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KELLER’S WWE EXTREME RULES PPV REPORT
JULY 15, 2018
AIRED LIVE ON WWE NETWORK
Raw Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Jonathan Coachman
Smackdown Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
-Cole introduced the show. They showed Ronda Rousey and her husband Travis Browne in the front row showing off their tickets.
(1) MATT HARDY & BRAY WYATT vs. THE B TEAM (Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas) – WWE Raw Tag Team Champions
Hardy & Bray came out first. Coach said nobody has more to gain tonight with a win than B Team. Bo took a break early to regroup after a beating by Matt. Axel consoled and motivated him. Hardy and Axel battled back and forth for several minutes. The crowd was into chanting “Delete!” Bo tagged in and took over on Matt. Graves claimed Miz was magnanimous and helped the careers of Axel and Bo. The other announcers laughed in his face. Hardy landed a Side Effect on Axel. Both were slow to get up. The crowd clapped and encouraged Hardy to hot-tag Bray, which he did. Bray set up Sister Abigail, but Curtis interfered. After some four-way chaos, Bo shoved Matt into Bray, then gave Matt a neckbreaker off the top rope to score the upset win. They cut to crowd reactions of shocked fans. B Team celebrated like crazy at ringside. “Did – that – just – happen?” asked Coach.
WINNERS: B Team in 8:00 to capture the Raw Tag Team Titles. (*3/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: What you’d expect here. Decent action. Surprise finish, but one that says the B Team is seen by Vince McMahon as more than a one-off novelty but rather something he wants to invest in a bit longer. With the lack of tag teams on Raw, and with Authors of Pain barely on TV for months, this isn’t that big of a shock as it doesn’t really bump anyone else out of the tag title picture who fans are itching to see in the mix.)
-Charly Caruso interviewed Bo and Curtis on the stage. She asked how they feel. Curtis asked, “How does a rainbow feel?” Bo said they proved that the B in B Team stands for “Best.”
-A commercial aired for WWE Shop t-shirts.
-Backstage Renee Young interviewed Raw G.M. Kurt Angle. Angle said he recently reopened negotiations with Brock Lesnar about when he’ll defend his Universal Title again. He said Paul Heyman said Lesnar isn’t interested in wrestling soon. Angle said he’s tired of it. He said it offends him that Lesnar showed up to get in the face of the UFC Champion but won’t face anyone in WWE. He said Lesnar can show up tomorrow night on Raw, or agree to defend his title, or he’ll strip Lesnar of the WWE Universal Championship. Fans popped and began a loud “Yes!” chant.
-The announcers reacted at ringside.
(2) FINN BALOR vs. BARON CORBIN
Corbin, as usual, insisted that the ring announcers introduce him a second time with a referee to being “Stephanie McMahon’s personally appointed constable of Raw.” Corbin yelled early that Balor is “too small” as he bashed him early in the match. Cole talked about Corbin being home grown and learning his skills at the WWE Performance Center, a contrast to Balor’s background. Corbin knocked Balor out of mid-air with a forearm as Balor springboarded toward him. Balor made a comeback, but ate a boot. He fired back, though, with a step-up enzuigiri. Then he climbed to the top rope and set up a double-stomp, but Corbin stood and yanked him off the top rope by his throat and choke slammed him onto his knee for a near fall. Corbin yelled at the ref angrily in frustration. Coach said this is the best Corbin has looked in his career. Cole said Ronda has been Instagramming throughout the match. Balor came back with a running dropkick and tried again for the Coup De Grace. Corbin avoided it and went for End of Days, but Balor countered with a small package for the win. Corbin threw another fit, yelling at the ref.
WINNER: Balor in 9:00. (**)
(Keller’s Analysis: Solid action. Good for second spot on a card.)
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-The Smackdown announcers were on camera setting up the next match when they threw to breaking news backstage. The Bludgeon Brothers were in the midst of attacking Daniel Bryan and Kane. They threw Bryan into a storage garage door. Then they bashed Kane’s leg in a door with the mallet. Kane cried out in pain.
-Various announce teams introduced themselves.
(3) CARMELLA (w/James Ellsworth) vs. ASUKA – WWE Raw Women’s Title match
Ellsworth was locked inside the shark cage and raised above the ring before the match. There was a “cage cam” showing Ellsworth’s view straight down. Asuka went at Carmella with rapid-fire kicks at the start. Carmella called for Ellsworth early and he dropped a chain. Asuka ran over and grabbed it and told the ref about it. She then kicked Carmella and scored an early two count. Carmella tried to use spray at Asuka’s face, but Asuka blocked it and threw more kicks at Carmella and then a hip attack for a near fall. Asuka went for an Asuka Lock and finally applied it. Carmella got her feet in the ropes. Asuka suplexed Carmella at ringside a minute later. Ellsworth broke free from the cage, but his boot got caught and he dangled upside down from the cage. Phillips called him a schmuck. Asuka kicked him and punched him like a heavy bag. Security came in and ordered the cage lowered. As they tried to untie Ellsworth’s boot, Asuka knocked the security guys out of the ring and kicked Ellsworth more. Carmella stood up behind Asuka and took way way too long to shove Asuka face-first into the lowered cage. She scored the three count.
WINNER: Carmella in 5:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: There’s a slice of the fanbase who will get a kick out of that, a slice who will hate it, and an even larger segment who won’t think about it much ever again. It didn’t eat up much time and was largely harmless in my view, with a funny moment of Ellsworth being caught upside down from the cage once he broke out of it.)
-The announcers recapped the Kickoff Show tables match and the B Team tag team title victory.
-Ring entrances took place for Jeff Hardy vs. Shinsuke Nakamura match. Nakamura gave Hardy a low-blow from behind the bell. The ref didn’t see it. Phillips noted the bell hasn’t rung yet. Nakamura stood there, looking as innocent as could be. Hardy said he could go and told the ref to ring the bell. The bell rang.
(4) JEFF HARDY vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA – U.S. Title match
Nakamura gave Hardy a running knee before the bell stopped vibrating and scored the pin.
WINNER: Nakamura in about five seconds to capture the U.S. Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: If you paid to see a good match with Hardy and Nakamura going at it, that’s disappointing. The heat goes on the company and not the heel in these situations. On the bright side, for fans who don’t enjoy overly long WWE events, they are moving rather swiftly through the first four matches here with match lengths at nine minutes, eight minutes, five minutes, and under one minute.)
-After the match, Randy Orton made his return with a full ring entrance. Phillips noted they haven’t seen him in two months. Saxton wondered what Orton wants. Well, the obvious assumption is he was there to defend Hardy against his recent rival Nakamura. He entered the ring and stared down Nakamura who had retreated to ringside. After a staredown that lasted nearly a minute, Orton turned as Hardy struggled to stand. He had a certain look on his face that hinted strongly at what was to come. He walked over to Hardy with a somehwhat sinister demeanor and spreads Hardy’s legs and stomped on his crotch. Hardy coughed and gasped. Nakamura mouthed, “What are you doing?”
(Keller’s Analysis: If you’ve ever been interested in being a top babyface act on Smackdown, apply now, because Smackdown is down to A.J. Styles, Daniel Bryan, and Hardy, assuming his testicles are crushed. So either Rusev, Miz, or Samoa Joe have to officially turn babyface, or else Sin Cara is in for a heck of a surprise push as a top three babyface on Smackdown. The other options are a trade, a call-up, a big signing, or someone else in the tag division breaks off as a singles babyface such as Big E or Cesaro or Luke Gallows.)
-A video package aired on the Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens feud.
(5) BRAUN STROWMAN vs. KEVIN OWENS – Cage Match
Owens tried to flee by climbing the cage wall right away. Braun yanked him down. He tried a second time, but Braun yanked him down again. Braun yelled, “You say Fight Owens Fight? Don’t be a coward. Fight me!” Braun charged at Owens, but Owens moved and Braun hit the cage. Owens superkicked him quickly and then landed a cannonball in the corner. Owens quickly ran up to the top rope and splashed him for a near fall. A pin in a cage? Owens then crawled toward the door to escape, but Braun leaped at Owens and yanked him back in by his boot. Owens stood and begged for mercy. He tried a cheap shot. Braun blocked it and bashed Owens in the chest with a forearm. Then he threw Owens into the wall of the cage three times in a row. Fans kept chanting “One more time!” It shifted to “Get these hands!” Graves said Owens’ only strategy is to poke Braun in his eyes. Owens surprised Braun with a stunner out of nowhere. Owens crawled to the opening, but Braun yanked the door onto his face to stop him. Owens side-stepped a charging Braun who went face-first into the cage post. Owens handcuffed Braun to the cage. Cole lauded Owens taking advantage of the lack of rules.
Owens punched away at Braun and yelled, “That’s what you get! What are you going to do now, huh?” Braun then one-handed choke slammed him hard. Strowman tried to break free. Owens shouted “Suck it!” and crotch chopped toward him. Then he climbed toward the opposite cage wall. Braun broke free with a yell and a yank. Braun met Owens on top with a beet-red face full of rage. He stood on the top of the cage and choke slammed Owens off the top of the cage as Cole yelled, “Oh my God, don’t do it, Braun!” Owens fell hard onto an announce table at ringside. Fans chanted “Holy sh–!” afterward. Braun, meanwhile, stood with his arms raised high on the top of the cage in quite a visual, trusting his balance. Owens was breathing as referees checked on him flat on his back. EMTs arrived with a gurney. Owens was wheeled out. They replayed the fall from several angles.
WINNER: Owens in 8:00. (**1/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: There was a time where a bump like that would have been the talk of the wrestling world for weeks. There did appear on one replay angle to be some inflated padding or airbag of some sort under the tabletop that helped absorb the initial impact. It’s great if WWE is figuring out how to make that dangerous spot safer for the wrestlers who taking the bump, if that’s the case.)
-The announcers hyped the Australian stadium show coming up this October including Triple H vs. Undertaker for a final time. Then they aird a recap of the Bludgeon Brothers-Team Hell No rivalry.
(6) THE BLUDGEON BROTHERS vs. DANIEL BRYAN – WWE Smackdown Tag Team Title match
Kane was too hurt to come out with Bryan. Bryan decided to fight anyway, without a partner being re-assigned. (This seems like a set-up to see if fans will chant “Hogan! Hogan! Hogan!” which would also explain why they announced Hogan’s return to the WWE Hall of Fame earlier.) The crowd very enthusiastically chanted for Bryan at the start. Bryan put up an early fight, but was soon overwhelmed by both Bludgeons. Phillips asked at what point Bryan thinks of his career and his family. Graves said he should have thought of that before he came out with Kane, and now his family life and future are probably lost. “Stevie Wonder saw this coming,” said Graves. Bryan eventually made a comeback and dove through the ropes at Erick Rowan, but Rowan caught him. Luke Harper dove through the ropes to try to hit Bryan, but Bryan moved, so Rowan took the impact. Then Kane limped out to the ring with his left foot in a protective boot. Bryan crawled over and tagged in Kane a minute later. The crowd cheered, but didn’t explode. He punched away at Harper and then choke slammed Rowan. Harper kicked Kane’s bad leg, so Kane tagged Bryan back in. Bryan hit a top rope dropkick, kipped up, and then showed fire. The crowd was with him and loudly chanted “Yes!” He Yes kicked Harper over and over as the crowd chanted along. Rowan tagged himself in, but Bryan didn’t see it. Bryan charged with a running knee, m but Rowan entered and cut him off, then spin kicked him. He tagged in Harper who clotheslines Bryan off of Rowan’s shoulders and scored the pin. That deflated the crowd.
WINNERS: The Bludgeon Brothers in 9:00 to retain the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Titles. (*1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: If Kane was injured coming into the match, this was a logical and suitable escape hatch from doing a full-fledged two-on-two. Bryan was protected in the the put up a big fight before losing with the odds stacked against him. Kane got to be heroic even in losing.)
-They showed Roman Reigns walking backstage. B Team ran up to him and said if they can do it, then he can. They said all he has to do is beat Bobby Lashley and they can celebrate together. Reigns was too cool to accept Bo’s handshake the crowd totally hated on Reigns for it. They booed when Reigns looked at them like they were fools and walked away.
-They went to the announcers at ringside who previewed the Reigns-Lashley match. Graves said it’s a clash of two bulls. He also thanked Dead Sara for “Heaven’s Got a Back Door” theme song.
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(7) ROMAN REIGNS vs. BOBBY LASHLEY
There were boos even before Reigns’s music played. When it did play, the crowd booed loudly. Then suddenly the music and crowd noise and music volume got softer. Cole called him “the most polarizing Superstar in WWE today.” The announcers talked about the news from Angle earlier about the status of the Universal Title and how that affects the ramifications of this match. Lashley came out next to what seemed like a flat response from the crowd. Cole said Reigns makes his case that he’s been in WWE week after week, whereas Lashley left. Graves aptly defended Lashley, saying he left to test himself in MMA. They locked up and fans booed. Lashley threw down Reigns and then went for a single-leg takedown. Graves said Reigns won’t outwrestle Lashley, so he’ll have to go with his Superman Punch or spear. Lashley leapfrogged Reigns. Reigns gave Lashley a Superman Punch. Fans booed. Graves said it’s indisputably Reigns’s yard, but if Lashley wants to make a claim it’s his, the best way is to win here. Lashley kicked out at one after a back elbow bay Reigns. Reigns gave the ref that look that defines him in some fans’ minds as a total douchebag. Fans chanted something loudly as Reigns had Lashley in a chinlock. It caused Cole to go into non-stop mode of describing the action to cover up the chant.
Reigns knocked Lashley to the floor. Cole said Lashley’s “wits are out of sort.” Reigns tossed Lashley around ringside. Then a loud “Rusev Day!” chant broke out. Graves said this has become a one-sided fight. Reigns threw Lashley into the ringside steps. Then he tried to bash Lashley with the top of the steps, but Lashley blocked it and then yanked Reigns down by pulling hard on the ladder. Lashley threw Reigns around the ring, but Reigns made a comeback. He sold an injury to his ribcage on his right side He threw a series of clotheslines at Lashley, then gave a facial expression that just screams “money heel.” Lashley surprised Reigns with a snap powerslam for a near fall. Lashley played to the crowd, then surprised a charging Reigns with a crossbody. Lashley climbed to the top rope. Graves said he can’t believe he’s seeing this. Lashley then leaped at Reigns with an axe handle. He went to suplex Reigns, but Reigns lifted him onto his shoulders. Lashley grabbed onto the top rope. Reigns shoved Lashley over the top rope to the floor. Lashley landed hard on his side. The ref checked on him quickly. The ref began to count Lashley out, but he returned at nine. Reigns guillotine legdropped Lashley as he entered the ring and scored a believable near fall.
Dueling chants of “Let’s Go Roman / Roman Sucks” broke out. Reigns signaled for his spear. Boos. Lashley caught Reigns mid-air and gave him a spinebuster. Then he gave him the delayed vertical suplex and scored a believable near fall. Lashley charged for his spear, but Reigns cut him off with a Superman Punch for a believable near fall. As much as many fans hate Roman, they don’t love Lashley equally in response. No big pops for Lashley kicking out. At ringside Reigns let out a big yell and then charged at Lashley. Lashley took his momentum and overhead suplexed him onto the German announce table. Reigns’s heads barely cleared the table as he flipped over it to the floor. Lashley threw Reigns back into the ring. He pounded on the top turnbuckle and looked to the crowd for cheers. None really came. Reigns then gave him a Superman Punch to knock him off the top rope. Reigns trash-talked Reigns and said, “My yard!” He let out another big yell. Lashley speared Reigns and scored the 1-2-3.
WINNER: Lashley in 15:00. (***)
(Keller’s Analysis: Good action for the most part, even if Reigns’s reliance on just a few moves does add a repetitive layer to any “excitement” he otherwise generates. The crowd just wasn’t into Lashley all that much which is concerning, so him getting a big win over Reigns may not be the right move. This could be setting up a three-way with Reigns, Lashley, and Lesnar, unless Lesnar is stripped and then Lashley’s win justifies him getting a shot at the uncrowned Reigns for the vacated Universal Title. Or WWE could just retire the Universal Title and have one floating WWE World Title that is defended at each PPV against a mix of Raw and Smackdown top contenders throughout the year.)
-A comercial aired for a movie.
-They showed Rousey at ringside again.
-A video package aired on the Alexa Bliss-Jia Jax rivalry.
(8) ALEXA BLISS (w/Mickie James) vs. NIA JAX – WWE Raw Women’s Title match
When Bliss ran away early at ringside, Jax chased after her. Bliss hit Jax with a kendo stick. Jax yanked it away and broke it over her knee. Bliss went wide-eyed. Mickie gave Bliss a trash can. Jax grabbed it and threw it into the ring. Repeat with a chair, another trash, another chair, and a trash can lid. Mickie tossed Bliss another kendo stick, but Bliss just ran away. Jax caught up with her and knocked her down with a headbutt. Back in the ring. Back in the ring Jax continued to dominate, easily handling the smaller Bliss. Jax lifted and dropped Bliss onto a trash can. She went after her at ringside and threw her back into the ring to stop a countout. Bliss whacked Jax with a trash can and then the trashcan. When Jax charged at Bliss, Bliss moved and then Jax crashed into the trash can. Mickie tried to give Alexa a trash can lid. Natalya ran over and yanked Mickie off the ring apron and beat her down. Alexa and Bliss threw Natalya hard into the ringside barricade.
Rousey stood and looked like she couldn’t take anymore. She leaped over the barricade and threw Mickie hard into the barricade twice. Then she threw her into the ring. She lifted her into his shoulders and gave her a spinning Samoan drop. At ringside she threw her into the German announce table. Cole said Rousey has lost it. She looked across the ring at Bliss. Fans chanted “Ronda Rousey!” Rousey chased down Bliss and grabbed her. Mickie hit Rousey with the kendo stick right in front of her husband. Bliss climbed to the top rope and leaped too Jax. Jax caught her, though, and set up a Samoan drop. Mickie entered the ring and hit Jax with a chair to knock her down. Bliss then bashed Jax with a chair twice. Bliss then DDT’d Jax onto a chair and got the three count.
WINNER: Bliss in 8:00. (**)
(Keller’s Analysis: Rousey got a big reaction, but otherwise the crowd was only moderately into the match. This was another way to get a match in that fits the theme of “Extreme Rules,” but the chairs and trash cans and kendo sticks were played more for comedy than violence other than the visual of Bliss being dropped onto the trash can. Rousey seems to move 25 percent faster than the wrestlers she’s throwing around are prepared for and it throws off the usual smooth timing of more experienced pros; it also makes her seem more intense and unhinged. This could go anywhere from here involving these four – Rousey challenging Bliss, or a three-way or four-way. Oh, why exactly was Rousey cheering Jax?)
-A commercial aired for Summerslam.
-The announcers talked about Summerslam and then said on Smackdown this Tuesday, Hardy would get a rematch against Nakamura for the U.S. Title.
(9) A.J. STYLES vs. RUSEV (w/Aiden English) – WWE Title match
After English sang for Rusev, the ring announcer did formal introductions for the title match. Styles got in early offense. Then Rusev dominated for several minutes. When Rusev climbed to the top rope, Styles kicked his legs and Rusev tumbled to the floor. Rusev eventually made a comeback and knocked Styles to the floor. He favored his leg before doing a running dive, but Styles hit him with a forearm before he cleared the ropes. Rusev went down in the ring. Styles set up a springboard 450, but Rusev moved. Styles went for a Calf Crusher, but Rusev rolled out of it and went for a Accolade. Styles escaped and kicked Rusev. Rusev punched Styles out of mid-air. Nice rapid-fire sequence. Both were slow to get up. Rusev gave Styles a fallaway slam, but Styles shifted into a Calf Crusher mid-ring. Rusev yelled in pain and tried to power out. English pushed the bottom rope toward Rusev and Rusev grabbed the bottom rope. Styles told the ref what happened. He dwelled on what English did so long, that Rusev had a chance to recover. Styles chased after English. The crowd didn’t react. Styles ran right into the arms of Rusev who gave Styles a belly-to-belly on the floor.
Back in the ring, Rusev gave Styles the Machka Kick for a very near fall. Rusev grabbed his sore left leg with an expression of “heartache and agony,” said Graves. Rusev went for another Machka Kick, but Styles ducked and hit a Pelé kick. Rusev then gave Styles a roundkick to the side of his head for a near fall. He shifted quickly into an attempt at the Accolade, but Rusev’s leg gave out. Rusev tried again after a few seconds and applied it without the left leg/knee. Styles was cable to shift more easily to the bottom rope to force a break. English removed a top turnbuckle from the opposite corner, exposing the steel buckle. Rusev stood and got fired up and stomped on Styles’s Back and went for the Accolade again. Styles hilariously ran away toward the wrong corner. He saw that the turnbuckle there was covered, so he awkwardly obviously ran over to the other corner. Rusev charged. Styles ducked. Rusev went face-first into the turnbuckle. Styles followed up with a springboard 450 splash for a believable near fall. “What a match!” exclaimed Phillips. Styles gave English a slidekick and then set up the Phenomenal Forearm. He played to the crowd and awaited Rusev to stand. He naield it and scored the three count. A frustrated Rusev had a talk with English after the match, as if to blame him for the exposed turnbuckle strategy failing. The announcers didn’t draw attention to it.
WINNER: Styles in 16:00 to retain the WWE Championship. (***1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: This was a good, if not very good match. That said, it just didn’t feel like an epic chapter in Styles’s title reign as Rusev felt like a fluke challenger who took advantage of an opportunity with the Gauntlet Match win but otherwise didn’t feel like a top tier challenger. Still, it was a really good effort and well-excused.)
-A commercial aired for WWE Network.
-Cole said Lashley and Carmella will be on the Extreme Rules Post-Show with Renee and Sam.
-Caruso interviewed Seth backstage. When she brought up that Drew is going to be at ringside. Seth said he knows he has three opponents – Ziggler, Drew, and the clock. He said it’s a whole new strategy at play. He said he’ll go out there tonight and leave it all in the ring and walk as the new Intercontinental Champion. He said there’s one thing left – burn it down.
(10) DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/Drew McIntyre) vs. SETH ROLLINS – 30 Minute Iron Man match for the Intercontinental Championship.
They paced it slow early with tests of strength and countermoves. Ziggler took a breather at ringside a couple minutes in. Cole noted that Ziggler has never been in a one-on-oone match longer than 30 minutes in his entire career. Seth gave Ziggler a buckle bomb and then a magistral cradle for the pin. This came under five minutes in and didn’t feel credible at all. Why would there be a pinfall in the first five minutes after the pace was slow deliberate? It just feels like a fall booked for this match that wasn’t connected to how WWE battles usually go. They should have gone at least 15 minutes before a fall.
Seth: 1-0 advantage at 5:00.
The crowd entertained themselves every time the clock got 10 seconds away from another minute marker. They counted down from 10 and then made the Royal Rumble buzzer sound. That was funny, but probably irritating to the wrestlers as it says the fans aren’t locked into the match. Seth landed a Stomp and scored another three count right before 8:00.
Seth: 2-0 advantage at 8:00.
Graves said Seth can win if he just doesn’t do anything stupid and doesn’t make any mistakes. Seth stomped the mat. Drew attacked Seth. Cole said he has to disqualify Ziggler for the attack. The fans entertained themselves with another countdown, not paying attention to Drew’s attack.
Seth: 3-0 advantage at 9:00.
At ringside Drew beat up Seth at ringside, ramming him hard into the ring apron and ringside barrier over and over. In the ring, the ref ordered Drew out of the ring. Drew finally listened and agreed to leave, but then gave Seth a Claymore kick. Drew returned to the back. Ziggler covered Seth and got a pin.
Ziggler: 1-3 disadvantage at 10:00.
Coach said Ziggler needs to get another fall because the Drew attack cost Ziggler a DQ fall, and he got it back, but he needs another one now. Ziggler superkicked Seth and got it. This story explains why they did early falls with Seth winning, but it doesn’t mean it makes any more sense. At least it was for a purpose, though.
Ziggler: 2-3 disadvantage at 11:00.
Seth countered a superkick attempt by Ziggler with a schoolboy for a two count. Ziggler then surprised Seth with a Zig Zag for another pin.
Ziggler: 3-3 tie at 12:00.
Cole said that was three falls for Ziggler in less than two minutes. Ziggler took the lead with his feet on the middle and top ropes for extra leverage.
Ziggler: 4-3 in 14:00.
Ziggler locked on an armbar as fans counted down to the mid-way mark at 15:00. Ziggler shifted to a sleeper. Seth dropped tot he mat. Fans continued with their countdown at 13:00. As Seth made a spirited comeback at ringside, Cole accentuated why 30 Minute Iron Man matches are overrated and lack drama so often: “Seth Rollins has plenty of time. We have a third of this match remaining and he’s only down a fall.” Seth landed a blockbuster back in the ring and scored a two count near the 20 minute mark. Ziggler dropkicked Seth off the top rope with nine minutes left. Rollins barely beat the ten count. He re-entered the ring a superkicked Ziggler, then gave him the ripcord knee for a near fall. Seth looked up at the clock. Ziggler came back and set up a superplex. Seth fought back and headbutted Ziggler to the mat. Seth then leaped off the top rope and landed a frog splash for a believable near fall with just 6:30 left.
After some action at ringside, Seth put Ziggler on the top rope. He set up a top rope superplex, but the crowd again was more into counting down the minute clock. Ziggler fought free. Seth ran back and climbed the ropes and superplexed Ziggler. He followed with a Falcon Arrow for a near fall. (This is getting ridiculous in a bad way that Ziggler keeps kicking out of these types of moves this late in a match.) Seth looked at the clock again. Seth stomped the mat and the crowd chanted “Burn it down!” Ziggler avoided a stomp and cradled Seth for a near fall. Seth fired right back with a catapult of Ziggler into the top turnbuckle and then he sunset flipped him for a three count. “Buckle up!” said Coach.
Seth: 4-4 tie in 17:00.
Cole called this a battle of two of the top in-ring technicians of this generation. Seth applied a sharpshooter with just over 18 minutes left. Seth shifted into a crossface with 90 seconds left. Seth then voluntarily released the hold and went for another stomp. Ziggler rolled to the floor. Seth chased after him and threw him back into the ring. When he re-entered the ring, though, Ziggler surprised him with a Fameasser for a near fall with 45 seconds left. Cole asked if they’re headed to a tie. Ziggler stomped the mat with 15 seconds left, but Seth caught hi with a superkick and stomp. He crawled over and made the cover, but the time ran out. The crowd wasn’t sure how to react. Cole said Ziggler “survived tonight.” Ziggler crawled toward the back on his knees as his music played.
WINNER: Ziggler retained the Intercontinental Title because they were tied 4-4 after 30:00.
-Angle walked out to his music. He said it was an incredible match, but nothing is settled. He said he knows the WWE Universe doesn’t want to see a tie. He declared another 30 full minutes. Not really. He declared sudden death overtime.
Drew climbed onto the ring apron. Seth knocked him off the ring apron. Ziggler then surprised Seth with a Zig Zag for the three count. Cole was outraged as Drew was banned from ringside. Graves said because the match was restarted, he has no problem with that. Cole said after what those men went through for 30 minutes, that was a shame. Graves said the match never should have been restarted, so it’s justice in a way.
WINNER: Ziggler 5-4 in overtime to retain the IC Title. (***3/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: For those who are against four-plus hour shows, that is a babyface turn for Drew. Really good match, but with all the drawbacks that everyone forgets about in the time between Iron Man matches.)
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