Merry Christmas, Cageside! We’re still on the lookout for “new” things in this new era, and Vincey Claus had some presents for us on Christmas Eve!
Firstly, John Cena is back! He’s returning for an undisclosed amount of time, but he’ll be splitting time between Raw and SmackDown Live depending on where he’s needed. In case you were looking for the first sign of WrestleMania season, well, there’s it is.
Secondly...at long last, we’ve got WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships. I think this is the first truly, inarguably new thing we’ve gotten since the McMahon press conference last week. And despite a pretty lackluster announcement, that’s awesome! I’d imagine that these titles are going to be a huge challenge for WWE; the company is going to have to really invest time and resources to get this right. Luckily, the women have killed it with every expanding role they’ve gotten in recent years, so I’d imagine this will work out just fine.
And finally, Vincey Claus booked Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler in a steel cage match next week to sort out their issues after they both lost to Finn Balor on this show. Steel cage matches on regular shows isn’t unheard of, but it’s another new thing that we can point to. I’d have to imagine that they’ll close the show next week, right? Well, that’ll mean giving the main event slot to someone other than the usual male suspects in a match that’s usually reserved for main eventers. It also looks like we might be seeing the end of this feud on Raw, which is another thing that doesn’t usually happen.
So, all in all, Vincey Claus did alright. Can we have some more presents on Christmas Day?
Rousey vs. Natalya
Ladies and gents, this is pretty much the best of wrestling for me. I feel like WWE puts on a lot of matches that have the same flow or general story, right? Well, you can’t say that with this match.
I’m not sure how long Rousey and Natalya wrestled. 20 minutes? 30? And for nearly the entire match, no one threw a strike. No punches, no kicks. No chops. Nothing. Just mixed martial arts ground work and some suplexes and stuff. For some, that might seem odd. For me? That’s brilliant storytelling.
They’re friends, man! They don’t want to hurt each other. They wrestled this match as if it were a sparring session and it only changed once Natalya started to think she could win and threw the first strike. But of course, this match was only ever going to be as competitive as Rousey allowed it to be.
I do want to touch on that Nattie thing I just mentioned though. She was smiling as she locked in the Sharpshooter near the end and I wonder what her mindset was during the match. Does she see herself as an equal to Rousey? Because in kayfabe she’s clearly not, right? This friendship has always felt like a potential feud and if Nattie’s thinking she could actually beat Rousey...it still could be.
Anyway, I really enjoyed this. Take a second on Christmas Day and watch the highlights if you can.
Seth Rollins def. Baron Corbin – I thought it was interesting how WWE tried to frame Rollins in this match. A lot of the verbiage revolved around Rollins being faster and more driven than ever after Ambrose had gotten the best of him at TLC. I don’t think a match with Corbin’s the best place to really show that sort of thing off, but Rollins picked up the win in the end to close the show.
Elias def. Bobby Lashley in Miracle on 34th Street Fight – Bobby Lashley took some Lego to the ass, Lio Rush went through a Christmas table, and Elias opened up a present with a bowling ball inside and picked up the 7-10 split on Lashley’s testicles...you know. The usual.
Bobby Roode and Chad Gable def. The Revival – It’s just nice to see the Revival get a chance to stretch their legs and give us some good ol’ grapplin’. This was a fairly lengthy match without all the Christmas-themed stuff. The champs held on with a roll up victory, but this was a fun one.
B-Team sing carols – And in the end, they passed out and they rallied and the sprang a few leaks.
...look, my dad played a lot of Jimmy Buffet cassettes when I was a kid.
Finn Balor def. Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre - Wait. Balor won the triple threat?
Balor won the triple threat!!!
This was another fun match and I like how they’re giving Drew McIntyre a slow, character-building ascension up the card. Finn Balor, a former Universal Champion, has now found a way to sneak two wins away from him due to Ziggler’s presence. McIntyre was incensed and said as much to Ziggler after the match.
This place isn’t big enough for both of us? Sounds ominous.
Ember Moon, Sasha Banks, Bayley def. Alicia Fox, Dana Brooke, Mickie James – This match went on right after Vince announced the women’s tag titles coming in 2019 and it was just...there, mainly. The Riott Squad ran in afterwards, so none of this trio teams stuff is getting any better yet.
Paul Heyman sings, talks trash, catches some Braun beef – The look on Paul’s face when Strowman’s music hit? That’s a gift that keeps on giving, my friends. Braun also put a red nose and antlers on the advocate because why not.
Heath Slater def. Jinder Mahal via DQ – So many Santas tonight! SANTA RHYNO!!!
I honestly enjoyed this show. They mixed up the Christmas shenanigans with some quality matches, sprinkled in some interesting announcements...that’s not bad for a recorded holiday show.
Grade: Who cares? Merry Christmas!
So uh...what’d you get for the holidays, Cageside?