Monday, December 16, 2013


WWE Champion Randy Orton def. World Heavyweight Champion John Cena (Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match)

If The Authority had questioned Orton’s passion in order to inspire him, it clearly worked. The Viper seemed to be The Legend Killer of old, keeping Cena grounded with deliberate chair shots and picking at his bones with slow, methodical stomps and kicks. Whenever The Champ managed to fight his way back into the contest, Orton would cut him off at the knees — even stopping a Five Knuckle Shuffle attempt with a brilliantly placed kick to Cena’s head.

Of course, trying to keep John Cena down is like pushing a boulder uphill. Proving himself to be every bit as willing to get his hands dirty as his opponent, the Cenation leader put The Viper on his back, scaled the ladder and dropped a fist into his rival’s face instead of reaching for the titles. Using some sharp strategy, Cena didn’t chase the championships. Instead, he bided his time until Orton got back on his feet, then drove a ladder into him, sending him off the apron and through a table.

Fifteen feet above the ring, the WWE and World Heavyweight Titles hung from a golden apparatus, but they might as well have been a mile away. As Cena began his ascent to immortality, The Viper impossibly made his way back into the ring, knocked The Champ from his perch and connected with a picture-perfect RKO. The glorious carnage left both men incapacitated in the center of the ring as an ecstatic Houston crowd rumbled around them.

When the Superstars staggered to their feet, the match truly began to resemble something closer to a bar fight as the combatants exchanged headbutts and full fists. Cena finally dropped Orton by driving the steel ring steps into him, but The Viper took command yet again by blasting the Cenation leader with a microphone, then stomping his head into the steel ring steps.

Taking his time, Orton waited for Cena to begin to struggle to his feet before he attempted to punt The Champ. Somehow, though, Cena avoided The Viper’s boot, spun him around and drove him through the Spanish announce table with a resounding Attitude Adjustment.

Now moving in slow motion after the physical trauma he had been subjected to, the World Heavyweight Champion made his way up the ladder. Yet, Orton — rising again like the monster in a horror movie — ripped the ladder out from under him. The Cenation leader made the mistake of holding onto the hanging apparatus, which only allowed for The Viper to bash him with a steel chair like he was teeing off on a piƱata.

The most pivotal moment in this historic match came moments after Cena drove Orton though a table with a desperate tackle. Clearly, the act took something out of both men — possibly more out of Cena — but it sent Orton to the outside, where he retrieved a pair of handcuffs he had brilliantly hidden under a ringside mat.

Employing an enviable bit of strategy, The Viper shackled The Champ to the bottom rope before taunting his opponent with the hubris of a James Bond villain. After tossing the keys into the audience, Orton slowly moved up the ladder, but he failed to notice what Cena was doing down below.

Ingeniously unscrewing the bottom turnbuckle, The Champ was able to move about the ring — although he was still connected to the rope — and knock Orton down. The Viper fought back, though, grabbing the rope that was still hooked to Cena’s arm and yanking it with all his might. The Cenation leader struggled, but he was unable to overpower Orton with one arm. Ultimately, Cena was yanked from the top and driven face first into the edge of a wooden table.

The ugly impact knocked the World Heavyweight Champion into next week. With his greatest opponent out cold underneath him, Orton began his climb once again. When he reached the top, he savored the moment, taking what felt like minutes to unlatch the two most important championships in sports-entertainment history.

Standing there for all the WWE Universe to see, The Viper became the first WWE World Heavyweight Champion in history and the spiritual successor to Lou Thesz, Bruno Sammartino, Ric Flair, Harley Race and every other indispensable ring legend who ever carried these vaunted titles.

Soon, The Authority joined Orton in the ring and congratulated their handpicked hero as the enormity of the situation dawned on a recovering Cena. With that, an important chapter in WWE history had been written, and a new one had begun.

The Wyatt Family def. Daniel Bryan

Nobody says “NO!” to Bray Wyatt. The buzzards feasted on goat meat in Houston after Daniel Bryan refused to join Wyatt’s clan of followers and felt the wrath of the crazed cultists in the second 3-on-1 Handicap Match of the night.

With Bryan thrown into the wolves’ den by his former friend and now WWE Director of Operations Kane, who orchestrated the match, Bray began the match in his customary rocking chair, content to observe his acolytes’ brutal handiwork as they went to work in the opening moments. Erick Rowan and Luke Harper, Wyatt’s pair of personal Goliaths, manhandled their David early on. Bryan – who Wyatt intended to out as a monster in sheep’s clothing – was forced to hack away at Harper’s legs with shin kicks to claim his first lead of the night.

The submission master’s advantage didn’t last long, though, and Rowan soon tagged in to toss Bryan to and fro like a bearded Brawlin’ Buddy. Once the masked monster had done his work, Wyatt rose from his perch and his minions understood that the time had come for "The Eater of Worlds" to enter the fray. Wyatt not only went a long way towards fulfilling his own prophecy of Bryan’s destruction but he celebrated it, stalking his opponent in a skin-raising crab walk and creepily rolling on the ground in delight while Bryan teetered on the brink of destruction.

The wildness of The Wyatts’ own offense led to an unexpected display of solidarity; after his lieutenants administered another round of punishment, Bray presented Bryan his hand in a final gesture of mercy, offering to “make it all go away.” Bryan, to put it lightly, refused, kicking Wyatt’s hand away in a show of defiance before raining elbows into the face of the self-styled monster. Wyatt’s response was one of unbridled rage, and the overwhelmed Bryan soon found himself at the Family’s mercy once again.

Fed up with Bryan’s defiance, Bray instructed Harper to dispose of the “Yes!” man, but the big man’s titanic sit-out powerbomb wasn’t enough to dispatch the upstart challenger. Bryan took advantage of Harper’s subsequent frustration to find his second wind, reaching deep to take both Harper and Rowan out of the match, bringing it down, once again, to Bryan and his would-be savior.

The former WWE Champion gave his all in the last-ditch effort to escape Wyatt’s hell, yet the “Man of 1,000 Truths” would not be denied, muscling his way free of the “Yes!” Lock to rain a smothering series of blows on his prone opponent. With the tenderness of a father raising his newborn son, Bray picked Bryan up off the mat … and transitioned seamlessly into the punishment of a match-ending Sister Abigail.

With the bell tolling for Daniel Bryan, Bray fell to his knees and embraced his fallen foe in a gesture of … something. Sportsmanship? Pity? Brotherhood? Perhaps what they’re fighting for isn’t as important as the conviction with which they fought. Maybe he knew that, even though he couldn’t convert Bryan, he still exposed his animal nature in defeat. Maybe, for Bray Wyatt, that was all that really mattered.

CM Punk def. The Shield (3-on-1 Handicap Match)

Ahead of his 3-on-1 Handicap Match against United States Champion Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, CM Punk seemed almost resigned to his fate. Fully expecting to walk into a “wholesale slaughter,” The Best in the World sounded all but accepting of defeat so long as he took down at least some members of The Shield in the process.

Instead, armed with strategy, patience and wherewithal, Punk exceeded even his own predictions and earned a hard-fought victory at WWE TLC. Perhaps more significantly, the lopsided match may have further contributed to an emerging crack in The Shield, leaving the cohesiveness of one of WWE’s most destructive trios in question.

The bout, ordered by Director of Operations Kane shortly after Punk publicly criticized The Authority, allowed the three Shield members to tag in and out. Meanwhile, The Voice of the Voiceless — suffering from bruised ribs, thanks to a recent spear by Reigns — was left with an empty corner. He was not without support, however, as the Toyota Center broke into chants of “CM Punk” seconds after the opening bell rang.

Ambrose and Rollins took turns pawing at Punk, with The Straight Edge Superstar getting the better of each Hound of Justice. The momentum swayed with the entrance of Reigns, who muscled Punk into the corner and tossed him to the floor like a ragdoll. Reigns attempted to spear Punk outside the ring, but the savvy Second City Strategist sidestepped him, causing the black-clad warrior to barrel over the commentators’ desk.

Reigns narrowly beat the referee’s count and re-entered the ring, but was clearly worse for wear, favoring his left eye which, replays revealed, had drilled a chair during the ill-fated spear attempt. Within seconds, the area around his eye began to swell, and once Reigns tagged out, WWE medical staff rushed in to assess the injury.

Punk continued to valiantly fight off the attack of Rollins and Ambrose, at times using their own momentum against them, but the numbers disadvantage proved truly debilitating. After a rapid series of offensive maneuvers, Punk began to lock the Anaconda Vise on Rollins, yet interference from the volatile Ambrose prevented The Best in the World from gaining a submission victory.

Nonetheless, The Straight Edge Superstar kept his wits about him, reversing a butterfly superplex attempt by Ambrose and surveying the WWE Universe before launching into an elbow drop. Moments later, Punk dropped Rollins with the GTS.

With Rollins asleep, Ambrose then squirmed out of a second GTS attempt, only for Reigns—who had by then regained his composure—to take aim at Punk with another spear. Yet, Punk again avoided the impact, and Reigns inadvertently drove into Ambrose, leaving the United States Champion easy prey for a Punk pin … and underdogs around the world believing in The Best.

Where the match result leaves The Shield, as a unit, remains far less clear.

AJ Lee def. Natalya – Divas Championship Match

Intercontinental Champion Big E Langston def. Damien Sandow

Fandango def. Dolph Ziggler (Kickoff Match)

WWE Tag Team Champions Goldust & Cody Rhodes def. Rey Mysterio & Big Show, The Real Americans and Ryback & Curtis Axel (Fatal 4-Way Elimination

R-Truth def. Brodus Clay

Kofi Kingston def. The Miz (No Disqualification Match)

Credit: Ryan Murphy, Anthony Benigno and John Clapp @ 

No comments: