Episode 197, Filmed on 7/5/16 at the Huntington Center, Toledo, OH, aired on 7/6/16 on Hulu.
Cesaro vs. Curtis Axel
Cesaro de-suits himself onstage like a well-dressed version of Hulk Hogan. On his way to the ring he stops and enjoys a moment of revel with the Cesaro Section.
And here’s Axel, looking like a schlubby John Cena in his cargo shorts. He’s accompanied by his two best friends, Heath Slater and Bo Dallas.
They begin with a collar and elbow tie-up sequence, ending with an arm drag by Cesaro. He celebrates, which really pisses off Heath Slater on the outside. Otunga mentions how much Cesaro likes coffee.
They tangle up again. Cesaro sends Axel into the ropes. Axel reverses and runs into the ropes. Cesaro hits a shoulder block. Another Irish whip and Axel with a dropkick. It was a nice dropkick and Axel knows it.
Bo shouts encouragement from outside, telling everyone that Axel is his best friend. The distraction allows Cesaro to set him up to go swingin’, but Axel doesn’t want to swing and he scurries to the outside. The crowd is pissed and Bo is furious at the WWE Universe.
“You don’t know how to wrestle,” Bo yells at the crowd. Curtis Axel climbs up to the apron. Cesaro attempts to grab him, but Axel gives him a shoulder to the gut.
Axel clubs Cesaro’s shoulder but Cesaro sends him into the corner followed by a running uppercut. He whips Axel into the opposite corner and charges for a running kick, but Axel escapes to the outside.
The Social Outcasts check on Axel but he’s unharmed. Bo, overjoyed with Axel’s ability to escape danger, starts a Bo Train. They don’t know Cesaro is following behind, dropping Slater, Axel, and Bo one by one, followed by an Uppercut Train around ringside. Things look good for Cesaro as we go to commercial.
Back from commercial, things no longer look good for Cesaro. Axel stomps him hard in the corner. Axel is done playing around. He remembers who he is, the son of Mr. Perfect, and Otunga sees the fire burning in his eyes.
Axel is taking out all of his anger and frustration, all of his disappointments and fears, right here on Cesaro. No matter what Cesaro tries to do, Axel has an answer. Something has snapped in him. Otunga hopes that Axel gets drafted away from the Social Outcasts. He thinks they are bringing him down.
Axel is vicious. Now looking less like a schlubby Cena and more like a driven man with a mean streak and a chip on his shoulder. He knocks down Cesaro, covers for a pin, but the ref is late and he only manages a one count. Axel scolds him for not being quicker.
He pushes Cesaro’s head against the second rope and berates him, “You’re nothing Cesaro, nothing.” The referee breaks it up. Axel drives his knee into Cesaro’s spine and straps in a headlock. The crowd is firmly behind Cesaro now, chanting his name.
Cesaro powers out with a sunset suplex. Both men are down. Cesaro lands a barrage of uppercuts and attempts again for the swing, but Axel reverses with a backslide for a two count. Both men struggle to their feet and Axel lands a kick to the gut. Axel hits a Perfect Plex into a bridging pin, shades of daddy, for a two count.
Axel is pissed, Bo is concerned, Slater is screaming and Cesaro is down. Axel waits in the corner while Cesaro staggers to his feet. Axel leaps from the second rope right into Cesaro’s uppercut. Now it’s finally time to go swingin’.
Cesaro swings Axel for an obscenely long time and transitions it into a Sharpshooter. Bo pleads with his best friend to hang in there, but Cesaro puts all the love he has for his own best friend, Tyson Kidd, into his Sharpshooter. And that love is just too much.
It breaks Axel’s spirit, forcing him to tap before it breaks his bones.
Winner by submission: Cesaro
Apollo Crews talks to JoJo
Apollo feels like he’s living in a dream world since he got to main event Raw and represent his county on the Fourth of July. Apollo doesn’t gamble because he once lost his lunch money in a game of rock, paper, scissors to his dad. He is mad at Rusev.
Sin Cara vs. Baron Corbin
Sin Cara is out first to the high energy sounds of the Lucha Dragons’ theme, but tonight he faces Baron Corbin without Kalisto at his side. Corbin is out next to the sounds of motorcycles revving and malicious, heavy guitar riffs. If you gave Corbin a bowie knife and a hat he’d be the second version of The Skinner.
Corbin tells us he doesn’t care one bit about which brand he’s drafted to as long as he gets what he deserves, money. But what is he spending his money on? Perhaps this story will be told one day.
Power versus speed is the name of the game in this match. And it begins with Corbin overpowering Sin Cara. But sure enough, Sin Cara quickly sends Corbin to the outside. Sin Cara goes for a suicide dive but flies right into Corbin’s money loving fist.
Corbin lifts him up and hangs Sin Cara over the top rope. Corbin lays a punch into the gut of Sin Cara, dropping him back to the mat. Corbin is slow and methodical. Phillips and Otunga discuss whether or not Corbin is a future world champion. Both of them think he could be.
He dumps Sin Cara back into the ring and goes for the pin. Two count.
Corbin get back to his feet and stomps Sin Cara hard, then locks him in a chicken wing. He shouts insults at the crowd. Corbin tosses Sin Cara into the corner but Sin Cara dodges his charge.
Sin Cara now looks to use his speed. He disorients Corbin with some fast blows and a springboard shoulder block. Sin Cara kicks Corbin in the head and knocks him to the outside.
Sin Cara hits a suicide dive and Corbin is reeling. He tries to escape through the ring to the other side, but as he does, Sin Cara hits him with another suicide dive. He throws Corbin back inside and attempts a pin. Two count.
Sin Cara lands a springboard moonsault on Corbin as he attempts to stagger to his feet. Sin Cara goes for the cover again but can’t finish Corbin. Sin Cara goes for another springboard lucha move and Corbin swats him out of thin air.
Baron Corbin picks up a lifeless Sin Cara and hits the End of Days. That’s the match.
Winner by pinfall: Baron Corbin
The Golden Truth vs. The Ascension
Breezango is ringside for the match, observing from the VIP area. They are not impressed with The Golden Truth’s singing and dancing. It’s clear that Goldust and R-Truth love each other.
Here comes the Ascension. They rise up into the camera’s view, fresh from feasting on the raw carcass of a wild boar they just hunted with their bare hands. They have painted their faces with the blood of the hunted. Now having been fed, The Ascension are ready to do battle. They look pretty mad today, but it’s obvious they love each other too.
Truth and Viktor start it out. Truth goes outside to confront Breezango for always trying to bother him and Goldust.
But never turn your back on The Ascension, especially after they have just ingested the flesh of the hunted. They will take you down, and that is exactly what they do to both members of Golden Truth.
Konnor and Fandango share a glance. Back in the ring, Viktor tags in Konnor. They double team Truth and Konnor proceeds to give him a deep tissue shoulder massage. Truth doesn’t like it when the masseuse goes too hard and he powers out.
Konnor tags in Viktor but at the same time Truth hits the Hot Tag™. In comes Goldust and he starts taking it to Viktor. Goldust lariats Konnor out of the ring, plants Viktor’s face into the canvas, sends Viktor into the ropes and hits a huge powerslam on the rebound.
Goldust goes for the cover but Konnor comes in for the save. Truth knocks Konnor to the outside, tags himself in and surprises Viktor with some kind of double team powerbomb sideslam maneuver.
That’s what it takes to put away The Ascension.
Winner by pinfall: The Golden Truth
R-Truth dances in front of Breezango to taunt them. Phillips and Otunga discuss how much The Golden Truth have grown and how big a role Breezango has played in that growth. Sometimes our greatest enemies can be our greatest teachers.
United States Champion Rusev w/Lana vs. Apollo Crews in a non-title match
Lana is in the ring to announce Rusev. He come out looking as savage as ever in trunks that say US CHAMPION. Rusev has the talent and charisma to succeed no matter what, but he shines so bright as the American-hating foreign champion.
Apollo Crews is out next. He takes a moment to fist bump a dude with mustard all over his face. Gross.
Dolph Ziggler is out for commentary and Phillips calls him their resident Rusev expert. Ziggler puts over Rusev on commentary like he puts over the rest of the roster inside the squared circle, making them all look so good doing it.
The match begins with USA chants from the crowd. Rusev starts off strong, pounding and kicking Apollo all over the ring. The commentators call Apollo a jacked acrobat, a jackrobat and they’re all delighted at the pun.
They think these two are evenly matched, but think Apollo has the advantage with his agility. He uses that agility to turn the tables with a nice dropkick off an Irish whip. He follows it up with another one. Rusev retreats to the outside. Apollo hits a backflip onto a standing Rusev, then proceeds to high five several fans.
Tonight, Ziggler sounds like a real Larry Zbysko. Perhaps the kid has a future improving the WWE’s commentating team on a full-time basis.
Apollo sends Rusev back into the ring and hits a senton from the apron. More USA chants from the crowd. Apollo covers for two and Rusev rolls outside. Apollo follows but Rusev sends Apollo into the steel stairs as we head to break.
The action is back in the ring. Rusev is pounding Apollo in the corner. He yells “USA” and hits Apollo with a bodyslam, followed by a running elbow drop.
Phillips talks about how US fans don’t appreciate Lana and Rusev, touting Rusev as the greatest US Champion in history. Shut up, Phillips. Otunga doesn’t think he’s anywhere near the greatest because of the way he conducts himself morally. Whatever, dude.
Rusev locks in a headlock but Apollo fights to his feet, hitting a pair of lariats and a stinger splash. He attempts a standing moonsault but Rusev counters with a kick to the head, straight dropping Apollo to the ground. He goes for the cover but only gets two.
Rusev with some ground and pound. Apollo tries to punch at Rusev but he catches the punch and locks Apollo in a stretch. The crowd chants USA as Apollo starts to turn things around. He takes Rusev off his feet and hits the standing moonsault. He covers Rusev for two. Both men are trying to catch their breath.
Apollo attempts to lift Rusev up on his shoulders but Rusev slides down. Rusev pushes Apollo into the corner before hitting a spinning heel kick. Rusev is furious after only getting a two count. He goes for a running boot but Apollo reverses and hits an enzuigiri right to the side of the head.
Apollo hits the Olympic Slam for a two count. He sets up Rusev for the toss powerbomb but Rusev reverses. Rusev kicks him down and attempts to lock in the Accolade. Apollo tries to power out, but it’s not happening. Rusev locks it in and Apollo taps.
Winner by Submission: Rusev
The commentators can’t stop talking about how good Apollo looked even in defeat. And he did look good, in fact he looked great. But Rusev machka, Rusev always machka.