Sunday, December 16th, 2018 the WWE Universe was given this year’s installment of TLC at the SAP Center in San Jose, California. For those of you who may or may not know what that is, let me explain. TLC is an acronym for Tables, Ladders, AND Chairs. As much as we would like to believe that stands for tender love and care, it’s quite the opposite. TLC is the WWE’s demolition derby. All of the objects that give the event its title are involved at some point. Tables, ladders, and chairs are EVERYWHERE. They put them on the stage, the entrance ramp, they surround the ring, and they even have an extra special stash underneath the ring for good measure. If all goes well, it shapes up to be an intense PPV. With that said, let’s jump into this years TLC.
MATCH #1: The Mixed Match Challenge Finale. (Winner gets an advantage in the Royal Rumble and an all expense paid vacation.)
Now, I’m going to have to be brutally honest with you; it’s been hard for me to follow this year’s Mixed Match Challenge. This is the second time they’ve ever done this. It’s relatively new to the WWE content board. What they do is gather a whole bunch of different teams together with one male and female on each team and broadcast the matches via Facebook Watch following Smackdown LIVE on Tuesday nights.
This year, they gathered a majority of the same teams together and threw in some fresh teams to spice things up a bit. Throughout the Mixed Match Challenge, there were a few bumps along the road such as teams that were forced to get new partners due to injury. That’s never a fun factor to have put into play nor do you plan on that happening. It kind of throws off the storyline a little bit. Anyway, with all of that said, let’s get into the actual match.
The finalists turned out to be the teams of Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox VS R-Truth and Carmella. I’m pretty sure nobody saw this one coming. By that, I mean I don’t believe that anybody expected those two teams to be the finalists in this competition. That said, this made for an entertaining opener. Thankfully, there was a dance break involved. That right there is the pop that brought Carmella and R-Truth into a relevant position such as this. The match came to a surprising conclusion as Carmella made Alicia Fox TAP OUT. R-Truth and Carmella then celebrate their victory and get asked how they feel as well as where they are going on their “all expense paid vacation.”
Truth assured Carmella that he had it taken care of. Carmella kept naming places like Paris, Rome and more as Truth continuously told her to “think bigger.” To be real, the way it was panning out it looked like they were going to take a swing at the post-Super Bowl victory response of “I’M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!”. That is NOT what happened. After keeping us all in suspense, Truth announced that they were going to the WWE Headquarters in Stanford, CT. Carmella was disappointed and confused. With that said, they exited the ring and continued backstage. That made for a good little laugh. So, it wasn’t a horrible start to TLC.
WINNER: Carmella & R-Truth
MATCH #2: The New Day VS The Usos VS The Bar (Tag Team Title Triple Threat Match)
This match has two significant problems with it.
Problem number one is that there wasn’t a special stipulation attached to this match. This match should have at least been a tables match or a ladder match. Instead, we got a standard triple threat tag team match.
Problem number two has been a consistent problem for quite a while now. The problem is that we’ve seen these same three tag teams fight each other at the top of the tag team division for many years now.
Don’t get me wrong, in those many years; they’ve had countless incredible matches full of unbelievable endurance and athleticism. There is no question that they’ve all put on some marquee five-star matches. The point is, there are tag teams on the roster that are currently sitting on the bench and are being underutilized and deserve to be on the top of the division while the same three tag teams continue to battle each other for the same thing. You’ve got to believe that it gets pretty old and absurd after awhile.
In the end, this match wasn’t as entertaining as it could have been. The Bar retained the Tag Team Titles after Sheamus landed a Brogue Kick and a pinfall for the victory.
WINNER: The Bar
MATCH #3: Baron Corbin VS Braun Strowman in a TLC match.
Other than being a TLC match, this match had a few other stipulations. If Baron Corbin won, he would become the permanent General Manager of Monday Night RAW. However, if he were to lose, Corbin would be removed from his position as “Acting General Manager.” Also, if Braun Strowman were to defeat Baron Corbin successfully, he would be granted a Universal Title opportunity.
Going into this match, we weren’t sure how it was going to play out. We haven’t physically seen Braun Strowman on RAW since his injury caused by Baron Corbin and others. He has only appeared via satellite. It was speculated that he might show up regardless of what shape he was in. If Braun Strowman didn’t show at TLC, Baron Corbin would have been the victor via forfeit. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.
When the match started, Baron Corbin was the first person to make an entrance. I should also note that Heath Slater was the referee in the ring. I’ll speak more on that in a few. After making his entrance into the ring, Corbin grabbed a mic and made a short “I don’t care about how the fans feel” heel speech.
After his speech, he had Slater signal for the bell and started the count to ten. Slater was able to get up to about seven until Strowman’s music cued up and he came out from backstage. With his arm in a sling, Strowman walked aggressively down the ramp and headed towards the ring. Strowman grabbed a mic and pointed out that because the match was a TLC match, that there were no disqualifications. Strowman stated that he could have anybody help him beat Corbin and it would be completely legal.
Shortly after, the likes of Finn Balor, Bobby Roode, Chad Gable, and Apollo Crews all came out with steel chairs in hand. Heath Slater removed his referee shirt and joined in on the fun. After being beaten down by all of these people, Corbin managed to escape the ring and attempted to head backstage. As he got about halfway up the ramp Kurt Angle’s (technically still the actual General Manager) music played and he came out ready to dominate Corbin and get some well-deserved payback. POETIC JUSTICE. After being beaten down some more, Corbin fell victim to multiple finishing moves from a variety of superstars.
Braun Strowman pinned him with his foot on his chest as if he just climbed a mountain. Heath Slater counted 1-2-3 and Strowman was victorious. Not many tables or ladders used in this TLC match but it was still incredibly entertaining watching everyone take down Corbin and get their revenge.
WINNER: Braun Strowman
MATCH #4: Natalya VS Ruby Riott in a Women’s Tables Match
This matchup became extremely personal. I mean, EXTREMELY personal. For those of you who may or may not know, on August 13th, 2018, WWE lost a legend. Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart passed away at the age of 63 due to a traumatic brain injury. That man just so happened to be Natalya’s father. Natalya has been having a tough time since losing her dad as they were close.
Jim Neidhart had parts of his attire that were infamous such as his jacket and sunglasses. Since his death, Natalya has worn both of these in memoriam. On the November 5th installment of Monday Night RAW, Ruby Riott broke her Natayla’s fathers iconic sunglasses at ringside. As you would expect, Natalya was devastated. That moment was a tear-jerker, not only for her but for the whole WWE universe as well.
This match was given quite a bit of build up. Throughout the feud, the leader of the Riott Squad continued to take shots at Natalya and her father. This made for an emotional roller coaster of a ride. Another notable thing that Riott did was bring a table out with Neidhart’s picture on it and threaten to put Natalya through it. Riott has gone as far as telling Natalya that she “disgraces her family” and that Natalya and her father would be “closer than ever” after putting her through the table.
Now that you have the background let’s get into the match. Being as personal as it was, this match was intense. As well, being a tables match, there was plenty of action going on. This match had a lot of close calls, and it was moving back and forth between both women. Natalya ended up putting both Liv Morgan AND Sarah Logan through tables. As expected, Ruby Riott pulled out the table with Natalya’s father on it. Not only did she bring it out, at one point she used it to hit Natalya. Ruby set up that table up in one of the corners of the ring and continued the match, fully intending to put Natalya through it.
Shortly after, Natalya put Ruby Riott in a Sharpshooter submission hold facing that table, forcing her to look at it. Natalya revealed a table from underneath the ring, this one with Ruby Riott’s face on it later in the match. MORE POETIC JUSTICE! After revealing the table, Natalya pulled out her father’s jacket from under the ring as well and put it on. She then proceeded to powerbomb Riott through the table with her image on it to win the match. After countless brutal assaults and vicious taunts, Natalya was able to get her revenge on the Riott Squad.
MATCH #5: Drew McIntyre VS Finn Balor
The first thing I would like to point out about this match is Finn Balor’s endurance. This man was taking brutal hits all night, and McIntyre is a big dude! Not only is he a big dude, but he is also a powerful athlete. There were various near falls throughout this entire match. Just when you thought it would be over for Balor, he kicked out at the count at like…two and a half.
One thing that was a little funny and unique that happened during the match was McIntyre getting caught in the apron on the outside of the ring. He wasn’t stuck for very long, but it was still an amusing thing to see.
After he managed to get unstuck, Dolph Ziggler came out of nowhere and super kicked McIntyre in the face. After further attempts to get involved in the match, McIntyre kicked a steel chair right to the face of Ziggler. Later in the match, Balor dropkicked a chair into Drew McIntyre and was able to successfully land his finishing move known as the “Coup de Grace” and win the match via pinfall.
WINNER: Finn Balor
MATCH #6: Randy Orton VS Rey Mysterio in a Chairs Match
Any time steel chairs are involved, things can get entertaining rather quickly. Let’s be honest, as much as it hurts to see someone get hit with a chair, everyone loves seeing a chair shot. You’d be surprised at how creative people can get when using a steel chair. At one point in this match, Randy Orton set up a chair in the corner of the ring at the bottom turnbuckle. I’m reasonably sure that is the first time I have ever seen that.
At the start of this match, it was pretty much all Mysterio. He started out quick and aggressive. For the most part, Mysterio has always been that way, People underestimate Mysterio, but he’s an incredible athlete. He’s small and agile, and that can work to his advantage until he gets caught. That said, Mysterio is never out until it is all over. He may be small, but he’s also captured a world title. For a man of his stature, that is extremely impressive. During this match, Randy had plenty of opportunities to dominate Mysterio, and in honesty, he did take advantage of those opportunities.
Towards the end of the match, Mysterio was able to capitalize on an opportunity to land his iconic finishing move “The 6-1-9”. Believe it or not, that’s not how the match ended. The match continued a little bit longer, and Mysterio defeated Randy with a roll-up pinfall. That was a shocking way to end the match.
WINNER: Rey Mysterio
You don’t typically get a lot of these, but during WWE PPV events you can come across some backstage promos that work their way into the storyline. I have a few to bring to your attention and they start with this one.
In this particular promo, it was slated as an interview with Finn Balor. Finn was asked about how he felt following his match. Shortly after they started talking, Dolph Ziggler rudely and aggressively interrupted. He came to tell Balor “you’re welcome” for helping him defeat McIntyre. After an exchanging of words, Ziggler attacked Balor and left him laying backstage.
MATCH #7: Ronda Rousey VS Nia Jax for the WWE RAW Women’s Title
I don’t have much to tell you about this match, but here is what I can tell you.
Tamina Snuka, daughter of WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and ally to Nia Jax, was ringside this entire match. She even got involved in the match, as you might have expected.
I love watching Ronda Rousey fight. I enjoy her style. She is quick and upbeat. The moment she starts going back and forth with those fists of hers, I’m in! As always, there was a bunch of that. That being said, to be honest, I wasn’t fully invested in this match. It breaks my heart because I wanted to be.
There are two things that I can pull from this matchup. One cool thing that happened is Rousey power-bombed Nia Jax from the middle rope. That was both impressive and super cool!
The other thing was the final sequence of the match. After multiple attempts, Rousey managed to lock Nia Jax into her signature armbar, making Jax tap instantaneously. With that, Rousey retained her title.
WINNER: Ronda Rousey
I could not write this article without referencing this promo. After her match with Rousey, you see Nia Jax walking in pain backstage. Shortly after she is met by Becky Lynch. Now, before I go further, let’s talk about why this is so important. Many people already know about this, but for those that don’t, here is the backstory.
On the final Monday Night RAW before this year’s Survivor Series PPV event, you find Becky Lynch backstage in Ronda Rousey’s locker room with “The Disarmer” locked in tight. Referees and other WWE backstage personnel rush to get Becky to let her go and move on her way. Becky Lynch lets go and exits the locker room. She proceeds to confront the members of the RAW Women’s Division already in the ring in front of a stunned audience.
After her music plays and she makes her way to the ring the rest of the Smackdown LIVE Women’s locker room comes out of nowhere and invades RAW. From that point on, all hell breaks loose in the ring. It is literally an all-out brawl. Female superstars from both brands are involved now! It’s complete chaos!
In the midst of this chaos, we realize that Becky Lynch has been busted open. There is literally blood EVERYWHERE. She is covered in it, but incredibly she kept fighting! She wasn’t even phased. Shortly after this, Rousey comes out and Lynch retreats from the ring. Becky then comes back in with a chair and attacks Rousey and the Smackdown women clean house. As the Smackdown women are exiting through the crowd, Becky Lynch taunts Ronda from afar even with her bloody face.
Now, later that week, it was revealed that Nia Jax delivered the punch that “broke” Lynch’s face. The reason I point this out is because this is the first time these two have been seen face to face since that moment. When Becky Makes her presence known to Nia Jax backstage she simply says “Remember when you broke my face?” then punches her in the face and walks away. Great Stuff!
MATCH #8: AJ Styles VS “The New” Daniel Bryan for the WWE Title
Before AJ Styles came to the ring, he was asked to give his opinion on “The New” Daniel Bryan. AJ said “There’s no difference between the new Daniel Bryan and the old one. They are both beatable.” He then walked through the curtain as his music played.
During the match, there were a lot of mind games being played on behalf of “The New” Daniel Bryan. This seems to be the standard with his new heel approach.
I’ve got to be honest; this match was pretty dull. It didn’t pick up until the end. Towards the end of the match, Bryan and Styles went back and forth from submission to submission for a little bit, which is always fun to watch. Styles had a pretty gnarly half crab submission hold on Bryan for a moment. There was a time that Daniel Bryan was able to get the “Yes Lock” locked in as well. After all that, “The New” Daniel Bryan defeated AJ Styles with a roll-up pinfall. Daniel Bryan retains his WWE Championship.
WINNER: “The New” Daniel Bryan
This is the last backstage spotlight that I have. This one is short and simple.
You find Ronda Rousey backstage and she is met with a simple question. What are her feelings regarding Charlotte and what is next in their rivalry from Survivor Series? Rousey responds with “payback is a …” I won’t actually repeat it, but you get the point. With that being said, what exactly does that mean? Especially considering the fact that the two women are on separate brands.
MATCH #9: Dean Ambrose VS Seth Rollins for the Intercontinental Championship
In the wake of Ambrose turning against his former Shield-brother Seth Rollins, we find these two duking it out for the IC Title. First of all, with all of the hype that this match had, it should have at least been a ladder match. With this match being so personal, they should have raised the intensity level by hanging the title above the ring and making one of the two superstars climb the ladder to retrieve it to be victorious.
Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. It was a standard title match. Can I ask why this is? These two were the faces of TLC. They were the poster boys. I don’t get it. As a result, the match suffered.
Throughout the match, you could hear the crowd literally chanting “THIS IS BORING!” That is the exact opposite of what you want to hear fans shouting especially in a match that you put so much hype behind.
There are two things that I took from this match. First, Seth Rollins scared the crap out of me as it looked like he re-injured his knee in the same way he injured it years ago at a live event. That injury put him out for quite some time. Thankfully, it turns out he wasn’t seriously injured and was able to fight the rest of the match fairly well.
Second, I want to note that Dean Ambrose attempted to “make amends” with Seth Rollins by extending out his fist just like they did when they were in The Shield. It was a desperate attempt to get Rollins to stop beating him up, and Rollins quickly shot that down.
The match concluded with Dean Ambrose using his finishing move “Dirty Deeds” on Rollins, shockingly winning the IC Title from Seth Rollins.
WINNER: Dean Ambrose
THE MAIN EVENT: Charlotte Flair VS Asuka VS Becky Lynch for the Smackdown LIVE Women’s Championship (FIRST EVER WOMEN’S TLC MATCH)
This match deserved to be the main event. No matter how it played out, these women were making history. They were given the opportunity to be cemented in the WWE Women’s Revolution as the first three women to ever compete in a TLC match. To be honest, I couldn’t think of any three women on the WWE Main Roster who deserved this opportunity more than these three.
The match got off to a great start, and the action never stopped! These women were determined to put on a great show. I thought it was so cool that Becky Lynch brought in the first table. She claims to be “The Man” so seeing her assert herself like that is a crucial move.
There were A LOT of power moves that took place during the event. The first one worth mentioning came from Asuka. Asuka ended up flipping Becky Lynch onto a ladder. Speaking of Asuka and ladders, she was the first one to set up a ladder and make the climb towards the title belt.
Asuka is incredible. The woman who at one point couldn’t be defeated by anybody made her presence known during this match. Asuka was the first person to put someone through a table. She power-bombed Charlotte through a table. That was awesome! Later on in the match, Charlotte came at Askura with a chair.
There was a moment during the match where Becky had Charlotte and Asuka laid out on a table. She climbed the ladder and jumped off onto the two women. Asuka rolled out of the way, and Becky and Charlotte went crashing through the table. Shortly after, all three women were back on their feet.
Charlotte brings a kendo stick into the mix and goes to town with it. Eventually, the stick ends up in Asuka’s hands, and she ends up beating the living crap out of both of the women simultaneously.
This match was a must watch. As I said before, the action never stops. It was one cool move after another. Charlotte ended up spearing Asuka through a barricade. And speaking of barricades, there was a table laying sideways that Becky Lynch decided to pick Asuka up and give her one of her signature “Bexsploder” suplexes onto. There was another moment where Charlotte flipped off a turnbuckle onto Becky Lynch through a table. Again, it was incredibly exciting.
As the match started to come to a close, we found Charlotte and Becky fighting at the top of a ladder trying to knock each other off so that one of them could grab the title. It was neck and neck! Next thing you know, the party on top of the ladder was crashed as Ronda Rousey came into the ring and tipped the ladder over!
Once Becky and Charlotte came crashing down, Rousey did not hesitate to make her exit. With both ladies on the ground, Asuka gets up and sets up a ladder, climbs it, and captures the WWE Smackdown LIVE Women’s Championship Title Belt!
I do not like the fact that the first ever Women’s TLC Title Match was tainted in controversy, but I am not mad that Asuka was the winner. She deserved that title. It’s long overdue for her, but that’s a different story for a separate article.
Well that’s my recap of this year’s TLC PPV event! Feel free to let us know how you felt about the PPV on our social media! We would love to hear your thoughts! You can check out my last article HERE!
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