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Please click through to enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE TLC 2013.
Worst: We’re Just Gonna Keep Saying Shit Until You Believe Us
Originally, Chris Jericho had unified the WWF/E and WCW World Heavyweight Championships back in 2001, Triple H became the first “new” World Heavyweight Champion in 2002, and we were unifying those. It was fine, because they were the two most important titles in modern WWE over the past 10 years. That wasn’t good enough for somebody, though, so the story because “we’re unifying the WWE Championship with the WORLD Heavyweight Championship, the one that goes back to 1905,” which is its own pile of misinformation. Then Michael Cole clarified that the World Championship they mean isn’t the WCW one, because WCW didn’t exist before 1995 or whatever.
Triple H and Stephanie open the pay-per-view explaining that Lou Thesz and Buddy Rogers split the championships apart, and that for the first time in “50 years” WWE will have a unified, undisputed champion. So, uh, Chris Jericho doesn’t exist in this dojo. Also, the opening video package highlighting the belts themselves includes a clip of Booker T in WCW holding up the big gold belt, which brings us right back around to the beginning and everybody being wrong.
So let’s just change it on every show and make that the joke. On Raw, have Triple H congratulate Orton for “finally bringing the AWA and Ring of Honor World Heavyweight Championships into the WWE” and see how many people jump on Twitter to explain it. WHEN CM PUNK SIGNED HIS WWE CHAMPIONSHIP ON THE ROH TITLE IT LEFT AN IMPRINT AND THEREFORE something something Stan Hansen.
Best: CM Punk Beats The Shield By Himself And … Wait, I Liked It?
CM Punk is built like a blogger and has the natural athletic prowess of a moose, so in theory he’s got to win his matches by being smarter and more determined than his opponents. WWE rarely goes that route and instead just has him trading finishers with dudes, but I think Punk works best when he’s allowed to be smart instead of being a catty asshole to everybody and having that translate as “smart” to stupid people.
One of the reasons I’ve enjoyed The Shield so much over the last year is that they’re a machine. They’re a group of guys who realized that they were better as a team than on their own, focused up and covered their weaknesses en route to 12 months of dominance, winning the United States Championship, winning the tag team championships and beating/beating up everybody from John Cena to the Undertaker. Individually, they’re three NXT developmental chodes. None of them were great when they got brought up the main roster, but they became great by becoming SOMETHING.
So if you’re gonna run a 3-on-1 match where one super-smart guy has to take on a team of 3 that John Cena, Ryback and Sheamus couldn’t beat on an even playing field, what do you do?
I’ve been against the brewing animosity in The Shield since the first moment they started teasing it, but last night made a lot of sense to me, and helped me be okay with it. CM Punk bragged about knowing The Shield’s weakness and how to exploit it, and guess what? He did. He realized that Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins are basically off their rockers. They’re crazy and can’t succeed without a gameplan. This is why they’re always bailing on fights they could in theory easily win. They have to figure it all out. Roman Reigns is the smart, cool-headed one who serves as their exclamation point. He’s the one that wins most of their matches. The guy who topples giants and plows through four guys to give them a Survivor Series win. Punk’s idea was to incapacitate Roman and leave Ambrose and Rollins to their own devices, which would make them basically cast “berserk” on themselves and run at him for easy kicking.
It worked beautifully. The best part is that it wasn’t a matter of Punk “outsmarting” them … he simply had an intelligent blueprint for success and had it validated by incredible luck. Roman goes over the table and hurts his eye. That causes him to sit out for most of the match and be ineffective when he finally gets back in. He knows he’s supposed to run at people and kill them, but he can’t really see, and all he can hear is the crowd roaring and guys getting kneed in the face. He’s got to be an exclamation point, but he can’t find the end of the sentence. Rollins is pinballing around like a psychopath and Ambrose just gets madder and madder and crazier and wilder until he’s walking into moves and eating spears. Punk just put one and two and three together and everything fell into place for him.
What I’m getting at is that even though the 1 should probably never beat the 3 in a 3-on-1, I understood and enjoyed how they did it, and it was the polar opposite of John Cena burning through them elimination style with his jumpy shoulderblocks. Great stuff to start off the show.
Worst: Keep Your Eyeballs To Yourself, Tamina
I know Renee has to be afraid of Tamina, but why should she be? Renee’s got a lot of friends, and Tamina’s basically the least threatening lady on the roster. What’s she gonna do, pick you up and have trouble figuring out how to throw you down? OH NO YOU’RE GONNA LAND ON YOUR FEET AND THEN LIE DOWN ON ME. You can take her, Renee.
If we’re fantasy booking, all of Tamina’s dirty looks should end with her pulling Renee aside and being all, “so hey, I know this is weird and all, but do you wanna get coffee sometime? You’re adorable.” Spoiler alert: Yes, Tamina desperately needs a character beyond “knows Jimmy Snuka, owns leather pants,” but yeah, most of my Renee fantasy booking ends with people taking her out for coffee and complimenting her.
Best: AJ Lee Done Right
AJ Lee vs. Natalya was another match that surprised me, because it played out in the way that made the most sense without veering too far away from comfortable WWE tropeland.
I assumed that with Total Divas having its season finale last night and BEADLEGATE causing AJ Lee to become known as “Wrestler’s Girlfriend” to a nation of barely-interested third-parties, Natalya had it. They’ve been doing that weird thing they do with challengers where every match is 40 seconds long and ends clean with little-to-no effort to “build.” Instead of that, we got one of the most logical AJ Lee matches I’ve ever seen.
As we’ve talked about before, AJ’s got zero credible offense. She’s got about 60 pounds of weight behind everything she’s doing, and when she bumps she doesn’t make noise. That’s how avian bird syndromey she is. It’s like wrestling a ghost. So when she’s dominating and throwing clubbing forearms and shit, it’s hard to buy. Natalya’s kinda beefy and strong, but she’s usually just doing bad headlocks and spinning before throwing clotheslines. Not spinning INTO clotheslines. Spinning in place, then clotheslining. Like a Boom Drop with her arms. I hate it.
Here, AJ’s offense is all based on opportunity, and Natalya’s offense is all about throwing AJ into things with AUTHORITY. I liked Natalya a lot just throwing vicious snap suplexes and launching AJ into the barricade like a jerk. The finish was the ever-present OH NO DIVAS ROLL-UP SPECIAL, but it worked for me, because frankly the only way AJ SHOULD be able to beat Natalya in a straight-up fight is with out-of-nowhere science. Well done.
Worst: Damien Sandow’s Shirts Keep Getting Worse
I + this shirt = me not buying this shirt
Are Sandow’s shirts purposely bad? Is that part of his gimmick? The fact that he claims to be a scholar but is kind of an idiot, so he thinks wearing something you’d see in a Walmart clothing section with a big Tweety Bird affixed to it constitutes “being a smart-ass?” Can we give him something classy for once or is he gonna be this half-assed Stone Cold Damien Sandow forever?
Worst: Let’s Just Come To Terms With The Fact That Damien Sandow Is The Honky Tonk Man At Best
He’s going to be the half-assed Stone Cold Damien Sandow forever.
When we become fans of wrestlers, we want them to end up as the champion and the most popular person on the show. It’s what we do with sports teams, too. In baseball, if our team doesn’t win the World Series we complain that the owners don’t care and don’t want to invest in free agents or whatever. The pro wrestling equivalent of that is that they’re being “misused” or “held back” or “buried.”
The reality is that some baseball teams just suck, and that not every team can win the World Series all the time. In wrestling it’s not so much about whether or not the performer sucks (that has very little to do with it, because … well, you know, it’s not a real sport) but about the role they’ve been cast to play, and how they’ve been asked to play it. Back in the 80s you had these guys like Honky Tonk Man and Mr. Perfect and Ted DiBiase. Some of them were clearly superior performers to the guys on top, but they were playing parts … they were guys we were supposed to want to see fail, or guys who could make the lesser performers with the capacity to make way, way more money look like the best wrestlers in the world.
I think we need to find peace in the knowledge that guys like Sandow are probably always going to look like foolish assholes and probably never be the main event at WrestleMania (or even the third part of a “triple main event”), but that they’re going to stay employed forever because they’re good at what they do, and get to make money and be happy living their dream of being a shiny, admirable cog. I love Heath Slater. He’s better at wrestling than most people on Raw. Should he EVER win? Probably not. And that’s okay.
So yeah, watching Sandow get three’d (and not five’d) by Big E Langston was sort of a sad indicator of where his career’s going, but hey, at least he got to wrestle on pay-per-view. Dolph Ziggler doesn’t get to say that.
Best: We Just Watched Big E Langston And AJ Lee Defend Titles, And Ziggler Lost To Fandango On The Pre-Show
Maybe you shouldn’t have gotten a big head and turned on them, Zigglypuff.
Worst: Giant-Swinging Goldust Is All Well And Good, But Where’s My The Giant Swing?
Antonio Cesaro’s indirect beef with Goldust should continue at any and all times, because they’re basically the #2 and 3 best wrestlers on the show (debatably … either of them could be #1). That said, I am not okay watching Antonio Cesaro and The Big Show stand in the same ring with one another without Cesaro getting to throw him around like he’s Rey Mysterio, Swissly Death him to death and giantly-swing him around a hundred times. Because you know he CAN.
Maybe they’re saving that for WrestleMania or something, but that’s what I want. I don’t want Ryback, I don’t want Curtis Axel, I don’t want the Rhodes Brothers having to defend their titles in a thrown-together fourway featuring two teams that are just singles superstars paired up because they don’t have anything better to do. I want Cody and Goldust in a feud with a team of consequence built around a story, and I want Cesaro freak-showing the shit out of Big Show. The end.
Best: Cody Rhodes And Rey Mysterio All Day
Maybe what we need to do is get Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara* to reform CAR STEREO and go after the tag belts, because the final moments of Rey vs. Cody were OUTSTANDING. Cody’s sorta been lost in the glorious renaissance of Goldust but we shouldn’t forget that he’s an absolute top shelf pro wrestler and can go at a level few can match. HE’S the guy you need to pair up against legends in those torch-passing things they keep doing, because he’s learned all he can trouncing and being trounced by mid-carders.
If Punk didn’t seem like a such a surefire Royal Rumble winner to me I’d suggest Cody for it, both to give Cody another shot at the top and to bring that Rhodes Brothers vs. The Authority storyline back around so we can work it to its conclusion. Cody Rhodes avenging his loss to Orton earlier this year that cost him his job? Yes please. As a bonus, maybe we’d get Cody vs. Goldust for the strap at Extreme Rules.
*Yes, the Hunico version**
**Yes, I am still okay with them putting a Rey Mysterio mask on Camacho and expecting us to think it’s the same guy
Worst: When Toys Are Around, Everybody Gets Super Stupid
If you need confirmation that every WWE Superstar is just a five-year old with Big disease (or Jack disease, depending on your level of pessimism and reference of choice ), look no further than these goddamn segments where wrestlers find toys lying around and turn into dumb idiots.
I grew up with wrestling buddies. Hell, I’ve got a John Cena Brawling Buddy downstairs. I got it in my WWE 13 swag bag. I have never been like HEY YOU WANNA GO and then mindlessly jammed my toy into somebody else’s. You set them up for wrestling moves. That’s what they’re for. You powerbomb them and give them piledrivers and shit. WWE, were you never a little boy? I had a meticulously booked and charted-out wrestling promotion built around my Marvel Superheroes and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures. I had stories that went on for years. I didn’t just say WRESTLINGGG and smash Mondo Gecko into Silver Surfer until they broke.
Worst: Welcome To Raw, Motherf*cker
R-Truth pinned Brodus Clay with a roll-up. In a match YOU HAD TO PAY TO SEE.
Worst: I’m Not Kidding, They Copied In The Raw Script And Forgot To Remove A Big Section Of It
The next match is Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz. Again. If you think I’m too hard on Kofi Kingston, imagine that your job was to Phil Connors’ trip to Punxsutawney in some entertaining way, and he just relived the same slightly-different day over and over and over and over and over and over. That is my life.
The only thing I enjoyed in this match was Miz dragging Kofi around by his hair like a caveman and slapping him in the face. I thought that was pretty great. Aside from that, it was the same exact thing we’ve seen them do on Raw for the last month. I think maybe when WWE Creative has to write a pay-per-view they need the template for the show, so they just go back to Raw, highlight everything, copy it and paste it over onto PPV.txt. I do that with the pre-show notes sometimes. The problem though is that they don’t have a lot of time to make sure everything works, so they’ll get busy and leave entire sections of Raw untouched, and we get pay-per-views where assholes play with toys, R-Truth beats Brodus Clay with a roll-up and The Miz faces Kofi Kingston. That’s what happens, isn’t it? It’d also explain why the Raws after pay-per-views are just full of pay-per-view rematches. Copy, paste, intend to change and get busy. MIZ VS. KOFI FOREVER.
Worst: Tribute To The Troops
Best: Bray Wyatt, Ultimate Creeper
That picture’s still not as creepy as the one of Jeff Dunham.
Daniel Bryan versus The Wyatt Family (all of them) was my favorite part of the show, which is probably the most predictable thing you’ve ever read, right? My favorite part of Christmas morning was probably when I got to get presents. It played out more like a 3-on-1 handicap match should, with Bryan getting the crap beaten out of him for almost the entirety of it, only getting a second wind and a bunch of offense in when the Wyatts let up on him to “give him a chance” or try to teach him a lesson. WWE “story” matches are hit and miss for me, but when they hit, they hit hard. Bray still thinking he had a chance to get Bryan on his side by beating it into him was masterfully done, especially with Bray’s creepy ass EVERYTHING and his ability to project his voice, which is a really underrated attribute to have as a pro wrestler. Everybody in the arena could hear everything Bray was saying, mumbly crowd noises or not.
I also really liked how reasonable Bryan’s offense seemed. He’s not “smart” like Punk. He’s actually one of the stupider characters, driven by rage and kicking and sarcasm. He’s not gonna figure out how the Wyatts operate with one another and exploit that, he’s just gonna move out of the way, see if they get tangled up in something and then kick them to shit. I’m okay with that. That’s pretty exciting.
This is the Bray we’ve been needing to see. Every moment he was in the ring seemed important. His offense hit like a freight train — the actual train that carries freight, not like Freight Train — and even his extraneous movement seemed purposeful. He’s got great body language. When he turns and moves around way too much to express anger or confusion it works, because he’s such an oddly-shaped, oddly-moving duck you can’t help but be interested in watching him contort.
Best: 2-For-2 On 3-On-1 Handicap Matches
And here we have it, the section where I have to admit that I am a jerk and that sometimes WWE knows what they’re doing.
There was no way in hell my brain was gonna accept a pay-per-view with TWO 3-on-1 handicap matches, especially not after the Era of Handicaps we’ve been living through lately, but both Punk vs. The Shield and Bryan vs. The Wyatts either made their participants look great or moved a story forward. That’s all you can ask for in a wrestling show, isn’t it? Entertaining matches, good characters and stories that are moving and happening, good or bad.
Next you’re gonna tell me you can make an entire pay-per-view out of cage matches.
Worst: I’m Gonna Go Ahead And Say Never
What, Drowning Pool doesn’t have any new songs about bodies hitting the floor?
Worst: I Care About Being Champion More Than Anything, Except For This Situation Where I Get To Taunt And Do A Signature Move
Let’s accept everything we’ve heard as fact. The World Heavyweight Championship that has been around for almost 110 years and the WWE Championship your entire life and livelihood has been built around your ENTIRE LIFE, including childhood birthday parties, are hanging above you. All you have to do to is reach up and grab them and you get to own them both. You’re in a match against this evil guy who is kinda-sorta backed by the evil people who run your company. You’ve just knocked him off a ladder and he’s lying on the ground unconscious for at least 30 seconds. Your fingertips are SERIOUSLY LIKE AN INCH AWAY FROM TOUCHING THE BELTS. What do you do?
HOW ABOUT DOING A SIGNATURE TAUNT AND DOING A F*CKING FALLING PUNCH ON HIM
YEAH THAT MAKES THE MOST SENSE
Look at that photo. His hands are practically wedged between the belts. Orton is not moving. JUST GRAB THEM. STOP BEING STUPID.
Best/Worst: The Ring Crew Express
I’m giving John Cena’s ability to disassemble a ring quickly to problem solve on the fly a Best, with the slash Worst for it having been done before. Remember when CM Punk got handcuffed to the rope? If you’re the kind of person who votes JOHN CENA in the Slammys you probably don’t, but most of us do. But this is the world where Randy Orton has “never lived up to his potential” as an 11-time champion and where John Cena doesn’t have the “killer instinct” to win a TLC match despite winning several of them, murdering guys with cars and construction cranes and ambulances and using duct tape to beat guys in Last Man Standing matches.
Worst: Even The Graphics Department Doesn’t Know What This Title’s Supposed To Be
How much does this guy heavyweigh?
Best: So We’re NOT Swerving?
Randy Orton wins the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (which I guess is what they’re calling it) and is suddenly surrounded by a returning Vince McMahon and Triple H, who stands juuuust far enough away that every time Orton moves you think he’s gonna turn around and eat a pedigree. It was driving me crazy. I was like, okay NOW. Okay NOW. Here it comes. Here it comes NOW. Oh see his arm moved slightly PEDIGREE NOW WAIT NO. I felt like Michael Cole calling nearfalls.
The horrible thing we thought was gonna happen didn’t happen. Let’s be happy about that, right? Don’t be mad that the match had a clean (in context) ending. The lesson we can learn from TLC is much more important.
See, I think the actual results was supposed to be Triple H winning the titles. I believe it in my heart. Everything pointed to it. But remember a few years ago when Chris Jericho was a lock to win the Royal Rumble and everybody reported it, so WWE got mad and Sheamus suddenly won? We can use our collective pessimism to affect change. If we KNOW something bad’s gonna happen, we need to unite in the common goal of telling people it will, posting it online, sending it to dirt sheets, turning it into hashtags. If we write about it enough, WWE thinks we’re “expecting” it and changes it. Similarly, if we want to … say, see Daniel Bryan win the WWE Championship, we can’t say “I hope Daniel Bryan wins the WWE Championship!” We have to say “Randy Orton is obviously winning. This is the most predictable thing ever.” Then maybe Bryan gets to win.
It’s all about gaming the system. The system of Internet-obsessed, Internet-hating weirdos.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
Reigns: “The hospital don’t take thoroughbreds, they put them down after they get… shit. Wait, I got this, the hospital isn’t the same as the vet’s because-”
Ambrose: “It’s okay man, I’ll talk, just look handsome.”
CM Punk plans on taking out Roman Reigns by panting a picture of himself into the side of the crowd barricade and having Reigns run head first into it.
“You okay, JBL?”
“Yeah! I’m gay now though!”
Match ends by Sandow trying to sweep Langston’s leg but Langston jumps over it until he gets tired.
I love how Axel screams BEFORE Show hits him. Premature SHA-jaculation
Well, I’m sitting in a Chair. My beer is on a table next to me. If a light bulb blows out I”ll have more TLC then this PPV.
CrazySexyCool had more TLC in it than this PPV.
Bray Wyatt makes Raven look like Kerwin White
The difference between HHH and Jesus is that HHH has never waited three days to sell a beating
Im at Buffalo Wild Wing. If I want this match to go on longer, my bartender hits the WWE button and it raises the belts six inches higher.
Thanks, everybody. See you tomorrow for Raw. And then on Wednesday for EXTRA RAW.