This Sunday at WWE Extreme Rules, WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville puts his title on the line one more time against his rival of the past few months, Austin Aries, in a submission match. Is the third time a charm?
Ever since Austin Aries returned from a brutal eye socket injury that kept him on the IRL for months, he’s been focused on one thing: claiming the WWE Cruiserweight Championship from the reigning “King of the Cruiserweights”, Neville. Along the way he’s beaten the likes of TJ Perkins, Tony Nese, Brian Kendrick, Akira Tozawa, Noam Dar, Jack Gallagher and Mustafa Ali, all to maintain his position as the #1 contender to the King’s throne.
His first attempt was at WrestleMania 33, where the Cruiserweight Title match opened the entire event with the pre-show match that set a solid pace for the rest of the event. Sadly, Aries number wasn’t 33 and he left Orlando empty handed. Aries fought all challengers to maintain his momentum, and got his rematch on April 30th at Payback ’17. While Aries picked up the win this time, it was due to Neville getting himself disqualified, just when it seemed like A Double was on the verge of his first taste of WWE gold.
Since then, Neville has been ducking Aries, showing doubt and fear for the first time since he took the Cruiserweight Division with a savage vengeance last year.
Austin Aries is finally hitting his stride in the WWE Universe and it couldn’t come at a greater time. While he had some impressive outings as part of NXT in 2016, he never truly found his rhythm – more from a lack of a long lasting feud than anything on Aries’ part. But Austin has shown an uncanny ability to get himself over no matter where he’s been – from Ring of Honor to Impact Wrestling to NXT, so it was only a matter of time before the main roster came calling. He managed to remain in the spotlight during his injury downtime by taking on the role of colour commentator on 205 Live, which only whetted the WWE Universe’s appetite to see Aries finally make the main roster as a performer. When Aries finally turned on Neville in the ring following an interview, declaring he was cleared to compete, Austin Aries got one of the biggest pops that anyone on 205 Live has garnered to date. There’s no question, Aries is easily the biggest attraction 205 Live has right now as a face (perhaps on both sides).
Neville had a (WWE) career resurgence when he was transitioned to the Cruiserweight Division and went full heel for the first time in his WWE tenure. He’s shown a savagery very few have seen, and his heel determination to work more than the flashy aerial game (he’s toned it all down intentionally to avoid gaining any face support) has paid off in droves. The King of the Cruiserweights is one of the most engaging and electrifying characters on the WWE roster right now. It’s given him the edge he lacked since he arrived in WWE and a credibility he greatly needed. It will go a long way in allowing him to move past the Cruiserweight Division once WWE creative finds something to push him beyond.
Both men are actually strikingly similar. Both excel with impressive aerial ability (edge to Neville though, although his King character seems to shy away from it more), both are incredibly athletic (not to mention powerful for the size), and both are technical wizards, capable of working multiple submission holds and counters.
In short, we’re in for a clinic.
Chances are this match may once again open the show, but if it does, it may be a tough one to follow. In all likelihood, this is the rubber match and the payoff for these two, who have been feuding since early March – both men are going to put it all on the line, creating GIFable and WTF moments throughout the 20 minutes or so they’ll get to close the Final Chapter.
In the end, expect Austin Aries to raise the title after Sunday, finally vanquishing the King and dethroning the Newcastle Nightmare. Aries has plenty of challengers to move on to – Tony Nese would be a dream opponent at the moment – and chances are we’ll see Neville turn on his “squire boy”, TJP, resulting in at least a transitional feud as those two settle their differences.
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