The past 365 days have been a banner year for World Wrestling Entertainment.
In-ring, bell-to-bell, 2013 has been one of the best the company has ever put together. From pay per view worthy matches on RAW to 15-minute workhorse showcases on Main Event or NXT, the WWE has developed a very good habit of offering a little bit of everything to fans.
Never was this trend more evident then it was on RAW. In 2012, RAW expanded to three hours, met mostly with disdain by most fans and for just reason. Shows were ever-long with dragged out segments and oversaturation of wrestlers on television.
It took a while, but by 2013, the WWE found its bearings and started producing weekly quality television. One of the driving forces behind the boom in quality has been the emphasis on longer format matches on the company’s flagship show.
Yeah, sure, RAW still has some eye gouging moments, but between Michael Cole schilling the WWE App and some nauseating backstage segments at times, you’re getting some high quality ring-work by the best the WWE has to offer.
The WWE’s re-emphasis on ring-work didn’t stop there. Main Event has seemingly become the new Velocity, the showcase for the WWE’s low and mid-card talent. NXT, the company’s developmental system, too, found its niche as its own bubble of sorts as a well paced, low-stakes show featuring the Superstars of tomorrow.
Smackdown and Superstars, too, are your base hit WWE fare that will surprise you every now and then.
It has been such a strong year in-ring for the WWE, summing the year up with a Top 10 wouldn’t do it justice. So, consider this article a playlist of sorts to guide you through some of the best stuff the year had to offer on television.
First up is a match I’ve gone on record saying is the greatest match in the history of Monday Night RAW. It had everything needed to be a Match of the Year Contender (and it was) — big match atmosphere, hot crowd, real stakes, clean finish, and top notch in-ring work. The match is John Cena versus CM Punk from RAW on February 25th. The winner of this match would go on to WrestleMania 29 to face The Rock in the main event.
John Cena vs. CM Punk – RAW 2/25/13
2013 was the Year of Daniel Bryan. Bryan was already insanely popular, but this past year he reached superstardom. One of the best in-ring performers in the world, Bryan would become the go-to performer on RAW by the end of the year. Each week, a new opponent, another critically acclaimed match.
Daniel Bryan vs. Chris Jericho – RAW 2/11/13
Daniel Bryan vs. Seth Rollins – RAW 6/10/13
Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton – STREET FIGHT – RAW 6/24/13
Daniel Bryan vs. Jack Swagger, Antonio Cesaro, and Ryback – RAW 7/22/13
Another standout performer in 2013 on the TV circuit was Antonio Cesaro. A regular on NXT, Main Event, Superstars, and even the big shows, Cesaro delivered something you had to go out of your way to see every single week.
Antonio Cesaro vs. Kofi Kingston – Main Event 5/1/13
Antonio Cesaro vs. Sheamus – Main Event 6/5/13
Antonio Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn – 2-out-of-3 Falls Match – NXT 8/21/13
And the best of the rest…
Alberto Del Rio vs. The Big Show – Last Man Standing- Smackdown 1/11/13
CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho – RAW 2/4/13
William Regal vs. Kassius Ohno – NXT 4/10/13
Randy Orton vs. Goldust – RAW 9/9/13
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this absolute GEM of a segment known as “The Mark Henry Retirement Speech.” So good.
…whoawhoawhoawhoawhoawhoa WAIT A MINUTE…WAIT A MINUTE…and last but not least… one of the best moments of 2013, Dolph Ziggler cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase to win the World Heavyweight Championship the night after WrestleMania 29.