This was not a good show.
I came in expecting something of a lull period, what with the stale, formulaic Survivor Series event that just happened and the brand needing to reset and get going again as we head toward the Day 1 event on Jan. 1, 2022, to get us ready for Royal Rumble and WrestleMania season proper. But sheesh.
What we ended up with was a show focused almost entirely on a guy who wasn’t there, Brock Lesnar, and his suspension status, all while they booked a battle royal to determine the next top contender to Roman Reigns’ Universal championship even though they kept telling us Lesnar will be back soon — even though it was just a RUMOR and they really hate RUMORS.
Reigns cut a promo that was nowhere near his best work where he more or less said no one on this show is anywhere near his level and he’s basically wasting his time — even hinting there may not be much time left for him in this industry — and that includes Lesnar. The problem with this, of course, is that he’s right and there are no good babyfaces on this brand to counter him.
Once we got to the battle royal, it featured a bunch of wrestlers with no real chance of winning, and even included no less than four wrestlers who had lost matches earlier in the evening. No matter, they were given the chance to earn a title shot anyway!
In the end, Sami Zayn was smart with it and used the strategy everyone in any WWE battle royal should use but never does, because they’re all the dumbest ass, and won the damn thing. But that was instantly overshadowed by Kayla Braxton announcing, right in Zayn’s face, that Lesnar’s suspension is officially lifted and he’ll be back on SmackDown next week.
They spent a whole show building to a match to determine the next title contender and then almost instantly made it something that never mattered to begin with.
This is something WWE does far too often and it’s really amplified on shows like this, where nothing interesting happens and nearly everyone on the program is made to look bad.
All the rest
- Kayla Braxton vs. Paul Heyman is a feud I hope lasts forever.
- Can’t say I’m terribly intrigued by Drew McIntyre and Jeff Hardy teaming up on a timeline that extends beyond a couple weeks, but for those couple weeks it’s been fun enough just seeing two babyfaces the crowd enjoys cheering going out and beating up on two heels, Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss, the crowd enjoys booing. Said it before with this and will say it again — sometimes it works just fine keeping things simple.
- Ridge Holland got his first match on the main roster, and he was rolled up and beaten by Cesaro. Sheamus was on commentary for it, pushing the idea that anyone he works with ends up much better off for it. He wasn’t happy with the loss here but they didn’t spend much time on any fallout from it, so we’ll have to wait to see where it goes.
- I’m a fan of Rick BOOGS and think there’s absolutely a place for him but I can’t help but think of the fact that Shinsuke Nakamura was one of the very best wrestlers on Earth while he was in Japan years ago and since coming to WWE has been much less than that through absolutely no fault of his own. Instead of watching Nakamura build a compelling program with literally anyone, we’re watching his hype man get pinned by Angel. This is all in service of a tag team program. Nakamura is the Intercontinental champion. This sucks.
- So the idea behind firmly establishing Toni Storm as the next top contender to the SmackDown women’s championship was to humiliate her by having Charlotte Flair pie face her? And have Storm just stand there and take it? Okay.
- Shayna Baszler and Natalya teamed up to take on Sasha Banks and Naomi after Banks got all up in Sonya Deville’s face and confronted her about why exactly she hates Naomi so much. They’re leaning heavily into this story, with Deville getting worse and worse as the corporate overlord who is far too power hungry. It’s a WWE staple and we really don’t need it. I was initially intrigued to see where this would go with Naomi but it’s really just been weeks and weeks of the authority figure getting over on the babyface and the babyface never getting anything back in any meaningful way. Then again, we still don’t have much backstory for Deville weirdly turning on Naomi for no reason. This tag match was clunky as could be. The babyfaces won this time, and Sonya clapped for them. That was that. Hey, wasn’t Banks supposed to be next for Charlotte? Is that just not a thing now?
This was a bad show.
The best part of the night really may have been this: