Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey & Natalya def. The Riott Squad and Nia Jax & Tamina in a Triple Threat Match
I loved that this managed to further two different feuds (Rousey vs. Jax and Natalya vs. The Riott Squad) simultaneously, and it was a fun match to boot. The three-way format was largely responsible for this being as enjoyable as it was and everyone held their own. Following her victory, Rousey addressed the audience and thanked the troops for everything they do.
Elias and Finn Balor def. Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre
Similar to the opener, this bout featured two teams that have been at odds for weeks. The in-ring action was above-average and it had a great sense of urgency. All four guys worked well together, the crowd was into everything they did, and the final few minutes were well done. The finish was a little lame, but it was an entertaining affair, otherwise. Michael Cole noted on commentary that Elias and Lashley will face off in a Miracle on 34th Street Fight on the upcoming Christmas Eve Raw, so brace yourselves for some cringe-worthy holiday silliness.
The Shield def. Samoa joe and Raw Tag Team Champions Sheamus & Cesaro
This match was teased at the end of Raw two weeks ago, so it was merely a matter of time before it transpired. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if we see a rematch on an upcoming episode of Raw. Nevertheless, this was a very good six-man tag team match for as long as it lasted and there never seemed to be a dull moment. These six Superstars have excellent chemistry together and have been holding down the fort on Monday nights with their entertaining encounters.
SmackDown Women's Champion Charlotte Flair def. Carmella and Ruby Riot in a Triple Threat Match (Non-title)
Going with a three-way here instead of a straight-up singles match was a wise idea because Riot should be protected this early into her main roster run and Carmella was kept limited. It wasn't without its issues, of course, but it was a good Triple Threat matchup on the whole. It also provided as a preview for what we can expect in Sunday's Lumberjack match at Clash of Champions considering all the women that surrounded the ring during this bout.
By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Big Cass Saved United States Champion Roman Reigns From WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens and Rusev
I have no problem with them holding a handful of matches on these Tribute to the Troops shows, but kicking it off with a segment that belongs on Raw felt unnecessary. This was such a paint-by-numbers segment, which I'm sure was the last thing the fans wanted to see through after already attending SmackDown Live that same night. If nothing else, Owens' mic work was hilarious as always, and Rusev was humorous as well, so there was that.
Cesaro & Sheamus def. The Shining Stars, The Golden Truth and The Club in a No. 1 Contender's Fatal 4-Way Match For the Raw Tag Team Championship
Although this was a fun Fatal 4-Way match, it was difficult to care about any of these tandems right now. Cesaro and Sheamus as well as The Club have lost to The New Day on a number of occasions, including as recently as Monday's Raw. As for The Shining Stars and The Golden Truth, they're filler teams and hardly anyone takes them seriously to begin with. That said, Cesaro and Sheamus were the right tandem to go over. The Club should get a run with the straps at some point, but WWE needs to justify putting Cesaro and Sheamus together by having them win the twin titles at Roadblock.
By Graham "GSM" Matthews
League of Nations Interrupted Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and The Usos
This was a pretty paint-by-numbers segment with everyone making an entrance and setting up the 16-man tag team main event for later on in the show. Only Reigns and the League of Nations got mic time with the League of Nations talking about how much better they are than the United States to elicit heat. It was Wrestling 101 yet effective. On a side note, it was wise for WWE to not have anyone come out with their championships. They would have spoiled the title changes from TLC and Raw if they had the new champions wear their belts and it would have been awkward if the old champions were wearing them. Better to avoid that whole mess by having no one come out with gold.
Jack Swagger def. Rusev in a Boot Camp Match
I likely wouldn't have cared less about this match any other time of the year, but it was fitting to rekindle this rivalry at Tribute to Troops. It also helped that Swagger has meant a little more as of late. Granted, he's still a glorified enhancement talent, but at least his recent feud with Alberto Del Rio has legitimized him to the point where he didn't feel too out of place against Rusev. The annual Boot Camp matches are always a blast and this bout was no exception. Swagger forcing Rusev to tap out truly was a Christmas miracle, but because it's Tribute to the Troops, it's almost as if it never happened.
By Graham "GSM" Matthews
WWE Champion John Cena def. World Tag Team Champion Edge (Non-title)
The classic feud between Cena and Edge dominated the better part of 2006, so it was perfect that they closed out the year by having them go up against each other one final time. They can always be counted on for a quality contest and this was another great matchup from the two longtime rivals. It was also fitting to open Tribute to the Troops with Cena since he has become such an integral part of the event over the past decade.
CM Punk def. Shelton Benjamin
Punk was only months into his WWE run, and as part of the ECW brand, I would have never guessed that he would be invited on the Tribute to the Troops tour. That said, I was pleasantly surprised to see him a part of the event and in a match with Benjmain. The two had fun chemistry each other, but it's a shame Benjamin didn't mean more at the time and was instead toiling in the undercard on the Raw brand.
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