SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE TRIBUTE TO THE TROOPS TV REPORT
DECEMBER 6, 2020 (Recorded 12/2)
ORLANDO, FLA. AT AMWAY CENTER (THE “THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON FOX
REPORT BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentators: Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, JBL
Ring Announcer: Greg Hamilton
-They opened with a highlight video of previous Tribute to the Troop episodes, beginning with the original in 2003. The video package named the many military bases both in the United States and abroad the WWE has held the TTTT show. With that, they shifted to this year’s edition (the 18th edition) from the “critically acclaimed” (but not “award winning,” apparently) Thunderdome.
-Michael Cole welcomed us and informed us the audience is made up of all military members. They shifted to the ring for a big ten man tag match.
(1) REY MYSTERIO & JEFF HARDY & DANIEL BRYAN & STREET PROFITS (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER & ROBERT ROODE & ELIAS & SAMI ZAYN & KING CORBIN
Mysterio and Ziggler started. The latter gained an early advantage with some mat wrestling and then punched Mysterio in the face. Mysterio countered with a kick to the head for a two-count. Ziggler answered with a dropkick (and hyperbolic showboating), and he tagged in Roode. Hardy tagged in and hit Poetry in Motion with Mysterio. Roode hit by an atomic drop/leg drop across the body/basement dropkick combo. Bryan tagged in and started methodically working Roode. Corner dropkick resulted in a two-count for Bryan, but Roode regained control with a back elbow and tag to Elias.
Elias looked to maintain the advantage, but Bryan regained the momentum quickly before being hit with a flying knee by Elias. Elias hit Hardy with a cheap shot, and the obligatory all-out brawl began. Mysterio with a seated senton on the outside, and Bryan with a tope on Elias. Ford hit a tope con hilo to the outside on Ziggler, Roode, and Corbin as they cut to break. [c]
They returned with Ziggler in control of Bryan. Ziggler tagged in Roode, and they hit some double team offense for a two-count. Rood took Bryan to the top for a superplex, but Bryan fought him off with a headbutt. Bryan hit a missile dropkick. Both men made tags, now with Mysterio taking advantage of Corbin. Corner punches from Msterio, followed by a seated senton from the top rope, now a modified bulldog for a two-count. Corbin countered a 619 into a chokeslam-backreaker, then tagged to Zayn. Mysterio fought off Zany to tag in Dawkins. Dawkins with some flying offense (lariat, splash, bulldog). Elias broke up the pin, but hit by a Twist of Fate. Ziggler superkicked Hardy, but Bryan hit the Busaiku Knee. Roode spinebustered Bryan, then some other stuff happened, then Dawkins hit a modified butterfly twisting neckbreaker (it was actually dope), then tagged in Ford for a SKY HIGH frog splash for the win.
WINNER: Rey Mysterio & Jeff Hardy & Daniel Bryan & Street Profits in 11:30.
-They showed highlights then previewed the rest of the card. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: That’s exactly what you would expect from this kind of match on this kind of show: a match that started out with some semblance of order that devolved into rapid finishers and clearing the ring for the big splash. They put the faces over, the heels lost nothing here, and at least every member of the match had some storyline connection to be in the match. Seriously though, check out Dawkins’ new finisher if you haven’t yet.)
-They showed the NFL on FOX crew, who gave their thanks as well to military service members, then shifted to Lacey Evans (did you know she’s an ex-Marine) and Jay Glazer (both of whom were not wearing masks) for a push-up contest between some service members and Evans herself. She said she’s “gonna kick all their asses” (at least she’s in character). She also kept her high heels on. Evans’ push-ups didn’t quite hit 90 degrees, but I can barely do 10 without fainting, so there’s that.
(Hazelwood’s Take: Yeah… that happened.)
-Greg Hamilton welcomed us back for a musical performance by Hardy, his “Give Heaven some Hell” single. In a nice touch, they played a montage of still shots from previous TTTT events with service members and wrestlers on the Tron behind him (and this is where I take my break).
-After the performance, Cole and JBL shifted to one of WWE’s well-produced PR pieces on TTTT. They did say they haven’t met with service members in-person because of the pandemic, and then showed several clips of what I assume to be Zoom meetings between several wrestlers and military members.
-Sasha Banks made her entrance as they shifted to the second match of the card. Her partner, Bianca Belair, entered after as they cut to break. [c]
-They returned with Troy Aikman, Joe Buck, and Erin Andrews giving their thanks too.
-As they shifted to the ring, Banks and Belair were dancing in the ring to Belair’s theme. Natalya then made her entrance, followed by her partner Bayley.
(2) SASHA BANKS & BIANCA BELAIR vs. NATALYA & BAYLEY
-In a nice contrast, Banks and Belair donned a red-dominant theme to their gear whereas their opponents donned a black base with blue accents to their gear. Banks and Bayley began the match as the commentators reminded us of their complicated history. Banks gained the advantage early with technical wrestling, then tagged in Belair. Bayley fought back, tried a drop-toe hold on Belair, but Belair kept her balance with her strength and agility. Bayley tagged Natalya, but Belair just toying with Natalya with her superior athleticism. Belair taunted Bayley, then took both of them out. Belair tagged in Banks, military pressed her, then threw Banks onto their foes as they cut to break. [c]
-They returned with Rob Stone (a former WWE 24/7 Champion) and Alexi Lalas (why is he on TV again?) to also give their thanks.
-Back in the ring and Bayley had control of Belair. She drove Belair into their corner and tagged in Natalya for a double team maneuver. Natalya went for a snap suplex that was blocked (late) by Belair, who rolled up Natalya for a two-count. Banks tagged in and hit Bayley off of the apron and hit several knees on Natalya. Banks hit a second-rope meteora for a two-count that was actually broken up by Bayley. Banks hit a knee then had Belair hit a handspring moonsault on Bayley. Those two rolled to the outside as Natalya countered Banks. As she tried to step over Banks, Banks tripped her and applied the Bank Statement. After some struggle, Natalya tapped.
WINNER: Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair in 8:00
-They showed replays after as the winners celebrated in the ring. Cole reminded us that this is “the most patriotic show of the year.” They shifted to 2007 when Vince McMahon played The Grinch and John Cena played Santa (with his right arm in a sling no less) during the show in Tikrit, Iraq (that may have been the last TTTT I watched until this year’s version). Cena gave McMahon and FU- I mean Attitude Adjustment.
(Hazelwood’s Take: A couple of mistimed spots that were easy to miss if you weren’t looking aside, the match served its purpose.)
-They shifted to WWE Champion Drew McIntyre making his entrance (still holding the sword by both ends of the pommel and not the hilt). They cut to break, the first of which hyped tonight’s NXT War Games event (check in to tonight’s Wrestling Night in American with the PWT Talks NXT crew shortly after War Games ends).
-They returned with notable celebrities thanking the troops, from Drew Brees to Terry Crews and of course, Rob Gronkowski.
(Hazelwood’s Take: Can we stop putting ignorant, problematic people on WWE TV? Oh wait…)
-The Miz made his entrance, followed by John Morrison and their dual slomo. They both wore Santa hats.
(3) DREW MCINTYRE vs. THE MIZ (w/John Morrison)
-They began with McIntyre taking some strike, but then just using size and strength to gain the advantage. On the outside, McIntyre chopped The Miz and threw Morrison over the barricade. The Miz capitalized and took advantage. The Miz climbed to the top rope, but McIntyre met him. The Miz forced McIntyre to slip, then had him set for that dumb double stomp move before McIntyre went up and just tossed The Miz off the top rope. McIntyre with continued offense, punctuated with a belly-to-belly overhead suplex and neckbreaker. Morrison tried to drag The Miz out, but was dragged in by McIntyre. The distraction allowed The Miz to poke the eye and roll up McIntyre for a rope-assisted two-count. McIntyre fought off Morrison, then hit the Future Shock on The Miz. He kps up and does his 3-2-1 countdown as he hit the Claymore for the victory.
WINNER: Drew McIntyre in 4:00
-After the match, they showed highlights and reiterated how impressive McIntyre has been since regaining the WWE Championship. JBL said McIntyre keeps getting “better and better and better.” McIntyre then went over the barricade and posed in front of the Thunderdome crowd as Cole asked us to rally behind “the love and admiration of the greatest fighting force on the planet” as the show ended.
(Hazelwood’s Take: Sometimes, a glorified house show with the faces going over in every match is a nice palette cleanser. That doesn’t mean you should go out of your way to view any of the match, Dawkins’ new finisher aside, but if you just want a feel-good show, then you could do worse than this year’s Tribute to the Troops. Just go ahead and skip all those corporate inserts and the push-up contest.)