Again, I’m sticking to the American mainstream (WWE, TNA, ROH) for my 2013 honors and awards. And, again, I’m just doing this for fun. I’m sharing my opinions and would love to hear all others! Let’s do it!
Kevin Steen Vs. Jay Lethal (3/2), Bully Ray Vs. Jeff Hardy (3/10), Smackdown Money in the Bank Ladder Match (7/14), Sami Zayn Vs. Antonio Cesaro (8/22), Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Rob Van Dam, R-Truth, Zack Ryder, Kofi Kingston, Justin Gabriel, The Usos & The Prime Time Players Vs. The Shield (9/23)
10. Jay Briscoe Vs. Davey Richards
(6/1 – ROH Honor In The Heart Of Texas)
Wrestling is supposed to be fun, guys. If Davey Richards can acknowledge that, you sure as hell should be able to. With that said, this really was a great match. There’s tremendous back-and-forth, constant action, and the “What will it take?!” dynamic (Davey using the DR Driver went over 90% of viewers heads) that made this a great ROH world title match. Jay’s title run unfortunately fell a bit flat (Who’d have known gay bashing and a shoulder injury would be bad for a career?), but this match solidified his short reign. Two great pro wrestlers had a match unlike any they’d ever had and probably ever will. Cerish this match, people. Davey doesn’t have fun often. TEST OF STRENGTH!
9. Kaitlyn Vs. AJ Lee
(6/16 – WWE Payback)
It’s quite breathtaking was two women can do in a wrestling ring when they have the slightest of clues as to what the hell they’re doing. I realize that saying this match was the ninth best of the entire year may be a stretch, but I’m ok with. The Trish Stratus-Lita Raw main event from a decade ago was the last time I saw a women’s match that I enjoyed as much as this. These two told an engaging story and brought in physicality that the division had missed, like, forever. The post-match reaction from AJ was genuine and touching. The shit with Kaitlyn was borderline sexist, but it kind of worked. It’s a bummer Kaitlyn said deuces to the E as she had a ton to offer, but at least we go this match. Honest to God, if you want to break down stats, the Divas Championship was the most prestigious belt the E had in 2013 and this match made it seem relevant.
8. The Rhodes Brothers Vs. The Shield
(10/6 – WWE Battleground)
The true feel good moments in wrestling come lesser each year. When one occurs, it’s so damn awesome. The Rhodes’ entrance was one THE mark out moment of the year for myself (shades of the Road Warriors and Ahmed Johnson!!!!). The match was absolutely fantastic and made the already-infamous Battleground PPV worthwhile. Goldust’s unlikely career revival was the crux of the match, and story, but all involved brought their best and gave one of the most memorable tag matches of the past few years. Bonus: Dean Ambrose took a bionic elbow and sold it like he had been shot. It was glorious.
7. CM Punk Vs. John Cena
(2/25 – WWE Raw)
Every wrestler has the one guy they gel with better than any other. Flair and Steamboat, Danielson and Nigel, Punk and Cena. For the third year in-a-row, a CM Punk Vs. John Cena match makes its way into the years Top Ten. The match didn’t top their legendary Money in the Bank encounter (because they’ll never be able to), but it had a piledriver… in 2013. On Raw. A piledriver. In 2013. A piledriver. In the WWE. I wish there had been a GTV-like camera recording Vince’s reaction.
6. Michael Elgin Vs. Jay Lethal
(4/5 – ROH Supercard of Honor VII)
Ring of Honor has said the words Jimminy Jillikers so many times, they’ve lost all meaning. SO MANY matches in the promotion have the I-hit-my-finisher-you-kick-out-you-hit-your-finisher-I-kick-out component to them that it’s nearly impossible to tell when it means anything. Because of this, many great matches get lost in the fold. I hope this does not become one of those matches. Michael Elgin and Jay Lethal tore down the Hammerstein Ballroom during WrestleMania weekend. They pushed each other to the limit and, in the process, solidified their spots not only in Ring of Honor but pro wrestling today.
5. Daniel Bryan Vs. Antonio Cesaro
(7/22 – WWE Raw)
Being in attendance at the Frank Erwin Center for this match may have given me a different perspective than most watching at home. I’m not trying to be mellow-dramatic in speaking of this, but as this match wore on every other fan in the building just seemed to fade away. I melted into my seat and gazed on in awe as two of the best in their profession pushed and motivated each other to another level. As the match wore on, I wasn’t even cognizant of the people to my left, to my right, behind me, in front of me; I was alone. I didn’t hear any yelling or chanting, it was just white noise with an occasional crash in the ring or smack of a forearm or European uppercut. I *literally* thought this match was happening for me and for me alone. I’m not kidding. I’m a 26-year-old fan who’d like to think has seen just about everything in professional wrestling, but these two were still able to reach out and touch my being. Somewhere towards the end of the match, the crowd started chanting “This is awesome!” and that’s when my hearing popped back in like I had just landed from a long flight. It was then I finally realized the most significant part: This was Claudio and AmDrag in a WWE ring, wrestling in the main event of a Monday Night Raw. Goddammit, these were MY guys and they were sitting at the cool table.
4. CM Punk Vs. The Undertaker
(4/7 – WWE WrestleMania XXIX)
At this point in my life, Taker has superseded Santa Clause. Yes, they BOTH show up one night each year and bring joy to millions but which one is 21-0 at WrestleMania? I wasn’t too crazy about the build to this (What was the plan if Paul Bearer didn’t die?), but knew the match would be solid. Considering how fucking awful Punk physically looked heading into the match, however, I wasn’t quite sure how hard and long the two could go. Well, Taker has a legacy of pulling the rabbit out of the hat at ‘Mania and this was no different. He and Punk had a match better than any of us knew possible. If Punk earned nothing else from his historic title reign, it was being able to kick out of the Tombstone at WrestleMania. Taker crying in the ring after the match was enough to ensure that I didn’t make eye contact with my dad for two hours.
3. CM Punk Vs. Brock Lesnar
(8/18 – WWE SummerSlam)
“It’s incredible what Brock can do when he gives the slightest of shits.” The sentiments of my roommate following this instant classic from SummerSlam. Spot on. Brock Lesnar is a true wild card. When he wants to be, he’s amazing. Other times, he just doesn’t give two shits and a fuck and the Triple H Trilogy is what we get. CM Punk is also a wild card. His main goal is to make himself look great with exposing his peers’ shortcomings as an added incentive. These two dudes are a special breed of asshole and these two assholes worked together perfectly. Fitting, isn’t it? My mind was absolutely blown after this match. Just watch it. You’ll get it.
2. Dolph Ziggler Vs. Alberto Del Rio
(6/16 – WWE Payback)
The mammoth de-push of Dolph Ziggler wouldn’t have been so gutting if this match had never happened. Ziggler’s performance in this match was nothing short of incredible and proved that he could be that Shawn Michaels, that Ricky Morton, that great babyface for a new generation. Ziggler and Del Rio have that inexplicable, Sheamus-Morrison chemistry that produced this Chicago classic. It’s the best match either of these guys have had in their careers and demonstrated that somewhere, deep and buried, Alberto Del Rio can be interesting and turn in great work. The ending sequence of this title match was absolutely beautiful and was one of those validating moments that made me proud to be a professional wrestling fan.
“This match wasn’t just for the WWE Championship: It was a referendum on what it means to be a Superstar in WWE in 2013. In one corner was Daniel Bryan, the Indies tested underdog who had to scrape and claw for his spot. But in the other was John Cena, the face of WWE who looked and acted like the modern Superstar. This physical, emotional fight epitomized everything we love about WWE.”
This match was *literally* the culmination of the past ten years of professional wrestling. It was the machine’s hand-picked hero against the world-traveling master of his craft. The man that represented everything that corporate wrestling stands for and the undisputed star of the last ten years against the king of the indies. Honestly, it’s something that I couldn’t have fathomed as little as three years ago. The match was incredible; everything I could have hoped it to be. It was emotional. It was physical. It was why I love this ridiculous art form. There’s no point in lying, I fell to my knees and shed tears of joy when Trips’ hand hit the mat for a third time. I hugged friends in celebration. Bryan Danielson pinned John Cena (clean) and won the WWE title. Yeah, the post match shit happened but the moment and its importance will live forever. When I re-watched the match the next day, I was just so proud. As nothing more than a fan, a “mark”, who has watched both Bryan and Cena, spent thousands of dollars, and traveled across the country in support of them since I was 15; I was just so proud. It’s one of my favorite matches ever and I’m eternally thankful for it.