Here’s a pretty wonderful PPV event, the WWE’s last for the 2015 calendar year. And though TLC hasn’t always delivered, hit and miss despite (and because of) the concept – this 2015 event was as close to perfect as an event could be; certainly this card – in no way bad, though with an underwhelming main event.
So, curtain-raiser: A spectacular showcase for high-flying spots and daredevil antics with Tag Team Championship “Triple Threat Ladder Match” – the very best way to kick off this event, as crucial as the Ladder Match openers at Wrestlemania around a decade ago.
The Usos (Jimmy and Jey) take on The New Day (Kofi and Big E) and Lucha Dragons (Kalisto and Sin Cara) and across nearly 20 minutes it’s a “this is awesome!” thrill-ride.
It’s so good that the following match, two slow-pokes, in the scheme of things, Ryback and Rusev, can’t really compete. They do fine, I guess. But it lumbers along. And the crowd is still with the opening ladder match, so this old fashioned set of bruisers doesn’t quite spark. Not embarrassing, but not exciting.
The United States Championship “Chair Match” has Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio at it, and I was not remotely interested in this – but it’s a decent match. I thought I wouldn’t be convinced, but they worked hard, smart and quickly. And the finisher looked brutal.
The 8-Man Tag “Elimination Tables Match” featured the Wyatt Family (Erick Rowan, Luke Harper, Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt) against the Dudleys, Rhyno and Tommy Dreamer, billed as Team ECW. A lovely throwback to Extreme Rules/Hardcore styles and though it felt like the older guys ran out of puff rather quickly this was overall well executed.
Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens have had a bunch of good matches and the title match here – for the Intercontinental – was yet another beauty, terrific in-ring storytelling.
The Divas match featured Ric Flair’s daughter Charlotte (with Flair snr at ringside) against Paige. These two are locked in a great feud, fuelled by decent wrestling, so much so it reminds me of the Lita/Trish matches from, again, a decade or so ago. Good storytelling and great work.
And then it was the headliner, the main even, Sheamus as champ defending against Roman Reigns. Shit they had to work hard, the crowd uninterested, and calling for Cena and Bryan and NXT and, well, anything but what they were getting…
Through grit and a stiff, tough match Sheamus and Reigns told a great story and sold a great, hard fight. When the outside interference provides the match’s coda, the real reason for this match in the first place, we have a complete 180 from the audience, cheering for Roman. Thanking him.
TLC was a great success. A really easy-to-watch, enjoyable WWE PPV. A nice surprise.