Hello, and welcome to the latest article in my WWE vs. TNA series, in which each week, I watch the main output of both promotions and pick the best.
This edition is a bit of a Christmas special, stemming from the fact it's Christmas and that's made this article a couple of days later than usual—which, in a sense, is special.
This delay makes it a stroll further down memory lane than usual as we look back at the week that the WWE its TLC pay-per-view and its annual Tribute to the Troops show in addition to Raw and SmackDown, while TNA just had Impact. Let's see how they got on.
In tables matches, I'm always looking for the obvious spot that's going to end the match, so it's to the opening match of The Rhodes Scholars vs. Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara's credit that it was a very spontaneous-looking and non-conventional push that finished it. No jumping into an obvious RKO here.
It's a measure of how much I like Antonio Cesaro now that I was quite excited to see United States Championship flash up on the screen to announce the next match. He defeated R-Truth, so I stayed happy.
The Miz TV segment delivered more change in a few minutes than we sometimes get in months. I'm struggling to get used to Miz as a face, never mind Alberto Del Rio.
Kofi Kingston defeated Wade Barrett. Since Barrett lost to R-Truth on Raw it didn't seem so unbelievable, but Kofi still felt like the underdog.
The Shield vs. Team Hell No and Ryback was as good a match as we've had this year from the WWE. I'm no sucker, but it got several gasps out of me, as well as a shiver when the crowd shouted "Finish it!" with Ryback. This was pro wrestling at its best. The Shield are certainly interesting now.
The Big Show's win over Sheamus was great news. Really, the feud went on for a match longer than it needed to, but this match was great, and that makes up for the drawn-out feud somewhat.
Dolph Ziggler vs. John Cena was a fantastic match which was slightly poorer for how it ended. The action was incredible, and then within a minute, we have AJ Lee in the ring superCena-ing Vickie Guerrero. The real disappointment for me is that this will entail further (likely intolerably bad) story involving AJ. But the match itself was high quality.
TLC was terrific; much better than Survivor Series, and even better than TNA's PPV the previous week. Last year's TLC signaled a real downturn for WWE that didn't really pick up until SummerSlam (and sadly stalled again not long after). If this begins an upturn, then that's fantastic. If not, then we still had one of the best PPVs of 2012.
Raw's opening promos reminded us that tonight was all about the Slammy Awards, something in which my interest was low and approaching zero.
Before any awards were given out, Rey Mysterio defeated Damien Sandow both quickly and cleanly. In the past few weeks, Wade Barrett and Alberto Del Rio have been conclusively lowered on the card, and now it seems Sandow will be too. Or maybe Mysterio's being raised.
The New Age Outlaws presented the award for Comeback of the Year. I'd be quite happy if they received it next year, but if there's one thing the WWE's got enough competition for, it's the tag team division. Rather than go to worthy contenders Brock Lesnar or Chris Jericho, it instead went to Jerry Lawler, who made a comeback from not being dead to continue not being dead.
AJ and John Cena won Kiss of the Year, which is an injustice to say the least. I'd never vote for one of these awards in a million years (and least of all for Kiss of the Year), but AJ and Kane was surely the only choice.
Ric "TNA" Flair presented the Superstar of the Year award. In another injustice that put the Kiss of the Year award in the shade, it went to John Cena. Again, I ask, what sane person would vote as such? Cena then handed it to Flair, who deserves it—and any award—even less. Watching CM Punk whack Flair with his crutch and mock him was an absolute joy, though sadly, one which didn't last long. Unfortunately, The Shield then fell short of putting him through a table.
Kofi Kingston vs. Tensai, The Great Khali vs. David Otunga and Brodus Clay vs. JTG should have been up for the Biggest Waste of Time Slammy. I'd give the nod to Khali and Otunga, which feels like we've seen it over a dozen times, even though I can't actually be sure it wasn't the first meeting of the two. These matches were so outright appalling and filler that I'd rather there'd not been any at all.
A disastrously poor show looked like it might pick up, as Dolph Ziggler ran in to cash in Money in the Bank. I was thrilled; it was a great development—so sure enough, it didn't happen. Following that, though, at least they did something that should have happened a long time ago and had Ziggler break up with Vickie Guerrero.
Match of the Year was the only Slammy I had any real interest in, because I'm curious to see what the WWE thinks its best wrestling output was as compared with what I think. My personal favourite match of the year was CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan at Over the Limit, but of those that made the WWE's options, only The Big Show vs. Sheamus was even on my radar.
The winner—The Undertaker vs. Triple H—was a match I absolutely detested, but it's outside the purview of this article to explain this seemingly controversial opinion. Compounding the misery, Triple H gave the acceptance speech. He let us know at the end that we'd not seen the last of The Undertaker. In my view, his WrestleMania match should be against John Cena, but I can't see them having the top guy job at two WrestleManias in a row. It's far more likely that it'll be Taker vs. Lesnar.
Raw closed with Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee vs. John Cena and Vickie Guerrero, which wasn't allowed to go anywhere as an NXT guy I'd not heard of (as with all other NXT guys) ran in and attacked Cena. He looks exactly like a black version of Ryback, down to a near-identical singlet.
Raw was the worst episode of television I can recall seeing in my entire life. There was not a single good match or segment, and the two potential hints of greatness—Ric Flair being powerbombed through a table and Dolph Ziggler becoming World Heavyweight Champion—were cruelly snatched away as soon as suggested. It's an extra shame that this disgrace of a show was the immediate follow-up to a terrific PPV the previous night.
I commented a couple of weeks ago for the last live SmackDown that I couldn't remember there being a live edition since November last year. In this case then, live SmackDowns are like buses, except I wasn't actually waiting for them.
This live and commercial-free SmackDown got off to a rotten start with a Miz TV segment that opened with AJ Lee talking for seemingly forever and didn't get much better until the very end. Big E Langston may have a laughably bad name, but he does have a great signature move.
The opening match of Damien Sandow vs. Sin Cara seemed to exist so we could, in conjunction with Monday's matches, establish a definite hierarchy of the men between the two teams (Rey Mysterio, Damien Sandow, Cody Rhodes and Sin Cara in that order, I think), as well as, of course, giving a quick but reasonable match between two good wrestlers. The twist that The Shield had attacked Rey Mysterio is a new addition to the long list of faces they've attacked, but I don't especially disapprove.
We were treated to a reasonable six-man tag team match in Team Hell No and Kofi Kingston vs. The Prime Time Players and Wade Barrett. All very predictable of course, but a goldmine of entertainment compared with Raw.
Ryback sadly defeated Antonio Cesaro. I suppose it's to be expected, but I'm really high on Cesaro right now.
Brodus Clay defeated Brad Maddox and then became the latest target of The Shield. There really doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason between these attacks now, but I'd be happy to be convinced otherwise.
The show ended with a match we've seen before in John Cena and Sheamus vs. The Big Show and Dolph Ziggler. This time, it ended with interference, and it looks like Dolph now has a stable of his own. And that's a good move for him in this new post-Vickie era.
SmackDown was really nothing special, but seemed a lot better relatively by coming straight after Raw.
Wednesday's Tribute to the Troops isn't worth its own slide, so I'll briefly cover it here. You know what you're getting with Tribute to the Troops: a lot of sentimentality, a lot of Cena and the faces winning. Also mixed in were some dreadful live songs and The Muppets, and all the matches were quick and predictable. It is the one night of the year where no one boos Cena, however.
Impact this week had the excitement of Championship Thursday. The danger is that it's hard to believe titles will change hands on TV, but TNA are less reticent about it compared to the WWE, so you never know.
Devon went over Kurt Angle for the Television Championship, though it wasn't clean. There was typical Aces and Eights action throughout, and the whole angle is in big danger of getting stale now. They're just not doing anything new. A little later, in a promo with Hulk Hogan, Devon himself effectively promised story progress in 2013, so I'm still cautiously optimistic.
One very odd segment came from the Christopher Daniels and Kazarian and ended up with James Storm superkicking Santa Claus, then throwing his gifts into the crowd. The more I think about it, the stranger it was.
Tara defeated Mickie James in a match that stood out to me for the fact that it was the best match of the week on TV up to that point. It may have been fairly typical for a Knockouts bout, but it was better than anything on the WWE TV shows this week. A decent match should be a fairly simple thing: good wrestlers, a sound conclusive finish and a good amount of time. So why was this the first match of the week to really manage it?
Jeff Hardy vs. Austin Aries may not have been the equal of their first two matches (no shock there, as we weren't paying to see it), and nor was it really believable at any point that the title would change hands, but it gave us a solid wrestling match for the duration with an unexpected finish. I'll be shocked if the next PPV world title match is anything other than Jeff Hardy vs. Austin Aries vs. Bobby Roode.
There were no big developments on Impact, and nor did Championship Thursday deliver any title changes, but it had some good matches, and none of it was bad as such. On the whole, I'd rate it a notch above-average.
Show of the Week: TNA Impact
This excepts the PPV; otherwise, that would easily be the winner. That the WWE's TV output was so atrocious following the excellent TLC makes it all the worse. Impact was the only acceptable TV show this week.
Match of the Week: Jeff Hardy vs. Austin Aries
Again excluding the PPV's content, there was no competition on TV for this match. It may not have been up to the quality of their first two encounters, nor even as good as one might expect, but in a terrible week for TV wrestling, it stands out as at least good.
Thanks for reading, and all comments are appreciated. It's a little late to wish you a happy Christmas, so have a great new year.