WWE PPVs KELLER'S WWE TLC PPV REPORT 12/15: Ongoing coverage of Cena vs. Orton unification match, Bryan and Punk battle long odds
Dec 15, 2013 - 10:32:07 PM
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By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
KELLER’S WWE TLC PPV REPORT
DECEMBER 15, 2013
AIRED LIVE ON PAY-PER-VIEW
-They showed the box office area of Toyota Center as Josh Matthews introduced the preview show. Then they went to the panel - Mick Foley, Booker T, and Miz along with Josh. Booker said either Cena or Orton will walk out as the Champion of Champions. He said one of their lives will change forever. JBL said there were two paths to greatness in the past, but after tonight there will be just one. Miz pointed out that the winner will headline WrestleMania. Foley praised the decision to crown one Champion of Champions.
A Shield promo interrupted the Panel. Seth should drop that fakey “ha ha ha” laugh he does in promos to fill space after his finishes his thought. Too “Jeff Jarrett-like.”
Eventually Kofi Kingston interrupted Miz and it led to a brief fight between them. Kofi slapped Miz to instigate it. They cut away to Michael Cole, JBL, and Jerry Lawler at ringside who decided the tone to take was giggling about the Miz-Kofi brawl. JBL joked that he didn’t know they could fight, then Lawler gave Cole a friendly shoulder-check.
(A) FANDANGO pinned DOLPH ZIGGLER in 5:00.
Not a lot to this, other than Cole said at the start that Ziggler vowed to get back on track after lots of losses lately. It didn’t happen. Ziggler continues to be way too much like Billy Gunn’s “Mr. Ass” gimmick, which was mid-card and cheesy and kinda too Chippendales-like to be popular with most male fans.
-Renee Young revealed poll results. They were asked whether it hurt more falling off a ladder, through a table, or getting hit with a chair. They voted overwhelmingly for falling off a ladder with 78 percent, but then voted crashing through a table over being hit with a chair by a 13-to-9 margin.
-Back to the panel, Foley said the fourth option should have been landing on a ladder, because that hurts the most. Josh said there will be a lot of sore Superstars tomorrow, implying a lot of the matches would have TLC stops. Foley, at some point here, ran down his credentials when it comes to tables, ladders, and chairs being used in matches.
-They showed Triple H and Stephanie arriving via limo. The live crowd booed them. Vince McMahon also stepped out of the limo to a babyface pop from the crowd.
-Triple H and Stephanie walked onto the stage to introduce the event. Triple H talked about Lou Thesz and Buddy Rogers and the loosely-based lineage (to put it nicely) that leads to tonight’s unification match.
Cole, JBL, and Lawler introduced the event as Punk’s entrance music played. Cole continued the company line that this is the most important night in WWE history. They also showed Ricardo Rodrigues with the Spanish announce team next to them.
(1) C.M. PUNK vs. THE SHIELD (Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollings)
After Punk’s entrance, The Shield entered through the crowd as usual. Ambrose and Punk opened against each other. Punk outmaneuvered Ambrose after a minute of tests of strength and the feeling out process. Ambrose grew frustrated. Punk said he already beat Ambrose twice, so give Rollins a shot. Rollins tagged himself in. Punk bailed out to ringside. Rollins chased him. Punk leaped back into the ring. At 3:00, after a minute of slow paced action with Rollins, Reigns tagged in. The announcers made a big deal out of his entrance into the match.
The Shield took control and methodically worked over Punk, frequently tagged in and out. Not a lot of fan heat, and frankly the whole set-up makes The Shield look weak if they weren’t able to just swarm Punk and destroy him quickly. Lawler tried to cover for that by saying The Shield are at such an advantage, they don’t need to be in any hurry and can just savor the beating they’re giving Punk. At ringside Punk avoided a flying shoulder tackle by Reigns. Reigns flew over the announce table. That gave Punk his first big opening in a while to go on offense. JBL said Reigns hit his eye on the edge of his chair and the doctor checked on him. Reigns tagged out to Rollins and gave attention to his eye, which was swollen.
Rollins took control of Punk and scored a two count at 10:00. The doctor checked on his left eye at ringside. JBL said Reigns was screaming in pain right afterward. Cole said that could reduce it to a two-on-one situation, which would be a huge benefit for Punk. Punk, meanwhile, rallied. Punk put Rollins in the Anaconda Vice, but Ambrose broke it up. Ambrose then tagged himself in. Punk head-butted Ambrose to knock him off the top rope, then landed a top rope flying elbowdrop for a two count. Punk gave an interfering Rollins a GTS, but Ambrose broke free from a GTS attempt. Reigns re-entered the ring and went for a spear on Punk, but Punk moved and Rollins speared Ambrose. Punk then scored the three count and bailed out.
Rollins looked down at Ambrose disappointed. He had swelling around the left eye. Lawler said maybe Ambrose couldn’t see straight or saw two Punks.
WINNER: Punk in 14:00. (**1/4)
(WK Analysis: The match told a good story and gave the fans a feel-good win out of the gate. Between Rollins being hurt at ringside in the last few minutes and the spear that hit the wrong person, it gave The Shield ample excuse for losing.)
-Renee interviewed A.J. Lee and Tamina backstage. Reneee pointed out that A.J. would defend against Natalya who the last three weeks has defeated her. She asked if she was concerned because Natalya has her number. A.J. said she always wins when it counts. She said Total Divas is a joke, Natalya is a joke, the Slammy Awards were a joke. She said after tonight she’ll be the only one laughing.
(2) A.J. LEE vs. NATALYA - Divas Title Match
Cole said this is Natalya’s first Diva’s Title match in three years. The announcers talked about how it was 30 degrees below zero in Calgary and couldn’t believe Natalya lived there. Here’s a random fact: If someone says it’s 40 degrees below zero, it doesn’t matter whether they’re using Celsius or Fahrenheit. That’s the point at which the two scales of temperature match numbers. Minnesotans like me, unfortunately, have reason to learn this stuff.
They fought at ringside briefly, then mainly worked mat holds with various attempts and reversals. Natalya set up a Sharpshooter at 6:00, but A.J. pulled on Natalya’s hair and pulled her into a small package for the leverage pin. Natalya made a fuss afterward about her hair being pulled and then sobbed about it.
WINNER: A.J. Lee in 6:00.
(WK Reax: WWE management must not be too mad about the incident, such as it was, with NBC Sports talk show host Michelle Beadle at the Tribute to the Troops taping on Wednesday.)
-They went to the announcers at ringside. They showed Bruno Sammartino’s tweet wishing both John Cena and Randy Orton luck later. They threw to a video package on the history of the two world title belts.
(3) BIG E. LANGSTON vs. DAMIEN SANDOW - IC Title match
Sandow told the crowd that the following phrases are garbage: “Y’all, reckon, he when followed by haw, and Big E. Langston when followed by the Intercontinental Champion.” He said he says that because in a few minutes he will be their new IC Champion. Cole said this year the Royal Rumble is different because the winner is automatically going to face the one world champion in the WrestleMania main event.
A minute in Sandow yanked Big E. into the ringpost head-first. They showed, and the announcers acknowledged, tweets by Kevin Nash and Jimmy Hart regarding the unification match. For what it’s worth, Stephanie hash-tagged her Tweet “WWEWorldHeavyweightChampion.” That should be what the winner of the main event should be called long-term, not “Unified” or “Undisputed.” The announcers touted Big E.’s explosiveness. JBL: “You’re either born with it or you’re not.” At 6:00 Big E. hit the Big Ending for the clean win.
WINNER: Big E. Langston in 6:00 to retain the IC Title. (*1/2)
(WK Reax: Just okay. The announcers are pushing Big E. in a way that reflects Big E. is Vince McMahon’s current project, but the real future star in that match is easily Sandow. Big E. is fine, but still very very limited in terms of having that charismatic connection with the crowd. He’s just too thick and fans generally don’t go bonkers over power lifter type, even if McMahon wishes they would.)
-Vince McMahon and Randy Orton shook hands backstage. They weren’t mic’d, but it appeared McMahon wished Orton luck. If they were supposed to be mic’d, someone is in big trouble.
-A commercial aired for Wing Stop.
-They showed the exterior of Toyota Center in Houston. He touted the sellout of over 14,000 fans. They showed Steve Austin’s tweet acknowledging the unification match tonight.
-They went back to the panel with Josh, Booker, and Foley, but no Miz. Josh threw to a replay of the Miz-Kofi brawl earlier. Booker then announced that The Authority has booked Miz vs. Kingston for this event. Foley said his sources inform him it’s a no DQ match, “and that is best for business.”
(3) CODY RHODES & GOLDUST vs. REY MYSTERIO & THE BIG SHOW vs. THE REAL AMERICANS (Jack Swagger & Antonio Cesaro w/Zeb Colter) vs. CURTIS AXEL & RYBACK - WWE Tag Team Title match
Cole gave JBL a hard time about Rey beating him in 23 seconds at WrestleMania. JBL said he was sick with the sniffles and he wrestled against doctor’s orders. Ryback was jacked up tonight. Everyone took turns pairing off in various combinations for brief exchanges early. Goldust pinned Ryback with a schoolboy at 6:00 after reversing a powerbomb. That eliminated Ryback & Axel.
Eventually the heel challengers isolated Goldust and worked him over for several minutes. At 13:00 Goldust made a comeback against Cesaro. When Goldust went to tag Cody, Swagger yanked Cody off the ring apron. Show threw Swagger into the ringside barrier. Goldust hot-tagged Big Show into the match. He went to work on Cesaro. He gave Cesaro a KO punch in mid-air to eliminate the Real Americans.
So it came down to a battle between the two babyface pairs. Goldust avoided a chokeslam and tagged Cody in at 17:00. They double-team duplexed Show for a two count. As Cody flew at Show with a Disaster Kick. Show chopped him in the chest. Show tagged Rey in, who turned up the pace with some flying moves. Rey had a crispness and suddenness that indicated he feels somewhat fresh and rested. Rey hit a 619 on Goldust at 19:00 even though Cody was the legal wrestler. Cody dove at Show at ringside, but Show caught him. Show tried to ram Cody into the ringpost, but Cody slipped free and shoved Show into the post. Cody the dove at Rey, but Rey turned it into a powerbomb for a believable near fall that got what might have been the pop of the night so far.
Rey went for a 619, but Cody caught his lets and lifted him. Rey turned it into a sunset flip for a near fall. Cody maneuvered into a Crossroads for the win.
WINNERS: Rhodes Bros. in 20:00 to retain the WWE Tag Team Titles. (***1/4)
(WK Reax: Good action start to finish and a surprising final two teams led to some novel exchanges and a sense that we were seeing something special.)
-Backstage Titus O’Neil and Darren Young bantered backstage and tried to settle things with the Brawling Buddies dolls. Great Khali entered the scene with a Sheamus doll. Then in came El Torito with Los Matadores. Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox interrupted. Vickie was smitten with the Brodus Clay doll. Maddox challenged her doll to a brawl with his Cena doll. Then Kane’s music played and he walked in. Maddox and Vickie stopped in their tracks and fled the scene. Kane then got very rough with the dolls, smashing Clay into Cena.
(4) BRODUS CLAY (w/Tensai, The Funkadactyls) vs. R-TRUTH (w/Xavier Woods)
Clay dominated most of the early action. At 4:00 Clay went after Truth at ringside. Tensai blocked him from throwing him into the ringpost and told him to take it in the ring and get the win. Clay continued to dominate in the ring. Tensai wasn’t happy that Clay kept beating on Truth while he was upside down in the corner. They argued for a while in the corner, then Tensai dropped down and walked out on him. Clay then ordered the Funkadactyls to move to a different side of the ring. They left in protest. Truth then recovered enough to superkick Clay by surprise and folk him up for the win.
WINNER: Truth in 6:00. (1/2*)
(WK Reax: There wasn’t much to the match. Just a one-sided match that was there to forward the storyline of Clay breaking bad and Tensai and the Funkadactyls abandoning him.)
-Vince McMahon shook Cena’s hand backstage and said, “May the best man win.” There were no hints to read into based on their body language or facial expressions. Both played it straight.
(5) KOFI KINGSTON vs. THE MIZ - No DQ match
Fast paced brawl that matched the intensity of the rivalry out of the gate, but the crowd wasn’t all that into it. A few minutes in the crowd chanted “We Want Tables.” Kofi sold a left leg injury, but managed to knocked Miz into the exposed turnbuckle for the win.
WINNER: Kingston in 8:00.
(WK Reax: The crowd just isn’t into this despite a solid effort by Kofi and Miz. Plus, they thought they paid to see a TLC show and so far not one table, ladder, or chair has been used.)
-The announcers discussed the Tale of the Tape between Cena and Orton.
-A video aired hyping Tribute to the Troops. Then a video package aired on the Daniel Bryan-Wyatt Family feud.
(6) DANIEL BRYAN vs. BRAY WYATT & ERICK ROWAN & LUKE HARPER
Rowan and Harper took turns beating on Bryan in the early minutes. At 3:00 Bray finally tagged in. Lawler said he almost forgot he was in the match. Cole said Bray decided to get in the match only after Bryan was beaten down. He splashed Bryan in the corner after a running charge. Bray did the crab walk over to Bryan, then tagged in Harper. The crowd chanted “That was creepy!”
At 9:00 Bryan finally made a comeback and back suplexed Harper off the top rope. He threw his barrage of kicks and then landed the Chris Benoit Memorial top rope diving headbutt for a two count. When Rowan interfered, Bryan knocked him into the ropes where his arms got trapped. Bryan threw kicks and then went after Bray just as he legally tagged in. Bryan schoolboyed Bray for an early two count. He hit a flying dropkick and then the Yes Lock at 12:00. Bray escaped and threw a barrage of elbow strikes. Then he gave Bryan the Sister Abigail finisher for the win.
Afterward Bray cradled Bryan’s head like a baby. Bryan was still KO’d from the finisher.
WINNER: Bray Wyatt in 13:00. (**1/4)
(WK Reax: It’s a Daniel Bryan match, so it was good. It’s about exactly what you’d expect if you imagined this match-up. A lot of people will be let down by a lack of development in the storyline of Bryan being recruited.)
-The Don’t Try This At Home video aired.
-Cole said the numbers game simply caught up with Bryan. He showed a tweet from The Rock about the main event.
(WK Reax: These references to Rock, Austin, and Bruno tweeting about the match did add to the sense that “the world was watching.”)
-Back to the panel, Booker and Foley reacted to the Bryan vs. Wyatt Family match. Foley said he studied Bray and he has the two most important letters. He said “Wade Bryant has it.” He meant “Bray Wyatt,” but got his consonants mixed up. Oops. Or maybe it’s a Freudian slip because he thinks Wade Barrett is the future. Foley picked Cena, Booker picked Orton.
-A video package aired with historic footage of Cena and Orton dating back to their earliest WWE matches.
-They went back live to the arena showing both belts hanging above the ring. Cole said the first person to grab both belts will become, as Stpehanie said earlier, the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Good to know they’re not complicated things with “Undisputed” or “Unified” or anything like that.
(7) RANDY ORTON vs. JOHN CENA — World Hvt. Title and WWE Title Unification match
Orton came out first. Cena iced him as they delayed playing his music for a while. Orton got perturbed and yelled, “Come on!” Cena then came out to a mixed reaction. He said, as his aside to the camera, “Tonight is history.” Justin Roberts handled formal ring introductions. Cena took a close look at both belts right before they were raised up high. The bell rang at 9:17 p.m. Houston time.
Cole said it’s a big fight feel in Houston tonight. Cena took Orton down into a side headlock in the opening minutes. He squeezed and Orton winced. Orton stood and powered out. Cena shoulder blocked Orton down and went after some chairs at ringside. Orton met him at ringside and knocked him down, then grabbed a ladder. He slid it into the ring and set it up. Cena returned to the ring and hit Orton with the ladder. JBL said, “It didn’t take long for the toys to come out!”
A loud “Let’s Go Cena! / Cena sucks!” broke out. Orton swung a chair at Cena, but Cena blocked it. Orton hit Cena across the back at on the mat. Orton swung a chair at Cena at ringside, but Cena ducked and the chair hit the ringpost. Cena then hit Orton across his back with a chair. Cena set up a table at ringside as Orton crawled around ringside trying to recover from the chairshot. Cena set up a powerbomb, but Orton popped out of Cena’s grin and threw Cena into the ringside steps.
Orton picked up a ladder at ringside and again kept his eye on the prize, setting up the ladder mid-ring. He climbed the ladder slowly like he had never seen such a contraption before. The belts were not hanging very high relative to Money in the Bank briefcases. Cena finally got to the ring and yanked Orton down. At 9:00 Cena set up a ladder and tried to climb it, but Orton yanked him down. Orton took over for a couple minutes. When Orton set up a table in the corner, Cena made a comeback and signaled for the You Can’t See Me. Orton kicked him in the head as Cena waved his hand in Orton’s face. Orton then whipped Cena into the corner where a chair was wedged. Orton then went looking for a ladder,
Orton slid another ladder into the ring. He climbed the ladder and grabbed the World belt briefly. Cena got up and yanked Orton down. Then Cena climbed the ladder, but rather than reach for the belts above his head, he dropped a fist in one of the worst Five-Knuckle Shuffles you’ll see. Orton rolled to the ring apron. Cena broke down the ladder instead of climbing it and bashed Orton in the head with it. He knocked Orton off the ring apron; Orton bumped onto and through a table set up at ringside. The announcers declared Cena the winner of the unified championships for the greatest moment in his career, so obviously it wasn’t the finish.
At 13:00 Cena reached for the belts, but Orton made a quick recovery and ran back into the ring and tipped the ladder over, stopping the excited screams from the Cena fans in the crown. Orton gave Cena an RKO immediately. Both were slow to get up. Cena charged at Orton and clotheslined him over the top rope to the floor. Cena then bashed Orton with the top half of the ringside steps. Cole said that busted Orton open. Cena slid a table into the ring and leaned it into the corner. JBL said this win would cement Cena’s legacy.
When Cena went to get Orton on the floor, Orton hit him with the mic. Orton put Cena’s head on the steps and stomped on his head. Then he sat next to him with the mic in hand. He looked at Cena, mounted him, and then bashed him repeatedly in the forehead with the mic. Orton then disassembled the ringside announce table. He kindly removed the monitors, as not to hurt Cena too bad or break any valuable equipment. orton went for a Punt Kick, but Cena avoided it and gave Orton an Attitude Adjustment through the announce table. Both were slow to get up.
Cena got up first and set up the ladder in the ring. He climbed the ladder slowly, still selling the effects of the 19 minutes he’d been fighting Orton. He grabbed the World belt and began to unsnap it, but Orton moved the ladder. Cena then hung mid-air above the ring. Orton bashed him with a chair and Cena let go of the belts and dropped down. Orton continued to bash Cena across his back. Orton bled just a trickle down his nose Cena avoided a chair swing and instead speared Orton through the table propped in the corner. Both were again slow to get up.
Orton found handcuffs stashed underneath the floor mats. He cuffed Cena to the bottom rope. Cole said it was legal and a shrewd move. Lawler said, “It’s over.” JBL said Orton was about to become the Champion of Champions. Orton walked into the ring and dangled the key to the cuffs near Cena to taunt him. Then he ate the key. Nope. He threw it into the crowd. Cena tried to break the chain. Orton walked away from the ring and grabbed the mega-ladder. In the unintentionally funny moment of the night, he jammed or cut his thumb as he popped the braces loose so he could fold it and slide it into the ring. Orton bashed Cena in the head with the ladder before carrying it to the other side of the ring and sliding it in.
Orton set up the ladder. Cena untied the turnbuckle pad and began unscrewing the bottom rope. He then climbed the ladder and met Orton at the top with a big “surprise smile.” Cole called it ingenuity. JBL said, “This is nuts!” Cena used the steel turnbuckle to knock Orton off the ladder. Cena had to use his one free arm to grab the belts. Orton, though, got up and yanked on the bottom rope attacked to Cena to pull him down. He did, sending Cena head-first into another table leaning in the corner. Orton then climbed the ladder and began to take down the belts as Cena fans screamed in dismay. He milked the moment and unhooked the belts to win. JBL said they’ll talk about this night a hundred years from now
WINNER: Orton in 25:00 to become the WWE World Hvt. Champion. (***3/4)
(WK Reax: That was fun, but in a way that felt tone-appropriate for what was at stake. Cole did a great job on commentary, and all night they really built up the moment effectively as being truly historic. By not having a bunch of gratuitous tables, ladders, and chairs used earlier in the night, everything they did with them in this match felt fresher. The finish with the handcuffed arm and Cena detaching the bottom rope was also clever but stopped short of being hokey. The last bump Cena took head-first into the table looked nasty as his head near the bottom of the ladder where there was no give. It probably wasn’t the bump he was intending to take, but that might have made it look worse than it would have. They managed to not take many chances at all, and nothing reckless, yet got in enough spots with the tables, ladders, and chairs to live up to the stips. WWE is reaping the rewards now of dialing back the excessive violence with weapons in recent years.)
-As Orton celebrated, Vince McMahon’s music interrupted. Vince walked out with an applauding Stephanie and Triple H. They showed Cena in the corner shedding tears in a convincing display of profound disappointment as Orton celebrated with them.
(NOTE: Feel free to comment on the results of the show below in our Disqus reader comment area.)
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PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.
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He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
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