Power Ranking the 6 Best WWE Matches of 2013 So Far
It is rare that a year can deliver as many great matches through only six months as 2013 has thus far.
Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan and Kane) and The Shield have been responsible for four or five truly great tag matches.
CM Punk has been determined to steal every show he is on, with or without the WWE Championship in his possession. Chris Jericho continues to prove why he is one of the best of all time, regardless of his age, and John Cena's in-ring continues to go under-appreciated.
The best matches of the year midway through 2013 have incorporated fine in-ring skills, drama and hot crowds, resulting in bouts that left fans both satisfied and exhausted.
Those involved in those matches are veterans of the in-ring game, capable of taking even the least enthralling storylines and making them successes with their in-ring exploits.
These are the six best matches of 2013 (because, really, five and 10 are pretty overdone). And, given the plethora of bouts to choose from and the young talent lighting up WWE programming as we speak, it is safe to say that many will be added to them come Dec. 31.
6. WWE Championship Money in the Bank Match (WWE Money in the Bank, July 14)
A recent entry on this list, the WWE Championship Money in the Bank match from the July 14 pay-per-view extravaganza featured six of World Wrestling Entertainment's very best battling it out for the right to earn a guaranteed WWE title shot any time they please.
Randy Orton, Sheamus, Christian, CM Punk, Rob Van Dam and Daniel Bryan tore the roof off of the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia for nearly 27 minutes in a chaotic display of broken ladders and bodies. Blood flowed freely, Paul Heyman betrayed best friend Punk and Bryan electrified the very fans he performed in front of for years as a top indie performer.
At the end of the night, however, it would be Orton who would deliver a thunderous RKO to Van Dam, scale the ladder and retrieve the briefcase that could very well return him to the championship glory he has not enjoyed in two years.
5. Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho (Monday Night Raw, July 15)
Twenty-four hours after sacrificing his body in an attempt to secure a WWE title contract via the Money in the Bank match, Rob Van Dam made his Monday Night Raw return after a six-year hiatus.
His opponent for the evening would be a familiar one, one who he had several wars with some 10 years earlier. In his first match on the flagship program since departing World Wrestling Entertainment in 2007, Van Dam would square off with "Y2J," Chris Jericho.
Jericho and Van Dam would deliver a classic, pay-per-view quality match that answered the question of whether or not they could pick up where they left off all of those years ago.
All of the signature spots were there, as were the trademark maneuvers, but nothing ever felt stale or old. Instead, they worked their traditional offenses into a framework that had fans on their feet all the way up to Van Dam launching himself off the top rope and onto his opponent with the Five-Star Frog Splash.
The win was a major victory for Van Dam and garnered him a ton of momentum in his first singles action back in WWE. For Jericho, it was the penultimate performance of his latest stint with the company, a stay that reconfirmed his all-time greatness.
4. CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho (WWE Payback, June 16)
After suffering a defeat at the hands of The Undertaker at WrestleMania 29, CM Punk disappeared from WWE television for two months, having no real presence on either Raw or SmackDown until the build for June's Payback pay-per-view, to emanate from Chicago's All State Arena.
One year earlier, Chris Jericho had decisively lost a feud to Punk, including a Chicago Street Fight in the same arena at Extreme Rules.
Back and confident after defeating newcomer Fandango at the April pay-per-view, Jericho challenged Punk to a match to determine just who was really the so-called "Best in the World." Paul Heyman, Punk's closest confidant, accepted the match on Punk's behalf, and the match was made official.
Punk, as was expected, arrived in the historic venue as the heavy crowd favorite. As always, he declared it "clobberin' time" and made his way to the ring to the delight of his loyal Chicago fanbase. Moments later, he and Jericho were engaged in one of the year's best matches so far.
The bout started slow but gradually built to the point that the two highly respected and critically acclaimed in-ring performers had the crowd in the palm of their hands, manipulating with a series of near-falls, counters and finishers that climaxed with Punk breaking free of the Walls of Jericho submission, unleashing a fury of open-hand thrusts to the back of the neck and finishing his opponent off with two consecutive G.T.S. finishers.
3. The Undertaker and Team Hell No vs. the Shield (Raw, April 22)
Fresh off his victory over CM Punk at WrestleMania, The Undertaker made a very rare Monday Night Raw appearance on April 22, teaming with brother Kane and Daniel Bryan, then the tag team champions, to take on The Shield.
The babyfaces exploded early, clearing their undefeated opposition from the ring, but it was only a matter of time before Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins slowed down the pace of the match and took control of the bout.
Bryan and Kane did the majority of the work for their team, each taking turns as the face-in-peril. Every second that passed without the involvement of the "Dead Man" built to the hot tag from Bryan to Undertaker at the 20-minute mark.
The Phenom exploded into the squared circle, and it appeared as though it would only be a matter of time before the heroic trio finally put an end to the dominance of The Shield.
But it was not meant to be. Ambrose would take advantage of a missed headbutt from Bryan and roll him up for the win.
The bout was the best of the matches involving Bryan and The Shield in the first half of the year, even if the one featuring Kofi Kingston in The Undertaker's spot a month later was a faster-paced contest.
2. The Undertaker vs. CM Punk (WrestleMania 29, April 7)
The Undertaker's epic undefeated streak at WrestleMania has been well-documented, and every year, a new Superstar steps up to the plate to try and extinguish the streak.
Every year, they fail.
Despite a phenomenal effort by CM Punk on April 7, that would not change this year.
It is a testament to the performances of both men involved that there was as much drama and excitement throughout the match as there was.
After all, the outcome of an Undertaker match at WrestleMania is never really in doubt.
Yet for a few moments, fans legitimately thought the Second City Saint would be the man to put an end to the Phenom's dominance at the Showcase of the Immortals.
Punk would pull out all of the tricks, including using late manager Paul Bearer's urn to bash in Undertaker's head during a Last Ride attempt. He would cover but would only garner a two count from a stunned and recovering referee.
The final stand for Punk would come when he mocked The Undertaker's throat-slashing taunt and tried for the G.T.S. The Dead Man would counter and deliver a thunderous Tombstone, putting an end to the threat of the former WWE champion.
It was a phenomenal match that had a rather lethargic crowd inside Met Life Stadium on the edge of their seats throughout.
1. John Cena vs. CM Punk (Monday Night Raw, February 25)
Take the top two stars in the industry. Give them nearly a half-hour on free television, in the main event slot of the show, and watch them create a classic.
That is exactly what World Wrestling Entertainment did on Monday, Feb. 25 when John Cena and CM Punk met for the right to challenge The Rock at WrestleMania 29.
In recent years, Punk and Cena have gotten to know one another well inside the squared circle. In fact, their rivalry has defined WWE over the last few years.
Cena is the machine's champion, the face of the promotion and its youth fans.
Punk is the rebel, the outcast who so many fans ages 20 and above respect and idolize.
They are polar opposites, and the crowd reaction generated during their matches is unmatched in today's world of sports entertainment.
It was no different on that cold, winter night in February.
Knowing each other as well as they do, Punk and Cena broke out maneuvers their opponent would never expect. Punk utilized the piledriver, a maneuver rarely used and highly criticized in pro wrestling circles for its potential danger, while Cena delivered a thunderous power bomb to his top rival.
Much like the No. 2 match on this list, the outcome was never in doubt, but that did not stop the seasoned veterans from delivering one of the most dramatic and exciting matches in the history of Monday nights.
Cena would pick up the victory, but neither man could have, or should have, felt disappointed about any aspect of their latest classic.
The best match of the year thus far, and one that will be difficult to top the rest of the way in 2013.