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WWE SummerSlam 2014 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights

Jonathan SnowdenCombat Sports Senior WriterAugust 17, 2014

WWE SummerSlam 2014 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights

1 of 10

    Credit: WWE.com

    When Brock Lesnar stepped into the ring Sunday night to take the WWE World Heavyweight championship from John Cena after a brutal beating, it was the biggest wrestling match of 2014. More than that, it continued a legacy that began in hallowed Madison Square Garden, a journey that has spanned 18 different arenas and 26 years. It, once again, established SummerSlam as one of the WWE's truly marque events.

    In the beginning there were four. 

    The first regular WWE pay-per-view, of course, was WrestleMania. The granddaddy of them all, the showcase of the immortals, it requires no explanation. Survivor Series was next, a fall classic conceived as a middle finger to rival Jim Crockett's Starrcade in 1987. The Royal Rumble followed, a television special initially created to stomp a mudhole in Crockett's second pay-per-view offering.

    And then there was SummerSlam.

    Designed as a summer-time spectacular, Vince McMahon went big in the initial offering. There were four men in the main event, each a legitimate icon in his own right: Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, The Million Dollar Man and Andre the Giant. Those are names that demand celebration in song, legends who redefined their industry, men who were writing wrestling history with every leg drop and maniacal laugh. 

    While, each year since the show has presented a compelling main event match, the company has yet to reach the heights of that initial offering.

    Until now. 

    John Cena, simply put, is the Hulk Hogan of his era. Despised by many hardcore fans, he has nevertheless emerged from the promotional morass as a needle-mover and merchandising maven. That he's also a razor-sharp worker, capable as any man in WWE to raise wrestling from its carnival roots into the realm of art, is a secret many have not yet discovered.

    Lesnar, a former UFC champion, is perhaps an even bigger star. After his name moved millions of pay-per-view units as a UFC fighter, Lesnar returned to WWE an even bigger star than when he departed. In the modern age, only the Rock can say the same.

    More than that, he was the one wrestling star who provided WWE something even better than money—athletic credibility. That's why he was the only man who could end the Undertaker's streak. It's why, despite his limited schedule, he left Los Angeles with the WWE title as well.

    On paper it was an even match. In the ring it was a blowout—but a compelling one. Cena never knew what hit him. Sixteen German suplexes rattled his brain and an F5 finished things for good.

    Let the Brock Lesnar era officially begin.

    Of course, one match does not a card make. Luckily for WWE fans, the action throughout the night delivered in a major way. Even the grudge match between Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella was an unexpected joy. It was that kind of night. 

    What follows is our trademark instant analysis and letter grades for every bout on the show. Matches are graded not just in comparison to each other, but based on how well they live up to their potential and to fans' expectations. Disagree with our assessments? Feel free to sound off in the comments.

Antonio Cesaro vs. Rob Van Dam (Kickoff Match)

2 of 10

    Credit: WWE.com

    Result

    Van Dam pinned Cesaro with the Five-Star Frog Splash.

     

    Highlights and Quotes

    "We are funny"—Jerry Lawler. That, my dear king, is up for debate.

    Cesaro goes to the eye while the ref breaks them up. It looked believable that he would miss it. It's the little things.

    Cesaro did his own version of Rolling Thunder, ending in a foot stomp to the belly. Cool spot.

     

    Grade

    B

     

    Analysis

    We've been trained not to expect much from the matches featured in WWE Kickoff shows. They are the definition of a filler; they're there to sell you on the matches that really matter. But those matches didn't include Cesaro, who, in my opinion, is the best in-ring wrestler in the world. 

    It's unclear what exactly is going on with him backstage. After WrestleMania, he seemed primed for a run to the top. Instead, he's doing jobs on aging talents on a pre-show. I still have faith he can make it big. But now is not his time.

The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler

3 of 10

    Credit: WWE.com

    Result

    Ziggler beat Miz with the Zig Zag.

     

    Highlights and Quotes

    The Miz compared himself to the Los Angeles Lakers. I can see that. If the Laker was Jeff Lamp.

    "Look at that face. It's his fortune." —Lawler on The Miz. Meanwhile, The Miz was sticking his tongue out looking decidedly creepy.

    Full disclosure: I hate Miz with the heat of a burning sun. But these spots where he tries to cover up his face to avoid getting hit are pretty funny. 

     

    Grade

    B

     

    Analysis

    The Miz's gimmick where he protects his face at all costs is funny, mostly because millions of wrestling fans would pay a pretty penny to slap him right in the kisser. Maybe that's a future fundraiser idea?

    Anyway, for as long as I've been covering WWE for Bleacher Report, hardcore fans have been demanding Ziggler finally get a chance to shine. He's clearly talented, the crowd loves him, and he's got an energy unlike anything else the WWE puts on television. 

    Is this, finally, his chance to shine? Of course not. He'll probably do the job for El Torrito tomorrow on Raw. But, that's tomorrow. For now, let's enjoy the moment.

AJ Lee vs. Paige (Divas Title)

4 of 10

    Credit: WWE.com

    Result

    Paige pinned AJ Lee with the Rampage to win the Divas title.

     

    Highlights and Quotes

    Paige skipped to the ring. You know—like AJ does. Shots fired!

    Lee pulled Paige's hair extensions out. WORLD STAR! Brutal start!

    Flying clothesline from the top rope to the floor by AJ—a literal high spot.

     

    Grade

    B

     

    Analysis

    That was an exceptional match—or, rather, half of an exceptional match.

    One day the universe will align, and these two will reinvent what we all think of when we consider women's wrestling in America. I wish they'd had 10 more minutes to work. But it gives me renewed hope that these two women have a classic in them.

Jack Swagger vs. Rusev (Flag Match)

5 of 10

    via WWE.com

    Result

    Rusev made Swagger pass out with the Accolade.

     

    Highlights and Quotes

    "Rusev represents the cold, hard fist of reality. In reality, your heroes are failing cowards, and there is no happy ending for your U.S.A."—Lana.

    Soldiers from NTC at Fort Irwin present the colors. It's intense, especially when Rusev knocked the flag to the floor.

    What makes this a flag match? As far as we could tell on Twitter, it was a match, and they had flags. Simple. 

    Great belly-to-belly from Swagger. It woke the crowd up from what had been a kind of dull affair. 

     

    Grade

    C+

     

    Analysis

    The Russian flag flew high in Los Angeles after Rusev dispatched Jack Swagger. Solid angle. Unfortunately, the match was not particularly good, in part because Swagger is such a lumbering and robotic worker and in part because Swagger is not really over—America is. Combine those two and you're in a hole that's hard to get out of. 

    This match does, however, raise some important questions—namely, is WWE paying Sly Stallone royalties? Because they are straight up stealing Lana's character from Rocky IV. I'm waiting for Rusev to say: "If he dies, he dies."

Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose (Lumberjack Match)

6 of 10

    Credit: WWE.com

    Result

    Rollins pinned Ambrose after hitting him with the Money in the Bank briefcase.

     

    Highlights and Quotes

    Seth Rollins sure knows where the weight room is. Hulk Hogan is looking at his pythons and getting jealous.

    Combined win-loss record of these WWE lumberjacks is 17-456. Give or take.

    Idea courtesy of my friend Matt Brown: WWE lumberjacks have to dress as actual lumberjacksWilliam Regal style.

    Ambrose suplexes Rollins from the ring apron onto the lumberjacks. Heck breaks loose. Heck I tell you.

    Rollins and Ambrose are brawling all over the building. These are the worst lumberjacks ever!

    "This is awesome! This is awesome!" —The crowd. For once they aren't exaggerating.

     

    Grade

    A+

     

    Analysis

    Quite frankly, the lumberjack match is a crummy gimmick. But this? This was spectacular.

    The action was fast, furious and nonsensical—just the way I like it in a match like this. Ambrose and Rollins are working at a different level than anyone else in the company. They have been given the ball, and they aren't just playing the game—they are reinventing it.

Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt

7 of 10

    Credit: WWE.com

    Result

    Bray Wyatt pinned Chris Jericho with Sister Abigail.

     

    Highlights and Quotes

    "I worked at an orange juice factory. But I couldn't concentrate so I got canned."—Jerry Lawler. Groan!

    "Come on baby!"—Jericho with a classic catch phrase.

    Wyatt rams his knee into Jericho's head which, in turn, rams Jericho's head into the steel ring steps. Ouch.

    Hurricanrana off the top rope by Jericho. He still has his moments.

    "There's something special about this Bray Wyatt guy."—JBL. I agree. But he's not showing it here.

    Wyatt with Sister Abigail into the barricade ringside. 

     

    Grade

    B-

     

    Analysis

    It's 2014. With due respect to his legend and his accomplishments and all the enjoyment he's given me over the years, it's time for Chris Jericho to go away...not for six months...not for a year...

    Forever. 

    And, on his way out, he can take Hulk Hogan and Rob Van Dam and every other holdover from the old days with him. It's time to build new stars—and that can't be done when so much time and attention is spent on wrestlers who simply don't have the burning passion to do this night in and night out the way it deserves to be done. 

    The problem with Jericho isn't that he's terrible. It's that he's not. He can get by and play his role in an acceptable match. Maybe if he was terrible he'd had the self-respect to walk away while he can still hold his head high.

Stephanie McMahon vs. Brie Bella

8 of 10

    Credit: WWE.com

    Result

    Stephanie McMahon pinned Brie with the Pedigree after Nikki Bella turned on her sister.

     

    Highlights and Quotes

    "She looks confident."—Michael Cole.

    "She's like a super hero."—JBL.

    Stephanie absolutely potatoes Brie as she attempted a suicide dive to the outside.

    "You've still got it."—The crowd to Stephanie McMahon.

    Triple H just brutalized the poor ref as Stephanie was about to tap.

    Nikki Bella heel turn. I repeat, Nikki Bella heel turn.

     

    Grade

    A+

     

    Analysis

    This was never going to be Lou Thesz versus Pat O'Connor or Ricky Steamboat versus Rick Flair. A technical classic wasn't in the cards.

    These are two women who will never be mistaken for Manami Toyota or even Trish Stratus. But I'll be darned if they didn't have a pretty darn good wrestling match despite all their limitations!

    I'll go further—this was the greatest women's match in the history of the WWE. Or, if that's a step too far, at the very least it's in the top five. Shockingly good. Amazing.

    The key is caring. People care about Stephanie McMahon. And that, friends, is half the battle.

Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton

9 of 10

    Credit: WWE.com

    Result

    Roman Reigns pinned Randy Orton with the Spear.

     

    Highlights and Quotes

    "I believe this is the biggest test Roman Reigns has ever had as a singles competitor."—JBL.

    "Randy Orton comes out with his 'I'm doing the job' face on."—Disco Inferno on Twitter. Straight shooter.

    Orton busts out the old Garvin Stomp. That's always a great spot.

    Reigns has the worst chinlock in the history of wrestling. I mean, I haven't seen all the wrestling from the 1940s, but I'm assuming.

    "He's the only one who does that. He's the only one who can."—JBL on Reigns' dropkick to the ring apron.

    Samoan drop. Off the top rope. That just happened.

    Reigns kicked out of the RKO. He's the new Goldberg.

     

    Grade

    B+

     

    Analysis

    This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever typed—but there was no way Reigns could possibly follow Stephanie McMahon—not tonight. So, while he and Orton had a perfectly good match and gave it the good old junior college try, it will be a match immediately lost to the fog of memory. 

    The truth is, it's not clear just how good Reigns really is. It was widely assumed he'd be the member of The Shield to make it big. But, while Ambrose and Rollins are stealing the show, Reigns is failing to find his footing.

    He was great when he was responsible for nothing more than a couple of highlights in every Shield match. Now that he's required to carry his end of a 20-minute match? He's faltering a bit. I'm not ready to give up on him yet—but he hasn't proven it to me either.

John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar (WWE Title)

10 of 10

    Credit: WWE.com

    Result

    Lesnar pinned John Cena with the F5.

     

    Highlights and Quotes

    Lesnar comes out looking huge—bigger than huge. Gargantuan. He's a human-gorilla hybrid.

    "I've never seen anybody who has the ability to dig deeper than John Cena."—JBL.

    Cena starts the match with guns blazing. This is amazing.

    "Here comes the pain."—Paul Heyman. Heyman is the best.

    Lesnar hits an F5 barely a minute in and then follows it with a hard German suplex.

    "Let's go Cena!"—the most annoying kid in the universe...over...and over...and over again.

    Lesnar turns a weird color mid-match. Purple is not normal is it?

    Lesnar sits up after Cena momentarily turns the tide with the AA, clearly mocking Undertaker. Brilliant. 

    "That was the most dominating performance I have ever seen in a championship match in my life."—JBL.

     

    Grade

    B+

     

    Analysis

    This was a really weird match, a championship match booked like a B-show squash. Lesnar started strong and just never stopped. Cena had a hope spot here and there, but each was really abrupt. At no point, even when he hit "his moves," did it ever feel remotely competitive. 

    This was, however, a heck of a performance by Lesnar. According to the WWE announcers, he hit 16 suplexes during the course of the match. In between throws he mugged for the cameras, turned an alarming shade of purple and generally did a great job simply being himself.

    What happens next? It's a brave new world. This is Lesnar's first title reign since his return from UFC, in part because his contract only requires a handful of dates each year. How will WWE get around this to present compelling television? Tune into WWE Raw and we'll find out together!

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