Make sure to check out the SummerSlam 2013 Rundown for complete coverage of everything that happened on last night’s Pay-Per-View. Also, listen to Brian and Steve discuss what they think on the latest Between the Ropes Podcast.
The hour-long Kickoff Show felt like a giant bowl of empty dreams. I was happy to see Booker T and Shawn Michaels on the show panel, and thought they both added a lot of credibility to the opinions being presented. I’m also glad that WWE is taking a more direct approach to promoting the Pay-Per-View matches. However, 30 minutes in, I was bored to tears. Maybe it was the empty-arena atmosphere. Maybe it had something to do with the “social media room.” It just felt like more of the same that we’ve seen on free tv the last few weeks. And while Ambrose vs. RVD had a lot going for it in-ring, the finish left a sour taste in my mouth. Another DQ? So the Shield feels completely irrelevant again… C’mon, WWE!
The Miz served no real purpose. His “hosting” duties amounted to a half-hearted introduction, and pointless interactions with Fandango throughout the night. I guess they wanted both men on the card, but didn’t want them to actually wrestle. #prowrestlinglogic
I originally questioned the need for a gimmick in Bray Wyatt vs. Kane. But I have to give credit to the production team – the atmosphere of the match had me hooked. Every move was ten times more impressive because of the giant flames that shot up. I was even digging the Wyatt Family’s foolish attempts to get back in the ring. Unfortunately, creative decided to make Bray Wyatt look like a complete sissy by having him literally BEG for help. Not only that, but he was completely decimated by Kane, to the point his brothers had to run in the ring and save him. This undermined the months of building-up his creepy, Charles Manson-like persona. I was so turned off that the post-match shenanigans left me completely unengaged.
The Divas stuff wasn’t half bad last night. Bri and Natalya put together a serviceable match, and the mix-tag was fun while it lasted. At least they both served as good bathroom/concession breaks.
Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow tried to steal the show. They looked very impressive here, especially Rhodes. Unfortunately for them, the three main event matches were incredible. Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian tore down the roof. That match is the reason I get excited about both me as in-ring competitors. Their respective personalities don’t always get over with the crowd, but they understand wrestling psychology, and what it takes to deliver an exciting match. Something as simple as setting up the shoulder injury early on can lead to a great payoff like it did last night.
Let’s talk a little bit about “The Best vs. The Beast.” The NO DQ stipulation was added on the Kickoff show, and the match was better for it. No false count-outs, no illegal interference, just two men beating the crap out of each other. I’m glad Brock’s strenght was put over, and enjoyed seeing CM Punk embrace the underdog role. I wasn’t even that bothered by Paul Heyman’s interference… at first. Lesnar needed the win to keep his established reign as WWE’s resident unstoppable force. But the fact that he had to rely on Heyman to save his skin at least three separate times makes me a little bit angry. Heyman should’ve been a distraction and nothing more. On the other hand, setting up Punk vs. Heyman as the takeaway means that this story still has places to go. It also gives Heyman an excuse to recruit some fresh blood. Nitpicking aside, I enjoyed the heck out of this.
The main event angle played out a lot better than I feared. Cena and Bryan gave it their all to make the fans happy, and I liked the variety that both men showed here. John Cena showed off his repertoire of ring skills. Daniel Bryan played to the crowd with kicks, submissions, and old-school wrasslin.’ Most importantly, Triple H’s presence as special guest referee didn’t overshadow anything – only a few minutes into the match and I pretty much forgot he was there. The abrupt finish was jarring at first. On the other hand, I liked the unexpected nature of Bryan’s victory via kicks, and thought the clean victory made Bryan look like an absolute superstar without taking anything away from Cena (as a side-note, I’ve argued for years that WWE needs to add more variety in match finishes – ending everything with a “signature move” or “signature submission” makes it hard to completely suspend belief for a two-count).
I have mixed feelings on Randy Orton’s MITB Cash-In. For right now, I’ll leave it at this: fun twist for the LA crowd, but the timing seems off.
Special shout-out to Sony’s Playstation 3 Live Events Viewer: You suck. No, seriously. I had nothing but problems all night long trying to watch the Pay-Per-View through your feed. On the other hand, I watched Money in the Bank last month through my Xbox 360 without a single issue. Get your crap together!
Overall Show was hot, hot, hot. I expected to like the card. What I didn’t expect was to call it my Pay-Per-View of the year (so far). The in-ring action exceeded very lofty expectations, the pace of the card kept me hooked the entire night, and the WWE product was highlighted in a very effective manner. This show created new, bankable superstars. You can’t ask for much more than that.