The WWE Title bout was the overwhelming show stealer in Raleigh. @CMPunk vs. @WWEDanielBryan had one of the best bouts that I can recall seeing in years.
Was it better than WM28 Undertaker vs. HHH? Not in my view but it was damn close and considering the atmosphere at OTL compared to Miami that's a viable compliment. Plus, regarding Taker-HHH, I'm biased because I had the opportunity to call that one. Just being honest.
Punk vs. Bryan has the personality traits of some of the business great, mat rivalries where seemingly every time out a great match occurred.
Jack Brisco vs. Dory Funk, Jr. had amazing chemistry and, arguably, the best, pure wresting rivalry ever over the long haul.
Verne Gagne vs. Nick Bockwinkel in the AWA was another classic, wrestling rivalry that clicked and stood the test of time.
Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat's long, series of bouts will be remembered for years to come as some of the best wrestling matches of their generation. Naitch vs. the Dragon also came in an era where there were numerous top stars who could get it done inside the ropes. Being on cable TV at that time in the late 80's helped the perception of Flair/Steamboat as well.
Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels had some amazing matches as were outlined on their Rivalry DVD that is currently available on NetFlix. There's SO much more to the Hitman-HBK rivalry than simply Montreal/Survivor Series 1997. However, the bottom line is that these two had chemistry and told tremendous stories inside the ropes.
Steve Austin vs. The Rock was a huge money earning rivalry that headlined three WrestleMania events. Austin and Rock also had amazing chemistry and brought out the best in each other.
Austin and Rock were two talented men with strong, almost obsessive egos who both HAD to be number one. Those traits/elements created magic.
On a side note, many fans today would likely complain loudly if two men headlined three Wrestlemanias considering what I heard when two great stars such as Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels had two WM main events.
So to see Punk vs. Bryan Sunday night at OTL on PPV was amazingly refreshing to me. They were virtually seamless, had animalistic intensity, dehabilitating strikes, crippling and painful submissions and told an overwhelmingly compelling story.
It would appear that WWE has found lightning in a bottle with the two, former independent grapplers who paid their dues time and time again for little money to earn the opportunity to play at the highest level in the business, the WWE.
Punk and Bryan certainly are not '8X10 guys' but are two superbly conditioned, highly skilled, physically and mentally tough athletes who have sprinkled in just enough 'show biz' to make each man a uniquely marketable package.
Hopefully we will be treated to more of these two men in the future. This rivalry has unlilmited potential including the opportunity for an Ironman Match, 30 or 60 minutes, among many other show stealers.
Punk vs. Bryan Sunday night would have held up in any era of the business that I've personally been involved and that takes us back to the mid 70's. Bravo to both men. I wish that the WWE had a locker room full of CM Punk's and Daniel Bryan's.
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