WWE held their final pay-per-view of the year, and they went out with a bang made by tables, ladders and chairs. But it was an extreme delight or did it crash and burn?
Buddy Murphy (c) vs Cedric Alexander- WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match
Result: Murphy retains via pinfall
Thoughts: Without a shadow of a doubt; the best pre-show match of the year happened on the final PPV of the year. Murphy and Alexander showcased exactly why people should be watching 205Live; matches of this quality happen almost weekly. Murphy retaining was the obvious result but there was a number of times where it was absolutely believable Alexander was about to pick up the victory and the title. The crowd were actually into the bout as well which helps to no end; instead of just silence whilst some fantastic sequences are taking place. Another example of why the Cruiserweights should be absolutely nowhere near the pre-show.
Elias vs Bobby Lashley- Guitar Ladder Match
Result: Elias wins
Thoughts: Right. Elias won so automatically; I’m delighted. But…what a weird ending that was. Yes, Elias won but was made to look terrible after it by being attacked, easily, by Rush and Lashley? What’s the point in that? But hey- Elias won. Get in.
Mixed Match Challenge Final- Fabulous Truth vs Mahalicia- Winners get a paid vacation/number 30 in their respective Royal Rumbles
Result: Fabulous Truth win via submission- Win paid vacation + are No.30 in their Rumbles
Thoughts: This was quite sloppy in parts but really fun; in such a weird way. Truth and Carmella’s entrance was absolutely fantastic with the crowd being SO into it. The dance break was funny…I honestly don’t have much to say about the match itself but SHUSH IT WAS HARMLESS FUN. Truth announced the ALL EXPENSES PAID VACATION they will be taking is to WWE Headquarters in Stamford. Cannot wait.
The Bar (c) vs The Usos vs The New Day- Smackdown Live Tag Team Championship Match
Result: The Bar retain via pinfall
Thoughts: The story for the first half of this match was simple yet effective; both The Bar and New Day did everything they could to keep The Usos out of the match in order to protect their chances of winning the titles. The insane…I guess you could call it a Tower of Doom but from the middle of the ring with a diving crossbody was absolutely fantastic. The Superkick Party from the Usos and then the trading of finishers between everyone was fast-paced and great. The Bar retaining was definitely a surprise; where do they go from here? Sanity are dead in the water so it can’t be them and Smackdown doesn’t really have anyone else…The Good Brothers? WE’LL HAVE TO WAIT AND SEE. So far, two for two in terms of enjoyable matches.
Baron Corbin vs Braun Stowman- If Baron wins, he is the permanent RAW General Manager. If Strowman wins, Corbin is fired and Braun faces Lesnar at the Royal Rumble
Result: Strowman wins via pinfall with the help of the Face RAW locker-room- faces Lesnar at the Royal Rumble
Thoughts: This was incredible. Just proper, old school, fun. Slater getting the pop of his life, Angle coming back and Strowman getting the win. Strowman vs Lesnar at the Rumble will be fun as long as Brock cares BUT…who’s going to run RAW?! Alexa…it’s probably going to be Alexa. WATCH THIS. IT’S FUN.
Ruby Riott vs Natalya – Tables Match
Result: Natalya wins after putting Ruby through a table
Thoughts: This started off better than I think anyone else could have expected but it took a nosedive after that. The biggest talking point from the match is, without a doubt, the bump Liv Morgan took through the table like…2 minutes into the match. The tables a lot of the time didn’t really co-ordinate with the spots the two women had planned, which is a massive shame. The reveal of Ruby Riott table was the most wrestling thing I’ve seen in months and was just quite rubbish but the ending spot was pretty cool! But yeah…the weakest match of the main show so far. Also; WHERE do the Riott Squad go from here?
Finn Balor vs Drew McIntyre
Result: Finn wins via pinfall
Thoughts: I PREDICTED EXACTLY THIS. Sorry…I just literally predicted the EXACT finish to this match; I’m proud. The story was simple; Drew is a massive man who is mental and Finn had to fight against the clear power divide. Dolph getting involved helps protect Drew to some extent as it wasn’t a completely clean loss. EXCITING TIMES.
Rey Mysterio vs Randy Orton- Chairs Match
Result: Mysterio wins via pinfall
Thoughts: Well…we had to have a bad one eventually! Slow, dull, very few HUGE spots, little crowd engagement- featuring a superstar who is clearly bored out of his mind. Ah well- we move on.
Ronda Rousey (c) vs Nia Jax- WWE RAW Woman’s Championship Match
Result: Ronda retains via submission
Thoughts: This was surprisingly great. Both Nia and Ronda have fantastic chemistry together and it showcased throughout the match. Much like Drew/Finn; the story was Ronda having to contend with Nia’s power and use her speed to outsmart her. The armbar at the end was great and, obviously, was the right result. Ronda just continues to be the epitome of pro-wrestling: a detestable person outside the ring but hugely enjoyable inside it.
Daniel Bryan (c) vs AJ Styles- WWE Championship Match
Result: Bryan retains via pinfall
Thoughts: I saw a few people say how they felt this was boring but, in my opinion, this was a technical masterclass and proof how captivating technical wrestling truly is when utilised properly by two of the best in the world. The story, much like other matches earlier, was very simple; both men started to target each other’s legs which completely hindered the finishes of each man; the Styles Clash and Running Knee. Bryan’s new, Animal Style, was fully utilised with Styles consistently countering almost everything Bryan threw at him. I was ridiculously invested as I honestly didn’t know what was going to happen; any move could have ended the match due to the intensity every move was given. The calf crusher spot was absolutely fantastic as Bryan sold it like his legs were being ripped off. The finish was smart; protects Styles as Bryan just rolled over and continues the ‘Mr Small Package’ gimmick. Legitimate Match of the Year contender; SO good.
Seth Rollins (c) vs Dean Ambrose- Intercontinental Championship Match
Result: Ambrose wins via pinfall- New Intercontinental Champion
Thoughts: Seth Rollins vs Dean Ambrose got a ‘This is Boring’ chant. I think that tells you everything about the quality of the match. It just never got going. The commentary in particular MASSIVELY took away from the match; every 30 seconds, Corey was questioning Renee about Dean’s situation. It works when you use it sparingly but when you do it constantly, you can’t focus on the match. Because all you pay attention to is the argument the commentators are having. Unbelievably; this was almost my weakest match of the night- just above Orton vs Mysterio. The call for the Shield fist from Dean was great but story like that should have been prevalent throughout the entire match. It was just slow, rest holds. Dean wins via Dirty Deeds. Let’s hope for better next time.
Becky Lynch (c) vs Asuka vs Charlotte Flair- TLC match for the SDLive Woman’s Championship
Result: Asuka wins- New Smackdown Live Woman’s Champion
Thoughts: Match of the night, maybe Match of the Year; an absolute masterclass of wrestling. This was ridiculous. The spear through the barricade, the senton from the top of the ladder onto the announce table, the swanton through a table, the double ladder spot, the mental kendo-sticks bit…SO many spots to discuss. Unbelievable. Ronda coming out and costing Becky and Charlotte is a fantastic way of interlinking all stories together (IS RONDA PROPERLY HEEL NOW?!?!) and allows Becky, especially, to be protected by losing. Asuka is, finally, woman’s champion. A woman who has been misused, forgotten and ‘ruined’ for around 7 months but the crowd ALWAYS stayed on her side and she’s done it. Absolutely incredible and one of the best TLC matches of all time. And now where do we go? The women’s division in WWE is the highlight of the show. And they fully, fully deserve it
Overall Thoughts: A very, VERY enjoyable show. Admittedly with a few duds (Dean vs Seth, Rey vs Orton and Natalya vs Ruby) but when a show has two legitimate Match of the Year candidates on it- you can’t really complain. WWE has ended 2018 with a bang and, hopefully, can continue that into 2019.