SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
One-On-One with the Great One
Leave it to Paul Heyman to make a promo on Christmas Eve a peak segment of the year in WWE. Despite what should have been a throwaway show, all things considered, Heyman managed to pull out a must-watch performance that advances the main event program effectively against the backdrop of the worst two weeks to have go-home shows of the year. The intrigue over the state of Heyman heading into Day 1 is so different than most main event WWE storylines. It is the battle of “I believe in Roman Reigns” vs. “I’m protecting you from Brock Lesnar,” and that is an excellent sell.
A Look Back to Look Ahead
The look back on Heyman’s career was fabulous as a stand alone historical segment or Hall of Fame induction video. Adding to the Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar feud, though, is simply brilliant. The credibility that Heyman’s career holds with the WWE audience simply cannot be overstated, and that is thanks for the remarkable work he has put in year after year.
Weathering the Storm
The good news is that Toni Storm has managed to weather the less than stellar weeks of performances to make it to the point to have another battle with Charlotte Flair. The bad news is that there is probably less faith in her than that suggest since her big night came on the least desirable night to be spotlighted of the year. This was a much better match and showing by Storm than their last encounter, but Charlotte remains in separate class level than her challenger. The ending here felt like a bit of a definitive end of this feud.
Angel might not have won, but he was back looking like a total singles star that he did so long ago. It didn’t last long, but Angel maximized his moments. Ivar is a hit just for eliminating Shanky. Sheamus had a great stretch of wins solidifying him as a player that exists at a higher level than all of these other midcard-and-lower time fillers. The moonsault by Ricochet was a hit in its own right, but the big win over Sheamus was a great moment and win for him. The compounding wins over Carrillo and Jinder were notable as well and positions him as one big opportunity away from finally breaking through.
Shooting Star Sami
Sami is earning every bit of the his recent push with star acting and in-ring performances. Sami is not going to positioned as Brock Lesnar. With that said, he is the perfect Sami Zayn, and that is more than good enough. As the spoiler of the roster, there is no one more despicable to watch and desired to root against than Sami. That is saying a lot for a roster that includes Baron Corbin. This was a really good win for Sami Zayn.
Misuse on 34th Street
I get the season matches. I really do. But they are so pointless in the scheme of things, and if WWE is actually putting effort in the rest of the show – which they did- why can’t they continue that into this closing segment? Drew was very good here but he is still in too vulnerable of an overall state to have the stench of this comical stuff not wear off on him. These matches are deceptively dangerous and nothing great has ever come from them. That fact alone is enough to discontinue them moving forward.
(Not) Into the Woods
The King Woods character is terrible. It is not entertaining, it is annoying. Sure participating in the seasonal matches are low on the damage threshold, but having Xavier be paired with Drew McIntyre and Kofi is harmful to both at this point.
Mansoor had a night that was not helpful to his overall career prospects. Erik was just fine, but totally forgettable. Shanks looked sloppy and no different than the other giants-of-the-moment (See Commander Azeez). Poor Cesaro makes me sadder by the week of what could have been and will never be. There was no Christmas miracle here. Add Drew Gulak to that same category. Jinder is just done (for now).