Los Angeles is getting quite comfortable as the host of the WWE’s second-biggest show, as Sunday night marked the fifth consecutive year that SummerSlam was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. But with John Cena rumored to be getting some time off soon, this year’s card hinted at a shake-up at the top.
That’s exactly what the fans got, with the WWE Championship changing hands not once but twice in the broadcast’s closing minutes. Daniel Bryan completed his recent ascent by pinning Cena clean, yet he ended up leaving L.A. without any gold around his waist thanks to a heel turn paired with an opportunistic third party.
Bryan tested Cena’s mat wrestling bona fides by locking up and going through an exchange of holds. Cena decided he’d had enough of that and rolled out to the floor, where he briefly checked in with the ringside doctor. Good to go.
Back inside, Cena used a headlock takedown and a reverse pin, but Bryan bridged his way out and nodded his head confidently. Bryan went for the inverted surfboard, but Cena powered out and sent the challenger flying from the apron to hit the table hard. As the “you can’t wrestle” chants got going, Cena was hurled into the steps, but when Bryan climbed on top, he got unceremoniously suplexed to the floor.
They returned to the ring for a Cena two count, and he used right hands to soften Bryan up for a hard Irish whip to the corner. A sitout power bomb got Cena another near fall; meanwhile, the chants have turned to “you still suck.” Bryan finally seized some real momentum by pounding Cena’s chest with kicks, though he was quickly back up with shoulder blocks and a side slam.
Bryan used a kick to escape the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Cena hit it on his second attempt. It’s a bit early for an Attitude Adjustment, which Bryan proved by hitting a missile dropkick for two. A nasty back eye began to form on Cena’s left side, and Bryan wasn’t making it any easier by delivering more kicks.
Bryan rolled through a drop toehold and administered the STF to Cena. With Cena hopping on one leg, Bryan hit multiple German suplexes for two counts. The Yes Lock followed, and Cena got wrapped in a guillotine choke when he went to stand up. The champ finally used the turnbuckle to free himself, but he’s had a lot taken out of him.
Cena hit an Attitude Adjustment out of nowhere only to see Bryan kick out and the noise level of the crowd pick up a notch. Cena went up top and was met by Bryan, whose running dropkick staggered the champ enough to allow a superplex. Bryan held onto the turnbuckle with his legs, sat up and delivered the flying head butt. Cena kicked out and headed to the floor to regroup.
The respite seemed to work since he got some big air on a top rope leg drop, but Bryan had enough fight in him to kick out again. They returned to the top turnbuckle before ending up back on the mat, where Cena had to crawl to escape another submission. Bryan got some steam going with running dropkicks in the corner, yet he was soon dropped by a huge clothesline from Cena.
The two men traded blows until they run into each other off the ropes. Leaning on each other to get back to their feet, Cena and Bryan exchanged slaps and chops. Bryan countered his way out of an Attitude Adjustment attempt, leaving both men down again.
Bryan jumped off the top rope but was caught by Cena. The challenger rolled through an AA for a near fall and almost decapitated Cena with a running knee. The underdog tale was complete as Triple H made the three count and Bryan was awarded the title. Cena cleared out the cobwebs, pinned Bryan around and shook the hands of the new champ and the special referee.
The celebration kicked off with confetti and pyro, but Randy Orton’s music hit and he came down the ramp with briefcase in hand. Bryan waved him in, but Oron turned and walked partway up the ramp. Triple H took that opportunity to blast Bryan with a Pedigree, and Orton handed his briefcase over to The Game. Five seconds later. The old adage of “send them happy” was thrown out the window, and Orton ended the night with the WWE Championship around his waist.
Another fan favorite also tasted the bitterness of defeat, though at least CM Punk took part in the match of the night in his brutal No Disqualification bout against Brock Lesnar. Paul Heyman also played a big role in the proceedings, leaving no doubt that he has sided firmly with the Beast Incarnate over his supposed former best friend.
Punk and Lesnar got right at each other with Lesnar’s power showing early. Punk survived the onslaught and knocked Lesnar to the floor with a knee, then dove between the ropes to knock him down. Punk kept flying around, including a leaping clothesline off the announce table. He stalked Heyman, leaving himself open to a Lesnar clothesline from behind.
Brock hurled Punk over the announce table, and his knee appeared somewhat the worse for wear. The assault continued as Punk went flying over the other table and Brock stomped on his back with both feet. Finally Punk got thrown back into the ring, where he tried fighting back with kicks.
That didn’t go so well, and he ate shoulders in the corner before suffering in a bearhug. To add injury to insult, Punk was also bleeding from the back. Lesnar smashed him with a knee and leaned on his ribs with his whole body weight. Punk managed to elbow his way out, but his cross body was caught in mid-air, and Lesnar threw him with little effort.
Brock smashed Punk’s ribs one more time but couldn’t get more than two with repeated covers. Punk pulled a Mike Tyson by biting Lesnar’s ear to get out of trouble. Punk hit a flying knee and put Lesnar down, following with a running knee in the corner. A second knee smacked its target, but a third was no good.
A roundhouse kick to the head did work, and the fans rose as Punk dropped an elbow off the top. Lesnar kicked out at two, and reversals flew both ways until Brock gets kicked in the head. A Go To Sleep was countered by a kimura, but Punk countered in turn with a triangle choke. Lesnar power bombed Punk to try to free himself, but he ended up right back in the triangle.
Lesnar looked like he might tap, but Lesnar stood all the way up and used a running power bomb to dislodge his attacker. Lesnar still couldn’t get Punk to stay down even after rolling vertical suplexes. Lesnar slowly walked out to get a steel chair, using it to partially deflect Punk’s leap from the top turnbuckle to the floor. Punk psyched himself up after some steel chair shots, but Brock stole the chair.
Desperate measures were called for, so Punk nailed Lesnar right in the “Brocks.” He followed by jumping off the middle turnbuckle with the chair, yet Lesnar was still able to kick out. The sound cut out as Punk said something naughty before using the chair again. Heyman grabbed Punk from behind, and CM held onto his tie to avoid the F5.
Punk hit the Go To Sleep, but Heyman scurried in to break up the pin. The ensuing chase led to Lesnar hoisting Punk for an F5, but he countered with a DDT. Lesnar kicked out of that too, so Punk opted for the Anaconda Vice. When Heyman interfered again, Punk finally got his vengeance with a right hand and the Vice. But that gave Lesnar time to recover, and a vicious series of chair shots followed. An F5 on the chair was the climax, and even Punk wasn’t getting up from that.
The next WWE pay-per-view is Night of Champions on September 15.
At SLAM! Wrestling, we’re all about tradition. In keeping with our customs here, Nick’s comments will be in plain type while Dale’s musings appear in italics.
Our host for the night, The Miz, kicks off the show by announcing the card, which we already knew. I mean everyone plunked down their 60 bucks already to see the show, stop selling! And then for some reason Fandango and Summer Rae dance out on stage as Miz officially starts the show.
JoJo from Total Divas belts out a really good rendition of the national anthem.
She can actually sing. Maybe she’s on the wrong reality show.
Bray Wyatt w/ Harper and Rowan vs. Kane – Ring of Fire Match
I really feel like the Johnny Cash song should have been incorporated into this one somehow. As it is, this is like the PG version of an Inferno Match with the flames on all four sides, you just don’t have to set your opponent on fire to win. And hey, there’s a fireman at ringside! He actually has to take action when Luke Harper and Erick Rowan try to slip Wyatt a weapon and it catches on fire. The fireman uses an extinguisher to put it out, which gives the Wyatt Family boys the idea to use it to help their leader. That doesn’t work either. Meanwhile, Kane is busy giving Bray a pair of choke slams. He has designs on a third, but Harper and Rowan find an asbestos blanket and use it to smother the fire on one side. Apparently this match is also no DQ, because the Wyatt Family joins forces to devastate Kane, and Wyatt pins him with the Sister Abigail. After the bell, Harper and Rowan decide to take Kane with them, dragging him off to parts unknown. Could we see a brainwashed Big Red Monster in our future?
Winner… Bray Wyatt at 7 minutes and 47 seconds.
Match Rating: 4/10
So there’s a four-man booth featuring Josh Matthews, Booker T, Shawn Michaels and Vickie Guerrero. I get what WWE is trying to do, but it totally kills the crowd.
I still like this group better than the team on the new Fox Sports Live. Sorry Canadians, I know two of those guys are from your neck of the woods. Earlier tonight, Paul Heyman arranged for his client Brock Lesnar’s match with CM Punk to be declared a No Disqualification affair. He also says Punk will be pushed into martyrdom tonight. Funny, I thought you had to die to become a martyr. Oh wait…
Damien Sandow vs. Cody Rhodes
Sandow cuts a promo on his former friend as he heads to the ring. Cody Rhodes shaved off his mustache, but Cole directed us to YouTube to find out why. Sandow counters an early attempt at Cross Rhodes and is able to hit the Elbow of Disdain. Rhodes has a nice spot with a springboard missile drop kick off the apron. Cody follows with the Disaster Kick and hits Cross Rhodes. Sandow can’t kick out of the pin and Cody picks up the win.
Winner… Cody Rhodes… at 6 minutes and 38 seconds.
Match Rating: 7/10
After the loss, Sandow rolls to the apron where he just clutches the Money in the Bank briefcase.
A video package takes us back through Christian’s career and his desire for “one more match.” He better not retire if he loses tonight!
Alberto Del Rio (Champion) vs. Christian (Challenger) – World Heavyweight Title Match
ADR rudely introduces Christian to some hard leg kicks and runs him over with a shoulder block. Christian shows what he thinks about that by chucking Del Rio to the outside, where he guillotines the champ on the top rope. He thinks superplex but gets nailed by a huge enzuigiri and stuck in the tree of woe. It goes no better on the outside, where Christian gets slammed into the barrier. That’s good for a near fall, and Christian has to battle his way back from the mat. Del Rio works over Christian’s previously injured shoulder with several moves, getting another two count. ADR misses with a jumping kick and flies through the ropes to hit the ground hard. Both men return to the ring, where Christian absorbs more punishment. Del Rio is boodied, and he misses off the turnbuckle to get Christian back in it. He uses a dropkick and corner punches to set up a high cross body for two. A series of counters ends with a Backstabber in the corner, but Christian kicks out at two. Del Rio hits another high kick, but it’s still not enough. Christian rolls away as ADR comes off the middle turnbuckle, and they battle into and onto the adjacent corner. Christian prevails to hit a hurricanrana, though that only gets him another two. A spear is thwarted by a sitting dropkick to the face, and Del Rio thinks cross armbreaker. The “this is awesome” chant breaks out as Christian hits the spear, but his injured shoulder prevents a cover. Del Rio gets the cross armbreaker applied, and though Christian tries to fight it, he ends up having to tap out. The new interviewer gives Del Rio a mic for some reason, and he touts the fact that he’s an icon and hero to the Mexican people.
Winner… and still World Heavyweight Champion… Alberto Del Rio at 12 minutes and 29 seconds.
Match Rating: 8/10
The Miz is backstage with Maria Menounos, who beat Brie Bella and Eva Marie at Axxess with the help of Natalya. Fandango and Summer Rae dance on over, so Miz cuts a rug with Maria and thousands of people are asking themselves, “I paid $60 for this!?!”
Natalya w/ The Funkadactyls vs. Brie Bella w/ Nikki Bella and Eva Marie
Natalya picks up the win with a Sharp Shooter in a match that went four minutes too long.
Winner… Natalya at 5 minutes and 15 seconds.
Match Rating: 4/10
CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar – No Disqualification Match
Winner… Brock Lesnar at 25 minutes and 15 seconds.
Match Rating: 9.5/10
Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn vs. Big E Langston and AJ Lee – Mixed Tag Team Match
Big E drags Ziggler to the corner, so AJ can slap him. AJ tags in, which means Ziggler has to tag in Kaitlyn. AJ applies a sleeper, taking Kaitlyn to a knee. Kaitlyn unloads on AJ with a shoulder tackle and then the guys tag in. Ziggler opens with a neck breaker and delivers a flurry of elbows. Big E drops Ziggler with a slam and covers. Kaitlyn breaks the pin, only to have AJ boot her out of the ring. Ziggler dodges Big E and sends him shoulder first into the ring post. Outside the ring, Kaitlyn spears AJ, while Big E sets up Ziggler for the Big Finish. Ziggler counters with the Zig Zag. Ziggler covers to pick up the win for his team.
Winner… Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn at 6 minutes and 44 seconds.
Match Rating: 5/10
Miz makes another appearance, only to be interrupted by Fandango, so Miz lays him out with one punch.
Shades of Batman and Guy Gardner there. #ComicGeekReference
It’s prediction time as Mathews asks his panelists who’s going to win the main event. Mountain Man Michaels likes Bryan, as does Vickie, and Booker plays the politician to a tee by not making a pick either way. Oh you better believe there’s a video montage here too.
John Cena (Champion) vs. Daniel Bryan (Challenger) – WWE Title Match – Triple H Special Guest Referee
Winner… and new WWE Champion… Daniel Bryan at 26 minutes and 54 seconds
Match Rating: 8/10
After the match, Randy Orton walks to ringside, showing Bryan the Money in the Bank briefcase. Orton walks back up the ramp, but returns after Triple H pedigrees Bryan. Orton cashes in the contract, pins Bryan and wins the WWE title.
Total Event Time: 2 hours and 53 minutes
Event Rating: 7.5/10