WWE:TLC is the final PPV of the year, and WWE did not hold anything back. TLC is the program where Tables, Ladders, and Chairs are used as tools of the superstars’ pain instead of work. The main event had three of the most popular women compete for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, with “The Man” Becky Lynch defending against “The Queen” Charlotte Flair and “The Empress of Tomorrow” Asuka in the name-branded match, a TLC match.
Though the buildup on the Raw side wasn’t the greatest, this card was stacked with plenty of fresh matches. Let’s dive into the show.
Leading off the card on the kickoff show was the cruiserweight championship match between the defending champ Buddy Murphy and the former champ, Cedric Alexander. At Super Showdown a few months back, these two had a fantastic match; Murphy and Alexander have great chemistry together. At one point Cedric hit his finisher, the Lumbar Check, on Murphy; but Murphy was able to get his foot on the bottom rope. That match ended after Murphy hit the Murphy’s Law for the pinfall victory.
This loss caps off a string of bad luck for Alexander since he lost his championship. Alexander is crazy talented and has a bright future in WWE, but Murphy has been the more popular of the two since his debut on 205 Live. This was a pretty clean win, so I believe Murphy will be moving on from Alexander to pursue Mustafa Ali.
The next match was Elias vs. Bobby Lashley in a ladder match, with Elias’s guitar hanging above the ring. You could tell neither one was comfortable; the match was clunky and didn’t do much. Elias got the win, but his victory was short-lived as Lashley would get one over Elias and hit him with his own guitar. This match was boring, and I think made them both look weak. I’m not sure what happens after this.
The first match on the actual PPV was the finals for the Mixed Match Challenge, with Alicia Fox and Jinder Mahal facing Carmella and R-Truth. This was a quick match that had a fun moment or two but didn’t do much for me. The saving grace of this match was the fun that Carmella and Truth were obviously having. You can see why creative gave them the win and the #30 entry in the Royal Rumble next month. I think it’s pretty obvious that neither will win, but the dance break during the Rumble will get the crowd into the match.
The second great match of the evening was a triple threat tag team match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships. It featured the The Bar (defending champions Shamus and Cesaro) vs the New Day (Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston) vs Jimmy and Jey Uso. These three teams have amazing chemistry together. There were some great, hard hitting spots, and each team got their chance to shine. The match ended after Shamus hit a Brogue Kick on Woods for the win.
With the New Day losing cleanly, I have to assume that this will lead to a feud between the Bar and the Usos. The Usos have a claim to a title shot since they were not pinned. Of course, I think Sanity should get an opportunity, but that might just be wishful thinking.
The next match was the first of two TLC matches, and this one had huge implications. It was Baron Corbin vs. Braun Strowman. If Corbin won, he would become the permanent GM, but if Strowman won then he would get a Universal title shot at Royal Rumble against Brock Lesnar. Corbin thought he was going to win by forfeit since Strowman was injured, but Strowman got the win by being present when others attacked Corbin from the back.
This was underwhelming, especially for Strowman fans. The goal was for the good guys to finally beat Corbin, but I left the match just wanting to see Strowman destroy Corbin. This was really disappointing.
Next was the Tables Match between Natalya and Ruby Riott. I have made it no secret how much of a Ruby Riott fan I am, but even I have to say, I was kind of disappointed in this match. Neither woman really got to show what they can do in the ring; it was mostly just them pushing each other into tables and the barricade. There was one nasty spot where Liv Morgan saved Riott from going through a table, only to be sent flying through it herself. It was the spot of the match. Natalya got the win after powerbombing Ruby through a table.
I think it was the right result. It gave Nattie a nice rub; she said doing a program about the death of her father was therapeutic and helped her grieving process. The loss doesn’t hurt the Riott Squad; I’m just not sure which direction they will go in next.
Up next was Finn Balor vs The Scottish Psychopath, Drew McIntyre. This was excellent storytelling and character work by Drew, who dominated the match, relishing in the pain he was causing Balor. Balor began to fight back, but Drew took back control, only to be attacked by Dolph Ziggler. Drew was able to fight off Ziggler and slid back into the ring, but Finn hit a drop kick then a Coup de Grace for the win.
Drew McIntyre is a star. His subtle moments really add depth to his character; you can see the little bit of psycho inside of him when he smiles during an attack. Finn also shined in this match, as he usually does in matches against bigger men. Ziggler’s involvement seems to be leading towards a feud between all three, which is sure to give us a five-star match at some point.
Then came a Chairs match between Rey Mysterio and Randy Orton. This clash of two veterans was a lot of fun, and Orton and Rey showed their creativity. Rey got in a Victory Roll to pin Orton, shocking Orton into disbelief. This feud isn’t over.
The Raw Women’s Championship match that followed pitted the champ, Ronda Rousey, against Nia Jax. Jax had been building her heat solely on the injury she gave to Becky Lynch a couple of weeks ago, so I wasn’t too excited about this match. Ronda was the shining point of it. She sold every attack by Nia as if she had been a pro for years. Then she got the better of Nia and got her into the armbar, which she makes look extremely painful. Ronda continues her reign and looks toward he next opponent, leaving Nia in her past.
After that came the WWE Championship match with the champ, Daniel Bryan, defending against A.J. Styles. This match was fantastic. These two went back and forth, and the finish has me believing that we are in for at least one rematch. They both worked on their opponent’s legs, and Bryan did a great job of selling like he was going to tap out to the Calf Crusher. At the end, Bryan escaped with a small package pin to retain his title.
The Intercontinental Championship match between Seth Rollins and challenger Dean Ambrose was supposed to be one of the best on the card, and in my eyes it delivered. However, the WWE universe at the event expressed disagreement with some loud “This is Boring” chants. That surprised me, because I feel the story they wanted to tell was told tremendously. Sure, there weren’t any gigantic and fast paced spots, but the psychology Ambrose showed with his slow, methodical pace was good. He used Seth’s emotions against him and hit him with a Dirty Deeds to pick up the win and become the Intercontinental Champion. This is going to be a blood feud, and I hope we get a Last Man Standing match out of this feud.
And finally, the main event and match of the night was the TLC match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, with Becky Lynch defending against Charlotte Flair and the “Empress of Tomorrow” Asuka. These women put it all on the line in this match. It resulted in a buildup to Ronda vs. Charlotte vs. Becky, and it gave Asuka her long awaited title reign. This match had everything you could ask for and even more. To tell you everything that happened in this match would be a disservice; just go watch it for yourself.
This was an excellent PPV all around and was a great way to cap off 2018. Now we look to the Royal Rumble and the road to Wrestlemania. Who will win the Rumbles and headline Wrestlemania? We have that and even more to look forward to.