Chad Gable has quietly become one of the most reliable TV workers in the WWE today. That’s an honor that’s become far nebulous now that Bryan Danielson has left weekly WWE television, and Gable may not be at the top of the heap but he does well with what he’s given. His 2020 saw him building up a resume of really impressive sub-5 minute bangers that highlighted just how gifted he was in the ring.
That’s why it was so refreshing to see him given this singles showcase against one of the WWE’s greatest mainstays in Randy Orton. A full 13 minute runtime instead of rushing through a cramped 5 minutes means that Gable really had some space here to let his work breathe. At the same time, he’s in there with someone with all the talent in the world to help enhance what Gable already brings to the table.
There’s a lot of Gable’s signature stuff in here such as his early use of an armdrag, which allows babyface Orton to eventually get wise to the tactic and counter it by the end. It also means that Gable gets to do a lot of his leg work in this match. He does it well too, doing varied attacks on the leg to keep things interesting.
Orton, for his part, is fantastic at selling the leg. It’s not a showy selling but it’s a noticeable one nonetheless. He’s constantly grasping at his leg, trying to massage feeling into it, hesitating and wincing in pain whenever he bumps onto the leg. It’s a fantastic performance from Orton here, another from someone who’s been having a very impressive decade so far.
It’s the WWE so there’s a ceiling on this. Someone in the production truck takes a little too much joy in zooming on Otis’ mustache, and Riddle taints all affairs with his very presence. But when we just get to focus on Orton and Gable, it’s pretty much magic. If there’s one thing the WWE gifts us with when it comes to their repetitive and cookie cutter booking, it’s that we might actually see multiple repeats of this match in coming weeks. I’m hopeful for the things they can do to differentiate rematches from this one because this ruled.