1. Jack Swagger v Christian, 2/24
2. John Cena v Rey Mysterio v Chris Jericho v Edge v Kane v Mike Knox, WWE, 2/15
3. John Cena v Shawn Michaels, WWE, 1/12
4. Matt Hardy v Jack Swagger, WWE, 1/13
5. Jack Swagger v Matt Hardy, WWE, 1/25
6. Edge v Triple H v Undertaker v Jeff Hardy v Big Show v Vladimir Kozlov, WWE, 2/15
7. John Cena v Chris Jericho, WWE, 2/2
8. Jack Swagger v Finlay, WWE, 2/3
9. Big Show v MVP, WWE, 1/16
10. John Cena v JBL, WWE, 1/25
11. Finlay v Jack Swagger, WWE, 1/6
12. Jack Swagger & Mark Henry vs Christian & Finlay, 2/17
13. Randy Orton v Shane McMahon, WWE, 2/15
14. Jeff Jarrett v Kurt Angle, TNA, 1/11
15. Jack Swagger v Christian, WWE, 2/10
16. The Miz & John Morrison & The Brian Kendrick v Primo & Carlito & R-Truth, WWE, 2/6
17. Shawn Michaels v JBL, WWE, 2/15
18. John Cena & Shawn Michaels v Chris Jericho & Randy Orton, WWE, 1/5
19. Edge & Big Show v Triple H & Undertaker, WWE, 2/6
20. Big Show v Festus, 1/30
21. Big Show v Triple H, WWE, 1/9
22. Randy Orton v Undertaker, WWE, 2/9
23. Chris Sabin v Alex Shelley, TNA, 1/11
24. Jack Swagger v Finlay, WWE, 2/15
25. John Cena v Shawn Michaels, WWE, 1/26
OFF. Triple H v Undertaker v Big Show v Vladimir Kozlov, WWE, 2/13
1. Jack Swagger v Christian, 2/24
Okay. So it’s August now, pretty much six months to the day since this match actually happened. I went to WrestleMania this year. I was legitimately more excited to see this six-month old match today than anything on WrestleMania. I do not remember the last time that I was this excited to see a new match, let alone a match that I’ve had sitting on my hard drive for six fucking months. This is something similar to what I did with Wall*E. Downloaded it, left it sitting on my hard drive, heard great things about it, slowly got more excited to watch it until I actually realized I’d be watching it soon, at which point I started getting really, really excited. I’ve been buzzing, BUZZING for fuck’s sakes, with excitement to watch this match for the last few days now. I could have watched this match at any point in the last six months. But I Wall*E’d it. And true to form with Wall*E, this meant two other things:
1) It wasn’t nearly as superficially satisfying as a usual great movie (or match) that I happened to watch out of nowhere, only to find that it’s really fucking great, is.
2) It was still undeniably super fucking great.
Was Christian always this good? Like, do I need to go back and watch some more fucking TNA? I’d totally do it if someone is going to tell me there are more Christian matches of this caliber. Or at least comparable calibers. It’s early into his ECW run so all of his now-usual spots are new and he’s working top face like he’ll never get this shot again. The deal with Christian is that he was put onto ECW to fill Matt Hardy’s roll of top babyface after Matt Hardy was moved to Christian’s roll of Jeff Hardy stalker. I’ve been really high on Matt Hardy for a couple years, consistently putting him in the top five wrestlers in the world in my books. Christian goes out and LITERALLY replaces Matt Hardy, wrestling the best Matt match that Matt ever wrestled, with of course the side note that Matt isn’t actually in this match. The beautiful thing about it is that it doesn’t ever feel the way that the other Swagger vs top ECW babyface matches did, where they were great and awesome but at the end of the day it was Swagger put into a Matt match (or a Finlay match), and he just happened to excel. Christian doesn’t do that. Yeah, the match is still based around the limb selling the way a Matt match is, Christian still throws the impactful sounding strikes the way Matt does, the match is laid out just as smartly as any Matt match ever has been, but this manages to be Matt Hardy vs Jack Swagger if it was booked to be John Cena vs Shawn Michaels. I guess that’s really the best part of this match, it’s the 1/13 Hardy/Swagger match mixed with the 1/12 Michaels/Cena match, which to this point were my two favorite singles matches of the year.
Of course this isn’t to say that Christian is a bystander in this match, just like it would be wrong to say that Swagger was a bystander in the Hardy or Finlay matches. Maybe it’s a little easier to praise Swagger here. I don’t know. It’s an impeccably paced, planned, and wrestled 25 minute TV main event that takes a pre-RAW crowd and drags them into it. It almost feels wrong to praise individual spots that Christian or Swagger pull off here. Swagger is Swagger, with his brutal power offense and quick amateur offense, slowed and paced to go 25 minutes, and while the end result is different and maybe not as viscerally pleasing as his 14 minute speed of destruction offense matches, it’s still really great and pretty much on a level higher than just about anyone in WWE. With the way Triple H kills off Orton and Cena falls off after April (more to come), there’s a really, really good argument that Jack Swagger is the first-half-of-2009 wrestler of the year. It’s basically him or Rey Mysterio. Dude’s been on television for five months and he’s already taken his best match and adapted it to an even better match featuring two established WWE main eventers and beat THAT match, too. What the fuck more could anyone want from him? To go back to ECW so he could have awesome matches again? Oh.
But while Swagger’s first run of matches were all about Swagger and how he adapted in the universe of a Matt Hardy match or a Finlay match, this is about Christian in the same way that Wall*E was the star of that movie. I don’t remember the moment in Wall*E, off the top of my head, where I changed from someone passively watching something that he was excited for with a smile on his face to completely immersed in the art. In this match, I was sitting there, thinking it was really good, but kind of felt let down. I’d waited months. I’d buzzed. And yet I was sitting there with the smile, happy with what I was seeing but detached. Then Christian actually manages to get out of the powerbomb and I marked the fuck out. This match was six months old, and I came in with impossible expectations. And I still marked out.
This match isn’t the Wall*E of movies. I don’t know that it will be #1 on this list at the end of the year (or #2, as Wall*E ended up). I don’t think that it has the one man performance of Rey Mysterio in the RAW Elimination Chamber, or the crowd emotion of Cena/Michaels. I don’t know that Christian’s impression here was more relatively impressive than Swagger’s mark in Hardy/Swagger. But for a match that combines all of those things and puts them together in a prettier package, it sure managed to get a lot of damn words out of me.
Wrestling. Hot damn.