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Good, Bad & The Ugly – WWE TLC 2018

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

 

Welcome to “Good, Bad & The Ugly,” the newest review concept where we’ll break down shows according to three ratings – Good, Bad or Ugly. The results will tally up to give us the Final Decision on the show. 

 

 

Headed In 

– In the midst of a Creative shake-up, we’re still fresh off two big heel turns – “The New” Daniel Bryan (WWE Champion) and Dean Ambrose. Meanwhile, on the Raw side, Ronda Rousey (WWE Raw Women’s Champion) had dominated all before her but a huge obstacle in “Knockout Sensation” Nia Jax, notorious for her punch on “The Man” Becky Lynch. To top it off, we’d have the first-ever Women’s Tables, Ladders and Chairs match for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship between Champion Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Asuka. This should be a fun show, albeit a long one since we have a grand total of 12 matches. What is this, WrestleMania? Even past Manias never had that many bouts.

 

The Good 

– Pre-Show – WWE Cruiserweight Championship – Buddy Murphy (Champion) def. Cedric Alexander via pinfall to retain – This promised to fulfill a highlight reel right from the get-go. Commentator Nigel McGuinness called Alexander “Murphy’s biggest challenge yet” and we can back that up, since Alexander was a former Champ. The idea here was that ever since Murphy became Champ, Alexander began a downward spiral. Alexander rocked the same protective tape Cesaro wears if that counts for anything. Decent hype into the showdown as both men had respective wins on the previous 205 Live episode. General Manager Drake Maverick was credited for Alexander’s match preparation, whatever that meant. Great stand-off moment early that led the crowd to chant something we couldn’t immediately decipher. Alexander struck a nasty forearm and Murphy responded with a knee smash when Alexander sprung from the ropes. Not sure how we felt about the split screen promo for a later match while a current one took place. Another mean boot by Murphy to Alexander’s face, followed up with a top rope chokehold. Alexander began a flurry where he executed the flatliner and topped off with a springboard clothesline for a near-fall. Michinoku Driver by Alexander for a near-fall after Murphy almost got the pin with pulled tights. Good facts laid on by commentary in that Murphy was the only person who kicked out of Lumbar Check while Alexander was only person to pin Murphy. This was a neat, near-fall friendly stalemate bonanza. Alexander hit a Lumbar Check and Murphy put his foot on the rope. Big reactions from the crowd. These two work really well together. Murphy’s Law was executed and that was it. Crowd was super into it until Murphy had his foot on the rope past Lumbar Check. Still a great match and we could watch these two fight all night long if it was possible.

WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championships – Triple-Threat – The Bar (Champions) def. The Usos and Xavier Woods/Kofi Kingston (w/Big E) to retain – We got the sideways crowd pan, which meant only one thing – New Day. As a shock to no one, Kingston flung mini pancakes into the crowd. They almost look like Debra’s cookies from afar, and we all know to avoid those. This had strong potential as a bout and we liked that commentary questioned why ND would leave out Big E. An early highlight included Cesaro’s upper cut which met Jimmy Uso as he readied for a swan dive. The “two men in the ring at a time” dynamic made things suffer a little bit. If it’s a Triple Threat, shouldn’t one man from each team be allowed in? Cesaro held Kingston up for a brainbuster before an Uso performed a crossbody on Cesaro. Sweet spot. Usos had a Young Bucks epiphany and superkicked everyone to garner a standing ovation. Woods jumped through the ropes to DDT Cesaro when he had a Sharpshooter applied. Woods hit a nice springboard elbow drop. Sheamus landed a Brogue Kick on Woods for the win after Cesaro was kicked away, but served up just enough of a distraction. A “good for what it was” kind of match, but one of the better ones, all things considered.

– Tables Match – Natalya def. Ruby Riott (w/Sarah Morgan, Liv Morgan) – This probably had the most personal storyline of the show, which was the death of Natalya’s father, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. Like many others, WWE always find a way to work deaths into storylines (Eddie Guerrero, Paul Bearer, etc.) and it wasn’t long before The Riott Squad found themselves a new enemy. Just how dastardly would they get? Riott snapped a pair of Neidhart’s iconic sunglasses in two. Instead of immediate anger, Natalya had cried as if another family member had died. We can relate to Natalya, but they should’ve had The Riott Family destroy a more prized possession. We got a kick out of Riott Squad’s custom table with Anvil imprinted on it. Morgan was knocked off the apron by Natalya as she “took a bullet” and fell through a table below. We guess that’ll lead way to the finish, where Logan somehow ends up through table wood before the grand finale of Riott herself. “You want to mess with my family, bitch” asked Natalya to Riott before a big slap. Just as we thought, Logan was bodyslammed through a table. Smart spot where Riott set the table with Anvil on it in the corner and got it to fall on Natalya when she was locked in the Sharpshooter. Riott struggled to set up the table briefly before a Natalya electric chair. Natalya revealed her own table with Riott’s image on it. They should just do this for all table matches. Nice Gatorade bottles under the ring. Can we have some? Natalya donned her late father’s Hart Foundation jacket. See, Riotts should’ve torn that to shreds or burned it. We would’ve understood Natalya’s tears then. Nice finish as Riott set forth for a top rope huracanrana but was caught into a powerbomb and that was the end. Storyline could’ve been an ounce stronger and we think the only reason this happened was because of Neidhart’s death, but way better than we thought it’d be.

– Chairs Match – Rey Mysterio def. Randy Orton via pinfall – The backstory was that Orton tried to erase Mysterio’s existence (he’s a predator and all) while Mysterio looked to get a little revenge. Mysterio’s shirt looked a bit Ed Hardy-inspired. Not sure how that fits his image, but okay. They did the part of the show where they cut to all the International announce teams. Cool spot where Mysterio did his slip-n-slide out of the ring, but this time with a chair as a makeshift surfboard onto Orton on the floor below. Mysterio missed a seated senton off the apron to land on a chair. Ouch. Orton dropped Mysterio onto a chair placed on the announcer table. A huracanrana on Orton sent him face-first into a chair in the corner. Orton set another chair between the second and bottom rope in the corner and swung Mysterio like a pendulum off the top rope. Now, we know chair shots to the head are illegal, but this seemed like the same thing. A head still made contact with a chair. Twice. Orton sat atop a group of chairs. Mysterio jumped on them and whipped a huracanrana to catch Orton by surprise with the pin. We’d question that as a worthy finish alone, but Mysterio did hit a 619 just before that. We put it here because there was some good storytelling and they did try new things. Still, the best Chairs match you’ll ever see is Kalisto-Corbin at TLC 2016.

– Finn Balor/Dolph Ziggler Backstage Segment – Balor had questioned why Ziggler got involved in his match, to which Ziggler claimed “he was welcome.” Balor barely got to ask what was up with him before fists were thrown. That ended any speculation of a full-on face turn for Ziggler. More on this below, but we liked it solely because it gave a good hook for Raw with a match announced between the two, albeit the same story for Ziggler.

– WWE Raw Women’s Championship – Ronda Rousey (Champion) def. Nia Jax (w/Tamina) via submission to retain – Decent backstory with a push for Jax as a “face breaker” with her fist as a hype machine. What was the point to place Tamina with her though? She doesn’t add anything and Jax doesn’t need any Security. Light strategy early on as Rousey quickly moved to throw Jax off and at one point even took her down for an armbar attempt. Jax overpowered her and picked her up and dropped her in a powerbomb. Nice action as Rousey even broke out a top rope crossbody. Commentary was on point here too. Great sequence by Rousey with a step-up knee to the face and a “SuperWoman Punch”? Rousey kicked out of a Samoan Drop. Jax was dropped in a sunset flip powerbomb for a believable near-fall. Excellent finish as Rousey climbed over Jax and took her down for the armbar and got the submission. Better than expected and dare to say, Rousey’s matches get better and better. Who imagined that she’d ever be in this position in WWE?

– Nia Jax/Becky Lynch Backstage Segment – Jax ignored an interview request and was suddenly confronted by Lynch. She kicked her and punched her in the face for payback. Huge pop and so… Lynch. How could this not go here?

– AJ Styles Backstage Segment – Styles was asked if he had a chance against Bryan. As he previously said, he noted no differences between “Old” and “New” because he was still beatable. “I’ve got a Phenomenal Forearm with his name on it.” Did we absolutely need it? Probably not, but still good nevertheless.

– WWE Championship – Daniel Bryan (Champion) def. AJ Styles via pinfall to retain – Hype revolved around the dark turn of the “New Daniel Bryan” which has turned out better than anything we hoped for. It’s a badass gimmick and you could even say there’s a touch of psychotic Smackdown Edge in his mannerisms. You could tell it has worked because his music hit and not a single “Yes!” chant broke out. Good heat for Bryan early on. Hilarious sign read, “I wasted resources to make this Daniel Bryan sign.” A sleepy pace to the beginning but it fed the buildup. They traded chops in the corner. Corey Graves was great on commentary as he justified Bryan’s new leaf – “Respect never paid any of my bills, you can’t pay a Tesla with respect.” Dig it. Styles sold the ribs. Sure enough, things got better the longer it went on. This elicited many “This is awesome!” chants. PF off the barricade. The finish almost echoed their previous match without the low blow, but Bryan scrambled with a lucky package pin and ran out of there. Not one of their all-time best matches, but quality material. It was also not so decisive that they could squeeze one more match out of this and sure enough, they did at the Rumble.

– Ronda Rousey/Natalya Backstage Segment – Rousey was asked about Charlotte Flair being her next chapter. “Payback’s a bitch and I’m the baddest one on the planet,” said Rousey. Primarily shock value but this moved the necessary pieces in place, which helped explain what transpired in the main event. More below.

– WWE Intercontinental Championship – Dean Ambrose def. Seth Rollins (Champion) via pinfall to become new Champion – The strongest storyline for the show by far (it warranted the event poster), tied to Ambrose’s shocking turn on Rollins, just after Roman Reigns relinquished the WWE Universal Championship because of leukemia. We also saw a glimpse of Ambrose’s follow-up segment where he burned his Shield jacket. Ambrose now had a siren integrated in his music. We’re a little sad he didn’t bring his gas mask down. Interesting angle on commentary where Renee Young (Ambrose’s wife) mentioned that Rollins wouldn’t give her the time of day anymore and defended Ambrose’s stance. More drama as Graves didn’t hold back on many questions at the personal lives of Renee/Ambrose. Nice leg drop by Rollins with Ambrose’s head between the ropes. Ambrose worked the knee, which tied into Rollins’ past injuries. Rollins landed a Buckle Bomb for a near-fall. While this match went on, we struggled to remember what the next match was ironically. The crowd was tame until Rollins’ superplex/falcon arrow combo for two. Ambrose stuck his fist out to mock The Shield, which angered Rollins. Dirty Deeds was hit out of nowhere and just like that, Ambrose was new Champ. We literally debated whether to place this here or under “Bad,” but what won us over was the creative direction. Show fatigue was strongly present at this point and they’ve had way better matches in the past.

– WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship – Triple-Threat Tables, Ladders And Chairs Match – Asuka def. Becky Lynch (Champion) and Charlotte Flair to become new Champion – This was worthy of a show-closer. Excellent video package that showcased Asuka as a fair wildcard threat to the Lynch-Flair rivalry. “Becky” chants rung throughout the joint. Another added element was that this was Lynch’s first match in over a month. Asuka dominated early with both her kicks and her rear end. While this all went on, all we could think of was how far Charlotte has come and all the different stipulations she has dealt with. Surprised they never used that in the hype. She took an Asuka powerbomb through the lower half of a table set in the corner. Pretty moonsault by Charlotte to the outside. Complete with tables and chair strikes, they really went to town on this stip. Brutal stuff. Lynch got atop a ladder and landed a leg drop that took Charlotte through the announce table, as Asuka ducked out. Lynch almost bounced off Charlotte on the impact. Charlotte’s kendo stick shots looked ouchies. Lynch hit a package suplex into a set table in the barricade, before Asuka went crazy with the kendo stick. To follow that, Charlotte speared Asuka through the timekeeper’s area. What. The. Hell. This is match of the night, bar none. Charlotte then hit a top rope senton through a table with Lynch on it. Rousey showed up and knocked over a ladder with Charlotte-Lynch on it. Asuka rose up and worked her way up to the belt and got it down. If you haven’t seen this, seriously look for it. It’s worth your time. Dare we say, it’s almost NXT good. Given who’s in it, not a surprise. This is a testament to how far women have come on WWE programming.

 

 

The Bad 

– Tables, Ladders And Chairs Match – Braun Strowman def. Baron Corbin To Earn A WWE Universal Championship Match At Royal Rumble And Corbin Is Removed From His Raw General Manager-Elect Position – Wow. That was a lot to type. How many stipulations could they fit into a single match? Since it didn’t happen, let’s also mention that if Corbin had won, he would’ve been Permanent Raw General Manager. You have to know that’s important and all. Commentator Michael Cole was quite passionate about Corbin’s poor job performance. Of course, Creative managed to find a reason for the record-low ratings. Corbin’s fault? Yup. Corbin’s fault. Corbin’s pre-match promo was basically empty words. They set up a countdown to forfeit and to the surprise of absolutely nobody except maybe Corbin, Strowman appeared at five. A decent “Kick his ass” chant broke out. Strowman alluded to a TLC match having No Disqualifications and thus, he’d get some backup. This was basically Apollo Crews, Raw Tag Team Champions Bobby Roode/Chad Gable and Finn Balor, all equipped with steel chairs. Slater stripped off his Referee uniform and threw it in Corbin’s face to a huge pop and knocked him down. Guess this was a “Karma comes back to bite you in the ass” sort of thing, so given that these were people that Corbin had wronged, this was how it’d work out. Just when it appeared Corbin would escape, he was flanked by Kurt Angle to one of the night’s biggest pops. “You Suck” chants galore here. Everyone traded finishers. Slater put his shirt back on and made the three-count. This was more of a segment than a match and didn’t need the TLC stipulation tacked onto it. We also questioned where Corbin’s friends were here – Drew McIntyre and Lashley. Also, we now know that Strowman’s match against Lesnar never happened. What saved this from Ugly territory was that it presented a hook for the following night’s Raw, where it was known Corbin was out of power and Vince McMahon would be there.

– Finn Balor def. Drew McIntyre via pinfall – The backstory was that McIntyre was part of the Corbin regime (which again begs the question why he never came out during the TLC bout) and Balor was one of the top guys to rebel. Yeah. Weak. Luckily, these two are great workers so it could be a great match regardless. McIntyre held the early advantage with countless tosses and Balor hit one plancha. McIntyre hit a top rope sideway slam for a notable near-fall. Dolph Ziggler emerged from the crowd with a superkick for McIntyre but was later taken down when McIntyre landed a boot (and steel chair) to his face. The distraction set up Balor to dropkick a chair in McIntyre’s own face and followed with the Coup De Grace. Nice in-ring work, but not enough drama and we’re not sure what’s going on with Ziggler and the water only got more muddled as the night wore on.

 

 

The Ugly 

– Lars Sullivan Hype Video – This was a bit Snitsky-inspired, so just that alone warrants Sullivan to the Ugly section until he can impress us. By the looks of it, it’ll be a while.

– Pre-Show – Ladder Match – Whoever Gets Down Elias’ Guitar Wins – Elias def. “The Almighty” Bobby Lashley (w/Lio Rush) – Elias sat in the ring, guitar in hand. Big pop. A guitar above the ring was a peculiar sight, but we quickly forgot about that. “Walk With Elias” had the crowd chant along. He opted to sing a special version of “Do You Know The Way To San Jose?” but was promptly interrupted by Lashley and “Hype Man” Rush. We weren’t sure what to make of Rush’s buttoned beige tank top. We think he’s purposely trying to not be liked. Lashley repeatedly pointed at his ass for some reason. This led us into the match. Elias kicked a ladder into Lashley as he tried to bring it into the ring and even stomped down on it. Rush briefly intervened but ultimately was unharmed. Lashley took control and put him down on the ladder. A belly-to-belly suplex by Lashley onto a ladder. Elias eventually overcame Rush and took the guitar down for an anticlimactic finish. Well, that was eh. Afterwards, Rush prevented Elias from a guitar strike and that set up an attack from the heels. Lashley hit Elias in the back with the guitar. Would this feud still continue? Lashley pointed at his buttocks again, all we thought of was ASS-HLEY. That’s a thing apparently. Not much action and poor use of Elias’ face turn, which now we see why he embraced the dark side once more. Also, at this time of the show, we realized there were still 10 matches left. Oy.

– Mixed Match Challenge – Finals – Carmella/R-Truth def. Alicia Fox/Jinder Mahal (w/The Singh Brothers) To Win Tournament And Claim Vacation Trip/#30 Spot For Respective Royal Rumble Matches – We started with the most enthusiastic Truth entrance we’ve seen in forever as he/Carmella traded rap verses. Fox came out with a Captain hat and did weird things. while Mahal rocked with his brothers. As per the rules, men would have to fight men and women-women. “Captain Foxy”? Good god. The synchronized monkey tosses by Carmella/Truth was almost botched. There was a dance-off halfway through, which of course had to involve the Singhs. Sort of funny. The Mella-Go-Round got a light pop. Another comedic moment where Fox had her hat taken by Truth, but that didn’t last long. At least the finish was decent, as Carmella countered a bridged pin attempt by Fox into the Code Of Silence. Post-match, Truth revealed that the vacation spot would be WWE Headquarters to Carmella’s dismay. The punchline wasn’t enough to save this one, especially since their Rumble entries now served irrelevant, but we suppose this team was fun for the time, but we wouldn’t watch it again by choice.

 

Total Tally:

Good – 12

Bad – 2

Ugly – 3 

 

Final Decision – Good – Sure, with five hours between the pre-show and actual show, this was some serious time to spend for casual fans. We wonder if this was why this year’s Elimination Chamber event ended just after 10:15 PM. We had some big news to come out of it – Corbin’s power removal, Ambrose’s IC Title win, Asuka’s Title win (and what a match that was) and if anything, the matches entertained. Have there been better matches with the same competitors? Yes. That aside, the good outweighed the bad and it was evident here. WWE ended their 2018 PPV year with a bang.

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About Nicholas Jason Lopez

Just a 26 year-old Brooklynite. Nothing more, nothing less. Currently a freelance journalist with two websites - Pro Wrestling Opinion and The Music Bugle - he has also been published on sites such as The Bensonhurst Bean, Sheepshead Bites, Review Fix, College University of New York Athletic Conference, Dying Scene, Brooklyn News Service, All Media NY, BrooklynFans.com and Yahoo Voices. He has also interned for The Home Reporter/Brooklyn Spectator based out of Brooklyn, NY.

Posted on February 24, 2019, in WWE and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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