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[2013-02-25-WWE-Raw] John Cena vs CM Punk

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Is this the best match that has ever happened on Monday Night RAW? Outstanding stuff. I was surprised at how long this went. I really liked the deliberate pace from the very beginning to get the match over as something special before they jumped into all the kickouts. They wanted to create a match where the outcome was in doubt based on Cena's previous record against Punk and they did a great job of making that point. So yes, some might complain about this being 2.9 wrestling, but it was a little deeper than that. The Wrestlemania title match was on the line (why I'm not sure, since Cena won the Rumble), so each guy was having to dig deeper than usual because of the high stakes. I also appreciated how clean their stuff looked compared to some of their other matches. Cena has really become great on execution. My MOTY at this point.

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It doesn't have the atmosphere of MITB 2011, but their execution is definitely a lot cleaner. They are really wonderful at getting across that they have each other scouted to a virtual stalemate. The Cenacanrana as the setup for the finish is great, because it's Cena wildly trying something Punk hasn't seen before to throw him off. Punk and Cena always worked together like they had something to prove, either to each other or the audience.

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This is my favorite match of theirs. Loved the piledriver, and the final desperation finish of Cena doing the hurricarana to set-up the AA. I see this as the blow off or climax of their series.

 

EDIT: Also, didn't both Cena and Punk get in trouble after the match for the piledriver?

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Found this from the WON, after the match aired:

 

There was one major bit of controversy, which was the piledriver that Cena kicked out of just before the finish. The piledriver in that form is banned in WWE (the tombstone is allowed under special dispensation from Vince and usually only for Undertaker, or a reverse by Undertaker’s opponent in a Mania match). Vince was livid even though the match was great, at seeing the move. Cena, since he’s bullet proof, was the one who, after the match, said that it was his fault and said it was a miscommunication. I don’t know that Cena is the one who called the spot, or if an agent okayed it, but Cena took full responsibility for it and said it was all his fault.

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Never seen this before but have heard the hype. Man, this match was absolutely great. Going to be interesting to see if I put anything above this for rest of the year. I wish this was the WrestleMania main event match for show I attended. Two guys who have great chemistry with one another. Story wise they both know each other really well so they are reversing/avoiding each other’s signature moves. So they start trying new stuff to get the advantage. Punk with a piledriver!! You take that move away from everyone so when this one happens it just feels real dangerous and important. So enjoyed Cena pulling out his own hurricarana to set up the AA. Punk could not have been expecting that. Just a blast to watch. Some really believable close falls.

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Raw - February 25, 2013

WWE Title Shot Match
John Cena vs. CM Punk
What made this match work so well is what Michael Cole said once it was over. This match had emotion, drama, and tension. It also had an unbelievable electricity, an atmosphere that felt like a legitimate PPV main event.
Punk started off trying to dominate the match with basic submission holds, such as the sleeper and abdominal stretch. However, with a career-defining rematch on the line for Cena, he was able to negate Punk. Frustrated and also starving to be in THE main event at WrestleMania, Punk quickened the pace, only for Cena to be on par with him every step of the way.
As the match got to its last third, the crowd was in a frenzy. While everyone had to have known Cena would win this, the work these of two men made one believe that maybe we actually were going to get Rock vs. Punk III. They both had to pull out new shit they hadn't used in years, if never in their careers. For Punk, he used a beautiful piledriver, and when Cena kicked out, his face told the story, not knowing what he needed to do next. For Cena, he used a sitdown powerbomb on the smaller Punk, and as the match closed, pulled out a head-scissors. That it wasn't picture-perfect was understandable - these men had given EVERYTHING, so Cena was running on desperation and wouldn't logically to be able to pull that off perfectly. But it got the job done.
This match did its job in reminding the younger audience that Cena would indeed have a chance at redemption against the Rock. But with Punk hardly resorting to cheating (he may not have done so at all actually), it re-established him as a force to be reckoned with after all of the breaks he had gotten the previous several months, so that when his WrestleMania XXIX opponent would be announced, the audience would buy into it. One of the greatest matches in Raw history. ****1/2

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Not usually the kind of match I like but the urgency and drama really puts this over the top. All the counters are great and make perfect sense given how well they knew each other and them busting out new offense also put over the desperation. *** 3/4

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This is it. This is how you wrap a long term rivalry. These guys know each other so well that they telegraph each other's big moves, resulting in some phenomenal exchanges. Cena and Punk have to dig deep and add new weapons into their arsenal. Punk hits a banned piledriver, and it's as shocking as it was back in 2013. Cena debuts his messy hurricanrana here, and that's enough for him to shock Punk and land a quick AA to get the win and go to the main event of Wrestlemania.

Back in 2011-2013, I was such a CM Punk match and would rave endless at anything he did, but I happy to say this match holds up and then some.

★★★★½

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John Cena vs CM Punk - RAW 2/25/13

Cena comes into this match 0-2-1 against Punk in match since Money In The Bank '11 and I dont think there was anyone Cena had a losing record against since 2005. This is the very reason Cena is putting up his No. 1 Contendership (Royal Rumble Victory) against Punk. If he can't beat Punk, he doesnt deserve to go against The Rock at Mania. The year 2013 was all about Cena exorcising his demons. The two biggest bugbears were The Rock and CM Punk. Cena has to prove himself against Punk (who was not in the Rumble, he was busy losing the title to The Rock) and prove he can beat so he can head into Mania with a clear conscience. 

I loved this match in 2013 and remember thinking it was one of the best matches of the year. The match totally holds up and it is the best of their series. They take all the best elements of their previous matches and add on a badass finish. They have the great opening of the Summerslam 2011 match, the excellent counterwrestling of the 2012 match, a great story like the Money In The Bank Match and by adding a really great finish they top them all. Yes the story is different than Money In The Bank, but it is a great sports story. Punk has Cena's number and Cena needs to get the monkey off his back. They really built great chemistry together and it shows in how much tighter the opening of their match is. I love Cena stepping on Punk's calf into order to break out of the headlock, one of my favorite escapes. Cena's wristlock looks great. Cena's hiptoss comes off like a big deal and it is little victories like that that are treated huge in this match. Punk is full heel in this match suffocating Cena at every turn and this creates a hole for Cena to dig himself out of, which is where Cena thrives.

What truly makes this match great and memorable is how Cena wrestles this match like Misawa with this amazing extended comeback. It was almost like Cena had to unlock every part of his comeback. There is so much I remember from this match which is impressive for a match that is almost 7 years old and I have not watched since I watched it live in Feburary 2013. The spot I remember the most is Cena missing that first shouldertackle and going flying out of the ring. When I saw it, I popped all over again because I knew what was coming and that was the excellent extended comeback. Punk dove out on Cena and wiped him out. The rest of the match is just balls to the wall and it is paced so beautifully. What killed the Night of Champions match was the pacing and the over-escalation early, here they did not run out of things to do. Cena would go every step of the way first getting the Shoulder tackles off a hiptoss out of an abdominal stretch. The Protobomb got countered into an Anaconda Vice, but Cena flipped that into a cover to force the break. An underrated aspect of this match is that Cena is just as good at countering. Punk gets his neckbreaker and signals Go 2 Sleep, but Cena teases STF however Punk makes the ropes. From there, he hits his springboard clothesline only for two. The second one Cena turns into an STF. The submission trade here was actually really good. They actually struggled in and out. In WWE, they are usually terrible about that.   

Cena ducks a big kick to the head to get the Protobomb showing that Cena can evade just as well as Punk. However, he does You Cant See Me gesture only for Punk to kick him in the head. The next spot shows Cena's grit and his never give up attitude. He eats a knee to the head and on the customary bulldog that follows Cena struggles and stops Punk's momentum and wrestles it into a Protobomb and then a Five Knuckle Shuffle. It should be noted that Punk did not get a lot of his spots in. He never gets the Bulldog. Cena opts for the Powerbomb because Punk has the FU scouted, great spot. They do a great job making Cena earn his top rope leg drop to the back of the head. Punk hits a desperation big kick to the head and then the big knee. This is my one quibble in the whole match which is otherwise perfect, Cena hits a Flash F-U for two! After two big head-rocking blows, I dont like hitting a flash F-U. 

The finish is amazing. Punk powders after kicking out. Cena wants to win fair & sqaure. Punk sends him into the post and leaves him for dead. Punk is ok with a countout win. This is great. Cena makes it back at 9. Now we get the Go 2 Sleep! 1-2-NO! HUGE! Unlike the Night of Champions, where they let things peter out and Punk dawdles, Punk immediately goes back to the well which is the wise thing to do. Cena counters into the STF and this is the big STF nearfall before Punk could still struggle now Punk is so spent he can only go for the ropes. Punk throws a wild kick to the knee and then HITS A PILEDRIVER~! This is definitely one of the famous spots of the match and it is totally what the match needed. This is way better than the errant moonsault from Night of Champions. The Piledriver felt so big! Huge nearfall. I love how they saved the Macho Man Elbow for here as it gave Punk one last thing. He misses it. Missed moves are huge and this is the key. Punk was in control and here it is Cena that evades. Cena uses a Hurricanarana perfectly, it discombobulated Punk and he would never expect it and after that discombobulation this allows him to hit the F-U to win! Had he gone for the F-U first theres a chance Punk could have scouted it but the Hurricanarana allowed Cena to mask it. Genius! 

This match is the epitome of what I like in my pro wrestling really logical progression that is rooted in the fundamentals of the two wrestlers and their story. Absolutely fantastic and one of the greatest matches of all time. *****

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