By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Here on SummerSlam Recall, I will be ranking my top 20 favorite matches in WWE SummerSlam history. A new installment will be posted every day leading up to SummerSlam 2016, culminating with my No. 1 favorite match on Saturday, August 20th. Each article will offer an in-depth look at each match and an analysis of why it is among my favorites.
I had always liked Christian dating back to his return to WWE on the ECW brand in 2009 ("It's...Christian!" -Todd Grisham), but for whatever reason, I never considered him to be one of my favorite wrestlers until he returned from injury at 2011's Elimination Chamber pay-per-view event. Something just clicked on that night, and from that point forward, I wanted nothing more than to see him hold the World Heavyweight Championship he had long deserved.
Luckily for fans of Captain Charisma, he was finally successful in fulfilling his destiny at Extreme Rules a few short months after that, beating Alberto Del Rio in a Ladder match to capture his premier World Heavyweight Championship. That came months after the two traded victories on TV and Del Rio put Christian on the shelf with a shoulder injury (in storyline, of course), so it was a magical moment to say the least. As we all know, however, he went on to drop the title mere days later to Randy Orton on SmackDown.
The two had a stellar series of matches that summer over the Big Gold Belt, meaning this won't be the last time you see Christian pop up on this list (hint, hint). Aside from a short-lived second stint with the title following Money in the Bank, Christian never again held the prestigious prize, and was far removed from the main event scene once he came back from another injury the following year. It appeared he was going to slotted in the midcard for the rest of his days as an active competitor, until 2013 when he had his sights set on regaining the gold.
Christian was riding a wave of momentum heading into SummerSlam, not only winning a star-studded Triple Threat match also involving Randy Orton and Rob Van Dam to secure his shot but also beating then-champion Alberto Del Rio on two separate occasions in non-title matches on Raw and SmackDown, respectively. As I mentioned earlier, these two had plenty of history together, so Del Rio was undoubtedly the perfect opponent for Christian at the biggest party of the summer.
They contested many matches against each other over the years because they always worked well together. Their Ladder match ranks high up on the list of my favorite matches ever as a WWE fan, so I was excited to see what type of match they would produce at the event with the gold up for grabs. Sure enough, they didn't disappoint and went all out in contesting an exciting bout filled with suspenseful nearfalls and compelling counters, as only they were capable of.
On a show that featured John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship and CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar as the co-main events, it isn't difficult to see why this match is often overlooked. That said, it doesn't deserve to be because of how entertaining it ended up being. Although Christian was in the twilight of his career at that point, he had a hell of a performance versus Del Rio. Speaking of whom, he has always been thought of as a boring character, and while that might be true, his wrestling ability is second to none.
For many, the ending outcome may have never been in doubt with Del Rio retaining, but I'll admit: they had me convinced more than one time that Christian was walking away the new World Heavyweight Champion. In what was a fantastic finish, he connected with a sickening Spear on Del Rio, though the Mexican Aristocrat was wise to grab Christian's injured arm before he could capitalize and pin him. Once the armbar was locked in, there was no way Christian could escape, and he reluctantly had to tap out.
SEE ALSO: "SummerSlam Recall, Match #14: Daniel Bryan vs. Wade Barrett, SummerSlam 2011"