TLC 2018 KICKOFF
DECEMBER 16, 2018
STREAMED LIVE ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY MIKE MEYERS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Kickoff Panel: Jonathan Coachman, Booker T, Sam Roberts, David Otunga
Coach introduced the four-man panel, and Booker T used the phrase “getting over” twice during this brief segment. The foursome took turns doing a quick rundown of tonight’s matches, including the Cruiserweight Championship (Buddy Murphy vs. Cedric Alexander), which was finally announced to take place during this Kickoff show. Otunga indicated that Strowman is still injured, but there have been “rumours” that he may show up tonight for his match against Corbin.
Panel discussions on:
- Rollins vs. Ambrose
- Bryan vs. Styles
- Corbin vs. Strowman
While reviewing the gang attack that injured Strowman’s elbow, Booker T claimed that there is no room for friends in this business, but there is room for buddies or pals, and when you have pals, you can get a lot done. Roberts predicted that Strowman will show up tonight if he has to drag his bad arm to the ring.
The cameras cut to backstage, where Jojo was with Slater (in referee garb) and Corbin. Jojo was reciting a would-be post-match announcement of Corbin’s victory via forfeit from a hard copy. Charlie entered the room with a microphone and Corbin told her that he wants her to interview him after his win tonight. Charlie informed him that she was actually there to get his comments on the rumors of Strowman’s presence in the arena. Corbin shook his head and declared that he would destroy Strowman’s good elbow if he did show up, and that he won’t respond to rumors, which he just did. He then turned his attention back to Jojo who resumed practicing her announcement.
Cruiserweight Championship announce team: Nigel McGuinness, Vic Joseph, and Percy Watson
(1) CEDRIC ALEXANDER vs. BUDDY MURPHY (C) – Cruiserweight Championship match
The wrestlers exchanged go-behinds, wristlocks, and a series of fast-paced mat moves resulting in simultaneous kip ups and a stare down. Murphy stunned Alexander with a reverse elbow but then missed a clothesline attempt. Alexander used a head scissors to flip Murphy through the ropes and out to ringside. Alexander bounced off the far ropes, warming up to fly over the top rope, but Murphy had entered the ring so Alexander leapfrogged him before leveling him with a running dropkick. Alexander pinned for a two-count.
Alexander laid in a chop across Murphy’s chest, but when Alexander approached for more violence, Murphy stooped and lifted Alexander up and over the top rope in with a back body drop maneuver. Alexander landed on his feet on the apron, and when Murphy charged angrily at him, Alexander hauled off and smashed Murphy with a big right forearm. Alexander entered the ring and approached the stunned Murphy, but Murphy returned fire with a knee lift that sent Alexander to the mat and out to ringside.
Murphy rolled Alexander back into the ring and climbed the corner and landed a flying double knee drop across Alexander’s shoulders. Murphy rolled him over and covered for a two-count. Murphy locked in an arm bar and rained down elbows across Alexander’s chest before covering for another two-count. Murphy applied a rear chinlock, but Alexander got to his feet and struck Murphy with a forearm to the chest, breaking the hold. Alexander pushed Murphy into the corner, but when he charged at Murphy he was met with a big boot to the jaw. Murphy hopped up to sit on the top turnbuckle and choked Alexander from behind, lifting him off the mat, leaving his feet dangling as he struggled to breathe. Darth Vader would be proud. Murphy relinquished the hold at the referee’s urging, and Alexander slumped face-first to the mat while Murphy watched from his perch.
Murphy stood up on the second rope and jumped toward Alexander, with seemingly no plan of attack. Accordingly, Alexander caught him with a side kick to the midsection, sending Murphy to the canvas, clutching his gut. Both men spent some time on the mat recovering while the commentators spoke on the separation being created between the wrestlers. Alexander got to his feet first and backed into a corner, and Murphy had done the same in the opposite corner. Alexander charged at him and drove his shoulder into the midsection of Murphy, and with one fluid motion he had slithered through the ropes to the apron to deliver a high kick to Murphy’s face. He completed the trifecta of corner moves with a knee lift to Murphy’s head as he was draped on the middle rope.
Alexander got back into the ring and hopped at Murphy and landed a flatliner, which led Murphy to roll out to the floor. Alexander bounced off the far ropes and smashed Murphy into the ringside barricade by way of a wrecking ball dropkick through the ropes. Alexander rolled Murphy back into the ring before ascending the ring apron and performing a springboard clothesline off the top rope, again leveling Murphy onto the mat. Alexander covered for a two-count. Nigel indicated that the champion is hurt and staggered as Murphy continued to grasp his ribs.
Alexander got to his feet and lifted Murphy up by his hair. The wrestlers exchanged moves and reversals before Murphy rolled up Alexander for a pin with a handful of tights, but it was only good for a two-count. Murphy complained momentarily to the referee about the count before charging at Alexander, but Alexander intercepted and landed a Michinoku driver and a pin for a two-count.
As both men got to their feet, Alexander struck Murphy with a right cross, causing Murphy to slump face first to the mat. Alexander lifted him and landed another forearm. Murphy appeared to be down to a single cog of energy, but somehow recharged and landed strikes of his own, including a stomp onto Alexander’s foot. Murphy ducked an enzuigiri attempt but Alexander still landed a big European uppercut, dropping Murphy to his knees. Alexander approached a corner and was followed by Murphy, who took a reverse elbow to the skull. Alexander began scaling the corner with his back to Murphy, and Murphy reached through the corner ropes to yank Alexander’s head downward so he was bent over the top turnbuckle. This allowed passage for Murphy’s boot, as he superkicked Alexander between the middle and top ropes. Murphy scooped Alexander off the turnbuckle and landed a powerbomb into a pin and a two-count.
Murphy moved Alexander’s lifeless body out and onto the ring apron. Murphy took his time, though, allowing Alexander to spring into action and hoist Murphy onto his shoulders to slam him back-first onto the apron. With a true sense of urgency, Alexander rolled Murphy into the ring for a pin and two-count. Again, with no hesitation, Alexander sprung to his feet and lifted Murphy into the Lumbar Check. Vic exclaimed, “We’ve got a new champion!” so we may as well check the score of the Patriots / Steelers game. Predictably, Murphy stopped the count by placing his boot on the bottom rope. For literally 30 seconds Alexander made faces indicating that he couldn’t believe he didn’t just win – what happened to his relentlessness?
Murphy had rolled out to ringside during Alexander’s Oscar clip, and Alexander eventually joined him on the floor. Alexander struggled to slowly roll the dead weight of Murphy back into the ring. Alexander flopped awkwardly toward Murphy, and Murphy dropped to the mat and thrusted Alexander face-first into the middle turnbuckle. Nigel told us that the turnbuckle didn’t taste good. In the middle of the ring, Murphy scooped up Alexander and planted him to the mat with the Murphy’s Law and covered for the three count.
WINNER: Buddy Murphy by pinfall.
(Meyers’ Analysis: A predictably good cruiserweight match. Unfortunately not seen by a full arena. The only reason the Mixed Match Challenge final was not relegated to the Kickoff Show is because it inexplicably has Royal Rumble implications, so regrettably this title match took place outside of the main card. Great fast-paced action and some hard-hitting violence. My only complaint was Alexander’s excessive bewilderment when Murphy got the rope break on a pin.)
-Panel discussion of Jax vs. Rousey.
-Backstage again we saw Lynch being asked about the kendo stick attack she suffered at the hands of Asuka. Becky indicated that she would rip Asuka’s head off for that attack, and that she’d also rip Flair’s head off for being Flair. She said she knows the deck is stacked against her, but failed to provide any specific percentages regarding the likelihood of her victory. Becky asked when was the last time a womens match main evented a dual-branded pay per view – indicating that the women’s championship match would headline tonight’s TLC show. She managed to bring Jax and Rousey into the discussion by claiming that her Smackdown title reign is propping up the Raw championship. She closed the interview by saying, “Now that I think about it… Seeing as both rosters are here, I might take a little stroll around the building, hand out a few receipts. Because there’s a lot of debts to be collected when The Man comes around.” Tremendous.
-Panel discussion of Lynch’s aforementioned promo.
-After a horrific trailer for Aquaman, Elias was introduced in the ring in his standard position on a stool under a spotlight, Fender acoustic electric in hands. He strummed his signature E minor and introduced himself to a decent crowd response. A guitar was shown hanging above the ring in silhouette in a nearly artistic fashion. As he began his song, Lashley’s music played, and Lashley made his entrance with Rush.
(2) ELIAS vs. BOBBY LASHLEY (w/Lio Rush)
Lashley took charge early on with power moves to Elias. Lashley began hoisting a ladder into the ring, but Elias drop kicked the ladder through the ropes, knocking it and Lashley to the floor. Elias exited to ringside and stomped on the ladder which was draped across Lashley’s torso. Elias tossed not one, but two ladders into the ring while Lashley recovered at ringside. Elias set one of the ladders up beneath the suspended guitar and began to climb, but Rush entered the ring and threatened to topple Elias over. The crowd booed, and Rush tried to escape through the ropes but Elias caught him. Elias whipped Rush toward the ladder but Rush ducked and slid out beneath the bottom rope. Meanwhile, Lashley entered the ring and knocked the ladder over on his way to attack Elias.
Elias countered and fired shots at Lashley before leveling him with a knee lift to the head. Elias propped the second ladder up against a corner and went to work on Lashley in the opposite corner. Elias began to whip Lashley toward the corner, but Lashley reversed and it was Elias who collided spine-first with the ladder. Lashley followed up by ramming into Elias, which sent Lashley to the mat.
Elias managed to turn the tables during a break and knocked Lashley to the mat with a mule kick, but Lashley recovered and suplexed Elias through the air and onto the corner ladder, back-first. Lashley pinned Elias into the corner with a ladder across his neck and delivered multiple blows and a kick to the ladder. Lashley set up the first ladder in the center of the ring and began to climb, but Elias caught him and powerbombed Lashley through the corner ladder as Rush climbed into the ring again for more antics. Rush and Elias simultaneously climbed opposite sides of the ladder and met at the top, where Elias knocked Rush to the mat. Elias grabbed the suspended guitar and was declared the winner, but suffered a beat down a the hands of Lashley and Rush.
(Meyers’ analysis: Slightly surprised to see this on the Kickoff, but whatever. It was a brief showcase for both Elias and Lashley to absorb some ladder violence. The predictable winner won, and then took a predictable heel beat down.)