(6) MATT RIDDLE vs. SETH ROLLINS – Fight Pit match, Special Guest Referee: Daniel Cormier
Daniel Cormier separated the two men and called for the bell. Matt Riddle and Seth Rollins danced around each other, jockeying for position. Riddle threw some quick thigh kicks, sending Seth backing timidly into the steel cage. The crowd broke into a loud “we want Wyatt” chant. Riddle shot Rollins’ legs and took him down, mounting him for quick strikes. Riddle leapt off the cage wall, catching Seth in the side of the head with a quick kick. Rollins collapsed awkwardly, seemingly shaken up.
Riddle pounced, giving Cormier minimal time to check on Seth. A stray punch caught Cormier. The UFC legend threw Riddle off of Rollins and admonished him. “You’re here to fight him, not me!” he exclaimed. Rollins blased Riddle in the back of the head, using the break to his advantage. He tossed Riddle into the steel. Cormier checked on Riddle. Seth tossed Cormier aside. Cormier backed Rollins against the cage, delivering the same message he gave Riddle moments earlier.
After quick standing switch exchanges, Rollins caught Riddle with a Superkick. He requested that D.C. count Riddle out. Cormier reached a count of six as Riddle started to stir, so Rollins pounced again. “You’re a loser, and you’re always gonna be a loser!” he yelled. Riddle fought back briefly with punches to the stomach, but Seth gave him a Suplex right into the wall of the cage. Rollins ascended the side of the cage and pointed to himself, a la RVD, again. He leapt back onto Riddle, then hit rapid fire kicks to the head. Rollins held his arms out and the crowd booed, then began singing his theme song.
Rollins set up for a Peruvian Neck Tie submission. Riddle rolled through it and tried to give Seth a back drop. Seth landed on his feet awkwardly. Riddle bounced up and hit Seth with an RKO. Cormier counted both men to eight before they returned to their feet, trading overhead open palmed strikes. Before long, they transitioned to open kicks to the chest. Riddle caught a quick combo and went for a lifting knee, but Rollins blocked it. Riddle went for a second RKO, but Seth slammed him to the mat. Riddle tried to stand, but Seth caught him with the Stomp. Riddle barely answered Cormier’s count at nine.
Rollins climbed to the platform surrounding the cage as the match crossed 10:00. He led the crowd in another serenade, arrogantly strutting around the platform. Riddle grew tired of the showboating and climbed up to meet him. Riddle tried to use the support chain of the cage to hoist himself up, but Rollins bit his hand. Riddle managed to pull himself up anyway, pulling Seth into a choke around the chain. Rollins used the perimeter steel to free himself, then sent Riddle crashing into the chain link. Riddle tried to use his legs to choke Seth out, but Seth ripped him away from the cage and delivered a Buckle Bomb into the steel wall atop the cage. Graves said he was worried about something much worse. Cole said it was “shades of Mick Foley in Hell in a Cell.”
Cormier yelled from below for the competitors to return to the ring. Rollins and Riddle continued to battle back and forth. Rollins got the better of the exchange and delivered a Pedigree on the walkway atop the cage. He told Cormier to count Riddle out. Cormier said that Riddle needs to be in the ring itself. “I’ll choke you out!” Rollins yelled. He sized Riddle up, waiting for him to stand. Seth went for another Stomp, but Riddle moved. He hit another RKO. Seth nearly slid off the walkway and back into the ring far below, but he caught himself on the chain link and dropped safely to the mat.
With Rollins down in the center of the ring, Riddle stood up on the walkway above and peered down. He contemplated, then flew off the platform with a Broton. Riddle sold even more pain than Seth. Both men again barely answered Cormier’s count. Matt Riddle jumped up to apply a Triangle Choke on Rollins. Seth hit a pair of Powerbombs into the steel wall, then another in the center of the ring. Riddle persisted, keeping the choke locked in. Rollins tapped out.
WINNER: Matt Riddle in 16:38
Matt Riddle left the ring, celebrating up the ramp. The camera cut to Seth Rollins, clutching his ribs at ringside. Daniel Cormier rose Riddle’s hand at the top of the stage and Cole bid the audience goodnight.
Suddenly, all the lights cut out. The crowd immediately held up their flashlights. Cole asked aloud if they were still on air. A creepy, subdued rendition of “He’s got the whole world in his hands…” played on repeat.
Slowly, characters from the Firefly Funhouse were revealed standing at various locations in the lower bowl of the crowd. The Pig, the Buzzard, Abby the Witch, and then, apparently, the Fiend in the front row. The camera cut to a moss adorned door at the entrance way. Light seeped from behind it. An old TV cut in, showing a creepy, masked face saying something unintelligible. The camera cut back to the door. The light grew brighter. The door flew open, and a familiar lantern filled the black space. A huge “holy shit” chant broke out. A person in the mask from moments ago emerged, filling the light. He slowly removed the mask, revealing himself to be Bray Wyatt. A firefly graphic appeared on screen (the same Wyatt has been using as his Twitter profile picture), and the jarring, classic Wyatt Family cut-out ended the night.
(The Fight Pit was disappointing. I understand that they needed to take this feud to the next level, but they were fighting an uphill battle coming off a stellar outing last month in Cardiff. This just didn’t live up to that match in the slightest. Cormier’s early tone-setting seemed to be laying the groundwork for something later in the match, but simply never went anywhere. The offense seemed plodding, giving the illusion that they were in for a long haul and a big built to a finish. Instead, the predictable ascent to the top of the cage brought some fine spots that never really seemed to connect until Riddle’s big Broton off the top. That, undoubtedly, was the highlight here. The crowd seemed to struggle to get invested outside of a few big moves, being more intrigued by the upcoming reveal of the White Rabbit than anything the match itself had to offer. It’s a shame, given how personal this rivalry has been and how much focus it’s been given on weekly television. The camera was out of position for Rollins’ tap out, which made things even more anticlimactic for the audience viewing at home. It wasn’t bad, it just felt flat.
They certainly managed to send the crowd home happy, though. Triple H went for his signature end-of-show fake out a la NXT, having Cole conclude the evening only for the lights to go out with the show-closing signature already on screen. Though it felt a little too heavy handed, I don’t mind Cole asking if they’re still live. It was a fun wrinkle, even if it felt calculated. The electricity from the crowd was palpable, and the eerie inclusion of real-person renditions of the Firefly Funhouse’s iconic characters was an effective, pleasing way to kick things off. The dramatic touch of stationing them at different points throughout the crowd was excellent. The production, as with most things Wyatt related, was top notch, and the reveal, though predictable, was wholly satisfying. We’ve been burned plenty by Wyatt’s story-telling before, though I have my suspicions that has far more to do with Vince McMahon than it ever did the creative mind behind the character. With a new regime at the helm, and an expectation for more creative freedom, I’m all-in on whatever the next chapter of Wyatt will be.)