First reviewed here.
One of my favorite things about this series is how they go about depicting Chad Gable as a true threat to Gunther. The size disparity is obvious, but as the series progressed, it became clear that Gable might just be the most legitimate contender yet to Gunther’s title. That comes through in this final match of theirs with Gable working circles around Gunther early. Even when Gunther tries to ground things to the mat, Gable’s got enough finesse to work his way into a dominant position that clearly flusters the Intercontinental Champion.
It’s a real shame that neither Peacock nor WWE’s official YouTube page preserves this match as a whole with its picture-in-picture action as a lot of the key moments of transition take place during the commercial. In the first commercial, for example, Gunther uses a brutal backbreaker to escape Gable’s grip, immediately setting up the target that he’ll be focusing on throughout the match. Later on in the bout, we see Gunther beating down Gable in front of his own family at ringside, and even nailing a back suplex onto the barricade, furthering the story of Gunther wearing down the challenger’s back.
I like too the vibe that Gunther needed to be more actively menacing in this bout to compensate for the fact that Gable might have the better of him in a straight contest of chain wrestling. It makes all those cut offs deep in the match land with a lot more weight. That sleeper suplex Gunther applies instead of trying to choke out Gable speaks to the champion’s desperation here, the idea that he needed to go one step further to snuff out this particular fire.
Best WWE match of the year, and it’s not particularly close.