As a WWE fan since well before they had to get the “F” out, I remember my share of SummerSlams. But of all the many memorable matches over the years, one has always stuck with me: the 1993 edition, featuring a clash between Lex Luger and Yokozuna. It stuck with me because it, like many of my SummerSlam memories, felt short-changed. Lex won, but in a manner where the title could not change hands. It was a hollow victory, and left fans wanting.
There is no doubt that WWE sees SummerSlam as its #2 PPV behind only the venerable Wrestlemania, but as a fan, memories of a hollow victory always linger, and I often find myself questioning the WWE’s thinking in that respect. The matches don’t always stack up, and looking at the 2013 Summerslam PPV offering, I have those same concerns.
Daniel Bryan is no doubt the hottest act going, so I have no qualms with his booking in the main event. My concern here is that, a week away from the biggest PPV of the summer, I really don’t know what the WWE is trying to do. Cena, as the entertainer, versus Bryan the wrestler… I get that. They won’t turn Cena heel, and they really can’t turn Bryan heel. McMahon ripping a top guy, saying he’s not up to championship standards? Does he think fans forget that Bryan has already held the strap?
And, while I understand the Money In The Bank opportunity, I don’t particularly have a good feeling about how and why Orton is involving himself in the advance promos. Throw in the Shield beatdown from Monday night, and this is a main event being pulled in a number of different directions, with many unpleasant outcomes possible. At the end of the day, I am left wondering if the WWE hasn’t tried to be too cute with how many different directions such a match could go in.
Cena is the Hogan of this generation of superstars. Bryan quite possibly could be the Hart of his era. Have one or two small wrinkles, a side story if you must, but don’t overcomplicate things. These two performers, on their own skills and talents, ought to be capable of delivering a 30-minute plus, memorable main event without needing to lean on outside involvement to push it over the top.
I’ve long felt SummerSlam is the PPV where big titles rarely change hands, so right there I expect Cena to retain, though I think the timing is right for a new Bryan title run. But I fear this could be another hollow victory for the ages, where Bryan wins, Orton cashes in and Bryan’s reign ends too quickly. If the WWE is actually intending for Orton to cash in soon, I’d prefer Cena retain, get demolished by The Shield, then lose the belt. It would set up Cena to attempt to vanquish The Shield for the next few months, leading up to a traditional Survivor Series match.
Let Bryan and Orton feud for the strap throughout the fall and into 2014, breathing some new life into the main events. It is time for new blood to be elevated, and that’s one thing the WWE seems to have a good amount of currently, from The Shield and the Wyatts, to Bryan and others in the singles ranks. Orton, holder of the case, will certainly get his chance, and likely a title reign. But it is important to elevate the promising younger talent so that the overall product remains appealing and worth watching. Keeping Cena as champion, or diminishing Bryan for the benefit of either Orton or Cena, may likely be the wrong move for the WWE at this time. If the match outcome is booked spot on, the WWE comes out of the main event with at least two storylines to run with through the fall and beyond.
Mess the booking up, and I can only imagine what the reaction would be. Here’s to hoping SummerSlam 2013 isn’t another letdown.