John Cena and Daniel Bryan compete for the WWE title.
By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Rob Van Dam def. United States Champion Dean Ambrose by Disqualification (Kickoff Match)
WWE continues to raise the bar as far as the Kickoff matches go, as this was a very fun match that got the crowd pumped for the show. It could have easily been featured on the main card, but it was certainly successful in persuading undecided fans on purchasing the pay-per-view. These two work very well together and I hope this isn't the last we see of them competing over the U.S. title. RVD picked up the win while Ambrose retained the title, so the finish worked out well for everyone involved. It also helped further the feud between the other Shield members and Big Show and Mark Henry, a tag team title match we're bound to get at some point. Night of Champions is just around the corner, so a rematch between RVD and Ambrose is quite likely.
Bray Wyatt def. Kane in a Ring of Fire Match
I was surprised to see this match open the show, but I guess there weren't many other matches that could have done the deed. The in-ring work was decent, but nothing out of the ordinary for the most part. We got our first glimpse of Wyatt in the ring, and he and Kane made the most out of the absurd stipulation. It was a cool visual and all, but Harper and Rowan putting out the flames momentarily so they can enter the ring to attack Kane defeated the whole purpose of the stipulation. Regardless, I'm happy Wyatt went over and the post-match attack on Kane leads viewers to believe that they might be brainwashing him sooner rather than later.
Cody Rhodes def. Damien Sandow
First and foremost, let me start off by saying that I couldn't be happier that Rhodes has finally shaved off his mustache. I wasn't a fan of it the moment he debuted it, and it definitely ran its course. As for the match, it was well wrestled, but could have used a few more minutes to feel somewhat special. I realize Sandow has been losing constantly on television as of late, but Rhodes needed the win more here. Rhodes going over allows the rivalry to continue and essentially forces Sandow to put his Money in the Bank briefcase on the line when they meet in a rematch down the road.
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio def. Christian
After coming up short to Christian time and time again in recent weeks, you had to know that Del Rio wouldn't be losing to Christian when the title was on the line. That being said, the match was very well wrestled and consisted of great in-ring action. I was fearful that their match would be cut short due to their lengthy matches in the past, but that thankfully wasn't the case. The crowd bought into the near-falls and the clean win gives Del Rio credibility as champion. I'm interested to see where Christian goes from here and if he'll be retiring in the foreseeable future. I was surprised that Ricardo Rodriguez didn't make an appearance, but perhaps they'll save the feud between him and Del Rio for a later date.
Natalya def. Brie Bella
Well, this was your typical Divas match and it was fine for what it was. It made for a good buffer match following the great match from Christian and Del Rio. It wasn't too short and it also didn't overstay its welcome. The whole purpose of the bout was to plug the Total Divas show, so I guess it was successful in that aspect. I thought for sure that Brie Bella would score the victory, so I was glad to see Natalya get her due by going over here. I would love to see her in the Divas Championship picture come Night of Champions, but it appears her feud with The Bella Twins is far from over.
Brock Lesnar def. CM Punk in a No Disqualification Match
What a phenomenal match. I have loved every minute of this feud from the moment it started and this match somehow managed to exceeded my high expectations. I was genuinely surprised that they waited until the pre-show to make the no disqualification stipulation official, as that might have solid a few extra pay-per-view buys. Regardless, the match was absolutely awesome and the crowd loved every minute of it. The action was incredibly intense and the story that was told with Punk trying oh so hard to get his hands on Paul Heyman was excellently executed. Punk loses nothing from this loss, as it was his obsession with brutalizing his former friend that ultimately cost him in the end. It was going to be a win-win situation whoever won the match, but the feud can always pick up right where it left off when Lesnar returns in early 2014. Despite being a no disqualification match, I'm glad Curtis Axel didn't interfere, as I don't think that would have been necessary and Heyman's interference was enough to make the match worthy of the stipulation.
Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn def. Divas Champion AJ Lee and Big E Langston
This feud had all the potential in the world to be entertaining when it started a few weeks ago, but WWE somehow managed to botch the build-up along the way. Similar to the Divas match earlier in the night, it was nicely placed between the top two main events of the night and allowed the fans in attendance to recuperate before the WWE Championship match. I couldn't have cared less for the face team's win, but I surely hope this is the end of the line for this feud. AJ needs fresh challengers for her Divas title and Ziggler needs a credible heel to work with.
Daniel Bryan def. John Cena to Win the WWE Championship; Randy Orton Cashed in his Money in the Bank Contract on Bryan to Win the WWE Championship
The match was every bit as fantastic as I thought it was going to be, and it also managed to exceed expectations. Anyone who says Cena can't wrestle is out of their mind, as this match was pure proof that Cena can hang with the best of the best in the squared circle. It started out slow, but it picked up the pace down the stretch and received a great amount of time. Bryan kicking out of the Attitude Adjustment almost immediately did a lot to put him over in a big way. Although I didn't truly expect Cena to tap out, I was very happy to see Bryan pick up the clean win over Cena, even if it was following a regular move such as the shining wizard. I had a hunch going into the match that Triple H would turn heel and align with Randy Orton, but I didn't think WWE would actually go through with it. Well, color me surprised. Sure, it was predictable, but that isn't at all a bad thing. It was a monumental moment for Bryan, but he's much better off in chase mode going into the fall while Cena takes time off to undergo surgery for his elbow. Orton turning heel was long overdue and his newfound alliance with The Game has made for an amazing cliffhanger going into tonight's Raw.
The show was worth watching for the two top main event matches along, but take nothing away from the other matches on the card. The world title match was very entertaining, Rhodes vs. Sandow was nice while it lasted, and the Kickoff match between RVD and Ambrose was also a lot of fun. As much as I loved 2011's SummerSlam event, I would have to say this year's installment exceeded it in terms of entertaining and excitement. There were many memorable moments on this show that left viewers on the edge of their seats, which is more than I can say for this year's WrestleMania 29. I would certainly say that this was the best pay-per-view of the year thus far and has me eagerly anticipating what WWE has in store going forward.