Monday, 29 December 2014

Catch-Up: WWE TLC

It's gimmick match overload time once more as we continue our catch up theme by taking a look at WWE's most recent pay per view offering, TLC.

The show began with the first title match of the evening as Dolph Ziggler challenged Luke Harper for the Intercontinental title in a ladder match.

Let's start with an old favourite, shall we? This was a great way to start the show, a match filled with tremendous action throughout, thanks to the fine performances of those concerned.

For me Luke Harper is a great advertisement for the WWE's training centre. The guy was the absolute pits when I saw him in Ring of Honor, but now he looks like a world beater, someone who's definitely worthy of his spot on the main roster.

The way he threw Ziggler around the ring and into the ladders made him look like an absolute monster. It was a great performance from the big man, but as the old saying goes it takes two to tango, and the challenger played his part perfectly. I lost count of the number of times he bounced off a ladder. But then again I could just counted the marks on his body.

So after these two beat the proverbial out of each other for fifteen minutes both men jockeyed for position atop two ladders in the middle of the ring. Only one man could claim the belt though, and after sending Harper crashing to the mat when he super kicked him off the ladder Ziggler reached up and grabbed the title belt for his own, winning the title in a ladder match once again.

The championship action continued with the Usos challenging the Miz and Damian Mizdow for the Tag Team titles.

What we had here was more or less a handicap match. Miz basically wrestled the entire match on his own while his stunt double mimicked almost everything he did, and it was while all of this was going on I once again realised that I must be one of the few wrestling fans in the world who finds Mizdow's antics annoying.

The action itself was okay. Miz looked fine in the ring, as did the Usos. I can't really comment on our former intellectual saviour, except that he looked okay when he stopped aping his boss and broke up a pin.

The ending was the best part though. After the Usos took control Miz decided that he'd had enough and grabbed the title belts, intent on heading for the hills. But when the Usos tried to stop him Miz clobbered them with his Slammy award, earning his team an immediate disqualification but keeping the title in their possession.

Then it was back to the gimmick action as the Big Show faced Erick Rowan in a steel stairs match.

The formula for this one was simple, you had two big guys beating the hell out of each other, and for most of the time they used metal ring steps to achieve their goals.

It wasn't too bad for what it was I suppose. The performances certainly can't be faulted, and both guys came up with some inventive ways to use their weapons.

As for the ending that came after Show chokeslammed Rowan onto the stair and knocked him out with his big right. He then put another part of the stairs onto the bearded one as he took the winning pin.

With Paul Heyman coming down to ringside to get a bird's eye view it was on to the tables match as Seth Rollins, accompanied by the new Stooges, took on John Cena, with the stipulation being that if Cena lost he'd lose his number one contenders spot.

This one certainly proved to be an action packed encounter, with plenty of interference, plenty of splintered tables, and a huge dollop of drama.

I have to admit that at first I wasn't too struck on what was going on. The action was okay, but it definitely wasn't the best tables match I'd ever seen, and it was pretty obvious how things were going to play out when messrs Noble and Mercury were on the scene.

But once Cena took care of them (for a while at least) things got a whole lot better as the drama quotient went up a notch or three. It reached it's crescendo when Cena put Rollins through a table with an attitude adjuster. The only problem was that the referee was taking a snooze at the time.

It wasn't long before Mercury and Noble made their presence known again when they almost helped Rollins put his man through a table. Cena managed to fight his way out though before putting the new stooges through a table at the same time.

Then things got even more dramatic. As Cena and Rollins jockeyed for position on the ring apron they both went through a couple of tables at the same time. The now-recovered referee called for the bell immediately, and after two other officials came down to the ring and pleaded the case for each wrestler the main official re-started the match.

So as Rollins and Cena continued their battle the Big Show came down to lend a hand, but after he landed a couple of blows on the golden boy none other than Roman Reigns made an appearance, taking the big guy out with his Superman punch before spearing him through a table.

Reigns then helped his new best buddy, giving Cena the chance to put Rollins through another table with the attitude adjuster for the win.

The Divas were up next as Nikki Bella, accompanied by her sister Brie, defended her title against A.J. Lee.

Let's be completely honest here, this wasn't a patch on the Women's title match I saw on the NXT show a few days ago. It was okay, but there were times where it seemed a little disjointed, and once again it felt more like filler material.

Nikki dominated the action for the most part, with A.J. coming up with a few fleeting moments of offence, but when she came close to getting the pin sister Brie grabbed put her foot on the rope. This didn't sit too well with the referee, who promptly sent her to the back.

This moment of confusion gave Nikki the chance to spray A.J. in the eyes with something she'd hidden in her boot. One rack attack later and it was all over, Nikki had gained the title-retaining pin.

Another battle of the big guys followed as Kane faced Ryback in a chairs match.

So once again we had a match with a simple formula, two big guys beating the proverbial out of each other with their weapon of choice, and while it wasn't as good as the Show/Rowan brawl it was still quite entertaining in it's own way.

Perhaps the best moment here was when Kane countered Ryback's meat hook attempt with a simple chair to the face. It was just delaying the inevitable though. Ryback soon took him down with his brand of clothesline before finishing him off with the shell shock for the winning pin.

The penultimate match saw Jack Swagger challenging Rusev for the United States title.

WWE's continued attempt to re-ignite the Cold War proved to be a nice little back and forth encounter. Both protagonists acquitted themselves quite well, with Swagger controlling the early going and Rusev coming back strongly.

The exchange of submission holds was well done here, with Swagger powering out of Rusev's accolade and applying his version of the ankle lock. This ultimately led to a brief brawl outside the ring where Rusev connected with a big kick to the noggin.

Moments later it was all over. Rusev applied the accolade again, the referee calling for the bell when Swagger passed out to give the champion the submission win.

The main event saw Dean Ambrose taking on Bray Wyatt in a TLC match.

In a show filled with weapon-strewn brawls this was the best of the lot as two crazy guys tried to beat the you know what out of each other with anything they could get their hands on.

They brawled everywhere, around the ring, through the fans, up the aisle, and even in the squared circle. In fact I was a bit surprised that they didn't leave the arena and start fighting in the street.

A few tables were turned into firewood, thanks mainly to Ambrose as he jumped off a couple of ladders and elbow dropped Wyatt through a couple of tables. It look to be all over there and then, until Ambrose spotted an even bigger ladder on a monitor he'd found under the ring.

So the former Shield man staggered back up the aisle, grabbed the huge ladder, and dragged it back to ringside where he set it up in front of the Spanish announcer's table. Wyatt fought back briefly, but it wasn't long before he was on the table and put through with an elbow drop for the third time.

This really did look like it was going to be it for Wyatt as Ambrose pushed him back into the ring, except that he was intent on dishing out even more punishment, this time with a little help from the monitor he'd found under the ring. The only problem was that the cables were still attached, and when he tried to use the screen a second time electricity crackled and sparks flew.

Now temporarily blinded, Ambrose was easy prey for Wyatt as he took him out with sister Abigail for the winning pin.

In conclusion - this show had a lot to live up to, given the success of the NXT event just a few days before, and I think they just about pulled it off.

There were a couple of matches that didn't exactly increase my heart rate, but the performances in the proverbial marquee matches were certainly what the doctor ordered.

As for the prestigious match of the night no-prize once again there were a couple of contenders until Wyatt and Ambrose went at it, so the award goes to those crazies this time around.

So with all of that out of the way there's just one more thing to do, and that's to give this thing the thumbs up.