This week in Pro Wrestling, it is the Holiday times! Meaning about 95% of the weekly shows were taped and/or not airing. Fear not faithful fans, we have you covered on what went down in all the shows that aired! Does AJ Styles one up Randy Orton? Did AEW Dynamite and NXT air a show on Christmas day? Who will face The Fiend at the Royal Rumble? Let’s dive in right now!
Holiday Raw sets the stage for a rubber match between two industry veterans in the coming weeks.
The 12/23/19 edition of Monday Night Raw was taped, it was in the can, if I can turn a phrase from Eric Bischoff and the old WCW spoiler days. Nevertheless, we still saw a fair amount of quality action, but due to it being taped, it will be very quickly recapped.
Des Moines, Iowa hosted the broadcast which started off with the red hot Kevin Owens this week. Before he could muster up a response to recent attacks from Seth Rollins and AoP, Mojo Rawley looked for his own measure of revenge.
This instead led to a no disqualification match which saw Owens win after hitting Rawley with both a stunner and a pop up powerbomb through a ringside table. It was academic after that.
After a break, Owens says he knows the plan is to see himself jumped in the back, so he wants to save the heels some trouble and invite them to do it in front of the WWE Universe.
Rejected Olive Branches
Rollins emplores Owens not to listen to the fans and he offers his hand to Owens, to bury the hatchet if you will. Owens strikes with a superkick and this leads to an all out assault once again, although Owens gets a few shots in. A Blackout Stomp puts Owens down and Rollins leads AoP away from the secen of the crime.
Interestingly enough, Samoa Joe set the table for something that would happen later by challenging the “thug” mentality of the three men.
A hilarious 24/7 title spot followed that with a tree lighting ceremony and R-Truth. Confusion led to Akira Tozawa rolling him up to win the 24/7 title.
Bobby Lashley defeats Cedric Alexander following a spear. This was the first time in a few weeks where Lashley was actually challenged somewhat. he still looked as dominant as ever and he looks to be a major factor in the Royal Rumble match in a few weeks, but he’ll see his “marriage” to Lana here next week first.
Drew McIntyre dominates Zack Ryder, besting him with a Claymore Kick in near record time. He cuts a pretty funny promo afterwards, basically putting words in the match of the unconscious Ryder. McIntyre says 202 will be his year. It’s darn sure time. He’s one to watch for sure.
The Man and The Empress
“The Man” Becky Lynch is out and she sets the table for a championship match at the Royal Rumble for her and Asuka to do business. Lynch says that tag team action hasn’t been her friend recently, but she also shows Asuka a measure of respect by saying she’s one of the only people to beat her cleanly. She states that the company is trying to “protect” her, but she is taking matters into her own hands now.
Asuka is out with Kairi Sane at her side, and she accepts the title opportunity. We wish Sane a speedy recovery from her concussion as well. That didn’t look good at TLC.
Aleister Black decimates a local talent with Black Mass in record time. As Black makes his exit, Buddy Murphy comes to the ring and bests a local talent in record time as well with Murphy’s Law.
Black offers his hand to Murphy as an olive branch following his match, but Murphy pushes past him. He turns around to jaw and instead, eats a Black Mass for his efforts. We’d find out that we’ll see a second match between these two rising stars next week.
Ricochet gets needed momentum back on his side as he hits the Recoil on Tony Nese to win a singles match between the two. Ricochet needs a fresh story after a stellar 2019. He is a solid promo, one of the best hands in the ring and all around likable guy. Hopefully we’ll see him in a championship picture again soon.
Holiday hi-jinx ensue as Tozawa continues to elude R-Truth in New York trying to get his title back. “Santa” would later win the title and Truth would get it back. This was all pretty great to be honest.
Wow! We get a pretty cool match to follow this as Charlotte Flair wins a singles match via submission against Chelsea Green with the Figure Eight. Similar to “The Virtuoso” Deanna Purazzo last week, we get a familiar face in the industry on Raw competing against top talent. Green had great success in TNA and a cup of coffee with WWE during the “Tough Enough” days with Mandy Rose and Velveteen Dream.
Green can be a major star on Raw if they allow hr the opportunity to do so. In a feeler match of sorts tonight she played second fiddle to Charlotte Flair, who needs to get back on track in 2020 as well. A submission victory here helped set the table for her to do so.
R-Truth regains the 24/7 title after a mix-up involving Santa Clause. Yes, that’s a thing.
The OC defeats Randy Orton and the Viking Raiders by pin fall after Styles hit the Phenomenal Forearm on Orton. This was booked perfectly. There was plenty of in-ring action and the right team won. A great many people expected the faces to get the W here, especially on a holiday show and I knew the heels would strike while the iron was hot. This furthers both feuds and now there’s a vested interest in not only a tag title match, but a rubber match between Orton and Styles at the Rumble. A job well done here.
Erick Rowan defeats another local hand with an iron claw slam and his program with the caged pet continues.
Rusev puts away No Way Jose with a Machka Kick for a three count. Rusev is very happy to be single and this all leads to Jose recovering and the two leave with the conga line. Rusev gets kissed by several girls and looks to be in good spirits. I’ll be eager to see what happens with the wedding next week.
Rey Mysterio and Seth Rollins put on a clinic as one would expect from these industry veterans and standard bearers, but it was Mysterio who would retain his title in the main event after a DQ finish. The AoP would make their presence felt once again as they clear the announce table to put Mysterio through it.
Everyone moves save Samoa Joe. AoP tells him to get up and move, but he says that if he gets up, it’s to handle his business. Samoa Joe has turned face and it’s fantastic. He doesn’t win the battle tonight though as he gets put through the table himself by AoP and Mysterio gets a Blackout Stomp. The heels stand tall, but once we add Kevin Owens to the mix, we’ve got a story that can carry us for several months. This should be good and another great Raw tonight!
AEW actually took the Holiday’s off. It’s a respectful move and surprising one. Since WWE’s NXT has gain ground on the ratings war for Wednesday nights. AEW didn’t tape anything like WWE did, but announced a few matches over the Holiday’s. Like A Four Way match for the AEW Women’s Championship between Champion Riho, Nyla Rose, Britt Baker and Hikaru Shida. The Elite (The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega) vs The Lucha Bros and PAC. The Human Suplex Machine, Taz will appear on the January 1st show! On top of all that, the win/loss records will reset on January 1st, leading to interesting rankings.- David G
NXT taped 3 matches at Full Sail on Wednesday the 18th and another 3 at Brooklyn’s Smackdown broadcast on the 20th. These were tied together with studio hosting segments and a few video packages for the Christmas night broadcast. No major storylines were developed, but it was a nice night of wrestling to showcase some of the talent.
North American Title match: Roderick Strong© vs Austin Theory
Strong kicked off the show with the gift of an open challenge for his North American Title. Former Evolve champion Theory answered that challenge, and they had a fantastic match. It went just about 25 minutes with limited commercial interruptions. Theory even came close to winning and came away looking like a future star even in defeat.
Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs Gentleman Jack Gallagher
This was primarily a very technical match. There was a lot of joint manipulation and stretching. It probably would have gone over better in front of the Full Sail audience than it did in front of a mainstream Smackdown crowd, but this was two talented guys showing off a more niche style. Swerve dominated much of the match and eventually scored the victory.
Candice LeRae vs Taynara
Taynara has been used more and more lately in these enhancement roles, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. She’s getting out in front of crowds, working with more veteran performers, and growing each time. That said, this was a really nice showcase for Candice where she didn’t have to spend quite as much time playing the “underdog” role that she often fills when facing larger stars. They are quietly giving many of the top women enhancement wins lately to keep them strong while deciding who is next to be inserted into the title picture.
Dominik Dijakovic vs Bronson Reed
This was a battle of strength and power. I’ve seen it argued that Dijakovic, given his size and his position on the card, should not be selling as much as he does for opponents. However, when the opponent is someone the size of Reed, I feel it would be a disservice to both men if he didn’t work it as an almost even match. Here he picked up the victory while allowing both men to look strong in the process.
Shotzi Blackheart vs Bianca Belair
The recently signed Blackheart made her Full Sail debut against one of the toughest opponents on the NXT roster. Ultimately, this was another case of both participants getting to look good. Great athleticism was on display from both women. Belair got the win, of course, but Shotzi is someone to keep an eye on moving forward. The NXT women’s roster truly has more depth than any other women’s roster in wrestling currently.
Damian Priest & Tony Nese vs Keith Lee & Lio Rush
While the other matches on the show were about enhancing established talent and giving some new faces a chance to shine, this main event was pure Christmas fun. The face team of Lee and Rush came to the ring in festive attire, enjoying a plate of holiday cookies. The heels attempted to play Grinch and spoil the fun. All 4 men had their opportunities to shine, and the crowd got to go home happy when Santa Keith and Elf Lio were victorious.
Next week NXT will announce their year end awards as well as reveal the participants for the 2020 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
NXT UK was a 2019 year in review highlight show this week. They should be back next week to continue the build toward TakeOver Blackpool on January 12. ~Jason M.
Friday Night SmackDown:
In the only live show for WWE and AEW this week, the opponent to face The Fiend Bray Wyatt at Royal Rumble is revealed! Carmella gets another win and repackaging. Lacey Evans unleashes on Bayley and Sasha Banks, but will she have help? The Big Dog makes his presence felt towards King Corbin. Let’s dive in to the starting path towards the Royal Rumble and the final SmackDown of 2019! Live from the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, MI!
Elias sings the card and a chaotic start. Monstrous New Day! Mella is money.
The chaotic start.
The Drifter, Elias starts off the show cold with a song about tonight’s card. Then a the usual start with Micheal Cole over explaining things. We all love Elias, stop using him like this pony show segments, please. Daniel Bryan, The Miz and King Corbin cut a simple, yet effective promo to start the show. This was possible with Roman Reign’s music popping and King Corbin’s lackeys dropping him from his carriage. The Big Dog then unloads on Corbin, but the present King escapes.
The New Day (Kofi Kingston/Big E)/ Braun Strowman vs Cesaaro/Shinsuke Nakamura/Sami Zayn. Braun wins via Powerslam pin fall.
In a pretty good match these six men face off. What made a good match was finally Sami had a fighting chance. With a display of Big E and Cesaro’s strength, Kofi’s never giving up and Shin’s hard strikes, this gave everyone a spotlight, even Sami. The ultimate endgame was to spotlight the upcoming match between Shin and Strowman and it did it’s job. Baby face Kofi took most of the beating while a hot tag to the Monster made everyone squashed. At the end, New Day and the crowed coxed Braun into swiveling his hips with “GET THESE HIPS!” chants. A fine and fun match.
Carmella vs Mandy Rose. Carmella wins via Super Kick pin fall.
What is this? Carmella gets pyros and then cleanly beats a stereotypical “Vince type talent”? Yup, that happened. Was a great match? Nope, just average and could use some work in story telling. I am not blaming these ladies because it seemed that had little to work with. Alas, being the only live show this wee, everyone should have brought it. It seems that Carmella is destined for a big push in the near future. Mella hits a Super Kick on Rose for the win and becomes 2-0 against Fire and Desire.
Number one Contenders match! Moment of Bliss leads to tag team action! Another Number one Contender’s match?
Daniel Bryan vs The Miz for the number one contender for the Universal Championship. No contest.
A surprisingly great start to this match! Both men brought it and The Miz stepped up his in ring story telling. Just as when the match was getting juicy, King Corbin’s lackeys invade the ring and causing a no contest. Backstage, Corbin is asked why he sent them out. King Corbin replied that if he can’t be in the match, they don’t deserve to win. Then it was stated the Roman was asked to leave the arenas and Corbin had a change of heart. This lead the Frienemies to storm the backstage and attack Corbin and his lackeys.
Lacey Evans/Dana Brookes vs Sasha Banks/Bayley. Sasha wins via Bank Stament submission.
The match confusingly started from Alexa Bliss with BFF Nikki Cross in A Moment Of Bliss show. The beginning segment rehashed Banks taunting Evan’s daughter last week. Usually Lacey is great on the mic, but this time it seemed that she flubbed her words a bit. Not totally a big deal, but we have seen her do better.
A tag team match begins and Evans works over both Banks and Bayley throughout the match. However, when Brookes is in, the heels regain control. The match ended with Brookes quickly tapping out in the Bank Statement from Sasha. This is a shame. We all know Bayley and Banks are stars, same could be said about Evans potential. However, WWE just throws out an opportunity to make Dana Brookes look strong. There was a way to make all four ladies look great in the match, but WWE failed to capitalize on it.
Daniel Bryan vs The Miz vs King Corbin for the number one contender for the Universal Championship. Daniel Bryan wins via LeBelle Lock submission.
This match finished the great start from Miz and Bryant earlier in the night. Of course King Corbin had his turn, but this was the Miz and Daniel show! The frienemies worked over King Corbin, but the sly devil stayed in the fight. Dolph Ziggler came into help Corbin in this no disqualification match, so did Roman Reigns. The Big Dog eliminated Corbin from the match and the duo of Miz and Bryan slugged it out.
Both men really gave a great show, with the two knowing each other so well. The duo exchange “Yes Kicks” and submission holds. However, it was a rolling LeBelle lock that secured the victory for Daniel Bryan.
After the match Bray Wyatt congratulates Bryan on his win. However, Bray states that “he never forgets” and to “Let me in. Nice touch but predictable, I really hope Bray and Daniel have a big allotted time for their match at Royal Rumble.
This was a really solid show! With RAW, NXT being pre-taped and AEW a no show, this was refreshing. It was far from a perfect show, but a perfect start to the Royal Rumble build up. Shin and Braun had time to progress and a great match between Miz and Bryan sealed it. The only thing I would change is the ladies matches, Lacey looked fantastic, but Dana looked sub par due to booking. If WWE wants to push Carmella, Let her do it against winning talents. Not the same circle of talents that WWE forces them to lose.– David G.
- Andrade won the US Title from Rey Mysterio in Madison Square Garden this week.
- Rumors have Roman Reigns and Shayna Baszler positioned as the current favorites to win next month’s Rumble matches. Reigns would go on to face the Fiend as has been long rumored to be the Wrestlemania plan. Baszler, having finally dropped the NXT Women’s Title to a worthy successor, would likely have her eyes on Becky Lynch.
Current PPV Cards:
NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool 2: January 12
UK Title Match: Walter© vs Joe Coffey
UK Women’s Title: Kay Lee Ray© vs Piper Niven vs Toni Storm
UK Tag Titles: 4 Way Ladder Match: Gallus© vs Imperium vs Grizzled Young Veterans vs Andrews & Webster
NXT and NXT UK Worlds Collide: January 25
Undisputed Era vs Imperium
WWE Royal Rumble: January 26
Universal Title Match: “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt© vs Daniel Bryan
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