WASHINGTON, D.C. — Zack Ryder can now stay hyped for his immediate future in WWE thanks to an unexpected rescue at WWE Battleground by one of SmackDown Live’s newest Superstars.
Ryder barely lost the battle for Rusev’s U.S. Title at WWE Battleground Sunday evening, but a late
arrival by Mojo Rawley helped the challenger avoid a more painful fate. After succumbing to The Accolade, Long Island Iced-Z suffered a post-match assault from The Bulgarian Brute until Rawley arrived to defend his former NXT tag team partner against the defending U.S. Champion.
An emboldened Ryder, who has surged up WWE’s ranks since his upset Intercontinental
Championship victory at WrestleMania 32, initially set his sights on the U.S. Championship after leading a patriotic coalition called Team USA to victory on the July 4 edition of Raw . His continued success after that match led him to demand a U.S. Championship Match against its current titleholder, Rusev. The Bulgarian Brute accepted days later, but only after humbling the upstart contender with a brutal post-match attack.
Rusev set the tempo for the match immediately
after the opening bell, grinding Ryder down to the ring apron with a series of grappling maneuvers.
The challenger tried to respond with timely kicks and flying forearms, all to no avail against Rusev.
The Long Island, N.Y., native, wearing an outfit
paying patriotic homage to WWE Hall of Famers
Ultimate Warrior, Sting and “Macho Man” Randy
Savage, showed substantial American grit,
enduring despite the powerful arsenal being
employed by Rusev. A well-timed Rough Ryder put victory within Ryder’s grasp, but a counter of the challenger’s El-Bro Drop from the top rope put momentum behind the U.S. Champion.
Rusev superkicked Ryder in the back of the head and locked in The Accolade, which, despite a final gasp of fight by Ryder, led to The Bulgarian Brute securing victory, and assured Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley that the U.S. Title was staying with Raw.
What followed likely came as a surprise to Ryder, but not because of what the fiancé of Lana did next. Rusev decided to make an example to all aspiring U.S. Title contenders by further battering Ryder, resulting in the now-defeated Long Island Iced-Z lying in position for another round of The Accolade.
Before The Bulgarian Brute could apply his
signature submission hold, however , Mojo
Rawley, Ryder’s Hype Bros.’ tag team partner from NXT , rushed down the aisle to repel Rusev from ringside.
With the defeat, Ryder missed his chance to
become just the fifth Superstar to win the star-
spangled title in the nation’s capital, a feat most
recently accomplished by Dolph Ziggler in 2011.
However, the post-match activity ensured that
Long Island Iced-Z will have at least one friend by his side when he and Rawley begin to fight their way up the ranks of the newly-assembled
SmackDown Live roster