Retro Review: WWE SummerSlam 2013

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 13: John Cena, Paul "Triple H" Levesque and Daniel Bryan attend WWE SummerSlam Press Conference at Beverly Hills Hotel on August 13, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 13: John Cena, Paul "Triple H" Levesque and Daniel Bryan attend WWE SummerSlam Press Conference at Beverly Hills Hotel on August 13, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images) /

WWE SummerSlam 2013 emanated from the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The announced attendance was 17,739 while the Pay-Per-View buys were around the 296,000 mark. This was down from the previous year’s SummerSlam which netted 358,000 buys. The card was headlined by a big WWE Championship match between Daniel Bryan and John Cena. The show also featured the big marquee match between CM Punk and Brock Lesnar and the debut of Bray Wyatt.

Check out the review for SummerSlam 2013 below!

I miss when SummerSlam took place in Los Angeles. Something about the Hollywood feel blends in very well with the overall presentation of the SummerSlam theme.

The commentary team included the best commentator in the history of the business, JBL… and Micheal Cole/Jerry Lawler.

Note: This review doesn’t include the preshow, which aired a United States Championship bout between Rob Van Dam and Dean Ambrose.

Bray Wyatt (w/ Luke Harper and Erick Rowan) vs. Kane in a Ring Of Fire Match

….Why not just call it an inferno match? It sounds much better than “Ring Of Fire”

This iteration of Bray Wyatt was absolutely my favorite. I was introduced to this character when I was 13 and he was the first wrestler I was truly invested in other than CM Punk.

When watching this PPV before, I never noticed the firemen at ringside. Good touch to make the match feel more “High Stakes”.

I love the concept of an inferno match. Every time you slam your opponent on the mat, the flames shoot up and it makes for very cool visuals.

13 year old me didn’t realize how awful this commentary is, minus JBL.

Referee John Cone looks terrified, which only added more to the “high stakes” feel.

Luke Harper tried to hand Bray Wyatt a kendo stick but it caught on fire. Harper and Erick Rowan eventually put a blanket over the fire structure and got in the ring to beat down Kane. *Vince voice* It’s all about the heat, brother.

Wyatt won with Sister Abigail in about 7:49. The in-ring action was nothing special; the story here was the inferno around the ring and how Wyatt fed off of it.

After the match, Harper and Rowan crushed Kane’s head with steel steps. They carried Kane to the back afterward. Good way to debut Wyatt.

Match Grade: C+

Damien Sandow vs. Cody Rhodes

I enjoyed Sandow when I was 13, and looking back I still thoroughly enjoy his work. But I don’t think he should have won the Money In The Bank briefcase; it was destined to be an unsuccessful cash-in. Rhodes was a slam dunk for the briefcase and should have won.

This match just reminded me of Sandow’s Hershey’s bar-like briefcase because Cody threw the original one in the Gulf of Mexico. I actually remember attending that episode of Smackdown.

2013-2014 Cody was somewhat enjoyable. This feud with Sandow gave some memorable moments and I enjoyed the tag run with Golddust.

This match was rather boring though. Nothing to really say at all besides Cody hit a rare muscle buster. That was cool to see. Cody pinned Sandow in 6:40 and got a good reaction for his win.

Match Grade: D

Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio World Title Match

I really, really enjoyed Christian’s run from 2011-2013, a ton of really fun matches came from it.

Del Rio’s work from 2010-2014 was enjoyable as well. Nothing insane but he was fine. Maybe a bit overpushed? Yeah, I’d say so.

I do absolutely love his jumping enziguri though.

The story here — as it was in every Del Rio match — was to work over the shoulder/arm and set up for his signature cross armbar. There was a great spot where Christian went for a second rope moonsault but Del Rio caught him mid-air with a backstabber. Del Rio also countered a Christian spear with a nasty dropkick to the face mid-attempt.

Tons of really fun near falls. Del Rio won in 12:30 after Christian speared him but couldn’t capitalize because of his shoulder being hurt. Del Rio locked in Cross Armbreaker after and Christian tapped. The match seemed a lot longer than it actually was.

Del Rio’s character was really confusing here. He worked a heel style but cut a babyface promo afterwards about fighting for the people who can’t fight for themselves. WWE-isms, I guess.

Match Grade: B+

Natalya (w/ Cameron and Naomi) vs. Brie Bella (W/ Nikki Bella and Eva Marie)

….Wow. This story was part of the introduction to Total Divas and having them fight the “real” women’s wrestlers. Nothing screams women’s wrestling like Cameron, eh?

The crowd couldn’t care about this match any less. They chanted for tables, Jerry Lawler, Zack Ryder, and a bunch of other inaudible things.

I’m pretty sure I even saw JBL on his phone. Jesus Christ.

The in-ring action was really subpar, but only lasted about five minutes. Natalya tapped out Bella in 5:19

Match Grade: F

CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman) No Disqualification Match

I still look back on this match so fondly. I started watching wrestling in 2010, and this was my favorite WWE match for a long time.

The story was about Heyman turning on Punk. Punk lost his WWE Championship at the 2013 Royal Rumble. After a WrestleMania XXIV loss to The Undertaker, Punk looked to win the Money In The Bank briefcase before Heyman screwed him out of it by smacking him with a ladder. Heyman sicked Lesnar on him a few weeks afterward, leading to this match.

Vince is all about taglines, and I actually enjoyed this one. “The Best vs. The Beast” was a great moniker.

The majority of Lesnar’s matches have the same formula where he will beat down his opponent for a long time before the babyface makes the comeback. But because Lesnar only wrestles sparingly, the effectiveness increases.

I just love the brutality that Lesnar churns out. At one point, he placed Punk underneath a plastic announce table topper and then just double foot stomped him like he was Finn Balor.

This match reminded me that Punk has a great-looking roundhouse kick, arguably the best, next to someone like Tommy End. Lesnar sold really well for Punk as well, as he usually does.

There was a really fun spot in the match where Punk lifted Lesnar up for the GTS and when he brought him down, Lesnar caught the arm and locked in a Kimura, which Punk then reversed into a Triangle. Punk had that Triangle applied for a while too, teasing multiple Lesnar tapouts.
The best nearfall in the match was when Punk did a top rope diving elbow drop to Lesnar, but instead of his elbow, it was a steel chair. It looked absolutely brutal.

Paul Heyman’s facial expressions are top-notch. He’s incomparable in that department.

Punk being focused on hurting Heyman was his downfall. After Punk had locked in a Anaconda Vise on Heyman, Lesnar smacked him with a chair and hit an F-5 to beat him in 25:17

Match Grade: A+

AJ Lee & Big E Langston vs. Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn

I really would have preferred an AJ Lee championship match over this match and the Bella/Natalya match.

I was a fan of the Lee/Kaitlyn rivalry though and really enjoyed their match prior to this at the 2013 Payback PPV.

People don’t give Big E credit for how good he was this early on. He did everything very well and hid his personality very well.

Kaitlyn’s spears were great, especially to Lee; she sold them tremendously.

Ziggler and Kaitlyn won in a match that really never got steam. Ziggler pinned Langston in 6:45 with a Zig Zag.

Man, I miss AJ Lee. A lot. She really transcended women’s wrestling for the better and her influence is still felt on the sport to this day.

Match Grade: C-

Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena – WWE Championship Match

Triple H was the special guest referee for this match.

I absolutely loved Bryan’s whole story arc from early 2013 to Wrestlemania XXX. It’s one of the last good long-term stories that WWE has told.

Cena got booed hard and even looked rattled to an extent. Bryan was the clear fan favorite in this match.

This wasn’t a spotfest, just a really good wrestling match. Cena tried to avoid any of Bryan’s offense that would have targeted his injured elbow.

The notion that Cena wasn’t a good wrestler is just so incorrect. His booking was extremely questionable, but he was always a good/great wrestler.

I also feel like this match was the beginning of the actual wrestling in WWE being significantly better.

The last few minutes of this was absolutely brilliant work, with a ton of really good reversals and even a good ol’ fashion WWE Slap-off. Bryan beat Cena in about 26:55 in a really good match.

The aftermath only created a much longer story and a moment that will be remembered for a long, long time.

Bryan was celebrating his championship win when Triple H hit a Pedigree on him. Randy Orton marched down to the ring and cashed in his Money In The Bank briefcase, which marked the beginning of The Authority. I never thought I would applaud WWE’s camera work, but it was fantastic in this post-match angle.

Match Grade: A-

Overall Thoughts:

This show only ran around 2 hours and 47 minutes, which contributed to my enjoyment of the PPV. I’m a firm believer that this show is a top 10 WWE PPV of the 2010s and possibly even top five. Aside from the Natalya/Bella match, everything on the show was average or better.

Next. WWE NXT: The college football of professional wrestling. dark

Not to mention it includes two of my favorite main roster matches of the 2010s in Punk/Lesnar and Bryan/Cena. Just a really enjoyable show all around.