Ring Crew Reviews: WWE Summerslam 2013
Posted by Jack Bramma on 10.25.2013
Christian gives Alberto Del Rio a run for his money and the World Heavyweight Championship, The Best in the World takes on the The Beast Incarnate, and Daniel Bryan goes after John Cena's top spot and WWE Championship!
• We are live for the fifth consecutive year from Staples Center in LA. This month on the analyst table we have Book, Vickie, and a heavily bearded and heavily camoed Shawn Michaels. I can only figure the beard is in support of Daniel Bryan and the camo is in support of staying hidden at all times to avoid ONE MORE MATCH chants and requests.
• Josh Matthews goes directly to HBK and wants to know what he's most looking forward to. HBK offers up that it takes a lot for him to get out of San Antonio but he's always looking to show off his camo. Oh yeah, he's also looking forward to Daniel Bryan/John Cena.
• Book cuts him off to say he wants to see Kane/Bray Wyatt. Book mentions that Kane's debut was back at Badd Blood 97 but then he and HBK both whiff on the obvious softball of mentioning that was HBK/UT Hell in the Cell.
• Instead, Vickie wants to talk about Del Rio/Christian for a fleeting moment before we talk about the US Championship which will be defended on the pre-show. RVD last eliminated Mizark and they exchanged fist pounds of support. The Shield surrounded the ring but Showster returned to even the odds. Book says that he's competed for the US title before and RVD, “in his own backyard” will need to step up. Say what? RVD's from Michigan and MAYBE Philly if you want to go the most common territory hometown route, but LA? Ahh, apparently RVD now resides in LA which is fair game for storytelling, so I'm there. HBK says he's impressed with the Shield but RVD is a tough customer so look out. Vickie says she signed RVD and deserves the credit. Book: “It's not about you, it's about Rob Van Dam.” Vickie: “It is about me because I was the one that called him--” Book: “Tonight is about Rob Van Dam.” Vickie: “Don't be jealous, Booker.” HBK: “I have it on good authority. I was told that a lot of this was about ME, here today, on this panel. So... HAHAHAHA!” That was worth the free price of the kickoff show alone.
• Next, we get a Shakespearean Punk/Heyman/Brock video package that deserves an academy award.
• Josh Matthews wants a word with Paul Heyman next. Before Josh can even get out “David vs. Goliath”, Heyman waves him off and says that's a kid's bedtime story about hope and heroes when in reality there aren't any. Revisionist Historians will say that David slayed the beast but in reality Goliath took his best stuff and then beat him down. Heyman's gotta be a top 5 promo guy of all time, right? Heenan, Flair, Jake, Dusty, and... Heyman? Piper? Foley? Cornette? Macho? Vince? Arn? Punk? Austin? Rock?
• ANYWAY, Heyman says that he's came up with a gem of an idea: NO DISQUALIFICATION! Punk has agreed, so it's on. He says it's not David/Goliath because the only thing biblical will be Punk's martyrdom at the hands of BAAAARACK LESNAR!
• We return to the crew and everyone agrees that it looks ugly for CM Punk, but HBK says that his only shot is to pull out all the stops in a No DQ environment.
• Now, it's time for some fluff about the Total Divas show. Vickie tries to say she's an expert since she's a diva but Book cuts her off. HBK: “I'd like to go on record as saying, before the beard, there were a lot of folks who considered me a diva. So, at one time, I was a PRETTY FOXY DUDE!” Book: “I actually sang the song. You remember that?” HBK: “YEAH!” Vickie: “Do you want my opinion, Shawn?” HBK: “NO! No, I'm afraid of it.”
• Next up, various clips of the AJ/Big E/Kaitlyn/Dolph feud and various clips of Dolph and Big E lifting at Muscle Beach.
• A DB/Cena package. HBK says he respects Cena but he's pulling for DB. He's known him since he was 18 and knows he's as talented as they come. Book says that Cena is a 13-time champ and he's made MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of dollars, but is he still hungry? Book and HBK trade analysis on what it's like to be the top guy and that is good stuff coming from those two.
• Finally, we take it down to ringside as they run down the card but it's time for action.
• WWE United States Championship: Rob Van Dam vs. Dean Ambrose (c). Dean enters through the crowd but sans Reigns/Rollins. Good reception for Ambrose even though he's pulling kickoff show entrance duty for the second month in a row. RVD gets a big pop as well.
• RVD moves in but Ambrose ducks out for a casual rope break to easy heat. They trade waistlocks and RVD sends him off and eats a shoulderblock. RVD is impressed but doesn't appreciate what comes next. Ambrose gets in his face, steals his taunt for U! S! CHAMP! That was awesome. Ambrose grounds him with a hammerlock. RVD ducks under and gets sent off for a shoulderblock on Ambrose. Ambrose anticipates a low bridge but RVD stops short with a roundhouse. Ambrose begs off to the corner. ROB! VAN! DAM! Good start. Ambrose shoves RVD back in disgust and Van Dam lands some right hands as JBL puts over how the Shield put Undertaker out of commission. RVD puts Ambrose down with a clothesline and works a lying headlock. Ambrose gets his way back into the corner for some chops and facewashing of RVD. RVD blocks one and comes back with some weak stuff. Ambrose is sent across but gets the boot up in the corner. Ambrose covers for 1, 2, only 2. Neckbreaker follows for another nearfall. LET'SGOAMBROSE/RVD dueling chants. Ambrose gets RVD in the ropes for some rib work and a dropkick. Ambrose covers for 1, 2, no. Ambrose works a Sleeper and talks trash. King: “It was always one thing to get beat up by a guy but I hated for him to talk to me while he was beating me up.” RVD elbows out and comes back with clotheslines and kicks. RVD wants the monkey flip but Ambrose avoids so RVD springs backward into a crossbody. Slick. 1, 2, no. Dean whiffs on a weak charge so RVD slams him down. Split leg moonsault but Ambrose gets the knees up. Ambrose hits a clothesline for 1, 2, kickout. Ambrose wants the headlock driver but RVD kicks his way free and hits the step over mule kick. He heads up top.
• BUT WAIT! ROLLINS AND REIGNS ARE INBOUND! Ambrose rolls to the apron to escape the 5SFS flight path and RVD thinks better of attempting it. WHAT'S THAT SOUND!? MY GOODNESS, IT'S MARK HENRY AND BIG SHOW! We take a break and we're back to Ambrose working over RVD with an elbow drop. Cover gets another nearfall. Back to the Sleeper as the crowd chants for ECW. Van Dam elbows out but gets shitcanned. The Shield moves in for an attack but Show and Henry are right there to hold them at bay with their mere presence. Ambrose is all WTF, BRO?! WHAT HAPPENED TO THE NUMBERS GAME!? He realizes he'll have to do it himself but RVD counters to a suplex on the floor. RVD hangs him out to dry on the barricade and preps the flying spinwheel kick. ROB! VAN! DAM! Good stuff as RVD hits it. Back in, he heads up top for a flip splash. Cover gets 1, 2, 2.7. RVD calls for Rolling Thunder but Reigns breaks it up. RVD stares him down but still manages to avoid Ambrose and roll him up for 1, 2, 2 ½. Ambrose comes back with a SWEET spinebuster. Cover gets 1, 2, no. Ambrose calls for a flying elbow drop but RVD moves. He climbs up but again Rollins now distracts. RVD switches to a kick but Rollins dives out of the way. Ambrose sneaks him with a school boy for 1, 2, 2.99. RVD gets the elbow up in the corner and hits the reverse high kick. Rolling Thunder. 5SFS! REIGNS IS IN AND SPEARS RVD! The ref calls for the bell at 13:39.
• Post-match, The Shield retreat for higher ground without risking a brawl.
• A good match that smartly kept RVD to selling and the occasional high spot for his comebacks. I loved the involvement/interference of both groups as it was perfectly set up on RAW. Also, the energy in the building was electric and probably juiced the match up a ½* or so. Ambrose is primed for big things and he's got WHW champion if not eventual WWE champ written all over him. ***
• We kick it back up to the analysts and Book is disgusted with that pack of hyenas, The Shield. HBK notes that while the numbers were even, the waistlines weren't and Show and Henry weren't nimble enough to help in time. Everyone agrees that RVD went up in stock tonight. Book and Vickie continue their war as HBK tries to hold court: “You two better watch out or two Sweet Chin Musics are going to come out of this beard.”
• Renee Young plays some Touts of everyone's favorite Summerslam moments and shockingly, it's not the usual tripe. Instead, we get mentions of Austin/Stone Cold 98, Warrior/Savage 92, and Undertaker/Undertaker 94.
• Time to start the PPV.
• Scheduled Card:
1. Ring of Fire: Kane vs. Bray Wyatt.
2. Damien Sandow vs. Cody Rhodes.
3. World Heavyweight Championship: Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio (c).
4. Natayla vs. Brie Bella.
5. The Best vs. The Beast: No Disqualification: CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar.
6. Mixed Tag Match: Dolph Ziggler & Kaitlyn vs. Big E. Langston & AJ Lee.
7. WWE Championship Match with Special Guest Referee Triple H: Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena (c).
• The Miz, channeling his inner late 90s JR by wearing a tuxedo to a wrestling PPV, welcomes us to Summerslam. Miz runs down the top of the card but Fandango and Summer Rae interrupt to show off their moves. Miz tries to gong show them with his REALLY's but no dice, so he tells the monkeys in the truck to roll the opening video.
• Opening video is like an old movie trailer and highlights Brock/Punk and DB/Cena as the hottest ticket in the hottest town, Los Angeles. THIS IS SUMMERSLAM! Cool Tarantino mock trailer vibe.
• Ring of Fire: Kane vs. Bray Wyatt. After a red hot debut with some chilling vignettes, the Wyatt Clan took out Kane several weeks ago and told him to follow the buzzards. Kane reappeared live via satellite to challenge Bray to a Ring of Fire match, so here we are. It's an inferno match except regular pinfall or submission rules instead of setting someone on fire. King master of mixing idioms takes over: “IF YOU CAN'T TAKE THE HEAT, DON'T TICKLE THE DRAGON!”
• It's amazing that after the failed Husky Harris experiment the WWE decided that they needed to repackage him as Skinner but go FURTHER with it toward Jim Jones and it worked.
• The crowd pops at the bell and tries to start a RINGOFFIRE chant but it doesn't quite ignite. Kane pummels Bray in the corner and sends him ¾ of the way around the ring like it's a strap match. He levels Bray with a clothesline and the flames leap up (even though there wasn't much of a bump). The crowd likes the huge wall of fire. Kane with an uppercut that sends Bray reeling into the ropes and he begs off from the fire. He comes back with headbutts and rights on Kane as Cole recounts Kane's reasoning for this gimmick match: “Inside a ring of fire no one does the devil's work like I do.” Kane blocks a suplex and comes back with one of his own. The pop for the flames isn't as big this time as the novelty is already wearing off a bit. Kane goes to the basement dropkick but Bray ducks and goes for a Batista kick. He whiffs and almost eats flames but again backs off. Kane misses a charge so Bray takes him out with a Ho Train. Bray steamrolls Kane with a crossbody as King compares him to other greats known for their crossbodies such as Charles Manson. Wyatt mounts for GnP and cuts a promo on everything in sight. Kane comes back with a FOOT TO THE FACE that lands closer to the solar plexus.
• Kane whips him back into the corner for a few wretched, ½ speed Ho Trains. Kane hits the PATENTED sidewalk slam and calls for the ChokeSlam but Bray blows the spot and doesn't feed out. Instead, Bray takes him out from behind and calls for the kendo stick. Luke can't get it past the fire and scratches Plan A. Bray: “NOOO, YOU FOOL!” LA's finest.... firefighter douses the cane with some CO2. Meanwhile, Erick, apparently the brains of the outfit not named Bray, generates Plan B, steals the fire extinguisher, and tries to spray out the flames. That gets HUUUUUUUGEEEEE heel heat. Of course, the gas flames spring back to flame. Kane goozles Bray for the ChokeSlam and hits it. Rather than cover, Kane gives him another ChokeSlam. Kane: “THIS MY PLAYGROUND, BOY!” Kane fires up for the Tombstone. BUT WAIT! LUKE AND ERICK SMOTHER THE FIRE WITH A FIRE BLANKET! They step in and put the boots to Kane. UNDERTAKERUNDERTAKERUNDERTAKER! Unfortunately, UT doesn't work summers and Sister Abigail finishes Kane at 7:51.
• Novelties like scaffold matches and inferno matches generally go the same route: they provide a cool visual but once the gimmick wears off, you're left with limited space and opportunities for storytelling generally resulting in lackluster wrestling. Still, I marginally enjoyed it if for no other reason than Erick and Luke showing upper management skills in stealing the fire extinguisher and some fire blankets. **
• Post-match, the Wyatts drag Kane to the floor for yet another steel stair beatdown where the ringpost indention misses by a few inches easily. Bray: “YOU MADE YOUR BED AND NOW YOU BURN IN IT!” I get that they can't really hit Kane in the head full force with the steps but why put themselves in a position where it's not even close? ANYWAY, they carry Kane out presumably to repackage him as part of the stable.
• We kick it back up to Matthews and the panel that get their first introduction on the PPV proper. Book says the Wyatts disturbing and have “totally flipped the script.” HBK says that personally it was a “little uncomfortable for his taste” which sounds like a mini-shoot, but we're off and running to recount Heyman's biblical promo from earlier before we can explore that.
• Damien Sandow vs. Cody Rhodes. After teasing a friendly parting of the ways for almost a year, Rhodes Scholar finally graduated to a singles feud when Sandow shoved Cody and his Love-stache off the ladder at MITB to take the briefcase. In recent weeks, Cody had thrown the briefcase into the Gulf of Mexico and Sandow had retrieved it but also some unwanted kelp and seaweed. Sandow righted that wrong by getting a tailor-made leather satchel MITB briefcase.
• Sandow is out first and has the stick. He recounts literary duos throughout history and notes a common thread, there was a leader and an inferior sidekick... A LACKEY! Tonight, he will send Cody packing back to his family of carnival clowns. YOU'RE WELCOME! Cody is out tonight but courtesy of Bad News Barrett, he is clean shaven for the first time in months. I prefer the stache.
• They lockup and Cody takes over with rights in the corner as Cole starts in with the company line early about how Damien “Standow” stole the briefcase. JBL: “OHHHH, GIMME A BREAK! HE DIDN'T STEAL ANYTHING! HE WON THE MONEY IN THE BANK BRIEFCASE IS EXACTLY WHAT HE DID! CODY RHODES LATER ADMITTED HE WOULD HAVE DONE THE EXACT SAME THING!” Cole: “A couple of weeks after that, Cody took the MITB briefcase and tossed it into the Gulf of Mexico.” JBL: “And THAT'S stealing.” Cody with a backdrop early and a gordbuster for 1, 2, only 2. Sandow comes back with a headbutt and a MORTAL KOMBAT SWEEP THAT SENDS CODY TO THE FLOOR! GET HIM A BODY BAG! Sandow sends him into the apron and back in for some shots to the lower back. Sandow hits a suplex for a quick 1 count. Sandow follows up with knees to the back and an anchor hold. Cody drives him back into the corner but wilts under another shot to the back. Cody wants Crossroads but Sandow snapmares him over for a Russian LS and the Tolstoy Elbow. JBL: He dropped that elbow like a guy that used to wear polka dots.” Sandow stays on the lower back and goes to a Haas of Pain variation while King prognosticates that tonight's betting odds should be based on beards – Wyatt, Sandow, Daniel Bryan, and HBK's playoff beard. Cody counters out but still sells the back. Sandow tackles him from behind and paintbrushes his face INTO THE MAT! YOU'RE WELCOME! Cody fights back with headbutts and a MUSCLEBUSTER! Delayed cover gets 1, 2, 2 ½. Cody fires up for elbows and knees. Sandow wants a backdrop but Cody stops short for the Goldust uppercut. Good stuff. Cody springboards in with a missile dropkick. He uses the ropes to punt Sandow to the stones with another Goldust homage. Cody goes for the Beautiful Disaster but Sandow drop toe holds him into the ropes and follows up with a flipping neckbreaker. Cover gets 1, 2, kickout. Sandow tries a sunset flip but Cody sits down on it for another nearfall. Beautiful Disaster gets 1, 2, 2.99. Cody charges into the corner but eats turnbuckle. School boy gets 1, 2, no. Sandow: “NOOOOOOOOOOO!” Sandow blocks an O'Connor Roll but turns around into Crossroads. 1, 2, 3 and Cody takes it at 6:39.
• Appreciated the way they incorporated some Rhodes family offense into the mix for Sandow's comeuppance, but I never appreciate the way the heel MITB winners (or number 1 contenders) get jobbed out to the point of near irrelevancy. After this past Monday, that's two straight defeats for Sandow to Cody in sub-10 minute encounters which are fun, but counterproductive. That being said these two have some chemistry and could light it up given some time. **3/4
• World Heavyweight Championship: Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio (c). After almost a year layoff, Christian returned earlier this year to help the Usos hand The Shield their second ever loss. He came up short at MITB in the star-studded WWE Championship MITB ladder match. Christian capitalized though by defeating ADR clean on RAW and then following up by beating Orton and RVD in a number 1 contender's match on Smackdown. Del Rio, on the other hand, beat Ziggler three straight times with each loss fishier and fishier but it was enough to stay world champ. ADR is sporting a fresh shiner after getting into a bar brawl with Drew McIntyre against some locals in a handicap match, but Cole and crew are playing it as damage from Christian's latest Killswitch.
• Del Rio stops Lilian at the intros and demands a Spanish introduction. Lock up takes them into a rope break. ADR goes to the leg early and then headbutts Christian down. JBL brings up how Christian's first WHW title reign was defeating none other than Del Rio in an awesome ladder match. Del Rio grabs a headlock and Christian tries to send him off but ADR hangs on. After a few stalled attempts, Christian escapes only to get taken down by a shoulderblock. ADR then poses with the CHONG LI PECS FLEX! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Christian uppercuts him casually and then dumps him out. Christian telegraphs a baseball slide so ADR tries to cut him off at the pass. Christian sniffs that out and snaps him over the top rope nicely. Christian tries to come off top but ADR stops short to break up the momentum. Christian comes back trying a rana but ADR ducks under to crotch him for a STEP UP ENZUIGIRI! SWEEEEEEEET! SISISISISISISISI! This is awesome and only two minutes in. ADR punts him to the skull one more time and Christian rolls to the floor. King: “Del Rio has made the decision that rules are like pinatas: made to be broken.” ADR then hammerlocks Christian and sends him into the barricade SURGICALLYREPAIREDSHOULDER first! Back in, ADR covers for 1, 2, only 2. ADR grabs a resthold so Christian elbows out. He gathers a head of steam but runs into a flapjack and a basement dropkick. King: “THAT'LL SHAKE YOUR MARACAS!” Del Rio then wraps the arm around the ropes as JBL speculates that this will eliminate the Spear from Christian's arsenal tonight. JBL comes off the top with a double foot stomp. Cover gets 1, 2, no. Del Rio dropkicks the arm into the ropes and torques it over the ropes again. Del Rio goes for a Bossman attack but Christian moves and ADR whiffs and eats it to the floor. Christian flies out with a plancha.
• Back in, they slug it out until ADR goes BACK TO THE ARM! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! ADR poses to big heat and stomps a mudhole. ADR wipes the hardway blood away from his nose and then smacks the taste out of Christian's mouth for his insolence in the face of a Mexican-American hero. ADR flies off the top but Christian gets the boot up. Christian fires up for a missile dropkick. Christian mounts in the corner for 10 and ducks a charging in ADR trying another step up enzuigiri. Christian crossbodies Del Rio for 1, 2, 2 ½. ADR has had enough and begs off. Christian will have none of it but he will have some of the headbutt. Christian lands on his feet out of a suplex and tries the Killswitch. ADR kicks him off and counters another crossbody with the BACKCRACKER! Rapid fire counters in there. 1, 2, 2.7. Del Rio wants the armbar but Christian rolls him up for 1, 2, no. Christian retreats into the corner only to eat another step up enzuigiri. These two are on fire tonight. ADR has HAD IT with the nearfalls so he just blatantly fishhooks Christian to be a dick. ADR goes for a flying senton but Christian moves and catches his second wind. He comes off the top with a super Euro uppercut. He wants the Killswitch but again ADR scouts it and drives him into the corner. Christian tries to sunset flip his way into an MDK bomb but Del Rio puts the brakes on. Christian retaliates with a dropkick and a top rope rana. 1, 2, kickout. Cole: “Christian's like a gnat, he just keeps coming at ya.” JBL: “I don't know if a gnat has ever won a world championship.” Christian wants the Spear but ADR counters with a DROPKICK TO THE FACE! 1, 2, KICKOUT! SISISISISISISISI! ARMBAR TIME! Christian shoves him off and into the ropes for the anticlimatic uppercut on the floor. Christian slides back in to eat a superkick. 1, 2, 2.99. THIS IS AWESOME says the crowd. ADR drops the kickpad for the Sweet Shin Music but Christian ducks. ROLL UP! 1, 2, 2.99999! SPEAR! BUT THE HURT SHOULDER! ARMBAR! CHRISTIAN CAN'T MAKE THE ROPES AND TAPS AT 12:33!
• Awesome performance from both guys with ADR showing a new vicious streak in his repertoire since taking the strap from Ziggler and Christian effortlessly sliding into the old X-Pac role and more recent Jericho role of vet that EVERYONE should be able to have a good match with. Seriously, if a guy can't have a good match with Christian at this point, he should retire and go back to personal training or bouncing or retail management. That being said, I'll continue to drive the ADR bandwagon and invite everyone aboard. He went from heel to face back to heel within 6 months but has evolved as a character and a worker in the time being to be even better. This year, for WWE guys with the most ***-****+ matches, I'd put ADR behind Daniel Bryan and The Shield as a unit. ****
• Post-match, ADR gets the stick and says that tonight is a great night because he is still YOUR champion and he's representing all the latinos. The Mexican people need him as their hero because he knows that everything will be all right. JBL: “What a great role model.”
• Earlier today, Maria Menounos and Natayla defeated Brie Bella and Eva Marie. Miz wants the scoop with Menounos about her twitter war with the Bellas. Fandango interrupts to show off his salsa skills. Miz then dips and twirls Maria for a little Silver Linings Playbook payback and we're outta here.
• Natayla vs. Brie Bella. Brie grabs a headlock after a failed lock up. Natayla sends her off and they go through a hiplock reversal sequence of no consequence. Brie flips over and calls her a loser and then slaps her. They slap it out and Natayla wants the Sharpshooter. Brie grabs the ropes for a break. Natayla chases her out but Nikki and Eva Marie steal the Finlay spot and crotch her on the apron. The Funkettes take offense and scare them away with pom poms. Brie baseball slides Natayla to the floor. Crowd: “JBLJBLJBLJBLJBL! … MICHAELCOLECMICHAELCOLEMICHAELCOLE!.... JERRYJERRYJERRYJERRYJERRY!... SPANISHANNOUNCERS!” ANYWAY, Brie works over Natayla with some dropkicks and a chinlock. Brie: “WHAT NOW?! THAT'S RIGHT!” Brie drives her into the corner timidly as now the crowd wants tables. Hairsmash gets nothing as we're BACK TO THE CHINLOCK! Natayla elbows out and then takes over with a clothesline. Sharpshooter attempt but Brie rolls her under into the turnbuckle. Brie stomps a mudhole with Nikki's illegal help. The Funkettes take them down to settle the score. Brie goes back to this chinlock/loose stranglehold variation to really pick up the pace. Natayla powers out but Brie rolls her up for 2. Brie with a few stiff kicks but runs into an Alabama Slam. Sharpshooter finishes her at 5:19. Not entirely awful but mostly lifeless and dull with too many chinlocks until the falsies. ½*
• Earlier today, Ryback bullied another guy at catering taking the phrase “you are what you eat” a little too literally.
• The Best vs. The Beast: No Disqualification: CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar. After losing three straight to Rock and UT, Punk had a crisis of confidence and took his ball and went home. Two months later, Jericho called him out and Heyman accepted on Punk's behalf. In front of a raucous Chicago crowd, Punk returned victoriously over Jericho but only after Heyman almost blew it. The next night on RAW, Punk wanted to shut up Alberto Del Rio but wanted to do it without Heyman's help. The match was short-lived as ADR took a walk, but BROCK LESNAR returned to F5 Punk into oblivion. Heyman plead ignorance until his true colors shown through at MITB where he finally turned on Punk.
• Cole: “The Beast Incarnate is a 3-time WWE champion, a 2000 NCAA champion, a former UFC champion. And John, we talked about this during the Summerslam Kickoff show, you believe no disqualification will firmly favor Brock Lesnar.”
JBL: “Brock Lesnar defeated one of the greatest MMA stars of all-time, Randy Couture, in the Octagon. He defeated one of the greatest sports entertainment stars of all time, Triple H, in a cage. YES, I BELIEVE NO HOLDS BARRED FAVORS THE BEAST! … CM Punk almost defeated the undefeatable, The Undertaker's streak at Wrestlemania, but this could be the biggest fight of CM Punk's life.”
Cole: “And let's not forget the list of injuries that Brock Lesnar has given to CM Punk over the last month: he put four stitches into the chin of CM Punk; he caused rib injuries and knee injuries and an ankle injury as well; Brock Lesnar FEEDING ON Punk in recent weeks.”
• Punk runs right at Lesnar to start but Lesnar picks his ass right up and DRIVES him back into the corner for the kayfabe-reaffirming shoulder surges. Punk tries more rights that go nowhere except right into Lesnar's charging shoulder. Lesnar clubs him down and tosses him into the adjacent corner to stomp a mudhole. CMPUNKCMPUNKCMPUNK! Lesnar chokes so Punk gouges the eye for some distance and tries some MT knees. Lesnar catches one and goes right to the ribs. Lesnar throws him across the ring like NOTHING. Punk tries a flying knee but Lesnar CATCHES him and shoves him away. JBL: “IF PUNK DOESN'T DO SOMETHING, THIS THING COULD BE OVER QUICK!” Lesnar chokes away in the corner and taunts: “THAT'S IT, BOY! THIS IS MY HOUSE!” JBL, meanwhile, has a rather unfortunate linguistic hiccup as he says that Lesnar is here to “guzzle” Punk instead of “goozle” him. Bad times. Punk comes back with a high knee and another that sends Lesnar reeling to the floor. Suicide dive and Lesnar is down. CMPUNKCMPUNKCMPUNK! Punk gets the steel stairs for a waffle but LESNAR shoulderblocks the stairs into PUNK. That's CRAZY. JBL: “That defies physics. SIZE MATTERS, BOYS!” Lesnar with another knee to the ribs but Punk slides behind and shoves Lesnar into the ringpost. Punk comes flying off the top with a double sledge. Punk gets on the announce table and suckers Lesnar in for a flying clothesline. Punk sets his sights on Heyman to chase him down and Heyman trips over the stairs. But there's Lesnar to tackle Punk from behind. Lesnar scoops him up for a BIEL OVER THE ANNOUNCE TABLE! Lesnar does it again and then gets the awning and BREAKS IT OVER PUNK'S BACK WITH HIS FEET! MY GOD, THIS MAN HAS A FAMILY! SOMEONE STOP THE MATCH!
• JBL: “It's like Lesnar has no remorse – the closest thing you'll get to an animal in your life.” Lesnar helps Punk up just to throw him down again with a belly to belly on the floor. Back in, Punk fights back and cuts off Brock at the pass with kicks to the hamstrings. Lesnar no sells to swat him away and the crowd audibly winces. Brock: “This is my ring, Punk and you ARE my PUNK BITCH!” Heyman: “HAHAHAHA!” Lesnar brings him back into the corner for more surges and applies the BEARHUG THAT ENDED HULKAMANIA! … for 6 months or so. Punk forearms his way free with several shots to Brock's nose but then runs into a bone-shattering knee to the gut. Heyman: “STAY DOWN!” Lesnar: “C'MON, BABY GIRL!” If any man can single-handedly restore belief in professional wrestling, it's BAAAA-RACK LESNAR! Lesnar follows up with more brutal knees and goes back to the bearhug. Punk elbows out and heads up top but gets nowhere. JBL: “Brock is a solid piece of granite... a BIG piece of granite.” Brock catches him with a big snap ab suplex. Heyman: “PUNISH HIM! MAKE HIM PAY THE PRICE! SHOW HIM WHO IS THE BEAST!” Lesnar with a ribbreaker and floats over into 1, 2, 2 ½. Brock works the cover several times and then goes to a chinlock. I know Lesnar has had like five matches in the last decade or so, therefore it's crazy to think how much better he could get if he didn't take so much time off. Lesnar grabs a chinlock, but Punk elbows free and BITES LESNAR'S EAR! Punk with several kicks and forearms. Lesnar stumbles around punch-drunk as Punk lands a flying knee off the top. Punk fires up for the step up knee in the corner. Lesnar won't go down, so Punk follows up with another. Lesnar won't feed out so ONE MORE TIME! NO! F5! NO! ENZUIGIRI! MACHO ELBOW! 1, 2, 2.999!
• Punk calls for the G2S but Lesnar slides behind only to land in another enzuigiri. Punk hoists him up in the fireman's carry but Lesnar blocks with the KIMURA! THE MOVE THAT BROKE TRIPLE H'S ARM! JBL: “PUNK YOU BETTER TAP! HE'S GOING TO BREAK YOUR ARM! … HE'LL BREAK IT, PUNK! TAP TAP!” Instead, Punk stacks him up and rolls through to an armbar. Lesnar rolls him up, so Punk switches to HELL'S GATE! Lesnar overpowers and Rampage powerbombs him down. BUT PUNK HANGS ON! HELL'S GATE! BROCK'S GOING TO TAP! NO! Brock picks him up again but Punk counters with elbows to the head. Lesnar fires up and runs out with the RUNNING LIGER BOMB! Delay cover gets 1, 2, kickout. CMPUNKCMPUNKCMPUNK! Brock tells the crowd to go fuck themselves because he's going over tonight with THREE AMIGOS! 1, 2, 2.999. Brock stalks out to the floor for a steel chair. Punk tries to sneak him with a crossbody off the top but Lesnar gets the chair up to block. Punk still gets up first(?) and waffles Lesnar across the back a few times. Cole: “THIS IS WHERE NO DISQUALIFICATION MAY FAVOR PUNK!” Punk tries one more but Brock blocks! The Beast has the chair for his dirty work but PUNK COUNTERS WITH A LOW BLOW! Punk: “Where's your cup now, UFC BOY?!” Punk heads up top with the chair for a CHAIR-ASSISTED MACHO ELBOW! 1! 2! LESNAR POWERS OUT! Punk fires up and blasts down Lesnar a few more times. Heyman: “NO! NO!” HEYMAN GRABS THE CHAIR FROM BEHIND! Heyman: “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!” Punk goozles him and grabs him by the tie. Brock attacks from behind for the F5! NO! PUNK'S GOT THE TIE! Brock and Heyman: “LET GO!” Brock is forced to release to save his meal ticket. G2S! 1! 2! HEYMAN INTERFERES! DAMMIT HEYMAN! Heyman begs off and then backs up and then sprints away. But Brock cuts Punk off at the pass. He wants the F5 but Punk counters to a DDT! 1, 2, kickout. ANACONDA VICE! Heyman tries to save Brock again with the chair this time. Punk puts a stop to that with a simple stomp. Heyman: “LET GO! LET GO!” Heyman then girlishly tries to slap Punk's foot off the chair. This is PERFECT. Punk goozles Heyman finally getting his hands on him. Heyman: “I'm sorry, PLEASE! DON'T!” Haymaker to Heyman. Punk then applies the Anaconda Vice and Heyman taps out. JBL: “HEYMAN TAPPING DOESN'T MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE!” Brock recovers and is all BROCK SMASH and just ENDS Punk with one of the hardest chairshots of all time. Two more and Punk is DONE. F5 on the chair ends it at 25:17.
• A phenomenal match that gets better with every minute, every kickout, and every instance of Heyman's interference. From a pure unadulterated storytelling perspective, this is probably one of my favorite matches ever along with HBK/Triple H from Summerslam 2003, Jericho and HBK's entire feud from 2008, and though a recent addition, Del Rio/Ziggler from this year's Payback, though I'm sure I'm forgetting dozens. You have three of the best wrestling performers in the world each doing exactly what they were born to do: Heyman being a sniveling front-runner coward, Brock being a Cro-Magnon blunt object, and Punk playing the ragged underdog clawing and scratching his way to inches of victory against all odds. You even had Brock and Punk both showing off what they'd learned from two of their most crushing defeats – Brock picked up the Three Amigos from Eddie and Punk picked up the Hell's Gate from Undertaker. Last, but certainly not least, they even left something in the tank storytelling-wise for a potential rematch as Punk never got to kick out of the F5 and Brock didn't get to kick out of the G2S as Heyman interfered. The only drawback for the whole experience is just some general dissatisfaction with Punk's execution of the Macho elbow and his kicks. ****3/4
• Post-match, Lesnar limps out victorious and Punk leaves to a standing ovation that Triple H didn't get last year.
• Mixed Tag Match: Dolph Ziggler & Kaitlyn vs. Big E. Langston & AJ Lee. AJ dumped after being cost the WHW champ at MITB by AJ. The next night on RAW, AJ celebrated her new singledom by costing Dolph again. Her favorite powerlifter and parnter in secret admirer crime, Big E, stood up for her, so here we go. Because of mixed tag rules, it's only guys on guys or ladies on ladies. At ringside, we are joined by a fan who won a Doritos tie-in by taking a splash from Mark Henry.
• E and Dolph to start. Dolph uses his speed to land a Bluechipper dropkick but E comes back with a belly to belly suplex. He lands a big elbow off a splash for 1, 2, only 2. E wants to pick things up so he applies an ab stretch 30 seconds in. AJ looks on glowingly as Cole puts over Big E training at muscle beach in the build up.
• E throws him down and then brings him over so AJ can smack him. Dolph gets free with another dropkick and now the women are in. Kaitlyn brings AJ into the corner and splashes her or something as AJ awkwardly walks out but then takes a splash anyway. Kaitlyn with a backbreaker but AJ no sells to slide behind her to shove her into the turnbuckle. Kaitlyn blocks but then turns around and walks a good five steps out into a roundhouse. These two have just awful together. AJ covers for a 2 count and then goes to a cravat. Cole gives us some backstory while JBL starts looking up psychologists in the yellow pages for AJ. Kaitlyn elbows free but runs into a back elbow for another 2 count. AJ hits two rolling neckbreakers and postures: “THAT'S WHY I'M THE CHAMP!” Kaitlyn goes to the breadbasket so AJ goes to the Sleeper. Kaitlyn drives her into the turnbuckle as the rally clap starts and die. AJ boots her down to counter a counter. AJ: “I'M THE CHAMP! YOU'RE MY LEFTOVERS, KAITLYN!” Kaitlyn comes back with a Pounce and makes a tag to Dolph and E is in as well. Dolph with the three Bluechipper dropkick thus far. A Stinger Splash and a neckbreaker and he's fired up. It's time for the 10 elbows. Cover gets 1, 2, no. He goes for the Rocker Dropper but Big E cuts him off with a gutwrench backbreaker. He covers but Kaitlyn breaks it up. E gives her the stink eye so AJ can blindside her with a dropkick. E rushes into the corner with a harpoon. He tries another but eats post. AJ tries to distract Dolph so Kaitlyn Spears her on the floor. E destroys Dolph with a LARIATO. Cover gets 1, 2, nearfall. E drops the straps but Dolph ducks behind for the Zig Zag. Cover gets 1, 2, 3 to finish it at 6:46. Well, something had to follow the unfollowable. An unenviable position to say the least and they kept it together for the most part. AJ's got some personality and Dolph is ready for the rocket, but they were stuck in this mostly heatless endeavor so it was probably best for all involved to move on. **
• Meanwhile, the Miz is in the back to hype up the main event but he's interrupted by FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNDAAAAAAAANNNNN—Miz lays him out before he can finish saying his name to complete their feud for the night.
• Back to the analyst roundtable as Josh wants to put everyone on the spot. HBK is sticking with DB. Book dodges and wants to know how hungry Cena is. Vickie goes with DB as well. Before we take it back to ringside, HBK thanks Punk and Lesnar for their outstanding match. That's quite the compliment considering the source.
• WWE Championship Match with Special Guest Referee Triple H: Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena (c). Back at MITB, DB broke off from Hell No to show he wasn't the weak link. He was the odds on favorite to take the briefcase but came up as eyelash short after Randy Orton won it. In the following weeks, John Cena was given the option of picking his opponent and sided with the WWE Universe in selecting the red hot Daniel Bryan. Every McMahon and WWE executive in shouting distance tried to mold DB in their own image to justify his new-found top billing but Dragon resisted all makeovers and danced with what brung him. Vince and Maddox tried to stack the deck against him but The H's stepped in to selflessly name himself special guest referee. Cena condescendingly tried to stick up for DB at every turn but didn't seem to respect him as a threat. On the go-home, DB invoked his international experience and the puro tradition of smacking your opponent before a big match to bring out the best in him. Unfortunately, DB wouldn't extend this honor to Cena because in his eyes, Cena isn't deserving of respect because he isn't a WRESTLER! Cena smacked him the shit outta him and here we are.
• Cena's sporting a heavily wrapped left arm for legit bicep tendon injury. DB goes to work on the arm early but Cena rolls through for a headlock TD. DB armdrags Cena over to escape out. Cole: “DANIEL BRYAN, THE WRESTLER AGAINST CENA, THE ENTERTAINER! Does Cena want to get into a 'wrestling' match with Daniel Bryan, King?” King: “I don't think John Cena has a problem in any kind of match with Daniel Bryan. John Cena picked Daniel Bryan as his opponent here at Summerslam. I don't think John Cena fears Daniel Bryan in any way, form, or fashion.” Test of strength and Cena easily wins it with an inside sweep. DB bridges up and Cena tries to break it but DB HOLDS STRONG! Cena tries against with the same result so DB monkey flips him over and wants the Yes Lock and Cena bails out! OOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Almost never see that. While ringside, Cena whispers to the doctor and King gets the scoop that Cena's elbow is holding up fine. Back in, Cena grabs a headlock to boos and takes him down again. Cole: “There's a reason Cena is using his left arm for the headlock... show off the elbow's not hurt.” DB sends him off and tries a monkey flip but Cena catches him into a double leg TD. Cena jackknife rolls up DB for a few 1 counts before DB bridges up for the Steamboat/Flair spot. DB backslides Cena for 1, 2, no. DSLW and NOW, WE GO TO SCHOOL, BEST IN THE WORLD STYLE! DB goes to the trusty Mexican surfboard but Cena easily powers out and hoists up DB for the FU. DB escapes to the apron so Cena plows into him and sends him flying into the announce table. BOOOOOOOOOOOO! NONONONONO! Cena seizes the moment but gets sent into the ring steps instead. DB preps a suplex off them but Cena counters to a SUPERPLEX ON THE FLOOR! The LA faithful remind Cena that he still sucks to them. Back in, Cena covers for 1, 2, only 2. Cena goes to the haymakers in the corner. He sends DB across for a hard whip. Cole: “You can do all the moves you want, but sometimes, power just prevails.” JBL: “Can't coach speed and can't coach power. That's something that's awful hard to counter; I don't care how many wrestling moves you know.” Cena pulls DB out for a DemonBomb. Cover gets 1, 2, 2 ½. Little early for that but we'll see how it goes. Cena goes to a chinlock. King: “Triple H, the kind of referee that's going to let these guys go. That's what I like about it.” JBL: “I absolutely agree with you, King. Matches like this should be decided in the ring, not the referee.” DB comes to live with forearms and kicks in the corner. YESYESYESYESYES! King: “DON'T GLOAT, GOAT!”
• Cena no sells to charge out with a boot to the breadbasket to HUGE boos. Massive heat for just a kick and not in the middle of a boo/yay sequence either. Amazing. Cena sends him off and DB flips up-and-over and flies into Cena with a burrito. DB kicks Cena into oblivion only to kick Cena back to life as it's time for the shoulderblocks and Protobomb. Cole: “JOHN CENA ON DISPLAY!” Cena wants the 5KS but DB counters with an up kick and an armbar TD. Cena rolls through so DB tries to kick him off but Cena ignores it, so they repeat the spot and this time Cena gets kicked off. Cena ducks a clothesline and this time hits the 5KS. He wants the FU at 10 minutes in but DB lands on his feet. Cena charges in but eats boot. DB flies off the top with the missile dropkick. 1, 2, no. DB moves in for the kill with DR FG's right to the injured arm. Cole: “Cena's hurt, guys.” JBL: “Can you imagine after Cena beats the Rock at Wrestlemania, Daniel Bryan takes the championship from him at Summerslam?” Cole: “Yeah, we questioned earlier whether Daniel would target the elbow and he has.”
• DB follows up with an armbreaker more DR FG's. DB: “GET UP! GET UP! GET UP, CENA!” Cena counters with a drop toe hold and wants the STF but DB kicks him away and rolls through into the STF! JBL: “CENA COULD LOSE THIS MATCH IN HIS VERY OWN HOLD!” Cena reaches for the ropes but DB pulls him back to the middle for a LEG-CAPTURE GERMAN SUPLEX! 1, 2, 2.999! Another German gets 1, 2, no. DB wants the trio but they counter finishers and DB goes back to the YES LOCK! Cena counters and tries to stack him up so DB locks in a guillotine with a body lock. Some obvious MMA flavor here. Cena no sells to drive him into the corner and backdrop him over. DB rushes in and Cena counters to catch him in the FU. 1, 2, 2.9999999999999999999. YESYESYESYESYES! Cena appears out of answers as he mouths to Triple H: “I know why you like the kid.” Cena heads up top to big jeers but DB cuts him off. They counter and then counter counters before DB hits a superplex and hooks himself in a Tree of Woe for a POWER SITUP! DB fires up for the diving headbutt. 1, 2, kickout and Cena rolls out of the ring to recover. Nice touch. DB builds a head of steam for the suicide dive but Cena cuts him off with a CLUBBINGBLOW.
• Cena climbs the top rope and hits the Super Fame-asser. 1, 2, nearfall. Dueling chants for Cena as he preps DB for a Super FU. DB counters out with the MMA elbows. He wants a top rope rana but Cena catches him and drops down almost landing ON DB'S HEAD before rolling him over into the FU. Near-miss disaster there. Cole: “WILL BRYAN TAP OUT!? IT'S FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP! IS HE GOING TO TAP OUT?! HE'S TRYING TO DRAG HIMSELF TO THE ROPES! FOR DANIEL BRYAN, THE MOMENT OF TRUTH!” DB rolls it over but Cena keeps it locked in. DB gets a second wind and escapes out for the Yes Lock. Cena grabs the ropes to boos. Triple H checks the arm and calls for the doctor but Cena waves him off. DB fires up for a series of IEDs. He tries a third but Cena blows through him with a LARIATO! Double KO spot. They recover for the slug and kick it out before colliding on a double shoulderblock. They use each other to pull themselves up and now it's MAN UP TIME! SLAP IT OUT! DB unleashes Hell on Cena with several smacks and kicks. He tries up and over out of the corner again but Cena CATCHES HIM! He wants another FU but DB counters to a DDT. DB heads up top for a crossbody but Cena catches him again. Cena says it's over and wants the FU! NO! SMALL PACKAGE! 1, 2, 2.999! DR FG ENZUIGIRI! YESYESYESYES! BUSAIKU KNEE! 1, 2, 3 FOR A NEW WWE CHAMP AT 27:00!
• A great match if still a tad underwhelming. DB has carried pretty much every indy star of the last decade to ****+ so it's disappointing that he and Cena can only match just that. Part of me feels like ROH DB > WWE DB in the ring, but the differences are mostly cosmetic and to do with move selection and pacing and ROH DB would never find himself in a position to go over Cena in the first place. He had to cut out the 20 minute wristlock seminars on Roderick Strong if he ever wanted to be a top WWE guy.
• Still, credit where it's due: Cena sold more here than he has for almost anyone since becoming the guy and with a bad arm to boot. Also, this is the first clean as a sheet job for Cena since WM XXVIII to Rock and before that, who knows. In other ways though, Cena was still Cena including going for his go-home barely halfway into the match like he did against Rock at Twice in a Lifetime, though thankfully this didn't lead to finishers galore for both guys.
• I don't feel like these guys have the best chemistry in the world as the counters on the submissions and the AA were less than stellar and the biggest reactions of the match had more to do with Cena's character than anything else. But the ending is manna from heaven that played perfectly into Dragon's Japan promo on the previous RAW and reintroduced puro storytelling to a largely unaccustomed WWE universe. KENTA FTW. ****1/4
• Post-match, THE BOYHOOD DREAM HAS COME TRUE! BUT WAIT! Cena pulls him around to say his peace and then they shake and all is right with the world. Cena passes the torch and then in the immortal words of HBK, gets the fuck outta the ring. Now, the celebration is on. Cue the confetti and the ticker tape. JBL: “A career was just made. A legacy just defined.” DB gives a heartfelt message to a nearby camera with a tear in his eye: “Mom, Dad, thank you for always believing in me. I wouldn't be here without you.” WE'RE OUTTA TIME, TUNE IN TO NITRO-----BUT WAIT! MR. MONEY IN THE BANK, RANDY ORTON HAS COME OUT! IS RANDY ORTON GOING TO RUIN BRYAN'S MOMENT?! Orton poses with the briefcase and DB tells him to bring it on. Orton backs off to fight another day. YESYESYESYES! MY GOODNESS, TRIPLE H JUST PEDIGREED DANIEL BRYAN! NONONONONONO! Orton slides back in with the briefcase and Triple H accepts it proudly.
• WWE Championship: Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan (c).Orton hooks the leg for 1, 2, 3 at :09 for a new champ. The show goes off the air with Triple H congratulating Orton and Orton posing to a stunned crowd.
The 411: Three ****+ matches and a couple more around the *** mark makes this easily a contender for PPV of the year and arguably the best Summerslam of all time.