We are a few weeks away from SummerSlam 2018 at The Barclays Center. SummerSlam has always been one of the WWEs biggest events of the year.
SummerSlam 2013 emanated from The Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on August 18th, 2013.
The End of the CM Punk era:
To be clear, CM Punk did not leave WWE after SummerSlam 2013. He walked out of the company after Royal Rumble 2014.
CM Punk would take on Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2013. It was the best bell to bell match that Brock Lesnar had since his return to WWE on April 2nd 2012.
The feud was realistic. Paul Heyman, who had managed CM Punk for the last few years turned on him at the Money in the Bank PPV. This cost Punk his chance at the Money in the Bank briefcase.
Paul Heyman, who had always been aligned with Brock Lesnar, pledged his full allegiance to Brock. Which was portrayed as a betrayal to CM Punk.
The promos leading up to the match were simple and they added legitimacy to the contest.
The match itself, available on the WWE Network, was incredible. The story was CM Punk threw everything he could at Brock Lesnar, yet in the end, Brock was dominant enough to withstand everything thrown at him to defeat CM Punk.
This was the end of the CM Punk era because CM Punk, the character, never regained that main event status.
He toiled around in feuds with Curtis Axel and Ryback, neither feud did much to elevate the other wrestler. These men were shoved into a feud with Punk, due to the belief that all WWE had to do was label Axel and Ryback as “Paul Heyman Guys” and they would be legitimate. It failed, and truthfully. Axel’s career took a turn for the worst. Now 5 years later, he is back to having a prominent role on WWE television.
CM Punk would continue to bounce around for the remaining of 2013.
For the wrestler who carried WWE through the rough 2012 and 2013. CM Punk was now an after thought
CM Punk was essentially portrayed as the top man in WWE, until two wrestlers, The Rock and Brock Lesnar came back to WWE. Both men showed the audience that two wrestlers who are part time, can return and decimate the ex WWE champion.
CM Punk would leave WWE 6 months later. It can be argued that SummerSlam 2013 was the last time that CM Punk the character mattered, until he walked out of the company after the Royal Rumble in 2014.
The Beginning of the Daniel Bryan main event era.
SummerSlam 2013 was also the beginning of Daniel Bryans rise to the main event spot in WWE.
WWE had a phenomenon on its hand with Daniel Bryan.
In a company where everything is strategically placed to make one wrestler matter over all others, and few reactions are left to chance…Daniel Bryan felt real.
He felt like your favorite underground music group breaking through the mainstream, while continuing to make the underground music that made you fall in love with them.
Daniel Bryan took on John Cena for the WWE Championship at the main event of SummerSlam.
This feud was polarizing in the sense that John Cena felt like “the establishment” and Daniel Bryan felt like “the lovable anti establishment wrestler”.
The promos for this match were extraordinary. Daniel Bryan would chastise John Cena for not being a professional wrestler and being a sports entertainer.
The match was incredible, even more incredible knowing that John Cena needed triceps surgery which would put him out of action for months. He was there to help make the main event of SummerSlam special.
The match ended with Daniel Bryan becoming the WWE Champion for a brief moment.
Special guest referee HHH turned on Daniel Bryan after the match and helped Randy Orton cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase to pin Daniel Bryan to become the new WWE Heavyweight Champion.
It will be a long contested argument how of the next few months of fan reaction in support of Daniel Bryan was something that WWE actively tried to silence by portraying Bryan as weak in future matches. It can also be argued that WWE was trying to slowly build Daniel Bryan as the “anti establishment” wrestler that bucked The Authority.
The next six months, every week on Monday Night RAW, more fuel was added to the swelling of fan reaction for Daniel Bryan.
Eventually, WWE decided to place Daniel Bryan in the main event spot at WrestleMania 30.He would go on to achieve the goal of becoming the WWE Heavyweight Champion.
That moment was the culmination of a journey that was started at SummerSlam 2013 when Daniel Bryan wrestled John Cena in the main event of SummerSlam 2013.
WWE can spin history in whichever way they choose due to creative editing. It is portrayed as WWE always believed in Daniel Bryan. That they “listened to their audience”, and the audience told WWE who they wanted to believe in.
That is a spin that is difficult to believe in the current 2018 climate of Monday Night RAW.
CM Punk and Daniel Bryan will forever, in some form or another, be tied to each other. Fans will argue that CM Punk started the trend of “ex independent wrestlers” having a prominent role in WWE.
Other fans will argue that Daniel Bryan kicked down the door that CM Punk slightly opened.
They were two professional wrestlers who achieved tremendous highs and difficult lows in their WWE careers. It is my belief that the CM Punk era ended at SummerSlam 2013 and the Daniel Bryan era began that same night.
As a fan, I can only wonder what could have been if both eras could have met at the main event of WrestleMania 30.
For now, like most wrestling discussions, we may never know what would have happened between those two wrestlers at a WrestleMania, but we will always be able to dream about what could have been.