While I’m waiting for the next set of Stardom shows to full upload, I decided to go back to All Japan to see what they’re up to and it turns out they’re having their 6th annual Oudou Tournament, which means Royal Road. The winner of the tournament will get a Triple Crown Championship match, unless Zeus wins and he just gets to pick his own opponent.
This tournament looks incredibly stacked and I got no complaints about these entrants. So, who do I think is going to win the whole thing? Well, as much as I love Kento, I got a pretty good feeling about Yuji Hino winning the whole thing, plus seeing him taking on Zeus would be amazing and I’d be crazy to not wanna see that happen.
So who out of these sixteen wrestlers will make it to the second round? Let us find out and…dive right in.
Royal Road 2018 First Round Match
Ryouji Sai vs. Yuma Aoyagi
Review: So our first match is Ryouji Sai taking on one half of the All Asia Tag Team Champions, Yuma Aoyagi. Ryouji recently lost his Asia Heavyweight Championship and would like to still get some gold around his waist, but he would have to take on the young Yuma to even try to advance to the next round. Which of these two will advance?
Now that I got to see Yuma do more solo, I was able to get a fair assumption of him and I gotta say that he really does have potential just like Jake Lee and Naoya Nomura do, and no doubt has a future in AJPW if he should keep doing what he’s doing here. The match while had a couple of sloppy spots and a slip-up here and there, it was still a solid bout for what it was and was more technical than anything. Yuma would even give Ryouji a DDT to the outside of the ring right in the beginning of the match to give himself that early opening. Ryouji though is someone you shouldn’t take lightly either as he did control most of the match and had Yuma in a submission and every time Yuma tried to grab the ropes, the referee would playfully kick his hand off for the first few times to give a little bit of a comedy spot here and it was kinda funny. Yuma had a hard fought battle but Ryouji would hit a Running Shining Wizard onto Yuma to get the pinfall victory and advance to the next round.
Rating: Eric Bischoff
Royal Road 2018 First Round Match
Kento Miyahara vs. Yoshitatsu
Review: Our next match is pretty much a rematch from last year as former Triple Crown Champion, Kento Miyahara takes on his partner, Yoshitatsu. Last year when they fought, Kento would defeat Yoshi in the first round but he failed to win the whole thing when he lost in the semi-final. Yoshitatsu has improved quite a bit over the last year and this could be the chance he needs to probably win over his partner. Can Yoshitatsu pull off an upset victory or will Kento defeat him in the first round again?
I loved the little change Kento did with his attire by having half of his pants be black while the other half still has the red, it looks pretty badass if you ask me. Yoshitatsu is someone that I have been quite negative with for the past couple of years with how bad his performance has been ever since he returned to Japan in general before and after his neck injury. But, I will give credit where credit is due by saying that he definitely belongs in All Japan as they helped him slowly becoming a better wrestler unlike his run in NJPW which was a total bust in my opinion as we can now see him hopefully try to flourish while still needing some polishing. The match was fun with the two of them working well together with Kento being one of the few that could bring out the best in Yoshi much like Suwama would also. The referee would still give Kento a hard time during the match with pulling his hair when he refuses to let go of Yoshi’s head when he was pulling on it during the turnbuckle and even did a slow count when Kento would hit Yoshi with the Blackout and he told the referee to speed it up with the count due to him going slow and said six twice just to mess with him.
They did have an amazing sequence once they got back in the ring with Kento hitting a Blackout in the corner and hits a Brainbuster, but Yoshi got back up quickly to hit a German Suplex which leads to Kento coming back up to hit another Blackout and ends with Yoshi hitting a Spinning Wheel Kick to make them both go down. Yoshi would attempt to go for the Koji Clutch until he got caught in a German Suplex Hold for a two count. Yoshi would eventually lock in the Koji Clutch to try and make him tap out but Kento would break out of the hold before he could tap. Kento would hit two more Blackouts on Yoshi and was able to hit the Shutdown German Suplex Hold to secure the victory and to advance.
Rating: Eric Bischoff and a half
Royal Road 2018 First Round Match
Gianni Valletta vs. Suwama
Review: Suwama was the winner of last year’s tournament and he looks to win it back to back as his opponent for the first round is Gianni Valletta. Last time I covered Gianni, he fought Joe Doering and while he did pretty impressive, he still lost at the end of the match and now looks to try to get a big win here over the former ace of All Japan. Can Gianni secure a victory or will Suwama be one step closer to becoming a back to back winner?
Gianni wasted no time when he attacked Suwama from behind with the chain and started to continue the assault around the crowd while getting control of most of the match. Gianni really isn’t a bad heel and this is a much better performance than when I saw him fighting Joe Doering, my only big complaint is that little scream he does over and over again, and I get that it’s probably apart of his gimmick but the fact it’s used very constantly can be seen as a bit annoying. Suwama showed he can still deliver for a man of his age and give him the right opponent, you can see him really go and prove why he was the ace and still one of their best. So far most of these matches had a little bit of comedy mixed into the fray whether it’s the one with Yuma/Ryouji, Kento/Yoshi, and now this one when Gianni would steal the referee’s glasses just so he would be unable to see but Suwama would give them back to him a couple of times. Suwama accidentally knocked the referee out when Gianni took his glasses again, Gianni would try to use his chain to hit Suwama, but it backfired and he falls victim to the Backdrop Driver from Suwama for the win to advance.
Rating: Eric Bischoff and a half
Royal Road 2018 First Round Match
Dylan James vs. Joe Doering
Review: It looks like it’ll be a gaijin vs gaijin match with our former Triple Crown Champion, Joe Doering takes on former Tag Team Champion, Dylan James. Both of these guys are normally on and off in my reviews when they can sometimes do well in a match and can also be the worst one on the card and I really hope it’s not the case here. Which one of them gonna move forward?
Wait…the match wasn’t terrible at all…huh. No really, the match really played well with their strengths and it was really slow, but it worked for them since they’re both big guys that aren’t the most mobile and focus more on power than anything, which is exactly how they needed to be here. Both men had powerful strikes towards one another and testing out their strength during their whole match with them being just fairly even with each other and made it quite interesting to see it unfold. Dylan did step it up a little bit more in this match and been impressed after his match with Kento and I know he can be good and needs to flourish more which I hope he does if he can keep giving us performances like this. Joe is someone who just did his job and did his best in the match too and will give him credit for giving us a solid match also. Nothing too memorable in this match, just solid match of power and Joe would come out on top with his Diving Body Press when Dylan was sitting down.
Rating: Eric Bischoff
Royal Road 2018 First Round Match
The Bodyguard vs. Yuji Hino
Review: Good to see my boy, Yuji Hino back in an All Japan ring and I missed seeing him there ever since I saw him doing amazing at the Champions Carnival and even gave Bodyguard a decent match. Speaking of The Bodyguard, that’s how Yuji will be facing in his first-round match. Bodyguard is still the All Asia Heavyweight Champion and I don’t believe he has defended it yet, but guess he would wanna go for a double crown if he wins and fights his partner, Zeus. Will Bodyguard advance or will Hino hit the FUCKING BOMB?
Short, sweet, and to the point, that’s kinda how a Bodyguard match should almost always go or it’ll drag on for him and you start to see his flaws. It wasn’t a bad match but it wasn’t a great match either since it was just Hino playing it cool with his opponent, which is fine and then Bodyguard didn’t do too great in the match either and it looked like there was a small both when Hino went for the finisher and it looked like he almost dropped him, but thankfully Bodyguard was able to catch himself and get off the hold to kick him. After a couple of kicks from Bodyguard, Hino would turn it around with a Lariat and he hits the FUCKING BOMB to defeat Bodyguard and advance to the second round. So if Yuji Hino does somehow not advance in the tournament, would he still get a title match against Bodyguard? I wouldn’t mind a consolation prize, but I still got Hino winning the whole thing hopefully.
Rating: Tony Schiavone and a half
Royal Road 2018 First Round Match
Kengo Mashimo vs. Shuji Ishikawa
Review: Our next bout has Shuji Ishikawa taking on a surprise guest, Kengo Mashimo. Kengo Mashimo is from K-DOJO and is known to be one of the best strikers in Japan right now with seventeen years of in-ring experience. All Japan likes to bring in free agents or people from other promotions for these tournaments and this one is sure to be a treat. Which one of these hard-hitting wrestlers is going to make it to the next round?
What a match, let me tell you. This was exploding with energy right from the start and neither of these two fully stopped until the end as they both really delivered with everything that they do best. I don’t get to see too much of Kengo, so him being here in this tournament is really a delight from my viewing pleasure and I am very happy with his performance here with how fast he was with his strikes and his technical ability really is something here that should be viewed by people if you haven’t seen this guy wrestle before. Shuji is also amazing in this match and does what he does best, which is kicking ass in any of his matches and showing no mercy to his opponents. Shuji went all out on Kengo in his arsenal with his running knee strikes, a stomp off the top and even hits the Fire Thunder which Kengo kicked out at one, but Shuji would deliver another running knee soon as he got up but still kick out of it all. Shuji went to go pick up Kengo for a Powerbomb but Kengo turned it around into a Sleeper Hold and it looks like the violent giant is about to take a nap once he fell down and it looked like Shuji was fighting it for a while, but he would eventually pass out as Kengo gets the surprise victory over Shuji to advance to the next round!
Rating: Bruce Prichard
Royal Road 2018 First Round Match
Jake Lee vs. Jun Akiyama
Review: Uncle Jun is ready for some action as he is next to fight in the tournament and his opponent is All Japan’s rising star, Jake Lee. Jake has been showing a lot of progress ever since his return from injury a couple of months ago and even had a really solid match against Kento Miyahara on top of it, so this tournament would be a good opportunity to defeat the president and one of the greatest ever. Will Jake Lee pull it off or will Uncle Jun ground the young man?
God damn, Jun, calm down a little. Most of this match was Jun pretty much abusing the daylights out of him with nothing but knee strikes and he does them in the ring, out the ring, over and over again to just beat the living crap out of this kid. When he does a few knees to him to the outside of the ring, he would pull back a little bit to check up on his left elbow which seems to be something wrong there but he would run back after him to keep assaulting him with these knees and it just doesn’t stop. The match is more story based with the well-rounded vet teaching Jake in the ring as if he’s trying to groom him up into bigger and better things but wants to not go easy on him otherwise he wouldn’t really learn. Jake eventually did get some offense into this match but he would mostly just be taking the abuse Uncle Jun would give him to help sell the story of the match better and it works out really well. Jun hits the Exploder Suplex a couple of times and Jake would kick out of it and he pulled his kneepad down to try and hit a knee strike with his bare knee to end it but Jake kneed him in the gut and copies him with the same move, hitting him in the face twice and Jake Lee pulls off the victory!
We would later find out that Jun Akiyama would actually injure his elbow during the match. I don’t know when it actually occurred or how long he will be out, but it could be a while before we see him in the ring again. Get well soon, Uncle Jun!
Rating: Eric Bischoff and three quarters
Royal Road 2018 First Round Match
Naoya Nomura vs. Zeus
Review: We’re now down to our final match of the first round as our Triple Crown Champion, Zeus takes on the other half of the all Asia Tag Team Champions, Naoya Nomura. A couple of weeks ago, Naoya would pull off an upset by pinning Zeus in a tag team match and it looks like the two would fight in a singles match this time. If Nomura could beat him for the second time in a row, I think that’ll definitely give him a future title opportunity but Zeus ain’t gonna go down without a fight. Can Nomura be able to get a second victory over him or will Zeus overpower him?
I think this was Naoya’s best match in 2018. Nomura was definitely the underdog in this story since he pulled that surprise win over Zeus and has some of the fans backing him during the match while Zeus would hold a bit of a grudge and added more power in his strikes, especially when he had Nomura against the turnbuckle and Zeus would start elbowing him about as much as Jun did to Jake with his knees in the previous match, even the referee would try to pull Zeus off but he looked furious there. Both of these men delivered in the match to make Nomura look like a star while Zeus being the fighting champion and giving it his all in the match whether the title was on the line or not.
Nomura did pull off quite a few stops like hitting the Death Valley Driver onto Zeus to get the crowd on their feet but Zeus kicked out at two. Zeus would hit some of his big moves too like his Chokeslam and even giving Nomura some of his stiffest chops and Lariats in this match to try and knock him out but Nomura would still keep on kicking out. Nomura definitely showed his fighting spirit in the match proving that he is indeed a future star in the company with his never give up type attitude no matter who he faces, but Zeus would knock him down with a Lariat to flip him inside out and hits the Jackhammer for the win. Valiant effort by Nomura but Zeus was just better than him, but great match from beginning to end.
Rating: Bruce Prichard and a half
Overall: I thought the first round was very successful here as almost all of the matches were very enjoyable and plenty of surprises with both outcomes and performances that is making me excited to see how the next round will do.
Favorite Match: Naoya Nomura vs. Zeus
Least Favorite Match: The Bodyguard vs. Yuji Hino
Mitchell’s WWE Monday Night Raw Report & Results! (12/17/18)
It’s the Raw after TLC, and The Chairman makes a return! What will Vince Kennedy McMahon have in store to “shake things up again?”
- Baron Corbin VS Kurt Angle; changed to…
- 4v1 Handicap Match: Baron Corbin VS Kurt Angle, Apollo Crews, Bobby Roode & Chad Gable; changed to…
- 4v1 Handicap No Disqualifications Match: Baron Corbin VS Kurt Angle, Apollo Crews, Bobby Roode & Chad Gable; Angle, Crews, Roode & Gable win, and Baron Corbin is NOT Raw GM.
- Finn Balor VS Dolph Ziggler; Finn wins.
- WWE Intercontinental Championship Open Challenge: Dean Ambrose VS Tyler Breeze; Ambrose wins and retains the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
- Raw Tag Team Championship #1 Contenders Fatal 4 Way: The Authors of Pain VS The Revival VS The B-Team VS Lucha House Party; The Revival wins and will face Roode & Gable for the Raw Tag Team Championships.
- Raw Women’s Championship Open Challenge: Ronda Rousey VS ???; changed to…
- 8 Woman Gauntlet Match: Natalya wins and is the #1 contender to Ronda Rousey’s Raw Women’s Championship.
PLAY BY PLAY
Mr. McMahon is here!
The Chairman, Vincent Kenny McMahon, is on the Raw after TLC! And he knows we want to know what’s going on with Raw. Tonight, we find out. Raw has been on the air for over 25 years, an extraordinary feat. And that’s because the show changes with the time. “Despite one man’s brilliance, despite one man’s creativity, despite one man’s vision,” Vince can’t do this alone. Vince can do it without the fans, though. Fans boo, but then Stephanie McMahon appears! The Commissioner, and daughter of Vince, heads to the ring and gives her father a big hug. Fans boo but Vince asks they be nice. And then, Triple H appears! The Game, the COO, joins wife and father-in-law in the ring, and even gives Vince a hug.
Fans are excited to see these three in the ring, but there’s more! Shane McMahon is here! The SmackDown Commissioner joins father, sister and brother-in-law in the ring, and now we have all the power players of WWE at the same time! Stephanie says they’re all out here because they’ve all realized, “we haven’t been doing a good job lately.” They’ve all realized that there’s need for a change, and this will be a fresh start. These four will be “taking back Monday Night Raw”, and even SmackDown. These four know they are the ones ensuring the best possible experience for their fans and empowering their superstars. They will finally give fans what they want. “Something new, something fresh.” There will be new faces, new matches, and now the fans are the Authority! WWE will always be #ThenNowandForever.
But wait, here comes Baron Corbin! The Constable lost his job at TLC when he lost his TLC Match to Braun Strowman, but he seems to think he has another chance. “No one is more excited for a fresh start than me.” Fans rain down the boos and jeers, to which Stephanie makes sure Corbin understands. Corbin knows they’re all upset, but he’s so very excited to have the entire McMahon family in charge of Raw. However, those promises were amazing, but there’s something they didn’t mention. “Fair”. Last night’s TLC Match was not fair, so let’s talk this out. What will Corbin have to say? Find out after the break!
Raw returns and Corbin joins the McMahons and HHH. Fans still boo as he defends the Sacramento crowd does not reflect the WWE Universe as a whole. HHH tells the fans if they keep booing, Corbin can’t finish speaking. Corbin needs to explain himself. HHH asks the fans please stop for a moment. Stephanie wants fans to speak up, Vince is harder of hearing. But the fans eventually calm down, but Corbin riles them up again. Shane actually encourages the booing. Corbin ties to defend that he does his best. Vince tells Corbin he can be louder with his microphone. Fans chant “You Suck!” but Corbin does not take the blame. He says superstars aren’t living up to the challenge. Strowman was not supposed to be at TLC, Corbin was not prepared, and Corbin was not prepared for being outnumbered. If fans think that is fair– They do!
HHH tells Corbin that “as predictable as you are”, Corbin is here to say it’s a “travesty of justice” and hopes they all reconsider Corbin as GM. Is that it? Yes! And Corbin is thankful they’re all here to sort this out. Corbin would’ve won if not for Finn Balor, Kurt Angle and the rest. Are they letting that travesty stand? Or will they overturn the decision? Fans boo but Corbin says “Think of what we can accomplish with you guys backing me.” The McMahon Family huddles up, and then it comes down to a vote. Shane and HHH go with “No”, Stephanie says “No Chance in Hell.” Vince thinks of a way. They huddle up again and perhaps Corbin does deserve a chance. Fans don’t agree, but Corbin is willing to take that chance. Then Corbin will get that chance.
If Corbin wins a match tonight, right now, he’ll be permanent Raw GM! Just beat this man. KURT ANGLE! The previous Raw GM and Olympic Gold Medalist returns to action himself, and gets a chance to shut Corbin up once and for all! Will Corbin fail to make good on this second chance? Or will he find a way to revive his tyranny?
Baron Corbin VS Kurt Angle!
Stephanie “remembers” the special guest referee for this match. It’s Heath Slater! The One Ref Band gets to be part of this payback! Slater rings the bell and we begin!
Corbin swings but Angle counter punches! Angle bumps Corbin off buckles to then stomp and punch away! Slater lets Angle continue and whip Corbin corner to corner. Corbin reverses but misses, Angle throws him with a German Suplex! Corbin bails out of the ring while we go to break.
Raw returns and Corbin has Angle down. Corbin eggs Angle on while fans rally up. But then HHH returns to say he “forgot” something else. This is a Handicap Match.
4v1 Handicap Match: Baron Corbin VS Kurt Angle, Apollo Crews, Bobby Roode & Chad Gable!
The rising star AND the Raw Tag Team Champions appear to reinforce Angle! Corbin finds himself flanked by the people he wronged, and now they’re getting further payback! Roode, Gable & Apollo rain down hands and stomps, then feed Corbin to Angle. Angle drags Corbin up for another German Suplex! And another! And the hat trick! Angle tags in Gable, and Gable drags Corbin up for his own German Suplex! Gable tags Roode, and the tag champs coordinate to double whip. Roode whips Gable to whip Roode in for a clothesline! Tag to Apollo for a big enziguri! Corbin bails out again but he can’t get away from Apollo and the champs! They drag him back to ringside, tossing him over barriers!
Gable puts Corbin in and Angle returns. The four of them surround Corbin, but look to Slater. Slater literally looks the other way as they stomp Corbin out! But now Shane O’Mac appears, and says he was so pumped to be in Sacramento, he “forgot” this is No Disqualifications!
4v1 Handicap No Disqualifications Match: Baron Corbin VS Kurt Angle, Apollo Crews, Bobby Roode & Chad Gable!
Now the foursome don’t have to worry about Slater’s disapproval. In fact, Slater gets in on the action! Slater stomps Corbin while the others get chairs! Angle, Gable, Roode & Apollo repeat last night’s humiliation with new chair shots! They jab, they SMACK, repeat! Fans love seeing Corbin getting what he deserves! But “We Want Tables!” Gable climbs while Roode brings Corbin up, GLORIOUS Combination! Apollo climbs for the frog splash! They bring Corbin up and feed him to Angle’s Olympic Slam! Cover, Angle’s team wins!
Winner: Team Angle, Kurt Angle pinning; Corbin is NOT Raw GM
Finally, the dictatorship of Constable Corbin ends! The Lone Wolf really was all alone against his “disgruntled employees”, and now he is out of power! Who will take his place in this new Raw?
But the punishment isn’t over! Apollo, Gable & Roode set a table up in the ring, and everyone but Corbin is grinning. They haul Corbin up again, for an Olympic Slam through the table!! Now the celebration begins!
John Cena wins the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award.
The Face that Runs the Place is honored to receive this award, but he wouldn’t win this award without being a friend and philanthropist to so many.
Finn Balor VS Dolph Ziggler!
The Extraordinary Man helped The Show-Off to stick it to the Scottish Psychopath. And Ziggler would return the favor, mostly to stick it to Drew McIntyre. However, neither man is thankful for the other’s help, and look to show what they can do on their own. Who will gain some major momentum as we approach the New Year?
The bell rings and the two circle. Fans are already fired up as they tie up. Finn and Ziggler go around and Ziggler puts Finn on the ropes. Ziggler backs off but gives a shove. They tie up again and Ziggler gets a headlock. Finn goes to power out but Ziggler holds on. Ziggler grinds and gets the takedown. Finn moves around to make it a cover, TWO! Ziggler keeps on Finn with the headlock, but fans rally. Finn gets up and powers out now, then things speed up. Finn arm-drags Ziggler around and into an armlock. Ziggler quickly headscissors but Finn quickly pops out, and fans cheer this close match-up. Finn kicks low, snapmares and kicks Ziggler, then brings him up again. Finn whips and dropkicks Ziggler down! Ziggler bails out while fans cheer Finn. Finn soaks it in as we go to break.
Raw returns and Ziggler whips Finn. Finn reverses but Ziggler sunset flips. Finn rolls through to dropkick! Both men are down as Finn clutches his leg. Finn gets up and to a corner, and boots Ziggler on the way in. Ziggler keeps after Finn but Finn counter punches and chops him! Finn whips but Ziggler reverses, only for Finn to run him over with forearms! Finn fires up and gets a takedown to a double stomp! Fans fire up as Finn aims at Ziggler. Finn runs out but the Slingblade is rolled up! TWO, and Ziggler uppercuts Finn. Ziggler taunts Finn, but misses the Famouser, to get the elbow drop DDT! Cover, TWO! Finn keeps moving as he aims at Ziggler again. Finn runs at Ziggler, and hits the Slingblade! He takes aim again, but the shotgun dropkick goes into the Satellite DDT! Cover, TWO!
Both men are down but fans rally up. Ziggler sits up but Finn gets to a corner. Ziggler runs but the ZigZag is denied. Finn goes to the apron and swing kicks Ziggler down! Finn climbs but Ziggler trips him up! Ziggler throws Finn into the post! ZIGZAG!! Cover, TWO!! Ziggler is shocked and sore, but he gets up in a corner. He takes aim, but here comes McIntyre! Ziggler kicks McIntyre, then leaps out! McIntyre catches Ziggler but they still brawl it out! McIntyre shoves Ziggler but Finn FLIES! Ziggler clobbers Finn! Ziggler puts Finn in, FAMOUSER! Cover, TWO!! Finn lives and the match continues! Fans rally for Finn while he and Ziggler stir. Ziggler stands first, tunes it up, but gets another Slingblade! Finn aims again, but McIntyre attacks!
Winner: Finn Balor, by disqualification
The Scottish Terminator targets both thorns in his side as he throws Finn out and gives Ziggler the Glasgow Kiss headbutt! McIntyre rains rights down on Ziggler, then yanks him right up for a Claymore! McIntyre aims at Finn, Claymore! Fans boo and jeer McIntyre as he seethes all the way to the stage. Will McIntyre eliminate Ziggler and Finn on the road to the Royal Rumble?
Dean Ambrose heads to the ring!
The Lunatic has his siren and his gas-mask wearing henchmen accompany him and his newly won WWE Intercontinental Championship. Ambrose picks up a mic while fans boo and jeer. “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Fans should show more respect! But they boo. “You disgusting little people” should be bowing to Ambrose, because he made his prediction come true. Rollins spun out of control, dropped the ball in the fourth quarter and choked. Rollins failed himself and failed the fans. Ambrose doesn’t need respect, because he has the belt. And it wasn’t too long ago that Rollins had two belts, now he has none. But Ambrose is just getting started. When Ambrose is done, Rollins will truly have nothing!
Ambrose promises to take Rollins’ career, take Rollins reputation and drag it through the mud! But there’s another option. “The Moral Compass” has an obligation. Rollins can come out here and be a man of character and integrity to admit Ambrose was right! Rollins, tell everyone that Ambrose was right! Fans boo while Ambrose waits. They chant “Burn It Down!” but Rollins doesn’t appear. Ambrose waits but has a new idea. “How about an open challenge?” But not for the title, Rollins doesn’t deserve it. But maybe Rollins wants to take out his anger. Ambrose dares Rollins to appear, but he doesn’t. This proves Rollins is no hero, he’s “a selfish little whiner who always has to get his way.” Rollins lost and is too ashamed to show his face.
So Ambrose moves on to a third idea: Ambrose will stay a page from the playbook and actually give an Open Challenge for the title, to anyone not named Seth Rollins. And out comes… Tyler Breeze!
WWE Intercontinental Championship Open Challenge: Dean Ambrose VS Tyler Breeze!
Prince Pretty wants his shot and this is his chance! Can Breeze make that Intercontinental Championship gorgeous? Or will Ambrose make an example out of him?
The introductions are made, the belt is raised, and we begin! Ambrose goes after Breeze but Breeze is ready! Breeze throws hands, whips but Ambrose reverses. Breeze hits big forearms then stomps away in a corner! He backs off at 4 and dropkicks Ambrose! Breeze clotheslines Ambrose out! Prince Pretty is fired up while we go to break!
Raw returns and Ambrose stomps Breeze out. Ambrose laces up the legs and puts Breeze in a modified Queen Angelito stretch. Breeze endures and crawls for ropes. Ambrose grabs that arm to stomp it! Breeze crawls but Ambrose is on him with a whip. Ambrose elbows Breeze down, covers, TWO! Ambrose keeps on Breeze with a chinlock. Fans rally up as Breeze endures. Breeze fights his way up but Ambrose wrangles him down hard! Ambrose keeps Breeze grounded, but fans rally for Breeze. Breeze gets up but Ambrose knees low. Ambrose clubs and scoops Breeze, but Breeze slips out to enziguri! Ambrose is dazed, and Breeze gets up to huricanrana! To a cover, TWO! Breeze enziguris from a corner, then sends Ambrose into post! Cover, TWO!
Breeze hits the Beauty Shot heel kick! But Ambrose gets up again so Breeze climbs up. Breeze leaps, big crossbody! Cover, TWO! SUPER MODEL KICK! Cover, TWO!! Ambrose survives Breeze’s best, but he is dazed. Breeze gets up and stalks Ambrose. Breeze brings him around but the Unprettier is denied. Dirty Deeds! Cover, Ambrose wins!
Winner: Dean Ambrose, by pinfall; still WWE Intercontinental Champion
The Lunatic says that is the performance of a champion with character! Rollins didn’t show because Rollins– “BURN IT DOWN!” But where is Rollins?! He’s one of the gas-mask men!! Rollins SUPERKICKS Ambrose down! And then throws fast hands from all sides! The other henchmen hurry in but Rollins fights them off. Ambrose runs away with the belt while Rollins tosses the henchmen away, and SUPERKICKS another! Rollins tells Ambrose to bring the fight, but Ambrose continues his retreat. Will Ambrose back up his words and be brave enough to face The Kingslayer?
Backstage interview with Shane McMahon.
The McMahons promise a fresh start, but what does that mean? Fresh faces and new opportunities! There will be tough decisions to make, but here comes Drake Maverick. These two finally meet, and Maverick introduces the “rightful” Raw Tag Team Champions, Akam & Rezar. Maverick says those titles were stolen from them. But now that the McMahon Family is here, they’ll make this right. Authors of Pain get their title rematches tonight. Now, now, hold on. The mandatory rematch clause Maverick is citing is “antiquated”, Corbin handed AoP those titles in the first place. Let’s create an opportunity. But they’re the former champions! Shane suggests AoP take on The B-Team, The Revival and… Lucha House Party! Fatal 4 Way #1 Contender’s match! Shane wishes them luck, but the AoP are just upset. Will they make the best of this huge opportunity?
WWE takes a look at the new faces coming to the main roster!
Monsters, Beasts, Vipers, Giants. None of them compare to the Leviathan! Lars Sullivan is a dominate Freak and promises to destroy the roster.
The Lady of NXT, the Model Soldier, Lacey Evans is armed with a Woman’s Right to hit hard and class it up.
#SteaksAndWeights fuel Tucker Knight & Otis Dozovic in tag team wrestling! They have a “damn good time” in the ring, and they’re COMIIIIN’!
The Loony Lass loves to play! SAnitY’s Twisted Sister finally joins her chaotic crew, who wants to play?
The Top One Percent prepares for #VictoryAfterVictory on the main roster! Will he find brand new success as he jumps from #NX3 to TV?
“Ladies and Gentlemen: The Almighty Bobby Lashley.”
Lashley and Lio Rush are in the ring, parodying Elias’ usual greeting and performance. These two will give the fans something they’ve never seen before. It turns out Elias isn’t the only gifted guitarist. The greatest music Elias ever heard was a guitar smashing into his back at the hands of Bobby Lashley! And be honest, no one here wants to hear another of Elias’ boring songs. They’re all here to witness a “true work of art.” And that is exactly what Lashley will give you. But before that, please silence phones, hold applause, and shut your mouths!
Lashley gets up with the mangled guitar, and starts posing. The double biceps, the side chest. Comparing Lashley to Elias is like comparing the Golden State Warriors to the Sacramento Kings. But of course, there’s always the “favorite pose”, the double glutes! Lio and Lashley laugh it up, but “Ladies and gentlemen, Elias.” The Drifter SMACKS Lashley with a guitar! Lashley gets back up but Elias gets away. There won’t be an encore tonight, but when will these two create another smash hit together?
Raw Tag Team Championship #1 Contenders Fatal 4 Way: The Authors of Pain VS The Revival VS The B-Team VS Lucha House Party!
Drake Maverick knows Akam & Rezar feel robbed over the feud they had with Roode & Gable, but considering they got those titles through unfair means to begin with, they have no automatic right to a rematch. Can they rip their way through Dash & Dawson, Axel & Dallas, and the luchadores of 205 Live? Or will one of those other teams step up to the GLORIOUS challenge instead?
The teams sort out and we start with Curt Axel and Lince Dorado. They circle but Axel stays back when Lince handsprings. “Lucha! Lucha!” starts, as do the matracas. But “B-Team! B-Team! GO GO GO!” counters. The chants duel but Axel swings into a dropkick! Lince tags Kalisto and they combine for an alley-oop dropkick! Scott Dawson tags in and now The Revival revive their feud with LHP. Dawson slaps Kalisto, Kalisto fires off forearms! They brawl, and Dawson rocks Kalisto with a right. Dawson wrenches the arm and kicks Kalisto to the ropes. Dawson chops Kalisto on the ropes, but keeps his distance from AoP. He bumps Kalisto off buckles and gives European Uppercuts. Dawson mocks the lucha chant, then suplexes Kalisto. He drops an elbow, then tags Dash Wilder.
The Revival go after Kalisto together but they get a double DDT! Kalisto tags Lince, and hist the elevated splash! Lince hits the planking splash, covers, TWO! Dash scrambles and Akam tags in. Lince goes after Akam but Akam shoves him away. Lince dropkicks but Akam tags Rezar, for a pop-up and tackle into a corner! AoP mug Lince while we go to break.
Raw returns as Dash has Lince in a Gory Special! Lince endures as fans chant, but Dash reaches back to go after the mask. Dash mocks the lucha chant, but Lince pops out to arm-drag Dash! Axel tags in, Dash gets an enziguri! Axel goes after Lince but Lince handsprings to the Golden Rewind! Both Lince and Axel are down and fans rally up. Chants duel while Axel crawls. Hot tags to Bo Dallas and Kalisto! Kalisto springboards and crossbodies! Kalisto kicks and whips, Bo reverses but Kalisto springboards for a corkscrew crossbody! Fans fire up with the Lucha Dragon as he tackles Bo in a corner. Axel returns but gets the tornado DDT! Kalisto kicks Bo then whips, but Bo reverses. Dawson tags in and goes after Kalisto to throw him out. Dawson slaps Bo but Bo fires off hands!
Bo boots and clotheslines Dawson, then brings him up for the draping neckbreaker! Cover, but Dash breaks it up! Dash takes his time leaving, but Kalisto comes in to tilt-o-whirl DDT Dash down! Axel swings but gets a kick! Kalisto dodges Rezar, Bo and Dawson clothesline him out! But then Akam grabs them both, only to get haymakers. Akam shoves them back but is sent out. Lucha House Party are LAUNCHED onto both AoP! Bo and Dawson are alone, Dawson rolls Bo up but Bo rolls him back! Cover, TWO! Small package, TWO! Dawson scoops but gets another cradle, TWO! Bo shoves Dawson but Dash tags in. SHATTER MACHINE! Cover, The Revival win!!
Winners: The Revival, Dash Wilder pinning; new Raw Tag Team Championship #1 Contenders
#SayYeah! Now that Dash & Dawson got a fair shake, they can get another shot at those tag titles! Will they be #ReadyWillingAndGLORIOUS against Roode & Gable?
Backstage interview with Seth Rollins!
The Architect got back at Ambrose just a bit earlier, but he still feels rough from last night’s “disaster.” Personally, professionally, it was all wrong. He let Ambrose get in his head and take that title, and Rollins heard the crowd. Rollins takes the blame for all of that, and vows to move forward. This isn’t about his in-ring performance or titles, this is his life! “This is everything that I’ve dedicated everything to!” It’s going off the rails, but Rollins will right the ship by ending Ambrose.
But Baron Corbin comes over, and tells Rollins that everyone thought he was doing great until Rollins had to speak up. Rollins goaded Corbin into a match, Rollins is why Strowman won, and Rollins is why the McMahons are back in charge. Ambrose was right. And Corbin would take Rollins title, if Ambrose hadn’t already done that. Rollins hits Corbin! The Lone Wolf gets further comeuppance, but when will the Lunatic get his?
Ronda Rousey is here!
And the Baddest Woman on the Planet is still Raw Women’s Champion after a physical match with Nia Jax! Ronda denied the #FaceBreaker her victory, but she didn’t stop there. She got her payback on The Queen, Charlotte Flair, and The Man, Becky Lynch, by throwing them off their ladder in the SmackDown Women’s Championship TLC Match! The Empress of Tomorrow, Asuka, has the throne now, but what does that mean for both shows now?
Ronda smiles as fans duel. She says “I told Nia Jax she could kiss that right hand she’s so proud of good-bye. I told Charlotte Flair I was going to write the next chapter of our story. And I told Becky Lynch I am the last woman on Earth she should provoke.” Ronda didn’t come out here to justify her actions, but to define what a real champion is. “A real champion is so much more than just a title someone puts in front of your name or an object you can hold”. It’s so much more than the winner of a match. A real champion represents the limit of human potential, physically, mentally and morally. A real champion is the best the human race has to offer, and steps up to the challenge. That is why Ronda is here tonight!
Fans still duel as Ronda suggests a new tradition. Every Raw after a PPV, the champion shows up no matter what to defend their title! Ronda wants a fight, this is her open challenge, so who wants a shot!?
Raw Women’s Championship Open Challenge: Ronda Rousey VS ???
There’s a traffic jam at gorilla position! So many women want their shot at Ronda, the production team can’t figure out what song to play! Stephanie McMahon leads them out in front of the fans, microphone in hand. Stephanie lets Ronda know that everyone wants their shot. And they’re deserving, but there won’t be any favorites anymore. These women will all earn their shot, in a Gauntlet Match! And that’s right now! And we start with Alicia Fox, against Bayley!
8 Woman Gauntlet Match!
Who will be the last woman left to challenge Ronda for her title?!
Bayley circles with Alicia and tie up. Bayley rolls Alicia, ONE. Alicia backs off to circle with Bayley again. They tie up and Bayley gets an arm wrench. She brings Alicia down and then Mahistrols, TWO! Alicia scrambles to ropes for safety, and fans boo as she takes her time getting up. Alicia kicks low, still holding the ropes, then throws forearms. She throws Bayley down by her hair, covers, ONE. Alicia keeps on Bayley in a corner for buckle bumps, then stomps her in another corner. She backs off to snapmare Bayley to a cover. ONE, but Alicia wraps on a chinlock. Fans rally up and Bayley feeds off the energy. Alicia clubs Bayley but misses the scissor kick to get a saido suplex! Cover, TWO! Alicia runs away again and we go to break.
Raw returns as Alicia stomps Bayley. Alicia kicks Bayley down and around at the ropes. Bayley gets to a corner, Alicia throws forearms. Alicia taunts Bayley to whip her corner to corner. Bayley slips to the apron and shoulders in. She slides under to sunset flip, TWO! Alicia clobbers Bayley quick! Alicia chokes Bayley on the ropes but backs off at 4. She pulls on Bayley’s ponytail, then throws more forearms. Bayley kicks and kicks, then throws forearms. Alicia kicks low but fans rally for Bayley. Alicia whips Bayley hard into buckles! Cover, TWO! Alicia keeps her cool, but then she starts slapping Bayley around in the corner. Bayley pushes Alicia away then flapjacks her on the buckles! Bayley whips but Alicia reverses, but Bayley goes up and over. But Bayley’s ankle gives out, and Alicia boots her down! Cover, but Bayley reverses it, Bayley ELIMINATES Alicia!!
Dana Brooke comes out now, and hurries to capitalize. She goes after Bayley with an enziguri! Dana handsprings corner to corner for the elbow! Cover, TWO! Dana tries again, TWO! Dana rains rights down because she wants this chance. She puts Bayley in a body scissor squeeze and trash talks, but Bayley fights out. Bayley makes it a cover, TWO! Dana chop blocks the bad leg! The ref checks on Bayley, but she won’t quit. Dana bumps Bayley off buckles and stomps a mudhole. Dana whips but Bayley can’t even run on the leg. Cover, TWO! Dana keeps on Bayley with a chinlock but fans rally. Bayley endures the thrashing, and fights her way up. Dana throws her back down by her hair, then covers. TWO, Dana tries again, TWO!
Dana grows frustrated but she keeps on Bayley in a corner. She stomps in another mudhole, then backs off at 4. Dana taunts Bayley, but gets a Bayley2Belly! Cover, Bayley ELIMINATES Dana! The Huggable One continues in this Gauntlet while we go to break!
Raw returns and Bayley’s third opponent is Mickie James. Mickie has Bayley in a chinlock but Bayley fights her way up. Bayley fights back but Mickie knees low. Mickie whips Bayley to a corner, but runs into a boot! Bayley runs out but into a neckbreaker! Cover, TWO! Mickie is frustrated that a beat up Bayley is still going. Ronda watches backstage as Mickie toys with Bayley. Mickie drags Bayley up to choke her on the ropes. She stops at 4, but runs, only to miss and get ropes! Bayley covers, TWO! Mickie brings Bayley up and kicks, but then runs and misses, Bayley rolls her up! TWO, and Mickie flapjacks Bayley! Mickie kips up and heads up top. Bayley stands, Mickie hits the flying seated senton! Cover, TWO and Bayley sunset flips, TWO! Mickie high stacks, TWO, roundhouse! Cover, TWO! Bayley still lives!
Mickie grows frustrated, but aim to finish this. Bayley slowly stands, but denies the Mick-DDT to a saido suplex! Fans fire up with Bayley, but Mickie kicks her out of the ring. Mickie builds speed, to slide, but Bayley spins her around for a big knee! Bayley grits her teeth as she heads back up. Bayley has a bad footing on the ropes but she still elbows Mickie. She leaps for a crossbody, but can’t keep the cover! Mickie gets to a corner, Bayley runs in for a big knee! Bayley tosses Mickie out to climb back up. Bayley leaps, Macho Elbow! Cover, ROPEBREAK! Mickie survives and Bayley grows frustrated. Bayley gets up and goes after Mickie but gets body shots. Mickie steps in for a hotshot! Bayley fires herself up, but Mickie grabs hair! Bayley powers Mickie back, but Mickie elbows Bayley.
Mickie goes for the Mickanrana but is put on the apron. Mickie hits back and bumps Bayley off buckles! The Mick-DDT hits! Cover, Mickie ELIMINATES Bayley! But there’s no rest for the wicked, Ember Moon heads in! Mickie dropkicks Ember right as she slides into the ring! Mickie stomps away but backs off at 4. Ember gets up but Mickie kicks her to a corner. Mickie grinds her boot in but stops at 4. Ember gasps for air but Mickie is on her with a slap. Ember and Mickie kick each other, Mickie whips but Ember flips through the hip toss to arm-drag! Mickie runs into a leg sweep, Ember misses the dropkick! Mickie covers, TWO! Ember blocks a kick but gets a kick. Mickie runs, but she misses. Ember runs, springboard crossbody! Cover, TWO!
Mickie slides out, because she wants a time-out. But Ember doesn’t give her one. ember runs and slides out, but Mickie kicks her on the return. Mickie wants a draping DDT but Ember fights her off. Mickie slides out and wants a bomb! Ember holds on for dear life and fights Mickie off, but Mickie trips her up! Ember hits apron while we go to break.
Raw returns and Ember slams Mickie! Both women are down but stirring. Mickie throws a forearm but Ember throws one back. Ember throws more forearms, then ducks to swing. Mickie dodges but Ember dodges and mule kicks, Ember enziguris! High stack cover, TWO! Ronda still watches backstage as Mickie gets to a corner. Ember runs in but misses, and Mickie rolls her up. She uses ropes but gets caught! The referee reprimands Mickie, but Mickie still flapjacks Ember! Mickie kips up again, then heads up top. Mickie leaps, but into a code breaker!! Ember hurries up top now, for the ECLIPSE! Cover, Ember ELIMINATES Mickie! But here comes The Queen of Harts! Natalya hits the ring but Ember rolls her up, TWO!
Natty gets Ember down, but the Sharpshooter is denied. Ember ducks the discus to SUPERKICK Natty! Cover, TWO! Ember drags Natty up into a chinlock but Natty endures. Natty works her way up and fights out, but Ember kicks her back. Ember brings Natty up to trap an arm in the standing chinlock. Natty endures the modified stretch, even as Ember clubs her on the back. Natty fights out and fireman’s carry, but Ember fights out. Ember throws forearms, then whips, but Natty reverses. Natty runs into a boot, and Ember hops up. Ember brings Natty over, tornado snap suplex! Cover, TWO! Ember clubs Natty again, then heads up top. Natty stands and gets clear of the Eclipse, to discus clothesline Ember! Cover, TWO!! The War Goddess survives and the Queen of Harts is frustrated.
Natty goes for legs but Ember fights her off. Cradle, TWO! Natty rolls Ember up, Natty ELIMINATES Ember!! Natty shocks Sacramento, but The Riott Squad heads out together. Will it be a rematch of TLC to determine a #1 Contender? We’ll find out after the break.
Raw returns and Ruby has Natty in a chinlock. Natty endures and pries her way out of the chinlock, but Ruby puts on body scissors. Liv and Sarah smirk as Ruby squeezes Natty. Natty turns around to club Ruby, so Ruby slaps Natty! Ruby wraps Natty in a guillotine now, but Natty still endures. Natty powers up and powers Ruby off with a scoop slam! Fans fire up as Natty and Ruby double clothesline! Both Ruby and Natty are down but the Squad coach Ruby up. Ruby gets up first and kicks Natty in the ribs! Ruby drags Natty up to throw her down, then brings Natty up to bump her off buckles. She stomps a mudhole into Natty but stops at 3. Natty rolls her up! TWO, and Ruby clobbers Natty again. Cover, TWO!
Ruby grows frustrated, but puts Natty in a cravat. Natty endures and fights her way back up. Natty arm-drags Ruby off, but gets a knee to the chin! Ruby throws Natty down, covers, TWO! Ruby keeps her cool, and toys with Natty, but Natty slaps her! Natty gets up but Ruby rolls her, TWO! Natty boots Ruby down, then catches her breath. She scoops Ruby but Ruby sunset flips, TWO! Natty dropkicks Ruby down! Ruby and Natty are slow to get up but Natty rallies with ax handles and lariats. Natty kicks low, then fires the fans up with a snap suplex! And another! Natty slaps Ruby then whips her to a corner. Discus meets STO! Ruby positions Natty in the drop zone then climbs up. The Squad cheer on the back senton, but it misses! Roll up, Natty ELIMINATES Ruby!
But it’s Boss Time! Sasha Banks goes at Natty, and rallies the moment she hits the ring! She blocks a kick to give a knee, then turns Natty sideways in the corner. Stock Drop knees! Cover, TWO! Natty survives but The Boss keeps her focus. Sasha puts up the four and says she wants that belt, but Natty powers her to a corner! Natty rams her shoulder in but then misses. Sasha goes up, but Natty gets under to roll her up! TWO! Sasha runs, sunset flip DDT! Cover, TWO!! Natty still lives and this match continues, after one more break!
Raw returns and both women are down. A 10 count begins, and Sasha sits up at 6. She stands at 7 and Natty follows. Natty blocks the kick to trip Sasha up, then she walks all over her to dropkick! Cover, TWO! Natty fires up the fans as she brings Sasha around. She wants the Sharpshooter but is denied with a roll up, TWO! Sasha backslides, TWO! Sasha knees Natty but Natty discus clotheslines! Cover, TWO!! Natty grows frustrated, but she wants that Sharpshooter. And she gets it! Sasha endures as Natty drags her from ropes! Fans fire up and duel as Sasha crawls. Sasha reaches but Natty drags her away again! Natty sits down deep but Sasha gets a second gas, to roll Natty into buckles! Both women are down and the ref checks on them.
Fans rally up as both women are okay to continue. Natty goes for the legs but Sasha rolls through to a Half Crab! Natty endures, crawls and reaches! Sasha shifts to the Rings of Saturn, to a cover, TWO! Bank Statement crossface!! Natty endures as Sasha pulls back hard! Natty powers Sasha around, but Sasha holds on. Fireman’s carry, but Sasha slips off. Natty throws Sasha with a German Suplex! Fans rally and duel while both women stir. Sasha gets to a corner, but Natty stands up. Natty runs in, but into a boot! Sasha elbows Natty away, then hops up. She leaps, Meteora! Cover, TWO!! Natty lives and Sasha can’t believe it! Sasha and Natty slowly stand, and Sasha wants the backstabber. Natty bucks her off, but walks into a takedown!
Sasha wants the crossface but Natty arm-drags her off. Sasha runs and rolls again, but into an inverted bomb! Natty gets the legs, Sharpshooter is on! Sasha endures as she’s far away, and TAPS! Natty wins the Gauntlet!!
Winner: Natalya, by submission; will face Ronda Rousey for the title next week
The Queen of Harts just won herself the best Christmas present ever! Natty shows Sasha respect, but here comes Ronda to congratulate her friend. Natty and Ronda celebrate this accomplishment together, but now friends must become opponents. Ronda offers a handshake, and Natty accepts it. Will friends stay friends after their title match?
Well this wasn’t what I expected from a post-PPV Raw. And sadly it wasn’t worth the hype. Vince and the McMahon family promised change and finally giving fans what we want, but this first night doesn’t quite give that impression. The only change might’ve been that there were way more commercials than I can remember being on a Raw. Did WWE need to pay some bills or something? This would’ve been a better Raw just on the virtue of keeping the flow going with less ads and more action. It’s not like having more of those commercials changed how Raw actually ran, either. The opening was a talk segment to give us this supposed “change”, and Vince’s time on his own show to shine. The only reason it wasn’t a consecutive 20 minutes is because a commercial happened 5 minutes in.
Now, I did appreciate that the McMahons were the Faces in this scenario, and gave Corbin further comeuppance. It was proper karma with the running gag of “remembering” things. However, another “change” seems to be we won’t get Angle back as GM or even someone new, like a rumored WOKEN Hardy. But perhaps if that means HHH is technically in charge, there’s a sliver of hope he’ll get this thing running as it should. In fact, Finn VS Ziggler was a really great match, but I am a bit disappointed McIntyre interfered. We’ve already been told there will be a Triple Threat for this story on the Christmas Eve edition, so that sounds like a good time. And for those who don’t already know, the Christmas Eve Raw will be recorded TONIGHT and put on tape delay. I don’t know if the live audience is lucky or being tortured…
There are also these “new faces” to address. The NXT Call-Ups have been announced in advance, but honestly I hope most of them go to SmackDown. We’ll have to wait and see how the “fresh start” affects SmackDown, but I’d imagine SmackDown will still be just as good as it was before. Therefore, they’d be able to use Lacey Evans, Heavy Machinery and EC3 much better than Raw. In fact, we were all worried about what Faces could face the Heel Daniel Bryan, maybe The Top One Percent can be that Face.
It seems Tyler Breeze is Mr. Open Challenge, with having gone back to NXT long enough to challenge Ricochet then returning to Raw to answer Ambrose’s Open Challenge. Rollins being in disguise as a gas-mask man was a standard twist, but still fitting of the story. If only Rollins interfered during the match to cost Ambrose the title. But perhaps that in itself proves Ambrose right: Rollins won’t go after Ambrose unless he can get the title back. Rollins VS Corbin will be the Christmas Eve match, and perhaps Ambrose attacks him back to keep pace. I wonder if their title rematch would be at Royal Rumble to keep them out of the Royal Rumble match… Perhaps that’s for the best if Rollins isn’t going to win to then challenge for the Universal Championship.
A Fatal 4 Way tag to determine contenders was good, and the match itself was alright. I’m sure many fans are happy that The Revival are finally back in the title scene, and I for one am glad the Raw Tag Division didn’t have to worry about pee jokes and lucha rule inaccuracies. Revival VS Gable & Roode should be a good one, if they’re allowed to go NXT level with HHH behind the wheel. Fans would be even more amazed if The Revival finally won. At the same time, we’re getting some Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn “returning soon” hype, I wonder if they finally aim for tag titles on top of singles. It’d make a lot of sense to me, at least, as Kevin would get his Grand Slam with the help of his best friend.
It seems the Raw Women’s Division has finally turned the corner to match up to SmackDown’s. Ronda wanted a match already, and the Gauntlet was a great surprise. I am genuinely surprised but pleased that Natalya is facing Ronda “next week” rather than Sasha Banks. There is story to be had with Ronda VS Raw’s NXT Horsewomen, but everyone was expecting Ronda VS Natty to have happened at some point, so this seems like a good a time as any. Ronda VS Natty, tired as they both might be, will still be a solid match, and I just hope that there’s no interference. At least not until the title match gets to a really hot point. The Riott Squad or the Samoan Dynasty might be expected given Raw stories, but I’m thinking it should be Charlotte and Becky for payback from TLC to move that story forward.
My Score: 7.7/10
The Chairshot Match Of The Year Final Match Pool
How did the last week of voting pan out for Second Chance and November? Only one way to find out. Take a look at our 12 MOTY matches and let’s see where Andrew’s 5 votes are going.
Last week was our final vote to round out the 12 matches in the Match of the Year pool. Since we love Top 5s here, the idea will be for everyone to whittle the 12, down to their 5 favorite, and then we get our final 5 to vote on.
Let’s see what matches we have in our MOTY Pool:
- January – NXT Takeover Philly NXT Championship: Johnny Gargano vs Andrade Almas(c)
- February – New Beginning in Osaka IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada(c) vs SANADA
- March – NJPW Strong Style Evolved: Golden Lovers vs Young Bucks
- April – NXT Takeover NOLA NXT Championship: Andrade Almas(c) vs Aleister Black
- May – WWE Backlash Intercontinental Championship: Seth Rollins(c) vs The Miz
- June – NJPW Dominion IWGP Heavyweight Championship 2 out of 3 Falls: Kazuchika Okada(c) vs Kenny Omega
- July – G1 Climax 28: Hirooki Goto vs Tomohiro Ishii
- August – G1 Climax 28 Finals: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kota Ibushi
- September – All In NWA Championship Match: Cody vs Nick Aldis(c)
- October – Evolution SmackDown Women’s Title Last Woman Standing Match: Becky Lynch(c) vs Charlotte
- November – NXT Takeover WarGames II NXT Championship Match: Velveteen Dream vs Tommaso Ciampa (c)
- December/Second Chance – Impact Wrestling Redemption World Championship Triple Threat: Fenix vs Austin Aries (c) vs Pentagon Jr
Now as you can see, the overall list has some decent balance. Five from New Japan and WWE, along with 2 outlier matches. So it’s not heavily tipped one way or the other.
For the rest of this article I’ll just list out my 5 picks from this list, and then we can get to everyone’s votes.
5. NXT Takeover WarGames II NXT Championship: Tommaso Ciampa (c) vs Velveteen Dream
This makes my Top 5 from our MOTY pool because this was just a good combination of all things wrestling. Solid wrestling, homages, callbacks, high suspense moments, big crowd reactions…just everything. Sure it might not have been a work rate master piece, but there’s more to wrestling than work rate.
4. NJPW Dominion IWGP Heavyweight Championship 2 out of 3 Falls: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs Kenny Omega
This was almost a given since it already won Tokyo Sports Best Bout, which marks the fifth year in a row Okada was involved in the Best Bout, and the first time since Kenta Kobashi and Mitsuharu Misawa that the same pairing won back to back. Though it wasn’t the best of their four matches in my opinion, you can’t overlook the storyline ramifications.
We saw this match finish off the ascent of Kenny Omega, as well as, send Kazuchika Okada into some goofy balloon loving spiral. Love or hate the Elite, this story had a lot of attention and was told pretty damn well.
3. All In NWA Championship: Cody vs Nick Aldis (c)
In a similar vein to the Okada/Omega match, this had a lot of story significance. Cody challenging for all of the World Championships he could was one, him trying to be the first second generation wrestler to capture the NWA Championship was another and of course, the emotions tied with Dusty was the one most of us cared about.
As I said when I reviewed All In, this match was a love letter to his father. Yes it was a very old school southern style match. Obvious blade jobs, a goofy possible knock out for the DDP pop, Brandi putting herself in the way of a move to protect her husband, this was all love. It was a match I think most old school fans would enjoy, and unless you really need flips or work rate, this match evoked some emotion out of most watchers.
This is wrestling.
2. NXT Takeover Philly NXT Championship: Johnny Gargano vs Andrade Almas (c)
An early contender that still holds up nicely. This was the first match since Sami Zayn vs Shinsuke Nakamura to really just blow me away. They both turned it up, the double knees into the post looked brutal and the whole thing was a great culmination of Andrade’s character.
It was after this match, most of us were sold that he figured it out and would be huge. Now we just have to hope Vince sees it too.
1. G1 Climax 28 Finals: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kota Ibushi
It’s not often we get a match where one of the competitors considers the other one God. Ibushi and Tanahashi have immense respect for each other, and they also have an undeniable chemistry. Ibushi gets a lot labels as a “flippy shit” wrestler, but he sells wonderfully and knows how to tell a story in the ring.
On top of Ibushi’s athletic prowess and overall wrestling ability, we couple that with Tanahashi’s masterful pacing and his own artistic way of building a match…this was just poetry in motion. It definitely helps this is my personal number 1 match all year, so of course I was ecstatic that it made The Chairshot MOTY pool. Beautiful match.
If you didn’t partake much in the match votes leading up to this pool, now’s you’re chance to make your voice heard. Vote for your Top 5, and then we can have the final vote starting next week, for our second Chairshot MOTY. Our first ever vote went to, NJPW Dominion IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kenny Omega vs Kazuchika Okada (c).
Will New Japan end up winning this year also?