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[2013-12-09-WWE-Raw] CM Punk vs Dean Ambrose

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CM Punk vs Dean Ambrose - RAW 12/09/13

 

I cannot remember the last time I missed a RAW, but I honestly had no recollection of this match. Given how I watch RAW, this is the exact type of match I would totally miss. Pretty much, my brother and I just talk straight through action (hell thats why I don even really notice the commentary other than the odd silence in our own conversation). Usually, we are talking about wrestling, but I am not straining myself to watch a match with a discerning eye. Amid all of the high-energy Daniel Bryan matches, this was an excellent, lo-fi match that hearkened back to simpler times where high spots did not come cheap and men were of course men. Up until recently, I thought all the hype for Ambrose was overblown. Reigns is such a badass, athletic powerhouse and Rollins is a bumping machine that knows how to engage the crowd. Ambrose is just kinda weird, not weird in an interesting way just kinda weird. Some of his recent promos and performances against the Wyatts have begun to change my thinking on him, but I was shocked that he has so far had the best singles match of any of the Shield members in my book with this tremendous performance (as of this writing I have never seen Cena/Rollins, but that is on deck).

 

From the outset, CM Punk looks to take Ambrose's arm home with him (thanks Titans of Wrestling) never wavering and to Ambrose's credit he is always struggling. However each attempt to get it started on offense is met with Punk goign right back to that right shoulder. Ok, so I know that in America they work left, but I have always thought that was bit overblown and could swear I had seen matches were they work right. Does it actually depend more on the opponent's dominant side more than the country you are working in? Punk goes for a reverse cross body, but Ambrose catches him in a gutbuster. Of course, Punk has bruised ribs from a Reigns spear making all the sweeter. I am a mark for transitions and this was such a friggin great transition into the heat segment. The Shield is great at working solid heat segments that wont pop the crowd in their favor. There are no cool moves. It is just trash talk and working that body part. Ambrose hits a series of shoulders into the midsection only to ram his right shoulder (PSYCHOLOGY~!) into the post. We get the first highspot of the match, a diving elbow by Punk onto the floor as we roll into commercial. When we come back, Ambrose is stretching Punk, but Punk is always keeping it moving, struggling, working hope spots. Ambrose for his part never relent from working the ribs. Punk hits a swinging neckbreaker and then because they understand wrestling. Punk still has to win a slugfest before he truly regains control. Punk runs through his usual (knee, short-arm clothesline, elbow) and goes for GTS, but Ambrose punches his ribs repeatedly. This is the point where I thought to myself I need to pay attention to Raw more often because this is fuckin awesome. Ambrose hits a butterfly suplex and floats over. I love the butterfly suplex. Are these two wrestling this match specifically for me? How sweet and I did not even get them anything! Punk gets a series of nearfalls off a top rope cross body and a roundhouse kick. The Seattle crowd knows what's up and chants "This is Awesome!". I am glad someone was paying attention to this match when it was happening because I sure was not. Ambrose pushes off on GTS attempt and big knee to midsection and throws him to floor. This is during time when they were teasing the Shield breakup before they smartened up and realized there is more value in them as a unit. So Ambrose says he can do this himself so Reigns and Rollins walk away. DISSENSION~! They tease each other's finishes before the GTS puts Ambrose away. In addition, Punk has to face all three members of the Shield at the PPV so this also adds a layer to that match because if Punk can divide and conquer maybe he can pull this one out.

 

My one quibble with this match is that finish seems sort of tacked on to the match rather being an organic part of the match. It would have been nice to weave a thread of Shield dissension through the match and then culminate in the finish. However, right up until the finish/angle, I thought this was a bitchin' throwback match. It just oozed great psychology that built and built leading to some really great exchanges. The transitions were great from Ambrose catching Punk in the gutbuster to Punk having to work to get back on offense. There was a real sense of struggle and competition in this match. It proves that highspots are not the end all be all. Two compelling characters working hard and telling a great story is all you need. In the year, that has Punk/Cena on RAW, it would take a Herculean effort to win Free TV MOTY so this falls short, but it is definitely in the running for second place. ****

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Much more engaging than their match the week before, this time not just following up on Punk's ribs (still healing from a vicious Roman Reigns spear done in recent weeks), but working on his left arm as well. By this point, it was clear to me even live that Punk was starting to phone it in, but his sheer talent and natural storytelling habits, as well as Ambrose busting his ass on his end, made this a good match that had the crowd excited at the end. Of note is that the Shield were showing signs of cracking as a unit during this match. ***1/4

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