CONSOL Energy Center (Pittsburgh, PA)
It seems a bit odd, but prior to this match Daniel Bryan had only wrestled one “great” singles PPV match in the past year plus (versus John Cena at Summer Slam 2013). Some of it was circumstance (spending most of the first half of 2013 in a tag team) and some of it was underwhelming results (the matches versus Orton this Fall). That has not stopped him from reaching ridiculous levels of over-ness, but at the same time it was great to see Bryan put on a great featured singles match once again.
This was just a really, really great match and on first view, the best I have seen so far this year. There was a ton of cool stuff in this one. Bryan’s two early dives were great as usual. The tornado DDT off the apron was an unexpectedly great spot and Bray took the move (with little maneuvering move next to the barrier) really well. The catch of the third dive into the Sister Abigail was a great transition into the finishing stretch. Bryan’s reversal of the Sister Abigail into the school boy provided a tremendous near fall. Bray’s stiff clothesline coupled with Bryan’s ridiculous spin bump was maybe the best move in a match filled with them.
The structure was also really good. They wisely started off with Bryan in control and moving at a fast pace. This bought them some leeway in case the crowd wasn’t into Bray’s control offense. They did a really nice job mixing in more – but shorter – hope spots and comebacks along the way. It was interesting that the crowd fell silent for Bray’s first chin lock, started clapping along a little for Bryan during the second one, and were really into Bryan’s comeback on the third one. You usually don’t see that sort of reaction (it is usually in reverse) so clearly they were doing something right in the build.
Bryan was of course instrumental but Bray more than held his own. He has enough offense and enough signature spots (the crab walk, his finisher, the lariat, ect.) to more than get by. Bryan cuts a furious pace but Bray more than get up with him and looked very good in doing so. He also takes a beating well as his kicking and screaming on Bryan’s early offense brought it to another level.
The ending – with Bray going over cleanly – was the right call as well, regardless of where they are going with Bryan. Bray has had so few singles matches that he needed a big win to get him off on the right foot in the build to his WrestleMania match with Cena. Bryan can take the loss and at this point, losses actually might help his underdog gimmick more than winning would.
On first view this is your definitely your clubhouse leader for 2014 MOTY.
Grudge Match | Must Watch | Quality