Seven championship matches: three new champions. While the odds aren’t that good for the challengers, the winners might surprise you. WWE PPVs come to an end for 2011 with some very satisfying matches, setting the scene for the road to you-know-where in the new year.

The unholy alliance between Del Rio and The Miz is still in effect early on in the Triple Threat Ladder Match for CM Punk’s WWE Championship – but not for long. Ricardo Rodriguez takes a run at Miz, allowing Del Rio to drop him with a chair. Punk returns by kicking the ladder Del Rio has in his hands into his own face. The champ follows with a chair-accentuated attack on Miz, getting a hearty and somewhat disturbing laugh from a Punk fan at ringside.

Punk gets a ladder under the belt and climbs it unusually quickly – but Rodriguez cuffs Punk’s hand to the ladder, stopping his rise and allowing Del Rio to attack. As Del Rio climbs, Punk breaks the ladder and gets free – still with a cuff. He leaves Del Rio motionless on the floor, but has to attend to the returning Miz. Punk gets him on the buckles for a possible superplex, but Del Rio leaps up with a kick to Punk’s head. The champ falls away into a table on the floor.

Del Rio has a nice streak with cross-arm breakers on The Miz, using a ladder, and Punk, using a chair, but he fails to reach the belt. Instead, Miz and Punk push the ladder over and Del Rio’s cojones take the brunt of the fall on the ropes. Rodriguez has a clever idea and he climbs the ladder on Del Rio’s behalf, but Miz and Punk push him over, too, landing him on a table on the floor.

The final push comes as Miz connects Punk’s cuff to the turnbuckle but, as Del Rio and Miz both climb for the belt, Punk kicks the whole second rope loose to escape. He fights both challengers off the ladder, puts Miz to sleep, and grabs his belt.

The next WWE pay-per-view is The Royal Rumble on January 29th.


We’re in Baltimore tonight – most famous, of course, for being home to the CFL’s Stallions, the only U.S. team to win a Grey Cup. Commentary is by Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler (maybe Booker T later on?)

Match #1 – Dolph Ziggler (champion) (w/ Vickie Guerrero) vs. Zack Ryder – for the United States Championship

Perhaps a moment of truth for Zack Ryder – can the groundswell of fan support that has launched Ryder to contendership (whether it was really fan-initiated or not) bring him to his first WWE individual title? Ziggler’s tag team championship success is referenced – though he not acknowledges as a member of The Spirit Squad.

Ziggler gets to show off early on, dropping the challenger with leg sweeps and a ton of elbow drops – and even uses Ryder’s prone body to brace his legs and do a few push-ups. Very fine, smarmy performance by Ziggler thus far.

Ryder evens things out with an emphatic missile dropkick, followed by the Broski Boot – but Guerrero pulls her man’s foot onto the ropes. The ref, to the delight of the crowd, banishes Guerrero as a result. Ziggler leaps up with a leg lariat before Ryder can yell “infringement”, but Ryder kicks out and decides to show Ziggler how it’s done. In a perfectly clean finish, he lands the Rough Ryder on the champ and dethrones Dolph Ziggler.

Winner via pinfall and NEW United States Champion: Zack Ryder

Zack Ryder takes a moment with his new championship.

Ryder leaps around like a happy kid on Christmas before taking his title out to the floor to celebrate with his dad – who is in the second row. Now that his son is champ, Mr. Ryder ought to make a one-row improvement on that.

Booker T is backstage, jumping up and down and talking with Alicia Fox at the same time, when Fox fails to warn him that Cody Rhodes is fast approaching from behind. Rhodes roughs him up, but Booker isn’t hurt – just angry. Rhodes may not like him when he’s angry.

Match #2 – Air Boom (Kofi Kingston & Evan Bourne) (champions) vs. Primo & Epico (w/ Rosa Mendes)

Michael Cole does his best to explain how the challengers have rocketed up the tag teams ranks to earn this opportunity; it hasn’t taken much in the wafer-thin tag team division. Primo & Epico try a double team clothesline on Kingston, but he turns it around on both of them. He escapes a monkey-flip by landing on his feet, then gives Primo one of his own. Bourne isn’t so fortunate, as Primo and Epico catch him as he tries a crossbody off the ropes and throw him outside.

Bourne is kept in the enemy’s corner and gets worked over in two languages, with Mendes shouting Spanish instructions and presumably some bad mouth, too. Kingston gets in and tells both Primo and Epico that Jamaican him crazy. Big cross-body off the top on Primo, and as Bourne takes Epico outside Kingston follows with Trouble in Paradise for the win.

Winners via pinfall and STILL WWE Tag Team Champions: Air Boom

Josh Matthews is backstage, hinting that Booker T may not be able to compete tonight – with his main source of evidence being that Cody Rhodes walked by with a big smile on his face. Hornswoggle has a word with Teddy Long, who is in a Santa outfit, pleading that he’s had enough of dressing like an elf. Long tries to appease him with a gift of an Ebonics book, and Hornswoggle gives him the gift of a kick to the shins.

Match #3 – Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett – Tables Match

Very early on, Orton baseball slides a table into Barrett while he tried to slip it under the ropes, with Barrett seeming to earn a gash above his right eye as a result. Wiping the blood away, Barrett focuses on non-table attacks, dropping a second-rope elbow and driving a big boot to Orton’s head. Barrett lines up a table in the corner, but Orton escapes from the ramming attempt and sets Barrett up for, and executes, the leveraged-DDT.

Barrett, perhaps in frustration with a dash of desperation, tries to break a table by slamming it down on top of Orton. Failing that, Barrett lays Orton on the wood instead then climbs the corner – but when Barrett leaps, Orton jumps up and brings Barrett through the table with an RKO.

Winner via Furniture Deconstruction: Randy Orton

Backstage, Teddy Claus is with the Bella Twins, and tries to slip them his private number. Instead, he gets slapped. He’s more successful with his next visitors, setting up a match between Sheamus and Jack Swagger for later on.

Beth Phoenix sends Kelly Kelly crashing to the mat.

Match # 4 – Beth Phoenix (champion) vs. Kelly Kelly – for the Divas Championship

Kelly has an early advantage, but it’s not long before she’s wailing and screaming, especially in The Glamazon’s camel clutch. She manages a bulldog on Phoenix after being released, but her big move is a defensive one as she rolls away from Phoenix flying off the top rope for a leg drop. Phoenix has Kelly up for the Glam Slam, but Kelly cradles the champ for a two-count instead. Phoenix resorts to a sort of back-facing electric chair, dropping Kelly on her face and knocking her out.

Winner via pinfall and STILL Divas Champion: Beth Phoenix

Backstage, Del Rio and The Miz find they have very little to base their partnership on after tonight. The Miz concludes by shoving Del Rio’s dinner plate into Ricardo Rodriguez’s face.

Match #5 – Booker T vs. Cody Rhodes (champion) – for the Intercontinental Championship

Wait, hold the phone. Rhodes attacks Booker T again in the aisle – so the match is postponed.

Triple H and Kevin Nash fight atop the ladder.

Match #5 – Kevin Nash vs. Triple H – Sledgehammer/Ladder Match

Neither wrestler is keen to keep this in the ring, and a series of floor-attacks set the tone for the match. Nash runs a ladder into Triple H’s face, Triple H responds by clotheslining him over the barricade. When they do return to the ring, it’s with ladders in hand. Triple H chops Nash down with the steel and then wins an Innovation Slammy by tying Nash’s legs up between the ladder rungs and cinching in a figure-four leglock. Nash buys some time by throwing Triple H into a ladder propped up in a corner, then thinks about buying some frizz-control for his uncontrollable hair.

Nash then ups the ante by undressing the announcer’s table, but fails to land the Jackknife he seeks. Instead, Triple H backdrops him and sets up a ladder in the ring to try for the sledgehammer. Nash stops him and sets up a table, but Triple H ascends the ladder again. Nash climbs up the other side of the ladder and they fight for the hammer, but Triple H clocks his pal with the still-attached hammer, sending Nash tumbling through his own table. Alanis Morrissette would find that ironic. Triple H attacks with the hammer, then a Pedigree, and Nash tries one last effort by flashing the Kliq sign. Triple H responds with the DX counterpart and hammers home the win.

Winner via pinfall: Triple H

Nash is taken out on a stretcher, before we throw it backstage to Matt Striker with CM Punk, watching footage from last week’s Raw. Punk is not so upset about the attack from Miz and Del Rio, but really just wants his Slammy – which was accepted by John Laurinaitis. Laurinaitis appears to say he mailed the Slammy. The plot thickens.

Match # 6 – Jack Swagger (w/ Vickie Guerrero) vs. Sheamus

Swagger is treated really badly at first, punched and potatoed all over the ring until Guerrero catches Sheamus’ eye for a moment and Swagger gets on a roll. He throws Sheamus into the ringpost and the security barrier, launches a Swagger Bomb. Sheamus isn’t fazed, driving down a shoulder-block off the top rope and attempting a Brogue Kick. Swagger dodges and takes Sheamus out at the knees, then traps him in the ankle lock. Sheamus won’t submit, though, and gets away to find a home for the Brogue Kick after all.

Winner via pinfall: Sheamus

Match #7 – Big Show vs. Mark Henry (champion) – Chairs Match for the World Heavyweight Championship

Big Show immediately rolls to the floor and tosses in a dozen chairs, then enters with one in hand. Henry calmly walks out of the ring, grabs his belt and says this fight isn’t worth it. Big Show chases him down and coaxes him back into the ring with a few chair shots. Henry counters with a focused attack on Big Show’s knock-out hand. Henry thinks about a body slam, but can’t hoist Big Show up – that would mean more if John Cena hadn’t given Big Show a few AA’s over the years. Henry readies a baseball swing with a chair, but Big Show counters with a WMD. It pains Big Show terribly, but it’s enough to knock out the champ.

Winner and NEW World Heavyweight Champion: Big Show

Henry interrupts the celebration by attacking Big Show from behind, and giving him a DDT on a chair. As the new champ lays snoozing, a couple of clever fans chant for Daniel Bryan … and Wagner’s juiced up Ride of the Valkyries hits the speakers.

Daniel Bryan celebrates his World Heavyweight Championship win.

Match #8 – Daniel Bryan vs. Big Show (champion) – for the World Heavyweight Champion

The ref starts the match. Bryan pins.

Winner and NEW World Heavyweight Champion: Daniel Bryan

Match #8 – Booker T vs. Cody Rhodes (champion) – for the Intercontinental Championship

Booker T comes out looking no worse for wear, but too mad for a spinaroonie. Rhodes’ smug confidence dissipates early on as Booker has lots of fight in him. After trading some preliminary punches, both wrestlers go down with a double-clothesline. After that short rest, Booker starts a run with some forearms and a spinebuster – and that powers the spinaroonie. Looking a little dazed, Booker misses a follow-up scissors kick, but Rhodes connects with a Beautiful Disaster. Booker, looking further out of it, suffers a double-footed Beautiful Disaster and can’t come back from that.

Winner and STILL Intercontinental Champion: Cody Rhodes

Match #8 – CM Punk (champion) vs. The Miz vs. Alberto Del Rio – Triple Threat Ladder Match for the WWE Championship

Winner and STILL WWE Champion: CM Punk