The Cena/Bryan story is an interesting one because it’s a matchup that has never been done before in a main event. It’s also a huge opportunity to create a new top star, and the fans believe in the challenger and want to see a title change. If the match is good, Daniel Bryan gets to star in more main events and Cena gets someone to help him and Punk carry the company as the top stars. The story and hype have been good but it could have better if it was hyped up without the McMahons involved at all. Vince and Triple H’s involvement in the story is still positive since it will help to provide the entertainment aspect of the fight while Cena and Bryan do the dirty work in the ring. However at this point, fans are probably tired of McMahon family drama and just want to see the play fighters do their thing without Vince and Hunter trying to interfere. Keep in mind that Hunter got a negative reaction in Los Angeles last year when he had an underwhelming and disappointing match with Brock Lesnar.
Speaking of Lesnar, Punk vs. Brock has the potential to become a good long-term story that helps to benefit both wrestlers. Brock finally gets to work with a guy who can bump around for him in a fresh matchup and Punk gets to stay in the spotlight by fighting a guy with a high-profile reputation. It definitely helps a lot with Paul Heyman involved since he can sell fights and storylines by himself while Brock is sitting out. Another note about tonight’s fight card is that there are no mid-card title defenses. There was an RVD vs. Dean Ambrose match on the preshow but it could have been on the main card instead. The US Title was also up for grabs in last year’s Summerslam pre-show when Antonio Cesaro squashed Santino for the belt. For last year’s recap, please click here.
Tonight’s episode of WWE Summerslam takes place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. Your commentators are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Bradshaw.
The Miz shows up on stage to open up the show by hyping up the two main events. Fandango and Summer Rae step out next and dance around him while the crowd sings along to his theme music. Gotta be embarrassing for the host when the guy who interrupts him gets a louder reaction from the crowd than he does. Rookie Diva Jojo sings the National Anthem and does a good job.
Ring Of Fire (inferno) match: Kane vs. Bray Wyatt (with the Wyatt Family)
Inferno matches aren’t done often and with good cause. It’s too much of a risk for the wrestlers in the ring and for the people sitting nearby. The last one was back in 2006 where Kane defeated MVP at WWE Armageddon. Kane appears first and gets a good pop. Bray and his click appear second to a chilling crowd reaction with lots of cell phone lights, camera flashes in the crowd and total silence. This is their Pay Per View debut. The commentators hype up the gimmick by saying that the flames will keep Bray’s click from interfering in the fight. There is also a firefighter outside the ring in case of emergency. One difference between this inferno match and past ones is that the referee is inside the ring this time.
Kane and Bray brawl while the Wyatt Family find out ways to get inside the ring. They use a fireman’s blanket to cover up one side of the ring and it works. They all get into the ring and assault Kane while Bray recovers to hit his finisher and then make a pinfall. Average match with a poor ending as the crowd expected someone to catch on fire to end the match, which is how a typical inferno match ends. The WWE had to water it down for the kiddies though, which is probably why it ended on a pin instead. After the match, the Wyatt Family knock out Kane with the ring steps and drag him back to the stage with them.
Josh Mathews takes the show to break by introducing the discussion panel with Booker, Vickie Guerrero and HBK who looks like a homeless veteran now.
Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow
Damien Sandow walks to the ring first and gets on the mic to clown on his opponent and his famous family. Cody appears second to a good cheer but he’s clean-shaven this time. The mustache helped get him attention but it was past due time he shaved it off since he also looked disturbing with it. And you can’t look disturbing if you want to be cheered.
Cody pins Damien after hitting his finisher. The crowd cheers for the victory while Cody does some post-match taunting to the loser. This was a good match that showcased a lot of back and forth offense between both fighters. This fight probably should have opened the show instead of the Ring Of Fire match.
Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio (World Heavyweight champion)
A great video package is played highlighting Christian’s career. Even though he is a huge underdog in this match, the video helps to showcase the fact that he still deserves one last shot. The guy is a seasoned veteran, a prolific mid-card champion, and professional enough to help put over other fighters like Alberto Del Rio. Christian appears first to a loud crowd reaction. The champ appears second to boos and gives a word to Lilian Garcia before she announces the fighters. Alberto insists that he is introduced in Spanish that ends up getting a loud mix of boos and cheers from the crowd. He is doing the best work of his career right now with this new vicious, desperate and exploitative attitude.
Alberto Del Rio makes Christian tap out to the armbar. Wow. This was a great match that featured a lot of near-pinfalls, physical action and clever counters. Christian did a great job selling the moves and Alberto did a great job showcasing his offense and playing to the crowd. The crowd loved every moment of this fight and the champion even started getting some loud cheers towards the end of the match. I thought the referee was going to count a pin for Christian since he had Alberto’s shoulders down on the mat while trying to struggle out of the armbar. Whatever goodwill Alberto made with the crowd disappears after the match when he grabs the mic and shouts out his people for another loud mix of cheers and boos.
Natalya (with Naomi and Cameron) vs. Brie Bella (with Nikki Bella and Eva Marie)
This match serves three purposes: 1. a Pay Per View check for Natalya which is actually notable news since the last time she’s appeared on PPV was last year’s Money In The Bank back in July. 2. to give the crowd a bathroom/concessions break and 3. to advertise the WWE’s new reality tv program. The crowd gets restless and starts chanting for Bradshaw, Cole and Lawler. Lawler jokes about the chants and asks Bradshaw if this means the crowd wants them to get involved in the fight.
Natalya ends the match when she makes Brie submit to the sharpshooter. Poor match with poor effort. There is a positive though, and its Natalya getting a win on a Pay Per View episode. It’s a feel good moment for a talent who is horribly unappreciated and underrated.
no DQ match: CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman)
Brock and Paul Heyman walk down the ring first while the commentators hype up the ‘no DQ’ rule and Brock’s accomplishments in the ring and in UFC. Brock is dressed in MMA shorts, gloves, skullcap and wrestling shoes. Punk appears second and the crowd goes insane. They love the guy and want to see him beat up Paul Heyman. There is a fan sign in the crowd insulting the president of TNA Wrestling (‘SMARTEN UP DIXIE’).
Brock pins Punk after he hits the F5 finisher on a folding chair. Great match that the crowd absolutely loved every minute of. There were a lot of power moves, MMA strikes, holds, counters, weapons, and even some dirty tactics. A lot of the sequences were logical. Both men also took the fight to another level with Punk using various offensive moves to try to take down the big man while Brock showed his ass off out there selling the moves and keeping up with Punk in a really long match. After the match, Punk gets a cheer and applause from the crowd while the commentators salute his effort. Even though the guy lost, it was the right call since a rematch can bring in more money if it’s scheduled at another big name Pay Per View episode such as Survivor Series, Royal Rumble or even Wrestlemania.
mixed tag team match: Big E. Langston and AJ vs. Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn
Both teams get quiet reactions. The crowd is probably burned out from the Punk and Brock brawl. The last mixed tag-team match in a Summerslam episode was in 2008 when Kofi and Mickie James teamed up to fight Santino and Beth Phoenix.
Dolph pins Big E. after he hits his finisher to end the match. Decent match that gave a crowd a good treat after a long and grueling main event brawl. It was short, straight to the point and had non-stop action. There was a funny moment after the match and in the ring when Dolph is teaching Kaitlyn to raise their arms together in a sign of victory. The discussion panel is brought up again where they all predict the winner for the Cena/Bryan fight.
John Cena (WWE champion) vs. Daniel Bryan
Triple H is introduced first and gets a better reception from the crowd than he did last year. The challenger appears second and the crowd goes insane with YES chants and loud cheers. A little kid is even shown wearing a fake beard and chanting along with the crowd. The champ appears last wearing a huge elbow pad on his left arm. The boos he is receiving right now are way louder than the boos he received in Philly just last month at Money In The Bank. The crowd starts to taunt Cena with loud ‘YOU CANT WRESTLE‘ chants so both fighters start off with some grappling and counters.
This is the most vocal crowd I’ve ever heard for a main event in a long time. Whatever D-Bryan will do, the crowd will love. Whatever Cena will do, they absolutely hate it and want him to die. There was also a very risky spot in the fight where D-Bryan tried to do a hurricanrana on Cena off the top rope. Cena hangs onto his legs and instead sends Bryan to the mat on the top of his head while he is still upside down.
Daniel Bryan becomes the new WWE champion when he pins Cena after hitting a running knee to the face. The crowd goes insane while D-Bryan celebrates the win with them. Cena tries to protest the decision to Hunter but to no avail. He shakes D-Bryan’s hand and walks away from the ring. This was a great match that helped to raise Daniel Bryan’s profile. The crowd absolutely loves him. The guy has a counter for every single move out there. He is definitely main-event material. Give credit to John Cena too for keeping up with Daniel’s moves and also bumping like mad for the guy (all while nursing an elbow injury).
Randy Orton’s theme music plays and he walks down the ramp to tease a Money In The Bank cash-in. The crowd erupts with more loud boos. Hunter attacks D-Bryan with the pedigree and Randy jumps into the ring to start the match. He pins an unconscious Daniel Bryan and wins the title as Hunter makes the pin count. As ecstatic the crowd was before, it’s now the total opposite. This crowd is silent and upset. I am confused myself since I don’t know why in the world Hunter would collaborate with Randy Orton now since they were bitter enemies before. It’s a huge inconsistency that will probably be addressed on RAW the following night.
In conclusion, this was a great episode of Summerslam and a huge improvement over last year’s episode. The two championship matches were both done well and a long-term plan is finally set in place to help propel Daniel Bryan into the main event scene. The crowd may hate the ending now but in the long run, it will help build Daniel Bryan into a sympathetic champion the people will love to root for. WWE knows that Cena’s years are winding down and he needs help carrying the load and burden of being a top star. Daniel Bryan seems more than capable enough to help out the WWE for years to come.