Randy Orton defeated Antonio Cesaro on Monday's Raw in a Beat the Clock challenge match, with the two WWE Superstars putting together a compelling, dramatic performance.
The first match of the night ending up being the episode's best.
Their opener is sure to be overshadowed by the events that followed. The Shield attacking The Rock and Bob Backlund being announced for the WWE Hall of Fame may have more people talking, but the award for most enthralling wrestling goes to Orton and Cesaro.
Like they did on WWE Main Event and SmackDown previously, Orton and Cesaro worked so well together that it should make WWE take notice.
The other two Beat the Clock matches featured high-level performers on off nights.
The Miz and Dolph Ziggler's chemistry was awkward and uninspired. It looked throughout their encounter as if they were both struggling to get into rhythm with each other.
Wade Barrett and Sheamus seemed to be purposely wasting time, which took away from the realism of the match. Theirs was also the match that was most gutted by commercial breaks.
Orton's victory set the time to beat for the Beat the Clock stipulation and set the bar high for the episode.
The Viper went for several pins early, quickening his normal pace. Cesaro did his best to slow Orton down with grinding holds mixed with clubbing uppercuts.
The clock ticked upward as the two fought on, each one gaining a momentary advantage. Small packages and school boy pins led to early near falls.
At one point, Cesaro pushed Orton off the top turnbuckle to the outside of the ring.
This turned the match in his favor; the United States champ become the aggressor for much of the match from that point on. He delivered an echoing bodyslam and stomped on Orton's chest.
Cesaro delivered high-impact moves and became increasingly frustrated that they weren't enough to put Orton away.
After cracking Orton's shoulder into the ring post and tossing him back into the ring, Cesaro glanced back at the clock to see how much time had elapsed.
That slight distraction was enough for Orton to pounce with an RKO, the suddenness of The Apex Predator's finisher on full display.
Orton's victory came at 11:36 in the match, a time Dolph Ziggler would beat in the next match.
Cesaro and Orton's battle packed plenty of drama into those 11 minutes.
The win makes Orton look strong going into the Royal Rumble. Cesaro's ability to hang with the former world champ makes him look like he more than belongs in Orton's league.
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