I stated before that I was going to write brief bios for The Shield members. As I wrote about Reigns, I'm left with Ambrose, Rollins, and have decided to write about Langston as well. As Ambrose is the most highly recognized of the group, by most people, not all, I thought I'd dive into his past this week.
I have not followed Dragon Gate USA, other than what Richard has posted on WNW, I feel I've missed out on a lot of great wrestlers and wrestling, specifically Dean Ambrose, aka John Moxley. Jonathan Good, as he was born and raised is from Cincinnati, made his wrestling debut at the age of 19 in Heartland Wrestling Association (HWA) and in less than a year was one half of the Tag Team Champions for that company. Two days shy of a year after that, he won the HWA Heavyweight Championship! That's quite the rise for a young man, even in a small promotion. He went on to win the HWA Heavyweight Championship two more times, and the Tag Team Championship four more times before leaving the company.
Good spent well less than two years with Insanity Pro Wrestling, but while there he won their WHC twice and the Mid-American Championship once. While in HWA and IPW, Good also worked with Combat Zone Wrestling for almost three full years. And, as if that wasn't enough, he also worked Dragon Gate USA. While with Dragon Gate USA he worked with Dreamer, Kendrick, London, Tozawa, Homicide, and Jimmy Jacobs. In one match with Jacobs, Good had a nipple nearly severed from his body – ouch! Good worked a number of other indy promotions through the years, and really proved himself as a wrestler.
On May 27, 2011 Good started in WWE developmental with FCW, and made his TV debut with the company on July 3rd facing Rollins! They faced each other later in the summer for the FCW 15 Championship in a 15 Minute Iron Man Match that went to a draw with neither man scoring a pinfall, so Rollins retained his Title. They had a rematch two weeks later in a 20 minute Iron Man Match which also ended in a no pinfall draw. On the September 18 episode of FCW TV they had a 30 Minute rematch that went to a 2-2 draw. They ended up going into sudden death rules where Rollins scored a pinfall to win the match at 3-2.
Ambrose and Rollins continued to feud for a bit, and Ambrose was able to beat Rollins, but in a non-title match. At an FCW house show in October of that year, Ambrose challenged Punk, who was there to make a guest appearance. Punk actually accepted the match and ended up beating Ambrose, but paid huge tribute to him by saying, "The first Dean Ambrose is in the back." Ambrose then moved on to feuding with Regal. I'm a huge Regal fan, and think that he's a wonderful wrestler to work with any young wrestler willing to work hard and learn more.
I'm sure we all remember the pseudo-online feud that Ambrose had with Foley that started at WrestleMania, but amounted to absolutely nothing – but I'm still holding out hope that something will come of it at some point in the near future.
Ambrose and Rollins fought again, but the big match for Ambrose was at the final episode of FCW TV on July 15th. Ambrose had a rematch with Regal. They viciously fought and brutalized each other until Regal was busted open and the match was ruled a No Contest. After the match Regal gave Ambrose props, but when he turning his back, Ambrose attacked! The locker room stormed the ring to get between Ambrose and the fallen veteran.
On November 18th, at Survivor Series, Ambrose, along with Rollins and Reigns, rushed the ring and attacked Ryback. We all know what happened from there.
Video > A
They started the show with the 'Happy Holidays' video they showed online. This was my favorite holiday video of this season. It did help that it was a wrestling video, but it really brought a smile to my face every time I saw it. The WWE did a great job with this, and I can't wait to see how they top themselves next year.
Stage Side Segment > B+
I said this in my Tribute To The Troops Blog, but Foley is a kick butt Santa. Between the way they made Foley up, and the costume, he looked wonderful. It was obvious that Santa was going to get hit, just the way he was looking over his shoulder, but who better to do this than Foley? The way he was hugging the top of the Christmas tree to his face, it looked as though he was laughing his bum off, but if anyone can get away with it, it's Foley!
I question having ADR run over Santa after his face turn, but he and Ricardo sold their worry well. Actually, I loved how ADR and Ricardo sold their angst over hitting Santa. ADR was a bit over the top about it, but it's Santa! The little kid inside me enjoyed it. Actually, my youngest, Samantha, is watching this with me, and she's laughing away at the whole thing. She's nine and on that edge of Santa belief, but knows it's my beloved Foley in the costume this time, so she thinks it's great. The fact that she's a rather morbid child who has no trouble with real blood and gore makes wrestling right up her alley. If anything the WWE is becoming a bit too tame for her, but like most children, she loves Cena.
Video > C+
The police tape around ADR's BMW was a bit much, but that's the WWE for you. Santa with the thumb up as he was rolled away was so Foley, but it worked well.
Backstage Segment > B
The roster waiting for Booker outside the Trainer's room was a riot, but Booker was so much funnier. "Santa's down," about had me on the floor. But then there's Cena who was so over the top that I had to rewind and re-watch that bit. I almost fell out of my chair I was laughing so hard. "Do it for Santa! Do it for Santa, man!" was silly, but then the "Santa!" chants and Cena yelling, "For Santa!" about had me gagging. There's over the top selling, then there's this segment. I wonder how many times they had to shoot it for the laughing. I'm willing to bet it took a couple takes and there's got to be some serious outtakes from that one!
Rhodes vs Kane > B+
I hadn't seen Rhodes' shoulder injury before. I guess I missed that match somehow, but I have to say it made me twinge. It looked like he just didn't rotate enough – not saying who's fault it was, because it's not really easy to tell – and the landing looked really rough. Things like that happen, I'm just glad it wasn't worse than it was and that he's back in the ring, even though he has that thing living on his upper lip.
King's holiday themed puns were just horrible, and the thought of listening to them for three hours made me twitch a bit. Though I have to say that I liked his idea of giving homemade gifts – his kids. I will have to remember that for next year. Richard has his young son, but maybe I should send one of my teenagers to Gesus and his wife Rikki?
I really like the way Rhodes' worked over Kane's shoulder in this match. His way to give back for his injury. Of course the 'Cody's mustache' chants were great, but the ring work was even better. Every time it looked as though Kane was getting the upper hand, Rhodes came back with some really strong moves. I was really impressed with how they worked the ring together. I thought the ref had put the padding back on the first corner Rhodes' had removed, but I guess he didn't have the mental know how to do it somehow.
Winner – Kane (5:54)
Santa's Little Helper 8 Divas Tag Match – Kaitlyn & Layla & Natalya & Fox vs Eve & Rosa & Aksana & Tamina > B-
I have to say I really liked Kaitlyn's tough girl Christmas outfit, but also liked how Natalya carried on the Hart family's color in her outfit. Between showing some lovely moves right off the bat, it's interesting to not that she's the only Diva in this match who is fully blonde! Such a change from when it seemed like all the Divas were blonde.
I didn't like how Tamina was so easily tossed around the ring. She's one of the toughest Divas on the roster, and there's no way they could so easily get the upper hand on her in real life. Her outfit wasn't the most attractive on her, but her socks made the outfit cute. It was nice to actually see Rosa in the ring, even though she threw more sexiness than moves.
Eve's outfit looked half assed, but her ring work wasn't. I was actually pissed that itwas Fox, of all people, who took out Tamina in the end. I think Fox's ring work is as bad as Aksana's and that they're better off as managers than actually working the ring. I know this was a great way to get so many people show bonuses, but I wasn't thrilled with how parts of the match was booked. The end was solid with everyone hitting big moves, but the Tamina thing bothers me. What didn't bother me is how strong Kaitlyn looked. She's a rising star and I can't wait to see how far she could go, if allowed by TPTB in the WWE.
Winners – Kaitlyn, Layla, Natalya & Fox (5:31)
Backstage Segment > B+
I have to say that Ziggler and AJ looked adorable together in this segment. I know they're heels and they were laughing at Cena, but it worked really well. I'm actually excited to see where they take this.
Videos > D+
I understand it's Santa and Christmas Eve, but they dragged this out horribly! Just way too much of the replaying of Santa's terrible accident. I didn't notice the first time around that they had trouble lifting Santa onto the gurnery, I thought he was going to fall off the side there for a moment.
Backstage Segment > D
Striker is not my favorite, but that was really bad. The heart monitor was more interesting than Striker here.
Lumber Jack Frost Match - B+
Between the way Drew wore his Santa hat, and Albert wearing one, I was giggling senselessly before Big Show even came out to the ring. Again, a great way to give out a lot more show bonuses for the holiday season, and use the guys who were already there for Smackdown Live.
Watching the guys around the ring was sometimes more interesting than what was going on in the ring. Between them all cringing at Big Show slapping Sheamus' chest, and the way they were counting away at Sheamus' forearms, they added a lot to the match.
After the commercials the actual ring work picked up, but so did the fighting outside the ring. Honestly, I wasn't sure Sheamus would be able to hold Big Show up at all to hit that electric chair. I know Sheamus has ginger snapped on Big Show and hit white noise a couple times, but up on Sheamus' shoulder is a whole other set of muscles. He did it, and I'm both shocked and impressed.
Then Santino was comforted by Funkasaurus after Big Show yelled at him, and I was back to giggling. I have to say that I was quite impressed with the different levels of this match. It wasn't just humorous, or hard hitting, but there was so many different things going on. Not the normal solid match, but very entertaining in so many ways. Some solid work, a lot of entertainment, many near falls and lots of fighting. I really enjoyed it all the way around. I will admit that it was somewhat slow at certain times, but any match that lasts more than five minutes will have slower moments.
I really liked that they were able to give us a fresh match between these two as well as bringing in so many other wrestlers who were able to do more than just stand around playing switch.
Winner – Sheamus (16:05)
Video > B
I already stated how much I enjoyed the Miz TV segment of Tribute To The Troops.
In Ring Segment > C+
Otunga said he was the only Harvard educated lawyer in the history of the WWE. I quickly went to check as I knew Chris Nowinski was pushed as the only Hardvard graduate in the WWE, but I didn't know what his degree was in. I was shocked to see it was in sociology. I don't know what I was thinking, but I absolutely wasn't expecting sociology. So I guess it looks like Otunga is the only Harvard educated lawyer wrestler in the history of the WWE – unless someone can come up with someone else who was, or has since become a Harvard educated lawyer who was also a WWE wrestler.
Otunga said we don't know all the facts behind ADR hitting Santa with his car, even though we all witnessed it as it happened. Saying ADR was fulfilling his contractual obligations, but Santa was trespassing is also wrong as Foley also has a contract with the WWE. Sorry, I find Otunga's lawyering annoying sometimes, and this was one of those moments.
Ryder vs Otunga > B
I wish VKM would listen to how the fans love Ryder. Not only do the fans love Ryder, but he introduced the WWE to a who new form of media – YouTube – yet he continually gets abused and ignored because he's not big enough, or too goofy. It's just annoying. If anyone was annoying it was Ziggler running around and introducing himself to everyone for months on end, with a Wellness violation in the middle of it all. I know Ziggler has grown a lot since then, but I thought that was a lot more annoying than Ryder! And look at how far Ryder has come since being an Edge Head!
All that being said, this was a much betting match than I've seen from either of them in a very long time. They worked the ring well, both sold their moves and made it all look great. I don't know if it was just a good match for them, both of them hitting everything better than normal, or what, but they really worked this match well. It was entertaining and believable with solid ring work. Honestly, that's better than I was expecting and that's why it received such a solid grade. Now if only VKM would notice these things and really give Ryder the chance he deserves!
Winner – Ryder (4:41)
Backstage Segment > C+
Booker saying Vickie having the week off was a great way to get around her not being there for this show. Maddox standing next to Long, and even near Booker, looked bigger than I ever thought he was. He seems to have a rather built upper body, a decent look, and plays his character well, now all he needs are some actual ring skills.
Miz & Kofi vs Cesaro & Barrett > B+
As expected, these four worked the ring beautifully. Cesaro has really grown into the 'WWE way of doing things' and continues to impress more and more each time he's seen on WWE TV. I have to say that the fans have really taken to Miz as a face and the chants for him are getting louder and louder. I will admit that Kofi seems to have reached a plateau and can't seem to break through to get to the next level. I always thought he had it, but I'm starting to believe the naysayers who always claimed Kofi was nothing more than a mid-card worker. I'm not fully giving up on him, but I'm looking at him and re-evaluating my thoughts about him.
But it's Barrett I have to talk about here. I try not to talk about things Richard writes about in WNW Premium, but I'm impressed with Barrett and have to say something. With the chaos that happened with the Detroit and Chicago house shows, it seems as though – from what I read – Barrett was put in a tough spot and handled it well. I hope it was noticed that he worked the ring the way he did and kept the show going when there were some serious issues going on backstage. Barrett continues to prove himself in the WWE, and I'm continued to be impressed. Not bad from someone who I thought was little more than a great talker.
Winner – Miz & Kofi (6:57)
Backstage Segment > C+
Okay, this little segment with the MITB case was a bit lame. Honestly, I expected something really sexy under that robe, but to each his own.
Backstage Segment > D
Striker is just not very interesting. I don't understand why he's still around.
Maddox vs Khali w/ Hornswoggle > D-
Maddox must have some serious self esteem to sing in front of anyone. I know it's a job, but that was painful to listen to. The elf outfit was adorable on Hornswoggle, but on Khali, not so much. Though I have to say with Khali's profile, wearing that top and that hat, he almost looked like a cartoon character. It's all in the chin.
Why did Maddox's trunks say 'beef mode'? I was a bit distracted by Maddox's trunks, but then I saw his low drop kick and was mortified. King covered the craptastic move by saying he's not a Superstar yet, but that wasn't the only bad move in this match. Actually, Maddox seemed off his mark for most of this match. He looked off, landed wrong, and just didn't seemed to handle any of it well.
What was up with Khali's singing? I mean Hornswoggle wishing Santa well was sweet, but Khali came off as rather spacy and confused. More so than usual.
Winner – Khali (3:11)
In Ring Segment > B-
I found it interesting that Punk had more trouble with the stairs and getting in the ring than he did last time! I've had that surgery and was not in the condition he's in, and I was putting pressure on my leg that soon after surgery. Pnk actually seemed to be enjoying himself through the 'Steelers' chants. He's one of the few wrestlers who can ad lib so seamlessly.
Emergency surgerized? Now that's a word! Punk worked really hard to get heat in this segment, but it wasn't working. Yes, Punk is over as a heel, but his diatribe just didn't work here. Heyman, on the other hand, so simply took the mic, said it had been 400 days, and the fans were all over him. I know Heyman has more history of being hated than Punk, but Punk seems to be losing some of his spunk and hatred from the fans.
Ryback wore that purple singlet for what seemed like two weeks. I think he wore it at TLC and since. I really hope it's had some serious laundering because that thing would be nasty otherwise. I also have to say that it's not the best work from his air brush artist. Beyond that, I thought Ryback handled his mic work fairly well. He didn't talk about ripping apart red meat, or devouring this or that food. I thought he was decent for who is character is, but not much more than that.
Bryan vs Sandow > B+
I love Bryan's leather jackets. Whoever makes them does beautiful work. I'm very impressed and would love to know who makes them. I'm still amazed by Bryan. Who would have thought that two simple words could turn into so much? I know SCSA has 'What?', but Bryan has taken two single words to a whole new level. Sandow is trying to achieve the same with 'silence' and 'you're welcome', but I'm not sure if he will get half as far as Bryan with them. (Yes, I know 'you're welcome' is two words, but you know what I'm saying. These are not like the Rock's catchphrases that much wordier.)
Not only does Bryan get some of the best reactions from the fans, but he's one of the best in the ring. And Sandow impresses me week in and week out. While I understand that it takes time to work your way to the top, and he's growing in his role in the WWE. That he's in a tag team now, and it's one that will help both him and his partner, as will working against Bryan and Kane so much, but I want to see him further up the food chain. I really see him as being a huge star, and I know I have to wait for him to grow into it, but I'm becoming impatient for it. Actually, he's not the only one I'm itching to see at the top, and if I'm having troubles biding my time, I can't imagine how it is for them.
Winner – Bryan (5:38)
12 Days of Christmas 12 Man Team Match – Santino & Usos & Funkasaurus & Kidd & Gabriel vs Tensai & Prime Time Players & 3MB & > B-
Kidd is so strong in the ring, as is Gabriel. Together they're even more impressive, yet they're not getting anywhere. Actually, many of the wrestlers in this match seem to be stuck in some sort of limbo. I've been thinking more and more of the Prime Time Players recently, and have been a fan of Drew and Slater for a while now. The Usos are so solid in the ring, but get nowhere.
I know I usually complain about too many people in a match, but I liked this one. It was a mess at certain points, and kind of confusing, but they all looked solid. Okay, Slater got tossed around by an Uso a bit and looked too much like a ragdoll, but he pulled through. So while it wasn't my favorite type of match, it worked well on this crazy Christmas Eve episode of RAW.
Winners – Usos & Santino & Funkasaurus & Kidd & Gabriel (6:15)
Backstage Segment > A-
As per usual, their greatest segments are these wonderful little bits backstage.! I knew there was a reason why I loved Kane! I'm not big on Christmas, but I do it for the kids. That puppy was so adorably ugly. Honestly, I didn't expect Kane would want to eat the pup, but it is Kane. Bryan's reaction was great, even though he's no longer vegan due to his soy allergy. I could actually see Kane with that pup dressed up in creative Kane-esque gear. Wonder who the dog actually belongs to.
Backstage Segment > C+
Another not so great segment for Ziggler and AJ. They're just going over the same stuff in different, yet not so creative ways. I know where they were going with this, and the delivery wasn't bad, but it barely did better than falling flat. I love AJ and Ziggler, but this was a step back for them.
Backstage Segment > B
The grade wasn't for Striker, but for the overall corniness of the heart monitor playing Jingle Bells. Creative if horrible. My daughter thought it was great, so I guess they're hitting their target age group?
Miracle on 34th Street Fight > ADR vs Cena > B-
Ricardo trying to announce ADR was a riot, but it was Cena coming out that had Sam so excited she could barely stay in her seat. But I thought Cena usually wore high topped sneakers to the ring. I know he's stopped wearing the horrible jorts, and maybe I just haven't noticed Cena's feet recently, but his sneakers looked odd.
This match put the corny star on the top of the corny tree. All the screaming about Santa? Cena opening a gift to find a chair? A pumpkin pie? Poor Ricardo always getting covered in food, but still! I've let a lot of corniness go, truly relished in it all, but this is too much. I will say that the monitor Cena opened seemed like it had the guts removed. It sounded good hitting ADR's head, but the way it bounced to the floor, it looked too light. And then there was the bazooka, the tank – I mean the Teddy bear. I will say they did a solid job of picking out the right gifts that they were supposed to use at the right time.
Ricardo's sleeper on Cena wasn't the best, but I can't imagine how hard it would be to wrestle in a tux. Honestly, I think it's time El Local starts poking his head out now and then. It's time for the WWE fans to really see Ricardo in the ring! But then there's Ricardo reaction to Santa's return. He was adorable, until he was hit over the head with Santa's sack of gifts. Even funnier was the Christmas Socko, and ADR sold it well. But even though all the silliness, I hope ADR goes back to being face next week. I was liking the direction they were going, and think it might work for him. He seemed to be changing up his ring work as well as his character. I also hope Cena takes a step back from the uber corn he'd stopped dishing us lately. I understand that this was the Christmas Eve episode, but the next one is the New Years Eve episode, and they could get goofy there as well. I'm going to cross my toes and hope for the best.
Winner – Cena (15:23)
Even though it's two days after Christmas, I'm sitting here wearing my "YES!" "YES!" "YES!" Santa hat – the newest addition to my WWE Santa hat collection. Over on my pink tree sits gingerbread Cena, Sheamus, Ziggler and Bryan! I really wish I could wear my WWE Santa hats all winter. They're so wonderfully warm and comfortable! Really, what's wrong with running around in a Santa hat telling everyone that I'm Awesome? Actually, Stacy went WWE shopping crazy for me this year, so I have a couple new wrestling shirts to add to my wardrobe, though I have to admit a few of them need altering, ala AJ.
Thanks for bearing with me this week. I know this RIB is quite a bit later than normal, but I thought it was more important to spend time with my family. All the kids were home, something that rarely happens these days, so I was going to enjoy every minute with them. Hopefully you've been able to enjoy time with those who mean the most to you.