DVD Release Date: December 31, 2013
MATCH #1: WWE Championship Match – CM Punk vs. The Rock, Royal Rumble, 1.27.13
Punk has been the Champion since 11.20.11, and this is his twenty-first defense. Rock starts off full of fire but Punk is equally fired up. The challenger goes for an early Rock Bottom but Punk avoids it. Punk can’t avoid being clotheslined to the floor though, and Rock follows him out. Momentum shifts back and forth, and Heyman is able to interfere to give Punk the advantage. Punk takes Rock back to the ring and begins wearing him down. Every time Rock tries to fight up Punk is able to cut him off, which makes sense given how much ring rust Rock must have. Punk knocks Rock to the floor and follows him out with a flying forearm off the top rope. Unfortunately for Punk he may have injured his knee on the way down. Back in the ring Rock tries to attack the injured limb but Punk kicks him right back to the floor. Punk then wipes Rock out with a suicide dive. Back in the ring Punk goes for a flying clothesline off the top rope but Rock avoids it and Punk crashes down hard on the knee. Rock smells blood in the water and goes after the knee with gusto. He goes for the Rock Bottom again but Punk avoids it and tries Go 2 Sleep, but Rock catches the knee and goes for the Sharpshooter, and Punk reverses that to the Anaconda Vise. Rock turns that into a cover for two, and then drops Punk with a DDT. He again goes for the Rock Bottom but Punk counters it again. Rock counters the counter and locks on a pretty good looking Sharpshooter. Punk reaches the ropes. Back on the floor Rock slams Punk down. Rock clears off the Spanish Announce Table and they take the fight up there. Punk tries to hit Go 2 Sleep but Rock counters with a Rock Bottom. Unfortunately the table gave way before he could actually hit the move. Rock instead delivers the Rock Bottom right on the floor. Ouch. Back in the ring Rock covers for two. Both men make it back to their feet and Punk levels Rock with a roundhouse kick. Once again both men are down. They get back to their feet and trade bombs. Rock takes Punk off his feet with a big clothesline, and then flattens him with a spinebuster. He goes for the People’s Elbow, but before he can hit it, the lights go out. Apparently The Shield is out and they hit Rock with the triple powerbomb through the announce table. Punk brings Rock back in the ring and gets the pin at 21:24! Well that was certainly unexpected.
But wait! Mr. McMahon makes his way out. McMahon reminds Punk that he said if The Shield interfered, Punk would be stripped of the title. But before McMahon can complete the title transaction, Rock objects. Rock doesn’t want it to end that way, and demands the match be restarted. (41:31)McMahon agrees and here we go. Punk is furious and lays waste to Rock in the corner. He hits the running knee in the corner and takes Rock down with a clothesline. Punk goes up top and hits Hail to the King for a two-count. He tries go 2 Sleep but Rock slips out and hits a spinebuster! Rock hits the People’s Elbow to get the pin and win the title at 1:52 (23:16 total match time). People gave that match a lot of crap, but wrestling fans come up with weird reasons to hate everything. This was certainly no classic, but it was good stuff with a hot crowd. The re-start actually worked in this case because it helped add some drama to an otherwise foregone conclusion. Rock and Punk had good chemistry together, both in promos and in the ring.
MATCH #2: Six-Man Tag Team Match – John Cena, Ryback & Sheamus vs. The Shield, Elimination Chamber, 2.17.13
Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns enter through the crowd and the math starts on the floor. They make it into the ring with all six men brawling. The Supermen each hit a vertical suplex, and the referee finally gets control and rings the bell. Sheamus and Ambrose start the match proper. The crowd continues to lose their collective mind as Sheamus dominates Ambrose. The Shield has not been able to get out of the blocks yet. Reigns distracts Sheamus long enough for Ambrose to kick him in the head, and now the Shield takes control. They take turns working Sheamus over for a bit, until Sheamus is able to pop out of the corner with a huge boot to Ambrose’s face. Cena gets the hot tag and he starts throwing out Moves of Doom. He hits Reigns with the Protoplex and the Five Knuckle Shuffle, and then locks on the STF. Ambrose breaks it up. Rollins takes Cena out with a flying knee. The Shield is such a good TEAM. They isolate Cena now and keep him in their half of the ring. After several minutes of abuse, Cena is able to backdrop a charging Ambrose to the floor, and Ryback gets the hot tag. Ryback cleans house, and the crowd is loving it. Reigns cuts him off so Sheamus comes in to the rescue and it’s a pier-six brawl. Sheamus takes Ambrose to the floor, and Reigns follows to deliver a huge Spear through the barricade! Sheamus is done. Back in the ring the Shield triple-teams Ryback, but Cena comes to his aid. Cena hits Ambrose with the Attitude Adjustment, and Ryback goes for the Shell Shocked on Rollins. Reigns hits Ryback with a Spear, and Rollins gets the pin at 14:50. I love this match. WWE has severely lacked great teams for so long, and the Shield is the perfect combination that compliments each other so well, and every move they do is designed for the good of the unit. This was great non-stop action, and the Shield was put over huge here.
MATCH #3: Undertaker vs. CM Punk, WrestleMania, 4.7.13
Punk has Paul Heyman in his corner. He gets cocky right away and slaps Undertaker in the face, twice. Undertaker responds with a boot to the face, and then he throws Punk to the floor. He whips Punk over the barricade and into the crowd. Undertaker continues to abuse Punk on the ring floor, and then sets him on the apron for the big legdrop. Back in the ring Undertaker keeps up the pressure. Undertaker goes for Old School but Punk whips him down to the mat. Punk takes control now, and he successfully executes Old School to a big pop from the crowd. Undertaker fights back and whips Punk into the corner. He charges but Punk moves, and Undertaker’s knee connects with the turnbuckles. Punk sends Undertaker to the floor and follows him out with an axe handle from the top rope. Back in the ring Punk continues to be one step ahead, keeping Undertaker on the mat and working the shoulder. Punk goes for Old School again, but Undertaker knocks him down and to the floor. Undertaker looks to be going for a dive, but Heyman gets in his way, allowing Punk to hit a springboard clothesline for a two-count. Punk hits the high knee in the corner and follows with a clothesline. He goes up top and lands the Diving elbow drop but it only gets two. Punk tries Go 2 Sleep but Undertaker slips out and hits a Chokeslam! That only gets a two-count. Undertaker keeps up the onslaught, hitting Snake Eyes and going for a big boot, but Punk cuts him off with a leg lariat for two. Punk clotheslines Undertaker to the floor and starts rearranging the furniture. He lays Undertaker out on the table and goes to the top rope, sailing down with a Diving elbow drop that does not break the table. Undertaker barely makes it back to the ring before the count of 10. Punk crawls over to make a cover but Undertaker grabs him in the Hell’s Gate! Luckily for Punk he is able to slip out and put on the Anaconda Vise! Undertaker stands up and goes for a Chokeslam, which Punk reverses to a Go 2 Sleep, and Undertaker rebounds off the ropes with a Tombstone Piledriver! Punk kicks out at two! They start throwing strikes at each other and the referee takes a bump. Punk hits the running knee in the corner, and Undertaker grabs him for the Last Ride! Heyman hands Punk the urn and Punk cracks Undertaker with it. Punk crosses the arms for the cover just like Undertaker but he only gets two! A series of reversals ends with Undertaker hitting another Tombstone Piledriver to finally put Punk away at 22:08! While the buildup was not exactly thrilling, this match managed to exceed just about everyone’s expectations. Undertaker gave Punk a lot more than he did the last time these two wrestled on pay-per-view in 2009, so Punk felt like a much bigger threat. The crowd stayed into it the entire way, reacting to all of the momentum shifts and near-falls. Punk and Undertaker worked a smart match, throwing in big spots where they made sense and finishing strong. I did not expect this match to be so good.
MATCH #4: WWE Championship Match – The Rock vs. John Cena, WrestleMania, 4.7.13
The Rock has been the Champion since 1.27.13, and this is his second defense. Cena scores the first knockdown, but both men are approaching this match with caution with so much on the line. Rock fires back, and then puts on a headlock. He hits a big hiptoss and Cena takes a powder. Back in the ring Cena goes on offense but the Rock fights back and will not be denied. Momentum continues to shift between these two powerhouses. Rock puts on a Sleeper to slow Cena down. Cena powers out of it with a Protoplex for a two-count. Rock delivers a Samoan Drop and both men are down. It hasn’t even been ten minutes but both men have taken a lot out of each other. Cena hits a Fisherman Suplex for two. A quality series of reversals ends with Rock putting on a pretty good looking Sharpshooter. Cena powers his way out of that and hits another Protoplex. He goes for the Five Knuckle Shuffle but Rock avoids it and hits a hard DDT. Rock tries the Rock Bottom but Cena counters to the STF, which Rock counters to a cradle for two. Cena catapults Rock into the buckles and hits yet another Protoplex. This time Cena hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle and he tries the Attitude Adjustment. Rock slips out and hits the spinebuster. He goes for the People’s Elbow but Cena counters and puts on the STF! Rock powers his way out and hits the Rock Bottom but Cena kicks out! Cena pops up and hits the AA but it only gets a two-count. He goes up top for the Cena Slice but Rock avoids it. Rock hits the spinebuster and connects on the People’s Elbow! Cena kicks out at two, and then wisely rolls to the floor. Back in the ring they trade shots and the crowd is fully behind The Rock. For some reason Rock tries a cross body block and Cena catches him. Rock reverses the AA attempt into a Rock Bottom but it only gets two! The People’s Champ goes for another People’s Elbow, first telling Cena that he can’t see him. That fires Cena up, and he is able to hit the AA again but it only gets two! That’s a nice callback to last year. They rise and trade strikes again. Cena gets a schoolboy rollup for two. He then hits a Rock Bottom for a near-fall! The crowd is hot. Cena looks at a downed Rock and thinks he has him in the perfect position for the People’s Elbow. Rock pops up, just like he did last year, but Cena holds on to the ropes! That was awesome. Cena goes for the AA but Rock counters to the Rock Bottom! Another series of reversals concludes with Rock hitting a solid DDT. Rock goes for the Rock Bottom but Cena counters with the AA to finally score the pin and win his eleventh WWE Championship at 25:00. I think this was another popular match to hate on, but I really liked it. I love matches with two titans throwing bombs at each other, and that’s exactly what this was. They did a lot of cool reversals and callbacks to last year’s match, and I certainly thought it was a fitting main event.
MATCH #5: Extreme Rules Match – Randy Orton vs. Big Show, Extreme Rules, 5.19.13
They immediately start slugging at each other, with Orton looking especially motivated in front of his home town crowd. Show isn’t impressed with that though, and he quickly takes Orton off his feet and knocks him to the floor. Orton gets control of a kendo stick and uses it as a weapon, but Show retaliates with a right hand and a headbutt. Show then breaks the kendo stick because he’s strong and stuff. Orton finds another kendo stick under the ring but Show breaks this one too. Everything Orton tries Show has an answer for, even when he tries to use a ladder. They head back to the ring and Show is dominating. Finally Orton is able to put a few strikes together and he takes Show off his feet with a dropkick. Orton delivers mounted punches in the corner and Show shoves him down to the mat to reclaim control. Show brings a ladder and a few chairs into the ring. He sets up the ladder between the two chairs and lays Orton across. Show goes for a Vader Bomb but Orton moves out of the way! That’s a cool spot. Orton capitalizes with a Rope-hung DDT. He then hits the RKO and Show kicks out at two! They head out to the floor and Orton finds a chair to abuse Show with. Back in the ring Orton continues the chair abuse until Show cuts him off with a Spear. Both men are down. They struggle back to their feet and Orton catches Show with an RKO right onto the chair! Orton then drills Show with the Punt to get the pin at 13:01. That was much better than I was expecting it to be, with a simple story and cool spots. The hometown crowd reactions certainly helped too, but they built the match well anyway. Fun stuff.
MATCH #6: Steel Cage Match – Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar, Extreme Rules, 5.19.13
Triple H surprises Lesnar by attacking him during his entrance, and that gives “The Game” the upper hand. They head into the cage and HHH is in control, throwing Lesnar around the cage and hitting a spinebuster. Lesnar fights back and repeatedly slams HHH’s head into the cage. Momentum continues to shift back and forth between the two bitter rivals. Lesnar misses a charge into the cage and hits his knee, and he aggravates the injury when he delivers a powerslam. HHH goes after the knee and hits the facebuster. Lesnar comes back and targets the arm he has broken twice previously. HHH goes back to the knee and tries to escape the cage, but Heyman slams the door in his face. Lesnar hits the F-5 but HHH kicks out! Heyman gives Lesnar a chair, which the Beast uses expertly. Lesnar tries another F-5 but his injured knee prevents him from completing the maneuver. HHH attacks the knee and then grabs the chair to do more damage. He wears the knee down and puts on a Figure-Four Leglock. Lesnar is able to escape and he tries climbing out over the top. HHH stops that with a chair shot. Lesnar is screaming in agony and HHH knocks him back to the mat. A confident HHH pulls out a sledgehammer from the top of the cage, but Lesnar stops him before he can use it. Lesnar tries to use HHH’s favorite weapon, but HHH counters with a Sharpshooter! I don’t think I’ve seen HHH use that before. Lesnar grabs the sledgehammer as Heyman gets in the ring. HHH hits Heyman with the Pedigree, and then hits Lesnar with one as well. Lesnar kicks out! Once again HHH picks up the sledgehammer but Heyman surprises him with a low blow. Lesnar cracks HHH in the jaw with the sledgehammer and then picks HHH up to deliver an F-5. That’s enough for Lesnar to get the pin at 20:08. That was a little plodding and had too much Heyman involvement. Triple H shouldn’t need that much protection to job to a guy of Lesnar’s caliber. It all just came off somewhat flat.
MATCH #7: Triple Threat Intercontinental Championship Match – Wade Barrett vs. The Miz vs. Curtis Axel, Payback, 6.16.13
Axel, who is replacing the injured Fandango, has his agent Paul Heyman in his corner. Barrett has been the Champion since 4.8.13, and this is his third defense. Miz is outnumbered as the only babyface, so he dumps Axel to the floor to focus on Barrett. Axel distracts Miz from the floor, so Miz forces his hand by throwing him back into the ring into Barrett’s waiting arms. Barrett hits Axel with a pumphandle slam for two. The offense is coming from all three men, but Axel takes the most time out of the ring to confer with Heyman. Whatever Heyman says seems to help, as Axel sends Barrett to the floor and flattens Miz with a dropkick. Axel continues to beat on the Miz while Barrett recovers on the floor. The Champion finally makes his way back in to break up a cover. Miz fires up though and throws both of his opponents around, even using them as weapons against each other. And I’ll be damned but the crowd is into him. Barrett catches Miz in the Winds of Change for a two-count. He goes for Wasteland on Axel and swings Axel’s legs into Miz to take him out. Axel reverses to a Perfectplex but only gets two. Miz hits Axel with the Skull Crushing Finale and Barrett hurls Miz to the floor. The resilient Miz pulls Barrett to the floor and covers Axel for a close near-fall. Miz goes after Axel’s knee and tries the Figure-Four Leglock but gets kicked off. Barrett tries to grab Miz out of the air but Miz is able to counter and put Barrett in the Figure-Four after backdropping Axel to the floor. The sneaky Axel comes back in the ring and covers Barrett to steal the pin and win the title at 10:37! That was a shockingly fun opener, and the Chicago crowd really got into it and that always helps. Axel didn’t quite seem ready, but Mr. Perfect’s son winning the Intercontinental Title on Father’s Day is pretty apropos.
MATCH #8: Divas Championship Match – Kaitlyn vs. AJ Lee, Payback, 6.16.13
Kaitlyn has been the Champion since 1.14.13, and this is her second defense. AJ has been messing with the Champion for weeks, so Kaitlyn immediately assaults her and AJ seeks solace on the floor. Kaitlyn gives her no such thing by hurling her over the Spanish Announce Table. Back in the ring Kaitlyn continues the beating so AJ bails again. AJ runs away and gets to the apron, where she’s able to hit a nice dropkick to the face. That gives AJ the advantage. AJ wears Kaitlyn down with a variety of offense, and things aren’t looking good for the Divas Champion. Kaitlyn is able to fire back with a dropkick and both women are down. Back on their feet Kaitlyn is a house afire, putting together a string of offense but not enough to put AJ away. AJ comes back with a crucifix for a two-cont. Kaitlyn counters to a gutbuster and then pulls AJ’s belt off. AJ hangs on to the apron, and when the referee goes to fix it AJ decks Kaitlyn with said belt. AJ covers but only gets two. The challenger is frustrated now. AJ goes up top for a cross body block but Kaitlyn catches her, and AJ counters to the Black Widow submission hold. Kaitlyn breaks that and hits a hard backbreaker. She follows with a huge Spear but doesn’t cover right away so AJ is able to kick out. Kaitlyn picks AJ up but AJ slips out and avoids a charge in the corner. AJ then locks on the Black Widow and Kaitlyn taps the title away at 9:55. That was one of the better Divas’ matches in WWE in quite some time, as they were actually given time to tell a story within the match and there was an actual feud built up so they had reason to hate each other. Good stuff here.
MATCH #9: World Heavyweight Championship Match – Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio, Payback, 6.16.13
Ziggler has been the Champion since 4.8.13, and this is his first defense. He is massively over in Chicago, and he has his girlfriend AJ Lee and his bodyguard Big E Langston with him. This is his first match in five weeks after suffering a concussion. Del Rio goes right after the arm and Ziggler bails. Back in the ring Del Rio goes after the Champ’s arm again, so Ziggler takes another powder. Once again when he goes back to the ring Del Rio takes control while the crowd chants “RVD.” Del Rio starts going after Ziggler’s head, taking advantage of the concussion. Ziggler fires back with a beautiful dropkick. He charges into the corner and gets backdropped to the floor. Del Rio follows him out and continues the head abuse. Big E steps in and gets into a shoving match with Del Rio, so the referee kicks him out! Ziggler throws Del Rio back into the ring, and as he goes to follow, Del Rio levels him with a kick to the head. AJ looks concerned as Del Rio viciously attacks. Ziggler is tenacious and locks on a Sleeper hold and Del Rio is able to break it. Del Rio goes for the Cross Armbreaker but Ziggler counters with a neckbreaker for a near-fall. Ziggler hits the Fame-Ass-Er (sort of) for another two-count. He goes up top but Del Rio stops his momentum and brings him down with an inverted superplex for two! I don’t know if I’ve seen that before. Del Rio continues to target the head as the trainer and AJ both try to convince him to stop. Back in the ring Del Rio is viciously attacking the Champion but Ziggler will not quit. Ziggler is able to catch a quick Zig Zag but he can’t make the cover. Finally Del Rio blasts Ziggler with a superkick right to the head to get the pin at 13:50. They did a really good double-turn there, as one couldn’t help but feel sympathy for Ziggler as he continued to fight against the odds. Del Rio did a good job being a horrible person doing anything to regain the title.
MATCH #10: World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank Ladder Match – Cody Rhodes vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Wade Barrett vs. Jack Swagger vs. Antonio Cesaro vs. Fandango vs. Damien Sandow, Money in the Bank, 7.14.13
This is the Money in the Bank debut for Ambrose, Fandango, and Cesaro. Swagger is appearing in his third Money in the Bank match (with one win at WrestleMania XXVI), the second for Sandow, the fourth for Rhodes, and the second for Barrett. Summer Rae is with Fandango, and Zeb Colter is there for his charges Swagger and Cesaro. Ambrose is the current United States Champion.
It takes less than a minute for ladders to get involved, and it’s a big brawl right off the bat. The Real Americans and Team Rhodes Scholars battle each other in the ring with ladders after taking everyone else out on the floor. Swagger is the first one to try climbing the ladder and he’s stopped by Ambrose. It’s already hard to keep track of everything, as the action is moving at a very brisk pace. The dynamic is also interesting here because all seven guys are actually heels, though this is Philadelphia so the crowd loves Ambrose and the Real Americans. Barrett gets creative and takes a piece of one of the ladders and destroys Sandow with it. He climbs the ladder and Ambrose joins him. Cesaro pulls Barrett down right into a European Uppercut! Swagger tries to bring Ambrose down and Ambrose counters with a DDT! Cesaro and Ambrose climb up and Cesaro shoves him down. Rhodes makes his way back in and brings Cesaro down with a Muscle Buster on a ladder! Swagger climbs up and Barrett takes him down with the Bull Hammer! Barrett goes up and Fandango stops him in his tracks and pulls him down with a sunset bomb! Fandango goes up and Ambrose brings him down with the Dirty Deeds. Ambrose goes up and Cesaro folds up the ladder on him. The crafty Ambrose channels Terry Funk with the whirly bird but the Real Americans stop him and dump him to the floor. Cesaro and Swagger then take Barrett out with a ladder shot. Swagger then puts Cesaro on his shoulders and Cesaro almost reaches the case but Rhodes breaks it up with a missile dropkick. That was awesome. Rhodes catches fire and dumps Swagger to the floor, and then hits Fandango and Barrett with the Cross Rhodes. He goes out and brings in a very tall ladder. Ambrose joins him and they slug it out at the top. Rhodes has been busted open, but he’s able to reach through the ladder and slam Ambrose’s face into it repeatedly. Awesome spot. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns come out and pulls Rhodes off the ladder just to be dicks. They also take out Barrett and Fandango. The Usos make their way out to fight the Shield off, and they are aided by the Real Americans. It’s a donnybrook on the floor while Ambrose almost reaches the briefcase. Rhodes pushes the ladder over and Ambrose wipes out everyone on the floor! He climbs up the ladder and the crowd is behind him. Then from out of nowhere his tag team partner Sandow appears and dumps Rhodes off the ladder! Sandow climbs up and pulls down the case at 16:20! Boy did they pack a lot of action into that match, especially with four additional wrestlers joining the fray. I didn’t hear much about this match when it happened, but there were plenty of awesome spots, really creative uses of the ladder, and a surprising finish that should have led to more than it did.
MATCH #11: No Disqualification Match – CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar, SummerSlam, 8.18.13
Punk charges right in and shows he’s not afraid, but Lesnar simply overpowers him. Lesnar talks trash and Punk uses knees to send Lesnar to the floor, and then follows him out with a suicide dive. Punk dismantles the steel steps but Lesnar rams them back into Punk instead. Ouch. Lesnar tries to drive Punk into the ring post but Punk slips out and shoves Lesnar into the post instead. Punk goes up top and takes him out with an ax handle. He gets up on the announce table and levels Lesnar with a clothesline. Heyman distracts Punk long enough for Lesnar to clobber him from behind. Lesnar simply hurls Punk over the Spanish Announce Table, and then continues to manhandle him with ease. Back in the ring Lesnar continues the dissection of CM Punk. Lesnar works the midsection, squeezing the life out of his opponent with a bearhug. Punk fights his way out of that and goes up top, but Lesnar catches him and hurls him over his head with a fallaway slam. Lesnar puts the squeeze back on and Punk bites his way out of it! Punk goes up top and drills Lesnar with a knee to the face. He follows with the running knee in the corner and then another one. He goes for a third and Lesnar catches him and tries the F-5, but Punk slips out and hits a roundhouse kick! Punk goes up top and hits Hail to the King for two! He tries Go To Sleep and can’t hit it, but he does connect on another roundhouse kick. Punk tries Go To Sleep again but Lesnar catches him in the Kimura Lock! Things look bad for Punk but he’s able to counter into a triangle choke! Lesnar powers out with a huge Liger Bomb and both men are down. The Beast gets up and delivers a trio of suplexes for a two-count. Los Angeles is heavily behind CM Punk tonight. Lesnar goes outside and grabs a chair, but Punk goes to the top rope and jumps on Lesnar and the chair! Punk grabs the chair and levels Lesnar with it. Back in the ring Lesnar catches the chair and looks to murder Punk, but he gets hit with a low blow! Punk goes up top with the chair and drops an elbow! Amazingly Lesnar kicks out. Punk continues to beat on Lesnar with the chair until Heyman gets up and grabs it. Lesnar goes for the F-5 but Punk hangs on to Heyman’s tie! Punk gets the Go To Sleep! Heyman breaks up the cover! That would have been an amazing finish. Punk takes his eye off the ball and chases after Heyman, which results in him running into an F-5, but Punk counters it into a DDT! Again it gets two! Punk puts on the Anaconda Vise and Heyman comes in the ring with a chair. Heyman doesn’t get very far as Punk punches him square in the mouth and then puts Heyman in the Vise. Lesnar comes up from behind and bashes Punk with the chair. He picks Punk up and hits an F-5 right onto a steel chair. That’s enough to finally keep Punk down for the three-count at 25:17. There was a little too much Heyman interference for my liking, but aside from that this was a fabulous match that I believe exceeded everyone’s expectations. This was an absolute war, with both men absorbing tremendous amounts of punishment and both guys selling at the right times and to the right degree. The false finishes were believable and the crowd was hot for the entire match. What an incredible battle, and right up there with the best matches either man has had in WWE.
MATCH #12: WWE Championship Match with Special Guest Referee Triple H – John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan, SummerSlam, 8.18.13
Triple H is the special guest referee here. Cena has been the Champion since 4.7.13, and this is his fourth defense. He’s coming into this match with an injured elbow, which is heavily taped. They start with some chain wrestling, feeling each other out in this highly anticipated matchup. Bryan scores with a monkey flip and goes for the “Yes!” Lock but Cena rolls out of it and takes a powder. They resume the chain wrestling and Cena tries the Attitude Adjustment but Bryan slips out to the apron. Cena knocks Bryan off the apron and hard into the announce table. He goes out but suffers the consequences when Bryan throws him into the steps. Bryan brings Cena up on the steps for a suplex but Cena reverses it and suplexes Bryan to the floor. Ouch. Back in the ring Cena covers for two. Cena keeps up the pressure, hitting a sitout powerbomb for a two-count. Bryan fights back with strikes, and the crowd is heavily in his favor and against the Champ. Cena fights back with Moves of Doom, and signals for the Five Knuckle Shuffle but Bryan kicks him right in the head! They trade counters and Cena hits the Protoplex and nails the Five Knuckle Shuffle on his second attempt. Cena tries the AA again but Bryan slips out and goes up top for a missile dropkick. That gets a two-count. Bryan takes it to Cena with kicks, and taunts the Champion while he does it. Cena tries to go for the STF but Bryan reverses it and puts Cena in his own hold! Somehow Cena makes it to the ropes so Bryan pulls him up and hits a German Suplex for two. Another German Suplex gets another two-count, and Bryan keeps the arms locked. Cena powers out and tries the AA but Bryan counters to the “Yes!” Lock! The pugnacious Bryan stops Cena from escaping by changing over to the End Time. Cena escapes out and both men are worn down, but Cena is able to hit the AA and Bryan kicks out! The crowd is losing their collective mind. They fight up on the top rope and Bryan hits a superplex, but hangs on to the top rope with his legs! The crowd loves it. Bryan goes back up top and delivers the diving headbutt for a two-count! Cena rolls to the floor and Bryan tries a suicide dive but Cena catches him with a forearm. Then Cena goes up top and hits the Cena Slice but Bryan kicks out again! The look of desperation on Cena’s face is great. Cena looks for a super AA but Bryan fights his way out of it with elbow strikes. Bryan tries a rana but Cena blocks it and brings Bryan down into the STF. Cena dropped Bryan on his head on the way down; that could have been bad. Bryan counters into the “Yes!” Lock and Cena reaches the ropes. Cena gets back to his feet and Bryan pulverizes him with two IEDs. Bryan goes for a third but Cena blasts him with a huge lariat! Both men are down. They rise up and exchange blows. They knock each other down and once again both men are down and out. Back on their feet they exchange strikes and Bryan wins that battle, but when he tries to run up the top rope and flip over, Cena catches him with a huge spinebuster. Bryan recovers first and goes up top for a cross body block but Cena catches him and tries the AA but Bryan counters with an inside cradle for a near-fall! The crowd is going nuts. Bryan delivers a knockout kick to the head and then the Knee-Plus to get the pin at 26:54! What a phenomenal match, absolutely delivering on every level. Bryan and Cena kept up a torrid pace, executed great counters, built up fantastic false finishes, and expertly worked the crowd. Bryan went over clean as a sheet by hitting one big knockout blow, and he looks like a million bucks in doing so. This is just a great, tremendous match that goes down as one of the best in SummerSlam history.
MATCH #13: World Heavyweight Championship Match – Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam, Night of Champions, 9.15.13
Del Rio has been the Champion since 6.16.13, and this is his third defense. They start with the usual back and forth, with Del Rio scoring first but RVD scoring more in the early going. RVD sends Del Rio to the floor and takes him out with a moonsault off the apron. He drapes Del Rio across the barricade and hits the spinning leg drop. They battle on the apron and Del Rio is able to snap RVD’s neck off the top rope. Del Rio surprises with a dive of his own. Back in the ring Del Rio starts picking RVD apart, especially focusing on the neck and head area. Del Rio goes for another dive to the floor but this time he misses. That gives RVD the chance to capitalize. RVD hits the slingshot legdrop on the apron and then the top-rope thrust kick. He goes for Rolling Thunder but Del Rio gets up and hits the Backstabber for two. Del Rio brings RVD up to the top rope but it backfires. RVD knocks Del Rio back and follows him down with a somersault senton for a two-count. Del Rio catches RVD with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and then a double stomp to the back for two. He goes for the Cross Armbreaker but RVD slips out and gets a rollup for two. RVD slams Del Rio down and hits the split-legged moonsault for a near-fall. Del Rio pops up and hits an Armbreaker and then a low Superkick for two. He goes up top and jumps right into a spin kick. RVD hits a legdrop and then goes up top. He hits nothing but knees on the Five-Star Frog Splash, and Del Rio locks on the Cross Armbreaker. RVD reaches the ropes but Del Rio won’t break the hold and gets disqualified at 13:23. The match was a fine contest, but that finish on pay-per-view can blow me. RVD gets some of his heat back after the bell when Ricardo rescues him and then helps him hit the Van Terminator.
MATCH #14: Fatal 4-Way Match for the Divas Championship – AJ Lee vs. Natalya vs. Naomi vs. Brie Bella, Night of Champions, 9.15.13
AJ has been the Champion since 6.16.13, and this is her third defense. The Total Divas all chase after the Champion at the start, and they take turns throwing her into the barricade at ringside. Brie is the first one to turn, taking Naomi and Natalya down with clotheslines. She sends Natalya to the floor, and then turns her attention to Naomi. A nice back and forth exchange ends with Naomi and Brie bonking heads and knocking each other down. AJ and Natalya get back in the ring and go at it until Naomi takes both of them down with the Rear View. The action stays fast and furious, with AJ trying to clear the ring long enough to put one of her challengers away. The opposite of that ends up happening, as the three Total Divas are in the ring with AJ recovering on the floor. Natalya gets Brie and Naomi in the double Sharpshooter, and AJ breaks it up with a kick to the head. AJ locks Natalya in the Black Widow and forces her to tap out at 5:35. That actually had plenty more juice in it and could have gone longer. AJ looks like a world-beater, but the other Divas got (brief) moments to shine as well.
MATCH #15: Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes & Goldust, Battleground, 10.6.13
The Rhodes Brothers have their father Dusty Rhodes in their corner, while the Tag Team Champions Rollins and Reigns have United States Champion Dean Ambrose with them. The titles are not on the line, but if Cody and Goldust win they are reinstated, and if the Shield wins then Dusty loses his job. Cody and Rollins start it off, and the Rhodes brothers are wrestling like they have something to prove and everything on the line. The Shield takes a powder and regroups on the floor. The two teams and their corner men engage in a standoff on the floor but no punches are thrown. Back in the ring Reigns and Goldust do battle and it’s still Cody and Goldust in control. Rollins fights back with an STO into the corner on Cody, and then Reigns tags in. Reigns beats on Cody for several minutes until the younger Rhodes brother is able to connect with a moonsault. Goldust gets the hot tag and he is moving around the ring like a man half his age. He misses a cross body block and tumbles to the floor. Ambrose talks trash and Goldust barely makes it back to the ring before the 10-count. Rollins covers right away for a two-count. The Shield isolates Goldust and keeps him away from his younger brother. After much abuse Goldust is able to catch Rollins with a powerslam. Cody gets the hot tag and he’s more fired up than I’ve ever seen him. He hits Rollins with a huge Alabama Slam and knocks Reigns off the apron. Cody covers Rollins for a two-count. He hits Rollins with a Muscle Buster and Reigns has to break it up. The referee loses control of the match. Cody hits Reigns with the Disaster Kick and throws him to the floor. He knocks Ambrose off the apron and gets bulldozed from behind by Rollins. Meanwhile, Ambrose and Dusty get into a brawl at ringside, and The American Dream shows Ambrose who’s the boss. The crowd loves it. Goldust takes Reigns out on the floor and Rollins rolls Cody up for two. Seconds later Cody hits Rollins with Cross Rhodes to get the pin at 13:55! The crowd goes absolutely insane as the Rhodes family celebrates. See what happens when you build an actual storyline and give the wrestlers something to fight about and the fans something to care about? You get a great, memorable match like this one. The babyface locker room empties to congratulate the Rhodes family, even further making this seem like a big deal. I love all of this.
MATCH #16: World Heavyweight Championship Match – Alberto Del Rio vs. John Cena, Hell in a Cell, 10.27.13
Del Rio has been the Champion since 6.16.13, and this is his fifth defense. Cena is just returning from a superhuman comeback from a torn triceps. Del Rio’s finisher is the Cross Armbreaker, so that gives him a pretty pronounced target. Cena is aggressive early on, but also clearly favoring his left arm. Del Rio bides his time and takes control, viciously attacking the left arm and trying to keep Cena grounded. Every time Cena tries to fight back Del Rio is able to cut him off. “Mr. Money in the Bank” Damien Sandow is shown watching on backstage. Del Rio goes to the top rope and Cena cuts him out of the air with a dropkick. Cena fires up with shoulderblocks and the Protoplex. He hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle and tries the Attitude Adjustment but Del Rio counters with a Backstabber for two. Cena hits a tornado DDT for a two-count. He goes up top and Del Rio takes him down with the step-up enziguiri for a near-fall. Del Rio tries another enziguiri but he can’t connect. Instead Del Rio hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for another two-count. Cena avoids a charge in the corner and goes up top to hit a cross body block for a near-fall. Del Rio pops up and hits an armbreaker. He goes for the Cross Armbreaker but Cena is able to roll through and lock on the STF! Del Rio barely makes the bottom rope to break the hold. He’s able to kick Cena in the gut and then take his head off with a Superkick. Cena kicks out at two! Del Rio puts on the Cross Armbreaker and Cena powers out of it with a powerbomb! Back on their feet Cena is able to get Del Rio up for the Attitude Adjustment, and Cena is a three-time World Heavyweight Champion at 15:17! This was far better than I expected it to be, as Cena’s injury gave Del Rio a clear focus that helped give the match structure. The second half of the match was both men doing whatever they could to survive and get the win.
MATCH #17: Hell in a Cell Match for the WWE Championship with Special Guest Referee Shawn Michaels – Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton, Hell in a Cell, 10.27.13
Shawn Michaels is the special guest referee for this all-important main event, but he still refuses to tuck in his shirt. The title has been in abeyance since 9.16.13, and this match will finally crown a new Champion. Bryan is making his first appearance in Hell in a Cell, while this is the fifth time for Orton and he has a 2-2 record with victories over John Cena and Sheamus (and losses to the Undertaker and Mark Henry). Michaels has been in four Cell matches as a wrestler (winning three), and also refereed once before for Triple H versus Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVIII.
They start out slugging and Orton quickly hits the snap scoop powerslam. Bryan fights back with the missile dropkick, so both men aren’t afraid to bring out some of their signature moves in the opening moments. Orton starts working the midsection, and knocks Bryan off the apron and into the cell. He uses the steel steps as a weapon and Bryan is in rough shape already. Bryan reverses a whip and sends Orton into the steps, and then he rams Orton into the Cell wall. Back in the ring Bryan pours on the pressure, wearing Orton down with a variety of strikes. Bryan dropkicks Orton back to the floor and follows him out with a suicide dive. He hits another dive but when he goes for a third Orton moves out of the way and Bryan connects face-first with the Cell. Orton runs Bryan into the post, and that leaves him in perfect position for the Inverted headlock backbreaker. That’s a unique way to hit that move. Back in the ring Orton is in control and he goes for a superplex but Bryan counters to a sunset bomb. They rise and trade European Uppercuts, a battle that Bryan wins. Bryan hits a couple of IEDs and unloads with more kicks. He follows with a super rana and the diving headbutt for a near-fall. Bryan puts on the Yes! Lock but Orton is able to reach the ropes and slither to the floor. There’s no rest for Orton, as Bryan follows him out and continues to beat on him, even using a series of steel chairs. Bryan throws about a dozen chairs in the ring, despite Michaels’ objections. Back in the ring Orton puts a thumb in Bryan’s eyes out of desperation, and then uses the chairs to wear Bryan down. Orton hits a superplex onto the pile of chairs, which I don’t think I’ve seen in WWE before. Even so, that only gets a two-count. An angry Triple H makes his way out and the crowd is none too pleased. Michaels and HHH argue, causing Michaels to miss an Orton cover. Orton is angry, as the COO and the referee talk about “doing his job,” and Michaels says he’s doing it. In the meantime, Orton goes for an RKO but Bryan shoves him off and right into Michaels, knocking him down. It was a pretty weak bump, but Triple H is concerned enough to open the door and get in the ring. Bryan hits the Knee-Plus but there’s no one to count. Triple H shoves Bryan out of the way to check on Michaels, leaving himself in perfect position for Bryan to hit The Game with the Knee-Plus! The crowd loves it. But in the middle of deafening “Yes!” chants, Michaels hits Bryan with Sweet Chin Music! Orton covers and Michaels makes the three-count at 22:07! That match was going along rather well, as Orton v Bryan matches tend to do, but then we got our collective heart ripped out again. They did a good job using the cell and incorporating some big spots, like the superplex onto the chairs. The ending was fairly creative, though it would have been a little more effective had Michaels taken a bit bigger bump to lure Triple H into the Cell.