SummerSlam featured three main events—Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio, CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar and Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena. All of them were great.
Overall, it’s been a wonderful year to be a professional wrestling fan, as we’ve been treated to some truly high quality wrestling bouts throughout the year.
But how do the three big matches of SummerSlam fit into the best of 2013 thus far?
The following are the 10 best WWE matches in 2013 so far following WWE’s most recent summer mega event.
The two main criteria for the rankings are match quality and match significance.
If fans were worried about how the company would book Bryan as a main event competitor, this match gave them every reason to trust the WWE.
The American Dragon faced Jack Swagger, Antonio Cesaro and Ryback—he beat Swagger and Cesaro and got a DQ "win" over Big Hungry.
This epic match demonstrates Bryan’s value to the company—every man involved came out looking great.
Except maybe Jack Swagger.
There were two ladder matches at this year’s Money in the Bank event—one featuring seasoned veterans and another comprised of younger stars.
Surprisingly, the hungry stars of the future outdid their much more experienced colleagues.
The breakout star of the match was undeniably Cody Rhodes, who put on a terrific dominating performance, but it was Damien Sandow who would retrieve with the briefcase.
Time will tell how well Sandow's ascent to the world championship scene will go, but either way this was one of the most exciting matches of the year.
This is the match that made The Shield.
While their debut against Ryback and Team Hell No at TLC 2012 was impressive, this match let every fan know that the WWE is serious about The Shield.
Ryback had been battling The Hounds of Justice for months, and recruited the company’s resident supermen to aid him.
It seemed inconceivable that The Shield would triumph cleanly—or even at all.
After a brutal clash, Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose scored a gargantuan victory, and they instantly became big stars in the process.
Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio had one of the most interesting rivalries of the year thus far, even if it ended horribly.
Dolph suffered a heartbreaking loss to Del Rio at Payback, but the two would clash again at Money in the Bank.
Both performers deserve a lot of credit; the event featured two strong Money in the Bank ladder matches yet it was the world heavyweight championship bout that stole the show.
Counter after counter, near fall after near fall, Del Rio and Ziggler told a thrilling story.
The Showoff should’ve walked away with the gold, but that doesn’t change the fact that this match was outstanding.
The matches between Triple H and Brock Lesnar steadily got better and better.
Their bout at WrestleMania XIX was better than their respectable showing at SummerSlam the year before, but the best would come at Extreme Rules.
The Beast faced The Game inside a steel cage, and it was as intense as you’d expect.
Triple H worked on Lesnar’s leg and Brock sold it perfectly—very few big men sell as well as he does.
Ultimately The King of Kings would fall after a sledgehammer to the face and an F5 from The Beast.
CM Punk and Chris Jericho have had many excellent bouts in the last two years, most recently at WWE Payback.
The difference is that there was no build up to this Raw Active match.
The problem with booking Jericho against Punk is that fans expectations immediately go sky high.
For their match on the February 4 edition of Raw, fans had no buildup and therefore no expectations, and the two megastars gave us a match of the year contender completely out of the blue.
The Best vs. The Beast. It basically sells itself, but even if it didn’t, CM Punk and Brock Lesnar had a great backstory behind it and an expertly executed buldup.
Thankfully, and unsurprisingly, the two Paul Heyman guys delivered one of the best matches of the year.
It started off like all of Brock’s matches do—brawling in and out of the ring, but it managed to steadily get more and more intense.
There was a cutting edge MMA flavor to the match and the spots and reversals were outstanding.
Brock walks away the winner, but as with any truly great match the loser, Punk, looked equally as good.
The match that stole the show: CM Punk vs. The Undertaker was the best told story at this year’s WrestleMania.
Punk and ‘Taker had somewhat of an advantage coming in; theirs was the only one of the three main events that fans hadn’t seen the year before.
Not only that, but The Second City Saint used the real-life death of Paul Bearer perfectly—their buildup was undeniably original and engaging.
It’s a tough gig facing The Phenom at WrestleMania—everyone is 99.9 percent sure The Streak will live on, which makes it harder for the performers to build suspense.
Still, Punk and ‘Taker showed why they’re two of the greatest of all time.
Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena is the most important match that’s happened so far this year.
It was to 2013 what CM Punk vs. John Cena at Money in the Bank was to 2011: the breakout of a new megastar.
Cena lifted his game even higher than he usually does for big matches, and we were treated to a truly beautiful match and story.
This was undoubtedly a passing of the torch—but don’t worry Cena fans, he’s still got quite a few torches left.
The Inoki slaps and Bryan's clean win are the stuff that iconic moments are made from.
The story going into this match was that John Cena had two obstacles to overcome before he could get his career back on track—CM Punk and The Rock.
Cena was unable to beat Punk throughout 2012 and so put his No. 1 contendership for the WWE championship on the line to do so.
The match we ended up getting was an instant classic that was ten times better than what would end up main eventing WrestleMania XIX.
Punk was able to counter each of Cena’s "moves of doom" but after 20-plus minutes of back and forth action, The Leader of the Cenation was victorious.
We complain a lot, but the WWE didn’t get nearly enough gratitude for giving us a 5-star match on free television.