Once SmackDown faded to black, the real fun began. Not only were fans in Sacramento treated to an in-ring performance by John Cena, but they also got to sample what could be one of the main events for next year’s WrestleMania.
In the evening’s headliner, Seth Rollins defended the World Heavyweight Championship against Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER in a hard-hitting affair to whet the appetite of mat aficionados hoping to see these two square off at the Showcase of the Immortals.
The bout began like most offerings from Rollins, with the World champ conducting the singing of his adoring public, which did little to faze GUNTHER. Once underway, each man used their specific advantages to control their opponent: GUNTHER with his size and roughhouse style (he also had help from Imperium, who were at ringside), while Rollins used his quickness to evade the Ring General.
At one point, Rollins took control of the match when the action spilled outside. But after he took time to taunt Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci, he paid for it as he returned to the ring, where GUNTHER cut him down with a slashing chop. Rollins tried fighting back several times but continuously fell short in the striking exchange.
Ironically, when GUNTHER tried to play Rollins’ game by taking to the sky, it cost him everything.
As GUNTHER prepared for a top rope splash, Rollins popped back up to his feet and caught the leader of Imperium with his superplex-Falcon Arrow combo, which led straight to Rollins drilling the challenger with the curb stomp.
Before referee Jessica Carr could count the three, Kaiser and Vinci stormed the ring to prevent Rollins from securing a decisive win over GUNTHER, forcing Rollins to settle for a victory by disqualification instead.
Ultimately, Rollins recovered to stand tall by night’s end, sending the crowd home happy with a feel-good promo to close the evening. And though the World title likely wasn’t in danger of changing hands, in the big picture, Rollins and GUNTHER’S showdown in Sacramento made a strong case for why the two should meet again, possibly on WWE’s biggest stage.