Powell's WWE SummerSlam Hit List: Brock Lesnar vs. C.M. Punk steals the show, Triple H helps Randy Orton take the WWE Championship away from Daniel Bryan, Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian, Ring of Fire match
By Jason Powell
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WWE SummerSlam Hits
Brock Lesnar vs. C.M. Punk: You know these two did something right when panelist Shawn Michaels went out of his way to thank both men for their efforts. This was fantastic. It was laid out perfectly with Lesnar getting the better of his smaller opponent early, only to have Punk absorb the punishment and rally back and have the crowd buying into several near falls. It would have been easy for Lesnar to come back to WWE and get by on his size and name value. Rather, he's gone out there and worked his ass off to turn in memorable performances. The outcome was logical and I think Punk could even absorb one more loss to build up to the moment when he finally beats The Beast. As much as I enjoyed this match, I hope we don't see the rematch right away next month. If Lesnar goes away for a bit, I am curious to see what's next for Punk.
John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan: As great as this match was, the Lesnar vs. Punk match was simply more intense from bell to bell. The first ten minutes of this match were slower paced, though it certainly set the stage nicely for what was to come down the stretch. Cena worked his ass off and held his own while working with the always brilliant Bryan. The knee to the face finish came out of nowhere. I thought there was a chance Bryan would win the match, but I was surprised in a good way when that move resulted in the three count. I still wish they would have saved Bryan's first WWE Championship win for a time when it would stick, but it was fun while it lasted.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian: The usual strong effort from Del Rio and Christian. Del Rio continues to shine in his latest heel run, and Christian is Mr. Consistency when it comes to his big match performances. I just wish Christian would have come up with some new promo material since he's using the same "one more match" spiel he used as a heel and it doesn't look like it's going away anytime soon considering that it's on the back of his newest t-shirt. I am also curious to see whether they set up a rematch between these two or if Del Rio moves on. This Latino hero promo had people expecting Rey Mysterio to show up and perhaps he will tonight on Raw. I am also curious to see when Ricardo Rodriguez will reemerge.
Dean Ambrose vs. Rob Van Dam: A solid opening match with a soft finish. I expected something a little more creative than the simple run-in finish, especially after Mark Henry and Big Show came out to even the sides. The most unintentionally comical moment of the match was watching RVD blow off his top rope move simply because The Shield's music played. He could have hit the move three times before they could have made their way from the concourse to the ring. That said, I would like to see more from these two. Ambrose needs a real U.S. Title defense program.
Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow: A minor Hit for a throwaway Raw/Smackdown length match that played out on pay-per-view. I was just settling in for the heart of the match when it ended. Did the announcers really tease that viewers must wait until Friday to find out why Cody shaved his mustache?
Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn vs. Big E Langston and A.J. Lee: Another minor Hit. The finish surprised me, as I assumed they went with the mixed tag match so they could avoid having Langston lose to Ziggler for another month. If nothing else, this was a better buffer match than we normally get on WWE pay-per-views.
Overall show: WWE continued its run of quality pay-per-view events with arguably their best of 2013. Perhaps other events have been more consistently entertaining from start to finish, but this was set up as a two match card and both turned out to be Match of the Year candidates. The event featured good wrestling, strong storyline development, and newsworthy moments.
WWE SummerSlam Misses
Triple H turn: When the show ended, the spotlight wasn't on Daniel Bryan for winning the WWE Championship for the first time or even for Randy Orton for cashing in his Money in the Bank contract and taking the title from Bryan. Rather, the spotlight was clearly on the part-time wrestler/full-time executive for turning on Bryan. I feel like all the tiresome McMahon family skits were simply a swerve so people wouldn't see this coming. WWE has a tremendous roster of talent who are delivering great pay-per-view events and quality weekly television. The McMahon family members feel like they are getting in the way more than anything. I enjoy watching Triple H work a few times a year, but I don't want to see him or his in-laws featured so prominently in the top storyline. The spotlight should be on Orton and Bryan right now, not on the McMahon family circus.
Bray Wyatt vs. Kane: The Bunsen burner match was rendered useless when the brainwashed duo of Luke Harper and Erick Rowan figured out that a fireman's blanket could be used to kill the flames so they could climb inside the ring. It felt way too soon in this program for a gimmick match and I'm still not sure what purpose it served (though it was a nice teaser at the end of the free preview show). I am intrigued by Kane being hauled off by the Wyatts, as that plays into our ongoing speculation that he will end up joining the family. I did have to chuckle, though, at the absurdity of a kidnapping taking place in front of 20,000 people and countless more watching on television, yet no one doing anything about it. Only in pro wrestling.
The Miz and Fandango: Why did SummerSlam need a host? Why did they give us three lousy skits to set up a throwaway television match? I still think there's money in Fandango (or at least Johnny Curtis minus the gimmick), but the cornball dancing interruptions and Miz's eventual punch did nothing for me.
Natalya vs. Brie Bella: It was logical to put the Total Divas crew on the show to continue to promote the reality show. It's doing good numbers for E!, but it didn't seem like the crowd cared any more about the match than they would have before the show debuted. In fact, they spent more time chanting the names of the broadcast team than they did watching the match.
Bully Ry: What in the hell have they done to Ryback? He was clicking as a babyface monster when they made the call to turn him heel for a predictable and flat post WrestleMania feud with John Cena. He became a crybaby briefly and now he's a poor man's Bully Ray. Can't they at least find someone other than cooks and waiters for the guy to harass?
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