SummerSlam 2013 Preview

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

WWE Championship:   John Cena (c) vs. Daniel Bryan     
CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman)  
World Championship: Alberto del Rio (c) vs. Christian     
Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow            
Ring of Fire: Kane vs. Bray Wyatt              
Dolph Ziggler & Kaitlyn vs. Big E Langston & AJ Lee
Natalya (w/ Funkadactyls) vs. Brie Bella (with Eva Marie and Nikki Bella)
(Maybe a tag title match with the Shield defending against Mark Henry/Big Show)
Pre-Show: US Title: Dean Ambrose v. Rob Van Dam

I had a conversation with a woman this week about Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and the general merits of the current version of the security state.  There was a point at which my view was dismissed, in sort of a kidding on the square fashion, as mansplaining.

I don’t know where to put that.

I stood in front of groups of students almost every day for more than a decade and tried as best I could to not overly utilize the inherent power of position to “win” discussions; I was the guy with the letters behind my name and when I felt myself relying on the student/teacher dynamic to put my thumb on the scale I looked to correct, if not overly so.

(To any of my thousands of former students who felt their voices insufficiently appreciated, my apologies – truth is, most of the time I just needed to get to chapter 8 by the end of the hour.)

I’m a man (and a white one at that) and there is a privilege that goes along with that position (one could litigate the extent of that as opposed to the privilege given based on wealth, but even when I had nine bucks in the bank no one could have gotten away with shooting me in the chest just because I was wearing a sweatshirt and carrying a bag of candy) even if I don’t feel it in my daily life.

My aim is true, as is yours, I assume.  I enjoy sandwiches.  I think almost everyone works too hard. I dig professional graps and not using my institutionalized advantages any more than, you know, I need to in order to keep winning arguments about the 4th Amendment and government overreach. 

So let’s mansplain some SummerSlam 2013. 

WWE Title: John Cena v. Daniel Bryan
In the world created by WWE, John Cena is inarguably the greatest wrestler alive; he has dominated the sport for the better part of a decade, wrestling in 6 main events at Wrestlemania.  Hulk Hogan wrestled in 7, for comparison.  He is a legend, an athlete of historic significance.  In this world, Daniel Bryan is the ultimate underdog.  Small, hairy, with years in the minor leagues and coming off having spent months believing himself to be the weak link in a tag team with Kane. 

In the broader wrestling world, one in which WWE, while the most profitable promotion is almost never the one with the best matches, Bryan Danielson is arguably the best wrestler alive. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter has the most globally recognized year end awards list, looking to evaluate every promotion across the world. The Most Outstanding Wrestler Award is given just for in-ring ability, without reflection of the box office significance of the matches.  Bryan Danielson has won 5 times.  For comparison, Kenta Kobashi, who might win a vote of worldwide wrestling fans as the greatest wrestler of all time, won twice.  John Cena has not won, and, to my eye, is not one of the 250 best wrestlers in the world. 

That’s what this match is.  It’s not the storyline explanation of Cena gifting a title shot to Bryan, not the real world explanation of the two boyfriends of the Bella Twins (what, you’re not watching Total Divas?  Then you missed the one Funkadactyl shooting on the one Uso.  It was like Brody/Luger) it’s a collision of two entirely different universes, it’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer chasing Walter White. 

It should be really good; Cena has the ability to have good matches, even great matches, when he’s in the ring with a high level worker – and if you give Bryan Danielson 22 uninterrupted minutes with almost anyone with two functional feet, his track record of producing really terrific matches is almost without peer. 

The inclusion of Triple H as guest referee places this match within the broader McMahons Explode storyline that looks to be headed for Wrestlemania. When Danielson played the “I’m a wrestler and you’re not” card, that was probably a tip that they’re turning him heel.  Were he, with Hunter’s aid, to go over Cena here (and then shave, becoming the next incarnation of the corporate champion) that wouldn’t surprise.  It should be on a very short list of the best WWE matches of the year.

(It was really good, 4 1/4, They played it straight, turning Orton and giving him the title after the Bryan win.)

CM Punk v. Brock Lesnar
And this match should be right next to it.
This is a storyline match; a solid professional wrestling story, solidly delivered.    Paul Heyman, for my money the best non-wrestler in wrestling during my now more than 30 years of watching, is a manipulative manager.  

One of his clients, CM Punk, wanted to split with him amicably – and that caused Heyman to have him whacked, or the wrestling equivalent thereof, by another of his clients, Lesnar.

And that’s it – Punk’s the bridge between Cena and Bryan, with both high match quality credentials from his years on the independent wrestling circuit and a pretty solidly embedded position as a WWE superstar. Lesnar’s return to WWE has been, from a business standpoint, a largely missed opportunity – a lesson taught pretty definitively from the “invasion” angle after both WCW and ECW were folded into the promotion now more than ten years ago is that WWE has no patience with outsider gimmicks. Brock Lesnar entered the WWE as a legitimate MMA Champion but pretty quickly became (through a loss to Cena, of course) just another guy.  His performance, however, particularly in the ring, has been better than one could have hoped given his layoff and mercurial personality.  It’s hard to have a good feeling about the finish, as you don’t know when it is Lesnar will return, but a Lesnar win, perhaps with interference from Heyman’s other client, the Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel (Curt Hennig’s son Joe) makes sense.  Hopefully that finish won’t be overly tainted, as this, again, profiles as a really good match.

(This was also 4 1/4 and the new WWE MOTY, just Heyman and no Axel for the interference leading to the predicted finish.)

World Championship: Alberto del Rio v. Christian
Injuries and an ill-timed jump to rival promotion TNA derailed any possibility Christian may have had to reach the main event status of his now retired longtime partner Edge; but his work, nearly regardless of circumstance, remains rock solid.  He’s picked up recent pinfalls against Randy Orton and Del Rio to get this shot at the secondary title belt.  WWE pulled the plug on the “Alberto Del Rio – Hero to Hispanic Youth” experiment in the quest to find a post-Rey Mysterio mover of merchandise and he is once again an entitled heel, although now without a valet – he gave Ricardo the boot in a recent angle.  This is likely the match that winds up being too short to be much more than a good television match, but for a short, WWE style match, there aren’t too many guys who deliver more consistently than Christian (he loses, I’d guess).

(Good, 3 1/2 stars and exactly the kind of solid match predicted with the predicted finish) 

Cody Rhodes v. Damien Sandow
This was a weird breakup – WWE writers, with such a high content burden, are generally loathe to move away from easy comedy, there looked to be another 3 months of sketches left from this team which was pulled from television rotation long before the official breakup at the Money in the Bank PPV (Sandow won the secondary MITB briefcase in what, to date, is the best WWE match of 2013, by taking out Rhodes).  Cody is now a mustachioed babyface, which, if it sounds like an unlikely contradiction, is.

I prefer Cody’s babyface matches; I hope they’re able to stick with this run – it should be a solid match as long as it goes and I’ll assume the heel goes over. 

I’ve got an all heel Summer Slam.  Seems unlikely.  Let’s flip that result. Rhodes wins.

(And he did, in a short, inoffensive match)

Ring of Fire: Kane v. Bray Wyatt
I’m worried about Bray Wyatt.  It’s a cool gimmick; I enjoy the vignettes and the intro music and the lantern and the whole thing.  And he’s a good worker. I’m not sure how well it’s going to translate to the arenas, once the lights come on and now it’s Brodie Lee and the other guy in the ring, the veneer seems to come off quickly. Had they slid the Briscoes (now I’m just talking to indie wrestling fans, my apologies for being excessively exclusionary) into the group I’d be a little more optimistic. 

It might work; I’m pulling for it – I think a match that had a better chance to be good would have made for a better PPV introduction, but this is clearly a Wyatt win.

(It was a Wyatt win, not a particularly auspicious reboot)

Dolph Ziggler & Kaitlyn vs. Big E Langston & AJ Lee
Natalya (w/ Funkadactyls) vs. Brie Bella (with Eva Marie and Nikki Bella)
The quality of women’s matches in WWE borders on abysmal; I assume Ziggler, badly needing some refurbishing, goes over here and the heels win the all divas match.

If, in fact, the tag title match is added I’d assume The Shield keeps.

Ambrose keeps over RVD in the pre-show.

Ambrose lost, but kept; Ziggler got his win, and the divas match went the other way.

The top two matches make this an absolutely must watch; in event history there have only been two SummersSlam with two 4 star matches (2000, 2011) there is a solid opportunity for this show to match those.  I’ve seen every SummerSlam since its 1988 origin, the top two matches make this year’s the one to which I’ve most looked forward.

They paid off.

Just as I did with the Wrestlemania PPV, here is every match in Summer Slam history ranked.  The match times are approximate and they are followed by my star ratings for all of the 3 stars and up matches. 

1.       1994 WWF Title Cage: Bret Hart d. Owen Hart 32 min 4 ¾
2.       1992 IC Davey Boy Smith d. Bret Hart 25 min 4 ¾
3.       2000 Tags: TLC: Edge/Christian d. Hardys d. Dudleys 15 min 4 ½
4.       1995 IC Ladder: Shawn Michaels d. Razor Ramon 25 4 ½
5.       1991 IC: Bret Hart d. Mr. Perfect 18 min 4 ¼
6.       2009 WWF Title TLC: CM Punk d. Jeff Hardy 21:30 4 ¼
7.       2011 World Title No Holds Barred: Christian d. Randy Orton 23:30 4 ¼

8.       1996 WWF Title: Shawn Michaels d. Vader 22 min 4
9.       2002 Nonsanctioned: Shawn Michaels d. HHH 27:30 4
10.   2000 2/3 Falls Chris Benoit d. Chris Jericho 13 min 4
11.   2008 HIAC: Undertaker d. Edge 26 min 4
12.   2011 WWF Title: CM Punk d. John Cena 24 min 4
13.   1989 Brainbusters d. Hart Foundation 16 min 4

14.   2004: World: Randy Orton d. Chris Benoit 20 min 3 ¾
15.   1998 IC Ladder: HHH d. Rock 26 min 3 ¾
16.   2001 WWF Title: Kurt Angle d. Steve Austin 22:30 3 ¾
17.   2003 WWF Title Kurt Angle d. Brock Lesnar 21 min 3 ¾
18.   2012 Brock Lesnar d. HHH 18:30 3 ¾
19.   1999 WWF Title: Mankind d. Steve Austin/HHH 16:30 3 ¾
20.   2010 Team WWE d. Team Nexus 35:30 3 ¾
21.   1989 Rick Martel/Rougeaus d. Rockers/Tito Santana 15 min 3 ¾
22.   2004 Kurt Angle d. Eddie Guerrero 3 ½
23.   2001 Hardcore Ladder: RVD d. Jeff Hardy 16:30 3 ½
24.   2002 IC: RVD d. Chris Benoit 16:30 3 ½
25.   1997 IC: Steve Austin d. Owen Hart 16 min 3 ½
26.   1998 Lion’s Den: Ken Shamrock d. Owen Hart 9 min 3 ½
27.   2012 Chris Jericho d. Dolph Ziggler 13 min 3 ½
28.   2009 IC: Rey Mysterio d. Dolph Ziggler 12:30 min 3 ½   
29.   1997 WWF Title: Bret Hart d. Undertaker 28 min 3 ½  
30.   1990 Tags: Hart Foundations d. Demolition 15:30 3 ½
31.   1992 Ultimate Warrior d. Randy Savage 26 min 3 ½
32.   1997 Cage: Mankind d. HHH 16 min 3 ½
33.   2003 Eddie Guerrero d. Chris Benoit/Tajiri/Rhyno 10:30 3 ½
34.   2009 DX d. Cody Rhodes/Ted Dibiase, Jr. 20 min 3 ½  
35.   1993 Tatanka/Smoking Gunns d. Bam Bam Bigelow/Headshrinkers 11 min 3 ½
36.   1988 British Bulldogs draw Rougeaus 20 min. 3 ½
37.   1996 Boiler Room Brawl Mankind d. Undertaker 27 min 3 ½

38.   2005 Ladder: Rey Mysterio d. Eddie Guerrero 20:30 3 ¼
39.   2002: Edge d. Eddy Guerrero 12 min 3 ¼
40.   2011 Wade Barrett d. Daniel Bryan 11:30 3 ¼   
41.   1995 Hakushi d. 123 Kid 9 min 3 ¼
42.   1999 Test d. Shane McMahon 12 min 3 ¼
43.   1998 Hair: 123 Kid d. Jeff Jarrett 11 min 3 ¼
44.   1998 WWF Title: Steve Austin d. Undertaker 21 min 3 ¼
45.   2000 WWF Title: Rock d. Kurt Angle/HHH 20 min 3 ¼
46.   2006 WWF Title Edge d. John Cena 15:30 3 ¼  
47.   2010 RAW Title: Randy Orton d. Sheamus 19 min 3 ¼
48.   1993 Tags: Steiners d. Heavenly Bodies 9:30 3 ¼ 
49.   1989 IC Title: Ultimate Warrior d. Rick Rude 16 min 3 ¼
50.   2002 Kurt Angle d. Rey Mysterio 9 min 3
51.   2001 IC: Edge d. Lance Storm 11 min 3
52.   2001 Jr: XPac d. Tajiri 7 min 3
53.   2006 I Quit: Ric Flair d. Mick Foley 13 min
54.   2001 WCW Title: Rock d. Booker T 15 min 3
55.   2005 WWF Title John Cena d. Chris Jericho 15 min 3
56.   1988 Tags: Demolition d. Hart Foundation 10 min 3
57.   1994 IC: Razor Ramon d. Diesel 15 min 3
58.   2002 WWF Title: Brock Lesnar d. Rock 16:30 3
59.   2004 Dudleys d. Rey Mysterio/Paul London/Billy Kidman 8 min 3
60.   2011 Rey Mysterio/John Morrison/Kofi Kingston d. Miz/R Truth/Alberto del Rio 9:30 3
61.   1993 Bret Hart d. Doink 10 min 3
62.   2007 Rey Mysterio d. Chavo Guerrero 12 min 3
63.   2008 MVP d. Jeff Hardy 10 min 3
64.   1996 Owen Hart d. Savio Vega 13:30 3
65.   2008 World CM Punk d. JBL 11 min 3
66.   2012 World: Sheamus d. Alberto del Rio 11:30 3
67.   1995 Bret Hart d. Isaac Yankem 16 min 3
68.   2012 IC: Miz d. Rey Mysterio 9 min 3
69.   1992 Shawn Michaels draw Rick Martel 8 min 3
70.   1991 Virgil d. Ted DiBiase 13 min 3
71.   2007 WWF: John Cena d. Randy Orton 21 min 3
72.   2008 Batista d. John Cena 13:30 3
73.   2003 Elimination Chamber 19 min 3
74.   1999 Tag Team Gauntlet 16:30 3

75.   1997 Davey Boy Smith d. Ken Shamrock 7:30
76.   1999 Lion’s Den: Ken Shamrock d. Steve Blackman 9 min
77.   2000 Hardcore: Shane McMahon d. Steve Blackman 10 min
78.   2007 ECW: John Morrison d. CM Punk 7 min
79.   2005 Randy Orton d. Undertaker 17 min
80.   2004 IC: Edge d. Chris Jericho/Batista 8:30 min
81.   2001 Chris Jericho d. Rhyno 12:30
82.   1994 Women: Alundra Blayze d. Bull Nakano 8 min
83.   1999 IC/Euro: Jeff Jarrett d. DLo Brown 7:30
84.   1993 Razor Ramon d. Ted DiBiase 7:30
85.   1996 Goldust d. Marc Mero 11 min
86.   1998 Euro: DLo Brown d. Val Venis 15:30
87.   2005 Edge d. Matt Hardy 5 min
88.   2012 WWF Title: CM Punk d. John Cena/Big Show 14:30
89.   2006 Chavo Guerrero d. Rey Mysterio 11 min
90.   2012 Daniel Bryan d. Kane 8 min
91.   2002: Ric Flair d. Chris Jericho 10:30
92.   2004 HHH d. Eugene 14 min
93.   2010: Smackdown Title: Kane d. Rey Mysterio 12:30
94.   2003: Kane d. RVD 12:30
95.   2005 Kurt Angle d. Eugene 5 min
96.   2007 IC: Umaga d. Carlito/Ken Kennedy 7:30
97.   1989 Hulk Hogan/Brutus Beefcake d. Randy Savage/Zeus 15 min
98.   1988 Hulk Hogan/Randy Savage d. Ted DiBiase/Andre the Giant 14:30 min
99.   1990 Power&Glory d. Rockers 6 min
100.                        2011 Mark Henry d. Sheamus 9:30
101.                        2007 Kane d. Fit Finlay 9 min
102.                        1999 Hardcore: Al Snow d. Boss Man 7:30
103.                        1999 Rock d. Billy Gunn 10 min
104.                        1993 WWF Title: Lex Luger d. Yokozuna 18 min
105.                        1991 Ricky Steamboat/Davey Boy Smith/Kerry von Erich d. Warlord/Power&Glory 10:30
106.                        2005 Hulk Hogan d. Shawn Michaels 21:30
107.                        1993 Shawn Michaels d. Mr. Perfect 11:30
108.                        2009 Tags: Chris Jericho/Big Show d. Cryme Tyme 9:30
109.                        2012 Tags: R-Truth/Kofi Kingston d. PTP 7 min
110.                        2009 WWF Title Randy Orton d. John Cena 21 min
111.                        2008 WWF Title HHH d. Khali 9:30
112.                        2007 Booker T d. HHH 8 min
113.                        2006 DX d. Vince McMahon/Shane McMahon 13 min
114.                        2006 World Batista d. Booker 10:30
115.                        2004 JBL d. Undertaker 17:30 min
116.                        2005 World: Batista d. JBL 9 min
117.                        2002 Un-Americans d. Goldust/Booker T 9:30
118.                        1999 Tags: Undertaker/Big Show d. XPac/Kane 12 min
119.                        2001 Tags: Undertaker/Kane d. DDP/Kanyon 10 min
120.                        2006 ECW Title: Big Show d. Sabu 8:30
121.                        2009 MVP d. Jack Swagger 6 min
122.                        1995 Barry Horowitz d. Skip 11:30
123.                        1991 Big Boss Man d. Jacques Rougeau 9:30
124.                        2001 Dudleys/Test d. APA/Spike Dudley 7 min
125.                        1997 LOD d. Godwinns 10 min
126.                        1988 Powers of Pain d. Bolsheviks 5:30
127.                        1994 Bam Bam Bigelow/IRS d. Headshrinkers 7 min
128.                        1993 Jerry Lawler d. Bret Hart 6:30
129.                        2004 Kane d. Matt Hardy 6 min
130.                        1996 Smoking Gunns d. Bodydonnas d. New Rockers d. Godwinns 12 min
131.                        1989 Ted DiBiase d. Jimmy Snuka 6:30
132.                        1990 IC: Kerry von Erich d. Mr. Perfect 5 min
133.                        1993 IRS d. 123 Kid 6 min
134.                        1990 Hulk Hogan d. Earthquake 13 min
135.                        1990 WWF Title Cage Match: Ultimate Warrior d. Rick Rude 10 min
136.                        1991 Tags: Street Fight: LOD d. Nasty Boys 6:30
137.                        1991 Hulk Hogan/Ultimate Warrior d. Sgt. Slaughter/Mustafa/Adnan 12:30
138.                        1995 HHH d. Sparky Plugg 7 min
139.                        2010 IC Dolph Ziggler no contest Kofi Kingston  7 min
140.                        1997 Boriquas d. DOA 9 min
141.                        2003 Tags: LaResistance d. Dudley Boys 8 min
142.                        1998 Tags: New Age Outlaws d. Mankind 5 min
143.                        2000 IC: Eddy Guerrero/Chyna d. Val Venis/Trish Stratus 7 min
144.                        2011 Women: Kelly Kelly d. Beth Phoenix 6:30
145.                        2000 XPac d. Road Dogg 4:30
146.                        2004 John Cena d. Booker T 6 min
147.                        2003 Undertaker d. A-Train 9 min
148.                        2002 Undertaker d. Test 8 min
149.                        2010 Big Show d. CM Punk/Luke Gallows/Joey Mercury 6:30
150.                        1989 Mr. Perfect d. Red Rooster 3:30
151.                        1988 Big Boss Man d. Koko B. Ware 6 min
152.                        1990 Jake Roberts d. Bad News Brown 4:30
153.                        1990 Warlord d. Tito Santana 5:30
154.                        1993 Ludwig Borga d. Marty Janetty 5 min
155.                        1996 Sid d. Davey Boy Smith 6 min
156.                        2000 Jerry Lawler d. Tazz 4:30
157.                        2000 RTC d. Rikishi/Too Cool 5 min
158.                        1992 Tags: Natural Disasters d. Beverly Brothers 10:30
159.                        1992 LOD d. Money Inc  15 min
160.                        1991 IRS d. Greg Valentine 4 min
161.                        1990 Randy Savage d. Dusty Rhodes 2 min
162.                        2005 US: Chris Benoit d. Orlando Jordan 30 sec
163.                        1988 IC Title: Ultimate Warrior d. Honky Tonk Man :30
164.                        2009 ECW Christian d. William Regal :30
165.                        2011 WWF Title: Alberto del Rio d. CM Punk :30
166.                        2008 ECW Matt Hardy d. Mark Henry :30
167.                        1992 Undertaker d. Kamala 3:30
168.                        1990 Hacksaw Duggan/Nikolai Volkoff d. Orient Express 3:30
169.                        1995 Smoking Gunns d. Blu Brothers 6 min
170.                        1992 Crush d. Repo Man 5:30
171.                        1988 Dino Bravo d. Don Muraco 5:30
172.                        1989 Hacksaw Duggan/Demolition d. Andre the Giant/Boss Man/Akeem 7:30
173.                        1998 Edge/Sable d. Marc Mero/Jacqueline 8:30
174.                        2003 Shane McMahon d. Eric Bischoff 10:30
175.                        2006 Hulk Hogan d. Randy Orton 11 min
176.                        1989 Greg Valentine d. Hercules 3 min
177.                        1988 Rick Rude d. JYD 6:30
178.                        1992 Nailz d. Virgil 4 min
179.                        1997 Goldust d. Brian Pillman 7 min
180.                        1994 Tatanka d. Lex Luger 6 min
181.                        2009 Kane d. Khali 6 min
182.                        1988 Bad News Brown d. Ken Patera 6:30
183.                        1991 Natural Disasters d. Bushwackers 6:30
184.                        1998 Oddities d. Kaientai 10 min
185.                        2008 IC/Women Santino/Beth Phoenix d. Kofi Kingston/Mickie James 5:30
186.                        2000 Undertaker no contest Kane 6 min
187.                        1993 Undertaker d. Giant Gonzalez 8 min
188.                        1994 Jeff Jarrett d. Mabel 6 min
189.                        1989 Dusty Rhodes d. Honky Tonk Man 9:30
190.                        1988 Jake Roberts d. Hercules 10 min
191.                        1994 Undertaker d. Undertaker 9 min
192.                        1995 WWF Title: Diesel d. Mabel 9 min
193.                        1995 Women: Bertha Faye d. Alundra Blayze 5 min
194.                        1999 Women: Ivory d. Tori 4 min
195.                        2000 Women: Kat d. Terri 3 min
196.                        2010 Women: Melina d. Alicia Fox 5:30
197.                        2007 World: Batista d. Khali 7 min
198.                        1996 Jerry Lawler d. Jake Roberts 4 min
199.                        1995 Undertaker d. Kamala 16:30
200.                        1990 Sherri d. Sapphire (forfeit)
201.                        2007 Diva Battle Royal 7 min

202.                        2004 Diva Dodge Ball 3 min


Blog said...

You don't think that Cena's elbow injury will throw a monkey wrench into the match plans?

The fact that they pulled him from house shows completely doesn't bode well for the chances of Bryan pulling out a four star classic...unless the match ends quickly, and they give significant time to Bryan/Orton.

Jim said...

I don't know how important Cena's health is to the quality of the match.

I'd assume it will be a main event length match, and then we'll see what the angle is they'll do with Orton and Hunter and Vince and all the stuff I don't care about unless what happens is Danielson taps all of them.

Blog said...

So 2013 Summerslam is now the only one with two top ten matches.

Best Summerslam ever?

Jim said...

2000, 2011 would be the only competition.

The 4 star matches in 2000 were both in the middle of the card, combined they were about as long as the main event was this year, so I'll say that's third.

The two matches in 2013 were better than the 2 in 2011 and the third best match in 2013 (the other title match) was better that the third best match in 2011 (Bryan/Barrett).

Yes. Best Summer Slam ever.

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