Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net, starting today. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Date: August 18, 2013
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield
It’s a double main event tonight with a pair of smaller guys vs. big powerhouses with CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar and Daniel Bryan challenging John Cena for the World Title. This is remembered as one of the best shows in a very long time for WWE and it should be interesting to see how well it holds up. Let’s get to it.
Kickoff Show: United States Title: Dean Ambrose vs. Rob Van Dam
Ambrose is defending and there’s no Shield with him to start. Some standing switches go nowhere and Ambrose continues to look moderately displeased by the whole thing at worst. Rob is right back up with a spinning kick to the chest, meaning he can hit those finger pokes. You don’t do that to Ambrose, who chops away in the corner and stops a charging Rob with a kick to the face.
The neck crank goes on, followed by a running dropkick against the ropes to keep Rob in trouble. It’s back to the chinlock with the microphones picking up the spot calling. Rob is right back up with a kick to the face and the split legged moonsault out of the corner for two. A kick to the head breaks up the original Dirty Deeds (headlock driver) but here are Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins. That brings out Mark Henry and Big Show and we take a break. Back with everyone standing at ringside and Dean dropping an elbow for two. The ECW chants bring Rob back to life but Dean sends him outside.
That means a staredown between the four on the floor with Rob managing a suplex on Dean. The spinning kick to the back on the apron has Dean in even more trouble and it’s a top rope cannonball for two back inside. Dean is right back with a spinebuster for two of his own but misses his top rope elbow. Rob has to go after Rollins instead of trying the Five Star so he kicks Dean down again. The Five Star connects but Roman Reigns comes in with a spear for the DQ at 13:40.
Rating: B-. This worked rather well and is one of Van Dam’s last good matches either in WWE or anywhere for that matter. He looked like his old self here and made Ambrose look good, even when he got the DQ win. This was still before Shield had reached their peak and they were far better as a team anyway. It got the crowd going and happened to be a good match in the process. Not bad for the Kickoff.
Here’s the Miz as your host for the evening. His task at the moment: tell us about the main events we already know. How TNA of him. We’re about to hear our first match but Fandango and Summer Rae cut him off with some dancing. Miz: “Really? Really? WELCOME TO SUMMERSLAM!”
The opening video focuses on Los Angeles and how big things happen here. Like Summerslam. That’s a nice motif and it moves into the double main event, which is indeed sounding great. Future note: the music during this video would become Akira Tozawa’s theme (not sure if that’s a Network edit or not).
Dig that pyro. Seriously with all the money they have, we can only get it at Wrestlemania and the Saudi shows?
Jojo from Total Divas sings the National Anthem. This was a plot point on Total Divas because that she needed to stretch for plot points.
Kane vs. Bray Wyatt
This is a Ring of Fire match, meaning an Inferno match with pins and submissions only. It’s also Bray’s in-ring debut, which is almost weird to imagine. Harper and Rowan are in Wyatt’s corner, as tends to be the case. The bell rings and the flames come up, going all of six inches high. Kane slugs away to start and the flames do go higher as someone lands on the mat.
Harper and Rowan get closer to the ring and the flames go WAY up to make things look a lot better. Kane hits a suplex to pop the flames again and avoids a big boot, sending Bray close to the fire. Bray’s running splash in the corner connects and he hammers away as the fans aren’t exactly thrilled so far. Back up and Kane sends him into the corner and the side slam makes the flames go up again. The chokeslam is broken up and Harper tries to throw in a kendo stick but the flames cut it off.
Cue the fireman to put the stick out, allowing Kane to hit the chokeslam. Rowan grabs the fire extinguisher to try and put out the flames but they come right back up as Kane hits another chokeslam. For some reason there’s no cover so Kane hits a third chokeslam, meaning it’s Tombstone time. Hold on again though as Harper and Rowan put a blanket over the flames and get in for the beatdown. The fans want Undertaker but settle for Sister Abigail to finish Kane at 7:49.
Rating: F. Well that was dumb. You have Wyatt getting destroyed until the goons saved him, the flames not lasting seven minutes before someone figured a way around them, and the match being dreadful until the ending. Pick two of them and you can figure out what was wrong with this one. It was a good idea on paper but the execution was a nightmare, which sums up Wyatt’s whole career.
Post match Wyatt puts on his hat and sits in the rocking chair as Harper and Rowan put Kane’s head on the steps. They pick up the other steps and crush his head for the big knockout, which looked better than most of the match. Harper and Rowan carry Kane out.
The Kickoff Show panel talks about the Wyatt Family.
On the Kickoff Show, Paul Heyman talked about how the real story of David vs. Goliath is that Goliath took the best shot and then destroyed David. Heyman has gotten both sides to agree that tonight can be No DQ so Lesnar can finish Punk for good.
Damien Sandow vs. Cody Rhodes
Sandow is Mr. Money in the Bank and cost Cody the briefcase to break up their team. Before the match, Sandow talks about how there have been great pairings throughout literary history, with each pair having a lackey. Tonight, Sandow proves that he was the leader by sending Cody back to the land of clowns. Cody starts fast and hammers away before getting two off a backdrop. Sandow is right back with a suplex and a double arm crank as this is already feeling like a TV match.
An early Cross Rhodes attempt is blocked and Sandow hits the Russian legsweep into the wind-up elbow for two. Something like Edge’s Edgecation goes on but Cody kicks away without much effort. Cody catches him on top with a MuscleBuster of all things and that gets the fans into things for a change. A missile dropkick gives Cody two more and the Disaster Kick knocks Sandow silly for another two. Cody misses a charge into the post to give Sandow two but Cody snaps off Cross Rhodes for the pin at 6:39.
Rating: D. This was a case where Cody should have won the briefcase and moved up to the World Title scene but instead they went with Sandow and the whole thing flopped because no one bought him in that spot. Maybe they were planning on having Cody take the briefcase from him, but the damage was already done. It’s a case of putting too much thought into things as WWE screwed up something else.
We recap Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio for the Smackdown World Title. Alberto had put Christian on the shelf late last year and now Christian is the challenger of the month. Actually saying this is recapping Christian vs. Alberto is a little misleading as Alberto is neither seen nor mentioned in the video. I know he’s not interesting but come on now.
Smackdown World Title: Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio
Alberto is defending. They circle each other a few times until a loud kick to the leg has Christian in trouble. A headlock doesn’t do much for the champ as Christian comes back up with a right hand and a toss over the ropes. Back in and Christian gets caught on top for the running enziguri into the running kicks to the chest. It’s time to go to the arm, as tends to be Del Rio’s style.
The armbar doesn’t last long so Del Rio throws him into the air for the big crash to the mat. A top rope double stomp to the arm gets two but Del Rio misses a charge and goes crashing out to the floor. That lets Christian hit a dive off the top and they’re both down. Back in and Del Rio goes right back to the arm, because it’s a plan that works well. He deviates from said plan by going up and diving into raised boots though, allowing Christian to hammer away in the corner.
The high crossbody gets two on the champ but the Killswitch is countered into a Backstabber. Another running enziguri in the corner rocks Christian for two more but he’s fine enough to hit a middle rope elbow to the jaw. A super hurricanrana gives Christian another two and it’s time for the spear.
Since the idea of selling Christian’s spear makes anyone cringe, Del Rio dropkicks him in the face for two instead. There’s a low superkick for another two, with the fans dubbing this awesome. Eh…..it’s close but I don’t know about that. Christian hits the spear out of nowhere but the arm is banged up, allowing Del Rio to slap on the armbreaker for the tap at 12:29.
Rating: B. I can’t go all the way to awesome but this was a rather fun match with Christian throwing everything he had. That being said, I wasn’t buying a lot of the near falls as Christian never hit the Killswitch and Del Rio never won with anything but the armbreaker. Christian’s career was more or less done at this point, as he would be put out of action again in a few months and have his last comeback with his final match in March.
Post match Del Rio says he’ll be the hero Los Angeles needs. Someone get this man a big bus!
Video on Summerslam Axxess earlier in the day, complete with a women’s tag match including Marina Menunos.
Maria is here and talks about the Bella Twins freaking out about Maria saying Natalya did well on Total Divas. Cue Fandango and Summer Rae to dance but Maria and Miz do just the same, leaving Fandango and Summer looking annoyed.
Natalya vs. Brie Bella
Cameron, Naomi, Eva Marie and Nikki Bella are here because this is the Total Divas match of the night. It’s weird seeing Natalya in regular gear instead of the leather she’s worn for years now. You can tell this is serious as they exchanged SLAPS on Raw. They fight over failed hiptoss attempts to start and it’s time for another slapoff. Brie has to bail to the floor to avoid the Sharpshooter so Nikki and Eva get in some cheating to take Natalya to the floor. The fans chant for JBL instead of this mess before quickly shifting over to the other announcers. Or maybe it’s an old Jerry Graham fan club.
Brie grabs the chinlock as the fans want tables. Egads the idea of the Total Divas crew trying to do something that complicated. The chinlock goes on again because that’s their best idea at the moment. Natalya fights out without much trouble but the Sharpshooter is countered with a rollup into the corner. The other four get in a fight on the floor and it’s a THIRD CHINLOCK in less than five minutes. Natalya breaks it up and, with the fans saying they want Ryder, slaps on the Sharpshooter for the win at 5:21.
Rating: D-. Any match that involves three chinlocks in less than five minutes is pretty self explanatory. There was no story here other than they were arguing about a reality show and that’s enough to get us here. The wrestling was pretty awful with the talented Natalya not being good enough to carry Brie. At least it was short, but this really had no business being on Summerslam.
Ryback, currently a bully, yells at catering about the soup being cold. It’s supposed to be, which Ryback knew of course. The soup goes down the chef’s shirt and then over his head. Ryback: “Feed me moron.” Make sure you catch his podcast so he can tell you how he came up with that entire idea and how it would have been a classic if WWE supported him.
We recap CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar. Punk was about to win Money in the Bank but Paul Heyman turned on him because Punk was nothing without him. Heyman brought Lesnar back in to destroy Punk, who had been Heyman’s friend and client for a long time. It’s a pretty easy tagline: The Best vs. The Beast. This was better than the UFC version: Former UFC Heavyweight Champion vs. The Miserable Failure.
CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar
No DQ. I know I say this a lot, but a fired up Lesnar is a terrifying human being. Punk shrugs off the shoulders in the corner to start so Lesnar just does them again. The CM PUNK chants begin and you can feel the energy in this one. A heck of a beal across the ring rocks Punk and it’s time for some choking in the corner. Punk manages a kick to the head and Lesnar is rocked, followed by some running knees to put him outside.
The suicide dive connects as I can’t help but look for the baseball sized growth on his back (it’s just hard not to). Punk tries the steps but Brock knocks them right back into him without much effort. Lesnar posts himself though and Punk scores with a top rope dive to stagger him again. The clothesline off the announcers’ table connects as well but Punk makes the mistake of going after Heyman. Lesnar LAUNCHES him over the table and Cole is declaring this one over already.
Back in and Punk starts kicking at the leg so Lesnar hits him in the face (don’t make it complicated). The bearhug stays on the ribs as you can’t fault Lesnar’s plan. Punk’s escape plan: hit Lesnar in the face. See? He’s learning too. Lesnar goes right back to the ribs and the slow pace continues. Another bearhug goes on and gets broken up by more shots to the face. Punk kicks him in the ribs and goes up, only to dive into a World’s Strongest Slam (giving us a great OH DANG IT face).
Some backbreakers get two as Punk’s ribs are being destroyed and we hit the chinlock. Punk bites the ear to escape and starts striking away, setting up a top rope knee to the face to FINALLY put Lesnar down. Some running knees in the corner connect and a kick to the head sets up the Macho Elbow (almost a splash) for a hot two. The GTS and F5 are both countered so Punk kicks him in the head again.
Another GTS attempt is countered into the Kimura but that’s reversed into a triangle choke. You just don’t do that to a power guy like Lesnar though, as he turns it over into a powerbomb….which doesn’t break anything. Lesnar powers up again though, this time into a heck of a running powerbomb for the real break. The delayed cover gets two and a ticked off Lesnar rolls some suplexes for two more.
Lesnar takes his sweet time going outside so Punk can get up top for a dive. That’s blocked by a raised chair, but Punk still drives it into Lesnar at the same time. That means Punk can beat the heck out of Lesnar with the chair and it’s Punk getting fired up this time. Back in and Punk hits him low, meaning it’s time to go up top for the Macho Elbow with the chair. Lesnar can’t get up (that’s a rare shot) so Punk hits him again, leaving Heyman to take the chair.
Brock is back up and grabs the F5 but Punk grabs Heyman’s tie for the block. Punk slips out and hits the GTS with Heyman having to make a save. The chase is on and Punk runs into the F5, which is countered into a DDT for two. The Anaconda Vice goes on, but since Lesnar’s legs aren’t kicking you know it’s not a finish. Heyman tries to come in with a chair….but Punk steps onto it. A right hand drops Heyman and Punk puts him in the Vice (like an idiot). Lesnar gets in the chair shot to Punk and the F5 onto the chair is good for the pin at 25:17.
Rating: A. Oh I loved this one all over again. The one part holding it back was Heyman getting involved once too often and Punk getting stupid by putting him in the Vice (he’s way too smart to get that caught up no matter what). Other than that, this was an incredible display of the underdog (who happens to be a multiple time World Champion) going after the unbeatable monster and getting dangerously close to stopping him. I was getting into the near falls here and that says a lot given that I knew how it was ending. Awesome stuff and the blueprint for how to have a smaller guy fight Lesnar.
Punk gets the big hero’s sendoff in what would be his last great match.
A fan took a Mark Henry splash for Summerslam tickets. I’d do it too. The fan and his friends will be ringside for the next match.
Dolph Ziggler/Kaitlyn vs. Big E. Langston/AJ Lee
Langston and Lee turned on Ziggler so he got Kaitlyn, who lost the Divas Title to AJ, on his side for this. It’s so strange seeing Big E. as his old self. The guys start and Big E. goes straight to an abdominal stretch to take over. It’s already off to the women with AJ kicking Kaitlyn in the face for two. The sleeper on Kaitlyn’s back keeps things slow and we look at the fans eating Doritos (sponsor).
Kaitlyn fights up and brings Ziggler back in for the dropkick and rapid fire elbow drops to Big E. Since they’re just elbows, Big E. is right back up with an over the shoulder backbreaker for two with Kaitlyn making the save. A hard running shoulder in the corner only hits post, leaving Kaitlyn to hit a heck of a spear to AJ on the floor (AJ always sold that perfectly). Big E. is fine enough to try the Big Ending but Ziggler reverses into the Zig Zag for the pin at 6:45.
Rating: D+. This was nothing but a way to let the crowd calm down a bit after the instant classic and there’s nothing wrong with being in that spot. Kaitlyn’s spear looked awesome and it was always cool to see Big E. throwing humans around like they were toys. The Ziggler push was already dying around this time but somehow he would still be kicking around in big spots six years later. WWE is funny/stupid in that way.
Fandango interrupts Miz one more time so Miz lays him out. Cole: “It’s Fan-DOWN-Go.” No Cole, it isn’t.
The Kickoff Panel does what Kickoff Panels do. In this case that means picking Daniel Bryan to beat John Cena for the title.
We recap Cena vs. Bryan. Cena was given the chance to pick his challenger for this show and selected Bryan, who had worked his way up the card like few others in recent years. Management hated the idea because Bryan wasn’t good enough and tried to give Bryan a corporate makeover. Bryan refused to cut his beard though because he was going to be himself. HHH, who has seemed to favor Bryan, is guest referee. Bryan and Cena have played up the sports entertainment vs. wrestling deal, which is exactly what this match should be about.
Raw World Title: John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan
Bryan is challenging with HHH as guest referee. Cena is also sporting a massive growth on his elbow, which was leaving him desperately in need of surgery because it’s the size of a baseball. Bryan isn’t getting the superstar pops yet but he’s cheered more than Cena. We get the Big Match Intros and I had forgotten about Bryan’s THE BEARD IS HERE shirt. Cena grabs a headlock to start as they have a ton of time here.
Bryan rolls out with no trouble and it’s an early standoff. Back up and Cena tries a test of strength, which is blocked by a bridge. The YES Lock attempt sends Cena bailing to the floor and he tells the doctor that his arm is fine. Back in and Bryan takes him down into the surfboard knee stomp as Cena is in way over his head with the wrestling. Therefore, he runs Bryan over for a knock to the floor because power is his best bet. Cena follows him outside but gets sent into the steps, only to manage a suplex off the steps to put Bryan down again.
Back in and Cena whips him hard into the corner as Bryan has no answer for the power game just yet. A Batista Bomb gives Cena two and the chinlock goes on. Bryan fights up and forearms away, setting up some kicks in the corner to put Cena on defense again. The running clothesline drops Cena and you can feel the fans’ energy picking up. The YES Kicks connect but, as usual, the big one misses and Cena fires off the shoulders.
Cena takes too long with the Shuffle though and gets kicked in the head, only to come back with the ProtoBomb. Now the Shuffle connects but the AA doesn’t work just yet. Instead Bryan hits a missile dropkick for two as they’re going back and forth very well here. Over ten minutes in, Bryan finally goes after the BIG FREAKING BULGE on his arm to take over. Cena tries the STF but Bryan kicks away and grabs one of his own. The rope is grabbed so Bryan hits a pair of German suplexes for a pair of twos.
Now it’s off to the YES Lock but Cena slips out, earning himself a guillotine choke instead. That’s countered with a backdrop into the corner (cool) and they’re both down for a second. Cena grabs the AA out of nowhere for two and they’re down a bit longer. With nothing working, Cena goes up but Bryan catches him with the running forearms to stagger him. Bryan superplexes him down but hangs on to stay up top for a cool visual.
The Swan Dive connects for two so Cena runs him over with the clothesline for two of his own. Cole mentions that HHH is referee, marking the most significant HHH portion of the match over twenty minutes in. Cena’s super AA is blocked by elbows to the head but Cena blocks the super hurricanrana. That means jumping down and dropping Bryan on top of his head in a botch I had forgotten about so the cringing is strong. The STF goes on with Bryan rolling over to take off some of the pressure.
Bryan manages to reverse into the YES Lock until Cena makes the rope. The running corner dropkicks have Cena in more trouble so he comes out of the corner with the hard clothesline to turn Bryan inside out. The slugout it on until they both hit flying shoulders for another double knockdown. Bryan wins the next slugout but the moonsault out of the corner is caught on Cena’s shoulders. That’s countered into a DDT and they’re both down again. Bryan tries a high crossbody but gets caught in the AA. It’s reversed again and Bryan kicks him in the head, setting up the debuting running knee for the pin and the title at 26:54.
Rating: A+. I go back and forth on which of the two big matches I like more and this time around I liked the story that much more. Bryan debuting the running knee to win is still one of my favorite things in a long time as it came out of nowhere and makes the move look devastating right off the bat. They had a great battle of styles here with both guys sticking with their respective specialties until Bryan broke down the machine through heart and determination, plus some awesome strikes. I had a great time with this one and it was one of the best matches I’ve seen in a good while.
Post match Cena hands him the title and leaves, likely straight to the hospital to get that thing out of his arm. The confetti falls and pyro goes off….and here’s Randy Orton with the other Money in the Bank briefcase, because we needed two of them. Orton does the big staredown, teases leaving, turns back around…and HHH lays Bryan out with the Pedigree to turn full heel.
Raw World Title: Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan
Bryan is defending as well as out so Orton wins the title in eight seconds. There’s your major story over the next eight months and yes I still believe that Bryan winning the title at Wrestlemania was the plan all along (details to be determined).
Overall Rating: A-. This is one of those shows where the good is excellent and the rest just exists. That being said, with the two awesome main events and a rather good Del Rio vs. Christian match, you have a seven match card (leaving out the cash-in match) with three of them receiving some rather high praise. That’s about as good as you can get and it’s one of the better shows in recent memory. Yeah the other four matches range from bad to rather bad, but their times combined are about equal to the main event. Excellent show and worth your time (as in less than three hours) to see.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. Get the latest and greatest in professional wrestling news by signing up for our daily email newsletter. Just look below for “GET EXCLUSIVE UPDATES” to sign up. Thank you for reading!