WWE returned tonight to Madison Square Garden for their annual post-Christmas live event, a tradition that has been running for decades. In fact, 12/26 was the 30th anniversary of Bob Backlund losing the WWF title to the Iron Sheik and Backlund was there tonight, taking photos with fans in front of a green screen in the newly renovated lobby of the Garden for $30 a pop.
Before the show began, WWE had fans texting and Tweeting messages about their excitement over the show, which were flashed on the new digital screen hanging above MSG. They also showed photos from fans in attendance and in a new wrinkle, had roaming cameramen shooting the crowd before the show, sort of like Major League Baseball would at a game. They also had fans text voting over the stipulations of the Divas segment, which led to the crowd cheering and booing as they received updates on the screens about where the percentages of their votes were.
Justin Roberts was the ring announcer and while he does a fair job, I'll parrot what I write about every time WWE runs MSG - Howard Finkel is the voice of MSG and should be ring announcing at least the main event, but in a perfect world, the entire show.
The show opened with Rey Mysterio defeating Alberto Del Rio, who was obviously cleared to return to the ring from his concussion. Mysterio looks much heavier these days and in keeping with the NYC theme of the show, wore a red and blue Spider-Man inspired mask and outfit. This was a good opener with some nice back and forth wrestling, although Rey was obviously steps behind where he used to be and at one point, was limping early. They did a nice job teasing the 619 before finally getting there and Rey nailed a splash off the top for the pin.
Zack Ryder pinned Brodus Clay. Clay came out to his usual music then had it stopped. When the music stopped, so did the fans' attention span. The match was pretty much Clay working over Ryder with Ryder getting some offense in before being taken out again and then Ryder caught him out of the corner with a rollup and scored the clean pin. Ryder was nowhere near the level of popularity as he was just a few years ago, even in MSG, a venue that once chanted for him as The Rock of all people was cutting a promo on the house mic. Clay losing so quickly after being turned heel can't be seen as a strong start for his new direction.
They aired a Randy Orton promo from backstage knocking MSG.
Big Show pinned Kane with Booker T as the guest referee. Booker was advertised for the WWE World title match but that was changed obviously. Show was limping even coming down to the ring, but was hiding whatever pain he was in by playing the jolly giant. Show got one of the biggest reactions of the night coming out. He and Kane went back and forth and at one point, there was a belly to back suplex that looked like it was completely out of tune, but the crowd was into seeing Show. Kane worked in his usual outfit, just without the mask. Kane got a two count after catching Show climbing the ropes and chokeslamming him off and into the ring. He and Booker T argued and Kane went to nail him. Booker blocked and nailed a right hand, then hit a pump kick, sending Kane into a Show KO punch for the win.
They did a Divas dance-off with Naomi, Cameron and The Bellas against the makeshift quartet of Kaitlyn, AliciaFox, Rosa Mendes and Aksana. Everyone was dressed as sexy Santa helpers. The non-Total Divas were terrible dancers on purpose. The Total Divas were much better. This led to the Total Divas being attacked but making their own save. The others were on the outside when Brad Maddox (no reaction to him at all) came out and made it an eight-woman tag match. The women went back and forth until one of the Bellas hit a X-Factor on Fox. Not strong.
Curtis Axel came out and cut a promo saying he was the son of Perfect and unlike all the losers in MSG, he could not and would not lose. Out came Sin Cara V2.0 (Hunico). They had an OK match and of course, Cara won with the Swanton. The crowd wasn't into the slow build and was giving them "boring" chants pretty quickly.
Axel took the mic and said he would not end his year with a loss. He challenged the next man that came out to...