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Live from somewhere below the threshold that warrants a mention. I think it’s Dallas, which makes it weirder.
Your hosts are Michael Cole, JBL & Jerry Lawler
The Authority (ugh, I hate that name) introduces Randy Orton, the new Undisputed WWE Unified International World Heavyweight Sports Entertainment Championship holder. And as usual they just love having everyone in the locker room standing on the stage watching someone, like Steve Austin and Undertaker always used to do when they were drawing millions of dollars. Oh, wait, sorry, they didn’t, because it’s always stupid. And they wonder why all their top stars are neutered and heatless. Speaking of neutered and heatless, Orton is disgusted that everyone doubted he would win the MOST IMPORTANT MATCH IN WWE HISTORY. John Cena immediately butts in and finishes the promo for him (“Greatest in the history of greatest, viper viper viper viper viper”) which again shows that can be charming and charismatic when he’s acting like a human being instead of a poop-joke robot. Anyway, he thinks Orton should put up or shut up tonight, against Daniel Bryan. Orton doesn’t want that, but now suddenly HHH and Stephanie, who just spent the past FOUR MONTHS trying to prevent Daniel Bryan from getting anywhere near the title, think that it’s a great idea to feature that match, albeit not for the title tonight. I don’t even get what HHH’s motivation is supposed to be anymore. Is he a good witch or a bad witch? As usual, these opening “State of the Union With The Authority” segments are death.
Cody Rhodes & Goldust v. Rey Mysterio & Big Show
Cody starts with Rey and gets dropkicked to the floor, and Rey follows with a sliding splash that usually misses but actually HITS this time! Cool spot. Back in, Cody hits the disaster kick for two to take over and follows with a front suplex for two. The champs work on Rey in the corner, but he slips away and brings in Big Show as we take a break. Hulu is now giving me personally-tailored ads about how my gift subscription is running out and I should renew soon. This new world is kind of creeping me out. For the record, someone bought me a month as a gift, but my original subscription is still a long ways away from expiring, so I’m not terribly worried. But hey, anyone who wants to get me Hulu Plus gift card for Christmas is more than welcome. Back with Cody taking the beating as the crowd chants for Goldust, and Show goes up and misses an elbow from the middle. Hot tag Goldust, who is apparently awesome in either babyface tag role. Lariat on Show gets two. Show comes back with a chokeslam for two, but Cody saves. Show misses a charge and we get a GOLDSAULT attempt, but it misses and Show ignominiously punches him out and finishes with a Rey splash off his shoulders at 11:48. Yay, my favorite, beat the champ booking. **1/2 Minor interesting note in that everyone was bitching about the announcers taking selfies during this match, but there was literally no mention or sign of it here, so they must have managed to edit it all out.
Meanwhile, Randy Orton bitches to the Authority, but they’ve got his back.
Meanwhile, Damien Sandow is Santa for some reason. One who values education over gifts, and declares that CHRISTMAS IS CANCELLED. This is apparently is going to lead to, and I can’t believe I’m typing this, Bad Santa v. Good Santa Mark Henry with the fate of Christmas on the line next week. I wasn’t aware that the fate of Christmas was under the purview of WWE, but I’m sure they could find a way to screwjob even that stipulation.
Big E Langston & Mark Henry v. The Real Americans
The Black Guys Not Doing Anything Else Right Now overpower Cesaro, although I’m think they might need a catchier name. They could bring in Bobby Lashley as a third and be The Strongest Black Gentlemen That Donald Trump Has Ever Met. Swagger gets beat up in the corner and Big E pounds away on him for two. Swagger comes back and walks into a clothesline while the commentary gets more and more inane and rambling. The heels get dumped and Big E continues throwing Cesaro around until he finally gets taken out by Swagger on the floor and we take a break. Back with not much else going on until Cesaro threatens the Giant Swing on Henry, which Big E breaks up and finishes Cesaro with the Big Ending at 14:51. Cole actually says “We’ve got a great tag division developing!” which is getting a bit too fourth wall for me. **
Speaking of breaking the fourth wall, CM Punk comes out to talk about the schmoz last week, and he calls out Shawn Michaels to defend his superkick. Shawn thinks that Punk needs to get over his problem with the Authority, and perhaps he needs to focus his anger at Shawn instead. So Punk does just that. The crowd chants “One more match” and Punk clarifies that he’s going to have way more than one more. Ha! Punk is willing to forgive the assless chaps, but next time Shawn tries to kick him, he’ll kick back. Shawn notes that the kick hurt him more than it hurt Punk (which Punk silently disagrees with) and introduces the Shield. Poor Shawn is HHH’s stooge these days no matter what role he’s in.
CM Punk & The Usos v. The Shield
JBL doing the Uso catchphrase is REALLY out of character and cloying. Moreso than usual for him. The babyfaces work on Ambrose in the corner, and he escapes to Rollins, who also gets beat up. This goes on for a while and we take a break, as I kind of feel like we’re just cutting and pasting the same tag matches as earlier in the show. God December is such a boring time for this show. Back with Jimmy getting the heat, but he comes back with a cross body on Rollins before Reigns cuts him off with a Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Jimmy fights out of a chinlock and makes the hot tag to Punk, and it’s a brainbuster on Ambrose for two. We’re BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA and an Uso hits Reigns with a dive to the floor. Punk drops the Macho Elbow on Ambrose and it’s more butt-ugly than usual. GTS is delivered, but Reigns hits the spear on the follow-through to finish at 14:33. 50/50 strikes again. **1/2
Daniel Bryan v. Randy Orton
They take it to the mat to start and Bryan maneuvers into an indian deathlock, with a neat rolling bridge that gets two. Orton bails to escape and pounds him down in the ring, but Bryan goes back to the leg again. He dropkicks the knee in the corner and posts it for two. They trade forearms and Bryan puts him down with a knee and continues working on Orton’s knee. Orton finally blocks a hiptoss with a clothesline to take over, and goes to work on the arm. We take a break and return with Orton beating on Bryan outside, and back in for a superplex that gets two. Bryan keeps fighting, but hurts his arm further on a clothesline. Orton goes up and Bryan brings him down with a rana for two. Orton comes back with the neckbreaker, but moves in for the kill and gets hooked in the Yes-Lock. He counters with a catapult to put Bryan outside, but he hangs onto the top rope, which allows Orton to hit him with the draping DDT. What a fantastic sequence of moves. RKO is countered with a backslide for two, and a high kick gets two. Orton also has this running gag going where he checks on a loose tooth after every big move, which is a great touch. Back to the top, and Bryan puts him down for the diving headbutt, which gets two. He comes back with kicks, but misses a charge and Orton rolls him up for two. Bryan with the Yes-Lock, but Orton escapes to the floor and Bryan flattens him with a dive. Back in for the missile dropkick and kick series, but Orton takes it TO THE NUTSACK for the DQ at 25:44. That was a much better match than any of their PPV ones, by far. **** Cena runs out to make the save and Orton lays him out as well and poses with both belts to end the show.
Welcome to December, where nothing happens and they tape a million shows in two weeks so you just kind of get some good wrestling and not much else. It is what it is.