Hey there, folks. It’s me, your friendly wrestling reviewer David Spain, counting down the days before Christmas and dashing this review off before I slip into the traditional Spain Family Yuletide alcoholic coma and plan how to, once again, turn my parents’ beautiful and carefully arranged Nativity scene into something offensive and tasteless.
Time for some rasslin’.
What we’ve all been waiting for
The show kicks off with AJ Styles, who gets a hell of a reception. He’ll be facing Dolph Ziggler next week for the World Championship. But first, he has to go through James Ellsworth…which is what we’re about to see right now. God, I don’t know if I’m ready.
James Ellsworth, no longer crippled with cold, makes his way down to the ring with way more cheer than a dead man walking should have. If the title actually changes hands tonight, my New Year’s Resolution will be not to criticise WWE Creative for a whole 365 days.
Dear lord, they even give this the post-entrance announcement treatment (#BigMatchFeel). Bell rings, and this is now actually happening. Styles shoves Ellsworth into the corner with contempt, and yells that he’s better than this. Ellsworth tries the superkick early, but Styles catches it, hitting the challenger with a flurry. AJ pins him, and that’s it.
Styles has obviously learned to end Ellsworth matches as fast as possible. 2 Stars.
Styles then starts beating the sweet fuck out of Ellsworth on the outside. No style or anything: just looks straight-up painful. Finally, after continuous minutes of punishment, Styles says that this has been a long time coming, and now he’s focusing on 2017. He says he doesn’t need to ask for anything for Christmas, because he’s already got it all.
Dolph Ziggler’s music suddenly hits, and the new challenger makes his way to the ring. He congratulates Styles on his victory and wishes him a Merry Christmas. He reminds AJ that he’s next in line, and Styles says that he almost forgot, and that the thing Ziggler’s best at is losing.
Dolph points out that it took AJ four attempts to beat James Ellsworth, and says that he put his career on the line for the Intercontinental Championship; what does Styles thing he’ll do for the WWE Championship? God, he’d probably shoot up a school.
And now Baron Corbin’s here, probably to punish me for joking about a school shooting. He says that it should be him facing Styles for the title, not Ziggler. Ziggler says that he earned the shot, but Corbin responds by saying the only way Dolph earned the shot was because he wasn’t there. He then suckerpunches Dolph out of nowhere. Ziggler tries to fight back, but gets put down by the End of Days. The crowd chants ‘one more time’, because Ziggler.
When we come back, Dolph Ziggler is demanding the chance to get the shit kicked out of him by Baron Corbin in a legal match. Daniel Bryan says that that’s fine, but the title shot’s on the line. Ziggler agrees, because Ziggler.
Renee Young is now the number one contender for the Intercontinental Championship
Here’s Miz, accompanied by Maryse. This is the second title match of the evening, as Miz puts the Intercontinental Championship on the line against Apollo Crews. Crews won a match against Miz last night on account of some chubby gent providing a distraction, which I guess led to this whole thing here.
Crews goes for a couple of pins right off the bat, and Miz begs off as fast as he can. Miz goes low, sends Crews into the corner, gets leapfrogged over and the two of them run the ropes before Apollo lays Miz out with a dropkick. Apollo goes for another pin, and Miz dashes out of the ring. Baseball slide by Crews sends Miz sprawling up the ramp. Miz reverses an Irish whip to send the Apollo leaping up onto the apron, then Crews moonsaults off the apron onto Miz!
Back in the ring, Apollo hits a crossbody off the top rope, getting two. Miz rolls out of the ring for a commercial, and Apollo is still in control when we come back. A leaping roundhouse kick gets two. Miz counters a back suplex, then Apollo counters the Skull-Crushing Finale into a victory roll pin for two. An Angle Slam of all things gets another near fall, and now Crews is stalking the Miz.
Miz dodges a stinger splash, runs into an elbow, and then Maryse tries to get involved. The ref catches her, and bans her from ringside. Crews rolls up the Miz, a hair away from becoming the Intercontinental Champion, then takes a boot to the face. Miz is caught with a German Suplex, getting an even closer count. Now Crews looks to finish it, going for the spin-out powerbomb, but Miz rolls out of the hold, hitting a thumb to the eye followed by the Skull-Crushing Finale to retain the Championship.
Good match: they made a lot of Crews there, and I hope this actually leads to something happening for the guy. 3 Stars.
Renee Young congratulates Miz on being able to cheat all by himself, and then asks the Dean Ambrose question. Miz asks about Renee’s obsession with Dean, and points out that she’s the one sleeping with him. And Renee hits him! Renee Young just slapped a wrestler in the face! Renee Young is the greatest thing about this episode!
Meanwhile, Zack Ryder has unfortunately been injured. As a silver lining, however, the Tag Team Titles will be defended in a four-team elimination match next week!
*GAAAAAAAAASSSSSSP* I’m not surprised
Here’s Natalya, who says that she’s tired of all the rumours that she laid out Nikki Bella. She asks for Nikki to come out, and she does, followed by Carmella. Carmella says that she’s just interested in what kind of story Natalya has this time. She says that it’s about time that Nikki realises at that Natalya is a liar, and then makes a crack about the boob job.
Natalya leaps to Nikki’s defence, and Carmella says that Nat has been complaining about Nikki stealing the spotlight and talking shit about the Bellas for ages. Apparently Natalya’s answer to that is to say that that was said in confidence. Well, that’s quite a robust defence you’ve got there, Natty. She then compounds it by calling Carmella a snitch, rather than…you know, just lying. She then goes after Carmella and tosses her through the staging decorations. Carmella recovers and runs off, leaving Natalya to face Nikki.
Natalya says that she did it. She says that Nikki has always gotten everything because she’s beautiful, and Natalya has got nothing except terrible gimmicks. She calls Nikki a nothing, and says that John will never marry her. Just had to drag him into this, didn’t you? Is his return going to involve him having to be involved in this?
Meanwhile, Alexa Bliss shows up backstage to talk to Daniel Bryan. She’s pretending her leg is injured, and says she hopes that Becky is punished. Bryan says that her punishment will be getting a shot at the Women’s Championship, seeing as how the trainers have told him that Bliss is cleared to compete. She also has a match tonight, which she has to participate in or she’ll lose the Championship. Bliss says whatever happens to her opponent tonight is on Bryan’s head.
Who is Ambrose even feuding with?
Here’s Dean Ambrose, ready for a match against the Wyatts’ Luke Harper. Got to say, the Orton bit at the start of the Wyatt Family’s entrance is great, and apparently it was originally Randy’s idea to do that. The commentators talk about Miz…I guess monogamous-relationship-shaming Renee earlier, so that’s a feud we’ve got ahead of us
Harper gets into the ring and takes a front dropkick from Dean Ambrose. Ambrose ducks a clothesline, slides out of a fallaway slam attempt and then tosses Harper through the ropes to the outside. Luke gets back into the ring, counters Dirty Deeds and then slingshots Dean throat-first into the ring rope, and this time it’s Dean Ambrose who heads out of the ring, looking to recover during the commercial break.
When we come back, Harper looks like he’s trying to superplex Ambrose from the second rope, but Dean is fighting back with headbutts and he finally knocks Harper down. Ambrose hops down from the ropes, but runs into a side slam for two before being placed in a crossface. Ambrose fights back up to his feet, receiving a clubbing blow to the back of the head for his trouble.
Backbreaker puts Dean back down on the floor, and then Harper gets him up in an Argentine backbreaker rack. Ambrose manages to slide out of it, hitting a clothesline to Luke which sends Harper reeling into a corner. Harper takes forearm, counters a bulldog, hurls Dean into the corner and then superkicks him right out of the ring. Harper sends Ambrose back inside and is climbing onto the apron when Ambrose hangs him up on the ropes to send him back down to the floor.
Ambrose climbs up to the top rope, then hurls himself onto Wyatt and Orton. Harper managed to dodge back into the ring, and catches Dean with a kick to the gut and hits the sit-out powerbomb for two! Dean ducks the Discus Clothesline, fails to hit Dirty Deeds, then counters Harper’s roll-up into a La Magistral cradle, and he gets the win!
Not a bad match, although it fell a little short of these two’s previous bouts. 2.5 Stars
Ambrose is immediately jumped by the Wyatts, who are understandable offended by Dean diving out onto them sans provocation. Bray and Orton hit Sister Abigail’s RKO to fell Ambrose.
When the Wyatts have teleported away, as people so often do, Ambrose is working his way back to his feet when the Miz shows up, unashamed of receiving sloppy seconds. Miz hits the Skull-Crushing Finale and makes out with Maryse a little.
White Privilege: stealing another culture’s wrestling style and ring attire #LuchadorAppropriation
Here’s Alexa Bliss, ready for a match she must compete in, and she’s up against someone called La Luchadora. Oh God, it’s Becky, isn’t it? It’s Becky in a Luchador costume.
Well, La Luchadora rolls underneath two clotheslines, then reverses a waistlock to a takedown and a cover. She trips Alexa for a one count, then does a quick luchador-esque cover. Bliss looks confused, then gets snapmared and rolled around the ring in a body scissors. Bliss finally catches her with a right hand and goes after La Luchadora, choking her on the ropes after smacking her around a little.
Bliss yells at Luchadora, telling her that she’s ‘nothing’. La Luchadora goes up to the top, is caught by Alexa, but brings the pair of them back down and puts her in the Dis-Armer! Alexa taps!
Fair play to very-obviously-Becky for throwing out some actual lucha libre moves in that match: nice touch. 2 Stars.
Post-match, La Luchadora does the most over-the-top celebration ever, then pulls off the mask to reveal that it is, as everyone except Alexa guessed, Becky Lynch.
Ryan Phillipe is wandering around backstage, and the only thing I know him from at all is Cruel Intentions, but I love that movie enough that it earns him a tonne of goodwill from me. He encounters Mojo, and asks where Randy Orton is. Mojo tries to tell Ryan that Orton’s not the same, and was it not obvious when they were filming the episode of Shooter together? I mean…I don’t know when Shooter was filmed, but if it was anything like in the past six years, Orton’s been pretty much the same guy. He’s just in a cult now, and you don’t voluntarily join the Wyatt Family if you’re A-okay upstairs anyway.
Oh, and Curt Hawkins shows up. Sometimes, it’s a good thing I can’t kill people just by thinking about it. It’s really good for Curt Hawkins right now, and it’s amazing for Baron Corbin at literally all times, whether I’m conscious, unconscious or literally mid-orgasm.
Mojo and Curt have a very pointless argument, but fortunately they have a match coming up next in which they can settle…whatever it is they’re arguing about. Because I’m actually watching this right now, and I can’t tell.
Is Randy Orton in WWE worse than his character was in Shooter?
Curt Hawkins is already in the ring, and Mojo makes his entrance. Ryan Phillipe is on commentary, and it seems as though he’s really forgotten about that whole ‘I want to talk to Randy Orton’ thing in record time.
Curt Hawkins gets in a couple of shots to start off, and then dashes out of the ring and ducks to the outside. Mojo chases him and gets beaten down back inside. Meanwhile, JBL is delicately trying to tell Ryan that his friend Randy is not in a good place right now. Because Orton made so many good decisions before joining the Wyatts: winning the World Heavyweight Championship in 2004 whilst not being Triple H, having a rivalry with John Cena whilst being a heel, having a Hardcore match with Mick Foley, having any kind of match at all with Brock Lesnar. Yeah, he was a regular genius.
Hawkins runs right into a shoulder tackle that sends him out of the ring. JBL and Ryan start talking about Shooter, which is so much less interesting than Ryan deciding that he needs to bring Randy Orton in from the cold, John le Carré style. Which I guess would make Bray Wyatt the Soviet Union? My metaphors are all over the place.
Whilst I wasn’t watching, Mojo started his big comeback. He hits a stinger splash, then another, then THE POUNCE!! I don’t know why I’m so amused by the Pounce, but I love whenever Rawley does it. Then he literally just sprints at Hawkins and straight-up punches the guy out for the win.
Rawley has a better knockout punch than the Big Show, because that thing looked like it would actually KO a guy for real. Shame that Mojo is already facing the Curt Hawkinses of the world so soon after Ryder’s injury. 1.5 Stars.
Mojo Rawley invites Ryan into the ring to celebrate with him. At some point, Ryan really does need to start looking for Orton again.
James Ellsworth is backstage, bandaged the hell up. An interviewer tries to talk to him, but just gets anguished groaning in response. Carmella actually shows up to tell the interviewer to quit being an asshole. Wow, Carmella is slowly turning face by being a decent human being.
Bryan, you fucker
Here’s Dolph Ziggler, who has realised he will only win matches when he bets something really important on the outcome. Kids, this is more or less exactly how a gambling addiction starts. And here is Baron Corbin, who once won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Kids, that is more or less exactly how mediocrity starts.
And here’s AJ Styles, who just spends most of his time on commentary these days anyway. Ziggler goes right after Corbin, eventually hitting him with a dropkick to send him out of the ring. Corbin bides his time, then gets back into the ring, taking Ziggler down with a knee, and then another. Baron throws Ziggler into the ropes, then brings him out of the ring in order to beat him up right in front of Styles.
Back in the ring, Corbin goes for a cover, getting two. Ziggler fights back, but is sent face-first into the corner. Baron continues to beat on Dolph in a methodical fashion, until Ziggler catches him with a dropkick. His stinger splash is countered, however, and is dumped onto the turnbuckle. Corbin runs into a back elbow, but dashes out of the ring, back in, and takes Ziggler out with a clothesline to the back of the head. Ziggler is thrown against the steel post, then has his head smashed against it by a punch.
After a break, Ziggler hits a Fameasser for two, then is driven into the corner by Baron. Corbin goes for a powerbomb, but is rolled up. An STO puts Ziggler back down, and Corbin takes a second to yell at Styles. He hits a Mojo-esque running punch to the face of Dolph, who tries to roll him up but gets straight-up decapitated by a clothesline from Corbin which gets two.
Ziggler rolls out of the ring and manages to hit a neckbreaker against the middle rope. Zig-Zag hits Corbin, but Corbin kicks out! Dolph picks him up, and beats on him in the corner before taking him up to the second rope. Corbin fights Dolph off, then suddenly catches him with a Deep Six! Dolph kicks out, and now both competitors are on the outside of the ring for Corbin to continue the beating. He throws Ziggler into Styles, but Dolph manages to superkick Corbin right in the face! The referee calls for the bell: both men have been counted out!
Not a bad match. Ending was different than I expected, which is nice. 2.5 Stars.
Styles beats the fuck out of both guys with a chair, disgusted that they’d get counted out when a title shot is on the line. Daniel Bryan shows up, and says the match next week is now a Triple Threat as he’s adding Baron Corbin into the mix. Why would you hurt me like this, Daniel?
This was a pretty good episode, but I think it was always going to be in the shadow of next week, which is shaping up to be a great show. 7/10.
Tags: AJ Styles, Alexa Bliss, American Alpha, apollo crews, Baron Corbin, Becky Lynch, Bray Wyatt, Carmella, curt hawkins, Daniel Bryan, David Otunga, dean ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, James Ellsworth, jbl, Luke Harper, Maryse, Mauro Ranallo, Mojo Rawley, Natalya, Nikki Bella, Randy Orton, Renee Young, Shane McMahon, smackdown, smackdown live, The Miz, Tom Phillips, zack ryder