Monday, 21 December 2015

TV Review: WWE TLC

It’s time for one of those better late than never reviews as we take a look back at WWE’s most recent pay per view offering, TLC, shown recently on Sky Box Office here in Britain.

The show began with the first title match of the evening as Jimmy & Jey Uso and the Lucha Dragons team of Kalisto & Sin Cara challenged the New Day’s Big E and Kofi Kingston for the Tag Team titles in a triple threat ladder match.

To say that this was a great way to start the show would be a massive understatement. In fact the fans were spot on, because this was awesome. From start to finish we were treated to some tremendous action. All six men put in great performances, with the high-flyers showing that they were made for this match.

As expected there were plenty of holy you know what moments, particularly when the Dragons were involved, and it was the smallest man in the match who gave us the Joey Styles OMG moment when Kalisto took Jey Uso down with a solida del sol from the top of the ladder and through a second ladder that was bridged between the ladder and the ropes, with Jimmy Uso coming in a close second when he took out Biggie with a superfly splash from the top rope onto the floor.

So after all that crashing and burning it was left to Kalisto to pick up the pieces, but just when it looked like he was about to grab the belts Xavier Woods grabbed his trombone and threw it at the masked man. The distraction gave Kingston the chance to halt his progress before he scaled the ladder himself and claimed the belts for his team.

The singles action began with the battle of the big men as Lana’s fiancĂ©e Rusev faced Ryback.

It was obvious from the start what kind of match this was going to be, because what we had here was two big guys beating the hell out of each other in an attempt to find out who was the most powerful.....and the baddest.

The match itself wasn’t too bad, especially if you weren’t expecting anything too special. Their power games match up well against each other, and it was nice to see Ryback throwing a couple of aerial moves into the mix as well. Granted, he’s not going to be anything like Rey Mysterio, but as the old saying goes variety is the spice of life.

The lovely Lana, as expected, played a small part in the match as well when she feigned injury after an accidental collision with the big guy, which led to the finish when Rusev finally locked in his accolade on the second attempt and Ryback passed out to give the Bulgarian (or is he still Russian?) the submission win.

It was back to championship action for the next match as Jack Swagger challenged Alberto Del Rio for the United States title in a chairs match.

I have to admit that I didn’t think this one would be up to snuff, but it was actually quite enjoyable seeing these two bashing each other with chairs for just over ten minutes and throwing in the occasional wrestling move for good measure.

Performance-wise it was okay, and it probably won’t get any match of the year nominations next month, but everything else about it was okay, and the performances of the two former Zeb Colter guys can’t be faulted.

The best part for me were the unique submissions, with Swagger using a chair to aid him with his patriot lock and ADR getting a little help from the ropes when he applied his arm bar. But despite the submission prowess of both of them it was a good old fashioned top rope stomp from Del Rio that finished the challenger off, although the chairs he placed underneath Swagger as he was straddled in the corner helped him a tad as he took the winning pin.

Then it was on to the proverbial battle of the generations as Bray Wyatt and his boys Luke Harper, Erick Rowan and Braun Strowman took on the ECW Originals, Tommy Dreamer, Rhino....I mean Rhyno, and the Dudleys in an elimination tables match. Just think of a Survivor Series match with a few pieces of wood added into the equation.

Although this didn’t bring back memories of the glory days of the bingo hall it was still a very enjoyable encounter between a group of hardcore legends and one of the best factions in modern wrestling history. These two teams went at it as soon as the bell sounded, and it wasn’t long before Dreamer introduced more toys into the equation and Wyatt’s boys were getting smashed by kendo sticks and rubbish bins.

In fact things looked quite rosy in the ECW alumni’s garden when the Dudleys put Rowan through a table with a 3D, but when Harper levelled the playing field again by booting Rhyno through a table the tide began to turn in favour of the family.

The ECW guys put up a good fight, but with Wyatt putting D-Von through a table with a rock bottom-like move and Harper diving through the ropes to put Dreamer through the wood things looked a little dire for Bubba.

There was still a lot of fight on Mr. Dudley’s baby boy though, and at one point he brought out a bottle of lighter fluid with the intention of putting Wyatt through a flaming table. Harper and Strowman managed to save his bacon, and when Strowman chokeslammed Bubba through the table that was it for the veterans as the crazy Wyatts claimed the win.

More championship action followed as Dean Ambrose challenged Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental title.

Now this I liked, although I wish that they’d been given just a little more time, because putting these guys like these against each other in a ten minute match is like cutting out the middle section of Bohemian Rhapsody.

In essence this was one of those short and sweet encounters jam packed with action and between two guys who are tailor-made for each other. Both of the protagonists put in great performances here, and for me this was not only a great advertisement for WWE’s training system but for the independent wrestling scene as well.

Both Ambrose and Owens were at their best as they went about their business, both in the ring and when they brawled at ringside. Everything they did just looked so good.

At one point it looked like Ambrose was going to take the win when he avoided Owens’ pop-up powerbomb and came back with his dirty deeds DDT. But the heinous villain that is Owens escaped from the pin attempt by putting just two fingers on the bottom rope.

It wasn’t the last chance that the lunatic fringe had though. A few moments later Owens went for his powerbomb again, but this time around Ambrose countered with a roll-up, hanging on long enough to take the three count and the title.

The penultimate match saw Paige challenging Charlotte for the Divas title. Moving on.....

The main event saw Roman Reigns challenging Sheamus for the WWE World title in a TLC match.

Now this was brutal, but in a good way, because as the fans began with chants of “we want Cena” and “we miss Rollins” these two stepped up to the plate and delivered a top notch main event.

The proverbial slobber-knocker saw these two hitting each other with everything they had. It began when Reigns clobbered Sheamus with a big right hand, and from there there was plenty of tables, ladders and chairs action as they brawled in the ring, around the ring, up the aisle, onto the stage and back again.

In a way this wasn’t like any other ladder match I’d ever seen, mainly because these two weren’t even going for the title most of the time. They seemed more intent on beating the hell out of each other, and they did a good job in doing that.

As far as the holy you know what moments, while Sheamus put Reigns through three tables it was Reigns who came up with the best in the match when he Samoan dropped the Irishman through a ladder perched between the announcer’s desk and the ring. It was the kind of move that put Sheamus on the shelf a while, and it left a few wondering if the match would end there and then.

But they still came back for more, and it was only then that they decided to go for the ladders and the title. Cue one of the most dramatic moments of the match when Sheamus was about to grab the belt and Reigns almost ran up the ladder to take the champion out with a Superman punch, sending him crashing down into a table

It wasn’t enough to get the job done though, mainly thanks to the champion’s League of Nations buddies Alberto Del Rio and Rusev. Reigns tried to fight them off at first until the numbers game came into play momentarily until the challenger managed to send his attackers packing.

Despite all of this the fates would turn against Reigns yet again, and when Sheamus took his man down with a brogue kick that sent him rolling out of the ring it was all over bar the shouting, and even though Reigns managed to make it back into the ring he couldn’t stop Sheamus from getting to the top of the ladder to claim the gold and retain the title.

The end of the match actually signalled the start of the all hell breaking loose segment. As the League celebrated their main man’s win Reigns got back into the ring and took them all out with a spear before clobbering each of them with a chair. He then delivered several more brutal chair shots to Sheamus until Triple H and Stephanie McMahon came out to try and calm the situation.

It looked like they had achieved their objective at first, but after Trips made sure his champion was okay Reigns turned his attention to his boss, and after several chair shots Reigns took him out to ringside and powerbombed him onto the Spanish guy’s table, before putting what we thought were the finishing touches when he put him through the table with an elbow drop.

But there was more. After Reigns had committed what many said was career suicide he went one step further, taking Trips down with a spear as he was being helped to his feet. It certainly was the icing on the cake as far as he was concerned, with the crowd finally chanting his name as the show came to an end.

In conclusion – I had considered skipping this review, mainly because my ongoing health problems often leave me feeling extremely tired. But even though it took me a week to watch this show I’m glad I did, because it was a great way for WWE to round off their pay per view year.

Although the matches varied quality-wise the overall package was great. The performances of those involved were very good, with Reigns’ post-match antics proving to be the highlight of the night.

But seeing as my prestigious match of the night no-prize doesn’t really cover post-match attacks, I’m going to give the award to the match that opened the show, the triple threat ladder match between the New Day, the Usos and the Lucha Dragons. This reminded me of a certain three-way tag feud a few years ago, so who knows, we may see these teams go at it again in a similar match.

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