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31 Days of Wrestling (12/14/15): Champion vs. Champion (One More Time)

As we near the end of week two, let us continue with our 31 Days of Wrestling by looking at a match that can be considered as a strong contender for match of the year and, at the same time, a true breakthrough performance for two men who deserve all the success in the world.



#14: John Cena vs. Seth Rollins, Champion vs. Champion at SummerSlam

If WrestleMania is the event where nostalgia reigns supreme, then SummerSlam is where (ideally) WWE pays its dues to the hardcore fans. Yeah, 'Mania has traditionally had all the big-time matches and moments, but the company has been building up (or re-building, depending on your perspective on things) SummerSlam to be the second blockbuster of the year.

And that concept is underscored by this year's co-main event:



Based on how you look at it, this match is either the WWE giving Seth Rollins a massive rub, or them running out of ideas for the show. (2015 also seems to be the year for Winner Take All matches.)

Perhaps the most interesting narrative surrounding the match—as it always is when the matchup is Cena vs. a Young Gun—was whether Rollins would fall for the same trap that countless other heels on the rise have been lured into. Even if Rollins went down last month, 2015 is undeniably his year, and even if you were the staunchest Cena supporter, the doubt still nested in the back of your mind—considering that you would know that the company needs not just credible villains, but new stars altogether that'll take them into the future. It's amazing how the most heated drama in pro wrestling is rarely manufactured by the onscreen narrative nowadays.

Needless to say, the right man won, and in convincing fashion as well. The result was cast in further doubt by Rollins inadvertently breaking Cena's nose with a jumping knee, but by God did they stick to their guns and make the right call. Cena continued his streak of Ring of Honor-esque matches in 2015, helping put Rollins over by holding up his end of a barnburner.

Despite people wishing for a Jay Lethal-esque dual championship reign for Seth, he never got to be a legendary double champion. That might have been for the better, though; if the overworked Rollins still had to defend the U.S. Championship at even nearly the same workrate as Cena did every week with the Open Challenge, he would have destroyed his knee much, much earlier than November.

*****

#10: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, Wrestle Kingdom 9
#11 Brock Lesnar vs. john Cena vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE World Title at  Royal Rumble

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