Every professional wrestler is only as good as the opponent they face. There’d be no Shawn Michaels without Bret Hart, no Stone Cold Steve Austin without Vince McMahon, no Mankind without The Rock, and no John Cena without JBL. And while modern ‘sports entertainment’ seems content to fill much of its programming time with backstage skits and dancing segments, the idea that two men sometimes just need to beat the crap out of each other lives on.
2013 Feud of the Year
Brian Fritz: CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman
These two used to be best buddies, working together to ensure that CM Punk was the best in the world and the longest reigning champion of the modern era. Punk got it did in the ring and Heyman would help the best he could. It was a symbiotic relationship that crumbled once Punk wanted a break. He wanted to do it on his own and Heyman was crushed. He took in personally and felt betrayed. And he wanted revenge for what he felt was a slight for everything he had done. At first, Heyman used his relationship with Brock Lesnar to keep Punk off his back. But once Lesnar took a break, Heyman had to look elsewhere for protection and it wasn’t nearly as effective as Punk eventually got his hands on the evil genius. But it took a while before the day came about.
Michael A. Wiseman: Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow
For professional wrestlers, its never the feud that finally “clicks” which makes them a star – it’s actually the feud just before. Austin/McMahon? Look at Austin/Bret Hart, or Austin/Jake Roberts. Think Rock/Mankind made them both household names? Nope… it was Rock/HHH. So when we look back at the careers of both Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes, I think this feud will be seen as the turning point for both men. Everything about this felt about as old-school as it gets. A great tag team, with two great friends, where one partner gets jealous and turns his back on the other. How does the friend respond? By stealing his most prized possession (in this case the MITB briefcase) and tossing it into a large body of water. There was bigger at work here than two men who developed a believable and fun rivalry over a case with a contract. And the stock of both men have done nothing but go up sense. Good stuff.
Steven Muehlhausen: CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman
This pairing started off the year as best friends, while Punk entered 2013 as WWE champion. After Punk lost to The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 29, Punk made one more appearance and then took a sabbatical. Heyman made a match for Punk in his hometown of Chicago against Chris Jericho at the Payback PPV. Punk won the match, but the enxt night at on Raw, Punk told Heyman he didn’t need his help anymore. Later on during that show, Punk got attacked by Brock Lesnar. Heyman kept denying he had nothing to do with it. At the MITB in July, with Punk on the verge of winning the briefcase for a title shot, Heyman attacked Punk with a ladder to cost him the match.
Lesnar with Heyman in his corner defeated Punk in the Match of the Year at Summerslam. After that the feud escalated as Punk took on another Heyman guy in Curtis Axel at Night of Champions in September. Heyman won the match by pinning Punk after Ryback put Punk through a table. Ryback/Heyman/Axel feuded with Punk through the end of October with it culminating at Hell in a Cell in October with Punk pinning Ryback. After the match, Punk brutalized Heyman at the top of the cell.
The dynamic between Heyman and Punk was unbelievable. You knew every week, these two were going to deliver during promos as you could tell the chemistry was there and it showed in the physicality as well.
What do you think about the rivalries of 2013 and the stories they told? Are Brian, Michael, and Steve correct? Do you think somebody else should have made the list? Let us know what you think in the comments below. And bookmark The Best of 2013: Professional Wrestling to get our picks on everything from the last year.