February 7th (Taped: February 4th)
Wells Fargo Arena (Des Moines, Iowa)
Bryan and Cesaro had a bunch of singles match against each others on the indies between 2005 and 2009, but this is only their second singles match in the WWE. The prior one was an unexpectedly long (19+ minute) RAW match in the middle of a three-match gauntlet that Bryan was forced to run this past July. This Smackdown bout between the two is shorter (about 11-minutes) and not as memorable, but it still worked as a fun television match.
Bryan busted out a lot of his flying offense in this one including moves he only occasionally hits (top rope hurricanrana) to moves he never hits (a variation La Mistica into the Yes! Lock). Cesaro is the best base in the promotion so it is not coincidental that he decided to pull out a lot of his air-based offense against him.
For his part, Cesaro hit a really great tilt-a-whirl back breaker (a move that is criminally underutilized in the US) and counters an arm bar attempt into an electric chair drop in a nice spot. The match did not have much heat – even with Smackdown’s ability to pipe in heat – which hurt a little. The match itself had some nice moves but felt a little disjointed. The RAW match worked so well because it was all about Bryan taking an extended beating after one match and with another one still to come. It had a good story and focus. This match was more about a few cool moves and reversals, which is perfectly fine for a ten minute TV match, but does leave it a notch below their 2013 RAW encounter.
TV Match | Common | Quality