Weíre less than a week away from TLC and the card is finally taking shape. That doesnít mean thereís a hint of excitement to accompany it. Thereís seriously more anticipation for the upcoming NXT TakeOver: London than there is for TLC. This wouldnít be a problem except WWE mustíve forgotten NXT is meant to develop raw and unprepared talent for bigger crowds and venues. I shouldnít complain, but why are we not getting Apollo Crews or Finn Balor or Samoa Joe, hell, ANYONE ELSE, pushed to the Main Roster and give someone fresh some buzz? Nope, instead we still have Sheamus to rely on and deliver terrible promos, building towards a Championship Match I just donít give a crap about. Who wins, who losses, who the hell cares. Royal Rumble is a LONG seven weeks away, so we can expect a whole lot nothing for the next six of those.
In the final segment of Raw, the big sell for the upcoming PPV (or "Network Special", depending on the language you want to use), we got a painfully awful exchange that couldnít have been written by someone with anything higher than a 4th grade education. Endless babbling highlighted, or should I say lowlighted, by exchanges that basically comes down to "you look stupid/no, you look stupid" levels of intelligence. They tried making up for it with a decent brawl that featured them using Tables, Ladders, and Chairs, and if Reigns putting Sheamus through a table isnít enough to convince people that Sheamus is going to remain Champion through the new year, then I donít know what to tell you. I should also point out Reigns scored a pinfall victory over Sheamus earlier in the show, but Iím getting ahead of myself.
Raw opened this week with the LEAGUE OF NATIONS (sorry, I feel like it needs to be all caps for emphasis on how outdated of a name that is for a stable of villains in 2015). For those who havenít paid attention lately, that would be WWE Champion Sheamus (*snickers*), US Champion Alberto Del Rio (minus Zeb Colter, and weíll address that relationship a bit later), Rusev (minus Lana, but not for long), and King Barrett (minus credibility). The endless ranting is interrupted by THE WYATT FAMILY of all people, and they actually tease a showdown, with Bray Wyatt as the default baby-face, until the segment is ruined by the "ECW Originals" (ugh) and their newest ally dusted off from the junk heap, Rhyno. Their interruption is interrupted by Roman Reigns and his "Family", and what we end up getting is needlessly thrown together, Four Corners, 16-Man Tag Team Elimination Match. Short and to the point, an ECW Original pinned a Wyatt member (take a guess, and hereís a hint... he was a vintner for about a week in an effort to give him baby-face credentials) to advance that go-nowhere angle, and as mentioned in the previous sentence, Reigns pinned Sheamus, and all this took place in the first half-hour. On a show that seems to have issues with depth, more-so because they forgot how to use people, I didnít see the logic in using this as the opening segment(s) and then forcing themselves into using people multiple times to make up for it.
On the subject of "confusing mess straight out of the cocktail napkin notes of Vince Russo", holy crap, what is going on with the Divas Championship situation? Last month, we had Charlotte as a bland baby-face, Becky Lynch as her friend who likes looking up at the lights, and Paige, who violently turned on them, calls them losers, and beats the tar out of them at every opportunity. Out of nowhere, last week they have Becky challenge Charlotte to a match, only for Charlotte to use some underhanded tactics on route to victory, claiming "you got to take advantage of any situation", and Paige rubbing it in Beckyís face how she was right about Charlotte being a cheater (based on the finish at Survivor Series). This week, Charlotte is suddenly heeling it up with her daddy in tow, while being a guest on "Miz TV" (which Flair probably thinks is a separate show from Raw). Miz probes her until Paige shows up and punks out Flair with a slap because Charlotte tried taking a walk. Days later on Smackdown, Paige is fighting Becky Lynch and suffers a lame loss due to the pathetic "distracted by someoneís theme music" trope. So weíre heading into a PPV and right now, the best I can come up with is "This is heel vs. heel and nobody is going to care", but Paige has been slightly less heel and crowds already like her anyway, so... yeah, whatever.
Kevin Owens was back in action this week, having missed last week's TV due to flu-like symptoms (hey, itís the actual reasoning given for baseball players missing a game, so why not wrestlers missing a show?), so we can acknowledge the existence of the Intercontinental Championship once again. Dean Ambrose won the #1 Contendership a couple of weeks ago, but the two havenít interacted since. Following a hard-fought (Non-Title) victory over Dolph Ziggler (with Tyler Breeze and Summer Rae watching from their VIP section, because that feud is STILL going on), Dean Ambrose arrived and threw a bucket of popcorn and cup of soda in Owensí face before taking his leave. OK? Later in the week on Smackdown, they actually did a contract signing that just felt like lame filler. Owens teases no-showing it based on personal safety, but an attempted blitz back-fired. He shouldíve pulled off with Samoa Joe did: Show up, sign it, walk away, and lure the sap into a trap and kick his ass from there. Despite the TLC theme of the show, this is one of the few matches to NOT have a gimmick attached to it. Iím assuming because these two on their own, even in a predictable pattern, will have a great match without the bells and whistles of gimmicks and props.
As mentioned in the lead story of the week, thereís something afoot in the relationship between Alberto Del Rio and Zeb Colter. Jack Swagger just got done squashing Stardust (while Titus OíNeil sat in with the commentary team to advance THAT nonsense storyline) when Del Rio attacked from behind with a steel chair. Swagger eventually fought Del Rio off, who tripped over Del Rioís scooter in the process. Moments later, we go backstage to see Del Rio ripping into Colter for being the reason the crowd laughed at him and unceremoniously dumps him for being a waste of his time. This is a great move since the pairing wasnít doing it for anybody, and maybe theyíll have Colter reform his old alliance with Swagger. Colter is a good voice for someone of Swaggerís medicore (or worse) script reading skills, but I wouldnít waste him on TV unless it was for someone getting a significant push (as in more than a reliable presence on Superstars and Main Event). As expected, the US Championship Match has been signed, and yup, it will be a "Chairs Match." Does Del Rio really need foreign objects to retain a Championship over Jack Swagger?
The New Day have new unicorn head-gear for sale, or so Iím told. Iím sure Iíll probably pick a pair up next time WWE comes to Ft. Myers (scheduled for the night before Royal Rumble). What, youíre wondering why Iím addressing potential merchandise purchases? Because the Tag Title situation is pretty lifeless right now, too. Yeah, New Day is scheduled to defend the titles against non-contenders Lucha Dragons and the Usos, but it feels like a poor reason to give us a Triple-Threat Ladder Match. The Lucha Dragons scored a Non-Title victory while the Usos beat the crap out of Xavier Woods for being obnoxious with his trombone, then we got a rematch, also won by the Lucha Dragons, on Smackdown. I hate when we get the same matches recycled like that. Yeah, I know itíll happen with tag teams more often, but donít do it on back-to-back shows. Elsewhere in the Tag Team Division, the Wyatt Family/ECW Originals program looks to be heading towards a conclusion. Rhyno is brought up from his spot in NXT to make it a balanced 4-on-4, and later in the night on Raw, they had Braun Strowman annihilate Tommy Dreamer because when you need a warm-body to be sacrificed, heís always willing to pick up the phone.
Stuff that wasnít good enough to be featured on the Hulu version of Monday Night Raw... Week #2 of Adam Roseís new, lame "Rose Bush" or whatever the heck the segment is called, this time making fun of Nevilleís big ears. Ryback and Rusev had another match that went nowhere, with Lana trying to play damsel-in-distress. Team B.A.D. remains unified in a win over Brie Bella and Alicia Fox and appear to have an alliance with the New Day (because that will surely go nowhere). Miz and Neville continue to remind us that Daniel Bryan used to be on WWE TV, but isnít any more because Vince doesnít trust doctors that arenít on his payroll. From Smackdown, Dolph Ziggler scored another victory over Tyler Breeze in the Best of 999 Series, Ryback squashed the Ascension in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match (groan), and Rusev takes a pinfall loss in a match that also involved King Barrett.
From WWE Main Event, taped on December 8th from Jacksonville, FL... Nothing. Well, that isnít true, they actually taped the 2015 "Tribute To The Troops", to be broadcast on December 23rd, so nothing was taped for this weekís episode of Main Event. Instead it was 45-minutes of Kyle Edwards and Corey Graves trying hard to hype TLC as a show worth watching. You have to do what youíre being paid for, but sorry, thereís nothing on that show that stands out to me and I probably will wait to watch it until the next day when I have more time available.
From WWE Superstars, taped on December 7th from Charleston, SC, but technically broadcast at a later date than Main Event... Fandango (1-1) pinned Adam Rose (1-4) and Bo Dallas (2-4) pinned Darren Young (0-1). I was about to question what happened to Young, with Titus OíNeil getting this odd singles push against Stardust, but here he is, jobbing to someone whose only victory over the last month and a half was against Zack Ryder. Iím really disappointed we didnít get an appearance from Heath Slater or Zack Ryder, but weíve got Adam Rose and Bo Dallas quietly creeping up on Slater for most losses.
Final Thoughts: Apologies for the slightly briefer version this week. Once again, the weekly product didnít really inspire much in regards to the wrestling action. The only matches I had interest in recapping were the manic 4-on-4-on-4-on-4 opener from Raw and Owens vs. Ziggler, but the latter was edited down to almost half the actual run time on the Hulu replay, so it wasnít worth my time. I really need to find a full time "in case of" topic for situations like this. Next week, weíll go into detail with all the action taking place at TLC, and you want to talk Royal Rumble? Well, too bad, because weíve got Slammy Awards and Tribute to the Troops coming up in the next two weeks. Until then...