WWE SummerSlam 2013: 7 Best Booking Decisions from Latest PPV Event
WWE drew back its bow and kept firing bullseyes at SummerSlam 2013.
While Royal Rumble and WrestleMania suffered from predictability, WWE's latest pay-per-view surpassed its peers with logic, drama and great choices. The company wisely kept the title on the right champions and had other belts change hands in exciting fashion.
It was a night that saw a victory celebration ruined and a beast come out on top.
From Dean Ambrose's continued reign to Randy Orton breaking our hearts, here are the seven best booking decisions from SummerSlam.
Keeping Dean Ambrose Champion
The way in which Dean Ambrose retained against Rob Van Dam in their match on the SummerSlam pre-show may not have been ideal, but the result was just that.
Ambrose remained United States champ and added Van Dam to a short list of men The Shield member has fended off. Should bigger names join Van Dam, Kane and Kofi Kingston as unsuccessful challengers, Ambrose's title reign will only feel more and more important.
He has done a fantastic job in his promos trying to hype up the prestige of the belt, referring to its past legendary champions and saying that it is as important as the WWE title.
That's what a U.S. champ should think, especially one as arrogant as Ambrose. SummerSlam's result all but assures that Ambrose walks into Night of Champions with that gold still hanging over his shoulder. The longer this trend continues, the better it makes Ambrose look.
Positioning Natalya Toward Divas Title
AJ Lee and Kaitlyn can't fight over the Divas title forever.
Having Natayla defeat Brie Bella in such a convincing manner elevates her into title contention despite her surprisingly poor record. Fans generally have short memories. Should WWE have Natayla win three or four bouts in a row, images of her farting backstage or losing on a regular basis should start to fade.
A SummerSlam win in spite of the outside interference she had to overcome is big in a division with few standouts.
As the best female mat wrestler on the roster, Natalya makes sense as AJ's next opponent, and beating Brie is the first step to that journey.
Cody Rhodes Getting the Upper Hand
Cody Rhodes gets his second consecutive win against Damien Sandow.
Damien Sandow is assured a world title shot, and as Money in the Bank history has shown us, he's essentially assured the World Heavyweight Championship as well.
WWE's choice to have Cody Rhodes win this round was wise. With Sheamus and John Cena set to be out for several months, the company is going to need some babyfaces to step up. Rhodes has the in-ring and mic skills to be one of the guys to do that.
Beating Sandow gave him lots of momentum, possibly sending him up the rankings for a world title shot of his own.
Rhodes vs. Alberto Del Rio down the road would have the added drama of Sandow seeking revenge by way of cashing in on his former best friend. The Rhodes and Sandow feud has the potential to be a long and compelling one. A win by the good guy here was a fine way to go.
WWE wisely gave the marquee matches a ton of time, kept filler to a minimum and made the most of SummerSlam's pairings.
It was just after 10 p.m. ET when John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan began. Fans knew this would be no rush job; Bryan and Cena had an opportunity to produce greatness and nailed it.
Both that match and CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar went for over 25 minutes. That time allotment helped those two battles become the masterpieces they turned out to be. Last year, the WWE title match at SummerSlam wasn't nearly as good.
Some of the blame goes to the fact that it was only about 12 minutes long, not nearly enough time to fully milk the drama of Punk's title defense.
This SummerSlam, WWE doled out its time wisely. The mixed-tag match, the Divas match and Bray Wyatt vs. Kane filled out the show but were kept short enough to allow for Punk, Lesnar, Cena, Bryan and, to a lesser extent, Albert Del Rio and Christian to churn out classics.
The World Title Staying Put
As exciting as title changes are, too many of them can have the effect of a championship feeling like a prop.
After Sheamus' long run with the World Heavyweight Championship, we've already seen it change hands four times. For Alberto Del Rio to lose it just two pay-per-views after winning it back from Dolph Ziggler would be too much. Del Rio's detractors may be calling for a new champ as soon as possible, but a longer title reign helps him become more hated.
It offers him more chances to cheat his way out of losing, to deride his challengers and have fans salivating at the thought of a new champ.
Dethroning Del Rio at SummerSlam against Christian wouldn't have been as big a moment as the champ losing his title at the end of a long, bitter feud.
Brock Lesnar Winning
Had CM Punk beaten Brock Lesnar on Sunday, his feud with Paul Heyman would have been over and The Beast Incarnate would have gone limping into the shadows until his next appearance, likely right before WrestleMania XXX.
Lesnar's win felt logical. He was not only the bigger, stronger man, but Punk was distracted by his seething hatred for Heyman.
Punk losing both allows the Heyman storyline to continue and has Lesnar looking like a destructive force for whoever his next opponent is.
WWE managed to have Punk look great even in defeat. He held his own against the monster, working in MMA-inspired submission holds and rattling Lesnar with knee shots. The outcome left Punk looking like a warrior and Lesnar the behemoth he nearly toppled.
Delaying/Ruining Daniel Bryan’s Moment
The harder a journey is, the more we appreciate the destination.
As much as it felt like getting punched in the stomach to watch Daniel Bryan's championship moment end the way it did, it was the right decision. Randy Orton joining forces with Triple H gives WWE two despicable villains and makes Bryan even more of the people's hero.
He now begins the chase to the WWE Championship once again and will find the path far more arduous this time.
This decision had SummerSlam end in emotional fashion and sets up an even bigger, more cathartic moment when Bryan finally overcomes the McMahons and Orton and becomes champion for a second time.