United States Champion Antonio Cesaro def. Justin Gabriel

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October 28, 2012

ATLANTA — Six days after scoring a major non-title win over U.S. Champion Antonio Cesaro on Raw, Justin Gabriel sought to repeat his fortunes at WWE Hell in a Cell — this time, with the prized title on the line. Unfortunately for “The Cape Town Werewolf,” the Swiss Superstar refused to let lightning strike twice, grounding the highflier from South Africa en route to retaining the championship gold. (PHOTOS)

Prior to the contest, Cesaro, in typical fashion, disparaged America and the upcoming Halloween holiday with multilingual flair. Once the bout started, however, Cesaro let his actions speak for him, annihilating Gabriel with his smash-mouth offense and finding innovative ways to counter his challenger’s unorthodox style.

Emboldened, no doubt, by his critical pinfall victory last Monday, Gabriel wasted no time in bringing the fight to Cesaro. Vying for his first singles title in WWE, the charismatic Superstar tried trading holds with the ex-rugby player. That strategy proved ineffective, as Cesaro used his well-established tendon strength to muscle through Gabriel’s holds, opting to toss the smaller Superstar around the ring.

Undeterred, Gabriel continually escaped Cesaro’s grasp. Facing a tight wristlock, the agile competitor backflipped out of danger. Later, when the Swiss Superstar attempted a release German suplex, the spry Gabriel landed on his feet.

In the end, the South African wonder’s speed and agility could only take him so far against the U.S. Champion, and his high-risk maneuvers missed almost as often as they hit. Case in point: Gabriel’s patented 450 Splash — the same move that scored him a “W” against Cesaro on Raw — failed to connect.

With keen precision, the always arrogant Cesaro exploited any and all weaknesses in his opponent’s game plan. He repeatedly worked over vulnerable limbs and Gabriel’s midsection, nailing, in order, an overhead slam and a double foot stomp.

Perhaps the most critical development came when Gabriel — a self-professed levitator — had seemingly turned the tables and had the champion reeling on the floor. Sensing opportunity, the former WWE Tag Team Champion sprung to the top rope and launched himself at Cesaro. The powerhouse, however, was lying in wait, and he blasted Gabriel off-course with a ferocious European uppercut, before deadlifting his opponent into the ring with a gut wrench.

From there, it was academic, as Cesaro locked in The Neutralizer for the pinfall win. The victory marks the United States Champion’s second title defense on consecutive pay-per-views. Perhaps moreover, it quiets any speculation that the loss Monday, a rarity for the Swiss Superstar, was possibly the sign of an oncoming slump.

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