The Best Cage Match In Years… and other news
Welcome to the Cool Points.
Wrestlemania Backlash may have been two weeks ago, but the opening match of the April 28th Friday Night Smackdown should have been on that card. It was the climax of a short feud between two veterans who wrestled a cage match that should be added to the “How To Wrestle a Cage Match” section of your “Wrestling 101 textbook.
The Best Cage Match In Years
A cage match works because it forces wrestlers to fight inside the ring. There’s no running away, no taking a breather on the outside of the ring, and it’s supposed to prevent outside interference. Maybe that last point doesn’t hold up as often as it should. Still, cage matches provide a setting for a definitive result and an opportunity for serious pain and bloodshed, the likes of which are not typical for many other regular matches.
Sami Zayn played the part of a cowardly heel who wanted to win the match by escaping the cage. Drew McIntyre continued to play the part of Smackdown’s top good guy who wanted to serve up some punishment upon said cowardly heel, who had been pissing him off for weeks. What made the match so great is that it made so much sense. Zayn continuously tried to escape the cage. McIntyre kept having to pull him off the ropes, the cage wall and, at one point, had to drag him back over the top of the cage. This led to McIntyre hitting Zayn with a superplex. It wasn’t going up to the top rope just for a “spot” or because the wrestler’s offense is full of high-flying moves. McIntyre knew that power move would further weaken his opponent from that height and set up a Claymore kick for the victory.
Another interesting point is there was only one pinfall attempt in that match, and it was successful. How refreshing is that? With all the scrambling and escaping Zayn was trying to do, a pinfall victory was not a part of his strategy. McIntyre didn’t bother with early pinfall attempts that the crowd barely blinks at, knowing the match will simply continue. He waited until he delivered a substantial amount of punishment, which included his trademark move, and then successfully pinned Zayn.
No false finishes. No trading finishers. No run-ins.
McIntyre’s win over Zayn in the cage delivered a clear winner and loser. It was a pleasing result to see Zayn humbled by the Scottish Warrior, but I appreciated how he stuck to his plan of trying to escape every moment he could. It was sensible.
Sami Zayn: The Workhorse
Speaking of Sami Zayn, since his embarrassing loss against Johnny Knoxville at WrestleMania 38, he has continued to carry a heavy workload and a chip on his shoulder. He is outspoken about how the fans no longer respect him. Yet, he’s been holding it down on Smackdown the last few weeks. Zayn has wrestled the feature singles match of the first or second hour. Twice against his most recent foe, Shinsuke Nakamura, and once (on behalf of the Bloodline, haha) against Riddle.
Zayn has also played a prominent role in non-wrestling segments, interacting more with Paul Heyman and the Bloodline, trying to get on WWE Undisputed Champion Roman Reigns’ good side. Likely, he is angling for an eventual title shot, but the way he is going about it suits his persona. After all, he claims to be the master strategist, and he is clearly up to something with his weekly visits to the Tribal Chief.
I like that they’re not rushing Roman Reigns into a new feud, and that they’re letting this Bloodline/Riddle & Orton feud take priority. With Zayn skittering around the outskirts of the main event picture, he’s gaining traction by association. It won’t be long before we’re seeing him ask for a title shot…or wrestling Nakamura for the 34th time to decide a #1 contender. It could go either way at this point.
Anyone else thrilled to see Ronda Rousey defeat Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania Backlash? I was worried we were gonna see a WrestleMania repeat with Flair finding a way to cheat and win again. It’s good for the blue brand to have a fresh face on top because it allows for a number of possibilities and opportunities for other women in the division.
If Rousey plans on being a fighting champion, should her schedule permit it, we could see regular title defenses on Friday nights. With the WWE Undisputed Championship not being defended regularly right now, Rousey’s appearances as champion add to the star power of the show. Her two matches against Flair show that she is in good shape, with room to improve, on this current run. The fans want to cheer her right now and I hope WWE just rolls with that as long as they can.
The tricky thing will be to build up a foe for Rousey that can stand up to her. Shotzi Blackheart and Aliyah are still rather new to Smackdown and haven’t clearly established themselves with the entire WWE Universe. nXt fans can see the progress they’ve made, but, against Rousey, they’re just not in the same league. Sasha Banks and Naomi could have engaged with Rousey, but they’re suspended indefinitely for walking out of Raw on Monday. Carmella just got married.
The feud that could gain some interest if they wanted to go in an MMA-ish direction would be Shayna Baszler. Their history as MMA stars, and their friendship as they trained to become pro wrestlers, could all be used to present a compelling story of each woman trying to one-up the other. At least, it would be a fresh feud that we haven’t seen before, and both women would be taken seriously as competitors.
Here are a few questions to consider from today’s column:
What other cage match, in recent years, would you offer as an example of how cage matches should be wrestled?
Who should Ronda Rousey’s next challenger be?
Please join in the discussion below on those questions or anything else you’d like to share. You can also follow me on Twitter to keep the conversation going there.
Related Links: Johnny Knoxville Says He Was Happy To Ruin Sami Zayn’s Life At WrestleMania 38, How Zayn Can Take A Beating
YES Relived 3: The Authority’s Reign Begins & Bryan v Barrett Cage Match
The Bella Twins Discuss What Sets Ronda Rousey Apart In WWE