December 4, 2016
American Airlines Center
American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable) and The Hype Bros (Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley) and Apollo Crews vs. The Vaudevillains (Aiden English & Simon Gotch) and The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) and Curt Hawkins
10-Man Tag Team Match
Man, the heel side truly does look like the circus arrived with Hawkins as the ring leader. This is such a thrown together match…and one that feels like a retread at that. I won’t however, gripe about American Alpha not being in a meaningful match on the actual PPV since this is just a throwaway gimmick show, biding time before the Rumble. Let’s hope by then, AA are being pushed upwards. Hey, this being a ten man tag team match in Dallas reminds me of another ten man tag team match that took place in Dallas. You know that one in 2000? Only one of the greatest RAW matches ever? Yeah, that one. This match had a fun, if not formulaic finishing sequence ending with AA hitting their finisher on Gotch for the win.
Wait, is that Peter Rosenberg on the pre-show panel? He ain’t doing to bad either. Good for him. He has a decent weekly wrestling podcast called “Cheap Heat”. Give it a whirl…only after listening to the Pro Wrestling Iowa Podcast (@prowrestlingia) of course 😉
After a video package & pyro shoots off, Mauro Ranallo officially opens the show. He is joined by JBL, David Otunga and Tom Phillips
Heath Slater and Rhyno (c) vs. The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton)
Tag team match for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship
There’s JBL starting things off nicely by talking over Wyatt’s entrance. For some reason, I can’t help but imagine what a team of the fathers would be like? If that was “Cowboy” Bob Orton & I.R.S. walking down to the ring, it would oddly seem less weird. The champions basically get squashed and as Wyatt distracts Rhyno with his creepy spider walk, Orton slips in with the RKO for he win and capturing the tag team titles for the Wyatt Family. *
It’s good to see Wyatt finally earn his first title with the company. It’s too bad it wasn’t with Luke Harper though. Now, it’s waiting for the Orton turn.
Nikki Bella vs. Carmella
No Disqualification match
As this match got underway with all the physicality of two friends tickling each other, I began to ponder why the ref was counting them out. Just as that thought entered my mind, JBL explains that count outs still apply. Well, thanks but no thanks! The end had Nikki telling Carmella to chill out by emptying a fire extinguisher on her, setting up Nikki’s Rack Attack 2.0 for the W. *1/2
As silly as it was, Carmella sold it pretty well, actually. Carmella notifies Nikki that it was indeed Natalya who attacked her before Survivor Series. Well, duh! To drive the point home how much of a heel Natalya is, WWE immediately cuts to a Kay’s Jewelers ad where Natalya is helping some schmuck pick out an engagement ring. WWE makes it way harder on themselves. I will say though, that it does add some solace to my theory that people who meddle in others weddings and get their jollies by picking out other people’s marital bling, have issues. Natalya is a heel in my book.
The Miz (c) (with Maryse) vs. Dolph Ziggler
Ladder match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
I thought the commentary reached an annoying high point during this match. Otunga’s voice is so bland and his insights are so obvious, that it’s abundantly clear, he has nothing to offer. The match was lacking something until the story switched to Miz working on Dolph’s knee. It added a different type of story to a ladder match. It got going nicely towards the end with Miz kicking Ziggler in the nards to climb the ladder and retain the IC belt. ***
They’ve had better matches, but it was good. Have I mentioned how amazing Maryse looked? Well, she did.
Kalisto vs. Baron Corbin
I didn’t like this as much as some others. It wasn’t inherently bad, and I’m all for Corbin punking out geeks, but it just wasn’t there for me. I do dig Corbin, but he just needs a real program and feud he can sink his teeth into. Corbin finishing off Kalisto with the End of Days on a pile of chairs was cool though. **
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Alexa Bliss
Tables match for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship
What a disappointment this match was. Both women are great with Becky being my current favorite, but the crowd was dead for this. There were also quite a few mistimed spots. It also seemed as if the match was too methodical and slow for this type of stipulation. Bliss eventually power bombed Lynch through a table on the floor to capture the Women’s championship. *1/2
Guarantee that Nikki wins that at Mania. You read it here first.
AJ Styles (c) vs. Dean Ambrose
Tables, Ladders and Chairs match for the WWE World Championship
This match was great and complimented both guys’s styles (no pun intended) greatly. By the time James Ellsworth came out the match had already had a few moments where it could have been over. So many creatively booked close calls. In the end, Ambrose had Styles knocked to the outside and the title in his grasp, when Ellsworth turned on Ambrose and pushed the ladder over into some waiting tables. This allowed Styles time to recover, thus climbing the ladder to victory. ****1/2
Man, how many 5 star or almost 5 star matches has Styles been in this year?! Good lord! Fun match. I straight up called this ending in my head, as a heel turn for Ellsworth just felt right. It was time.
Overall, if not for the main event, this would have felt just like a typical TLC placeholder show, but that World title match definitely made it more special. Some commentary and production issues distracted my full enjoyment at times (what is with the constant irritating crowd reaction shots?!), but it’s WWE so it is to be expected. Can’t have it all, I suppose. Check back in a few weeks, for my review of the RAW exclusive PPV, Roadblock.