Sunday, August 28, 2016

Random Network Reviews: TLC 2011

TLC 2011
December 18th, 2011 | 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore, Maryland | Attendance: 9,000

During the summer of 2011, CM Punk was the hottest thing in the wrestling world. He won the WWE Championship but that was then ruined by a terrible angle with Kevin Nash and Triple H. The month before this event, they fixed that situation somewhat by putting the belt back on him. Of note here, this is the only Pay-Per-View I can think of that didn’t feature John Cena when he was completely healthy. This would be the third TLC event in history.

The opening video package focuses on the big matches on the show, set to a Christmas themed rhyme.

WWE United States Championship
Dolph Ziggler (c) w/ Vickie Guerrero vs. Zack Ryder

Here we are at the peak of the “Ryder Revolution.” A month earlier, there were “We Want Ryder” chants in MSG while the Rock of all people was talking. That’s being over. The crowd is into it as Ryder sends Dolph outside rather early and then somersaults onto him. Dolph comes back with a DDT on the apron that looks pretty lame. The heart stopper elbows follow for two. Dolph is so good at the Showoff role, but he doesn’t draw enough heat. He busts out an Angle slam for two. Ryder starts to rally with a second rope dropkick and the Broski Boot. It was one of those corny moves that was over like crazy. Vickie puts Dolph’s foot on the bottom rope and gets ejected. After trading rollups, Dolph hits the Fameasser for two. Ryder is pulling out all of the stops, using a top rope rana for a near fall. The Rough Ryder is countered into a rollup. Dolph goes for the Stinger Splash but Ryder blocks it with knees and hits the Rough Ryder. He gets the 1-2-3 and the place explodes.

Winner and New WWE United States Champion: Zack Ryder in 10:24
Here is an example of the perfect storm. Zack Ryder was incredibly over and it came at a time where Dolph Ziggler could afford the loss. This is kind of what you want from an opener. The crowd was FULLY invested and they had a good match, while not overdoing anything. The match gets elevated a bit by the molten hot crowd. ***¼

Zack Ryder celebrates with the fans, including his father, who is front row in full Ryder gear. Cutting backstage, Booker T is getting hyped up with Alicia Fox. Cody Rhodes appears to attack him before their match.

WWE Tag Team Championship
AirBoom (c) vs. Primo and Epico w/ Rosa Mendes

These are two really solid tag teams, so this should be good. Primo is an underrated favorite of mine. He tries to monkey flip Kofi Kingston, but he lands on his feet and does one to Primo. AirBoom does a double team which reminds me of how good they were. Primo and Epico star to work a heat on Evan Bourne, while Rosa Mendes shouts her terrible Spanish at ringside. Epico does a cool series of suplexes for two. Kofi gets the hot tag and does his thing, taking out both of his challengers. He hits the Boom Drop, but not Trouble in Paradise. Bourne runs in and leaps out onto Epico on the outside. Primo charges but Kofi dodges, sending him into the ropes and he rebounds into Trouble in Paradise. To end this.

Winners and Still WWE Tag Team Champions: AirBoom in 7:32
Disappointing. I feel like AirBoom had potential to be a staple of the tag team division if they would have stayed together. You would barely guess that here. It was technically fine, but the fact that Primo and Epico weren’t really over hurt the heat of the match. Add in that it didn’t get enough time to fully build to that heat, and you have a match that lacked. **

We get told that Booker vs. Cody may now be off. Cut to Teddy Long dressed as Santa and Hornswoggle dressed as an elf. It wasn’t really good.

Tables Match
Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett

It’s our first specialty match of the evening. I find it weird seeing Wade Barrett with relatively long hair. They trade shots until the first table comes into play. Orton kind of see-saws it into his face before they fight towards the entrance. Wade tries a pumphandle slam through a table but it’s too early so Orton counters. Wade instantly throws the table over, which is a little touch that I like. He wants to make sure he doesn’t lose this thing. Back towards the ring and Barrett is in control. He big boots Orton off the apron but Orton wisely grabs the ropes so he doesn’t fall through the table. They now battle on the apron, which builds tension but it just ends with Orton hitting his signature DDT. Wade connects on the Bossman slam to get back in the driver’s seat. Wade just slams a table onto Orton. They put like 100 of them around the ring but breaking one would end this. Wade lays Orton on a table and climbs to the second rope. He leaps off, only for Orton to catch him with an RKOOUTTANOWHERE through the table.

Winner: Randy Orton in 10:16
I honestly expected this to be pretty bad but I actually liked it. Most tables matches are dull and don’t really involve attempts to win. This managed to keep my interest and they did some smart little things to show that they didn’t want to go through a table and build some tension with it. ***

The Bella Twins are sitting on Teddy Long’s lap arguing. When Teddy tries to HOLLA, they get peeved and slap him. The acting is poor. Jack Swagger comes in to complain and then Sheamus shows up. They get in each other’s face and Teddy books an impromptu match as an early Christmas gift. That’s not what I wanted dude.

WWE Divas Championship
Beth Phoenix (c) vs. Kelly Kelly

The previous Monday, Kelly slapped Beth at the Slammy’s, so Beth dares her to do it again. Kelly does and then bulldogs her off the ring apron. Interesting start. Inside, she does the flying head scissors that all Divas are taught. Beth gets pissed and decides to quit playing around. Beth uses her power and Kelly escapes to score some flash pin near falls. Stop me if you’ve heard this match layout before. Beth actually tries to change things up a bit with a leg drop off the top and misses. Kelly botches her next move and Beth just catches her for the Glam Slam. Kelly counters it with a rollup, which she does so much but it isn’t enough. She tries a rana but Beth catches her with an alley-oop to retain.

Winner and Still WWE Divas Champion: Beth Phoenix in 5:14
2011 featured a fair amount of Kelly in Divas Title matches and most of them were bad. This may have been the worst. They faced off a bunch of times and each time, they ran the same story with the same moves for the most part. ¾*

Alberto Del Rio and Miz trade insults backstage since their partnership to take out CM Punk is over now that the match is tonight. It ends with Ricardo Rodriguez getting knocked down with food in his face.

Booker T comes out for his match, trying to be a trooper. Cody Rhodes attacks again and lays out Booker in the aisle until officials help the Booker man.

Sledgehammer Ladder Match
Kevin Nash vs. Triple H

Kevin Nash and Ladder Match don’t really go hand in hand. He pounds on Triple H to start and they spill outside. The brawl continues out there, with Nash using the ladder as a weapon. Nash is targeting Triple H’s neck, while Hunter goes after Nash’s legs. Every shot looks rough since I know that Nash’s legs are basically made of glass. He applies a figure four in the ladder, which is rather creative actually though I don’t think it really adds to the move. Shortly after, Nash hits a side slam onto the ladder. He looks for the Jackknife though the announce table but Triple H counters. He goes for the sledgehammer but is stopped and Nash busts out a Chokeslam. After a table is set up, both guys climb the ladder and slug it out. Trips hits him with the sledgehammer, sending him through the table. Nash actually took a middle of the ladder table bump! Triple H retrieves the sledgehammer, but that’s not all it takes to win. He goes after the leg again for some reason before trying the Pedigree. Nash botches it so Triple H has to try again. He hits it and wants another. Nash tries the Kliq signal, but Triple H just ends him with a sledgehammer shot.

Winner: Triple H in 18:14
First of all, I want to give Kevin Nash props for taking the table bump, but other than that, this wasn’t anything special. It was better than I expected it to be, but it was really just two guys that got way too much time and just seemed to be cashing a paycheck. 

Backstage, CM Punk gets interviewed before getting into it with John Laurinaitis. Their rivalry would reach it’s peak over the next few months.

Jack Swagger w/ Vickie Guerrero vs. Sheamus
Michael Cole is sure to note how Sheamus won the WWE Title at TLC two years earlier. Now he’s in a throwaway match against Jack Swagger. Granted, Sheamus would win the Royal Rumble next month and Swagger would win the US Title but still. Sheamus beats on Swagger until a Vickie distraction allows the former World Champion to turn the tide. That doesn’t last long and Sheamus rallies. He goes into his offense and survives an Ankle Lock attempt before winning with the Brogue Kick.

Winner: Sheamus in 4:57
Did they not have enough matches to fill the card? This honestly served no purpose and belonged on Raw or Smackdown. Filler. 

World Heavyweight Championship Chairs Match
Mark Henry (c) vs. Big Show

I never would have thought it, but Mark Henry’s “Hall of Pain” run made him enjoyable. Easily the best work in his career. I still don’t get the concept of a Chairs match. Like, if you use a different weapon, would you get disqualified? Is it just a no DQ match with an emphasis on chairs? Anyway, Show instantly goes outside and starts tossing chairs in the ring. Henry tries to leave but Show just wails on him with a chair. Big Show is dealing with an injured hand, which Henry goes after. He does manage to hit the WMD as Henry tries a chair shot. Show sells the hurt hand and gets the three to end a nine year drought without the World Title.

Winner and New World Heavyweight Champion: Big Show in 5:30
I’ve never seen a good Chairs match and that trend continues here. It was kept short, so it has that going for it. It wasn’t bad or terrible or anything like that, it was just very “blah”. *

Mark Henry is furious and beats up Big Show during his emotional celebration, planting him with a DDT on a chair. Some fans chant “Daniel Bryan” leading to him coming out to cash in Money in the Bank!

World Heavyweight Championship
Big Show (c) vs. Daniel Bryan

Daniel Bryan literally just pins Big Show and wins.

Winner and New World Heavyweight Champion: Daniel Bryan in 0:04

Daniel Bryan celebrates the win and talks a bunch of smack to Michael Cole. The fans are pumped for this, even if it was a heelish move that started a turn for him. It was good storytelling considering how supportive how had been of Bryan in recent months.

WWE Intercontinental Championship
Cody Rhodes (c) vs. Booker T

Booker T decides to compete because he doesn’t want to go out like a sucka. No theatrics from Booker during his entrance, which is good since he’s pissed off. He is aggressive to start, but Cody knocks him off the apron with a right hand. He demands the official counts. I love seeing a heel trying to retain by any means necessary. Cody takes control for a bit leading into the double clothesline spot. There’s an old school feel to this match. Booker goes into a short burst of offense, stamped by a spinebuster. SPRINAROONIE! He looks very dazed coming out of it, selling the earlier attacks. He misses the Scissors Kick and eats the Disaster Kick but kicks out. A second Disaster Kick ends it.

Winner and Still WWE Intercontinental Champion: Cody Rhodes in 7:16
I really like both guys in this match, but this didn’t deliver the way I wanted it to. They did a good job in selling Booker’s anger and injury, but I’ve seen better from both guys. **

WWE Championship TLC Match
CM Punk (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio w/ Ricardo Rodriguez vs. The Miz

The crowd is very much behind CM Punk. He walks under the ladders during his entrance and it proves to be some bad luck early as Del Rio and Miz double team him. When it becomes time to get a ladder, their alliance quickly ends. Del Rio grabs a small ladder but Punk suicide dives into it. Inside, Miz tries to use the chair to assist in the Awesome clotheslines, but Punk moves and tries a bulldog onto it. Miz counters and hits a back suplex into it. That was a fun series of reversals. Everyone ends up brawling outside, highlighted by Punk doing his knee strike and sending Miz into the crowd. Punk tries to climb but Ricardo Rodriguez runs in and handcuffs him to the ladder. Del Rio pounds on him, but when he climbs, Punk kicks the spreader part of the ladder, which is what he was cuffed to, breaking free. Creative stuff so far. As Miz and Punk fight atop the corner, Del Rio hits an enziguri that sends Punk through a table outside. The heels fight in the aisle, where Del Rio applies the Cross Armbreaker in a ladder. It’s better than Triple H’s figure four. We continue to see the vicious side of Del Rio as he wails on Punk with a chair and then does the Cross Armbreaker INSIDE THE CHAIR! However, his climb fails as both opponents crawl over to shove the ladder over. With everyone down, Ricardo now tries to climb but Miz and Punk tilt the ladder back and he takes a massive bump through a table. Kudos to him. Since Punk only broke free from the ladder and not the cuffs, Miz cuffs him to the corner. Miz taunting Punk is great and it costs him because Punk reaches him with a big kick to the head. After some time, both heels climb with Punk looking on helplessly. He manages to unscrew the second buckle and again get free. He knocks both guys off the top before trading near grabs with Miz. He ends that with a GTS before climbing again to retrieve the gold.

Winner and Still WWE Champion: CM Punk in 18:24
That was a great way to close the show. The match was brutal at times and very smart at others. The handcuffs idea was original, creative and masterfully done. Punk’s acts of desperation to free himself were so good. Alberto Del Rio looked especially vicious throughout, Ricardo took a major bump, Miz was a great cocky heel and everything worked the way they wanted. ****

Overall: 5/10; Mediocre. I’ve seen a lot of people hold this event in high esteem due to who left the show with the titles, but it is very middle of the pack. I liked the opener and the Tables match, but everything else before the main event is either bad or just painfully average. The Daniel Bryan cash in and Zack Ryder US Title win were both feel good moments and the main event is awesome.