WWE TLC: Thumbs Up
Best Match: Reigns vs. Sheamus
Worst Match: Tables Match
Not a bad show, but still seems like they are on the verge of doing something, but then they don't for the most part. It was hard to concentrate for a while as the Network was having major problems. I noticed complaints from others in different areas so it wasn't just my connection. First part of the pre show worked fine then it froze. I had to keep restarting it a bunch of times through the first couple of matches. It finally straightened itself out for most of the rest of the show.
Saw most of the opener with Lynch vs. Banks. I hope Lynch gets to do more and Banks for that matter. Seems like they are kind of fillers. Decent match.
Tag Titles match was good and thought the spot with Uso and Kalisto off the ladder was pretty crazy. Almost felt like dropping on one of those roller coasters even watching at home.
Ryback vs. Rusev was fine. I guess Lana is a heel again. They should never had broken them up to start with.
Del Rio vs. Swagger was okay. Del Rio looked hurt at the end. Hope he's okay as they have enough guys out of action already. No Zeb. So is he out of a job?
Tables match was alright. Some botched up stuff and Braun is awful. I like the ECW nostalgia, but where can they go from here with either factions?
Would have liked to have had a longer Owens vs. Ambrose match. Ambrose winning the title may be a curse as it seems all IC Champions of late can't get anywhere. I hope they put Owens back in the main heel spot or one of them as they do need more guys on that level.
I liked the Divas title match. Charlotte with Ric is cool and I am still a Page fan. I thought this was pretty good. Maybe they can bring in Tessa Blanchard and start a new Horsemen type group.
Main Event was good especially the post match stuff with Triple H. Where the heck was Barrett? I mean why have him in the group if he can't get involved. I feel like he has been cursed for a long time. He needs to get put in some good spots.
Overall a pretty good show, but I still want to see more of a change in what's been going on especially on Raw to make it feel somehow like it's not the same old same old. I know it seems like a lot to ask, but the ratings prove that change is needed.
Sent fCrowd mildly booed announcement of Smackdown taping
Full house, mostly 20 to 40 something males, fewer kids than past shows of recent vintage, and just a remarkably small smattering of women. Take this as a terrible sign, considering much of the target audience for the announced one are the chicks.
Sasha was mildly over. *3/4 for win over Becky Lynch, basic stuff and nothing more from the two.
New Day over with the crowd, probably the most over act of the night, though not insanely so. ** for their match. Just a spot fest, went too long, but they worked hard.
Rusev over Ryback w/ camel clutch. 1/2*, neither man particularly over w/ crowd, some 'boring' chants. Lana completely failed to connect with much of anyone.
Not much of a reaction for Swagger or Del Rio. Mild 'CM Punk' chant briefly breaks out mid-match. *1/4, stupidchairs gimmick didn't help matters.
Light 'ECW' chant greets the Dudleys. Like 1998 all over again, only less 'extreme' and nowhere near as over. Exactly as one would expect in this type of match w/ these guys. This Strowman is one lazy, uninspired worker. Crowd pops for Bully's lighter fluid, but then is quickly disappointed as Bray puts Bully through table for win. 3/4*, had some energy but just absurd in today's era and in a PG atmosphere. Folks behind me call it the worst tables match ever, which is a bit harsh, but not a good bout by any means.
Owens is better than resorting to insulting local sports teams. Fair pop for Ambrose. It'd be a bit easier on the eyes w/ this arena lighting if they used a darker ring surface. Crowd not too, too invested in this thing early on, but get somewhat more interested as match progresses. Dean's win a bit rushed, but crowd gives him a decent hand for the title change. Where do they go w/ Owens now. **1/4, could have been a lot more w/ actual time and effort.
Minor props for Flair doing a little dirty work for his girl, but crowd boos finish. *1/2, could have been much better and longer. Ric's backstage promo afterward woke the crowd up a bit, but only a small bit.
Main event time, crowd doesn't like either guy, and is 'politely bored' if that makes sense. Dueling Cena chants, just for the hell of it. Even w/ the gimmickry this is nothing more than a standard TV main event, if even that. Percentage of folks cheering Roman is minuscule. Just not very good chemistry between the two. I left just as Hunter was about to come out. *1/2, and that's generous. Most just wanted to get home to see the end of the Patriots game and then go to bed.
Overall, a bad show, but it went by surprisingly quick and the crowd just wanted to have a nice, relaxing time even as they're painfully and obviously resigned to this product being colder than Siberia in mid-February. Had much the same feel as a Nitro I attended at the Worcester Centrum in March 1999., but even that show was better and more memorable. 2.5 out of 10
How you doin' Dave,
Thought it was a good show and felt the closing angle was fantastic, and one of the best things they've done all year. I have no qualms in saying Bryan was right all along. I was always of the opinion that the stronger you book Reigns, the more he will get booed. But tonight showed me that his assessment that bad-ass killer Reigns was the way to go, even in troubled time, was 100% accurate. Really interested to see where they go from here, as Reigns vs. Triple H looks an increasingly strong possibility for 'mania, and leaves me wondering where this leaves the title program.
As far as the main event match, I saw a good chance that if they rematched Reigns & Sheamus at the rumble, we could get a repeat of Orton-Cena a couple of years ago at the same event, but a version of that came a month early. The crowd made it clear they did not see these guys as stars and showed little interest in the match, at least until the big spots and the finishing sequence. I thought they worked extremely hard, but it was a little too rushed for me (which I could say about a number of matches on the card), and had little in the way of storytelling and drama, and was rather a rapid sequence of spots, which wasn't necessary with only two participants. Also Sheamus looked to hurt himself early on with referees following him round for sometime, presumably questioning his well-being.
As far as a few other thoughts on the show - I was disappointed in the opening match as Sasha & Becky's chemistry wasn't there with a lot of awkward spots in the match, also I don't like where they're going with Team BAD, especially for Sasha Banks' sake. Vince's love for humour & "entertainment" seems to be seeping into almost every act these days. Also they paid the price for not strongly rehabbing Jack Swagger in preparation for his feud, as the crowd were dead for most of the match (as they were a few on the card) and completely lost interest near the finishing stretch, not accepting him in a match of this length. Was surprised with the Ambrose title change, and by the nature of the finish it looks like this isn't the end, which should be good, but hopefully they get more time and manage it better on the next occasion. I thought Charlotte looked more at home as a heel, although I have many issues with the current angle, and liked the match with one reason being they took their time more than most.
Worst Match: Banks vs. Lynch **1/2
Best Match: Usos vs. Lucha Dragons vs. New Day ****
Rusev vs. Ryback ***
Del Rio vs. Swagger ***
ECW Originals vs. Wyatts ***
Owens vs. Ambrose ***1/2
Paige vs. Charlotte ***1/4
Sheamus vs. Reigns ****
Loved the show; probably my favorite wwe show this year.
Best match: ADR vs Swagger
Worst match: none really but will pick Rusev vs Rhyno
Thumbs Up: Not a blowout show but it surpassed my expectations. The crowd helped them most of the way too.
Best Match: New Day vs Usos vs Lucha Dragons
Worst Match: Rusev vs Ryback
1. Sasha vs Becky. Good match. Sadly this was throw together at the last minute with no build up. Plus, Becky is suppose to be the face but they where on Sasha's hometown so the reaction was reversed. Fans were into it. ***1/4
2. New Day vs Lucha Dragons vs Usos. This was an spectacle. They went there with not much if a feud or storyline and literally stole the show with of the most creative and crazy bumps ever. WWE should seriously consider push Kalisto, he is amazing. ****1/4
3. Rusev vs Ryback. They tried but it never clicked and they didn't had much time either. *1/2
4. ADR vs Swagger. None of them are over so what they did was fine. WWE should hire Ray Gonzalez and see if ADR can get a reaction with him. Carlito is still available. **
5. Wyatt Family vs ECW Team. Just fine, fans were into it. Poor Rowan, I see him out of the Family pretty soon. **3/4
6. Ambrose vs Owens. Match was just good but the reaction to the title change was great. ***1/2
7. Charlotte vs Paige. So they decide to turn Charlotte full heel against a heel. Wouldn't it more effective against someone like her friend Becky or hometown hero Sasha? My God that type of things are basic. Match was good. ***
8. Sheamus vs Reigns. Okay this was something else. They pretty much killed themselves with stiff blows and hard bumps. I also really liked their approach of building the match and then go to the ladder part of it. That being said, nobody cared about them. "You look stupid" chants, Cena chants, Bryan chants, and boos in key spots are not good for a main event. It was a vocal minority but the rest weren't cheering either. Then came the psychology issues. They want to set Roman vs Triple for Mania, which is the right move since it's pretty clear that fans don't care about Reigns with the title, and the post match was great but how they got there was wrong. First of all, what happened to Barrett? What about Roman's friends Ambrose and the Usos? Roman pretty much lost clean, since it was a No DQ match. When the heels arrived it was the time for Ambrose and Usos to make the save then Roman doing his comeback on Sheamus and THEN Triple H screwing Roman out of the title, that way the heat would have been fully on Hunter. Now it came across like Roman is just a sore loser and Triple is an unsuspecting victim, which isn't what a heel should be. ***3/4
Early Mania Card prediction:
Cena vs Undertaker in Taker's last match; Lesnar vs Outsider (Batista, Goldberg, Angle, Lashley, Fedor!?); Roman vs Triple H; Bryan (Rumble winner) vs Sheamus for the WWE Title (which is a way to give the fans what they want and screw them at the same time); Charlotte vs Sasha for the Divas title; Owens vs Zayn for the IC Title; Wyatt Family vs Team Ambrose; Battle Royal; New Day vs Usos vs Lucha Dragons vs Dudleys for the Tag title; Austin as the host and special referee on one of the main events.
San Sebastian, PR
Not a sell out. Empty seats Scattered seats throughout the arena. Probably about the same amount at RAW in October.
Got to the arena at 645 and the crowd was starting New Day chants. They were over huge. Leaving the show, cars in the garage doing the new day sucks chants with their horns.
Lots of Sasha chants before her match. They were into her during the Match, even after trying to turn her heel with the Team BAD 12 days of Christmas horse shit.
The moment Reigns appeared as part of the TLC video package he was booed to death. At RAW here in October, they cheered Reigns.
Crowd was jacked for the Tag match but clearly wanted the New Day to win. Went nuts for the Salida Del Sol spot. Kalisto was helped to the back by Sin Cara as he was walking gingerly.
Dead crowd for Ryback/Rusev besides the "feed me more" stuff. Chants for the New England Patriots here and at other points during the show.
Crowd didn't care about Del Rio and swagger
Crowd was into the ECW originals. Bubba got checked on my multiple referees after the match and was helped to the back. He was in the ring for a while and had to get rolled outside.
The crowd went nuts for Ambrose winning the title and into the match altogether. Owens heeling on Boston fans worked well.
Crowd was into Paige and wanted her to win. For the most part they were into Flair but didn't care about Charlotte either way.
At first, the crowd shit all over the main event, with chants for Daniel Bryan and a "We miss Rollins" chants going on. They actually got into Reigns at the end but the finish took the sails out of the crowd and it left a bad taste in everyone's mouth. That did not go over well at all. Lots of unhappy fans at the end of that match. Felt like they just about killed him as a legitimate threat tonight among many fans.
Next event in Boston is the March 22ns Smackdown Taping.
Thumbs in the middle
I don't like gimmick matches, so this isn't really the PPV for me. Everyone worked hard, but I couldn't remove myself from the things that annoyed me in each match. I have a hard time judging this PPV because the POST-match setup for Roman was so good compared to the wrestling that came before it.
Best match: Tag team injury roulette
Going into it I thought WWE would do something to play it safe, considering how injured their roster is. I was wincing, worrying that these guys were just waiting to do a spot where someone would be injured. To my knowledge, they beat the odds and walked away from a high risk match without injury.
The New Day v. Usos v. Lucha Dragons overdelivered. Lots of spots for over 15 minutes...And somehow it didn't get boring to me? They did something right. And for a guy that hates these gimmick matches, I wish I could explain what it was that won me over. It was good to see the Lucha Dragons perform to their ability. Everyone looked good.
Worst match: Team 90s v. Wyatts
Whereas the tag teams overdelivered in the ladder match, this was bad. The table gimmick didn't make anything more exciting. Tables were depicted as an accidental "you're out" rather than a physical threat to go through. Bad bad finish that was underwhelming. A match with Team 90s members would have been better than the free-for-all. Ryno, Dreamer, Dudleyz- those guys can go. They're vets that can build matches to make younger talent look good. But making this a tables brawl just made everything look sloppy.
-I did not like the main event. Somehow this came off like a low energy performance where Sheamus and Roman would walk each other from spot-station to spot station, where they'd take turns hitting a table or chair. The finish of the match was awful, as the League of Nations & Sheamus still don't seem like a larger threat than a team of Adam Rose, Zach Ryder, and Eric Rowan. (The POST-match, however, was another story...)
-WWE figured out how to get the fans united behind Roman: get us sick of his matches with midcarders. Let him stand on his own against their only main event heel--> HHH. Dave & Bryan have been talking about the lack of a top heel for awhile now. HHH v. Roman is the inevitable and correct choice. It means we can get a build for Roman that puts him on top without telegraphing (or needing to) put the title on him. Good move.
Thumbs in the middle show, maybe leaning up after a successful show closing angle. Nothing was outright bad, but most of the event lacked emotion and excitement. Right now, the product is stale, and this event felt like a talented group of performers trying to make a stale environment go down easier. There were some notable high points; such as the tag team ladder match and the Ambrose victory, but most of the show was forgettable. The effort in all the matches was high. This was especially evident during the main event, but a heel champion who lacks credibility and a up and coming hero who lacks crowd fueled momentum creates a hostile environment in a outspoken market. With all that said, the show closing angle worked. I am puzzled as to why, but the crowd came alive during Reigns' freak out. This was especially notable when he turned his attention to Triple H and pulzerized the COO. Reigns felt like a larger star with a more positive reaction by the end of the show. I guess it is reverse psychology- have him display vice to generate a positive crowd reaction. Bravery over benevolence. Vengeance over compassion. Pro wrestling in 2015.
A. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch: Wow! That rendition of the 12 days of Christmas was beyond bad. The ring work was mechanically sound and quite enjoyable. The crowd engagement and match drama was lacking. Good effort, but not a blow away match. **
1. WWE Tag Team Title Ladder Match: The Usos vs. Lucha Dragons vs. The New Day. At this point, revolutionizing the stunt show ladder match is nearly impossible, but I did see some spots in this match that I have never seen before. The creativity and effort was definitely there. Each competitor was given a shot to shine. I believe Kallisto stood out the most. My only complaint was the finish, which was not the climax of the match by any means. Granted, a climatic finish to a stunt show is never easy to accomplish. ***3/4
2. Rusev vs. Ryback. Passable big guy match. I think the results would have been more satisfactory if the match was cut 4 minutes and the pace was frenetic throughout or if Rusev picked a body part to isolate and work over building to a Ryback comeback. The layout they used did not invite much crowd participation. The new presentation of Lana is starting to win me over. **
3. WWE US Title Chair Match: Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger. First of all, the chair match is a dumb stipulation. As for the match itself, is started with good intensity, but lost momentum as it progressed. The crowd does not buy into Swagger as a legit contender and Del Rio is yet to find an identity that pushes or pull the fans either way. I think this contest would have been more successful if Del Rio would have brutally beat down Swagger throughout. Let's face it, Swagger is not going anywhere. He would have been better off as a sacrificial lamb to build Del Rio. *3/4
4. Tables Elimination Match: Wyatt Family vs. Team Extreme. There was a time when ECW and even WWE to some degree were able to present the beautiful disaster. In today's day and age, it comes across as a mess. The mess started to get cleaned up towards the end with some drama and substance, but it never turned the corner or switched to a different gear. Strowman had a really rough night. He looked lost, because he was lost. At the end of the day, it was a strong win for the Wyatts but a sloppy match. **
5. WWE IC Title Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens. Strong match. It was the typical 21st century 50/50 back and forth match. The crowd was tame to start, but Owens and Ambrose won their attention and earned their appraisal with effort and athleticism. A number of the closing sequences were very good, and the finish spot was about perfect. With more time, this could have been special. ***1/2
6. WWE Divas’ Title Match: Charlotte vs. Paige. I had low expectations for this match, but it did exceed my expectations. It was a heel vs. heel match with Charlotte playing the stronger dominant heel. This seems to be a role she is most comfortable with that has increasing possibilities for growth and development. The build toward the finish was headed in the right direction, but they could not continue the climb towards being special. **1/2
7. WWE World Title TLC Match: Sheamus vs. Roman Reigns. Extremely physical match. These two guys beat the living hell out of each other and for the majority of the match and the crowd did not care. One could argue the lack of a reaction was the product of dimishing returns on high spots and weapon shots during the show, but I think the lion's share of the blame lies on a heel lacking credibility and a baby face void of crowd fueled momentum. Much to my surprise, the crowd came alive after the superman punch table bump and the closing few minutes did stir up the crowd and build some drama. The League of Nations interference was predicable, but the lack of Ambrose and the Usos making the save was bizarre. Without Ambrose and the Usos, the finish did not seem ripe for the picking. ***
THUMBS UP: Another over performing PPV.
Best Match: Tag Team Title Match by a hair over World Title Match
Worst Match: Rusev-Ryback
Tag Team Ladder Match: Terrific opening. When you think you've seen everything in a ladder match, the Salida Del Sol was a great spot, without being super super risky. All 3 teams did great, and Xavier was engaging on commentary. The interference to help with the win is the right finish. If the New Day are still going to be nominally heels, they have to cheat! My only comment on laying out this kind of match is that you have to be careful to make these spots seem to have a purpose. The Uso splashing Big E under the ladder of the outside, for example, made no sense in the context of a ladder match. Still, very fun match. I am not optimistic that one of other matches will be better than this.
Rusev v The Rybak: Watching this video package before the match reminded me how much the Rusev-Lana act has been ruined, but also hopeful they can get it back. Lana should not be a babyface at this point, and neither should Rusev. The match itself was okay, a little flat, but that's usually true when you have 2 big guys working together. I would like to see Rusev develop a new finish other than the Camel Clutch.
Swagger-ADR: I usually like ADR's matches, but I didn't like that he was in the ankle lock for so long, and didn't bother to sell the ankle when he climbed the ropes 90 seconds after breaking out of the ankle lock. ADR's move in the corner, similar to what Sascha Banks does, should not be a finisher. The match was hard worked, but lacked an emotional investment, as evidenced by the long-absent "CM Punk" chants that briefly resurfaced. ADR needs to be involved in something more significant.
Wyatts-ECW Survivor Series Tables Match: I liked Bubba's interview before the match. They still might decide to really use this guy, perhaps the best promo on the current active roster. I was hoping to see the resurgence of Luke Harper, and that was true to an extent. I like the idea of Bubba facing the 3 Wyatts. Anyway, a decent match, considering I am not really a fan of these type of stipulation situations.
Owens-Ambrose: I thought I detected the slightest note of heel impatience during DA's interview segment with Roman Reigns. KO's promo (from the 2nd best promo guy on the active roster) while walking down to the ring killed that idea. A pretty good match, but I really don't like how this Ambrose character is intermittently invincible. I did enjoy the "1 finger on the rope" spot, but I didn't like Owens losing the way he did. How will this affect the relationship between RR & DA? There was to be something brewing there, since we see a lot of out-of-the-ring segments with those two.
Charlotte-Paige: In watching the pre-match package, I still can't tell who I am supposed to be cheering for here. (The truth is that the shadow of Sascha Banks is still over this match for me.) The commentary tells me Charlotte is the heel. The ladies worked a pretty good match here, and I really like seeing Ric Flair be a factor in the decision to solidify this heel turn. Charlotte here has a chance to sit under the learning tree of one of the greatest heels of all time. (I choose to ignore the fact that Paige's head didn't really come anywhere near the corner.)
Side Note: It is interesting to think that, 30 years ago, when Flair was cutting those "Space Mountain" promos, Charlotte was a few months away from being born.
Seamus v. Reigns: I didn't mind Seamus winning the title, because you can't have him become the second person, after the currently-nowhere Damien Sandow, to fail to cash in the money in the bank. But that doesn't make him a feasible champion right now, frankly anymore than Reigns is. The title picture is a problem. So that is the context of this match.
Right near the beginning, was the crowd chanting "We want Cena! Cena sucks?"
I would like to see the League of Nations interfere in this match to save the title for Seamus in this no-DQ match. (If Semus loses, the LON is dead -- they should interfere, or try to, if they are a faction.) Then Reigns can blame DA for not coming to help him, and Reigns can finally be the heel he needs to be for now. Let's watch.
Aha! The right result. The question is what happens now with Reigns.
These guys worked very hard, but I wish they would use these stipulation-prop matches more sparingly, less than once a year. Especially with guys this big, it looks too dangerous to me.
I think there is a foundation for good booking here. Let's see what happens!