Written by: Scrooge McSuck from DaWrestlingsite.com
– Originally broadcasted on Pay-Per-View on December 15th, 2013, from the Toyota Center in Houston, TX. Michael Cole, Jerry “The King” Lawler, and JBL are at the commentary table unless otherwise noted. For those who give a crap, Fandango defeated Dolph Ziggler on the Kick-Off Show in an incredibly rushed 4-minute “whatever” match. Don’t cry Ziggler fans, he won the rematch the next night on Raw.
CM Punk vs. The Shield:
And we open the PPV with a match that could’ve easily stood as a solid Main Event. I guess that shows how “stacked” the card is. I already forgot why this is taking place, but I’m assuming it’s because Punk made not-so-subtle remarks about The Authority™ and is getting punished for it by Libertarian Kane. Punk plays a cute game of cat-and-mouse, stalling for time and frustrating the Shield in the opening moments. He does a good job cutting the ring in half on Rollins, until Reigns gets the tag and starts pounding Punk into jelly. The action spills to the floor, and Reigns spear misses, resulting in him taking a nasty dive over the announcers table. Despite the “if they mention it, it’s not real” aspect of the PBP, Reigns did look like he had swelling around the eye…. maybe he Steiner’ed himself. Rollins lays out Punk with a roundhouse enziguri, and rips off his pose, No Mercy (N64) style. Punk comes back with a roundhouse of his own, but only gets two. Punk with the jumping heel kick, running knee, and Anaconda Vice on Rollins, but Ambrose interrupts. Punk fights him off and connects with the Macho Elbow for two. GTS to Rollins, Ambrose comes in, gets spun around, and Reigns’ Spear misses the target (poor vision! poor vision!), knocking Ambrose silly, and Punk takes the opportunity to cover for the improbable victory at 13:42. *** Solid action, smart booking, and a sensible finish. Probably the best you could get out of the gimmick.
– A.J. is backstage and ripping off CM Punk, counting the days of her Championship Reign. Hopefully her reign will get through until about 2016, when WWE hires another “Diva” worthy of being featured in a wrestling role.
WWE Diva’s Championship Match:
A.J. Lee © (w/ Tamina Snuka) vs. Natalya:
I know how WWE wants things to be, but judging from the promo work, I’m feeling like A.J. should be the babyface. Oh well, at least Natalya isn’t farting around with the PG Era Oddities anymore. Would’ve made more sense to do this at Survivor Series, but we needed four more weeks of Natalya going over Tamina in repetitive matches. Chain wrestling to start as Cole reminds us that the DIVA of the Year is two people. I’m still shaking my head at the logic. Tamina with a distraction, but Nattie doesn’t bite and A.J. ends up tasting the wall. Tamina with another attempt, and this time things work out for the better. A.J. controls… with a chinlock. Heel kick gets two. Nattie fights free of a front facelock, but eats boot on a charge. Nattie goes for an odd looking slam, but A.J. counters with a modified Dragon Sleeper. Natalya escapes and it’s the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM! Clothesline, clothesline, snap suplex, Michinoku Driver, and Sharpshooter, but A.J. fights free. Black Widow applied, but Nattie escapes and lays A.J. out with a discus clothesline. She goes for the Sharpshooter again, but A.J. grabs a handful of hair and cradles for three to retain at 6:35. ** Solid action, some of the best you can expect from the division. Poor Nattie cries. Again. Grow the fruck up and get over it.
WWE Intercontinental Championship Match:
Big E. Langston © vs Damien Sandow:
Simple booking formula: Sandow wins a contender’s match against fallen idol Dolph Ziggler, then spends a few weeks trying to punk Langston out. It’s not much, but better than “Champion jobs repeatedly in Non-Title Matches.” That is already reserved for the Tag Team Champions. Sandow’s pre-match promos make wonder… is everything scripted for him, or is he allowed to use some of his own stuff? It’s not rocket science writing or anything, but there’s too much effort to possibly be all WWE Creative. Back and forth match as commentary team ignores the action and would rather tell us who’s tweeting about the WWE Title Unification. Cute spot sees Sandow clip the knee from behind, then come off the ropes with a clothesline. It’s a one man Goozle! I know it’s an old school reference, but it was a double-team move made famous by the Midnight Express. Both men trade counters to their finishers until the STRAPS COME DOWN™ and Langston finishes off Sandow with the Big Ending at 6:28. ** Typical match highlighting an episode of Superstars. Nothing offensive, but nothing to really go crazy about. It happened, it was OK, I forgot about it already. Next match…
WWE Tag Team Championship; Fatal-Four-Way Match:
Goldust & Cody Rhodes © vs. Rey Mysterio & Big Show vs. Ryback & Curtis Axel vs. The Real Americans (w/ Zeb Colter):
So…. we’ve got Los Matadores, The Uso’s, the Primetime Players, Tons of Funk (bare with that one), the Wyatt Family, the obvious pair of The Shield, and 3MB, and yet we need to fill out a Tag Title Match with two randomly thrown together teams of midcard singles wrestlers? Seriously, the Real Americans are the only TEAM challenging worth being out there. Question of 2014: Will Big Show ever friggin’ retire?! He works in his “hush the crowd and slap the chest spot” on Axel, the only positive crowd response for him all match. Axel and Ryback end up working most of the early portions of the match… until they’re eliminated on a fluke roll-up about 5-minutes in. Sucks for them.
First time in for the Real Americans, and the crowd has a good time chanting “We The People” as Swagger puts a hurting on Goldust. He fights free of a bearhug and counters with a sunset flip for two. Whip to the corner, and he comes springing off the turnbuckle with an elbow. Cesaro in, and it’s Giant Swing Time! Only 9 rotations, so he slingshots Goldie into a Swagger powerslam. Swagger with the second rope splash, and Cesaro with the leap-frog double stomp for two. Goldust busts out a friggin’ Canadian Destroyer, but Swagger pulls Cody off the apron to prevent a tag. Goldustcanrana connects, but now Rey is pulled away. Snap powerslam, and FINALLY Big Show gets the hot tag of all hot tags and KO’s both Real Americans to send them packing at around the 13-minute mark. That was a hell of a heat segment on Goldust, for the record.
Sportsmanship prevails, as Show and Rey allow Cody and Goldust to gather themselves before continuing. Goldust surprises Show with a top rope body press for two. Show goes for the Chokeslam, but it’s countered with a DDT. Cody goes for the Disaster Kick, but eats a Giant Slap, instead. Rey with a head scissors takedown and roundhouse kick for two. Cody responds with the Disaster Kick, but only gets two. Rey counters Cross Rhodes, and hits the 619 on Goldust. Show sends Goldust to the floor, and Cody responds by sending Show into the post. Rey counters Cross Rhodes again, this time with a head scissors. Cody blocks the 619 and sets for the Alabama Slam, but Rey counters with a sunset flip for two. He goes for another head scissors, but Cody blocks and hits the Cross Rhodes, and it’s enough for the three count at 21:05! Well, that was way better than I expected. **** The first few minutes were sluggish (SURPRISE!), but everything from the point after Rybaxel’s Elimination was some intense, seriously awesome shit, and definitely the match of the night.
– Goofy backstage segment promoting WWE’s Brawlin’ Buddies. The Primetime Players, Great Khali, Los Matadores, El Torito, Scrooge McDuck, Launchpad McQuack, Darkwing Duck, Mr. C. Montgomery Burns, Vicki Guerrero, and Brad Maddox join in on the stupid nonsense. It’s not until Libertarian Kane comes in (complete with dimmed lights and theme music… AWESOME) that chaos is eradicated. And then he smashes the Cena doll with the Brodus Clay doll. Which leads us into…
R-Truth (w/ Xavier Woods) vs. Brodus Clay (w/ Tensai & The Funkadactyls):
Thrown onto the PPV at the last minute, and surprise, surprise, it has a purpose: A few weeks back, Woods made his WWE Debut, and was allowed to use the Funkadactyls and Tons of Funk music. I guess Brodus got a hair up his ass over how popular Woods got with it, so a beat-down followed the next week. Nice of WWE to promote a wrestling doll and a Scooby-Doo cartoon that features a fun-loving big man they are suddenly turning heel. Makes a lot of sense. Boring as shit match that drags on and on… Truth works in a scissors kick and plancha for old time’s sake. Brodus comes back with the Banzai Drop. Haven’t seen that in about a decade. Brodus never goes for a pin, triggering Tensai to intervene and question his motives. they argue on and off until Tensai and the Funkadactyls walk out on him, and there’s Truth to roll him up for three at 6:02 (even though it felt about ten minutes longer). * It served a purpose, but the match was OK, at best.
No Disqualifications Match: Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz:
Another match added at the last minute, set up on the Kick-Off Show. Basically, Miz and Kofi have traded wins for about a month, Miz talked trash, and Kofi bitch slapped him hard enough to mess up his hair-quaf. Seriously, if you need bitch-slapping technique demonstration, that was it. Kofi wins a slugfest and stomps Miz out of the ring. This is exactly what would happen if you set the match on “Brawl” in Royal Rumble for SNES and Genesis. When are they going to bust out eye gouges and chokes? Well, maybe not chokes, ever since you-know-what. Kofi dives through the ropes, but meets a forearm. Trouble in Paradise misses, meeting the post instead. Miz works the leg, channeling his inner (shitty version of) Ric Flair. Kofi with the world’s suckiest sunset flip for two. Seriously, Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson would be ashamed of how poorly executed that one was. More stuff happens, crowd doesn’t care. Kofi sends Miz into an exposed turnbuckle and finishes with Trouble in Paradise at 8:01. Yep, the No DQ stipulation practically meant nothing to the match, as the turnbuckle spot could’ve been used, regardless. *1/4 Slow, dull, and heatless.
Daniel Bryan vs. The Wyatt Family:
Bryan cannot win this match. That’s all. He HAS to lose, for the better of the Wyatt Family. I like that Wyatt chooses to sit in the comfort of his rocking chair rather than standing on the apron like any normal person. It’s little touches like that that go a long with we me. Bryan targets the legs of Harper, but gets over-powered by Rowan and thrown around with a wild bearhug. Again, it’s the little things. Instead of a boring spot, the extra physical activity makes it more impressive. Harper with a Michinoku Driver for two. Bray tags in now that Bryan is weakened, and tries to trash talk convince him into joining the Family. He punishes Bryan with a hard rush into the corner, followed by a suplex throw. He busts out the friggin’ SPIDER WALK and continues taunting, with the crowd chanting “That was creepy”. Harper in with the Gator Roll. More punishment, and again Wyatt comes in to offer Bryan salvation. Bryan refuses in a way only a wrestler can, and takes a Powerbomb from Harper for his troubles. Bryan avoids a charge, double dropkicks Rowan and Harper from the apron, and brings Harper off the top turnbuckle with a Super-Back-Suplex. YES Kicks and Swandive Headbutt gets two! Rowan misses a charge, and a roundhouse kick knocks him into the Andre Special™… in 2013! That’s just awesome. Bryan outwits the rushes of the big men and rolls Wyatt up for two. Suicide dive onto Harper, and a drop toe hold sends Rowan into the steps. Bryan with a missile dropkick onto Wyatt, but the Yes-Lock is countered with a flurry of forearms, and Sister Abigail finishes Bryan off at 12:24. ***1/2 Felt completely different from the opener, with more story-telling and drama. Bryan’s offensive flurries really felt like a desperate comeback attempt, but the freshness of Wyatt proved too much in the end, and was easily disposed of. I honestly predicted the Punk/Shield match to be the better of the Handicaps, but I was proven wrong, as usual.
WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship; TLC Match:
Randy Orton (WWE Champ) vs. John Cena (World Hvywt. Champ):
It’s the Champion of Champion Unification Match That Was 50 Years In The Making Excluding 2001 When Chris Jericho Did It, Too!™. Kudos has to be given to the production crew, as the video package hyping the match makes it feel like some kind of epic WrestleMania Main Event, rather than a thrown together, pointless attempt at trying to make something seem important when it really isn’t. Up until now, I was enjoying the hell out of the show… and then this. A slow, plodding, boring match that is using a gimmick for the sake of using it, with little passion or reason behind the actions. Why are these two fighting with tables and ladders? It just seems like pointless filler. The crowd’s overall apathy (as in not even caring to cheer against Cena, just not responding much at well) pretty much tells the story for me. The finish is pretty much the only moment worth noting: Orton handcuffs Cena to the bottom rope, Cena desperately tries to free himself, to the point he has to rip the turnbuckle out of the corner. He stops Orton, only for a tug-of-war ending in Cena being thrown “into” a nearby table (that doesn’t break and was a bit off target). Orton casually climbs and is the Unified Champion of Champion at 24:36. **1/2 For a match hyped as being so important to the history of the “sport” (even though we’re told not to call it a sport), this fell right on it’s ass. Boring action, tedious pace that felt like two guys going through the motions, and other than a cool finishing sequence (that was botched), just unremarkable. I didn’t care much for Jericho’s unification wins, but this fell even further into the scale of who the hell cares? Orton is Champion, fine, but don’t promote something as an all-time classic and deliver a turd (see also: SummerSlam ’93, Perfect vs. Michaels).
Final Thoughts: Had the Main Event delivered a minimal 3 1/2 star performance, I would’ve made this a highly recommended show. The Tag Title Match was fantastic, and both Handicap Matches delivered while offering completely different stories. Even the undercard stuff (that was advertised) was alright. However, ending the show on such a down note, despite having a CLEAN finish (as clean as a Ladder Match is), just leaves a sour taste in your mouth that’s been lingering since the end of SummerSlam. It’s still a recommended show, but a completely unsatisfying Main Event knocks it down from being something that could’ve been a must-watch PPV.