(Here’s the link for the match on the WWE Network: http://network.wwe.com/video/v31280129/?contentId=31280129&contextType=wwe-show&contextId=summerslam)
Why isn’t this match higher on the list? This is one of the great Summerslam main events of all time! It’s Daniel Bryan vs John Cena, babyface vs (ostensible) babyface in a clash that was a little reminiscent of Cena vs CM Punk. The crowd were almost entirely pro-Bryan; instead of the typical duelling chants of ‘Let’s go Cena’/ ‘Cena sucks,’ Bryan’s catchphrase ‘Yes’ was the mantra of the match. On any given night, Bryan was guaranteed to put on a great wrestling match. Here, in front of thousands of fans chanting his name and his catchphrase, he wrestled like a man possessed. Let’s not forget Cena’s part in this match. When pushed, Cena can wrestle with the best of them, and usually puts on a cracking show when the heat is on. The two created something special at Summerslam 2014!
The story behind the match was that Cena was allowed to pick an opponent for Summerslam. He picked Bryan, who in his mind was the best wrestler in the WWE. It soon began to resemble the feud between Cena and Punk. Bryan claimed that Cena was just a body builder and couldn’t wrestle. In his mind, Cena had been given chance after chance to be the top man in the WWE. Sound familiar? Almost everyone who feuds with Cena says that nowadays! But it rings true with anti-Cena WWE fans, and believers in Bryan hung on every criticism he had about Cena. In reality, Cena probably wanted to prove he could hang with Bryan, and Bryan wanted to prove he belonged in the main event.
The result is a clash for the ages. It’s hard hitting, full to the brim of counters and reversals, and is half an hour of a full throttle pace. Bryan is on the offence for much of the match, almost playing the heel in some of the time. The story of the match fits the story of the build up perfectly: Bryan is the wrestler, trying to prove he is better than Cena. However, Cena is not to be discounted. He proves that he can hang with Bryan, able to reverse and counter just as well as Bryan. Well, not as well as Bryan: he attempts to reverse Bryan’s top rope hurricanrana by grabbing his legs and locking in the STF, but almost drops Bryan on his head! Apart from that, the match is smooth and full of great sequences. For example, Bryan executes a superplex but hangs on to the ropes with his legs, and then drops a top rope headbutt on Cena! It’s a move of sheer leg strength and athleticism.
Of course, all Summerslam matches will be compared to the legendary clash between The British Bulldog and Bret Hart. However, Bryan and Cena put on a match that comes very close to that level of exceptional quality. Cena’s spot calling isn’t loud and distracting. Bryan feeds off the crowd’s energy. The most disappointing aspect of proceedings happens after the match, when Triple H (the special guest referee) turns on Bryan and Randy Orton cashes in his Money in the Bank briefcase to take the title from Bryan (oh yeah, spoilers: Bryan wins, cleanly! Another great aspect of the match!). Why have Bryan pin Cena clean just to have him lose a few minutes later? Regardless, this truly deserves to be in the Best 100…List!
VERDICT: 9/10. Bryan and Cena put on a babyface vs babyface clash that rocks the Staples Center. It’s the second best Summerslam main event in history (next to Hart vs The British Bulldog). Simply: watch this match! (and also check out CM Punk vs Brock Lesnar on the same PPV, which is #28 on the list…another corker!)
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Click here for my review of #55 Sting vs. Big Van Vader (King of Cable Tournament Finals, WCW Starrcade 1992)