Saturday, November 24th
Cincinnati, Ohio at the U.S. Bank Arena
Submitted by: Marcus Dietz
First, the most surprising thing to me was the actual attendance for the show. The building was packed. The floor looked sold out, as did most of the first level. There were several sections of the 2nd level that was quite full, too. If I were to take a guess, I’d say there were 8,000 – 9,000 fans present.
The event started off with Elias in the ring. He played a little jingle before Ric Flair came on down. Flair got a very enthusiastic and appreciative welcome from the crowd. Elias and Flair talked back for forth for a few minutes. Flair said Elias is talented enough to have anyone woman in the building he wants, except for his daughter Charlotte. Shortly after this, Nia Jax’s music started to play. Nia was joined by Tamina, Mickie James, and Alicia Fox. The four of them joined Elias and Ric and attempted to sing something. Nia started to sing poorly on purpose which prompted Elias to invite some of his friends down to the ring. Out came Sasha Banks, Bayley, Dana Broo, e and Ember Moon. This leads us to the first match of the night.
8 Women’s Tag Team Match: Nia Jax, Tamina, Mickie James, and Alicia Fox vs. Sasha Banks, Bayley, Dana Brooke, and Ember Moon. This was a fun match and a nice kickoff to the night. Nia got a ton of heat from the crowd. She’s obviously one of the least popular superstars on either roster right now. Dana Brooke had a nice showing in the match, as did Mickie James. At about the 8-minute mark, Sasha Banks got Alicia Fox in the Bank Statement and she tapped out.
Next was Finn Balor vs. Drew McIntyre. Balor received a huge reaction from the crowd. Dolph Ziggler accompanied McIntyre to the ring and was a pest to Balor the entire match. McIntyre is a physical freak, very strong and powerful. However, he has some of the worst looking kicks to the midsection I’ve ever seen. Regardless, McIntyre wins the match in 8 minutes after hitting Balor with a Claymore Kick.
The Revival vs. The B-Team: I wore a Revival shirt tonight, so I was pleasantly surprised to see them. Dawson and Wilder both cut a decent promo before the B-Team came out. The B-Team chant was very popular during their entrance and throughout the match. Surprisingly, Curtis Axel pinned Dash Wilder with a Sunset Flip in about 5 minutes. I was stunned.
Next was the SmackDown Tag Team Title Match featuring The Bar (champs) vs. The New Day. The New Day got a great reaction out of the crowd. They were playful and through pancakes at people. The Bar came to the ring and were picking up random pancakes and throwing them at The New Day. People laughed at this. Big E and Kofi Kingston were the participants in the match. Xavier Woods played the trombone on the outside. The were some playful spots in the beginning few minutes of the match, then things picked up. Sheamus hit Big E with a Brogue Kick and pinned him to retain the titles in 9 minutes. Good action from everybody here. These teams have nice chemistry together.
We are introduced to the Raw General Manager, Baron Corbin. He informs the crowd that Braun Strowman will not be here tonight due to the beating he received during this past Monday Night Raw. But Corbin knows that we all paid to see him, and he doesn’t want to let us down. So, he issues an open challenge to anyone in the back. The lights suddenly go dark, and then Bray Wyatt appears on the entrance ramp to a huge ovation! Wyatt accepts the challenge, he brawls with Corbin and eventually pins him with a School Boy in 6 minutes. Corbin is irate! He gets on the mic and demands that this match is erased from history. He then uses his power to create a re-match. However, this time, it’s a no DQ Match.
Wyatt vs. Corbin (match 2), No Disqualification Match. Corbin motions to the back and out came Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre. The three of them put a beating on Wyatt before Elias and Finn Balor come down to even the score. The chase Ziggler and McIntyre back up the ramp. Elias does some strange move that I’m not familiar with. Balor hits a Coup de Grace on Corbin. Then Wyatt picks him up, kisses Corbin on the forehead and finishes him off with a Sister Abigail, pinning Corbin for a second time tonight in about 5 minutes.
Coming back from intermission, Charlotte Flair’s music starts. She comes to the ring and says something unmemorable about Ronda Rousey and asks who will be the next person to get a beating? Asuka came out to a great reaction. Lots of back and forth in this match. Neither Charlotte nor Asuka is working as a heel, but the crowd is more in favor of Asuka, believe it or not. I’d say it was 60/40 or maybe 70/30 in favor of her. Charlotte ended up reversing an Inside Cradle of some sort and pins Asuka in about 10 minutes. Afterward, Charlotte raises Asuka’s hand and they both pose for the crowd. Solid match.
Up next is Miz TV. The Miz gets a great response from the crowd and is welcomed with “Miz is awesome” chants and “Miz, Miz, Miz” chants, like the “Yes” chants. Miz has a smile on his face and says he appreciates that on the eve of the Cleveland Browns beating the Cincinnati Bengals. And that turns the crowd against him. His guests came out, Rey Mysterio (wearing a neck brace as a result of Tuesday’s attack from Randy Orton) and Shinsuke Nakamura. The two of them talk to each other, nothing overly memorable here. Then Nakamura attacks Mysterio and beats him down pretty good. Miz is calling for a referee to come out and start the match.
United States Title Match featuring Shinsuke Nakamura (champion) vs. Rey Mysterio: A ref comes down to the ring and checks on Mysterio. He’s fine, and the bell is rung. The Miz is still outside of the ring at this point. After about 5 minutes of action, Mysterio has Nakamura set up for a 619, but as he’s getting ready to hit it, the Miz interfered and gets Nakamura disqualified. They beat down Mysterio until Rusev (followed by Lana) runs in to make the save.
Lana gets on the mic and issues a challenge to The Miz and Nakamura for a tag team match against Rusev and Mysterio. They accept, and the bell rings. Lots of action in this match. Surprisingly, Rusev and Mysterio are actually a very good team. I don’t know if they’ve teamed up before at other house shows, but they seemed to have a good rapport with one another. The ending sequence of this match was Mysterio hitting a 619 on both The Miz and Nakamura. The Miz then stands up to eat a Machka Kick from Rusev and is pinned in 9 minutes. Mysterio, Rusev, and Lana all pose for the crowd. Rusev was wildly over tonight.
Cage Match: AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe: This was originally supposed to be for the WWE World Championship, but not any longer (thanks to Daniel Bryan). A lot of great action in this bout. These two have success great chemistry together. Many big spots in the ring and some aggressive tosses into the cage. Styles catches Samoa Joe in the Calf Crusher and Joe taps out in 12 minutes. The crowd was behind Joe quite a bit, but AJ was the clear and obvious babyface.
Intercontinental Title Match in a Steel Cage featuring Seth Rollins (champion) vs. Dean Ambrose: Rollins is out first to a big reaction. Ambrose is out next to an even bigger reaction since he’s from Cincinnati. Ambrose takes his sweet time walking to the ring and as this disgusted look on his face. He walks around the cage and is stalling. Rollins gets tired of waiting and exits the cage to got after Ambrose. He beats Ambrose down pretty good and then starts hitting him with a kendo stick. The two finally enter the cage and the door is shut. Rollins is still using the kendo stick on Ambrose. Ambrose finally wrestles it away from Rollins and starts hitting him with it. A lot of back and forth during this match. Ambrose had Rollins tied up upside down in the corner and could have easily walked out of the cage, but he chose to try and climb out. Rollins freed himself and caught Ambrose. Rollins hit Ambrose with a Superplex while Ambrose was on top of the cage, then immediately transitioned into a Falcon Arrow. Ambrose just escaped at about the 2 3/4 mark. A few minutes later the two are battling on top of the cage. Ambrose falls back into the ring and decides to go for the door while Rollins elects to climb out over the top. Rollins escapes first to retain the title in 21 minutes. This was probably the best match of the night, and this concludes Starrcade.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable house show. The event started at 7:30 PM and ended around 11:02 PM. It was a much longer event then I had anticipated. I’m curious which matches will be shown on the Network. Bray Wyatt’s return makes sense, but I think they’d be better off just showing clips of the two matches between him and Corbin. Rollins vs. Ambrose should be shown, too. The most favorable crowd responses of the evening went to Sasha Banks Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt, Rusev, AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose and the B-Team’s chant (not necessarily the B-Team). There really weren’t many negative responses from the crowd, aside from Nia Jax, Baron Corbin and to a certain extent, Drew McIntyre. I couldn’t begin to think about rating these matches as most of them were all pretty much the same, good quality house show matches, but nothing spectacular. The Ambrose vs Rollins match was clearly the best. There weren’t really any bad matches, although The Revival losing to the B-Team in quick fashion was unexpected. I think the crowd was into everything this evening, and I hope that comes across during the network special.
One last thing…the WWE was charging $35 for t-shirts tonight. That seems a little ridiculous.