Seven years ago, we saw the reincarnation of The Corporation, the real start to Daniel Bryan’s ultimate rise to the top of WWE; as well as the in-ring debut of one of the biggest ‘what if’s’ in WWE history. SummerSlam is one of those shows where it feels like Wrestlemania but just in August. However, the 2013 edition did not feel like that. Looking at the card, it was a two-match show; CM Punk vs Brock Lesnar and John Cena vs Daniel Bryan, the latter for the WWE Championship. The rest of the card would’ve fit in on a B class show but WWE gave it the Hollywood glitz and glamour because it’s SummerSlam, capping it off by having WWE’s own A-Lister, The Miz, act as a host for the night. He would open the show, and appear sporadically throughout the night, but would be continuously interrupted by Fandango and Summer Rae. Jojo would also sing the national anthem to kick off the show. On the pre-show, RVD would unsuccessfully challenge for Dean Ambrose’s United States Championship, winning the match but by disqualification after Roman Reigns speared RVD.
Bray Wyatt def. Kane – Ring of Fire Match
Wyatt’s official WWE debut, accompanied by Erick Rowan and Luke Harper, being put in a match that sits in Kane’s wheelhouse. The Wyatt Family attacked Kane upon their arrival on RAW and would continuously go for the Big Red Monster, setting up this contest. Being given your first match in WWE against an absolute legend like Kane, it really makes you think about what went wrong with Wyatt’s original gimmick, obviously gaining some traction with The Fiend. Kane took the control of the match, obviously it’s his match, Harper and Rowan were very timid around the ring due to the fire shooting up every time someone took a bump. Bray flailed around the ring nearly running into the fire multiple times in the early going before taking control of Kane, although that didn’t last long. Wyatt asked Harper and Rowan for a weapon of some kind but there’s fire around the ring, Harper handed a kendo stick into the ring but it would catch fire. Rowan grabs a fire extinguisher to remove the fire from around the ring but it immediately comes back. This match did expose the Wyatt character that he was nothing without his family or his mystical powers which I believe was the reason for this. Rowan and Harper grab a fireproof blanket and manage to get into the ring and outnumber Kane. Wyatt hits Sister Abigail on Kane for the three before laying his head on the lower half of the stairs and crushing his head with the top half. This match served a purpose, showed the fans what The Wyatt Famiy was all about.
Cody Rhodes def Damien Sandow
Former friends turned rivals, the age-old storyline. Two more of the biggest ‘what if’s’ in WWE history is Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow, the former Rhodes Scholars. Sandow turned on Cody at Money in the Bank to win the ladder match and briefcase, turning Cody face and pushing Sandow to the moon. Cody started out hot, fuelled by the emotion, only for Sandow to take control and thwart Cody’s attacks. The gimmick of Sandow was so different, so original and just disappeared after he failed to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship despite looking unbelievably strong in this match against Rhodes. Cody picked up some steam, hitting the usual Cody moves until Sandow moved out the way of the Disaster Kick and took control back. This match would’ve had a lot more eyes on it if they put Sandow’s briefcase on the line, as Cody had thrown it into a river a few weeks prior and it’s what started the feud. Cody hits the CrossRhodes out of nowhere to pin Mr. Money in the Bank. Great match between two wrestlers who could’ve been World Champions.
Alberto del Rio def. Christian – WWE World Heavyweight Championship
A rematch from Extreme Rules 2011, where Christian won his first World Heavyweight Championship, Captain Charisma won a triple threat match to challenge the champion, Alberto Del Rio. A recently heel Del Rio, after his feud with Ziggler, alone after Ricardo Rodriguez had been taken out by Del Rio and let’s be honest, heel Del Rio was the best Del Rio. Del Rio starts the match of aggressive, motioning for the Cross Armbreaker but gets caught by Christian after showboating. Christian being on top did not last long at all, Del Rio gets onto the arm to weaken it up for his finisher but keeping Christian down is never an easy feat, he’s always resilient. These two would always have fantastic matches against each other, especially when Christian portrays the underdog and Del Rio is the cocky heel. A lot of back and forth action between them until Del Rio catches Christian with a Backstabber from the second rope, countering a springboard attempt. Things looked to be going wrong for Christian even more, attempting a Spear but to met with two boots Del Rio right to the face. Not the only person to look a bit of a mess, Del Rio went into the match with a black eye, during the match he got his nose busted. The end of the match came after Del Rio locked in the Cross Armbreaker, after taking a Spear, causing Christian to tap out. Fantastic match especially with the short amount of time these two received.
Natalya (w/ Cameron & Naomi) def. Brie Bella (w/ Eva Marie & Nikki Bella)
Bringing Total Diva’s to WWE as this matched stemmed from it, if you don’t watch Total Divas, then this match is completely random to you. Natalya enlisted the help of the Funkadactyls to combat against Brie’s sister and their newest ally, Eva Marie. SummerSlam 2013 was just shy of the Women’s Evolution so the women only received five minutes on the card, if you’re wanting a woman to put on a show in that time, you go to Natayla. She started out on top but got caught up by the outside interference of Nikki and Eva whilst Brie had the referee distracted. You can tell how into the match the fans were as about one minute in, they chanted ‘JBL’, ‘Michael Cole’ and ‘Jerry’ which is just utterly disheartening to see. The fans added ‘we want tables’ to the list of their chants, makes me glad that wrestling fans can truly appreciate women’s wrestling in 2020. Brie would continue to talk trash and keep on top before Natayla would fire back and attempt the Sharpshooter, with Brie rolling through and launching Nattie into the corner. Nikki and Eva would get involved again but this time, thwarted by Naomi and Cameron. The action in this match is quite poor, Brie would just constantly put Natalya into the same hold in between sporadic wrestling. Natalya would hit an Alabama Slam and a Sharpshooter for the win. Knowing what the women’s division is like now, I’m glad to know these times are in the rear view.
Brock Lesnar def. CM Punk
One of Lesnar’s best matches in WWE since his return in 2012, his and Punk’s chemistry was off the chain. The build for this was brilliant, Lesnar attacking Punk, Heyman turning on Punk and Punk being absolutely absorbed with hate for Heyman and wanted nothing but revenge. The No DQ stipulation made this match so much more interesting because it gave Punk, not that he really needed it, a more even playing field and made Lesnar feel less dominant at points. Both men with MMA backgrounds and it just flowed, bouncing off each other perfectly with Lesnar’s power and Punk’s speed. This match displayed Brock’s two strengths; his dominance and ability to sell. He went from running through Punk and the steel steps, to bumping for Punk after he was driven into the ring post. It was a typical back and forth contest; Lesnar would be on top for ages but then Punk would fight back and take control, rinse and repeat during this match. Punk did let his emotions get the better of him, constantly going after Heyman and turning his back on Lesnar, something you should never do. He grabbed a hold of Heyman after Heyman ripped a chair out of his hands and again when Lesnar tried to F-5, it was storytelling at its best. Heyman would break up the pin after Punk hit the GTS and the facial expression of Punk was just sublime, Heyman ran which allowed Lesnar to hit the F-5. Or, for Punk to counter and hit a DDT. Punk got a measure of revenge on Heyman, one punch but he stupidly locked in the Anaconda Vice on Heyman, turning his back on Lesnar which did cost him the match. Three chair shots and a F-5 later.
Dolph Ziggler & Kaitlyn def. AJ Lee & Big E Langston
WWE love a sponsor, having fans associated with Doritos at ringside. Former partners, and a couple, going against each other after Ziggler split from AJ Lee. The split came after AJ cost Ziggler the World Heavyweight Championship and led us down to this path. The big takeaway from this match is; the exposure of Big E and how damn good of a wrestler he was, and what better to make Big E look this good than Dolph? When the women got in and mixed it up, AJ was on top of Kaitlyn for the majority of the time, with AJ screaming about Kaitlyn ‘having her leftovers’. The disappointing thing about this match was Michael Cole was just plugging the Dortio’s partnership and fans at ringside, took you away from the action. The match served a purpose; for Big E to gain more exposure and for the Ziggler and AJ storyline to end. Despite the fact that Big E took the pinfall, he still looked strong in this short but necessary tag match to break up the two main events.
Daniel Bryan def. John Cena – WWE Championship
A John Cena match got a ‘This is Awesome’ chant from the fans in attendance, pretty surreal. I think all fans knew going in that Daniel Bryan was more or less guaranteed to be leaving the Staples Centre with the WWE Championship but you can never fully know with the WWE, especially with John Cena involved. This game was built up as WWE vs the indies, the WWE moulded John Cena vs the indie darling in Daniel Bryan, with the match absolutely meeting the hype that the build gave it. Usually, a match with a special guest referee takes away from it but Triple H did his job brilliantly, acting as the neutral and impartial official as well as being lenient where actual officials would be strict. The surprising thing about this match, for me, was Cena didn’t massively branch out from his arsenal but made this match fantastic, possibly being carried by Bryan. The match was hard hitting between the pair, Cena had a shiner start to grow from a kick by Bryan early in the match with Cena nearly dropping Bryan on his head a little later on. Eventually, Bryan would hit the running knee and capture his first WWE Championship, only for Triple H to turn heel. Orton cashed in his briefcase and ruined Bryan’s night.
We all know what happened and where the night led us following the main event, with the formation of The Authority, the rise of Seth Rollins and one of the best period’s in WWE history in the last decade. The finale of Bryan’s saga all began here at SummerSlam and unfortunately, the last absolutely class match we saw from CM Punk before he departed in early 2014. Looking back at this show, seven years later, does make the WWE fan in me upset about the poor booking for Bray Wyatt, Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes but the former and latter have definitely hit their strides in 2020. A very good PPV build around two extremely huge main events with the smaller matches doing enough to be noticed on the show.