The 2014 edition of SummerSlam has been heralded by many fans as the best pay-per-view of the year and perhaps even the greatest SummerSlam of all time.
It featured a deep, high-quality card that ultimately delivered on several levels. While every bout had its moments and came through in one way or another, a select few will be viewed over and over again by wrestling fans for years to come.
With a successful SummerSlam officially in the books, here is a look at the three matches that stood out above the rest and established themselves as instant classics.
John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar
When John Cena entered SummerSlam as the WWE World Heavyweight champion, each and every fan knew it was a distinct possibility that he would not walk out with that same accolade. Brock Lesnar did defeat Cena to become the new champion, but he did it in a way that few could have ever imagined.
Paul Heyman made it clear leading up to SummerSlam that his client would not only beat Cena, but he would victimize him as well. Heyman described in great detail what The Conqueror would do to the face of WWE, per Chad Dukes of 106.7 The Fan (h/t Nick Paglino of Wrestlezone.com): "Brock Lesnar is going to slap John Cena silly. Brock Lesnar is going to beat him up unmercifully and sadistically twist John Cena up in a manner he's never experienced, being manhandled, in his entire career."
Lesnar's advocate was no false prophet as that is precisely what happened. Lesnar hit an F-5 on Cena within the opening minutes of the match, and the Cenation's leader was never able to get back on track.
The Beast Incarnate beat Cena to a pulp and hit him with an incredible 16 German suplexes throughout the one-sided contest, according to WWE Universe:
When the match finally reached its conclusion by virtue of a second F-5, Lesnar and Heyman stood triumphantly in the middle of the ring:
Heyman and The Authority have had their differences, but the goal was to get the title away from Cena. Lesnar finished the job, and Triple H was a very happy man because of it, as seen in this photo, courtesy of his Instagram account:
From a match quality perspective, there is no doubt that this encounter doesn't measure up to Cena vs. Lesnar from Extreme Rules 2012. This wasn't supposed to be a competitive match, though. This was supposed to be a ruthless beating the likes of which Cena has never experienced, and that is what it ended up being.
After ending The Undertaker's unprecedented undefeated streak at WrestleMania XXX, Lesnar needed to win Sunday. Cena needed to check his pride at the door and put Lesnar over in a more emphatic way than he had ever put anyone over before.
Fans who have grown tired of Cena over the years point to his Superman persona as a reason why. Lesnar proved to be Cena's kryptonite at SummerSlam, and it will be interesting to see if Cena's convincing loss leads to a paradigm shift in his character moving forward.
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins
Perhaps the most personal feud in WWE over the past several months has been the one between former Shield partners Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. After many weeks of trying to get his hands on Rollins in a match, the Lunatic Fringe finally got that opportunity at SummerSlam.
There should have been a ton of excitement and anticipation leading up the encounter, but it was tempered to some degree due to the stipulation attached to it. Most fans were hoping for something like a ladder match or a street fight with Rollins' Money in the Bank briefcase on the line, but Ambrose chose a Lumberjack match instead.
Lumberjack matches generally aren't very good; however, Ambrose and Rollins did everything in their power to buck that trend Sunday night. They took the fight to the lumberjacks on several occasions and even managed to battle their way into the crowd.
There were plenty of entertaining high spots, especially one that saw Ambrose dive out of the ring and on top of Rollins as well as many of the lumberjacks. Rollins ultimately won the match by hitting Ambrose with his briefcase, though, and he made good on his promise in the process:
Truth be told, the Falls Count Anywhere match between Ambrose and Rollins on the post-SummerSlam edition of Raw was actually far superior to their SummerSlam match. With that said, they were able to take a lame match type and make it palatable for the WWE Universe.
Having a good Lumberjack match isn't easy to do, but Ambrose and Rollins pulled it off, and they deserve a great deal of credit for doing so.
AJ Lee vs. Paige
The Divas division has essentially been cast aside in recent years, but the landscape is starting to change. That is due largely to the presence of AJ Lee and Paige, who engaged in yet another fantastic bout Sunday night at SummerSlam.
AJ and Paige have been rivals ever since the night after WrestleMania XXX when Paige shockingly defeated the longest-reigning Divas champion of all time. AJ got payback a couple of months later by regaining the title, but Paige returned the favor at SummerSlam by becoming a two-time Divas champion:
Paige has morphed into a passive-aggressive heel who pretends to be AJ's friend. At the same time, AJ hasn't lost her psychotic edge either, which has made this an extremely interesting feud. On top of all that, AJ and Paige happen to be two of the best in-ring workers to emanate from the Divas division in years.
They had an excellent match at Battleground, but their SummerSlam contest was even better. AJ threw caution to the wind by diving off the top rope and onto Paige outside the ring. Paige showed great in-ring psychology throughout, and she won the match with an excellent counter of AJ's Black Widow finisher.
While this match won't necessarily go down as an all-time great Divas match, it could have easily been a turning point for Divas wrestling in WWE. AJ and Paige proved that the future is very bright for the women of WWE, and they gave WWE Creative a reason to continue featuring the Divas prominently on WWE programming.
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