The best match of the night was arguably Dolph Ziggler and Chris Jericho's opening contest, and there wasn't much that could equal or top it as the evening progressed. Lesnar vs. Triple H was average, nowhere near the level of Lesnar's skin-ripper with John Cena months earlier. The WWE Championship Triple Threat had potential, but would be compromised (more on that later). The rest of the matches didn't feature any really heated issues between combatants, which added to the subtle malaise.
Again, SummerSlam 2012 wasn't a show that you'd give a hearty thumbs down too. But for an event that's nominally the second or third most important show of the year, it really just felt like an Over the Limit, only with Lesnar and celebrities on hand.
10. Wild Thing, Won't Step In The Ring
From Jon Stewart to Stephen Amell to an example we'll get to later, WWE likes to try and augment SummerSlam with some celebrity ordnance. In 2012, they had intended for Daniel Bryan to receive his own brush with greatness, courtesy of the patron saint of sin himself, Charlie Sheen. Gordon Bombay's kid brother even appeared via a Skype call on the Raw 1000 telecast the previous month, insulting Bryan in about the least enthusiastic manner possible.
Sheen was apparently disinterested in working with WWE for anything more than a brief moment, and while company officials wanted to do a match between the two at SummerSlam, obviously it never happened. Sheen was reportedly asked later about the connection, and he cracked that WWE would need to pay him a lot of money if they wanted his services.
9. See What We Could've Had?
In the previous entries in this series, we've noted that some SummerSlams had other matches tentatively scheduled, only to be scrapped. Some would be dropped at the last minute, while others didn't make it past certain planning stages. In the case of SummerSlam 2012, we were shorted a match, but not exactly a difference-maker.
Up into the day of the show, it appeared that Damien Sandow was set to go one on one with Brodus Clay, in what would have likely been an impromptu challenge. You know the type, with Sandow insulting the crowd, just prior to the jovial Clay arriving to crush him. This, of course, predates WrestleMania 29, where Clay and Sandow were on opposite sides of an eight-person tag that would get pulled in the eleventh hour.
8. A Winner In Any Language
Notable of this SummerSlam was the fact that no titles changed hands on the main card itself, yet there was a changing of the guard on the pre-show. It was there that (still Antonio) Cesaro toppled Santino Marella to capture the United States Championship, a belt he would hold for nearly eight months.
This marked the first time that any belt changed hands on SummerSlam's pre-show. It would also be the only SummerSlam to hold that distinction until last year's event, which saw two pre-PPV title changes: Neville defeating Akira Tozawa for the Cruiserweight belt, and The Usos besting New Day in an excellent match for SmackDown's Tag Team belts. But the 2017 SummerSlam would have a couple main card title changes, unlike this event in question.
7. Don't Look Back In Anger
The Bryan/Sheen dust-up was meant to tie-in with Sheen's FX TV series Anger Management, as Bryan at the time had been prone to meltdowns and outbursts due to a series of personal misfortunes. Kane was slotted into with whole "uncontrollable rage" motif, and the two had what was admittedly a rather forgettable SummerSlam match, though it rates as decent enough.
The two would become better remembered for their therapy sessions post-SummerSlam, that would bring the two together as an unlikely tag team force. According to Bryan, the sessions with Dr. Shelby were actually all filmed prior to SummerSlam, though they would air for the weeks that followed the event. Kane calmly recalling all the times in which he compromised the lives of others is easily one of the funniest moments in WWE history, and somewhat sadly, it's more memorable than anything from this show.
6. Hard Landing
The Intercontinental title match pitting The Miz against Rey Mysterio was a fine midcard match featuring an A-Lister a few years before he truly broke out as a credible cult favourite. In previous SummerSlam lists, Mysterio-related injuries have been made note of, and this is sadly no exception, although it didn't have the long-term consequences that his ACL tear from 2011 would.
During the course of the match, Mysterio sustained what was believed to be a concussion. Dave Meltzer noted in The Wrestling Observer that the belief was that Mysterio sustained the head injury off of a Miz Powerbomb. Mysterio would be held out of the following Raw and SmackDown tapings, as well as the weekend house shows, but would clear protocol in time for the following week's SmackDown.
5. AW Goes AWOL
The Tag Team Title match pitted R-Truth and Kofi Kingston against The Prime Time Players, Titus O'Neil and Darren Young. Previously, the Players had managed by AW, the former Abraham Washington, who had been playing something of a loudmouth sports agent type. He would yell insults and condescending remarks over a mic'd headset as part of the gimmick, and found himself in hot water when he referenced Kobe Bryant's 2003 sexual assault allegations in a metaphorical manner.
AW would, prior to SummerSlam, be fired from the company for his remarks. Coincidentally, SummerSlam took place in the same Staples Center home of Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, and it turned out that AW had his backers. Some fans reportedly brought signs to SummerSlam supporting AW in light of his firing, but they were confiscated by security.
4. Who's On Last?
CM Punk's 14-month reign as WWE Champion, stretching from November 2011 through January 2013, draws a mixed reception - yes, he held the belt for a long time, but he wasn't really treated as the top guy in that span. SummerSlam helped punctuate a run of pay-per-views that underscored just how secondary Punk was to John Cena in the company's eyes, belt or no belt.
SummerSlam 2012 marked the eighth straight pay-per-view in which the WWE Championship, or any World title, was not defended in the pay-per-view main event. At some events, it made sense (Royal Rumble match, Rock/Cena at WrestleMania, Lesnar/Cena at Extreme Rules), but others not so much: Cena/Kane at Elimination Chamber, Cena/John Laurinaitis at Over the Limit, and Cena/Big Show at No Way Out all spell the explicit WWE pecking order out. Punk would headline Night of Champions in September - against Cena, naturally.
3. Golden Shortchange
Punk would retain the WWE Championship in a Triple Threat Match, defeating Cena and designated pinfall taker, The Big Show. The match was mostly fine, nothing special, and more or less just a way in story to set up Punk/Cena, while also establishing Punk as underhanded and cunning. The match lasted only 12-and-a-half minutes from bell to bell.
The match was reportedly supposed to go longer, but had its duration cut due to timing issues throughout the show (hence the Clay/Sandow match being scrapped). It's not exactly clear where the planned layout went awry, but WWE needed to allot space for the mini Kevin Rudolf concert late in the card, which fans crapped on anyway. "Let it Rock" it wasn't.
2. Rollin' Out Of The Building
Germane to sporting events these days (UFC is no stranger to this), WWE made sure to highlight as many celebrities in the crowd as possible, just prior to the main event. One such celebrity was Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst, some years after the band's bassy, funky rap-rock sound was an industry standard. In his brief appearance on camera, ol' rebellious, sneering Durst turned his middle finger upward.
The move would get him kicked out of the Staples Center. Reportedly, Kevin Dunn had a minor coronary at the sight of Durst doing something non-family friendly, and security escorted the leader of "WWE's favourite band" off of the premises. A few years later in an interview, Durst put down WWE, calling the company, "f--king pussified." Wonder what his Reddit handle is?
1. Borrowing From The Best
Triple H would end up getting his arm snapped for the second time in less than four months when Brock Lesnar broke the limb inside of his Kimura Lock, drawing the submission from the pained COO. The finish came when Helmsley delivered a Pedigree, but when we slowly tried to make the cover, he fell into Brock's Kimura as though it were a Venus fly trap.
The inspiration for the ending sequence was passed on by Paul Heyman, who learned it from future UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum. Werdum explained to Heyman how he managed to defeat Fedor Emelianenko by feigning disorientation after a strike, allowing him to sucker Fedor into falling prey to an arm triangle for the submission. The idea was broached by Heyman for the match, and it's what WWE chose to go with.