TLC 2018 Review

I didn’t see the pre show but I’m reliably informed that Buddy Murphy retained the Cruserweight title against Cedric Alexander, and Elias beat Lashley (but Lashley beat him up with the Guitar afterwards). Remember when Lashley was coming in and his rumoured first program was going to be Brock Lesnar? And when he bear Roman clean on PPV, only to lose a BS contenders match to him on Raw 2 weeks later? And how there was real talk of Lashley being in some form of match for the Universal Championship at Summerslam? Talk about a fall from grace… Oh and also apparently Daniel Bryan cut an awesome promo.

ANYWAY the main show began with Becky starting the voiceover for a pretty good video package to hype up the show. I’d presume this mean’s the women are main eventing which is good.

Carmella and R Truth defeated Alicia Fox and Jinder Mahal with The Singh Brothers to win the Mixed Match Challenge Final (as well as all expenses paid for vacation and the number 30 spot in their respective Royal Rumble Matches)

Truth got a decent pop when he came out. My thought on this opening the show was I guess it’s bets to get it out the way, but when you think for example they had Rollins v Ziggler in an excellent match open Summerslam, and Daniel Bryan open Money in the Bank… the match was exactly what was expected. Truth was the best by far in-ring, they had a Dance break about a minute in as both Singhs joined in before R Truth threw them out the ring. I noted that Renee spoke about Alicia Fox’s “veteran status” which I guess given her tenure in the WWE is kind of true, but she still remains one of the lesser able female workers on the roster… just saying… Fox did have a funny spot with R Truth until Carmella came in with a kick for a nearfall broke up by Jinder. Everyone else found their way somehow to the outside, and then out of seemingly nowhere Carmella had the Code of Silence submission on Alicia Fox and with the tamest tap I’ve seen she submitted. After the match in their interview in the ring with Kayla, Truth said he’d already booked their holiday… to WWE’s Headquarters in Connecticut… (I guess we will get some fun segments on Smackdown). This was exactly as expected and about as good as most stuff on the MMC has been, which isn’t very. Crowd was flat.

*1/2

They played an advert for the Royal Rumble PPV. This made me smile because the Rumble is the best.

‘The Bar’ defeated ‘The New Day’ and ‘The Usos’ to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championship

David Otunga is replacing an ill Byron Saxton for the night. Oh joy… the wrestling from all 6 men involved was good throughout (hardly a shock), and fun to see Xavier Woods (the lesser used of the 3) represent the New Day in this match. Otunga said he knew The Usos dad, to which Tom Phillips said that he mentions it every time he is on commentary. This made me laugh. The Bar isolated Woods from getting a tag as Woods sold really well. Jimmy Uso eventually got a blind tag and performed a crossbody on Kofi from the top as Cesaro held him up in a vertical suplex position in a cool spot. Jey Uso not long after hit everyone with superkicks, then Usos did a spot that ended with a Samoan Drop that got a nearfall on Kingston. There was then an Uso splash on Kofi but before the splash Cesaro had tagged himself in, so he launched the Uso into the ringpost and went for the pin himself but this was kicked out of. Cesaro then punished Kingston with the Cesaro Swing followed by a Sharpshooter, but as Big E played cheerleader Xavier Woods came in and hit a DDT on Cesaro, then followed a series of inter-team interactions and sequences that concluded with Kingston diving to the outside to take out a member of the other 2 teams. This left Woods and Sheamus in the ring, Woods was on the outside of the apron but was momentatirly distracted by Cesaro who ate a kick for his troubles, Woods made his way into the ring but immediately was hit with a Brogue Kick and Sheamus got the 1,2,3. The Bar retain. In-ring this was really good as expected, notable that The Usos were not pinned and were kept out the match for the majority of it (as was noted on commentary). So that would lead me to think The Usos will be the next feud for the champions, which I’d be absolutely fine with.

***

They played an advert for Vince McMahon being on Raw this week.

They replayed the attack suffered by Braun Strowman by the heels of Raw from a few weeks back. Heath Slater was shown in ring as the referee as Jojo announced the permutations of the next match.

Braun Strowman defeated Baron Corbin (in what was apparently a TLC Match)

Corbin came out to light boos. During the pre-show he had Jojo in his office practicing her announcing of him as the winner and permanent Raw GM (so he’s losing then). Cole really went in on Corbin on commentary, Renee concurred, Corey Graves defended Corbin. Baron cut a promo that basically told everyone it was too bad they didn’t like him as GM and that they should get used to it (he’s losing this match if you hadn’t guessed by now). The bell rung, Slater began the count, he got to 7 and Strowman’s music hit as the crowd suddenly woke up. Braun came out with his arm in a sling, and cut his promo to loud ‘Get These Hands’ chants, he told Corbin that a TLC match means No DQ and therefore if someone wanted to help him they could. One by one Apollo Crews, Gable and Rood and Finn Balor appeared at different sides of the ring carrying Steel Chairs, Slater took of his ref’s shirt and striked Corbin to a big pop. And the babyfaces all got in the ring and hit Corbin with their chairs one after the other. Corbin rolled to the outside and went to leave up the ramp, only for Kurt Angle to come out to a big pop, he backed Corbin back towards the ring as he attacked him with a chair. With Baron back in the ring the babyfaces each hit a move on him, including Angle with an Angle slam, and then Braun came in and put his foot over Corbin as Slater counted the pin. So it appears the Corbin era is over, and it’s Braun v Brock at the rumble. This wasn’t any form of match, but I think everyone knew that going in that it would be exactly this. It must though be the very first TLC match in history to have no involvement of Ladders or Tables.

N/A

Natalya defeated Ruby Riott with Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan in a Tables Match

The Riott Squad carried out the table with Jim Neidhart on and stacked it up so that the picture of Jim was facing the ring. Liv Morgan was on the apron and took a spear from Natalya after Ruby moved, she took an almighty bump through a table to take her out. Not long after Natalya powerslammed Sarah Logan through a table too. Ruby and Nattie both talked trash throughout, they both teased table spots, Natalya bought form under the ring a table with Ruby Riott on. She also put on her Dad’s jacket. Finish came when after Ruby had teased putting Natalya through the table with Ruby on (after a Riott Kick whilst Natalya was on the top rope), Natalya was able to hold on to Riott after she went to Hurracinrana her through the table set up below. Natalya though lifted Ruby up and Powerbombed her through the table that was set up below. The Riott Squad were completely buried hereto the point I think Natalya might face Rousey (presuming she beats Jax) at some point soon. But I guess they had to have the bullies get their comeuppance. Natalya held up the half broken table with the picture of Ruby Riott on up to celebrate with it as a trophy. This match wasn’t the longest but still felt like it dragged, that is what you’ll get at the end of a terribly bad feud.

**1/2

Lars Sullivan video package. This made me happy.

Finn Balor defeated Drew McIntyre

This was a solid match throughout between 2 very good wrestlers. McIntyre started off overpowering and punishing Finn for the majority of the early stages, Finn’s chest was red from the chops he suffered. Finn would occasionally mount offense and wherever he did it looked crisp. Highlights being a really good looking spinning DDT by Finn, and Finn using the ring apron to trap Drew allowing him to ;and a series of strikes. With both men on the outside Drew hit a ferocious headbutt and then did the 2sweet hand gesture to get the crowd worked up. McIntyre then put Balor back in the ring as the crowd cheered as Dolph Ziggler came into show and Superkicked his former tag team partner whilst the ref was tending to Finn. Ziggler grabbed a chair but had it kicked into his own face by Drew. Drew threw Dolph into the ring and took the chair as well, only for Finn to kick it back into McIntyre’s face. Finn then went up top for the Coupe de Grace for the win. I was totally surprised at this result and I don’t really know what it means for both men going forward. Anyway it was good in-ring stuff throughout, Drew played the bully heel really well combining brutal attacks with good trash talk, and Balor played the babyface in peril well. Fun to watch and perfectly acceptable for where it was on the card. I think this may have been one of Drew’s first singles PPV matches since his return, and I also can’t recall other than Summerslam Finn winning on PPV in 2018. So both of those in mind with this result are notable for sure. I don’t think either guys trajectory will change mind (Drew as a top guy, Finn as a… guy…)

***1/2

Rey Mysterio defeated Randy Orton in a Chairs Match

There were chairs absolutely everywhere at ringside. This was a fun match that was pretty even throughout, but with Orton slowing the pace down emphasizing his sadistic nature and thought process of how he could use the chairs to punish Mysterio, although I even heard Vince was unhappy at the slow pace in this one. Which for Vince to be upset with 2 top top guys is a shock. Some inventive spots included Rey using a chair as surfboard to slide out the ring and onto Orton who was laying on the floor below, Rey running off the apron hoping to hit Orton (who was sat on a chair) with a senton but Orton moved and Rey went flying into the chair, and the finish which I think we were meant to think Orton would RKO Mysetrio onto 4 chairs that Randy had set up next to another in a line in the ring, and he did tease it but Mysterio countered into placing Orton sat on one of the chairs, before Rey took a run up on the chairs and rolled Orton over with a hurricanrana into a Victory Roll for the pinfall and the win. Orton was pissed after the loss. The match overall was fine, slow paced in parts but as I said that was purposeful to show Orton’s persona.

**

Finn was interviewed backstage until it was interrupted by Dolph Ziggler who wanted thanks for the assist in Balor’s win over McIntyre. Dolph threw Finn into some nearby storage boxes, I’d presume the two will have a match on Raw.

Another advert for Vince being on Raw. This is going to be something big surely.

Ronda Rousey retained the Raw Women’s Championship against Nia Jax with Tamina

THANK GOD! To be fair this was a fine match between giant monster heel and valiant but tough babyface, Ronda looked fine and did her best. Nia was Nia. Ronda did a step up knee and a step up punch at one stage that looked great, crowd popped big for a Ronda powerbomb off the middle rope on Jax that got a nearfall. Finish came when Nia teased her big punch, but Rousey blocked it and flipped her over to put her in position for the Armbar, she then looked at Tamina and said “this is for you” before kissing Nia’s fist and locking in the submission for the immediate win. Jax was led away by Tamina as a delighted looking Ronda Rousey celebrated. This was very clearly practiced a lot and it was fine, but I’ve little to no interest in Nia Jax matches as she infuriates me how bad she is at her job sometimes. Ronda Rousey did her best and looked fine given her opponent. 2 1/2 of these stars are for Ronda.

**3/4

Nia is seen backstage selling her arm. She’s confronted by Becky Lynch who unsurprisingly gets a huge pop. Becky asks Nia “remember when you broke my face?” before attacking her and sending her to the ground. Tamina then came to see if she was ok. This was great.

Daniel Bryan defeated AJ Styles to retain the WWE Championship

Bryan didn’t Yes chant once during his entrance. He was also announced as “the new Daniel Bryan”. This makes me happy, it’s the smaller details I appreciate. This match was absolutely fantastic. Crisp wrestling, brutal looking striking, simply excellent stuff from both men. I struggled to make notes I was just so in awe of seeing the 2 best in-ring workers in WWE of this era go absolutely all out. The story was eventually Bryan’s bad leg vs AJ’s bad ribs, it seemed a game of chess inside the ring as at different points either man had a counter for what the other was going to do (you’d think they rehearse these sort of things and go over them beforehand or something…). Bryan played up to the chicken-shit heel he’s become but also maintained his vicious nature. AJ meanwhile was equally calculated but wanted to take out his frustration. There was a couple of times AJ went to fly down to attack Bryan, and Bryan just kicked AJ in the ribs in mid air, it looked great. It was good throughout but towards the end it was exceptional. I also liked the continuity shown with AJ targeting Bryan’s leg (he chopped blocked it at one stage) and so when Bryan stomped AJ in the corner he couldn’t do it as hard as normal as his leg was hurt. AJ would later follow up with a half Boston Crab to the injured leg, Bryan would though roll through eventually into his Lebell lock submission (formerly the Yes lock) and even added in some elbow strikes to allow him to lock it in deeper. After this AJ was able to roll Bryan over for a nearfall and Bryan would roll over for one of his own, they then exchanged kicks each to send them both down. Eventually Bryan would go for his running knee strike but AJ hit him with a dropkick that looked great, he then headed to the apron and hit a springboard 450 splash despite his injured ribs that he sold, and with both men hurt Aj got a nearfall. A tired Bryan charged AJ into the corner but would eventually fall into a Calf Crusher (again going at Bryan’s injured leg), after coming very close seemingly to tapping Bryan was able to roll the both of them over so he could reach the ropes to break the hold. Bryan would be rolled in the ring by Styles but he just rolled out the other side, and as Aj went after him Daniel Bryan kicked him in the chest and sent him into the timekeepers area, before Styles came flying back with a Phenomenal Forearm off the barrier. He then sent Bryan back into the ring and went for a Phenomenal Forearm again, but as he came down Bryan moved out the way and Styles had to stop himself from flying into the referee. Styles turned around and Bryan went for the Running Knee but this time it was Styles he moved out the way. He then surprised Bryan with an inside cradle, but Daniel Bryan turned that over into a cradle of his own for the 3 count. Daniel Bryan retained as Styles looked at him celebrate with the belt at the top of the ramp, AJ was in disbelief. This was an absolutely excellent match and a late challenger to be on my top 20 WWE matches of 2018 list. Unlike a WWE match in a good way.

****3/4

Ronda and Natalya were backstage celebrating their wins tonight. Charly Caruso came up wanting to speak to Rousey and Natalya left. She was asked about Charlotte Flair and Ronda replied saying ‘Payback’s a bitch, and I’m the baddest woman on the planet’ … OH MY WORD IT’S HAPPENING GUYS!!!

Another Royal Rumble PPV ad.

Dean Ambrose defeated Seth Rollins to win the Intercontinental Championship

Fine match but it went too long. Crowd were bored in parts in the middle (even gave them the “this is boring” chants) I think they all just wanted to see the main event at this stage. Both men were stiff throughout, they told a good story though and got across how personal it all was. They told the story that Rollins had a bad knee in the middle part too which they sold well. Commentary and the whole thing with Renee being the more babyface commentator but of course being married to the heel in this story made it a bit confusing and for parts of the match early on it kind of took away from the action they were discussing it so much. The match changed towards the end when Seth went to finish Dean but Ambrose put out his fist wanting to do the Shield fist bump, the crowd reacted to this and seemed interested for the later part. Rollins thought about it but then attacked Dean with a much more satanic look on his face than normal. Eventually with both men on the outside Rollins did the bucklebomb to the barricade spot on Dean (the one that injured Finn Balor at Summerslam 2016), Rollins got Ambrose back in the ring and after a verbal tirade that sounded very personal Seth went for the Curb Stomp but Dean hit him with the Dirty Deeds and DEAN AMBROSE IS THE NEW INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION. Crowd were flat at this point, but not boredom more they were in shock the heel had won. As I said fine match but went too long and that stopped it being great, cut out the middle bit and it was great. Rollins looked visibly upset at the result. Maybe this sets Rollins up to be free to win the rumble? This was like a normal match, not a grudge match and yes they were in a tough spot, but it underwhelmed massively.

**1/2

Asuka defeated Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair in a TLC match to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship

All 3 were super over from start to finish. All 3 looked badass throughout. all 3 got their moments to reek havoc. SOOOOOOOOOOOO much stuff happened in this match it was impossible to write about it all. Becky set up a ladder and put Charlotte through the announce table with a leg drop just after Asuka had moved out the way. Charlotte dove from the top and put Becky through a table on the outside. Charlotte speared Asuka through the barricade near the timekeepers area. I can only apologize because this is a terrible review of what was an exceptionally well done match but I’m very very excited right now… ok so the finish… Charlotte was in the ring climbing a ladder, Asuka came back and climbed up to her and the two brawled (Flair even touched the title belt), Becky set up a ladder next to them and once Asuka was down Charlotte lent over to brawl with Lynch on her ladder, THEN RONDA ROUSEY CAME OUT AND PUSHED THE LADDER WITH FLAIR AND LYNCH ON AND THEN SHE LEFT. WITH THEM BOTH DOWN ASUKA CLIMBED UP THE ORIGINAL LADDER AND ASUKA GRABBED THE TITLE!!!!!!! ASUKA IS THE NEW SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPION. THAT’S A GRETA THING BUT THE INVOLVEMENT OF RONDA BASICALLY CONFIRMS WE ARE GETTING SOME FORM OF RONDA/BECKY/CHARLOTTE MATCH AT WRESTLEMANIA SURELY!? WOW OH WOW. Somehow Asuka got a massive pop taking everyone’s favourite Becky Lynch’s title.

****3/4

An OK show, with an amazing main event and finish. And I always say shows are remembered for their main events, so maybe people will remember this show for better than it actually was. It was an average show with a great great main event.

Josh.

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