Live from SAP Center, San Jose, California
Opening up the final Network Special / Pay-Per-View of the year, the commentators welcomed the WWE Universe to what could be one of the most monumental nights in WWE’s 2018 calendar. Putting over the history of Starrcade as an event, it was time for the opening contest of the evening…
WWE Intercontinental Championship Match
Kicking off Starrcade with a unique six-way match for the Intercontinental Championship, the star-studded opener saw Jason Jordan face his biggest challenge since winning the title. As there was so much going on, all six competitors stood some chance of winning. That led to a number of nearfalls during the match, and Jason Jordan’s chances of retaining looked to be decreasing as the chaos continued. Eventually Randy Orton and Bobby Lashley’s personal issues took them out of contention, as Bobby Lashley hit a Spear, which sent both men over the barricade and into the timekeeper’s area. Finn Balor then looked to focus on the Champion himself, as he hit Jason Jordan with a Double Footstomp, while he laid out on the apron. Finn Balor successfully hit the move, but Baron Corbin hit him with an Elbow that sent him flying from the apron into the barricade.
Baron Corbin then turned back to the ring, and was caught off guard by Rey Mysterio. Having been plagued by Corbin’s relentless assaults in recent weeks, Rey looked to get his revenge on the vicious “Lone Wolf”, setting him up for a 619. Mysterio successfully hit the move, but as he went to the top rope to follow up with a Splash, Jason Jordan returned to the ring. Jordan grabbed Mysterio, hitting him with a Gutwrench Suplex from the top rope. Throwing Rey over his shoulder, Jordan managed to land Mysterio on top of Baron Corbin. As Rey Mysterio rolled away in pain, Jordan was able to cover Baron Corbin, who had been sufficiently hurt by the 619. With nobody else in sight, Jason Jordan somehow managed to retain the Intercontinental Championship, against 5 of Raw’s top Superstars.
Jason Jordan (c) bt. Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley, Finn Balor, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio
Following the reaction to Jason Jordan’s surprising victory, focus switched to the upcoming match between The Authors of Pain and Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins. The latter of the two teams were interviewed in the back, ahead of the WWE Tag Team Championship match between Rusev Day and The Usos.
Dean & Seth began to talk about their match with The Authors of Pain being described as an “unofficial” Number One Contenders match, saying that if Kurt Angle and Paige could come to an agreement, they’d be more than happy to face the WWE Tag Team Champions. As they discussed who that might end up being, Ambrose and Rollins were jumped from behind by their opponents.
Leaving them down and out, The Authors of Pain were quick and brutal in their assault, making sure Ambrose and Rollins had no chance to fight back. Throwing them into different parts of the interview set, Akam & Rezar ensured that their opponents for the evening were in a worse state than they were when the interview started!
After The Usos celebrations were over, The Authors of Pain were shown waiting by the curtain.
Having taken out Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, Akam & Rezar’s focus was now on the WWE Men’s Tag Team Champions. However, before they were able to go face to face with The Usos, The Authors of Pain were jumped from behind by a vengeful Ambrose & Rollins!
Managing to defend themselves a little better than Ambrose and Rollins had earlier, the attack turned into a brawl in the back between the two teams. Causing a path of destruction behind them, the four men fought throughout the building, until they appeared at the side of the stage. Despite their match not yet being scheduled, the two teams were ready to go at it in front of the WWE Universe. Not only that, but the four men ended up in amongst the fans, with anything they could get their hands on being used as a weapon. The lack of security was explained on commentary, with Michael Cole relaying that word from General Manager Kurt Angle to WWE officials was to “let them fight!”
While the brawl remained even for a while, Akam managed to grab a Fire Extinguisher, which he took Rollins down with. The Authors of Pain now focussed on Dean Ambrose, taking him down some stairs to an open part of the crowd. As they set up to hit a double team move on Ambrose, they failed to realise that Seth Rollins was recovering above them. Standing on the higher level, Seth Rollins set up for a huge dive to the floor.
Jumping from the balcony, Seth Rollins’ dive didn’t quite go to plan. Having time to set themselves, The Authors of Pain were able to “catch” Rollins, while also using his own momentum to cause him to crash into the barricade behind them. Rollins appeared to have injured his throat as he landed on the ground, and was struggling to breath. Medical personnel rushed to the scene, and Rollins pointed to his knee, which had also been injured in the fall. Seeing that they had done the intended damage, The Authors of Pain backed up, as Dean Ambrose checked on his partner. Eventually, Seth Rollins was carried out on a stretcher, with Ambrose following alongside. Just like Ambrose, the commentators put over a concern that Seth Rollins could have been seriously injured at the hands of The Authors of Pain. They were unsure what this meant for the scheduled match later. There was however no choice but for the show to go on, with the Raw team handing over to Smackdown’s Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton and the versatile Corey Graves.
Born of their mutual desires to become the WWE Champion, AJ Styles and The Miz continued to be at odds after failing in their pursuit at Survivor Series. Having been defeated by The Miz on the Smackdown following Survivor Series, AJ Styles set out to get revenge on the man who had jumped him pre-match on that night. The rivalry continued to get more personal, with The Miz’s desire to be considered a “wrestler’s wrestler” leading him to accepting the challenge to a Submissions match.
That meant that The Miz’s greatest tool was his Figure Four Leglock, and he stayed focussed on the leg of AJ Styles. Working a more proactive style than usual, it was clear that The Miz was serious about proving himself against “The Greatest Performer of His Generation”. While The Miz did do well in the match, causing Styles to have to dig deep, he was eventually beaten. Desperately looking to escape the Calf Crusher, The Miz showed great heart in holding out as long as he did. The escape was however unsuccessful, and The Miz was left with no choice but to tap out.
AJ Styles bt. The Miz
Following the match, as AJ Styles celebrated, The Miz returned to his feet. Holding his injured leg, The Miz looked towards AJ Styles, clearly holding a begrudging respect for him. It appeared as though he was considering looking for a handshake from AJ Styles, but when the two locked eyes, The Miz decided against it, rolling out of the ring.
Following the match, the Raw commentators said that they were yet to receive an update on Seth Rollins, but heard that Kurt Angle was looking to get one as they spoke. That led to Kurt Angle being seen looking to enter the medical room. As Kurt opened the door, Ambrose walked out of the room, with a grave look on his face.
Instead of going in, Kurt Angle asked Dean Ambrose how Rollins was, but Dean just shook his head. Kurt Angle looked concerned, and went to enter the room. Ambrose put his hand on Kurt Angle’s shoulder, telling him “it’s not happening tonight Kurt…” Making it clear that there was something seriously wrong with Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose put his head in his hands, walking away. Kurt Angle decided to stay out of the room, obviously worried about one of his top talents. As Kurt Angle looked off into the distance, he was approached by Drake Maverick.
The last thing Kurt Angle needed, feeling bad enough about the status of Seth Rollins, the General Manager was reminded by Maverick that he did say “let them fight”. Kurt Angle was clearly annoyed at Drake’s inappropriate comment, and stormed off. Drake stood there, shrugging his shoulders and saying “well… it’s true”.
Raw Women’s Championship Match
Following a video package promoting the impressive reign of Nia Jax, who has held the Raw Women’s Championship for 8 months, a look was taken at Shayna Baszler’s steamrolling of the competition since her debut 2 months ago.
Ronda Rousey was then seen taking a seat at ringside, ahead of the entrances. As Shayna Baszler made her way down to the ring, she got into Ronda Rousey’s face.
This wasn’t the only time the two women would get into it, with Shayna Baszler leaving the ring shortly after the opening bell to once again agitate Rousey. Making light of the fact Rousey couldn’t pass the barricade, Baszler easily got under the skin of her former friend, and got the reaction she desired. Getting out of her seat, Rousey saw red, but as she tried to get to Baszler, security were on the scene. With Ronda Rousey escorted out of the building, Baszler finally paid attention to her opponent.
Feeling disrespected, that as Champion she had been ignored, Nia Jax came out of the gates looking to teach Shayna Baszler a lesson. For a few moments, she managed to do what no woman had since Baszler’s debut, but eventually Shayna turned the tables. Zoning in, Shayna Baszler showed why she is a cut above the rest of the women on the Raw roster, as she managed to take control of the match early on, and never really lose it. Waiting for a comeback from Nia which never came, Shayna Baszler schooled the dominant Champion with an expert breakdown. Even when Nia Jax looked to power out of the Rear Naked Choke, a moment which would have changed the match completely, Shayna Baszler stayed calm and focussed, keeping the hold locked in. Nia Jax continued to fade, until she was out completely. Refusing to submit, Nia Jax could no longer respond to the referee, who called for the bell as a result.
Shayna Baszler bt. Nia Jax (c); NEW Raw Women’s Champion
After the match, Shayna Baszler was handed the Raw Women’s Championship, looking like she barely had to leave first gear. Dominating the woman who held the Championship for over 8 months, Shayna Baszler had defeated her in less than 8 minutes (including the shenanigans with Ronda Rousey).
Holding the Championship in the air, Shayna Baszler seemed wholy unsurprised by her own dominance, as she stood over the unconscious Nia Jax.
Going from one extreme to another, this match was the longest of the evening, as the two competitors put everything into defeating their rival. Deeply personal, since Shinsuke Nakamura attacked Daniel Bryan for an off-handed comment, Bryan’s return last month only added fuel to the fire. Despite Team Bryan winning at Survivor Series, Daniel Bryan himself was the first eliminated - by Shinsuke Nakamura. When a pissed off Daniel Bryan’s presence cost Shinsuke Nakamura the WWE United States Championship, the Japanese Superstar agreed to face Bryan, having initially considered the pinfall at Survivor Series to be enough.
The physicality that had been the trademark of the rivalry continued in the match, with Daniel Bryan and Shinsuke Nakamura taking the best that their opponent had to offer. This resulted in a back and forth match, with the competitors enjoying the increasing intensity of the contest. Having undoubtedly had Daniel Bryan’s number thus far, Shinsuke Nakamura was confident of victory, but realised that he would have a big task on to keep Daniel Bryan down. It certainly wasn’t as straightforward as Survivor Series, as it began to look as though the two men could go all night. However, as the match passed the 25 minute mark, it became clear both men were running on empty.
After escaping from an attempted “YES” Lock, Shinsuke Nakamura tried to lock in a Triangle Choke, but Bryan also managed to get free. Shinsuke still managed to get to his feet first, and hit an impressive flurry of strikes to Daniel Bryan. Bryan looked to come back, but Nakamura avoided his offence, hitting him with a Reverse Exploder Suplex. Nakamura then hit a Knee Strike to the head of Bryan, setting up for a Kinshasa. Shinsuke Nakamura ran towards Bryan, who managed to move out of the way, with Nakamura hitting his knee into the turnbuckle. When he turned around, Bryan hit him with a Running Knee Strike from out of nowhere, and covered him for the 1… 2… 3!
Daniel Bryan bt. Shinsuke Nakamura
Having finally defeated the man who has plagued his career for the last several months, Daniel Bryan was delighted. Despite his exhaustion, Daniel Bryan still managed to celebrate the victory, now able to put Nakamura behind him and focus on his path to the WWE Championship.
Out of the match, the commentators talked about the rest of the show, but before then the “Big Bang” vignette interrupted the show. The vignette led into footage of a man sat in a chair, in an office. The man was seen texting on his phone, with the messages - all pertaining to some kind of “reunion” - being transcribed on the screen, overlaying the shot. Talk of getting the “boys back together” and “getting the show back on the road” was followed by the camera pulling back, and revealing the person behind “The Big Bang”.
With a smug look on his face, Eric Bischoff simply said “I’m back…”, smirking as he added “and better than ever!” before the screen went black. The following logo then appeared, promoting the first episode of the show replacing 205 Live, coming Christmas Day:
25/12/18 - The Big Bang!
Smackdown Women’s Championship; Steel Cage Match
From being the closest of friends, the rapid breakdown in the friendship between Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair has torn the WWE Universe. Both having valid points, Becky’s frustration with her position on the card has had her back up, despite holding the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Feeling she had proved herself already, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair went one on one for the Smackdown Women’s Championship for the first time. Adding to her frustration at Charlotte getting a shot, was the fact that Charlotte already held a Championship - the WWE Women’s Tag Team with Asuka. As a result, beating Charlotte, inside the Steel Cage, would surely have validated Becky Lynch’s claims to being better than any of her peers, and gone some way to easing her frustrations. Escape wasn’t an option for either Superstar, desperate to prove who the better woman was.
Both came close to leaving with the Smackdown Women’s Championship, but only one could score the decisive fall. Having fought until neither woman had much left to give, it became clear that the end was in sight. Becky Lynch appeared to have bested Charlotte, when she locked in a Dis-Arm-Her, but Flair refused to submit. Lynch yanked back on the arm, and was so desperate to end Charlotte’s challenge that she lost her footing. Taking advantage of this, Charlotte Flair was able to roll up Becky Lynch, catching a two fall. Back up before Lynch, Charlotte followed up quickly with a Natural Selection, immediately going for the cover. All happening extremely quickly, at the end of a match which had slowed down dramatically, Charlotte Flair became the new Women’s Champion of Smackdown Live!
Charlotte Flair bt. Becky Lynch (c); NEW Smackdown Women’s Champion
Holding the Smackdown Women’s Championship, Charlotte celebrated in the ring. Becoming the first woman to hold two both singles and tag team Championships in WWE history, Charlotte stood tall on what would go down as a huge night in the history of the WWE.
Following a video package, looking back the career of Kofi Kingston, and the amount of time it has taken him to earn a WWE Championship match, The New Day member was shown in the back, looking nervous ahead of his match with Samoa Joe.
Joined by Big E & Xavier Woods, the two men stopped just moments before Kofi Kingston was ready to walk out. Having wanted to prove himself, by himself, Kofi Kingston had shown a greater drive than Big E and Xavier Woods in recent weeks. Respecting that, Big E & Xavier Woods told Kofi Kingston that they would be staying in the back for Kofi’s WWE Championship match, saying that after everything they’ve been through, this night belonged to Kofi… and Kofi alone.
The story going into this WWE Championship match was fairly simple, with little personal animosity between the two competitors to speak of. Instead, a dominant Champion would go one on one with a Challenger who has fought his 11 year WWE career to reach this point. A night already full of shocks, the commentators wondered if one more miracle would happen. That wasn’t to play down Kofi Kingston as a challenger, but rather to put over the fact that Samoa Joe isn’t a man known for making mistakes. As the match got underway, it was clear Samoa Joe wasn’t taking Kofi Kingston lightly, his physical style even rubbing some of the WWE Universe up the wrong way.
Kingston wouldn’t have had it any other way though, drawing on the energy of such a huge match. Pulling out all the stops, much of the match was built around the question of “what if?” What if Kofi Kingston could pull off an upset and bring the WWE Championship to The New Day. Shown to be watching in the back, Big E and Xavier Woods rallied behind Kofi Kingston, as he began to mount a comeback. While thoughts of a fairytale Championship run must have been going through his head, Kofi Kingston was successfully shut down by Samoa Joe. Having decided to go it alone, Kofi Kingston was eventually found lacking.
It would, to Kofi’s credit, take Samoa Joe to pull out the Muscle Buster to keep him down, but the WWE Champion nonetheless retained in a decisive manner. Kofi Kingston had given his all, in a valiant attempt at the WWE Championship, but like so many others, couldn’t compete with Samoa Joe.
Samoa Joe (c) bt. Kofi Kingston
Following the WWE Championship match, it was time for the Universal Championship Main Event, which was promoted heavily through a video package. The commentators looked back at the events of Starrcade so far, calling the last Pay-Per-View of the year an action packed show from top to bottom. All that was left was for the WWE Universal Championship match to deliver, and with so much personal animosity between the competitors, Michael Cole was sure the WWE Universe were in for a memorable Main Event match!
WWE Universal Championship Match
Kicking off with a big bang, the Triple Threat Main Event of Starrcade started as it meant to go on. Coming straight out of the blocks, all three Superstars had issues with each other, and took turns in taking shots at their opponents. There was nobody cowardly looking to steal a victory in this Triple Threat, with all three men taking the challenge head on. This led to an intense and fast-paced opening to the match, and with each of them intent on destroying the other two, it didn’t take long for the match to head to the outside.
Knowing the outside of the ring is where most damage can be done, nothing was safe from Strowman, McIntyre and Reigns. Barricades were broken, Steel Steps dented, and Announcer’s Tables stripped of everything as the Superstars looked for the decisive action that would give them the edge. This saw Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns become strange bedfellows, as they took Drew McIntyre out of the equation, putting him through the Table with a Double Razor’s Edge. The action then returned to the ring, with Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns going back and forth. Giving as good as they got, Strowman and Reigns reignited their rivalry, and it showed as they displayed the intensity that their matches became known for.
When they realised that they needed to top anything they’d done to each other before, Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns each began taking risks. Roman Reigns’ attempt to hit Braun Strowman with a Superplex saw him struggle, and his task was only made worse as Drew McIntyre returned to the ring with a Chair. First hitting Roman Reigns, Drew McIntyre then hit Braun Strowman with the Steel Chair, as he sat on the top turnbuckle. McIntyre was relentless in swinging the Steel Chair, and only stopped when it had been bent out of all recognition. Braun and Roman were now slumped, one of the top turnbuckle and the other stood on the second rope. This gave Drew an idea, and what followed was quite possibly the largest “Tower of Doom” in WWE history. All three men crashed to the mat, and the competitors all found themselves in the exact same position. Drew McIntyre was the first up, and he was immediately focussed on what came next.
Going to the outside, Drew McIntyre set up a Table at ringside. Taking another, he placed the second Table right next to the one he had just set up. As Drew McIntyre looked to return to the ring, Roman Reigns had got back to his feet, and looked to hit a Superman Punch to the Scottish Superstar. McIntyre barely held on as the Punch connected with his jaw, and would have gone through his own set up, had it not been for his tight grip on the ropes. Leaving the ring, Roman Reigns looked to finish the job, but Braun Strowman soon got involved. Grabbing both men by the throat, Braun Strowman looked to put both challengers through the Tables, but they fought him off together. Drew and Roman then attempted a Double Suplex from inside out to Braun Strowman, but he too fought back. An uppercut to Drew then sent him off the apron, but he staggered far enough that he missed the table. Roman Reigns then attempted the Suplex alone, but could only get Strowman over the ropes. The two men then traded blows on the outside apron, standing precariously above the two tables.
Taking a different approach, Roman Reigns returned to the ring, looking to hit Braun Strowman with a Superman Punch this time. Braun Strowman was able to catch Roman Reigns, and quickly turned around. As Strowman looked to thrown Reigns onto the table with a Powerslam, McIntyre grabbed his foot, the lack of balance causing him too to fall through the Table. On it straight away, Drew McIntyre dragged Strowman out of the rubble, and back into the ring. A subsequent cover attempt only managed a two fall.
Braun and Drew’s chance to face one on one, McIntyre reminded Strowman that he had already pinned him once last month at Survivor Series. Strowman was of course well aware of this, and looked to avoid the Claymore Kick by any means. When McIntyre did attempt the move, Strowman was ready, and caught Drew in midair. Looking to get the always decisive Running Powerslam in place, Strowman forced Drew onto his shoulder, but the former NXT Champion slipped out the back. As he did this, Roman Reigns returned to the ring and hit Strowman with a Superman Punch. Reigns then did the same to Drew McIntyre, who staggered into the corner. Taking a moment to recuperate, Drew McIntyre was forced into action when Roman Reigns set up for a Spear. After Roman hit the move to Braun Strowman, Drew sprung back into life. His attempt to thrown Roman Reigns out of the ring ended badly, as Reigns instead sent him to the outside.
Braun Strowman had now recovered from the first Spear, and returned to his feet. Strowman managed to block another Superman Punch, but was clocked when Reigns attempted it again. Roman then went for a second Spear, but Braun Strowman blocked him. Looking for the Running Powerslam, Roman Reigns slipped out the back, pushing Strowman into the turnbuckle. A final Superman Punch had Braun Strowman staggering, and a Spear that followed should have put him down. Incredibly, Braun Strowman managed to drag himself towards the ropes, and Roman knew it would take another Spear to beat him. However, as Roman Reigns backed into the corner, letting out his signature “roar”, he was stopped in his tracks as Drew McIntyre returned to the ring. As Strowman began to surface, and Roman Reigns began his sprint across the ring, he was intercepted by a Claymore Kick from Drew McIntyre. Upon impact Roman Reigns went limp in the ring, as McIntyre turned to the groggy Braun Strowman. Waiting for the perfect moment, as Strowman staggered back to his feet (still reeling from Reigns’ offence), Drew McIntyre hit another vicious Claymore Kick, which connected directly to the jaw of Braun Strowman. The Universal Champion was down, clocked by a knockout blow, and Drew McIntyre covered him. With Roman Reigns also KO’d by the boot of Drew McIntyre, all that was left was for the referee to count the 1… 2… 3!
Drew McIntyre bt. Braun Strowman (c) & Roman Reigns; NEW WWE Universal Champion
Having shown little positive emotion since his return to the WWE, Drew McIntyre couldn’t hide his happiness at becoming the new WWE Universal Champion. Handed the title by the referee, it was clear that McIntyre himself was in a state of shock.
The commentators were just as dumbfounded as sections of the WWE Universe, in complete disbelief at what had just transpired. Coming from nowhere two months ago, Drew McIntyre had not only pinned Braun Strowman twice in as many Pay-Per-Views, but he had also done it with the prolific Roman Reigns also in the ring. Starrcade ended as one of the most shocking nights of 2018, with perhaps the most shocking moment of the entire year taking place in the Main Event. Completely deserved, Drew McIntyre had completed the mission he set out 8 months ago, and raised the WWE Universal Championship high in the air as the commentators signed off on an history-making WWE Starrcade 2018!