This year the TLC Pay Per View was all built on one match: the unification of both the WWE Title and the World Heavyweight Title. A match eleven years in the making, it was only fitting that it not simply be a normal match. One of this magnitude, like all other matches of extraordinary importance was contested under special rules, in this case (as the title would suggest) a TLC match. It stands as one of my favourite types of matches of all time and the one thing that has endured is the unpredictable nature of such a match, something this main event had a lot of, but more on that later.
3 on 1 Handicap Match: CM Punk vs. The Shield
This was the first match of the evening seeing CM Punk take on the entire team of the Shield, one of the most dominant and impressive teams in a great many years. That match started as one would expect, with Punk’s emotion getting him an early advantage. But as we’ve seen, the power game of Roman Reigns started to wear down Punk in the ring. With that advantage, the Shield used sound tag team strategy, keeping Punk in their corner and using multiple tags to keep each man fresh. When Punk found himself on the outside of the ring, Reigns attempted his devastating spear on the outside, missed, and went sailing into the announce table narrowly missing Cole in the process and injuring his eye. While he was being attended to by the ring doctor, Punk almost defeated Dean Ambrose with the Anaconda Vice submission and with the top rope elbow drop. Then when attempting the GTS finisher on Ambrose, Punk was interrupted by Rollins who then suffered the GTS himself. By now Reigns had re-entered the ring and again attempted to spear Punk, but missed and hit Ambrose by accident allowing Punk to pick up a victory with the odds stacked against him.
Divas Championship: Natalya vs. A.J. Lee
During the pre-match interview, A.J. was once again talking trash about the other Divas generally saying how she is better. Early in the match Natalya was using her submission talents to earn an advantage over the champion, but constant distractions from Tamina on the outside gave A.J. a lot of help. This ultimately led to Natalya finding herself caught in the Black Widow submission, but was able to counter it. When she attempted her second Sharpshooter of the match, A.J. grabbed a handful of hair and turned it into a roll-up pin, getting her the win.
Intercontinental Championship: Damien Sandow vs. Big E. Langston
Before the match, Sandow got on the microphone and proceeded to make fun of the crowd, essentially referring to them as country rubes (he didn’t use that word but I’m trying to bring it back) since they were in Texas. Langston’s power game got him an advantage early on, but Sandow turned it around with the help of the ring post, and he got several near falls out of it. In the end Sandow did all he could, but when Langston lowered them straps it was all over. Langston retained his title in what I thought was a pretty good match.
Tag Team Championship: Real Americans, Rey Mysterio and Big Show, Rybaxel, and the Rhodes Brothers
This was a Fatal Four-way elimination match for the titles, so simply put, when a member of the team is pinned, that team is eliminated. The first to be eliminated was the team of Ryback and Curtis Axel, known as Rybaxel, a team name I hate more every time I hear it (thanks JBL). With them out of the way, it was time for the Real Americans to shine, specifically Antonio Cesaro who got to show off his impressive strength. When he hit the Cesaro Swing on Goldust, he got quite the ovation, and Cody had to save the match for his team. After Goldust had been isolated for quite a while, with Cody on the floor, he tagged in Big Show who then delivered the knock-out punch to both Cesaro and Swagger, which saw them eliminated. It was now time for Rey Mysterio to enter the match and go on a flurry of offense. After Big Show went head first into the ring post, Mysterio attempted a 619 on Cody, who managed to counter into the Cross Roads finisher, retaining their titles. Personally I would like to have seen the Real American win the tag titles, because I think it’s about time they had one. I feel they’ve been slightly underutilized and that we as an audience would all benefit from hearing Zeb Colter talk a little bit more.
R-Truth vs. Brodus Clay
This match was a result of Brodus Clay’s slow heel turn as a result of Xavier Woods (who accompanied Truth to the ring) stealing his gimmick. Tensai kept interrupting the match to try to reason with Brodus, which lead to Tensai and the Funkadactyls leaving the ring and the distraction lead to a roll-up pin by Truth for the win.
The Miz vs. Kofi Kingston
This “impromptu” match came on the heels of a fight between the two during the pre-show when the Miz, as part of the expert panel, used his opportunity to trash talk Kingston. Kingston came out, it came to fisticuffs, and this match was made. Kofi went for Trouble In Paradise on the outside and accidentally kicked the ring post instead of Miz, giving Miz an extended advantage. At one point Miz exposed the turnbuckle, but it came back to bite him when Kingston sent him head first into the turnbuckle and hitting the Trouble In Paradise on the second try, earning Kingston a win. I was hoping this rivalry would see either Kingston or Miz turn heel, because honestly, they aren’t doing anything else. Kingston usually gets beat up in every match, which is fine for a time, but after a while it gets old. Time will tell where this story line goes.
3 on 1 Handicap Match: Daniel Bryan vs. The Wyatt Family
This match comes off the heels of Daniel Bryan being asked to join the Wyatt Family, an offer he refused. This match saw Bryan get beaten down for pretty much the entire thing. He did his best to fight back with his kicks, but overall he had very little offense until the closing moments of the match. When it all started to break down, Bryan was able to separate all three Wyatts, got some more kicks in, dove through the ropes to send Harper into the announce table. When Bryan attempted the Yes Lock, Bray Wyatt was able to use his strength to counter into his finisher, earning the Wyatt’s a win. I found this match to be quite entertaining, including a crab walk by Bray Wyatt and several more attempts at recruiting Bryan. I would love to see Bryan join the Wyatt family. He already has the facial hair to match them and if he isn’t going to be in the title hunt anymore, then he needs to do something. Also they could call themselves the Bryatt Family (maybe not the best name but still better than Rybaxel).
Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match for the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships: John Cena vs. Randy Orton
This match was “11 years in the making” (in quotations since that statement was uttered constantly) and saw two of the biggest names square off. The match itself was back and forth. Both men had advantages with ladders and chairs (the tables would come into play later in the match). Both took turns getting beat with a steel chair and hit with a ladder. Orton was the first man to go through the table set up on the outside, but recovered quick enough to knock Cena off the ladder and hit the RKO. When the match went outside again, Cena hit Orton twice in the head with the steel steps, but Orton again recovered and went all Brad Maddox on Cena and beat him in the head with the microphone. He then attempted the patented Punt, but Cena countered into an Attitude Adjustment through the Spanish announce table (you’d think those guys would learn to sit somewhere else). Cena then climbed the ladder to the belts and got high enough to grab the apparatus holding the belts up when Orton recovered again and took the ladder out from under Cena leaving him suspended in the air. After Orton hit a dangling Cena with a chair to knock him down, Cena recovered enough to spear Orton through the table leaning in the corner of the ring. After Orton had again put Cena on the ground, he went outside the ring and produced a set of handcuffs and cuffed Cena to the bottom rope. Orton had all but won, but Cena was able to unscrew the rope from the ring post, climbed the ladder with the rope in tow, and hit Orton in the head knocking him off the ladder. Orton regained his composure before Cena could grab the belts and pulled Cena off the ladder with the rope to land head first into the other table leaning in the corner. This allowed Randy Orton to ascend the ladder and grab both title belts and become the Unified Champion.
I thought this was a pretty entertaining pay-per-view. Sure the Brodus Clay match didn’t really belong here and the Miz-Kingston match felt more like something I’d see on RAW, but the matches moved along smoothly without much filler in between (something I’d gotten used to). Personally I was very happy with the end of the main event, although I thought for sure something, anything, was going to happen to affect the outcome of the match. It was a clean match all the way through and never eased off the suspense meter. Up next is my favourite event of the year, the Royal Rumble and I look forward to seeing what comes next as the Road to Wrestlemania begins.