Previously at “Survivor Series“…I was so furious with “Survivor Series (2015)” that I could not bring myself to watch “Raw“, “Smackdown” or any of the filler shows between 11/23/2015-11/27/2015, although I did catch the weeks episode of NXT. In a nutshell, Sheamus successfully cashed in his ‘Money in the Bank’ contract, the Wyatt Family lost all traces of credibility and the booking made nearly every performer look a little weaker.
The New Day open the show by trolling the audience, which made me laugh and this only intensified when Kofi and Xavier referenced Dragonball (Fusion!). They bring out Sheamus (laughing stops) and this made no sense to me. Didn’t the New Day turn on Sheamus at the last PPV? Did I miss something? To be fair, Sheamus does a good job in his boastful speech, even if he’s reminding me way too much of Rollins. Eventually Reigns comes out and super punches him, stealing the belt in the process. Back-stage, the Authority takes it back and announces that Reigns will have a shot at the championship tonight, but must win under 5 minutes and 15 seconds (because that’s how long his “reign” was). But next we have ‘Tyler Breeze Vs Dolph Ziggler‘, which was pretty mediocre, moving quickly but being mostly comprised of near falls. We have a Miz TV segment involving Rusev and Lana. This seemingly went on forever and I can’t help but feel like a certain amount of slut shaming is going on with Lana. To the writers credit, both Lana and Rusev claim that they never ‘went all the way’ with Dolph or Summer, but the focus seems to be on what (or who?) Lana did. The crowd’s “Yes, you did!” chants were louder with her and then Ryback comes out and rubs that point in. By the way, apparently Ziggler boasted to Ryback about his alleged sex life with Lana, because he’s obviously such a wonderful babyface. Ryback announcing this to the world doesn’t make him any more sympathetic. This leads to their match and…not much to say in terms of quality, because it’s pretty short. However, the story involved sucks…Ryback accidentally indirectly injures Lana and Rusev is counted out for tending to her. Once again, why does Rusev always manage to be more sympathetic than the babyfaces? Back-stage, Triple H reveals to Ambrose that if Reigns doesn’t win his match later on, then he will lose his shot at the IC Championship. Interesting…
The Dudleyz take the stage to cut a promo, which is technically fine, but the crowd sounds bored. The Wyatts answer their challenge and…Ugh, I can’t take them seriously after getting beaten so badly at “Survivor Series“. The Dudleyz bring out Tommy Dreamer, which got a nice pop, but…isn’t he mostly used as talent enhancement these days? Yet his presence apparently causes the Wyatts to wet their pants! While I disagree with the Audience chanting “This is Awesome“, it was kind of cool and leads to the next match- Wyatts vs ECW old dudes! The match was…eh…and I thought Dreamer looked a little slow and unimpressive- I feel like a prick for saying this about a legend who has been around so long. I did like the ending to this bout, as it was a different way of allowing the Dudleyz to come out on top. The New Day steals the show on commentary during the ‘Usos Vs Lucha Dragons‘ bout, which was surprisingly awkward and sloppy. Backstage, Stephanie McMahon declares that both teams will have a shot at the Tag Team Championship at TLC, but the Uso Brothers will lose their opportunity if Reigns doesn’t win his upcoming match with Sheamus. ‘Sheamus Vs Roman Reigns‘ was fun, even if the ending was very safe and predictable. For some reason, del Rio, Rusev and Barrett rescue Sheamus. The Champ announces that they’re forming a stable called ‘The League of Nations’ and the crowd is DEAD. This all seems very random, but I guess I prefer it a little more than the Authority, simply because it differentiates Sheamus from Rollins…Although why did the New Day introduce Sheamus at the start of the show? It would make more sense if Sheamus surrounded himself with the Tag Team Champions, or if Sheamus just opened the show himself! ‘Charlotte Vs Becky‘ has Paige on commentary and Ric Flair at ringside…It was a good match and I actually did like the implied heel turn from Charlotte. Back-stage, Becky confronts Charlotte and I really liked this. Charlottes’ reasoning actually made sense when spoken aloud and yet it was a dirty move. I liked how her newfound heel-ism wasn’t shoved down our throats. The Main Event is ‘Roman Reigns, the Usos and Ambrose Vs The League of Nations and New Day‘ and before I start the match, I want to point out that we’ve seen too much of these guys tonight. The New Day is a lot of fun, but they’ve been involved in 3 different segments for this RAW. The match was solid, but this show wasn’t that great. Not devoid of value, but I spent most of the time scratching my head and being indifferent.
Roman Reigns opens the show with Ambrose and the Uso Brothers, cutting an OK promo that I felt was a little too…nice? Sheamus and his Stable come out and Sheamus cuts a better promo (solid crowd interaction), which leads to…THE NEW DAY ARRIVING! The pay-off is that the Usos and Ambrose must defeat the New Day in order to partner with Roman Reigns for the main event (against the League of Nations). Interesting stakes and I enjoyed the banter. ‘Neville Vs Tyler Breeze‘ was a really good match and for all the crap I’ve given Ziggler, he was really entertaining and fluid on commentary. Seriously, he was more natural than the actual commentators. Solid back-stage confrontation between Becky, Charlotte, Brie and Fox. ‘Becky Vs Brie‘ was pretty mediocre and the ending was too predictable. Super predictable. In the back, The Miz and Neville have a segment that actually kind of intrigued me. ‘The New Day Vs Usos/Ambrose‘ was pretty good and I was surprised with how it ended. ‘Devon Dudley Vs Bray Wyatt‘ is next, with each team watching at ring-side. For some reason, R-Truth had a cameo, appearing during the early stages of the Wyatt’s entrance. Odd. The match was too short to judge, but I liked the segment afterwards as it made Bray seem twisted and the ECW guys valiant. Now we the Main Event, where Roman must take on the entire League of Nations. The match was kind of boring until the end, as there reaches a point when seeing the babyface get stomped and beaten over-and-over again induces apathy. Nevertheless, the finale was exciting…even if I feel like the League lost A LOT of credibility in the process. This was a fun Smackdown.
The League of Nations opens the show, apparently debuting a new Titantron theme, which I liked. Great job, WWE, for bringing out the xenophobia from your audience! While I think Sheamus struggles with connecting to the crowd, I did like how he reacted to the U.S.A chants. OK promo, as always. HOLY SHIT, THE WYATT FAMILY HAVE COME OUT TO CONFRONT THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS! I’M INTRIGUED. Although the fact that the Wyatts are glorified jobbers really undermines the potential for awesomeness. Now the Dudleys/Dreamer arrive and introduce their fourth member as…Rhyno? That’s it? In retrospect, that’s not surprising and I’ve always liked the Man-Beast, but he would’ve made more sense as the 3rd member. Few people expected Tommy Dreamer, so it earned a nice pop and I figured the fourth man would top that somehow (Rob Van Dam was my guess). Furthermore, with all of these teams out at the same time, Rhyno’s reveal lacks importance. He just got lost in the shuffle. Roman Reigns and his crew arrives and…did Hulu cut out their promo? There was a commercial break and now they’re all having a 16-man elimination Tag Team match. Tommy Dreamer quickly pins Rowan to eliminate the Wyatts…*sigh*…Other than the continued raping of then Wyatt Family booking and some missed cues, this was an enjoyable and exciting match. ‘Kevin Owens Vs Dolph Ziggler‘ was decent, only brought down by a dead crowd- no one seems to care for Ziggler anymore, as Owens got the (few) chants. Ambrose comes out to troll Owens by throwing popcorn and soda in his face (eh). The New Day have a silly- but funny- skit before competing in a match with the Lucha Dragons. It was pretty forgettable, but the Uso’s attacking Xavier was kind of funny. Too bad that this feud doesn’t seem personal enough to warrant such a beating.
Miz TV is up next, with Charlotte has the special guest. This was actually a really good segment, highlighting the skills of Miz, Flair, Paige and Charlotte’s heel development. Cut to commercial break and Stardust is having a match with Jack Swagger, with Titus on commentary for…some reason…del Rio appears to watch this boring match and attacks Swagger with a chair. For some reason, Titus warns del Rio about Stardust, who gets attacked as well, and…this entire bit was shit as I had no clue what was going on. Why did Titus warn del Rio about Stardust? Considering del Rio just ambushed Swagger, he DESERVES to get a taste of his own medicine! Swagger and del Rio have a chair down and while I did like the dueling chairs, followed by del Rio’s priceless begging face, Swagger looked like a bully when confronting Zeb. Back-stage, del Rio and Zeb split up, so the MexiAmerica thing was pointless…maybe this was for the better though. If anything, del Rio played his part effectively. ‘Braun Strowman Vs Tommy Dreamer‘ is…why? Both men have already had a match and if one wins, the other has lost any potential momentum. Predictably, Strowman kicked his ass, making Dreamer look kind of irrelevant now- especially after he scored the pin early on. Finally, Roman Reigns cuts a promo amidst Tables, Ladders and Chairs, which wasn’t badly executed, but the crowd wasn’t being very respectful. Do people still think that chanting “What?!” is cool? F@ck off, you’re ruining the show…which admittedly hasn’t been that good…but you’re making it worse! Sheamus appears and makes the most vile, horrid threat one can possible imagine: “TLC will end just like Survivor Series did“. That is a prospect so terrifying that…I almost don’t want to watch the show at all. I got to give credit to Sheamus and Reigns though, this was the best banter they’ve exchanged since this feud began. The ‘tater tots’ line made me groan a little, until the crowd started parroting it and suddenly…it worked! Unfortunately, it immediately went limp when it started being redundant. This entire exchange is pretty much Roman saying “Get in here, or are you chicken?” and Sheamus saying “I’m not an idiot and I’ll crush you at the PPV” over and over again, just using different words. This seems to go on FOREVER, but Reigns eventually throws the ladder at Sheamus (who is still outside of the ring), which misses but looks like it almost hit the fans. The final brawl was brutal and even intense, but the segment as a whole went on for way too long. With that said, Roman Reigns has pwned Sheamus throughout the majority of this feud…If he wins, that just meant that Sheamus wasn’t credible enough. If he loses, then Reigns isn’t credible enough. And where is the League of Nation? Oi. I liked this RAW in parts- a few parts, anyway- but as a whole it wasn’t very good.
- Ryback vs Rusev: Rusev
- Alberto del Rio Vs Swagger: del Rio
- New Day Vs Usos Vs Lucha Dragons: New Day
- Charlotte vs Paige: Charlotte
- The Wyatts vs ECW Originals: Wyatts
- Kevin Owens vs Ambrose: Owens
- Sheamus Vs Roman Reigns: Reigns
TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs (2015)
Foreword: The problem with the writing of these storylines is that WWE had this incredibly ambitious idea to tie them all together, which sounds good in theory. Sheamus and Roman Reigns would have the #1 feud, with all of the other feuds working as support to elevate the World Heavyweight Championship storyline and in turn, their involvement would make even the midcard stories more relevant. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough time to develop any of them, so the drama is lacking.
(Kick-off Match) Becky Lynch Vs Sasha Banks: There was absolutely no story here and Team BAD start things off with a terrible rendition of the 12 days of Christmas (very out of character), but this was still a nice little match. Sasha and Becky have great chemistry and even though this pales in comparison with their NXT bouts, it’s because it would be bad business for the Kick-off Match to steal the show. It was just good enough to be enjoyable, but not good enough to make the rest of the program seem insignificant. A solid way to…er, kick things off.
TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP– The New Day Vs the Usos Vs the Lucha Dragons: I’m going to have to begin my review of this match by pointing to my foreword and using this feud as an example as to why the concept failed. The Usos directly joined the team of Roman Reigns against Sheamus and his band of foreign men, which lead to the New Day sometimes aligning themselves with the League of Nations. The Usos had more tension with the League than they did with the New Day, which dramatically lessened the tension. The Lucha Dragons, on the other hand, felt like third wheels to begin with and I wonder why WWE even put them in here. The story might’ve been lacking, but this match was actually incredibly entertaining. The lighting fast pacing only seemed to pick up even more speed throughout the duration of its runningtime and yet I wasn’t burned out by the end. The spots were incredible and often made me gasp, while the use of the Ladders was creative and…er, dangerous! Every time I thought “There is no way they can top this“, they would freaking top it. Kalisto successfully pulled off an incredible stunt that stole the show and hopefully this propels him to stardom. I 100% agree with the fans when they cheer “THIS IS AWESOME!“.
Ryback Vs Rusev: For the most part, I thought this feud alternated between underwhelming and harmless, although maybe there isn’t even a difference. Because Rusev spent most of his time working within the League of Nations to crush Roman Reigns, the Usos and Ambrose, there was little time to flesh out the bad blood between Rusev and Ryback. I’m not even entirely sure why they’re feuding, other than the fact that Ryback was being a petty babyface. You have to feel bad for both men, who are only going to look slower and more limited after immediately following the bombastic Tag Team Championship bout. This was intended to be a breather, but the match did exceed my expectations. Ryback did some high flying maneuvers and was able to showcase his incredibly strength. I rolled my eyes when Lana feigned an injury AGAIN and somehow distracted Ryback AGAIN, but this was a mostly well done hoss match…ignoring that awkward suplex spot…
UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP– Alberto del Rio Vs Jack Swagger: I love Jack Swagger as a wrestler, but he’s been booked into oblivion, so it’s bizarre seeing him competing for one of the belts. Once again, because most of del Rio’s screen-time has been dedicated to the League of Nations- which has nothing to do with Swagger- this story felt underdeveloped…but esd still more fleshed out than the others, primarily due to the conclusion of that awful MexAmerica storyline. Alberto del Rio’s treatment of Zeb DOES add more drama, although it doesn’t erase the fact Swagger is not a credible #1 contender at this time. Both performers worked hard, the chair shots usually looked brutal and the pacing never slowed down for very long, but it failed to connect with me…and the audience, who even did a “CM Punk” chant. The psychology was terrible, with del Rio spending seemingly forever in a chair-supported ankle lock, only to subsequently no sell it after he got out (Swagger just…dropped the hold…). With that said, I don’t think it deserved to be spat upon by the crowd, who probably shared my view on the booking problems. Alberto del Rio has never been the hottest heel, while Swagger only really caught fire when he faced Rusev- who beat him every time. This match didn’t really work, but I still think that it was better than what people will give it credit for.
The Wyatt Family (Bray, Strowman, Harper, Rowan) Vs the ECW originals (The Dudleyz, Rhyno and Dreamer)– This might’ve been interesting if one team wasn’t mostly comprised of jobbers and the other team wasn’t mostly….also comprised of jobbers. The Wyatt Family lost all of its momentum at the last PPV and the ECW originals have been presented as losers since returning to the WWE. This story did nothing for me, although nothing about it made me angry either. The only main criticism towards its presentation is that Rhyno should’ve been the third member and Dreamer should’ve been introduced as the fourth, since his return was more of a surprise. This match…was kind of a disaster, with Braun Strowman accidentally going through a table, causing the commentators to hastily claim that it didn’t count because ‘Only his foot went through‘. I guess Rowan shouldn’t have been eliminated then because only his back really went through the table? Strowman had even more awkward moments when he apparently missed his cue to…punch…The Tables even start breaking when NO ONE GOES THROUGH THEM! Bray’s spider walk looked silly so close to Devon’s ass. Bubba gently dropping the table on Braun made me laugh too. This sucked. This sucked really badly, but I have to confess…it was unintentionally hilarious. I enjoyed it for all the wrong reasons.
INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP: Kevin Owens Vs Dean Ambrose– I barely saw any interactions between Owens and Ambrose since the last PPV, although I didn’t see the majority of Smackdowns and it’s possible that hulu edited this feud out out of RAW. Very little was done with this storyline, as Ambrose was more focused on helping Reigns against the League of Nations and Owens was apparently busy fighting an illness off-screen, but I was looking forward to the match…which unfortunately disappointed me. I guess this was solid work and there were a few moments that stood out, but I liked their “Survivor Series” bout a lot more. This moved a little slowly in comparison and never really tried anything psychological, nor did I feel the intended catharsis at Ambrose’s victory. I’m probably being spoiled though, as the match was technically pretty good. My expectations merely turned heel on me.
DIVA CHAMPIONSHIP– Charlotte Vs Paige: The story surrounds Charlotte’s implied heel turn, as she’s holding back Becky Lynch, is playing dirty in her matches and she’s a lot more vicious in her promos. While abrupt, Charlotte seems more comfortable playing the villain, but…what does this have to do with Paige? Paige was booked to be a loser as buildup to previous title match and this trend has not been changed, so why is she still the #1 contender? The tension is between Charlotte and Becky, so this should’ve been a match between them OR a Triple Threat match. This clash was pretty mediocre and it was difficult to tell who we were supposed to root for. As Paige has been booked to look like a weakling, Charlotte now looks a little weak as she was forced to cheat to win. There were also some production issues, like the camera missing Charlotte’s flair flop. Overall, this was strange because their bout at “Survivor Series” was a better wrestled match, but I was a little more entertained here thanks to the crowd actually making some noise. Plus, the antics of Ric Flair amused you. My biggest concern with Charlotte is that she’s being assimilated into her Father’s shadow, but that is for the future to decide. The match was acceptable, but not the kind that you will remember or desire a second viewing.
WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH– Sheamus Vs Roman Reigns: The problem I had with this storyline was that Sheamus and Roman Reigns got too much mic time, when their promos are only compelling when they’re shorter and more intense (instead of “funny”). The League of Nations stable is the wrong combination of performers and Reigns relying on his allies undermines Reigns’ underdog status. With that said, at least the feud was reasonably fleshed out and even boasted some intriguing parts. The writing of this story wasn’t uninspired or terrible, even though it was often misguided. The match lasts about two minutes before we start hearing “We want Cena!”/”Cena Sucks!” chants…Oh dear…This was a vicious, sometimes even nauseating match that was often uncomfortable to watch. Roman executing a Samoan Drop through the ladder that has been set up outside of the ring was scary and I’m not sure if it’s for the right reasons. Lots of stiff shots and brutal spots, I thought it accomplished all of its desired goals, but the ending kind of ruined it. If Roman Reigns won, it’s possible that he would’ve finally gotten over with a very hostile crowd. After booing and chanting for non-participants, they were finally beginning to cheer a bit for Reigns until he lost, when it became quiet again…but then he won them over with his post-match beatdown on the League and ESPECIALLY Triple H. I have nothing but praise for Roman’s acting, as he seemed genuinely pissed, only to have a great “What have I done?” moment, before embracing his rage. I disliked Roman’s spear on Triple H at “Survivor Series” because it seemed unwarranted, but I enjoyed this attack a lot more because it was treated like Roman crossing a line. Even Michael Cole was begging him to stop. Roman smiling at the end for the crowd sort of lessened the moment, but we’ll have to see where they go with this…I just hope no one got hurt.
Overall: DAMN! “Survivor Series” was abysmal and nearly every RAW had my rolling my eyes at annoyance, lamenting how WWE no longer seems to understand its audience. But then out of nowhere, they counter-attack with a strong right hook of greatness to stun the WWE Universe. I actually really liked this and every time I thought the suckitude was about to begin, the show would manage a heroic comeback. Make no mistake, there were times when I was convinced that this was going to make me angry, but the event usually was able to sooth my rage before it began to boil. It opened and closed with two exceptional matches and even the lesser bouts had something to offer. Now I’m really looking forward to what happens on RAW and don’t have to second guess my network subscription. Hopefully from this point on, the storylines will be more meaningful, because this would’ve been the best PPV of the year had I cared about any of these feuds. As it is, “TLC” succeeded simply because of its impressive match quality. Definitely worth a watch, especially for the Tag Team Championship and World Heavyweight Championship bouts.