I closed out 2019 with the Holiday Tour in Baltimore. The Royal Farms Arena, formerly the Baltimore Arena, is one of the great midsize building to go to for a wrestling show (AEW was just here in November for Full Gear) and there has been some real wrestling history here. I’ve been here myself for several shows I’ve covered here: Payback 2015, Holiday Tour 2015, a Monday Night Raw, and Extreme Rules 2017 in addition to couple of shows I didn’t write about. The Holiday Tour is one I always make it a point to get to.
Raw Tag Team Title Match: Viking Raiders (c) vs Street Profits vs Gallows and Anderson
A hot opener to start things off. Montez Ford is another guy who is perfect for house shows; he gets the crowd hyped and he’s funny as hell when he dances to other teams music and mocks their mannerisms. He and Angelo Dawkins have a good time out there and it’s infectious. Gallows and Anderson got good heat from the crowd; they’re another act that is better at working the people in the building than they appear on TV. The match itself was essentially a preview of the one that happened recently on Monday Night Raw, down to the cartwheel sequence between Ford and Ivar of the Raiders. Everyone did good work and it was an excellent way to start the show.
Drew McIntyre vs No Way Jose
Glorified squash here. Jose got some token offense but this was mostly a showcase for Drew, who it looked like they had something in store for soon. And as we would find out in months after this show, they absolutely did.
Alaister Black vs Buddy Murphy
These two killed it at TLC and again on TV, in between they put on another good one here. They mesh really well together, and even have a great backstory. Buddy was ready to quit before working with Alaister down in NXT in some matches on the Florida loop (a house show circuit mostly for folks who haven’t made it to TV yet) and rekindling his love for the business. Some of the striking exchanges were so much fun to see, too. Alaister wins with the Black Mass.
US Title Match: Andrade (c) vs Bobby Lashley vs Ricochet
Lana comes out with Bobby first and insults us in the audience to get some heat, followed by Ricochet and our new US champion. Lana is good at being annoying, and we responded in kind. Andrade is so smooth in the ring, he makes it look easy. Good match all around, with some timely interference from both Lana and Zelina Vega on behalf of their men. Good match here, everyone got some stuff in, and they worked together well. I was expecting a Rusev run in and that didn’t happen but the match was good and entertaining on its own.
24/7 Title Match: R-Truth (c) vs The Singh Brothers
We get the extended version of Truth’s entrance theme, which he as always performs himself. This was a handicap match and had the usual 24/7 title hijinks, including a second referee trying to win it for himself. Truth has been gold for the last few years and did not disappoint here. The Singh Brothers play their role well, too. Fun times all around here.
AJ Styles vs Randy Orton
These two have faced each other a bunch of times on house shows going back to 2017 so they’re very familiar with each other and mesh pretty well together. And as expected they put on a good one here. Going to house shows will remind you just why Orton still gets put in big spots for the company. The guy is way over with the people who don’t go on Twitter all day and talk about how terrible everything is. Lots name chanting and RKO chants throughout, and a few chants for Styles at points as well even though he’s working heel here. AJ is the poster child for an outsider coming in and flourishing in the WWE system. Good job all around here, and what would an Orton match be without an RKO?
RAW Women’s Title Match: Becky Lynch (c) vs Asuka vs Charlotte Flair
Fun fact: this match was the main event at the Holiday Tour last year, except Asuka was the champion and it was in the Smackdown side. It was supposed to be a Women’s Tag Team Title match but Kairi Sane’s injury forced a change to this, which is as good a substitute as you could get. Great effort all around as all three ladies have all worked with each other a million times and work great together. This time was no exception. All three ladies got good reactions throughout, and Becky is still the big star of the Raw brand. This match could have just as easily main evented the show this year also without it being an issue.
And now time for the…..
Street Fight: Seth Rollins vs Kevin Owen’s
The crowd still chants ‘Burn it Down’ for Seth, but once things got going he was booed pretty hard. He was accompanied by his new best friends the Authors of Pain and they stuck around for moral support (and some timely interference of course).
We got a good, wild brawl here with all the requisite weaponry involved. Owens appears to have finally found a lane that fits both his personality and his ring work, and it works great.
The AOP would eventually help Rollins get the win, then the post match beatdown was on. And who would come to save Kevin but Samoa Joe!
The two cleaned house and then got on the mic to let everyone know this wasn’t over.
Another good show here. The ring work was good to great all around and as is always the case on house shows everyone working had a lot more fun doing stuff to have a good time with the crowd. Little did I know at the time that this would be one of the last times I’d get to watch a wrestling show live in the arena for a while, the last one being Raw in DC on March of 2020. Hopefully once we get past all this coronavirus stuff we’ll be able to go again.