Tyler Breeze (W) vs Dolph Ziggler
It’s tough to know why Tyler Breeze, owner of the most unfortunate gimmick at NXT since CJ Parker requested his release, got called up or why Dolph Ziggler is being called on to put him over, but it probably has something to do with someone at WWE Creative noticing that Zoolander 2 is coming out soon and that movie is the only context in which Breeze’s supermodel persona makes any sense whatsoever. Breeze is a fantastic worker, but his gimmick doesn’t look anything like a model, how a model gimmick works anywhere else in wrestling, and no credible model would ever leave their hair looking that brassy after bleaching it. Toner, Tyler, it’s called toner. Maybe most tragically of all, Tyler upgraded to the iPhone 6, meaning that his trademark selfie stick is no longer holding a phone sporting his trademark case. The Miz is what a legitimate version of Tyler looks like these days and Xavier Woods is doing a much better job of it than Tyler is, and Xavier isn’t even trying to be a model.
Ziggler and Breeze start the match by locking up strong, the best we’ve seen all night. They go back and forth until Breeze launches Ziggler with a wicked arm drag. Tyler retreats to the corner to pose up on the turnbuckle like Eddie Guerrero. They lock up again until Ziggler can plant Breeze and try for a cover, but Breeze escapes before a count starts. Ziggler gets him by the arm and drags him up to his feet. Ziggler gets in a headlock and takes them back down to the ground for another pin attempt. Ziggler’s out to remind us of his Kent state wrestling pedigree. They get back to their feet and it’s Ziggler’s turn to unleash a ferocious arm drag, then pose from the top rope like Breeze did. Breeze charges Ziggler, Ziggler escapes, and Breeze whirls to catch a dropkick. He ties himself up in the ropes and Ziggler dumps him out onto the floor.
Ziggler drops down to chase Breeze and Breeze puts Summer Rae in front of him. Between Summer and Lana, as utilized by Breeze and Rusev, Ziggler is probably the most prolific victim of this tactic. Breeze Rolls back in and attempts to attack Ziggler when he gets back up onto the apron and fails, then tries to escape out the other side grabbing the apron itself, with Ziggler dragging him back in. Breeze whirls after letting go and tosses Ziggler out of the ring. Breeze flings Ziggler into the ring and pummels him down into the corner. The ref forces a separation and Breeze unleashes a flurry of kicks when Ziggler tries to escape. Breeze grabs him by the hair, pulls him across the ropes and punches him back down, getting a lecture from the ref in response. There are many things wrong with Tyler Breeze, but aggression and in ring creativity have never been among them.
They reset at the center of the ring and Breeze whips Ziggler into the ropes, planting him with a vicious elbow. Breeze goes for a count and only gets one. He grabs Ziggler’s leg for a submission attempt and comes up empty after a flurry of up kicks from Ziggler. Breeze drops Ziggler into a half crab and sits it right down, but Ziggler makes it to the ropes and Tyler is forced to break, giving the ref a smirk when he separates them. Tyler goes up to the top rope and comes down to a dropkick from Ziggler. Once they recover Breeze swings and misses for a clothesline and Ziggler connects with a flying clothesline on the rebound, then follows it up with another. Breeze backs into the corner and Ziggler follows him in with a splash, following it with a neckbreaker. Dolph screams for the crowd and lands an elbow drop. He goes for a cover and gets a two count. He misses a famouser from the ropes and Breeze pulls him into a schoolboy for a two count. Ziggler takes a back kick getting up and hobbles to the corner.
Breeze goes for a shoulder tackle and Ziggler goes over him, coming back down for a roll up attempt. Breeze holds onto the ropes and sits, getting Ziggler’s shoulders down, but the ref spots Breeze on the ropes. He lets go and Ziggler rolls forward for a pin attempt. Tyler kicks out and Ziggler goes for the famouser again, this time gets caught, but he rolls over and through for another pin attempt, which triggers a back and forth until they get to their feet and trade shots. Ziggler drives Breeze into one corner and whips him into the other. Breeze comes out of the corner and Ziggler plants him into the mat face first. Dolph starts tuning up the band for a superkick, but don’t let him catch you saying it’s a tribute to HBK as Ziggler is vocal about having learned it from Lance Storm.
Breeze catches it and tries to twist Ziggler into his finisher Unprettier, an inverted double underhook facebuster, but Ziggler reverses and gets a two count. Back up, Ziggler goes for another kick that goes right over Breeze. Breeze tries to escape the ring and Dolph pulls his head over the top rope, getting him into a headlock draped over the ropes. He breaks at four and gets a kick to the knee when he returns to Breeze. Breeze stomps in and catches Ziggler with Unprettier and gets the three count.
Tyler Breeze has great offense and is a talented in ring performer, but he needs a serious makeover. A feud with Ziggler, between bells is a pretty great thing, but booked the way it has been, and using Breeze’s nauseating character voice, it’s hugely undermined.
The Brothers of Destruction (W) vs The Wyatt Family
This is, realistically speaking the main event, especially with the absence of a well booked marquee tag team elimination event. Wyatt wants to be the next great monster heel, he wants to inherit the Undertaker’s throne, and why not. He’s the most credible guy to ever want the job. The WWE, right now, keeps giving him opportunities to reach for it, but not take it. What seems to be happening is that every time Undertaker gets back into the ring, they pull back from retiring him. That seemed like a bad idea after Wyatt’s admittedly lackluster match with him at Wrestlemania earlier this year, but Taker rebounded with two more fantastic matches against Brock Lesnar. Coupled with the return of Demon Kane, it seemed inevitable that the Brothers of Destruction would get at least one last match together.
With the event being billed as The Undertaker’s 25th anniversary, debuting at Survivor Series, the sense of urgency around all of the Deadman’s remaining matches amplified, seemingly hinting at this being a retirement match. In theory, Undertaker could retire at any time without a formal retirement match to pass the torch after the monumental ending of The Streak at Wrestlemania 30, so risking a forced retirement by keeping Calloway going in the role may not be the end of the world, but it would be a wasted opportunity if it doesn’t materialize. The Brothers of Destruction, however, are the ideal vehicle to extend his run because of how healthy Kane appears to be. This is a match that occurred in the wrong time to ever see it at it’s peak potential, but there never really was an opportunity in either Taker or Wyatt’s career to make it happen before now the way that a real rivalry between Triple H and Sting or Sting and The Undertaker could have. None of that can dim the shine of the occasion or lessen the goosebumps that happen every time the gong tolls. This is a special match and it’s happening under the most ideal conditions.
Erik Rowan tries to get things going early by rushing the brothers, but he takes a double boot and a double chokeslam for his efforts. Wyatt gets to choose which of his members he tags with for the match, and Rowan’s an early scratch. Luke Harper, former Intercontinental Champion, was always the smart choice for this match, although there was always the risk that Braun Stroman would get tapped as the new novelty. Thankfully good sense prevailed and Harper heeded the call. Harper starts against Kane. Kane opens up immediately, driving Harper into the corner. Harper recovers and whips Kane into the corner, but he rebounds with a vicious clothesline, flooring Harper. Kane pulls Harper up by the hair and Harper gets separation with a slap to the face. Harper goes off the ropes and gets hit with a side slam. Kane gets a two count with the first pin attempt of the match.
Kane goes off the ropes and hits Harper with a drop kick as he sits up. Wyatt is laughing in his corner, having a great time. Kane keeps hold of Harper and tags Taker in. Taker drives Harper into the corner with big lefts and rights. There’s no presumption of any kind of MMA tactics like what he and Lesnar use. This is old fashioned rasslin. The ref tries to get after him and he stares him right across the ring. He boots Harper in the chest and loops his arm around the top rope and punches him. Harper tries to slide along the rope to escape and Taker pushes him right back in. He repeats the attack again, then pulls Harper right back into the corner for a pair of headbutts and a straight right. Taker gets control of Harper’s arm and pulls him forward, driving them shoulder to shoulder.
Taker keeps Harper’s arm and drags him away from Wyatt to go for Old School, but Harper breaks it with a punch and knocks Undertaker back to the mat. He tags Wyatt in between slaps, keeping his keen ring awareness in check. As truly bizarre as the character is, Harper has long been one of the most effective tag team members in the WWE, being used to great effect by Rollins in the main event last year as a part of Team Authority. Harper keeps Taker in the corner for Wyatt, who explodes with a flurry of strikes on the Deadman. He keeps it up following Taker into mid ring, then whips him into the ropes, misses a clothesline, and gets caught by a flying one from Taker. Wyatt goes down noticeably early, but it’s a minor sin. Taker goes for a pin and gets one. Wyatt realizes where he is when he gets to the ropes and tags Harper in. Taker drops Harper and gets his arm over his shoulder when he gets up. The Phenom will not be disappointed.
He gets up for Old School to wild applause, sagging the top rope until it touches the second, then jumps and connects cleanly. Harper, dazed and down on his knees, gets a boot to the face. Taker gets him to his feet and tosses him out of the ring. He lays Harper out on the apron and hits him in the face, then nails him with a running leg drop. He tags Kane who comes around and whallops Harper, then rolls him back into the ring. Kane just plain moves differently when he’s back in the mask, and is way more in his element here than he has been in years. He drags Harper up and whips him into the ropes, but Harper recovers and kicks Kane in the face while his head is down. Harper looks stunned when they stand face to face, but he ducks a clothesline and manages to dump Kane out of the ring. Stroman comes for Kane but takes a boot to the chest.
Wyatt comes at him from the other direction and Kane gets him by the neck, but Stroman comes back and tosses Kane over the announce table. Taker’s had enough of this and comes around to face Stroman, but the ref gets between them as Taker signals to Stroman that he’s watching him. The ref knows he can’t do a damn thing to stop the Deadman, but he eventually wanders back, not breaking eye contact with Stroman. Undertaker is the perfect angry dad who will kill you if you go near his kids. Wyatt moves in and starts working on Kane up against the barricade where a guy in the front row urges him to “put some hands on him.” That guy’s amazing. Bray rolls Kane back into the ring and keeps up the assault, then tags in Harper, holding Kane down for a kick to the chest from Harper. Harper pushes Kane into the corner and works him over with little response, getting him ready for Wyatt. Harper makes the tag and holds Kane up for a kick from Wyatt. Wyatt puts Kane in the corner and keeps him there for a bit until Kane can mount some offense and backs Wyatt out with repeated strikes.
Wyatt ducks under a punch to make it to the ropes and comes back with a flying clothesline that takes Kane out. Wyatt smirks and sets Kane up for Sister Abigail, drawing Taker’s attention. He mocks Taker with the trademark throat slitting action, but pays for it when Kane gets him by the neck. Wyatt kicks out of the chokeslam, but Kane charges and plants Wyatt with a DDT. Taker starts pounding on the steps for the tag in, he’s more energized than he’s been in years, looking as agitated when Cena does waiting for a tag. Kane and Wyatt tag out simultaneously. Taker and Harper charge at each other off the hot tag and Taker drops Harper with a right three times, drives him into a corner, whips him to the opposite one, and follows with a lariat. Harper charges out, Taker lifts him for a bodyslam, then thinks better of it and goes for a DDT. This is just a guess, but I’m thinking Taker got so wrapped up in the moment he was really going to go for it until he remembered his age. Either way, he hits Harper with a solid DDT. Taker pivots to the ropes and hits Harper with a big leg drop.
He grabs Harper by the face and pulls him down for a pin attempt, getting two. The crowd starts roaring as Taker calls for the chokeslam as Harper staggers to the ropes. Wyatt is shocked, and yells to Harper. Harper can’t stop it so Wyatt rushes to intervene, and Taker catches them both. The Phenom lets them go to deal with Stroman, knocking him back down when he gets up onto the apron. Taker gets rushed by the other two and upended, but he lands on his feet outside the ring. He gets Stroman in a chokehold and Kane arrives to clear the Spanish announce table so they can double chokeslam him through the table. An arena wide “Yes” chant starts up.
Taker is welcomed back into the ring by a superkick from Harper. Wyatt nails Taker with Sister Abigail and slides out for Harper to make the pin. Kane breaks the pin and he rushes in to meet Wyatt head on, dropping him with a punch, but Harper catches Kane with a clothesline of his own, putting everyone down on the mat. Harper stumbles up and is joined by Wyatt who begins his most elaborate performance of the Sister Abigail spider walk yet, only to be met with the brothers sitting up in tandem, to a roar from the crowd. The four face off and the brothers secure choke slams on the Wyatts, lining up to plant them in tandem.
Taker calls for the tombstone to yet another roar and lays Harper out for the three count. For the second PPV in a row, Taker delivers the best match on the card, this time keeping it short and sweet to disguise his limitations well. “Take ‘em in while you can,” JBL says. Truer words. It’s a testament to how well the brothers can still perform that they were able to completely capture the crowd’s imagination so far out from their prime, especially when considering Taker’s backstage collapse after Wrestlemania 30.
WWE Championship Tournament Final Dean Ambrose vs Roman Reigns (W)
The idea in segueing from The Brothers of Destruction to Ambrose vs Reigns is meant to highlight their brotherhood in the Shield and the emotional aspect of the match, but it remains an absolutely terrible idea. Of course this match only exists because Seth Rollins had to vacate the title due to his current injury, but it’s a testament to just how ravaged the current line up is by high profile injuries, especially with Cena on a break and Orton taking time off to get married. Reigns is definitely emerging as the stronger of the two, but both need stronger veteran performers to carry them, especially when Reigns can do absolutely nothing to cover Ambrose’s complete lack of diversity in offense.
Ambrose comes to the ring still wearing the tatters of the shirt that Owens tore open in their match, a fond reminder of better than we can hope for here. They open the match trading blows because, of course, neither one can lead a strong lock up the way Rio or Owens can. Reigns gets Owens up for a pumphandle slam immediately, to a chorus of boos. Reigns picks Ambrose off the ropes and whips him. Reigns puts his head down and Ambrose catches him with a knee, then starts in on the jab-chop combo. This is an actual match that is happening as the main event on a PPV. Ambrose gives up and bounces off the ropes, but Roman no-sells and he crashes to the mat.
Roman makes a show of working his jaw, then headbutts Ambrose who goes back to the ropes. Roman scoops him up and whips him, but Ambrose catches himself and beckons Reigns. Reigns laughs like he can’t believe he’s getting a cheque for this match. Ambrose invites a punch, ducks under it and whirls to dump Reigns outside the ring, following him out. Ambrose dances around Reigns with a couple hits, whips him, gets reversed and flung into the barricade. Roman goes to whip Ambrose in the ring and Ambrose returns with probably the laziest version of that spin around and return for a clothesline thing I’ve ever seen, but Roman sells it clean. Maybe Reigns deserves to get paid for this in compensation for putting up with this nonsense.
Ambrose gets back into the ring and goes for a suicide dive to a chant from the crowd. Owens has spent considerable time mocking the Ambrose fandom. That Ambrose is getting any kind of chant for exhausting everything he knows how to do less than five minutes into a match proves everything Owens has ever said about them. Back in the ring and Ambrose gets a missile dropkick from the top rope on Reigns. Ambrose goes for a pin and gets a two count. Ambrose gets an arm and drops Roman to the mat, then starts cranking on it. Ambrose seems to be examining Reigns’ fingertips. Reigns is visibly amused and has to hide his face behind his arm. Roman fights to his feet and Ambrose lets go with a knee to the chest. Ambrose crouches like Gollum as Reigns backs into a corner and Ambrose throws a series of lefts and rights before climbing the second rope to rain down elbows on Reigns. Ambrose is trying to look like Undertaker when he was pounding on Harper early in their match. He looks like a child doing it at home. Reigns gets Ambrose up and drops him in the center of the ring for a power bomb.
Ambrose lies there with his legs up until Reigns returns to do a facsimile of the sitout powerbomb he used on Rio. This is ludicrous. JBL tells us Ambrose is lucky to be here. He’s more right than he knows. Reigns tosses Ambrose into a corner. He lifts Ambrose up onto the turnbuckle and Ambrose is already lifting his legs over the ropes before Reigns makes contact. Ambrose is wrestling like he has bulletproof blackmail material on Vince McMahon. Ambrose remembers to react when Roman gets him up and delivers some elbows to stop the attempt. He rolls over Reigns in slow motion, then tugs Reigns, who goes over comically late. Rollins’ injury is the worst thing that has happened to anyone involved in or observing this mess.
Ambrose goes up to the top rope for another attempt and gets laid out by a superman punch. Lawler, Johnny on the Spot, has picked up on the fact that Ambrose’ body blocked the shot and wonders aloud if that was a superman punch as Roman goes for a pin, getting a two count. Reigns lays back down, clearly praying to be delivered from this. In the meantime we get a replay from a better angle, and it’s pretty spectacular, especially for this mess. Roman gives a pained run through of his fist cock and goes for the superman punch on the floor and you can clearly see Ambrose getting his hands up, looking for where to catch Reigns’ arm. Longtime Ambrose skeptic though I may be, I have never seen him pull a botch that spectacular before. He goes for Dirty Deeds, the previously discussed butterfly DDT, and Roman twists out, catching Ambrose with an elbow. Ambrose does that rocking clothesline off the ropes and puts Reigns down on the mat. Ambrose pounds the mat and gets up, tensed like he’s trying to burst every capillary in his body, and gets caught with a spear that Roman can only earn a two count for.
Roman gets up and makes a decent show of calling for the spear, which Ambrose checks with a kick. He starts waving his hands nonsensically and Reigns flies across the ring to drive his shoulder into the ringpost. Ambrose gathers him up for a pin attempt for a kick out at two. he follows it up with Dirty Deeds, and the same weird anklebiter pin attempt he pulled on Owens, but to no avail this time. Both wrestlers, on their backs, appear to be distraught. Probably because they have to keep going until the predetermined time. They sit up together, and lacking any better ideas, start shoving on each others’ heads until they remember how to throw jabs and get back to their feet. Ambrose gives Reigns his best come and get it gesture, and Reigns obliges with a kick to the chest and a headbutt. Ambrose opens up with lefts and rights to the body, leaping comically with each, until Roman shuts it down and heads for the ropes. Ambrose races to catch up and kicks him right up against the ropes. The first smart offense of the match from Ambrose. Roman struggles to the corner and Ambrose charges in with a splash and a series of elbows before being walked back by the ref.
Roman reverses when Ambrose returns and hits him with a series of lariats until Ambrose ducks under one and starts in on the elbows again, then kicks Reigns into sitting on the bottom rope. He backs away and kicks off from the opposite turnbuckle, looking for a clothesline and getting a match ending spear instead. Roman gets his big moment to tepid crowd response. Did Roman earn the belt? Sure, more so than many who have held it, but he deserved a much better match to win it from. After giving Roman time to mimic HBK then hug it out with Ambrose, Triple H gives him one last chance to shake his hand as the confetti falls. When Roman refuses, giving him a spear instead, well, there’s always a plan B.
Sheamus, fresh off his embarrassing tag team elimination defeat, comes charging in to cash in on Reigns. In a brilliant bit of booking, that loss gets followed up on with Roman kicking out at two and Sheamus looking stunned and unprepared for a real match. Sheamus misses his first brogue kick as Roman recovers from the initial mugging with the briefcase, and the pair come off the ropes again for Sheamus to plant him and get the pin. “The hell did we just see?” JBL asks in alarm. The best of a bad situation. As awful as the preceding match was, the feud this sets up for Roman to regain it thanks to Sheamus’ cash in is almost worth it. Sheamus, now a four time champion, is the perfect veteran brawler to put Roman over for real at TLC.
Emma Houxbois is a fiercely queer trans woman from the wilds of Canada, most recently spotted in the Pacific Northwest. She is a two time IWC Women’s World Champion and has written about comics for the web since 2005 for sites including Playboy, Bitch Media, and Graphic Policy.