CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman and 7 Best Feuds of 2013 so Far
The WWE has nailed it in 2013.
After a few "meh"-jor feuds in 2012, it appears that the WWE has really put their storytelling under a microscope in 2013. Feuds have become stories again, and not just stories, but tales that are truly engaging to the WWE audience and are being told both inside and out of the ring.
Instead of cards full of random matchups based solely on names and fame, the WWE Universe now has the pleasure of watching smooth, connected programming that features more than the usual four or five big names.
So, as the days get shorter and we head into fall in the WWE, let's take a look back on some of the best feuds that 2013 has had to offer so far.
8. John Cena vs. Mark Henry
This feud for the WWE Championship works its way into the top eight mostly because of one fateful salmon-colored jacket that will go down in WWE history. The man cutting a promo in said jacket wasn't too bad either.
Mark Henry threw a shocking swerve in a segment that had all the usual dressings of a WWE retirement speech and threw the WWE Universe for a major loop and immediately injected life into a feud that wasn't all that interesting on paper.
A slow-moving and underwhelming match at Money in The Bank kept this feud from being truly great, but the work on the mic by Mark Henry made this something that WWE fans will remember for a long time.
7. Damien Sandow vs Cody Rhodes
Let me be clear, the only reason this feud is where it is on this list is because it isn't over. There is surely a lot more to come from these bright Superstars, but even in this feud's early stages, it's been more than impressive.
After Damien Sandow shocked his former partner Cody Rhodes to win Money in the Bank at WWE's pay-per-view of the same name, this feud became one of the best on TV. It's a classic tale of a friendship torn asunder by greed and the desire for fame...and throwing a bright blue briefcase into the ocean.
Sandow and Rhodes have put on a great show so far, but what's the best part of this feud? They've only met in the ring a few times since it started. The WWE is letting this one develop outside of the ring, which will make it all the sweeter as things start to heat up between the ropes.
As the year goes on expect this feud to move up as one of the best of 2013.
6. The Shield vs. the WWE
It's hard to believe that The Shield started handing out their version of justice all the way back at Survivor Series, but these three young Superstars have shown the WWE is in great hands for years to come, and they've done it with their storytelling, mic work and exceptional in-ring talent.
Every wrestling fan loves a good ol' faction story, and The Shield has delivered over and over again against some of the biggest names in all of professional wrestling. They've held their own in the ring with the likes of The Undertaker, John Cena, Big Show, Sheamus, Randy Orton and many more.
It doesn't matter who The Shield is facing, they always make it interesting and exciting. Unfortunately they haven't really established a long-standing feud yet, which is the reason they come in at the No. 6 spot on this list, but now that they appear to be under the employ of Triple H and his new corporation, business is starting to pick up for these young guns.
5. Antonio Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn
If this feud was happening on Raw or Smackdown, it would easily be one of the top three of the year so far. Unfortunately, not just for the WWE Universe, but for wrestling fans everywhere, this feud can only be seen on WWE NXT...for now.
Antonio Cesaro is easily one of the most talented performers in the WWE, and Sami Zayn, who was once known as El Generico, is just as good, maybe even better. Zayn is still honing his skills in WWE developmental, and since Cesaro doesn't really have anything to do on TV, he may as well go to NXT and show off.
And show off he has.
Cesaro and Zayn have had a chance to get a major feud going and it has been outstanding. If you like feuds based on great matches with a little chatter in between, check out the series between these two, especially the match shown above which garnered "Match of the Year" chants from the fans in attendance.
This is a feud that could be immediately pulled up to TV without any changes.
4. Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler
To the delight of "smarks" everywhere, Dolph Ziggler is finally getting his shot in 2013. He hung around the World Heavyweight Championship picture for the better part of the year and has had the opportunity to really show off his skills at an elite level.
This feud started out as your normal, run-of-the-mill confrontation between a face and heel. Ziggler was running around with his cohorts AJ and Big E and was starting a solid little program with Del Rio. It wasn't really anything special...until WWE's inaugural Payback pay-per-view.
At Payback Del Rio cranked up the intensity between these two after a ruthless assault on the dome of the recently concussed Ziggler. As Ziggler continued to eat ferocious kicks to the back of the head, two things happened. The WWE Universe got really uncomfortable with how real it all looked, but the other thing was far more interesting. It started to look like a double-turn was possible.
The face Del Rio had turned his back on the WWE Universe by making the most of his title shot and going for the win by any means necessary while simultaneously making the defenseless Dolph look like a babyface.
As the weeks went on Dolph cut ties with his girlfriend and his bodyguard and has since been rolling as a face, all thanks to his incredibly intense feud with the world heavyweight champion.
This feud was great because of everything it had. It had great matches, a great story and those "WHAT?!" moments that have made the WWE what it is today. The only reason it wasn't in the top three is because Del Rio and Ziggler still haven't made their way into the upper echelon of Superstars...yet.
3. CM Punk vs. Living Legends
When you put a Superstar like CM Punk in a feud with anyone, you have to assume that it's going to be outstanding. Put him in a feud with The Rock and The Undertaker, and it's going to be epic.
And that's exactly what it was.
CM Punk kicked off 2013 by taking on The Rock at the Royal Rumble, but it wasn't over between The Great One and the Best in the World. They would continue their feud into the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, which was full of controversy and great wrestling.
This feud, while it spanned just around a month, was stellar. The mic work was outstanding, which is expected when the most electrifying man in sports and entertainment and the WWE's frequent dropper of verbal pipe bombs exchange verbal blows.
The ring work was outstanding as well. The Rock looked considerably less rusty than he had in his previous one-shot appearances, and CM Punk was able to help make the matches look clean and polished.
These are two of the best professional wrestlers to walk down a WWE ramp in the last 20 years, and they certainly didn't disappoint in 2013.
As The Rock moved on to bigger and better things at WrestleMania, CM Punk set his sights on another living legend of professional wrestling, The Undertaker.
Punk, with the help of Paul Heyman, made this one-match feud seem like it lasted a year. With the Undertaker's part-time schedule, Heyman and Punk were able to do mic work that made it seem like Taker was there every week. The feud pulled no punches, including stealing Taker's Urn after the passing of Paul Bearer, and reached its climax at WrestleMania 29 in one of The Undertaker's closest calls during his undefeated streak at WrestleMania.
Not only did Punk put on an amazing show with The Rock and Taker, he did all of it in a matter of a few months.
2. Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena
Even though this feud didn't last nearly long enough, it was still one of the best of the year so far. Daniel Bryan and John Cena started the feud as respectful competitors looking to simply push each other, but eventually found themselves trading verbal haymakers that had a little extra oomph of truth.
Bryan came into the feud claiming to be a "real" wrestler, which, in the past, has been considered a big no-no in the company and really made the feud have a bit of an edge. Adding the involvement from the McMahons and Triple H along with Cena standing his ground, and we had a classic feud on our hands.
Bryan vs. Cena is a matchup that the WWE Universe has been longing for. Heck, D-Bry's first official WWE match was against the Cenation Commander-in-Chief! The technical wizard that is Daniel Bryan against the WWE's clean-cut superhero John Cena has all the makings of a great match, and great it was.
With the added spectacle of SummerSlam, this feud went from solid to epic. Bryan and Cena put on an outstanding match, even with Cena's elbow injury, and were able to make a smooth transition into the new corporation storyline.
Overall, this feud was short, but it had everything that a great feud needs. It had exceptional promos, great in-ring encounters, an amazing match at one of the biggest pay-per-views of the year and a little controversy thrown in to spice it up.
Hopefully this isn't the last we see from these two, but according to WWE.com, we'll have to wait 4 to 6 months to find out.
1. CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman
In professional wreslting the term "feud" can mean a lot of different things. It could mean anything from two guys on the lower-midcard fighting for a few weeks to an absolutely mind-blowingly amazing program between some of the best in the business.
CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman falls under the latter.
These real-life buddies have finally been pitted against each other by WWE creative and in no way is that a bad thing. Both Punk and Heyman are doing what they do best; cutting scathing promos that pull from real life so much that it becomes hard to discern what's real and what's not.
Every encounter between these two on weekly programming has kept the WWE Universe, this writer included, completely enthralled and intrigued, and it's not only the best feud that we've seen so far this year, but some of the best overall programming we've seen in the WWE in a long time.
Having a No Disqualification match against Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam just threw fuel onto the already raging inferno that is the rift between these former comrades. If you took any other wrestler-manager combination and asked them to do this storyline it simply wouldn't work. This is something that wouldn't be nearly as good without these two performing at the top of their game.
This feud has given us pointed promos, a bevy of exciting encounters, one mind-blowing match and one of the best feuds of the PG Era of professional wrestling.
The greatest part about this feud is that it's only just begun. While it started all the way back at Money in the Bank, it feels like there has to be a lot more to come from these titans, especially if the WWE is going to keep the title focus on Daniel Bryan vs. The Corporation.
Hold on to your hats kids, this one is going to be good.