Hello everyone, and welcome to this week's Slammer Jabber. After a quiet week last time out we have lots of news this week, including the TLC PPV, this week's TV, a potential ROH/TNA collaboration, and more. So lets get started with TLC.
As expected, Smackdown's latest PPV offering was an excellent show. The main event was a wild spectacle, especially that 450 through the table by AJ Styles, and the sort of bout that absolutely suits Dean Ambrose and his madcap style. The James Ellsworth heel turn was far less surprising to me than the commentary team, but I like the direction they are going with this and the idea Ellsworth is now delusional about his status. Very interesting stuff, and Styles continues to be amazing, even if I fear for his long-term health given some of the bumps he's taken recently.
Elsewhere on the card I enjoyed seeing The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler, and I thought the match was well put together with some nice spots, although it again feels like they are teasing to a Miz vs Daniel Bryan feud, which unless something major has happened will not be occurring, as WWE will not clear Bryan to compete. Confusing. I also very much enjoyed Kalisto vs Baron Corbin far more than I expected as they put on a good match utilising the chairs, and Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton vs Rhyno and Heath Slater was a well-paced, short, dominant win for Wyatt and Orton, and some more development with the Luke Harper-Orton mistrust angle. The only real downside for me was the Becky Lynch vs Alexa Bliss match which was a bit lacklustre, although it was hampered somewhat by the tables stipulation. I like the title change because Bliss will make a great heel champion, but the match could have been better.
Overall, TLC was a very good show with some big spots and something for everyone which is about all you can ask from a December PPV as the company circles in place ahead of the start of Wrestlemania season.
A good week this time out from Raw this week I thought. I liked the closing angle with Charlotte and Ric Flair, although I assume this leads to Ric heel turn on a Sasha Banks. Speaking of Banks and Charlotte, it was also announced they are having a an Ironman (surely it should be Iron Woman?) match at Roadblock : End of the Line. It should be great, don't get me wrong, but after this I'm done. They need to separate these two for the foreseeable future, even if that means drafting one of them to Smackdown, because they are very close to flogging this feud to death. It's a fine line, but I hope they don't blow years worth of potential revisits to this feud by overdoing it now (see Randy Orton vs John Cena in 2009 for reference).
I was interested to see Seth Rollins finally call out Triple H, some 14 weeks after he turned on him. I know he's been busy with Kevin Owens and the pursuit of the universal championship, but it feels like this has been very much forgotten about til now. It also seems a bit early to mention for a Wrestlemania match, so I can only surmise we're getting this at the Royal Rumble? Rollins match with a returning , and very trim Big Show was surprisingly good also.
Elsewhere, as usual the Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho stuff was very good this week, as well as the Jericho vs Roman Reigns match, which was very enjoyable, and this whole situation is simmering along nicely. I also really enjoyed Enzo's angle with Lana and Rusev. It was nice to see the writing team trying to do something different, and the whole set-up was executed brilliantly. Lana was fantastic, but the unsung hero here was Big Cass. His selling of realisation of the setup clued the audience in perfectly and made everything work really well. Sure, there were logic holes (the whole phone thing for example), but when everything else is this well planned you can forgive the little inconsistencies. Plus, any time they get out of the backstage area to shoot angles the better.
Finally, this week we got a bit more interest in the cruiserweight division. I enjoyed Rich Swann's title defense against TJ Perkins, who they are finally giving up on as a face and slowly building towards him being a cocky heel by the looks of it, which is excellent. Swann is a great spearhead for this divsiion, and his energy (and music for that matter) is infectious, which is what this division needs, at least until Austin Aries is healthy. Also nice to see Jack Gallagher get some time on Raw, managing to get his unique style and look over, which is great to see. In general, this was a fun show, with a good mixture of exciting matches, fun skits, and variety. For once three hours passed by in flash, which is the best compliment I can give an episode of Raw these days.
Obviously Smackdown this week was chiefly concerned with the fallout from TLC. Despite his injury and subsequently not being able to wrestle on this show, AJ Styles was great in the opening segment, as was James Ellsworth. I still can't believe he is part of the main event scene as it stands, but every time I think they've jumped the shark with him they find a way to keep me interested. Dean Ambrose also did well here showing some fire in response to Ellsworth costing him the title at TLC. Ambrose vs The Miz in the main event was good value too, with Miz again on top form here. I especially like the 'participation award' gimmick he now seems to be rolling with. Good work all round.
The Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton tag team might be the best thing either man has done in quite some time. Yes we all know it's going to lead to an Orton turn in the end, but for now I'm really enjoying their run. Bray looks motivated, and in really good shape which is something I only mention because the intro video on Sunday featured footage of last year's TLC, and the difference is remarkable. The match itself with Rhyno and Heath Slater was fairly similar to their bout at TLC, but overall this is moving in a nice direction, and they elevate the tag titles massively by being involved in that picture.
Speaking of champions, Alexa Bliss is already excelling as women's champion here. Her bitchy-heel persona is perfect, and I love the idea of her dodging Becky Lynch continuously, especially if they can hold off for the rumble, where this will be a huge deal. I know I've raved about her before, but Bliss gets better week after week, and this is a great spot for her.
Another good show from the blue brand. I think in general the constraints of the two hour format give them a much more rigid platform, and it means there is no time for filler, and any fat is trimmed off, which leads to a very lean, enjoyable two hour wrestling show.
ROH Final Battle
So I won't go super heavy into what happened at Final Battle, but suffice to say I think if you like wrestling you should probably get a hold of this show. Highlights included the main event featuring a cracking battle between Adam Cole (BAY BAY!) and his former tag team partner Kyle O'Reilly, the debut of Cody Rhodes, and the crowning of the inaugural ROH Six Man Champions. However, perhaps the most notable thing on this show, was the aftermath of the Young Bucks vs The Briscoes tag title match, in which one "Broken" Matt Hardy appeared on the big screen to challenge the Bucks to a match in ROH. Now I assume this will be on a house show of some kind, but this sort of cross promotion is exactly the sort of thing both companies should be doing, and surely something that won't cause too many issues with Anthem taking over TNA, given they carry ROH on the Fight Network. This certainly could be a massively beneficial, and interesting partnership moving forward if everyone lets it happen.
Nakamura regains NXT title
As predicted, after his unexpected loss to Samoa Joe at NXT Takeover: Toronto, Shinsuke Nakamura regained the NXT championship earlier this week in his homeland of Japan where NXT are currently on tour. The two are slated to clash again this week in a cage match in Australia, but I suspect Nakamura retains there, ending their feud. Both matches are being filmed for the WWE Network and should be really entertaining bouts, especially the cage match, which could be brutal. Hopefully, this ends their feud on a high, and we get Samoa Joe heading up to the main roster, ideally with a farewell at Takeover: San Antonio in January and a debut in the Royal Rumble the night after. Joe has been superb in NXT, but if he is going to have a big run on the biggest stage available, much like Nakamura, Bobby Roode and countless others in NXT they need to act soon.
Jerry Lawler dethroned?
The final bit of news this week comes with Jerry "The King" Lawler being removed from the Raw pre-show, meaning for the first time since 2001 (save the time he was off after his heart attack) he is no longer working for WWE in an on-air capacity. It's hardly a surprise to anyone really, especially given his age, and the fact they have been easing him out for some time now. However, it's certainly noteworthy that they have now moved him off TV entirely. Lawler has been a mainstay, and will surely go down as one of the iconic voices in WWE history, but with emergence of Cory Graves and various other options, it certainly seems like time to phase out the King, so I can't really blame them. Still, at least we don't get any more mentions of puppies from now on.
Well that's it from me for this week, I'll be back next Thursday with all the week's big stories, as well as a look ahead to Roadblock: End of the Line. In the meantime check out the rest of Screenjabber's offerings looking at the best in movies, games, DVDs and Blu-rays as well as news, competitions and more. Until next week, so long folks.