Tuesday, 20 December 2011

TLC 2011 In Review

Well it's the third annual edition of the Tables, Ladders and Chairs PPV and also the final PPV of the year. WWE normally like to end things with a bang as over the years we've seen DX finally winning Tag Team gold, Sheamus getting the upset and winning his first title, the rise of John Morrison, Divas getting physical and high spots galore. With the dust now settled, I can safely say WWE did go out on a high note this year with one of their best PPV offerings of 2011.

1) Dolph Ziggler* vs Zack Ryder (United States Championship):
They couldn't have picked a better match to open the show. It was almost insane how hot the crowd were for Ryder and how over he is now. This past year has really been something for him as he has become a true star in front of our eyes, going from the Youtube site to the actual TV screens. The match was miles better than the one at Vengeance mostly because it was longer but there was a certain proper hype to it. At Vengeance you knew Ryder wasn't going to get the win but here there was that unpredictability. Dolph continues to show how good he is at what he does as he demonstrated amazing charisma in this match not to mention five star athleticism. I actually loved that spot with all the elbow drops. It's the new Three Amigos anyway. Ryder is not the best worker but has a strong character and brought his A-game. That Frankensteiner was probably my favourite move because I never expected him to pull out something like it. I honestly thought it was over a bit too soon but on the second watch it felt more fleshed out. 7.5/10

I liked the angle they had Booker T and Cody Rhodes in that night. It gives Rhodes more notoriety and screen time. I think Alicia Fox's hair is getting brighter.

2) Air Boom* vs Epico & Primo (WWE Tag Team Championships):
I was surprised neither of the Tag champs were put in some kind of ladder match given the theme of this PPV but what we got was more than fine. Evan Bourne has truly been missed on PPV and showed he hasn't been sitting on the couch doing nothing during his absence. This was a surprisingly good tag team match if a little rushed into execution. I mean it wasn't even announced properly before the show. In that case it is good the champs retained and judging from Raw it looks like they're going to feud a bit longer. It was surprising to see the faces controlling so much of the match and I felt they were getting a bit too much offence in early on but eventually the heels got to do their thing isolating Evan and getting plenty of offence of their own in. The spot throwing Evan out of the ring was really cool though it was a bit weird to see just him getting worked on in the match. In the last few title matches between them they've both taken turns getting worked on but here Evan was the definite Ricky Morton partner. Kofi's hot tag was energetic as always and the closing moments were exciting enough. Another good title match and the titles defended successfully again which builds them up. I'm excited to see the rematch. As an aside, thank the lord someone finally made Rosa Mendes a valet. She's doing pretty well and anything that prevents her wrestling is fine with me. 8/10

The Hornswoggle segments get kind of pointless now that he can talk. Funnily enough he was more entertaining as a mute. Who knew we'd get double sided race humour on a PG show?

3) Wade Barrett vs Randy Orton (Tables Match):
I wasn't sure if I wanted to see this one considering how hit and miss Tables matches normally are but thankfully WWE kept the ball rolling and gave us a third solid match in a row. Not as fun as the first two but still pretty entertaining. They brawled for a good bit and they did that well. Some of the spots were very creative and this was much more inventive than some of the more recent singles Tables matches we've seen like Orton/Miz and Kofi/Sheamus. I was kept entertained anyway. What was best about it was that you never got the feeling they were just padding things out to fill their time (like happened with a certain ladder match later on). I nearly marked out when I saw Barrett going for Wasteland into the table but thankfully we got that on Raw last night. I was expecting Orton to win and I'm not that bothered about it. Winning a tables match doesn't necessarily equal a burial and Barrett is still getting some kind of big heel push. He's actually one of my picks to win the Royal Rumble. 7/10

Brie does actually have a point since whenever they play different roles she's always the face and Nikki the heel. These two are much more entertaining in these segments as bitchy heels. Jack Swagger seems to have taken speaking classes because his lines didn't sound so bored this time. Or maybe Sheamus just toned down his charisma to make him look better.

4) Beth Phoenix* vs Kelly Kelly (Divas' Championship):
I was expecting a Divas' title match to be added last minute but I thought it would be Alicia getting the shot. However this works fine as well since Kelly never got her rematch and it looks like they'll make an effort to build Alicia an actual feud for the title. This was on par with their other 3 PPV matches and was quite impressive for a last minute addition and one that wasn't as long as the previous 3. True Beth calling the spots in the middle was just bad but they're only human I guess. Kelly's spots looked really good like that facecrusher off the apron and it is good that with four PPV matches they can still deliver some new stuff. The closing moments were nearly heart stopping making everyone think Kelly was going to win the title back. But I like that it didn't end with the Glam Slam and Beth's Alley Oop gave her a bit of variety. And that's now three clean title defences for her without help from Natalya or dirty tactics. She and Kelly have both gotten respectable title reigns thus far. 7/10

The amount of gay subtext between The Miz and Alberto Del Rio is a little unnerving.

I repeat what I said about the Booker T/Cody Rhodes angle.

5) Triple H vs Kevin Nash (Sledgehammer/Ladder Match):
I was genuinely shocked that this wasn't the last match on the card but relieved all the same. I was preparing myself for a massive trainwreck a la Judgement Day 2003 but thankfully it didn't quite get to that. In fact I was really enjoying the opening brawl and I was impressed with how these two older guys could really go. There's life in these old(er) dogs yet. The ladder submission holds were excellent to watch and there were a good few other hard-hitting spots there as well. However like many of Triple H's matches these days, it ran for too long. It could have had a good five minutes shaved off it at least because towards the second half of the match, they slowed down and it was obvious they were padding things out to fill their time. I was really confused with the ending and the rules seemed almost TNA-esque - win by pinning your opponent after hitting him with a sledgehammer retrieved above the ring? Doesn't the pin make the whole point of the ladder match unnecessary? Just getting the sledgehammer should have been enough to end the match and that botched Pedigree was another nail in the coffin. And Nash is injured again. Let this be his retirement match as it's a fine enough note to go out on. 6/10

Johnny's voice is almost unnatural. Can anyone really listen to themselves talk like that?

6) Jack Swagger vs Sheamus:
Exactly how many PPVs has it been this year that Sheamus has been randomly added to the card at the last minute? True this time it was officially announced and booked on the show itself but still give the guy something to work with. However this was still a really great match and these two really brought out the best in each other. I compare Sheamus's work now to his runs as the top heel champion and it's almost like a different person out there. I thought he was fine as a heel, not great but could get the job done and never in a million years thought he'd be able to play a face. And who would have thought he'd be such a natural at it. I was never a Sheamus fan before but he has now shown off so much charisma and athleticism in the ring that I'm starting to get behind him. Swagger of course got to show off as well, though he didn't go to the heights we've seen him at before. The chemistry was definitely there and I was entertained. As much as I'm enjoying the rise of Sheamus I'd like to see Swagger get a PPV win just once. 7/10

7) Mark Henry* vs Big Show (Chairs Match; World Heavyweight Championship):
I was of course not excited for this match at all despite liking both of these guys. Giving them steel chairs to use was a pretty good idea since they made this a bit more exciting than their match at Survivor Series. I was surprised at how short it was but since Mark Henry is injured then it's a valid enough reason. His title reign was relatively interesting but I was honestly ready for a new champion. Big Show got the win and I was happy for him. But of course it doesn't end there...5.5/10

I wasn't expecting this but the crowd were on their feet and it was a great feel-good moment. Seeing Daniel Bryan waving the belt in Michael Cole's face was pure gold. I get the feeling they'll turn Big Show heel and have him carry on with whatever plans they had for Mark Henry. Can't say I'm too thrilled about this as I don't think anyone would care if Big Show turned heel *again*.

8) Cody Rhodes* vs Booker T (Intercontinental Championship):
I loved the sneaky way WWE got to make this an upper card match. It was a gutsy move because this spot normally does have a piss-break match or segment in between main events but with the WHC match being so short then it's a different story. While not as exciting as the US title match or Sheamus/Swagger this one was still pretty solid. I wasn't expecting that much but I enjoyed what I saw and I'm thoroughly enjoying Cody Rhodes's push right now. He's another of the guys who became a star in front of our eyes and I'm enjoying his run as IC Champ. It's funny how people never thought he'd make it but yet here he is one of the best heels in the company. I hope Booker T doesn't properly get back into the ring now because I actually like his commentary and think that's a better niche for him right now. The end sequence was a bit slow and it was a little strange to see the kick end it. I was expecting Cross Rhodes or something like that. Almost a little anti-climactic. 6.5/10

9) CM Punk* vs The Miz vs Alberto Del Rio (TLC Match; WWE Championship):
I'm truly amazed. This must be the first time in I don't know how many years that the main event of a PPV has not involved John Cena, Triple H or Randy Orton. In fact, I'm shocked Cena wasn't on the card at all. I think this was a test on WWE's part to see if a PPV could work without those guys in the main event and, in my opinion, it worked just fine and it was a good move. True we have seen more variety in the title picture with newer faces feuding for the belt but it's still been those guys in non-title related storylines as the main event, taking more importance than the actual title. But here the title was the most important thing on the card and got the final match. These three delivered an entertaining TLC match that was a lot better than the one we saw at the show last year. The alliance between Miz and Del Rio was expected but them turning on each other was fun to watch as well. The spots with the handcuffs were a little unorthodox but I'll take them with a grain of salt. I give massive props to Ricardo Rodriguez for taking that massive bump as it was a great moment. I also loved Del Rio's weapon-assisted submission holds. Not much else to say about the match except it was hugely entertaining and it was awesome to see Punk come out on top again. 8/10

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