Breaking Down the Best and Worst of the WWE for Week of Aug. 19
WWE's claim that SummerSlam is the biggest event of the summer proved to be an understatement this year.
The pay-per-view made for some of the best stuff fans have seen this year. The most intense bouts of that show and the stories that spilled into WWE Raw the next night easily made the list for best of the week.
The week wasn't without things worthy of nitpicking as well though.
The continued disappointing career of a man who was once Mexico's biggest star and the sputtering in-ring start of a talented new roster member are among the week's few lowlights. From Daniel Bryan's rise to Foot Locker’s dance with Fandango, here is the best and worst of the week in the world of WWE.
Best: SummerSlam Main Events
When Alberto Del Rio and Christian's excellent bout ends up being the third best match, you know WWE had a great night.
SummerSlam outshined WrestleMania thanks to that world title match, CM Punk and Brock Lesnar's beautifully brutal clash and the battle for the WWE Championship between John Cena and Daniel Bryan. It seemed as if each pair of marquee foes were out to top the others.
Christian and Del Rio countered each other's moves, playing up their familiarity. Christian came off as a gritty competitor in fighting through Del Rio's attacks and holding off defeat in valiant fashion.
Punk and Lesnar used violence to paint a masterwork on screen.
Lesnar threw Punk over tables and bent a steel chair over Punk's back. Punk stunned the beast with knees to the head in a match that balanced realism and spectacle.
Bryan and Cena then followed those up with a blend of technical wrestling, emotion and stiff kicks to the face. Cena ended the night bruised, reddened and no longer champion. Bryan began a celebration that ended in heartbreak.
Worst: Bray Wyatt’s First Two Matches
The world-eater's first in-ring outings haven't been nearly as impressive as his work on the microphone.
Bray Wyatt made his debut against Kane in a Ring of Fire match on Sunday and took on R-Truth on Monday's Raw. No one expected him to be Curt Hennig, but his first matches have been marked with awkwardness.
Wyatt seemed unsure of himself during certain moments of the R-Truth match, especially when he pinned him for the final time, seemingly in search of which camera to grin into.
Like Jim Ross said in a tweet on Monday, Wyatt does have noteworthy physical gifts.
The Shield raised our collective expectations about how great rookies can be out of the gate. Wyatt is bound to improve with experience, something that may happen rather soon. His work against Justin Gabriel in a short match on Wednesday's Main Event was smoother, seemingly powered by increased confidence.
Best: CM Punk Berates Fan
Monday's Raw showed us just how short CM Punk's fuse is and how entertaining the ensuing explosion can be.
Punk is not a John Cena type of fan favorite as a fan in the front row found out. He apparently booed Punk and perhaps said some unkind things to the Superstar and Punk responded with a verbal barrage.
The former WWE champ challenged him to come into the ring and he promised to render him "a toothless, crying heap of a man." The unscripted flurry of anger had Twitter buzzing.
Worst: Foot Locker Segment
It was as entertaining as an unnatural product plug can be, thanks to Fandango, but how irritating is it to sit through so many commercials only to see one on the actual show as well?
Zack Ryder and Justin Gabriel talked to a Foot Locker employee backstage, hyping a new deal for the shoe company. Fandango spun his way into the scene. He asked if he could dance in the shoes.
James Caldwell of PWTorch.com wondered, "Was there some sort of hidden message here that Ryder is going to end up selling shoes at Foot Locker?"
Pushing products mid-Raw is nothing new for WWE, but that's not much consolation. When Jerry Lawler is ordering pizza on the air or Vickie Guerrero is raving about burgers backstage, it feels like WWE isn't far from having wrestlers put ads on their tights.
“And his challenger, brought to you by Doritos, The Miz!”
Worst: Sin Cara Becoming WWE’s Ken Griffey Jr in a Bad Way
Sin Cara's WWE run has been a story of bad luck.
He’s seemingly spent more time on the disabled list than in the ring. The luchador once again succumbed to injury when he damaged several fingers early in his match against Alberto Del Rio on Monday.
The story of that match soon focused on Ricardo Rodriguez joining forces with Rob Van Dam. Before that surprise, Sin Cara rolled around in pain outside the ring, not 30 seconds into their match. He called for the referee, his fingers dislocated, his run of injuries continued.
Sin Cara tweeted a photo of his fingers post-match.
Pues gracias a dios q solo se dislocaron los dedos y ya nos volveremos aver arriba del ring ALBERTO DEL RÍO [pic]: http://t.co/wwqSsUsKoD— Sin Cara WWEOfficial (@TheSinCaraWWE) August 20, 2013
Best: Daniel Bryan vs. the World
Daniel Bryan's title loss so soon after he'd defeated John Cena was painful for his fans to watch. In the end, it seems he's trading that moment of glory in for even bigger things.
Bryan became the focus of Monday's Raw and the narrative has him set up to be the top face in the company and play a Steve Austin-like role against a corporate foe.
When Stephanie McMahon told him early in the show that he was not worthy of carrying the WWE Championship, Bryan called her trash, talked about going back to wrestling in armories and threatened to do something that would get him fired.
This segment and the one that ended the show positions Bryan as the underdog and rebel fans rally behind. His list of enemies goes far beyond Stephanie though.
The show ended with Randy Orton and The Shield beating on Bryan as Triple H and Vince McMahon looked on. Pursuing the WWE title and fighting those names along the way is likely to make Bryan an even bigger star.
This is going to be a fun story to follow and Bryan's matches with any of those rivals should be just as engaging as the overall narrative.