Thursday, August 10, 2023

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2013)

Goddamn, this show was awesome.  Maybe the best main roster PPV of the 2010s.  Certainly in the running anyway....

SummerSlam '13 - Staples Center - 8/18/13

After a slew of disappointing and lackluster PPVs in 2013, WWE finally brought the goods that August, presenting an absolutely killer Summerslam card.  The show was built around two incredibly intriguing main events and fan enthusiasm was riding high on the wave of Daniel Bryan's YES movement.  Much like the 2011 edition, this show is fantastic, but you should turn it off before the final minute.

The show opened with a real dud - Bray Wyatt's in-ring debut in an Inferno Match against Kane.  The Inferno Match first appeared in 1998 as Kane introduced the gimmick during his feud with The Undertaker.  That match was novel and somewhat entertaining, but this match was not.  It was too short to amount to anything and not much happened.  Fortunately this would be the only bad match on the card.

The former Rhodes Scholars faced off next, as estranged allies Cody Rhodes and Damen Sandow had a nice little six-minute bout.  It was well-worked and fast-paced, and while it could've been a bit longer, got the job done.

Highlight #1 of the night was up next as Alberto Del Rio defended the World Title against Christian in a superb 12-minute match.  The action here was crisp and agile, and these two worked great together.

Natalya then faced Brie Bella in something of a throwaway bout, but this was fine for what it was.  Nothing offensive here.

Highlight #2 was fifth, and boy was it a doozy.  Brock Lesnar faced CM Punk for the first and only time ever, in a brutal, intense, smartly-booked No-DQ match.  The month before at Money in the Bank, Paul Heyman betrayed Punk, costing him the briefcase, and Punk vowed revenge.  Heyman then brought back his number-one client Lesnar to take Punk out.  This match told a fantastic story of the giant bruiser pummeling his smaller, scrappy opponent who refused to back down.  Punk managed to outsmart and outmaneuver Lesnar throughout much the match which made for a believable back-and-forth contest.  Finally after several interference attempts by Heyman, Punk's focus shifted, allowing Lesnar to take advantage and score the win.  This was near-perfect for the gimmick.  My only complaint is that Punk fell for Heyman's interference too many times.  At a certain point he should've been smart enough to keep his eyes on Lesnar.  But otherwise, great, great match.

Knee-to-Face #1

The buffer match went to a mixed-tag - Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn had a rapid-fire match against Big E and AJ.  This was nothing amazing but as death-spot matches go, this was quite entertaining.

In the main event spot was highlight #3.  WWE Champ John Cena handpicked Daniel Bryan as his opponent, and the two had a legendary match.  For twenty-six minutes they went toe-to-toe, showcasing memorable, innovative spots and gritty, realistic fight action.  Bryan showed he could hang with the big dogs in a WWE main event, and Cena showed he could hang with the king of wrestling workhorses.  Bryan's popularity had surged in the months leading up to this match and the crowd ate up everything he did.  This epic showdown concluded with Bryan nailing Cena with the baisuke knee to finally win the WWE Title.  This was an amazing moment that unfortunately led to a sucky one.  Randy Orton crashed Bryan's celebration, and after a Triple H heel turn, cashed in the MITB briefcase to take the Title.

As far as the storyline went, this made total sense and was much better executed than Del Rio's cash-in on Punk two years earlier.  Having Bryan chase Orton for months with The Authority repeatedly screwing him along the way was a fine story arc.  Unfortunately the company didn't really get how this needed to work, and managed to botch it horribly.  Were it not for the fans hijacking the show in the months leading to WrestleMania 30, this initial SummerSlam moment would've been for nothing.  Regardless, John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan was the best match of 2013 from where I sit, and one of the best Summerslam matches in history.

Knee-to-Face #2

Considering Summerslam 2013 had the two best matches of the year, plus a few other good ones, it's a no-brainer that this was, by a wide margin, the best WWE PPV of 2013.  It is also significant for being the proper start to the YES movement, and the first chapter in Daniel Bryan's rise to the top.

Best Match: John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan - but it's #1 and #1A between this and Punk-Lesnar
Worst Match: Kane vs. Bray Wyatt - Pretty crappy way to kick off the show but everything after this was good or great.
What I'd Change: Dean Ambrose vs. Rob Van Dam probably should've been on the PPV instead of the pre-show.  I'd swap that with Kane-Wyatt.
Most Disappointing Match: I wasn't expecting much from this, but Wyatt's debut match should've been much better.  I guess technically the most disappointing match was Orton vs. Bryan because it ruined the moment.
Most Pleasant Surprise: I guess just that Daniel Bryan got to headline a PPV, and beat John Cena clean for the WWE Title.  In 2009 when he signed with the company I never would've expected this to happen.
Overall Rating: 9.5/10
Better than WrestleMania XXIX? - If 'Mania 29 is like a piece of used-up chewing gum, SummerSlam 2013 is like a masterfully assembled pizza topped with gourmet meatballs and extra awesomesauce.


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