By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Hulk Hogan Addressed the Troops
Hogan's appearance was a pleasant surprise and it must have been a treat for those in attendance. It also might have been the first time where Hogan was on a WWE program and didn't plug anything. It wasn't long before The Miz interrupted who had a cheesy albeit enjoyable exchange with John Cena. The subsequent brawl between the faces and heels set up the multi-man main event nicely. It had a Raw feel to it, but at least it was relatively harmless.
The Usos def. Gold and Stardust
I grew tiresome of seeing these two teams work together after a while during the fall, but it's been long enough since they last clashed that I didn't have a problem with it. They worked a fun tag team match which isn't too surprising given their great chemistry. The match didn't have much meaning behind it, but it was a nice way of kicking off the in-ring portion of the show.
Naomi Won a Santa's Little Helper Battle Royal
These type of matches are always a train wreck, but this was actually better than most. Most of the eliminations were quick and painless and I enjoyed the antics of Emma, Rosa Mendes and Summer Rae early on. Paige was also hilarious hanging on to the ring post in the corner before getting eliminated by the Bellas. I was glad to see Naomi emerge victorious to go along with her current push and her victory came almost exactly two years removed from her win in the 2012 Santa's Little Helper Battle Royal.
Dean Ambrose def. Bray Wyatt in a Boot Camp Match
Ambrose and Wyatt have proven in recent months how well they work together and this was no exception. It almost felt like a rehash of their TLC match with Sunday, all they needed were a few ladders. The action was entertaining and there were a lot of cool spots. Sgt. Slaughter's incorporation was fitting and I liked it how Ambrose finally picked up a victory over Wyatt. I'd have no problem if this was the end of the program, but they may want to continue it for a little longer
Daniel Bryan Interrupted United States Champion Rusev
It was cool to see Rusev and Lana do their shtick in front of the troops since they were the perfect audience for it. I still can't believe they have yet to have Hogan interrupt one of Rusev's promos. It writes itself! Bryan was a nice shocker, though, as I didn't expect him to be on the show. He and Lana had a good back-and-forth on the mic and the troops descending from the rafters was a sweet sight. I think this was more of a one-off than it was setting up anything for WrestleMania, so I wouldn't read too much into this.
John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Ryback and Erick Rowan def. Seth Rollins, Luke Harper, Kane and Big Show
We've seen every combination of these eight competitors in recent weeks so this wasn't anything new, but it was still solid from start to finish. Everyone involved was able to get in their signature spots and they all played their parts well. The flurry of finishes at the end was fun and the babyfaces going over was no surprise but still welcomed. Hogan closing the show with his "Real American" theme playing was a fitting conclusion to the patriotic program.
These Tribute to the Troops shows are always designed for family-fun entertainment and shouldn't be looked at as your typical wrestling show. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the show for the surprise appearances of Hogan and Bryan, the awesome match between Wyatt and Ambrose, and the entertaining main event. I'm no fan of Georgia Florida Line, but their two performances were kept short and sweet and the live crowd seemed to enjoy them and that's all that matters. This special isn't worth going out of your way to see or anything, but for what it was, it was amusing.
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