In the penultimate PPV-event card of the year for WWE, TLC really delivered. A set of strong matches, storylines furthered, no giant shockers, no botched-beyond-repair finishes, no over-booked shenanigans…well, you be the judge there…but a solid three-hour slug-fest of fun and fighting with some pretty wonderful performances.
We open with The Wyatt Family of Bray and Randy Orton accompanied by Luke Harper in action against Heath Slater and Rhyno. This wasn’t any sort of classic but the action rolled out nicely enough and it all hinged on the ending – which was pretty terrific. Rhyno was about to spear Orton outside the ring, crushing him into the barrier when Luke Harper pushed Orton out of the way and took the blow himself. Then Orton did his viper-like snake-slink into the ring to deliver his RKO finisher. It was a good first match. But of course it’s about how Orton and Wyatt will work together from here, now with the championship belts.
The Miz and Dolph Ziggler were the first to fight in one of the titular matches – this a ladder match, a bit of an old-fashioned classic too. These two guys the superior upper-mid-card players and their feud so brilliant across so many bouts. Ziggler is one of the best pure athletes on the roster and Miz is such a great heel, a good worker too but what he lacks – if anything – in the ring is more than made up by his charisma, personality and wind-up ability. Here he played a classic, dedicating the match after to Daniel Bryan. He was in fine heel form but played (mostly) by the rules. He defeated Ziggler ending a rather glorious feud. A really great match for the middle of this card.
Baron Corbin and Kalisto have a very solid match, particular since no one ever gets very excited by a ‘Chairs’ match. But these two made it work.
Alex Bliss powerbombed Becky Lynch through a table from the ring apron in a demon finisher to their Tables match, making Alexa the new champion and setting up Becky for a rematch or two.
And then we concluded with the big half-hour battle between AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose. Huge match, the full works: Tables, Ladders and Chairs and for the WWE World Championship. All the stops as you’d expect, two talented, determined players; two people so capable of entertaining and really putting their bodies on the line. So it was great.
Now some people might not have liked the head-scratch moment when an injured James Ellsworth stumbled to the ring to interfere – but it worked. It created a brilliant WTF moment with the live crowd perplexed but then the pay-off sold it fully; Ellsworth interrupting to distract Styles, only to then topple Ambrose in what were about to be his winning seconds. So this made sense in the end and was a genuine surprise to the crowd.
The event didn’t have any real “Holy Shit!”/ Oh wow! moments but it’s probably the most solid show of the year I’ve seen. Gets the big tick for that.
You can watch TLC and any/all WWE content exclusively on the network at WWE.com