WWE SummerSlam 2014 Matches: Best Finishes for Each Match on the Card
When WWE presents SummerSlam from the Staples Center in Los Angeles Sunday night, it does so with one of the most impressive cards it has produced in quite some time, which is set to feature strong matchups, intriguing stories and rare in-ring appearances.
Expectations are high for the annual summertime extravaganza. However, no matter how excited fans are or how great a job matchmakers did of crafting a card that piques the interest of its audience, the entire ordeal can be undone by a series of bad decisions made in the booking room.
The finish of any match is the most important element. It is the last thing fans remember and, sometimes, the determining factor in the overall success of the contest. An effective finish can catapult a match into the pantheon of greatest matches ever, while a bad one can completely negate everything that came before it.
With the future of WWE hinging on so many of Sunday's matches, it will be imperative that WWE Creative devises the absolute best conclusions for the marquee matches or risk disappointing a large portion of the audience who will have to make a decision as to whether they re-up their subscription to the WWE Network.
With that in mind, here are the smartest finishes for each of Sunday's contests.
WWE Kickoff Show: Rob Van Dam vs. Cesaro
Rob Van Dam and Cesaro are veterans of the SummerSlam Kickoff Show game, having competed in the last two, and they will do so against each other Sunday night on the WWE Network.
Neither man has done anything of note leading into the show. In fact, they have been riding disappointing losing streaks of late and could use a big win to turn their luck around. Unfortunately, there can be only one winner and that man should be Rob Van Dam, with all due respect to the Swiss Superman.
Van Dam returned to WWE the night after WrestleMania and has since amassed a win-loss record typically saved for the likes of Justin Gabriel or Zack Ryder. He has lost far more than he has won and is essentially a globally recognized enhancement talent at this point.
A win over Cesaro in front of a hot Los Angeles crowd would be the perfect way to repay him for continuing to add name recognition to a talented roster full of young, budding talent.
Cesaro tries the dead lift suplex in the corner but Van Dam fights him off, shoves him to the mat and delivers a Five Star Frog Splash to not only pick up the win but also pick the crowd up early.
Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt
The loss to John Cena at Battleground did so much more damage to Bray Wyatt than anyone could have imagined. Not only did it lose him the war with Cena, it effectively ended any interest WWE Creative had in giving him innovative, interesting and compelling stories.
Since then, Wyatt has fallen off the map and become somewhat of an afterthought amid the rise of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. Even the return of Chris Jericho and a feud with the former undisputed champion has failed to lift Wyatt out of the slump he has fallen into over the last two months.
In order to regain his form, Wyatt must start with a victory over Y2J Sunday night. It should be a clean win to really put him over—but even a tainted win would help at this point. He simply needs that spark that could reignite the fire entering the fall months, which traditionally determine the importance of one's role at WrestleMania.
The match is such an afterthought entering SummerSlam that it has the potential to exceed expectations and steal the show if the competitors are motivated and the necessary time is available to them.
Bray Wyatt pins Chris Jericho following Sister Abigail. Maybe a new member of the Wyatt Family debuts to assist him since Rowan and Harper are barred from ringside, but it is imperative that Wyatt wins the match and does it by pinning his future Hall of Fame opponent.
Divas Championship Match: AJ Lee vs. Paige
The Battleground match between AJ Lee and Paige was a disappointment. The story was clunky, the action disjointed and there were more botches than one would expect from a match featuring two of the best female wrestlers in the business.
They can right that wrong Sunday night, when they meet in a rematch on one of the biggest stages of the year.
Paige has thrived in the role of disingenuous heel, repeatedly touting her friendship with and admiration for the Divas champion, all the while viciously and ruthlessly attacking her. Recent attempts to humiliate AJ by costing her matches against Eva Marie have also proven effective, leading the unstable Diva to lash out, lose control of her emotions and demonstrate a weakness that Paige may be able to exploit come SummerSlam.
AJ, having been left lying and one-upped several times on the road to SummerSlam, should retain her title here and push Paige even closer to the edge.
AJ scores a fluke rollup on Paige. As a result, Paige continues to look like AJ's equal, keeping her in title contention and allowing the feud to rage on into the next month.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Dolph Ziggler vs. the Miz
Dolph Ziggler is a rarity in the world of professional wrestling. Regardless of how many times he loses, fans still greet him with huge responses thanks to his consistently great performances. He is WWE's resident Showoff, a Superstar determined to steal the show out from his peers and unwilling to accept his current position on the card as an indicator of how hard he should work.
The Miz is a former WWE champion who, a year ago, was in danger of fading into irrelevancy but is back with a brand new character and renewed interest from WWE Creative. His Intercontinental Championship victory at Battleground capped off a successful return to the company he once reigned over.
The last three months have seen the rivalry between the two Superstars steadily intensify, thanks to their willingness to cost each other matches on both Raw and SmackDown. Ziggler has even used Miz's obsession with protecting his moneymaker face against him, causing him to flinch out of the way of a superkick and exposing one of his biggest weaknesses ahead of Sunday's title defense.
Ziggler is a workhorse who remains over regardless of his place on the card, while Miz is in need of the new gimmick and some magic from WWE Creative if he is to remain on the right path back to the heights he previously enjoyed.
Surging after a late comeback, Ziggler attempts the Fameasser but Miz ducks out of the way and the challenger jams his knee, which had been worked over throughout the contest. This gives Miz the opening he needed, and he subsequently delivers the Skull Crushing Finale for the win and successful title defense.
Flag Match: Jack Swagger vs. Rusev
Since making his in-ring debut the night after WrestleMania XXX, Rusev has been almost unstoppable, racking up victories over some very talented midcard Superstars. At Battleground in July, however, he faced his toughest test in the form of former World Heavyweight champion Jack Swagger, who nearly brought the Bulgarian Brute's winning ways to an end.
In the weeks that followed that match, the two have met numerous times, with Swagger continuing to put pressure on the once untouchable Rusev.
National pride has been at the center of the rivalry since its inception and lately, both Superstars have taken to frantically waving their country's flag in the air, as if doing so more furiously than their rival somehow makes their nation superior.
At SummerSlam, they meet in a Flag match to not only determine which Superstar is the better man but which of their native lands will win the war of words that has developed between managers Zeb Colter and Lana.
It is far too early to end Rusev's undefeated streak. While a Flag match loss would technically not affect the fact that he has never been pinned or made to submit, it would be difficult to convince the audience that he still possesses an unblemished record when such a high profile loss occurred on one of WWE's top pay-per-view events.
Rusev should retrieve the Russian flag, perhaps with the assistance of Lana, and move on to bigger and better things.
Like the United States Championship and Sheamus.
Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton
For nearly a year, Randy Orton has listened to critics refer to him as nothing more than the Authority's little lapdog. He changed that perception a few weeks back when he unleashed the Viper on Roman Reigns, leaving the breakout star of WWE in 2014 lying motionless following a brutal assault that climaxed with an RKO through the announce table.
Sunday night, Reigns will be faced with the task of defeating the meanest, angriest Orton he has seen since debuting in 2012, something that should help with developing an even edgier young performer.
Clearly a showcase for Reigns, the outcome of this match is of little mystery. What the contest will provide is a great demonstration of an established main event performer, who has sold out arenas across the globe, putting over a young juggernaut of a star who will ultimately carry the sports-entertainment industry on his back for the next decade.
Expect to see an Orton determined not to be overshadowed or outdone by his more buzzworthy opponent and a great match as Reigns continued to ride a wave of momentum to the top of the business.
Reigns evades the RKO and Orton eats both a Superman Punch and spear en route to putting his younger opponent over clean in an example of passing the torch that is a rarity in today's wrestling world.
Lumberjack Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins
A Lumberjack match? Really?
It was a common and understandable response to Dean Ambrose's stipulation choice. After all, most expected some sort of blood feud-appropriate Street Fight or Extreme Rules match in which tables, chairs, blood and guts would be featured heavily as the former Shield teammates attempted to bring their differences to an end once and for all.
Upon further examination, the Lumberjack stipulation makes perfect sense: Rollins has repeatedly escaped his comeuppance, so Ambrose devised a match in which running away is impossible.
That every Superstar surrounding the ring has, at one time or another, likely fallen prey to a brutal assault courtesy of the Shield means the gimmick has potential to be responsible for one of the more interesting and entertaining bouts on the entire SummerSlam card.
Rollins could probably use the win at this point more than Ambrose because he is not nearly as over as a heel at the level Ambrose is as a babyface. Despite concerns and questions about the Lunatic Fringe's ability to succeed as a hero rather than a villain, he has exceeded expectations and become one of the most popular stars on the roster.
Rollins, on the other hand, is over largely because of his relationship with the Authority and the fact that he has continuously run and avoided an actual match with Ambrose on several occasions. A cheap win would benefit Mr. Money in the Bank, though a Rollins victory is by no means the only adequate finish for the contest.
Nor is it the smartest.
After months of having his revenge thwarted by Triple H, Kane and Rollins, Ambrose scores a decisive pinfall victory over the man who betrayed him way back on June 2. A brief interaction between Rollins and someone like Heath Slater would be a fun call back to what got us to this match, though it would not be necessary.
Brie Bella vs. Stephanie McMahon
Brie Bella has become the savior of every Superstar unjustly and undeservedly targeted by the Authority since last fall. Sunday at SummerSlam, she has the opportunity to avenge the humiliation, degradation, professional and personal torment suffered by the likes of Big Show, the Rhodes family, sister Nikki and husband Daniel Bryan when she meets Stephanie McMahon in one of the marquee matches on the card.
The match was set up when Brie had Stephanie arrested and charged with assault and battery following a hard slap to the face. To get the charges dropped, the Billion Dollar Princess had to agree to step back inside the squared circle for her first match in 11 years.
Since then, Stephanie has attacked Brie both physically and personally and given her a taste of her own medicine by having her locked up following a slap to Bryan's physical therapist and alleged mistress, Megan.
There will be no mind games to be played Sunday when the women take to the ring for a match that faces the weight of the world. On two separate occasions, the feud was the centerpiece of the main event segment on Raw. It has been the subject of much hype and, as a result, expectations will be lofty.
This is one instance where good absolutely will overcome evil and Brie Bella will celebrate the biggest win of her career, no questions asked.
Brie traps Stephanie in the Yes Lock, forces a submission and celebrates with Bryan in an ultimate example of a feel-good moment.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar
What is there left to say about John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar?
Lesnar is coming off a monumental upset of the Undertaker at WrestelMania XXX while John Cena recently embarked on his 15th heavyweight championship reign.
As much as he wants to be champion again, Lesnar wants to dismember Cena in front of his millions of fans worldwide and leave him in a pool of his own urine, blood and vomit. Cena simply wants to leave Los Angeles with his title reign intact.
Cena is at a point in his career when title reigns mean nothing. As harsh a reality as that is, he could very well lose the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam and no one would notice—because at some point in the very near future, he is going to win it back. When someone wins and loses a championship as many times as Cena has, it not only devalues the title, it devalues the reigns that Superstar has had.
Lesnar, on the other hand, is a special attraction who could lend credibility to the title simply by not being around as much. The title reigns would become less frequent were he to win the championship and, as a result, they would mean more.
There will be many questions surrounding Seth Rollins and the Money in the Bank briefcase, and while that scenario may be in the best interest of the company's short-term future and house show ticket sales, it is not the smartest.
Brock Lesnar defeats John Cena via pinfall and becomes WWE World Heavyweight champion, holding the title until WrestleMania XXXI, where he drops it to Roman Reigns.