Ring Crew Reviews: Top 50 Matches from 2013 (Part V: 13-7)
Posted by Jack Bramma on 02.07.2014
Part 5 of my six-part series including Alberto Del Rio attacking Dolph Ziggler's concussion, The Rhodes Family getting some payback on The Shield at Battleground, and Tanahashi and Naito in the finals of the G1 Climax.
• 13. Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton.WWE RAW 12/16/2013. At TLC, Orton defeated Cena by handcuffing him to the ropes to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Bryan came out on the losing end of a 3-on-1 handicap match against The Wyatts the same night. The next night on RAW, John Cena and the authority thought Orton needed to prove himself one more time and settle one more old score, this time, with Daniel Bryan. Match is non-title.
• Thankfully, Cole recounts the LENGTHY recent history between these two and that's particularly satisfying, given that he was completely ignored in the title picture during the build up to TLC. Unfortunately, that doesn't last long. Cole: “You've gotta give John Cena credit, here tonight.” Thanks for that.
• Lockup takes them into the ropes where we get a CLEAN BREAK! HA! Orton bails out to get some breathing room. Back in, Dragon grabs a headlock and King claims that Orton is already favoring the cut on his head. DB with the headlock TD but Orton counters to a headscissors. Dragon rolls over and bridges out into the Indian Deathlock. He drives the leg into the mat and Orton is begging for mercy. Dragon rolls him up using the leglock but Orton kicks out at 2 and then takes the low road again. Back in, Orton comes back with a headbutt and some GnP. Vertical suplex and Orton gloats. DB pounces with a single leg and several elbow to the left leg. Dragon starts working over the hamstring and wraps it around the ropes. Orton: “JESUS!” DB wraps it around the ropes and then the ringpost as well. Back in, DB covers for 1, 2, only 2. It's Euro uppercut time but Orton fights back with some of his own. DB fires up and it's slug it out time. YESNOYESNOYESNOYESNO!
• DB sends him off for a knee to the gut. DB with another single leg and now it's locking in the inverted Indian Deathlock. Orton counters by BITING HIM! That pisses off Charles Robinson and draws the ire of the fans. Nice. Orton goes back to work with headbutts and strikes. He sends DB off for a Thesz press but DB ducks under for the CANADIAN MAPLELEAF! Orton makes the ropes. Orton: “GET HIM OFFFFF!” DB drives the legs into the ropes again. DB sends him off and tries a hiptoss but Orton blocks. DB flips over but Orton lays him out with a LARIATO. Orton takes over by stomping the arm and NOW WE GO TO SCHOOL, RNN BREAKING NEWS STYLE! Charles Robinson wants to know if DB wants to quit and Orton plays to the crowd mocking the Yes chant with a No gesture and they HATE him. Orton now wraps the arm for an armbreaker and really dials up the asshole to 11. Back elbow gets 1, 2, only 2. Cole: “You take the arm out of Bryan's arsenal, you take out the Yes Lock.” The crowd gets behind DB but Orton counters to a hammerlock TD and Dragon is in AGONY. His selling is top notch as usual. Orton follows up with the Garvin/Malenko stomp. JBL: “Daniel Bryan is basically helpless.” DB fires up and BITES ORTON! PAYBACK! JBL: “WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE REFEREE?! WHY DIDN'T HE RING THE BELL?!” DB sends Orton off and dropkicks him over the top. TOPE SUICIDA! NO! Orton sidesteps and drives DB down into the mat. We take a break and are back to Orton grinding a chinlock. DB elbows free but runs into a knee to the breadbasket. DB tries to take a breather but Orton shoves Dragon off into the barricade.
• Cole puts over how Orton was upset that DB was Superstar of the Year. Orton hammerlocks the bad arm and AGAIN drives DB into the post. Back suplex on the barricade as JBL takes defending Orton to extreme lengths. Cole: “John, he told the entire world to kissss... his backside.That's what he did. ” JBL: “Well............................ maybe that's what's best for business.......................” ANYWAY, back in Orton slithers to the cover for 1, 2, 2 ½. Orton puts DB up top for a SWEEEEEET superplex. 1, 2, 2.7. Cole: “King, look at Bryan's left arm. It's immobile.” In one of my favorite character touches in matches like this, DB uses Orton to pull himself up and Orton looks on in disgust. Orton kicks him back into the corner but DB flips up and over for the burrito. YESYESYESYESYES! IED! ANOTHER! Chest kicks time. DB puts him up top for a rana but it's fugly. Cover gets 1, 2, 2.99. They go back to back recovering and trying to use each other to get up. I've never seen that before but it's awesome. DB tries to send him off but Orton counters back to the neck/backbreaker. Orton goes for a cover but DB counters to the YES LOCK! Orton blocks and catapults DB over the ropes.
• Dragon tries to skin the cat so Orton boots him. Charles Robinson: “Bring him in!” Orton: “YOU WANT HIM IN?!” APRON DDT! JBL: “WE KNOW WHERE ORTON'S GOING NOW!” Orton poses and preps the RKO. He wants it but DB ducks behind. Back slide for 1, 2, 2.99999999. DR FG ENZUIGIRI! ONE, TWO, THREEOHNOHEALMOSTGOT'IM! Dragon heads up top but Orton recovers to crotch him. Orton wants another superplex but DB headbutts him away for the diving headbutt. 1, 2, 2.999999999. DB still favoring the arm fires up for more kicks. DB tries another IED but Orton moves and Dragon eats turnbuckle. School boy from Orton for 1, 2, NO! YES LOCK! ORTON'S GONNA TAP! ROPE BREAK! Orton has had all he wants and he's taking a walk but DB chases him down with a suicide dive. Hard whip into the barricade. IED! Back in, MISSILE DROPKICK! KIP UP! YESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES! DR FG! DR FG ENZUIGIRI! NO! LOW BLOW! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! FUCK YOU, YOU BASTARD! Dragon wins by DQ at 21:57 of shown footage.
• Cole: “RANDY ORTON KNEW HE WAS GOING TO GET BEAT AND TOOK THE CHEAP WAY OUT!”
JBL: “.... Yeah, I've got to agree with you.”
Cole: “PATHETIC!... In my estimation, an absolutely PATHETIC display by the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion, tonight.”
JBL: “Yeah, I have to agree with you. He robbed us of an incredible match and Daniel Bryan... A finish we should have seen.”
• BUT WAIT! JOHN CENA HAS COME OUT! He tackles Orton and checks on DB only to eat an RKO from behind. WE'RE OUTTA TIME, TUNE IN TO NITRO!
• Awesome, awesome, awesome. Probably the best straight-up wrestling match in WWE this year that's not Cena-Punk. Even the finish is perfect as another chapter in the story. This is the match we should have got at NOC or Battleground if the Fed wanted to stretch this into a few months. Even if Dragon isn't getting the rocket push, he hasn't been pinned clean with no bullshit in a fair match in a long time. This would have been the perfect time for Orton to go over clean as a sheet if they wanted to end the “will they/won't they” Dragon saga, but they didn't. I think this bodes well for Dragon's chances of eventually getting the belt. I'd also say this is easily the best singles match between the two ever, including the street fight. Good psychology through the first half with DB working the leg and Orton working the arm and I loved the biting from both guys as an escalation of their hatred and pent up aggression. ****1/2
• 12. Kyle O’Reilly vs. ACH.PWG BOLA: Night 2. 08/31/2013. Another quarterfinal match. They come face to face and shake hands. SPORTSMANSHIP! The announcer puts over the story that ACH is not a “practiced martial artist” like Kyle O’Reilly in case you’re into that sort of thing. ACH grabs a wristlock and wrenches it up while Kyle tries to break the hold. O’Reilly drops down for a drop toe hold and ACH escapes to the ropes. ACH tries a go-behind but now Kyle grabs the arm. ACH twists around and bridges up into a kick to Kyle’s face. Another lock up and Kyle sends him off and ACH knocks him on his ass with a shoulderblock. ACH with some gymnastics and an armdrag on Kyle. Another arm drag and Kyle bails out so ACH can flip some more and the crowd eats it up. Now, I want to see a match between him and Jack Evans to see who can flip better or something. Kyle slowly climbs back over the ropes and then rolls into a Rick Rude pose to become my new hero and completely and simultaneously undercut and upstage ACH’s shtick. They shake hands again just because and go back to the catch as catch chain.
• ACH powers Kyle down into a neck bridge and tries to force him down but Kyle maintains the bridge. O’Reilly bridges back up and now it’s ACH’s turn for the bridge. Kyle smartly sweeps the leg to bridge into a cover for only 1. He flips ACH over out of the lockup but ACH counters a whip. Kyle rolls under and then wheelbarrow rolls up ACH into the ARMBAR! That was awesome. ACH counters to a Texas Cloverleaf Giant Swing and then locks in the Cloverleaf proper. Kyle reaches for the ropes and makes it. ACH snapmares him over and starts working knees to the back. ACH goes to the headscissors but Kyle rolls him over and rolls ACH back into the Bow and Arrow. ACH flips over into a cover for 1, 2, only 2. That was awesome. ACH armdrags him back over and goes to a hold. Kyle gets back to his feet and they slug it out. ACH with forearms but Kyle counters into the jumping knee and rolls him forward for the running DR FG. ACH blocks so Kyle SMACKS HIM FROM THE SIDE! Another awesome undercut of the usual there. O’REILLYO’REILLYO’REILLY! Kyle covers for 1, 2, only 2. Kyle goes to the strikes in the corner but ACH comes back with overhand chops. ACH sends him across but Kyle gets the knee up. ACH blocks another kick but can’t block the roundhouse sweep from Kyle. Cover gets 1, 2, no. Kyle stays on the arm with an armbreaker. Kyle picks him up by the arm and then torques him into a HAMMERLOCK-ASSISTED SNAP BRAINBUSTER! Kyle is really mat wrestling his ass off here.
• Kyle wraps the arm around the ropes for a running knee strike into the arm. ACH falls to the floor and Kyle goes to the chest kicks while ACH sits in the front row to recover. Kyle wraps the arm around the post to follow up but ACH tries to come back with chops. Kyle blocks an apron shot and sends ACH in and then slides him back into the ring. Back in, Kyle goes to the chest kicks and ACH sells the one arm but smacks back with the other. Kyle with a strike combo including a leaping knee but ACH avoids the sweep with a leg drop ON THE WAY DOWN! YEAHHH! ACH comes back with chops and tries a whip but SELLS THE ARM AND CAN’T DO IT! He tries again with better results and a Bluechipper dropkick. ACH with a running forearm in the corner and a running clothesline in the corner as well that he flies to the floor completing. ACH heads up top but Kyle ducks under and backdrops him to the apron. ACH tries to come back but Kyle breaks the arm over the ropes. ACH jumps back in and catches Kyle in a Downward Spiral for 1, 2, 2 ½. ACH brings him up top but Kyle counters to a SUPER SINGLE ARM DDT! FUJIWARA ARMBAR! TAPTAPTAPTAPTAP! O’Reilly releases to try a suplex but ACH counters to the a reverse Crossroads for 1, 2, 2.7. ACH tries beating life back into his arm as he rallies with kicks and chops in the corner. Kyle ducks under a charge and hits the BOMA YE! REGAL PLEX! ONE, TWO, THREEOHNOHEALMOSTGOT’IM!
• ACH escapes to the apron and again Kyle moves in for the kill with strikes. He preps the yakuza kick but ACH cuts him off and slingshots in with a slick Ace Crusher. Cover gets 1, 2, 2.9999. ACH fires up and calls for the Spirit Bomb but Kyle counters with usual strike combo. ACH tries to no sell the curb stomp but Kyle hits the ROARING ELBOW. ACH no sells for a STUNNER! Kyle no sells THAT for a RECLINING NIGEL-LINE! That’s some marking out I can get behind. Double KO spot. Both up and ACH charges in but Kyle pulls guard and catches him in the armbar. ACH stacks him up for 1, 2, TEXAS CLOVERLEAF! O’Reilly rolls him over for a small package for 1, 2, no. Kyle avoids a punt with a roll up but ACH rolls through. ACH tries the punt again but Kyle rolls through AGAIN. One more time but PUNT FROM ACH! SPIRIT BOMB! NO! COUNTER INTO THE MOUNTED GUILLOTINE! ACH is going out. BUT WAIT! He gets his second wind for the SMALL PACKAGE DRIVER! DOUBLE KO! Delayed cover gets 1, 2, 2.99999 for ACH. Kyle bails out to the floor to sell but ACH dives out with a beautiful moonsault and lands on his feet taking out O’Reilly. Back in, ACH head sup top for the Frog Splash. NO! O’REILLY CATCHES HIM IN THE ARMBARRRRR! ACH TAPS AT 22:34!
• That’s some quality MOTYC caliber work. This was by far my favorite O’Reilly singles match as I feel that too often he drifts into Davey’s thousand strikes and no sell until near death routine, but this was perfect. His style nicely meshed with ACH’s high flying athleticism to tether both to a semblance of professional wrestling and legitimate striking and submissions. Put another way, this could have turned into Jack Evans vs. Davey Richards in the worst way possible but luckily, both guys adjusted their stuff in the right direction to avoid that kind of style clash.
• The chain stuff at the beginning is awesome as is Kyle’s continual work on the arm and ACH’s selling of said arm. The character work with Kyle also working to undercut ACH’s showmanship was entertaining and again nicely balanced out ACH’s routine. Just incredible for the last 10+ minutes with ACH throwing out every move in the book to overcome O’Reilly’s superior submissions and counters. Both guys even channeled some kayfabe favorites in a great moment. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE the armbar finishing the match instead of the guillotine because it plays into the psychology from the whole match. ****1/2
• 11. GHC Heavyweight Championship: Maybach Taniguichi vs. KENTA (c).NOAH Great Voyage. 03/10/2013. KENTA comes out flying with a burrito and quickly lands on top with GnP. Maybach up for the slug it out, so KENTA smacks him back and goes to work with kicks. KENTA drives him into the corner but the ref demands a break. KENTA pretends to listen only to facewash Maybach a few times. Maybach shakes the cobwebs lose for more forearms. KENTA kicks him down in the corner and moves in for the kill but the ref forces a break. These are some brutal strikes of course. Maybach blocks a suplex, so KENTA boots him and hangs him out to dry. More kicks from KENTA and a double foot stomp that lands Maybach back in. Cover gets 1, 2, only 2. They slug it out FIERCELY and you can hear the thud of these strikes. KENTA runs into a belly to belly suplex and Maybach dumps him out. Maybach sends him into the guardrail and they work their way into the crowd. They brawl through the crowd with a spotlight following them. Maybach tosses KENTA into a row and THE MASKED MAN HAS A CHAIR! The ref tries to pull him away but Maybach throws down the ref and belts KENTA anyway. The ref recovers to pull away the chair and they go back to slugging it out. KENTA fires back with kicks so Maybach blasts him with another chair much to the ref's displeasure. Maybach shrugs him off and walks back to the ring. Back in, Maybach chokes away before the ref tries to force a break. Maybach won't cooperate, so the ref counts louder. Maybach finally THROWS DOWN THE REF! OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
• KENTA Hulks up and no sells the strikes to fire back with forearms. Maybach yakuza kicks him down and grunts the TROLL YELL! Maybach rolls him into a Camel Clutch. KENTA makes the ropes, but Maybach stays on him with boots. The KENTA ring rats are loud and out in full force as usual. KENTA tries to forearm his way back into the advantage but Maybach is all BRING IT, MOTHERFUCKER and picks him up with his bare hands for the vaunted GIANT GOOZLE! Whereas Big Show's shlock on Hogan looked harmless, this looks deadly. The ref pleads with Maybach and gets him to drop what's left of KENTA to the mat. KENTA runs into a few boots in the corner and goes back down in a heap. KENTA comes back with a running kick to the face. KENTA boots him down and heads up top and for a flying clothesline. Cover gets 1, 2, 2 ½. KENTA slows things down with a STF. Maybach gets the ropes so KENTA goes for a waistlock but Maybach sends him off for the powerslam. Maybach flattens him with a pair of corner clotheslines. Maybach goozles him but KENTA blocks so Maybach shoves him into the corner. KENTA tornado DDTs him into the ropes and preps a springboard but Maybach shoves the ref into the ropes and KENTA EATS IT TO THE FLOOR! KENTA gets thrown into the rail again and NOW THE MASKED MAN HAS A TABLE! Maybach gets KENTA to the apron for a ChokeSlam through the table but KENTA blocks and yakuza kicks him down. KENTA fires up for a clothesline but Maybach swats him away and KENTA tumbles violently over the rail and into the crowd. Awesome. Maybach is a monster. Maybach gets a chair but there's the ref again – an honest man in a dishonest world – who just can't get Maybach to stop. Maybach ignores him to chairshot KENTA. Maybach stacks up some chairs and preps a POWERBOMB ON THE CHAIRS! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! SOMEONE STOP THIS! THIS MAN HAS A FAMILY!
• KENTA counters with a backdrop and Maybach eats chair. Back in, KENTA mounts the top rope and dives INTO THE THIRD ROW for a double foot stomp. Insane. Maybach drags himself back to the ring and barely beats the count at 19. Springboard dropkick, yakuza kick, and an IED have KENTA fired up. KENTA goes for the double foot stomp but Maybach rolls under. KENTA rolls through for a powerslam. Maybach realizes he's dealing with a maniac possibly as crazy as himself and he tries bailing. KENTA chases him down for Orton's apron DDT. KENTA flies off top with a double foot stomp. Cover gets 1, 2, nearfall. Maybach blocks a G2S so KENTA has a head of steam but runs into a Spinebuster. KENTA tries Hell's Gate so Maybach gathers him up for a RAMPAGE BUCKLEBOMB! Oh. Shit. KENTA is DONE. ChokeSlam gets 1, 2, 2.99. Maybach preps a powerbomb but KENTA counters to the fireman's carry for the G2S. Maybach grabs the ref to get free. KENTA wants a LARIATO but Maybach moves and the ref eats it. Maybach takes him down with a clothesline and rolls to the floor to get another chair. Not done, he comes up with a GIANT SPEAR! The ref recovers and tackles Maybach to pull the chair away. Maybach lets him have it because he's got a trident with his name on it anyway. The ref can't stop him so the ref stands in the way! Now, THAT'S commitment to your profession. The ref demands that if anyone is going to get skewered by Maybach, he's going to have to go through the ref first. IT'S SHOWDOWN TIME! And... THE REF WINS! Maybach backs down. WOOOOOOOOOOOOO! BUT WAIT! The ref collects applause and checks on KENTA only to turn around into a BRUTAL chairshot to the head. THE MASKED MAN HAS GONE MAD!
• Back suplex and now Maybach brings in the chair. Everyone checks on the ref while Maybach wants a powerbomb through the table. KENTA counters and clotheslines him down. KENTA thinking he has slayed the beast, heads up top but Maybach recovers to SMACK HIM DOWN! MAYBACH GETS ANOTHER SPEAR! Maybach gets KENTA a few shots to the gut and pole vaults him off the top through the table. Another ref slides in, not to call for a DQ, but the tell KENTA that no one can stop this man and he's on his own in restoring order. Powerbomb gets 1, 2, 2.999999999. KENTAKENTAKENTA. Maybach heads up top for a big splash. He hits it for 1, 2, NO! Another powerbomb attempt but KENTA counters to a DDT. A few DR FG enzuigiris follow but Maybach no sells. Maybach tries another ChokeSlam but KENTA counters on the way down to a triangle choke. They both roll through and fire up but Maybach clubs down him down and is all YOUR TIME IS UP, MY TIME IS NOW! KENTA catches him running off the ropes with the G2S! ONE, TWO, THREEOHNOHEALMOSTGOT'IM! They both stagger to their feet for forearms and then stiff open hand smacks. Maybach staggers him but KENTA smacks the SHIT out of him 1! 2! 3! 4! 5! 6! 7 TIMES! 1! 2! 3 KICKS TO THE HEAD! MAYBACH GOES DOWN! ANOTHER KICK! 1, 2, NEARFALL! KENTA DROPS THE KNEE PAD! UNPROTECTED GTS! 1, 2, 3 to retain at 24:54.
• This is a monster movie come to life with only the hero (and the ref) standing between the villain ensuing chaos on humanity. KENTA tried battering ramming his way to victory only to realize his opponent felt no pain and showed no weakness. KENTA tried strikes, then holds, then his best impact moves, before finally needing a deadly combination of strikes and moves to put down the monster foe. I loved the ref's interference to try to make Maybach show some humanity even though he was an inhuman conqueror. Awesome stuff. Spot of the match: The ref getting Maybach to back down with the spear only to eat a chairshot from him. ****1/2
• 10. World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler (c).WWE Payback. 06/16/2013. The night after Mania 29, Dolph cashed in on a downed ADR to take the strap. With Dolph sidelined with a concussion, ADR defeated Jack Swagger in an I Quit match at Extreme Rules for this shot. For the entire build up to this PPV, ADR had an announced, impromptu Best of Five series with Big E taking it 3-2. Tonight is Dolph’s first match back after 5-week layoff.
• ADR comes out to a nice but subdued reception. Dolph gets a bigger pop but nothing earth-shattering. LETSGOZIGGLER says the crowd at the bell. ADR sends him off but Dolph takes the low road for a breather. Crowd doesn’t care as it’s still LETSGOZIGGLER. Back in, Dolph pounds down ADR in the corner only to fall victim to a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. ADR goes for a cover but Dolph again bails out. Back in, the ref forces ADR to give a break in the corner and that allows Dolph to take over with more rights and kicks. ADR shoves him back into the corner with a stiff kick and a HEADBUTT! MY GOD, THIS MAN HAD A CONCUSSION! JBL: “We saw an unusual headbutt from Alberto Del Rio. That’s something you don’t usually see.” Dolph isn’t showing too many effects early but runs into another elbow from Del Rio. The crowd switches over to an RVD chant just because. Dolph is a bit woozy and Chioda checks on him but ADR pounces with kicks to the gut and mercilessly starts stomping on Dolph’s head. ADR with a back suplex for a quick 1 count. King: “You certainly can’t feel sorry for your opponent when a championship is on the line.” ADR drops some knees on the skulls and more CLUBBINGBLOWS as JBL says the match might have to be stopped. Dolph comes back with a Bluechipper dropkick. He charges into the corner but ADR backdrops him and Dolph gets pole vaulted to the floor and DOWN ON THE CONCUSSED HEAD!
• ADR smashes him into the announce table. Big E stands up for Dolph, so ADR shoves him but E stands stiff and knocks him on his ass to a bit of a pop. Chioda has had it and ejects E to an even bigger pop. ADR basks in the good fortune of his plan working. Dolph jumps ADR in anger and blasts him with the announce table awning but is still too out of it to do much damage. Dolph almost collapses into AJ’s arms but recovers to get ENZUIGIRIED FROM HIS BLINDSIDE! BRUTAL! ADR with more headbutts leveling Dolph. ADR covers for 1, 2, only 2 and goes to a chinlock. AJ tries to get the crowd behind Dolph as he elbows his way out. ADR pounds him down with MOARCLUBBINGBLOWS and gets booed out of the building. Dolph floats out of a suplex attempt into the SLEEPER! TAPTAPTAPTAPTAP! Del Rio recovers to drop down and send Dolph into the turnbuckle… HEAD-FIRST! Dolph crawls and writhes in agony as Del Rio chases him down and punts him to the head. Cole: “Del Rio had a gameplan, no doubt about it, when he walked through this match tonight.” JBL: “Of course, he did. That’s what makes Alberto Del Rio such a great champion.” ADR hangs him in the ropes and fires up for the crowd so he can hit more forearms to the back and another to the concussed head. ADR slyly inching toward heel-dom but still wanting the crowd not to abandon him is one of my favorite wrestling little things of all year. Backstabber gets 1, 2, 2 ½. ADR begins tapping the arm calling for the Armbar. He goes for it but Dolph counters to a neckbreaker. Cover gets 1, 2, 2.7. Even in going for the cover and the aftermath, Dolph can barely get to his feet to fight off the pain. LETSGOZIGGLER!
• He fires back on ADR with rights and flips out of a backbreaker. He hits the Rocker Dropper! 1, 2, kickout. Dolph slowly steps through the ropes to head up top and Chioda checks with him again to stop the match but no go. ADR cuts him off with a KICK TO THE HEAD! THATNOGOODBASTARD! ADR hits a reverse superplex. Cover gets 1, 2, no. Del Rio can’t believe it. In anger, he boots Dolph to the floor. Dolph tumbles out like a tackling dummy and pulls himself up to the apron only to eat a DR FG ENZUIGIRI! STOP THE MATCH! Dolph crumbles in a heap and AJ and the doctor at ringside rush to his aid. ADR poses in the ring to boos as Dolph shoves the doctor away so he can fight the good fight. BASEBALL SLIDE TO THE HEAD! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Ricardo: “HE’S FINE! HE’S FINE!” Back in, ADR tunes up the band for another enzuigiri. Cover gets 1, 2, 2.9999999999. Huge pop for that kickout. Del Rio is beside himself with anger and shows no remorse in blasting Dolph to the head several times. Dolph shows all the guts and determination in the world using Del Rio to pull himself to his feet and ADR mocks him like a coward. I love it. Dolph clips the knee long enough to hit the ZIG ZAG! DOLPH IS TOO OUT OF IT TO COVER! Del Rio recovers and Dolph is out of it on his knees as ADR blasts him one more time with the Superkick. Del Rio covers for the academic 1, 2, 3 to crown a new champ at 13:50.
• Dolph comes out a hero and ADR comes out a ruthless champion. I know the double turn has escalated in recent years to be only uttered in hushed whispers like the spying of a unicorn or frogs falling from the sky. That’s why Austin/Bret has risen to such storied heights, because the double turn is impossible and yet here it is in WWE 2013 of all places carried out by perennial upper midcarders Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler. Don’t get me wrong, I like both guys a lot, but both are much better as heels, so it’s difficult for a crowd to have a favorite between them. Still, with the hot crowd ready to take a bullet for Ziggler and burn Del Rio in effigy, the turn was a brilliant idea and beautifully executed with a match that is basically all story. ****1/4
• Post-match, a lot of the crowd is stunned. Ricardo and ADR embrace with tears in their eyes while Dolph is attended to by doctors. Dolph is helped to the back barely able to walk and AJ can’t bring herself to stop crying. The crowd chants for ZIGGLERZIGGLERZIGGLER.
• We kick it back to the boys in the analyst booth. Cody is scared of ADR after what he just witnessed. Truth and Show both agree and talk about the drastic change that came over him and the deranged look in his eyes in repeatedly kicking Dolph in the head. On cue, ADR pops back out with Ricardo to speak to his fans. Del Rio gets the stick and cuts the bluest babyface promo possible that with each second grows more and more heel: “C’MON CHICAGO, LET’S SO GIVE IT UP FOR THE NEWWWWWWWWW HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION! GRACIAS, CHICAGO! TONIGHT, I PROVE TO YOU AND TO THE ENTIRE WORLD, WHY ALBERTO DEL RIO DESERVES TO BE YOUR CHAMPION! I HAVE DONE EVERYTHING SINCE I CAME TO THE WWE AND I DID IT JUST FOR YOU EVERY SINGLE NIGHT! SO TONIGHT, CHICAGO AND TO THE ENTIRE WORLD, I ASK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT! YOU ALL KNOW ALBERTO DEL RIO IS ONE OF THE BEST IN THE BUSINESS! EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, I COME TO THIS RING AND GIVE MY LIFE, 100%! SO AFTER TONIGHT, I FEEL LIKE I DESERVE TO BE YOUR CHAMPION! SO LET’S HEAR IT ONE MORE TIME FOR THE NEW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION, ALBERRTTTTTTTTOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DELLLLLLLLLLLLL RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
• I love the match and the promo makes it even better. I change my mind. ****1/2
• 9. Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. The Shield.WWE Battleground. 08/06/2013. If the Rhodes win, they get their jobs back and stay in WWE. If the Shield wins, Cody, Goldust, and Big Dust take a hike. This was set up by Cody giving it his best shot but coming up dry against Orton and he was fired. Goldust tried valiantly but also lost. Dusty came in and tried to promo their way back into jobs but instead ate a WMD from Show. Pre-match, the Rhodes are in the back. Dust gives us some hard times, Dustin is ready to bring this feud with the Shield to its natural conclusion, and Cody puts over the company he currently keeps rather than the company that fired him. Good stuff from everyone.
• Rollins and Cody to start. Cody on offense early with a nice backdrop and Rollins bails out. Reigns in off a blind tag but eats a dropkick. He stumbles back into the face corner and Goldust works him over. The Rhodes want a double team but Rollins and Ambrose pull Reigns out to the floor for a meeting of the minds. They regroup and target Dusty but the sons of the Son of a Plumber come out to make it 3-on-3 and a donnybrook is eminent. Cooler heads prevail though and we're back to Reigns and Goldust in the ring. Reigns with a few headbutts but takes a clothesline from Goldust. Double Rhodes shots to the breadbasket follow but Reigns no sells to pound Cody down and tag in Rollins. Rollins chokes a bit. Ambrose: “MAKE HIM FEEL IT! MAKE HIS DAD FEEL IT! MAKE HIS SISTER FEEL IT! MAKE HIS MOTHER FEEL IT!” CODYCODYCODYCODY chant gets going. Rollins gets sent off but runs into the patented high knee. Cody tells Rollins to suck it and NOW, the crowd wakes up. Cody smothers him in the corner as Cole continues noting that The Rhodes have to play it cool tonight because if they get DQ'ed, they still lose the stipulation. Good drop-in. Rollins ducks a shot and takes back over with a Flatliner into the turnbuckle. Reigns in and steamrolls Cody with a shoulderblock. The Shield works a quick tag and chokes some more. Neckbreaker from Rollins gets 1, 2, only 2. Cody tries to fight and elbow his way free but gets hung in a Tree of Woe. Rollins awesomely mocks the Goldust erotic taunt but runs into an anti-gravity boot from Cody. WEWANTGOLDUST! Cody comes flying off the top with a nice moonsault. JBL: “HE DIDN'T LEARN THAT FROM DADDY!” Goldust in and he runs right over Reigns. Cole: “FORMER TAG CHAMP! IC CHAMP!” Reigns telegraphs a backdrop and Goldust says FUCK YOU AND LANDS THE UPPERCUT! Atomic drop and a Batista kick and Goldust is cooking.
• He mounts in the corner for the 10 punches and hits all of them. Reigns tries to come back with a Stinger Splash but whiffs. Crossbody from Goldust gets 1! 2! NO! Goldust tries another running crossbody but Reigns ducks and Goldust eats it to the floor. Ambrose is quick to mock so Cody races over for the save but the ref holds him off. Rollins trashes Goldust into the barricade as the ref starts the count. JBL: “GOLDUST, DO THIS FOR YOUR FAMILY! C'MON!” Goldust barely beats the count at 9. Rollins covers for 1, 2, nearfall. Goldust is TOAST. JBL: “Goldust better get outta there. You better get your brother.” King: “Yeah, he needs a tag right now.” Cole: “And The Shield isolate Goldust; this is classic Shield that they have made a career out of since bursting onto the scene about a year ago in WWE.” King: “And The Shield are so used to each other, they know what to expect from each other, night in, night out, they have been partners. And let's face it: Goldust, Cody Rhodes, they're brothers, but their styles of wrestling are totally different from each other.” Cole: “They have never been a team before.” JBL: “Some brothers don't like each other. Doesn't mean they have great chemistry because they are brothers.” Cole: “Let's be honest here, they're 16 years apart, Goldust and Cody. Cody admits he doesn't have much in common with his brother, except for the fact that they're fighting for family, tonight.” Awesome stuff all around there as Reigns has been working an OrtonLock. GOLDUSTGOLDUSTGOLDUST!
• Goldust tries to power out but runs into an elbow and a LARIATO. Cover gets 1, 2, 2 ½. Rollins tags in with a slingshot senton and another chinlock. Ambrose: “GIVE IT UP, GOLDIE! YOU'RE FIRED!” HEREWEGOGOLDUST say the fans. I can't remember the last time they were so many organic and consensus chants for the faces during a match that aren't apart of the usual, regimented, structure of when and what to chant on WWE. Goldust counters a whip and outsmarts Rollins in putting on the brakes. Rather than tag, he tries an elbow drop but COMES UP DRY! NOOOOOOOOO! Reigns back in but eats a desperation boot from Goldust. Rollins back in. POWERSLAM FROM GOLDUST! TAG TO CODY! Missile dropkick and burritos abound. He ties up Rollins for the low blow punt and an Alabama Slam. He hip checks Reigns to the floor and covers Rollins for 1, 2, 2.7. Cody runs into an elbow in the corner but rights back for a MUSCLEBUSTER! ONE, TWO, THREEOHNOHEALMOSTGOT'IM! Reigns breaks it up. Goldust in but eats a heart punch. Reigns: “GET YO OLD ASS OUTTA HERE! HUH?!” Cody capitalizes with the Beautiful Disaster and he gets dumped out. Ambrose tries to attack but manages to distract long enough for Rollins to do his dirty work. BIG DUST HAS HAD IT! He throws the 10 gallon Stetson at Ambrose and IT'S ON, MOTHERFUCKER! Dust takes off the belt buckle and waffles him down. BIONIC ELBOW! THEY ARE STANDING IN BUFFALO! Ambrose begs off setting up Dusty for the Reigns Spear BUT WAIT! GOLDUST TAKES OUT REIGNS! School boy from Rollins gets 1, 2, 2.99999. CROSSROADS! 1, 2, 3 finishes the Shield at 13:57.
• Classic Southern formula tag wrestling – extended formula at that with two heats and two hot tags. It's crazy to think the NWA had this in place for YEARS getting matches this good and with this much heat on a regular basis, because it takes an old-school angle, the best team going today, and one of the best promo men of all time to get it anymore. The inclusion of Dusty and Ambrose at ringside was PERFECT. I think if they had it to do over, this maybe should have been the Shield's first ever loss, but definitely their second if you want to keep their first to Orton and Hell No right before Payback. Not that the Shield need that much protection, but what's the point in blowing a loss to Christian and the Usos on free TV for no reason, when you can save it for a big angle like this? One final note: this is the best year of Cody's career – Rhodes Scholar, the love-stache, star-making performance in MITB, one of the best free TV matches all year against Orton, and now arguably the angle of the year. ****1/2
• 8. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito.NJPW G1 Climax 23 -- Day 9: Finals. 08/11/2013. HT plays to the crowd as both men take their time getting started. Waistlocks are traded before HT floats into a chinlock on top. Naito counters to a hammerlock before HT takes him down. They go through several more reversals on the ground before HT grabs a rope break and dejectedly tries to get back into it by playing air guitar. HT avoids another lock up with shots to the gut. Naito armdrags him off a whip and goes for a sweep but HT runs out of the way only to eat a dropkick from Naito. Naito snapmares him into a chinlock and a headscissors. HT neckbridges in a cool spot and flips backwards into a headstand but lands right back into the headscissors. Naito covers for a quick 1 count. Naito hits some rather unenthusiastic strikes only for HT to crossbody him out of the corner. Naito tries up and over out of the corner but HT clips the knee and NOW WE GO TO SCHOOL, NEW JAPAN STYLE! HT drives the knee down into the mat. HT kicks the knee and sends him off and Naito collapses trying to run the ropes. DSLW and HT drops knees on the knee and applies a reverse Figure Four. Naito reaches the ropes but is still completely trashed after some rather pedestrian leg work from HT. He tries to stomp the leg and does it a dozen or so times but none had any force behind them. It is a SURGICALLYRECONSTRUCTEDACL and all but maybe they're off after a long tournament? HT wraps the leg around the ropes and poses. Naito tries to smack his way back into it and HT smacks him back several times.
• HT flies in for the Stinger Splash but Naito avoids and hits a Tornado DDT. Swinging neckbreaker and now Naito is fired up. Suddenly the knee is 100% as hiptosses into a basement dropkick and a senton. Naito smashes him into the corner and hits a springboard dropkick into the ringpost. Another neckbreaker, basement dropkick and Naito applies a Rings of Saturn variation. HT struggles but makes the ropes. Naito clubs him around and again the strikes just lack any UMPH. In a cool cutoff though HT kicks the leg out from under him and Naito bails out selling big time. HT heads up top and flies out with the High Fly Flow to the floor. Back in, HT hits the DSLW in the ropes and Naito is DONE. HT wants the Texas Cloverleaf but Naito counters to a small package. 1, 2, kickout. School Boy for 1, 2, 2 ½. Basement dropkick and HT is finally down. They slug it out with forearms and that goes on for a solid 30 seconds. HT wobbles Naito with a Euro uppercut. They both go for crossbodies and both come up short (or botch it?). Another slug it out spot with HT this time going to the knee repeatedly. Naito comes back with smacks but lands in a Dragon Suplex. NO! ARM CAPTURE GERMAN! 1, 2, KICKOUT! Sling Blade follows and HT looks to end things with High Fly Flow but Naito rolls under and HT eats mat. Naito lays him out with a missile dropkick and delayed German suplex get 1, 2, 2.999.
• He wants a Dragon Suplex but HT runs him into the corner so Naito hits an enzuigiri and a burrito. Gloria and Naito is fired up. He wants the Stardust Press but HT rolls out of the way and Naito sells the knee on impact. HT up first for the DSLW and another. Texas Cloverleaf of Doom and Naito looks to be finished. HT deep-seats it but Naito fights and HT finally is overpowered and releases the hold. One more DSLW and HT senses the end is near. He runs off the ropes but Naito dives at him and catches him in the ROLLING KOJI CLUTCH! The ref raises his hand and HT gets the hand up on the leg raise and makes the ropes. Naito wants to finish it and ranas HT off the top but he rolls into a sunset flip and then hangs on into STYLES CLASH! HIGH FLY FLOW! ANOTHER! NO! NAITO GETS THE KNEES UP! Naito charges in but HT clips the knee AGAIN! BUT WAIT! NAITO STEALS THE SLING BLADE! DRAGON SUPLEX! 1, 2, 2.99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999! GLORIA! STARDUST PRESS! 1, 2, 3 AND TANAHASHI IS DONE AT 26:46!
• The announcer screaming along with the ref counting at the end really puts the emotion over the top. Amazing match that almost lost me in the first 10 minutes. Naito went to selling his knee like death as soon as Tanahashi touched it, and while that's building on Naito's recovery from ACL surgery, Tanahashi isn't the best heel in the world so the heel wasn't worth Naito's selling which was top-notch. The last 15 minutes were some of the best stuff I've seen all year with beautiful signature moves, cutoffs, stolen finishes, selling, timing, etc. If they had a better opening, it's likely MOTY. Spot of the match: The rolling Koji Clutch or more likely Naito's go-home after countering the final High Fly Flow. ****1/2
• 7. GHC Heavyweight Championship: Takashi Sugiura vs. KENTA (c). NOAH 05/12/2013. I wasn't the biggest fan in the world of their Global League Finals match, so I'm a bit skeptical, but know both are crazy good. Rather than the fast start against Maybach or the blitzkrieg from the beginning of the tournament finals, KENTA is more measured this time around. They trade waistlocks and reversals before KENTA tries a kimura that goes nowhere. They shove away for a stalemate. Now, they move in for underhook/overhook before getting a rope break. KENTA with a cheap kick and Sug swings for a haymaker but MISSES and the crowd is digging the animosity. Me too. They're all ENOUGH OF THIS CIRCLING SHIT and move in with the forearms. Obviously, brutal stiff shots. After several, they up the ante with even stiffer shots. KENTA is more phased before delivering a crushing blow that staggers Sug. Sug pauses before rolling into a yakuza kick. KENTA comes back with one of his own and cuts off a charging Sug with another. KENTA tries one more but ug catches him in an overhead belly to belly suplex. KENTA no sells for another yakuza kick. They go back to the forearms and KENTA finally wins the exchange with several kicks that Sug sells back into the corner. KENTAKENTAKENTA! KENTA goes for a waistlock but Sug switches to a wristlock. They trade counters before Sug drop toe holds KENTA into a headlock. KENTA bridges into a cover for 1, 2, nearfall. KENTA tries sending him off but Sug holds on for the Bret Hart Dickensian headlock. KENTA again tries to send him off but Sug holds tight so KENTA tries counters to a head suplex. NO! SUG HANGS ON! YEAHHHHHH! That's more like it. KENTAKENTAKENTA says the crowd. Sug finally breaks the forearm KENTA and snapmare him down. KENTA fires up to smack the SHIT out of Sug to repay him in kind with several kicks to the back. Sug no sells and is all WHAT DID THE FIVE FINGERS SAY TO THE FACE and SLAPS down KENTA like a boss.
• KENTA sold that one and can barely stand up. Sug is disgraced at his weakness and tells the ref to start a count. The ref gets to 7 before KENTA gets to his feet. A back elbow gets 2 for Sug. Back to the chinlock. Man, the crowd is HOT for this chinlock. KENTA forces a rope break which Sug reluctantly allows but only to kick KENTA out like some trash. On the floor, KENTA tries to fight back with forearms so Sug puts him down with a Roll The Dice OFF THE APRON! Back in, Sug boots him around and KENTA gets pissed and fires back with forearms. Sug no sells to headbutt him and KENTA is stunned. Sug chokes him in the corner and smacks him around. Again, never one to be outstruck, KENTA smacks him back, so Sug mans up and forearms him into semi-unconsciousness. KENTA sits in the corner reconsidering his choice of career considering in his line of work he has to get smacked by guys like Sugiura. KENTA hits a vertical suplex for 1, 2, only 2. KENTA tries to charge into the corner but Sug yakuza kicks him away only to run into a powerslam. Double KO spot. A powerslam is a bit thin to even the odds after all that. KENTA follows up with a burrito and heads up top. He hits a flying clothesline for 1, 2, 2 ½. KENTA rolls him into an STF. KENTA releases to go for a German so Sug elbows his way out and gives KENTA a knee to the breadbasket. Sug hangs him out to dry on the top rope and hits the Spear. 1, 2, nearfall. Sug with a yakuza kick in the corner. He follows out for another but KENTA chases behind him and then sidesteps sending the lunging Sug into the ringpost. Nice cutoff. Correction, nice tease as Sug puts him back down with a gordbuster. Sug hangs him out on the apron and Spears him off to the floor. Sug recovers first to whip KENTA around ringside into the rails and the front row. Sug preps a suplex on the rail but KENTA blocks and snap suplexes him on the floor instead. KENTA climbs into the crowd and leaps off a small balcony with the double foot stomp.
• KENTA tosses him further into the crowd and Sug is in at least the fifth row. KENTA heads back to the ring and heads up for the WARRIOR'S WAY HOMICIDA! KENTA is fired up as Sug is on the floor feeling the effects. The ref starts the count. Sug pulls himself to his feet and stumbles back to beat it at 19. Springboard dropkick, yakuza kick, and an IED and KENTA is in control. He flies off top with another double foot stomp. Cover gets 1, 2, only 2. KENTA wants the G2S but Sug still has life left. He counters so KENTA pulls him down into another STF. Kenta switches to a reverse full nelson and hoists up Sug for a TIGER SUPLEX! NICE! 1, 2, kickout. KENTAKENTAKENTA! KENTA with a head of steam but Sug catches him in a rana for 1, 2, only 2. KENTA tries to kick out so Sug rolls through into the ANKLE LOCK! KENTA MAKES THE ROPES! ARM-CAPTURE GERMAN SUPLEX AND KENTA LANDS ON HIS HEAD! BRUTAL! Sug moves in for the victory but KENTA recovers for the LARIATO! KENTA tries to pick him up but Sug traps the arm and moves to omoplata and back around for the Ankle Lock. Beast. KENTA rolls under into the same omoplata position. Sug rolls through and both go for stereo yakuza kicks. DOUBLE NO SELL! DOUBLE YAKUZA KICKS! DOUBLE NO SELL!
• Now, it's time for the smacks but KENTA stops short with a Bluechipper dropkick. KENTA pulls him in from the apron for the Orton DDT. KENTA fires up for the G2S. Sug escapes out and grabs the ankle but KENTA blocks that. Sug hangs on as neither will give an inch. SUG LOCKS IT IN! KENTA HAS NOWHERE TO GO! KENTA stands up and forearm shivers Sug. They slug it out and then switches to the smacks. Sug hits a few in succession but KENTA smacks him back to go for a DISCUS SMACK. Sug blocks that with one of his own. KENTA shoots in for a single but Sug puts him down like Old Yeller with a knee to the jaw. KENTA is DONE. BOMA YE! 1, 2, KICKOUT! Sug wants the AngleSlam but KENTA no sells to try the G2S. Sug slides back for a waistlock but KENTA elbows him. Sug ratchets up for the GERMAN BUCKLEPLEX! Sug mounts him in the corner with BRUTALLY stiff forearms. KENTA fires up for the slug it out. Sug puts him DOWN with several right and left forearms. Sug locks him in for the German Suplex rolling into the Dragon Suplex. Bridge gets 1, 2, 2.99999999999. Sug sits him up for a couple FOREARM HOMICIDAS.
• He says it's over and hits the AngleSlam. Sug turns over the remains for 1, 2, NO! He goes for another but KENTA catches him in a pseudo Triangle Choke. Sug releases for another knee to the face. The ref checks to see if it's Sug by KO by KENTA won't go down. More stiff GnP elbows from Sug. Sug smacks some life back into him and KENTA counters to the omoplata facelock better known as the NO LOCK! Sug crawls his way and makes the ropes. KENTA with a stiff kick and a running knee to the back of Sug. He fires up for one more but Sug catches him with a forearm. Double KO spot. They slug it out from their knees. They fight to their feet and smack it out. It's an all out smack and chop war. KENTA ducks one and gets him up for the G2S! 1, 2, 2.9999999999999999999999999999999. DR FG ENZUIGIRI! NO! SUG NO SELLS! KENTA knocks him out with chops and another DR FG ENZUIGIRI! G2S! 1, 2, KICKOUT! OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Sug is on his last legs and KENTA hits several front kicks and smacks Sug around. Another G2S and Sug is finally down for the count at 32:32.
• My favorite NOAH match since Go/Kensuke in 2010 (though I haven't seen nearly enough so say it's the best in that time period). KENTA has had a big task since winning the HW strap to prove he belongs in the land of the bigs, but he's upped his game a bit if that's possible to one of the gnarliest strikers and pound-for-pound heaviest hitters in the world. He's the only junior I can think of that could go blow for blow with a guy like Sugiura much less Kensuke. These two pound the shit out of each other for 30 minutes straight, but unlike their Global League finals match which felt rushed and too one-note, this match has significant stretches where each guy controls. My only mild reservation is that Sug so thoroughly dismantles KENTA throughout most of the match, that KENTA's ultimate comeback and win in the war of attrition comes off disappointing. Sequence of the match: Sugiura working the headlock for a while and the series of strikes after that. ****1/2
The 411: *10.0 is a default rating for the best of the year.