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CALDWELL'S WWE TLC PPV REPORT 12/14: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of Cena vs. Rollins, Roman Reigns involved, Ambrose vs. Wyatt, set-up for the Royal Rumble, more

Dec 14, 2014 - 9:58:35 PM


December 14, 2014
Cleveland, Ohio
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor

Live PPV First Hour

The PPV opened with a video package equating cars crashing into each other to real-life human beings crashing through and into furniture on this night, de-humanizing the wrestlers as cartoon characters. Somewhere, C.M. Punk is not surprised.

Live in the arena, Michael Cole called this WWE's version of demolition derby. Lilian Garcia then introduced the opening ladder match for the Intercontinental Title. Out first was hometown star Dolph Ziggler to a big reaction. Ziggler came out dressed like Punk with a black zip-down jacket, black trunks, and long black boots. In the crowd were rows and rows of fans facing the hard camera holding up Ziggler signs. Luke Harper's music played next to bring out the IC champion.

Once both men were in the ring, Lilian Garcia handled formal ring introductions. Big pop for Ziggler announced from Cleveland. After a long stare down, the bell sounded to kick things off.

1 -- IC champion LUKE HARPER vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER -- Ladder match for the Intercontinental Title

The match quickly moved to the floor, where Harper chucked Ziggler over the guardrail into the timekeeper's area. Harper then ran back into the ring and set up a ladder to climb for the title, but Ziggler ran back into the ring and cut him off. No matter, as Harper smashed Ziggler into the ladder. JBL noted the human body is not meant to go through this punishment, and the announcers quickly talked over him. Harper then sideslammed Ziggler on the floor to continue dominating early on.

Back in the ring, Harper tried to climb the ladder again, but Ziggler cut him off. No matter, as Harper bashed Ziggler face-first into the ladder before dropping the ladder down onto Ziggler. Ziggler rolled to the floor, so Harper tried a suicide dive, but Ziggler held up a ladder and Harper crashed into the ladder before falling down hard on a ladder rung. Harper sold an injured left arm as the camera zoomed in on a cut on Harper's arm.

As Harper sold, Ziggler tried to run back into the ring, set up a ladder, and climb, but Harper used his one good arm to cut off Ziggler and throw him down to the mat. Harper wanted to follow with a powerbomb, but Ziggler cut him off and dropped Harper onto a ladder. Harper followed with a powerbomb onto a ladder propped up in the corner, cutting Ziggler's back and side.

Harper followed up with a slingshot into the bottom rope with Ziggler's head inside a ladder. Ziggler came up bleeding from the forehead, drawing medical attention from a ref and then a new ringside physician. Meanwhile, Harper was climbing a ladder in the ring, so Ziggler shook off the medic and scampered back into the ring to cut off Harper. But, both men fell hard to the mat after exchanging blows.

Reset at 12:00 with Harper going for another powerbomb into a ladder, but Ziggler blocked and gave Harper a facebuster into the ladder. Ziggler, bleeding from the forehead, set up a ladder looking to climb for the title, but Harper pulled him down, only to take a mid-air DDT from the challenger.

Both men came back to their feet and Ziggler smashed Harper off the ring apron onto a ladder propped up across the announce table. Harper lay flat on his back on the ladder, but he saw Ziggler climbing a ladder back in the ring, so Harper got up and shoved Ziggler off the ladder down onto the mat. But, Ziggler recovered and jumped off one ladder onto the main ladder in the middle of the ring, only to have Harper cut him off again. Harper climbed up a second ladder, but Ziggler smashed him to the mat. Ziggler then reached up and grabbed the IC Title belt. The hometown crowd roared and Ziggler posed on top of the ladder before selling exhaustion.

Post-match, the announcers repeated the same mantra from Dolph's previous IC Title wins that winning the IC Title means making the next big Superstar. WWE tried to make winning the de-valued IC Title sound like a huge deal to follow up on Dolph winning the Survivor Series main event three weeks ago.

WINNER: Ziggler at 16:40 to capture the IC Title. Tough to watch these matches with all that's known about long-term health effects and how close Edge was to being paralyzed if he wrestled one more of these matches, even if wrestlers know how to protect each other, hit the sweet spot, etc. That aside, the emotion was strong in Ziggler's city and WWE tried to keep Harper strong by dominating throughout.

In-ring: The Usos were introduced for the Tag Title match up next. The Miz's music played to a strong reaction in Mike Mizanin's hometown. Or, were they cheering for Damien Sandow? It appears to be Sandow. Before the match started, WWE replayed the pre-show exchange between Miz and Jimmy Uso's wife, Naomi. Jimmy wanted a piece of Miz before the bell sounded.

2 -- WWE tag champs THE MIZ & DAMIEN SANDOW vs. THE USOS (JIMMY & JEY USO) -- WWE Tag Title match

Miz started things off, so Sandow mimicked his actions on the ring apron. Sandow seemed to be more elaborate with his mimicking to take more of a spotlight and draw more cheers, continuing to build toward the eventual split. The Usos double-suplexed Miz (while Sandow stood upside-down in the corner before throwing himself down). Then, Naomi was shown watching The Usos double-splash the tag champs on the floor.

Back in the ring, Miz cut off Jey Uso and declined to give the audience what they wanted to see - a tag to Sandow. Jey then dropped Miz in the corner and wanted a corner bomb, so Sandow propped himself up in the opposite corner to sell the effects of Uso eventually butt-splashing Miz in the corner. Uso wanted a follow-up on Sandow, but Sandow rolled out of the ring and Miz big-booted Uso in the face.

The action broke down after Jimmy tagged in, then Miz dropped Jey with Skullcrushing Finale. But, Jimmy cut off Miz and slapped on a half-Boston Crab. Miz reached the rope for a break, then walked into a superkick. Uso wanted a top-rope Superfly Splash, but Miz rolled out of the ring. Miz and Sandow grabbed the Tag Title belts to leave, but Uso flew over the top rope and Miz shoved Sandow in the way. Miz then smashed Uso with the belts for a DQ.

WINNERS: Usos via DQ at 7:17; Miz & Sandow retained the Tag Titles. This came across and was booked like a Q7 TV match on Raw.

Backstage: Byron Saxton brought in Mr. MITB Seth Rollins, who was joined by Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble. Rollins vowed to beat John Cena tonight, not only to take away Cena's #1 contender status, but also to get revenge for Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Rollins said "the vigilante" Sting is also to be blamed for what happened at Survivor Series. Rollins closed with a vow that he will force Cena to bring The Authority back.

Ringside: Numerous sets of ringside stairs were shown assembled ringside ahead of the Erick Rowan vs. Big Show match. Show marched out first and surveyed steel steps on the way to the ring. Rowan was introduced next.

3 -- BIG SHOW vs. ERICK ROWAN -- Stairs match

Rowan got in early offense, but Show took control on the floor. Show whipped Rowan into ring steps, then stood over Rowan before rolling him back in the ring. Show continued to dominate, opening up Rowan's onesie to work over his chest with chops and slaps. Show tried to drop ring steps onto Rowan's face, but Rowan moved and the announce table took the blow, freaking out Cole. "Big Show sucks" chant from the crowd, angering Show even more. Show jabbed ring steps into Rowan's gut, then rolled him back into the ring.

In the ring, Show rammed Rowan face-first into ring steps wedged in the corner, then clotheslined him. Show trash-talked the crowd, giving Rowan time to recover and smash Show with a set of steel stairs. Rowan then climbed to the second rope with steps in hand and tried to end Show, but Show moved just in time and Rowan hurt himself when the stairs rebounded into his face.

On the floor, both men crashed into a collection of stairs, drawing an obligatory "demolition derby" reference from JBL. Show then rolled Rowan back into the ring, where he chokeslammed him right onto the stairs. Rowan sold intense pain, then Show KO Punched him to the back of the head. Show checked Rowan for life, then rolled him over. Before covering Rowan, Show placed ring steps on top of Rowan, which he used to pin Rowan for the win. Cole immediately tried to cover for Rowan getting squashed by saying Show had respect for Rowan that he needed to use the steps to pin Rowan.

WINNER: Show at 11:14. Apparently they have big plans for Show going forward, otherwise it's questionable to have a rising big-man babyface take such a dominant loss in a match centered on physicality and strength

A TV spot for Total Divas aired. It returns January 4.

Live PPV Second Hour

Video Package: John Cena vs. Seth Rollins. So much for Rollins saying on weekend media that he's main-eventing the TLC PPV.

Before the match started, Paul Heyman walked down to ringside to represent the interest of WWE World Hvt. champion Brock Lesnar. Heyman stood ringside, then Seth Rollins was introduced. As Rollins came out with Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble, Cole relayed the news that Brock will defend the WWE Title at the Royal Rumble PPV against Cena or a new #1 contender if Rollins wins this match. After a pause, John Cena was introduced for a rare non-main event PPV match.

4 -- JOHN CENA vs. SETH ROLLINS -- Tables match -- if Cena loses, he loses his #1 contender status to the WWE World Title

Loud dueling chant of "Let's Go Cena / Cena Sucks" as the bell sounded. Cena and Rollins then met in the middle of the ring and fists started flying. Cena got the best of the exchange, so J&J provided a brief distraction that allowed Rollins to take control. Cena regained control, so J&J got involved again, cutting off Cena trying to set up a table ringside. Cole called this ridiculous, but it's No DQ. JBL said maybe Cena needs some friends to neutralize them.

J&J decided to just enter the ring instead of interfere from the outside, helping Rollins retain control. The announcers said there doesn't appear to be any way for Cena to win this match, stacking the deck and creating a sense of despair. Cena made a customary comeback with the sit-out slam before dropping a Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena teased an AA through a table propped up in the corner, but J&J hit the ring to attack Cena. They tried a triple powerbomb, but Cena kicked Rollins in the gut before knocking the stooges to the floor.

On the outside, Cena beat up both security members before picking up a portion of the guardrail by the production area. Cena bashed all three heels with the guardrail, then suplexed Noble back-first onto the guardrail. Cena also felt the effects, so Rollins smashed him from behind. Rollins and Mercury double-teamed Cena, then posted him back ringside. They tried to run a table through Cena, but Cena ducked and they smashed the table into the ringpost.

Across the ringside area, Cena scooped up Mercury and gave him an AA at the feet of the timekeeper. But, Rollins whipped Cena into the guardrail. Rollins set up two tables ringside, then tried to suplex Cena from the ring apron through the tables below, but Cena blocked and suplexed Rollins back into the ring.

Reset at 11:30. After a mid-ring exchange, Rollins grabbed his MITB briefcase on the floor, then bashed Cena with it back in the ring. Rollins proudly held up his case, then set up a table in the ring. Rollins took too long to follow up, allowing Cena to scoop him up for an AA, but Rollins bumped the ref. Cena and Rollins teased table spots as the ringside medic checked on the ref.

Cena scooped up Rollins from the second rope and gave him an AA through the table below. "Cena wins!" Cole declared at 15:23. But, the ref was down. Joey and Noble then cleared the ring of evidence of the table spot before putting the boots to Cena. Meanwhile, Cole and JBL argued about the referee's decision being final. Rollins and Co. tried to give Cena a triple powerbomb through a fresh table, but Cena escaped, cleared Rollins, and gave J&J a double AA through the table, popping the pro-Cena fans.

Reset at 17:40 with Rollins cutting off Cena. Rollins wanted to send Cena through the Double Tables on the floor, but Cena blocked and they hit each other, sending them through the tables right in front of the referee. The ref called for the bell before WWE replayed Cena and Seth going through the tables at the same time. Two other refs spilled out to consult with original ref Mike Chioda, then each referee held up one man's hand. Mike Chioda pulled down both hands, then told Lilian Garcia that he could not determine a winner, therefore the match will restart.

Upon the restart, Rollins attacked Cena, who questioned why the match was re-starting. Rollins knocked Cena to the floor, then cleared the announce table, but Cena gave Rollins an AA right on top of the announce table. The table did not break, though, so Seth did not lose. After everyone collected themselves, Big Show marched down to the ring and punched Cena in the gut. Show tried to chokeslam Cena, but The Shield's music suddenly played. The females shrieked as Roman Reigns came out through the crowd. Like Sting at Survivor Series, Reigns was apparently on standby in the event of 1,000 things happening, including a restart and table not breaking.

Reigns stormed the ring, speared Show through a table, Superman-punched Rollins, and Cena sent Rollins through a table to win the match. Reigns left the ring after taking out Show, then Cena celebrated alone in the ring. Cena looked down at Heyman, who nodded along understanding that his client faces Cena in six weeks at the Royal Rumble. Cole said the WWE Title match is set for the Rumble.

WINNER: Cena at 21:25 (18:13 original length and a 3:12 restart) to retain the #1 contender status. Now it's apparent why Show went over strong against Rowan to set up a feud against "the chosen one" Reigns. The match itself was a classic Cena gimmick match with the deck stacked, a "controversial" outcome/non-finish, and Cena hitting the exclamation point in victory at the end. Even if Reigns's late involvement into the match was illogical, it was better than being shown winning a big award at Monday's Raw, then doing nothing when the babyfaces and heels got into a big brawl at the end of the show.

Studio Panel: Renee Young brought in Booker T and Alex Riley to recap what just happened and hype Cena vs. Lesnar at the Rumble.

Backstage: Byron Saxton brought in the Bella Twins to discuss Nikki Bella's Divas Title defense against A.J. Lee. Byron tried to get to the heart of the matter of why Brie is suddenly friendly with her sister after everything she put her through, but Brie cut off the question and said she's sick of being asked about that. She said they're not going to let a little girl like A.J. stand between them.

In-ring: A.J. Lee bounced out to the ring holding her Slammy award as Lawler poked fun at A.J. for being cold hugging him at the Slammys. Nikki was introduced next along with Brie.

5 -- Divas champion NIKKI BELLA (w/Brie Bella) vs. A.J. LEE -- Divas Title match

Once the bell sounded, Cole tried to explain why Brie is associating with Nikki after her 30 days of personal service that "blood is thicker than water." Maybe, maybe that would fly in the face of Nikki treating Brie terribly for months if Nikki were not scripted to go way over-the-top saying she wished Brie died in the womb. That's the point of no return. Nikki dominated early on, but A.J. came back with the Black Widow. Nikki escaped by ramming A.J. into the corner, though. A series of nearfalls ensued as Brie sold concern ringside.

A.J. had Nikki pinned with a Shining Wizard, but Brie interfered from the outside. So, the ref booted Brie, but Nikki pulled a Rick Martel spraying A.J. in the face with a substance. Nikki then finished off A.J. with the Rack Attack for the win. Post-match: A.J. sold an eye/facial injury as Nikki celebrated on the way out. Medics checked on A.J.

WINNER: Nikki at 7:38 to retain the Divas Title. Yeah, not a good way to follow up on Charlotte and Sasha Banks's offering on NXT three nights ago. Apparently the heat is that Nikki is not only undeserving of the title because she cheats to win, but because she is presented as inferior to the Developmental roster.

Backstage: Tom Phillips brought in Roman Reigns for a follow-up interview. Reigns cut off Tom's first question, saying he vowed to be back. But, not just return, but make a big impact. He did that tonight taking out Show and Rollins, then vowed to top what he did last year in the Royal Rumble. Reigns inserted several dramatic pauses in his speech, which walked a fine line of almost sounding like he forgot his line.

In-ring: WWE quickly moved along to the Chairs match of the show.

6 -- RYBACK vs. KANE -- Chairs match

Both men started things off with chairs in their hands. The crowd quickly lost interest despite chairs being used frequently. The novelty of weapons being used in matches has clearly gone away, combined with Kane being a tired character in his role and Ryback being up-and-down since returning to TV. Kane took control with a clothesline to Ryback, who was seated in a chair. Kane then chucked tons of chairs into the ring before teasing a chokeslam. But, Ryback blocked and dumped Kane onto the seat of a chair.

The crowd tried to rally with a "Feed Me More" chant for Ryback, who stood up and bashed Kane repeatedly with chair shots to the back. Ryback measured Kane for a Meathook Clothesline, but Kane chucked a chair into Ryback's face. Kane followed with a chokeslam, but Ryback kicked out. No finish for a chair shot to the face and a chokeslam. Ryback then recovered and hit the Meathook Clothesline for the pin and the win.

WINNER: Ryback at 9:50. Ryback needed the win, but "Corporate Kane" is just another villain now that he's detached from an organized association of heels while still dressed in slacks and shoes. Also, the tone of this not being important was set on Raw when they feuded at the merchandise and hot dog stands.

Live PPV Third Hour

In-ring: U.S. champion Rusev was introduced to the ring with Lana. Lana prepared to make an anti-U.S. speech, focusing on the price of oil, but Jack Swagger's music cut her off one sentence into her speech. Swagger marched down to the ring looking to win the U.S. Title and get revenge for Zeb Colter, not necessarily in that order.

7 -- U.S. champion JACK SWAGGER vs. RUSEV (w/Lana) -- U.S. Title match

Swagger started hot by dominating Rusev, but he missed a Swaggerbomb. Rusev tried to kick Swagger, but Swagger grabbed him for the Patriot Lock. Rusev fought out, then drove Swagger to the mat and slapped on The Accolade submission. Swagger crawled to the ropes, then grabbed the ropes for a break. But, Rusev quickly re-applied his finisher right in the middle of the ring. The ref checked Swagger for life, then showed life as the crowd turned around to look at something in the back of the arena. Swagger did a dramatic deal breaking free, but the crowd was looking at something else and did not react. (Ben Tucker reported from the arena that fans got into a fight at ringside.)

Swagger tried to respond with the Patriot Lock, but Rusev broke free and rolled to the outside. On the floor, Rusev surprised Swagger with a standing sidekick. Swagger made it back into the ring just before ten, then walked into another kick to the face. Rusev followed with the Patriot Lock and this time it was good for a submission win.

WINNER: Rusev via submission at 4:50. What it needed to be with Rusev convincingly winning, but same deal from the summer when Rusev beat Swagger on back-to-back PPVs.

Video Package: The "Final Battle" between Brock Lesnar and John Cena for the WWE Title at the Royal Rumble.

Announcers: Cole and Co. reset the show and hyped the Cena-Lesnar title match at the Rumble.

Video Package: Bray Wyatt has set the tone of his feud against Dean Ambrose by trying to play mind games with Ambrose. But, Dean has responded with craziness of his own.

In-ring: Dean Ambrose was introduced first for the main event. Lilian Garcia announced Dean from Cincinnati, Ohio, which didn't go over too well after the Bengals beat the Browns 30-0 earlier in the day. But, the crowd tried to ignore it and get behind the popular Ambrose. Bray Wyatt was introduced next, but Ambrose cut off Bray's intro. They brawled on the floor, then to the other side of the ring.


No opening bell as they fought into the crowd near the PPV pre-show set, clearing Alex Riley from the scene. Dean ran off the pre-show table to splash Bray on the floor, then they both spilled back over the guardrail to the ringside area. Ringside, Dean picked up some kendo sticks and re-entered the ring. Both men were in the ring for the first time, but still no opening bell.

In any event, Bray offered himself as a sacrifice, so Dean popped him with the sticks. Dean tried to follow with a top-rope splash, but Bray got up and punched Dean off the turnbuckles through a table down below on the floor. Bray then wedged a kendo stick into the top turnbuckle and followed up by ramming Dean face-first into the stick. Fortunately, Dean did not lose an eye. But, the crowd didn't react much to what should have been a lethal move since WWE is so deep into a stunt-bump show. Bray tried a pin, but Dean kicked out.

Ambrose and Wyatt traded control, then Bray teased Sister Abigail, but Dean slipped out, only to take a monstrous lariat to the chest. Dean rolled to the floor to catch his breath, so Bray gave chase. But, Dean beat him up and put him on a table. Dean then went flying off a ladder to splash Dean through a table. Bray wasn't done, as he put Bray on another table, then climbed a taller ladder to deliver another big splash through a table. Those two table spots weren't enough for a finish or to satisfy a few ringside fans making noise, who chanted, "One more time."

Dean picked up a limp Wyatt and dragged him back toward the ring, then rolled him inside. But, he couldn't follow up since he was injured from all of the big spots. Suddenly, Bray woke up from two table spots and dropped Dean with Sister Abigail out of nowhere. Bray covered, but Dean kicked out at two. Moments later, Dean came back with Dirty Deeds, then rolled Bray over for a two count.

The match moved to the floor, where Ambrose chucked a chair at the Spanish announce table. Dean then grabbed a TV monitor and checked himself out on the video feed. Dean looked up toward the entrance stage, then got a bright idea. Dean limped toward the production area, where a giant ladder was standing by. Dean dragged it down to ringside while Bray continued to sell at ringside.

Dean set up the ladder in front of the Spanish announce table, politely asked the announcers to clear out, and prepared to go after Bray, but Bray cut him off with chair shots after playing opossum. Dean blocked a chair shot near the stairs, then bashed Bray onto the Spanish announce table. Dean climbed to the top of the super ladder, then came crashing down onto Bray with an elbow through the Spanish table. Refs immediately checked on both men as uncensored "holy s---" chants were picked up by the audio feed for the second time in the match.

After both men sold on the table scraps, they woke up and tried to slug each other with right hands. They eventually made it to their feet and made it back into the ring. Dean picked up the TV monitor, then tried to bash Bray, but the monitor had a cord and it pulled Dean backwards to the corner. Dean then tried to rip the cord away, but it 'exploded" in Dean's face. Dean sold not being able to see as he stumbled to his feet, then Bray dropped him with Sister Abigail. It was good for the win.

WINNER: Unofficially Wyatt at 0:00 since the opening bell never sounded. Not surprising to see Dean lose another PPV main event after WWE booked him to lose the Seth Rollins blow-off match two months ago. It's just a comically bad finish affecting a rising babyface, but they established at HIAC that Ambrose is just a seat-filler at the Top Babyface table. The crowd didn't really invest in the match - they invested in some big spots - but this feud was hurt by (a) its placement on the show following a series of stunt-bump matches, (b) weak TV storytelling since HIAC and (c) nothing tangible on the line in a PPV main event.

Post-match, medics checked on Dean Ambrose, who sold an eye injury. Bray crawled over toward Dean to laugh in his face, then he walked out of the ring and headed to the back. Cole unenthusiastically said this is why they call it WWE's version of demolition derby. The PPV signed off with a final shot of Bray walking to the back.

After the PPV signed off at 10:52 p.m. EST, WWE Network picked up with a brief post-game show from the studio set. Renee asked Paul Heyman what he discussed with Brock Lesnar after John Cena became #1 contender, but Heyman refused to answer. They cut back to Ambrose stomping the TV monitor out of frustration after realizing that he lost the match. WWE cut away from the panel to the announce trio to break down the top stories from the PPV. Back to Renee and Co. for final thoughts on the PPV, including setting up Cena vs. Lesnar at the Rumble.

Overall, it's apparent why WWE put Cena vs. Rollins earlier in the show to make sure the crowd was peaking and had not faded out (which was the case with tonight's main event) since Cena-Rollins was important to set up the Cena vs. Lesnar re-match and spotlight "chosen one" Roman Reigns. They needed a hot crowd for their big angle of the night and recognized the crowd wouldn't be at that level by the time they got to the main event of a stunt show.

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