The pre-show match is Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch, with the rest of Team BAD at ringside. Team Bad have a little Christmas carol for us, and then it’s into a great match, at least ten minutes of Diva match up. Shame it was on the pre-show when Ryback vs. Rusev is going to be much more boring. An incredible match, both women looking so strong, and it’s great to see Becky coming back into herself. Sasha always delivers an incredible performance, but getting to see Becky outside of the PCB amalgamation is great, and both women really deliver. In the end, it takes interferences from Tamina, as a distraction, and Naomi, kicking Becky in the head, to give Sasha the win. Incredible match to watch, and I wish it wasn’t 1am, so I could be more coherent, but damn that was awesome.
Tag Team Title Match: The New Day vs. The Usos vs. The Lucha Dragons (Ladder Match)
The ladder match starts off looking like it’s going to be pretty dull, because there’s a ladder in the ring five minutes in, and everyone’s just circling around it, but that quickly stops playing into the equation. Xavier Woods is on commentary, to keep him out of the action, and he is apparently a bard. Surprisingly, the match is not the hail of people I expected; it’s paced really well, with enough time between each ladder climb that there’s genuine tension as the match draws towards the conclusion. In a wonderful moment, due to there being no disqualifications, Xavier throws him trombone into the back of someone halfway up a ladder, which scores his team the win, and they stay our tag team champions.
During the match, commentary manage to mix up Sin Cara and Kalisto. Then Jimmy and Jey Uso. Then Sin Cara and Kalisto for a second time, and Xavier Woods has to yell at them to get it right. When you’re on commentary, and someone who takes knocks to the head professionally can recognise wrestlers and spots with more accuracy than you can, it’s time to give it up. It really frustrates me that these guys are supposed to be professional, and yet they can barely remember the names of the guys in the ring.
The New Day win, which gives me my first correct prediction for the night, so I’m happy to see that. They all put on a great show, but it went down the way I thought it was going to.
Ryback vs. Rusev
Lana’s dressed beautifully, as per usual, and stands around at ringside looking impeccable next to the two sweaty men. This feels like it’s the fight for Rusev’s heart, and that Ryback is desperate to win it, but Lana’s got the ring on her finger, big guy, it’s probably a little late to try to win him back now.
Ryback has what looks like a puppy on the back of his singlet. Is this some sort of thing, now, that he has animals on the back of his clothes when he does a PPV, to make him more interesting to watch? I mean, I could totally enjoy Ryback with running horses on the back of his ring gear, it does make me smile, but it just seems a little weird.
Lana is as bored and disgusted with this match as the audience, because when Rusev goes to walk away, she goes with him, waving her hand at the whole match, like it just doesn’t matter, dismissing it out of hand. Ryback comes after him and grabs him by the hair – and again, we use the ‘Ryback hurts Lana’ storyline for Rusev to gain the upper hand, Lana laughing the second Ryback gets caught out by showing concern for her.
Rusev gets the win, with Ryback in the accolade (which commentary are still calling the acolyte?) and he just holds on for as long as it takes, even past the bell ringing. I’m rather liking the viciousness of Rusev tempered by the… no, wait, enhanced by the underhanded tactics of Lana. They got such a face pop on their return, creative are using this to get the boos back, to remind us they’re on the heel side of things. Shame this match feels like an afterthought.
US Title Match: Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger (Chairs Match)
Del Rio is still as slow as molasses right now, and Swagger is wearing some sort of star-covered singlet, and looks like he’s about to break into song in some terrible musical. There’s an awful, terribly long segment as Del Rio tries to set up a chair in the corner, which seems to take a million years. He also has an unfortunate problem in the trunks region, which the camera guys do their best not to get footage of, switching angles as fast as they can. This suggests that the angles between Sasha’s legs were entirely deliberate earlier, and makes me angry.
This match is the slowest thing I’ve ever seen, but hey, there’s a match with Team Extreme in it later, so it might be beaten by that later, too. Everyone is holding their breath for Cena to come out and take them both down, or for Zeb Colter to come out and get the two of them to stop fighting, but none of this happens, and so it’s a very, very dull chair match. Del Rio wins to retain, once more, my dull prediction is correct.
Elimination Match: The Wyatt Family vs. Team Extreme (Tables Match)
No one cares. It’s not exciting, everything is so very, very slow, the Wyatts are doing the best, but honestly, there’s only so much to do when D-Von literally gets onto the table like a 90-year-old lady climbing a staircase at one point. Even Strowman looks like he’s pulling his punches, and lets himself get buried under tables for a while, and just stays down.
There’s a cool spot where Harper plants Dreamer, to take him out, but most of these moves are slow, tired, old, and the only bright spot is when Bubba Ray threatens the set a table on fire, but they even let us down on that one. Seeing as one of my predictions to my friend was that no one would care if the ring trapped them inside and then burnt down, I was pretty disappointed that this didn’t go anywhere.
The Wyatts get a win on a PPV! It’s a miracle! I mean, they can only win against old people, but hey, a Christmas miracle. And maybe we won’t have to see Tommy Dreamer ever again. I’d take that as a result, frankly. Once more, my prediction is correct.
Intercontinental Title Match: Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose
KO looks really dominant to start with, boot on Dean’s foot, throwing him around and beating the hell out of him. And I realise this is the first interesting match on the card tonight. It’s great to see these two in the ring together, even if it is for a barely established reason, or just because Dean can’t have the heavyweight title. KO is fast enough and big enough to keep up with Ambrose, where some people aren’t, and Dean is believable in taking the punishment Owens can dish out, because he’s always been that way.
Some incredible spots in this match, including KO off the top rope, Dean leaping over KO’s pop-up powerbomb, when he hits dirty deeds, and the powerbomb counter for the win. He leaps into the audience for cuddles and rubs to his newly taut belly, like a giant puppy, and I don’t even care that my prediction was wrong. I am so happy to see Dean with a belt, even if it is the IC title, which isn’t particularly prestigious at the moment, and even if it’s only because otherwise he’d be chasing the heavyweight title or running around after Roman being not quite good enough.
Diva’s Championship Match: Charlotte vs. Paige
Paige starts off fairly dominant, but Charlotte starts working the knees for the figure four for a little while. Ric Flair gets caught by the ref starting to take a cover off a turnbuckle. Even though Charlotte works Paige’s knee a good amount, there’s a hell of a lot of mat wrestling, both women trying to get the upper hand. It’s nice to see a struggle going on, something that looks realistic and passionate, like both of them are really out for blood, but it doesn’t really feel a patch on the earlier Diva’s match, which is a shame.
Paige gets a pin which looks like it could be the win, but of course, Daddy Flair is there to hook Charlotte’s leg over the ropes so the ref breaks up the pin. While Paige is arguing about the validity of that, Charlotte finishes the job her old man started, and takes the cover off the turnbuckle. Later, Paige is sent face-first into it, to no one’s surprise, and Charlotte picks up the win.
In backstage segment, Charlotte and Ric happen across Becky Lynch, who looks troubled by the way her friend has won her match. Charlotte asks if she’d prefer that Paige was the Diva’s champion, and Becky says of course not, but that she still doesn’t agree with the way Charlotte is doing things. Charlotte holds her hand out for a pinkie swear, but Ric takes it instead of Becky, and the two ‘wooo’ their way off into the sunset.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Sheamus vs. Roman Reigns (TLC Match)
Sheamus has painted himself in bioluminescence to attract his prey in deep water, but as we all got told, Roman Reigns was taught to swim by his dad throwing him in the deep end of a swimming pool, so he probably doesn’t hang out in ocean trenches very often. Roman wanders down to something that isn’t quite cheers and isn’t quite boos either. Roman starts off strong and violent, marking Sheamus up early, but Sheamus takes the battle outside the ring, hitting Roman hard with a ladder, before Roman throws him over the barricades. The two of them go at it outside the ring for a little while, Roman starting to move a ladder into the ring, when Sheamus gives him some chair shots to the back. There’s a nice spot where both of them go over the top rope, which always makes my heart catch in my throat, too.
ECW chants? We miss Rollins chants? We want Cena chants?! Good points are Roman through two or three tables, Sheamus bleeding from an abrasion on his arm, Roman taking a ladder to the face. Roman goes for a drive by, and Sheamus counters, but even when each man seems to be down for the count, the other doesn’t climb the ladder for the title, they just keep tearing each other apart. Sheamus hits white noise off the steps and through the table, and Roman’s punishment continues from then on.
Even though Roman hits the one arm powerbomb onto the ladder, Sheamus is taking a hell of a lot less of a beating, and seems to be a lot better off, until they come off the apron with a Samoan drop through a ladder. There are some incredible spots off the ladder, and at one point, it really looks like Roman has it – which is when the Euroboys show up to pull him away from the title, and help Sheamus back to his feet. In the end, Roman misses out by an arm’s stretch, and he can’t seem to deal with this, at all.
He powers into Sheamus and beats the champ until he stops moving, and then Trips comes down to the ring, Steph in tow, to calm Roman down and check on his champ. He makes the error of stepping into the ring, putting himself between Roman and Sheamus. Roman goes after him with the chair, over and over, until Trips ends up outside the ring – but he doesn’t stop there, powerbombing him into the Spanish announce table, and then doing an elbow drop to take them both through it. The PPV ends with Trips on the floor, Steph screaming above him, and Roman walking back up the ramp, Sheamus unmoving on the floor.
So, my predictions were correct…. Up to a point. The gold swapping from Kevin Owens to Ambrose was the one title change, so I got the number right, even if I didn’t get the right one, and I called most of the early matches. What a hell of an ending, huh?