Welcome to Going Over Wrestling's WWE TLC report. This show is coming live from San Jose, California.
The Kickoff Show panelists are Jonathan Coachman, Booker T, David Otunga, and Sam Roberts. They start off by breaking down Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose before moving on to discussions of Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles and Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin.
Buddy Murphy vs. Cedric Alexander is up first.
Cruiserweight Championship Match: Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Cedric Alexander
Alexander sprung off the middle rope into the ring and was met with a knee to the face by Murphy. They went through a commercial but kept them on the screen with picture-in-picture.
Alexander landed a running dropkick to the floor and springboard clothesline into the ring. After blocking Murphy’s Law, Alexander hit a Michinoku Driver for a two-count. Murphy stopped Alexander with a cheeky Nando’s kick and a sit-out powerbomb where the audience reacted loudly to the near fall. Alexander hit a Death Valley Driver onto the edge of the apron and Lumbar Check inside, but Murphy got his foot onto the bottom rope. Murphy ran Alexander into the turnbuckle, connected with a knee strike and hit Murphy’s Law to win.
As expected, this was a great opener, with both guys delivering as they have for all of 2018. They delivered another banger, and while it sucks that they were stuck on the kickoff show, they killed it and got the crowd into it as well.
Match Result: Buddy Murphy defeats Cedric Alexander with Murphy’s Law.
Match Length: 10:23
Match Rating: ***
The Kickoff Show panel returns to break down Ronda Rousey vs. Nia Jax, and Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka. Next up is a video package for Lars Sullivan and his impending arrival on the main roster.
Guitar Ladder Match: Elias vs. Bobby Lashley
There was a ladder surrounding the ring with the guitar hung above the ring. Elias got the ladder set up but stopped climbing when Lio Rush got involved and was sent to the floor.
Lashley tossed Elias onto a ladder in the corner with a belly-to-belly. Lashley climbed the ladder and was taken off and powerbombed onto a ladder. Elias climbed the ladder and knocked Rush down. Elias grabbed the guitar and won the match.
This was ok, but I absolutely hate that the result didn’t matter, since Elias got beaten down anyway.
Match Result: Elias defeats Bobby Lashley.
Match Length: 6:20
Match Rating: *3/4
The Kickoff Show closes with a discussion of Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka.
Mixed Match Challenge Finals: Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox vs. R-Truth and Carmella
Truth and Carmella’s entrance has been updated with Carmella rapping, too. The MMC commentary team of Michael Cole, Renee Young, and Vic Joseph are calling the match.
Truth and Carmella hit them with hip tosses and had a dance break, The Singhs came into the ring to dance and were tossed out by Truth. Carmella has a new move called the Mella Go-Round. Truth took Fox’s captain’s hat and put it on. Carmella superkicked Fox and Mahal broke the cover. Fox couldn’t roll up Carmella, she applied the Code of Silence and Fox tapped.
Like most of MMC, it wasn’t really good, but Truth & Carmella are a pretty fun and I’m glad they won.
Match Result: Carmella defeats Alicia Fox with the Code of Silence
Match Length: 5:36
Match Rating: *1/2
Triple Threat Match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Bar (c) vs. The New Day vs. The Usos
Byron Saxton is sick, and David Otunga is filling in on the SmackDown side with Tom Phillips and Corey Graves. Jey Uso went for a tope and was cut off by a Cesaro uppercut from the floor. The Bar got the advantage on Woods for several minutes, until Woods tagged Kingston. Cesaro lifted Kingston for a vertical and was hit with a crossbody from the top by Jimmy. The Usos proceeded with superkicks to everyone and drew applause from the audience. Cesaro applied the sharpshooter after the Giant Swing to Kingston, Woods broke the submission with a DDT off the rope. Kingston dove off the top with a trust fall. Woods stepped off the rope into a Brogue kick and Sheamus pinned Woods.
This was very good and fun, and any combination of these three teams continue to deliver each and every time.
Match Result: Sheamus and Cesaro defeats The New Day & The Usos via pinfall
Match Length: 12:21
Match Rating: ***1/2
TLC Match: Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin (if Strowman wins, he gets a Universal Championship match at Royal Rumble and Corbin is stripped of all authoritative power; if Corbin wins, he becomes permanent General Manager of Raw)
They explained if Strowman wins, he receives a Universal title match at the Royal Rumble, and Corbin will be removed from power on Raw. If Corbin wins, he become the permanent General Manager. Corbin went to speak and drew lots of heat. He gloated about becoming the permanent General Manager and had referee Heath Slater ring the bell and start counting Strowman out. Strowman entered as they got to the count of eight. His right arm was in a sling. He received a huge response. Strowman said there are no disqualifications in a TLC match and if anyone wanted to help him, they are allowed. Apollo Crews, Bobby Roode, Chad Gable, and Finn Balor appeared with chairs. Slater removes his referee’s shirt and strikes Corbin down. They took turns attacking Corbin with chair shots. Corbin tries to leave, and Kurt Angle’s music hits and he attacks Corbin with a chair, too. Roode and Gable hit their neck breaker and splash combo, Crews hits a frog splash, an Angle slam by Kurt, a coup de grace by Balor and Strowman stands on him as Slater counts three.
Not so much a match as it was an angle, but it was a really good one with wronged babyfaces finally reuniting and Corbin getting the beating he deserved. It was really nice to get a satisfying payoff for once.
Match Result: Braun Strowman and the WWE locker room defeats Baron Corbin
Match Length: 6:25
Match Rating: N/R – This was an angle, not a match.
Jojo announced that Corbin is no longer the acting General Manager, and everyone cheered. This wasn’t a match, but it worked for the audience and was a fell good moment for the babyfaces.
Tables Match: Natalya vs. Ruby Riott
Natalya won the match when she set up a table with a poster of Ruby Riott and Riott went for a hurricanrana off the top, Natalya bocked it and power bombed her off the middle rope. Natalya was wearing Jim Neidhart's ring jacket which she put on near the finish and then put on sunglasses to win. Earlier in the match Natalya tacked Liv Morgan off the apron through a table and powerslammed Sarah Logan through a table. It felt really slow setting everything up but it was largely what it should have been. Longer than I'd have thought for this type of a match.
This was solid, if a bit long and lethargic. Natalya got her feel good moment, but I have no idea what you do with the Riott Squad from here? They are far from a dominant team, and just got their butts handed to them by Natalya. Also, how can you try and build a blood feud around sun glasses, and decals/fat heads?
Match Result: Natalya defeats Ruby Riott with a super powerbomb through a table.
Match Length: 12:36
Match Rating: **½
Finn Bálor vs. Drew McIntyre
Balor is now being referred to as, “the rebel on Raw”. This was a great crowd with the San Jose fans chanting for Balor as McIntyre beat him down. McIntyre launched Balor with a belly-to-belly suplex but started favoring his knee after hitting the suplex. Balor came back landing a tope con giro Balor countered the inverted Alabama Slam with a victory roll for two. McIntyre hit an Air Raid Crash off the second turnbuckle for a two-count. McIntyre did the “too sweet” sign to mock Balor. With the referee’s back turned, Dolph Ziggler appeared and superkicked McIntyre. He grabbed a chair and McIntyre kicked the chair into him and recovered in record time from the superkick. Balor hit a running dropkick to the chair into McIntyre and hit coup de grace for the win.
This was a good match that I was enjoying, but I wasn’t a fan of the ending and Ziggler’s involvement, and felt the ending took away from the match, but at least it protected McIntyre, who they reportedly have big plans for. The real positive is that the faces are showing some unity tonight.
Match Result: Finn Balor defeats Drew McIntyre with the Coup de Grâce.
Match Length: 12:07
Match Rating: ***
Chairs Match: Randy Orton vs. Rey Mysterio
They traded chair shots at the beginning and led to Mysterio sliding on top of a chair off the apron and landing on Orton. Mysterio missed a seated senton and landed on the top of the chair. Orton cleared the announcer’s table and placed a chair on top and dropped Mysterio face first onto the chair. Inside the ring, Mysterio caught Orton with a tilt-a-whirl head scissors sending Orton into a chair set up in the corner. Mysterio needed two attempts to hit the 619. Orton knocked Mysterio down on the top turnbuckle and sent him into a chair set up in the same corner. Orton set up five chairs and went for an RKO, but was blocked. Orton was seated on one of the chairs and Mysterio hit a victory roll off the chair and caught Orton for the win.
This was ok at best, and it was nice to see Rey get some revenge, but it felt really lethargic at times and longer than it really was. The stipulation added nothing to this.
Match Result: Rey Mysterio defeats Randy Orton with a victory roll.
Match Length: 11:31
Match Rating: *** – okay match, with some truly creative chair spots
Raw Women’s Championship Match: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Nia Jax
Nia Jax caught a kick and attempted a punch, Rousey countered with a flying armbar but Jax slammed her way out. Jax sent Rousey’s shoulder into the post and moments later, Rousey attempted a guillotine before transitioning to her back with a rear-naked choke and back to the armbar, the transitions looked great. Jax swung her into the barricade to escape the submission. Jax ran shoulder first into the post and fell to the floor. Rousey climbed to the top and hit a high cross to the floor. Rousey hit the step-up knee and forearm to drop Jax. Jax rolled through on another high cross and lifted Rousey and hit a Samoan drop. Jax went for a Samoan drop off the turnbuckle, Rousey countered and hit a sunset flip powerbomb off the turnbuckle for a near fall. Tamina got involved and allowed Jax to strike from behind. Jax called for the punch #FACEBREAKER, as Cole calls it. Rousey blocked the punch and used a head scissors to take Jax down and fight for the position, eyed Tamina and applied the arm breaker for the tap.
This ended up being a very good match, with a good layout, some good drama, and Rousey retaining. Rousey delivered again, and Jax more than held up her end of the deal here.
Match Result: Ronda Rouse defeats Nia Jax with the arm bar.
Match Length: 10:48
Match Rating: ***¼ – The rate at which Rousey continues to add new moves to her repertoire is simply amazing.
As Nia Jax walks through the backstage area, she runs into Becky Lynch. “Remember when you broke my face?” Lynch punches Jax in the face and whips her into a pile of equipment before walking away.
WWE Championship Match: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. AJ Styles
Styles went for a flying forearm smash to the floor and was caught with a kick to the body in mid-air. Bryan began his attack on the ribs of Styles. Bryan consistently getting the best of Styles and one step ahead of him. Styles is aggressive with his comeback and rammed Bryan into the post leading to Bryan begging off. Bryan applies a cravat and drives his knee into the head. Styles went for the Phenomenal Forearm, he was stopped, and Styles hit a dragon screw leg whip. Styles attacked the left leg by wrapping it around the post. Styles attempted a Styles Clash but settled for the leg and applied a half-crab to the injured leg, Bryan countered into the LeBell Lock (they name they are calling it again). Styles got out and landed a Pele kick with both down. Styles hit the springboard 450 splash but injured his ribs in the process and Bryan kicked out. Styles applied the calf crusher and Bryan’s selling was tremendous as he fought to the rope and then to the floor holding his leg. Styles landed a Phenomenal Forearm off the barricade, Bryan got out of the way out of one in the ring, Styles avoided the Busaiku knee, applied an inside cradle, which Bryan reversed and got the pin.
This was an absolutely fantastic match, that played extremely well off of their Smackdown matches, had some tremendous call backs, and was just a case of two excellent wrestlers delivering. Styles is an amazing fiery babyface, while Bryan is channeling the best of his ROH/FIP heel personas, with the ground work, ruthlessness, and of course bringing back Mr. Small Package. This was excellent pro wrestling, slowly and smartly built from the start, with everything having a point and purpose. This was one of the best WWE main roster matches of 2018.
Match Result: Daniel Bryan defeats AJ Styles with a rollup pin.
Match Length: 23:54
Match Rating: ****¼
Ronda Rousey and Natalya were backstage, but Charly only wanted to interview Rousey, which was subtle. Charly asked about Charlotte Flair now that Nia Jax is out of the way, Ronda said payback is a bitch and she’s the baddest one on the planet.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Seth Rollins (c) vs. Dean Ambrose
Graves tries to ask Renee if it will be difficult around the holidays, Cole tells him to shut up, and Renee adds she has tried to speak with him and he won’t give her the time of day. The arguing between Graves and Young never ended with Young justifying Ambrose’s actions. Young is starting to play heel and backing up all of Ambrose’s actions against Cole and Graves.
Ambrose is controlling the match from the start and starts mocking Rollins. Ambrose attacked the knee with a dragon screw leg whip and applied a Texas cloverleaf and Rollins fights to the rope. Rollins makes a comeback with his bad knee, including two suicide dives. The big negative has been the crowd being tired. On Rollins’ bad knee, he lifts Ambrose and carries across the ring for a buckle bomb. Rollins scaled to the top for the superplex, slipped on the ropes that Cole blamed on the knee and Ambrose blocked him. Young starts defending Ambrose’s mindset and Cole interrupts to state he is speaking to himself, which Young clarified was his way of focusing. The audience is now starting to turn on the match and getting bored. Rollins hits the superplex and Falcon Arrow combination, they grabbed his knee after hitting them. Rollins goes for a superkick and Ambrose puts out his fist and Rollins stops and stares at his own fist. Rollins hit a discus forearm and then drove Ambrose into the barricade with a powerbomb. Rollins called him a “piece of shit” and slapped him. Rollins went for the stomp but was hit with a kick to the body and Dirty Deeds as Ambrose rolled on top and pinned him.
I was not a fan of this. They spent weeks making this personal, Ambrose blew up the Shield, did so on the night Reigns announced his leukemia diagnosis, and they even used that for heat. They simply worked the wrong match here, fans wanted a brawl, they wanted to feel the hate, they wanted those feeling they set heading into the match to spillover into this match. Instead, an ordinary wrestling match broke out and not only was it not what anyone wanted, the live fans were quiet for a large portion of it and then even chanted that it was boring. It wasn’t bad, they worked hard, but it came off as bland. They tried to put on a slow and psychological match, but the crowd weren't into it and it just didn't work out how it should have.
Match Result: Dean Ambrose defeats Seth Rollins with Dirty Deeds.
Match Length: 22:53
Match Rating: *** – They went for slow and psychological, but they totally lost the crowd.
Triple Threat TLC Match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka
Asuka tossed Becky off the turnbuckle back first onto a ladder. Asuka followed by putting Charlotte through a table with a powerbomb. Asuka and Becky were down on the floor, Charlotte hit a moonsault to both. Charlotte cleared the German announcer’s table with Asuka and Charlotte placed onto the desk by Becky. Becky came off the ladder with a leg drop and crushed Charlotte upon landing, Charlotte screamed out in pain. Charlotte returned to the match minutes later using a kendo stick on both women. Asuka got control of the kendo stick and started attacking everyone until Charlotte attempted to spear her through the barricade but they didn’t go through it. Charlotte lit up Becky with chops and then delivered a somersault off the turnbuckle to the floor and put Becky through a table. Charlotte climbed up the ladder when Asuka returned and they fought. Becky set up a ladder next to them and stated fighting Charlotte as Ronda Rousey entered the ring. Rousey tipped the ladder with Charlotte and Becky falling to the floor. The audience booed Rousey as she exited. Asuka is left alone, climbs the ladder and takes the title.
I’m not always a fan of the run in, but it made perfect sense considering Ronda’s issues with Becky & Charlotte. The match itself was awesome, crazy and brutal in all the right ways, with everyone playing their roles extremely well and a really tremendous performance from Charlotte. The match and story progressed everyone along, the Ronda/Charlotte/Becky dynamic is more interesting, and Asuka is now the champion, opening things up on the Smackdown side. They kept a good pace, laid out the big spots well, had good teases of who could win, and they kept the crowd the entire time. I felt going in that the ladies main eventing was the right call and they most certainly delivered here.
Match Result: Asuka retrieves the championship to win the match.
Match Length: 22:29
Match Rating: ****½
End of show.