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[2007-08-26-Summerslam] John Cena vs Randy Orton


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WWE Champion John Cena vs Randy Orton – Summerslam 2007


I have to admit even in 2015, this has a big fight feel to it. I say that as not a real big believer in Orton’s superstardom. Really does feel like a Tanahashi/Nakamura contest with the two biggest stars of the 2000s going at it. Cena has been champion in WWE for 24 of the last 28 months JR informs us. Damn, that is how you push somebody! There are just so many annoying traits about modern wrestling that I cant get past. I cant stand waiting so long for finishers to build drama or how people have awkwardly set themselves up for spots. Given this was Cena/Orton, this was kept to a minimum, but is still present. I find pure 2000s matches tend to have this weird fast-slow feeling. It is slow because they don’t work with the same urgency as they did in the 80s/90s. It is fast because the transitions are just bang-bang all the time. That being said, I thought they reigned in the worst habits of the 2000s and put a cool match rooted in psychology. The key backstory is that Orton RKO’d Cena on a chair before the match. This probably the best possible 2000s-y match.


The match starts off weird. They are basically presenting Orton as the babyface. Cena controls with the side headlock and then Orton pays him back with a headlock and a shouldertackle, which gets huge pops. It is psychology 101 that would feed into the Orton babyface so I don’t understand why they would do that. I really liked the STF tease early off the movement from the headlock with Orton getting the ropes. Orton hits some really big punches to the head, which is great psychology. JR pays it passing due, but needed to really drive it home. That annoying Cena bulldog stymies Orton for the time being. Orton comes right back with a wicked forearm shot to the back of the head; I really like that as cutoff. Here comes Cena again, but Cena whiffs big time on the shoulder block. Cena is falling into the trap of haste makes waste. He needs to regroup. Cena ends goes flying off the apron into the table, which was a wicked bump and high spot of the match. Great transition into the heat segment. Nearfall and now he comes the infamous Orton chinlock, at least he is working it hard. He would return to it frequently. It plays into the head psychology, but I think he did go back to it too often. I like it as an energy sapping move, but Cena never really had a fast break until after all those chinlocks so it was backwards. Cena powers out of the first chinlock, but bumrushes Orton and ends uptaking the turnbuckles hard. Orton was using the Garvin stomp this early, wow. Orton misses a kneedrop, but an Orton powerslam cuts off Cena. Orton goes back to the chinlock and hits a dropkick and a beauty. Slugfest back into the sleeper, yeah some diminishing returns by now. Cena backs into turnbuckles and now it is Cena’s normal offensive sequence, there is some nods to the head psychology, but Cena seems fine. Orton gets out of FU, but another Slugfest. Orton-style backbreaker and Cena rolls to apron. Hanging DDT by Orton, wow he was using that this early! JR calls for concussion city, which would be crass now, but I totally appreciate the sentiment. Both JR and Lawler are really putting over the head psychology now. Cena blocks the RKO, but Cena goes flying out when he tries to dive at Orton and now Cena eats the stairs for two. Cena back elbow and neckbreaker. Cena wants the legdrop and Orton attacks the head with more punches. Orton is thinking superplex and Cena powers out and throws Orton off. One of the better set ups for that stupid legdrop off the top, which requires the opponent to usually look like a fool. Cena wants the FU, but Orton gets the ropes and Orton snaps him head off the top rope, which was a nice counter. Orton wants the punt. Waiting so long for moves is so annoying. Cena avoids and applies the STF. Orton gets ropes. RKO! Orton’s knee is hurt and crawls over and kick out. Pop-up FU! RKO->kick out-> FU, damn from a kayfabe standpoint that is pretty indefensible.


I really liked the head psychology. This is 2007 Cena so the selling is really fucking great. Orton was on fire working on top. I am not going to hold the chinlock against him. He worked it hard and it made sense. I prefer chinlocks to be worked into a match differently, but I am not docking the match for that. Things that did piss me off, waiting so long for the RKO and the punt. I can’t stand that bullshit. Just fucking do it or don’t. The Cena quick finish is not something I have ever been enthralled with. I think you can set it up to make it work. Cena has his back against the wall and hits that home run is a fine story, but taking the RKO directly beforehand. I am not whining about Lol Cena Wins or now that RKO is dead or some bullshit like that. These finishing sequences are a direct shot against kayfabe. You can do the RKO->kick out->more stuff->Cena FU. It can work, but the way they did was lazy and ham-fisted. God, wow, this is a tough one. I really dug the body of the match and even late in the game with Orton using that hanging DDT as a cutoff was really damn good. The finish does not kill the match, but definitely leaves a sour taste in my mouth. ****

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