Trying to take in everything that we just saw is an impossible task. Some fans are excited, some are equally disappointed and others have no idea how to feel. The important thing is that no matter how you feel about Summerslam, you are probably very interested in the WWE, which is exactly what every show should be all about: to stimulate and create interest. Let's break it down.
Daniel Bryan vs John Cena was by far, the best match to take place in the WWE this year. Everything about the match was truly spectacular, from the crowd reaction, to the in-ring psychology, to the surprising finish. I think it is clear that we should all take off our anti-Cena shirts for a moment and give credit where credit is due. John Cena put out an amazing effort tonight, and although his moves may not have been all 100% crisp, he continued to show that he is more than capable of putting on a great wrestling match if he is given the opportunity. It should also never be understated that Cena went out as the WWE Champion to a huge ppv event, and lost to another man, clean and in the ring. At this stage in his career, Cena could totally have the entitlement to go out there and say that he is not going to lose to anybody cleanly. As much as us fans (myself included) love to try to paint Cena as the devil in jorts, it is simply not true, as evident by the humbling way he put over a younger, fresher face who really needed the victory.
As much as I was impressed by John Cena, the match really belonged to Daniel Bryan. I once watched Daniel Bryan wrestle at a high school gymnasium, in front of only a few hundred fans, and to see him not only win the WWE Championship, but to do so in such an overwhelming fashion, was truly a moment that I will cherish forever as a wrestling fan. I had given Los Angeles some flak in my last column about supplying Summerslam with consistently lackluster crowds, but that wasn't the case this year. Daniel Bryan had everybody in the arena eating out of the palm of his hand. The ability to control that massive amount of people, especially in this day and age of the hyper-intelligent wrestling fan, is a skill that comes along only once in a generation, and Daniel Bryan has that.
Somehow more important than the match itself, the post-match fallout is what really drove the fans over the edge. In a much hyped and debated maneuver, Triple H, the guest referee, turned on Daniel Bryan and laid him out with the pedigree. This allowed Randy Orton to cash in his Money in the Bank contract and win his 7th WWE Championship. It is fairly clear that Orton and Triple H are in cahoots, which makes the situation extremely interesting, considering the two veterans storied rivalry dating back almost a decade.
Randy Orton is a natural heel, and watching him play the hero role the last few years was like trying to fall asleep on a chair; it just wasn't comfortable to do. Now, Orton is a much better position, as a heel champion with a corporate backer. With Vince McMahon not making an appearance at Summerslam, it seems likely that a huge announcement of some kind will take place on Raw, explaining what exactly happened at Summerslam. I think it is too soon to judge the WWE's decision to have Bryan win and then lose the title on the same night, but for now, we can at least say that it was a move that got EVERYONE talking, and we should all be looking forward too what is now the hottest storyline in the WWE (well, except for Ryback vs catering, that is on fire).
There were in fact, other matches that took place at Summerslam, and some really good ones too. The most obvious would be Brock Lesnar taking on CM Punk in a No Disqualification match. When I first heard that the match was going to be No DQ, I was a little bit disappointed as I was looking forward to a classic in-ring clinic between two very talented guys. Fortunately, Punk and Lesnar didn't over-utilize the rule breaking, and both men showed exactly why they are who they are. Brock plays the monster brute role so well, and Punk was simply terrific as the under-sized, yet tenacious babyface.
I'm a big fan of the finish of this match. Brock retained his dominance by pinning Punk after a nasty F-5 on a steel chair, but Punk showed enough heart and determination to still come out looking strong. The constant interference of Paul Heyman naturally set up the next step in their rivalry: Hell in a Cell. With the HIAC ppv just one more ppv away, it is looking very likely that the two will meet at least one more time before the year ends. I know that Brock has reached the limit on his contract for how many ppv's he is supposed to appear on, but the WWE can easily solve that issue by writing another check out to Brock, which would be cash well spent because this feud is money.
Elsewhere on the card, Alberto Del Rio and Christian had a very good, if not possibly underlooked, match for the World Heavyweight Championship. I know that ADR is not the most charismatic or loquacious champion, but there is no doubt that the man gets it done in the ring. Christian also turned back the clock a little bit, bringing out all the stops and showing fans that he still has something left in the tank. ADR gave somewhat of a puzzling promo at the end of his match, putting over his Latino fanbase and saying how proud he was to represent Mexico as the WHC. Since ADR is a heel, it was kind of strange to see him try and endear himself to the fans, but that was just a small glitch in what was otherwise a very good outing for both men.
Damien Sandow took on Cody Rhodes in another well worked contest, with both men playing their roles very well to the delight of the crowd. Rhodes picked up the victory, most likely setting up a match for the MITB briefcase at the next ppv. Rhodes again looked extremely capable of being a big-time face for the WWE, as he got a very warm reception from the LA fans.
In Diva news, Kaitlyn and the fading Dolph Ziggler picked up a much needed victory over AJ and Big E Langston. I was very impressed with how good Langston looked, hitting all of his power moves with great precision. Working with Dolph helped, but he moves great for a man built like an F-150. The Total Diva's match was just a stunt to try and get more media attention in the entertainment capital of the world. Good to see Nattie get the win, I guess.
Bray Wyatt picked up a nice win over Kane in the "Ring of Fire" match, where disappointingly, no one was lit on fire. Kane was beat down with the steel steps after the match, which frees him up to leave while he films "See No Evil 2", possibly returning as the newest member of the Wyatt family.
The pre-show match was rather boring, with the standard run-in DQ finish whenever there is a Shield member in a singles contest. Big Show and Mark Henry made the save, propelling forward the Shield vs Show, RVD and Henry feud which is starting to become repetitive, with the Shield also just taking on 3 other guys who have nothing else going on.
Overall I think that Summerslam was easily the best WWE ppv this year. Was it the best event in the world this year? I don't know because it is too soon to judge everything about it, but I will say that it was definitely worth the price. The show consisted of several good/great matches and created a great amount of hype for the upcoming shows, which is exactly what you want to see. The WWE should be very proud of tonight's show and hopefully they continue to excel going forward.