WWE TLC 2016 Reaction
By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Honestly, such is the story of 2016.
Thanks to the “Land Of Opportunity” mindset and the ability to make the most of the little things, the SmackDown Live brand took the TLC branding to a “new extreme,” if you will.
The Pre-Show Breakdown
– The 10-Man Tag between American Alpha/The Hype Bros./Apollo Crews and The Vaudevillains/The Ascension/Curt Hawkins was throwaway on paper while also an easy way to showcase the Tag Team Division underlings, at least on the heels’ side. What sucks with these multi-person matches is that everybody featured is interchangeable and the result likely won’t matter by next month. Hawkins had another voiceover entrance, we guess because he could. Early on, the part with most intrigue was short-lived, as Hawkins faced off against his old tag partner in The Edgeheads in Zack Ryder (we were surprised they actually mentioned that on commentary) before the heel quickly tagged out. Mojo Rawley’s “Hammertime” dance schtick was funny, yet confusing. AA’s involvement legitimized the in-ring action, which commenced a rapid sequence of people being thrown over the top rope. Crews was the “last man standing” of that bunch, before a melee broke out. There were some more creative sequences towards the finish, as Crews hit a suplex on Hawkins from the apron that took out other competitors on the floor. Like every one of these matches seem to end, it was Grand Amplitude that saw Simon Gotch take the pinfall.
– The opening video nicely showed pretty camera angles of tables, ladders and chairs as a voiceover declared them “everyday objects turned into obstacles of tenacity and the will to prevail.” They blended in footage from various feuds in the buildup and how it’d all end here. Good stuff that was outside the box.
– The WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship match between Randy Orton/Bray Wyatt and Champions Heath Slater/Rhyno didn’t light up the page, but signified a change of the guard. Since Orton/Wyatt enjoyed a time where they were the Survivor Series sole survivors, things seemed to be on the rise for the fearsome Wyatt Family representatives. We were caught off-guard by Orton’s new music, which the intro was a hybrid of “Burn In My Light” and “Voices” before it switched to “Broken Out Of Love.” This had a different, more serious feel to any Slater/Rhyno match and that was signified since Rhyno began things, pointed out by commentary as a first. An early highlight involved an Orton powerslam on Slater as he jumped over the top rope. The Rhyno-Wyatt exchange had our attention (who knew they were so similar in styles?) before we got to the finish. Rhyno aimed for a Gore on Orton on the outside, but Luke Harper “took the bullet,” which led to Rhyno heading back to the ring to take an RKO. Boom, new Champions. A swift finish that felt like the right time to switch the belts since they did everything possible with Slater/Rhyno. Plus, who knew what Orton/Wyatt could do as Champs? We dug it.
– Dean Ambrose’s backstage promo was nice main event hype in the only way possible – Ambrose mode. His temper was his game plan and why wouldn’t it be in a TLC match? He made sure to insult WWE World Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles as “an easy way out guy” and quote the late Dusty Rhodes’ “Hard times.” Seemed odd for Ambrose to do, but then again, the guy can do anything.
– Styles’ backstage promo was a reaction to Ambrose’s, though it felt too close together to feel like anything new. Styles was over with the fans and tried to sound overconfident to turn them against him, but it didn’t work. We were amazed how quickly Interviewer Renee Young heard Ambrose’s “Hard times” reference to suddenly start the segment off by asking Styles’ thoughts. Aren’t they in different parts of the building? They could’ve spaced those promos throughout the show, not back-to-back.
– The No Disqualification match between Nikki Bella and Carmella seemed to be a feud payoff, consistent upon Bella’s frustrations with Carmella’s sneak attacks and insults towards her husband, John Cena. Bella’s takedown to start generated a nice response. Commentator David Otunga called it a “schoolyard fight” after that point. Ugh. We weren’t sure about Carmella’s black eye, but it added an element of stiff realism. Kudos to the psychology aspect, as she targeted Bella’s legs with repeated suplexes into the ropes and struck with a kendo stick. The tide turned once Bella used the kendo stick to get out of the Code Of Silence and began her own barrage of bamboo-bred justice. The roundhouse kick off the barricade by Bella was a cool highlight. The finish was logical though lazy, as Bella overused a fire extinguisher on Carmella to Ranallo’s many bad fire puns. Rack Attack 2.0 afterwards and Bella had her revenge victory after all. Carmella’s post-match promo attempted to save her some face, as she claimed she knew that Bella’s Survivor Series attacker was Natalya. It fits Carmella’s character to “stir the pot” so that’s what we assumed this was. Sure enough, after Natalya was outed as a callous attacker, she was shown in a video package as she assisted a fan with an engagement ring. Maybe she’s not so bad after all. Ha.
– The backstage segment with General Manager Daniel Bryan, WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz and Maryse provided nice hype for Miz’s Ladder match defense to come against Dolph Ziggler, as the war of words between manager and employee further escalated. Miz laid in some good lines that poked fun at Bryan’s forced retirement, some good tension there.
– The Ladder match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship between Ziggler and Champion Miz followed the way of their previous classics, as it was all in their chemistry and willingness to hurt each other. We loved that emphasis was placed on the ladder’s use as a weapon, which fueled the majority of Miz’s offense. Ziggler’s flying elbow off the ladder that hung on the second rope looked pretty, but felt unnecessary. Miz targeted Ziggler’s leg for smart strategy as he wrapped his leg around the rung, dropped him leg first onto the ladder and finally used the ladder as a means for leverage in a Figure Four. Just ouch. The Skull-Crushing Finale onto the ladder looked painful. The spot where Miz hung onto the belt but was knocked off with a ladder appeared to be an ode to the old TLC matches. Well-done here. Another plus for Miz’s slingshot powerbomb onto the ladder. Great teases on both sides of a victory before it was Miz who won with two low-blows to render Ziggler defenseless enough where he could retrieve the belt. It fit Miz’s “short cut” ways. Overall, a very good effort (not to their No Mercy levels of emotion though) but clever use of ring awareness and psychology to use the ladder for stiff spots. Miz’s post-match “participation award” promo garnered him great heat, as he called the fans losers and laid another cheap shot at Bryan.
– The Chairs match between Kalisto and Baron Corbin had good history behind it as the two battled in a game of physical wits. Corbin regularly targeted “little pests” and Kalisto fit the bill perfectly while also representing the relentless underdog. That said, Kalisto’s ring attire slightly distracted. He doesn’t look right with tights. Anyways, little did we know we were in for a nice treat. Kalisto used a chair as a stepping stone for a plancha in an early highlight. Corbin’s response involved him throwing the luchador into an assorted set of chairs outside. Kalisto used the chair for a drop toehold once Corbin set up a musical chairs-esque doomsday play set. The seated senton on Corbin through those chairs looked especially brutal. Another highlight was Corbin’s Deep Six on the floor once he caught Kalisto in mid-air on a tope suicida attempt. Kalisto’s huracanrana on the floor afterwards made us realize this could possibly be the best chairs match in history. A good near-fall as Kalisto hit a double knees moonsault on Corbin with a chair laid on him. The momentum would shift for the last time, as Corbin dashed a chair into Kalisto’s face when he tried a dropkick and that led to End Of Days on a pile of chairs. Way better than we thought it’d be. Sometimes, the ill-fated chairs stipulation can be the death of any feud, but this actually progressed things and was the perfect tool for both men’s arsenals. Corbin truly came into his own and felt like a menace, with the way that he grunted and angrily threw around the chair as the match went on. He looked like an intimidating figure.
– Natalya’s backstage promo had a goal to push the Women’s Championship match while she also reacted to Carmella’s earlier accusations. It came up empty as she only praised WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch and called Carmella a “liar.” Such harsh criticisms.
– The Tables match for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship between Champion Lynch and Alexa Bliss had some decent buildup. Luckily, Bliss had an argument for a rematch after she lost in Glasgow, Scotland on Nov. 8 when she tapped out although her foot was under the rope, but not acknowledged. Bliss built up her persona as a great talker and some vicious attacks gave her momentum headed in, particularly on the go-home show where she shoved Lynch off the top rope and through a table. While that usually means that the face will go over in the Title match, the fact that it was a Tables match gave them an easy way to get Bliss some gold without the sacrifice of Lynch to the pinfall lambs. We liked the use of heel strategy early, as Bliss actually slid the table Lynch brought out back under the ring, as a sign “she wasn’t ready.” Bliss resorted to tactics such as biting Lynch’s hand while in a precarious position on the apron. Who knew one table could cause so much drama? Bliss avoided the table at any cost and even flipped it over as Lynch suplexed her. Bliss’ DDT onto the table’s other side looked painful. Lynch’s Disarmer with the table leg for leverage was something fun and different. After a brief apron scuffle, Bliss raked the Champ’s eyes and quickly powerbombed her through the table below to become the new Champion. This also felt like the right time for the belt to change hands, as this only propels Bliss further. Some people have just “gotten it” since the Draft and Bliss’ evil-minded personality caught on early and didn’t stop. Liked the element of realism in Lynch’s “too shocked for words” post-match promo, as it sold her conflicted flow of emotions.
– The TLC match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship between Champion Styles and Ambrose looked like a thriller on paper, likely to be the culmination of the Styles-Ambrose feud, with all the James Ellsworth antics fit in. Last we saw Ellsworth, he was taken to the hospital thanks to a Styles Clash off the steel steps and onto the floor on the go-home show. Before that, Ellsworth gained three victories over the Champ, the last of which earned him a contract. The match’s start consisted of Ambrose’s usual cornball ways with weapons as he threw Styles around the stage and crowd area. Styles began to fight back, though he was walloped with a ladder thrown outside the ring. Loved Styles’ sidewalk slam onto the seated chair. The crowd truly got into it around Ambrose’s “inside out” inverted suplex that took Styles onto a bed of musical chairs. Styles snap suplexed Ambrose through a table in the corner. Maybe they should’ve laid out the card more precisely, since this match followed separate tables, ladders and chairs matches. We were numb to the stipulation by now, but that seemed to only make both men work harder. Ambrose set up a ladder on the announce table and dropped an elbow onto Styles on an adjacent table. Ouch. By far, the best highlight was Styles’ springboard 450 splash to put Ambrose through a table outside. What can’t Styles do? Before long, Ellsworth came down to the ring and was about to meet the same go-home fate by Styles before Ambrose saved him. After Styles was knocked off the ladder and to the floor, it appeared as if Ambrose was in the clear. Thus began the “turn of the century,” as Ellsworth tipped over the ladder to bring Ambrose down through two tables outside. He rooted for Styles and the Champ climbed the ladder and brought the belt down to retain. Say what?! We were annoyed that Otunga couldn’t buy into the idea that Ellsworth turned on Ambrose, even after he rooted for Styles, but our laundry list of complaints against Otunga remains an article for another day.
- Pre-Show – 10-Man Tag – American Alpha/The Hype Bros./Apollo Crews def. The Vaudevillains/The Ascension/Curt Hawkins via pinfall
- WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship – Randy Orton/Bray Wyatt (w/Luke Harper) def. Heath Slater/Rhyno (Champions) via pinfall to become new Champions
- No Disqualification Match – Nikki Bella def. Carmella via pinfall
- WWE Intercontinental Championship – Ladder Match – The Miz (Champion) (w/Maryse) def. Dolph Ziggler to retain
- Chairs Match – Baron Corbin def. Kalisto via pinfall
- WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship – Tables Match – Alexa Bliss def. Becky Lynch (Champion) to become new Champion
- WWE World Heavyweight Championship – TLC Match – AJ Styles (Champion) def. Dean Ambrose to retain
Posted on February 14, 2017, in WWE and tagged AJ Styles, Alexa Bliss, American Alpha, Apollo Crews, Baron Corbin, Becky Lynch, Bray Wyatt, Carmella, Curt Hawkins, Daniel Bryan, David Otunga, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Heath Slater, James Ellsworth, JBL, Kalisto, Luke Harper, Maryse, Mauro Ranallo, Natalya, Nikki Bella, Randy Orton, Renee Young, Rhyno, SmackDown Live, The Ascension, The Hype Bros., The Miz, The Vaudevillains, TLC, Tom Phillips. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.