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Ring Crew Reviews: Top 50 Matches from 2013 (Part III: 34-25)
Posted by Jack Bramma on 02.05.2014



• To recap, part 1: (50-43)

• part 2: (42-35)

**** Matches

34. Royal Rumble. WWE Royal Rumble 2013. 01/27/2013. Earlier in the night, Striker tried to tell Ziggler how the long odds he faced starting first but AJ and Big E told him to am-scra. E then interviewed Dolph and Dolph said that tonight he would win the RR, set the record for longest entry, win the WWE championship at Mania, cash in the WHW championship, and then unify both belts.

• Claudio got a Main Event-esque talking head clip and said he would continue the tradition of non-American RR winners like Edge, ADR, and Sheamus. The PTPers prognosticated that they would win millions of dollars after one of them. Orton said he likes it like it is in the RR, no friends and no partners. Cena says he has the biggest target on his back. RUMBLE, YOUNG MAN, RUMBLE! Barrett put over how he had restored the legacy to the IC title and he would do the same to the RR. Sheamus teased the potential of winning two straight. Ryback tells us he doesn't eat Fruity Pebbles but every 90 seconds, he will say FEED ME MORE!

• Later, Hell No would celebrate their tag title victory over Rhodes Scholar, but it was short lived as Vickie interrupted to give them their RR entry number. DB shares his but Kane is tight-lipped. NONONONONONO!

• Dolph is out first and he gets the stick. He says he's all alone in the spotlight where he belongs. He doesn't care who's #2 because they'll never be #1 as long as he's around. Cole puts over how the #1 entry has only won twice and #2 has only won twice as well. But first. BREAK THE WALLS DOWN! Jericho is 2 which is amazingly awesome because it has the perfect storyline connection seeing as Dolph was the one that defeated Jericho back in 2012 to get him “fired.”

• Crowd is big into Jericho though King and Cole can't decide whether it's “electric” or “chilling.” Unusually, Dolph and Jericho go for some shoulderblock/headlock feeling out. Jericho avoids a shitcan with a LIONHEART HAMMER. He clotheslines Dolph but he lands on the apron to take on the early mantle of skin-the-cat guy. Over/under is at 10 teases for his elimination because he escapes to the apron, tonight. Dolph hooks his leg on the top rope while Jericho shoves him. The crowd tells Jericho that he's still got it. Jericho: “I NEVER LOST IT, BABY!” Next up at 100 seconds is Lovestache Rhodes. Cody is pulling double duty after the tag title match. He feeds into Jericho but quickly the heels pound down Jericho. Jericho blocks a toss but Cody gives him the Rhodes punt. Jericho wants the WoJ but Dolph breaks it up. JBL: “The key is to survive. You can't win the Royal Rumble until all 30 men get in the ring. But you can certainly lose it before that.” Dolph slingshots Jericho into the ropes as Kofi is 4. Cole: “THERE WILL INDEED BE TROUBLE IN PARADISE FOR CODY, JERICHO, AND ZIGGLER!” Thanks for that. Kofi springboards in and pogo sticks his way into full mount in the corner as Cole redeems himself by nicely bringing up that Kofi won a Slammy for his handstand back at the 2012 RR. Kofi goes for TiP on Ziggler but he ducks. Kofi blocks a shitcan with his head and he tosses Dolph to the apron. Dolph's tease count: 2. Kofi tries to toss him, Cody tries to toss Kofi, and Jericho tries to toss Rhodes in a cool spot. Dolph is still tied up in the ropes with Kofi as Santino is next. Cole brings up that Santino has the record for quickest elimination at 1 second but also came in second the year that ADR won. Santino clears the ring... to the apron thus giving Dolph another tease. Santino is fired up and thinks he's won. Santino realizes everyone is still in so he pulls out the Cobra. Jericho calls him off only to chop him into a superkick from Ziggler. Santino's out.

• Jericho sneaks Cody but no go. Kofi fights off eliminations while Drew McIntyre is next. Drew hits the BOOT OF FEAR on Kofi to mild jeers. Jericho tries to toss Kofi and Drew while Cody occupies Ziggler. Ziggler hits the Bluechipper dropkick on Jericho as they FINALLY get back to the easy storyline of Dolph/Jericho. Dolph shitcans him but Jericho hangs on to save himself. Titus O'Neil is 7. He powers through Kofi and Cody. URAURAURAURA! Backbreaker on Kofi. MILLIONSOFDOLLARS as Cole recounts Harley Race's RR strategy: “You get in there and just go.” Jericho double jump dropkicks Drew and he's out. Ziggler pounces on Jericho but still can't get him out. Titus sneaks Dolph but no go either. Dolph tease: 4. Crowd chants for Jericho and Goldust is next. Neither Cody nor his stache are excited. Cody tells him to bring it on as it's BROTHER-VS-BROTHER! THEY SLUG IT OUT! Dolph interrupts only to get hit by the Rhodes uppercut from Cody. Goldust cuts off Cody with the REAL DEAL Rhodes uppercut. NIIIIIIIIIICE! Cody avoids elimination by standing on the apron. GOLDUSTGOLDUSTGOLDUST says the crowd. Otunga is 9. JBL: “ALL RIGHT, JENNIFER HUDSON'S HUSBAND!” The camera cuts away from his entrance to show how important he is as Cole recounts how he did better in the 2012 RR than King did. The Rhodes team up on Titus while Hacksaw's advice is also recounted.

Heath Slater, the Axl Rose of 3MB, finishes off the first 10. He stomps Otunga and punches down Kofi and taunts to boos. Jericho and Ziggler continue their rivalry with another Dolph tease. Titus trashes Cody into the corner as Otunga blocks a Goldust shot. Ziggler and Jericho have made it 15 minutes thus far according to Cole. Sheamus begins his quest to become the 4th ever man to win back to back RR at 11. He has IRISH HAMMERS and backbreakers for everyone. Finlay Roll for Slater and Jericho. Titus blocks an elimination but that sets up the CLUBBINGBLOWBARRAGE and FOR ONCE, that spot doesn't come off contrived as hell. Sheamus stops in the middle to toss Titus and then finish off the countdown on Otunga and boot him to the floor. Cody and Slater tackle Sheamus to slow him down. Tensai out next and he is stopped by Sheamus and Jericho. Cole reads off a monologue from Jake Roberts and that whole advice thing is wearing thin. Everyone piles up on the ropes while Dolph whiffs on a Stinger Splash and Kofi tries to shove him to the floor. Dolph tease: 6. Funkasaurus is 13. SOMEBODY CALL ERNEST MILLER'S MAMA! Sheamus pounds down Dolph as the Rhodes Brothers continue their pairing. Brodus does jack and shit while Cody gets backdropped to the apron by his brother. Cody pulls him to the apron as well only to get clotheslined back in. Cody shoves him into the post and CODY RHODES HAS ELIMINATED HIS OWN BROTHER FROM THE RUMBLE! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Rey Mysterio is next. He kicks Dolph's head into the ropes and Jericho too both for 619's. King: “Is that a conference call?” He drops the dime on Jericho. Cody cuts off Rey while the hosses take up space in one corner. How the hell has Kofi been there for 20 minutes and done nothing of note?

• Sheamus plows into Tensai while the clock counts down for Darren Young. On cue, everyone gangs up and dumps out Brodus. Kofi blocks Tensai, flips back in, and ranas Sweet Tea out. Kofi gets tossed but LANDS ON TENSAI'S BACK! Kofi falls to the announce table and is STILL IN! Cole: “If you're Kofi, how the hell do you get back to the ring. It's impossible.” Kofi thinks about jumping but reconsiders. He begs, borrows, and steals his way to JBL's chair. Bo Dallas is next entry from NXT who won a tournament to get in. Kofi uses the chair like a pogo stick to get back to the apron. That's cool and all but still third behind Morrison's parkour and Kofi's handstand. Kofi lowers the bridge and dumps out DY. BUT WAIT! Beautiful Disaster and Kofi's out. That's two downer eliminations from Cody in beautiful fashion. Sheamus tries to sneak him but Cody blocks. The Godfather and his not-hoes are 17. Before he can start up the Ho Train, he's knocked out at 4 seconds by Dolph. Sheamus dumps Dolph to the apron for #7 while Godfather leaves to a pop. Wade Barrett is next while everyone lays around. The Barrett Barrage punches down Jericho and Heath while Sheamus eats a Black Hole Slam. Wade and Jericho go after Sheamus while JBL talks about tennis. Cody goes after Rey for a bit as John Cena is next at 19. The entire ring stops to either sell or look at him. They all collectively pummel him. He no sells and Slater is gone as is Cody Rhodes. Cena gets up Jericho but Ziggler stops to save him. TAKE THAT, MARINE! Bo Dallas starts working over Cena. FIRE AND DESIRE!

Damien Sandow is my hero and your's at 20. He gets crickets as he goes after Bo Dallas. Barrett gets Rey on his shoulders and Rey tries a reverse rana but Barrett hangs on. Barrett then dumps out Rey. THE BARRETT BARRAGE WILL UNLEASH ON 2013! Eliminating Rey from the rumble clearly has the be the highlight of his year. Sheamus tackles Barrett as Cole notes that Jericho and Ziggler have been in for over half an hour. Jericho tries to roll Cena into the WoJ. 21 is Daniel Bryan and Sandow feeds in for the kicks. More kicks to Ziggler and Barrett as well. YESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES! He gets up Jericho to mild jeers and Sheamus joins him but Jericho still hangs on. Cena helps Sandow use the corner as a hammock. Dueling Cena chants but Cesaro is next. Cole puts over how Cesaro had beat Miz to retain the US srap on the kickoff show. Cesaro has Euro uppercuts for everyone. BACK TO THE CENA CHANTS! Barrett kicks Cena to the midsection and surprisingly nothing as happened for the last several entries. How does the RR get more boring when Cena, DB, and Cesaro enter? Cole is beginning to run out of HOF'ers so now he's quoting Hillbilly Jim. Khali is 23. Cole: “THE GREAT KHALI! OH MY!” Cole recounts Khali's RR history including that dominant 2007 run and the lowlights of being the first guy eliminated by the woman. Khali with brain chops and headbutts on a few while JBL forgets that Natayla is Neidhart's daughter and not Bret's and then covers by calling Khali-Natayla an “interspecies” relationship. Kane is 24 and there are ELEVEN MOTHERFUCKERS IN THE RING! To recap: Khali, Barrett, Ziggler, Dallas, Sheamus, DB, Sandow, Jericho, Cesaro, Cena, and Kane. Entrances which started out at 100 seconds are down to 90 seconds as well. Also, Kane being a dick to DB about his number doesn't make any sense seeing as one was 21 and the other was 24. Kane tries to toss Ziggler but he holds tights for the first tease in a while to make it 8. Khali cuts off the raging fire that is Kane with the worst headbutt ever. Sheamus and Sandow preview their feud that would star on kickoff shows later in 2013. Zack Ryder is next. Cole: “HE HAS OVER ONE MILLION TWITTER FOLLOWERS!” Amazing.

• He gives the Rough Ryder to Ziggler but Ziggler still fights off the elimination. Kane tosses out Khali as it's story time. Kane gloats and DB sneaks him to toss him out. YESYESYESYES! Cesaro punches DB off the apron into the waiting arms of Kane. DB pleads for mercy: “PUT ME IN THE RING! YESYESYESYESYES!” Kane forces him off and drops him on the floor. Cena trashes Cesaro into the turnbuckle while Dolph gets the tease count up to 10 with Jericho again. The Viper is 26. He elbows and clotheslines everyone. Powerslam for Dolph and Ryder. Bo Dallas is there but he hangs on to the apron as well. Orton sets up him and Ziggler for the apron DDT. Ryder eats the RKO and hits the showers. Cesaro and Barrett start working over Orton in the corner. Dolph and Jericho have now made it over 40 minutes. Jinder Mahal is 27. Cesaro gutwrenches Cena now to get dumped out. Cole: “CENA HAS BEEN A BEAST!” Maybe, but only three eliminations including Cesaro, Slater, and Cody Rhodes. Dolph and Jericho are STILL fighting on the apron. Cena slingshots Dolph for #11. Sheamus takes down Barrett with a LARIATO. Miz is up next. Cesaro takes the brawl to him in the aisle and they fight before refs force Cesaro to the back. Sheamus knees Jinder to the floor. Cole puts over how Miz is nursing an ankle injury from the kickoff show. Miz is all I BEAT CENA IN THE MAIN EVENT OF MANIA and hits him with the double neckbreaker. Barrett works over Sheamus while Orton dumps out Ziggler but he lands AGAIN on the apron. Sin Cara is 29 is back after missing a few months with a knee injury. He hits Miz and Ziggler with the pop-up kick. Sheamus tries to dump Cena but he hangs on. Bo Dallas facelocks Barrett and shitcans him over the top. That's more like Barrett's 2013. The following night on RAW Barrett would look for revenge and LOSE. Miz tries to backdrop Jericho but he hangs on. BUT WAIT! THE BARRETT BARRAGE IS BACK OUT! He pulls Dallas to the floor for the Bullhammer elbow.

FEED ME MORE is 30 when he was still formidable. He shoves around a bunch of people but there are still 9 guys left: Sandow, Cena, Sheamus, Jericho, Orton, Sin Cara, Miz, Ziggler, and Ryback. Sandow takes a Ho Train to the floor. Cara tries a few kicks. JBL: “Just jump over the top rope, Sin Cara, it'll be easier.” Ryback ignores to swat him down and press slam him to the floor. Miz sneaks Ryback but gets shitcanned out too. CODEBREAKER ON RYBACK! Cena attacks Jericho only to get boo-ed. LIONSAULT ON CENA! Dropkick that sends Sheamus reeling. Codebreaker to Ziggler but he still hangs on. Jericho charges in but gets backdropped and superkicked by Ziggler. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! 48 minutes for Jericho. Orton takes over on offense as he takes down Dolph with an RKO and goes for another on Cena and hits it. Orton ducks the pump kick for another RKO on Sheamus. Apron DDT on Ryback. Orton fires up but Ryback shoves him off and CLOTHESLINES HIM OUT! Crowd didn't like that one.

Final Four: Ziggler, Sheamus, Cena, and Ryback. No feeling out at the four corners unfortunately. Cena hoists up Ryback but he slides out of an FU but he feeds into a CELTIC HAMMER. DDT ON CENA FROM ZIGGLER! Dolph tries the same on Sheamus but gets dumped to the apron. Tease: 12. Sheamus pump kicks him off and Dolph's finally gone to mostly pops but mild boos as well. Now, they do the dramatic standoff but it's only the final 3 like at the 2008 RR with Batista, Cena, and Trips. Cena and Sheamus quickly make a beeline for Ryback and double suplex him to more mild boos. Cena and Sheamus both shrug their shoulders and come out punching. Cena wins and goes to the shoulderblocks. Proto-Bomb and 5KS. NO! MEATHOOK ON CENA! FEED ME MORE! Shell Shock on Sheamus but he counters out to Emerald Flowsion. Sheamus: “FELLLLLLLLLLLA!” Crowd: “UHHHHHHH! … Booooo?(!)” They come around for his fire up though. He wants the pump kick again but Ryback cuts him off and dumps him out. Crowd wasn't expecting that one and that draws a bit of boos as well. How is it possible that the crowd doesn't seem to want any of these guys to win? Ryback tells Cena to FEED HIM MORE but Cena punches him in response. Ryback catches him in a Spinebuster and fires up for the Meathook. Cena ducks behind for the STF. That was slick. STF and Ryback passes out. Cena releases to pick up Ryback but Ryback jumps off the ropes for a bit of a Thesz press. He gathers up Cena only to get dumped out and Cena's your winner at 55:05.

• A good, borderline very good, but not a great rumble. There's a lot to like here: everything about Dolph and Jericho, Cody/Goldust, Cody's buzzkill eliminations, Dallas/Barrett, Hell No's eliminations, Kofi using the chair, Santino's brief moment in the sun, how strong Ryback looked including eliminating Orton, and Godfather's 3 second highlight. Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks here as well. This has one of the usual complaints of a boring lull in the middle. It's insane that an opening stretch of Santino, Kofi, Goldust, and the PTPers was more entertaining than DB and Cena's entrances but there's where we are. It was just – guy enters, hits 2 moves, and then gets tackled and nothing for about 20 minutes in the middle.

• Another problem is the self-inflicted issue of the lack of starpower. Only than Jericho and maybe Goldust, you had no high-profile returning stars and only a handful of potential winners in Sheamus, Orton, Cena, and Ryback. And that lukewarm slate of same old, same old main eventers and Ryback cost them as the crowd didn't seem to care about anyone other than Jericho. At times, the fed can't help that, but they have to make up for it with character moments which we needed more of. Everything about Cody/Goldust and Hell No was perfect, but they easily could have filled some of the dead time with similar things. Damien Sandow outwitting Ryder or Khali and cheaply eliminating them. 3MB having entrances in close succession, teasing a big air guitar performance to big heat, and getting dumped out all by Cena or someone. Brodus Clay being a force because he's big and/or trying to get a moment free to dance and that costing him momentum.

• As I said, good rumble, but missing a few little things to make it great. ****

33. Street Fight: Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton. WWE RAW 06/24/2013. After feeling blamed as the weak link for weeks, Bryan blew a gasket. The final straw was him and Orton coming up short against the Shield for the tag belts at Payback. To settle the score, DB and Orton had singles, face-face matches all the way through June. They tried the rubber match as a standard match but tempers flared and the ref ruled it a no contest. Instead, we get this street fight in the main event of RAW.

• They come to blows and DB goes to the kick. Orton gouges the eyes and takes over with rights in the corner. He shitcans DB out and goes for the clothesline but DB ducks and goes to the kick. Orton no sells to send him into the ring stairs. Back in, DB baseball slide dropkicks Orton back to the floor. DB wants the suicide dive but Orton comes up with a CHAIR! We take a break and we're back to Orton looking for weapons. During the break, Orton backdropped DB on the stage. Orton's got a table but DB fights back with kicks. Orton ignores to hang him out to dry on the ropes. Orton sets up the table in the corner. They slug it out some more but DB flips up and over for a VEGAN BURRITO. He fires up for an IED. He unleashes a flurry of kicks but Orton cuts him off with a Sabu chairshot to a pop, I might add. Orton covers for 1, 2, 2 ½. Orton chokes and then preps a suplex to the floor through a table but Dragon blocks with a Stun Gun. IED to Orton. Another but Orton still won't go down. DB fires up but baseball slides through and powerbombs Orton THROUGH THE TABLE! YESYESYESYESYESYES!

• Orton is toast. DB drags him in and covers for 1, 2, 2 ½. DB starts beating the crap out of Orton with DR FG's and cane shots. He wants the DR FG! NO! T-BONE SUPLEX THROUGH THE TABLE BY ORTON! ONE, TWO, THREEOHNOHEALMOSTGOT'IM! They slug it out from their knees and follow up with headbutts. They punch their way to their feet and then slug it out for YESNOYESNOYESNOYES. Orton takes over with a Bluechipper dropkick to a pop again. Orton puts DB up top but DB fights him off. He flies off but Orton counters into a Low Down bomb. 1, 2, kickout. Orton mounts for some GnP but DB counters to the Yes Lock. Orton reaches for the ropes but instead comes up with a KENDO STICK! He beats his way free and an audible reaction from the crowd. He blasts Dragon about 20 times and then traps him on the apron. Orton plays to the crowd and nails the apron DDT. Orton fires up for the RKO. NO! BACKSLIDE FOR 1, 2, 2.99999. DB fires up back with the cane. YES LOCK! Orton again reaches for the cane but DB blocks and applies the KENDO STICK-ASSISTED YES LOCK! ORTON TAPS AT 12:46!

• Usual WWE main event style, finisher fest but amped up with some cool spots and weapons counters. More significant as a chapter in the DB face push and Orton's subtle lean toward a heel turn than as a classic match. ****

• Post-match, Orton reluctantly shakes his hand and then leaves to a mixed reaction.

32. Cody Rhodes vs. Randy Orton. WWE RAW 09/02/2013. Orton is champ after SS with The Authority's help. Cody questioned The Authority's authority, so Trips put him in a match for his career against The Face of the WWE. To play extra mindgames, Trips brings up Cody's impending matrimony and tells Cody he better stay employed if he wants to be able to raise a family.

• They lockup at the bell and rather than clean break in the corner, Orton goes to the MMA elbows. JBL is rowdy on commentary defending himself. JBL: “I'M A COMPANY MAN AND DAMN PROUD OF IT, TOO! YOU SHOULD BE, TOO! THIS IS WHERE YOUR JOB IS!” Cody comes back stomping away but Orton no sells to come back with an Orton-line. Orton hangs him out to dry and trashes Cody into the turnbuckle. Orton shitcans him out but Cody comes back with a shot into the steel stairs. Back in, Cody covers for 1, 2, only 2. Another cover gets an even quicker 1 count. Cody hooks the arm in a hammerlock and applies a chinlock as well. Orton escapes out with a shot to the gut and a headbutt. Cody catches him with a Bluechipper dropkick for 1, 2, 222222222222222. Cody pounds away in the corner. Orton sends him off but Cody comes running back out with an Orton-line of his own. Cody again aggressively working the cover nicely to put over his desperation to keep his job. Cody chokes for a bit but Charles Robinson forces the break. Orton cuts him off in the distraction with an eye gouge. Orton pounds away with CLUBBINGBLOWS and taunts to boos. Orton mounts in the corner for the 10... a face spot and some of the crowd even counts along. Cody cuts him off with a gordbuster and a FACE MOUNT IN THE CORNER FOR 10! TAKE THAT, FAUX FACE ORTON! Orton goes low and this the neck/backbreaker and Cody sells it to the floor. Cole: “ORTON MAY HAVE JUST BROKEN CODY RHODES'S CAREER!” We take a break and we're back to Orton posing some more and Cody selling some more. Orton stomps away and even catches his breath while standing on Cody's leg. YEAHHHH! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

• Cody sells the ankle wonderfully as Orton Euro uppecuts him back down. Cody counters another with a BACKSLIDE! 1, 2, NO! Orton quickly takes back over with another Orton-line. Orton locks in the OrtonLock. Cody escapes out with a back suplex. We take a break and we're back to Cody working over Orton on the floor. He slides Orton back in but Orton rolls right out the other side to take a breather. I LOVE that spot. Assholes in the crowd chant for Macho then Jake The Snake even though this is awesome and Orton drops Cody with a backbreaker ON THE BARRICADE! Orton mounts for some GnP and drops a knee for 1, 2, another nearfall. BACKTOTHECHINLOCK! We cut to back in the lockerroom where everyone (minus the main eventers) is watching this. DIDYAKNOWRANDYSAVAGEISCOOLTOCHANT?! ANYWAY, Cody tries to elbow free and gets the boot up in the corner. Time for some clotheslines and the Goldust uppercut. WOOOOOOO! Cody springboards in with a missile dropkick for 1, 2, 2.7. Cody wants the Beautiful Disaster but Orton ducks! NOT THE SECOND TIME! BEAUTIFUL DISASTER! ONE, TWO, THREEOHNOHEALMOSTGOT'IM! Crowd finally gets their act together and chants for CODYRHODES! He heads up for the TEARDROP MOONSAULT but Orton avoids and Cody eats mat. Orton covers for 1, 2, no. Orton tosses him out for the Apron DDT. Orton mocks the fire up but does it anyway before actively switching to a face fire up in a strange sequence. Cody fights off the RKO with CROSSROADS! 1, 2, 2.999999999999999999999999999999999! NO! Cody can't believe it and argues with the ref. CODYCODYCODYCODY! Orton gets some distance with a boot and a Stun Gun. Cody with a School Boy for 1, 2, 2.999. Orton ducks another Disaster Kick and clips the knee. RKO! 1, 2, Cole: “KICK OUT! KICK OUT!” and 3 to fire Cody at 12:53 of aired footage.

• Another awesome match in a string of them for Orton especially through the fall with Miz, Cody, Goldust, DB, Ziggler, Christian, and of course, Cena. Awesome nearfalls for Cody and Orton gave him a ton of offense. Nice cutoffs and counters as well even if the crowd was trying to derail their story. ****

****1/4 matches.

31. IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Karl Anderson vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (c). NJPW The New Beginning. 02/10/2013. Anderson has a taped up right knee. Rowdy crowd at the start. HT gets a full nelson and goes to a wristlock. Anderson rolls through to a headlock takeover but HT headscissors him back to square one. Crowd with a big ANDERSON chant. Another headlock and Anderson bowls over HT with a shoulderblock. Headlock takeover and Anderson has top position. HT sends him off for a hiptoss. HT tries to pick him up but Anderson rolls under and BACK INTO TOP POSITION! Slick. Tanahashi gets him into the corner for a break but gives a cheap shot the breadbasket. HT gets the elbow up in the corner to stop a charging Anderson and then crossbodies him down. HT drops down and rolls Anderson into a reverse Indian Deathlock. Anderson reaches for the ropes so HT drives him down into the mat knees first. Kneebreaker and NOW WE GO TO SCHOOL, RITSUMEIKAN STYLE! HT torques the leg but Anderson gets the ropes. HT charges into the corner but Anderson fires back with a yakuza kick. HT outsmarts him by again getting up the boots but runs into a leg lariat from Anderson. Anderson shakes some life back into the leg and they slug it out with forearms. HT blocks and sends Anderson into the turnbuckle. Anderson no sells to come back with the GUN STUN! HT sells it to the floor and the ref starts the count. He gets up to 10 and Tanahashi hasn't moved. At 15, Karl rolls out to go to work. He sends HT into the rail for some Euro uppercuts and elbows across the head. GUN STUN ON THE RAIL! Another count and HT barely beats it back in at 19. The whole time mind you Anderson has been in the ring selling the leg. That's commitment to your craft.

• The ref wants to check on Tanahashi but Anderson pulls him away. Anderson hits one boot and then sells the leg again. Nice. Hangman's neckbreaker gets 1, 2, 2 ½. Anderson goes to a reverse chinlock with the knee in the back and then grinds the nose. Anderson chokes a bit and covers but the ref REFUSES TO COUNT! INTEGRITY IN PRO WRESTLING! HT elbows free but runs into the spinebuster. Cover gets 1, 2, nearfall. Anderson drops a few knees and AWESOMELY SELLS THE KNEE! He goes for another but HT moves and Anderson comes up dry. Anderson sniffs out a dropkick and comes back with a senton for 1, 2, 2 ½. They go face-to-face and HT fires up for some forearms and a burrito. HT heads up top for a HARLEM HANGOVER! Cover gets 1, 2, 2.7. Anderson whips him across but HT comes running out and clips the knee with a basement dropkick. Chop Block follows and HT with another dropkick to the leg and Anderson is sent reeling to the floor. HT heads up top and flies out to the floor with a HIGH FLY FLOW CROSSBODY1 That was beautiful. Anderson beats the count. HT grabs the legs for the DSLW! NO! Anderson counters and wants a suplex to the floor. Every single person in the building including the ref is like FUCK NO, ARE YOU INSANE?! Anderson gets him up! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Tanahashi counters to land on the apron. PHEW!

• HT tries clipping the knee again but Anderson fires up for a RUNNING PUMP CURB STOMB! YEAHHHH! Back in, Anderson drags HT to the top rope. He says it's over and preps a top rope superplex but HT fights him off. HT gestures to the crowd but misses Anderson cutting him off with a yakuza kick. SUPER TKO! 1, 2, KICKOUT! Anderson is up top and flies off and catches HT in a nice neckbreaker on the way down. Cover gets 1, 2, 2.7. Now we're cooking. Anderson wants another Gun Stun! NO! COUNTER TO SLING BLADE! Double KO spot. Both now up for the forearm slugfest. HT wins that but runs into a CRANE KICK! Anderson tries another but HT ducks another and grabs the leg for the DSLW! SLING BLADE! NO! GUN STUN! NO! HT hits the Sling Blade after a few counters. Falcon Arrow and he heads up for the High Fly Flow but Anderson gets the knees up! Both pull themselves to their feet. Anderson hits the kick and follows it with an AWESOME BOMB! He says it's over and calls for the Greetings from Asbury Park. 1, 2, 2.99999999! Anderson fires up but HT counters with a DSLW! TWO OF THEM! Crowd is feeling it. Anderson kinda no sells all that to get up first. HT goes back to the leg but Anderson stands stall for the slug it out. HT tries another Sling Blade but Anderson counters to the SITOUT RAZOR'S EDGE! 1, 2, NO! HT counters a Gun Stun with a back slide for 1, 2, nearfall. Anderson checks the count and wants the Gun Stun AGAIN but HT follows through with a Dragon Suplex and a Sling Blade. More loud chants from the crowd. HT misses a splash in the corner so Anderson counters to another Curb Stomp. HT counters to a Gun Stun of his own for 1, 2, 2.999999999999. Crossbody for HT and one more High Fly Flow for 1, 2, 3 to end it at 25:10.

• Awesome stuff with a hot crowd. Tanahashi's leg work left me a big cold and not up to Anderson's tremendous sell job. Tanahashi only did a few holds early on and then several DSLWs in the go-home but were remarkably well-timed. Anderson looked great too but I felt went to the Gun Stun move just a bit too much. Part of my enjoyment for Japanese wrestling is the change of pace – each guy has several finishers and signature moves, so the match can end dozens of ways. Anderson seemed determined to win with the Gun Stun and even if that is his main move, I would have liked more variation. Still, great match. Spot of the match: Teasing the suplex into the crowd only for Tanahashi to counter only for Anderson to counter back with a huge curb stomp on the apron.****1/4

30. Minoru Suzuki vs. Tetsuya Naito. NJPW G1 Climax 23 – Day 5 08/04/2013. Naito gets the heart throb chant at the bell but it is quickly overpowered by a MINORU chant. Awesome. Naito with a go-behind to start but they quickly counter wristlocks with Naito getting the advantage. He gets the takedown and goes for a headlock but Suzuki floats on top into another wristlock. Naito brings back and goes for the arm but then switches into a waistlock. Suzuki tries to block first with a kimura then into a guillotine. He hiplocks Naito over who switches to a headlock which Suzuki switches to a headscissors which Naito kips out of it. Both point to their noggins to show they are a step ahead. Good stuff. Rather than lock up, Naito smacks the shit out of him and Suzuki is having NONE OF IT and clips the SURGICALLYREPAIREDKNEE. Naito bobbles but stays standing so Suzuki grabs the leg and drags him over for a LEG GRAPEVINE IN THE ROPES! He trashes Naito into the rail and then wraps the leg and boots the rail into his knee. Suzuki grinds the leg into the guardrail. Back to ringside, they slug it out with the ref letting all of it go, so Suzuki seizes the opportunity and again kicks the rail into the leg. Suzuki laughs at the carnage to slide in the ring and casually do some hip flexor exercises much to the crowd’s delight. Back in, Naito goes to the leathery chops only for Suzuki to again kick his leg out from under him. Suzuki covers for 1, 2, only 2. Suzuki grinds the step over toehold until Naito smacks some sense into him so Suzuki switches to the seated leg grapevine. Naito smacks him around but Minoru hits the TROLL YELL and torques the knee. Naito begs off and grapes the ropes. Naito whips the perspiration and desperation off his face and licks his salty hand to stick it to Naito. Suzuki’s all I EAT PIECES OF SHIT LIKE YOU FOR BREAKFAST and eggs him on to smack him.

• Naito smacks him in the neighborhood of 30 times but Suzuki doesn’t budge AN INCH and then smacks Naito like a jobber in a John Wayner movie. Suzuki goes to the ribs and then continues smacking the dogshit out of him. This is an absolute mauling. Naito can barely stand and collapses back in the corner. Suzuki fucking LAUGHS AT HIM AND THEN LAUGHS AT HIS FANS! Naito can barely stay on his feet for the whip across but avoids a yakuza kick and slingshots back in for a dropkick in the corner. Naito still sells the bad knee but sets up a senton for 1, 2, only 2. Naito locks in a lying Stranglehold Gamma. Suzuki realizes that the tables have been turned as he grabs the ropes. Naito starts clubbing him around. They collide on a shoulderblock and Naito tries to capitalize with a splash off the top but Suzuki catches the leg on the way down and applies the heel hook. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Naito looks to be finished but overcomes and grabs the ropes. Suzuki kicks him into next week and snapmares him over for the running DR FG! 1, 2, 2.999. Suzuki applies a knee bar and Naito simply can’t reach the ropes. He’s in agony but is close to the ropes. Suzuki pulls him back to the middle to switch back to the heel hook. Naito taps! NO! He’s under the ropes.

• He finally rolls it back over and grabs the leg. Suzuki kicks the bad leg repeatedly and Naito can barely stand. He’s a one-legged man in an asskicking contest. He fires up for a PIMP SMACK but Suzuki ducks under for a Sleeper. Naito rolls through but Suzuki follows behind BACK TO THE SLEEPER! Naito is fading but gets his arm up on the third. Suzuki reapplies and Naito is almost too unconsciousness but Suzuki releases to set him up for a PACKAGE PILEDRIVER! But Naito is dead weight and sits down on it. They both get back to their feet so Suzuki can smack him like he owes him money and THEN PILEDRIVE HIM! NO! NAITO BACKDROPS OUT! ENZUIGIRI! Naito wants a German but Suzuki blocks so Naito switches to a Dragon suplex. Suzuki counters going to the BAD LEG! Naito with a head of steam and leaps with a flying shoulderblock. He heads up top for a missile dropkick. Stardust Press finishes Suzuki for 1, 2, 3 at 16:21.

• Suzuki seemed to go out a little too easily after dominating most of the match. This reminds me of Angle-HBK II at 2005 Vengeance in that way. One guy owns the whole match psychology-wise and move-wise but the other guy wins. A really good match especially again, as usual, from the man-up perspective and with the built-in psychology of Naito’s knee and his top-notch selling. This needed another series of false finishes to tip over into greatness; but it’s a tournament setting and not the finals so you take what you get. ****1/4

29. Team Hell No & Randy Orton vs. The Shield. WWE Smackdown 06/14/2013. Since their debut back at TLC 2012, The Shield ran roughshod over the roster and defeated every makeshift 6-man team in existence. Other than a worthless DQ loss to Hell No and Cena back in May and a couple others, The Shield were for all intents and purposes undefeated including a previous victory over Hell No and Orton on June 3.

• Rollins and DB to start. Cole already putting over the story of whether or not, the faces can co-exist. JBL: “Look at the super teams that were put together to face The Shield. None of them have been successful.” DB flips up and over and blows through Rollins with the burrito. He tags in Kane for a basement dropkick. Cover gets 1. Kane suplexes him over for another 1 count. Rollins gets free and tags in Ambrose. Ambrose with a headbutt but runs into a boot and a tag to Orton. Orton with some Euro uppercuts and a corner clothesline. The piped in responses to these strikes are laughably. Vertical suplex and DB is back in. Tag to Reigns as well. Scoop slam from Reigns gets 1, 2, only 2. Rollins back in to stomp a mudhole. JBL: “Not to mention, all of these guys aren't mentally stable: Randy Orton hears voices; Daniel Bryan looks like a goat and has an inferiority complex right now...” Rollins stomps a mudhole in the corner and brings in Ambrose. Ambrose drops an elbow for 1, 2, only 2. Ambrose goes to an STF then a Dragon Sleeper only for Dragon to knee his way free. Ambrose tries to stay in control but gets kneed again and Orton is tagged in.

• Orton takes out everyone and powerslams Ambrose and Rollins as well. He tosses Ambrose for the apron DDT and Rollins as well but Ambrose cuts him off with a Stun Gun. JBL: “THE BRILLIANCE OF THE SHIELD!” Ambrose covers for 1, 2, only 2. We take a break and are back to Ambrose chinlocking Orton. Ambrose with a short arm clothesline and covers for another nearfall. Reigns is tagged back in and he stomps and chokes. Orton fights back with rights and the neck/backbreaker. Reigns charges in for a harpoon but eats turnbuckle. Tags to Kane and Ambrose. Kane is a house of.... fire and Bulldog powerslams Ambrose for 1, 2, 2 ½. Kane follows up with corner clotheslines for 1, 2, nearfall. Kane tries the flying clothesline but Ambrose moves and dropkicks him down. DB tags back in for a missile dropkick. Rollins springboards in as well only to eat another dropkick. ANOTHER FOR REIGNS! TOPE SUICIDA! YESYESYESYESYESYES! Back in, it's IED time. Cover gets 1, 2, no. DR FG kicks and the enzuigiri to both Rollins and Reigns. 1, 2, kickout. DB heads up top but Reigns distracts the ref and Ambrose anchors DB. DB shoves him off but whiffs on the diving headbutt. Cover from Rollins gets 1, 2, NONONONO! Ambrose in but Kane dumps him. Reigns shitcans Kane. RKO! NO! SPEAR! Reigns tries another on Kane but Kane dumps him over the barricade. CHOKESLAM ON AMBROSE TO THE FLOOR! Rollins gets up DB for the Bucklebomb. He heads up top but Kane shoves him off into an RKO! YES LOCK! TAPTAPTAPTAPTAP! ROLLINS TAPS AT 10:40!

• This has a little more umph to it because the Shield finally get their comeuppance in classic fashion, even if it was on free TV and the second tier show at that. 10 minutes of near perfection with storyline-tie ins (Ambrose-Kane feud, DB as weak link, DB/Orton friction), storytelling (The Shield trying to usual numbers game but getting outworked and outsmarted this time), and all guys coming out of the match looking strong. ****1/4

• 28. Steel Cage Match: Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H. WWE Extreme Rules 2013. 05/19/2013. THE REMATCH OF THE REMATCH OF THE MATCH THAT NO ONE WANTED TO SEE! That’s harsh but not entirely untrue. Let’s go with the short version: after numerous broken arms, destroyed offices, teased retirements, veiled insults at children, beaten up managers and best friends, these two wrestled once before back at SS 2012 with Brock going over clean. The rematch at Mania ended with the H’s coming out on top. They would settle the score one more time in a steel cage. The fact that none of this plays on the fact that Brock is a former CAGE FIGHTING CHAMPION and is finally getting his hands on his foe IN A CAGE is ridiculous, not to mention that Trips got the best of Brock IN A CAGE on the go-home RAW before EE.

Since the H’s lost the entrance battle back at WM by burning his hand and chest on some dry ice, he attacks Lesnar from behind thus guaranteeing no extracurricular pyro injuries. H tosses Lesnar into the cage and eyeballs Heyman back away. Heyman doesn’t get the message so H lays him out and then slides in Brock. Flying clothesline off the top and H is fired up. He goes to the haymakers and then tosses Brock into the cage. Another toss into the cage and it’s Spinebuster time. Trips wants the Pedigree but Brock backdrops him into the cage. H tries to no sell but Brock knees him back and trashes him into the cage a few times. Brock: “MY HOUSE!” Brock biels him into the cage and Triple H sells appropriately. Brock: “GET UP!” Brock biels him again and then revels in his glory. He runs a little victory lap only for H to duck behind and shove him into the cage. High knee from H. Cole: “Who can forget a decade ago, Hell in the Cell, when he retired Mick Foley?” Thanks for that. ANYWAY, Lesnar slides behind for a release German suplex. Lesnar now powerslams him into the cage and both are a bit worse for the wear cardio wise. Lesnar knocks him into the cage and goes for a flying hip check but Trips ducks and he eats cage. Brock: “AHH! MY KNEE!” Cole: “Now, Triple H can go into game mode.”

• H tries to go up top but Brock pulls him down with a Bulldog powerslam. Lesnar then AWESOMELY sells the knee and whines to Paul about the pain. Brock tries to keep going but H goes to the knee and cuts him off with a jawbreaker. Trips wants the Pedigree but Lesnar goes to the KIMURA! H goes to the bad leg to fight him off. Lesnar still recovers for a Lesnar-line. Lesnar starts the crawl toward the door under Heyman’s advisement. Triple H get up to again clip the knee. Trips makes his way to the door but Heyman waffles Robinson and shoves the door into H’s head. 1-legged F5 gets 1, 2, 2 ½. That’s appreciated but it’s been 8 minutes. Lesnar sends Heyman on an errand for a chair. Heyman again disposes of Robinson to slide the chair to Brock. He blasts H a few times. Brock is still favoring and selling the leg awesomely. Brock tries to tell Heyman but Heyman tells him to MAN THE FUCK UP AND SHAKE IT OFF! Lesnar tries another F5 but the leg buckles and Trips follows up with a chop block. H takes over with the chair and now he’s the one laying into Lesnar. H goes to the leg with the chair and now it’s looking bad. JBL: “Triple H knows his way around a cage.” You’d think he’d save that nugget for when he realized he could climb over the top but no such luck. ANYWAY, AND NOW WE GO TO SCHOOL, TERRA RYZING STYLE! H drives down on it over the begging of Paul Heyman. Trips tries to work over the leg on the ropes but Brock CATCHES HIM IN THE KIMURA! H drives him back into the corner and then piledrives the leg into the mat from the top rope. NICE! F4 time. Lesnar struggles to manages to roll it over before Trips releases it. Lesnar now, on one leg, tries to climb over the top but Trips holds him in place by waffling the leg WITH THE CHAIR! YEAH!

• Lesnar’s selling is still awesome. Trips shoves him into the cage and Brock eats it to the mat. Trips pauses to cheese for the camera and pull out his trusty sledge from the cage rafter. Cole: “A CAMOUFLAGED SLEDGEHAMMER!” Lesnar recovers to dump him with a hotshot on the ropes. Lesnar recovers to get the sledge. JBL: “The last thing this crazy man needs is a weapon.” Trips ducks the waffle and wants the Sharpshooter and locks it in. Brock is close to tapping so Heyman is all NO MAN LEFT BEHIND and storms the beaches at Normandy only to get Pedigreed. Lesnar tries a sledge shot but H blocks. PEDIGREE gets 1, 2, 2.99999. Trips has his choice between sledge and stairs and goes for the sledge BUT WAIT! HEYMAN WITH A BLATANT LOW BLOW! Brock: “That’s my manager.” Brock lays out Trips with the sledge and poses to really lay it in. Brock takes his sweet time selling and prepping the F5. TROLL YELL! F5! Brock hooks the leg for 1, 2, 3 to take Trips behind the barn and pull the trigger at 20:37.

• The match is awesome and deserved a better feud and a more sympathetic face. Let’s start with the match: one of the strengths of the matches between these two is that they really lay into each other and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. The cage shots are stiff as shit and make the Roode/Storm Lockdown match from last year look tame even though they had a much better story going. Also, the psychology was great both ways especially with Lesnar’s selling carrying the day. Despite carrying a twice-broken arm, Trips can’t muster an oww or a grimace. It’s up to Cole and crew to remind us that OH YEAH, LESNAR BROKE HIS ARM but it doesn’t carry enough leverage to juice up the Kimura as a false finish. I also could have done without the false finishes less than 10 minutes in with H waltzing out after a few leg attacks only to get the Ric Flair treatment with the cage. The one-legged F5 card was pulled way too early to be convincing enough for a believable win. Still, really good match with the psychology carrying the day. ****1/4

27. Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tomohiro Ishii. NJPW G1 Climax 23 - Day 4 08/03/2013. They both come out flying with knees and forearm the shit out of each other at the bell. Shibata kicks him into the corner for a RUNNING YAKUZA KICK. Shibata no sells for a corner clothesline the other way. He sends Shibata across but he comes running out with a forearm. Bruising shots both ways. Now, they come face to face to exchange forearms. Shibata switches to a kick and Ishii is INSULTED that Shibata would switch to using kicks like a bitch in a fistfight. Back to the forearms for both and Shibata boots him down coming off the ropes. Ishii back up for chops and goes down to a knee and cordially invites Shibata to give him his best kick. Ishii shakes it off like weak shit and now Shibata goes to a knee and invites the LEATHERY CHOPS! NO SELL! Ishii goes back to a knee. NO SELL OF THE KICK! SHIBATA NO SELLS THE CHOP! NO SELL KICK! NO SELL CHOP! TWO MORE KICKS! TWO MORE CHOPS! After another pulverizing kick, Ishii tries to no sell but flinches and Shibata knows he’s got his man now. Shibata moves in for the kill with BRUTAL forearms. Ishii laughs it off so Shibata forearms him to a beaten pulp and then IED’s across the ring. Ishii is trashed and Shibata kicks him to the floor like a disgrace.

• Back in, Shibata snapmares him down for more kicks and Ishii again tries firing up so Shibata just destroys him with two more DR FG’s. Ishii tries to get to his feet but crumbles and falls to the mat. Shibata helps him up for another yakuza kick but Ishii no sells and troll yells. Shibata rushes in but eats a Gargoyle suplex. Now, it’s Ishii’s turn to go to the kicks. A spinwheel kick and Shibata goes down in a heap. Vertical suplex gets 1, 2, only 2. Ishii takes him down for the RUNNING DR FG! NO! Shibata catches the foot and LARIATO’s him down. Shibata rolls Ishii over into the Liontamer. Ishii fights and makes the ropes. Shibata pulls him back to the middle for an STF. Ishii looks to be finished but recovers enough to grab the ropes. RELEASE GERMAN SUPLEX FROM SHIBATA! NO SELL! RELEASE GERMAN FROM ISHII! LARIATO! DOUBLE KO SPOT! Ishii up first and tells Shibata to give him his best shot. They slug it out with forearms and Ishi getting the advantage with a flurry. Shibata fights back to club and kick him down. Cover gets 1, only 1. POWER KICKOUT! Shibata runs off but runs into a LARIATO! Ishii covers for 1, POWER KICKOUT REVENGE!

• They slug it out with forearms from their knees. They beat each other to their feet and Ishii lands a devastating headbutt. He wants a suplex but Shibata block to headbutt him down. Double KO again as they collapse on each other. Ref starts the count and gets to 8 as both get to their feet. Sleeper from Shibata. Ishii is about to collapse but falls on the ropes to save himself and the match. Shibata tries to kick him down but Ishii rolls over with the Pele kick. Shibata knees and kicks him down but Ishii fires up one more time for the LARIATO. Cover gets NOTHING! LARIATO FROM ISHII! 1, 2, NO! BRAINBUSTER! 1, 2, 3 to end it at 12:19. Awesome, stiff affair with the guns blazing opening to the guns blazing finale. The STF and the sleeper false seemed to belong in a different match as this was almost 100% strikes other than those spots. I dug the man up, power matches but they’ve never been but so much my cup of tea. Spot of the match: Shibata kicking out of the LARIATO at zero. ****1/4

26. Elimination Chamber for the Number 1 Contendership for the World Heavyweight Championship: Jack Swagger vs. Kane vs. Mark Henry vs. Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Chris Jericho. WWE Elimination Chamber 2013. 02/17/2013. Tremendous video package putting over the EC as the last chance to main event WM and the most brutal match in wrestling. Cole says Swagger was so impressive that Book had to put him in the match. Swagger: “WHEN I HOLD THE MICROPHONE, I HOLD THE POWERRRR! WHEN I USE THE MICROPHONE, I USE IT TO SHOWER YOU WITH TRUTH!” Yeah, better leave all that power of truthiness to Zeb. Jack gives Zeb a round of applause as Zeb calls New Orleans “a den of inequity.” We get some backstory as Zeb says he spent a year in Vietnam with Swagger's dad. Zeb basically says he fought in Vietnam so Swagger could win the elimination chamber. I'll call that a net loss. Orton has been in several EC's but never won one. DB retained the world title last year in an EC. Jericho has been in the most EC's and back in 2010 eliminated Undertaker last to win the WHW championship.

• Jericho and Dragon to start. Y2J chant. Jericho with some armdrags early and a headlock TD to take control. DB comes up dry on a dropkick and Jericho goes for the Walls but DB goes to the arm to counter to the No Lock. Jericho rolls through back to the WoJ attempt. DB leg whips him into the corner for the DR FG's as King monologues the long way around for a punchline of “goat's gloat.” Jericho gets the boot up in the corner but DB flips up and over only to get shitcanned out to the grating. DB tries to suplex Jericho out but Jericho slides behind. They continue blocking cage shots until DB goes back to the No Lock only for Jericho to catapult DB into the cage. Back in, back suplex gets 1, 2, only 2.

4 minutes in and Swagger is next. He shoots for the double leg and dumps Jericho. Running knee in the corner and Swagger hits the VaderBomb for a nearfall. Cole puts over how Swagger is a real American because he doesn't sit around collecting government checks, but takes what he wants. Swagger rams Dragon into the cage and hits another running knee. Swagger lightly grinds DB into the grating but turns around into a Jericho dropkick. Jericho lazily boots away in the corner and then slowly waits for Swagger to walk out of the way so he can Stinger Splash himself into the ringpost. Not a bad idea but the execution is very blah so far. Swagger knees Jericho several times as King puts over the renewed fire and fervor in Swagger. DB is back with a flying knee off the top. Swaggers for a bit while DB suplexes Jericho over and heads up top. He whiffs on the diving headbutt and Jericho covers for 2.

Kane enters the fray at 8:20. The backstage talk must have worked because Hell No is teaming up. Kane stacks up Swagger and Jericho in the corner for a Ho Train. Then he whips DB in for the combo IED. Kane hits a basement dropkick on Swagger and tosses him to the grating. Dragon sneaks Kane with a roll up for 1 and HE DONE FUCKED UP NOW! DB pulls Hug it Out therapy allegiance and says they gotta let the H-U-G's breathe and Hug. It. Out. They NO/YES their way into fighting it out instead with DB piefacing Kane. Kane charge but eats turnbuckle. DB hits another IED and goes to the DR FG's. Kane ducks the enzuigiri and goozles him. DB escapes but runs into a sideslam for 1, 2, only 2. Kane heads up but DB crotches him. Jericho joins them but hoists up DB and Kane hits the DOOMSDAY DEVICE! Swagger sneaks a pinfall on DB for a nearfall. Kane and Swagger pair off as Kane blocks a suplex and hits one for 2. Cole: “I almost said he floated into the corner, but Kane doesn't float.”

No eliminations and Orton is the next entrant at 12:40. THE APEX PREDATOR IS IN THE HUNT! He clubs Swagger out to the grating and pounds down Jericho. Orton hits the Bluechipper dropkick on Kane and rebounds suplexes DB off the ropes. Kane goozles Orton but Orton slides behind and shoves him into the grating and hits the apron DDT on the grating. Decent spot. At least, Orton sells the spot as well. Jericho and Orto hit stereo superplexes on DB and Swagger. Cooler than it sounds but still a nice thought. Mark Henry is fired up and ready to go while everyone is done selling.

The horn sounds for Henry at 16:00. Everyone feeds him into for headbutts and CLUBBINGBLOWS. World's Strongest Slam and DB joins the Hall of Pain at 16:36. Henry turns his attention to Orton, who Cole calls his arch rival after their series back in 2011. Henry shoves Orton into the bulletproof, lexane glass and unfortunately we don't get Lawler saying, “That pod isn't Mark Henry-proof!” We'll have to settle for Henry saying THAT'SWHATIDO! Kane is up and now it's the battle of the behemoths. Henry misses a charge and eats a Ho Train from Kane. Kane hits another and heads up top for a SEE NO EVIL DENISTRY HAMMER but Henry catches him(!) and hits the World's Strongest Slam. Kane's out at 18:22.

• Jericho tries his luck and quickly gets disposed of whilst Swagger talks over strategy with Zeb. Jericho ducks behind Henry and he and Swagger team up to ram Henry into the cage several times. They prep and hit a DOUBLE SUPLEX ON THE WORLD'S STRONGEST MAN! Cole: “Did you hear the thud of Henry's 400-pound frame?” Jericho clotheslines Swagger in and tries a crossbody for 1, 2, 2 ½. Swagger tries a DoctorBomb but Jericho blocks. Swagger twists out of the WoJ like everyone but still eats a bulldog. Jericho wants the Lionsault but HENRY IS UP! HE CHOKES JERICHO AND LAUNCHES JERICHO INTO THE CHAINS! THAT'SSSSS WHAT HE DOOOOOO! Henry press slams Jericho onto Swagger. He drags the carcasses of both over to the corner because it's feeding time. He preps a VaderBomb on both but they both roll out of the way. Yakuza kick and Codebreaker and Henry is staggered. ORTON'S UP! RKO! 1, 2, 3 and Henry's out at 23:20.

• Still a strong showing for Henry as he leaves to a solid round of applause. Nice moment. BUT WAIT! HE STORMS BACK IN! Cole: “SOMEONE'S GOTTA GET HIM OUT OF THE CHAMBER!” King: “... Yeah... you go.” JBL: “YEAH! You go, Michael!” WORLD'S STRONGEST SLAMS FOR EVERYONE! That brings out several refs and Book and Teddy to help thug 'n bug Mizark to the back. After some selling, Swagger hooks the leg on Orton for 1, 2, 2.9. Swagger puts the boots to both before Orton and Jericho team up on him. They send him into the ringpost. Orton clotheslines Jericho down twice only for Jericho to come back with shoulderblocks. Jericho flies off the top into a dropkick from Orton. Orton covers for 1, 2, only 2. Swagger in to eat a powerslam and another for Jericho. Orton preps a DDT but Jericho double jump dropkicks him for 1, 2, 2.99. Swagger blocks the Codebreaker and hits a belly to belly suplex. Cover gets 1, 2, nearfall. Orton tries to block the VaderBomb with a boot but Swagger grabs the leg for the Patriot Act. Jericho breaks it up with an enzuigiri. Swagger NO SELLS! PATRIOT ACT ON JERICHO! Jericho rolls through back to the WoJ. Jericho locks it in for the first time this match. Orton stops that with a neckbreaker stupidly because it would eliminate Swagger which would help Orton but he doesn't care according to Cole: “It's about pride! INDIVIDUAL PRIDE!” Orton covers for 2. Swagger gets dumped out to the grating and Jericho too. Double apron DDT. Orton fires up. Jericho blocks the RKO! KNEES UP ON THE LIONSAULT! RKO! 1, 2, 3 and Jericho hits the showers at 31:13.

Swagger sneaks Orton with a School Boy for 1, 2, 3 to win at 31:19. JACK SWAGGER'S AMERICA IS UPON US!

• A very good match but one that is paint-by-the-numbers for the first two segments. It's very pedestrian until Kane comes in for the requisite Hell No comic relief, but everything after Mark Henry comes in is MOTYC territory. He gets to looks like a boss dismantling and pinning both tag champs back-to-back in dominant fashion. Orton seems to have graduated into the Triple H role in these matches – take one hard shot into the glass, sell that for half the match, come back to pin a few guys, if heel, win with a weapon shot, if face, lose on a fluke roll up. Swagger, on the other hand, gets to eliminate just one guy and it's with a roll up and it just so happens to come at the end of a 30 minute match to crown a number 1 contender for Mania. If that kind of finish does it for you and cements a guy as a bona fide contender, you're a better fan than me. Winning a match like the EC or the RR or the MITB ladder match should mean something and Swagger managed to do it and the WWE made it feel like nothing. ****1/4

25. Goldust vs. Randy Orton. WWE RAW 09/09/2013. A week after his brother lost his job, Goldust was offered an opportunity by The Authority to win it back for the Rhodes Family honor. He too would have to take on The Viper. Pre-match, Goldust is in the back with Renee Young. Goldust: “It's no secret that I've been the screw-up of the family. Cody has chosen to live right, the right way. I've had second, third, fourth, fifth chances here... I've messed them all up. Cody getting fired is ridiculous. All because of Triple H throwing his weight around, embarrassing my family's name – THE RHODES NAME! THAT'S NOT COOL! SO, TONIGHT, CODY HAS A SECOND CHANCE! HE GETS IT BECAUSE I MEAN BUSINESS! AND RANDY ORTON... after tonight, you will NEVER forget the name of GOLD----” Trips interrupts to shoot by calling him “Dustin Rhodes.” Trips talks trash and says that Goldust must been nervous. He knows it's a lot of pressure with his brother and sister-in-law waiting to see if Goldie will come through. GOOD LUCK!

• Big pop for Goldie tonight as he's back for the first time in months and fighting for family honor. GOLDUSTGOLDUSTGOLDUST! Goldust fires away to start as Cole and the crew recount the checkered history of the Rhodes Family in WWE from polka dots to shattered dreams to beautiful disasters. Orton tries to fight back but Goldust is all YOU AINT NO LEGEND KILLER ANYMORE, VIPER and sends Orton into the turnbuckle. Orton comes back with a boot to the gut but Goldust comes back as well by getting the boot up in the corner as King pretends not to know anything about wrestling pre-1992. JBL: “Crockett.” King: “... Davy? LOL!” ANYWAY, Goldust sends Orton into the turnbuckle shoulder-first. YESYESYESYESYES. Orton fights back with Euro uppercuts but AGAIN Goldust knocks him down with a back elbow and Orton powders out to BIG heat. YOUSTILLGOTIT! YOUSTILLGOTIT! Back in, Orton measures with several knuckle lockup teases before booting away. Orton takes over with a Euro uppercut and some BLATANTCHOKERY. Goldust avoids a dropkick with a Jack knife roll up for 1, 2, only 2. Goldust goes to the chops as the crowd is fired up. Orton comes back with a BLATANTTHUMBTOTHEEYE. Orton mounts in the corner for 10 punches and is very pleased with himself. More choking from Orton. Orton goes to work on his hand as the crowd chants for Goldust. Orton goes for the powerslam but Goldust avoids and La Magistrals him for 1, 2, 2.99. Love Goldust cutting Orton off going by covers. Goldust sets him up in the corner for the Shattered Dreams but Orton bails out and we take a break. We're back to Orton Larry Z'ing his way through the downtime. Orton pulls the ref over: “YOU TELL HIM, I'M GONNA KICK HIS ASS!” Thanks for that.

• Orton tells the crowd NONONONONO so Goldust sneaks him with an uppercut and sends him into the barricade. Goldust trashes him into the announce table and Goldust stomps him on the steel stairs. Back in, Goldust covers for 1, 2, no. Goldust stomps away and repays Orton by working over his hand now. Orton escapes to the corner and Goldust repays him again with some choking of his own. Orton elbows to come back and capitalizes with the CHINLOCK! GRIND IT! TORQUE HIM DOWN! We take a break and we're back to Orton posing through a chinlock again. Goldust elbows free but eats a Euro uppercut. He gets the boot up in the corner and Orton AWESOMELY bails out like a bastard. He cuts off Goldust with a shot to the gut but Goldust counters BACK AND SENDS HIM INTO THE STEEL STAIRS! DOWN GOES ORTON! GOLDUST RAKES THE BACK! Back in, Orton cuts him off at the pass with a Stun Gun and posts Goldie. Goldust is toast and Orton trashes him with a backbreaker on the barricade. Orton with a callback as he sends Goldust into the steps. Back in, Orton covers for 1, 2, only 2. Malenko/Garvin stomp time.

• Orton covers for another nearfall. Orton goes back to a chinlock for a bit. Crowd gets a rally clap going for Goldust and he gets the arm up. He punches his way free but Orton knees him to the gut. Goldust comes back with a BULLDOG! VINTAGE GOLDUST! Orton tries an Orton-line but it's Goldust clothesline time instead. GOLDUST UPPERCUT! Goldust mounts in the corner for the 10 and he too pays back Orton in a nice callback. Goldust sends him in to the corner but Orton puts the brakes on to avoid a ref bump. School Boy from Goldust gets 1, 2, 2.999. Orton tosses him out for the apron DDT in an odd cutoff and move choice given all the rhythm they had going. Orton uses the YESYESYES to fire up as he calls for the RKO. RKO! NO! CROSSROADS! ONE, TWO, THREEOHNOHEALMOSTGOT'IM! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Goldust: “YOU'RE KILLING ME!” Goldust argues the count and that allows Orton to roll him up for 1, 2, 2.99999999999. RKO! 1, 2, 3 to end it clean at 13:52.

• Phenomenal match with Orton FINALLY finding the right blend of dickish heel and giving a lot of offense to the face without trying to submarine them with the crowd. They set up the perfect callbacks with the shots into the stairs, mounting punches in the corner, rolls up, etc. Goldust even perfectly cut off Orton and stayed a step ahead every single interaction in the first several minutes and avoided all of Orton's signature stuff with nice sneaky pinfall attempts. Just beautiful stuff. ****1/4


The 411: *10.0 is a default rating for the best of the year.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  10.0   [ Virtually Perfect ]  legend





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