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.
Brock Lesnar was riding a major wave of momentum upon returning to WWE in April 2012... before running into the roadblock that was John Cena. Everyone was excited for their No Holds Barred encounter at Extreme Rules, and while it definitely did deliver from an in-ring standpoint, Cena winning (LOL) was unquestionably the wrong finish. Cena's "road to redemption" ended way too early, not to mention it was stupendously stupid to beat The Beast in his first match back.
I enjoyed Lesnar all the same despite the controversial conclusion to that contest, but it still left a sour taste in my mouth and in the mouths of many. A rematch between them wasn't held after Extreme Rules and likely would have never happened had Daniel Bryan not suffered a serious injury in the spring of 2014. At the end of WrestleMania 30, it was apparent that Bryan vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship was set for SummerSlam, but Bryan's setback put those plans on the back burner.
Regardless of whether it was Bryan or Zack Ryder, it didn't truly matter who faced Lesnar at SummerSlam. The ending result did not need to change, and that was Lesnar becoming the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. After ending The Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania 30, there was no way he couldn't be the champion in his first match back, and putting him up against Cena at SummerSlam was merely the icing on the cake.
Cena didn't shy away from mentioning their past battles in the weeks preceding the pay-per-view and how he was simply incapable of beating him. Needless to say, that didn't sit well with the former UFC Heavyweight Champion, and now he was extra motivated to give him the beating of a lifetime at the August extravaganza. With their match not having a stipulation this time around, fans figured it would be a straightforward singles matchup, but it was ultimately anything but.
Lesnar entered the event with a head of steam, and not for one moment during the bout did he appear to be vulnerable. And it's important to keep in mind that his opponent was John freakin' Cena. You know, the same guy who has been known to overcome the odds and pull out the win time and time again, even when all hope has seemingly been lost. Not only was he on the losing end of this encounter with The Beast Incarnate, he was utterly humiliated once this match was over.
For example, a mere minute into the matchup, Lesnar laid out Cena with an F-5. That had to be some sort of record, right? Hitting a finisher on Cena no more than a minute into a match? Obviously, that wasn't enough to put Cena away, but it was enough for fans to put aside anything they were doing and fully focus on the contest. I sure know I did, as my buddy John and I exchanged looks of shock as well as elation every time Lesnar inched closer to victory.
A scintillating 16 suplexes later, Lesnar nailed his longtime adversary with one last emphatic F5 to score the three count and his fourth WWE World Heavyweight Championship, at the same event where he won his first won 12 years earlier, no less. For that moment, the Staples Center stood still. Some fans were celebrating the championship triumph of the Next Big Thing, but most were simply in a state of complete disbelief. No, it was no by means a five star mat classic, but it was so different from anything we had seen before that it was a masterpiece as a result.
SEE ALSO: "SummerSlam Recall, Match #17: Edge and Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz, SummerSlam 2000"