So you want a WWE Championship match, huh? If this is the precedent, 2019 will be a lot of fun.
The McMahons booked a Fatal Fiveway match to crown a #1 Contender to fight Daniel Bryan at the Royal Rumble. Four men got automatic bids into the match for unexplained reasons: AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, and Mustafa Ali. After defeating his recent rival Jeff Hardy, Samoa Joe earned the final spot.
And boy, this match had a lot of fun stuff.
Joe uranage’d Styles through a table. Orton hit his awesome scoop powerslam on an unsuspecting Mysterio. Orton and Joe had an “I’m more villainous than you” stare down and Ali hit a Spanish Fly on Mysterio from the top rope. Mysterio also broke up a pin attempt near the end of the match with a springboard leg drop with perfect timing.
And that’s just a few of the best moments. Seriously, this rocked. I also really enjoyed how all four vets seemed to target Ali near the end. It’s as if they all felt they could get one over on the kid, but Ali did well to hold his own.
This is what it should always feel like when we’re trying to crown a new challenger for a championship. That goes for midcard titles, too. WWE has the wrestling talent to put on clinics like this quite frequently, and if anything that should be their new year’s resolution: to make the process of getting to a title match matter.
All five guys looked like stars with this sort of effort.
This show ain’t big enough for the two of us
Y’all know that Austin Powers bit about the dude with the mole? Yeah...that’s John Cena’s hair.
John Cena made his long-awaited return to WWE and was greeted by The Man Becky Lynch getting into his face. And this might be a hot take, but I wasn’t really feeling their promos. They both had kiddie gloves on, didn’t they? That’s sort of the opposite of what Lynch has been about the past few months; she’s burning bridges and blazing trails with no regards for human life. And all we get is one little Nikki Bella joke and her telling Cena that it’s her show now?
Cena seemed amused by it, frankly. And I’m sure that’s the argument for why he didn’t snap back at The Man. And that’s fine, especially considering the match that followed the promo, but I wish we’d have gotten a bit more from them.
Zelina Vega and Andrade “Cien” Almas came out to talk some trash and we had ourselves an intergender tag match that was super fun. There was this one moment where Almas tagged in and got in Lynch’s face and the crowd chanted “Let them fight!” And you know what? That’s what Becky Lynch has done for WWE. She makes it feel like that could actually happen and that’s exactly why I felt her interaction with Cena was a bit disappointing to me.
Anyway! Super fun match. Almas is so freaking good and I want to see him in some PPV title matches this upcoming year. Please?
The Rest of SmackDown Live
Samoa Joe def. Jeff Hardy – I like the idea that they gave this feud some stakes to fight over, but it’s still not doing much for me. The matches are fine, but they’re just fine, you know?
Rusev Day USA? - Am I the only one who finds it really weird to hear anyone say the pledge of allegiance on WWE television? I mean...it’s the pledge. Maybe I’m a terrible patriot, but whatever. That won’t hurt my feelings.
Nakamura interrupted a Rusev promo to attack the new champ and it ended up getting Lana hurt. Nakamura feigned horror and backed off so Rusev could check on his wife only to hit a Kinshasa on the distracted champion.
Sonya Deville def. Naomi – Deville’s finisher is dope. This story? I mean...it’s alright? I’m slightly amused by it, but I also think it’s the sort of thing that’ll get old very fast. I’m hoping Naomi thrashes Mandy in the very near future.
Miz and Shane work out the kinks on their tag team – Y’all, why don’t we see stuff like this more often? I would LOVE to see skits where tag team partners work out costume ideas and name suggestions! Miz has some serious comedic chops, so this segment was a ton of fun.
Who’s ready for Asuka? - I really like the idea of WWE management getting input from champions on who deserves the next shot at their championship. Triple H showed up to congratulate Asuka and ask that very question, which of course attracted some hopefuls pleading their case. Asuka’s answer? It doesn’t matter, because no one’s ready for her.
The undercard of this show wasn’t great, but I enjoyed bits and pieces. As for that Fatal Fiveway main event? That’s great stuff.
Also, Big E wore a diaper and pulled pancakes out of his crotch. That ALSO is great stuff.
I’m with New Day, by the way. Let’s get Kofi Kingston a freaking WWE Championship match. I’m also really grateful that the taped shows are over and the Royal Rumble build can begin in earnest.
What say you, Cageside?