Kickoff Match #1: The Vaudevillains (Aiden English & Simon Gotch), The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) & Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango) vs. The Hype Bros (Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley), The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) & American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable)
Breeze & Gable to kickoff the action, collar & elbow tie-up to start out, Prince Pretty backs Gable towards his corner, Chad goes to a waistlock and takes him down to the canvas. Tyler with a back elbow to break the grip and gains a wristlock, Gable rolls through, scores with a forearm, brings him back down with a spinning drop toe hold and slaps on an armbad. Tag to Jey who regains the wristlock, Breeze with a handful of hair to work him to the corner, Aiden gets the tag, drives Jey face-first into the top turnbuckle, then connects with heavy right hands. He shoots Jey across, Jey slides to a stop, drills him with an uppercut, delivers a body slam and makes a tag to Mojo.
Rawley with big fists to the breadbasket, drives his shoulder into English’s and locks in an armwringer, Aiden breaks it with a right hand, but a whip to the ropes is reversed for a back body drop. Mojo tags out and Ryder comes off the 2nd rope for a combination suplex/dropkick. Long Island Iced Z unloads with forearms in the corner, sets for the Broski Boot, every hits the ring now and the melee is on with The Ascension left standing.
American Alpha ascends the same turnbuckle for in-sync top rope clotheslines and shoulder blocks, Breezango pulls them to the outside, Zack comes running in with a baseball slide to them both, gets dragged under the bottom rope and Aiden rams him into the ring post as we hit a break….We come back from commercial and Gotch covers Ryder for a count of 2 before utilizing a chinlock, switches to an armbar, Long Island Iced Z works to his feet, gets backed to the wrong corner and Viktor tags in to put the boots to him in the corner for a 1 count. He grounds Zack with a rear chinlock, Ryder finds his footing again, escapes after a jawbreaker, reaches for a tag, but gets driven back into the wrong corner again.
Konnor tags in and crushes Zack with a corner clothesline, sends him into a high knee from Viktor for a count of 2, Prince Pretty tags back in, snapmares Ryder over for an elbow drop and hooks the leg for another 2. He grinds Long Island Iced Z down with a rear chinlock, The Broski battles up, gets taken down into a single leg crab, Fandango gets the tag and comes in with a slingshot leg drop for a near fall. Viktor re-enters the match and puts the bad mouth on Ryder in the corner, Long Island Iced Z tries scurrying to his corner and gets caught in a front facelock, gets pushed back to the wrong corner, Konnor tags in and The Ascension knocks all of Ryder’s partners off the apron.
The Ascension looks for another double team, Zack thwarts it off, crawls to his corner as Jimmy climbs back to the apron, Konnor slides in to cut him off with a Canadian backbreaker, but Ryder slips out of it into a neckbreaker. Tags on both sides now, Jimmy delivers clotheslines to Tyler, keels him over with a kick, scores with an uppercut, shoots him to the ropes for a clothesline, Breeze ducks it, but gets planted by a Samoan Drop instead. He lines Prince Pretty up for the corner hip attack, Konnor rolls in and cuts him off, blocks a kick, swings the leg around and Jimmy decks him with an uppercut.
He goes to send Breeze to the ropes, irish whip is reversed, Jordan with a blind tag as Jimmy attempts a crossbody that misses the mark, Jordan tossing Tyler with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Fandango comes off the top rope to help his partner, gets caught by a belly-to-belly for his troubles, Gotch makes a tag, steps into the ring and gets thrown with a leg-trapped suplex, covers, but Aiden breaks it up at 2. Gable slides into the ring and goes for a kick to English, it’s countered and Gable gets planted by a sit-out powerbomb. Rawley hits the ring next with a discus punch to Aiden, turns around and Breeze lays him out with the Beauty Shot, Prince Pretty catches Zack coming in looking for the Rough Ryder, elevates him into the air and Viktor flattens him with a clothesline.
He props Ryder on the top turnbuckle, Breeze & Viktor climb up for a double superplex, Mojo rolls in and plants them both with a powerbomb, Long Island Iced Z following with the ElBro Drop off the top. Fandango climbs the opposite corner and connects with the Last Dance to Ryder, Jimmy rolls in and disposes of Fandango with a superkick, turns around and Konnor’s there to elevate him up, Viktor coming off the 2nd rope with a knee to the jaw.
Gable comes in and low-bridges Konnor over the top, elevates Viktor to the apron, Viktor hangs on, The Ascension set him up for a double suplex, but The Usos slide in to prevent it with in-sync superkicks. Jimmy & Jey take flight to the outside with crossbody planchas, Simon rolls into the ring and peppers Gable with a stiff forearm, turns around and Jordan is there to spear him in the corner. Gable tags in, American Alpha hits Grand Amplitude, Jey with a blind tag and he comes off the top with the Uso Splash to Simon for the win.
Winners: The Hype Bros, The Usos & American Alpha (Jey/Uso Splash)
- EA’s Take: Solid contest that was eerily similar to the one we saw on SmackDown. Only difference here is the heels got in some more offense and Jey tagged himself in to “steal” the pinfall. I don’t mind it, but there was nothing spectacular really. We get some teased tension between Alpha and The Usos at the end, I don’t see The Usos turning heel, but more building up the competition with these teams vying for the top spot.
Kickoff Match #2: The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von) vs. Neville & Sami Zayn
Neville & D-Von to start out, D-Von goes to a wristlock off the tie-up, The Man That Gravity Forgot uses the ropes to flip over and counter to one of his own, then tags out. Sami maintains the hold and delivers shots to the shoulder, quick tags between Neville & Zayn now, trading off blows to the left arm. The Underdog from the Underground plants D-Von with a body slam, gets on all fours, Neville jumps off his back into a standing corkscrew moonsault, then they dump Bubba over the top and look for synchronized outside dives.
Bubba trips Neville up from the floor, D-Von takes the opening, puts The Man That Gravity Forgot in the corner and puts the boots to him, shoots him to the ropes for a spinning back elbow, covers for a 1 count and we go to a commercial….We come back and Bubba props Neville on the top turnbuckle, plants him into the canvas with an elevated neckbreaker, D-Von re-enters the match and covers for a count of 2. He locks on a nerve hold to the trap muscle, The Man That Gravity Forgot fights to his feet, gets clocked by a right hand, D-Von snapmares him over and drops a leg for another 2 count.
He puts Neville into the corner and unleashes a flurry of fists, Bubba tags back in and buries a punch into the ribs, rams The Man That Gravity Forgot into the top turnbuckle and talks trash as he pummels him with more right hands. Neville starts to fire up and gets clocked by a back elbow, Bubba goes to the 2nd rope for a senton, Neville avoids it, crawls toward his corner and we get tags on both sides.
The Underdog from the Underground with clotheslines for D-Von, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, D-Von tosses Sami into the air for a flapjack, Zayn clobbers him with a dropkick, ducks a clothesline and scores with the Blue Thunder Bomb, Bubba breaking the count up at 2. D-Von tags out, Sami battles off both Dudleys initially, he misses a wild right hand, The Dudleys plant him with 3D II, Bubba hooks the leg and now Neville saves the match at a 2 count.
The half-brothers take the 2-on-1 advantage and set Neville up for 3D, The Man That Gravity Forgot slips out of it, ducks a clothesline, Bubba levels D-Von instead, turns around and gets decked by the Helluva Kick. Neville tags in, connects with the Red Arrow and that’s all she wrote.
Winners: Neville & Sami Zayn (Neville/Red Arrow)
- EA’s Take: More pretty standard stuff here, Neville’s corkscrew moonsault off of Sami’s back was impressive, but I’ve seen it before. Not that it makes it any less exciting. The Dudleys continue to have communication problems and although I don’t agree with it if that’s what’s going to happen, it looks as if a split is inevitable.
Kickoff Match #3 – Best Of 7 Series Match #1: Sheamus vs. Cesaro
Both guys a little tentative to begin, they lock-up and jostle for position in the corner, the official steps in to force a break, Sheamus tries an early Brogue Kick and misses, Cesaro following him into the opposite corner with a running uppercut. He pulls The Celtic Warrior out, Sheamus missing a wild right hand, The Swiss Superman springs off the 2nd rope for another uppercut, gets caught in the air, battles out of it and uses a double leg takedown to set for the Swing.
The Great White kicks his way free, Cesaro comes back with a double stomp to the chest, clotheslines Sheamus over the top to the floor, hits the ropes for an outside dive, but The Celtic Warrior surprises him with a right hand from the floor. He rolls into the ring and gets caught by a dropkick for a count of 2, The Great White staggers to the corner, uses the tights to pull Cesaro face-first into the turnbuckles, unleashes a flurry of uppercuts, irish whip across is reversed, The Swiss Superman follows in and gets elevated to the apron, landing on his feet.
Sheamus scores with a forearm shot and ties him in the ropes for the Beats Of The Bodhren, The King Of Swing blocks it, delivers uppercuts to the shoulder, Sheamus rips at the left arm in the ropes, drives him into the top turnbuckle and drops Cesaro with a clothesline. He drags Cesaro back into the ring and hits a vertical suplex for a count of 2, starts targeting the left arm with a top wristlock, The Swiss Superman finds his way to a standing position, powers Sheamus up into an alpamare waterslide, scores with a snap suplex and floats into a cover for 1.
The Celtic Warrior surprises him with a mule kick to the midsection, punts Cesaro in the face, shoots him to the corner and buries a shoulder into the ribs, then hits the ropes. Cesaro explodes out with an uppercut, The Great White fires back with a back elbow, sends him to the ropes for a tilt-a-whirl powerslam, hooks the leg and gains a count of 2 as we go to break….Sheamus has Cesaro grounded with a rear chinlock when we get back, The King Of Swing finds his footing, gets pushed to the ropes for a back body drop, prevents it with an uppercut, hits the ropes and gets cracked by an Irish Curse for a near fall.
The Great White lifts Cesaro up and they exchange shots, Sheamus gets the better of it, picks The Swiss Superman up for a rolling fireman’s carry, hooks him for a suplex, The King Of Swing blocking it and they both drop over the top to the floor. Both guys stagger to their feet and roll into the squared circle to just beat the count, The Celtic Warrior clobbers Cesaro with uppercuts and puts the bad-mouth on him, The Swiss Superman fires up with a barrage of uppercuts to back him to the corner, goes into the Uppercut Train, Sheamus reverses, gets propped on the top turnbuckle and then dropkicked to the apron.
The King Of Swing climbs to the 2nd rope and pulls Sheamus up for a suplex back into the ring, lateral press for a count of 2. Cesaro grabs the legs for the Swing, Sheamus kicks him away, rolls him up for a near fall, The King Of Swing charges in, nearly gets caught in another Irish Curse, flips through it for the Neutralizer, but it’s countered into White Noise for another near fall. Cesaro rolls to the apron and Sheamus clubs him across the chest, climbs to the 2nd rope, deadlifts The Swiss Superman up and plants him with a 2nd rope rolling fireman’s carry, but still can’t finish it. The Great White calls for the Brogue Kick to end it, runs into a big boot, gets flattened by a clothesline, Cesaro into the cover, but still only gets a 2 count.
He rolls to the apron and ascends to the top turnbuckle, stands on the ring post, springs off the top rope for a crossbody, hooks the leg and can still only gain a near fall. He looks to the crowd and puts Sheamus in the Swing, steps into the Sharpshooter, The Great White quickly grabs the bottom rope to force a break, the official steps in to create separation, Sheamus taking the opening to sneak in a back elbow. The Swiss Superman picks the legs and tries for another Sharpshooter, The Celtic Warrior with a thumb to the eye, rams him shoulder-first into the ring post, follows with a Brogue Kick and finishes it.
Winner: Sheamus (Brogue Kick)
- EA’s Take: No surprise here to me with Sheamus winning, it never really made sense to me for them to have a Best Of 7 when Cesaro has gotten the better of him 3 weeks in a row, so he needed it tonight. I don’t think there’s ever been a Best Of 7 Series in wrestling history that didn’t go the distance, so The Celtic Warrior had to pick up a win at some point. Not as good of a showing as their first match on RAW 3 weeks ago either, in my opinion.
Chairshot Classics: WWF Royal Rumble ’88
Our road to the 2019 Royal Rumble begins with a look back at the inaugural event!
This was originally not a PPV, but actually a special which aired on the USA Network. It would however, create the 3rd in WWF’s ‘Big 4’ PPV’s and become the annual January tradition that a lot of fans look forward to even more so than WrestleMania. A little known fact is that in late 1987, WWF experimented with the Royal Rumble idea, holding one in St. Louis, Missouri that saw One Man Gang victorious. This is never referred to though, as WWF considers this the first for historical purposes. It’s every man for himself and luck of the draw, let’s get to the action!
Open: Photos featuring all the matchups for tonights event are shown, as Vince McMahon runs down the card that includes the contract signing for the biggest rematch in WWF history between Hulk Hogan & Andre The Giant. In the arena are Vince & Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura, there’s no time to waste and we go right to the ring and Howard Finkel.
Match #1: ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude vs. Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat
They tie-up and Rude doesn’t hesitate to throw hands, Steamboat fires back with chops and Rude goes to the eyes. He tries to throw Ricky over the top, Steamboat hangs on, skinning the cat back inside and tossing Rude out to the floor. The Ravishing One collects himself, telling the ref Steamboat grabbed the tights back inside. Rude wants a test of strength, stops to have a conversation with the fans at ringside and then they lock hands. Rude gets wrist control, driving The Dragon to his knees. Steamboat to his feet, gets out, taking Rude down with a top wristlock and going into an armbar. The Dragon works over the arm, wrenching at the joint and putting Rude to the canvas.
Rude breaks it with a right hand, into the ropes, Steamboat slides through the legs and gets an armdrag, going back into the armbar. Steamboat relentless on the shoulder joint, Rude with forearms and Ricky fires back with chops. Into the ropes, back and forth and Steamboat with another chop, gaining control over Rude’s arm once more. Rude gets to a vertical base, breaking the hold with boots and right hands. Whips The Dragon in and lands a back elbow, finally getting something going. The Ravishing One smashing Steamboat’s head into the turnbuckles, Rude continuing to hammer away.
In the ropes again, Ricky slides through Rude’s legs and hits another armdrag, grabbing an armbar and driving his knee into the shoulder. Rude gets to his feet, sending Steamboat into the ropes and driving an elbow into the chin. More heavy shots from Rude, Steamboat fires back, into the ropes, Rude reverses and drives a knee to the midsection. Steamboat falls out to the floor, Rude giving chase and driving his back into the apron, then slamming Ricky on the floor. Rude drags The Dragon to the apron, bringing him in the hard way with a vertical suplex for a count of 2, then locks in a variation of a Camel Clutch.
The Dragon attempts getting up, but Rude jumps down on the back numberous times. Steamboat gets up again, this time lifting Rude on his shoulders and then dropping him to the mat. Ricky to his feet first, goes for a splash, but Rude gets the knees up, following with an atomic drop for a 2 count. Rude goes back to the Camel Clutch, Steamboat propels him into the corner and then drives his head into the top turnbuckle. The Dragon with a snapmare and a falling chop for 2, Rude goes to the midsection and gets a side headlock takedown, they float over into a bridge and Ricky gains a backslide for a near fall.
He ducks a right, grabs a roll-up for another. Both guys go back and forth with small packages for 2 counts, Rude flooring Ricky with a clothesline for another. Rude attempts a vertical suplex, Steamboat blocks and hits one of his own, then climbs up top. The Dragon jumps off with a crossbody, Rude pulling the referee in front of him and Steamboat takes him out. Rude gets Steamboat up in a Rack, the ref gets to his feet and calls for the bell.
Winner: ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude (Rack)
- After The Bell: Finkel announces that the winner is by disqualification and it’s Ricky Steamboat. Rude hits the ring again after a premature celebration and berates the ref.
Winner: Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat (Disqualification)
- EA’s Take: Two great workers here, but definitely not as quality of a match as you’d expect. Lots of rest holds and the pace didn’t pick up until the last 15-20 seconds of the match. Rick Rude is easily one of the most underrated WWF Superstars of all-time, after arriving from the NWA in the summer of 1987. No real feud between these two here, as they had limited interactions. Steamboat was one of the company’s hottest babyfaces after his WrestleMania III bout with Randy Savage, but a few weeks after Steamboat asked for time off to be with his wife, who was expecting the birth of their first child. It didn’t sit well with management, as a lot of time had been put into grooming Ricky to be a top babyface. When he would return in late 1987, he was not pushed or really put into any meaningful storylines.
In The Arena: ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund is with Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura. Tonight, Canadian strongman Dino Bravo will attempt to break the world benchpress record of 705 lbs. They introduce Dino Bravo along with his manager Frenchy Martin. Dino calls it a big challenge, but he feels up to the task. Frenchy says something in French, of course. Ventura goes over some of the technicalities, as Dino goes for a warmup rep at 415 lbs. Dino stops and says it requires total concentration, asking the crowd to be silent. Using Ventura as his spotter, Bravo lifts it and reps it with no problems. They rip through 505, 555, 595 and 655. The crowd keeps making noise and Bravo feigns leaving with 715 lbs. Dino comes back and attempts it, Ventura helps Bravo get it up and they proclaim it legit.
- EA’s Take: I know they were trying to gain heat for the newly repackaged Dino Bravo, but this was just brutally long. The fans were clapping in support of him breaking the record, until he walked off. Dino would return to singles competition when his alliance with Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine as The Dream Team was phased out, joining up with his new manager Frenchy Martin as the French-Canadian Strongman.
Match #2 for the WWF Women’s Tag Team Championships 2/3 Falls: WWF Women’s Tag Team Champions The Glamour Girls (Judy Martin & Leilani Kai) w/’Mouth Of The South’ Jimmy Hart vs. The Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Toteno & Itsuki Yamazaki)
The bell rings and The Angels hit the The Glamour Girls with dropkicks. Noriyo & Leilani are left in the ring, Noriyo missing another dropkick as Leilani hangs onto the ropes. Leilani tosses her across the ring by the hair and then drives her into Martin’s knee before she tags in. Martin with a slam, covering and Noriyo bridges out, grabbing a roll-up for 2. Itsuki tags, sends Martin into the ropes and hits a rolling headbutt, followed by a piledriver. Noriyo back in, she gets taken to the ground, but grabs a body scissors.
Martin fights out of it, Noriyo attempts a crossbody and gets caught, then dropped to the canvas. Martin misses an elbow drop, then quickly crawls over and tags Leilani. She enters and takes a knee out of the ropes, Itsuki back in with a flying forearm and a dropkick. The Angels strike back and forth in the corner, Itsuki covering a count of 2, then lock in an octopus stretch. Martin comes in the ring to try and break it, but kicks her own partner. Noriyo back in to deliver a dropkick to Martin, then we get synchronized figure four’s from The Angels. The legal participants are left in the ring, Itsuki breaks the hold and wishbones Leilani’s legs, then tags Noriyo. She comes in and cross the legs, grabbing a modified surfboard.
Itsuki back in, she continues to work the leg, Martin comes in to help her partner and they pull on Leilani by her hands and legs. Martin is dropped to the mat and rolls outside going back to the apron, Leilani crawls to try and tag, finally making it. Martin fires a kick to the midsection, whips Noriyo into the corner and she hops on the turnbuckle, putting the boots up to a charging Martin. Judy catches the feet, pulling Noriyo off the turnbuckle and slamming her to the mat. She delivers a shot to Itsuki on the apron, whips Noriyo into the ropes and Leilani with a cheap shot from the apron. Martin plants Itsuki with a reverse powerbomb, covers and gets the first fall.
First Fall: The Glamour Girls
Martin tosses Itsuki by the hair, putting her in the wrong part of town, then whips her into the ropes for a flying forearm and a count of 1. She slams Itsuki, attempts a splash and misses, allowing Noriyo to tag in and hit a dropkick. Into the ropes, Noriyo with a jumping clothesling, heads to the 2nd rope and connects with another for a near fall. She hits the ropes, landinga crossbody for another 2, then tags Itsuki for a double team suplex. Martin enters the ring to break it up, but gets caught and The Angels attempt to whips The Glamour Girls into one another. The Angels stop short, Glamour Girls charging with clotheslines and end up hitting one another. Order is restored and Leilani flattens Itsuki, lifts her to her shoulder, Itsuki rolls through into a pin and picks up a 3 count.
Second Fall: The Jumping Bomb Angels
The Angels rush Leilani and deliver double knees, then a double clothesline before the ring clears to a one on one situation. Itsuki with a running knee, but Leilani uses her size to force Itsuki into her corner and Martin makes a tag. Into the ropes, Martin catches a kick attempt, Itsuki countering with an enzuigiri and Noriyo enters. Noriyo attempts a fisherman suplex, Martin counters and drives a knee to the midsection, then whips Noriyo hard into the corner. Martin charges, Noriyo hops up and over, grabbing a backslide, but Martin rolls through. Judy grabs the legs, catapulting Noriyo into her corner and tagging out.
Leilani wrenches the neck, then stomps away at Noriyo and hangs her across the top rope by the hair. Double underhook suplex plants Noriyo and Leilani gets a count of 2. Leilani maintains the advantage, Martin in off the tag with a big boot that sends Noriyo into a tag. Itsuki comes in and is immediately tossed across the ring by the hair, then distracts the ref for Leilani to get in an illegal choke. Leilani makes a cover for multiple 1 counts, sends Itsuki in for a double axe handle and it’s blocked. She drops Leilani keyster first on the canvas a couple times and gets a 2 count. She tosses Leilani into her own corner, then brings Martin in the hard way and tags Noriyo.
She climbs upstairs, Itsuki with a slam and Noriyo follows off the top with a knee drop for 2. Noriyo hits a double underhook suplex into a bridge, gaining another 2 count, then brings Itsuki back in for a crossbody and another 2. Martin is slammed to the mat, Itsuki comes off the 2nd rope with a senton and misses, Martin covering and only getting 2. Itsuki with a leg takedown, Noriyo with the tag and a 2nd rope clothesline, but Leilani breaks up the pinfall. The ref’s tied up with Leilani, The Angels climb opposing turnbuckles and hit a tandem dropkick for the 1-2-3.
Winners and NEW WWF Women’s Tag Team Champions: The Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo/Tandem Top Rope Dropkick)
- EA’s Take: The crowd was quite into this contest and a lot of the style of The Angels is ahead of it’s time, however the pacing of the contest was a bit too hectic at times. Women’s wrestling isn’t quite as clean and smooth as the men at this point, it would take a number of years for it to get to that point. The WWF Women’s Tag Team Titles are a forgotten relic in the annals of WWE history and this is the last major appearance they’d ever see. The Glamour Girls would go on to regain the championships in June before the titles were dropped completely in early 1989.
Video: Footage from WrestleMania III is shown, when Andre The Giant took on Hulk Hogan for the WWF Heavyweight Championship. At one point, Hogan attempted to slam Andre, but The Giant’s weight came crashing down onto the champion for what some claim was a 3 count. ‘The Million Dollar Man’ has plans to buy the championship, but Hulk Hogan refused to sell it. DiBiase promises to get what he wants, no matter the cost. Andre would accept DiBiase’s offer, attacking the champion on Saturday Night’s Main Event. The Giant has agreed to hand the title over.
In The Ring: It’s time for the contract signing for the biggest rematch in history, as Andre The Giant along with ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase & Virgil make their way to the ring. ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund will oversee the proceedings and he introduces WWF Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan, then WWF President Jack Tunney.Tunney & Hogan sit down at the table, but Andre refuses as Gene urges him to sign the contract. DiBiase gives Andre a few words and he slowly makes his way to the table, staring down the champion. The Giant finally takes a seat, then DiBiase takes the mic and begs Hogan to sign. Hulk appears to be having doubts, but then signs after some more prodding by The Million Dollar Man. Andre reviews the contract and Hulk grows impatient. The Giant finally puts his name on the dotted line and DiBiase tells him to put his ‘stamp of approval on it’. Hogan lunges at DiBiase and Andre grabs the champion, slamming his head into the table.
- EA’s Take: This segment is a stark contrast to the one earlier tonight. Yes, it was also long, but that was supposed to be the effect and it worked perfectly. Even almost 30 years later, you could feel the tension as Hogan’s blood boiled at Andre toying around with him. DiBiase was the perfect foil to add a new layer to the Hulk/Andre rivalry, giving it new life with the ‘purchasing of the title’ story. This contract was signed for a match to come on Saturday Night’s Main Event and would lead to the biggest moment in the shows history.
Chairshot Classics: WWE TLC 2016 – Ambrose vs. Styles
As we approach this year’s TLC, we look back at one from the past!
As we get closer to closing the book on 2018, we’re approaching WWE’s December pay-per-view TLC, so today we’re looking back at one from the past with TLC 2016! The SmackDown Live brand finishes out the year with the annual TLC event, pitting Dean Ambrose against WWE Champion AJ Styles in a match of the show’s namesake, Becky Lynch defending the SmackDown Women’s Title in a Tables Match, plus SmackDown Tag Champs Heath Slater and Rhyno with the unenviable task of putting their titles on the line against the new look Wyatt Family! Let’s get into the action…
Kickoff Match: American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable), The Hype Bros (Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley) & Apollo Crews vs. The Vaudevillains (Aiden English & Simon Gotch), The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) & Curt Hawkins
Hawkins & Crews to kickoff the action, Hawkins avoids a lock-up and goes to the midsection with a kick, takes him down with a side headlock, Apollo counters into a headscissors, but The Prince of Queens kips up to his feet. Apollo does the same behind him, hits the ropes for a shoulder knockdown, front-flips over Hawkins, then scores with a dropkick for a count of 1. Zack tags in and Hawkins instantly tags out, Viktor steps in, ducks under a tie-up and buries a knee to the breadbasket.
He scores with a big chop in the corner and shoots Ryder across, Viktor charges in and meets double knees to the jaw, Long Island Iced Z to the 2nd rope and he jumps over the top of him. He goes into the ropes and ducks a clothesline, Viktor catches him with a back elbow, mocks The Broski and hooks him for a vertical suplex, Ryder reversing into a hangman’s neckbreaker for 2. Mojo gets a tag and he whips Zack into a forearm in the corner, Rawley delivers a body slam, then hits Viktor with Hammer Time. Viktor squirms away to his corner and brings in Konnor, Mojo ducks a clothesline, goes into the 3 point stance and takes him out at the knee.
Konnor quickly drives him into his corner and Aiden tags in, targets the left arm and wrenches away at the shoulder, gets a little too confident and Rawley clocks him with a big fist. Jordan gets a tag and brings English down with a fireman’s carry, slaps on an armbar, Gable makes the tag and American Alpha with double team offense. They knock their opponents off the apron, hit a double hip toss to Aiden, Gotch steps in and takes a double dropkick for his troubles, Gable then sending Aiden to the outside with a headscissors takedown. One-by-one every starts filing in the ring and throwing each other to the outside, Apollo is the last man standing, everyone else slides back in and we have a melee on our hands, Crews’ squad clearing the ring as we go to break…
We return and order has been restored, Hawkins delivers a vertical suplex to Gable for a count of 2, then grounds him with a rear chinlock. Gable fights to his feet and hits the ropes, Hawkins follows him in, slides outside and sweeps the leg, rolls back in and tags out. Viktor comes in and stomps away, drops a fist to the face for a 2 count, sends Chad into the corner and tags in Konnor. He shoots Konnor into a corner clothesline, Konnor sends Gable into a high knee from Viktor, cover and another count of 2. He applies a rear chinlock to grind Gable down, Chad works to his feet, gets pushed into the ropes with a back body drop, counters with a sunset flip, but Viktor makes a blind tag and ambushes him.
The Drama King re-enters the match for a big right hand, quickly brings in Simon for Dukes Up, Gotch hooks the leg for a near fall, then tags out. Viktor buries a kick to the ribs and still can’t put it away, goes right back to the rear chinlock, Gable works to a standing position, gets sent to the ropes for a back body drop, but prevents it with a kick. He leaps towards his corner to make a tag, Viktor catches him on his shoulder, Chad gets close, but his partners get ripped off the apron at the last second. Viktor shoves Gable to the ropes, connects with a pop-up superkick, lateral press and Jordan slides in to make the save.
Viktor tags out and English hooks on a front facelock, Gable finds his way to a vertical base, rolls Aiden up for a near fall, but still doesn’t reach his corner. Aiden takes him down with a double leg, catapults him into the corner, Gable smashes Hawkins off the apron in the process. Gotch tags in and Viktor holds Chad in place, The Gentleman Brawler charges, Gable breaking free and Viktor gets knocked to the floor. Both guys crawl to tags, Jordan scores with multiple forearms to Konnor, follows with a dropkick, Gotch stepping and he walks right into a capture suplex. Aiden rolls back in to help out and gets tossed into a flapjack, Jordan’s feeling it now, plants Konnor with an olympic slap and makes the cover.
Konnor comes in to break it up at 2, The Hype Bros hit the ring now and batter him from behind, they connect with the Hype Ryder to English, but Mojo gets caught by The Fall Of Man. American Alpha’s back in to dispose of The Ascension, Hawkins hits the ring and misses an attempt to hit Jordan from behind, Crews surprises him on the apron and suplexes him to the outside on everyone. Back inside, Gotch tags himself in, Jordan tags Gable, American Alpha catch Simon with Grand Amplitude and put it away.
Winners: American Alpha, The Hype Bros & Apollo Crews (Gable/Grand Amplitude)
- EA’s Take: Decent Kickoff match tonight, nothing that really intrigued me much, however I liked that all these guys at least got a chance to perform. It’s funny, I had been wondering what happened to Apollo Crews and Curt Hawkins. There was so much build with Hawkins’ return promos and now…what? A big, fat nothing essentially. Apollo still has the same issues he’s always had and that’s finding a character, some way for fans to connect. Until that happens, he is destined to be on the sidelines no matter how talented in the ring he is.
Open: “Tables, ladders, chairs. Simple devices we weave into our lives, but sometimes the simple things are not what they seem because here, these are the obstacles that must be faced. They will test integrity, they will push limits. They can force one to thrive or they can lead them to defeat. Tonight, opportunity will present itself to those strong enough to withstand it and those wise enough to receive it. Tonight, these ordinary objects will make a select few…extraordinary. This is WWE TLC.”
Match #1 for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships: The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt & Randy Orton) w/Luke Harper vs. SmackDown Tag Team Champions Heath Slater & Rhyno
Wyatt & Rhyno will begin, collar & elbow tie-up sees The Man Beast go to a side headlock, switches to a wristlock, Bray fights it off, shoots him to the ropes and gets leveled by a flying clothesline. The Eater Of Worlds quickly recovers and goes to the eyes, tags out, Orton steps in and scores with heavy shots, but Rhyno turns the tables and fires back. Irish whip to the ropes is reversed, The Man Beast avoids a clothesline, scores with a shoulder block, tag to Slater and he comes off the top with a double axe to the arm.
The Apex Predator absorbs some shots and goes to the knee with a kick, The One Man Band ducks a shot, floors him with a heel kick, Orton staggers to the corner and Heath charges in with a forearm. He builds a head of steam for another, Randy elevates him over the top, Slater lands on his feet, Harper climbs onto the apron to distract the ref and Bray takes Heath out at the legs. The One Man Band pulls himself back into the ring, The Viper drops him gut-first across the top rope, stomps away at every limb, then tags out. The New Face of Fear hammers Heath with heavy right hand covers for a 2 count, measures him in the corner and rushes in with a splash for another 2.
Wyatt dumps Slater to the outside and makes a tag, The One Man Band staggers back to the ring, The Apex Predator dragging him up to the apron and setting for the elevated DDT. Heath fights it off, delivers a shot to Bray, tries to slingshot back inside, but Orton catches him for a powerslam and a near fall. The Eater Of Worlds tags back in and grinds Slater down with a chinlock, The One Man Band battles to his feet, gets thrown to the ropes and counters a back body drop with a kick. He catches Wyatt with double boots to the chin, drops Orton to the floor, jumps toward his corner and makes a tag, Bray making him pay with a uranage.
Rhyno comes in with clotheslines for Bray, irish whip to the corner is reversed, Wyatt rushes into a back elbow and The Man Beast comes off the 2nd rope with a shoulder tackle. He measures The New Face of Fear in the corner and charges in, The Viper climbs back on the apron and pushes him out of harm’s way, the ref counts it as a tag and he gets knocked to the floor. Rhyno goes out after him, lines up for a Gore, Harper sacrifices himself for The Viper and gets nearly split on the floor. The Man Beast heads back into the ring and Wyatt pops up into the Spider Crawl, it stops Rhyno dead in his tracks, Orton slides in and hits him with an RKO for the 1-2-3.
Winners and NEW SmackDown Tag Team Champions: The Wyatt Family (Orton/RKO)
- After The Bell: Bray takes his title and drapes it over Harper’s shoulder. Orton looks at him perplexed, turns to Harper and then does the same.
- EA’s Take: This felt pretty standard to me, but I think that was kind of the point. Bray & Orton made pretty easy work out of Slater & Rhyno and that makes total sense to me. I never thought Bray’s first WWE title would be a tag title, but I’m really intrigued by what’s going on with Orton/Bray a lot more than I am Rhyno/Slater. They did a good job with the titles and it was a fun little story, but Heath & Rhyno have really run their course at this point. The biggest question now is, did Orton & Wyatt just gift Harper the titles? Perhaps we see more of a New Day/Freebird scenario where you could face and 2/3 of them at any time.
Backstage: Dasha Fuentes welcomes in Dean Ambrose, The Lunatic Fringe says James Ellsworth is hanging out at home recovering tonight, but he’ll be okay. He says that his temper is his gameplan tonight and every other night, claiming in a different world and different circumstances it would be an honor to be in the ring with AJ Styles, but not tonight. Ambrose talks about Styles always taking the easy way out, but with tables, ladders and chairs, there are no easy ways. Tonight, there’s only one way and that’s horrible pain equaling glory.
Backstage: Renee Young is joined by WWE World Champion AJ Styles, The Phenomenal One stating he’s been in these kinds of matches before and is fully aware of what he’s getting into. He believes Dean Ambrose’s biggest problem is that he doesn’t stay down, but tonight he’ll be getting up just in time to see him reach up and grab the championship.
Match #2 – No Disqualification: Nikki Bella vs. Carmella
The bell rings and Carmella immediately ducks to the outside to get away, she catches Nikki coming out with forearms, sends her back inside, steps in and gets tackled to the ground. They tussle out to the apron on the other side of the ring, Carmella gets her legs wrapped around Nikki, hits a headscissors and Nikki is sent knees-first into the steel steps. The Princess of Staten Island rams her legs into the barricade and rolls inside, Nikki finds her way back in at a count of 6, Carmella meeting her with a snap suplex for a count of 2.
She hooks her for another and Nikki counters into a small package for a quick 2, Carmella levels her with a clothesline, covers for a 2 count of her own, then suplexes Nikki legs-first into the ropes for another 2. She ties Nikki up in the tree of woe and goes to the outside, reaches under the ring for a kendo stick, then taunts her with it. The Princess of Staten Island cracks her with the cane to the bad knee, wails away with shots to the back, hooks the leg and gains 2. She quickly slaps on the Code Of Silence, Nikki gets ahold of the kendo stick, scores with a couple of shots and breaks free. She rolls to the apron and Carmella goes outside, picks up the kendo stick, Nikki kicks her from behind, grabs the cane, but gets driven backwards into the barricade.
She absorbs it and returns the favor, sends Carmella spine-first into the ring post, climbs on top of the barricade and comes off with a roundhouse kick. She throws The Princess of Staten Island back inside, smacks her in the back of the legs with the kendo stick, Carmella sneaking in a shot to the bad knee to stop the onslaught. She pulls Nikki out through the ropes with a handful of tights, staggers to her feet, reaches out to grab her and Nikki sprays her in the face with a fire extinguisher. She heads inside and torments Carmella by unloading the whole thing, powers her up with the Rack Attack 2.0 and gets the win.
Winner: Nikki Bella (Rack Attack 2.0)
- After The Bell: Nikki heads to the back after the win and Carmella grabs a mic, yelling for the music to be cut. She hopes Nikki is real proud of herself and feels like she got her revenge from Survivor Series, but she isn’t the one who attacked her, claiming that it was Natalya.
- EA’s Take: Boy, is it just me or was this a little underwhelming? I mean, I predicted Nikki to take this one and at long last get her revenge for everything. I was expecting more from the match, but maybe we’re saving some bigger spots for the Women’s Title Match later on. I do like how they seem to be spinning it off into Nikki’s next rivalry, but I don’t know that I’d call it a “revelation” that Nattie was the one who took her out at Survivor Series. Something tells me Nikki hasn’t seen the last of Carmella however, looks like she will continue to play a part.