Sorry I’m late with this review. Ever since I got my new job, things have been very hectic. Compounding the problem is the holiday season as I have to attend a ton of social events, both for work and my personal life. Can’t really complain since the pay is good and the work is exciting but it does cut into my writing duties, which is still kind of a hobby and keeps me on my toes.
Anyway, thanks to all of these social obligations, I haven’t had the time to really catch up on my WWE wrestling watching. I actually missed a couple of RAW and Smackdown shows and I had to play catchup for the past couple of weeks, which is why I was only able to watch WWE’s December pay-per-view event, TLC (Tables, Ladders and Chairs) a few moments ago.
Enough dilly-dallying! On with the review!
Match #1: R-Truth and Carmela vs Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox for the Mixed Match Tournament Finals (Winners get the 30th slot for their respective Royal Rumbles and an all expense vacation anywhere in the world)
Totally forgot this was a thing! Anyway, it’s gotta be R-Truth and Carmela for “comedy” potential. R-Truth is going to enter the Women’s Royal Rumble, isn’t he? I’m calling it right now!
For a finals to a long tournament as well as the prize of getting the coveted 30th spot at the next Royal Rumble, I expected both teams to do a little something extra. Unfortunately, my expectations were not met as this was generally a warm up match with comedy bits, like the Singh Brothers joining R-Truth and Carmela’s Dance Break and R-Truth playing with Alicia Fox’s captain hat.
The finish came after the hat bit. R-Truth tossed Jinder Mahal to the outside and followed him with a funky (read: terribly executed) double kick. Carmela kicked one of the Singhs to the outside. Fox tried to roll Carmela up but they botched the move. They tried again and The Princess of Staten Island reversed it into her Code of Silence submission to get the tapout victory. R-Truth then reveals they’re taking the all-expense vacation to WWE Headquarters. Haha?
It feels kind of unfair to call this a terrible match because . It wasn’t a stellar match or anything like that. It was meant to be a lighthearted match with a little comedy sprinkled on top. But, since this is in a pay-per-view, I expected more than just the comedy segment that you would see on RAW or Smackdown. Nothing to write home about but nothing to really rile me up in anger as well.
Rating: 5.0 of 10.0 vacations to WWE Headquarters
Match #2: The New Day vs The Usos vs The Bar (Sheamus and Cesaro) in a Triple Threat Tag Match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship
No tables, ladders nor chairs here? That’s disappointing! Well, The Bar is going to win this one since it seems like it’s too soon to drop the belts to either teams they’re facing.
New Day was going with the Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston pairing, which is odd. Anyway, Sheamus and Kingston started things off. This eventually led to The Bar isolating Woods while freezing out The Usos for the majority of the match. There was a rather confusing sequence where one of the Usos tagged himself by tapping Kingston then shortly after, Kofi tags himself back in the match by kicking Cesaro. Looked really weird since it wasn’t a “tag” per se. Doesn’t matter as this led to a sick looking crossbody-suplex combo!
The finish came after the Usos and Cesaro broke up a pin after Woods nailed a big elbow drop on Sheamus. Kofi takes out Cesaro and The Usos with a stage dive to the outside. Woods delivers a big kick to Sheamus from the ring apron. Xavier then readied himself to launch at Sheamus but Cesaro distracts him just long enough for Sheamus to recover and hit Woods with a Brough Kick to get the pinfall victory and retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championship.
This was a good match with a lot of energy and action. While I will say the beatdown on Woods by The Bar went on a smidge too long, it wasn’t enough to kill any of the hype. Even though the Usos weren’t really in it for too long, they made their presence felt and even had a great run when they did eventually make it into the ring. My major gripe is really with the crazy tag sequence in the video clip above as, for the longest time, I thought Kingston wasn’t legal!
Rating: 7.5 of 10.0 hard to follow tag sequences
Match #3: Braun Strowman vs Baron Corbin in a TLC match (with too many stipulations to mention in the title)
Braun Strowman is going to win, even though he’s injured. That’s because, if he does, he faces Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Belt. Oh, and if Baron Corbin loses, he’s kicked off the RAW General Manager position. So, yeah. Braun Strowman, obviously.
Baron Corbin orders referee Heath Stater to start counting Strowman but The Monster Among Men eventually makes his was to the ring, despite having his arm in a sling. Strowman then says that, since it’s no disqualification, he can get some help. He does. Finn Balor, Bobby Roode, Chad Gable, Apollo Crews and even Heath Slater take turns pummeling Corbin. Corbin tries to leave but is blocked by a returning Kurt Angle.
Things pretty much follow how’d you expect. Everyone beats on Corbin with chairs and their finishing moves. Oddly enough, they don’t put The Lone Wolf through a table nor do they use a ladder as a weapon. Strowman then waltzes in, puts his foot on top of a downed Corbin and Heath Slater counts to 3.
Can’t even say this was a match. Also, why even make this a tables, ladders and chairs match if they weren’t going to use tables or ladders? They could’ve just made it a chairs match or, better yet, just a no DQ match and that would’ve been fine. Good segment with Corbin getting his just desserts from the faces.
Rating: 6.5 of 10.0 missing tables and ladders
Match #4: Natalya vs Ruby Riott in a Tables match
Why? Why even have this match in a pay-per-view? Just so you can have the tables match? I hope Ruby Riott wins here because the Riott Squad really needs something to make them something to be afraid of. Right now, they’re a joke and a loss is just going to make them look so weak.
Sorry, I just find it amusing that putting a giant Jim Neidhart sticker on a table is supposed to be a great mind games tactic. Well, I guess Natalya is some kind of wrestling monster as she managed to take out Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan by busting them through other tables. There were some awkward ideas, like the aforementioned Neidhart table, Nattie pulling out a Ruby Riott table (!) and Natalya wasting a terrible amount of time putting on her father’s jacket. But this was balanced by some really great spots, like Ruby tipping over the Neidhart table to break up a Natalya Sharpshooter. The best one definitely was when Liv Morgan went through a table! That looked like it hurt a lot! I love it!
The finish came when Riott kicked Natalya after the latter set up the Ruby Riott table in the corner. Ruby hoisted Nattie on the Ruby Riott table and climbed the turnbuckles but Natalya stopped her and slammer her face in her table. Natalya then climbed the corner and wasted a lot of time preening to the crowd. Ruby then with a kick and set up her foe for a hurracarana. Nattie blocked the hurracarana and powerbombs Riott through the Ruby Riott table to get the victory.
This match was much better than it deserved to be but this is mostly thanks to the Riott Squad, especially Liv Morgan, taking some nasty bumps. I would’ve liked it a whole lot more if Natalya just played it more vicious instead of posing to the crowd and expecting cheers as it looks like she’s just wasting valuable time.
Rating: 7.0 of 10.0 nasty Liv Morgan bumps
Match #5: Finn Balor vs Drew McIntyre
No gimmick match in a pay-per-view? How disappointing. Drew McIntyre should win this one as the WWE is pushing him to be a new monster and, well, Balor has been getting some really poor treatment. Why should this be any different?
I guess the WWE is trying to make Finn Balor their next Rey Mysterio, as in he’s the “little guy with a big heart who doesn’t know when to quit” type. As predicted Drew dominated with his power and taunted his foe while Balor got a few licks in by using his quickness. There were some cool looking moments, such as Balor chest getting beat red from all of McIntyre’s chops, Drew doing something like Sheamus’ White Noise from the second rope as well as a vicious belly-to-belly suplex. Basically, Drew looked strong.
The finish came after Drew struck Finn with a Glassgow Kiss headbutt while they were outside the ring. The Scottish Psychopath tosses Balor into the ring but Dolph Ziggler, Drew’s former best friend, does a superkick before McIntyre could roll back into the ring. Drew fends off Ziggler and threatens to his The Show Off with a chair but Balor swoops in with a dropkick on McIntyre, striking the steel chair into Drew’s chest. Isn’t that still a disqualification? Anyway, Balor climbs the top turnbuckle and connects with Coup de Grace to get the pinfall victory.
This was a good match but I just didn’t like the finish. The mere fact that Balor kicked the chair into McIntyre should still be grounds for a DQ. It doesn’t matter who’s holding the weapon. Utilizing it to your advantage is still using a foreign object and illegal. Good match but spoiled by a faulty finish.
Rating: 6.0 of 10.0 wrong calls for the finish
Match #6: Rey Mysterio vs Randy Orton in a Chairs match
Here it is: the lamest match in the Tables, Ladders and Chairs trifecta! Don’t really care who wins it here so I’m just going with Mysterio because I like him more.
I will admit, I’m glad there was a lot of chairs used in this Chairs match. Usually, they seem like an afterthought and brought in much later than they should. This was not the case here as practically every spot involved the steel chair in some way. I will say I liked the creative spot where Mysterio used a steel chair as a sled and land on Orton. That landing was on the button!
The finish came after Orton slammed an inverted Mysterio’s face into a steel chair. The Viper set up several chairs in a row and hinted at an RKO onto the chairs. The Master of the 619 manages to get out of the hold and slams Orton face first into one of the chairs. Orton then looks like a bum and sits on the chairs. Mysterio then runs across the chairs into a leg scissors roll up for the 3 count victory.
I will give the two props for trying something new and attempting some creative spots. It still doesn’t change the fact that this match suffers from the same lackadaisical pace that all Chairs matches have as they have to try setting the chairs up too often. Even the rollup at the end, which was something fresh, looked awkward since Orton had to sit and look like a chump for a couple of seconds.
Rating: 5.0 of 10.0 bum looking Randy Ortons
Match #7: Ronda Rousey vs Nia Jax (with Tamina) for the RAW Women’s Championship
There’s no way Jax will win here as Rousey is still the big ticket seller.
I’m starting to detect a pattern with all of Ronda Rousey’s matches. Rousey plays around and taunts her opponent. She eventually gets caught and dominated by the challenger which then is followed by an eventual Rousey comeback. I don’t like this as it makes Rousey look like an overconfident jerk at the start and then makes her look like a bully by the end. This was no different so this was nothing really memorable.
The finish came after Tamina distracted Rousey from applying the armbar to Nia Jax. The Irresistible Force delivers a clubbing blow to the Baddest Woman on the Planet from behind. Jax then goes for the Facebreaker punch but Rousey ducks reverses it into an armbar. Rousey wrenches it in and get the tapout victory to retain the RAW Women’s Championship.
While there were some exciting moments, Ronda Rousey really needs something new in her matches as it’s getting real repetitive. I know pro wrestling generally follows this pattern of seesawing momentum, it just looks so obvious in an Ronda Rousey match. She needs to add some variety and not look so damn untouchable in the ring. The WWE needs to work in a few flaws and a few losses or else she’s in danger of becoming the John Cena of the Women’s division.
Rating: 5.0 of 10.0 standard Ronda Rousey matches
Match #8: AJ Styles vs the “New” Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship
As much as I like AJ Styles, the “New” Daniel Bryan is just an inspired character, having him drop the belt would be foolish.
This was something I was looking forward to. Despite it not having any Tables, Ladders or Chairs, the caliber of AJ Styles and “New” Daniel Bryan was definitely going to make up for it. There was lots of great spots and the pacing was fantastic all throughout. What made it look good was how well Styles and Bryan sold the moves and how they acted as their personas as well.
The finish came after Styles connected with a Phenomenal Forearm to Bryan outside the ring. Styles tossed Bryan back into the ring and went for another Phenomenal Forearm. Bryan ducked underneath it and Styles nearly hit the referee. The “New” Daniel Bryan went for his running knee but Styles sidesteps it. The Phenomenal One wraps his opponent in a small package pinning predicament but Bryan rolls over and reverses it, pinning Styles’ shoulders to the floor for the 3 count and retaining the World Heavyweight Championship.
This was a phenomenal match, no pun intended. The action was fluid and both Styles and Bryan played on each others’ strengths. Styles was great as the good guy trying to regain his championship but it’s the “New” Daniel Bryan’s performance that stole the show. It might have been impossible to think of Bryan as a heel a few short months ago. But he pulls it off so effortlessly, it’s uncanny.
Rating: 9.0 of 10.0 “New” attitudes for Daniel Bryan
Match #9: Seth Rollins vs Dean Ambrose for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
There’s just something that irks me about this feud. I think it’s how they tried to link the entire Roman Reigns leaving the WWE to fight cancer or the entire execution of the thing. Either way, I don’t see Seth Rollins relinquishing the belt to Dean Ambrose as of now.
Even if I didn’t care all that much, I still expected a whole lot from this match. The two have already tangled several times in the past and they’ve put on a good show. So it’s disappointing that, while the action was good, it never felt like both Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose were giving their all. The energy just wasn’t there and, despite the action looking epic, it just felt lackluster.
The finish came after Dean Ambrose tried to beg off Seth Rollins attack and do the SHIELD fistbump. This just infuriated The Architech even more and beat Ambrose into the outside. Rollins performed a barricade bomb on Ambrose. It looked like Dean wasn’t going to make the 10 count but Rollins tossed him into the ring to punish him more. Rollins then set up for the Curb Stomp but Ambrose reversed it into Dirty Deeds. The former Lunatic Fringe then goes for the cover and get it! Dean Ambrose is your NEW Intercontinental Champion.
Objectively, there was nothing wrong with this match. The action was good in fact. But it was just lacking that X-factor that makes good matches great. It seemed to drag on for too long, as if Seth and Dean worked out the details and expected the crowd to be into it but it just didn’t work. It should’ve been trimmed down and a little more focused.
Rating: 5.5 of 10.0 X-factorless matches
Match #10: Becky Lynch vs Charlotte Flair vs Asuka in a Triple Threat Tables, Ladders and Chairs match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship
Despite having to contend with Charlotte Flair and Asuka in this Triple Thread TLC match, Becky Lynch is still The Man and will still be your Smackdown Women’s Champion.
I was concerned that they weren’t going to really utilize the entire Tables, Ladders and Chairs stipulation to its fullest. Glad to know I was wrong! All three ladies ran the gamut of weapons. There were chair shots galore sprinkled throughout the match! Ladders were used as weapons as well and deadly landing pads. There were a couple of broken tables, even though they didn’t really break in a clean manner. Still, they were very effective. They even threw in a kendo stick for good measure!
The finish came after a mad scramble up a couple of ladders to get the belt. Charlotte and Asuka battled on one while Lynch used a separate one to catch up. Asuka was eventually beat down by Charlotte, leaving The Queen and The Man. While this was happening, out came Ronda Rousey, still upset at Lynch and Flair for the beatings she took months ago. The Baddest Woman on the Planet tips over the ladder Charlotte and Becky were on, taking them both out. This left Asuka all by her lonesome. She manages to recover and ascend the ladder to obtain the belt and become your NEW Smackdown Women’s Champion.
This was good and everyone performed at a stupefying degree of excellence. My big gripe, however, is the finish. Ronda Rousey or not, I’m not a fan of run ins like this. I know this is a result of an ongoing storyline but that still leaves a bad taste in my mouth so I will have to drop it a couple of points in my rating for that. Seeing Asuka get the Smackdown Women’s Championship after the huge de-push from breaking her undefeated streak at Wrestlemania is great, though.
Rating: 7.5 of 10.0 Ronda Rousey laddder pushes
Overall Rating for WWE’s TLC (2018):
This was an actual good pay-per-view. Usually, the show before the Royal Rumble feels like filler and nothing happens. This year’s TLC had some things going for it and there were a couple of stellar matches, specifically the one for the World Heavyweight Championship and the Smackdown Women’s Championship. There weren’t any groan worthy matches as well as even the lamer ones had some entertainment value.
Rating: 7.0 of 10.0 Women matches headlining a pay-per-view
What did you think of this year’s WWE TLC event? Let me know in the comments section below!