Monday, December 18, 2017
I went to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi last night instead of watching this live. I got home in time to see the last two matches, so I went back and watched the show.
I’m surprised at how intrigued I am by heel Mojo. He used Twitter to his advantage, similar to the Corbin/Miz build heading into Survivor Series. The match got off to an intense start, which was very much appreciated. It slowed a bit for Mojo’s heat segment through the break, though that was understandable. The crowd was into it and the guys worked it like they really hated one another. Ryder not taunting before hitting the facewash was a nice touch. Mojo chop blocked Ryder and won with a running forearm at 7:08. That was a strong Kickoff match. It had some emotion behind it and Mojo looked better than ever. I’m looking forward to more from them.
I like Baron Corbin. That being said, it’s hard to find a match I care less about. Roode is kind of just there and Dolph has been uninteresting in every program not involving Miz for the past three years. Corey Graves had the nerve to say Dolph might be the best in-ring competitor ever. I like you Corey, but wow. This followed a lot of the usual Triple Threat match tropes. One guy chills outside while two went at it inside. Roode and Dolph had better exchanges here than any of their singles matches. Things picked up down the stretch, with the crowd getting behind Roode and more into the match. There was a great moment where Corbin nearly stole the pin like so many heels do, only to get thrown out of the ring and return to break up another pin. Dolph stopped the End of Days with a Zig Zag in the end to capture his second US Title at 12:13. It was way better than it had any right to be considering the awfully bland build. It got better as it went on and finished with a flurry. Putting the title on Dolph is a bad move. He’s been beyond stale for so long, his performances haven’t wowed in a long time and his title reigns never amount to anything.
No matter how many times they kill Rusev’s momentum, he’s always great and remains over. The fans love the Rusev Day stuff. Rusev never being WWE Champion is my biggest issue with WWE in the past few years. This had an interesting setup, with four guys legal at a time. I appreciated the attempt to do something different. Lots of action and antics to start, before we literally got dual rest holds. They also built to stereo hot tags, which was fun as Big E and Jimmy both did their thing. From there, it broke down into the wildness we all love in these kinds of matches. The fans ERUPTED when Rusev put the Accolade on Gable, but Big E broke things up. Gable’s Chaos Theory on English was sick, while the one to Big E was incredible. The Usos cut off another attempt and used a combo of superkicks and a splash to retain in 15:14. There was no match I was more excited for than this one and it delivered. Rusev Day and Gable were incredible, the Usos and New Day continued to be top notch and the Smackdown tag division has been great this year. This was a blast.
Why do they keep going back to this match? They had a very good match at TakeOver in 2014 and one at Roadblock last March. Every other time they meet, it ranges from complete garbage to okay at best. And yet, this was at least their fourth PPV match together. Guess what? This was their worst. Natalya in control is boring an awkward. Charlotte as a babyface is more miscast than Sasha Banks. It doesn’t click. The lumberjacks didn’t add much, as it was the same story we get in all lumberjack matches. Charlotte hit a nice dive onto a pile of bodies for the highlight. Charlotte countered the Sharpshooter into the Figure Eight to win in 10:36. This sucked. Ruby Riott, Carmella, Becky Lynch (even though she’s out) and even going back to Naomi are all far better ideas than Charlotte/Natalya matches.
Someone thought Natalya, a bad promo, should cut one. She said Charlotte cut corners and used her family name to get where she is and that she’s put on great matches for ten years (ha) but people turned their backs on her. She was now turning her back on us.
Complete domination. I enjoy the comedy aspects of Breezango and they had a great match with the Usos back in May. However, now was time to build Harper and Rowan, so they won in 2:11 with a double crucifix bomb. It was what it needed to be.
They hyped Orton and Nakamura as a dream team, like this same exact match didn’t happen on Smackdown a few weeks ago. The difference was that Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan were the referees here. They turned out to be the entire focus of the match. Focusing on the non-wrestlers/part-timers was part of what murdered the Survivor Series main event. The fans chose to side with KO and Sami, probably because they’re far more interesting. The storytelling was rather good, there’s just a lot of extra with the referee. It was like Shane at SummerSlam this year. What bumped this up in score for me was the finish. Shane blatantly screwed the heels, choosing not to count three for Sami. That caused an argument between Shane and Bryan, leading to Bryan fast counting for Sami’s next pin and giving them the win at 21:39. As I said, this told a fine story and had a great finish, but was bogged down by too much ref shit.
I never got behind the Jinder Mahal push. When it started, I felt he wasn’t ready and I hold that position today. His feuds with Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura were pure shit (though I attribute part of it to Shinsuke and Randy putting in lackluster efforts). However, it was the AJ Styles feud that helped turn some stuff around. Their match in the UK where AJ captured the title was very good and they bested it here. Styles understood the best way to work as Jinder’s opponent. He allowed Jinder to use his power and control a good portion of the match. AJ bumped and sold the ribs very well, making Jinder’s heat segment better than most others would have. When the Singh brothers got involved, it made sense and wasn’t overdone. It also didn’t lead right to the finish, which happened too often in prior Jinder matches. Jinder teased using the Styles Clash, but AJ countered into the Calf Crusher to retain after 22:57. The best match of Jinder’s career and it proved that he could deliver rather well in the right setting.
Overall: Not a worst PPV of the year contender like I’ve seen some call it. However, it also isn’t one that stands out or will be remembered in the long run. The Kickoff and US Title matches both exceeded my expectations. Jinder had the best match of his career in a great main event, while the Tag Team Title match was as fun as expected. I didn’t care much for the Shane/Bryan tag stuff and thought the Women’s Title match was one of the worst in recent memory.