Smackdown Live 1 January 2019 (HAPPY NEW YEAR)

The New Day declare for the Royal Rumble

What Happened: The New Year is here, which means that the Royal Rumble is rapidly approaching. And the Men’s field just got a little more positive, and crowded. To kick off 2019, all three members of the New Day declared that they will be entering the Men’s Royal Rumble, giving them the mathematical advantage in the Rumble. Should one of Ya Boys take the cake, who would they be facing at Wrestlemania? The first match of the night got us one step closer to getting that answer.

Analysis: To this point in the Men’s Royal Rumble, we have the odds-on favorite to win and essentially four jobbers. Not really looking like a fascinating field to this point.

Samoa Joe def. Jeff Hardy to advance to Fatal 5-Way

What Happened: After last week, it was clear that matters between Jeff Hardy and Samoa Joe are far from settled. After tonight, it’s clear that Joe has the advantage. The Charismatic Enigma was as aggressive as ever, laying into his longtime foe, hitting him with the Swanton Bomb in relatively quick fashion. But the Samoan Submission Machine rolled to the outside, where he gained an advantage that he would not lose. He nearly took the match by countout when he trapped Hardy in the Coquina Clutch at ringside. And when Hardy escaped the hold and beat the count, Joe simply reapplied the hold and put Hardy to sleep.

Analysis: Joe was the only one to earn his slot outright. Everyone else was given their spot based off of “merit,” and the only one I feel that can apply to is Mustafa Ali based on his performance since arriving on the blue brand.

Shinsuke Nakamura crashed Rusev’s championship celebration

What Happened: Last week, Rusev became a 3-time United States Champion when he defeated Shinsuke Nakamura in the main event. Tonight he celebrated, promising to return the Star-Spangled title to its former glory. But his speech and chants of “Rusev Day USA” were cut short by a blindside attack by the former champion. In an attempt to protect her husband, Lana jumped on Nakamura’s back, giving Rusev the chance to strike back with a Machka Kick. But when the Artist fell, the Ravishing Russian did too, and hard. As the new United States Champion tended to his wife, Nakamura took advantage with a Kinshasa.

Analysis: As I stated in the RAW review for this week, the Fresh Start initiative is already a total bust for the McMahon family. They abolished automatic rematches, but both Shinsuke Nakamura and Seth Rollins will be getting rematches for their lost titles at Royal Rumble.

Sonya Deville def. Naomi

What Happened: After engaging in a Twitter battle with Naomi, Mandy Rose took things to a whole new level last week when she tried to get Jimmy Uso under the mistletoe. Her plan was foiled by the Glow, and tonight the former two-time Smackdown Women’s Champion was ready to throw hands with the Golden Goddess. She wouldn’t get her wish though, as just before the bell rang, Rose swapped places with Sonya Deville, catching Naomi off-guard. Naomi used her pent-up frustration to lay into the Jersey Devil, but Rose had a few tricks up her sleeve, including a provocative photo she claimed to have sent to Jimmy Uso. Fed up, Naomi made a beeline for Mandy, but caught a brutal kick to the gut from Deville followed by a modified Jackhammer. Advantage Rose.

Analysis: While I am glad to see Deville get a win, I don’t like how she is being used to build up Rose. Rose is more than just a pretty face, she does have in-ring ability. But clearly, WWE only wants to use her as a sex symbol, at the expense of Deville.

John Cena returns to Smackdown Live, Becky Lynch lays down the law

What Happened: For the first time since February of last year, John Cena returned to Smackdown Live. The last time Cena was on the blue brand, he was on a quest to get a match at Wrestlemania 34. So why was he here tonight? Not he know knew. What he did know however, was that in a matter of moments “any man” could be marching down the ramp to give him a piece of their mind. Well, Cena was half right. He didn’t get just any man but The Man. Becky Lynch made it clear that Smackdown Live was her turf now, and if Cena had a problem with that, “Nikki Bella won’t be the only woman to drop him.” Taken aback and slightly amused, the Cenation leader took a minute to composed himself, during which time Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega decided to kick off their 2019. It took a bit longer than he was expecting, but Cena got exactly what he was looking for as Vega ran down both him and Lynch, declaring that the new year is the year of Tranquilo. Seizing his opportunity, the 16-time champion issued a challenge to El Idolo and his business partner. A mixed tag team match: John Cena & Becky Lynch vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas & Zelina Vega.

Analysis: Can’t say I saw that one coming. Perhaps WWE really does want Becky Lynch to be the new face of Smackdown Live. I’m also surprised Cena didn’t declare for the Royal Rumble, something he will likely do on Monday night.

John Cena & Becky Lynch def. Andrade “Cien” Almas & Zelina Vega

What Happened: Throughout his WWE career, John Cena has lived by one rule: if you wanna talk tough, you better be tough. And as of recently, when The Man comes around, you beter be ready to pay your dues. That’s a lesson that Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega had to learn the hard way. But the latter part was something that even Cena himself found out firsthand. In an impromptu mixed tag team match, Cena and Lynch put their quarreling aside long enough to thwart Almas and Vega’s well-practiced antics, but once the match was all but decided, Lynch made it clear that is was all about her, shoving Cena out of the ring before submitting Zelina with the Dis-Arm-Her. Despite Lynch’s slight, Cena offered a handshake to her, to which the former Smackdown Women’s Champion boldly used Cena’s signature phrase against him.

Analysis: This would be a nice match to see in the next season of Mixed Match Challenge. Cena remains a free agent, though he will likely primarily show up on RAW until after Wrestlemania.

AJ Styles def. Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, Mustafa Ali, and Samoa Joe (Fatal 5-Way Match for WWE Championship Match at Royal Rumble)

What Happened: Last week, Mr. McMahon said that he wanted to see the animalistic side of AJ Styles. At the Royal Rumble event, he just may get his wish. With WWE Champion Daniel Bryan watching backstage, Styles, Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, Mustafa Ali, and Samoa Joe went to war for the right to face Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship. The Phenomenal One was taken out early by Orton and Joe, the latter of whom started off the match by dispatching Ali, who charged right at Joe as soon as the bell rang. That wasn’t the only punishment Ali endured though, suffering the suffocating force of the Coquina Clutch, the mastery of the 619, and the bite of the RKO. It was the latter of these that kicked off a series of wild events where Mysterio broke up Orton’s pin on Ali, then Joe took out Mysterio at ringside, giving Styles the time he needed to hit the Apex Predator with a 450 splash to secure another shot at Daniel Bryan and the WWE Championship.

Analysis: I fail to understand why WWE continues to keep AJ Styles at the top of the pecking order. It’s the same story with every oppoenent and it’s been old. Styles is great and all but I for one am tired of seeing hi on my TV screen near the title every Tuesday night.

Overall Analysis

Not a very strong Smackdown to kick off 2019, but not at all weak either. Things should start picking up next week. 7/10.

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Monday Night RAW 31 December 2018

Drew McIntyre def. Dolph Ziggler (Steel Cage Match)

What Happened: With animosity still running high between the two men, Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre looked to finally settle their differences inside a Steel Cage, by order of Mr. McMahon. The Showoff used his quickness to gain an early advantage, but the Scottish Psychopath’s power proved to be a huge equalizer, as shown by a massive superplex to keep Ziggler from escaping over the top of the cage before McIntyre simply tossing Ziggler around the cage, but subsequently suffering a Zig Zag that he answered with a head-ringing Claymore Kick. But one Claymore wasn’t enough, as McIntyre delivered a second one to put Ziggler’s lights out for good. But Dolph Ziggler’s defiance got the better of him, screaming at McIntyre “Is that all you got?” Enraged, Drew used a steel chair-assisted Claymore Kick to shut Ziggler up for good. Or so he thought, for as the Scottish Psychopath made his exit, he saw that his former tag team partner had made his way into a sitting position begging for another fight. Incensed, McIntyre blasted Ziggler out of the chair with a fourth Claymore.

Analysis: A Steel Cage Match to kick off RAW to end 2018? I like the sound of that. Hopefully we get more in 2019.

Seth Rollins demands his Intercontinental Championship rematch

What Happened: Let’s cut right to the chase. Seth Rollins wants a Intercontinental Championship rematch, and he wants it now. Well, WWE COO Triple H had something to say about that. Hunter reminded his former protege that there are no automatic championship rematches in the WWE anymore. But things started getting a bit personal when Hunter and Rollins started taking a trip down memory lane. Triple H questioned Rollins integrity, to which the Architect practically exploded, vowing to destroy anything and anyone that gets in his way, including the enitre McMahon Family if necessary. This prompted Shane McMahon to come down and defuse the situation, declaring that the Intercontinental Championship will be defended tonight, against the winner of the Fresh Start Battle Royal.

Analysis: Is Seth Rollins going to turn heel in 2019? I think so. That was full heel Rollins right there.

Apollo Crews wins Fresh Start Battle Royal for Intercontinental Championship Match tonight

What Happened: With an Intercontinental Championship match on the line, the men of Monday Night RAW engaged in a Battle Royal for the opportunity. The first men to go was No Way Jose and Viktor by Apollo Crews. After a few minutes, Titus O’Neil was the next to go, courtesy of Lucha House Party, but were subsequently eliminated in their entirety by Finn Balor. Meanwhile, Crews took out five more men. In a moment of personal vindication, Baron Corbin eliminated Balor before taking out Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins (yes, his losing streak is still going). But it was Apollo Crews who was standing tall at the end of the match, eliminating the Lone Wolf with a pair of enzugiris to earn the biggest opportunity of his career so far.

Analysis: FINALLY! Apollo Crews is getting his due. It’s unfortunate that he’s going to be robbed by Seth Rollins.

Ember Moon, Sasha Banks, & Bayley def. The Riott Squad

What Happened: After being attacked by the Riott Squad last week following their tag team victory, Ember Moon, Sasha Banks, and Bayley looked for a bit of revenge tonight. Frequent tags on both sides kept things even to start, but the War Goddess found herself isolated in the wrong corner, prompting Banks and Bayley to intervene and help their team regain control. That control didn’t last long after Riott saved Morgan from a rope-hung Meteora from the Boss. The Riott Squad racuous behavior prompted Moon to take action, dismantling Riott and Morgan, leaving Logan in a 2-on-1 situation that she could not endure.

Analysis: Here we go. Get ready for the repetitious six-women tag team matches again. I personally hope Bayley gets a singles push since she is the one getting the pinfalls in this matches.

Bobby Lashley def. Seth Rollins via Disqualification

What Happened: Triple H laid down the challenge to Seth Rollins, and I think it’s safe to say challenge accepted. Granted, it wasn’t easy, as Lio Rush made sure to get involved every chance he got. But the Architect’s rage got the best of him, striking down both Lashley and Rush with a steel chair and Stomping Rush into the canvas. Triple H said he wanted to see the Seth Rollins that would do whatever it took to get back to the top. He very well may have gotten his wish.

Analysis: I am beginning to see that this whole Fresh Start initiative is a complete bust. The McMahon family may have done away with automatic championship rematches, but that doesn’t preclude them from essentially handing them out.

Dean Ambrose (c) def. Apollo Crews (Intercontinental Championship)

What Happened: After winning the Fresh Start Battle Royal earlier in the night, Apollo Crews had the biggest opportunity of his career when he challenged Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Championship. Despite still feeling the effects of his earlier match, Crews used the same speed and power that won him the Battle Royal to keep the champion on the ropes. In fact, the challenger was just three seconds away from his first championship in WWE after his signature spinning sitout powerbomb, but he wasn’t too mindful of the ring positioning, allowing Ambrose to reach the ropes to break the count. Knowing that Ambrose was still hurt, Crews went for a home run frog splash, but ended up striking out instead, crash landing straight into Dirty Deeds.

Analysis: If the McMahons were seriously about giving new Superstars the big opportunities, they would have put the belt on Crews. That would at the very least put some level of legitimacy into this Fresh Start. Instead, it’s just business as usual in the WWE.

Natalya & RAW Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey def. Nia Jax & Tamina

What Happened: If you mess with Natalya, be prepared to deal with Rousey. In a match stemming from a backstage attack, the Queen of Harts and the Rowdy One once again joined forces to take on Nia Jax and Tamina. Natalya and Rousey’s rage forced Jax and Tamina into retreat for a while, but they quickly gained controlled as the Irresistible Force saved Tamina from the Armbar with a massive legdrop. With Natalya hurt and Rousey down, Tamina went for a Superfly Splash, but the champion countered and locked in the Armbar to keep her 2018 campaign undefeated.

Analysis: The RAW Women’s division is not so shallow that WWE has to put Rousey in tag team matches when she doesn’t have an active challenger. But I expect that will change next week and Alexa Bliss will once again be launched straight into the title picture.

Overall Analysis

This wasn’t as strong a year-end RAW as last year, though it had its moments. Kicking off the show with the Steel Cage match was ingenious and I was glad to see Apollo Crews get a significant singles opportunity. 7/10

2019 Royal Rumble Rosters

Below is the list of all Superstars who are currently confirmed to be entering either the Men or Women’s Royal Rumble match, including when and how they gained entry into the match.

Men’s Royal Rumble

  • R-Truth (automatic berth at No. 30 due to MMC Finals victory)
  • Drew McIntyre (announced by WWE on Dec. 24)

Women’s Royal Rumble

  • Carmella (automatic berth at No. 30 due to MMC Finals victory)
  • Natalya (declared entry on RAW Dec. 31)
  • Ember Moon (entry announced on RAW Dec. 31)
  • Sasha Banks (entry announced on RAW Dec. 31)
  • Bayley (entry announced on RAW Dec. 31)
  • Ruby Riott (entry announced on RAW Dec. 31)
  • Liv Morgan (entry announced on RAW Dec. 31)
  • Sarah Logan (entry announced on RAW Dec. 31)

NXT 26 December 2018

Bianca Belair def. Mia Yim, Lacey Evans, and Io Shirai (Fatal 4-Way Match for NXT Women’s Championship Match at NXT TakeOver: Phoenix)

What Happened: With a date with NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler on the line, four of NXT’s top female Superstars went to war in an all-important Fatal 4-Way Match. Despite the fact that only one woman could win, alliances were made between Io Shirai & Mia Yim and Bianca Belair & Lacey Evans. Those allegiances, however, quickly broke down, resulting in an all-out melee where Shirai and Yim opted for more aerial attacks while Belair used a ground-and-pound style. As for the Lady of NXT, she opted for preservation, only inserting herself into the fray when an opportunity presented itself, a tactic that would ultimate backfire. Evans wiped out Yim with the Woman’s Right, only for Shirai to intervene and break up the pin. But it was the EST of NXT who got the final say, ejecting the Genius of the Sky from the ring before destroying Evans with the KOD. Bianca Belair remains un-de-fea-ted and she very well may be the next NXT Women’s Champion.

Analysis: Bianca Belair has honestly flown under my radar this year. The NXT Universe could firmly behind her though. I’ll have to keep a close eye on her in 2019.

Jaxson Ryker def. Mitch Taverna

What Happened: Do not forget the Forgotten Sons. If you do, you will end up just like Mitch Taverna, who was utterly destroyed by Jaxson Ryker in a matter of minutes. The pain only end after an unforgiving slingshot powerbomb.

Analysis: Um, somebody remind who the Forgotten Sons are again? Seriously, I have no clue.

Undisputed Era (c) def. Heavy Machinery (NXT Tag Team Championships)

What Happened: They may be on their way to the main roster, but Heavy Machinery had one more mission before that: to win the NXT Tag Team Championships. The match was pretty much an all-out brawl throughout. Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong kept up with Otis Dozovic and Tucker Knight, but the deciding factor came in the form of a high-low attack on a raging Dozovic to keep the tag team titles with the Undisputed Era.

Analysis: Without Heavy Machinery, the tag team division in NXT will need a little bit of revamping. I’m personally hoping to see the Street Profits start getting more significant opportunities.

Smackdown Live 25 December 2018 (MERRY CHRISTMAS)

Daniel Bryan attacks R-Truth

What Happened: It’s Christmas Day and who better to kick off Smackdown Live than R-Truth and Carmella! The Mixed Match Challenge champions spread joy to the WWE Universe, but were soon interrupted by Daniel Bryan, who chastised and criticized the duo for aiding the WWE Universe in their materialistic ways. The Suntan Superman took exception to Bryan’s assertions and reminded the WWE Champion that he was the Number 30 entrant into the Men’s Royal Rumble match and had every intention of taking the WWE Championship from Bryan at Wrestlemania, provided he was still the champion at the time. At that moment, Bryan snapped and took out Truth, mangling his leg with vicious submission holds as Carmella looked on in horror.

Analysis: Again with the horrible heel angle. Since I am a part of The New Authority, I want to see a different angle for Bryan as a heel.

Mustafa Ali def. Andrade “Cien” Almas

What Happened: If you think Mustafa Ali pinning the WWE Champion last week was just a fluke, he proved you wrong tonight. The Cruiserweight turned Smackdown Live Superstar took on Andrade “Cien” Almas in a battle of two of Team Blue’s young Superstars. Between having to deal with Almas’s unpredictable versatility and Zelina Vega running interference on the outside, Ali had some trouble getting out of the blocks. But as she showcased on 205 Live, once he got going, “Cien” had quite a fight on his hands. And dead in the midst of a furious back-and-forth, Ali dropped Almas with a satellite DDT before hitting the 054 for the win.

Analysis: WWE officially moved Ali from the 205 Live roster to the Smackdown Live roster, which means he is there to stay. Hopefully, more Cruiserweights like Cedric Alexander and Buddy Murphy get the same opportunity

The Usos and Gallows & Anderson def. SAnitY and Smackdown Tag Team Champions The Bar

What Happened: Rivals turned allies by common enemy, The Usos and Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson teamed up to take on The Bar and Killian Dain & Alexander Wolfe of SAnitY. The Good Brothers and the Uso Brothers worked well together, but a tag to the monstrous Dain changed the course of the match instantly. But with eight grown men in the same ring, chaos was bound to erupt. And erupt it did, and by the end of it, Cesaro had been pinned, courtesy of a Magic Killer.

Analysis: Are Gallows and Anderson finally going to get a push? Looks like it too me. And with Finn Balor due for a push and AJ Styles always near the top, it’s a good time to be part of The Club.

Shane McMahon agrees to be The Miz’s tag team partner on MizTV

What Happened: Ever since Survivor Series, The Miz has been trying to convince now-former Smackdown Live Commissioner Shane McMahon to be his tag team partner, a notion that Shane has been very skeptical about. After tonight, the Hollywood A-Lister can say Mission Accomplished. The Prodigal Son showed up on MizTV with his mind firmly made up that would not indulge The Miz, even after his impassioned plea regarding simply wanting to impress his father. Left with no other alternative, Miz turned to the WWE Universe, who roared their approval of the potential partnership. After administering a stern warning against any sort of turncoat tactics, Shane caved in and agreed to team with The Miz.

Analysis: I am still waiting for someone to come along and tell Shane McMahon that he can’t be an authority figure and a competing Superstar. But I get the feeling that I’ll be waiting a long time for that to happen.

Samoa Joe def. Jeff Hardy via Disqualification

What Happened: If there is one thing we know about Samoa Joe, it’s that he has no quarrels about taking things to a personal level. Last week, Jeff Hardy made Joe pay for his indiscretions. The Charismatic Enigma wasted no time going after the Samoan Submission Machine, allowing his rage to fuel his attack. But his rage would be his undoing as he continued to pummel Joe outside the ring, forcing the official to disqualify him. But there was no stopping Hardy, until Joe stopped Hardy, trapping him in the Coquina Clutch by the announce table.

Analysis: Both Hardy and Joe deserve better storylines than this. Neither one has been in real consideration for a championship run, something I hope changes come 2019. 

Rusev def. Shinsuke Nakamura (c) (United States Championship)

What Happened: It truly is a Happy Rusev Day because Rusev is the new United States Champion. For weeks, the Bulgarian Brute has been trying to get his hands on Shinsuke Nakamura, so when he finally did, he exchanged brutal blows with the champion, but the Artist’s quickness proved to be a difference maker. Rusev showed resilience, though, roaring back from nearly suffering a Kinshasa to nail Nakamura with a Machka Kick. But it took another Machka Kick to put Shinsuke down for good and bring the birthday Bulgarian his third United States Championship.

Analysis: Finally, Rusev gets his and Nakamura gets his. Can’t wait to see what a new United States Champion brings in 2019.

Moment of the Night

At the end of the show, Vince McMahon called AJ Styles into his office and essentially provoked him into attacking him. This has raised a lot of questions as to Styles’s face/heel alignment. While I won’t make any speculations in that regard, I will say that it is very intriguing.

Monday Night RAW 24 December 2018

Elias def. Bobby Lashley (Miracle on 34th Street Fight)

What Happened: For weeks on end, Elias has dealt with Bobby Lashley pretty well, only to have Lio Rush come behind and help ruin his fun. Tonight, WWE’s Sinister Songsmith looked to silence the former ECW Champion once and for all in a Miracle on 34th Street Fight. Elias had the match well in hand, that is until Lio Rush got involved again. From there, the Almighty dominated, but a present that he had opened quickly turned into coal when Elias dropped his foe onto a pile of Lego bricks. After taking some time to send the 24-year-old hype man through a cookie-laden table, the Drifter cracked a cello over Lashley’s back to put him away for good.

Analysis: Nothing like a good old Street Fight to kick off the Christmas Eve edition of Monday Night RAW. With new matchups promised for 2019, this should mark the end of this feud.

Chad Gable & Bobby Roode (c) def. The Revival (RAW Tag Team Championships)

What Happened: There may be a new era dawning in WWE, but Chad Gable and Bobby Roode are still the RAW Tag Team Champions, albeit with a bit of controversy. The Revival were hellbent on winning the RAW Tag Team Championships after finally earning an opportunity in a Fatal 4-Way match last week. Going back to their old methodology isolate and destroy, Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson brawled back and forth with the champions. So exactly why is the champions’ victory in question? In the closing moments, Roode ambushed Dawson to save Gable, who in turn pinned Wilder. The only issue was that Dawson was the legal man, not Dash. So Gable and Roode retain the title, but Dash and Dawson have a legitimate gripe.

Analysis: Okay, okay. A bit of controversy between two fan favorite tag teams on RAW. There’s bound to be a rematch next week, but perhaps the beginnings of a legitimate rivalry in the tag team division.

Finn Balor def. Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler (Triple Threat Match)

What Happened: In recent weeks, Dolph Ziggler and Finn Balor have come to an agreement that neither on of them like Drew McInytre. But that hasn’t stopped them for tearing into each other, a fact that McIntyre took advantage of to lay waste to both men last week. Tonight, the three men looked to finally settle their differences in a Triple Threat Match. For the Showoff and the Extraordinary Man, they had no problem doing that, going right after the Scottish Psychopath. With McIntyre out of the running for much of the match, Balor and Ziggler ripped into each other without mercy. But once, McIntyre recovered, the alliance was back on as a superkick-Coup de Grace combination put down the Scotsman for good. From there, the inaugural Universal Champion was the first to capitalize with a second Coup de Grace to Ziggler to escape with the win. After the bell, McIntyre went after Ziggler, who responded with a Zig Zag.

Analysis: So, Balor is supposed to get a huge push, but McIntyre is the clear favorite to win the Royal Rumble match. I have a feeling that one of those is going to give in the long run.

Mr. McMahon makes more bombshell announcements

What Happened: As promised last week, the changes to RAW and Smackdown Live are only getting started. As a holiday present to the WWE Universe, Mr. McMahon made three huge announcements. First, Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre will face off inside a Steel Cage next week. Second, 16-time champion John Cena will be returning to both RAW and Smackdown as a free agent. And finally, you wanted it, you got it. Coming in 2019, there will be new WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships.

Analysis: Right around Evolution, Stephanie McMahon said WWE wasn’t ready for women’s tag team titles. Exactly what changed between, then and now, I don’t know, but hey, we’re finally getting the titles. As far as John Cena is concerned, there is no doubt in my mind that he will be here from the Royal Rumble to Wrestlemania and then be gone again.

Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Ember Moon def. Alicia Fox, Dana Brooke, and Mickie James

What Happened: With the promise of Women’s Tag Team Championships, the women of RAW looked to get a jumpstart on getting their bid for the titles in six-women tag team action. Alicia Fox and Mickie James put their veteran status on display and Dana Brooke continued to hone her aggression. On the other side, Ember Moon reminded everyone of her superior athleticism and Sasha Banks and Bayley were the epitome of teamwork, putting James away with a combination of a Backstabber and Bayley-to-Belly. After the bell though, the Riott Squad made their presence known, taking out Banks, Bayley, and Moon.

Analysis: I get the bad scent of monotony brewing. It seems as though RAW is going to use the creation of women’s tag titles as an excuse to go back to repetitious six-women tag team matches.

Ronda Rousey (c) def. Natalya (RAW Women’s Championship)

What Happened: A meeting that was set to happen last month, Natalya faced her best friend and training partner Ronda Rousey for the RAW Women’s Championship. Natalya, who won an eight-women Gauntlet to earn the opportunity, took advantage of Rousey’s hesitation to fully engage. The Rowdy One defended when necessary, but never bring herself to fully commit to a gameplan until she found herself caught in the Sharpshooter, at which point she quickly fought out the hold and applied the Armbar to save her championship.

Analysis: I don’t know if this was planned by WWE or is a part of Rousey’s relative naivety, but I don’t like how this match went down. I feel like we were robbed of an opportunity to see an excellent match in the RAW women’s division.

Heath Slater def. Jinder Mahal via Disqualification; Rhyno returns to RAW

What Happened: With the ousting of Baron Corbin last night, Heath Slater got his job back as a RAW Superstar and got back an old friend. In his first assignment as a reinstated competitor, the One Man Band took on his former 3MB teammate Jinder Mahal. The Modern Day Maharaja had things in control, but got distracted when Santa Claus showed up and started giving out presents to the crowd. Slater took advantage, but was quickly ambushed by the Singh Brothers. Old Saint Nick quickly made his way to the ring and assisted Slater in fighting back, spearing Mahal before revealing himself to be none other than Rhyno, who was apparently rehired when Corbin was stripped of power.

Analysis: This was a pretty fun way bringing Rhyno back. Rhyno is an ECW and WWE legend, so the level of disrespect in having Rhyno retire due to Corbin would be unforgivable.

Seth Rollins def. Baron Corbin

What Happened: In case you didn’t know, Baron Corbin blames his firing as RAW GM solely on Seth Rollins. Tonight, he looked to make the Kingslayer pay for it. Long story short, he failed. To his credit, the Lone Wolf showed very little ring rust from his administrative duties, but Rollins was also looking for a bit of peace of mind after his recent battles with Dean Ambrose. So before he knew it, Corbin found himself Stomped into the canvas to continue his horrible end to 2018.

Analysis: We get the point that Corbin is going back to the swamp. Can we please move on now? Thank you very much.

Segment of the Night

Simply because Elias has grown on me all year, my Segment of the Night goes to the Miracle on 34th Street Fight.

16th Annual Tribute to the Troops (20 December 2018)

The New Day spreads the Spirit of the Holidays

To kick off the 16th annual Tribute to the Troops, the New Day spread the warmth of the holidays by handing out some gifts to the troops gathered at Fort Hood, TX. Big E (or Sant E. Claus), Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods thanked the troops for their service and shared some of their favorite Christmas traditions before leading a “USA” chant.

RAW Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey & Natalya def. The Riott Squad vs. Nia Jax & Tamina (Triple Threat Tag Team Match)

They may be foes come Monday night, but tonight Ronda Rousey and Natalya teamed together to take down the Riott Squad and Nia Jax and Tamina in Triple Threat tag team action. Rousey and Sarah Logan started the match off, but Logan quickly bailed when faced with the RAW Women’s Champions power. Natalya took over Liv Morgan, absolutely decimating her. In fact, Liv was so desperate to get out of dodge that she tagged in Tamina. Tamina and Jax took over the match from there, much to the chagrin of the servicemen and women in attendance. The Riott Squad tagged back in after Tamina missed a splash, but chaos took over after the champion tagged in, with all six women, plus Ruby Riott, doing anything they could to stop Rousey. But all that led to was a double Armbar on Logan and Morgan for the tapout victory.

Finn Balor & Elias def. Drew McIntyre & Bobby Lashley

Over the past week or so, Finn Balor and Elias have worked hard to rid themselves of Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley respectively. Tonight, they took one more step towards that goal in tag team action. Lashley started off viciously by blindsiding Balor on the apron and then bullrushing Elias. McIntyre took over, but some quick thinking by the Sinister Songsmith brought in Balor, who delivered a payback blow to Lashley. From there, Lashley and McIntyre dominated the Extraordinary Man and doing everything they could to keep Elias out of the match. But a tornado DDT by Balor, gave him the space and time he needed to tag in a fired up Elias. In fact, Elias was so destructive that Lio Rush had to get involved to save the match. But Finn quickly neutralized him and McIntyre before assisting Elias take down the Almighty once and for all.

Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch appear on MizTV

Still enraged about the happenings of the main event at TLC this past Sunday, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch had a hard time remaining civil on tonight’s special edition of MizTV. But the A-Lister tried his best to keep things from breaking down into fisticuffs, but with words being used as weapons and the arrival of Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, it looked like Fort Hood was going to become a war zone. Luckily, the Queen offered to handle things in a more traditional manner, leading to a tag team match between the four women.

Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch def. Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville

After a near-volatile meeting on MizTV, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch teamed up to take on Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. Any pretense of teamwork was pretty much tossed out the window when Charlotte trolled Becky, who wanted a tag. That cost her though, as it allowed Rose and Deville to take over. Frequent tags kept both women fresh, but a face full of turnbuckle and a blind tag spelled the end, as Lynch locked in the Dis-Arm-Her on Deville for the win.

AJ Styles & Seth Rollins def. WWE Champion Daniel Bryan & Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose

In the final match of the night, it was a crossbrand special as Smackdown’s AJ Styles teamed with RAW’s Seth Rollins to take on the WWE Champion Daniel Bryan and Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose. Before the match could get underway, a brawl broke out leaving Ambrose reeling as the match officially got underway against Rollins. In fact, the Architect nearly put the match away in less than two minutes until Bryan tripped him up. From there the Intercontinental Champion remained in control, but then got cocky and failed to hit a high-risk move and got nailed with a buckle bomb, that led to a double tag to bring in the Smackdown Superstars. The Phenomenal One flew around the ring, lighting into Bryan, who countered the Styles Clash with an enzuiguri. But things quickly broke down again, and by time they settled down, the WWE Champion found himself on his back, courtesy of a Phenomenal Forearm.

Just a Quick Note

You may have notice that I didn’t not include an “Analysis” portion in any of the segments. That is because Tribute to the Troops is not about advancing storylines or championships, it is about giving a little something back to the men and women who risk life and limb for our freedom and our nation. I would personally like to thank each and every member of the US military and its affiliates as without you, I would not be here tonight. God bless you and yours, Happy Holidays, and once again, thank you.