked away with Heyman as winners who were in a lot of pain. The camera focused on Punk in the ring as he received a standing ovation. It was well deserved.
(It was an outstanding match that holds up very well years later. I like that they made it a No DQ match because it allowed the smaller Punk to compete with Lesnar. It also made sense to do that stipulation because Heyman was so involved in the match. Punk got his payback against Heyman at the PPVs that followed this one. According to the Wrestling Observer after the show, both guys received standing ovations from their peers in the back when they went backstage. They deserved it from the fans and from the guys in the back as well. This was probably Lesnar’s best match during the second part of his WWE run from 2012 to 2019. I liked the Ironman match with Kurt Angle in September 2003 as Lesnar’s best match ever.)
There was a commercial for Night of Champions on September 15 in Detroit. I’ll likely be there since it’s two hours from me.
(I went to the show. It wasn’t that memorable, but we had good seats.)
There was a clip of somebody that won a Doritos contest named Brendan. He took a splash from Mark Henry at Axxess. The winner and three friends got to sit in front of the announce table for this next match.
(The splash doesn’t hurt at all when Henry did it. Henry took the bump on his knees all the time, so they chose a safe move for him to take.)
Dolph Ziggler & Kaitlyn vs. Big E Langston & AJ Lee
Pre-match notes: Ziggler and Kaitlyn were the faces. Ziggler was aligned with former girlfriend AJ Lee and Big E, but they turned on Ziggler and Ziggler became a face as a result. AJ Lee was the Divas Champion that was feuding with Kaitlyn.
I was still writing about Lesnar vs. Punk as this began. Good luck following that match. Ziggler and Langston started it off for a couple of minutes before bringing the girls in. AJ dominated most of the action although the crowd wasn’t that into it probably because of the match before it. Kaitlyn hit a shoulder tackle to break free and tag in Ziggler while Langston also got tagged of course. Ziggler hit a dropkick and then a neckbreaker. He followed that with ten elbows as JBL referenced Lawler’s heart attack, which Lawler acknowledged. Langston was able to come back with a backbreaker. Kaitlyn broke up the pin. AJ took her out with a Shining Wizard. Langston hit a shoulder tackle to Ziggler, but then he missed a second one. Outside the ring, Kaitlyn hit a Spear to take down AJ. Langston hit a clothesline on Ziggler for two. Ziggler fought out of The Big Ending and hit the Zig Zag for the win at 6:45.
Winners: Dolph Ziggler & Kaitlyn
Analysis: ** It was one of the most predictable matches on the card. The babyfaces needed to get their revenge, so that’s what happened. I’m hoping that Ziggler moves on to the World Title again because he deserves it. This feud is over. I’m now 7 for 7 in picks. No, I’m not the guy that was on Reddit that gave correct predictions. I rarely do this well, trust me!
(The match was fine as something to take up some time in between the two biggest matches on the card. Kaitlyn is a fine looking woman, but her wrestling gear was weird.)
The Miz was trying to deliver a promo when Fandango showed up again. Miz knocked him down with a punch. That’s the end of their “comedy” segments apparently.
The panel talked about the main event. Michaels said thanks to Lesnar and Punk for their match. I agree.
The video package aired for the main event of John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan. The story was that John Cena got to pick who he was going to face for this match and the fans made it clear they wanted it to be Daniel Bryan, so Cena picked Bryan. There were promos from Vince McMahon calling Bryan a dwarf, former GM Brad Maddox calling him a troll and Vince said he didn’t want Bryan to be WWE Champion. Vince wanted Bryan to shave the beard, but Bryan attacked Wade Barrett and shaved part of his beard. Maddox did a fast count to cost Bryan a match and he asked Vince to be the special referee, but Triple H stepped up to say he’ll be the referee.
(They used the Stone Cold Steve Austin philosophy with Bryan with Vince talking about changing his look, which is similar to segment Vince did with Stone Cold about 15 years earlier.)
Triple H made his entrance in a referee shirt. The song that played was “King of Kings” for the record. No water spit because he’s not in a match, but he did have a water bottle on him. He’s even rocking the earpiece that the refs wear. Loud “yes” chants for Daniel Bryan, who entered in his “The Beard is Here” shirt. The WWE Champion John Cena entered last. You could tell it was a very mixed reaction for him. I know that’s the usual, but you could hear it even before his music hit.
WWE Championship: John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan (Triple H is Special Referee)
Pre-match notes: Cena was the WWE Champion that was a face. Bryan was also a face and Bryan was more popular. Triple H was also a face as the referee…at least going into the match. It was well known that Cena had a serious arm injury that would require arm surgery and cost him a few months of action, so most of us knew Bryan was going to win the WWE Title. I don’t think it hurt the match at all, though.
Triple H showed each man the WWE Title. He shook their hands. Cena had an elbow pad/sleeve on his injured left elbow. Bryan went after it immediately. Cena actually got a nearfall with a bridging pin attempt as Bryan countered with a backslide for two. Cena powered out of Bryan’s surfboard attempt. Bryan was on the apron as Cena charged into him and knocked Bryan into the announce table. The crowd booed that. Bryan took that right in the ribs. Outside the ring, Bryan threw Cena into the steel steps. Loud “yes” chants for that. Cena gave Bryan a suplex off the top of the steel steps onto the floor outside the ring. Hunter really didn’t count them outside the ring, which is nice to see. Cena hit a Powerbomb that almost looked like a Batista Bomb although it was a bit sloppier. That got him two. Bryan hit several kicks in the corner much to the delight of the crowd and then he hit a running clothesline. The crowd chanted “yes” as Bryan had momentum on his side. Bryan hit some kicks to the chest of Cena, but Cena ducked the head kick. Shoulder tackles by Cena followed by the spinning back suplex that we see in every Cena match. Bryan kicked him to counter and then Cena hit another spinning suplex. Five Knuckle Shuffle by Cena. Bryan countered Attitude Adjustment by landing on his feet. Missile dropkick by Bryan off the top rope for two as we hit the ten minute mark.
Bryan worked on the left elbow injury of Cena with kicks to the arm. Bryan put Cena in the STF as the crowd chanted “yes” for Bryan using Cena’s hold. Of course, it’s not really Cena’s hold because it’s been around for many years, but Cena has used it as a submission move for many years now. Bryan hit a bridging German Suplex for two. He did it again for two. Bryan countered the Attitude Adjustment attempt into the Yes Lock. Cena fought out of it, so Bryan applied another submission using a front facelock. Cena eventually powered out of it by sending Bryan into the turnbuckle. Cena was able to hit a desperation Attitude Adjustment that Bryan kicked out of at two. Loud “yes” chants for that. Cena went to the top rope, Bryan hit a running forearm and Cena shoved him to the mat. Bryan hit a dropkick on Cena while Cena was on the top rope. Bryan gave Cena a Superplex as Bryan did a kip up back to the top rope. Headbutt for Bryan. That got him a two count. That was a great sequence into the nearfall. Cena went to the floor. Bryan wanted the dive, but Cena blocked it with a hard right hand. Cena went to the top and hit an impressive leg drop to the back of Bryan’s head. Great camera shot of that move.
Cena put Bryan on the top rope, he followed him there and Bryan elbowed Cena repeatedly to break free. Bryan wanted a top rope hurricanrana, but Cena was able to power out of it. He almost drove him face first into the mat. Instead, Cena applied the STF right in the middle of the ring. Bryan tried to roll out of it. Bryan was able to break free and apply the Yes Lock. Cena made it to the ropes. Triple H was checking on Cena’s elbow. Bryan hit two dropkicks on Cena in the corner. He went for a third, but Cena came back with a clothesline. Bryan did a flip to sell it. “This is awesome” chant by the crowd is justified. They exchanged punches in the middle of the ring. Each man charged the ropes and they did a mid-air collision as we neared the 25-minute mark.
They got up at the same time as they used each other’s bodies to get their feet. Cena slapped Bryan. Bryan slapped back. They exchanged slaps. Bryan’s beard is like a protective layer, so he won that battle. Bryan countered an Attitude Adjustment attempt into a DDT. Bryan went to the top rope. He jumped off the top, but Cena caught him. Cena wanted the AA only for Bryan to counter that with an inside cradle for two. That was close. Bryan hit a hard running knee to the face of Cena. Triple H counted the pinfall and it was a three count. Bryan won the match at 26:55.
Winner: Daniel Bryan – New WWE Champion
Analysis: ****1/2 It was an excellent match. Daniel Bryan won clean over John Cena for the WWE Title. Wow. I never thought I’d ever write that sentence. It was evenly booked with both guys getting several great nearfalls throughout. When Bryan won the match with that running knee I was almost surprised by it because we haven’t seen him win matches via pinfall with a move like that, but I didn’t care. I was genuinely happy for the guy. I had a smile on my face like so many fans around the world that were rooting for Bryan to get the job done. I know Cena has his detractors (I’m not really one of them), but he put on a great show in keeping up with Bryan. Obviously, he’s not going to be the guy to counter every hold perfectly the way Bryan does. However, he worked his ass off and was part of an exciting main event match with the guy that is arguably the best wrestler in the world. For a guy who “can’t wrestle” according to some people he sure did a hell of a job of wrestling tonight. It didn’t come across as a five star match to me, but it was excellent and very close to being at that level.
(I think Cena deserves a lot of praise for his performance in this match. Not only was it one of the best matches of Cena’s career, but he did it with an arm that required major surgery and he still wrestled for nearly 30 minutes. That shows how tough Cena was. They could have easily told Cena to go out there for like 12 minutes and drop the title, but you could tell Cena wanted to make this a memorable moment from Bryan. Both of them were dating the Bella Twins at the time, so they were closer than most friends at that point. It’s an awesome match. Maybe they went a bit too long, but I think it’s a case of Cena wanting to put over Bryan in a match that was as good as they could possibly do. The running knee that Bryan used was called a “Busaiku Knee” that was popularized by KENTA in Japan, who later became Hideo Itami in WWE.)
Post match, Bryan was celebrating with the WWE Title. Cena grabbed him by the shoulder and turned him around. Cena shook Bryan’s hand. Cena shook Triple H’s hand too.
(Cena only missed two months of action after surgery on his arm. He was expected to be out for about 4-6 months, but Cena’s a freak in terms of coming back from injuries quickly.)
Bryan celebrated with the WWE Title. Triple H shook his hand again as Bryan celebrated with the fans chanting “yes” in support of the new WWE Champion. Bryan looked into a camera to thank his mom and dad. Fireworks went off with Bryan leading the crowd in more “yes” chants.
(That was a cool moment to see again especially because Bryan’s dad died in early 2014.)
Randy Orton’s music started up as he walked down the ramp with the red Money in the Bank briefcase in his hand. Bryan turned around to face him. Orton walked away. Bryan chanted “yes” repeatedly as Orton thought about it some more. Orton looked back at Bryan. Triple H grabbed Bryan from behind and Hunter hit Bryan with a Pedigree! Huge heat for that.
Orton went into the ring. Triple H told the timekeeper to ring the bell.
WWE Championship: Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton
Bryan was still out in the ring. Randy Orton covered Bryan for the pinfall victory. So much for the idea that somebody has to be standing to face a challenger with the briefcase. Orton covered. Triple H counted. That was it. Orton is the new WWE Champion.
Winner: Randy Orton – New WWE Champion
To end the night, Triple H raised Orton’s hand and they posed together. It looks like a heel turn for both of them.
Analysis: There’s the heel turn by Orton that many of us have been thinking about for the last year or so. It has been rumored for so long. This was the perfect setting for it. Bryan won the WWE Title clean, he was celebrating with fans that truly loved him and then it was taken away from him by a babyface like Triple H who happened to have an old friend in Orton standing by with the Money in the Bank briefcase. Predictable? Yeah it was. But so what? It was the right thing to do. Bryan’s quest to gain back the WWE Title will be the story to watch in WWE this fall and I’m excited to see what happens with it.
It was a very memorable ending to the best WWE PPV this year. I won’t forget SummerSlam 2013 ever. That’s for damn sure.
(The angle was executed very well. My immediate thought was that Bryan was going to continue to get screwed out of the title, then he gets in the Royal Rumble, wins it from the number one spot and beats Orton for the WWE Title at WrestleMania 30. Instead, the plan was nothing like that. It ended up being Batista that won the Royal Rumble, Bryan wasn’t even in the Rumble match, which the fans hated, and they had to come up with an alternate route for Bryan to be in the WrestleMania by beating Triple H and then winning a triple threat with Batista and Orton. All of that only happened because CM Punk walked out of WWE after the Royal Rumble due to his frustrations in the company. It turned out okay in the end, but the route from SummerSlam to WrestleMania had a lot of unexpected twists along the way.)
This event had a run time of 2:47:53 on WWE Network.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
– Two matches made the show. That’s what we expected going in and that’s what we got. Both of them delivered. I gave both of them the same star rating, but I liked Lesnar/Punk a little bit more if I had to make a choice.
– I don’t think I’ve ever got every single match right on a PPV before and if I have I don’t remember. This time I got them all right. I got the Bryan win and the Orton cash-in too. I’m not saying I am the only person to do it. I’m sure others did too. I’m just saying after all these years of doing this I don’t remember going perfect for an entire card that often. Does that make it a bad show if it was predictable? Hell no. It was amazing.
(I left that comment in not because I want to brag about getting predictions right. I left in to prove a point that you can still have predictable shows that are great. We don’t need to be shocked in matches all the time. Do what’s right in terms of the booking.)
– This event had the potential to really be the best PPV ever if Rhodes/Sandow was a longer match that got to the three-star level. If Natalya and Brie got more time it would have helped. If Wyatt and Kane had a regular match instead of a gimmick match perhaps that would have helped. It’s still one the best PPVs ever, but with a few tweaks it could have been on an even higher level.
– I miss the Lesnar that was in that match. In the last few years, he hasn’t had the desire to go long in a match, nor does he want to sell the way he did for Punk. It was such an entertaining battle between them. I wish we got to see more of that Brock this decade.
– The ending was memorable. It’s crazy looking back on it five years ago and thinking about how much things changed at that moment. Triple H became the heel authority figure with Stephanie McMahon as “The Authority” group and Orton was one of the main heels. That led to Seth Rollins turning heel less than a year after this and off they went.
Show rating (out of 10): 9
Five Stars of the Show
1. CM Punk
2. Daniel Bryan
3. Brock Lesnar
4. John Cena
5. (tie) Christian
5. (tie) Alberto Del Rio
Best Match: Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena (****1/2 out of 5)
Worst Match: Bray Wyatt vs. Kane (* out of 5) – I’m not going to consider Orton vs. Bryan since it was an angle more than a match.
Most Memorable Moment: Triple H hitting the Pedigree on Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton cashing in to win the WWE Title from Bryan.
This is a poll that I ran after the show. You can see what the readers thought of it.
That’s 89% of the responders giving it a score of 8 or higher and most were in the 9 range like me. SummerSlam 2013 was a big success.
Check out the best WWE PPVs of the 2010s archive right here.
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