This Week In The WWE: 12/13-12/19

Welcome to TLC weekend WWE Universe.

There’s not a bad match on the card and yes, I’m including the Women’s Tag Team Championship Match into that statement as I’m very interested in who could be Asuka’s partner now that Lana is out. I’m betting on a returning Charlotte Flair taking the spot and the titles! Anything else for me would be a disappointment unless there’s a huge surprise we’re missing.

I love the top two title matches, but don’t like the fact that they have the same stipulation. They’ll both be good, but I’m predicting that Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens will be told better in the ring. Either way, we win. After all, we’re getting Drew McIntyre vs. AJ Styles for the very first time in history!

Could this be the downfall of Cedric Alexander in the Hurt Business? I can see THB winning the titles and then turning on Alexander the very next night on RAW just like Evolution did to Randy Orton way back when.

Speaking of Orton, we get our very first Firefly Inferno Match. I just hope they don’t make it too silly. The WWE’s track record of booking Bray Wyatt/The Fiend has not been kind to the maniacal one.

Sasha Banks vs. Carmella will be a standout too. Their SmackDown match last week was just the tip of the iceberg IMHO.


Predictions:

We should get new tag team champions for both the men and women and it would not surprise me if Carmella takes the SmackDown strap off Sasha with more to come down the road.

I don’t think McIntyre or Reigns lose at the top of the card. How will The Miz and/or Sheamus factor in though?

The Fiend fries Randy Orton.

TLC PPV – Updated Card


  • WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre vs. AJ Styles
  • Universal Championship TLC Match: Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens
  • SmackDown Women’s Championship Match: Sasha Banks vs. Carmella
  • Firefly Inferno Match: The Fiend vs. Randy Orton
  • WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship: Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler vs. Asuka & TBD
  • RAW Tag Team Championship Match: The New Day vs. Shelton Benjamin & Cedric Alexander

RAW

RESULTS

  • AJ Styles defeated Sheamus
  • The Hurt Business defeated The New Day & Jeff Hardy
  • Lana defeated Nia Jax
  • 2-on-1 Handicap Match: John Morrison & The Miz defeated Keith Lee
  • MACE defeated Ricochet
  • Dana Brooke defeated Shayna Baszler by DQ
  • Riddle defeated MVP

Great start. Middling middle. Interesting final hour. That’s how I sum up Monday Night RAW this week.

Just a fantastic opening match with AJ Styles and Sheamus battling back-and-forth in an awesome match. Terrific way to set the tone of the night. There was a lot to unpack. Wonderful match in the ring for one. Styles and Sheamus could feud past the TLC PPV plus, how does Sheamus factor in to Sunday’s TLC PPV WWE Championship match? It was a good go-home for that match. Unfortunately for the rest of the show, that match was the best of the night.

The 6-man tag with The New Day, Jeff Hardy and The Hurt Business was just meh. I do like the story with the boisterous Cedric Alexander stepping out from his teammates’ shadow. It’s only a matter of time though until they beat down Alexander. It’ll seem very Four Horseman-like for sure when it happens.

Lana got an upset win over Nia Jax and got beat up so much, she’s out of the TLC Tag Team Title Match. Who’s going to replace her? I’m hoping a returning Charlotte Flair and I hope they keep it a surprise! I hope it’s NOT Dana Brooke or Mandy Rose. That would do nothing for me. It’s time for the Shayna Baszler/Nia Jax story to just go away. It’s not helping anyone at the moment.

RETRIBUTION continues to go nowhere. Turn Ricochet already and let he and Ali run roughshod for a bit. Drop the masks. Drop the silly names. Move on with some purpose.

I would’ve liked to see more of Riddle and MVP than just a three-minute match. We do like BRO-Nuts and BRO-Nouns!

In the final hour, after about 90 minutes of average fanfare, the hide and seek game with Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt/The Fiend worked better upon second watch than when I watched it live. Setting Wyatt on fire (again) gets compounded in the box when Wyatt turns into The Fiend. If he can do that, is there anything that Orton can do to him in the ring that would hurt him? Interesting but food for thought looking ahead. We got another ascension moment with Drew McIntyre and Styles to close the night. The physicality was nice, especially with AJ flying off the ladder onto McIntyre and through a table. The problem I have is that the WWE seems to always take one good idea and then just do it over and over again (i.e. ladder matches in NXT, DQ finishes, TLC Championship matches, etc.). It loses its luster after seeing a second and third time.

It was a nice build-up for the TLC PPV, which at the end of the day, is what your go-home show should be. So, I’ll give RAW credit for that, but how they got there needs some work. Plus, there was one hell of Monday Night Football game going on between the Browns and Ravens at the same time!


NXT

RESULTS

  • Austin Theory & Johnny Gargano defeated Leon Ruff & KUSHIDA
  • Tommaso Ciampa defeated Tyler Rust
  • NXT Championship #1 Contenders Match: Kyle O’Reilly defeated Pete Dunne
  • Shotzi Blackheart defeated Indi Hartwell by DQ
  • Karrion Kross defeated Desmond Troy
  • Toni Storm defeated Rhea Ripley

This one just clicked! On every level.

If you want star power, you got it. Karrion Kross returns with Scarlett for his first match since his shoulder injury. Best entrance in the biz. Squash match. Plus, Damien Priest’s ass is now his apparently.

https://twitter.com/WWE/status/1339393897244585988

If you wanted awesome matches, you got it. Kyle O’Reilly and Pete Dunne put on a war that easily could be one of NXT’s top matches of the year. Now, will Finn Balor get revenge on O’Reilly for breaking his jaw in three places or will it be O’Reilly’s first NXT Title run? Either way, we’ve got another barnburner to start the New Year. Rhea Ripley and Toni Storm gave us a very good main event (Holy Headbutt!), but I do still think they have another level to give us. Didn’t love the interference by Raquel Gonzalez as Storm and Ripley were doing just fine on their own, but it does keep the feud going with Ripley, so it makes sense. Besides, Storm has bigger (no pun intended) fish to fry as NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai is in her sights.

If you wanted fun to start the night, Johnny Gargano, Austin Theory, KUSHIDA and Leon Ruff gave it to us. The right team went over too as The Way tries to find their way to the top of NXT.

If you wanted another OMG vignetter from Xia Li and Boa, you ABSOLUTELY got it. I am SO intrigued to find out where it’s going but at the same time, I love the tease.

About the only thing that diydn’t quite hit it was the short DQ match with Shotzi Blackheart and Indi Hartwell. Kind of clumsy there and of course, way too short to see what they could really do. It was all about keeping Candace LeRae in the mix and busting that wacky trophy around Shotzi.

I do like the confidence from Isaiah “Swerve” Scott. Sounds like a heel turn for Mr. Scott as he gets a rematch with Jake Atlas this week.

Lordy, lordy. Dexter Lumis is the New Year’s Evil Host! Interesting choice for a dude who rarely speaks!

Speedy recovery to Cameron Grimes – out four to six weeks with a leg injury. Just when he was hitting his stride to!


SMACKDOWN (on FS1)

RESULTS

  • SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match: The Street Profits defeated Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode
  • The Riott Squad defeated Billie Kay & Tamina
  • Otis defeated Shinsuke Nakamura
  • Bianca Belair defeated Bayley

Apparently Friday night was deemed beat down Kevin Owens night. KO started the night looking for a fight with Roman Reigns and all he got for most of the next two hours was a back full of tables and chairs from Jey Uso and Reigns all over the WWE ThunderDome. That is until an ending we all saw coming right?!

The Street Profits continue to look a little heelish lately. Pulling the tights to beat Robert Roode for the pin and successfully defend the tag team titles adds a little intrigue to the smoked wonders. I’m all for them having a bit of edge as their good guy, fun loving personas are a bit too much like The New Day for me. It would separate them a bit. So, we’ll have to wait and see if they really pull the trigger on it.

Billie Kay’s resume bit, always looking for a gig and a new partner is already old. The Riott Squad need something better to do to showcase their talents than beating up on BK every week.

Predictable was the Carmella toast to Sasha Banks. C’mon, did we really think Banks was at home? For the second straight week, we get a smashed champagne bottle across Banks’ back and yet there’s no blood. Silly, not believable and lacks common sense. Their TLC match deserved a better send-off.

The Alpha Academy delivers results! Otis takes down Shinsuke Nakamura for his first win under Chad Gable’s direction. Let’s give Gable more students please!

https://twitter.com/WWE/status/1338629194624815105

2021 kicking 2020’s ass was the laugh-out moment of the show. LOVED IT!

Sami Zayn almost sweeping the first ever SAMI Awards was…well…very Sami Zayn. You could see Big E’s name coming up as an award winner from a mile away. The Superstar of the Year winner’s acceptance speech and proceeding throwdown of Zayn was hysterical. Let the feud begin as Big E finally has something to do on SmackDown.

Bayley vs. Bianca Belair was good, not great and a bit clunky at times. It was a good first effort but just shows they both have more to show against each other. Bayley was the right winner for their first outing. But, I’m sure we’ll see a few sequels in the upcoming weeks.

Up to this week, I thought the WWE has done a very good job in showcasing Kevin Owens as a viable contender against Roman Reigns. Friday night, with a two-hour attack on KO, all they did is show that he can take a beating and get up. It didn’t give me any confidence he could actually beat Reigns for the title. Putting him through two tables, burying him under all the TLC plunder and then watching him rise from the broken booty to proclaim Reigns would have to basically kill him to keep him down proved that point. Now, don’t get me wrong, Sunday’s Universal Championship Match will be physical as hell and pure brutality, but there’s no doubt who will be holding the title when all is said and done. Roman Reigns is the King, the Face of the WWE, the Tribal Chief and the Head of the Table. Hands down. Period. End of sentence.

And then I watched Talking Smack. I wish the segment with Kevin Owens and Paul Heyman would’ve run on SmackDown. It was as intense and felt as real as it gets. It made me believe that Owens might actually have a chance against Reigns. With Owens telling Heyman to just listen as he was frightful of KO throwing him through a glass table, Owens reminded Reigns’ adviser of all the things he did before coming to WWE and how much he put his body through for much less than the coveted Universal Championship. Loved the segment. Loved the fact that it gave me a reason to watch the PPV. Loved that they made me believe in Owens again for Sunday night.

Heyman is so good on Talking Smack, it’s ridiculous. From the serious side with Owens to the indulging admiration for Bayley and the rub he gave to The Street Profits, he’s just the best at what he does.


Parting Shots:

As we head into the Christmas Holiday week, it makes me fondly remember the days of the Holiday Star Wars Classics back in WCCW at Reunion Arena. Remember this one from 1982 that started the Von Erichs vs. Freebirds feud as Michael Hayes was the guest referee for the Kerry Von Erich vs. Ric Flair NWA Heavyweight Title match. Talk about a match that ignited a storyline that lasted for years! Brilliant.


Coming up this week:

RAW:
TLC Fallout

NXT:
Jake Atlas vs. Isaiah “Swerve” ScottBronson Reed returns
A Very Gargano Christmas

SMACKDOWN:
TLC Fallout


Thanks for letting us share our thoughts! Shoot me an email at jcrowe567@gmail.com. We’d love to hear your comments and suggestions! You can also check out my blog, The Crowe’s Nest as we delve into more pro wrestling, sports entertainment and the World of Sports. My apologies ahead of time – I AM a Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins fan! If you’re not down with that, I’ve got TWO WORDS for you… NEW ENGLAND