WWE always bills SummerSlam as its second biggest pay-per-view of the year, but the show rarely lives up to the hype. However, the 2013 edition of the PPV came through in a big way.
The entire card was built on two matches: CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar and Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena.
Punk/Lesnar delivered from bell to bell. Although it’s clear that Lesnar would have no trouble beating Punk up in a real fight, the two told a great story with their match. In the end, Lesnar walked away the winner after some help from Paul Heyman, but it was all booked logically. You may not agree with WWE’s decision to put Lesnar over, but the victory keeps his stock high for future PPVs. Punk comes out of the match looking better than he did before, simply because he stood toe-to-toe with the Beast and took an absolute beating…
Bryan and Cena had one heck of a task in front of them to top the co-main event in the night’s final bout. Cena’s elbow was a major concern going in, but he once again toughed it out and put on a great match. Bell to bell I didn’t think Bryan/Cena was quite as good as Punk/Lesnar, but the real story to be told came after the match was over.
Everyone knew that Randy Orton was going to make an appearance at some point, but it was very unclear if he would actually cash in his Money in the Bank contract. Well, he did, but not until a perfectly booked heel turn for Triple H (perhaps by the Game himself).
With a Pedigree to Bryan and Orton’s subsequent cash in victory, the landscape of WWE has been changed significantly for the next few months. Orton is finally back to being a heel, and now he’s aligned himself with the Chief Operating Officer in the company. WWE waited a long time to turn him back, but they booked it in the best way possible.
There are now a ton of new directions for the company to go in the coming months. Many people are mad that Bryan lost his championship just seconds after he got it, but that was the best long-term move for business. Now he has more to overcome than ever, as you can bet the new corporate-like alliance between Orton and HHH will make Bryan’s road back to the top an extremely challenging one. But he’ll get back before too long and it will be even better when it finally happens.
WWE doesn’t hit a lot of booking home runs anymore, but they sure stepped up to the plate at Summerslam. The twist that few saw coming now has everybody talking, which is what the pro rasslin’ business is all about.