Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow, Kenneth Richardson & Brian Damage
Few wrestling fans will list 2013 as one of the best years but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t had the odd moment or two that stood out. So whether it was finally seeing Cody Rhodes and Goldust pair up, Hulk Hogan exit TNA, the debut of The Wyatt Family or the unification of the titles there’s been plenty of action for us wrestling fans to enjoy.
In what is this blog’s final post of 2013, what better way to bring the year to a close than by listing the best moments of 2013 and that is exactly what Craig, Jamie, Kenneth and Brian do today.
5. AJ Lee: A breath of fresh air for the divas division
For a number of years the women’s division in the WWE has been a mess. Even less focus than in other areas on the WWE card and often threadbare in terms of talent, the divas have largely plodded on with meaningless stuff in the last few years. That changed this year with the tremendously entertaining AJ Lee bursting on to the scene. A look quite unlike other divas and having a quirky character that would be harder not to get over it has got people interested in the divas division again. I can’t wait for Paige to make the step up from NXT.
4. Dolph Ziggler cashes in
After a fairly flat Wrestlemania the crowd exploded the following evening on Raw as Dolph Ziggler made his way out to cash in his Money in the Bank contract after Del Rio had just retained against Swagger. Whilst his title run may not have amounted to all that much, it certainly got off to a good start.
3. Debut of the Wyatt Family
The WWE seem to have somewhat of a midis touch at the moment when it comes to promotion of talent from NXT to the main roster and the debut of Bray Wyatt and his followers Luke Harper and Erick Rowan was no different. The group’s debut was built up over several weeks via a series of eerie vignettes that grabbed everyone’s attention as did their attack on Kane when they finally made it to our screens.
2. Cody Rhodes and Goldust
2013 didn’t get off to the best of starts for Cody Rhodes. After an entertaining run with Damien Sandow in the Rhodes Scholars the team were split up before being thrown back together with creative not having anything for either to do. As time went on, Rhodes remained largely directionless. That changed when he and his family entered into a programme where they were forced to fight for their jobs in a series of matches that eventually saw Cody winning the tag team titles with Goldust.
1. Daniel Bryan
I’m a huge Daniel Bryan fan and it’s been absolutely fantastic to see him become so over with the WWE fans and become a big part of the programming. Sure, the authority stuff has been quite frustrating but it’s painted him as the ultimate underdog something I hope he is able to build on and finally get a solid run at the top with a lengthy WWE title run to boot next year.
5. Cody Rhodes & Goldust Win The WWE Tag Team Titles
I wanted to pick Cody’s entire face turn and subsequent story with The Authority, but if I have to pick one moment this would be it. Not only was this a great match within a great story, but this was the moment we learned that Cody Rhodes could very well be the next candidate for a main event push. This same formula worked for Daniel Bryan, as part of Team Hell No, and I think WWE are trying it again with Cody.
4. The Shield Destroy The Undertaker
The Shield were already over, they had already cleanly defeated the top babyfaces (in 6-man matches), but for me they cemented their spot by taking out The Dead Man. Michael Cole will tell you that they “took out” The Rock, John Cena, The Big Show etc. They didn’t, they merely attacked them. The last time we saw The Undertaker was under a pile of rubble after The Shield triple power bombed him through the announcers desk. We may be reminded of this moment in the coming months…
3. CM Punk Empties The Urn Onto The Undertaker
As with my number four, this is just a great, old-school wrestling angle. Some would argue that WWE may have gone a little too far by suggesting that the ashes poured over Taker were that of the recently departed William ‘Paul Bearer’ Moody. That’s a fair point, but even if Brother Paul were still with us this angle would still have been brilliant.
2. Dolph Ziggler Cashes In
Let’s try to forget the year Ziggler has had, both before and after his cash-in. His highest moment of 2013 produced the loudest and most enthusiastic crowd reaction of the year. This was the perfect cash-in and what made it better was the fact that the crowd not only anticipated it, they were hungry for it.
1. Daniel Bryan Wins The WWE Title At Summerslam
If only they had ended the PPV with Bryan celebrating and booked Orton to cash-in the next night. Still, even though it was tainted, this was the highlight of 2013 for me. An up and coming superstar was booked to cleanly defeat the invincible John Cena at Summerslam – you just don’t see that every year. Moreover, the match was brilliant and Cena, to his credit, went out of his way to put Bryan over. Heck, Bryan didn’t just fluke a win here, he soundly defeated ‘The Champ’. And then they go and spoil it all…
5. Hogan leaves TNA
Though a lot of other cuts made news, this one was probably the most important for the company. Financially and creatively dragging down a promising company since he showed up in 2010, TNA now looks like it has a glimpse of hope for survival.
4. Dolph Ziggler wins the world title
Let’s face it…..Wrestlemaina 29 sucked. The night after….not so much. Carrying on the past few years of the post-wrestlemania raw being the best show of the year, this moment produced the pop that should have happened the night before.
3. The Rhodes brothers
I’ve always been a fan of Cody Rhodes and Goldust was one of my favorites when I was younger so when these two got together it was great. When the authority made them pariahs, magic happened.
2. John Cena gets injured
We all agreed Cena needed time out of the spotlight. What would happen when he came back though was a shocker. Yes, he was handed the obligatory title, but since his return he’s wrestled with a new energy and has been putting out great promos. It also made way for the number one spot.
1. Bryan beats Cena…clean
Those five minutes after he won was definitely one of my favorite moments of the year. Even though the next few pay per views after SummerSlam pretty much killed it, it was great while it lasted.
5. The Rhodes Family Reunites
To see Cody, Dustin and Dusty together again for a purpose was simply magic.
4. Daniel Bryan Emerges
Don’t call it a comeback…he’s been here for years! D-Bry emerging as a top star is something I knew could be possible…just never thought it actually would happen. When he pinned John Cena cleanly….it was, in a way, Cena passing a torch to Bryan that he truly belonged.
3. The Return of CM Punk
When CM Punk returned to the WWE after a couple of months hiatus…the perfect venue for his return was his hometown of Chicago. The perfect opponent was a wrestler who could work a classic match in Chris Jericho. The crowd was in a frenzy and made Punk’s return an event in itself. Definitely a highlight in 2013.
2. Magnus Wins the TNA World Title
Some fans may disagree, but Magnus winning the tournament to crown a new TNA champion made great business sense for the company. The UK is a very profitable place for TNA wrestling and having one of their own as champion will only solidify that relationship. Magnus is a solid worker as well…so his match quality will not suffer. It is a win win for TNA and a fresh start into the new year.
1. The Unified WWE World Heavyweight Title
Perhaps the best decision all year was to unify the two world titles into one. One championship gives it a greater importance…elevates the man holding the belt/s and puts a greater emphasis on matches like Elimination Chamber…Royal Rumble and Money in the Bank.
All previous Top Five pieces can be read here.