Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over twelve years now and have reviewed over 6,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Monday Night Raw
Date: December 23, 2013
Location: Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas
Commentators: Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield
Tonight is the taped Christmas special featuring the potentially amazing Damien Sandow vs. Mark Henry battle to save Christmas. Again, it’s the 400lb monster who talks about splitting wigs fighting a Latin speaking know it all to prevent Christmas from being canceled. There is no way this won’t be awesome. Let’s get to it.
We open with Santa Henry and Damien Claus taking turns reading their own versions of the WWE Night Before Christmas. Henry’s reindeer: Stone Cold, Hitman and Sexy. Sandow’s: Mountie, Blassie and Irwin R. Schyster.
The Christmas set looks awesome with presents, trees and even snow falling in the arena.
Here’s the Authority in Santa hats with Kane handing out Christmas candy. They even have an elf in a suit. Stephanie and Hunter talk about how important it is to give back around this time of year and hype up the Battle of the Santas. We’re also getting the Rhodes Brothers/Bryan vs. the Wyatt Family plus Shield vs. Langston/Punk/Cena. I’m sold. HHH starts to leave but Orton interrupts him, still with both belts but he puts the WHC under the WWE Title for his promo.
He’s thankful for the Authority having his back lately and wants to give them a gift in return. Their gift is one of a kind and comes wrapped in a golden bow: the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. He thanks them for the night off and we get a group hug. Orton goes to leave and Kane quotes the end of Twas the Night Before Christmas and hits the post fire.
Vickie Guerrero/Tamina Snuka/Aksana/Alicia Fox/Summer Rae/Kaitlyn vs. Total Divas
AJ is on commentary wearing a Grinch shirt while everyone else is in a holiday outfit of some kind. Everyone tags in and out quickly so fast that I can’t keep up with them. Naomi hits a nice hurricanrana on Alicia before it’s back to Cameron for a double suplex. We get some stripper dancing and a double splits legdrop before it’s back to I think Nikki for some clotheslines.
Fox grabs a northern lights suplex into a perfect bridge for two before it’s off to Vickie. Guerrero immediately runs away from Nikki and it’s off to Aksana vs. Natalya. Everything quickly breaks down and the Total Divas do what is either a creative or ridiculous crack the whip with each one hitting a clothesline. Natalya Sharpshooters Aksana for the win at 3:49.
Rating: N/A. This was nothing resembling a match and the outfits weren’t even all that sexy. The crack the whip sequence (it started with Natalya hitting a clothesline before she locked arms with Brie who hit a clothesline and went on until it was all six) gets stupider every time I think about it. They’re booking themselves into a corner with the Total Divas as AJ is just so much better than they are but someone is going to have to take the title eventually.
Curtis Axel vs. Sin Cara
Cara cuts a quick promo wishing us a Merry Christmas before the match. There’s another thing he has up on Mistico. Curtis gets in a few quick shots to start but a headscissors puts him on the floor. Axel slams him onto the apron and into the post to take over. We head inside for a front facelock as JBL compares Cara to other evil masked men over the years, including Hannibal Lecter and Darth Vader.
Axel rubs the masked face into the mat but Cara makes a comeback by sending Axel to the floor for a nice flip dive. Back inside and Cara gets two off a springboard clothesline and a handspring elbow gets the same. Something resembling a Samoan drop sets up the Swanton for the pin at 5:26.
Result: D. This felt way longer than five and a half minutes. Axel just has nothing special about him and a complete lack of character doesn’t help him at all. It’s time to repackage the guy and let him do ANYTHING else to get over again. Hunico on the other hand is thriving in this role and is everything WWE was hoping Mistico would have been.
We recap the handicap tag from Smackdown with Cena and Punk beating Shield by DQ. Langston made the post match save, setting up the six man tonight.
Damien Sandow makes a little girl cry.
Bad News Barrett collected donations for something on the streets earlier….and that’s it. For now I’m assuming.
Video on Bryan vs. the Wyatts, including them injuring Bryan on Smackdown. Bray continues to disturb.
Cody Rhodes/Goldust vs. Wyatt Family
Rowan and Cody get things going with Rhodes taking over on the arm. Cody drags him into the corner for a tag off to Goldust who drives in some shoulders. Off to Bryan for a big pop but Rowan throws him around with ease. Back to Goldust who gets to face Harper with the big man sending him into the corner. Goldust grabs a cravate of all things and puts his boot on the top rope for Cody to tag. That’s certainly bizarre.
Bryan comes back in for kicks to Harper’s leg and avoids a big boot in the corner to crotch Harper. Luke gets caught in the Tree of Woe and dropkicks in the face. He bails to the corner and Bryan wants Bray but gets a commercial instead. We come back with Harper putting Cody in a front facelock and Gator Rolling him for good measure. Cody fights back with a running clothesline and tags off to his brother. An atomic drop and kick to the jaw have Harper in trouble and Goldust rains right hands down in the corner.
A middle rope hurricanrana of all things put Harper down but he comes right back with a big boot. Now we get Bray for some hard elbow drops and the upside down look out of the corner. Back to Harper to break up a tag attempt but he quickly tags out to Rowan for a neck crank. We get a claw of all things with Cole asking when was the last time you saw that. The answer would be Friday when Rowan used it on Smackdown, which was taped after this to be fair.
Anyway Goldust comes back with a DDT to Harper and tags in Bryan to speed things up. Daniel fires off the kicks to Rowan and the Swan Dive connects. Instead of covering though Daniel has to go after Bray who leads Bryan right into Rowan. A staredown on the floor takes us to our second break. Back with Bray beating on a helpless Daniel before it’s back to Rowan for some stomping. Daniel finally comes back with a tornado DDT and we get the hot tag to Cody.
A nice springboard missile dropkick puts Harper down and there’s a Disaster Kick to knock Rowan off the apron. The moonsault press gets two and everything breaks down. Bryan takes Wyatt down with a missile dropkick and the FLYING GOAT drops Bray again. Rowan saves his leader but it’s Goldust diving off the apron to take Erick out. Cody hits the Disaster Kick to Harper but Bray makes a blind tag and hits Sister Abigail (complete with a quick kiss to the forehead) for the pin on Cody at 22:28.
Rating: B-. This match flew by in a good way. I’m not wild on the champions losing again but it looks like we’re headed for Wyatts against the Brothers which should be an awesome match if given time. Bray vs. Daniel has a ton of potential and the blowoff match will be great when we get there.
Post match Bray has the Family hold Bryan while he shouts that he can take Daniel’s pain away. The lights go out and come back on to show the Wyatts are at ringside.
Mark Henry makes a child happy.
More of Bad News Barrett collecting donations.
We get a Christmas Carol singing contest. Up first are Xavier Woods and R-Truth with O Holy Night. Woods can actually sing but Truth shouts various lines to screw it up. Next we have Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal who go back and forth on a bad rendition of Jingle Bells. Cole: “Was Jillian busy?” Khali and Santino go last with Deck the Halls. Khali handles the fa-la-la-la-laing and brings home the win for his team. 3MB are sore losers and get beaten up. The good guys wish us a Merry Christmas to end the segment. Stupid filler but it could have been worse.
Fandango vs. Dolph Ziggler
This is a Christmas present on a pole match. The present: an Intercontinental Title shot next week. We start with a string of failed climb attempt with Ziggler battling his trunks more than Fandango. Fandango tries a powerbomb out of the corner but gets countered into a Fameasser. Ziggler goes for the present but a hard clothesline sends him into the post and out to the floor. Both guys go for the present but Fandango gets in a kick to the head to hang Ziggler upside down. Dolph fights back to crotch the dancer but gets rammed into the post again, knocking him into the steps. Fandango grabs the present for the win at 4:45.
Rating: D. This didn’t have time to go anywhere but that might have been the right idea. The best thing out of all this though: it seems we’re moving away from they’re moving away from the beat the champ to get a title shot style of booking. I have no idea what’s so bad about having someone beat a string of opponents and getting a title shot as a result. Also Ziggler building himself up in the midcard is as good as he can hope for at the moment.
Here are the Prime Time Players with Darren saying we’re in Houston instead of Austin. The fans are all over Darren as Titus says the three things the Players want for Christmas: a win tonight, a title shot, and everyone to join them in the Millions of Dollars dance.
Prime Time Players vs. Usos
Titus shoulder blocks Jey down to start and leapfrogs over him in a nice athletic display. He picks Jey up for a fallaway slam but drops him to the side in a different style move. Off to Darren who gets suplexed down onto Jey for two but walks into an armdrag. Jimmy comes in as the fans chant THIS IS AUSTIN.
We hit the armbar on Young before Jey comes back in with an ax handle to the arm. The arm hold stays on until the fans are nearly silent. Young comes back with a northern lights suplex and a clothesline but Jimmy comes in off a blind tag. A Samoan drop puts Young down and Titus is sent to the floor, allowing Jey (who dons a Rudolph nose) to hit the Superfly Splash on Darren for the pin at 4:55.
Rating: D. This was REALLY dull for most of the match as those arm holds just brought the match to a screeching halt. The face vs. face idea was interesting but the execution didn’t work at all for the most part. I don’t know if they were tired or what but the match didn’t do it for me.
Everyone dances post match.
We get a tale of the tape between good and bad Santa. It’s completely gimmicked complete with sleigh model, gifts they plan to give (Xbox vs. onions) and favorite hobbies (filling stockings vs. throwing snowballs at carolers). This is going to be GREAT.
Good Santa vs. Bad Santa
Sandow of course brings coal to the ring, but more importantly he comes out to Xanta Claus’ theme song. Look him up. Henry opens a present to reveal a toilet and shoves Sandow’s face in the bowl. JBL: “This is like George Bailey vs. Mr. Potter.” Damien gets a present of his own to reveal a fire extinguisher…..which doesn’t work. Henry shoves him down and pulls out the pin (safety first you see) and hoses Damien down. They head up the ramp and Sandow finds a candy kendo stick. He beats Henry down and shoves over a Christmas tree, drawing the most heat of his entire career.
Henry breaks the stick and shoves Sandow down the aisle. Damien grabs a star off the top of a tree which is too much for JBL to take. Henry knocks Sandow into the tree and they head back inside where Sandow still can’t get the extinguisher to work. Mark sprays him down again and hits the World’s Strongest Slam for the pin at 3:15.
Rating: A+. A 400lb muscle man just beat a Latin speaking know it all to save Christmas. If you don’t get why this is an A+, you don’t understand entertainment.
Henry shoves Christmas cupcakes in Sandow’s face post match.
Punk is very happy to have Langston and Cena as his partners. Cena wants Langston to knock Reigns’ teeth in and to give Rollins an Attitude Adjustment. Also they need to Ambrose a pillow because he’s going to sleep.
Real Americans vs. Los Matadores
Before the match Colter says more immigrants need to be like Santa: leave the same day they arrive. Also it’s Merry Christmas, not Feliz Navidad. Torito is in white for some reason tonight. Cesaro pounds on I believe Diego to get things going but Diego flips over Antonio’s back and hurricanranas him down. A flying headscissors puts Cesaro down but a middle rope hurricanrana is caught in the Cesaro Swing. This might be the longest one ever, going over thirty seconds.
Diego rolls to the floor and we get a switch, allowing Fernando to get a small package for two. The third blind tag of the night brings Diego back in for a top rope cannonball and a near fall. Diego goes up top as Cesaro sends Fernando into the barricade. Torito gores Cesaro and Diego pins Swagger with a high cross body at 3:25.
Rating: D-. Dang it why do these things have to be long enough to rate? I’d like to reiterate that Los Matadores and Torito simply are not funny. I know they’re not aimed at my age bracket, but I do not find them funny in the slightest. The match was there for the Swing and Gore spots and that’s not enough to carry something like this.
We recap the handicap match from Smackdown again.
Kofi Kingston vs. Ryback
Ryback shoves Kofi down to start but gets caught by a forearm to the face. A dropkick sends Ryback to the corner and out to the floor, allowing Kofi to hit a HUGE flip dive. Ryback barely caught him but Kingston appears to be ok. Back in and Kofi hits a hard clothesline to send him back to the floor and take over.
Ryback chops him against the ropes and puts on a bearhug. Kofi’s cross body is countered into a suplex in a nice move but Ryback’s middle rope splash lands on boots. Kofi comes back with a middle rope dropkick and the Boom Drop, followed by a nice springboard cross body for two. Ryback shrugs it off and drops Kofi face first onto the buckle. There’s the Meat Hook and Kofi is Shell Shocked for the pin at 4:45.
Rating: C-. Not a bad power vs. speed match here but again it doesn’t have time to go anywhere. Ryback getting a clean win is a good sign for him and as always, Kofi loses nothing by getting pinned. There’s still money in Ryback if he’s used properly, but WWE seems incapable of pulling that off.
Bad News Barrett’s bad news: he’s keeping the money.
Shield says Punk needs help because he’s in pain. Rollins talks about how many times Cena and Punk have tried this before and they know the result. Reigns says Langston is in the deep end of the pool now. Believe in the Shield.
John Cena/Big E. Langston/CM Punk vs. Shield
Cena and Rollins get things started with Seth’s speed not being able to do anything of note on the power guy. Cena shoulder blocks Rollins down and it’s off to Reigns for the big showdown. Right hands have Reigns staggered but he hits a Samoan drop to gain control as we take our last break. Back with Rollins scoring with a knee for two on Cena before bringing Ambrose back in.
Dean hooks a sleeper to get the crowd into things a bit. Cena cuts out the middle man by walking over to the corner and tagging Punk while still in the hold. Smart man that Cena. Punk comes in to clean house with the swinging neckbreaker and knee in the corner to Ambrose. A Reigns distraction breaks up the Macho Elbow however and Ambrose suplexes Punk on the floor.
Back in and we get Shield cutting the ring off because old school tag team wrestling isn’t dead. Reigns drops Punk with a knee to the ribs and smirks over to the good guys in the corner. I love little stuff like that. We get a bearhug on Punk followed by a chinlock from Reigns but he comes back with a belly to back suplex. Dean comes in without a tag to knock Cena to the floor and Reigns hits him with something the camera missed.
Punk finally breaks free and makes the hot tag so Langston can clean house. He doesn’t get to fight Reigns though as everything breaks down and Reigns spears Cena down. The Big Ending looks to finish Ambrose but his partners make the save, drawing a weak DQ at 16:00.
Rating: C. This was just there to send the fans home happy and it worked well enough. Langston vs. Reigns has the potential to be something very special but more importantly they’ve both been protected. It’s so rare anymore to see guys actually get built up with few blemishes and the payoff will be sweet.
Ambrose and Rollins get an AA and GTS respectively, followed by all three good guys’ musics playing to end the show.
Overall Rating: C+. This was a very laid back and entertaining show but it overstayed its welcome a bit. The lesson to be learned here is that it’s nice to have some time between PPVs where you can just have a throwaway show like this which doesn’t mean much of anything long term. Having everything be serious all the time gets old fast so it was nice to mix things up a bit here. We got some decent matches and a fun Christmas match and that’s all you can ask for on a show like this.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 60,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 6,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.
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