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.
The year of 2008 may not be anything special to the average WWE fan. I, on the other hand, have very fond memories of that year in WWE, specifically the summer season, because that was when I was just getting into watching wrestling. The road to SummerSlam was a fun one, and with what was being built up, the star-studded show had the potential to be one of the greatest installments ever. Granted, I might be biased, but I firmly believe it deserves to be included in that conversation.
One of the biggest bouts being set up for SummerSlam was John Cena vs. Batista. They were the final two combatants in the 2005 Royal Rumble match. They both won their premier world championships at WrestleMania 21. Each of them stole the show with their outstanding outings at WrestleMania 23. Despite all that, in the six years the two were in the same company together, they never once crossed paths in singles competition. But that was about to change at SummerSlam.
With a win over Edge at the 2008 WWE Draft, Cena was responsible for drafting Batista from SmackDown to Raw, and from the moment they set their sights on each other, you knew a clash between the two was only inevitable. It finally became official for the biggest blockbuster of the summer when Cena inadverently cost Batista the World Heavyweight Championship on Raw, causing a brawl to break out and newly appointed Raw general manager Mike Adamle (?!) made the match.
Similar to Cena vs. Shawn Michaels leading up to WrestleMania 23, Cena and Batista put their differences aside for one night in August to win the World Tag Team Championship from Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. It was a dream team on paper, yet all things must come to an end eventually... some sooner than others. Rhodes and DiBiase regained the gold a mere week later, and as a result, tensions between Cena and Batista were higher than they had ever been before.
I think I have seen this match at least a dozen times over the years (both from re-watching SummerSlam 2008 and Batista's 2009 DVD), and I enjoy it every time I relive it. When I was watching it back just recently on the WWE Network, the match oddly reminded me of the WrestleMania classic between Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior in that while it wasn't a wrestling classic, they told a solid story and captured the audience's attention by doing so little.
Because let's face it: neither Cena nor Batista were master in-ring technicians, though they could hold their own against the best of them. Fans were expecting a train wreck of epic proportions when they locked up, yet the bout was anything but. There was a certain magical aura in the arena when they stood across from each other, and with every major move they delivered to each other, everyone in attendance was on the edge of their seat with anticipation, wondering whether that would be what did the other in.
They don't call him Big Match John for no reason. Whenever Cena is involved in a high profile matchup such as this, he brings the goods, and Batista had an equally excellent showing here as well. From a Batista Bomb countered into an Attitude Adjustment to securing the STF, Cena came close on several occasions to putting Batista away, and it was only after The Animal inadvertently broke the neck of Cena on a mid-air Batista Bomb that earned him the victory.
SEE ALSO: "SummerSlam Recall, Match #6: John Cena vs. CM Punk, SummerSlam 2011"