KELLER’S WWE TLC PPV REPORT
DECEMBER 16, 2018
SAN JOSE, CALIF.
STREAMED LIVE ON WWE NETWORK
-A video package opened the show with previews all of the key matches.
Announcers: Vic Joseph, Michael Cole, Renee Young
(1) CARMELLA & R-TRUTH vs. JINDER MAHAL & ALICIA FOX (w/The Singh Brothers)
Cole exclaimed that this was the first PPV match ever simulcast on Facebook Watch. Truth and Carmella sang Truth’s everlasting song together and got a nice ovation for the duet. They played to the crowd with Sharks jerseys, the local NHL pro hockey team. (Localized brown-nosing doesn’t belong on nationally televised events. It’s counter-productive in 95 percent of the country and comes across as cheap and desperate pandering.)
So a minute into the match Truth scored a two count on a countermove and Joseph said he did it to “win Mixed Match Challenge.” (That seemed an odd choice of wording or very prematurely calling the finish.) When Truth and Carmella cleared the ring of the heels, they broke into a Seven Second Dance Break which the Singh Brother joined in. (Sports Entertainment Amusement Time!!!) Truth and Carmella threw them out of the ring after a few seconds of dancing. Fox then took over on Carmella after that “not keeping the eye on the ball” moment from the “amusing” babyface team. Fox scored a two count with a Northern Lights Suplex. Cole noted how many teams were altered because of injuries, but the finals feature two teams who were together from the start. Carmella and Fox tagged out to Truth and Jinder. Renee noted that Truth “does not age; it’s unbelievable!” Fox put on her Captain’s Hat. Truth took it off and put it on himself. Truth avoided a Fox scissors kick and then Carmella kicked Fox twice and scored a near fall. Carmella then applied her Code of Silence for the quick tapout win.
WINNERS: Truth & Carmella.
(Keller’s Analysis: Get ready for the skits on TV of what Carmella and Truth do on their “all-expenses paid vacation anywhere in the world.” I hope they chose Newark, N.J.)
-Kayla Braxton congratulated them on their win. Carmella said it feels fabulous. She talked about this being their ticket to the “Grandest Stage of Them All!” (Oh God, that’s starting again.) Truth already selected where they were going. Carmella was excited and guessed great places. Truth said no to each of them and revealed they are going to Stamford, Conn. Carmella wasn’t happy and stormed off, then blew some kisses to the crowd and broke into laughter over the zaniness of it all.
-A Royal Rumble commercial aired.
Announcers: Tom Phillips, David Otunga, Corey Graves
(2) THE BAR (Sheamus & Cesaro) vs. THE NEW DAY (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods w/Big E) vs. THE USOS – WWE Smackdown Tag Team Title match
All action and good spots throughout as you’d expect, but not real story since it’s a three-way situation with rapid tags. In the end, Sheamus landed a Brogue Kick on Xavier.
WINNERS: The Bar in 12:00 to retain the Smackdown Tag Team titles. (**1/2)
-A commercial aired for WWE Shop merchandise starring Sasha Banks’s music.
-A commercial aired for Vince McMahon’s appearance on Raw tomorrow night “to shake things up.”
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young.
-They went to the announcers on camera. Cole stammered about McMahon arriving and said he’s returning to Raw because of Baron Corbin’s stint at Acting G.M. Graves said maybe McMahon is showing up to make sure Corbin is permanent G.M.
-Corbin made his ring entrance. Cole noted that on the Kickoff Show, Corbin was coaching Jo Jo on how to announce him as the new permanent G.M. of Raw later. Heath Slater was waiting in the ring as the referee for what would come next. Corbin thanked fans for the warm welcome. It wasn’t warm. It was all boos. He said he understands their dismay and a few complaints about his performance as G.M. Elect. He said he respects what the fans think so, “Too bad, get used to it.” He said after Slater counts to ten, Braun Strowman will lose by forfeit and he’ll be new permanent G.M. He asked for Slater to ring the bell and count.
(3) BRAUN STROWMAN vs. BARON CORBIN
Slater began counting as Corbin showboated and confidently counted along with him. Then Strowman’s music played. Baron let out a deep breath and looked worried. Strowman walked out with his right arm in a cast and sling. Corbin signaled the match can’t happen if Strowman is injured like that. Fans chanted “Get These Hands!” Strowman said he forgot to mention something very important. He said in a TLC match, there are no disqualifications. He said that means if somebody wanted to help him, it’d be legal. Apollo Crews showed up at ringside with a chair raised in the air. Crews yelled that Corbin has made his bed. Then Bobby Roode and Chad Gable showed up with chairs in hand, too. Then Finn Balor showed up, chair in hand, on another side of the ring. They all entered the ring. Graves said none of them want to be on the right side of history and it’s completely unfair. He said it’d be a slaughter. Fans chanted, “We Want Angle.” Slater took off his referee shirt and threw it at Corbin and then took the first punch. Everyone surrounded Corbin with chairs, then bashed him with chairs. Corbin fell to ringside. As Corbin walked up the ramp, Kurt Angle showed up and led the crowd in a “You suck!” chant. Corbin charged at Angle, but Angle rammed him with a chair and bashed him over and over until he rolled into the ring. Roode and Gable gave him their finisher. Crews landed a frog splash. Angle then gave Corbin his Angle Slam. Balor closed with the Coup de Grace. Then Strowman entered as Slater put his ref shirt back on. Strowman put his foot on Corbin’s chest and got a three count. Jo Jo said Corbin is no longer the general manager of Raw as a result of his loss.
WINNER: Strowman in 5:00.
-A video package aired on the Natalya-Ruby Riott match.
(4) NATALYA vs. RUBY RIOTT (w/Liv Morgan, Sarah Lovan) – Tables Match
A couple minutes in, Natalya knocked Liv off the ring apron and knocked her through the table at ringside. She clutched her ribs and weeded in pain. Referees checked on her. Natalya took it to Ruby at ringside. She yelled, “You wanna mess with my family, bitch!?” Then she slapped her hard and set up a table. When Logan got involved, Natalya slammed her through another table. Cole said now it’ll be one on one. Ruby set up the table in the ring that had Jim Neidhart’s life-size image on it. Natalya and Riot battled. Graves said this was as intense and hostile as he expected. Natalya pulled a table out from under the ring and it featured Riott’s life-sized image on it. Natalya smiled like this was some sweet revenge. She slid the table into the ring upside down. She then pullout a jacket worn by her father. She put it on and looked up into the sky. She entered the ring and went back on the attack. She set up the Riott table. Riott had so much time to recover during all of this, she made a predictable comeback (making Natalya look foolish for taking her time). She put Natalya on the table, but Natalya leaped off and slammed Riott’s face into the table. She put Riott on the table, trash-talked her, and climbed the ropes. Natalya again turned her back on Riott when she had barely done anything to slow her down to the point you’d feel safe doing it. Riott went for a rana, but Natalya blocked it and powerbombed her through the table to win. Renee called it a “goosebump moment for Natalya.”
WINNER: Natalya in 13:00. (*1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: Too gimmicky throughout, and Natalya just looked to foolish with how long she took to set up her moves, giving her opponent chance after chance to counter her. Slamming Riott through a table with Riott’s image on it was hardly some amazing revenge. Why would anyone care if they got slammed through a table with their own image on it.)
(5) DREW MCINTYRE vs. FINN BALOR
Balor flip dove onto Drew several minutes into the match as Drew dominated early. He threw Drew back into the ring. Drew countered right away with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for a near fall. Drew set up Balor for a top rope move. He leaped backwards with a slam for a near fall. Drew went after Balor at ringside, but Balor “trapped” Drew between the ring and the ring draping. Drew fought back and yanked Balor’s leg out from under him. He kneeled and smiled and ten headbutted Balor. Drew threw Balor into the ring. Dolph Ziggler showed up at ringside and superkicked Drew. Then he grabbed a chair and charged at at Drew, but Drew kicked the chair into his face. Drew entered the ring with the chair, but Balor dropkicked the chair into Drew as the ref talked to Drew. Balor then landed the Coup de Grace for the win.
WINNER: Balor in 12:00. (**1/2)
-More announce teams in different languages introduced themselves on camera.
(6) RANDY ORTON vs. REY MYSTERIO – Chairs Match
Rey got the better of Orton early at ringside. Rey did his signature slide under the bottom rope with a splash on Orton at ringside, but with a chair under him for extra impact. Orton came back a few minutes later with a snap powerslam for a two count. Orton wedged a chair in the corner of the ring, then grabbed another chair. Graves said it’s almost eerie how calm Orton was. At that point, Rey made a comeback and landed a 619. He climbed to the top rope. Orton knocked him off balance. Orton set up four chairs and went for an RKO, but Rey countered and knocked Orton onto a chair, and then rolled him up with a head scissors takeover for the three count. Orton threw chairs around in frustration.
WINNER: Mysterio in 12:00. (*3/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: This was what you should have expected. Methodical pacing as Orton meandered through the match deliberately with bursts of energy here and there with chairs being utilized. It was fine for what it was as a mid-card match.)
-Charlie Caruso interviewed Balor backstage. Ziggler walked in full of attitude and told Balor he didn’t have a chance and he should thank him. Balor told him to stay out of his business. Ziggler slapped Balor and threw him over some storage crates.
(Keller’s Analysis: If there was a way to get fans to care even less about Ziggler, they managed to do it the last few weeks.)
-Another commercial aired for Vince McMahon on Raw tomorrow night.
-A video aired on Rousey.
(7) RONDA ROUSEY vs. NIA JAX (w/Tamina) – Raw Women’s Title
Rousey ducked a few Jax swings at the start and then bobbed and weaved with a smile on her face. Rousey landed a few round kicks. Jax caught her leg. She swung, but Rousey rolled her up and went for an armbar. Jax used her strength to lift and sitout powerbomb Rousey. Jax headbutted Rousey and went for a legdrop, but Rousey moved. Rousey then applied an overhead chancery. Jax flipped Rousey into the air in a suplex position, but Rousey dropped down onto Jax’s back with a sleeper. She then rolled Jax down with an armbar attempt, but Jax rolled to the floor. Jax held on and swung Rousey into the barricade.
Back in the ring Rousey reversed Jax with a head scissors. Jax charged Rousey in the corner, but Rousey moved and Jax flew through the ropes to the floor. Rousey leaped off the top rope with a crossbody on Jax at ringside. They replayed it in slo-mo. Rousey landed a step-up knee and then a flying right punch for a two count. Both were slow to get up. Rousey climbed to the top rope and leaped off onto Jax. Jax rolled through and lifted Rousey, then gave her a Samoan Drop for a two count. Graves said if Jax hooked her leg and put more bodyweight on her, maybe there’d be a new champion.
Jax splashed Rousey in the corner. Then she lifted her on her shoulders and climbed to the second rope. Graves said Rousey is about to become “the flattest woman on the planet.” Rousey slipped free and powerbombed Jax to the mat for a believable near fall. Rousey signaled for her armbar. Tamina slid into the ring. Rousey went after her and turned her back to Jax. Jax hit her from behind and then swung at her. Rousey blocked it and then flipped her over and applied the armbar for the tapout win.
WINNER: Rousey in 11:00 to retain the Raw Women’s Title. (***1/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: I liked that quite a bit. I could have done without Rousey turning her back on Jax to go after Tamina, but at least Tamina was entering the ring and not just taunting her. There was drama, believable big spots leading to near falls for both, and a satisfying solid win for the babyface champ.)
-A commercial aired for WWE Shop.
-As Caruso approached Jax backstage to interview her, Becky Lynch walked up to her and asked, “Do you remember when you broke my face?” Then she punched her. “Keep your name out of my mouth,” she said. Then she walked away. Tamina ran up to check on Jax.
-They went to the announcers at ringside to comment, then they threw to the Styles-Bryan video package.
-Styles gave a brief backstage interview about wanting to get his title back.
(8) DANIEL BRYAN vs. A.J. STYLES – WWE Title match
Phillips said the WWE Universe doesn’t know what to make of this New Daniel Bryan. Graves sad Bryan had the leather in his WWE Title belt replaced with a vegan-friendly alternative. Phillips tried to turn Bryan’s thoughtful decision into something heelish, but it didn’t work at all. He said Bryan is condemning not just consumerism (“The preoccupation of society with the acquisition of consumer goods.”), but also capitalism (“An economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.”), WHICH BRYAN HAS NEVER EVEN HINTED AT. Otunga said he used to ride with Bryan and he was never a jerk like he has been lately.
Bryan bailed out to ringside after the bell rang to stall, I mean warm up a little more by jogging. He re-entered the ring. Graves said he’s so inspired by Bryan, he’s going to have solar panels put on his house next week. (Having the heel announcer try to make it sound like putting solar panels on his house is a heelish thing to say is bad business for WWE.
Back and forth good action as you’d expect from these two early, with Bryan then getting a stretch of time in control. He got a mixed response when he played to the crowd. Styles countered a charging Bryan with a clothesline mid-ring, and Bryan flip-bumped. Styles stomped away at Bryan in the corner and then landed a clothesline for a two count. After a brief battle at ringside, Styles threw Bryan back into the ring. Bryan begged off. Styles gave a charging Bryan a backbreaker for a two count. Bryan kneed his way out of a suplex attempt. Styles flip dove onto Bryan and attempted a reverse DDT, but Bryan blocked it, kneed Styles several times while locking his head in place. Bryan waited for Styles to sit up and then threw his No Kicks to Styles’s chest and a final one to the face for a near fall.
Styles landed a dragon screw and more kicks. Then he wrapped Bryan’s legs around the ringpost. Bryan crawled to mid-ring while struggling to put weight on his legs. Styles chop blocked his leg from behind. Styles eventually applied a single-leg crab mid-ring. Bryan crawled toward the bottom rope, but Styles pulled him back mid-ring. Bryan teased tapping, but instead countered into a Lebell Lock (the new name for the Yes Lock). Styles escaped and leveraged a two count on Bryan. Bryan countered with a two count of his own. Styles connected with Pelé Kick. Both were down and slow to get up.
A couple minutes later, after fans chanted “This is awesome!” for a while, Styles applied a Calf Crusher on Bryan. Bryan teased tagging as he sold his agony. Bryan rolled over and grabbed the bottom rope to force the break. Bryan clutched his left leg at ringside. Styles threw Bryan back into the ring, but Bryan rolled to the floor right away again. Styles went after Bryan, but Bryan punched Styles’s ribs and then threw him into the time keeper’s area. Styles came back with a Phenomenal Forearm off the ringside barricade. He threw Bryan back into the ring and then set up another Phenomenal Forearm. Bryan ducked and Styles almost hit the ref. Bryan charged, but Styles small packaged him. Bryan reversed it and scored a leverage three count to win.
WINNER: Bryan in 24:00 to retain the WWE Title. (****)
(Keller’s Analysis: Easily the best match of the night. Styles has a small excuse in that he paused to avoid hurting the ref after Bryan ducked his Phenomenal Forearm.)
-Caruso interviewed Rousey, who was chatting with Natalya about their respective victories. Natalya left. She asked Rousey about saying the next chapter with her and Charlotte will be written after she gets past Jax. Rousey said, “Payback is a bitch and I’m the baddest one on the planet.” Then she quickly left.
(Keller’s Analysis: They seem to be deciding that fewer words with Rousey is better than more words. I agree.)
-A Royal Rumble commercial aired.
-The announcers plugged Vince McMahon on Raw tomorrow night again.
-A long video package aired on Dean Ambrose-Seth Rollins.
(9) SETH ROLLINS vs. DEAN AMBROSE – WWE Intercontinental Title match
The match began 58 minutes into the third hour, meaning they’re going way past the three hour mark for the PPV portion and into hour five here for those who started with the Kickoff Show. Renee said Dean says he’s been the same all along and it’s the others changed. Graves disagreed with Renee, but she said it’s not her opponent, it’s a conversation she had with him. The crowd was buzzing at the start, but then the methodical pace early with Dean in control calmed them down.
Dean stayed in control for several minutes, eventually getting frustrated that Seth was kicking out of moves that never ever lead to pinfalls. Dean applied a cloverleaf mid-ring. Cole let everyone know that if Seth taps, it’s over. (Breaking news!) After a minute Seth powered his way to the bottom rope to force a break. Seth eventually landed a sling blade and a blockbuster to slow Dean. Seth dove through the ropes and hit his dive twice. Seth favored his knee when he landed, though. Seth climbed to the top rope slowly, but Dean met him up there. They battled. Seth went for a sunset flip off the top rope, but Seth’s knee gave out. Graves said that move led to Seth missing months of ring time. Seth stood and gave Dean a running buckle bomb followed by a two count. (A running buckle bomb is a cool move, but not a very convincing way to sell that you’re knee is hurt.)
They stood and exchanged punches mid-ring. They collided mid-ring with body presses. Things slowed down again until Seth landed a ripcord knee to Dean’s nose for a two count. Seth went for a frog splash, but Dean lifted his knees and scored a near fall. They stood mid-ring. Dean told Seth not to listen to the fans but rather listen to him. Seth was seething and punched Dean. The crowd was just exhausted here. Seth threw Dean into the barricade. Then back in the ring he grabbed Dean’s ears and talked trash. “I did not want this to come to this!” he said. Seth slapped Dean and then charged, but Dean surprised him with a Dirty Deeds for the win. Graves said, “We’re going to have a new champion.” And there was an actual pin and an actual new champion.
WINNER: Ambrose in 25:00 to capture the IC Title. (**1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: Too long, too slowly paced for the intensity of this feud, and Seth continually selling his knee, doing a move unnecessarily painful to his knee, and then selling his knee again over and over got old and made him seem like he’s not so bright. Wrestling events are getting too long, and it’s not fair for wrestlers who are trying to carve out their space on these bigger canvases and the crowd is exhausted and their matches which otherwise might seem epic just seem laborious and self-indulgent.)
-A video package aired on the main event.
(10) BECKY LYNCH vs. CHARLOTTE vs. ASUKA – TLC Match for the Smackdown Title
The bell rang half way into the fifth hour of the show since the Kickoff portion began. Graves said in a Triple Threat match there are often short-term alliances, but that might not be the case with Lynch who has made enemies with everyone on the roster. Becky and Asuka battled one-on-one after knocking Charlotte out of the ring early. Charlotte came back at Becky with a fallaway slam and a kip up. Fans “wooo’d” with her. Becky slid a table in the ring early. Charlotte stomped on the table, which reverberated onto Becky who fell down at ringside.
A minute later Asuka threw Becky off the top rope onto a ladder in the ring. Asuka set up a ladder. She took her time, as noted by Phillips. Then she climbed, but Charlotte caught up with he and knocked her off of it. Charlotte then climbed, but Asuka yanked her down. When Charlotte climbed again, Asuka powerbombed her off and through a table leaning in corner. Charlotte came up a bit short of the middle of the table which has the most give and her head hit the table in addition to her back and shoulders. She clutched her head like she was hurt. The ref checked on her.
Asuka then knocked Becky off the ring apron with a hip attack. Charlotte hit Asuka with a chair. Charlotte climbed to the top rope and set up the moonsault that looked good. Her arms hit Asuka and Becky and then both took basically phantom bumps. Graves sold it as “precise.” After Charlotte set up a table, Becky got up and bashed Charlotte across her back with the chair. She hit Asuka repeatedly with the chair. The crowd wasn’t responding at first. When she looked around the arena, she got some response. Charlotte then attacked her and threw her into the ringside barricade.
Charlotte went after Becky and threw her onto the announce table. Becky jabbed Charlotte with a chair and then put her on the table next to Asuka. Becky climbed to the top and leaped off. Asuka moved, but Charlotte didn’t, and the landing looked stiff on impact on Charlotte’s mid-section. The table collapsed. Charlotte cried out in agony as fans chanted “Holy sh–!” The ref checked on Charlotte who groaned in pain, but was moving around. They replayed it from two angles.
Back in the ring Asuka climbed the ladder, but like she was crawling in the desert toward a mirage of water. Becky climbed the opposite side and met her at the top. Charlotte entered and smashed Asuka and Becky with a kendo stick repeatedly. Charlotte climbed the ladder, but stopped to hit Asuka as Asuka began to return to the ring. She went to ringside and bashed Asuka with the stick. She yelled, “It’s my title. It’s mine!” Becky then came up to Charlotte and gave her a Becksploder Suplex. Asuka then went wild with the kendo stick on Becky. Asuka yelled to the crowd and got some cheers, but then Charlotte speared Asuka into the security barricade. “Holy hell!” yelled Phillips. “Charlotte Flair just obliterated Asuka!”
Becky entered the ring and climbed the ladder and reached for the belt. She was just short. Charlotte jumped into the ring and yanked her down. Charlotte said in a crazed way, “I need more!” Becky said she’s the champ and The Man and she’s staying that way. They went at it mid-ring. Becky threw Charlotte face-first into the ladder, then mounted her with punches. They rolled to the floor. The Spanish announcers got nervous and leaped over the barricade into the crowd for safety. Charlotte put Becky on the table and said a Man always bows down to a Queen. “I’m the Woman!” she shouted. Charlotte shoved a table over in the ring and then climbed to the top rope. She leaped off the top rope with a moonsault onto Becky, smashing them through the table. Both were slow to get up.
Charlotte got up first. She entered the ring and set up the ladder and climbed. Asuka met her at the top. Charlotte told her to stay down. Charlotte got her hand on the belt, but Asuka punched away at her. Becky brought another ladder into the ring and she climbed that one. Charlotte knocked Asuka down. Becky and Charlotte met on the second ladder to the side of the belt, out of reach. As they fought, Rousey tipped over the ladder. Then she walked away to boos from the crowd, swinging her shoulders with a cocky swagger. With Becky and Charlotte both down, Asuka climbed the ladder and grabbed the belt to become new champion.
WINNER: Asuka in 25:00 to capture the Smackdown Title. (****1/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good match, best of the night. A really good version of a TLC match. The Rousey interference is an escape hatch from having anyone “lose” this match under normal conditions with a big angle attached to it, which is whether that counts as a heel turn or not. The crowd wasn’t happy with her.)