When Triple H was announced as the special referee for the WWE title match at SummerSlam during this past Monday's Raw, many questioned why the move was necessary. After all, Cena versus Bryan was a hot feud and a highly anticipated match heading into the summertime spectacular.
They would receive the answer to their question by night's end.
Before that, Bryan and Cena would continue to prove themselves as performers. In a match rivaling the extraordinary Lesnar-Punk match from earlier in the evening, champion and challenger delivered a main event-worthy match that provided the 2013 edition of SummerSlam with its second Match of the Year candidate.
Cena entered the match with an injured elbow and even had it wrapped. It was not long before Bryan targeted the joint and worked it over with a series of hard kicks. Cena, to his credit, matched hold for hold with one of the most gifted in-ring technicians in the sport's long and illustrious history, again proving himself as one of the industry's truly great main event performers, despite what his detractors may say.
The champion repeatedly fought out of the No Lock and withstood stiff, hard kicks about his entire body while the challenger survived the power advantage of his opponent and did everything he could to avoid his high-impact finisher.
In the end, a running knee from out of nowhere spelled the end of Cena's latest title reign. Winner: Daniel Bryan.
The fans inside the Staples Center erupted into a huge ovation of both cheers and "yes!" chants while the new champion celebrated his win.
Cena, to his credit, got to his feet and congratulated the champion. The competitors, exhausted from the trials and tribulations they had just encountered, shook hands in a display of respect for one another and, more importantly, the WWE title. Cena also shook Triple H's hand before returning to the locker room area.
Confetti fell from the sky and pyro exploded on the entrance stage. Daniel Bryan thanked his parents and the feel-good moment of the year was unfolding before our very eyes.
Then it happened.
"Voices" played and Randy Orton stalked to the ring, the Money in the Bank briefcase in his grasp. He teased using it, cashing it in for his guaranteed WWE title match then and there. But then he thought better of it. He began walking to the back, then stopped and looked over his shoulder.
Suddenly, Triple H delivered the Pedigree heard 'round the wrestling world to Daniel Bryan and Orton entered the squared circle. He handed "The Game" the briefcase, Triple H called for the bell and, seconds later, Orton captured the title that Bryan had worked so very hard for.
Triple H and Randy Orton stood tall to end the evening's festivities.
Analysis: Another phenomenal match that lived up to all of the hype. Bryan was as great as he always is and Cena, for all of his detractors, delivered another Match of the Year contender. The finish came out of nowhere and was unexpected but worked in the context of the match in that each man tried for the finishers so many times that something so quick and sudden is what finally did Cena in.
The post-match activity was done with such mastery that it even silenced the hardcore fans in the crowd. Waiting until after the confetti fell and the pyro concluded to bring out Orton and then executing the Triple H heel turn lured fans into a false sense of security regarding Bryan’s title win.
Highlight: After a match full of finishing maneuvers and submissions, Bryan catching Cena off-guard with a running knee to the head to capture the WWE title.