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[2013-06-16-WWE-Payback] CM Punk vs Chris Jericho

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Crowd is amped to cheer for Punk and they go nuts when his music hits. Not the same as Money in the Bank 2011 but pretty darn close. Punk eats it up. He’s dressed to go too, quelling any fears he’d show up and not wrestle. Chain wrestling to start and the crowd boos Jericho. Solid “feeling out” segment to start from both guys. Very methodical so far. They are wrestling this match like it’s slated to go 25 minutes, which would get no complaints here. Lawler notes that Punk looks winded and that his layoff could be playing a part. What wrestling savant alien has taken over his body tonight? Jericho locks in the Walls but Punk counters into the Anaconda Vice. Punk calls for the GTS with Punk screaming “Blackhawks in 7″ before Jericho blocks it. Tremendous. Jericho counters another GTS into a roll-up that nearly gets three. Punk was slightly distracted by Heyman being on the apron there. Possible foreshadowing there. Punk hits the Savage elbow AND the GTS but Jericho kicks out. King notes that Punk didn’t get all of the GTS, which is entirely accurate. Crowd chants “One more time” and Punk pulls him up for another GTS that Jericho fights out of. Codebreaker is blocked with Punk then diving onto Jericho through the ropes to the outside. Punk comes off the top rope but Jericho hits the Codebreaker in mid-air. Not enough to put Punk away. “This is awesome” chants now. Jericho counters a rana from Punk into the Walls. Heyman pleads with Punk to not tap out. Punk muscles out, fires off some punches and hits a GTS, and then ANOTHER GTS, which gets the pin. Nice comeback match for Punk.

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This was probably the biggest match that I thought might look like an omission from my Top 100, but I really had no problem leaving it out.

 

My thoughts at the time:

 

Maybe it's because I just watched it, but to me it felt a lot like Roode/Aries, in that it was a match carried by the moment and the emotion in the building, and had a good finish, but also felt like a lot of nothing for long periods.

Nothing particularly interesting happened in the first half. They were just kind of going through the motions of 'We are having a long match'. The announcers were talking about ring rust, and Punk was clearly blowing up early, but it also didn't factor into the match in any way, so in the end I'm not sure what the point was. So they rolled around a little, and then at the halfway point, on cue, they started trading finishers. Then its onto the bomb throwing second half, where we kick out of each others' finishers, reverse your submission into my submission, do a super/springboard version of my finisher...most of it just felt a bit perfunctory. Wrestling a "show stealing epic" by numbers.

I mentioned this before but this is my problem with Jericho in 2013. His workrate act in the ring is too forced. Even the Fandango match at Wrestlemania, you knew going in it was clearly designed for Jericho to carry him around and put him over, but the way it was worked you didn't leave thinking "Man Fandango looked good there" (which is the goal of carrying someone and putting them over) but rather "Man Jericho carried Fandango around and put him over". Jericho "carried" him by busting out a whole bunch of movez, taking most of the match, kicking out of his finisher and losing to a rollup. He didn't make Fandango look good in any way, because he wasn't trying to, he was trying to have a workrate match to show how great he is as a worker by dragging Fandango to a good match. It was a 'Carry Young Guy To His Best Match' match by numbers.

Its the same deal with the Punk match, or when he works anyone in a long TV or PPV match anymore. It is all about having an 'Epic Workrate Match' and getting his sh*t in, regardless of circumstances. We roll around a bit because we're going long, then we do reversals of all our moves, then we trade finishers, then we trade submissions, then you roll me up out of the Walls, then I put you over. Of course he's not the only guy in the company who has workrate matches, but nobody else makes it feel as manufactured as he does.

In terms of the Punk match, the nothing of the first half and turning on a dime into bomb throwing in the second half felt disconnected. There was no real sense of escalation, they didn't really do enough early to earn kicking out of finishers so abruptly, and it didn't make a lot of sense. But they HAD TO start kicking out of stuff because it was halftime and hey, in an Epic Workrate Match, you kick out of stuff in the second half. They were just trying too hard to have a great match for my liking.

Having said all that, I sound harsher on the match than I actually am, because I did enjoy it and there was some good stuff in it as well. Punk was pretty good in it, especially compared to Jericho who brought nothing but his colouring book. Countering Jericho's springboard dropkick was neat. I liked the low-key arm work that paid off when Punk used the Anaconda, and then later when he attacked the arm to get out of the Walls. I actually liked the standing Anaconda out of the Walls too, not sure why you didn't. The subtle Heyman interference was amazing, as was the post-match. And I liked the finish as a "do it again, just to make sure" death blow. There were little things I really liked, but I just had major structural problems with it that prevent me from calling it all that great.

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The hottest match of the night for obvious reasons, and this probably should've just been the main event due to the heat. It started off with a feeling out process due to Punk being gone for a couple months, but his skill came through early when he worked on Jericho's left arm and shoulder. The pace just keep gradually picking up as the match progressed, much like a puro main event. The selling was top-notch too, with Punk selling the back after Jericho had gone to work on it.

Punk managed to use his technique and experience to get out of the Boston Crab, then used Jericho's body to lift himself up and lock on the Anaconda Vise, even getting enough leverage to lock it on completely, planting Jericho's back to the mat, and paying off the earlier work on Jericho's left arm and shoulder. Jericho of course got to the ropes, and after some more work, Punk got the Go 2 Sleep on Jericho which was a great nearfall. The action kept going for several more minutes, leading to a phenomenal finish when Punk gave Jericho a Go 2 Sleep, Jericho fell back and bounced off the turnbuckle, and Punk gave him one more Go 2 Sleep for good measure, earning the bragging rights of the Best in the World moniker. ****

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This is better than I remembered. It's not great or anything, but comparing it to their 2012 PPV meetings, it's so much better. The atmosphere is fantastic & as Punk is coming back after a little hiatus, I really dig how they play that ring rust into the match throughout. Jericho is a bit meaner than usual too w/ the crowd obviously being 200% in favor of his opponent -- I can't tell if that's the sole reason, but for some reason(s) he just FELT so much more compelling w/ his work here than he did in most of his other matches during this time period. That little mean-streak sure helped. Overall the match sure is quite 'workrate-y' in its structure and all, but they executed that well without it getting too cute or into the overkill zone, I thought. And in many ways it played into the story of Punk's ring rust nicely. The Chicago definitely helped in the grand scheme of things as well. The February '13 match between the two remains their best, but this is a close 2nd. ***

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