I was not looking forward to this year’s TLC pay-per-view. There was just something about the card and matches that didn’t really sit well with me. It just felt underwhelming, particularly when you consider it’s the last WWE event of the year. Still, as a dutiful fan, I did watch the entire thing… but only after a while. TLC happened just before the holiday peak season so I just didn’t feel the rush to watch it, especially so I even didn’t watch it on the day it happened! I waited until the holidays were over before I went ahead and saw the show.
Did I miss out? Was I wrong to skip out on the last big show the WWE had to offer? Let’s go find out!
They did try to open up the show with a bang as it was a traditional TLC match for the WWE Heavyweight Championship. This initially pitted the reigning champ Drew McIntyre against AJ Styles, who was accompanied by the hulking Omos. The match itself was ultimately good but never really hitting a point which would make it stand out. There were a good number of fine spots but those moments weren’t the twist of the match.
The twist came with The Miz cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase to insert himself in this TLC match. This, I had a big problem with, mainly with the timing. Why would The Miz and Morrison decide to cash in the Money in the Bank contract and make it a Triple Threat match? Why not wait for one of them to win it and then take out the winner afterwards while they’re badly beaten up? This was not smart booking and, come to think of it, this year’s entire Money in the Bank storyline was pretty much a bust. It oddly feels apt at the lame outcome.
Anyway, there was a neat moment with Morrison trying to take out Omos with a chair but the weapon simply disintegrated when it made contact with Omos’ gigantic stature. This led to Morrison retreating to the back while Style’s bodyguard in… stalking pursuit. A big tussle amongst ladders then happens between McIntyre, Styles and The Miz, with The Scottish Warrior ultimately getting the upper hand by tipping the second ladder into the first, taking Styles to the outside. McIntyre lands a Claymore Kick to The Miz, knocking him out. This allowed McIntyre to climb a ladder to retain his WWE Heavyweight Championship.
While not a bad match by any stretch of the imagination, I really didn’t like the Money in the Bank cash in as it felt very illogical to do so at that time. The spots were fine and the selling, especially on Drew McIntyre’s side, was exceptional. However, I ultimately will not remember it save for The Miz squandering the Money in the Bank briefcase opportunity.
The next match had Sasha Banks defending her Smackdown Women’s Championship against Carmella, who was accompanied by her sommelier, Reginald. As much as I love myself a good Sasha Banks match, the problem I had with this match was having her go against Carmella. Nothing against the Staten Island Princess but I just didn’t think the build up to this match was anything good, especially after Sasha Banks just got out of a long, drawn out storyline with Bayley. It felt kind of unfulfilling. I will say the match did allow The Boss to do a more “traditional” wrestling match without any of the anger and fury of her feud with Bayley.
The finish was cute, though. Reginald pulls Carmella to the outside, saving her from a Bank Statement. The Boss lands a meteora double knee strike to take out Reginald afterwards. This does allow Carmella to nail a super kick to Banks on the outside. She rolls the Banks into the ring but only gets a 2-count. The Staten Island Princess attempts a facebuster but Sasha Banks reverses it into another Bank Statement, leading to Carmella tapping out and Banks retaining her Smackdown Women’s championship. The match itself was good and decent but, ultimately, anti-climactic because the buildup to it just wasn’t anything special. I would be okay if they had another go-around but they do have to crank up the intensity a little bit next time.
The next match had The New Day, Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston, defending their RAW Tag Team Championships against The Hurt Business’ Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander. I generally like both teams but, as much as I like The New Day, I was fully expecting The Hurt Business to get the titles because of their current push and the WWE transparent hints there’s trouble brewing within MVP’s stable. I was right but we’ll get to that later.
The action was, as expected, really good. Both teams put on a heck of a show with the time they got. In fact, they got right into the action darn quick without them feeling each other out. I guess this did help with the overall intensity of the match as, because of the abrupt start, made it feel like you couldn’t blink or you’d miss something.
The finish did hint at things to come. Shelton Benjamin managed to use a superplex to almost incapacitate the legal man for The New Day, Kofi Kingston. He was setting himself up to use an Olympic Slam but Cedric Alexander took it upon himself to tag himself in, making him the legal man. Alexander connects with a Lumbar Check on Kingston to get the pinfall victory and make the Hurt Business the NEW RAW Tag Team Champions! After the match, the United States Champion Bobby Lashley joins his brethren to celebrate on the ramp.
While I will admit there was ultimately nothing really special about this match, I did like the surprising start and the energy of that moment carried over throughout the entire match. I also like how they slid in Cedric Alexander trying to hog the glory as it does lead to future storylines. I just hope the WWE will actually push through with them and not drag it for too long.
If there was a match I wasn’t looking forward to in this year’s TLC match, it would be the one for the Women’s Tag Team Championships. The reason? I just think the WWE sqandered what should’ve been a gold mine of a storyline. It was originally supposed to pit the Women’s Tag Team Champs, Shayna Bazzler and Nia Jax, against Asuka and Lana. They then took Lana out of the equation and replaced her with Charlotte. Ugh.
This really stuck in my craw but not because I dislike Charlotte. Rather, my issue is the WWE made all this buildup with Lana getting beat up by Nia Jax and then she’s just taken out of the picture. Instead, we get the returning Charlotte, which makes it painfully obvious her team was going to win. It just seems like a waste and it really made me feel dissonant with this match. Compound this with how Shayna Bazzler has been treated since making her transition to the main roster and you have a garbage fire of epic proportions.
Anyway, the match was fine overall but I didn’t buy into anything. The finish was also weird. Nia Jax gets Bazzler out of Charlotte’s Figure Eight but Jax is taken out by Asuka’s hip attack to the outside. The Queen of Spades tries to lock in a Kirifuda Clutch but Charlotte transitions it into a pinning predicament. Bazzler releases the hold, waits for Charlotte to connect with Natural Selection and The Queen gets the pinfall victory for Asuka and her to become the NEW Women’s Tag Team Champions. While not a sloppy match, a lot of the magic evaporated with Charlotte being thrown in. If Asuka picked someone from left field like maybe Sonya Deville, maybe I would be more interested.
The second to the last match was Kevin Owens going after Roman Reigns’ WWE Universal Championship in the other TLC match. This should’ve been a good one but it got marred by some really schizophrenic booking for Roman Reigns. He was both incredibly brutal to Kevin Owens which, in hindsight, is more a testament to Owens’ willingness to take really hard bumps, yet they also made him look like he couldn’t handle his opponent because of all the frequent interference done by Jey Uso. Still, major props to KO for taking some really nasty hits here.
It made Kevin Owens look like a beast as he had to content with both Roman Reigns and Jey Uso. He wasn’t able to get a breather as he was the focus of most of the action. On the other hand, this made Roman Reigns look much weaker by comparison. I get he’s the heel so having someone cheat on his behalf is classic wrestling. I also get he’s still a little delicate right now, especially with the entire pandemic. It still didn’t do him any favors in making him the supposed dominant force of Smackdown.
The finish came after Owens landing a stunner on Jey Uso, taking him out. KO climbed the ladder but Reigns met him at the top with a low blow to stop his ascent. The Head of the Table locks in a guillotine headlock, incapacitating Owens and knocking him unconscious. This made it easy for Reigns to get his WWE Universal belt to retain his championship. While the action was entertaining because of all the nasty bumps Owens took, I was less impressed by Reigns here, which is not a good look for him.
We finally get to the last match of the night, which was the Firefly Inferno match, wherein you win by setting your opponent on fire. This pitted Bray Wyatt/The Fiend against Randy Orton. I did not have high hopes for this match as Inferno matches are the epitome of gimmicky in the WWE. However, the potential was there as we had The Fiend doing all the Inferno flame-y things, leaving Randy Orton to be the one struck with awe, which, I will admit, he’s really good at.
The spots here were rather hit or miss, which is what I expect in a WWE Inferno match. The ones that did work were the moments when The Fiend would light a strap on fire and try to hit Orton with it. The ones which didn’t work, like the entire gasoline doused rocking chair looked like something out of a Looney Tunes cartoon. I was actually amazed it worked as well as it did.
Anyway, the finish was both dumb and… stupid… but in a fun way. The Fiend locked in a Mandible Claw on Orton and tried to shove Randy into one of the flames. Orton simply reversed the move, setting The Fiend on fire. I loved the moment when The Fiend stood around while some parts of his body was burning! The Fiend chased after Orton, only to eat an RKO once he got in the ring. After some clever camera angles to allow WWE personnel to replace Bray Wyatt’s real body with a Fiend dummy, Randy set the dummy on fire. Honestly, the fake Fiend dummy was not convincing in the least, which is for the best. I mean, how many times can you see an on-screen homicide in the PG era of the WWE?
This was a rather goofy match but I kind of enjoyed it for what it was. Kudos to Bray Wyatt to allow himself to actually get set on fire for a good number of seconds! Still, the fake body was totally stupid looking but I appreciate the sentiment of showing something conclusive.
All-in-all, this year’s TLC pay-per-view was generally okay. Nothing to really write home about, which is weird when you consider they killed someone during the final match.
Did you see this year’s TLC show? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!