By Carson Koschik
I've said this before, but you never really realize how good wrestling is today until you pay attention. This week featured an exceptional Payback PPV, an awesome Raw, a great Smackdown, and the beginning of the Bound for Glory series. But what matches were the cream of the crop? Let's see.
#10. Sin Cara vs. Antonio Cesaro (WWE Main Event)
Under the tutelage of Zeb Colter, newly formed American patriot Antonio Cesaro took on Sin Cara in a fun match on Main Event. While we like to joke about Sin Cara's infamous early botching days, the fact is that the Mexican sensation has adapted to the WWE style, and can put on some great matches. In a match of strength vs. speed, Antonio Cesaro prevailed over Sin Cara with the Neutralizer, but not before taking huricanranas and arm drags galore first.
#9. Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles - Bound for Glory Match (TNA Impact)
In what was probably the only noteworthy match on TNA, long time rivals Samoa Joe and AJ Styles went one on one in the Bound for Glory series. While the time limit ending was complete crap, Joe and AJ still put on a pretty good match, even if AJ's new slow pace restricts what he was known for.
#8. Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton (WWE Raw)
In their first encounter of the week, Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton went toe to toe on Monday Night Raw in a rare face vs. face match. As most people know, the match was stopped by the ref due to a legitimate injury scare for Bryan, who surprisingly gave Triple H hell backstage. But before the abrupt end, Bryan and Orton were putting on a great match, and the combination of Randy Orton's smooth and methodical style with Bryan's quick and technical wrestling made for a great combination.
#7. The Shield (c) vs. Daniel Bryan & Randy Orton - WWE Tag Team Championship Match (WWE Payback)
At Sunday's Payback PPV, Bryan tried to beat the Shield with a new partner in Randy Orton. While the match didn't live up to Shield standards, it was still a fun match with a great pace, and seeing Bryan and Rollins in the same ring is always a treat. The Shield would of course win, but Orton and Bryan gave a strong showing before their lack of chemistry cost them the win.
#6. Alberto Del Rio vs. Chris Jericho (WWE SmackDown)
On Smackdown, two guys who were in the two best matches at Payback competed against each other in an extremely new and fresh match up. Alberto Del Rio proved why he is one of the best heels in the business, using his facial expressions and in-ring mannerisms to convey in new found heelism. Jericho, well, is Jericho. From bell to bell, this match was fast paced and exciting, and there were some moments where it seemed like Jericho would actually defeat the new World Heavyweight Champion via submission. In the end, Dolph Ziggler would attack Del Rio, giving Alberto the DQ win. After the match, Jericho gave the new face Ziggler a Codebreaker. Hopefully this means we can get a World Championship feud from Ziggler and Jericho!
#5. Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton (WWE SmackDown)
In a rematch from Raw, Daniel Bryan faced Randy Orton again, except without the ref stoppage. The match tore the house down, and every move was delivered with impact and viciousness. The crowd was hot the whole time, and every time Bryan did a signature spot the crowd blew up. The match would not end cleanly though, with Bryan getting the Count Out victory over Orton after a fast paced match. Seeing as these two are scheduled to face again on Raw, I'm sure we can finally get the decisive victory.
#4. Alberto Del Rio vs. CM Punk (WWE Raw)
In CM Punk's first TV match in over 2 months, the Second City Saint faced old rival Alberto Del Rio in the main event of Raw. While the beginning of the Lesnar/Punk feud may have overshadowed the actual match, Del Rio and Punk told a great story and put on some great wrestling for the fans. After a clinic of strikes, grapples, and submissions, Alberto Del Rio would walk away and give Punk the count out victory.
#3. Wade Barrett (c) vs. The Miz vs. Curtis Axel - Intercontinental Championship Match (WWE Payback)
On Sunday's Payback PPV, WWE opened the show with an awesome triple threat match between Barrett, Miz, and Paul Heyman's newest client Curtis Axel. While the match was a little short, it was an extremely fun match to watch. Everyman looked like they were going to win at some point, and every man showed how good they are in the ring. Whether it was Wade Barrett using his powerful strikes, the Miz using his cunning, or Curtis Axel using his mat wrestling, every person brought something to the match and the styles meshed, pun intended, perfect-ly. Curtis Axel would end up winning his first singles championship by pinning Barrett while the Miz had him in a Figure Four, which was a fresh way to end the match. Hopefully Wade can move on to win Money In The Bank. Fingers crossed.
#2. Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio - WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match (WWE Payback)
In what was arguably the best example of in-ring story telling since Triple H vs. Undertaker at WrestleMania 28, Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler produced a rare double turn to absolutely perfection. From the kicks to the head, the facial expressions, and even the commentators, every detail of this match was done perfectly, and while Ziggler may have lost his World Heavyweight Championship we've been waiting so long to see him carry, the events that come after this may be the start of the biggest push Ziggler will experience.
#1. Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk (WWE Payback)
Well, this isn't very surprising. Everybody expected Punk and Jericho to put on an instant classic, and on Sunday they did just that. From the in-ring psychology to the barrage of near falls, this match was hot from bell to bell, and I'm sure that the people watching at home were just as invested as the people in attendance. CM Punk would win his homecoming match, but it would take three GTS's. This match single handedly merits a purchase of the Payback DVD.
Agree? Disagree? Tell me why in the comments or on Twitter @SmarkInProgress.