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WWE Weekly: November 22-28, 2015

by Scrooge Mc Suck

Roman Reigns

SURVIVOR SERIES RUNDOWN...

Roman Reigns is slowly becoming the new Lex Luger. I say this because WWE has gone out of their way over the last 12 months to counter-book everything they do with him, pushing Reigns to the brink of being their new face of the company, only to pull back because "he's not ready" or whatever phantom reason that keeps popping up in their minds. They put him over in the Royal Rumble, only to yank it back and put him in a no-win situation with the chosen one of the fans, rendering the Rumble victory as meaningless. They give him the Main Event slot of WrestleMania with Brock Lesnar, but use Seth Rollins' briefcase cash in to avoid pulling the trigger. He spends the rest of 2015 in a go-nowhere program with Bray Wyatt over being the likely winner of the MITB briefcase, only to have it yanked away from him at the last moment. And now, Survivor Series 2015, following an incredibly rushed (and still enjoyable) finale with Dean Ambrose, the beginning of the Roman Empire was nothing more than a rehash of the Daniel Bryan screwjob at SummerSlam 2013, only met with complete indifference. At the end of the day, and entering the new week of WWE programming, the reigning and defending WWE World Heavyweight Champion is... Sheamus. The goof who looks like a rooster and has spent most of the last 3 months jobbing to anyone WWE could think of. A goof who's only role at Survivor Series was part of an unadvertised Survivor Series Match, which didn't bother to have an actual list of participants. A goof with the major moment in the match was being made to look like a tool during his entrance alongside the New Day. A goof who was put in a 3-on-1 situation against incredibly threats like Jey Uso, Kalisto, and Ryback, and couldn't finish off one of them. If Sheamus is going to ride into WrestleMania 32 as WWE Champion, I can think of maybe one or two instances with an equally lackluster Champion set to headline the show, and yes, one of them is the Miz. Here are the results, in case you skipped my review of Survivor Series (and note, all times are courtesy Wikipedia, with a good explanation. For some reason, when hooking up my laptop via HTMI, there's a lag with the Network that slows the video down, so my viewing of Survivor Series didn't end until 11:10 PM, meaning I had to sit through 20 extra minutes of nothing)...

A. Neville, The Dudley Boyz, Titus O'Neil, and Goldust defeated The Miz, Bo Dallas, Stardust, and the Ascension in a Traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series Elimination Match™. Cesaro was originally planned to participate, but was pulled due to requiring rotator cuff surgery, putting him on the shelf for 4-6 months. Talent is dropping like flies. this was nothing but filler. Order of elimination: Viktor pinned by Goldust (:30), Konnor pinned by Bubba Ray Dudley (5:27), Neville pinned by the Miz (8:40), the Miz pinned by Goldust (9:05), Bo Dallas pinned by Titus O'Neil (17:20), and Stardust pinned by D'Von Dudley (18:10). Goldust was easily the most popular of the match, but that's not saying much, since he's been off TV since WrestleMania and the crowd would naturally react to someone they're familiar with and haven't seen in a while. *1/2

1. Roman Reigns pinned Alberto Del Rio (reigning US Champion) at 14:01 following the Spear to advance to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament Finals. Good opener, but nothing spectacular. I know I'm really beating this into the ground lately, but while I enjoy Del Rio's simplistic, realistic offense consisting mostly of strikes, I do enjoy the occasional sports entertainment spots, too. I'll say it now to get it out of the way: the crowd was very cool for everything but the Undertaker. **1/2

2. Dean Ambrose pinned Kevin Owens (reigning Intercontinental Champion) at 11:19 following Dirty Deeds to advance to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament Finals. Really good match, and I always appreciate the effort, but I've seen my fair share of matches between these two, and it's starting to become less of an attraction. Good, hard hitting stuff with the usual cute spots from Ambrose. They did the counter sequence at the end, setting up Dirty Deeds. ***

3. Ryback, The Lucha Dragons, and the Usos defeated The New Day, Sheamus, and King Barrett in a Traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series Elimination Match™. Highlight of the night so far was the New Day entrance, complete with a new pompous hairdo for Xavier Woods, and Sheamus being shamed for being a goof. That and a spot early on where Woods played the trombone while Big E, Kofi, and Barrett displayed some non-PG dance moves. Order of Elimination: King Barrett pinned by Sin Cara (7:46), Jimmy Uso pinned by Xavier Woods (9:22), Sin Cara pinned by Sheamus (10:42), Big E pinned by Jey Uso (11:30), Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods walked out on the match (12:00), and Sheamus pinned by Ryback (17:33) despite valiantly fighting the odds. *1/2

4. Charlotte defeated Paige via submission at 14:15 with the Figure-Eight. This might be the head-scratcher of the night. While I enjoyed it, I can understand why the opinion mostly falls in the "this was OK, but worked weird" argument. I appreciated the effort in trying to put emphasis on wrestling and a few sequences of exchanging hard forearms, and I personally liked it. There were times that I felt the work was a bit light from Charlotte, but they did enough to keep my interest and actually forget the old formula of pathetic Diva matches that WWE relied on for most of the last 2 decades. This wasn't close to most of the Women's Title Matches on NXT specials, but the quality was above the normal standard set that we're still trying to escape from WWE's history of treating the women as a piss break. ***1/4

5. Tyler Breeze pinned Dolph Ziggler at 6:40 in the bathroom break match, originally scheduled to be featured on the Kickoff Show, but bumped up to suck away time from the Championship Tournament Finals. This was OK. Standard TV match with a surprisingly clean finish. Ziggler's attire made him look like a bad Will Ferrell comedy based on an out-of-touch 80's hair band lead singer... please tell me that isn't an actual movie. **

6. The Undertaker and Kane defeated the Wyatt Family at 10:19 when Undertaker pinned Luke Harper. Harper and Wyatt were the official participants, but that didn't stop us from getting spots where Erick Rowan and Braun Stroman (yes, him too) were annihilated by the Brothers of Destruction. Ring entrances alone ate up more time than bell-to-bell action. Most of the match was either Harper selling for Kane and Taker, or Kane doing a weak face-in-peril. Harper looked good, but only so much can be expected out of the combined hundred years that Kane and Undertaker's bodies have gone through and with their physical stature. *

7. Roman Reigns pinned Dean Ambrose at 9:02 following the Spear to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Yes, 9 MINUTES for the main draw of the PPV, a show that had plenty of time left had there not been 10 minutes to waste following the final bell. These two worked a great 9-minutes, but it should've been at least 20 with the work they crammed in. Good brawling spots and near fall sequences aside, this was way too rushed for what should've been an outstanding match, especially considering the talent involved and the level of anticipation this match had without it being promised to take place. **1/2

After about 10 minutes of Reigns and Ambrose making up, confetti falling, fireworks going off, Charles Robinson hanging around for some reason, Triple H making his slow approach to the ring, and Reigns nailing him with a Spear, SHEAMUS, the man mocked for being a goof by the Unicorn loving NEW DAY, shows up, Brogue Kicks Reigns, and cashes in...

8. Sheamus pinned Roman Reigns at :34 following a second Brogue Kick to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match. Reigns kicked out of the first Brogue Kick, giving hope he would actually fend off Sheamus and retain, but nope, he got up, ducked under another, then got hit by the second attempt. Crowd didn't care much for Sheamus, and while they were negative towards Reigns during the match with Ambrose, they didn't dump all over the title win. N/R

Overall, an underwhelming show when it comes to the quality of the matches, and a huge stinker when it comes to the decisions made by whoever is in charge of the creative team. We're two months away from the Royal Rumble, when we're supposed to give a crap again, so I don't expect the next 8 weeks to be too exciting.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, WWE ACTION...

(Raw: Nashville, TN; Smackdown: Indianapolis, IN)

Now with Survivor Series out of the way, let us settle in and enjoy some great story-telling on Monday Night Raw and (Thursday Night) Smackdown... story-telling that brought WWE the lowest rating for Monday Night Raw in two decades. That's going back to the hour-long episodes when the roster was barely a dozen deep before we hit the JTTS skid row parade of geeks.

The biggest problem lies at the top angle in the company. The never-ending Authority vs. Screwed Over Babyface trope. As much as I give Sheamus crap for being in a position he shouldn't be, he's still a good worker, but he just feels like he's just keeping Seth Rollins' spot warm rather than being elevated to something beyond typical Sheamus. Roman Reigns came out to demand his rematch and tease the inevitable match with Triple H now that Hunter has lost the Rock and Seth Rollins as probable opponents for WrestleMania 32. He won't get it tonight, but at TLC in a TLC Match. You have to love using gimmick matches for the sake of using gimmick matches. Closing out the opening segment was the return of Rusev ambushing Reigns to set up a match at the end of the night. They put on a solid performance until we get the revived push for King Barrett, trying to help out Sheamus and Rusev, only unsuccessfully. Let me get this straight... Roman Reigns is now feuding with a trio of Sheamus, Rusev, and King Barrett, three men who were either being jobbed out or on the invisible shit-list for "breaking kayfabe" in 2015.

With Survivor Series in the books, that means we have to rebuild the entire undercard and resume programs that were put on the back-burner because of all the time taken up by the Championship Tournament. Alberto Del Rio and Zeb Colter continued to promote their MexAmerican views, only to be interrupted by Jack Swagger. He's mad at Colter for turning his back on his country and his beliefs. Beliefs, we might remember, that involved xenophobic behavior, but dammit, Swagger is fighting for his country again, just like when he defended his country against Rusev, jobbed, and was ridiculed for it endlessly by JBL until he was banished to regular Superstars/Main Event duty. We got their first big encounter on Smackdown (because it's still Jack Swagger), which ended in a cheap Disqualification thanks to Del Rio using a chair. Maybe setting up a CHAIR Match at TLC? Who knows, and likely nobody else cares, but we'll see where this goes. As long as they don't book another STAIRS Match. Remember that abomination last year with Big Show and Rowan?

Having lost to the Undertaker and Kane to signify the end of another program where they ended up on the losing end of things, it's time once more to rehabilitate the Wyatt Family. Seriously, what is left for Bray Wyatt after all this time? He's worked with Ambrose, Reigns, Cena, Undertaker and Kane, Daniel Bryan, Ryback, Chris Jericho, and I'm sure others I've forgotten about. There's not much left for him without recycling things. The solution this week is the destruction of the Dudley Boyz, which I guess makes more sense than doing it to the Lucha Dragons or some other weak undercard team. At least the crowd gives a crap about the Dudleys. The Dudleys had their chance with a (sort of) rematch, but this time against the B-Squad of Rowan and Stroman. They didn't fare much better this time, with Bubba Ray being put through a table to put an exclamation point on the segment. Odds we get an official Tables Match between the Wyatt Family and Dudley Boyz at TLC?

Elsewhere in the Tag Team Division, the New Day are celebrating their 1st Anniversary as a group, although the official date of that is in question, since they made reference to this last week, too. Maybe after October's pink ropes to honor Breast Cancer Awareness, they can do up the middle rope that vibrant blue in honor of the New Day for the whole month of November. I don't know who was smoking what, but they come out riding stick-horses, with Big E sporting a child's cowboy hat (yippy-kiy-yay mother---), and Kofi having his hair bunched up to resemble a unicorn horn. How can ANYONE hate these guys? They bad mouth Country Music and issue an open challenge, accepted by both the Lucha Dragons (lacking much of a reaction) and the Usos (to a slightly better reaction). Things carried over to Smackdown, with a Thanksgivin' Thumpin' Non-Title Match, where the Lucha Dragons pulled off the victory after a helpful distraction from THE GOBBLEDY GOOKER, who turned out to be Jimmy Uso. The twist was that earlier in the show, it was Xavier Woods was gallivanting around in the costume. How come nobody is celebrating the 25h Anniversary of the Gobbledy Gooker, other than the New Day? This is blasphemy!

Despite the (what looked to be) clean finish in the Divas Championship Match, we shouldn't be surprised that they are continuing the saga with Charlotte and Paige. We got a rematch on Monday Night Raw because of a technicality that Charlotte should've had the hold released because her arms were under the ropes, and wouldn't you know it, they show us the replay and the heel is proven correct. They had another good match that again seemed to lose steam because of how long they were booked to go, but with a cop-out Double Count-Out finish, leading to Paige locking Charlotte in the PTO on top of the announcers table. Seriously, how is that more painful than just doing it in the ring? I don't think we'll get a gimmicked rematch at TLC, but you never know. Maybe they'll make it a Submission Match, even though the natural hard-on implies every match with a gimmick should involve either tables, ladders, chairs, or any combination of the three.

Last, but not least, we finally resume some sort of direction with the Intercontinental Championship. It seemed like they were teasing a program between Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose, but things didn't become official until this week's episode of Smackdown when Ambrose won a random triple-threat contenders match against Dolph Ziggler and Tyler Breeze (one guess who took the fall there). Again, we're too far from TLC to know the stipulations, if any, this will feature, so hopefully they just let them have a good 20-minute wrestling match instead of rushing them through 10.

I typically don't focus too much on the filler, but wow, did Monday Night Raw feature a whole lot of whacky, random, and go-nowhere segments. Among other things... An oddball segment in the Lair of the Cosmic Wasteland used to write Cesaro out of that go-nowhere angle, leading up to a semi-decent Six Man between the PTP and Goldust... Neville pinned Mark Henry with the Red Arrow in one of the most random WWE matches in recent years... Ambrose and Ziggler went over Owens and Breeze... Heath Slater got screen time and was destroyed by Ryback... product placement at its finest, with El Torito, JBL, and Mark Henry shilling Hardees/Carl Jr's... On Smackdown, you had the traditional Thanksgiving fun, with a Turkey Day Feast featuring the New Day, Ascension, Heath Slater, Adam Rose, and the Gobbledy Gooker...

C-YOU LATER, HEATH SLATER...

As usual, there's not much happening on Superstars or Main Event really worth going into detail about, so here's what I do for my own personal amusement: we keep track of the results, including win-loss records, and basically keep tabs on how often certain people appear on these shows, who wins the most, and who, besides Heath Slater, loses the most. It's one of those things I've done with the C-level shows as far back as Velocity and Sunday Night Heat. Last week felt like Titus O'Neil appreciation week, and we got a random appearance of the lost soul known as Brad Maddox. I wonder if Heath Slater will continue his losing streak, and what about the Intellectual Savior of the Masses, Damien Sandow?! Spoilers: He doesn't make an appearance.

From WWE Main Event, taped on November 24th from Indianapolis, IN... Titus O'Neil (3-0) defeated Stardust (0-3) by Count-Out at 3:41 in what I'm assuming is more of O'Neil taking Cesaro's spot on the card against the Cosmic Kook... Ryback (2-0) pinned Heath Slater (0-5) at 2:58 with the Shell-Shock in a battle of former Nexus partners, and as a follow-up to their segment on Raw where Ryback no-sold being hit with a guitar... Rusev (1-0) defeated Zack Ryder (1-2), forcing a tap out to the Accolade at 4:21. Weird to see Rusev give up as much offense as he did to Ryder, someone he was routinely squashing in less than 90-seconds at times... Brie Bella (2-0) defeated Charlotte (0-1) in a Non-Title Match at 9:33 thanks to a distraction finish featuring Paige. What's the point of doing a job like this on a show that maybe 1/10th of the WWE audience will see?

From WWE Superstars, taped on November 23rd from Nashville, TN, but officially broadcast at a later date than Main Event... R-Truth (1-0) pinned Adam Rose (1-3) with the Scissors Kick. I'm surprised it took the fourth week of keeping track of these shows to finally get an R-Truth match... The Miz (1-0) pinned Zack Ryder (1-3) with the Skull Crushing Finale. Good to see Ryder trying to catch up to Stardust and Slater with a double-helping of C-level jobs. I'd say I'm surprised Miz was featured on Superstars, but then again, WWE doesn't use him any more except for filling time on TV with his "Miz TV" nonsense.

SUPERSTAR SPOTLIGHT...

Every week, I basically get to cherry pick whatever matches I feel deserve a detailed recap, either because of the quality (both positive and negative), for storyline direction, or for whatever reasons I can come up with based on my own criteria. Now that we're done with the Championship Tournament, we're back to the formula I originally intended to use, covering just a couple of matches so I don't burn myself out recapping the same matches over and over again....

WWE Divas Championship Match:
Charlotte © vs. Paige:

Rematch from Survivor Series, because Paige complained that Charlotte cheated by having her arms illegally under the ropes while applying a submission hold. They get the special post-entrances introductions to give the match a sense of importance. They lockup aggressively and they quickly exchange hard slaps. Charlotte with a face-first takedown and grabs a front face-lock. Charlotte changes it up, grabbing a side arm-bar, but Paige gets a foot on the ropes. Paige tries hiding out on the apron, but Charlotte brings her in with a slingshot. Charlotte with knees to the face, followed by a knee drop across the chest... holy crap, someone tell Charlotte to NEVER DO THAT STRUT AGAIN. That was awful. Charlotte hooks a head scissors and throws Paige around with ease. Paige side-steps a charge to the corner and sweeps Charlotte off the ropes for a near fall. Paige catches another boot, snaps Charlotte over by the leg, and hooks a modified STF. Paige with a flurry of knees for a two count. Paige hooks her own head scissors, and for a second I thought she was going old school with a Stump Puller. Paige throws Charlotte's legs into the ropes via a snap suplex and wraps the leg around the ropes for further punishment. Paige no-sells a chop, slaps Charlotte across the face, and connects with a Super-Kick for two. Paige with another suplex. Charlotte throws a series of forearms and goes for a takedown, but Paige reverses it and lands a headbutt for a two count. Paige continues working the leg, looking for a tap out, but Charlotte keeps finding ways to survive. They call out something pretty loud, ending with a double knockdown spot with boots to the head. We return from commercial with them trading forearms. Paige with a running dropkick and kips up to a nice pop. Charlotte grabs a sleeper, illegally pulling Paige off the ropes without first releasing the hold. What a cheater! Charlotte with a sloppy spear, taking Paige to the floor. Paige pulls Charlotte away from the ring and throws her into the security wall, but we get a Double Count-Out for their troubles at 11:57. Post-match, Paige sends Charlotte into the ring steps and locks on the PTO on top of the Announcers Table, because reasons. So... Paige is the baby-face, right? Crowd seems to like her more. **3/4 The match lost a bit of momentum, going to commercial and coming back with what basically was a rewind of the last few minutes up until that point. The lack of a real finish is understandable, since this feud will continue through at least TLC.

Roman Reigns vs. Rusev (w/ Sheamus):

Rusev is back from a minor injury, keeping him off TV for about a month. Perfect timing too, considering the nuclear heat his fiancée has with the company lately. He's in his unofficial hometown (based on American residence), so he's going to job. Rusev charges at the bell, but Reigns slugs away. Rusev with a front face-lock. Reigns breaks through a shoulder block attempt and lays him out with a clothesline. Whip to the corner, Reigns goes for a Samoan Drop, but has to settle for a swinging neck breaker. Rusev slips out of the corner and hangs Reigns up across the top rope. Whip to the ropes and Reigns comes back with a big boot, knocking Rusev to the floor. Reigns gives chase, throwing Rusev into the security wall.

We return from commercial break with Rusev in control with a chinlock. Reigns fights to his feet, only to get dumped to the floor and laid out by Sheamus. Rusev continues putting the boots to Reigns, targeting the back for the Accolade. Charging boot to the face gets two. Reigns teases a comeback with a flurry of rights, but Sheamus trips him up, allowing Rusev to knock him back down. The referee chooses not to DQ Rusev and decides to eject Sheamus from ringside. Reigns uses this distraction to roll Rusev up for two. Reigns with the Samoan Drop, but can't capitalize. Both men slowly make it to their feet and exchange blows, with Reigns gaining the upper hand. Whip to the ropes and Reigns with a jumping clothesline. He dishes out the 10-Clotheslines of Doom, but Rusev shrugs it off and nails Reigns with a spinning heel kick for a near fall. Rusev heads to the top rope, but Reigns greets him with an uppercut. Reigns goes for a super-plex, but Rusev shoves him back down and comes off with a diving headbutt for another near fall. This move is replayed with a KAY JEWELERS sponsorship. That seems odd. Rusev calls for the Accolade, but Reigns does everything he can to fight out of it. Rusev stomps him down, but the charging Super-Kick is countered with the Superman Punch for a two count. Reigns goes for what I'm assuming was a Drive-By, but Rusev recovers and lays him out with a Super-Kick. Rusev sends Reigns into the barricade, making sure to break the referee's count when necessary. Reigns with a series of knees and a Superman Punch, knocking Rusev off the apron for a nice "splat" spot. Reigns with the Drive-By on the second attempt. King Barrett shows up from out of nowhere, hitting Reigns with the Bull Hammer for the DQ at 15:19. He tries using a chair, but Reigns intercepts and clobbers everything walking with it to give him the vibe of a cool ass-kicker (for once). *** Started sluggish, but picked up late with some solid Heavyweight offense. Another lame finish, but at least they didn't job Rusev on his first show back from his brief hiatus.

Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Tyler Breeze (w/ Summer Rae):

#1 Contender's Match for the Intercontinental Championship, presently held by Kevin Owens. I wonder how they decided who would be competing in this match. Technically Ambrose should just get the title shot based on a victory over Owens, as well as defeating both Breeze and Ziggler in the earlier rounds of the Tournament. What a sham... The canned reactions added in post production are pretty ridiculous. Ziggler quickly sends Breeze to the floor and Ambrose sneaks up with a quick roll up attempt for a near fall. Whip to the ropes, Ambrose blocks a Super-Kick, Ziggler escapes Dity Deeds, and Breeze comes out of nowhere for a suck punch. Ambrose follows with a plancha, as we take a break. We return with Ambrose ad Ziggler fighting on the top rope. Breeze pushes Ziggler to the floor and Ambrose down to the canvas. Breeze pounds away and chokes Ambrose across the middle rope (choking!? Is that legal!?). Ambrose tries hitting his signature clothesline, but Ziggler and Breeze collectively put a stop to it. Ziggler with a neck breaker and Heart Attack Elbow for a two count. Breeze avoids the Rocker Dropper, but Ziggler comes back with a dropkick. Rocker Dropper to Ambrose gets two. Ambrose counters the Super-Kick with a sling-shot and follows with his springboard clothesline. Flying elbow to Breeze gets two. Breeze gets caught in the middle of a double body press attempt. Ambrose with a flurry of jabs and chops, followed by the running dropkick. Ziggler with the Super-Kick to Breeze for two. Ziggler with the Zig-Zag on Ambrose, but Breeze breaks the cover. Ziggler with a roll-up, Breeze pulls the tights to counter. Breeze with the Beauty Shot. He sets up for the Unprettier, but Ambrose wakes up from his coma, hits him with Dirty Deeds, and gets the three count at 7:15. *** Non-stop action with everything looking crisp. Owens on commentary really put over the inevitable title defense, actually acting like a heel.

Final Thoughts: With Survivor Series finally in the books, we'll wait until next week to start coverage on the 2015 edition of TLC. I guess with this being a Holiday week (and no one will be watching Smackdown Thursday night for reasons that involve either Football, Thanksgiving Dinner, or Black Friday Shopping), there wasn't too much to get excited about, but there's also a lot of seeds planted to work towards the future. We've got the obvious stuff like the WWE Title and IC Title already set, but we're looking at least 4-5 other undercard programs to make TLC seem less like a "fill it out the day of the show with undercard scrub matches" show as has been the case in years prior. The main problem to all this is there is an obvious lack of depth now when it comes to talent considered to be at the level of a John Cena, and the endless era of the 50/50 Club seems to have finally caught up with them. With the week in the books, I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and doesn't give in to the lame Black Thursday Night nonsense. We'll see if next week is when Zack Ryder finally catches up to Heath Slater in the negative scale of the C-Show standings. Until then...

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