8 years ago, Tyler Black defeated Claudio Castagnoli, Delirious and Go Shiozaki in a Four Corner Survival Match at Ring of Honor’s Take No Prisoners in Philadelphia. The winner earned a title shot against ROH Champ Nigel McGuinness in the main event. The young upstart Black and the British vet Nigel put on a clinic. McGuiness retained but the crowd ended the show with emphatic chants of “Thank You Tyler”. Despite the loss, Black won.
That’s the funny thing about wrestling: you don’t need to score a pinfall or submit your opponent to gain a victory. We’ve seen that with Stone Cold vs Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 13 and more recently with Cedric Alexander vs Kota Ibushi in Round 2 of the Cruiserweight Classic.
Here are 3 matches from SummerSlam weekend where the losers still won…
John Cena vs AJ Styles
Cena has done it all at this point. He could lose every match for the next 5 years and still be considered the greatest of all time. But Cena never gives up and still rarely loses. At SummerSlam 2016, he hit AJ Styles with every move in his arsenal but it wasn’t enough. After a top rope Attitude Adjustment, AJ still found a way to kick out. For the first time in his career, Cena was befuddled. He sat up and his face said it all. Then he uncharacteristically mouthed the words “What the f***”. Over the next 2 minutes, John Cena just stared at the seemingly unstoppable Styles (who was still writhing in pain on the canvas). Cena now felt what his opponents have felt for over a decade. How do you beat someone who just won’t lose? The answer is: you can’t. Cena went for another AA but Styles mustered up the strength to reverse it into a Styles Clash followed by a Phenomenal Forearm. 1-2-3. John Cena just lost clean as a whistle. After the match, Cena removed his Never Give Up armband, pressed it to his lips and left it in the ring. What’s next for Cena? Revenge, a hiatus, some soul searching? Not sure, but after 14 years, it’s amazing that Cena may be more interesting now than he ever has been before.
Dolph Ziggler vs Dean Ambrose
Outside of his Money in the Bank cash in on Alberto Del Rio the night after Mania 29, Dolph Ziggler’s career highlight reel is filled with false starts (See: sole survivor vs The Authority in 2014) and forgettable finishes. Despite all the athleticism and charisma in the world, Dolph just can’t seem to find his place in the main event picture for anything longer than a moment. That should change after last night. He looked great, worked great and for his efforts, he deserves another shot at Dean Ambrose’s WWE title. If that happens, Dolph Ziggler might just win his first ever WWE title. He’s been that good since the brand split and has had surprisingly excellent chemistry with the lunatic fringe. A year ago, I thought Dolph’s time with WWE was coming to an end. Now? I think it’s just getting started.
Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano vs. The Revival
After a Match of the Year candidate in the CWC vs one another, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa got back to their NXT roots and tagged against The Revival in a championship match at Saturday’s NXT Brooklyn special. First let me say, The Revival are one of the best tag teams I’ve ever seen. That bruiser style is something I’ve never been taken by, but these guys have won me over. They’re wrestlers and they like to fight. To me, that’s the best gimmick you can have in this business. They deserve those belts. With the effort put forth by Gargano and Ciampa on Saturday, you could make the case that they deserved to win too. But they didn’t win. And thank god. Gargano and Ciampa are a good team whose friendship makes them both more endearing, but at the end of the day, Gargano and Ciamp are singles wrestlers with huge upsides.
When the Raw brand brings up their cruiserweights, Ciampa should be one of the first guys to make the leap but don’t expect him to stay within the cruiserweight confines for too long. Ciampa has the look of a heavyweight and the attitude to back it up. He functions well as a good guy, a bad guy or a tweener. His psycho killer persona is a perfect fit for his menacing look. Imagining him vs. Cesaro, Sami and Rollins leaves me positively giddy.
Gargano is still in the CWC tournament and has a very real chance of winning it if he can beat out the international stars of Kota Ibushi and Zack Sabre Jr. Regardless of the outcome of the CWC, Johnny Wrestling is poised to make an impact in the wrestling world. His innovative offense and supreme likability mean the sky is the limit for him. On the main roster, he projects into the same mold as a Sami Zayn or even a Daniel Bryan but he’s still decidedly Johnny Gargano.
The future is bright for these two guys and that’s why it’s best that they didn’t end up with the tag straps. They have too much talent and are too unique to be pigeonholed as tag team wrestlers. Both will be on the main roster by the end of 2016 and it’s a just a matter of time before they’re back in the hunt for championship gold. But in this case, it’ll be singles gold …and hopefully eventually, they get back to fighting each other!