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Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose def. Kevin Owens (Last Man Standing Match)

Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose def. Kevin Owens (Last Man Standing Match)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens each walked into their Last Man Standing Match at the Royal Rumble hell-bent on leaving the Intercontinental Champion, but after an all-out war that almost destroyed both men, it was The Lunatic Fringe who survived (barely) to fight another day with the cherished title in tow.

This rivalry is one that escalated to frightening levels of physicality and all because of one thing … the Intercontinental Championship. The unstable Ambrose won the highly sought-after title from Owens in a wild head-to-head contest at WWE TLC 2015, setting off a conflict of chaos.

See photos of the chaos from the Last Man Standing showdown

The objective of a Last Man Standing Match is simple; incapacitate your opponent to the point of him  not being able to stand before the referee’s 10-count. Brutality is baked into the contest’s core. And with one of WWE’s most coveted championships on the line and two bitter rivals – both containing an unabashed love for fighting – facing off, this meeting of mayhem was destined to be a classic. And a classic it was.

Watch Royal Rumble highlights

The contest started with a fury as both Superstars fired off fists. It didn’t take long for the action to make its way outside the ring as Ambrose went flying head-first into his challenger, knocking him over the English announce table and onto Michael Cole. From there, this showdown’s levels of insanity continued to grow.

Ambrose wasted little time enlisting the help of a Kendo stick, using it to unleash a fury of strikes against his heated rival. KO remained undeterred in the face of Ambrose’s Kendo stick, fighting his way back from the attack. Owens delivered a vicious superkick to the face of Ambrose before prompting the referee’s first 10-count of the night by smashing his foe through the ringside barricade with a brutal cannonball.

This wild fight only heightened with a fiery Owens pulling steel chairs from under the ring. This decision would backfire, however, after Ambrose countered a powerbomb, backdropping Owens through two steel chairs.

Watch: Wildest Last Man Standing Matches ever

The challenger would remain undeterred, eventually using Ambrose as a crash test dummy against the steel steps at ringside. This opened up an opportunity for Owens  to go for the KO blow. The bruising Superstar scaled the tope rope with the apparent intention to superplex his opponent through two tables set up on top of one another outside the ring. The intercontinental Champion avoided this potentially match-ending maneuver by throwing a chair into Owens’ face.

With the steel device entangled on the challenger’s head, Ambrose threw his patented right jab, right chop assault. Both battle-torn Superstars proceeded to trade counters, leading the unstable Superstar to hit not one, but two Dirty Deeds – with the second being delivered on top of a steel chair. Owens showed he could take damage as well as he can inflict it though, by beating the referee’s 10-count for both finishing maneuvers.

Witness The Lunatic Fringe's craziest moments

This hazardous showdown would not end with Kendo sticks, steel chairs and steel steps. No, it was then time for tables. The chaos reached extreme levels as The Lunatic Fringe hit a flying elbow drop from the top turnbuckle onto a fallen Owens, who was sprawled out on top of a table. But, again, the challenger – and the titleholder – stood up before the 10-count.

The titleholder again looked to seal a victory, but his superplex through a table would be countered, with Owens sending the champion through the wooden structure below. Again, this classic battle was not over as Ambrose showed off his never-ending fight by stumbling to his feet just before the count to 10.

What possibly could keep these determined competitors down for the count? Owens had an extreme idea in mind for sure as he stepped up to the top rope, ready to hit a moonsault on top of The Lunatic Fringe, who was laying on top of steel chairs below.

This would be Ambrose’s night, however, as the titleholder suddenly sprung up, pushing Owens over the ring post and crashing down through the stacked tables set up at ringside. Even after being sent spiraling through two tables, splintering the wood en route to the floor, Owens showed faint signs of life but the referee’s 10-count rang out, signaling the end to a historic Last Man Standing Match.

Kevin Owens makes Sports Illustrated's Social 100

Now that Ambrose has successfully fought off WWE’s self-professed Prizefighter to retain the Intercontinental Championship, will we see a new challenger emerge or will Owens continue to fight for what he deems “his” Intercontinental Championship?

ORLANDO, Fla. — Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens each walked into their Last Man Standing Match at the Royal Rumble hell-bent on leaving the Intercontinental Champion, but after an all-out war that almost destroyed both men, it was The Lunatic Fringe who survived (barely) to fight another day with the cherished title in tow.

This rivalry is one that escalated to frightening levels of physicality and all because of one thing … the Intercontinental Championship. The unstable Ambrose won the highly sought-after title from Owens in a wild head-to-head contest at WWE TLC 2015, setting off a conflict of chaos.

See photos of the chaos from the Last Man Standing showdown

The objective of a Last Man Standing Match is simple; incapacitate your opponent to the point of him  not being able to stand before the referee’s 10-count. Brutality is baked into the contest’s core. And with one of WWE’s most coveted championships on the line and two bitter rivals – both containing an unabashed love for fighting – facing off, this meeting of mayhem was destined to be a classic. And a classic it was.

Watch Royal Rumble highlights

The contest started with a fury as both Superstars fired off fists. It didn’t take long for the action to make its way outside the ring as Ambrose went flying head-first into his challenger, knocking him over the English announce table and onto Michael Cole. From there, this showdown’s levels of insanity continued to grow.

Ambrose wasted little time enlisting the help of a Kendo stick, using it to unleash a fury of strikes against his heated rival. KO remained undeterred in the face of Ambrose’s Kendo stick, fighting his way back from the attack. Owens delivered a vicious superkick to the face of Ambrose before prompting the referee’s first 10-count of the night by smashing his foe through the ringside barricade with a brutal cannonball.

This wild fight only heightened with a fiery Owens pulling steel chairs from under the ring. This decision would backfire, however, after Ambrose countered a powerbomb, backdropping Owens through two steel chairs.

Watch: Wildest Last Man Standing Matches ever

The challenger would remain undeterred, eventually using Ambrose as a crash test dummy against the steel steps at ringside. This opened up an opportunity for Owens  to go for the KO blow. The bruising Superstar scaled the tope rope with the apparent intention to superplex his opponent through two tables set up on top of one another outside the ring. The intercontinental Champion avoided this potentially match-ending maneuver by throwing a chair into Owens’ face.

With the steel device entangled on the challenger’s head, Ambrose threw his patented right jab, right chop assault. Both battle-torn Superstars proceeded to trade counters, leading the unstable Superstar to hit not one, but two Dirty Deeds – with the second being delivered on top of a steel chair. Owens showed he could take damage as well as he can inflict it though, by beating the referee’s 10-count for both finishing maneuvers.

Witness The Lunatic Fringe's craziest moments

This hazardous showdown would not end with Kendo sticks, steel chairs and steel steps. No, it was then time for tables. The chaos reached extreme levels as The Lunatic Fringe hit a flying elbow drop from the top turnbuckle onto a fallen Owens, who was sprawled out on top of a table. But, again, the challenger – and the titleholder – stood up before the 10-count.

The titleholder again looked to seal a victory, but his superplex through a table would be countered, with Owens sending the champion through the wooden structure below. Again, this classic battle was not over as Ambrose showed off his never-ending fight by stumbling to his feet just before the count to 10.

What possibly could keep these determined competitors down for the count? Owens had an extreme idea in mind for sure as he stepped up to the top rope, ready to hit a moonsault on top of The Lunatic Fringe, who was laying on top of steel chairs below.

This would be Ambrose’s night, however, as the titleholder suddenly sprung up, pushing Owens over the ring post and crashing down through the stacked tables set up at ringside. Even after being sent spiraling through two tables, splintering the wood en route to the floor, Owens showed faint signs of life but the referee’s 10-count rang out, signaling the end to a historic Last Man Standing Match.

Kevin Owens makes Sports Illustrated's Social 100

Now that Ambrose has successfully fought off WWE’s self-professed Prizefighter to retain the Intercontinental Championship, will we see a new challenger emerge or will Owens continue to fight for what he deems “his” Intercontinental Championship?