WWE SummerSlam 2013: Reliving the 5 Best Matches of Christian's Singles Career
In just a few hours, Christian will challenge Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam.
It is the latest championship opportunity in the long, storied career of one of WWE's most decorated stars. A former World Heavyweight, Intercontinental, European, Hardcore, Light Heavyweight and Tag Team champion, Christian has done it all. He has helped revolutionize wrestling by achieving tremendous success as a singles competitor.
There was a time when many thought Captain Charisma would be the Marty Jannetty to Edge's Shawn Michaels. Instead, Christian has crafted for himself a career that most would kill to have. His longevity is a testament to his versatility as a performer.
In celebration of his latest flirtation with the heavyweight title, here is a look back at the five greatest matches in Christian's singles career.
No Holds Barred Match for the World Heavyweight Title: Christian vs. Randy Orton (SummerSlam 2011)
The rivalry between Christian and Randy Orton over the World Heavyweight title carried the SmackDown brand throughout the spring and summer of 2011. The two were seemingly incapable of having a bad match with one another and had the opportunity to prove that on several occasions, including in matches at pay-per-views such as Over the Limit, Capitol Punishment and Money in the Bank. At the latter show, Christian stole the title from Orton on a technicality when Randy got himself disqualified.
There would be no technicalities at SummerSlam, as Captain Charisma would defend his title against Orton in a No Holds Barred match. The stipulation ended any possibility that Christian could escape Los Angeles and the Staples Center with his title without decisively defeating his rival.
The two WWE Superstars assaulted one another in a stiff, hard battle that climaxed when Christian dove off the middle rope directly into an RKO by Orton onto the steel ring steps.
The match spelled the end of Christian's stay in the title picture, but it went down in grand fashion.
A Match of the Year candidate.
Ladder Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio
The retirement of World Heavyweight champion Edge stunned the wrestling world and resulted in the second-most important title in the sport being vacated. A match would be held to determine the new champion. Alberto Del Rio, the top contender to the championship, was a natural top contender, but it was the inclusion of Christian that raised some eyebrows.
The life-long friend of Edge, and on-screen brother, he had hung around the mid-card for most of the previous year but had not really been portrayed as a legitimate contender to either of the two heavyweight titles.
That would change at Extreme Rules, when Christian shocked the world and defeated Del Rio in an intense ladder match. Making the moment that much more special was the post-match celebration, during which the new champion was able to celebrate his first heavyweight title win in WWE with Edge.
As history dictates, Christian would lose the title two days later to Randy Orton in a stellar match, creating an internet uproar. The loss, however, would ultimately result in the highest-profile rivalry of Christian's career and his first sustained main event push in Vince McMahon's promotion.
Money in the Bank Match: Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Edge vs. Kane (WrestleMania 21)
There is no better place to have a spectacular match than WrestleMania and in 2005, at WrestleMania 21, six of the sport's most talented individuals delivered in an exciting new match concept.
Christian was one of six men battling it out for the opportunity to win a guaranteed title shot. Those six WWE Superstars risked their health for the promise of heavyweight championship glory. While Shelton Benjamin stood out for his spectacular aerial offensive spots and Edge captured the briefcase, Christian was one of the performers who recalled his ladder match experience and was able to provide the foundation of the match.
The involvement with Tyson Tomko and his interactions with Christian as they attempted to steal the win also helped to tell a story amid all of the chaos and destruction.
Christian vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XX)
The rivalry between Christian and Chris Jericho started as a love story involving both WWE Superstars, Lita and Trish Stratus. Soon, it was revealed that the villainous Canadian tag team were less-than honest in their pursuit of the Divas, engaging in a bet over who could bed their chosen woman first.
But somewhere along the line, Jericho developed real feelings for Trish. His budding relationship with the former Women's champion caused a fracture in his friendship with Christian, who resented the blonde bombshell and her effect on Y2J.
Eventually, Christian turned on Jericho and a match was booked for WrestleMania XX in New York City.
The third match of the evening, Jericho and Christian delivered an exciting match full of counter wrestling and near-falls. Late in the bout, Trish made her way to the ringside area and played a major role in its conclusion.
Christian grabbed Trish by her hair and pulled her into the ring. Jericho took down his former friend and went to check on his girlfriend. When he did, he caught a seemingly inadvertent elbow shot from her, momentarily stunning him and allowing Christian to roll him up and score an upset win.
After the match, Stratus revealed her true intentions, slapping Y2J before Christian flattened him with the Unprettier (now known as the Kill Switch).
As Jericho struggled to recover from the assault, he was forced to watch as Christian and Trish locked lips in a deep and passionate kiss on the entrance ramp.
The victory was the biggest win of Christian's singles career to that point.
Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Title: Christian vs. Rob Van Dam (Raw, September 29, 2003)
In the fall of 2003, Christian was the Intercontinental champion and never ceased to escape with his title intact, no matter the level of competition nor how close he was to being defeated. He was sneaky, conniving and deceitful and it worked to his advantage.
One of his top contenders was "Mr. Monday Night," Rob Van Dam. At Unforgiven in September of 2003, both Van Dam and Chris Jericho challenged Christian for the title and, to the dismay of both men, Captain Charisma retained.
On the September 29 edition of Raw, Christian would defend his title against Van Dam in a match he was all too familiar with, as was the challenger. In the night's main event, the two talented in-ring veterans would steal the show out from underneath major industry stars like heavyweight champion Bill Goldberg in a high-risk, high-reward ladder match.
As is the case in many of Christian's greatest matches, he came out on the losing end of the bout. However, he more than left an impression on the fans of WWE on that fall night ten years ago.
Sunday night, Christian has the opportunity to add another quality match to this list. He and Alberto Del Rio have proven to have solid in-ring chemistry and, with expectations for Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk and John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan being so high, those supporting those two main events on the undercard will do everything in their power to steal the show out from underneath them.
Whether Christian and Del Rio can do that remains to be seen.
What is a certainty, though, is that Christian is a talented in-ring performer who deserves the spotlight he has gotten over the last month. Ideally, Sunday night will not be one-and-done for the man affectionately known as Captain Charisma and his millions of "peeps."
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