Monday, December 5, 2016

WWE TLC Review

December 4th, 2016 | American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas

The recent trend of not announcing the Kickoff match beforehand continued. Smackdown threw as many midcard guys in as possible when Apollo Crews, American Alpha and the Hype Bros joined forces to take on the Vaudevillains, the Ascension and Curt Hawkins. This was your typical multi-man tag match, with American Alpha, Mojo’s dancing and Apollo’s baldness were highlights. AA got the win for their team with Grand Amplitude on Simon Gotch at 12:02 (**¾)

WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship: Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton w/ Luke Harper def. Heath Slater and Rhyno (c) in 5:52
Short and to the point. The new Wyatt Family has revitalized both Bray and Randy and it is the most interesting run for either guy in years. For the most part, this was a standard tag match but what put it over the hump and made it stand out to me was the interactions between the Wyatts. They again played into the Wyatts being willing to sacrifice themselves for one another when Harper took a Gore for Randy. Rhyno went inside and stopped at the sight of Bray’s weird crab walk. Orton snuck in with the RKO and they won the titles. After the match, Bray and Randy put the titles on Harper’s shoulders and they all posed. If this means the Freebird rule for the Wyatts, I’m all for it. A fun sprint that did what it needed to and the right team won. I can’t ask for much more. ***

No Disqualifications: Nikki Bella def. Carmella in 7:56
It was a small touch, but Nikki Bella having her hair braided so it wouldn’t get pulled in a scrap added to this. Both women had their hands taped as well. Their main weapon of choice throughout this was a kendo stick, which adds to the fact that the Falls Count Anywhere match on Raw shouldn’t have happened since they used that weapon too. Carmella continued to excel in her heel role, while Nikki did a good job of garnering sympathy. She pulled a Charlotte and stopped selling the leg work during her comeback, which was unfortunate. Nikki went into the longest fire extinguisher spray spot in history before winning with the Rack Attack 2.0. Good intensity, though it did lack at some points. I think it was partially hurt by there being another similar match on Monday. **¾

After the match, Carmella revealed that she knows it was Natalya who attacked Nikki. Why not have Natalya show up and cost Nikki the match then? Also, in classic WWE timing, they immediately go to a commercial where Natalya helps a fan propose. Good going.

WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: The Miz (c) w/ Maryse def. Dolph Ziggler in 25:10
At Backlash and No Mercy, these two had their best matches ever and the rivalry made me care about Dolph again. I think it has gone on too long but this was the final encounter. While I think this match was good, it wasn’t on the level of their previous two PPV ones. It felt like they weren’t entirely sure what kind of ladder match they wanted to have. At some points it felt like they were going for a big spot kind and at other points it felt like a grudge match style one. There were times where it felt like it was dragging and other times where it was awesome. Again, I think Miz was the star, stealing Daniel Bryan taunts and offense throughout. He finally used some low blows to get free enough to retain in a good but not great match. ***¼

Miz cut a post-match promo cutting down Dolph, Daniel Bryan and Dallas for being losers.

Chairs Match: Baron Corbin def. Kalisto in 12:51
I know there isn’t much competition, but this was far and away the best chairs match ever. I still don’t exactly get the point of this stipulation but Corbin and Kalisto were out to show that they could use chairs in a creative way. Kalisto was awesome here, flying all over the place and playing the resilient underdog very well. Corbin continues to do a great job in his role, bullying Kalisto at every opportunity. Both men showed a mean streak and we got some cool moments like a Kalisto rana spike onto chairs and Corbin’s deep six onto the floor. In the end, Kalisto got caught with the End of Days onto a pile of chairs as Corbin won the best match of either man’s WWE careers. ***½

WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship Tables Match: Alexa Bliss def. Becky Lynch (c) in 15:07
Like the chairs match, it can be hard to have a good tables match. These two did well and continued to show that the women of Smackdown are consistently solid. Becky attacked right away, fitting into the storyline. I think they did a good job of keeping the match personal while also building towards the suspense of the eventual table spot to end things. There were some smart moments, like Alexa not being able to counter Becky so she flipped the table over instead. This included some creativity at points that I enjoyed. My favorite thing was how the eye rake played into the finish. On Talking Smack this past week, Miz pointed out that the eye rake could prove fatal since it worked on Becky on Smackdown. It did here as Alexa used it to open a powerbomb off the apron spot through a table that won her the title. I think Becky should have had a longer reign but Alexa has been great since the draft so it’s all good. ***¼
WWE World Championship TLC Match: AJ Styles (c) def. Dean Ambrose in 31:01
Wisely, this was another match that began with brawling. These guys hate each other and this is how it should be. AJ Styles again starred here, taking insane bumps. Dean set up a ladder on top of an announce table and then put AJ through the other table with a big elbow off it. AJ would top that with an insane springboard 450 splash through a table outside. How AJ walked after that is beyond me. Dean did his part but this felt like the AJ Styles show. They beat each other up without many slow points despite this going for over half an hour. When it looked like AJ would win, James Ellsworth came out and distracted him. Dean hit AJ with Dirty Deeds on the steps and had an opening to win. AJ did his best Roman Reigns and got up almost instantly from that big spot. He was still knocked off the ladder only for Ellsworth to turn on Dean and tilt the ladder over, sending him through tables. AJ recovered and retrieved the title to retain. I wish we got more of a clean finish but it did make sense within the story they’ve been telling for weeks. Delusional Ellsworth on Talking Smack after this was a highlight. I wish AJ would have sold the Dirty Deeds more too. Still, this was fantastic up until those parts in the end. ****

Overall: 8/10. Smackdown is three for three in enjoyable PPVs since the split. Not a single thing on the show was bad as the lowest score I gave was **¾ for the kickoff and No DQ matches. Corbin and Kalisto exceeded expectations, while the Wyatt Family is more interesting than ever before. Miz and Ziggler had a good match, as did Alexa and Becky. AJ Styles delivered another top notch PPV performance as well. Smackdown continues to take things that shouldn’t work (Ellsworth, a three month Carmella/Nikki feud, Slater & Rhyno, Randy Wyatt, etc.) and it all comes together so well.

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