Whenever you have two Match of the Year candidates on one night, it doesn't really matter how the rest of the show goes—it's going to be a success.
That's exactly what happened at SummerSlam on Sunday night.
Of course, that's not to say the rest of the card outside of CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar and John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan was disappointing (Note: you can find a complete list of the SummerSlam results here).
But after an underwhelming finish following a solid match between Dean Ambrose and Rob Van Dam and a pretty disappointing match (albeit with a very compelling ending) between Kane and Bray Wyatt, some were starting to worry about the company's second-biggest PPV of the year.
Well, it's safe to say no one is worrying anymore.
How would you grade SummerSlam's main event?
Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian was a terrific wrestling clinic, "Beast vs. Best" was an instant classic and Cena vs. Bryan was maybe even instant classic-ier.
For now, let's focus on the latter, which put a perfect cap on a thrilling PPV.
The match itself was spectacular from a pure wrestling standpoint.
Many were skeptical because, well, John Cena. Bryan is simply on fire right now, and he can put on an absolute show with any wrestler opposite him, but there were still worries about how Cena would inevitably ruin the match in some way.
That didn't even come close to happening.
Pro Wrestling Illustrated sums it up nicely:
Pure wrestling fans... Orton's cash-in aside, don't you appreciate that Bryan and Cena essentially had a Japanese strong style match? #km— PWI (@OfficialPWI) August 19, 2013
It wasn't a finisher-a-thon. There was good offense, spectacular spots and some nasty bumps for each wrestler. There were well-done near-falls, tons of energy from both sides and plenty of crowd excitement.
Finally, it ended with this simply awesome finish:
Bryan was as good as always, but Cena also put on a very good wrestling show and deserves credit for his performance.
Then you had the twist.
After Bryan's celebration included confetti, handshakes with Cena and Triple-H and what appeared to be nothing more than a Money in the Bank cash-in tease by Randy Orton, it looked like that's how we were going to end the night: The most over superstar in the business—the underdog—finally having his moment.
It was believable.
Nope. In one swift kick to Bryan's fans' stomachs, Triple-H Pedigrees Bryan and Randy Orton cashes in to end Bryan's title reign.
Needless to say, some were shocked:
I am done. Too much!— TheMarkHenry (@TheMarkHenry) August 19, 2013
The fans who truly are enthralled by Bryan's talent will be upset he isn't leaving Los Angeles as the WWE champion, but consider some of the following things:
- Bryan beat John "Some Might Call Him Super" Cena. Clean. For the WWE Championship. That makes him look unbelievably strong, and he will still be firmly entrenched in the middle of the title picture.
- Triple-H and Orton both turned heel. Yes, please.
- Bryan is now the babyface people's champion chasing Orton, the corporate heel champion. That is gold. Gold, Jerry, gold!
SummerSlam had high expectations, but it lived up to the billing in nearly every way possible, and, following a thrilling main event and beautiful ending, anticipation will only remain sky high going forward.
The WWE is in a great place right now.