wrestling / TV Reports

411’s Tribute to the Troops Report 12.19.12

December 20, 2012 | Posted by Ryan Byers

Welcome to 411mania’s Tribute to the Troops Report~!

We are TAPED from the Scope in Norfolk, Virginia, one of the great Jim Crockett Promotions venues from a bygone era. Your hosts are Michael Cole and John Bradshaw Layfield and I, of course, am Ryan Byers.

Dolph Ziggler & The Big Show vs. Randy Orton & Sheamus

I am joining this match recap IN PROGRESS as I just found out that big boss man Larry Csonka needed somebody to recap Tribute to the Troops about eight minutes into the show via the magic of the TWITTA MACHINE.

In the part of the match before I was really paying attention, the two teams did some fairly basic stuff until Ziggler got tossed out of the ring by Orton and Show bailed to avoid a Brogue Kick. The heels decided that they were going to take a powder, but Smackdown General Manager Booker T. appeared and restarted the match, declaring that it would continue until we had a decisive winner. That was the setup for the first commercial break.

When we come back from the ad spot and I begin recapping live, Sheamus and Orton are trading off on Ziggler. Dolph gets a dropkick on Sheamus for an opening and looks for a tag, but Show drops off the apron and refuses. This allows Sheamus to get in his forearm spot on Ziggler. JBL refers to this as “clubberin.” As a graduate of the Dusty Rhodes School of Broadcast Journalism, I can tell Mr. Layfield that this is incorrect. Clubberin’ is four fistes on one man, not one fistes on one man.

Anyway, Orton tags in and hits ten punches in the corner. I feel like I’m at a house show. Orton misses a charge in the corner and Show sucker punches him from the apron, but now Ziggler is refusing to tag out of the match to Show. The Showoff connects with another dropkick for a two count, and now here’s the tag. Show steps on the Viper but misses his “shhhh” chop in the corner. Orton fires back but Big Show hits him in his gimpy shoulder and tags off to Ziggler.

The Money in the Bank holder eats one punch and falls down, giving Orton the chance to tag in Sheamus. Wow, that made Dolph look lame. Show tags in as well, and Sheamus does a basic comeback on him before heading up top for the Patriot Missile. Show avoids it and looks for a chokeslam, but Sheamus avoids that and connects with the Air Raid Crash. Orton RKO’s both Ziggler and Show, with Sheamus following up with a Brogue Kick on the World Champion to get a three count.

Analysis: Nothing about this match was bad, but there was also nothing that we haven’t seen before with these four guys wrestling each other constantly in recent months. As I mentioned in the play-by-play, it felt like a house show match, with a lot of easy reaction spots and even Ziggler being pretty subdued with his bumps. **

Fergie has a pre-taped holiday message for the troops. Funny, for the Duchess of York, she doesn’t have much of a British accent.

The 2012 U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastics team also does a pre-tape putting over the U.S. military. McKayla IS impressed.

We go backstage, where the Muppet crew of Rizzo, Gonzo, and Pepe the King Prawn are talking about aircraft carriers. They ogle Layla, and she scratches Rizzo’s belly. Weird to see a WWE star coming onto a rat as opposed a rat coming on to a WWE star.

Florida is out to perform a song. I’m not that familiar with him or his music, but I remember the entrance he did for the Rock at Wrestlemania being AWESOME, so he gets a pass.

John Cena is backstage being interviewed by Josh Matthews. He says that it has been an honor and a privilege to participate in Tribute to the Troops for the past ten years.

Match Numero Dos: Alberto Del Rio w/ Ricardo Rodriguez vs. The Ryback

Alberto gets on the mic and tells us that it’s Ricardo’s birthday, and he attempts to lead the crowd in singing the Spanish language version of “Happy Birthday.” It’s weird seeing this now, since it was taped before the ADR face turn on Sunday. Ryback’s music interrupts. Feed him more cake and ice cream.

Del Rio gets some fists in at the bell but is quickly press slammed. Ricardo pops up on the apron for a distraction that allows ADR to take back over with boots and the Nash choke in the corner. Ryback powers out of the corner with a running body attack and a Davey Boy Smith-esque powerslam, but Rodriguez runs in and jumps on his back for the disqualification at roughly the ninety second mark. After the bell, Del Rio eats the big clothesline, and Ricardo gets the Shell Shock. Del Rio tries to make a save for his little buddy after the fact, but he’s Shell Shocked as well.

Analysis: This was too short to be anything worthwhile. DUD.

During the commercial break, there is a WWE/Slim Jim ad featuring a promotion in which Slim Jims will be sent to the troops. (See the Slim Jim website for details) The spot starred the Miz, Kofi Kingston, and Kaitlyn. I think that getting snacks to the troops is a worthwhile cause, but, damn, this commercial made me miss Randy Savage.

Kid Rock performs a song with a group that is identified as the “Twisted Brown Trucker Band.” Wait, what?

Backstage, Josh Matthews interviews Fozzie Bear, who hypes up Kermit the Frog’s appearance later tonight on MizTV. Statler and Waldorf cut in, and they mention that they have liver spots more entertaining than MizTV. AMEN. Please let these guys riff on every Miz segment from now through the end of time.

Soldiers’ Touts wishing their families a happy holidays are aired, sponsored by Slim Jim.

Mike the Miz is out for MizTV. He introduces his guest, Kermit the Frog, who puts over the military. Miz says that Kermit has some secrets that he’s going to expose this evening, particularly about his relationship with Miss Piggy. Then, in perhaps the funniest intentional piece of comedy on WWE television in years, Kermit makes a “don’t ask, don’t tell” joke as it relates to his love life. Somewhere in there, Miz tries to get the crowd to say that he’s awesome, but I’m fairly certain that most of them said “awful” . . . but maybe that’s just me projecting my feelings on to the audience.

Miz then introduces Miss Piggy, and the two of them double team poor Kermit about when he’s going to marry her. I can sympathize, frog. Of all people, DAMIEN SANDOW is out to save Kermit. He looks down his nose at “interspecies marriage” and then claims that the troops have placed pictures of him in their wallets. Uhhh . . . what was that about “don’t ask, don’t tell” again? Sandow continues his rant of awesomeness, calling Piggy a “porcine provocateur” in a great line. The pig and the intellectual go back and forth a bit more, with Kermit trying to make peace until Miz throws a big punch and lays out Sandow.

There could not be a bigger gap between how much I enjoy two pieces of talent than there is between Damien Sandow and the Miz. Sandow is absolutely on fire right now with just about everything he does, while Miz is one of the dirt worst, most obnoxious wrestling personalities that I have ever seen. I also love the Muppets, by the way.

Match Numero Tres: Mike the Miz vs. Damien Sandow

This match is in progress as we come back from a commercial break, with Miz hitting ten punches in the corner. Didn’t we just see that spot in the opener? Miz avoids some offense from Sandow and winds up slamming his head into the ring apron before dropping him face-first on to the retaining wall. Sandow manages to take over when we get back to the inside, connecting with a side Russian legsweep and the elbow with the Latin name, which Michael Cole fails to call for once. Damien slaps on a chinlock and holds it for a bit, but he runs into a flapjack when he lets go. Miz starts up his comeback, but Sandow cuts him off and connects with a spear and his leaping neckbreaker. Then, out of nowhere, Miz cradles Sandow for a three count.

Miz celebrates his victory with the Muppets, and Miss Piggy makes out with him. I was all ready to make an A.J. Lee joke, but JBL beat me to the punch.

Analysis: Another fairly quick, fairly basic match. There was not much to hate here, though a couple of spots could have been timed a little bit better. ½*

We get a commercial for the Miz starring in the new Marine movie, coming to DVD soon. Who buys these things, anyway?

Katie Couric is next in line with her pre-taped “thank you” to the troops.

Florida sings another song.

We get a video package of the ten year history of Tribute to the Troops. Interestingly, the Bella Twins and Batista sneak in for a couple of clips, though they’re not exactly on the greatest of terms with the company nowadays.

Daniel Bryan and Kane are backstage talking about how they have been ordered to find a partner for a six man tag but don’t want to work with anybody else. As a result, they’ve selected Little Jimmy. Unfortunately for them, R-Truth appears and tells them that he has had to take Little Jimmy’s place so that Jimmy can attend the wedding of his cousin Ugly Freda. I am not making this up.

Bryan gets angry and starts yelling “no,” leading to Animal from the Muppets antagonizing him with “yes.” Animal gives up on this pretty quickly, leaving Bryan to be confronted by a goat Muppet who sniffs him, refers to him as “Cousin Daniel” and then leaves to go about whatever business it is that goat Muppets have. I never once thought when I was watching Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness concuss and bust each other open for my entertainment that one of them would wind up sharing screen time with the Muppets. Now I have seen it, and it is GLORIOUS.

Match Numero Cuatro: R-Truth, Daniel Bryan, & Kane vs. The Three Man Band

Truth and Drew McIntyre start it off, but it’s not long at all before Daniel Bryan subs in. Daniel unloads in the corner and even gives the ref an “I have until FIVE!” Drew takes over thanks to that distraction and manages a tag to Heath Slater. Bryan is ganged up on in the 3MB corner, and eventually we get a tag to Jinder Mahal. Mahal grabs a chinlock and tries to follow with a back suplex, but Bryan rolls out of it and brings Kane into the match. Slater is in as well, and he eats a pair of corner clotheslines and a sidewalk slam for a nearfall. Kane hits his clothesline from the top rope and knocks McIntyre off the apron to set up Bryan’s diving knee. Kane looks for a double chokeslam on Slater and Mahal, but they send him into the ropes. Truth gets a blind tag, hits the Downward Spiral on Slater, and we’ve got ourselves a three count.

Analysis: Again, this did not get much time at all, but the babyface team consists entirely of seasoned veteran performers and the heel team is a group of guys who are good at playing follow the leader. Fine for the time allotted. *

Kid Rock sings again, and is backing group is again referred to as the “Twisted Brown Trucker Band,” so I guess I can confirm that I did actually hear that correctly the first time around. I don’t understand popular music anymore.

Josh Matthews interviews Antonio Cesaro backstage about his main event match this evening with John Cena. He states that Switzerland is the greatest country on earth because, unlike “some countries,” they are neutral and don’t go sticking their noses where they don’t belong. Gee, wonder who he could be talking about there?

Kellan Lutz salutes the troops through a pre-taped message. I honestly do not have the foggiest idea who that is.

SHARON STONE sends in a pre-taped message and plugs her pro-military facebok page. Wow, that is a much larger mainstream star than I ever imagine I would see on a WWE television show.

Match Numero Cinco: John Cena vs. Antonio Cesaro

The Muppets get the privilege of doing the ring intro for John Cena. They should do that every week. Forget you, Justin Roberts.

Cesaro grabs a headlock to start the match, but Cena shoves him off and gets in a leapfrog and a hiptoss. The wrestlers separate for a little bit and Cesaro teases walking out, but Cena catches up with him on the ramp and throws him back into the ring. The WWE’s golden boy stays on the U.S. champ with a bulldog, but he telegraphs a back body drop and gets kicked in the face. Cesaro shoots Cena into the turnbuckle and stops to gloat before leveling Cena with a headbutt that knocks him out to the floor. Antonio follows him and tries to send his head into the announcers’ table, but Cena reverses and fights back a bit. It doesn’t work for long, though, as the Swissman reverses an Irish whip and shoots Cena into the ring steps. That gets Antonio a two count back on the inside, and he DEADLIFTS CENA INTO A GUTWRENCH SUPLEX. This man is scary strong. Cesaro applies a variation on the Million Dollar Dream, but Cena quickly powers out of it and starts firing off some rights. Cesaro responds in kind but eats Cena’s shoulderblocks and the Protoplex. Fistdrop. FU. Three count. You knew that one was coming.

Analysis: This was one of the longer matches on the show, but that’s not exactly saying much. Going in, you knew that it was going to be a shorter match with Cesaro getting heat for most of the way and Cena doing his typical comeback before winning clean, and that’s exactly what it turned out to be, though I will say that Cesaro looked a bit more dominant than I thought he would and got in one eye-popping spot with the deadlift suplex. A fine way to cap off the show.

After the match, the majority of the WWE roster shows up on the stage, and Cena grabs a mic to give one last message of thanks to the troops. Cena closes by calling out Santa Claus, who is pulled out in a sleigh by several more wrestlers dressed as reindeer.

Overall

Nothing on this show was outstanding, but Tribute to the Troops isn’t about having an outstanding, blow away wrestling show. It’s about having a quick feel-good wrestling show with some celebrity cameos in order to honor the United States military. The show absolutely succeeded in that goal, with basic professional wrestling matches that were easy for the crowd to get into, babyface wins up and down the show, and musical performances that even I got some enjoyment out of despite not particularly caring for the musicians involved. I have to say – completely seriously – that the absolute highlight of the show was the Muppets. Their interaction with the WWE roster felt surprisingly natural compared to what viewers may have expected going in, and their material was legitimately funny . . . far more than standard WWE comedy. This wasn’t a newsworthy show or a show that you at all have to go out of your way to see if you missed it the first time around, but it was a perfectly acceptable way to kill two hours if you’re a wrestling fan.

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Ryan Byers

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