Apollo Crews Retains Intercontinental Championship, Aleister Black Returns on SmackDown

SmackDown Fatal Four-Way For Intercontinental Championship Apollo Crews Big E Sami Zayn Kevin Owens

Big E’s ascension to a post-New Day singles athlete, and holder for the second time of the Intercontinental Championship, was derailed by Apollo Crews. The current titleholder was challenged not only by E, the man he dethroned but Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in a fatal four-way match for the title on this week’s SmackDown. The acrimony between E and Crews has built over the months as Crews has become increasingly possessive of the coveted honor, and E’s determination to reclaim it has grown at a pace, as well. As for Owens and Zayn, their long association has been tested by Zayn’s paranoia and bitterness over losing the title to Big E. Each man is at a crossroads, and those roads intersected in the ring.

KO, who promised “half a dozen stunners” to his opponents earlier in the program, came out on the offensive, singling out Zayn. Big E and Apollo Crews zeroed in on each other, as well, as Owens and Zayn took the fight out of the ring. Big E dropped Apollo Crews with a big elbow. At that point, Owens changed his focus to Big E, reentering the ring and delivering a step-up enziguri, sending E out of the ring. Sami Zayn attacked Owens savagely, driving his throat into the ropes with his knees. E intervened, pulling Zayn off Owens.

Big E struck Zayn, and also the advancing Crews. E focused his attentions on Zayn and Crews, delivering strikes and then a splash to them. Owens reentered the conversation, flying into Big E. Crews quickly recovered and renewed his onslaught on E, delivering a standing dropkick. However, Owens went for Crews, seizing him and attempting to drive him into the steel steps. Instead, Crews did so to Owens.

After momentarily warding off Owens, the defending champion Crews delivered a moonsault to Big E. Zayn attacked Crews, then delivered a moonsault of his own off the barricade into Crews. Owens went for Zayn, coming in aggressively with a clothesline, and getting a cover. Zayn kicked out. Owens took to the ropes for a swanton into Zayn, and covered. Big E crashed into Owens’s cover on Zayn, cheating Owens of a victory via pinfall.

The two got on their feet and traded punches. Apollo Crews got his second wind, delivering a German suplex each to Owens and Zayn. Owens focused his next attack on Big E, performing a senton. Zayn locked in on Owens, delivering an exploder suplex to Owens, attempting a helluva kick which Owens evaded, but no matter, as Zayn managed to roll him through into a shoulders-down cover. Owens kicked out, but Zayn was not done trying to overwhelm him, hitting a Michinoku Driver 0n Owens, who powered out of a pinfall attempt. The two continued to chisel away at each other, and it seemed Owen would put Zayn away and take the day with a fisherman’s brainbuster and cover on Zayn, until both Crews and E intervened, crashing into Owens and Zayn.

Big E, once again, focused his attentions on Crews, attempted a spear. Crews dodged and blocked Owens’s attempt to pull a stunner on him. However, he could not block Big E’s second attempt at a spear, which connected. Crews managed to fight his way back and gain control of E, delivering a suplex and floating into a cover on the former Intercontinental Champion. Big E kicked out and seemed to relay his energy into a last stand. He delivered belly-to-belly throws to both Crews and Zayn.

Taking the fight to Crews and E hadn’t been productive, so Zayn changed tactics, mixing it up with Owens again. He trapped Owens momentarily in a half nelson, but Owens fought out and planted Zayn on the canvas, covering him, but Zayn kicked out. Owens took to the ropes, but Crews sought to pull him down. The two traded blows, though Big E drew on his prodigious strength and delivered a German suplex to both athletes at the same time.

E had little time to bask in this feat, ending up on the canvas kissing end of a frog splash from Owens. Owens’s charge continued, as he issued a clothesline to Crews, a cannonball to Sami Zayn, and a German suplex to Big E. Zayn climbed the ropes, but Apollo Crews moved to intercept. Sami Zayn attempted to fly but had to roll through to intercept Kevin Owens and was caught by Big E. Kevin Owens delivered a flurry of superkicks and a pop-up powerbomb to Crews. Owens drove Zayn up and over the barricade, and countered an attack by Crews. Big E attempted his Big Ending finisher on both Zayn and Crews, to no avail, as he was preempted by the formidable grasp of Commander Azeez, who lifted him off Crews. Azeez attempted to drive E into the post, but E was able to escape and send Azeez into the collision instead.

It was here that events took an eerie turn. The lights darkened, and ominous smoke filled the ThunderDome. Aleister Black entered the ring, and delivered his Black Mass kick to E, allowing Crews to cover him, retaining the Intercontinental Championship. Black showed no interest in his Raw rival, Owens. Is his ire with E, or has he set a trap for Crews, this victory sewing the seeds of a future defeat, orchestrated by the enigmatic Aleister Black?

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