By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Daniel Bryan def. Fandango
To my knowledge, these two have never faced off before, so it was a nice, fresh match to kick off the show with. The match went longer than I initially expected it to (which is a good thing) and Fandango looked good in defeat. This was Fandango's first competitive match in quite some time and I would hope that he would be utilized more like this going forward, even if I'm not his biggest fan. Bryan was super over with this crowd and his post-match interaction with The Wyatt Family was well done.
Damien Sandow def. Santino Marella
With Sandow contending for the Intercontinental Championship at TLC, it was important for him to look dominant in this matchup. Thankfully, it was a basic squash match that was successful in doing just that. Big E Langton did better on commentary this week than he did last week and I liked his post-match confrontation with Sandow. It is good to see a story developing in the mid-card for once.
The Miz def. Kofi Kingston
Another week, another meaningless match between Miz and Kingston. I want to care about these two feuding (albeit for the millionth time), but WWE is making it quite difficult to do so. The matches get more and more irrelevant and it is the same shtick every time. Why not give either guy some mic time? If nothing else, it appears Miz is finally a full-fledged heel now that his "Christmas Bounty" movie has already aired.
Rey Mysterio, Big Show and WWE Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Goldust def. Curtis Axel, Ryback and The Real Americans
This match provided a cool clash of styles and some solid action down the stretch disregarding the unnecessary commercial break. The live crowd was receptive to the flurry of finishers at the end and the Rhodes brothers going over gives them their wins back after losing last week. Whether Rybaxel are still in line for a tag team title shot at TLC is beyond me.
Sin Cara def. Alberto Del Rio
Did Del Rio bring back his old hairstyle? It was hard to tell with the stupid lightning. Anyway, the match consisted of some nice spots, but it felt a bit too slow paced. Don't believe me? I think the "This is awesome" chant will back me up on that. I am glad to see Sin Cara go over Del Rio cleanly for a consecutive week, but I would hope that this leads to an actual program between the two. If not, then what does WWE have in mind for Del Rio now that he is out of the world title picture?
Brodus Clay def. Xavier Woods
The match lasted all of ten seconds, so while it may have looked like a complete burial, it was actually an excellent way of building towards Clay's much needed heel turn. I don't know if the fans care about Woods enough to the point where they feel sympathy for him getting attacked, but Clay definitely showed heel tendencies and looked to be back to his ruthless ways. Here's hoping he distances himself from Tons of Funk sooner rather than later.
CM Punk def. United States Champion Dean Ambrose (Non-title)
Similar to last week's SmackDown, Punk and Ambrose worked a great match with a consistent pace and several suspenseful near-falls. There was a ton of tension teased between the members of The Shield throughout the bout, which saddens me as I still see money in The Shield sticking around for awhile longer. Sure, another singles loss doesn't help Ambrose's credibility as U.S. Champion, but when was the last time he defended that title anyway? It gave Punk a momentum boost going into Sunday, where I assume he'll lose to The Shield.
Luke Harper and Erik Rowan def. The Usos
For never having won the Tag Team titles, The Usos continue to be one of the hottest teams in all of the WWE today. They'll get their due someday, of course. The match was good featuring fun action and there was nice chemistry between both tandems. The Wyatt Family going over was logical given the fact they'll be involved in a three-on-one Handicap match at the pay-per-view.
Natalya def. Tamina Snuka
Does anyone see Tamina as a real threat to Natalya nowadays? I believe this is the third or fourth time in the last month that Natalya has quickly disposed of Tamina. They are capable of having good matches together, but they are sadly never given the time of day. With Natalya getting the upper hand in recent weeks, I would assume that AJ Lee successfully defends her Divas Championship at TLC, but perhaps that is wishful thinking.
WWE Champion Randy Orton and World Heavyweight Champion John Cena Face Off
Both Cena and Orton cut excellent promos and provided some of the best mic work that they have in a long, long time. I have never been a fan of their past feuds, but they made magic in this segment and both competitors played their respective roles to perfection. The ending brawl was incredibly awesome and foreshadowed a few potential feuds involving CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Shawn Michaels and Triple H for the foreseeable future. It did a great deal in building excitement for the TLC title unification match and certifying that there will be only one world champion come Sunday.
As expected, the Slammy Awards were hit or miss with this viewer. Some of them were well done (Superstar of the Year, LOL Moment of the Year, Fan Participation of the Year), while others were too rigged to be believable (Moment of the Year, Diva of the Year, This is Awesome Moment of the Year). While the awards were as campy as they have always been, at least they were kept short and sweet for the most part. The TLC hype wasn't central focus of this show (and I didn't expect it to be to be honest), but at least they built towards most of matches on the advertised card and at least the ending segment was hot enough to convince a number of fans (myself included) to buy the event.
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