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[2013-08-18-WWE-Summerslam] CM Punk vs Brock Lesnar

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Lesnar is of course accompanied by Paul Heyman. He gets the early advantage on Punk with his size and strength, but gets cocky. The starving-for-vengeance Punk capitalizes on that and gets some strikes in, only for Lesnar to manage to quickly gain the advantage again, telling the former WWE and World Champion that this is Lesnar's territory and he owns him. However, Punk was so fueled with anger and determination that he kept bringing the fight to Lesnar, and it took a belly-to-belly suplex on the floor for Lesnar to get some breathing room.

Once they got back in the ring, they continued putting forth a jaw-dropping collision. Lesnar of course continued to rely on his strength, size, and power, but Punk would show his craftiness. Both men did a superb job of avoiding each other's finishers, and there was a reversal segment in the match that was truly something to behold. Punk had Lesnar lifted for the Go 2 Sleep, and as he dropped him, Lesnar landed on his feet and had the Kimura locked on. Punk found enough leverage to escape that and attempt to get an armbar, but Lesnar escaped that, only for Punk to get Lesnar locked in a triangle hold. I need to pause and explain why this segment of the match so far is fucking brilliant. Lesnar is a former UFC World Heavyweight Champion and NCAA National Wrestling Champion, and had said going into this match that Punk's MMA training was subpar and amateur. This was a great way for Lesnar to have to eat those words.

Continuing with this outstanding reversal segment, Lesnar seemed to show serious consideration into tapping out to the triangle choke. However, he once again resorted to his power and lifted Punk to deliver a powerbomb. In a moment of sheer storytelling genius, Punk kept the triangle locked in, absorbing the pain because of his focus and thirst for revenge. This got Lesnar to undoubtedly consider tapping again, but he overcame the struggle and gave Punk a running powerbomb that would make Jushin Liger proud. That finally broke the triangle, and Lesnar followed up with Eddie Guerrero's Three Amigos suplex chain. This entire reversal segment was not only executed perfectly, but enhanced the story of the match and was captivating from start to finish. But this match wasn't over quite yet.

Lesnar went to go get a chair, but had a struggle over it with Punk. Punk took full advantage of the rules and gave Lesnar a blatant lowblow that was timed perfectly and kept this excellent story going. After hitting Lesnar with the chair a couple times, Heyman finally stepped in to distract Punk (he had also done that earlier in the match to get Lesnar out of a jam). Lesnar took advantage to attack Punk from behind, and I liked that Punk didn't duck to have the heels collide with each other. Lesnar attempted another F5, but Punk held on to Heyman's tie. Punk would escape the F5 and land another GTS on Lesnar, and was clearly going to win the match until Heyman jumped on him. Punk got his frustrations out on his former best friend, mentor, and manager, including locking on the Anaconda Vise. But Lesnar hit Punk with the chair, then dropped him with an F5 on it, bringing this work of art to a conclusion.

This is definitely better than the Rumble and Cena vs. Punk matches when discussing WWE's MOTY for 2013. This was phenomenally paced, told a fantastic story, and was genuinely captivating. It lived up to its storyline and hype. This was just as great of a babyface performance from Punk as his matches at Joe vs. Punk II, Death Before Dishonor III, and Money in the Bank 2011. He had Lesnar beat and his performance was so fucking excellent that had he won this match, there's nobody with a working brain that wouldn't have bought it. It was convincing. He got a well-deserved standing ovation afterwards from the L.A. crowd. This would have been a great way to end Punk's most recent tenure as an on-screen character, and it's VERY obvious why he was running on fumes throughout his next several months on the active roster.

As for Lesnar, he earned his salary on this night. His selling was also amazing, allowing the much smaller Punk to look like a true star. But Lesnar didn't lose anything from this match at all, even with Heyman's help. He just came out looking like even more of a son of a bitch when this was over. It's too bad the crowd didn't give him a heated reaction, but perhaps the crowd was just in awe of what they just witnessed. To me, this is Lesnar's greatest match, better than his work with the Rock, John Cena, Undertaker, Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, and Eddie Guerrero. I'll be amazed if he can ever manage to top this. ****3/4

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Feels so weird to watch to watch this after years of following Punk's failed MMA aspirations and Brock's Suplex City gimmick. As weird as it sounds, I actually think, based on this match, that Brock's character after he started the Suplex City thing is actually much more interesting and well developed than how he is here. I kept waiting for that moment when Brock just cut loose and brutalized Punk with stiff shots, but it never really happened. It kind of feels like they try a lot of different approaches without fully sticking with any of them. First you get big vs small, then wrestler vs. shooter, and then it's about Punk going after the evil manager. It's an entertaining match, but I think it could have been something a lot more if they had fully explored one of those themes rather than glazing over all of them. For example, the part where Punk reversing Kimura into an armbar might seem like a great spot on paper to get across Punk as a threat on the mat, but in practice it was just a small spot and soon got overshadowed when Lesnar manages to score a powerbomb a few minutes later. The match also lacks the spontaneity that really sets Brock's newer matches. I thought that Punk's comebacks should have felt more earned, and the cut-offs from Lesnar (Punk gets distracted by Heyman, Punk gets caught off a top rope move, Punk gets powerbombed from a triangle attempt) were all predictable from a mile away.

 

All that said, these guys must have been doing something right to keep me entertained the whole way through a match of this length. Even pre-Suplex City, Lesnar is a joy to watch for the explosiveness and brutality with which he can imbue the most basic of moves. I loved how he made something like a bear hug look brutal. His rendition of Three Amigos later in the match would have made Eddie proud. His verbal taunts were great stuff as well. Punk also sold well from underneath and his kicks looked great. A great match, but I wouldn't call it Lesnar's best nor a true MOTYC. It's kind of like a popcorn movie. You can nitpick over how it could be smarter but there's enough explosions that you end up happy anyway. ****14

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Brock Lesnar vs CM Punk - Summerslam 2013 No DQ

If someone wants to declare Brock Lesnar the GOAT, I would not bat an eye. He is like Volk Han to me, the only real knock against him is that he does not have the volume that other wrestlers possess. In terms of a per match basis, it is hard to argue against The Beast. His rare combination of size, power, speed, offense, selling, bumping and most importantly a high pro wrestling IQ make him a once in a lifetime wrestler that I am so glad I have seen multiple times live. He is imposing and without lifting a finger is inherently a mountain for a babyface in this case CM Punk to climb. His  power is awe-inspiring as he hurls these men around or he just shoulder tackles the ring steps. How many times did he catch CM Punk and just chuck him across the ring or sling him over the announce table. His speed well the woman in the front row said it all when he was peeling around the corner to blast Punk, "Oh Shit!". I have said before and I will say it again I have seen LeBron James live about 10 times in my life and I am not sure he is the greatest athlete I have ever seen...that's how crazy Brock is. Brock's offense is brutal and engrossing. Watching him three vertical suplexes in a row...I dont think I have ever seen a vertical suplex look so violent and so impressive. His selling is his bread and butter. It is the thing that no one talks about, but it is the lynchpin that makes everything else work. No one is better at making the babyface look they have a chance than Brock Lesnar. He did a great job for CM Punk throughout this match. That was the thread of this match was that CM Punk had come up with a strategy to defeat Brock Lesnar. That strategy is a combination of head shots and an aerial assault. 

The strategy only works if Lesnar sells it. Lesnar was committed to getting Punk over as worthy challenger. Up until this point, the babyface shine against Lesnar did NOT exist. Punk was the first to get one against Lesnar. It makes sense, Punk was the smallest Lesnar opponent to date (he is not that small, but compared to Cena and HHH I am saying). The babyface shine exists to excite the crowd AND to invest the crowd in the belief that the babyface can win. America loves an underdog, but the caveat is that underdog has to have a chance. You don't need to establish that Cena and HHH have a chance they are who they are. You do need for Punk. This was not Punk running through his standard moveset. This is Punk with a clear game plan: hit Brock Lesnar in the head and hurl his body at Brock. Brock did Brock things at the beginning, but that existed so that Punk had to EARN his shine. I love that. Punk comes in with flying knees to the head. There is no one who does knocked loopy better than Brock. Watch how he registers it by going down to one knee but he is clearly discombobulated. Then Punk comes flying in with another one. Brock is the best big man bumper in history. Watch how he falls through those ropes. Then Punk comes flying out of the ring to pulverize Brock. Another example is Punk shoves Brock into the ring post to evade destruction and then comes flying off the top rope with a clothesline. Punk is smaller than Brock. He needs to use the top rope, speed and jumping to create enough momentum to hurt Brock and that's what I love about this match is how much sense it makes. Punk does a great job using the head-rocking strikes to set this all up. 

The issue with Punk's strategy is that he can get distracted.  The crux of this match is NOT Punk vs Brock. It is Punk vs Heyman and that's so crucial to understand this match. Brock is simply Heyman's mercenary, his proxy in battle. Punk's real beef is with Heyman, his supposed friend that betrayed him at Money in the Bank. I think they should do more matches like this to keep the Brock character fresh and to give Heyman a different angle to promote Brock matches. Punk does get distracted by Heyman and it costs him. Brock wrecks him and throws him around like a ragdoll. I love the spot where Brock double stomps the announce table guard and splits it over Punk. It probably didnt hurt Punk at all, but it looked cool. Brock works the bearhug and lower back. I love how scrappy Punk is. Again he sticks to the mantra of constantly hitting Brock in the head and then trying to jump off something high onto Brock, but Brock keeps catching him and throwing him. The drama was just great. I want to put over Brock a lot because in my opinion I don't think he gets enough credit for being a phenomenal wrestler, but Punk is great in this because he does NOT sell too much. He does NOT die. There is a tendency in pro wrestling today to sell what too much in the moment and then  blow it off. He keeps a very consistent register. I am in fucking pain but I am fighting through it to win the match. That's selling I can get behind! 

Now Punk adds a new dimension to his strategy, survival. After being caught and thrown across the entirety of the ring, Punk realizes he is not in there with a man, he is in there with The Beast. So now he is not too proud to bite the ear, punch him in the balls or use a steel chair. The name of the game is survival. He is using those tactics to still set up the head-rocking shots (tons of knees to the head) and his aerial assault. Those tactics become incorporated out of desperation. The knees to head after the ear biting especially the flying knee from the top rope were incredible! The best part was how Brock sold them. Like I said no one does discombobulation better than Brock. The roundhouse kick to the head that preceded the flying elbow POPPED me and the crowd HUGE! This is one of the few WWE matches of the 2010s where I felt like the crowd was fully invested in the match and the pro wrestlers. That they werent there to have fun or chant "This is Awesome". They were Ooooh and Aaaahing and were invested in Punk winning. They forgot they were supposed to be aware they were watching wrestling and they were just watching pro wrestling and going on this thrill ride. 

After the elbow drop, normally Punk would go for the G2S. Now this 100% deviates from the strategy, BUT Punk does need a killshot to slay the Beast. He ultimately decides this is the best route to go even if it makes him every vulnerable to Brock. Brock ends up putting him in the Double Wristlock. Punk counters into an attempted cross armbreaker and then a Triangle. This was a great way to introduce some submission wrestling and give the fans a change of pace. Punk shows he can go on the mat but ultimately succumbs to Lesnar's inhuman power. He did survive the first slam, but the second full on Running Ligerbomb by Lesnar was too much. Thats when Lesnar hit those three vicious vertical suplex slams. At this point, Lesnar's pride has been wounded. The knees/kicks to head, almost tapping to the Triangle was too much for The Beast to bear and so he went to get a chair to annihilate Punk. Punk comes flying into our screen from the top rope onto floor wiping out Brock, chair and all. What a moment! What a hope spot and comeback! Punk slams the chair into Brock and the crowd goes wild. Punk uses the low blow to set up more chair shots. Chair Shot from the Heavens! It fits so well with the rest of the match! Great nearfall! Now Heyman is worried and starts interfering. GO 2 SLEEP! The best part is Heyman breaks it up. 

I love it! I love it! I love it! You dont know would Punk have won, would Brock have kicked out, Heyman robbed us of that, but the fact that Heyman interfered means he was worried. His anxiety tells the story that the every fan should believe that Punk would have won the match right then. Terrific booking! They do it all over again. Punk chases Heyman and Brock lies in wait. Brock thinks he has Punk in the F-5, but Punk does the Eddie Guerrero and DDTs him. Again, a head-rocking shot that sets up a nearfall and then the Anaconda Vice. This is Punk's other finish and again Heyman is worried so he interferes. He robs us of that conclusion, but we know from his anxiety that Brock had nowhere to go and was on the verge of tapping. The finish is excellent!

Punk hauls off and PUNCHES HEYMAN RIGHT IN THE FACE! YES! YES! YES! Anaconda Vice on Heyman! So blinded by his rage for Heyman and Brock SMASHES THE CHAIR INTO PUNK! F-5! 1-2-3! FUCKING PERFECT! 

Genius match! I have already wrote a ton of words about it so I don't think I can summarize it really. CM Punk's best match ever and in Brock's Top 5. *****

 

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Looking back on this, it feels a little weird considering how much more dominant Brock got w/ the Suplex City gimmick just a year or so later, and then there's of course Punk's whole MMA stint. It doesn't affect my views on the match at all, but it's just funny to think about how much different this match would be now. Anyways, this is really great. Punk makes for a great badass underdog; loved him utilizing aerial attacks throughout, and that Triangle spot was pretty terrific. Brock also of course delivers big time; his beatdown of Punk is amazing - especially loved him busting out those bearhugs, and him talking trash while delivering that said beatdown rules. His selling is also tremendous -- maybe my favorite singular moment of the whole match is when Punk bites his way out of Brock's hold & then continues with a little kick-flurry which Brock just sells AMAZINGLY w/ that "I don't know where I am" look on his face while still having his hands pretty up, ready for battle. That's some truly amazing wounded-bear type shit. The final act of the match with Punk getting a little too focused on Heyman is also a brilliant way to cap the match off; he pretty much had the thing in the bag, but since Heyman interfered, he had to get his revenge, which allowed Brock to recover & put that final nail in the coffin, so to say. Still holds up as a classic & it surely is one of the finest matches of both men's WWE careers. ****1/2

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