The match between AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan for the vacated Intercontinental Championship wound up being the highlights of last week, as the pair tore down the house on SmackDown for more than 30 minutes and (arguably) outshined what WWE was promoting as "The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever" between Edge and Randy Orton two days later. Styles wound up winning after counting Bryan's Running Knee into a Styles Clash, then connected with a Phenomenal Forearm for the win.
Despite the praise the match received, CM Punk still had some criticisms when he appeared on WWE Backstage this week.
"I couldn't put my thumb on exactly why I didn't feel like it was as great," Punk said (h/t Wrestling Inc. for transcript). "On paper I was excited to watch this, but I couldn't, fully, one-hundred percent get into it. Both guys, some of the best and I've watched them personally have great matches in VHW halls in the indies, sometimes in front of no people. I think what was missing was the people.
"It was a good match and I wanted it to be great. It was missing that something and I think that something was the fans and the electricity," he added. "The wrestlers feeding off that electricity and there being a third member of the dance group to kind of help it along. Structurally, fundamentally, I can't say a bad thing about it, but there was just one little nagging thing. I'm watching it, I was just like, 'What is it? What is it? What is it?' I think it was the lack of people that hurt it for me."
On the same episode, Punk ripped WWE for hurting the Edge vs. Orton match by pushing it so hard as the "greatest ever" before it had even happened.
"I think if you're Randy and Edge you just ignore that, you can't live up to that, it's too subjective of a label," Punk said. "'Greatest Match of All Time,' what's the 'Greatest Single of All Time'? Music-wise. What's the 'Greatest Band of All-Time'? What's the 'Greatest Car of All Time?' It's too subjective. Everybody's going to have a different opinion, but I think that's what makes wrestling great. You can talk about all these different wrestlers from all these different regions from all over the world who wrestle a different style, and sometimes in the ring you get magic. I think they had a great match. Was it the greatest match of all time? I've seen better Randy Orton matches. I've seen better Edge matches.
"But... to put that on the marquee, and get people to watch, I kind of feel like it was a lot of unnecessary pressure — especially on Edge — coming back after almost a decade of not wrestling. They did a great job of compartmentalizing that, and almost ignoring it, just going out there and delivering."