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TLC was a PPV with not a lot of hype heading into it, and while the show overall had some exciting moments, it ended up being pretty much exactly what we all thought it was going to be: A B PPV that was being used as a stepping stone to get everyone to the Royal Rumble. It is a good thing WWE isn't charging $60 to see these things anymore.
Bray Wyatt vs Dean Ambrose: ***1/4
Well, at least Michael Cole did a good job explaining why there was a random TV that was plugged into cords was doing underneath a wrestling ring. The match was going pretty strong, with some notable moments, but WWE just kind of ended it with a whimper, a corny, hard to believe, finish. I have never tried to rip the cords out of a TV by sheer force, but something tells me that it wouldn't cause smoke and sparks to fly everywhere like I was on Power Rangers. You can call it a creative finish, but it just didn't come off as very convincing or necessary, and you could tell the crowd didn't like it.
Honestly speaking, the tables match probably should have gone on as the main event. The TLC match lacked a great build-up, and more interesting stuff ended up taking place in that match than in this one. Ambrose falling off of the ladders and crushing Wyatt were really the only impressive things, other than that this felt like a standard street fight you might see on Raw one day. Wyatt picked up a key win, but as I pointed out on Friday, this was a match that neither man could really afford to lose, and it sucks to see Ambrose come up short in a big match yet again.
John Cena vs Seth Rollins: **3/4
In what was the longest tables match that I can personally remember, a whole heck of a lot happened in this one. John Cena defeated Seth Rollins, and holds onto his status as the number one contenders spot for the Royal Rumble, because everyone really wants to see Cena vs Brock for the third time in six months. Why have Brock face 2-3 different opponents in his limited dates when you can see him face the same opponent three straight times? In what was something that was never made clear until tonight, Seth Rollins would not be the benefit of winning the match, as he wouldn't become the new number one contender, some other person would be crowned after the event. It was all for naught however, as Cena triumphed for the 132nd time in 2014, and WWE is moving on.
Roman Reigns will end up being the story of the match however, making a somewhat surprising return to action, taking out The Big Show, who inexplicably wandered out into the middle of the match for some reason. Reigns was the recipient of a pretty significant pop from the Cleveland crowd, who was hot all night, and WWE has to feel pretty good about the way Reigns was received by the live crowd tonight.
The match pretty much followed standard Cena-fare up until Show's appearance. Cena was taking it to Seth Rollins, despite the fact that Rollins' security team of Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury were more than willing to get physically involved in the match. There were a pair of false finishes and they kept the fans on their toes for most of the match, and the ending was less predictable, so the match did have some depth to it beyond Cena overcoming the odds.
Seth Rollins, who has been the top heel in the company for the last month, came up short in the main event of a PPV despite having a clear advantage, for the second major show in a row. Everyone seems to have high hopes for Rollins, and his title as "the future" is more fact than fiction, but tonight he didn't really receive a whole lot of a boost from working with Cena. Where does he go from here? The next logical step would be him to feud with Roman Reigns, but it looks like Reigns is going to leapfrog Seth and head straight into a feud with Show. Randy Orton's return would give Rollins the perfect rival, so hopefully WWE will go that route.
Dolph Ziggler vs Luke Harper-****1/4
Going into the PPV, there were rumors going around backstage that people were nervous about TLC not being able to keep up with the standard that R Evolution set for WWE that week. However, WWE made the correct move in putting this match out first for TLC. It was fun, the crowd was alive, and there was a ton of action. The rest of the PPV might not have been as good as R Evolution, but at least WWE was able to set the tone early for TLC by letting two of the better workers set the bar for the show.
The Intercontinental Championship hasn't mattered a whole heck of a lot in the past year. Dolph Ziggler winning the title is more of a confirmation of him remaining in the mid-card for the time being than being tabbed as a future world champion. However, for tonight at least, the IC title mattered, because Dolph was over in his hometown (the retro Browns logo on the tights was a nice touch) and him gritting out the victory in an impressive match really did feel like a big deal.
Erick Rowan vs The Big Show: **
Rowan was the sacrificial lamb (hahahaha) for the establishment of Show as a legitimate heel. Show has turned so many times that it will be hard to ever take him seriously, but if WWE wants Reigns to go over him, they needed to have Show pick up a win on a PPV as a heel to make it mean something. Being in a Stairs match is a tough hand to be dealt, because unlike Ladders or even Chairs, there isn't a whole lot of creativity that can be done with steel steps. Both men probably did they best they could considering the circumstances, and it moved Show's character forward, so it got the job done for what it was required to do.
Nikki Bella vs AJ: **1/4
Pretty standard match for the Divas, but with some notable aspects of it. Nikki Bella has improved enough in the ring where she can hit a variety of moves with confidence, which keeps the matches from getting monotonous. Nikki taking the victory in classic heel fashion was a nice change of pace for the Bella's, as they are much more tolerable when they are being caddy villains than they are when they have to convey actual emotion. The only real complaint is that the result of the match was never really in doubt, and it looks like AJ really is on the way out.
The Miz and Damien Sandow vs The Usos: **
There wasn't a whole lot to talk about here. Sandow had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand, but other than that, the match was exceptionally dull. The champions retaining via disqualification was unnecessary, because do we really have to see these two teams wrestle each other again? The storyline between Miz/Naomi is at least easy to follow and makes sense, which is a big improvement for a typical WWE storyline.
Kane vs Ryback: **1/4
Following Kane's vicious chair shot to the face of Ryback and his chokeslam that almost put Ryback away, this match showed some real potential. However, Ryback quickly bounced back and won the match without much more drama. It wasn't a bad contest, and there were some decent moments of action, but in the end the match didn't seem to accomplish a whole heck of a lot. Beating Kane means hardly anything, and with Reigns back, and the presumed returns of Bryan, Orton and Sheamus, is there going to be any room at Wrestlemania for The Big Guy?
Jack Swagger vs Rusev: *1/2
Just a match that nobody really needed to see. Rusev needs an opponent that is much more relevant than Jack Swagger, and after being in the main event at Survivor Series, wrestling Swagger again feels like a big step down for Rusev. He can make a name for himself at the Royal Rumble, as he seems like a good candidate to make it down to the final four.
Here are ratings and some quick thoughts about NXT's event R Evolution (what a terrible name for an event) that took place on Thursday:
Kevin Owens vs CJ Parker: *** Pretty much as perfect of a debut for Steen that anybody could have hoped for. He came out to a huge pop and just smothered Parker with a barrage of offense, making a huge statement and indicating that he might not be in NXT for long. Also, CJ Parker's gimmick is great, it's legitimate and everyone knows someone in real life like that.
Lucha Dragons vs The Vaudevillians: *** Is working with Sin Cara at this point less of a blessing and more of a curse? The Sin Cara gimmick by all accounts was a complete failure on the main roster, so if the Lucha Dragons were ever to make it there, it might actually hurt Kalisto, who is a great young talent. Gotch and English also have an awesome gimmick; it is impressive how much better the gimmicks in NXT tend to be than the ones on the main roster.
Baron Corbin vs Tye Dillinger: DUD Can't really say much about Corbin since his matches all last under a minute. It won't be until him and Dempsey square off will really we see anything meaningful from him.
The Ascension vs Hideo Itami and Finn Balor: ***1/2 The match could have been better, but it was made very clear for anybody that doubted him, Balor is really, really, really good at his job. He has all the tools to become a major player in WWE, especially the creativity to get himself over with the audience. The learning curve for Itami has been predictably very hard, and it is going to take him a while to begin to reach his potential.
Charlotte vs Sasha Banks: ***3/4 Charlotte is simply too good to not be on the main roster at this point. She has everything WWE would want in a Diva, and has a ton of charisma in the ring. Sara Del Rey really deserves a ton of credit, because the Women's division in WWE has improved dramatically since she came on board.
Sami Zayn vs Adrian Neville: ****1/2 A match that had everything anybody would want out of a matchup between these two (save for maybe a brainbustah). Zayn winning the NXT Championship felt like a big deal, but like Charlotte, he just seems too good to not be on the main roster.