59. Royal Rumble Match (Royal Rumble)
It’s pretty hard to screw up the Rumble – it takes a gargantuan effort of botchery to get that done, as we’ve just witnessed. The 2013 Rumble wasn’t an all-time classic but there was still a lot to enjoy: Jericho the big surprise in at #2 and going the distance, Goldust coming in and facing off with Cody, the great Godfather cameo, Kofi being wacky of course, and a good finish with the final six despite a predictable outcome.
58. John Cena, Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs Damien Sandow, Antonio Cesaro & Jack Swagger (Raw, 4th November)
The second 20+ minute match these guys had in a week. This one had more Cena vs Cesaro and left us all waiting dicks-in-hand for the singles match that finally materialised in Feb (totally worth the wait). Cena and Goldust tried to out-babyface offense one another, and Cena took over Goldy’s role in peril. The big finishing stretch for this ruled, with Cody hitting a gigantic moonsault and Goldust actually winning with his finish.
57. The Shield vs Undertaker, Kane & Daniel Bryan (Raw, 22nd April)
This is The Shield match where: The Undertaker; Daniel Bryan makes the first of many Bryan Hot Tags against The Shield; Seth Rollins reveals his deathwish by angering Taker on the apron; Taker makes a great hot tag, but eventually Bryan misses a diving headbutt and gets rolled up.
56. John Cena vs Damien Sandow – World Heavyweight Championship Cash In (Raw, 28th October)
My favourite moment in this match was when Cena started his comeback, realised that using his injured arm to shoulderblock was a bad idea, and so busted out a BIG BOOT instead. Be still my beating heart. The cash-in and Cena’s injury made for some awesome tension and created excellent nearfalls as Sandow tried in vain to capitalise and Cena tried to find a way out.
55. Antonio Cesaro vs Kofi Kingston – US Championship (Main Event, 1st May)
After watching this I commented that while Kofi Kingston is one of my favourites, I never even noticed he was in this match. This was a total one-man show from Cesaro, highlighted by insanely cool spots like the one-legged Giant Swing, the deadlift superplex from the apron, and catching a crossbody in a completely ridiculous manner. Cesaro rules.
54. Christian vs Alberto Del Rio (Smackdown, 9th August)
The five minutes Christian spent back on TV last year was a fun five minutes. Here, he and Alberto pick up where they left off in 2011 and have just a hell of a TV match. They got so much time, and both guys sold the rigors of a long match really well. Classic Christian TV wrestling, something else I’m glad is back again now.
53. The Shield vs Primetime Players, Ziggler, Kofi & RVD – Handicap Gauntlet Match (Smackdown, 20th September)
This is The Shield match where: Vickie feeds the babyfaces one-by-one into the lion’s mouth just so Hunter can come swanning down to play good cop; each babyface gets a little more in before they go down as The Shield gradually tires; RVD is about to hit the frogsplash and pull it off before Hunter stops the match…to save him. Brilliant storytelling from everyone.
52. Alberto Del Rio vs Jack Swagger – No DQ (Smackdown, 26th April)
Alberto hits an awesome tope in this, a total bullet. This is a really nasty fight between guys who just want to hurt each other. Swagger is great being bumped into ladders and taking wacky hardcore spots like a bumbling heel should. This may have been disappointing as a Mania match but these two actually had excellent chemistry on TV.
51. Alberto Del Rio vs Dolph Ziggler (Main Event, 14th February)
This came around the time when Alberto flicked a switch and became a great babyface worker of matches almost overnight. Here he and Dolph get a huge amount of time and just go nuts with this sweet, long workrate match. Both guys take some ‘C Show Stupid’ death bumps, and they bust out big spots like the giant reverse superplex to great effect. A great TV main event.
50. CM Punk vs Dean Ambrose (Raw, 9th December)
This is The Shield match where: Dean Ambrose finally shines bright in a singles match; Punk contains Ambrose by working over his arm, leading to Ambrose busting out the ‘pop it back into place’ rope spot; Ambrose takes over with a brutal gutbuster counter and looks great mauling Punk’s ribs; they build into a great stretch with some nice nearfalls to cap it all off.
49. Sheamus vs Wade Barrett (Smackdown, 25th January)
These guys have two gears when they wrestle: beating the crap out of each other, and really beating the crap out of each other. This was an ultra-hard hitting match, both guys just wail away, but also mix in a lot of cool spots and neat counters as well to really build the match. And Wade Barrett throws the second random standing dropkick to the face by a heavyweight in this list.
48. Daniel Bryan vs Randy Orton – Street Fight (Raw, 24th June)
I loved how they milked spots for maximum effect – Orton teetering on the apron after multiple dropkicks so that Bryan finally slides under and powerbombs him through the table instead, then later Orton using the kendo stick to escape the No Lock, and trying it again only for Bryan to grab it and use it to submit Orton, which paid off weeks of storyline. Plus cool stuff like the tope-chairshot counter, and Bryan’s stick/kick flurry. A fitting end to their mini-feud.
47. AJ Lee vs Kaitlyn – Divas Championship (Payback)
In this AJ works her tribute to Eddie Guerrero (top rope lounging, lie-cheat-steal tactics) while Kaitlyn works her tribute to Strength Spots (Cena crossbody catch, Henry catch-and-roll-through, the POUNCE, the Spear) and they combine to have a really good PPV match. The stupidity of the finish bothers me, but it’s a mild complaint and doesn’t negate some very good work.
46. Antonio Cesaro vs William Regal (NXT, 25th December)
This took on almost-impossible-to-meet dream match expectations by the time it happened, but my God, did they ever pack some cool ass stuff into this. The deadlifted snapmare, the Stretch Muffler, the DOUBLE STOMP TO THE HEAD. This was manly as hell. The fact that Regal is having these kind of matches in WWE on a bi-annual basis is awesome.
45. Antonio Cesaro vs Dolph Ziggler (Superstars, 30th August)
This was a Superstars match straight out of 2011. They pack a HELL of a lot into 9 minutes. Dolph flops around for Cesaro’s stuff as only he can, but also looks like a halfway decent babyface, getting some offense in and working neat payback spots. Cesaro busts out a “Why are you doing this on a C show?!” deadlifted delayed vertical superplex, which was criminally insane. As was Dolph taking the finish. A total blast.
44. Daniel Bryan vs Randy Orton (Smackdown, 21st June)
This one came off the ref stoppage from the previous Raw, and was a nasty fight that did so much with the story given to them. Bryan takes identical bumps to the ones that injured him (both in kayfabe and reality), so the moment when he lands hard, and then kips up and ROARS to begin his epic comeback is absolutely magical. The countout win is unsatisfactory, but the tope that lead to it is not. Bryan is awesome in this.
43. Daniel Bryan vs Seth Rollins (Raw, 10th June)
This is The Shield match where: Bryan and Rollins went to town; they built awesomely around trading spots – Rollins steals Bryan’s seated kicks, tries the surfboard again, he also tries a German but fails where Bryan succeeds soon after, and cuts off Bryan’s attempted tope the same way Bryan did his in the 6-man from three weeks prior. A great little workrate match.
42. Randy Orton vs Daniel Bryan (Raw, 16th December)
This is still Orton’s best performance since turning heel. He sold the hell out of everything Bryan dished out, even resorting to biting him to escape a leglock, and perfectly portrayed the arrogant asshole who really didn’t want to fight a guy who is better than him. Which is why when Bryan made yet ANOTHER comeback, he bailed with that perfectly timed low blow. God I love that finish.
41. Mark Henry & Big E Langston vs Antonio Cesaro & Jack Swagger (Raw, 16th December)
I had this as MOTN over the previous match, just because it was so in my wheelhouse, a throwback tag team match. Two really strong heels get bumped around like juniors by two extremely strong babyfaces. The Cesaro double stomp on Big E’s back ruled, as did the finish. This was Big E’s best performance in the ring so far, and one of my favourite tag matches in a while.
40. The Shield vs John Cena, Daniel Bryan & Kane – Elimination Match (Raw, 13th May)
This is The Shield match where: we get a loooong first fall; Kane is too eager for revenge for Taker and gets DQ’d; Bryan is eventually worn down; The Shield swarm upon Cena 3 vs 1, but he makes a Superman comeback, grabs a flash FU and DQ on Rollins and Reigns and almost has Ambrose tapping before the others make the save. During their undefeated phase this finish was some high drama.