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1st Mariner Arena – Baltimore, MD – Sunday, December 18, 2011
Michael Cole and Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler are on commentary.
Zack Ryder defeats United States Champion Dolph Ziggler (w/ Vickie Guerrero) at 10:25 to win the title. Ziggler has been the Champion since 6.19.11, and this is his sixth defense. Cole is in full heel mode on commentary and it’s nearly unbearable. Ryder starts off hot and has the undivided support of the capacity crowd. They stick with the formula here, with Ziggler withstanding the early1 onslaught and taking control, slowing the match down to his pace. When Ziggler gets in trouble, Vickie gets a little too close to the action and the referee throws her out of the arena. That helps Ryder regain focus and he’s able to level Ziggler with the Rough Ryder to get the pin and win the title! They immediately cut to Ryder’s dad losing his mind in the audience, which is a great moment. Ziggler bumped his ass off for Ryder, really going out of his way to make him look good. The crowd lost their minds too. Good match, great moment.
WWE Tag Team Champions Air Boom (Evan Bourne & Kofi Kingston) defeat Primo & Epico (w/ Rosa Mendes) to retain the titles at 7:39. Bourne and Kingston have been the Champions since 8.22.11, and this is their fifth defense. The champs control early on with their agility and teamwork, but the challengers cut Bourne off and toss him to the floor to take control. Eventually, Bourne gets the hot tag and Kingston cleans house. The referee loses control, and Bourne takes Epico out with a cross body block to the floor. Meanwhile, Kingston hits Primo with Trouble in Paradise to get the pin. Competent, well-worked tag team match there but nothing particularly exciting.
Randy Orton defeats Wade Barrett at 10:16 in a Tables Match. These two have been feuding off and on for the past year it seems like. Tables get involved as weapons early on, but to win you must actually put your opponent though a table. Both men get a fair amount of offense, as they build toward finishers that are well-equipped to break a table. Late in the match, Barrett puts Orton on a table and goes up to the second rope, but he jumps right into an RKO and Orton wins the match. This was the typical back and forth Orton v Barrett match – adequate but not exciting.
Divas Champion Beth Phoenix defeats Kelly Kelly to retain the title at 5:10. Beth has been the Champion since 10.2.11, and this is her third defense. Kelly takes it to Beth in the early going, but the Champion cuts her off and goes to work. Beth misses a guillotine legdrop, but she’s able to counter a hurricanrana attempt into an alley oop powerbomb to get the pin. Short but energetic.
Triple H defeats Kevin Nash at 18:11 in a Sledgehammer Ladder Match. Who thought putting Nash in a ladder match at this point in his career was a good idea? This is a non-traditional ladder match though, as a sledgehammer is hung above the ring and whoever gets it can use it. That makes it more like a sledgehammer on a pole match, in essence. It doesn’t take long for this brawl to spill out to the floor, where both men slug at each other. HHH wisely goes after Nash’s knee, even abusing it with a ladder. He even does a figure-four leglock through the ladder, which is pretty neat. They continue to battle back and forth, and Nash introduces a table. Of course, that backfires on him, as they both climb the ladder and HHH knocks him off through said table. HHH then grabs the sledgehammer and brings it down. HHH hits Nash with a Pedigree, and readies to hit him with the sledgehammer. Nash throws up the Too Sweet, but HHH ain’t buyin’ it, and he bashes Nash in the face with the sledgehammer to get the pin. This was shockingly not terrible, as they worked around Nash’s limitations and threw in some cool spots. The feud as garbage and the match was entirely self-serving to Triple H and Kevin Nash, but hey, six years later it’s not too bad to watch.
Sheamus defeats Jack Swagger (w/ Vickie Guerrero) at 5:57. I feel like these two would have a good match if they built it up even a little bit, rather than tossing it on the card at literally the last minute. Momentum shifts back and forth between these two, with Sheamus going for knockout blows and Swagger trying to set up for the Patriot Lock. In the end Sheamus connects on the Brogue Kick to get the pin. Fine little TV-style match here, but not at all PPV-worthy.
Big Show defeats World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry at 5:30 in a Chairs Match to win the title. Henry has been the Champion since 9.18.11, and this is his seventh defense. He has his leg in a cast, and I don’t remember if that’s work or shoot injury. Show goes right to the floor and throws in a bunch of steel chairs. Henry tries to take his title and run, but Show won’t allow it. Almost every offensive maneuver in this match chair-related. Henry goes to bash Show with a chair, but Show punches said chair back into Henry’s face. That’s enough for Show to win the World Heavyweight Title for the first time. Match was short and not interesting in any way, shape, or form.
Daniel Bryan defeats World Heavyweight Champion Big Show at 0:03 to win the title. Show has been the Champion since 12.18.11, and this is his first defense. Mark Henry viciously assaulted Show with a steel chair after their match, so the new Champ is easy pickings. Bryan comes out and immediately covers Show and gets the pin. Not much to say about that.
Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes defeats Booker T at 7:17 to retain the title. Cody has been the Champion since 8.12.11, and this is his sixth defense. He twice attacked his challenger earlier in the evening, but Booker still wants to fight. They battle both in and out of the ring, and the Champion withstands an early onslaught and proceeds to wear the challenger down. Not much happens, and Cody eventually puts Booker away after the second Beautiful Disaster. That’s a solid win for Cody to beat a guy like Booker T clean, but the match was short and not even a little bit interesting.
WWE Heavyweight Champion CM Punk defeats Alberto Del Rio (w/ Ricardo Rodriguez) and The Miz in a TLC Match at 18:50 to retain the title. Punk has been the Champion since 11.20.11, and this is his second defense. It’s pretty rare for Punk to be in the last match during his WWE Title reign, but let’s leave the memories alone. It’s almost a handicap match early on, since Punk said a lot of mean things about both Del Rio and Miz. Cole points out a neat stat that all three of these men have won Money in the Bank ladder matches. When Punk gets in a position to almost grab the belt, Rodriguez sneaks in the ring and handcuffs him to the ladder! That’s just rude. It takes Punk about 10 seconds to escape from that and go back on offense. Del Rio and Miz also decide to start fighting each other, so alliances are all out the window. Rodriguez tries to climb up and grab the belt and one point, but Miz and Punk tip the ladder over and he crashes through a table at ringside. Miz then handcuffs Punk to the middle turnbuckle and taunts him like a dick. Punk knocks Miz out with a kick to the head, and then goes to work dismantling the turnbuckle to try and free himself. Meanwhile, Del Rio comes back alive and sets up a ladder to climb. Punk frees himself and Miz recovers, and all three men fight on top two ladders. Punk knocks Miz down, kicks Del Rio down, and then hits Miz with Go to Sleep! That’s enough for Punk to go up and pull down the belt. They did some cool spots and I liked the handcuff stuff but they really could’ve milked both of those spots more. No one bought Miz or Del Rio as winners, but that’s okay for a first major defense of a title reign.
A good opener, a good main event, and a shockingly good match in the middle, along with Daniel Bryan’s historic cash-in, together just barely manage to make this a thumbs up show. So much of the middle is just forgettable nonsense but none of it is actively bad. If you like seeing Punk and Bryan as the top Champions, then this is the show for you.
Tags: Alberto Del Rio, CM Punk, The Miz, TLC