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[2012-05-20-WWE-Over The Limit] CM Punk vs Daniel Bryan

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To me it's just an absolutely great match. The back and forth action that ensues from the beginning continues to tell the story throughout which leads to the finish of "One person pins while the other taps." That was quite the clever ending as it kept both guys strong. Also I had a laugh at Punk's "I have til 5" parody of Danielson in ROH. With this match, it really did turn Over the Limit 2012 into a one match show. Otherwise that card was hot garbage. The 4 way with Orton/Sheamus/Del Rio/Jericho was probably the second best match on the card. Sadly it took place in my home state and I was not there to see it.

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Even better watching it back now than it was when I first saw it. The pacing was absolutely perfect. Fast and exciting all throughout but when it slows down, they make the best of it. Bryan brutalized Punk's ribs and Punk destroys Bryan's leg. They both sold absolutely perfectly. Loved the Figure Four spot. You could feel the intensity rising organically all the way to that perfect near-draw finish. Amazing match.

 

****3/4

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6 years ago to the date I was amazed by this match, watching at live on 5 AM. 6 years after, I am still amazed by how great it is. It's a match that I will never think of anything less than as one of the greatest of all-time. Everything from the atmosphere, to Bryan mouthing "no you're not" while Punk yelled "BEST IN THE WORLD!" during his entrance, to the absolutely amazing offense of both men, to the brutally focused work on the leg by Punk, to the mauling Bryan delivered to Punk's mid-section, to the callbacks to their indy matches, to the CURB STOMP, to the "I HAVE TILL 5!", it's just perfect stuff in my eyes. One of my favorite matches. Just a couple of indy schmucks having a battle to prove who is the best, for the most prestigious championship in the business. *****

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I was pleasantly surprised that these two were given this amount of time. They made great use of it too, keeping it tight, adding tons of different layers and building the match very well. The call backs to their indie days, the duel work on the ribs (Bryan to Punk) and the leg (Punk to Bryan), the struggle for submissions and holds. I loved the structure of Punk absolutely schooling Bryan in the early goings, out-doing Bryan at his own game, working on a limb and being the dominant force. Only then Bryan to find some openings and slowly get back into the match and then ending the match with a tremendous back and force struggle with momentum changing with every move. Tremendous match. ****1/2

 

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WWE Champion CM Punk vs Daniel Bryan - WWE Over The Limit 2012

It is still amazing that this happened in a WWE ring on a WWE PPV for the WWE Championship but here it is and they delivered the goods. This is the last major WWE match I had never seen at least once before and it lived up to the hype. 

The simplistic story to this match is that of dual limb psychology with CM Punk targeting the leg of D-Bry and Bryan working over Punk's midsection. However, there is a lot more meat on the bone than just a story of dual limb psychology. The match is decidedly lo-fi and rooted in the fundamentals. This is not simply a Greatest Hits Collection of two of the best Indy wrestlers. Punk never even hits a Go 2 Sleep. There are not a zillion nearfalls. There are no overwrought sequences. It is a wrestling match. Just men playing the human game of chess. In addition, the psychology of their characters play a role into the match. I loved Daniel Bryan's character at this time. He was a size too small, but the chip on his shoulder was three sizes too big if ya catch my drift. He had a great Napoleon complex that would cause him to whip himself into a frenzy and we would see that rage in this match. As Michael Cole likes to say that pugnacious pitbull, he would become enraged at losing control of the match and suffocate Punk with a barrage of knees to the midsection. On the other hand, Punk is a cool customer, nonchalant smartass. He enjoys saying he has a count of 5 and has a huge shit-eating grin on his face after this. However, he is also the babyface and he is the one delivering the fiery comebacks. I loved the grit he shows in the match. He comes off like a DIY Punk in all his matches because how raw his performance is, but in this match he keeps it even simpler which is great. The best part of the whole match may have been Bryan is going to stretch Punk out and Punk fights it off by grabbing his own kneepad to avoid it being cinched in. What a spot! 

The match begins with Punk targeting the leg of Bryan by attacking it in the corner. He eventually makes strong in-roads into injuring the leg. There's a nice part where Bryan does his customary flip in the corner, but he can explode into his all-out assault because he clutches the knee and so Punk is able to tease Go 2 Sleep and when Bryan evades kick him in the knee. Working Bryan's leg is like working KENTA's leg, it is a risky proposition, but here Bryan is mostly on his best behavior. You could claim this is heel in peril as opposed to a shine which it is, however it fits the story of the match. Bryan is being shown up in his own style and this will be cause to piss him off. In addition, Punk is the champion so he needs to establish why he is the champion and why he is the better wrestler. The highlights of the first segment is Punk's wicked curb stomp and then Kneecrusher and dumping him over the top rope. 

The second segment begins when Punk tries to follow Bryan outside but not with his trademark suicide dive but rather with a baseball slide because Bryan had moved to the apron. Bryan duck and hid. He tackles Punk and drives him ribs first into the barricade. He then hands him out to dry gut first on the ribs establishing the abdomen as his target. Bryan hit a missile dropkick and again the knee keeps him from pressing his advantage and so he settles for a sitting abdominal stretch which will hurt Punk and allow him time to recuperate. This is when Punk grabs his kneepad to stop the stretch from taking place, but Bryan breaks his grip. I like Punk going for the figure-4 when he gets out. Bryan fights him off twice. Then Bryan toe kicks him in the gut to re-consolidate the advantage, kneelift, swift kick to the back, all great. Mexican Surfboard! Perfect! Dragon Clutch, Punk breaks his grip and goes to town with elbows. Punk is relentless and he gets on top and gets a cover for no count. I loved that exchange. It was so gritty and so smart to go for cover on that. Punk gets a Fisherman Suplex at one point and then stomps the knee. Bryan kicks the abs again and gets a suplex. The first big highspot of the match goes to D-Bry with a top rope diving headbutt for two. They then hit a double crossbody which levels the playing field. 

Minor quibble is the double crossbody probably should have hurt Punk more but Punk is the one who comes out firing on all cylinders and hits his usual comeback sequence with the neckbreaker, powerslam and suicide dive. What I like about this is Bryan makes him earn the powerslam and Suicide Dive. He is still fighting back and Punk has to fight through Bryan's offense. One of the best spots of the match is Bryan hitting a dropkick to the injured ribs when Punk is sailing through the air on a Springboard Clothesline. Bryan is pissed. He goes for his Yes! Kicks! but they dont have the same zip on them so Punk counters into a Dragon Leg Screw->Figure-4! OH SHIT! That's awesome! This is when Punk says I have until 5. Punk goes for a kneecrusher but Bryan wriggle free into a Sunset Flip. Punk becomes inspired and drop toeholds into a La Magistral Cradle. He tries again, Bryan has it scouted BANG! WICKED KICK TO THE HEAD! Punk deadweight sells but kicks out at 2! Now thats a damn great pro wrestling exchange. Bryan exposes the injured knee and buries it repeatedly into Punk's midsection. Ok, thats the best spot of the match! What a great Fuck You! You think you hurt me? Well here's my injured body part and I am going to use it to further fuck you up. Holy shit! Thats great! Bryan goes for a superplex, but Punk desperately knocks him off and Bryan takes a bad spill crotching himself on the top rope, recovers and Punk nails a Springboard Clothesline for two. That was Punk's first big nearfall. 

This resets things again for the final hurrah. They fight on their knees work up to base each missing wild kicks to the head. They tease Go 2 Sleep and YESLock. Punk nails a huge kick to the head and this is his second big nearfall. He goes up to the top rope for the Macho Man Elbow with bad ribs and his face says it all. "This is gonna hurt" and boy it does as he is left writhing in pain not able to capitalize. Instead Bryan goes into frenzy with a barrage of knees to the midsection and Bryan looks triumphant. The ref rips him off. Bryan is YES! He does the Psychosis dropkick ass-bump into the corner. Punk nails the big step-up knee. Bryan puts on the brakes and wrestles him into the YESLock. Punk rolls him on his back to get the pinfall but as the ref counts three, Punk is tapping. Ooooooooooooooo DRAMA!

Again, I dont like the step-up knee leading to someone else's offense. I just got knee'd in the head should not be leading to F-Us and YESLocks. If you wanna shove Punk off and take a moment for you to both sell thats fine, but the Knee to the Head should not be the Macho Man Reviving Elbow of the 2010s. Besides a few minor selling quibbles like above, this match is tremendous. It is a match wrestled organically and they take what is given them. They are not shoehorning their stock highspots into the match. They incorporating them based on how the match presents them. Great counterwrestling throughout, they wove the injured bodyparts from beginning to end and a great sense of struggle and urgency. This is an all-timer! ****3/4

 

 

  

 

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The meat of the match is Punk's attack on Bryan's leg vs. Bryan's brutalization of Punk's ribs. It's just absolutely fantastic stuff; both guys are extremely compelling doing damage to one another, and the selling is really great throughout. Early on I loved how 'cause of the damage Punk had done to his leg, Bryan was slower than usual with his classic comeback sequence, which allowed Punk to gain the control back. Really love the whole idea of Punk pretty much dominating the early going w/ his focused attack on a specific bodypart, too -- in the indies, The American Dragon made a name for himself off of that shit, and here he is getting schooled by Punk. Felt like that thought came to his head when Punk had him on that leglock too, as he very angrily forearm'd the absolute shit out of him to get out of the hold. When he finally fully gets back into the thing, he sees a target in Punk's mid-section, and oh boy did he go to town on that. Him just wearing Punk down with submissions & kneeing + kicking the wind out of him was terrific, and like I said, the selling was great. Punk sold brilliantly & it created for some superb moments like him essentially sacrificing himself w/ that Macho Man Elbow Drop, and him recovering slower than Bryan after he got himself out of Bryan's Dragon Sleeper. Some other great moments in this all-timer of a match include Punk going back to that leg w/ that Dragon Screw followed by the Figure-4, "I have till 5" w/ a cheeky little smile; mocking Bryan's old ROH shtick, Bryan pulling the kneepad on his bad knee down & going to town on Punk with them knee-attacks on the corner. I really could just say that everything about this is just great. The day it happened I recognized it as something special, and here, years later, it still holds up as something special. One of my absolute favorite matches to ever take place. *****

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