On a night where the fire that is Fandangoing went cold and where Team Hell No fought The Prime Time Players yet again, the highlight of the episode came early on. Most of the other matches were short and uninspired.
Cesaro impressed despite seeing his 200-day-plus reign end. He and Kofi delivered a passionate and surprising battle.
Kofi opened the match on the offensive.
He chopped Cesaro to the ground. He flew at the champion. He threw out his best moves early, trying to steal a win from the Swiss powerhouse.
After Cesaro caught him with a mid-air uppercut, the champion took control.
He ground down his opponent, scraping his boot against Kofi's face and using his power advantage to punish him. Cesaro later grew overconfident as he began to toy with Kofi, pushing him around dismissively.
Kofi soon landed an S.O.S. and Cesaro only managed to survive by grabbing the bottom rope.
The pace of the match quickened from that point and both Cesaro and Kofi worked to suck the audience into their battle. They traded near falls and escaped each other's moves in a series of slick counters. The flurry to end their match was the most exciting thing the letdown episode offered.
Cesaro became punch-drunk after some of Kofi's blows.
He finally succumbed to Kofi's second Trouble in Paradise of the night, losing the match and the title he has held since SummerSlam 2012.
That win marks the second consecutive WWE Raw where a midcard championship changed hands. Last week it was Miz losing to Wade Barrett. As Barrett's loss on Monday to R-Truth demonstrated, perhaps losing the belt was the best thing for Cesaro.
The U.S. and Intercontinental champs have both lost several times already this year. Cesaro had already lost to Randy Orton, Ryback, Miz, Sin Cara, Alberto Del Rio and R-Truth (h/t TheHistoryofWWE.com) in the past few months. Maybe being sans championship will actually help his win-loss record.
It also perhaps frees him up to climb higher up the WWE ladder.
Regardless, he and Kofi can proudly add Monday's match to their respective resumes. The fantastic, compelling clash served as the match of the night and was one of the better matches on Raw in 2013.
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