Bizarre Arson Triangle
Alexa Bliss continued to boost Hot Topic overall sales on Monday night when she opened Raw with an interview with Randy Orton. If I were Randy, I’d just be a little more selective about the talk shows I guest on.
Alexa asked what happened last week against Styles and if Randy could remember anything he might have done 3-4 years ago to tick off Bray Wyatt. Orton admitted that he and The Fiend have a history and that they were a lot alike. Randy said The Fiend wears his pain on the outside, but Orton himself bottles it all up inside, and then one day he’ll die. He told Alexa that he had found Wyatt’s weakness before that time he burned his ancestral home to the ground, and he was going to find another one.
The lights went out, then the red lights manifested the Fiend, but Orton kept him at bay by holding Alexa like a small child in his arms. She did absolutely nothing about the situation, despite being a five-time women’s champion, leaving The Fiend to silently plead for Orton to gently toss her back to him. Orton handed over the nearly 30-year-old woman who, again, is more than capable of wrestling herself, and left up the ramp.
This is a fine development between Orton and Wyatt, and Bliss is the obvious weak spot for The Fiend. But seeing her just stare blankly at the camera in Randy’s arms was way funnier than I imagine they had to be going for.
League of Selective Celtic Nations (Just the Two)
Sheamus and his suede duster were guests on Miz TV Monday night. Miz and Morrison tried to politely request that he turn on Drew later during their tag match and allow Miz to cash in, but as the patron saint of friendship, Sheamus wasn’t sold. He laid out both men until Miz used the briefcase, cracking Sheamus’ tank top so hard the contract popped out. Later in the night, Drew told his old buddy to get it together for the main event, and added that he could have come out to help Sheamus against Miz and Morrison, but he had his hands full with kilt fitting or sword buying or trying to find someone who wants to buy a 40-pound leather coat.
Sheamus seemed unsure of McIntyre’s friendship after all, but he still stuck by the champ in the main event. He started out taking it to both Miz and Morrison while McIntyre’s next challenger, AJ Styles, talked about his fitness regime on commentary. Morrison and Miz each got 5 Beats of the Bodhran a piece, then Sheamus took his anger to AJ until Omos scared him off. Morrison took advantage and sent Sheamus into a table to turn things around. McIntyre got the tag and cleared house but Morrison pulled Sheamus off the apron and tossed him into the virtual crowd to be eaten alive by screens.
Styles hopped up and landed a Phenomenal Forearm to wipe out McIntyre, then instructed Miz to cash in the briefcase. Starship Pain and a Skull Crushing Finale laid out Drew, but Miz grabbed the briefcase back from Styles and said he needed a hot minute to think about things. McIntyre made it up and landed a Claymore on Miz, while AJ fled to safety on the shoulders of Omos, being carried like a very angry toddler being forced to bed. Pleased to report that Very Smalll (average) Man and Very Tall Man are still a hilarious combo in wrestling. Styles and McIntyre should have a great match at TLC, and Miz cashing in after should be just as good.
Local Wrestler Allowed to Briefly Wrestle
After Lana saved Asuka from experiencing the Baszler/Jax table special, the two teamed again this week to take on the women’s tag champs. One may wonder why we’re giving the tag champions storylines with two singles wrestlers, but “storytelling” and “women’s tag division” don’t seem to get along in WWE.
Again, Lana took a good deal of punishment in this, being slapped around by Jax, who told her she was never going to be a wrestler and her Tik Toks weren’t even good. She made a comeback when she managed to push Nia into the ring post and get a tag to Asuka, who took down Baszler. Lana tagged in again and attempted a crossbody, but Shayna rolled through and slammed her on the mat. She got her in the Kirifuda Clutch and things appeared to be over until Asuka landed a big knee to break Baszler’s hold. Lana fell into the pin to win it for the good guys, and the new friends scampered up the ramp.
While the addition of Asuka makes any storyline watchable, I’m still not sure what they’re going for here. From a wrestling standpoint, Lana did well here. She finally looked capable after months of being treated like she was as useful as Adam Cole’s hairline, but she still would have been Baszler bait if not for Asuka. Is the moral of the story it’s okay if you’re floundering at your job as long as you have talented friends? That’s actually pretty relatable, but it feels a little too real for WWE.
Baszler would be a great challenger for Asuka, but they’ll need to break her up from Jax and keep her away from Lana’s slow crawling underdog story to make anything happen there.
Babyfaces Get Lucky for First Time Ever
NXT’s main event, aside from a brief Malcolm Bivens sighting, was a ladder match to determine who got the advantage in the women’s WarGames. Shotzi Blackheart represented herself, while Candice LeRae, presumably busy with a 25 Days of Disney Christmas marathon, sent Raquel Gonzalez to do the heavy-hitting.
Gonzalez looked great here, controlling Shotzi from the start as the two fought on the outside. Shotzi hit a huge DDT on the apron, but Gonzalez ran her down with the steps. Both women tried to scale the ladder a couple of times until Shotzi delivered a meteora from the turnbuckle into Raquel on the outside that wiped them both out.
Indi Hartwell used the distraction to spring Team Candice and let them run down to the ring, followed by Ripley and Moon. Hartwell tried to get the briefcase herself, but Shotzi pulled her down, only to get hit with a big clothesline from Gonzalez. She started to ascend the ladder, but Io Shirai made the save, hopping on Raquel and bringing her to the floor. A moonsault wiped out all the women and two security dudes, leaving Shotzi with an opening to get the briefcase and score her team the advantage. Shirai became the fourth member of Team Shotzi on Sunday, which isn’t surprising, but it sure is appealing.
This match was fine. Gonzalez did what she does best (big-woman moves and angry staring) while Shotzi was a convincing underdog. With the addition of Shirai to an already very solid lineup, this should be a great WarGames match.
KO Family Woes
Roman Reigns and co. kicked off SmackDown again this week, taking offense to Kayla Braxton’s questions about Kevin Owens and his very specific threats last week. Owens interrupted yet another verbal beatdown of a journalist simply trying to do her job to offer Roman a challenge for TLC. Uso quickly accepted on his cousin’s behalf, but Kevin demanded an answer from the Big Dog himself. Roman agreed but said they couldn’t get into it right now, since there was a lady in the vicinity and he was a real gentleman. Owens called Roman a bitch, and we got ourselves a tag match in the main event: Jey and Roman vs Kevin and Otis.
Roman refused to enter with Uso, leaving him to suffer at Kevin’s hands once again. Once Jey was mounting a comeback, Reigns got around to making an appearance and tagged in to demolish Otis. After taking out Otis with the steps, Roman told Jey to finish the job on Kevin, but he couldn’t quite pull the trigger. Owens hit a stunner and almost won, but Reigns ran in to break up the pin and lock Kevin in the guillotine. The match was declared a DQ and Reigns and Uso went for the chairs to teach KO a lesson.
After an Uso Splash Feat. Chair on Owens, Reigns turned his anger on his cousin, yelling at him for being a general disappointment. He ended the show by trash talking Owens and standing tall with his title over both Kevin and Uso. Things keep getting worse and worse for poor Jey here, but I’m still loving this storyline. The building tension between Reigns and Uso should lead to a great blowoff down the line and Owens fantastic in all that he does.
Show Off Shown Up
In a tribute to the late Pat Patterson, we also had a six-man tag match featuring former Intercontinental Champions; Daniel Bryan, Rey Mysterio, and Big E vs Sami Zayn, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Dolph Ziggler. The faces came out strong, controlling with quick tags until Ziggler (no backwards hat this time) was able to knock Bryan off the top turnbuckle to turn things around.
They each tagged out and Big E almost got the pin on Nakamura, but Ziggler ran in to break it up. Dolph got a few near falls on Bryan, but couldn’t seal the deal. Sami tagged in and found himself in the Yes Lock, barely making it to the ropes to force a break. A brainbuster got him a two count on the man who recently tried mushrooms on E Network, but Bryan managed a sudden roll-up to win the match. The bad guys argued in the ring until the faces ran them off, leaving Ziggler all alone to attempt his best Yes chant. It really didn’t land and all three of the good guys hit their finishers to give Dolph even more grief during an already trying time.
Zoom Promo Class
Like my parents during their divorce, Carmella and Sasha Banks gave simultaneous interviews from two different locations.
After multiple surprise attacks, these two couldn’t be trusted to breathe the same air, even from six feet apart. Sasha told Mella she would never be on the level of The Boss, and a bit role in The Beach Bum just doesn’t compete with rescuing Baby Yoda from a giant squid. Carmella said Sasha worked hard and tried her best, and that’s cute, but all she had to do to earn a story was buy new gear and drop a new finisher. Sasha ended the friendly chat by offering a match at TLC.
I haven’t been totally sold on the build here, but the match itself is very promising. Carmella’s an underrated performer, and I know I’ve said it before, but Banks could genuinely have a good match with a pile of wood. It would be compelling, technical, and she’d bump like a lunatic for those twigs.
Young Man Usurps Ancient Old Timer One Year Older Than Him
Curt Stallion was jumped in the infamous NXT parking lot by Legado del Fantasma, which meant he was unable to compete on Wednesday night. I think wrestlers should start parking elsewhere, but that’s just my opinion.
Stallion showed up on 205 to take on Ariya Daivari again, who has been real pressed about people younger than him being successful lately. I hear ya, pal. The two were evenly matched to start out, trading reversals and strikes. Daivari tried to regroup on the outside, but Stallion slammed his head into the commentary desk. Stallion threw him in the ring to land a double stomp and went up top to finish it off, but Daivari went to the outside again. Curt tried for a suicide dive but got sidestepped, leaving him to crash and burn. Daivari almost got the count-out win, but Stallion made it back in at 9.
Daivari pulled out everything he could, hitting a DDT and a neckbreaker and even locking him in the camel clutch, but Stallion fought out. He tried a DDT of his own, and Ariya still kicked out. A big splash got him another two count, but finally a flying headbutt put Daivari down for good. Stallion continues to impress on 205, and his match against Escobar should be a good time.