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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders, Chairs And Stairs.
Best: Luke Harper And Dolph Ziggler Just Mindlessly Hurting Themselves
The show’s opener and best match in a walk was the Intercontinental Championship ladder match between challenger Dolph Ziggler and cursed loser champion Luke Harper. No shade on Harper, you just have to preface every IC champ with “cursed loser champion” now. These guys figuratively and sorta-literally murdered themselves falling off of/into ladders, and every step forward in re-legitimizing Ziggler as a main-event-level fan favorite is worth praising. The guy’s got the best Fire Up in the company as long as Bryan’s injured, and watching his body shake all crazy while he uses the crowd’s reaction to sorta puppeteer himself up to his feet and climb a ladder was great.
That said, there are still a few problems.
1. There’s no story. Zero. They both want to be Intercontinental Champion, I guess, even though Harper hasn’t won a match since winning it and Ziggler saved the entire company and out-Cena’d John Cena on TEAM JOHN CENA a few weeks ago. They’re just hitting each other with shit and hurting themselves. There’s a place for that in wrestling, sure, but the announcers playing it up like it’s this legendary Savage/Steamboat thing was a little much. Schiavone-esque, you could say.
2. When we say “spotfest,” this is what we mean. At one point Ziggler’s on the outside holding up a ladder, and Harper just suicide dives into the ladder for no reason. It’s a cool spot, but he had a good 10 seconds of staring at a propped up ladder before deciding to blindly leap into it and almost break his arm. Many of the big moments were just Ziggler being on a ladder, Harper pushing it over and Ziggler doing one of those dangerous falls where he clips the ropes with his arm. Those look bad, don’t get a big enough reaction from the crowd to justify the danger AND probably hurt worse than the stuff that does. Guys shouldn’t be leaving a match with bloody armpits.
So yeah, I certainly didn’t think it was bad — it made me optimistic for the rest of the show and that “roster stepping up” rumor — but it wasn’t something I’d put on my Best Matches Of Anything list, or something I’ll remember by this time in January. Here’s to hoping the “Road To WrestleMania” features something other than Ziggler losing clean to whomever he’s wrestling at Royal Rumble, and everything after.
Best: Jimmy Uso Busting Out The Tequila Sunrise
Late in the match, Jimmy hooks Miz in the Tequila Sunrise. You may remember it as Konnan’s submission finish in WCW. WWE’s so bad at this point that “wrestler does wrestling move” is worth a Best. The announce team flips out, too, yelling WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU SAW THE USOS GO FOR A SUBMISSION HOLD, which sounded a lot like WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU SAW PEOPLE IN THE TAG TEAM DIVISION DO SOMETHING BESIDES PUNCH AND JUMP AND KICK AND ROLL EACH OTHER UP?
Worst: Seriously, YOU Try Making Jokes About This Show
The running joke in our predictions post and open discussion thread was that TLC was just a Sunday episode of Raw. To emphasize that, WWE followed a pretty good ladder match with an Usos vs. Miz/Mizdow tag match that ends in a DQ. If you didn’t expect Cole to cut to break every time they left the ring, you weren’t paying attention.
That’s the new joke. It really was Raw. Nothing mattered. The IC title changed hands, but that happens a lot, and the champion never wins. Cena could’ve lost his #1 contendership, but nope, he didn’t. He’s fine. He’s still wrestling Lesnar. All the other champions retained. They’re using a Raw set covered in props and the WWE World Heavyweight Champion isn’t here. Swagger/Rusev and Ryback/Kane made the show. There were four notable boring chants and one “N-X-T,” which should replace “JBL” as the “we’re wanking at what you’re giving us” chant gesture.
Seriously, this is just a Raw match. Mizdow is funny and The Usos do one (1) new move. It’s Malibu Stacy with a new hat. NXT Takeover is Lisa Lionheart. I want to come up with funny observations and jokes and have you compliment for me for being a great writer or whatever, but I’m just sitting here with my thumb up my ass like the rest of you.
Best: Anatomy Of The Stairs
I didn’t know aluminum was a “high steel alloy.”
I had to go into full, disaffected hipster mode to enjoy this show, so ANATOMY OF THE STAIRS might’ve been my favorite part. You know a stipulation isn’t dangerous when you’ve got to make a powerpoint explaining why it is. I wish they’d gone farther with it. “STAIRS ARE MADE OF CRYSTALIZED LAVA. HIT THEM TOO HARD AND YOU WILL BE BURNED TO DEATH. STAIRS WEIGH 60,OOO POUNDS EACH AND ONLY A NOBLE MAN MAY LIFT THEM.” I also would’ve enjoyed “TOP OF STAIRS IS A BOY, BOTTOM IS A GIRL.” It’s a praying mantis situation. When they’re done mating, John Cena runs into them shoulder-first and knocks them apart.
Worst: Every Match Is Identical
The rules of a Stairs Match are “you can use stairs” and literally nothing else. You can throw people into the stairs in normal matches, and the Stairs Match featured very little of people actually picking up stairs and striking each other with them. Other than that, it’s just a No DQ match. You know what else is a No DQ match? A chairs match. A TLC match. The only difference in a ladder match and a tables match is the finish. If you use a table in a chairs match you don’t get DQ’d, if you use a ladder in a tables match you’re fine. That’s the downside to doing a pay-per-view where all the matches are gimmicked … after a while, the gimmick stops being important. It all runs together. It’s why TNA having a pay-per-view where every match is a cage match is one of the stupidest ideas in wrestling ten years running.
Also, it’s a f*cking Stairs Match. No matter how many times you call it the HISTORIC FIRST-EVER STAIRS MATCH, it’s two guys who are only having a stairs match because you said they were going to, built by a bunch of stair attacks that wouldn’t exist without the booking. So now they’re in here avoiding non-stairs weapons because they don’t want to expose it. It’s a Möbius strip of bad wrestling booking.
Worst: They Don’t Even Know How To Have The Match
Show ends up lying on some steps in the middle of the ring, so Rowan grabs additional steps and tries to come off the ropes and crush him. Show moves out of the way, and Rowan hits stairs with stairs. They’re stairs, so they don’t like, bounce back and hit him in the face, but I guess they were supposed to (?) so he just falls down, rolls out of the ring and gets into place in front of the stair wall Show’s supposed to spear him through. Show rolls out of the ring, wanders over and spears him through the wall. They very clearly have no idea how to organically get from Point A to Point B, so they’re just doing it. It’s embarrassing.
Show ends up knocking Rowan out and goes for a cover, then remembers he’s supposed to GIMMICK COVER him. He gets up, retrieves some stairs, puts them over Rowan’s waist and kneels on his chest to prevent the kickout. That’d be a cool enough visual if he’d done it in desperation, but he just knocked the dude out and was gonna pin him anyway. Instead of “wow, this guy’s tough, I need to stop him with something extreme,” it played as, “whoops, forgot I have to do a dumb stairs thing.”
Worst: John Cena As Booked By Hulk Hogan
So hey, spoiler alert, John Cena won. Derp. Derp-dee derp. Derp.
The problem is how overbooked it was. The f*cking life rafts on the Titanic weren’t as overbooked as this match. Cena effortlessly wins the match with an Attitude Adjustment off the ropes through a table, but the referee’s down and doesn’t see it. That causes J&J Security to attack, which they should’ve been doing the entire match because it’s No DQ. Instead of just pulling Rollins out of the table wreckage, knocking Cena down and dragging him in so the referee wakes up and says “oh, John Cena went through a table,” they try to put him through a different one. This doesn’t work because JOHN CENA, and Cena puts them both through a table at the same time. Think John looks really really strong yet?
Rollins pulls Cena to the outside and tries to put him through the announce table, but Cena no-sells, counters and Attitude Adjusts ROLLINS onto it. It doesn’t break. I don’t know if this was supposed to be the finish or what, but that causes them to launch into this Bret Hart and Lex Luger Royal Rumble bit where they hug each other and hop off the apron through a table. That ends the match, but referees disagree on who went through first, so it gets restarted. So after winning the match 2-4 times AND a non-finish, Cena’s about to win time number three or four or five when Big Show wanders out. That brings out Roman Reigns, and Show just stops beating up Cena to watch Roman walk all the way down through the crowd and slowly enter the ring. Roman easily dispatches Show AND Rollins, and Cena puts Rollins through the 700th table for the win.
Then the Pitbulls come out, and Stevie Richards shows up in the crows nest to … I don’t know. Seems like a long way to go to say “John Cena defies the odds and is #1 contender.” That’s the story you’ve been telling since August. August of 2004.
Best: Michael Cole’s Death Sell
Best: Roman Reigns Looks Really Strong!
The good news is that Roman looked great when he got in the ring. It’s the formula that works for him. Seth Rollins carries a match, Roman shows up at the end to hit some cool stuff and win the match.
Unfortunately, this was not the last we saw of Roman Reigns. BLEEDAaaT?
I told … the whole world last month at Survivor Series that I’d be back! But I knew that I wouldn’t just be back, nah man, I’d be back to make an impact. Spearin’ Big Show through a table … punching Seth Rollins in the mouth, now that’s impact. And I’m here right now to be the first man to deglare, declare … at the Royal Rumble match…
[hamster wheel turns]
[Renee checks her watch]
[Triple H dumps entire box of brass rings in garbage]
You think I destroyed in last year’s Rumble? Wait to see what I do in this years one.
Worst: WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders, Chairs, Stairs, Guardrails And Hairspray
Last month, the Divas Championship match ended when Brie Bella distracted AJ, allowing Nikki to sneak attack her and hit a Rack Attack for the win. Guess what happens this month? Brie Bella distracts AJ, allowing Nikki to sneak attack her and hit a Rack Attack for the win, only this time it involves Nikki giving AJ what WWE.com’s calling “chemical conjunctivitis” by spraying her in the eyes with hairspray. It’s also apparently knockout gas, because AJ sells it like she’s been hit by a truck.
It’s around this point in the show when the buzz from the ladder match has worn off, and it just straight-up feels like we’re in hour two of Raw. We’ve even got Florida Georgia Line popping in to tell us how proud they are of The Troops. They should let Todd Chrisley interview people backstage and stop pretending they haven’t made me write 5000 new words every Monday for six f*cking months about the same bad episode of Raw. If this is the roster “stepping up,” I’m gonna politely ask the roster to step to the side.
Brie Bella looked nice in her Taylor Swift cosplay, I guess. I think she’s stealing Daniel Bryan’s youth. He’s a ghoul and she every week she looks a little more like Selena Gomez. There’s gotta be a connection.
Worst: Staring Directly At The Screen May Cause Drowsiness
This match was the shits.
Random thoughts on a show full of gimmick matches:
– If you’re doing a ____ Match, the finish should have something to do with the blank. If you’re doing a ladder match, the finish is climbing up a ladder. In a tables match, the finish is a guy going through a table. The finish to the “stairs match” was a punch, followed by Big Show lazily calling a lateral press audible to involve the stairs. Kane and Ryback didn’t even do that. They just aimlessly hit each other with chairs for a while, did some bad spots (like the weak spinebuster “through” the chairs that was just Kane’s butt tipping one over) and Ryback hit his finish. Couldn’t you have a least done it on a chair? Give us a payoff here. We don’t know why you’re having a chairs match anyway. Most of us didn’t remember you were wrestling at all.
– The placement of these matches is horrible. You can’t have Dolph Ziggler falling off a 20-foot ladder (which he has learned how to do, somehow) and follow it with two slow guys playing with stair legos. You can’t see how bored the crowd is and say “sure, Ryback and Kane, go out there for 10 minutes and make it worse.” You’ve either gotta reschedule some shit or call it off. Part of your role as a producer and promoter is to pay attention to what’s happening, and not be so stubbornly confident that you go through the motions of what you’d planned at the expense of your crowd.
– A “chairs match” is dumb. It’s a No DQ match, just like the stairs match. You don’t have to do one of these because you’ve got a novelty pay-per-view. The concept of a chairs match peaked with Big Show’s giant chair anyway, you can’t improve upon it.
– The best part of the match by a mile:
– Never let this match happen again.
Best?: Rusev vs. Swagger, I Guess
Speaking of NEVER LET THIS MATCH HAPPEN AGAIN, Jack Swagger is still trying to beat Rusev, failing and letting down America six months later. There is no reason for them to be wrestling here, especially on pay-per-view. ESPECIALLY after the previous two “fight for America” guys turned heel and the only one left’s the jingoist anti-immigration jock.
The sad thing is that the match wasn’t bad. It was short, Rusev looked strong (not Roman Strong, but strong) and continued to excel at selling on offense. I really love what Rusev does in the ring, and he understands a lot about wrestling his peers don’t. If he wasn’t a brownish guy with an accent and a Bulgaria on his shoulder he’d probably be Sami Zayn. Still though, if the rumors of what he’s gonna do on Monday night are true, we’ve got four more months of enjoying our beautiful secret babyface adopted Russian.
(You know, until he gets John all over him.)
That was last Sunday.
Worst: Dean Ambrose Is The Dumbest Person In The Entire World
We have to have a talk about Dean Ambrose.
Since The Shield broke up, Dean has been super, super stupid. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a good wrestler or not “cool” or whatever, his character is just the dumbest thing we’ve seen since Backstage Interviewer Maria. Seriously, pay attention to what he’s doing. He’s bailing on shows to steal hot dog carts and beat people up with mustard. He’s being tricked by smokey ghost holograms. He’s threatening a guy by beating up a dressed-up mannequin with tools and is not only being commanded to do things by sentient under-the-ring televisions, he’s letting them explode in his face. This guy, Dean Ambrose The Character, is stupid as shit.
That’s going to cause an “AWW HATER ARGLE BLARGE” thing amongst people who can’t (or won’t) pay attention, but Jesus Christ, enough with this. The TLC match should be two crazy guys destroying each other, and while there are aspects of that, it’s just two guys with no momentum and basic, pre-whatever’s-happening-on-the-shows popularity just kinda farting around in circles until they hit each other. None of it makes sense. Why did Dean Ambrose hit three elbow drops off the tops of ladders? Why did he find a PLUGGED IN TELEVISION AIRING THE PAY-PER-VIEW FEED under the ring, and why did the announce team think ANY explanation of that would work? “Oh this is for our production guys,” who I guess are working diligently from under the ring. Unless Warrior and Curt Hennig and Hornswoggle are down there, there shouldn’t be a PLUGGED IN, WWE NETWORK READY TELEVISION. If they’d shown Ambrose actually go under the ring and remove the TV from Little People’s Court I might’ve allowed it.
And yeah, Dean tries to hit Bray with the television and can’t, because it’s plugged in. So instead of removing those audio visual cords, dude tries it again. The TV unplugs, causing it to EXPLODE IN ELECTRICAL SPARKS AND SMOKE, which is of course what happens when you unplug a television. Bray Wyatt, master manipulator, wins yet another match by dumb f*cking luck and literally nothing he’s actually done. Did he PLANT the TV there? Did he expect Ambrose to use it from that corner, and to not know how cords work? Is that why the TV playing the PPV suddenly cut over to the stage to show Ambrose the tall ladder, even though there’s no possible explanation for the production team cutting over there and showing it?
I keep trying to do the “I’ll be positive” gimmick, but if you watched this and thought it was cool, holy shit. I wish I could see the world like you do. Instead, I see WWE asking me to cheer for the more ignorant fictional human beings ever created, and a bunch of dumb side-picking instead of actually addressing any of the things that make this so ignorant. I’m embarrassed by this. I’m tired of being embarrassed by wrestling. If you’re going to embarrass me, at least do it in the “guys fake fighting in their underpants” ways we’re used to, where the people who don’t get it just don’t get it. Don’t make the people who don’t get seem right.
Join us on Monday night for this same show, but with Royal Rumble commercials.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
♫ R-evolution is a mystery
A small show that no one sees.
NXT makes a fool of WWE .
Takeover’s so long ago, don’t agree with what I just saw ♫
That Ziggler kid has some potential, though. Maybe we’ll see him called up to NXT next month.
That was the Roman Reigns promo of PPVs.
I really could have used an exploding TV 3 hours ago.
C3NA-L3SNAR: ONC3 IN A LIFE3TIM3
Zayn vs. Neville had heart, but Kane throwing a chair in Ryback’s face had Kane throwing a chair in Ryback’s face.
Jesus Christ Roman.
You had like four months to prepare for that.
Cena’s not in the main event? It truly is a new day…no no no! Kofi, E, Xavier, get the f*ck back to the locker room.
We’re done with Astaire match. Next up: the Ginger Rogers Battle Royale.
“Don’t worry, Dolph. You’re not busted open. It’s just a fatty deposit” – Doc at ringside.
Only four days until NXT, everybody.