SmackDown was at Barclays this week, a place that once charged me $30 for two cups of beer. Raw was out of Des Moines, and I really hope their arena was slightly less expensive for beverages. Luckily, even with storylines at a bit of a standstill until the new year, both brands managed to deliver pretty solid shows this week. Here’s the best parts of a week full of proposals,
Seth Rollins Steals Opportunities
A whole hour of Raw was dedicated to a gauntlet match to decide the new #1 contender to Rey Mysterio’s US title. It was an interesting mix of competitors, starting with Akira Tozawa and R Truth, who was incredible as always, pointing at a nonexistent Wrestlemania sign while calling his shot. Tozawa took out Truth fairly quickly before the remaining shadow realm wrestlers appeared to chase him for the 24/7 Title. Ricochet was out next, and took the time to do his full entrance, flips and everything, even though this is a gauntlet match and he probably shouldn’t give Tozawa any time to recover. These two were great together and definitely deserve a longer match. Ricochet punned Tozawa and Matt Hardy was out next, in a match that felt way longer than it should have been for a Hardy in 2019. Ricochet went over again, but this time it was new pal Humberto Carrillo who entered. The two went for a handshake, but Ricochet quickly turned it into a roll up, making Humberto the purer babyface as he is the dumber of the two. Zelina Vega, who I guess is super cool with Andrade again after their fight at TLC, stood at the top of the ramp to watch this match. Humberto won with a moonsault, but Andrade then entered through the crowd and sneak attacked him, effectively making him the winner of the match, I guess. They never really announced it, but turns out it doesn’t actually matter!
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We then saw Rey Mysterio come out to lend Humberto moral support post Andrade attack, because hot legends recognize other hot legends, but Seth Rollins and new entourage AOP also joined the party. Carrying the lead pipe and some very rude attitude, Rollins ultimately stomped Mysterio and walked off without a care in the world. He challenged Mysterio for the belt, which Mysterio accepted. That’s right, an entire hour of Raw was rendered absolutely meaningless by Seth Rollins’ will, and Andrade gets nothing, except the joy of potentially damaging Humberto’s perfect face.
It’s the storyline that keeps on giving. This week, WWE’s most powerful couple celebrated their TLC victory over Rusev by deciding to tie the knot! Actually, Lana decided, then told Bobby she wanted to ‘ask him to ask her to marry her.’ When Lashley obliged, Lana praised him for doing it “just like they rehearsed” and the two shared some TV kisses. As much as this story doesn’t really need to continue, I did find Lana’s overacting and Lashley underacting equally funny. They’re somehow perfectly paired together to give two wildly inappropriate reactions to whatever’s happening. Apparently, they’ve set the date for New Year’s Day. And since it’s a wedding in a wrestling ring, I can’t imagine a single thing going wrong. Mazel tov!
The Man Steps Up
In an interview with the only person on WWE PPV panels I can actually stand, Charly Caruso, Becky Lynch discussed losing to the Kabuki Warriors at TLC. She admitted she thought she was being punished when she teamed with Charlotte instead of getting to defend her title, but now she’s realized the company is “protecting” her from facing Asuka. This was really interesting and an excellent promo from Lynch, made even better by the fact that she didn’t drop a single catchphrase. Becky has never defeated Asuka, and her realization that the company is sheltering her as a symbol is a good angle. “The Man” as an anti-authority figure is already at odds with being the face of everything WWE puts out these days, and to have her recognize it allows enough of a fourth wall breach without going into some weird worked shoot promo. Asuka and Becky at the Rumble is going to be an absolute banger, too.
Enemy to Friends
Daniel Bryan and the Miz have a complicated past together. They’ve hated each other for a very long time, resulting in some of the best tv WWE has ever produced in Talking Smack. Their tumultuous relationship has taken a turn for the better as they find themselves as allies against The Fiend, who recently gave Daniel Bryan a buzz cut and threatens to do the same to Miz. This week, the two reluctant buddy cops teamed up to face the dog-loving team of Ziggler and Corbin. There was still some tension between Miz and Bryan, who were both reluctant to tag each other in, but like all good love stories, they ultimately realized they were stronger together. Ziggler tapped to Miz’s Figure Four while Daniel took out Corbin to prevent him from breaking it up, a romantic gesture by all accounts. Post match, The Fiend hit the lights and played his fun little laugh track. We also found out next week we’re getting Miz vs Bryan vs Corbin for #1 contender to the Universal Championship. Dolph Ziggler is just chopped liver, I guess.
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Blessed Christmas Ham(s)
Heavy Machinery challenged The Revival to a Miracle on 34th Street fight, which is my favorite part of the holidays. Few things beat seeing Santa used as a weapon. Before the match, Mandy Rose gifted Otis a ham, potentially the same one he tried to give Sami last week, because I definitely see Mandy as the thrifty type. The Revival had control of the match until Dash returned the ham from whence it came by tossing it on the floor, which sent Otis into a Christmas tantrum. Heavy Machinery are very good as goofy, lovable baby faces, and holiday Otis was crazy over. The Christmas stuff was really fun here; these silly street fights manage to incorporate some really creative stuff, including a bowling ball last night. Heavy Machinery won with The Compactor, and Otis still got a hug from Mandy. A true Christmas miracle.
Lacey Evans is a mother and a former marine, which makes her the ultimate babyface in WWE’s eyes. After Bayley defeated Dana Brooke for the second week in a row, Lacey came out to run down the Smackdown women’s champ and her life partner, Sasha Banks. Evans challenged Banks to a match right in front of her husband and daughter at ringside. That little girl was mad; Sasha beat Lacey right in front of her, and for a moment it looked like a 5 year old was about to scale the barricade and take care of business. The match ended in count out as the Boss was too busy being mean to a child, and Lacey fired back until Bayley and Dana Brooke came to save them both. I’ll buy mom strength as the reason we’re supposed to be behind Lacey now, and it was pretty funny to see Sasha taunt a little girl. I’d watch that match next week.
There was sadly no 205 this week, but it sounds like they taped an NXT Christmas special to air on Wednesday instead. Without some small flippy boys to talk about, let’s do a little roundup of some other notable stuff that happened this week:
- Liv Morgan took a bath in a vignette promoting a character change for her. I really hope her new gimmick is selling bathwater, but I don’t trust WWE to have their finger on the pulse like that. Maybe in a year an a half.
- Erick Rowan still won’t tell you what’s in the cage. This story has definitely outlived it’s intrigue, but I also don’t expect it to be revealed for at least another month.
- Carmella and Sonya Deville had a match that probably would have been very good had it lasted for longer than 3 minutes. Here’s hoping for better opportunities for both women in 2020.
- Sami Zayn got Braun Strowman in Secret Santa! Being the thoughtful king he is, he asked Braun outright for a gift suggestion, and the big man had an immediate answer, unlike my relatives who refuse to give me any concrete ideas until 11:30 pm on December 24th. Braun wants an IC title match with Nakamura. Would that I could feel any sort of way about that match up.
- Daniel Bryan doesn’t remember what The Fiend did to him. The Fiend as a spooky boogeyman who traumatized Bryan so badly he blocked out the harm is both really interesting and also some pretty heavy stuff for a wrestling storyline. I mean, I’ve also had some tragic haircuts, but this is next level.