By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Solid match with Devon successfully retaining his Television Championship against Kurt Angle. I didn't expect much from these two, but the effort they put into it was pleasantly surprising. It was well-paced and Angle's knee injury was a smart excuse for his loss. Aces and 8s need wins, so this was a step in the right direction. Decent tag team match with Matt Morgan and Joey Ryan defeating X-Division Champion Rob Van Dam and Kenny King.
This bout was more focused on the on-going story between King and RVD rather than the action itself, so that was understandable. I still feel as TNA rushed King's supposable "heel" turn, but having him walk out on RVD was still an effective way to further the feud and finally create a story in the X-Division.
Solid match with Randy Orton and Sheamus defeating World Heavyweight Champion Big Show and Dolph Ziggler. It was well wrestled and the restart from SmackDown General Manager Booker T was nicely done. Sure, Show might've looked a bit weak in defeat, but it took two finishers to finally take him down for the three count. Also, this show wasn't about furthering feuds anyway, so the ending result of this bout came as no surprise.
Brief match between Alberto Del Rio and Ryback. Del Rio's pre-match promo with Ricardo Rodriguez got a chuckle out of this viewer, but the match was over before it even got started. I don't see why they needed to protect Del Rio here by having him lose via disqualification, but Ryback was still able to hit his finisher on them both regardless.
Extremely entertaining Miz TV segment guest starring the Muppets. Being the major Muppet mark that I am, I might've found this more humorous than most would, but it was still very fun. I got a kick out of Kermit's line asking Miz if he was a good guy, essentially breaking the proverbial fourth wall in the process. Damien Sandow's interruption only enhanced this promo as well as his enjoyable verbal exchange with Miz and the Muppets. This was the highlight of the show for me and I always love it when the Muppets appear on WWE programming.
Good match with The Miz defeating Damien Sandow. Given the fact this was the first-ever meeting between the two, it provided viewers a nice preview of what they're capable of inside the ring. They developed solid chemistry and both were able to hit their signature spots before Miz scored the roll-up victory. I highlight anticipate seeing more from Sandow and Miz in the future.
Decent six-man tag team match with WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No and R-Truth defeating 3MB. I'm not much of a fan of 3MB, so they were a majority of the reason why I didn't care about this bout, but it served its purpose in delivering a fun finish and some quality comedy from Team Hell No.
Great match between John Cena and United States Champion Antonio Cesaro. Both of their roles on this show were fitting since Cena has been the face of this annual event for years while Cesaro has trashed Americans for weeks now. The match wasn't all that long, but Cesaro looked strong in defeat after scoring some offense early on. This is another feud I would love to see occur at some point down the line.
Overall, an enjoyable show that featured some quality action and touching video packages celebrating the event's tenth anniversary. Obviously, the matches weren't the focal point of the show, but they did a superb job of giving the live crowd entertained and happy with all the faces going over. I personally skipped through the concerts, but it made for some fine filler for those in attendance. It never ceases to amaze me how WWE goes above and beyond for saluting our troops each year and doing so in such a respectful and classy manner.
Big E Langston lays out John Cena for the second time with 24 hours.
Entertaining Miz TV segment featuring Dolph Ziggler, AJ and Big E Langston. Miz seemed much more on his game here as far as delivering his humorous lines and made for a good counterpart to Ziggler. AJ portrays a much better heel and did a nice job of further teasing as to why she betrayed John Cena. Langston also played his role well in laying out Miz and garnering heat in the process.
Nice match between Damien Sandow and Sin Cara. It wasn't anything special, but Cara didn't botch any manuevrs from what I saw, so that's all that matters. The Shield making an appearance was a pleasant surprise. Having them ambush Cara following his loss to Sandow was smart booking, since Cara needs to rehabilitate the minor injury he suffered during the Tables match at Sunday's WWE TLC event.
Fine match with Santino Marella defeating Tensai. It was logical after what occurred between the two at the Slammy Awards, so at least it made some sense. The match was basically what you'd expect from the two and I hope the mention of Tensai's recent losing streak from the commentators is a sign of a story-line for him, which is something he desperately needs at this point. Also, it seemed strange that he would acknowledge the Albert chants from the crowd after trying for so long to drown them out.
Fun six-man tag team match with Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston and WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No defeating Wade Barrett and the Prime Time Players. It was very well wrestled and the styles of all six competitors meshed nicely. Furthermore, it received great time and furthered all feuds involved. Although I would've preferred to see the heels go over to regain some lost momentum, I'm content with the faces going over instead.
Strong promo from WWE Champion CM Punk and Ryback. Punk was solid on the mic as always and it was great to see his feud with Ryback furthered on this show. I'm glad they picked up where they left off with this feud from a few weeks ago and Ryback did an exceptional job on the mic as well. They also successfully managed to hype their pending match over the WWE Championship on the first Raw of 2012, which should be extremely exciting to say the least.
WWE Champion CM Punk interrupts Ric Flair's shocking WWE return.
Brief match between Damien Sandow and Rey Mysterio. They work well together, so I would've liked to see this bout go a bit longer. As always, I love it when in-ring action kicks off the show. I have no problem with Sandow losing since Rhodes avenged his loss later in the night.
Awesome return from The Boogeyman. It happened at the most random moment that it came as a huge shock to the live audience and fans watching at home. Boogeyman has always been a fun, unique act, so it was nice to see him back for one night only. As for Kofi Kingston winning the Slammy Award, I couldn't care less.
Fine match with Kaitlyn defeating Divas Champion Eve. We've seen this bout numerous times before, so there was nothing new here whatsoever. Kaitlyn scoring the non-title victory ensures she gets yet another title shot down the line (preferably on Christmas Eve). Aren't there other Divas that can feud with Eve aside from Kaitlyn and Layla?
Meaningless match with Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston defeating Tensai. The match lasted a mere minute, so this contest served no purpose at all. However, Wade Barrett's post-match attack on Kingston was well done and I'm glad to see the feud between them continue going forward.
Intriguing segment with AJ kissing Dolph Ziggler. I've hoped for them to be a couple for quiet some time now, so I'm happy to see it finally come to fruition. Ziggler looked a bit shocked, though, so it doesn't appear as if they've been in cahoots all along. I found it mind boggling as to why the Kiss of the Year Award was presented on Raw but the Diva of the Year award was presented on WWE.com.
Throwaway match between The Great Khali and David Otunga. Both guys are terrible in the ring, so why WWE would put these two together in a match is beyond me. This is third time we've seen it in recent months, and it's practically the same match every single time. Thankfully, it was over quickly with Khali as the obvious victor.
Entertaining segment featuring WWE Champion CM Punk and the returning Ric Flair. Firstly, WWE did an excellent job in creating hooks for these series of continuous segments and keeping the viewers in suspense. Secondly, I realize that it's illogical to give John Cena the Superstar of the Year since he practically accomplished nothing in 2012, but the awards hardly mean anything anyway, so what's the point in getting mad over that? Flair did a tremendous job here and the live crowd was hot for his comeback. He and Punk had a hilarious exchange and an enjoyable brawl that even saw Flair connect with the Figure Four leglock on Paul Heyman.
Strong brawl featuring The Shield, Team Hell No and Ryback. The Shield received great heat for targeting Ric Flair and it was a nice way of building off their victory from the night before at WWE TLC. Ryback came out to an explosive pop when making the save and it was very cool to see him, Flair, and Team Hell No all in the same ring together at the same time.
AJ pushes John Cena off the ladder, costing him the MITB briefcase.
Decent Santa's Little Helper pre-show battle royal that saw Naomi emerge victorious as the number one contender to the Divas Championship. The eliminations were quick and the action was harmless, so it was pretty standard. Divas Champion Eve did well on commentary and Naomi winning the bout was a pleasant surprise.
Very fun Tables tag team match to kick off the show with Team Rhodes Scholars defeating Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara to become the new number one contenders to the WWE Tag Team Championships. This bout received hardly any hype going into it, so the placement of this match was perfect. The action was very enjoyable and the numerous table teases created great suspense. Incredibly insane spot with Rhodes tossing Cara off the apron and sending him spiraling through the table at ringside. The ending result was never in doubt, but it was the most logical move since Rhodes still has beef with Kane for injuring him last month. If there's anyone I want to see as the next WWE Tag Team Champions, it's Team Rhodes Scholars.
Good match with Antonio Cesaro defeating R-Truth to successfully retain his United States Championship. It's safe to say this hasn't been the most exciting feud, but I will admit they provide some nice matches. The contest accomplished what it needed to in keeping the star-spangled prize on Cesaro. The red-hot Brooklyn loved Cesaro (which would be a common theme for most heels throughout the night), so I'm not exactly sure how Matt Striker thought he received a "negative reaction". I was hoping for a return (preferably from Christian) during Cesaro's post-match promo, but no such luck.
Solid match with Kofi Kingston defeating Wade Barrett to successfully retain his Intercontinental Championship. The action seemed flow very well and the fact-paced near-falls towards the end were intriguing and nicely done. Cool finish with Kingston reversing Barrett's finisher into a Trouble in Paradise. I'm fine with Barrett losing here, as long as the feud continues and he captures the strap at some point during the course of the rivalry.
Extremely awesome TLC match with The Shield defeating Ryback and Team Hell No. It start off as anything special, but the action intensified down the stretch. The numerous spots involving the tables, ladders and chairs were hard-hitting and made the live crowd to react accordingly. Each competitor had their shining moment and contributed into making this an incredibly entertaining outing. I'm very happy with the finish, as it protects Ryback since he wasn't the one to be pinned. It's reassuring to see WWE not make the same mistake they made with Nexus back at SummerSlam 2010 by making them lose. The Shield has a ton of potential and having them win their first official WWE match is a step in the right direction.
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