How do you make something out of nothing? The U.S. Title match at Hell In a Cell was a last-minute decision, after Curtis Axel was removed from the card due to injury. Big E Langston was left without an opponent, and the Kick-Off program without a match. Injuries happen, and I never liked the idea of a title being defended on a Kick-Off show anyway. So we get a U.S Title match, and Langston and Ambrose are thrown into the fray of a pretty disjointed card. Why choose this match for analysis?
I’m interested in how you make something out of nothing. There was zero build to this match. Zero reason for fans to be invested. All they had to go on were the personalities and skills of the wrestlers in that very moment. I LOVE IT. It’s kind of old school, a throwback to the days when a lot of matches were made for the simple sake of two guys wrestling. Big E is being positioned as a young upstart who’s getting into people’s faces, especially now that he’s a free agent. Dean Ambrose has a deeper wrestling history, a posse, and swagger to spare.
Ambrose makes his way through the crowd, looking relaxed and confident. I’ve noticed recently that he’s trimmed down, looking more lean and greasy than ever. A slippery customer. And here comes Big E! He looks like he works out quite a bit. Possibly all the time.
As soon as the bell rings, Ambrose starts trash-talking the rookie. This is one of his strong suits, and Big E proves his resilience by standing his ground. Not getting the reaction he desires, Ambrose sneaks in a slap to the face and IT’S ON. Big E pounces on him, size mattering immediately. Some two counts.
Now Big E throws Dean into the various corners of the ring, following up with lots of blows and shoulders to the gut. Ambrose is like a rag doll and Langston is quick. So far the match is going exactly the way one would expect, because Langston is clearly so much stronger than his opponent. When Ambrose tries to get a move in off the ropes, Big E literally catches him and turns it into a backbreaker. But all this offense is starting to wear down the offender, and Big E loses momentum.
Ambrose seizes the opportunity and delivers a series of backhanded chops to Langston, who calmly absorbs each one. Between Ambrose’s chops and Langston’s pain, there is a lot of muscular real estate to cross. It’s not long before Ambrose is back on the receiving end of more punishment, and then a classic bear hug.
Everyone should put Dean Ambrose in a bear hug! He makes it look devastating, all breathless and sweaty. You can see him attempting the thinking-man’s counters, like a thumb to the eye and stomping on Langston’s foot, but before he can really connect, Langston cinches in that bear hug just a bit more to thwart him.
Jerry Lawler: “I used to have a fear of hurdles. Then I got over it.” Seriously?
After a bit more struggling, Ambrose finally resorts to gnawing at Langston’s nose, and the hold is broken. This is exactly the kind of wily fighting I expect from Ambrose, and it’s awesome. Charging towards Langston in the corner, Ambrose gets tossed high over the top rope, all the way to the outside! A great way to break up the action after the brief lull of the bear hug, and a pretty wild visual. Ambrose makes like he’s tweaked his knee on the landing. He’s in pain, but it’s angry. Never weak.
Dean rolls under the ring skirt a bit so that when Big E bends down to grab at him, he can smash Big E into the apron. The little guy uses his smarts against the big guy, and it gives him enough of an upper hand to limp back into the ring and wait for Langston to follow. When he does, Ambrose attempts a suplex over the ropes, failing several times because HELLO his strength is simply no match for even a dazed Big E. So he goes back to his skill, and runs Big E’s head into the turnbuckle which sends Big E back down to the floor.
Once Big E returns again, it’s time for Dean to deliver some rapid-fire blows, often pushing right to the ref’s 5-count before he breaks from the ropes. It’s what a bad guy does, using every legal second to do damage. Once he senses that Big E is fading, he starts getting cocky again, adding more pizzazz to his punches and taking the time for a drop-kick off the ropes. One count. Ambrose attempts a reverse chin-lock almost into a camel clutch, but E manages to keep one arm free so that he’s better able to get to his feet with Dean on his back. It’s not the most elegant positioning, but they don’t dwell on it long enough to draw attention to it. In a bit of a compromising position, Ambrose turns it into a sleeper hold.
Big E brute-forces him into the corner, and rains a flurry of clotheslines onto him. The final one ends up being more of a direct collision between the two men off the ropes, a crash that sent both men for stitches after the match. Two count.
Oh dear, Dean Ambrose has been calling this match, not surprisingly, but it gets a bit too obvious at times. Turn down the mics, people! I don’t want to hear everything! Let them do their jobs. On a positive note, it alerts Michael Cole to also call the damn match, as Langston gives Ambrose a belly-to-belly suplex for another two count. The ref has slipped on some latex gloves, as Big E’s cheekbone and Ambrose’s chin are both opened up. Langston connects with a big splash, two count. Already the blood is getting a bit gruesome, flowing from Langston’s face and getting splotched onto their bodies every which way. I’M INTO IT. It’s nothing serious, but it looks pretty badass and neither of them is giving it a moment’s notice. Love the focus. Did Dean Ambrose tell Big E Langston to sell that cut? NO. So Big E will not be selling the cut. Do you know why I like this match enough to tell you all about it? Because one guy’s a good leader, and it’s not easy being a good follower.
Ambrose has had one too many pin counts on him and he bolts at a crazy, limping angle from the ring. Langston catches up and drags him back, because he’s got integrity and wants to finish this match the right way. Back in the ring, Big E eats a DDT but doesn’t really suffer from it, and tosses Ambrose so hard into the ring post that he sails straight through to the outside. Langston follows up with a spear through the ropes and they both land hard on the floor. During the replay, you can see with their new super-slo-mo technology that Ambrose holds on to that top rope for the entire spear, only letting go once Big E’s momentum takes them both towards the floor. If he’d let go any sooner, they would have hit that barricade a LOT harder, and it all happened in about two seconds. Respect.
Langston makes it back into the ring, but Ambrose voluntarily stays on the outside, gesturing to say “Forget this! I’m out of here.” Ding ding ding! And your winner, by count-out: Big E Langston! Dean Ambrose keeps his title and looks like a jerk in the process; Big E looks like a decent contender and finishes on a high note by smashing Ambrose into the mat with a Big Ending. They both reinforced their personas, the powerful rookie and the fearless hooligan.
This week, Mike Holland posted a rant against the current state of wrestling and how fans are being treated. Imagine being on the wrestling end of it. These two guys, Ambrose and Langston, decided to take what they were given and get down to business. Granted, they weren’t being given a sh-tty mixed tag match or a dance-off, but I enjoyed watching a fresh pair of wrestlers working a conventional match together. In absolute terms, it wasn’t a stand out, but that wasn’t their goal.
Like a lot of people, I was frustrated with the PPV. More than anything, it broke my heart to see Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan working so hard, killing themselves and each other – and all we’ll remember is the horrible finish. Yeah, Dean Ambrose took the overused heel route of drawing a count-out to retain the title, but it didn’t make me angry. Ha, maybe that wasn’t supposed to be the finish at all, and he was just Over It. You know, like Jerry Lawler’s fear of hurdles.
I absolutely love looking at a match and noticing all the little things that contribute to it being awful/good/great. I feel lucky to write for TJR, where I need to get creative, pay closer attention, share and interact. Let me know how YOU like these match analyses, because if they’re not informative or entertaining, I need to change my game. I apologize that I could not find this match online to post for you here. If you find it, please let me know!
Please share your thoughts in the Comments below, on twitter @kickyhick or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy Hallowe’en! May all your treats be mini Kit Kat bars... or Coffee Crisp, Reese Peanut Butter Cups, or Oh Henry (or Mr. Big).