TJR WWE SummerSlam Reviews: 2011 (Punk vs. Cena, Orton vs. Christian)

The 24th edition of SummerSlam took place during the “Summer of Punk.” Maybe that wasn’t the official name of the 2011 summer in WWE, but it sure felt that way thanks to the rise of CM Punk. From the memorable promo on the Raw stage in Vegas in late June to winning the WWE Title from John Cena at Money in the Bank when his contract was up, Punk went from being one of the top guys to being the guy…along with John Cena. That Punk win at Money in the Bank made him a much bigger star and it set up a huge rematch with Cena in the main event of SummerSlam.

Other than Punk vs. Cena, I was intrigued by Orton vs. Christian because they had the best Smackdown rivalry for a few months leading into their match at SummerSlam. It’s probably the best feud of Christian’s singles career and one of the best Orton had in terms of match quality.

I wrote this review live in 2011, so I’m going to use that review even though the format may be a bit different than how I currently write reviews. What I’ll do is add my updated 2018 thoughts in a red font so I can add to what is already there.

As a reminder, you can check out all of my SummerSlam reviews here in case you want to know what I think about a particular match whenever you feel like re-watching the shows.

WWE Summerslam
Staples Center in Los Angeles, California
08/14/11

To open the show Adam Jones, a guitarist from the band Tool, plays the American National Anthem on the guitar. Very cool. Well done.

They aired an awesome video package that focused on the Punk/Cena feud as well as Triple H replacing Vince McMahon as the main authority figure. They had a domino effect theme throughout, which is interesting. As usual a top notch video from WWE. Their video packages are always excellent.

They show the sold out Staples Center. It’s a legit sellout with an announced crowd of 17,404 people. Michael Cole welcomed us to the show and I’ve read that he’s joined by Booker T. and Jerry Lawler. No sign of Jim Ross yet. He’s on Twitter talking about it, so hopefully he ends up at the table once we get to the big matches.

The music of The Miz starts us out. He’s in a six man tag that was unadvertised. He comes out and the “AWESOME” balloons are out there like at WrestleMania. He says that he’s at SummerSlam and then he thanks the fans for supporting him. That’s not genuine. He claims to steal the show when “The Truth shall set you free” started. Here’s R-Truth. He talks about spiders and the crowd does the “WHAT?” chant. “Don’t what me?” He says spiders start with a S like SummerSlam and Cee Lo Green’s name starts with a C like conspiracy. The music of Alberto Del Rio is next. Ricardo Rodriguez introduces him in the spectacular fashion that only he can. I would like him to announce me at my wedding if I’m ever drunk enough to get married. Del Rio came out in a $230,000 Ferrari in case you were interested.

The first man out for the babyface team is Kofi Kingston, who has turned into the Raw jobber of late. They show Lawler, Cole & Booker at the announce desk where Booker can reference how the guitarist of Tool is a fan of Cole. That’s supposed to be funny. John Morrison is next out. They introduce us to the Spanish announcers. That table will be broken. Rey Mysterio is last. We now have our six men for this unannounced match. Why couldn’t they announce the match on Raw? It would have been nice to know. They showed video of Miz attacking Rey on Raw last week, which injured him.

The Miz, R-Truth & Alberto Del Rio vs. Rey Mysterio, John Morrison & Kofi Kingston

Pre-match notes: Mysterio, Morrison and Kingston were the faces while Miz, Truth and Del Rio were the heels.

It’s 8:15pmET as the match is about to start. Jim Ross tweeted that it was a game time decision to put Booker T. at the announce desk to represent Smackdown. I guess that means no Ross on the show, which is a shame. There’s lots of fast action early on with Kingston hitting some high flying offense on The Miz. He misses Trouble in Paradise, Miz goes for Skull Crushing Finale, Kofi hits the SOS and Del Rio breaks it up at two. The crowd is cheering the heels like Miz and Del Rio a lot. Truth gets the tag as they focus on Kingston. It should be pointed out that Mysterio has a bad knee that required a MRI test, so I don’t expect him to work too much. Big pop for Del Rio getting the tag. Miz got the tag as they isolated on Kingston some more. The crowd is hot for this opener. Nice double foot stomp by Kingston on Miz. Kingston gets the tag to Mysterio while Truth gets the tag. Mysterio hits a crossbody for two. Nice counter exchange from them that Mysterio wins with a kick to the face for two. Mysterio sets up Miz & Kingston for the 619, but Del Rio stops it. Morrison hits a plancha on Del Rio. Mysterio hits the 619 on Truth. Kingston hits a corkscrew splash on Miz on the floor. Mysterio gets a top rope splash on Truth for the pin at 9:36.

Winners by pinfall: Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston and John Morrison

Analysis: **3/4 A fun opening tag match to start the show. Morrison didn’t have much of an impact at all. They used it as a showcase of Mysterio because he got to face the winner of Punk vs. Cena on Raw the next night. It was not surprising that Truth took the pinfall considering Del Rio and Miz were also on the team.

(Mysterio got the win because he was getting the WWE Title match on Raw. I think they could have given Miz and Truth the win since they headlined SummerSlam three months later against The Rock and John Cena. The crowd was into this match and the action was good.)

Backstage, “Funk Man” John Laurinaitis was talking to CM Punk. He wants an apology for Punk’s kick to the head from last week. Punk sarcastically apologized. Then he smiled like a jackass. Laurinaitis left.

When Punk turned around, Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley was there. She said she wanted to wish Punk good luck and offered a handshake. He replied: “I would but I know where that hand has been.” Funny line. Well played. They are teasing that the family is against Punk with a segment like this. Either this lead to something or it’s there just to make people think that.

They aired a video package on the Sheamus/Mark Henry feud including clips of Henry doing a big splash on a chair that was on Big Show’s knee. Henry also destroyed Kane while splashing a chair on the leg of Kane. Sheamus stepped up as a challenger to Henry leading to this SummerSlam match.

(Henry signed a new contract in 2011, which led to the biggest push in the career of Henry after so many start and stop pushes in his career.)

Sheamus vs. Mark Henry

Pre-match notes: Henry was the heel and Sheamus was a face.

Henry dominated early on. Sheamus showed some good babyface fire and the crowd was really behind him. A tweet from Jim Ross in case you’re wondering: “I am at SUMMER SLAM but backstage and not at ringside. Booker adds Smackdown representation not that Cole wouldn’t have. I’m twitter man.” Back to the match, Henry was dominating with his power offense. Sheamus kept making small comebacks, but they weren’t enough to take control. They did a double shoulderblock spot to build the drama. Sheamus to the top rope and he hits a shoulderblock to a standing Henry. That was cool to see. The Brogue Kick by Sheamus is dodged by Henry. He puts him down with a clothesline. Henry goes for his finisher, but Sheamus fights out and hits a Brogue Kick. That sends Henry out to the floor. Sheamus goes after him. Henry picks him, rams him into the ring post and then rams him into the barricade. Sheamus goes crashing through the barricade in an awesome spot the crowd pops huge for. Lawler just called it a “metal barricade.” No it’s not. Please retire, Jerry. Sheamus tries to crawl back in, but referee Scott Armstrong gets to ten before he could do that. Mark Henry wins by countout at 9:22.

Winner by countout: Mark Henry

Analysis: **1/4 A solid brawl that had a memorable finish. I liked their chemistry and Sheamus did very well as a babyface. This is the strongest that Mark Henry has been booked in his career as his push continued. The countout finish was rare, but it still put over Henry in a big way.

(The ending was memorable. Everything before that was just done to build up to that. Henry’s push was huge and it saw him become the World Heavyweight Champion at the September Night of Champions PPV. In an interesting note, WWE planted indy wrestler Joe Ryan at ringside right behind where Sheamus crashed so that he could react to the spot in a way that WWE wanted. Ryan went on to more fame later in the decade. I also noticed Eli Drake now of Impact Wrestling, who was in WWE developmental at one point and was also an indy wrestler also at the time.)

Mark Henry vs. Sheamus: SummerSlam, August 14, 2011

Backstage, Josh Mathews interviewed World Champion Christian. He said that he had an insurance policy that would benefit the entire WWE. He says the match will be an epic summer blockbuster like Harry Potter. He says Orton is like Cowboys & Aliens – an over produced, overmatched, overrated flop. I guess whoever wrote that promo hated that movie. I have seen neither.

(I have still seen neither movie. Sorry, Harry Potter fans. It’s not my kind of movie.)

They aired a commercial for a Jason Statham movie called Killer Elite.

(This was edited out of the WWE Network version of the broadcast. Somebody alert Jason Statham so he can drive a car really fast to show how angry he is.)

Ring announcer Justin “Tie Man” Roberts welcomed Cee Lo Green to sing the SummerSlam theme song: Bright Lights Bigger City. It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright…and so on. Cue the “I didn’t know Men on a Mission were reuniting” jokes. Now he’s singing the “Forget You” song as the Bellas, Rosa Mendes and Alicia Fox dance with him. The crowd is dead for all of this. I don’t think this is just me. I’m mad at myself for not timing my piss break better. I don’t know how long this went because I was tweeting jokes. Let’s say five minutes.

(It’s always important to time your piss breaks wisely, my friends. That’s about all I have to add here.)

They had a commercial for Slim Jim and then the 7-11 commercial with The Miz.

Divas Championship: Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix

Pre-match notes: Kelly and Eve were the faces while Beth and Natalya were the heels.

(Kelly got a pre-match kiss on the cheek from former NHL player Sheldon Souray, who she has since married and divorced.)

Kelly has Eve by her side. Beth has Natalya. I hope Eve doesn’t unleash one of her dropkicks that never connects. Beth’s wearing a “roller derby” type outfit. It’s different for her, but it works. Natalya isn’t wearing the pink that she usually wears. Kelly went into Yelly Yelly mode as she did a headscissors to knock Beth to the floor. She goes to the middle rope and hits a clothesline onto Beth on the floor. That was impressive. Wow. Back in the ring, Beth hits a clothesline and the crowd cheers. Press slam and she drops her throat first on the top rope. Beth and Natalya are going by the name of Divas of Doom for their team, by the way. Beth hits a charge in the corner using her hip, then he rubs her ass in Kelly’s face. Kelly goes into selling a chinlock by YELLING~! because that’s what she does. Beth puts her on her shoulders, puts her in a backbreaker and leaps as a form of submission. Kelly fights out with a neckbreaker. Beth puts her in the corner, hanging her upside down and leaves Kelly in the Tree of Woe position. Side slam by Beth for two. Kelly starts YELLING~! and she rams Beth’s head into the mat several times. Kelly goes for her cartwheel clothesline into the corner. Beth goes for a Glam Slam, but Kelly rolls through and pins her for the three count at 6:33.

Winner by pinfall: Kelly Kelly

Analysis: ** That was solid. I’m surprised at how Kelly looked so credible in the match. Like I said, Beth is as good of an opponent as Kelly could have and they worked a really good match that got a decent amount of time considering how long the women usually get. I enjoyed it although I’m shocked that Kelly retained even if it was on a counter rollup.

(I don’t have a lot of memories of Kelly as the Divas Champion, but she ended up becoming a competent in-ring performer. Notice that I didn’t say good. I thought she was decent, though. Beth was one of the better heel women’s wrestlers of this era. I mocked Kelly’s yelling a lot while calling her YELLY YELLY because I had never seen a wrestler yell so much while selling.)

Backstage, Stephanie McMahon walked out of a locker room. It says “John Cena” on the door. Lawler wondered what could have happened there.

Backstage, R-Truth wondered about a conspiracy. Jimmy Hart was there. Random legend sighting. He talks about who he has managed. He talks about Truth needing somebody to be by his side. He tells Truth that he needs him. The setup: “It’s a big world. It’s a big business. You gotta think big…little Jimmy.” Then he went nuts as Hart said he wasn’t Little Jimmy. Then Truth asks “what are y’all looking at?” and it’s LA Lakers forward crazy man Ron Artest with a little girl that I assume is his daughter. It was a fun segment that was designed to get the Little Jimmy line out there.

(The Little Jimmy era provided some laughs.)

Daniel Bryan vs. Wade Barrett

Pre-match notes: Bryan was a face that was the Money in the Bank contract holder. Barrett was a heel.

(I remember thinking Barrett was going to win the Money in the Bank contract. I was shocked and happy that Bryan won the contract. Cole was still doing his heel gimmick during Bryan matches where he ripped on him all the time.)

The crowd’s really behind Bryan while Barrett had decent heat. Why does Cole have to “rip” on Bryan because he’s a Vegan? They do it in every match. I guess it must be a Vince directive because he doesn’t understand Vegans. Bryan had control early on, but Barrett slowed down the pace. They had an awesome spot where Barrett booted Bryan in the face and DB took the bump all the way to the floor. It’s been a very physical match. This could be a future PPV main event because they both have really bright futures. Bryan avoid the Wasteland on the apron and kicked him to the floor. With Barrett on the floor, Bryan charged in and hit a running knee to the face. That was a fantastic spot with great camera work because they showed us Barrett’s perspective as he took the move. Bryan took him down with a barrage of kicks to the ribs and legs. Booker talked about why DBryan is at the top of his fave five. Bryan hit Barrett in the chest with four more kicks and then a hard one to the head. The crowd popped huge for it. I read an interview with Bryan where he said he wanted to get over by having the best kicks and submissions in the business. It’s a great strategy. Barrett put him down with a kick, but Bryan fought out of with a guillotine choke. Then he turned it into a LeBell Lock. The crowd popped huge for the submissions, but Barrett made the ropes. DB goes for a hurricanrana, but Barrett crotches him and hits a clothesline to put him down. Barrett hits Wasteland for the win at 11:47. After the bell, Cole said the match was very even and said it was 50/50 right from the start.

Winner by pinfall: Wade Barrett

Analysis: ***1/4 A very good match that was 50/50 as the announcers said. I thought the match was over when Bryan had him in the LeBell Lock. Barrett fought out of it and they came up with a creative finish. I’d like to see more matches from them. Daniel Bryan getting 12+ minutes on PPV should be a monthly thing. He’s arguably the best worker in the world. The future is bright for both guys.

(I would have guessed at this time that both guys would have been World Champions in WWE. It happened for Bryan multiple times, but it did not for Barrett. Bryan losing was not that surprising because WWE loved putting the Money in the Bank briefcase on guys and then have them lose matches after they have the briefcase.)

There was a shot of some California National Guard soldiers at ringside with the crowd clapping for them.

There was a long video package for the Christian vs. Orton feud for the World Heavyweight Title on Smackdown. Their World Heavyweight Title match at Money in the Bank had a stipulation that if Orton was disqualified he would lose the title. Christian spit in Orton’s face, so Orton kicked Christian in the junk and Christian won the title in an extremely cheap manner. After the loss, Orton attacked Christian with a RKO on the table. Christian complained about the rematch, so Triple H told him that he didn’t respect Christian if he wanted respect back then he had to compete against Orton and earn that respect. The video ended with Christian saying he had a big announcement.

(I enjoyed this feud a lot. It would have been nice if Christian was booked stronger, but he fit the mold as a cheap heel that managed to become World Champion for the second time in his career.)

The World Heavyweight Champion Christian came out first. He cut a promo about the man that is going to be in his corner tonight: “My best friend, the Rated R Superstar Edge!” Edge walks out with shorter hair and a huge babyface pop. I missed that song, I missed that entrance and I missed that man. The crowd is cheering loudly.

Edge gave a hug to his buddy Christian. Edge says he’ll never be physically cleared to compete again. He says when he left he was happy because he felt like he was passing the torch to Christian. He said he was proud of Christian for finally becoming World Champion and no one deserved it more. He didn’t think it was fair that Teddy made him defend it five days after winning and then he mentions how much Christian complained for weeks after that. He mentioned that Christian won the title back, “but you did it by disqualification?” He said that he did heinous things, but he did it with style. Edge said he wasn’t boring and didn’t hide behind suits. Edge said that somewhere along the line, Christian became a disgrace to himself. Edge said he loves him and til the day he dies, Christian will be his best friend and that’s never going to change. He said Christian needed to hear this. Edge said: “I didn’t know my best friend would be a crying, whining, moaning little bitch.” Edge dropped the microphone. Edge left to a huge pop while Christian was furious.  Cue Randy Orton’s music. Orton made his entrance to a good ovation.

(That was a fun promo and segment by Edge. I had forgotten about this. Christian was the annoying heel that sold it perfectly too.)

DVD Preview: SummerSlam 2011 - Christian and Edge

World Heavyweight Championship: Christian vs. Randy Orton in a No Holds Barred Match

Pre-match notes: Christian was the heel World Heavyweight Champion while Orton was the challenger.

It’s 9:38pmET as they start the match, which means they should get 20 minutes or so because there’s only one other match left. Why is Lawler talking about stamina issues in this match? It’s not like either guy is fat or out of shape. Christian hits a backdrop over the top to Orton, sending him to the floor. Booker correctly points out that there will be a lot of great counters in the match. That’s for sure. Orton comes back and he takes the cover off the English announce table. I guess he did that to make the Spanish table jealous. Christian shoved him off. The champ grabbed the title and ran into the crowd. They brawl down the aisle. There are grown men wearing those red Cena shirts. What’s wrong with you? They go back into the ring, Orton charges at him and Christian avoids the charge, so Randy goes crashing shoulder fast into the turnbuckle. The crowd is really hot for this match. There’s even a “Let’s Go Christian” chant. The champ goes under the ring and he pulls out a kendo stick. Christian beats him down with some kendo stick shots to the back. He uses it to choke him for a two count. He gets a couple more nearfalls. Orton is bleeding from the mouth now. He always seems to bleed from the mouth. Christian leaps off the middle ropes with kendo stick in hand, but Orton counters with a dropkick. Great spot. Orton hits the powerslam. He gets the kendo stick, but Christian gets his feet up. Orton counters a dropkick with a jackknife cover for two followed by a Thesz Press. They each counter their finishers and Orton hits his backbreaker for two as we hit the ten minute mark. Orton sets up for the punt, but Christian rolls out. Christian goes for a groin smasher (technical term) on the ring post. Orton powers out. He goes under the ring where he finds two tables. He puts one of them in the ring. Christian shoves him back first into the side of the ring, which allows Christian to set up the table on the floor.

To the top rope, Orton superplexes Christian onto the table. Note that the table wasn’t set up, so it was on the flat table. It’s still a painful bump. The table is partly cracked. Orton sets it up so that it’s propped up in the corner. Christian fights back with a reverse DDT. Christian goes for a spear, Orton leapfrogs him and the champ throws Orton to the floor. Orton whips him into the ring steps, Christian takes it knee first and goes flying over the steps. He comes back and Orton goes face first into the steps. Christian drags him over to the announce tables. Christian clears the Spanish Announce Table of the cover and monitors that were on it. I’m waiting for the Spanish Announce Table to be inducted into the Hall of Fame one day. So many memorable moments. Christian goes for a RKO, Randy counters it and hits one of his own. The table breaks! The table finally breaks! That was impressive as hell. Huge “Randy” chant as both guys are down at the 17 minute mark. This is a very good brawl right now.

Back in the ring after a minute of selling the beating, they go to a finishing exchange and Christian hits the Killswitch (or Unprettier). One, two, no! That was an awesome nearfall right there. Christian had a great facial expression selling his disappointment. Christian grabs two steel chairs. He places one under Randy’s head and he spits on Orton’s face! That’s a nice homage to their Money in the Bank match. Orton dodges the chair shot. He cracks Christian in the back with the chair. Christian stands on the apron, Orton charges with the chair and knocks Christian through the table that was placed outside. Orton throws trash cans, kendo sticks and the steps in the ring. Christian charges in, Orton catches him in the powerslam and puts him through the table that was stacked up in the corner. This is a beating now as Orton beats on him with the kendo stick. Orton hits the DDT off the ropes onto a trashcan. Orton had some blood on his hand, so he wiped it off his face. Randy’s setting up for the RKO. Christian hits him with the Kendo stick. Christian leaps off the second rope and Orton counters into a RKO onto the steel steps! Ouch! Orton covers for the pinfall at 23:24. Cole says it’s the 9th Championship reign for Orton. I guess that would be WWE and World Titles.

Winner by pinfall and New World Heavyweight Champion: Randy Orton

Analysis: ****1/4 What a great match this was. It’s another match in the four star range from these two. They used the weapons well and they meant something because you don’t see too many matches with weapons these days. Christian took a beating. They utilized the weapons well too. After Christian hit the Killswitch and Orton kicked out he was on offense for nearly the rest of the match. It was a dominating victory from there. It’s a shame that Christian only had a one month title reign. I thought he’d keep it via interference, but I guess this is the end of the feud unless they do the rematch at the next PPV.

(I watched the whole thing again and I loved it just as much this time. I don’t think I mentioned it enough, but the crowd was really into this match from beginning to end. This feud was one of the better rivalries of this decade. It was also the biggest push that Christian ever got in his career. They didn’t main event a PPV, but they had great matches consistently. As for the future, Orton would go on to lose the title clean to Mark Henry at the next PPV in September called Night of Champions.)

They showed a video of WWE Axxess events from the weekend in Los Angeles.

Backstage, Stephanie talked to Triple H in a hallway. We can’t hear them, but Hunter gave her a kiss and walked off as the announcers led us to the video package.

They aired the same CM Punk vs. John Cena video package from Raw. I love the NFL Films music. It showed highlights from Money in the Bank where CM Punk won the WWE Title and then he left the building with the title. Vince was also removed from his post as WWE CEO and Triple H was named the Chief Operating Officer. John Cena won the WWE Title in an interim basis when they thought Punk left, so both guys would put their titles on the line to see who will become the undisputed WWE Champion.

(It was a good idea for the main event of a major show. I loved the Punk/Cena match at Money in the Bank, so it made sense to do a rematch. In reality, Punk signed a new WWE deal around the time of Money in the Bank and the company used that reality to try to tell the story the best way they could. Could it have been better if Punk sat out longer? Maybe, but I think it was smart to do Punk vs. Cena for the WWE Title at a major show like SummerSlam.)

There was a shot of Jennifer McCarthy and family at ringside.

The WWE Chief Operating Officer Triple H came out first. He’s wearing a ref shirt and black pants. He’s got the water bottle, but no water spit. He simply tosses it at ringside.

“Cult of Personality” strikes up and WWE Champ CM Punk comes out to a huge pop. He plays to the crowd on both sides. “It’s clobberin’ time” says Punk as always at the top of the ramp. He stared at HHH as he entered the ring. Then he sat down in the middle waiting for Cena.

The music of the other WWE Champ comes out and Cena gets a mixed reaction.

Punk got a monster pop when Justin Roberts announced him. Cena’s reaction is loud, but there are more boos than cheers. Cole called it a “flood of emotion.” Triple H held up both WWE Championship Titles. The time of the start of the match is 10:20pmET, which means they’ll get less time than they did at Money in the Bank when they had a 35 minute match.

(This match certainly had a big fight feel to it. The crowd was really loud at the start of the match.)

WWE Undisputed Championship: CM Punk vs. John Cena with Triple H as Referee

Pre-match notes: Punk was the most popular face, Cena was a face that was cheered by most and booed by some while Triple H was also a face in an authority figure role.

There’s not a lot going on early, but the crowd is very loud. There’s a dueling “Let’s go Cena” and “CM Punk” chant. Early control goes to Punk, who gets a high knee to the face that leads to a nearfall. The announcers are doing a good job of setting up the match and its importance although I really wish Jim Ross was calling the match. Cena hits a gutwrench suplex for two followed by a fisherman’s suplex. Cue the “you can’t wrestle” chant as Cena looks out at the crowd. That was fun although I don’t necessarily agree. Cena hits a bodyslam followed by an elbow. Punk comes back with a stiff boot to the face. There’s a nice “Get Lost Cena You Suck” sign in the crowd.

Punk gained control by dropkicking Cena off the apron, which sent him crashing to the floor. The announcers did a good job pointing out that Cena’s endurance is excellent. It’s true. He doesn’t tire much at all and that’s one of the things I like about the guy. We’re at ten minutes now as Punk grounds him with a submission. Cena powers out and hits something that looked like a Bossman Slam. That was sweet. Punk counters a shoulder tackle with a knee to the face. Awesome counter. Cena counters the running knee, then he hits two shoulderblocks and Punk counters the suplex. Punk hits the knee, goes for his bulldog and now Cena hits his suplex. That was a sweet reversal of moves. Cena goes for the STF, but Punk fights out and puts him in a submission. Cena fights out of it and locks in the STF. Punk counters with a key lock submission. Cena counters that into a Crossface variation. Punk makes it to the ropes. That was a terrific sequence of counter wrestling as we reach 14 minutes.

The action picks up with Punk getting a back body drop on Cena that sends him to the floor. Punk dives through the middle ropes to take out Cena. Triple H counts them out. He gets to nine. He stops there, then goes out to the floor and rolls each of them back in the ring. The crowd cheers that move as the announcers point out that this means that we’ll definitely have a winner. I liked that spot. They did the punch sequence so the crowd could do the “yay” (Punk) and “boo” (Cena). Cena wins the exchange with a picture perfect dropkick that got him right in the face. Five Knuckle Shuffle by Cena. The AA is countered into a pinfall, then Cena gets one and Punk powers out to kick Cena in the head. They replayed the dropkick by Cena. It was as good of a dropkick as he’s ever done. Cena hits a Stinger Splash followed by a powerslam for two. Cena goes to the top, but Punk counters with a knee and hits a bulldog off the ropes for a two. Punk jumps off the top ropes, but Cena moves and puts Punk into the STF right in the middle of the ring as we reach 20 minutes. Punk fights out of it. He reaches the ropes.

They have another exchange and there’s the first finishing move of the match as Cena hits the Attitude Adjustment. Great nearfall right there. Cena goes up and he misses his leg drop off the top. Punk hits the Go To Sleep. He doesn’t hook the leg. Cena gets his shoulder up at two. Punk to the top, he does a Macho Man Randy Savage pose and he hits a top rope elbow. That gets two. He argues with Triple H. There’s a “Randy Savage” chant. I’m loving this crowd right now. They do another back and forth exchange. Punk hits a knee to the face. Punk hits another GTS although he didn’t connect very well because it was really Punk’s knee to Cena’s elbow and not close to Cena’s head. As Hunter is counting the pin, Cena’s foot is on the bottom rope. He never saw it. The announcers are immediately pointing it out. The match went 24:07.

Winner by pinfall: CM Punk

Analysis: ****1/2 That was awesome. Another classic match between these two guys although a level below their Money in the Bank match. I think Punk and Cena told a very entertaining story throughout the match although the ending wasn’t as good as MITB either. That’s why I didn’t rate it five stars, but it’s damn close. They had some awesome counter wrestling exchanges as well as submissions. The nearfalls were good. The crowd was loud for 30 minutes. It was another special match between Cena and Punk. For all the critics of Cena and the “you can’t wrestle” chants the guy proved again that he’s very good in big matches. Yes, Punk is the better of the two and that’s obvious, but they both did an amazing job here.

(I stand by that rating from seven years ago. It was one of the better SummerSlam main events ever. If the finish was booked better then it might have got a higher rating, but it’s still an excellent match.)

John Cena vs. CM Punk: SummerSlam 2011

The camera closes in on Cena talking to Hunter. We can hear Cena say, “you missed it.”

Post match, Cena leaves. Hunter wants to shake Punk’s hand in the ring. Punk doesn’t shake it. Hunter raises Punk’s hand as the winner of the match. Hunter claps and leaves.

With Punk celebrating on the top rope, Kevin Nash (dressed in black and with black hair) walks into the ring out of nowhere. Nash with a clothesline on Punk. Booker: “Dat’s my big homey!” Nash hits a Jackknife Powerbomb. The fans hated it. Hunter was up the aisle while this was happening. When Hunter turned back around to walk to the ring, Nash left through the crowd and Hunter looked at him.

Cue Alberto Del Rio with the Money in the Bank briefcase with the contract and a referee. The fans reacted to that in a big way because they knew what this means.

WWE Title: Alberto Del Rio vs. CM Punk

Del Rio with an enziguri kick to the back of head. Del Rio covers, Chad Patton counts and Del Rio wins the WWE Title in about 10 seconds.

Winner: Alberto Del Rio

Analysis: I was disappointed that Ricardo Rodriguez wasn’t there to announce Del Rio as the new champion, but that’s just a minor complaint. I did predict it in the preview although I know I’m not alone in that. Plus, I got destroyed on my picks through the show, so I’m not about to brag about getting one right.

There was confusion all over with Triple H asking referee Chad Patton what happened. Del Rio celebrated with the WWE Title, Punk was down in the ring and that’s how SummerSlam ended with Del Rio holding the title up in the air.

(It was a very controversial angle to end the show. It got people excited to see what was next. Unfortunately, the next few months weren’t booked that well.  The Kevin Nash attack wasn’t really explained in a proper way and Punk didn’t even get his revenge on Nash, he lost a match to Triple H. It really didn’t go anywhere. Punk did manage to win the WWE Title back from Del Rio at Survivor Series 2011, which began Punk’s legendary 434-day reign as WWE Champion.)

The show had a run time of 2:47:44 on WWE Network.

Alberto Del Rio cashes in his Money in the Bank briefcase

SummerSlam in 60 Seconds: SummerSlam 2011

FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS

– Any time you can have a show with back to back 20+ minute matches that reach the four-star level and above, I’d call it a major success. It really didn’t matter what else took place because the top two matches were so awesome. The fact that Barrett vs. Bryan was pretty good certainly helped too. Due to the quality matches where nothing was really that bad on the show, SummerSlam 2011 gets an 8 out of 10 from me.

– The Punk/Cena angle could have been handled better going into the show and after the show, but I think if you pay attention to the crowd, watch how great the match is and all of the possibilities that existed after the show, it’s tough not to call it a success. I was very entertained by the Punk/Cena match.

– Orton’s feud with Christian really benefited both guys. It was by far the best feud that Orton had as a face while Christian became a bigger star during the feud. The booking could have been better, but I’m happy Christian got to be a World Champion twice in his career.

– I am still shocked that Wade Barrett didn’t become WWE or World Champion in his career. He came so close numerous times, but for whatever reason, WWE failed to go all the way with him. That’s why I don’t blame him for leaving the company and not coming back.

– The midcard matches weren’t all that exciting, but none of them were that bad. They got enough time to where they could put on solid matches. I liked how it was booked.

 

OPINIONS

Show rating (out of 10): 8

Best Match: CM Punk vs. John Cena (****1/2 out of 5)

Worst Match: Melina vs. Alicia Fox (1/2* out of 5)

Most Memorable Moment: Alberto Del Rio cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase to leave as WWE Champion.

 

Five Stars Of The Show

1. CM Punk

2. John Cena

3. Randy Orton

4. Christian

5. Daniel Bryan

 

Matches With Ratings ****+ (out of 5*) and higher:

British Bulldog vs. Bret Hart @ SummerSlam 1992 (*****)

Steel Cage: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart @ SummerSlam 1994 (*****)

Ladder Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon @ SummerSlam 1995 (*****)

Kurt Angle vs. Steve Austin @ SummerSlam 2001 (****3/4)

TLC: Edge & Christian vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Hardy Boyz @ SummerSlam 2000 (****3/4)

Unsanctioned Street Fight: Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H @ SummerSlam 2002 (****1/2)

Hell in a Cell: The Undertaker vs. Edge @ SummerSlam 2008 (****1/2)

TLC Match: CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy @ SummerSlam 2009 (****1/2)

Ladder Match: Triple H vs. The Rock @ SummerSlam 1998 (****1/2)

CM Punk vs. John Cena @ SummerSlam 2011 (****1/2)

Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect @ SummerSlam 1991 (****1/4)

Street Fight: Randy Orton vs. Christian (****1/4)

Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar @ SummerSlam 2003 (****1/4)

Shawn Michaels vs. Vader @ SummerSlam 1996 (***1/4)

The Rock vs. Triple H vs. Kurt Angle @ SummerSlam 2000 (****)

Ladder Match: Rob Van Dam vs. Jeff Hardy @ SummerSlam 2001 (****)

Batista vs. John Cena @ SummerSlam 2008 (****)

John Cena vs. Randy Orton @ SummerSlam 2007 (****)

 

Ranking SummerSlam Reviews (on 1-10 scale)

SummerSlam 2002 (Brock Lesnar vs. The Rock, Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H) – 9

SummerSlam 2008 (The Undertaker vs. Edge HIAC, Batista vs. Cena) – 8

SummerSlam 2001 (The Rock vs. Booker T, Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle) – 8

SummerSlam 2011 (CM Punk vs. John Cena) – 8

SummerSlam 1998 (Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker) – 8

SummerSlam 2009 (CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy TLC) – 7.5

SummerSlam 2000 (The Rock vs. Triple H vs. Kurt Angle) – 7.5

SummerSlam 1992 (British Bulldog vs. Bret Hart) – 7

SummerSlam 2005 (Hulk Hogan vs. Shawn Michaels) – 7

SummerSlam 2004 (Randy Orton vs. Chris Benoit) – 6

SummerSlam 2006 (Edge vs. John Cena) – 6

SummerSlam 1997 (Bret Hart vs. The Undertaker) – 5.5

SummerSlam 1996 (Shawn Michaels vs. Vader) – 5.5

SummerSlam 1989 (Hogan/Beefcake vs. Savage/Zeus) – 5.5

SummerSlam 2003 (Elimination Chamber) – 5.5

SummerSlam 2007 (John Cena vs. Randy Orton) – 5

SummerSlam 1994 (Undertaker vs. Underfaker, Bret vs. Owen) – 5

SummerSlam 2010 (Team WWE vs. Team Nexus) – 5

SummerSlam 1999 (Mankind vs. Steve Austin vs. Triple H) – 5

SummerSlam 1988 (Mega Powers vs. Mega Bucks) – 5

SummerSlam 1991 (Match Made In Heaven & Hell) – 4.5

SummerSlam 1995 (Diesel vs. Mabel, Michaels vs. Ramon) – 4

SummerSlam 1993 (Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna) – 4

SummerSlam 1990 (Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude) – 3.5

 

Next up: SummerSlam 2012.

Check out the SummerSlam Reviews archive.

Thanks for reading. My contact info is below.

John Canton

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