On the main event of Friday Night Smackdown, before Crown Jewel, Gunther defended his Intercontinental Championships against Rey Mysterio. The Austrian bulldozer has been a dominant champion who has put on some incredible matches during his reign, with critics in particular raving about his defences against Shinsuke Nakamura and Sheamus.
His match against Sheamus at Clash at the Castle gained the rare honour of being given the five star match rating by Dave Meltzer. Many wrestlers go their whole career without being given a five star match, and while it is only one mans opinions, he is considered the top wrestling journalist and many WWE superstars respect his opinion.
After moving to Smackdown following the breakdown in relationship with his son, Dominik Mysterio, Rey Mysterio was immediately flung into title contention. His first match on Smackdown was a fatal four way match, featuring Ricochet, Sheamus and Solo Sikoa, with the winner earnign themselves a shot at the Intercontinental Championship. The Mexican legend would win the bout and punch his ticket to face Gunther for the title, although it would take place on Smackdown, rather than Crown Jewel 2022 that was taking place the next night.
Rey Mysterio vs Gunther
Both men made their entrances to an incredibly hot crowd, cheering loudly for Rey Mysterio and letting Gunther know just how much they want to see him lose the title tonight.
The match began with a game of “cat and mouse”. Mysterio, the wily veteran he is, knew that if Gunther got his hands on him then it was effectively over. He dodged and weaved his way out from under the Austrian juggernaut, trying to slap and kick his way to safety. Sadly, there is no safety when in the ring with Gunther. He dominated the opening contest of the match, up until the break a few minutes later and beyond.
After the break, he power bombed Mysterio onto the apron (a move which has been known to put stars out of action for weeks) before wiping his feet as he entered the ring. Telling the ref to count, the former WALTER made it clear that he was happy to win the match by count out and retain his title
Somehow, the former WWE Champion found the strength to roll back into the ring, where even more punishment awaited him. Luckily he hung on, literally, as he countered various body slams by clinging onto the arms of Gunther, before launching him into the matt with an incredible crucifix powerbomb. He then hit a springboard moonsault into a sleeper hold, a move which wouldn’t look out of place in one of his matches nearly 30 years ago in WCW.
However, he was soon overpowered, as Gunther climbed to the top rope and jumped backwards and crushed the masked wrestler between himself and the mat. He then proceeded to rip off the mask of Mysterio, who countered by hitting some of his classic moves but failed to pick up the win.
He then managed to get his opponent in position for the 619, with Rey Mysterio hitting his signature move before heading to the top rope. Initially blocked by Gunther, Mysterio countered a top rope powerbomb into a Hurricanrana mid-air in one of the most incredible moves seen in WWE in years. He also countered a powerbomb into a sunset flip powerbomb, pulling out an incredible array of moves to try and take down the Austrian grappler.
The ending of the match looked absolutely brutal. Mysterio had taken down Gunther and knew that he’d need to take to the top rope to take down his opponent. He lifted the crowd by doing the classic Eddie Guerrero chest-shaking taunt, signalling for the Frog Splash to end the match. Unfortunately, he spent too long and Gunther moved out of the way as the Luchador went crashing into the mat.
Gunther then his Mysterio with a huge 250lb dropkick that sent him crashing across the ring. He followed it up with a disgusting powerbomb which could have broken ever bone in his spine, but somehow to diminutive Mysterio kicked out. This lead Gunther to throw a tantrum in the ring, banging on the mat like a bad impression of Randy Orton. Rey took his chance here, slapping the Austrian before hitting a Hurricanrana into position to hit the 619 again.
Then the champion decided he had enough. He hit a big boot that nearly send Rey back in time before throwing him into the air and colliding his arm into his chest for a mid-air clothesline that may have killed him. He pinned him for the win in 18 minutes in another fantastic main event on Smackdown.
Many people may have thought that Rey Mysterio would be winding down over the next few years. He is going to be 48 next month and is approaching 35 years in the ring. A few years ago, before his release from WWE, he seemed like he was done and his wrestling days are over.
However, this match has shown anything but. He looked as good as ever, with the psychology behind his matches getting better with every outing. He looked like he was coming to end when teaming with his son Dominik, but no I’d be heavily invested seeing him feud with Roman Reigns over his various titles.
Rey Mysterio needs another world title reign before his career is done. His one and only WWE Championship reign was an absolute shambles, lasting about an hour (no, really) before being beaten by a somehow-good guy John Cena. Once Reigns legendary title reign comes to an end, Mysterio should be first in line to challenge wheoever takes the belt away from them.
Maybe it could even be Gunther. Give us Gunther vs Rey Mysterio part 2 you cowards.
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Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.