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WWE Top Five: Dec. 10-16

Honorable Mentions

The Bar: The Smackdown Live Tag Team Champions came out on top in an entertaining segment on Smackdown and also retained their championships this past Sunday. They have been having a nice run lately; let’s see if it continues.

Zack Gibson and James Drake: The first NXT UK superstars to make the honorable mentions are the young team of Zack Gibson and James Drake. The got a great win against Amir Jordan and Kenny Williams, then made it clear that Mustache Mountain is not the only team keeping their eyes on the new NXT UK Tag Team titles. Keep your eyes on these two.

The List

#5 Ricochet: The NXT North American Champion issued an open challenge that was answered by the main roster’s Tyler Breeze, and they put on a hell of a match. Ricochet is becoming one of the highlights of NXT. He hasn’t put on a bad match yet, and this was no exception. Breeze also had a great showing, but it wasn’t enough to dethrone Ricochet.

#4 Ronda Rousey: The Raw Women’s Champion put on a good show against her opponent at TLC. She sold Nia’s moves well and helped make her look like a monster. Then her comeback was even better, as she showed how much she has improved in the ring. Rousey deserves Rookie of the Year.

#3 Buddy Murphy: The Cruiserweight Champion is above Rousey because of his two fantastic outings. He took on Gran Metalik in a good match, then outdid himself by looking even better at TLC in a victory against Cedric Alexander. He is showing that he can lead 205 Live as the champion.

#2 Daniel Bryan: The WWE Champion dropped a spot, but not because of any failure on his part. He had a good showing against Mustafa Ali and was able to outsmart his challenger AJ Styles in their match on Sunday. He only drops because someone had an even better week.

#1 Asuka: And boy, did she have a hell of a week. She blasted both Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair with a kendo stick to end Smackdown this week, then capped off her week by winning the Smackdown Women’s Championship with an assist from Ronda Rousey. Don’t hold that against her though, as she held her own in the TLC match. How will she begin this reign of hers? We will just have to wait and see.

This week’s Top Five had quite a few changes, but after some amazing performances, I think I got my rankings right. Come back next week to see the top performers of WWE.

Action-Packed PPV Capped Off with a Brutal Women’s TLC Match: TLC Review

WWE:TLC is the final PPV of the year, and WWE did not hold anything back. TLC is the program where Tables, Ladders, and Chairs are used as tools of the superstars’ pain instead of work. The main event had three of the most popular women compete for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, with “The Man” Becky Lynch defending against “The Queen” Charlotte Flair and “The Empress of Tomorrow” Asuka in the name-branded match, a TLC match.

Though the buildup on the Raw side wasn’t the greatest, this card was stacked with plenty of fresh matches. Let’s dive into the show.

Leading off the card on the kickoff show was the cruiserweight championship match between the defending champ Buddy Murphy and the former champ, Cedric Alexander. At Super Showdown a few months back, these two had a fantastic match; Murphy and Alexander have great chemistry together. At one point Cedric hit his finisher, the Lumbar Check, on Murphy; but Murphy was able to get his foot on the bottom rope. That match ended after Murphy hit the Murphy’s Law for the pinfall victory.

This loss caps off a string of bad luck for Alexander since he lost his championship. Alexander is crazy talented and has a bright future in WWE, but Murphy has been the more popular of the two since his debut on 205 Live. This was a pretty clean win, so I believe Murphy will be moving on from Alexander to pursue Mustafa Ali.

The next match was Elias vs. Bobby Lashley in a ladder match, with Elias’s guitar hanging above the ring. You could tell neither one was comfortable; the match was clunky and didn’t do much. Elias got the win, but his victory was short-lived as Lashley would get one over Elias and hit him with his own guitar. This match was boring, and I think made them both look weak. I’m not sure what happens after this.

The first match on the actual PPV was the finals for the Mixed Match Challenge, with Alicia Fox and Jinder Mahal facing Carmella and R-Truth. This was a quick match that had a fun moment or two but didn’t do much for me. The saving grace of this match was the fun that Carmella and Truth were obviously having. You can see why creative gave them the win and the #30 entry in the Royal Rumble next month. I think it’s pretty obvious that neither will win, but the dance break during the Rumble will get the crowd into the match.

The second great match of the evening was a triple threat tag team match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships. It featured the The Bar (defending champions Shamus and Cesaro) vs the New Day (Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston) vs Jimmy and Jey Uso. These three teams have amazing chemistry together. There were some great, hard hitting spots, and each team got their chance to shine. The match ended after Shamus hit a Brogue Kick on Woods for the win.

With the New Day losing cleanly, I have to assume that this will lead to a feud between the Bar and the Usos. The Usos have a claim to a title shot since they were not pinned. Of course, I think Sanity should get an opportunity, but that might just be wishful thinking.

The next match was the first of two TLC matches, and this one had huge implications. It was Baron Corbin vs. Braun Strowman. If Corbin won, he would become the permanent GM, but if Strowman won then he would get a Universal title shot at Royal Rumble against Brock Lesnar. Corbin thought he was going to win by forfeit since Strowman was injured, but Strowman got the win by being present when others attacked Corbin from the back.

This was underwhelming, especially for Strowman fans. The goal was for the good guys to finally beat Corbin, but I left the match just wanting to see Strowman destroy Corbin. This was really disappointing.

Next was the Tables Match between Natalya and Ruby Riott. I have made it no secret how much of a Ruby Riott fan I am, but even I have to say, I was kind of disappointed in this match. Neither woman really got to show what they can do in the ring; it was mostly just them pushing each other into tables and the barricade. There was one nasty spot where Liv Morgan saved Riott from going through a table, only to be sent flying through it herself. It was the spot of the match. Natalya got the win after powerbombing Ruby through a table.

I think it was the right result. It gave Nattie a nice rub; she said doing a program about the death of her father was therapeutic and helped her grieving process. The loss doesn’t hurt the Riott Squad; I’m just not sure which direction they will go in next.

Up next was Finn Balor vs The Scottish Psychopath, Drew McIntyre. This was excellent storytelling and character work by Drew, who dominated the match, relishing in the pain he was causing Balor. Balor began to fight back, but Drew took back control, only to be attacked by Dolph Ziggler. Drew was able to fight off Ziggler and slid back into the ring, but Finn hit a drop kick then a Coup de Grace for the win.

Drew McIntyre is a star. His subtle moments really add depth to his character; you can see the little bit of psycho inside of him when he smiles during an attack. Finn also shined in this match, as he usually does in matches against bigger men. Ziggler’s involvement seems to be leading towards a feud between all three, which is sure to give us a five-star match at some point.

Then came a Chairs match between Rey Mysterio and Randy Orton. This clash of two veterans was a lot of fun, and Orton and Rey showed their creativity. Rey got in a Victory Roll to pin Orton, shocking Orton into disbelief. This feud isn’t over.

The Raw Women’s Championship match that followed pitted the champ, Ronda Rousey, against Nia Jax. Jax had been building her heat solely on the injury she gave to Becky Lynch a couple of weeks ago, so I wasn’t too excited about this match. Ronda was the shining point of it. She sold every attack by Nia as if she had been a pro for years. Then she got the better of Nia and got her into the armbar, which she makes look extremely painful. Ronda continues her reign and looks toward he next opponent, leaving Nia in her past.

After that came the WWE Championship match with the champ, Daniel Bryan, defending against A.J. Styles. This match was fantastic. These two went back and forth, and the finish has me believing that we are in for at least one rematch. They both worked on their opponent’s legs, and Bryan did a great job of selling like he was going to tap out to the Calf Crusher. At the end, Bryan escaped with a small package pin to retain his title.

The Intercontinental Championship match between Seth Rollins and challenger Dean Ambrose was supposed to be one of the best on the card, and in my eyes it delivered. However, the WWE universe at the event expressed disagreement with some loud “This is Boring” chants. That surprised me, because I feel the story they wanted to tell was told tremendously. Sure, there weren’t any gigantic and fast paced spots, but the psychology Ambrose showed with his slow, methodical pace was good. He used Seth’s emotions against him and hit him with a Dirty Deeds to pick up the win and become the Intercontinental Champion. This is going to be a blood feud, and I hope we get a Last Man Standing match out of this feud.

And finally, the main event and match of the night was the TLC match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, with Becky Lynch defending against Charlotte Flair and the “Empress of Tomorrow” Asuka. These women put it all on the line in this match. It resulted in a buildup to Ronda vs. Charlotte vs. Becky, and it gave Asuka her long awaited title reign. This match had everything you could ask for and even more. To tell you everything that happened in this match would be a disservice; just go watch it for yourself.

This was an excellent PPV all around and was a great way to cap off 2018. Now we look to the Royal Rumble and the road to Wrestlemania. Who will win the Rumbles and headline Wrestlemania? We have that and even more to look forward to.

WWE Top Five for the Week of Dec. 3-9

Another week of WWE programming has passed, and there are quite a few standout performers. Let’s dig into the list.

Just Missing the Cut

Dolph Ziggler: He hasn’t really had much to do, and with Drew McIntyre having a huge part in the GM storyline, he fell to the wayside. This week, he came out to confront McIntyre and even gave Drew his first singles loss (with the assist from Balor). If he’d won without help, Ziggler would’ve cracked the list.

Matt Riddle: NXT’s newest sensation is the last of the honorable mentions this week. He took on the debuting Punishment Martinez and beat him in a competitive match. Riddle is taking the WWE universe by storm, and his upcoming feud with Kassius Ohno is sure to be hard hitting, so expect to see Riddle on this list in the coming weeks.

Top Five

#5. Sonya Deville: A pinfall on Charlotte Flair will get you a spot on this list the majority of the time. Yes, it came off a kick from Asuka, but a victory over Charlotte shows how much confidence the company has in her. She and Mandy Rose got the win, so it’ll be interesting to see where they go from here.

#4. Finn Balor: The leader of Balor Club gets the fourth spot on this list for his role in upstaging Corbin and his crew on Monday night. With McIntyre going after Balor leading up to TLC, will Balor continue to get one up on the group of heels?

3#. Dean Ambrose: The Lunatic Fringe comes in at number three for the promo he put out. I’m still not 100% sold on the germaphobe gimmick, but so far it has worked. The gas mask and the idea of Rollins needing to pay for his sins has me intrigued. At this moment, I’m not entirely sure who will be walking out of TLC with the Intercontinental Championship.

#2. Aleister Black: Coming in at number two is the former NXT champion, Aleister Black. He came out to confront current NXT champion Tommaso Ciampa and challenge him. The segment ended with a future cage match between Aleister and Johnny Gargano. To put an exclamation mark on the promo, Black hit Ciampa with a Black Mass, knocking him out. Black is on a mission and he is not going to let anyone stand in his way.

#1. Daniel Bryan: The brand new WWE champion gets the number 1 spot. His mic skills and the brutal beat down on AJ Styles after his match with The Miz have Daniel Bryan starting his reign on a great note. He made his reasons 100% clear, and he came off great as the douchebag vegan. If he continues like this, it’ll be hard to dethrone him from the top spot.

That’s my top five for the week of Dec. 3-9. Check back next week to see who makes the cut and who fell out the top spots.

WWE: The New Daniel Bryan Goes Green: SD Live Recap 10/4

We are about 12 days away from WWE’s December Pay-Per-View, TLC: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs.

This week's Smackdown Live did an excellent job of furthering along each story they have going on right now. From a fantastic contract signing at the top of the show to a top-notch main event, Tuesday’s show was great from top to bottom.

Tuesday’s Smackdown Live started with General Manager Paige in the ring for the SD Live Women’s Championship contract signing. Asuka made her entrance, then Charlotte Flair followed after her. Finally, “The Man” Becky Lynch made her way to the ring. She was not holding her championship though as it was hanging above the ring, as it will be for their TLC match at the PPV in 12 days. There was a little back and forth between the three, then Becky signed the contract first and walked out. That left Asuka and Charlotte to banter before Mandy Rose, and Sonya Deville interrupted the two women, leading to a tag team match between the four women.

This first segment is just another example of the greatness the SD Live women are putting out week in and week out.

Charlotte is trying to put on her best Becky Lynch impression, while Asuka is bringing back the fire she used to show back in NXT. As for “The Man,” she continues to be the star of the entire WWE. Her carefree attitude towards her opponents, knowing she will do anything necessary to win, just adds to her aura as a pure badass. The end of the segment with Rose and Deville was a nice addition. They are both improving exponentially on the mic and are sure to be staples in the women’s division for a long time.

The tag team match that followed was not the best but was a solid opening contest.

Rose and Deville started to dominate Asuka before Asuka got the hot tag to Charlotte. Charlotte started to clean house before Rose got involved. Rose got on the apron to attack Charlotte. Asuka pulled Rose off the apron and jumps up onto the apron where Rose was. After that, Charlotte blindly blasts Asuka with a big boot, thinking it was Rose. This led to Deville rolling up Charlotte, who reversed it into a roll-up of her own. Out of nowhere, Asuka hits a running knee on Charlotte to retaliate for the boot that she gave to her. Deville then pinned Charlotte for the win.

The angle of the two opponents teaming up has been overused, but this was a way to visualize it that I haven’t seen. The story here, however, is Rose and Deville picking up the big win. Even though it came from an assist from Asuka, the image of Sonya Deville pinning Charlotte is a powerful image. Big things could be heading her way.

The next match was a triple threat match between Cesaro, Xavier Woods, and Jey Uso.

With the tag titles on the line at TLC between the champions, The Bar (Shamus and Cesaro) defending against The Uso’s and the New Day. This was a fast paced match that saw each competitor get their big spot. Cesaro did an impressive Big Swing on Jey Uso while carrying Xavier Woods on his back for an Airplane Swing. Jey Uso ended up winning after landing a Superkick onto Cesaro for the win.

The triple threat tag team match at TLC has the opportunity to steal the show. This triple threat preview match, however, did not. It was rushed, and you could tell. If these guys are given the time, they can tell a great story in the ring. Xavier Woods is my favorite member of New Day, but he seemed to disappear in my mind at times. Even though I wouldn't say I liked this match, I am 100% sure they will put on a much better match at TLC.

The next segment was MizTv featuring The Miz’s guest, WWE Champion, “The New” Daniel Bryan. Before Miz could get started, R-Truth and Carmella interrupted for a quick dance break. After that, Miz introduced his guest, Daniel Bryan. The entire time, Miz was trying to get Daniel to admit that he listened to The Miz. Daniel dances around answering, spouting that he isn’t the bad guy, but everyone else is the villain towards the earth. The segment ended with AJ Styles running down to attack Daniel Bryan. AJ got a few hits on Bryan and Miz, but while Bryan escaped up the ramp, AJ was staring him down then Miz hit a Skull Crushing Finale on Styles.

This was the segment of the night.

Daniel Bryan citing humans lack of respect for the planet as his reason for turning his back on the fans was brilliant. I didn’t think it was going to work at first, but Bryan’s incredible mic skills sold me almost instantly. This was also a great way to implement The Miz and, in my opinion, sow the seeds for another Daniel Bryan vs. Miz program but this time with Miz as the babyface and Bryan as the heel.

The next match took place between Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton. This was a physical match and showed great chemistry between the two veterans. Randy Orton got the win after Samoa Joe distracted Hardy on the Titantron. Orton took advantage and hit an RKO to pick up the victory.

As I said, these two have great chemistry. Even though this match has happened multiple times, I never seem to get bored by it. Samoa Joe on the Titantron in a bar and giving an alcohol service announcement was great. He continues to take advantage of Hardy’s past alcoholism and use it to get under Hardy’s skin. There was only a brief mention of Orton’s rivalry with Mysterio, so that was a little disappointing.

The main event was a match that was made earlier in the night; The Miz vs. AJ Styles. There was great back and forth between the two. The match ended with Styles submitting The Miz with the Calf Crusher. After the match, Daniel Bryan attacked Styles after and targeted the leg of Styles. The brutal attack finally ended with Bryan standing tall over Styles.

I don’t think The Miz and AJ Styles can put on a bad match together. They both have great chemistry and can tell a compelling story in the ring. The best thing about the match though was Daniel Bryan on commentary. He came off as such an environmentalist douche, and it was perfect. His run as this heel champion has gotten off to a great start.

SD Live once again puts out another great episode and continues to assert its dominance as the superior brand. So many good segments and matches, and they have the perfect superstar as their champion. I honestly cannot wait for next weeks go-home show.

Was Monday Night Raw Better This Week? Raw Recap

Anyone who watches wrestling knows that last week’s episode was one of the worst. With horrible storytelling, the heels having no opposition, and creative having no idea what story they wanted to tell with the majority of the women’s roster, last weeks episode is best left forgotten. Did Vince McMahon learn from last week’s mistakes?

The show this week did not start with a long promo that overstayed its welcome. Instead, the show started with Rousey’s music. She hit the ring for a tag team match with Natalya, facing off against Tamina and Nia Jax, who was Rousey’s challenger at the TLC PPV this month. Before the match began, the Riott Squad created enough distraction for Rousey to get assaulted from behind by Jax and Tamina. The match never began, as the Riott Squad put Natalya through a table and out of action.

With Natalya out of action, the match was ruled a no contest. In a backstage segment, Rousey told Alexa Bliss, who runs the women’s division, that she wanted to get her hands on everyone involved in the attack. Bliss informed Rousey that she had sent the Riott Squad home for their attack on Natalya. Rousey could face Jax and Tamina if she could find a partner. This led to Rousey choosing Ember Moon as her partner for the main event.

This segment was a breath of fresh air from the long-winded promos that usually begin the show. The Riott Squad continues to be one of the best but least-rewarded aspects of the Raw women’s roster. Ruby Riott is a fresh face, and her chemistry with Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan, as well as her in-ring performance, should send her to the top sooner or later. This segment with Jax and Tamina was a setup to putting them in the main event against Rousey and Ember Moon.

The next segment was another wasted open forum, run by Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Alexa Bliss. It ended with the entrance of Alicia Fox, Mickie James, and Dana Brooke, just for Alexa Bliss to set up a tag team match with Mickie James and Alicia Fox facing off against Sasha and Bayley.

The main takewaway of this segment was Bayley mentioning for the first time, to my knowledge, wanting herself and Sasha to be the first ever Women’s Tag Team champions. WWE is slowly but surely planting the seeds for a women’s tag division. This is something the WWE universe has been clamoring for; it would be a big step towards putting the women’s division on equal footing with the men’s division.

Sasha and Bayley got the unsurprising win. The strange part is that Alexa Bliss seemingly played the face against her former cohorts. Alexa once led Alicia and Mickie, before her concussions put her out of action. Now she is starting to find her footing as the mouthpiece of the women’s division, and that could provide a nice reprieve from Corbin’s antics.

In the next segment, Scott Dawson of The Revival faced off against Lucha House Party in a 3-on-1 handicap match. The whole concept of Lucha House rules is not entertaining, and does not give Lucha House Party any face points. Instead, The Revival are starting to become a little sympathetic, which it is doubtful WWE wants to happen. To no one’s surprise, Dawson got the loss.

Next, Corbin entered the ring for Drew McIntyre Appreciation Night. Drew joined Corbin in the ring and talked about his dominance. Ziggler entered shortly after to confront his former partner. McIntyre did the usual heel thing, saying he was using Ziggler. Ziggler hit a Zig-Zag on McIntyre, leading to a match between the two.

Next, Finn Balor came out to distract McIntyre. This led to Ziggler getting the win. It was an entertaining match, and the idea of the Scottish Psychopath gunning for Balor is intriguing.

The following segment might have been my favorite of the night. Elias started addressing Bobby Lashley, before Lio Rush and Lashley interrupted with mockery. Elias gave chase; Lashley fought back but got overpowered, and both Rush and Lashley ran away. Rush was then thrown back onto the ramp by Finn Balor, while Elias hit Rush in the back with his guitar. Balor and Elias shared a look of respect as the segment ended. It was a fun segment that teased Balor teaming up with Elias to take down Corbin, McIntyre, and Lashley.

The following segment was another dud. Bobby Roode went head to head with the Authors of Pain’s manager, Drake Maverick. If Roode won, he and Chad Gable would get another chance at AOP. This confrontation was another way to add heat to Corbin, because AOP attacking Gable and Corbin promised a 3 on 2 handicap.

The result was typical. AOP ended up dominating and defeating Roode and Gable. AOP are beginning to lose the dominance they enjoyed in NXT, and I hope that changes.

Next up was Dean Ambrose’s promo detailing his plans for Seth Rollins. It was a decent promo, but nowhere close to his best work. I’m still missing some real insight to why Ambrose is targeting Rollins. Rollins came out to confront Ambrose, but once again, Ambrose got the upper hand and left on top. This match has a lot of potential, but the germaphobe angle on Ambrose does not create the heel everyone wanted.

I’m not even going to talk about the Heath Slater match, in which Rhyno got fired. It was a waste of time and accomplished nothing. It was the worst segment of the night.

The second-to-last match was Finn Balor taking on Jinder Mahal. This match was nothing to write home about. Apollo Crews helped to even the score for Balor, and Balor got the win. The best part happened in the backstage area, with Drew McIntyre blindsiding Balor. It showcased McIntyre’s brutality and reinforced his nickname, the Scottish Psychopath. His psychotic look was believable and gave the program great potential.

Following from the broken opening segment, the main event featured Ronda Rousey and Ember Moon taking on Nia Jax and Tamina. The latter jumped Rousey in the ring before Moon could enter, but Rousey and Moon were able to fight off the assault, and the match officially began. Rousey and Moon got the win, giving Moon a chance to shine in the main event. The biggest story was Jax’s fear to face off with Rousey, which caused her to essentially abandon Tamina. I’m curious to see if Tamina will confront Jax about that.

Overall, this wasn’t a great Monday Night Raw, but it was head and shoulders above last week’s episode. It’s a step in the right direction. Every story progressed; however, there were plenty of wasted and pointless segments. It’s hard to fill three hours; but repeated matches or segments that were supposed to be funny ultimately missed the mark. With the go-home show for TLC being next week, expect a lot of promos and not too many matches. The PPV is looking to be a pretty decent one and unpredictable.