Tribute to the Troops 2016
Date: December 14, 2016
Location: Verizon Center, Washington D.C.
Commentators: Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, John Bradshaw Layfield
I try so hard to care about this show but it feels like WWE puts in less of an effort every single year. This is the annual show for the members of the United States military, meaning almost nothing of consequence will happen and the big main event will be Americans vs. foreigners. Let’s get to it.
Shane and Stephanie McMahon welcome us to the show.
Video on the history of the series with a look back at all of the shows. The ones where they went overseas just feel so much more important.
Lillian Garcia is back to sing the National Anthem.
Cole says this is a rare occasion when the Raw, Smackdown and cruiserweight rosters are on the same show. You mean like Survivor Series?
Here’s Roman Reigns to get things going. Reigns says the people in this arena are the real champions of the United States but here’s Kevin Owens to cut him off. Kevin thinks he should get the praise around here because he’s the longest reigning Universal Champion in history. Trash talk is exchanged with Owens saying he would take the US Title and put a maple leaf sticker on it to turn it into the Canadian Heavyweight Title. So he’s a Lance Storm fan. I admire the cut of this Canadian’s jib.
A challenge is issued but here’s Rusev to interrupt. We get a rare kiss with Lana but Reigns wants a soldier to come out here and show Rusev how to do that properly. A brawl is about to go down but Big Cass comes out to even things up. Mick Foley comes out to make the main event, even though it’s not Raw and he shouldn’t have any authority.
Package on wrestlers visiting troops.
Cesaro/Sheamus vs. Shining Stars vs. Anderson and Gallows vs. Golden Truth
The winners get New Day on Sunday with one fall to a finish. Anderson punches Goldust to start before it’s off to Epico who gets beaten up as well. The Shining Stars get together to put Goldust on the floor and we take a break. Back with Gallows kicking Goldust in the face because it’s beat on the old man night.
An elbow drop gets two with Sheamus making the save. The hot tag brings in R-Truth to clean house with an ax kick getting two on Primo. Cesaro comes in to clean house with his usual stuff, including the high crossbody for two more on Primo. Epico saves his cousin from the Swing but gets Brogue Kicked for the pin at 9:28.
Rating: D+. If they just have to give Cesaro and Sheamus the titles so be it, as long as New Day has the record once and for all. I’m still not a fan of the team but they’re probably the only option out of these four. The tag division means nothing at the moment so they’re as good an option as there is otherwise. Also, how weird is it to see storyline development on one of these shows?
More wrestlers meeting troops.
Here are Miz and Maryse for a chat with Miz calling himself an inspiration due to his role in the Marine movies. Anyway it’s open challenge time so here’s comedian Gabriel Iglesias to answer. They argue about who is out of their element until Iglesias brings out a friend to answer the challenge.
Miz vs. Apollo Crews
Non-title. Miz starts with the Daniel Bryan mockery fast by doing the YES pose and hitting the running corner dropkick. The running corner clothesline is countered into a belly to belly suplex as Iglesias starts taking pictures with Maryse. Neither Miz nor Maryse are pleased so Crews kicks Miz in the face, meaning another picture can be taken. The distraction lets Crews grab a rollup for the pin at 2:30.
Some troops say hello to their families.
Dolph Ziggler/American Alpha vs. Wyatt Family
Jordan immediately goes for the belly to belly on Harper but gets headlocked for his efforts. Luke is knocked out to the floor and we take a break. Back with Ziggler coming in to clothesline Orton and dropping him with a neckbreaker. The triple teaming puts Ziggler down in a hurry though and Orton’s snap powerslam gets two. Ziggler gets away for the hot tag without too much effort and everything breaks down. That’s fine with the Wyatts who clean house off a release Rock Bottom to Gable. The RKO finishes Chad at 10:55.
Rating: C-. Well that was rather squashy. The Wyatts completely destroyed the three of them here and that’s not a good sign for Alpha’s title hopes going forward. You would think they would be the best option to eventually take the belts from the Wyatts but that really doesn’t seem to be the case, at least not yet. At least they’re keeping the Family strong for a change.
Bayley, Charlotte and Dana Brooke meet a rescue dog. Dana isn’t impressed and a match is made for later.
Bayley vs. Dana Brooke
Charlotte and the dog are at ringside. Dana takes her down and cranks on an arm and a leg at the same time. Bayley comes back with her spinning elbow in the corner but Charlotte grabs the leg to break up the suplex. The fans want Sasha but have to settle for Bayley throwing Dana into Charlotte. Back in and the Bayley to Belly wraps Dana up at 2:24.
Bayley celebrates with the dog just in case she’s not adorable enough yet.
TJ Perkins/Jack Gallagher/Rich Swann vs. Brian Kendrick/Tony Nese/Drew Gulak
Perkins and Kendrick speed things up to start with TJ sending him outside, meaning it’s time for all the dives. Gallagher goes last but opts to climb through the ropes and hit an ax handle from the apron for the pop of the night. Back in and Gulak puts Perkins in something like the Edgecator to take over for the first time.
Perkins cross bodies Nese but it’s not enough for the hot tag. Gulak gets kicked away and it’s off to Swann as things speed up. Everything breaks down with Jack headbutting Nese out to the floor but shaking himself up in the process. A double superkick drops Kendrick and the spinning kick to the jaw ends Gulak at 5:33.
Rating: C. This was exactly what this match needed to be with the right ending. I liked the fact that they didn’t do much to set up the triple threat here as this was much more an exhibition than anything involving storylines. They need to find some better heel jobbers than Gulak and Nese though as they’ve lost so many times now that it’s starting to lose meaning.
HHH and Stephanie went to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for a ceremony.
More wrestlers in Afghanistan.
New Day talks about their title defense on Sunday but instead opt to dance over breaking the record. Big E. thinks they’re the greatest trio of all time when the Club comes in to laugh at the thought. They throw up the too sweet sign and here’s the Shield to stare all six of them down. Reigns: “Nah.” Well that worked.
Big Cass/Roman Reigns vs. Rusev/Kevin Owens
Enzo is back and we hear about how the Americans are going to beat down the bad guys for every branch of the military. Rusev and Reigns get things started with the Bulgarian actually taking over. The running splash misses though and Rusev has to bail from the threat of the Superman Punch. Instead it’s the apron dropkick and the good guys stand tall as we take a break.
Back with Owens getting in a cheap shot on Reigns to give the bad guys control. Owens gets all angry with the trash talk and drops a backsplash on the floor. Reigns finally throws Rusev down and a big uppercut to Owens allows the hot tag to Cass. Everything breaks down but Lana shoves Enzo into the steps. The distraction lets Rusev get in a superkick to set up the frog splash for two. Another hot tag brings in Reigns for the spear and pin on Rusev at 12:55.
Rating: C-. Totally standard main event to end a totally standard show. Lana laying out Enzo was the highlight of the match here and actually makes me want to see them have a wacky comedy match. I’m really happy with the idea of Cass moving higher up the card and while I don’t see him beating Rusev, it’s a good sign to have him in that spot on a pay per view.
A quick thank you to the troops wraps us up.
Overall Rating: D. Is that really what they think of the troops? This was basically an extra hour for Raw and Smackdown with nothing interesting whatsoever going on. In two hours we had maybe ten combined minutes of stuff on the troops, making this one of the lamest tributes ever. It used to be a show in the Middle East. Then it was a show at a military base. Then it was a glorified house show. Now it’s something thrown in as a bonus when you went to Smackdown. To suggest this was about the troop is a joke and you almost have to know that just by paying attention. Totally unnecessary show, as it’s been for years.
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