WWE CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: CEDRIC ALEXANDER VS. BUDDY MURPHY (c)
Fun action early with both guys showing the crowd what they’re in for with dueling displays of athleticism. An appreciative “205” chant breaks out. Tremendously quick pace and great chain wrestling by both guys. If you’re not watching this show, START! You can watch ANY TIME on demand! And it’s only an hour! Much less demanding than Raw or SmackDown, and lately it’s been much better TV.
Murphy withstands some early threats, but Alexander hits a Death Valley Driver on the apron, then the Lumbar Check! Alexander for some reason pulls Murphy away from the ropes, but turns him so that Murphy’s one foot could still reach the ropes. BIG MISTAKE! Murphy recovers with a big knee to Alexander’s face and Murphy’s Law for the win. Not the best cruiserweight match I’ve seen unfortunately, they didn’t make a great argument to be on the main card. Still an entertaining match.
Match Rating: Six Gold Medals
Surprise surprise, another awesome promo by Becky Lynch.
GUITAR ON A POLE MATCH: ELIAS VS. BOBBY LASHLEY w/LIO RUSH
Ah, the old guitar on a forklift run by Judy Bagwell on Viagra sitting on a pole match. Hot damn, they go right for the ladders in this one. I think this one’s just going to be a giant clusterfuck, and not good at all. The premise for the match is terrible. Who knows, they may surprise me, but here’s my thing: you can literally use any weapon at all, there’s no DQ, but you’re going to risk everything to get to a guitar? THE LADDER ITSELF IS A BETTER WEAPON! FUCK!
AWESOME throw by Lashley, belly to belly on Elias right into a ladder. That’s what a match like this needs, not just weapon strike, climb, weapon strike, climb, weapon strike, climb. Some actual wrestling moves need to be put in here, and that can make it good. And then… Elias gets the guitar and he wins??? I thought it was the first person to get the guitar could USE it and then it turned into a pinfall match! What the fuck was that?! God damn it.
Lio Rush with a frog splash and Lashley with a guitar strike after the match. That was predictable. This made no sense to just have one person grab the guitar, especially since they then had Lashley be the one to use it. Some decent action, but overall, this was stupid.
Match Rating: Two Gold Medals
MAIN TLC CARD
MIXED MATCH CHALLENGE FINALS: FABULOUS TRUTH VS. TEAM MAHALICIA w/THE SINGH BROTHERS
In our end-of-the-year poll on Ring the Damn Bell, I voted for Fabulous Truth as Tag Team of the Year. It says a lot about how bad the tag team division has been, but it also says a lot about how entertaining Truth and Carmella have been.
God damn Singh Brothers interrupt the dance break, then get deservedly tossed out of the ring. Alicia Fox is so good in the ring. Renee Young hits it on the head about R-Truth: “This man does not age, it’s unbelievable!” He’s so fast and athletic. He also takes Alicia’s captain hat.
This match got super fucking sloppy all around before Carmella locks in the Code of Silence for the win! I was hoping they would win. The Mixed Match Challenge is so much fun, but this was one of the weaker matches. Truth informs Carmella their vacation will be to… WWE headquarters. I love it.
Match Rating: Four Gold Medals
SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP TRIPLE THREAT MATCH: THE NEW DAY VS. THE USOS VS. THE BAR (c)
This New Day has a man up since as far as I know there’s no DQ in this match, so whoever wants to get involved can just do whatever they want. If they don’t take advantage of that, then the logic of this match is shit. Also I thought this was a TLC match? I guess not. So there’s rules that only two guys can be in the ring at any given time, but they aren’t acknowledging whether teams can be disqualified or not. I guess there is DQ, and then the champs retain. WHY WOULD THEY NOT HAVE THIS BE A TLC MATCH???? IT WAS TRIPLE THREAT TLC MATCHES THAT MADE THE WHOLE CONCEPT LEGENDARY!!!!! I’m calm.
Pretty cool move with Cesaro catching one of the Usos with an uppercut as he was about to go for a suicide dive. The story through the first 5-10 minutes of the match is that The Usos have had no opportunity to tag in, and The Bar is in control. It’s setting up a big hot tag to the high-flyers. As Cesaro and Kofi fight in The Usos’ corner, Jimmy finally tags himself in, and hits a cross body on Kofi while Cesaro had him up in a suplex position. That was awesome-looking.
Now The Usos have a superkick party. After that fun, Cesaro does his giant swing on Kofi into the Sharpshooter, and now it’s a cluster after Woods saves Kofi with a springboard DDT on Cesaro. This really would have made an awesome TLC match and I’m still pissed off that it’s not. Sheamus hits a Brogue Kick on Woods and with everyone else down on the outside, gets the pin to retain the titles for The Bar. Mostly good match, still wish it was at least SOME kind of no DQ.
Match Rating: Five Gold Medals
TLC MATCH: BARON CORBIN VS. BRAUN STROWMAN
First, will Strowman show up? Second, will referee Heath Slater play a factor? Yes. And yes. I’m glad that they are actually acknowledging Raw’s low ratings and how bad the shows have been. Obviously they have to do something about it, but it’s interesting to have them use it in promos and storylines.
Corbin has so much heat, gotta keep running with it. BRAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUUNNN!!!! He’s here! Let’s get it on!
Oh shit, Strowman is calling for backup! I’ve got a feeling it’s not just Apollo Crews. Oh hell yeah, it’s ALL the faces who have suffered at Corbin’s hands. Heath Slater attacks first! This is so, so satisfying. KURT ANGLE! OUR OLYMPIC HERE! IT’S TRUE! IT’S DAMN TRUE! I actually thought Rhyno might show up and spear Corbin as he was leaving, but this is infinitely better as Kurt grabs himself a chair. Everybody hits their finishers, and Strowman stands on Corbin FOR THE WIN! And this ALSO means Strowman vs. Lesnar at the Royal Rumble! I loved this tremendously.
Booking Rating: Nine Dustys
TABLES MATCH: RUBY RIOTT w/LIV MORGAN & SARAH LOGAN VS. NATALYA
Why will nobody back up Natalya when she is obviously facing a three-on-one fight? Why are Logan and Morgan not attacking from the start since it’s no DQ? Well quickly we know Liv won’t be helping, she just split a table in half! That was a bump and a half, hell yeah Liv!
“YOU WANNA MESS WITH MY FAMILY, BITCH?!” yells Natalya as she smacks Ruby across the face. Bad ass. Sarah Logan goes through another table. Natty is a beast. As Ruby pushes Natalya’s face into the table with Anvil’s face on it, “He’s ashamed of you Natty!” The crowd pop when Ruby goes through that table will be HUGE.
I like that after Morgan and Logan were taken out that the match didn’t just quickly end. We got to see some real good one-on-one wrestling. Natalya pulls out a table with Ruby on it! She has such a big smile on her face, and also pulls out Anvil’s jacket from under the ring. With her father’s jacket on she sets up the Ruby table.
Recovery by Ruby with a kick to the face. Ruby is going up top with Natty on the table. Someone is going to lose right here. It’s gonna be a powerbomb. HERE IT COMES! POWERBOMB! NATTY WINS! Not the huge pop I expected though. But that was some deserved comeuppance for Ruby. The build up to this match wasn’t the greatest, but it really made me want Ruby to pay dearly, so good job bringing that out of me. And holy shit they just showed Liv’s table bump again. That’s one of the best I’ve ever seen with the way she got launched off the apron. Best match of the night so far, since I’m not counting Corbin-Strowman.
Match Rating: Seven Gold Medals
DREW McINTYRE VS. FINN BÁLOR
I think we’ll get a really good match here, but they’ve strapped a rocket to McIntyre, so I don’t see him losing. Drew is a great shit talker, his match psychology is terrific. Bálor has to put so much strength and effort into every more just to do a little damage to McIntyre, while McIntyre inflicts a ton of damage almost effortlessly with every move. McIntyre can take his time and pick Bálor apart, while Bálor has no time to rest or recover if he wants to have any chance of winning.
HUGE side slam from the top rope by McIntyre that seemed like it might end the match, but Bálor fights on. Ziggler out of the crowd with a super kick! Bálor with the Coup de Grâce! McIntyre goes down! That’s surprising, and while the match was good, I don’t like the logic here. McIntyre should have been the one to get a dirty win, not Bálor.
Match Rating: Seven Gold Medals
CHAIRS MATCH: REY MYSTERIO VS. RANDY ORTON
How the hell is a chairs match any different than any other no DQ match? You can use tables and ladders too! You can use whatever you want! Chairs match is the dumbest one because the it’s the one match of this grouping that have exactly the same rules as any street fight/no DQ/hardcore match. I also just don’t really care that much about these two, so it might be really hard for them to entertain me. I hope they’re up for the challenge.
Ok, I’m entertained. Rey Mysterio going sledding on a chair right on top of Randy’s ribs was awesome. That was short lived, as the chair shots in this match aren’t even that exciting to this point. Randy’s power slam was better than anything else. After some not much stuff, Rey rolls up Orton for the win. This was lame.
Ziggler attacks Bálor backstage after Bálor wants Ziggler to stay out of his business. New feud?
RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: NIA JAX w/TAMINA VS. RONDA ROUSEY (c)
This is a good start, it’s a great clash of styles, Nia’s power and Ronda’s speed. I enjoyed how after Ronda hit the cross body to the outside, Nia slid across the floor. This match is better than I thought it would be. It’s not Savage-Steamboat but both the offense and selling have been good. The psychology is great too, the crowd is definitely into it.
Ronda shows her resilience by kicking out of Nia’s Samoan drop. Nia climbs the ropes to go for the Super Samoan Drop, but Ronda turns it into a power bomb throw! That was a big move that got a big reaction from the crowd. Ronda is about to go for the arm bar, but Tamina distracts her and Ronda falls for it. Nia cocks her hand for the face breaker, but Ronda turns it into the arm bar for the win! That was a cool finish to a good match.
Match Rating: Six Gold Medals
They really should have had Becky Lynch attack Ronda after the match. That’s a big missed opportunity there.
They DID have her attack Nia, which apparently I missed when my Network screwed up. DAMMIT!
WWE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: AJ STYLES VS. DANIEL BRYAN (c)
Bryan starts out with mind games, going in and out of the ring, before finally locking up with AJ. The mind games didn’t seem to work, as Styles is a step ahead of everything Bryan does. Now it’s Bryan who’s a step ahead, and now we have both guys in a terrific chess match. Bryan starts to slow things down and it gets a little boring.
It could be smart, because there’s still dueling Bryan-Styles chants, and the more Bryan wrestles like this, the less people will cheer for him. AJ finally gets himself back in the match with a brutal clothesline that flips Bryan inside out. Business picks up after that with AJ taking control and picking up the pace of the match. I’m really surprised the crowd is so quiet during the match. That could be an indication of how uninteresting the product has been lately, that even these two can’t get everyone excited enough to be loud.
The crowd starts to stir when AJ attacks Bryan’s leg/knee, but that’s short-lived. AJ nearly turns a top-rope hurricanrana into a Styles Clash. Bryan kicks his way out of that but Styles turns it into a half crab and Bryan comes closer to tapping as the crowd roars. Bryan turns it into the former Yes! Lock (LeBell Lock?) but AJ fights out, and the once-quiet crowd rains down a “this is awesome” chant on the two ring vets. Bryan runs face-first into an AJ Styles dropkick, and AJ follows it up with a springboard 450 for a two count. That’s a hell of a move to only get a two count on.
AJ locks in the Calf Crusher, and Styles positions Bryan in the middle of the ring! Bryan finally is able to roll to the ropes and out of the ring. Bryan’s left leg is badly damaged. AJ hits a phenomenal forearm on the outside, then goes for it again in the ring but misses. AJ rolls up Bryan, but Bryan reverses the pin for the 1-2-3! It was a pretty non-descript finish, but strangely I feel like it actually fits these two and the match. Great match the got better as it went on.
Match Rating: Nine Gold Medals
Ziggler vs. Bálor is announced for tomorrow night’s Raw.
INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: DEAN AMBROSE VS. SETH ROLLINS (c)
We need to hear some heel bias from Renee here, and it sounds like we may be getting that a little bit, with some prodding from Graves. Graves is being a much bigger asshole than usual to get under Renee’s skin. In the ring, Ambrose has control almost from the start. Graves calls Renee a hipster. The way he said it was really funny.
Cole joins in needling Renee about her opinion of Dean’s actions, and it’s becoming more of the story than the match to the TV viewers, or at least this one. Ambrose is totally focused in the ring and is all over Rollins. Ambrose works over Rollins’ knee hard. This really is great psychology. Renee makes the point that everyone wants to call Dean a lunatic, but he is a marshal in the ring and knows exactly what he’s doing. And he’s in Rollins’ head, to the point that Rollins can’t get anything going.
Rollins gets going a little bit, and the commentators lay off the bias talk and let the match tell the story. I think that’s really well done and could plant the seeds for Renee becoming more biased towards Dean in the future, possibly even a valet role. She says that wanting the love and respect of the WWE Universe is not what The Shield was about, and Cole says well that’s Dean talking.
Eventually Rollins and Ambrose stand toe-to-toe in the middle of the ring and start beating the hell out of each other. Some really awesome exchanges now, and Dean almost wins by getting his knees up on Seth Rollins’ frog splash. Rollins recovers to hit the superplex/Falcon Arrow for two. Some morons in the crowd are chanting some bullshit instead of enjoying a clinic of a wrestling match, with terrific ring psychology.
Dean puts out his Shield fist for Rollins, but Rollins kicks him in the face. Now the match goes outside and Rollins has lost it. Rollins calls Dean a piece of shit and smacks him in the face. He goes for the stomp but Ambrose hits Dirty Deeds! New Intercontinental Champion! What a terrific match. This was perfect psychology and though a title change was fairly predictable, it is still the right move.
Match Rating: Ten Gold Medals
SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP TRIPLE THREAT TLC MATCH: ASUKA VS. CHARLOTTE FLAIR VS. BECKY LYNCH (c)
BRING IT ON! The table and ladders come out early. I have to wonder what Sasha and Bayley feel like watching this, seeing where Charlotte and Becky are, and where they are. Maybe they’re just glad they aren’t Becky after she just got launched spine first one a ladder by Asuka. FUCKING OUCH.
Charlotte mashes Asuka’s face off the ladder, and again, FUCKING OUCH! Asuka power bombs Charlotte through a table, and this is awesome. Charlotte recovers to hit a moonsault to the outside on both other ladies. The rotation she gets on her moonsault is pretty crazy. Becky goes nuts on Charlotte and Asuka with a chair, but Charlotte takes her out and dismantles one of the announce tables. This is so much better than a lot of these matches, because they aren’t using big spots to keep people down for a long time. Becky just beat the piss out of both women with a chair, and they licked their wounds, got back up, and fought back. Charlotte went through a table, rolled outside, and was back up in a minute or two. LOGIC IS A WONDERFUL THING!
Holy shit, Becky is setting up for a crazy spot on the German announce table with Charlotte and Asuka both on the table. WHAT A LEG DROP OFF THE TOP OF THE LADDER! But how can Charlotte be ok after that? Becky landed FULL BODY WEIGHT on top of her! They’re right, Charlotte could have broken ribs. That was scary and I really hope Charlotte is ok.
It’s Becky and Asuka fighting on the ladder now, but Charlotte comes back with a kendo stick! Charlotte may be hurt, but she’s making sure she’s not gonna be the only one! Now it’s Asuka with the kendo stick! This is amazing. Charlotte spears Asuka through the barricade! NOBODY is staying down. You know what comes to mind? Predator: “I ain’t got time to bleed.”
Becky and Charlotte forgo the weapons and just start punching the shit out of each other. Charlotte sets up Becky on a table, on the floor, goes to the top rope, and hits a swanton bomb through the table! This is so awesome! Asuka finally recovers just in time to stop Charlotte from grabbing the title. Fight on the ladder! Ladder fights are the best fights. Becky sets up another ladder next to the them. Now it’s Becky and Charlotte fighting on the second ladder! RONDA ROUSEY COMES DOWN! SHE PUSHES OVER THE LADDER! Payback is a bitch! Ronda is booed to hell as she struts to the back and Asuka climbs the ladder. NEW WOMEN’S CHAMPOIN! IT’S ASUKA! Oh man, what fucking chaos in the women’s division! In a very, very good way. What a match!
Match Rating: Ten Gold Medals
That show finished STRONG. Some crap in the middle, but better than I thought it’d be considering how bad the build was.
Overall Show Rating: Eight Gold Medals