December 14, 2015
From the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA
Your hosts are Byron Saxton, JBL, and Michael Cole
We are shown still photos that recap the Sheamus vs. Roman Reigns WWE World Title Match from last night’s TLC PPV and the aftermath in which Reigns destroyed HHH, who ended up leaving on a stretcher.
The show starts with Stephanie McMahon coming out to the ring. She said that women in power are still seen as “cold-hearted and vindictive” before saying she is like everyone of us, once you take away her job and education. She then talks about Reigns beating up her husband, which drew applause from the crowd before saying the crowd wants her to be ruthless so that is what they will get. Stephanie is about to issue her punishment to Reigns but his music hits as he comes to the ring from the crowd. Cole wonders if this is the last time we will see Reigns in the WWE as JBL talks about him as if he is already fired. Reigns stares down Stephanie before saying how it is his daughter’s birthday. He then says that he does not feel bad at all about whipping HHH’s ass. Stephanie tells him that he has a lot of nerve to wish his daughter a happy birthday before gloating over beating up HHH. Reigns says he is tight on time then tells Stephanie to fire him if that is what she wants to do. Stephanie then points out how Reigns lost another title shot and blames everyone else, including HHH. Stephanie calls him a failure and a disgrace but Reigns says that not only is she and HHH a disgrace, but so is her whole family. A “Yes” chant breaks out then Stephanie slaps Reigns, who smiles. Stephanie slaps him several more times and said she will not fire him as HHH requested that not to happen. However, Stephanie lets Reigns know that her father, Vince McMahon, will be here shortly and he just might fire him, as Reigns lowers his head and looks worried. I thought this segment was pretty bad, actually. Having Reigns lower his head, like his teacher was calling his mother after he messed up in school, to the news of Vince arriving made him look more like a scared midcard guy than a main event act. And Stephanie running down the talent, especially when she never gets her comeuppance, his getting old.
A plug for the “Slammy Award” edition of RAW, which takes place next week.
WWE Intercontinental Title Match: Dolph Ziggler vs. Dean Ambrose (c)
Ambrose works a side headlock on the mat to start things off as Cole plugs the WWE Instagram account and how we can see what Reigns’ face looks like after being slapped multiple times by Stephanie. Ambrose floats over Ziggler and catches him with a slam for a nearfall. Suplex gets two. Ambrose stretches out Ziggler for a bit then gets caught with a clothesline. Ziggler hits a corner splash but shortly after that gets clotheslined to the floor. Ambrose flies out with a tope then tosses Ziggler inside where they engage in a pinfall reversal sequence. Ambrose tries for the Dirty Deeds but Ziggler escapes as they end in a stalemate before we head to commercial. The action returns with Ambrose coming off of the top as Ziggler hits him with a dropkick for a nearfall. Ambrose gets a rollup but Ziggler escapes a powerslam attempt and gets two with a Fameasser. Both men are down then Ambrose blocks a kick and hits a wheelbarrow slam for two. A “this is awesome” chant breaks out just before Ambrose hits a missile dropkick. Running bulldog gets two. Ziggler jumps on Ambrose to apply a sleeper. Ambrose backs him into the corner but misses an attack then hit with a super kick……….but Ambrose rebounds off of the ropes for a clothesline as both men are down. Kevin Owens, looking very pissed off, comes down to the ring and tosses Ziggler to the floor before firing away on Ambrose as the ref signals for the bell (12:20) **3/4. He hits Ambrose with the Pop-Up Powerbomb then grabs the IC Title belt and holds it over Ambrose before tossing it down to hit another powerbomb. Ziggler runs in to attack Owens but that fails as he powerbombs Ziggler on top of Ambrose. That got some cheers from the crowd.
Thoughts: Solid TV match. However, it didnt feel like it got out of second gear. I did like the angle of having a pissed off Owens coming in to wreak havoc over losing his title. Looks like the Ambrose/Owens feud will continue. And Ziggler was really just an afterthought here as he is clearly positioned a level below the other two guys.
The announcers make sure to tell us that this is Vince’s first TV appearance in over a year before we get a replay of Stephanie slapping Reigns before alarming him that Vince will be here tonight.
A still photo of Kalisto hitting the Salida del Sol off of the ladder and through a ladder bridge last night at TLC before the announcers plug that we will hear from the New Day later on in the show. That is a match I suggest everyone checking out on the Network (if you havent already). You will not be disappointed.
Kevin Owens is walking down the hallway when Jojo approaches him. He cuts her off when asked about being upset over losing the Intercontinental Title last night by telling her she has no idea. Owens then says what we saw is just the beginning and if you think Ambrose is a lunatic now, he will not stop until he is driven to the point of being institutionalized and gets back his Intercontinental Title. I am loving the direction of the feud: the heel goes mental after losing his title cleanly and will not stop tormenting his foe until the belt is back in is possession. Wrestling has certainly changed a lot over the past several years when a guy pissed off over losing his title vows revenge until he gets it back is considered a refreshing angle.
The Dudley Boyz, Tommy Dreamer, and Rhyno are standing in an alley as they reminisce about their glory days in Philadelphia while in ECW as we get shown a few clips from ECW as they all promise to take Philadelphia back to the extreme as they battle the Wyatt Family. I thought it was a cool promo. It hyped up the fans in the crowd who saw them in ECW and Bubba in particular cut a good promo.
Stephanie is backstage telling an assistant that she will wait for her father.
R-Truth vs. Bo Dallas
Dallas takes a victory lap outside of the ring after hitting a shoulderblock. The camera cuts backstage as a limousine pulls up as Stephanie opens the door, revealing Vince, who tells Stephanie to take care of her husband while he takes care of “this.” Back to the match as R-Truth dances briefly before taking Dallas down with a hiptoss. Vince’s music then interrupts the match as he heads down the ring to a decent amount of applause. The wrestlers in the ring stop and look at Vince, who tells them to get the hell out of his ring as they leave (3:26) NR.
Thoughts: The match was just to set up for Vince coming in and cutting a promo.
Vince says right about now there is someone in the locker room sweating profusely over what he is about to say. Vince says they might as well be standing next to “God Almighty” before sitting down in a chair and saying this person will have to sweat a little bit more as we head to break. Of course, this person he is referring to is in fact, Roman Reigns.
Back from break, Vince yells at a production guy to “let him sweat” before he heads back into the ring. He then calls out Reigns by name, first to “take his medicine” then orders him to get his ass into the ring. Reigns music hits as he slowly walks down the aisle. Vince tells Reigns that he knows it’s intimidating to stand next to him and yells at Reigns to stop smiling after he mentioned how HHH was sitting at home injured. Vince tells Reigns to apologize and wants him to do it on his hands and knees. Reigns smirks when Vince said he will beat an apology out of him then takes off his suit jacket when Sheamus comes out. Sheamus tells Vince he is sorry for interrupting and wants the pleasure of beating an apology out of Reigns, because he disrespected the McMahon Family. The crowd starts up a “you look stupid” chant to which Sheamus replies that they are the ones who paid to see him. Sheamus then challenges Reigns tonight as that drew minimal crowd reaction. Sheamus then says he is so confident he can beat him tonight he’ll put up the WWE World Title as that got the fans going a bit. Vince asks the crowd if we want to see a title match then tells them how they fall for that trick everytime. Reigns then calls Vince an old man and said before he used to talk about having “big grapefruits” but now has “old, shriveled up prunes.” Reigns then calls Vince out for being 70 years old and how time has passed him by. Vince calls him a “son of a bitch” then tells Reigns he has his title match but under one condition: if he loses, he is fired. Vince then offers Reigns a handshake but ends up kicking him in the groin before walking up to Sheamus and ordering him to destroy Reigns. I did not care how this ended either, with Reigns getting kicked in the nuts by someone more than double his age. And the line about prunes is exactly the stuff they should not be giving to Reigns for his promos. Makes him come off as a cornball.
Cole then breaks the news that an “Extreme Rules” match will take place tonight between the Dudley Boyz & Tommy Dreamer & Rhyno vs. The Wyatt Family.
Ryback & Jack Swagger vs. Rusev w/ Lana & Alberto Del Rio
Ryback and Rusev go back-and-forth to start. The announcers hype up the title match later tonight as Ryback hits a delayed vertical suplex. Del Rio is in and hammers away at Ryback but ends up getting suplexed. Del Rio gets two with an enziguiri as the heels take control of the match as they neutralize Ryback. A feint “we the people” chant breaks out as Ryback hits Rusev with a belly-to-belly as both men are down. Ryback tags Swagger, who runs wild. He puts Rusev in the Patriot Lock as Del Rio breaks that up with a lungblower then the match breaks down. Ryback is sent to the floor as Del Rio hits Swagger with an enziguiri from behind then Rusev connects with a super kick for the win (6:31) *1/2.
Thoughts: The match itself was alright but the crowd participation was minimal. And Lana was a non-factor here. With both heels winning last night at TLC and here, they really do not have much farther to go in their current feuds.
The Rosebush with Adam Rose. He tells jokes about Charlotte not becoming her father until she gets 16 World Titles and four Divorces then we see a photo of Tommy Dreamer guzzling Hershey Syrup as he gets another dig about his skin color. These segments are really awful. The premise could work with better material but the gags and jokes are very lame.
Tyler Breeze w/ Summer Rae vs. Neville
Before the match, Miz comes out and sits in his director’s seat. Cole puts over the two guys in the ring for their NXT pedigree as they trade hammerlocks. Miz is shouting in his cone as he cheers on Neville and even ordering him what to do in the ring. Neville is in control of the match then he works a chinlock. Breeze comes back as Summer draws some heel heat from several fans in the front row. Breeze works a front facelock on the mat as Miz and Summer yell at each other. Neville then creams Breeze with a kick and finishes him off with the Red Arrow for the win (4:56) *.
Thoughts: This match was a major disappointment. It was dreadfully boring with no flow. Miz yelling on his megaphone did not add to anything either as the angle of him trying to recruit Neville is not getting anyone to care about Neville. And for Breeze, he seems destined as a guy who is prominently featured on Superstars.
Backstage, Miz is speaking with Neville. He talks about Neville’s big ears and how he can make him a star, just like he did with Daniel Bryan. Miz then talks about Hollywood looking for a new James Bond and wants Neville to teach him his British accent. Neville then tells Miz if he ever talks to him like that again, he will take that light saber he referenced earlier and stick it where the sun don’t shine. So, the reason Miz wants to recruit Neville is to learn his English accent? That is in no way a compelling enough reason to start a feud.
Extreme Rules Match: Dudley Boyz & Tommy Dreamer & Rhyno vs. The Wyatt Family
The match starts off in a giant brawl in the ring. Dreamer tosses a trashcan full of weapons in the ring as those get some use. An “ECW” chant breaks out as Bubba is beating on Rowan in the ring then D-Von gets the tables…………but eats a superkick courtesy of Harper. We head to break and return with Rhyno cleaning house. The ECW guys are in the ring with Harper and place him in the tree-of-woe as Dreamer dropkicks a trashcan into his face. The action is all over the arena as Dreamer puts Harper through a pair of tables with a Death Valley Driver off of the stage. Dreamer whacks Strowman with the Kendo Stick until it breaks but gets picked up and slammed through the barricade. In the ring, the Dudleys and Harper mix it up until Harper gets put through the table with a 3D as Wyatt breaks that up. Bray hits D-Von with the Sister Abigail then goes after Bubba. Rhyno hits Rowan with the belly-to-belly but gets kneed trying the Gore and Bray hits him with the Sister Abigail. Rhyno gets placed on the table and Rowan puts him through the table with a splash for the win (15:30) ***.
Thoughts: Fun match. I thought it was cool to let the ECW guys get a great reaction, possibly for the last time, in front of the Philly crowd. I loved the spot where Dreamer put Harper through the table and Bubba is a total pro and got the crowd into everything he did. I liked this a lot for what it was and also assume this is the end of their feud.
The New Day head out to the ring. They have an issue because they do not feel like partying tonight. They show still photos of all the crazy stuff that happened in their ladder match last night at TLC. Kofi talks about all of the pain he is in, saying his bumps and bruises have their own bumps and bruises. Big E then ask the Usos to come out as the New Day wants to extend an olive branch because after last night, they have earned their respect. The New Day ask the Lucha Dragons to come out as Kofi puts them over for being tough and his son’s favorite tag team. The crowd claps for the New Day. However, the Lucha Dragons are upset at Xavier for tossing the trombone and costing them the match. Xavier said it was due to the heat of the battle as the Jimmy has apparently heard better apologies from his three year old kid. Xavier said that the New Day has taken the division to a whole new level and after last night, they want to shake their hands. The faces contemplate then shake hands as the New Day asks the crowd to give it up for them. They leave as Xavier says they were sincere about everything they said but its their night as they start to celebrate. However, the Usos and Lucha Dragons run in and attack the New Day while the crowd boos and JBL calls them “party poopers.” He kinda has a point. I thought the segment was strange. It’s like they wanted to make sure everyone knew how awesome the tag team ladder match at TLC was and to put over the other teams in the division, which is all fine. However, the face teams got booed after attacking the heels and are still nowhere near the level of New Day’s popularity.
Brie Bella & Alicia Fox vs. Becky Lynch & Charlotte w/ Ric Flair
Team BAD are shown in the front row holding tickets. A “we want Sasha” chant breaks out as the match starts. Brie takes down Charlotte from the middle rope and stomps away. She hits the Yes kicks then applies a surfboard. Charlotte escapes and makes the tag to Becky, who runs wild as the crowd is virtually silent. Charlotte spears Brie then Flair trips Fox as Becky locks on the Disarmer and gets the win (3:28) *1/4 . After the match, Becky celebrates with Charlotte & Ric, having no clue that interference helped her get the win.
Thoughts: The match was fine for what it was as they are now going with the idea that Becky is unaware of the Flairs cheating. Poor Becky, the company has given her a gimmick of being extremely gullible.
The Prime Time Players are selling merchandise for WWE Shopzone. I thought Titus was funny here.
After highlights from last night’s title match, Vince is shown backstage talking to the League of Nations. I guess Barrett is no longer part of the group as was not here or seen during the run-in last night.
WWE World Title Match: Sheamus (c) vs. Roman Reigns
If Reigns loses this match, he will be fired. Cole plugs that Reigns will be on ESPN Sportscenter tomorrow night. Reigns starts off by clotheslining Sheamus in the corner. Sheamus fights back and hits a rolling senton and they head outside of the ring where they slug it out. Back from break, Sheamus has Reigns in a chinlock. Reigns fights back as the crowd slowly begins to get into the match. Sheamus knocks Reigns outside but gets knocked down as Reigns sets him up for the Drive By. Back inside, Reigns decks Sheamus but runs into a double boot on a charge. Reigns cuts off Sheamus up top and hits a Samoan Drop for a nearfall as both men are down. Sheamus hits Reigns with a kneelift. Sheamus gets a few more nearfalls as Vince nods on with approval from ringside. Reigns escapes a White Noise attempt and lifts up Sheamus for a powerbomb as that gets two. Sheamus then lifts up Reigns and slams him down in an awkward move as that gets two. Sheamus tries to put on the Cloverleaf and ends up with some sort of modified version as Reigns screams in pain. Reigns reaches the ropes then they go back-and-forth until Sheamus runs into the Superman Punch. The referee almost counts to three but Vince pulls him out of the ring. Reigns gets attacked from behind by Sheamus and hit with the White Noise but still kicks out as Vince gives the referee instructions on what to do. Reigns is rolled out to the floor and eats a super kick from Rusev after hitting Del Rio with a Superman Punch. Reigns comes back and hits both Rusev and Sheamus with a Superman Punch. He then hits Vince with one and knocks him off of the apron but runs into a Brogue Kick. Sheamus covers as Reigns kicks out and the fans go wild. Sheamus sets up for another kick but Reigns hits him with a spear and gets the win and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (16:55) ***1/4. Reigns gets a good reaction from the crowd as Cole proclaims that tonight, the “Roman Empire toppled the McMahon Empire.”
Thoughts: Finally, the WWE pulled the trigger on Reigns and gave him the title. The crowd was not into this early but by the end were clearly behind Reigns. Vince’s involvement was fine but his sell of the Superman Punch was top notch. Going forward, it sets up for Reigns vs. McMahon Family and in 2016, I do not know how many people want to see that. We shall see where the company goes with the Reigns as the champion and the intrigue for who will win the Rumble is setting up well, IMO, as there is no clear-cut favorite at the moment.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I thought the show was okay and the title change made it better. Still, I thought Reigns should have won last night if this was the plan all along. However, if overtime Reigns sheds the label of the guy who cannot win the big one, it will be a moot point. Despite the win, there were some plotholes, such as no answer to where Ambrose & The Usos were to protect Reigns last night and even after talking about celebrating together as champs last night, Ambrose and Reigns had zero interaction on this show. Who knows where that dynamic is headed.
I also liked the direction of the Ambrose/Owens feud and that can lead to some good segments and matches. Some of the other midcard stuff was weak though.
The next step is booking Reigns to get cheered consistently. The last two nights saw the crowd turn pro-Reigns by the end of his matches. The WWE needs to harness that energy and apply it to him going forward and take a step back to see what works (Kicking ass) and what does not (long promos with bad catchphrases). I hope they can make compelling programming for him as the champ.