TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs — A Strong WWE PPV

by Ian Goodwillie

TLC continued the long tradition of WWE destroying furniture in their matches. At least two of the bouts were actual Tables, Ladders and Chairs matches, which fit the pay-per-view’s theme. That being said, it was nice that every match wasn’t a TLC match.

It’s kind of turned into a clone of the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. Two or three of the matches use the night’s theme while the others are just relatively normal matches. The same essential format was also just used at NXT TakeOver: WarGames. WWE is nothing if not predictable.

The big story going into TLC was the tanking ratings of Raw. The lead-in episode to TLC had the worst ratings in the history of the program. More than a few fans were wondering if WWE’s response to that might include some last minute changes. If that was the case, those changes were behind the scenes.

Overall, TLC turned out to be one of the better PPVs of 2020. Two titles changed hands while others were successfully defended. It was a well booked event, closing 2020 out on a relative high note. That’s probably kind of nice for management since most WWE news this week hasn’t been great.

TLC Pre-Show Eight-Man Tag Team Match

Rather than having Sami Zayn defend the Intercontinental Championship against Big E, WWE put the two of them in an Eight-Man Tag Match. Zayn partnered with Baron Corbin, Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura. Big E teamed up with Daniel Bryan, Otis and Chad Gable.

The match was messy, but that’s what usually happens in these multi-person bouts. Ultimately, Big E picked up the victory after pinning Sami Zayn. That inevitably put him in line for an Intercontinental Championship title match which is scheduled for the next episode of SmackDown.

Chad Gable and Otis are starting to build a dynamic, though it’s hard not to feel bad for Tucker. Heavy Machinery was sacrificed to take the MITB briefcase off Otis with no plans on what to do with Tucker after. Unless something big happens, Tucker will be enjoying catering until he asks for his release.

Cesaro and Shinsuke have become regular members of the pre-show crew. It’s the only appearance they make that’s even close to being on a pay-per-view at this point. It’s a shame as Cesaro could have been a champion and Shinsuke was one of the biggest acts in wrestling when he came to the WWE. Not so much these days.

TLC Match for the WWE Championship

AJ Styles challenged Drew McIntyre for the WWE Championship in a TLC Match. Honestly, this might have been one of the best Tables, Ladders and Chairs matches in years. The two men made superb use of all the toys around the ring, absolutely destroying each other.

There were a lot of huge spots in the match. Possibly the most brutal featured McIntyre heaving Styles over the top rope and through a table outside of the ring. It was a simple spot but it looked absolutely insane. AJ took another huge fall off a ladder into the ropes later in the match.

The stakes got higher when The Miz showed up and cashed in his MITB contract. That turned the singles match into a Triple Threat match. After that point, a good match became truly great as it just got bigger from there, and more brutal for McIntyre.

Miz was about to win the title when Olmos intervened and tossed Miz through a table. Morrison tried to take Olmos out with a chair to the back but the chair broke apart into its basic elements. Olmos then chased Morrison out of the arena. That left McIntyre, Miz and Styles to sort everything out.

The tension in the Triple Threat Match was legit. It quite literally could have been anyone of the three men in the match who ultimately retrieved the title. In the end, McIntyre retained, meaning The Miz wasted his MITB contract and ended up as a statistic rather than a champion.

SmackDown Women’s Championship Match

For most of Sasha Banks’ run as the SmackDown Women’s Champion, Carmella has been after The Boss. Fans are still getting used to Carmella’s new gimmick but it cannot being denied that she’s selling the hell out of it. There’s a good chance that Carmella is on the verge of being SmackDown’s top female heel.

Sasha was amazing in the ring as always. But Carmella has taken her skills to a new level. There is a real chance that this match was the best one she has wrestled in her entire career. It’s much too early for Sasha Banks to drop the title but WWE had better be giving real consideration to Carmella winning it in the future.

WWE is also making the right choice by continuing with Banks as the SmackDown Women’s Champion. She is one of the best, most popular wrestlers on the roster. Sasha has more than earned a long singles title reign at this point. Plus, anyone who can DDT Boba Fett should be able to carry the gold successfully.

Raw Tag Team Championship Match

Apparently, The Hurt Business gets infinite title shots against The New Day. No one will ever complain about watching Kofi Kingston and Xavier Alexander wrestle, but there has to be another contender for their belts. Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado certainly deserve more screen time.

There was nothing specifically wrong with this match. It’s just that it had already happened a few times on Raw in the last couple of months. Getting invested in a match that The Hurt Business has lost more than once wasn’t exactly easy.

That being said, it was still a good tag team match. Cedric Alexander tagged himself in at the last minute, hit the Lumbar Check on Kofi and became the new Raw Tag Team Champion alongside Shelton Benjamin. Hopefully, WWE puts a team other than The New Day against the new champs. It’s time to mix it up.

Women’s Tag Team Title Match

WWE has spent months making Lana look like an absolute ass on TV. But becoming the sole survivor of the Woman’s Survivor Series Match was the beginning of a turn. Lana found an ally in the Raw Women’s Champion, Asuka. They actually made a good team, earning a title shot.

On the go-home episode of Raw, Lana cleanly beat Nia Jax in a one-on-one match. This was followed a by a beating from Nia and Shayna Baszler that ended with Lana being kayfabe injured and unable to compete. It was a bad ending to Lana’s current story arc.

Asuka’s surprise partner turned out to be the returning Charlotte Flair, who has been away from the ring for a few months. Fans were excited to see her back, as was Asuka. It wasn’t a shock as it has been rumored for a couple of weeks that she was ready to return.

Asuka and Charlotte won the match and the titles, with Ric Flair watching from the Gorilla Position. The awesome part about this victory is that Asuka is officially Two Belts Asuka. Plus, Charlotte always looks better with gold around her waist.

As great as it was to see Charlotte back in the ring, this was not the ending to Lana’s current storyline fans wanted. After going through the announce desk week after week for months, putting a title on her at TLC would have been the feel good ending Lana had earned.

WWE TLC

Lana ran the race WWE asked of her and was tossed aside as she reached the finish line. Many people believe that the last few months have been Vince McMahon punishing Lana for her husband signing with AEW. The events of the last week would seem to confirm that theory.

TLC Match for the Universal Championship

Anyone who doesn’t think Roman Reigns is doing the best work of his career since returning to the ring is not paying attention. His heel turn has proven to be the defining run of his career, and it will only get better from here. As good as it is, he still needs new music to fit his new attitude.

Kevin Owens has also been bringing his A-game, both in the ring and on the mic. Putting these two together in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match for the Universal Championship is one of the best booking decisions that WWE has made in the last few months.

Reigns and Owens delivered a great match, absolutely demolishing each other and leaving nothing but wreckage around the ring. Unsurprisingly, Jey Uso got involved, repeatedly preventing Owens from retrieving the Universal Championship. For his part, Uso took some huge bumps.

In the end, Reigns retained the championships. Owens may have lost the match but he’s never looked better. It was, for all intents and purposes, a two-on-one match and he still almost won. If Owens is going to keep coming after Reigns, he’s absolutely needs back-up.

The Firefly Inferno Match

The history between Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt goes back to the days of The Wyatt Family as it was coming apart. Orton defeated Wyatt for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 33 in a terrible match. It took Wyatt years to rebuild his career from that booking debacle.

These days, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt might be the hottest act in the WWE, pun intended. His current feud with Randy Orton led to a Firefly Inferno Match at TLC. To win, one of them needed to set the other on fire. Fans would have been immediately reminded of the Inferno Match between Undertaker and Kane.

While people might have been thinking about that classic match, this TLC match was a lot more brutal. Being recorded in advance allowed WWE to put in some bigger, more harrowing spots. Wyatt went after Orton with a pickaxe at one point.

Surprisingly, Orton won the match, meaning that this feud is not over by a longshot. Even though he had already picked up the win, Randy still set “The Fiend” on fire a second time after the match while he was prone on the mat. It was a striking visual to close the pay-per-view on.

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