AllWrestling Weekly Power Poll 12/20
WWFresh off the heels of an impressive final pay-per-view show for 2018 in TLC and a reappearance of Vince McMahon on WWE TV, promising to shake things up and re-energe both brands by empowering the fans to make the call on how shows are set up, we have a lot to cover in this week’s AllWrestling.Com Power Poll. Here’s who was hot this week from the TLC, RAW and SmackDown shows going in reverse order:
They Didn’t Quite Make The List
Mickie James – When you make history, it deserves some recognition. James has now competed in more matches on RAW than any other female Superstar in the 25+ years of the show and that speaks to her talent and longevity in a sport not known for long lifespans, particularly for its female Superstars. James has to be proud of this achievement.
Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan) – It speaks well of what the company thinks of Riott’s work and the popularity of the heel faction that they were able to work their way onto a crowded TLC card with a feud against Natalya that became a bigger deal than some might of thought when it started. It was obviously helped along with the unfortunate circumstances of Natalya losing her father, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, and the incorporation of that element in Riott’s wicked promos. Yet, Riott seized the opportunity and made for quite a menacing character that we wanted to root against. Ruby appears to be ascending up the ladder of the RAW women’s division.
WWE Champion “The New” Daniel Bryan – Sure, he lost on SmackDown to help build Mustafa Ali’s ascension to the Blue Brand ranks, but Bryan and AJ Styles turned in what easily would have been the match of the night on most pay per views had the SmackDown Women’s Championship Triple Threat TLC Match not been every bit the main event that it was advertised to be. Bryan keeping the belt over Styles is a big acknowledgment from the WWE that the new heel work is going well.
Charlotte Flair – The Queen did her part as a supporting player in the historic first that was the SmackDown Women’s Championship triple threat TLC match. Flair took some incredible bumps, including what looked like the full impact of Becky Lynch coming off the ladder on top of her on the announce table. With a report circulating that Flair has been told she will be part of the WrestleMania 35 main event match, it’s easy to see how WWE can start building the path for the Woo-Man to get there at the Royal Rumble.
The Bar – Sure, we’ve seen Sheamus, Cesaro, New Day and The Usos go at each other a lot, but they still managed to make it an entertaining match at TLC. Since it was a match most had pegged for a title change, it was a big victory at TLC for the Swiss Cyborg and Celtic Warrior to maintain the SmackDown Tag Team belts.
AllWrestling.Com’s Top 10 of the Week
10. NXT Callups/Return of Buried/Injured Superstars – If the McMahon family shakeup gave us one gift this week, it was the promise of seeing something new on WWE TV. The announcement that Lars Sullivan, Ethan Carter III, Lacey Evans, Nikki Cross and Heavy Machinery would soon make waves on the main roster, coupled with returns from Superstars you may have forgotten were employed – Tyler Breeze, Sanity, Dana Brooke – gave us a few new matchups this week and the hope of more coming soon. As a bonus, top-level guys Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn had promos to announce their return from injuries. For a RAW product that has seemed stale with repeat matchups week after week, this was a welcome acknowledgment by WWE that fans wanted something new and different.
9. The Revival – Speaking of new and exciting, Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder were actually booked this week as big winners of the No. 1 Contenders Fatal 4-Way Tag match against Authors of Pain, The B-Team and Lucha House Party. For months, plenty of fan sentiment on social media expressed the belief that The Revival are the best tag team on RAW right now, but get nothing but terrible booking. As their losses in the “Lucha House Rules” matches mounted, the frustration seemed to mount for fans and Dawson and Wilder alike, leading to their online petition to abolish “Lucha House Rules.” It appears WWE listened to the thousands of fans who signed the petition and will give a title shot to the tag team many want to see with the belts. It should also be an entertaining rivalry against current RAW Tag Champs Bobby Roode and Chad Gable.
8. Finn Balor – With reports this week that WWE plans a major push for the first Universal Championship title holder in company history, it seems like a great time to be a Balor Club fan. Make no mistake, booking Balor as a winner in his match against Drew McIntyre at TLC likely means a big 2019 is ahead. With McIntyre being positioned as the ultimate baddie on the show, Balor scoring the first wins over him is a big deal. Balor also had a pretty entertaining match with Dolph Ziggler on RAW until the Scottish Psychopath laid waste to both of them. Apparently, we have Balor’s resurrection arc from the scrap heap to look forward to seeing in the coming weeks.
7. Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose – Did Ambrose and Seth Rollins tear the house down in what ended up being the RAW brand main event of the night at TLC? No. A report circulated that Vince McMahon was unhappy with how the match went down, and that might be easy to see, given that it lasted well over 20 minutes and didn’t feature some of the big bumps these two have shown us in the past. WWE probably needed to make this one of the gimmick matches to feed into the storyline of hatred between former Shield brothers to inflict more damage on each other than a regular match. However, Ambrose now holds the Intercontinental Championship and that’s the most prestigious male’s singles belt on RAW right now since Brock Lesnar only shows up a handful of times a year at pay-per-views to defend the Universal Championship. It’s a big win for Dean, albeit not quite as impressive as we hoped. He also got a win over Tyler Breeze and cut a decent heel promo on RAW.
6. Becky Lynch – Yes, I realize she lost the SmackDown Women’s Championship to Asuka. But if you think about it, that speaks volumes to how the WWE views her cult-like following from the WWE Universe. They knew the fans would be behind The Man whether she won or lost, and that gave them the opportunity to reboot Asuka’s career with a title run for her. They were right. Just two days after the loss at TLC, Lynch made an appearance at a Cricket Wireless store in Clovis, Calif., that drew swarms of people and even had some camping out overnight to see her. With the new mandate that the WWE gives fans what they want to see, hopefully that means The Lasskicker vs. The Queen vs. The Baddest Bitch on the Planet in the main event come April at Met Life Stadium for WrestleMania 35. That match was set up perfectly by “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey interfering at TLC to give the win to Asuka.
5. The McMahon Family – Vince, Stephanie, Shane and Triple H had us invested and the Sacramento crowd rocking in the RAW opening segment as they rained down boos upon fired General Manager Baron Corbin. This segment was an important one for WWE in that they acknowledged they let the fans down a bit this year, and they heard the calls for change by the fans not tuning in like they did in the past. Vince is a smart businessman, and interest in independent promotions has never been higher since WWE put WCW and ECW out of business.He didn’t want his customers to get away. By asking for more fan input and promising to deliver what the fans want, the McMahons gave us a reason to believe 2019 might bring us a better product. In the meantime, it also gave a short-term bump to RAW viewership.
4. Natalya – It’s hard not to root for Nattie for what she’s been through in the past year, losing her father and still carrying on with nonstop touring and work for Total Divas, including an episode where she eulogizes The Anvil. Though some have questioned the use of her real life loss in the storyline with the Riott Squad feud, Natalya came out and said that it’s helped her with her grief, feeling that it’s one last WWE sendoff for her father. Since she feels that way, I’m all for it. It’s certainly looking like it will be a hell of a memorial tour. Not only did Natalya look like a force in putting all three members of the Riott Squad through tables in her victory over Ruby Riott at TLC, but she came out the next night and defeated Mickie James, Riott and Sasha Banks in an 8-Woman Gauntlet match to get a title shot against her friend and training partner, Rousey. It also looked like Natalya was quite emotional both nights, and here’s hoping that her WWE work is helping her through what I am sure is a difficult holiday season for her.
3. Mustafa Ali – Just when you thought his incredible performance against WWE Champion “The New” Daniel Bryan on last week’s SmackDown might be a one-off, the ultra-talented Cruiserweight went out and scored a victory with AJ Styles over Bryan and Andrade “Cien” Almas in a tag match and was announced as a show regular now on SmackDown. Weeks don’t get much bigger than that for a guy many fans may not have known much about until the past two weeks. It will be interesting to see if this means Ali may pry the Cruiserweight belt from current champ Buddy Murphy or if he’s included in either the WWE Championship or United States Championship title pictures.
2. RAW Women’s Champion “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey – The Rowdy One had herself a night on Sunday. She totally dominated her title defense against Nia Jax and managed to look even better in the ring than the last time out when she had a brutally violent match against Charlotte. Rousey keeps adding to her move repertoire while still looking like the intimidating figure she’s been since the first moment she stepped into the WWE as a regular. Then, Rousey got her revenge on The Man and The Queen, tipping over their ladder and sending them sprawling to the floor outside the ring to allow Asuka to win the first ever SmackDown Women’s Championship triple-threat TLC match. After taking perhaps the most physical beating we’ve ever see in a WWE women’s match at Survivor Series from Flair and being the butt of all the jokes from Lynch on Twitter, Rousey played the wrecking ball at TLC and perhaps setting up the WrestleMania main event match against Flair and Lynch we all want to see. This was probably the biggest night of Rousey’s career since becoming the RAW Women’s Champ. Any other week she would rule the rankings, but …
1. SmackDown Women’s Champion Asuka – The Empress of Tomorrow’s time is finally now as she emerged from an incredible, historic match with a victory over the most popular performer in the company right now (Lynch) and probably the biggest name in women’s wrestling (Flair) to become a champion for the first time on the main roster. Asuka sorely needed this victory at a time when her career had waned because Flair ended her winning streak of more than 2 and a half years at WrestleMania 34. After spending April-November in limbo this year, the dynamo who dominated at NXT finally got validation at the highest level of the WWE. Though she had a little help from Rousey, Asuka stood toe-to-toe with Lynch and Flair in that match and all three were impressive in their performances. It’s not always easily to deliver at the highest level in a match so many people wanted to see, but that’s exactly what Asuka, Lynch and Flair did. They should all be proud, but none prouder than the current SmackDown Women’s Champ. Then, she added a victory in her first title defense over her friend and former champion Naomi. This is easily the biggest week in Asuka’s career to date.
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