Just a few minutes ago, Daniel Bryan defeated John Cena to win the WWE Championship. And what a match it was.
The second-biggest pay-per-view of the year for WWE did not disappoint. And the WWE Championship match was no exception. Even though Randy Orton snatched away Bryan's hard-won title at the end of the evening, for one brief moment in time, Daniel Bryan was WWE champion, and all was right with the world.
In this article, I'll recap the match, describe what I thought were the three biggest highlights and review the match as a whole. On to the recap, then.
After Triple H entered the ring, Daniel Bryan followed. The "Yes!" chants were thunderous. The boos for John Cena were equally thunderous. It was clear the crowd was firmly behind Daniel Bryan, at least in the beginning. The scene was reminiscent of WWE Money in the Bank 2011.
The start to the match was slow, as Bryan targeted Cena's injured elbow. They felt each other out for the first few minutes. "You can't wrestle" chants rained down from the audience, almost certainly directed at Cena.
Cena rolled out of the ring for a moment and whispered something to the ringside doctor. Could this come into play later?
Unique pin attempts by Cena and Bryan were exchanged, then Bryan was driven hard out of the ring and into the announcer's table. Boos rained down again, with more "You can't wrestle" chants. Deafening "Yes!" chants followed.
Cena then suplexed Bryan off the steel steps outside the ring. Cena then began to use his size and strength to punish Bryan. A sitdown powerbomb by Cena silenced the crowd for a moment.
Bryan began coming back by throwing punches and kicks, driving Cena into the corner. A big clothesline to Cena fired up Bryan and the crowd again. More kicks to Cena, but Cena countered with shoulder blocks and his patented sidewalk slam.
Bryan fought off Cena as he went for a submission, but to no avail. Cena hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Bryan countered the Attitude Adjustment. He jumped to the top rope and hit Cena with a huge drop-kick. A two-count followed. The pro-Bryan chants continued, along with Daniel Bryan's devastating kicks.
Cena kept his elbow close to his body. It was clearly bothering him. As Cena went to counter, Bryan puts Cena in the STF, Cena's own move. But Cena got out, right into a suplex and a two-count.
After a short back and forth, Cena gets put in the Yes! Lock. A divided crowd chanted for and against Cena. Bryan put another hold on Cena, and Cena began to fade. Pro-Bryan chants were echoing throughout the arena for a moment, but the crowd grew quieter.
Cena finally broke the hold, and both men took a moment to catch their breath. From out of nowhere, Cena hit the AA, and Bryan barely kicked out. The crowd reignited in favor of Bryan.
Cena went to the top rope, but Bryan fought back. Bryan hit Cena with a Superplex, and he actually was able to hang on and stay on the ropes! He then hit Cena with a diving headbutt for a two-count. Cena tried to go up top, and did. He hit Bryan with a huge leg drop for a two-count.
Cena carried Bryan to the top, looking for an AA off the top, but Bryan countered. Cena countered the counter and dropped Bryan on his head and moved right into the STF. Bryan rolled over, but Cena kept the hold on tight.
Bryan finally wriggled free and got Cena into the Yes! Lock. Cena crawled and got the rope. Bryan hit Cena with running drop kicks, but Cena leveled Bryan with a huge clothesline. They threw punches, and finally knocked each other out.
So far, Triple H had been a non-factor. Will that continue? They got up and threw punches again. Bryan gained the upper hand. Cena caught Bryan and went for an AA, but Bryan countered into a big DDT. Bryan went back to the top rope and dove off.
Cena caught Bryan, but Bryan countered into a roll-up for two. Bryan went back to the corner one last time. Bryan hit huge flying knee and pinned Cena for the win. New WWE champion!
Daniel Bryan did it! Cena got up, though, and shook Bryan's Hand.
"I hear voices in my head..." Orton appeared and showed off his briefcase. Orton walked away, but Triple H betrayed Bryan. He hit Bryan with the Pedigree. Orton cashed in and won the WWE Championship. The show signed off with a stunned Los Angeles, Calif. crowd looking on in silence.
The first highlight worth mentioning from this amazing match is John Cena's suplex of Daniel Bryan off the steel steps onto the ground outside the ring.
Cena showed a much wider variety of moves in this match, and this one was perhaps one of the best of the night. It set the tone for the early part of the match and showed that Cena was going to brutalize Bryan if he had to.
The crowd loved the move, chanting "Holy Sh*t!" immediately after. But the fans quickly got back to hating Cena, chanting "You still suck!" Cena, even when he's putting on a good match, can't get any love.
This highlight may go down as the move of the match, and maybe even win a Slammy. When Daniel Bryan fought Cena on the top rope, and then hit Cena with a Superplex, it was a big moment.
But then the crowd realized that Bryan had not dropped off the ropes and had positioned his feet so he would stay up top. He then proceeded to hit John Cena with a flying headbutt.
Bryan is a great wrestler, but that move was just phenomenal.
No surprise here, but the final highlight of the match has to be the flying knee Daniel Bryan delivered to Cena that proved the winner.
While he didn't get Cena to tap, he got a stunning victory over the biggest name in WWE over the past eight years. And he got the win cleanly.
Overall, this match was, well, amazing. Big move after big move, and counter after counter left me on the edge of my seat. And when the dust settled and Triple H was counting to three, I had to do a double-take. Had I really just seen the match end? Was this real?
Yes! "Flight of the Valkyries" was blasting over the speakers and the crowd was going crazy. In all, a perfect ending to an excellent match. Sorry Bret Hart, this was no 4/10. More like 9/10. The only thing that would have made this match better was seeing Cena actually tap out to the Yes! Lock, but I'm not greedy.
In the end, this match will be remembered for years, and not just for the Randy Orton cash-in that came immediately afterward. This match was excellent. Enough said.