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TLC is the exact kind of event that would have never happened before the WWE Network became a thing. If they had put forth a card with so little build and no world title matches, it would have died on PPV. In the era of automatic subscription payments, WWE can get away with putting together a show basically at the last minute and devoid of interesting matches because they know that in the long run it doesn’t really matter; people will stay subscribed for the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania season.
Ironically, what made TLC a lousy PPV was not the hastily thrown together matches; those matches, especially the first two matches, were pretty good. However, the matches with longer builds, such as Reigns vs Corbin. Rusev vs Lashley and Wyatt vs The Miz, were the low points of the show. That is indicative of how bad WWE’s week-to-week storytelling is, that it is actually better for matches to kind of be randomly thrown together than to have them actually hyped on WWE programming. Any kind of exposure manages to turn into negative exposure for most feuds, so it is better to just avoid hyping the matches at all.
TLC was the most useless PPV of the year, you could have completely skipped it and missed nothing significant. I thought that even with the lack of build, enough of the matches would be good enough to make this a passable show. Instead, we got two good matches to open the show and then a lot of boring matches with no hype, dead crowds, sloppy wrestling and awkward creative decisions. Just a complete waste and not a very good way for WWE to close out the decade.
Becky Lynch and Charlotte vs The Kabuki Warriors: **
This match ended up being pretty disappointing. A large portion of this card was bad, but I didn’t have very high expectations for The Miz vs Bray Wyatt or Roman Reigns vs Baron Corbin. I thought this match would be really good and probably the best match of the night, but it wasn’t good at all. It managed to feel very practiced and coordinated, with the four women moving carefully from spot to spot; but it also managed to be sloppy and there were a number of obvious botches and awkward exchanges. A match like this is going to require some obvious cooperation and talent taking their time to set things up, but the benefit of doing that is that the big spots end up looking good; that wasn’t the case here.
The crowd was pretty dead for this thing, but I can’t blame them given they had to sit through two hours of crap before this match started. That being said, Lynch is probably the most over full-time wrestler in the company with the exception of Bryan, but she just felt like a regular person tonight. Asuka worked really hard and has a lot of charisma, and I did like the little rope trick at the end.
The finish felt very anticlimactic. Asuka calmly climbed the ladder and retained the titles, and then immediately, with no time to reflect on the outcome to the match, they cut to this random brawl that seems to happen every week since Heyman became in charge of RAW. I felt that shortchanged the women in this match, and didn’t really accomplish anything for the men who were brawling. It was very strange.
The Miz vs Bray Wyatt: DUD
The Fiend gimmick really works in the vignettes and when he is making sporadic appearances, but when it comes to actually being involved in angles and having matches; I’m sorry it just sucks. Every time he has to be in a feud it has been some of the worst stuff we have seen from WWE, and this match was no exception. A dull, boring match that nobody cared about followed by an awkward post match segment.
A major problem is that there is a big disconnect between how WWE performers react to Wyatt and how the fans react to him. Cole is trying to sell him as this crazy, unhinged monster on commentary, but the crowd is just quietly clapping for him or pleasantly singing along to his theme song. Whatever kind of character they are trying to get across, it is a complete failure because the crowd doesn’t really buy him like that. That creates a lot of these awkward moments that we have seen on the last few PPVs.
Bryan came back after the match, and the crowd will always love Bryan but this didn’t really work for me. He cut his hair and trimmed his beard, and Cole kept trying to sell the idea that Bryan had “changed” after being abducted by The Fiend, but then Bryan just did all of the same stuff he always did, and ended the segment by standing on the top turnbuckle and leading the crowd in the “Yes!” chant. The next match between Bryan and The Fiend should be The Fiend’s best match to date, but seeing Bryan holding that cartoonish mallet…it just made it look like Bryan had an impossible task in front of him working with this guy.
Baron Corbin vs Roman Reigns: **
Very long match that had a flat, obnoxious finish. When Reigns was making his comeback(s) the crowd started coming to life, but the problem was that most of the match was Corbin beating down Reigns. Corbin really isn’t an engaging performer, so watching him on offense is basically a cure for insomnia. They did the table bumps and typical street fight spots and those were okay, but when it was just Corbin beating on Reigns in the ring, it left a lot to be desired.
The finish was bad for a number of reasons. It made Reigns look weak by having nobody to come out and defend him while Corbin had a bunch of people, and Corbin going over via pinfall means that unfortunately this feud is likely to continue until the Royal Rumble, which is six weeks away. The commentary as usual was terrible here, with Cole possibly getting a $10 bonus every time he mentioned Corbin was a king and that Reigns was “The Big Dog!!!!”.
Rusev vs Bobby Lashley: *½
After a super long build, this match ended up having very little heat and the ending was very predictable, with Lana interfering and costing Rusev the match, although not before they botched the first table spot and had to audible into another table spot to end the match. The whole feud has been bad and full of bad acting and awkward segments, and it all led up to a boring match with no heat. I’m not sure where they go from here, considering the Lana and Rusev are now divorced and they had their match, but I’m sure this feud will continue.
New Day vs The Revival: ***½
As the opener, this was a strong match. The crowd likes both Kofi and Big E a lot and The Revival don’t make many mistakes in the ring. They did a lot of the spots you see in every ladder match, but with enough different/innovative stuff to keep things interesting. It is unfortunate that the tag team titles don’t mean a whole lot in WWE because they really do have a lot of good teams.
Aleister Black vs Buddy Murphy: ***½
Technically, this match blew everything else on the show away. It didn’t rely on gimmicks or big spots, but the work was fast, crisp and looked great. In a lot of other promotions this would have been a ****+ match, but with no real build for the match and no investment in either performer, the crowd was dead for most of this match. It is a shame because Black has been around for a while now, but WWE has failed to really do anything significant with him, hence the crowd was dead. Hopefully tonight is the start of a more serious push for him.
The Viking Experience vs The OC: *½
The Viking Experience did the SKOL clap before the match, which is what the Minnesota Vikings (and the Icelandic National Football Team) do during their games, which was smart because the crowd would obviously get into that. Outside of that, this match was nothing. The crowd didn’t care because the match had no build, and the flat, double count-out finish killed any chance of either team getting over. This match killed about ten minutes and that was pretty much all it was good for.