Courtesy of WWE Home Video, Matthew Roberts takes a look at the WWE’s last PPV offering of 2019, Tables Ladders & Chairs.
The WWE’s year on PPV ended with the traditional December offering of “it’s December so let’s have some TLC matches”. At this stage, it’s a moot point to complain about a schedule that means “feud ending gimmick matches” happen because it’s a time of year rather than necessarily because feuds have been built up to them. So instead we’ll just crack on with the show.
Things kicked off with a Ladder match as the New Day duo of Big E and Kofi put their Smackdown Tag Team Titles on the line against The Revival. With the talent in there, this was always likely to be good and so it proved. It perhaps wasn’t as spectacular as some entries into the canon and certainly seemed to tone down on the absolute craziness that these matches can sometimes provide but it was no less compelling for all that. Sometimes less can indeed be more.
The good stuff continued in the next match as Buddy Murphy and Aleister Black collided in a VERY hard-hitting affair that was without question the best match of the night. This was so unlike anything else on the card that it couldn’t fail to stand out; that is not to decry the “WWE style” because history shows that matches like this are simply not sustainable on the schedule that the WWE works but when the time is right (and PPV certainly is the right time) it’s nice that talents can still break out and offer something appreciably different. Fans got into this one big time and if there is any justice in the world the efforts of both men should continue to be rewarded as we move further into 2020.
An open challenge from the Raw Tag Team Champions the Viking Raiders was accepted by the Good Brothers duo of Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. As befits an open challenge that isn’t accepted by a shock new surprise, this fell a little flat and whilst the action was decent enough a double count-out finish made purely to prolong a feud (which has been all but forgotten about by the next month) meant that this all seemed like a waste of PPV time. This would have made more sense as the TV build-up to a PPV match rather than the PPV match.
Things should have picked up with the next match as King Corbin and Roman Reigns clashed in a TLC match. After all, this was a gimmick match that felt like it was necessary for the feud and for all the carping about, it did pit one of the best heels on the roster (Corbin makes absolutely no attempt to be a “cool” heel at all) against one of the most popular babyfaces. The problems were twofold; the match made little use of the TLC gimmick and the first part of the match seemed to be treading water until Corbin’s associates and security turned up. It’s also worth pointing out that for all the claims that Reigns is favoured by the bookers, Stone Cold Steve Austin would never have been booked to lose like this.
Bray Wyatt against The Miz, as ambivalent as I am towards both men at this stage, should have been able to lift proceedings after that relative disaster but it fell flat. I could appreciate that The Miz continued the seriousness into the match itself (often in WWE the reasons behind a match get forgotten as soon as the bell rings as we revert to formula) and the way that all concerned made great steps to differentiate Bray Wyatt from “The Fiend” but you couldn’t in any way say that the action itself was anything other than mediocre. As fresh as the Wyatt character is, there have been problems transferring it to the ring. Still, at least the red lights were missing for this one. And at least the post-match angle with Daniel Bryan was a captivating one that gave us something to look forward to.
Lashley and Rusev in a tables match was at least another gimmick match that at least seemed warranted in terms of a feud but again it fell desperately short of being anything near watchable. If we’re being kind, the fact that they were waffling each other with hard hits at least offered some excitement but the 13 minutes seemed more like an hour and once again this was a gimmick match that was part of the feud rather than being anything like the finish of it.
The women were given the main event spot and on paper, the expectations were high for the Kabuki Warriors pairing of Asuka and Kairi Sane defending their Women’s Tag Team titles against Becky Lynch and Charlotte. Unfortunately, whilst what we got was a decent enough offering, it was a little too disjointed to really excel as the main event. It wasn’t helped by Sane being knocked loopy and whilst accidents do happen, the petulant stiff slapping Charlotte gave to a clearly out of it Sane when a Spear spot went wrong left a sour taste in the mouth. It’s hard to imagine Charlotte taking liberties like that, however much in the heat of the moment, with a “bigger star” isn’t it? There’s no denying all four women put in the effort and there were some heavy bumps throughout but as a result there was precious little drama involved. Indeed at times, it felt like all concerned had forgotten that the Tag Team titles were within grabbing distance. Before we could really digest that Asuka had again got one over Lynch with a victory, Reigns and Corbin brawled into the arena and the show ended with Reigns spearing the King and standing tall.
Overall it has to be said that TLC was a disappointment. And ironically it was the “grudge” matches that deserved the gimmick stipulations in terms of on-going feuds that were the most disappointing on the night. If you add the kickoff show match between Humberto Carrillo and Andrade to the mix (available here as a DVD extra) then the night started with three good matches that should have set up a very good show. Unfortunately, it somewhat went off a cliff after that, with only the main event really being anything worth a second watch and even that was, ultimately, disappointing.
Format Reviewed: DVD
Photographs courtesy of Fetch and WWE
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