12/20 WWE TLC PPV REPORT: Keller’s match results and analysis including McIntyre vs. Styles, Reigns vs. Owens, Fiend vs. Orton, Sasha vs. Carmella

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor


DECEMBER 20, 2020

Raw Announcers: Tom Phillips, Samoa Joe, Byron Phillips

Smackdown Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves

-A video package aired on TLC overall.

-Phillips introduced the show as the camera panned the ThunderDome

-A (longer than usual) feud recap aired for Drew McIntyre-A.J. Styles.

(1) DREW MCINTYRE vs. A.J. STYLES (w/Omas) – TLC match for the WWE Title

Styles went after Drew’s knee as soon as the bell rang. Drew made a quick comeback and took Styles down aggressively. Drew also eyed Omas at ringside. Drew beat up Styles at ringside, then tried to climb the ladder. Styles kicked him in the knee and got in some offense. Drew came back and catapulted Styles into the ladder, but Styles landed on his feet and climbed the ladder. Drew knocked him down and then, more wisely, catapulted him into a chair wedged in the corner turnbuckles.

Styles eventually took over offense. Joe critiqued Styles’s casual pace. When he went for a Styles Clash, Drew countered into a Future Shock DDT. Drew then lifted and suplexed a ladder onto Styles. Styles applied a Calf Crusher with Drew’s leg in a ladder. He switched to applying the Calf Crusher in a chair next. Drew rammed Styles’s face into the nearby ladder to break free. Styles wrapped Drew’s leg around the ringpost, then jabbed him in the face with the ladder at ringside. Drew went down hard on his back at ringside. Styles set up a table. Styles climbed to the top rope, but Drew threw a ladder and hit Styles in the head. Styles went crashing to the mat.

Drew reentered the ring and set up a table. Styles used a drop toe hold to send Drew head-first into a ladder leaning in the corner. Styles leaped off a table at Drew, but Drew caught him and overhead tossed him hard into the ladder in the corner. Styles came back with a Phenomenal Forearm a minute. Styles climbed a ladder, but Drew pressed him and threw him over the top rope through a table at ringside. Drew then climbed the ladder.

Miz ran out and hit Drew on his weakened left knee. John Morrison entered the ring with the Money in the Bank briefcase. Miz powerbombed Drew off the ladder through a table. Miz officially cashed in the briefcase. The ring announcer said this made it officially a triple treat for the title. Omos entered the ring and yanked Miz off the ladder. He cradled him in his arms like a baby as Miz flailed his limbs. Omos dropped him over the top rope through a table at ringside. Morrison hit Omos with a chair. Omos no-sold it and turned around slowly. Morrison fled up the ramp to the stage as Omos slowly pursued him.

The ref checked on Miz at ringside. Meanwhile, Styles and Drew slowly regained their senses. Styles entered the ring as Drew pulled himself to his feet by the ropes, but his knee kept giving out. Styles and Drew both made it to the ladder and climbed it slowly. Drew got to the top rung, but Styles punched his knee. Drew grabbed Styles and punched him to knock him down a rung. Styles climbed again and punched Drew in the gut. Miz re-entered the ring and set up another ladder next to the one Styles and Drew were fighting on. Miz climbed and got his hand on the belt. Drew knocked his hand off. Drew also knocked Styles off the ladder to the floor. Drew knocked Miz entirely off the ladder. As Drew reached for the belt, Styles lunged at him and knocked Drew off the ladder. Miz then climbed the ladder as Styles reached for the belt. Drew then stood up and knocked over both ladders, sending both Styles and Miz down. Drew gave Miz a Claymore kick as Styles was out on the floor. Drew set up a ladder and climbed it and pulled the belt down to win.

WINNER: McIntyre in 28:00 to retain the WWE Title. (****)

(Keller’s Analysis: Really good match start to finish. Drew dominated so much early, it felt like they might be setting up Drew for a loss. When Miz came out, it created some real suspense that Miz would either win or inadvertently help Styles win. It’s the right move to keep the belt on Drew, but this match played out the drama as effectively given the moving pieces going into the match. Miz looks like a bit of a dope not cashing in when it was 100 percent clear he had a path to climb the ladder and get the belt, but when he cashed in, he did have a decent opening.)

-Kayla Braxton interviewed Paul Heyman backstage. She asked about Kevin Owens saying he’d win the Universal Title or die trying. Heyman didn’t like her question. He changed the subject to his favorite sport outside of WWE being NASCAR, but not because he cares who wins, but because of the car crashes. He said that’s what kind of person he is. He said people get hurt in WWE, especially being thrown off of tables and ladders onto chairs. He said someone is going to get hurt bad tonight. “And that someone’s name is Kevin Owens,” he said.

(2) SASHA BANKS vs. CARMELLA (w/her sommelier Reginald) – Smackdown Title match

Graves gushed about Carmella’s looks on her way to the ring. Banks got in some early offense, but when she tossed Carmella over the top rope, Reginald caught Carmella. Carmella took over and settled into a chinlock in the ring. Sasha came back and hit a quick Meteora for a two count. Carmella blocked a back stabber on the ring apron and yanked Sasha onto the back of head on the ring apron. Back in the ring, Carmella scored a two count.

Sasha landed a frog splash for a near fall. A minute later Carmella face-planted Sasha for a dramatic near fall that the announcers sold in big way. Carmella took it to Sasha at ringside, then went for a top rope huracanrana, but Sasha rolled through for a two count. Carmella scored a quick two count. Sasha countered with a backslide for a two count. Carmella applied a submission hold on the mat, but Sasha leveraged Carmella’s shoulders down for a near fall.

Sasha applied a Bank Statement. As Carmella was unable to break and appeared near tapping out, Reginald yanked Carmella to safety at ringside. Sasha gave him a Meteora at ringside. Carmella then caught Sasha with two kicks and scored a near fall back in the ring. Sasha applied another Bank Statement mid-ring and Carmella tapped out. Cole called it a “gritty performance by the resilient champion.” As Sasha celebrated and danced on the ramp, Carmella sat up looking disappointed.

WINNER: Sasha Banks in 12:00 to retain the Smackdown Title. (**3/4)

(Keller’s Analysis: Nicely executed. Good match. Carmella looked good and was smooth throughout and in the right place at the right time and overall looked like she belonged in a high-profile women’s division title match. Sasha was her usual strong self. Getting this win is important to establishing Sasha can continue to take on tough challenges and defend her title successfully.)

-Billie Kaye approached Asuka backstage with her headshot and resume, pitching that Asuka form a team with her. She bragged she excels in high-stress situations, so she’d be perfect pick to battle Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler later. She also claimed she is proficient in Japanese. Kaye showed off a corny mask with a face drawn on it. Asuka determined she is not ready for her. Kaye was disappointed and offended by the rejection.

(3) THE NEW DAY (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) vs. THE HURT BUSINESS (Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin) – Raw Tag Team Title match

Hurt Business made their entrance. A soundbite from Instagram aired with Cedric Alexander. Phillips said this could be the Hurt Business’s last chance at the tag titles. Kayla interviewed Kofi & Xavier backstage before their entrance. Xavier said they have no ceiling. Xavier landed an early top rope legdrop for a two count. Kofi tagged in and connected with a flying crossbody for a two count. The action continued in third gear at a steady and exciting pace with rapid-fire tags, crisp move sequences, dramatic reversals and countermoves, and lots of near falls.

Shelton ascended to the top rope quickly and gave Kofi a top rope overhead toss. He waited for Kofi to stand, but Cedric tagged himself in and gave Kofi a Lumbar Check for the win. Shelton appeared to have some mixed feelings about how Cedric tagged himself in to get the win. Bobby Lashley joined MVP in congratulating them and celebrating at ringside. Phillips said, “The hostile takeover is on as The Hurt Business has all the gold.”

WINNERS: Cedric & Shelton in 10:00 to capture the Raw Tag Team Titles. (***)

(Keller’s Analysis: That was just smooth and steady start to finish. Hurt Business needed to win to stay relevant as a top tag act on Raw.)

-A video recapped Big E tricking Sami Zayn into announcing him as the Superstar of the Year in the Sami Awards last Friday. Kayla Braxton caught Sami yelling at someone about how that played out. Sami then approached Kayla backstage and accused her of breaching his privacy. He wanted to know who sent her the audio. She refused. “A journalist doesn’t reveal her sources,” she said. Sami ranted about her lecturing him about ethics.

-A video package aired on the Women’s Tag Team Title match.

(4) NIA JAX & SHAYNA BASZLER vs. ASUKA & CHARLOTTE (mystery partner) – WWE Women’s Tag Team Title match

Phillips said Lana suffered a left elbow injury and an MCL injury to her left knee. Asuka came out alone at first. Her partner was revealed to be Charlotte Flair. Asuka opened against Baszler. Charlotte held out her hand and offered to tag in. She dramatically entered and then exploded at Baszler and took a shot at Jax, too. Baszler tagged in Jax.

Jax eventually took control against Asuka. Asuka hot-tagged in Charlotte a few minutes later. They showed Ric Flair watching on a monitor backstage, smiling as Charlotte rallied against Jax. Baszler tried to interfere, but Charlotte fended her off and then kipped up. Charlotte scored a near fall against Jax. Baszler tried to interfere from ringside, but Asuka stopped it. Charlotte then moonsaulted off the top rope onto Baszler and Jax. Charlotte set up a figure-four on Jax, but Jax kicked her off. Jax lifted Charlotte for a Samoan Drop, but Charlotte elbowed out of it.

Charlotte tagged herself in. Jax gave Charlotte a Samoan Drop, not realizing Asuka tagged in. Asuka landed a top rope missile dropkick. Jax tagged in Baszler. Baszler and Asuka reversed each other. Baszler locked on a Kirafuda Clutch, but Asuka backed her into her corner. Charlotte tagged herself in and rammed Baszler into the middle turnbuckle. Baszler rolled up Charlotte with a small package for a two count. Charlotte applied a quick figure-four into the Figure-Eight. Jax broke it up, but Asuka gave her a hip attack. Charlotte gave Baszler a Natural Selection for the clean win. They showed Ric Flair applauding backstage.

WINNERS: Charlotte & Asuka in 10:00 to capture the Women’s Tag Team Titles. (**1/2)

(Keller’s Analysis: The match fine. By having Charlotte & Asuka win the tag team titles, it means they can float between both shows, adding some star power to both shows. Having Charlotte score the pin underlines she’s a big star, winning titles in her first match back after a long layoff. Too bad to see Baszler the designated jobber in that heel tandem.)

-They aired the weird 2020 vs. 2021 animated video with John Cena making an appearance.

-Backstage, Sami accused Big E of spreading that audio file. R-Truth told them your lips don’t touch when you say the word “touch” but they do when you say “separate.” Sami said he’s pretty clever. He said Big E has been a joke ever since he went solo. Truth left the scene. Big E took a deep breath and told him he’ll see him real soon. Sami didn’t like Big E’s intense look and walked away.

-They went to Cole and Graves on camera who threw to a long video package previewing the next match.

(5) ROMAN REIGNS (w/Paul Heyman) vs. KEVIN OWENS – TLC match for the WWE Universal Title

KO appeared out of nowhere and attacked Reigns as Reigns’s music was winding down. Graves called it a brilliant strategy. KO landed an early cannonball. Reigns rolled to ringside. Cole exclaimed that KO caught the champion off-guard. KO hit Reigns with a cannonball on the floor. KO worked over Reigns aggressively. Jey Uso charged out. KO superkicked him as soon as he entered the ring. Cole said with no DQ rules, you knew that would happen. KO took turns hitting Uso and Reigns with a chair. Graves said KO was clearly ready for this. Cole said KO was unhinged. He smashed Uso’s leg with the chair and then put his leg in the chair and then stomped on it. Cole said he was trying to break Jey’s ankle. KO cleared the announce table. Cole said he’s never seen Owens look this way. Graves said it’s downright sanguineous. Jey was helped to the back. Reigns, meanwhile, recovered and took control against Owens.

Reigns smashed KO in the head and then his body with the ringside steps. He then angrily tossed the steps away. When Reigns climbed the ladder a few minutes later, KO recovered and yanked him down and gave him a fisherman’s suplex onto a chair set up in the ring. When Owens climbed the ladder, Jey yanked on his boot and pulled him down. Cole decried the two-on-one advantage. As Owens fought off Jey, Reigns recovered and nailed KO with a Superman Punch.

KO came back with a Stunner. He set up the ladder again, but Jey yanked him to the floor. KO slammed Uso onto the announce table. He threw a chair onto Uso and climbed the ladder in the ring. As he touched the belt, Reigns met him at the top. He raked Owens’ eyes, then dragged him off the ladder. Cole excitedly talked about how Owens isn’t quitting. Reigns lifted and powerbombed Owens onto a ladder in the corner. Reigns beat on Owens at ringside, including a Samoan Drop through a table. Reigns took his time returning to the ring and casually, confidently climbing the ladder. The announcers spoke about his win as academic and inevitable. KO, though, suddenly crawled back and grabbed at Reigns’s boots. “Kevin Owens will not die,” said Cole. Reigns laughed and kicked at him, then climbed down the ladder. He trash-talked and taunted KO, slapping him lightly. Owens slapped him hard back. Reigns exploded with a spear into a table leaning in the corner.

Owens rolled to the floor and told Reigns he’ll have to kill him. Reigns gave him a curious look and then went for a spear at ringside. Owens moved; Reigns crashed through the ringside barricade. Graves wondered if he dislocated his shoulder. Owens crawled back into the ring and climbed the ladder. As he grasped at it, Reigns grabbed his leg and pulled him down. He raked at his eyes and then threw him into the ladder. Owens collapsed to the mat. When Reigns took his time going after Owens, Owens caught him with a surprise superkick. He went for a Pop-up Powerbomb, but Reigns countered mid-air into a Superman Punch. Owens responded, though, with a Pop-up Powerbomb through a table. Cole exclaimed that Owens really has a chance. Owens climbed the ladder. Graves declared that KO was going to win the title. Jey climbed back into the ring and stopped him. Owens headbutted Jey several times. He gave Jey a Stunner on the mat, then began to climb the ladder again. Owens grabbed at the belt, but Reigns met him at the top and gave him a low blow. Reigns put a guillotine on Owens while they were on the ladder, then dropped a limp-bodied Owens to the mat. Reigns then unclasped the belt to win.

WINNER: Reigns in 25:00 to retain the Universal Title. (****1/4)

(Keller’s Analysis: Really strong TLC style match. Almost too much drama, in that so much of it was due to the two-on-one factor which was pushed to the point of seeming ludicrous and making a mockery of the WWE rules. If Owens had just been called up to Raw a few months ago and had been used strong and protected, this could have been a star-making match for him. He looked so strong and put up such a relentless fight and showed so much heart. Reigns played his role well, too, as a smug heel whose arrogance almost cost him.)

-The announcers threw to a video package on the main event.

(6) RANDY ORTON vs. THE FIEND – Inferno Match

Orton made a really long ring entrance. The Firefly Funhouse jingle aired. Then the lights went out and then The Fiend’s entrance theme played. Fiend appeared on the stage with his decapitated head lantern. Fiend entered the ring and leaned in the corner. Orton stared at him and appeared leery if not intimidated. He didn’t break his stare at him. The bell rang. Fiend stood and approached Orton, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants. Orton punched Fiend. Fiend no-sold it and laughed. Orton kicked Fiend. Fiend no-sold it, laughed, and stuck his tongue out. Orton went for an RKO, but Fiend blocked it and then attacked Orton aggressively in the corner. Saxton wondered how much real estate Fiend has purchased in Orton’s head. Samoa Joe said that however much it is, he’s living rent-free. (I think we can retire that phrase now and find something new to say about people succeeding with mental games. The cleverness and novelty has long worn off and now it’s just a tired cliche.) Orton escaped a Sister Abigail attempt and turned it into a backbreaker. No sign of the “Inferno” aspect yet.

Fiend blocked an RKO and gave him a Sister Abigail. Fiend raised his arms and then the infernos blasted fire at ringside on the perimeter of the ring. Phillips said they have entered another phase of this match. Fiend tried to toss Orton over the barricade toward the flames, but Orton fought back. Fiend clotheslined Orton. Phillips called it an absolute hell storm. Fiend picked up a leather whip and then set it on fire before swinging it at Orton. Orton fought back. Fiend, though, sent Orton into the ringpost. Fiend pulled out a pick axe and swung at Orton, who ducked. Fiend threw Orton into the ringside barricade. Fiend picked up a rocking chair and a gas can. He knocked Orton onto the chair and was about to set it on fire, but Orton came to just in time and leaped out of the chair as it went up flames. Fiend laughed uproariously. Saxton called it disturbing on so many levels. Orton bashed Fiend with the axe handle. Then he charged at Fiend with the ringside steps and knocked him down. Orton wrapped his fist in a chain and punched Fiend with it. He choked Fiend with it and then shoved his face toward the fire. Fiend fought free and returned to the ring. Fiend chokeslammed Orton mid-ring and then twist-snapped his head and neck.

Back to ringside, Fiend stomped on Orton’s hand to stop him from reaching the axe handle. He set the axe handle on fire. Orton kicked him in the gut before he could use it. Orton gave Fiend a DDT off the ring apron. They kept blasting the flames into high-mode during every big move, which got a little tiring. Orton pounded the ringside mat and signaled for the RKO. Fiend, though, caught Orton with a Mandible Claw instead. He pushed him toward the flames. Orton reversed Fiend, who got caught on fire, which apparently was the point at which Orton was officially the winner.

WINNER: Randy in 12:00.

(Keller’s Analysis: No bell rang to indicate this was the officially finish and there were no ring announcements, but the implication was there based on how the announcers talked about one wrestler setting another on fire would end the match.)

-Fiend withstood the flames and went after Orton in the ring. His jacket remained on fire. Orton sat back in disbelief at what was happening. The fire burned itself out as Fiend lay face down mid-ring. Orton moved in and lightly kicked Fiend in the ribs to see if there was any reaction. Fiend didn’t move. He rolled him onto his back and examined him. He seemed disturbed at the situation. He switched to a sinister look and seemed to begin to accept if not relish the magnitude of everything.

He fetched a gas can from ringside and brought it into the ring. “What’s Randy going to do,” asked a nervous Saxton. Orton poured the gasoline all over The Fiend’s chest and legs. “Points been made, Randy,” said Joe. Orton then grabbed matches and lit a match and was going to drop the match on Fiend. The announcers pleaded with Orton not to drop the match. He paused, then did drop it on Fiend. (At this point, Fiend’s body was switched with a dummy; the Dummy’s “neck skin” was not visible unlike The Fiend’s, and the dummy had no fingers, among other un-life-like indications there had been a switch between the last view of him and this one.) “Fiend” was set ablaze. The flames at ringside blasted over and over as Fiend burned to a crisp and Orton raised his arms in victory at ringside at ringside.

(Keller’s Analysis: That was awful. Just disturbing and over-the-top. It’s not the fault if Orton or Fiend, who played their parts really well. There was no point where I thought Orton or Fiend made the match worse because of their acting or selling or facial expressions or body language. They had a lot of stunt-man style tricks they had to pull off to set Fiend on fire but also protect Windham Rotunda, who plays the part. When he slid into the ring while his back was on fire before burning itself out seemed dangerous if anything went wrong, so you’d sure hope WWE had proper precautions in place if the flames moved anywhere they weren’t supposed to or lasted longer than planned. Some people are going to like this kind of spectacle, but it’s got more negatives than positives in so many ways. It’s just so outside the bounds of what WWE mainly sells, which is getting fans invested in wins and losses based on three counts or tapout. It also is not something you can follow-up on realistically, since obviously The Fiend will return. WWE has gone super-natural before many times, and cinematic wrestling style matches have certainly gone places we haven’t seen before, but this just pushes so far beyond the usual parameters. When The Giant crashed off the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, he returned to TV. The same will happen with The Fiend, but in this case there’s no plausible way to explain his survival outside of some supernatural horror movie parameters, and it just doesn’t fit well in pro wrestling. This wasn’t unprecedented, but it doesn’t make more okay and undo the unraveling the narrative structure that is the result of stuff like this.)

4 Comments on 12/20 WWE TLC PPV REPORT: Keller’s match results and analysis including McIntyre vs. Styles, Reigns vs. Owens, Fiend vs. Orton, Sasha vs. Carmella

  1. The fire was what Wade didn’t like? Dang, we sure missed Pat Patterson…

    Build Carmella for weeks. Loss.

    Build MITB storyline for months. Loss to MITB holder.

    Build women’s tag division. Give it to two superstars who sure don’t need it.

    Build Kevin Owens. Loss

    The fire…. not sure what it did. Clearly Bray was wrestling with a retardant suit if that was even him at the end and not a mannequin.

    WWE killed a lot of their work from the last few months in a throwaway PPV. Perhaps this means the roster is going to expand again.

  2. Haha. oh now these things havegone too far? make no sense? Maybe if high profile journalists didn’t laugh and defend silly Broadway play segments or cinematic matches INSIDE THE HEAD OF BRAY WYATT, we would get less of this humiliating trash.

  3. Thinking about it, I believe the ending to the Firefly Inferno Match should have been used nearly 30 years ago as the ending of the Randy Savage-Jake Roberts match. I’ll let you imagine how that would happen.

    In any case, I’m surprised that Bob Orton didn’t come out and begging him to stop Randy from going “too far” and that he’s made his point … before Orton RKO’s his own father.

    Guessing an audit is coming soon from the Fiend’s father (hint, hint)?

    Also, I’m guessing that the ending we did see wouldn’t have been possible with a live audience. The production crew was able to pull Rotunda from the ring out of sight of the PPV/virtual audience and place a dummy in the ring, and this illusion wouldn’t have been possible with a live audience seeing what was actually happening. Same thing, essentially, with some of the other segments involving Rotunda’s characters.

  4. Also, had the Firefly Inferno match taken place back in the 1980s or early 1990s, could you imagine how Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura would call the action? Or the Gorilla Monsoon-Bobby “the Brain” Heenan tandem would remark on the events?

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