Day 094: – It’s Not ‘Tables, Ladders and Stairs’ [WWE TLC Roundup]
Ah yes, Tables, Ladders and Chairs. Another gimmick PPV that nobody asked for. Sure, I fucking love me a good TLC match, but a bad one is a waste of everyone’s time. And just like Hell in a Cell, it should not be forced. These matches are for specific wrestlers with specific stakes and anything less cheapens the gimmick. But alas, it’s happening whether we like it or not. So I might as well round it up.
Match 1: WWE Championship – Drew McIntyre def AJ Styles (And The Miz, I guess)
This would’ve been a good match if it were a straight-up match. It told a competent story and both of them had their chops keyed up. But it was sorely lacking a pizzazz. They both seemed to be thrown off with the TLC gimmick. They would grasp the objects and maneuver them as if they didn’t know what to do how they were used. There was a funny moment where Drew oversold the weight of the ladder as he threw it onto AJ, who undersold the blow completely. Drew dominated most of the match while AJ methodically worked the knee. Good stuff, were it not a gimmick match.
Towards the end, as I expected, The Miz came out and cashed in his Money In The Bank briefcase, making it a triple threat match. All he had to do was climb the ladder after being untouched and he still did it painfully slow with a shit-eating grin on his face. Obviously, this was a setup for Omos (AJs tall drink of water for a bodyguard) to throw Miz through a table. The match ended like ladder matches always do and Drew retained his title.
I was disappointed on many levels. For starters, what a total fucking waste of the Money in the Bank briefcase. We sat through months of drama and hype around this briefcase and now it’s dead in the water. Also, for a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match, it was very mild. In total only 3 of each object were used (or 4 chairs, if you want to count one that AJ sat in. I’m not counting it). The gimmick just felt lame and forced.
Rating: 3 Tables, 3 Ladders, 3 Chairs out of 5
Match 2: Smackdown Women’s Championship – Sasha Banks def Carmella
The buildup to this match has been nothing but cringe. Carmella came back from an 8 month hiatus with a boob job and a title push. Both of these facts are made obvious by the fact that she won’t stop arching her back and she has a title shot without doing a damn thing to prove herself worthy. the last month was nothing Carmella dishing out cheap shots, usually with champagne bottles to the back. It was prepping to be a quick snoozer.
The match was actually much better than I expected. This just goes to show that Sasha Banks is one of the best workers in the business. She made Carmella look really damn good, making sure that the spots got hit and the pacing stayed even. After a distraction with her sommelier (yes, Carmella has a sommelier), there was a brief moment that I became frightened of the prospect of Carmella becoming champion. That moment lasted for 2.5 seconds and Sasha quickly locked her into the Bank Statement for an easy tap out. Which is good, because a terrifying reign like that would set the women’s division back to the Diva’s Age.
Rating: 3.25 Sommeliers out of 5
Match 3: Raw Tag Team Championships – The Hurt Business def The New Day
Over the past couple of months, I feel like I’ve seen these two teams fight at least 10 times. This is a rematch to a rematch to a rematch to a you get the idea. I’m guessing that’s because they’re the only two legible tag teams on Raw. If that’s the case, then they might as well unify the brands for tag teams. Maybe just put all of the bonafide tag teams on Raw, nobody would notice the difference. Smackdown is so lacking in tag teams, the Street Profits have literally nothing to do week in and week out.
You could tell that these guys have fought each other ad nauseum, because the match was t i g h t. Just really solid offense all around, a true even-keeled match. I marked out when Kofi Kingston maneuvered himself into faking a doomsday device, only to reverse it so that both Shelton and Cedric ate mat. In the end, Cedric Alexander hit a perfect lumbar check for the 1-2-3. Since business partner, Bobby Lashley, is already the US Champion, The Hurt Business is covered in gold. For a stable with that much talent, that’s the way it should be.
Rating: 4.25 Rematches out of 5
Match 4: Women’s Tag Team Championships – Asuka & Charlotte Flair def Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler
It was originally supposed to be Asuka and Lana, which was a tag team made in hell. To all of our mercy, Lana came down with a kayfabe injury that had nothing to do with an announcer table. So going into the match, Asuka was determined to still fight them with a “mystery partner”. That question mark was predictably a returning, new, improved, jacked, nosejobbed (?) Charlotte Flair.
I could close my eyes and imagine how the match went accurately. Shayna methodically worked on appendages. Nia played the part of immovable object. Asuka absorbed most of the beating. Meanwhile, Charlotte stayed fresh, got huge (digital) pops, hit an amazing moonsault to shift the momentum and swiftly win the match. All’s well that ends well. Asuka now has two titles, Charlotte came back with a bang and the Baszler Jax expriment can finally be over! Everybody wins! Except for Baszler, who will probably get buried for no good reason…
Rating: 3.5 Woos out of 5
Match 5: Universal Championship – Roman Reigns def Kevin Owens
I had a lot of problems with how this match was built up. It’s clear that Roman is going to Reign as champion through Wrestlemania, so Kevin Owens barely stood a chance at changing the trajectory. But they should still trick us into thinking that he could. They didn’t do that. Week after week, Roman and Jey Uso has made Kevin’s life a living hell. There was barely a moment where he had the last laugh. In a match that seems impossible for him to win, even the writers wanted us to know that fact. I kind of dreaded the match because I wanted so badly to be wrong.
After a 10 minute walk up, The Tribal Head Of The Table Chief was ambushed by KO and immediately injected life straight into the match’s eyeballs. It didn’t last long, as Jey Uso joined the match and Kevin spent way too much time trying to cripple him. Roman quickly regained the advantage by slamming KO with a set of stairs (to which Rachel cried, “It’s not ‘Tables, Ladders and Stairs’!). Well, the guys heard her complaint, as the chairs quickly started flying. And they were actually utilized pretty well, as both of their backs were wrecked by them. Jey eventually came back to reignite the handicap match, which just made me writhe in eye-rolling agony. He tried valiantly to fight them both off, but then predictably, Roman threw KO through a series of ladders and tables. What followed was 10 minutes of torture, with Kevin getting back up every time. There were several moments where I was convinced that the WWE would give us what we wanted, but why would they ever do that? KO couldn’t keep both Jey and Roman down at the same time, so obviously, Roman retained.
I’m not going to lie. I really liked this match. But at the same time, it just made me angry that the top heel champion has to resort to cheap bullshit like this. It’s one thing to have a manager interrupt a pinfall or distract the ref. It’s another thing to make it a handicapped match with a full-time superstar. It was a wonderful match. But fuck that match.
Rating: 4.5 out of Fuck You
Match 6: Firefly Inferno Match – Randy Orton def The Fiend
I told Rachel my prediction that in an inferno match, the wrestler that wears the most clothing loses. Thinking that Orton would have the advantage, he came out in long pants and a hoodie. Welp. Typically, inferno matches are good in theory but never in execution. But after the bell rang, it became apparent that this wasn’t your typical inferno match. Instead of having the ring surrounded by flames, this match was seemingly BYO Fire.
The Fiend started with his classic laughing and no-selling that I sorely missed. For a moment, our favorite fallen demon seemed unstoppable again. And with a dramatic roar, flames shot up around the Thunderdome in a cathartic moment that made me audibly yelp, “Hell yeah”. The tightrope walking began, as they kept edging close to the flames. The Fiend whipped Randy with a strap, set the strap on fire and missed. He also missed with a pickaxe, for some reason. He then doused a rocking chair in gas and sat Randy in it only for him to narrowly escape. Within minutes, it was already the best inferno match ever.
In the blink of an eye, it was over. Randy pressed the Fiend to the fiery barricade, setting him ablaze. Even though his whole back was on fire, he still chased Randy into the ring to fall victim to an RKO. Then it got weird. Randy doused the lifeless Fiend in gas and set him completely ablaze.
It was nice to see that the WWE is still taking advantage of not having a live audience. That allowed them to grab a Fiend dummy while the camera focused on Randy getting the flammables. It led to a somewhat convincing and dramatic ending. My only fear is that this did yet even more damage to the Fiend character. He can’t stop losing and it’s a problem. Here’s hoping it leads to a gruesome revenge, because I don’t know how many more death blows the character can take before he’s buried for good.
Rating: 4 Flaming RKOs out of 5
As a whole, the PPV was a whole lot better than I expected. Dare I say, I might actually watch it again someday. That said, this could have easily been titled Vengeance or Armageddon or Insert December PPV Name Here. It would’ve saved the opening match and the Roman-KO match still could’ve been a TLC affair. This is an endless cycle. We see the WWE trying to hype us about something, we see through it and lower our expectations and then they deliver a good product, but for different reasons.
Overall: 4 Flaming Stairs out of 5