And a bonus classic.
Date: August 18, 2013
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Commentators: Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, John Bradshaw Layfield
This show was almost universally the Show of the Year for 2013 and I’ve been really interested in seeing how it holds up. There’s a double main event with Cena vs. Bryan for the World Title and Lesnar vs. Punk in Punk’s attempt to get revenge on Lesnar’s manager Paul Heyman for screwing him over back in July. Let’s get to it.
Pre-Show: US Title: Rob Van Dam vs. Dean Ambrose
Dean hits the dropkick against the ropes and puts on a chinlock. Thankfully it doesn’t last long though and Rob comes back with a quick moonsault, only to walk into a clothesline for two. The bulldog driver is broken up by some more kicks to the face but Rollins and Reigns come out to break up the Five Star. This brings out Mark Henry and Big Show to even things up as we take a break.
Back with Dean dropping an elbow for two and putting on a cross face chicken wing of all things. Rob is sent outside and the four seconds have a standoff. Dean goes out to get Rob and winds up getting caught by the spinning kick to the back for two. A spinning legdrop gets the same for Van Dam but he walks into a spinebuster. Dean misses a middle rope elbow but a Shield distraction lets him get two off a rollup. Rolling Thunder sets up the Five Star but Reigns spears Van Dam for the DQ.
Rating: B-. Good match here but the ending didn’t work. What was the point of having Big Show and Henry out there if they’re just going to have Reigns come in with no resistance for a DQ? It really is amazing how far Van Dam has fallen in the last year as I wouldn’t expect him to have this kind of a match today if his life depended on it.
Miz, the host of the show, welcomes us to the evening and runs down the big matches. He would be kind of perfect for this role today too. Fandango and Summer Rae cut him off….and that’s it.
The opening video focuses o how awesome Los Angeles is as well as the double main events. The overblown voiceover really works.
Jojo from Total Divas sings the National Anthem.
Bray Wyatt vs. Kane
This is a Ring of Fire match, meaning an Inferno match but you win by pin or submission. It’s also Bray’s in ring debut. Kane hammers away in the corner to start and we get the old school idea of the flames going up whenever anyone hits the mat. Harper and Rowan keep getting closer to the ring but have to back away from the flames. Bray comes back with headbutts but can’t get Kane up for a suplex.
Kane gets sent into the corner for a running splash followed by the cross body to put him down. A bunch of right hands have Kane in more trouble but he comes back with a running clothesline in the corner. There’s the side slam to send the flames up even more, preventing the Family from sending Bray a kendo stick. Rowan tries a fire extinguisher but the flames don’t go out. Kane hits a pair of chokeslams and calls for a tombstone, only to have Rowan and Harper cover the flames and come to beat Kane down. The yet to be named Sister Abigail gives Bray the pin at 7:45.
Rating: D. This wasn’t so much bad as much as it was really stupid. Bray looks like a joke in his first match (though he would have FAR better performances in the future) and the flames are more of an annoyance than the focus of the match. The Family coming in didn’t work and makes the whole thing look ridiculous.
Post match Bray sits in his chair while the Family crushes Kane’s head with the steps. They carry Kane away which never went anywhere.
The expert panel (Booker T., Shawn Michaels and Vickie Guerrero) chat about what we just saw and make some main event predictions.
Earlier tonight Paul Heyman compared Punk vs. Lesnar to David vs. Goliath. He sees the battles ending a bit differently. Tonight’s match is now no DQ.
Damien Sandow vs. Cody Rhodes
Sandow screwed over his friend Cody to become Mr. Money in the Bank and Rhodes is ticked off. On the way to the ring, Damien talks about famous teams and says there has always been a leader and a sidekick. Cody has recently shaved off his mustache and Cole tells us we can find out why he has done so on Friday on Youtube. Seriously.
Sandow charges at him to start and hammers away in the corner but Cody comes back with a backdrop to take over. The release gordbuster gets two for Cody but Damien hammers away on him in the corner and cranks on the arms. The Wind-Up Elbow gets two and we hit an old school Edgecator (kneeling Sharpshooter) to Cody.
That goes nowhere either as Rhodes fights up and hits a MuscleBuster of all things for two. A springboard missile dropkick sets up the Disaster Kick but Sandow comes back with a swinging neckbreaker. Cody nails a second attempt at the Disaster Kick for two but Cody misses a charge into the post. Again it doesn’t seem to matter as Cross Rhodes gets the pin on Sandow at 6:40.
Rating: D+. This could have been on any given Smackdown and really doesn’t mean anything. The idea was for Cody to eventually take the briefcase from Sandow but they dropped the whole idea and hooked Cody up with Goldust, which wound up being better for everyone involved. It didn’t last long but at least it was an idea. Sandow has fallen through the floor in a year and Cody is a completely different character.
Video on Christian’s career.
World Heavyweight Title: Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian
Another match where both guys have completely changed course in a year. Christian is challenging after winning a triple threat a few weeks back. We’re ready to go after some big match intros and some gawking at Lillian in a gray dress. They lock up and head into the corner to start with the champion grabbing a headlock. Del Rio gets him to chase him around the ring but gets his throat snapped across the top rope.
Alberto breaks up a top rope hurricanrana and ties Christian in the Tree of Woe for some stomping. Back to the floor with Christian being sent into the barricade to start the arm work. A release flapjack and a kick to the head allows Del Rio to wrap the arm around the ropes. Christian sends him back outside and hits a big plancha to take the champion down, followed by a missile dropkick back inside.
The Canadian hammers away in the corner, ducks the running enziguri, and gets two off a top rope cross body. The Killswitch is countered into a Backstabber for two as Alberto is starting to get frustrated. There’s a jumping back elbow to the jaw from Christian but Del Rio counters a sunset flip out of the corner with a right hand.
Instead a top rope hurricanrana gets two for Christian and Del Rio is in trouble. It’s not enough trouble for him to get speared though as Del Rio dropkicks him in the face for a sweet counter. The low superkick gets two more for Alberto. He tries it again but gets rolled up for two. Christian finally hits the spear but injures his bad shoulder, setting up the cross armbreaker to retain Del Rio’s title at 12:28.
Rating: B. Good match here with both guys going back and forth until the logical and thought out ending. I love it when you have an old injury coming back from earlier in the match to tie into the ending, even though it’s not something you see often enough. It’s also nice to see a high level guy tapping out to a heel submission, which you see even less often.
Del Rio says he’s the Latino representative.
WWE loves the National Guard.
Video on Axxess from earlier today. Maria Menunos had a match and talks to Miz about how awesome that was. Fandango and Summer Rae interrupt with some more dancing, triggering a dance from Maria and Miz.
Natalya vs. Brie Bella
This is the Total Divas match. You can add Natalya to the list of people who have fallen through the floor in a year. She has the Funkadactyls with her while Brie has Nikki and Eva Marie. I’m not sure who has the better backup here. Feeling out process to start with both girls doing their best choreographed spots. Brie slaps her in the face but has to head to the ropes to avoid a Sharpshooter attempt.
Natalya is sent to the floor and caught with a baseball slide to the back as a JBL chant starts up. Now it’s a Michael Cole chant, followed by the required Jerry version. Brie drops a leg and cranks on a chinlock as the fans want tables. Natalya fights up and puts on a quick Sharpshooter but Brie sends her into the corner. The other Divas get into it on the floor and we hit another chinlock from Brie. Back up and a sunset flip is countered into a Sharpshooter to make Brie tap at 4:19.
Rating: D-. Well that happened. It doesn’t hold up, the fans don’t care, and the whole thing is a waste of time. The girls didn’t even look all that great here as most of their outfits looked like they belonged in the 1950s. The fact that Total Divas didn’t get the Divas Title off of AJ continues to astound me.
Ryback harassed a catering guy earlier in the day.
We recap Lesnar vs. Punk. The idea is simple: both guys are Paul Heyman Guys, but then Punk started listening to the fans and asked Heyman to stop coming out for his matches. Heyman turned on him and cost Punk Money in the Bank, so Punk swore revenge. Brock Lesnar returned and laid out Punk, with Heyman eventually revealing that he asked Brock to come back and destroy Punk, despite swearing he didn’t.
Punk is out for revenge but has to go through Lesnar to get there. The title for the match was perfect: The Best vs. The Beast. I love the story behind this: yeah it’s about revenge, but it won’t be settled in a debate or by lawyers or something stupid like that. Instead, it’s going to be scheduled in a professional wrestling match, like every feud should be.
Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk
No DQ. Punk charges right at him but gets driven into the corner. Forearms to Brock’s head have no effect and he drives shoulders into the ribs. Punk tries some knees to the ribs but Brock literally tosses him across the ring. Brock stomps him down in the corner but Punk comes back with a hard knee to the jaw and a second one to send him out to the floor. A big suicide dive has the Beast down and Heyman is starting to freak out.
Punk gets some steps but Brock just rams them back into his face to take over again. He throws Punk onto his should but gets posted instead, allowing Punk to dive off the apron to drop Brock again. A clothesline off the announcers’ table nails Lesnar but Punk makes the mistake of going after Heyman, allowing Brock to blindside him. Brock picks him up again and LAUNCHES him over the announcers’ table. Then he throws him over the other table and stomps on the top of the table on top of Punk.
Back in and Punk goes after the legs but Brock just levels him with a clothesline. We hit the bearhug until Punk scores with forearms, only to take a hard knee to the ribs. It’s almost total dominace by Brock so far. Back to the bearhug but Punk elbows out of it again. Some kicks to the chest have Brock in trouble but he counters a high cross body into a fall away slam.
We hit the chinlock but Punk bites his ear to escape. More kicks have Brock in trouble and a top rope knee sends him sprawling across the ring. There’s a pair of running knees in the corner but Brock counters the third one into the F5. Punk escapes again and nails a high kick followed by the Macho Elbow (more like a splash) for a VERY close two. The fans are totally into this.
The GTS is countered into another F5 attempt but Punk escapes and nails another high kick. He tries the GTS again but gets caught in the Kimura. Somehow he counters that into a cross armbreaker but Brock rolls over into a choke. Punk counters THAT into a triangle choke, only to have Brock lift him for a powerbomb. That doesn’t break the hold either and it’s back to the triangle, but Brock lifts him into another powerbomb, this time with a running start. AMAZING sequence there and the fans give it the THIS IS AWESOME chant that it deserves.
Brock busts out Three Amigos of all things for two. Punk is half dead in the ring so Brock heads outside and gets a chair. He takes too long though and Punk dives onto the chair, driving it into Lesnar in a huge crash. Now it’s Punk wearing out Brock with the chair as they head back inside. Brock takes the chair away, only to get hit low before he can destroy Punk. Punk nails the Cactus Jack chair drop from the top for two as Heyman is pacing back and forth.
Punk just starts beating Brock with the chair but Heyman gets on the apron for a distraction. Lesnar lifts him for the F5 but Punk grabs Heyman for the block. He slips off Lesnar’s back and hits the GTS for a white hot near fall with Heyman making the save. After a quick chase, Punk charges into the F5 but counters AGAIN into a DDT for another two.
There’s the Anaconda Vice and Lesnar is in trouble, drawing Heyman in with the chair….but Punk gets up and steps on it. There’s a right hand for Heyman and a Vice of his own, but Punk is wide open for a chair shot from Lesnar. A bunch more chair shots sets up an F5 on the chair to give Brock the pin on Punk’s dead body at 29:07.
Rating: A+. I said this was Match of the Year last year and a second viewing affirms that view. This was AMAZING with some great David vs. Goliath stuff, a white hot counter sequence, and then two guys just beating the tar out of each other for ten minutes to end the match. Heyman making the save made sense, but it makes Punk look like the superhero that everyone thought he was. Totally awesome match here and Lesnar looks like the monster that he’s supposed to.
Oh and one more thing: SCREW YOU HHH FOR WASTING BROCK FOR A YEAR FOR YOUR STUPID EGO. Seriously, a year of this lost for that “trilogy” nonsense with HHH winning the big match on the biggest stage before letting Brock get his win back in a totally forgotten cage match. Lucky us.
Punk gets the well deserved standing ovation.
A fan gets splashed by Mark Henry for Summerslam tickets. He gets to sit in front of the announcers’ table for the next match.
Dolph Ziggler/Kaitlyn vs. Big E. Langston/AJ Lee
Two feuds combined into one. The guys start with Ziggler nailing a fast dropkick for two on Big E. Langston comes right back with a belly to belly suplex and a spinning Warrior Splash for two of his own before we hit the abdominal stretch. Dolph quickly escapes and scores with another dropkick before it’s off to the girls. Kaitlyn throws her around but gets caught by a big kick to the face.
A back elbow gets two for Lee and she hooks a sleeper. AJ shouts a lot but gets caught with a shoulder block. Back to the guys and there are the ten elbow drops from Dolph. The Fameasser misses and Big E. hooks a tilt-a-while backbreaker for two. AJ takes out Kaitlyn with a Shining Wizard but Big E. hits the post. Kaitlyn spears AJ in half (I miss her selling the heck out of that move) as Big E. gets back up and runs over Dolph. The Big Ending doesn’t work though and the Zig Zag gives Dolph the pin at 5:46.
Rating: D+. I feel sorry for this match as it was a glorified TV match that had to go after a thirty minute masterpiece. These four feuded for a long time and it was getting boring by this time. AJ would hold the Divas Title for a ridiculous eight more months and Kaitlyn doesn’t even have a job anymore. Again, it’s amazing how much a year has changed.
Miz gets cut off by Fandango and Summer again, finally causing Miz to knock him out.
The expert panel makes their World Title match picks.
We recap Cena vs. Bryan. The idea here is simple: Bryan had been on a roll and Cena was allowed to pick his opponent for Summerslam. He summed it up in four words: “I select Daniel Bryan.” This was the start of Bryan being a B+ player as authority (not The Authority) figures started saying Bryan was just too small to be World Champion. HHH and Vince tried to turn him corporate but Bryan couldn’t bring himself to do it because it wasn’t who he was. The only person that seems to be supporting him is HHH, who is guest referee tonight.
At the same time they actually made it somewhat personal between Cena and Bryan as Daniel called Cena out for being a parody of a wrestler. Cena got very serious and said that he was a wrestler even if he wore bright t-shirts. He chose Bryan because he’s the best competition in the company right now and has earned the spot. Cena also has fluid the size of a baseball in his elbow at the moment and is going to be taking time off after the match.
WWE Title: Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena
Cena is defending and HHH is guest referee. Daniel wisely goes after the bad arm to start but gets taken down with a headlock. Back up and Cena isn’t sure what to make of Bryan and his technical abilities. John easily wins a test of strength but Bryan bridges off the mat. Cena jumps down on him but can’t break the bridge in a nice display of strength by the bearded one. A YES Lock attempt sends Cena out to the floor for a breather.
Back in and Cena uses the bad arm for a headlock before they hit the mat for the old Flair bridge up into a backslide from Bryan for two. It’s Bryan in control now but Cena blocks the surfboard with pure power. Daniel is sent to the apron and knocked into the announcers’ table with a hard shoulder. Cena is wrestling as the heel here by default as the power guy.
Bryan pops up and whips Cena into the steps but Cena sends him in as well. Fans to Cena: “YOU STILL SUCK!” Back in and Cena hammers away to get the upper hand but lets Bryan get up. A sitout powerbomb gets two for the champion and we hit the chinlock. Bryan is quickly back up with right hands as Jerry reminds us that HHH is guest referee. He hasn’t meant anything yet.
Bryan backflips over Cena out of the corner and nails the running clothesline. Here come the YES Kicks but the big one misses, allowing Cena to initiate his finishing sequence. The Shuffle gets two and Bryan nails the big kick to the head for the same. Bryan finally starts going after the arm by snapping it over his own shoulder and firing off kicks to the elbow. Cena tries a quick STF but Bryan mule kicks his way out. Now it’s Bryan putting Cena in the STF but he can’t crank on it as well.
Cena powers up but gets caught in Rolling Germans. Cena powers out of the third suplex and tries the AA, only to be reversed into the YES Lock. Bryan can’t quite get it on and Cena gets his head out of the grip to escape. That’s fine with Daniel who slaps on the guillotine choke. Again I had to hear Cole say HHH’s name to remember that he was the referee. Cena powers up again and drives Bryan into the buckle a few times before finally grabbing a rope for the break.
An AA connects out of nowhere for two and Cena is getting frustrated. He goes up top but Bryan breaks up the top rope Fameasser. A running dropkick has Cena reeling and Bryan superplexes him down, only to hook his feet on the ropes to stay up top. That’s kind of brilliant actually. The Swan Dive connects for two and Cena rolls outside. The FLYING GOAT is countered by a forearm to the face and the top rope Fameasser gets John another two count.
Cena goes up again but gets caught, only to try to slam Daniel down. Instead we get a TERRIFYING semi-botch as Cena almost piledrives him off the top. Thankfully Bryan’s neck is in one piece (for now) as Cena puts him in the STF. He pulls back too far though and Bryan slips out to apply the YES Lock. Cena is right next to the ropes for the break though and both guys are exhausted.
It’s Bryan up first with the running dropkicks but he tries one too many, allowing Cena to take his head off with a running clothesline. They slug it out again until both guys try flying shoulders and knock each other out again. Back up and they slap it out as the fans are even more into it now. Cena catches him charging and plants Bryan with a spinebuster. Allegedly Bryan countered with a DDT but it didn’t come off that well on camera.
It’s Daniel to his feet first and going up top, only to have Cena counter his high cross body into an AA. Daniel counters that into the small package for two, followed by a BIG kick to the head. He doesn’t cover, but instead debuts the running knee to the chest for the 100% clean pin over Cena (I believe the first since Rock at Wrestlemania) for the pin and the title at 31:07.
Rating: A+. Yep this worked too. This is a totally different style of main event match and it more than holds up a year later. There was a solid story in there of Bryan being as technical as he could be and Cena just muscling his way through it, only to have Bryan knee his head off for the pin. Excellent match, but somehow it’s the second best of the night and of the year.
Post match Cena is upset but hands Bryan the title and raises his hand with no violence.
Bryan celebrates for about three minutes….and here’s Mr. Money in the Bank Randy Orton. Bryan is ready for him, but not ready for HHH to spin him around for a Pedigree.
WWE Title: Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan
Orton is champion in 8 seconds.
The new heel forces pose to end the show.
Overall Rating: A. This won Show of the Year and it’s easy to see why. The two main events are more than enough to make this awesome but you also have good stuff like Del Rio vs. Christian. Nothing was truly horrible here (the Divas match was just over four minutes so how much can it really hurt?) and two instant classics make this more than great and one of the best shows WWE ever put on.
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