Tables, ladders, and chairs. Three pretty standard household objects that we all have lying around somewhere. In fact, I’m sat on a chair at a table while typing these very words. I don’t have a ladder handy though… mainly because that would be a bit odd.
However, when these three objects end up in a WWE ring together, we get with something called a TLC match, in which chairs are used to bash each other, tables are used to lob each other through, and ladders are used to jump off and onto each other.
There have been 23 TLC matches altogether as of this writing, and in 2009, WWE took it upon itself to turn the match into a pay-per-view gimmick, because we all love those, don’t we?! (No).
Nonetheless, there have now been 10 TLC pay-per-views in total, and with an 11th on its way December 15, we’re going to take a look at the main events from each year, and rank them in order of Dave Meltzer star rating. So if you have an issue with any of these, shout at him, not me.
Note: for matches that have the same star rating, they will be listed in chronological order.
Without further ado, leggo! That’s youth speak for “let’s go”. Possibly.
10. Randy Orton def. John Cena – TLC Match – WWE World Heavyweight Title (2013)
At TLC 2013, WWE Champion Randy Orton and World Heavyweight Champion John Cena fought in a TLC match to unify the two top titles and determine once and for all who was the real “face of the WWE” and “Champion of “Champions”.
The match was characterised through Orton’s use of handcuffs, which somewhat restricted what the two men could do. Cena was locked to the rope but eventually managed to yank the ropes from the cornerpost to free himself.
However, the flailing ropes behind him played to his disadvantage, as Orton pulled them and Cena subsequently fell through a table, allowing Orton to pull down the belts and be victorious.
Star rating: 3.25
9. DX def. JeriShow (c) – TLC Tag Team Match – Unified Tag Team Titles (2009)
The main event of the first ever WWE TLC pay-per-view pitted Unified Tag Team Champions Chris Jericho & Big Show against one of, if not the, most popular teams in WWE history, D-Generation X, in a TLC tag match.
The match was booked by Jesse Ventura back in the good ol’ days of guest hosts of Raw, and despite a few spots that went somewhat amiss, namely Jericho failing to crash through a table, it was a fun match.
After HBK pulled down the belts crowning DX the new champs, Michael Cole sent the show off air with: “We’ve got two words for ya, good night!”. Ew.
Star rating: 3.5
8. John Cena def. Wade Barrett – Chairs Match (2010)
Remember when John Cena was forced to join the Nexus and then got fired from WWE and then came back approximately seven seconds later? That was fun wasn’t it?
Barrett lost a WWE Title match to Randy Orton at Survivor Series, which prompted Cena’s firing for not following Barrett’s orders. This didn’t stop Cena attacking the Nexus, and he was eventually rehired by Barrett, who forced him into a Chairs match against him at TLC 2010.
And yes, that picture is real. Halfway through the match, Cena went backstage and brought out a swivel chair, threw water in the Englishman’s face, and pushed him down the ramp into the steel steps. What a joker.
Barrett did get quite a lot of offence in, but it was an AA from Cena onto six chairs in the ring that sealed the victory for Big Match John.
Star rating: 3.75
7. Bray Wyatt def. Dean Ambrose – TLC Match (2014)
The TLC 2014 main event was set up at the prior Survivor Series, at which Ambrose got DQ’ed for striking Wyatt with a chair, leading the ‘Lunatic’ driving Bray through a table, burying him in chairs, and then standing atop a ladder – quite the coincidence.
If this match taught us one thing, it’s that Ambrose has a fetish for jumping of ladders and putting Bray Wyatt through tables. He did this not once, not twice, but three times.
After the third, Dean rolled Bray back into the ring, and grabbed a TV monitor. This is where we get a bit silly. When Dean is in the ring, the TV monitor EXPLODES IN HIS FACE, allowing Wyatt to hit a Sister Abigail for the win. Way to put a damper on a very good match.
Star rating: 3.75
6. Dolph Ziggler (c) def. John Cena – Ladder Match – World Title MITB Contract (2012)
This is bringing back all sorts of memories.
SO… Back in 2012, Money in the Bank contract holder Dolph Ziggler, and Vickie Guerrero, accused John Cena of being involved in a romantic relationship with Raw GM AJ Lee.
They set out on a mission to prove this, but ended up being coaxed by Mr. McMahon to announce a Ladder match at the 2012 TLC pay-per-view, in which Ziggler would defend his World Title match contract.
In a match that saw both men go through a number of tables, Vickie eventually came out to try and help Dolph pick up the win. However, AJ came out, hit her with the Five Knuckle Shuffle, and helped John up the ladder… and then pushed him off, allowing Ziggler to score the win.
It later came to fruition that AJ felt betrayed by Cena who had told her not to be at ringside for his matches, and she then became the storyline girlfriend of Ziggler himself. Aw. That’s exactly how I got with my girlfriend… who 100% completely and legitimately exists. Almost.
Star rating: 4
5. Sheamus (c) def. Roman Reigns – TLC Match – WWE World Heavyweight Title (2015)
Back at Survivor Series 2015, much to the behest of pretty much everyone ever, Roman Reigns defeated Dean Ambrose to win the vacant WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Lucky for us though, there was an Irishman with a silly haircut who just so happened to be in possession of the Money in the Bank contract to save the day!
Roman activated his rematch for TLC in a Tables, Ladders & Chairs match, that was actually a really entertaining bout.
Sheamus put Roman through not one, not two, but three tables, the ‘Big Dog’ Samoan Dropped Sheamus through a ladder, and just as it looked as if Reigns was going to be victorious, Rusev and Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus’ buddies as part of the League of Nations, came to the ring to prevent him from doing so.
The ‘Celtic Warrior’ therefore picked up the win, but after the match, Reigns double-Speared Rusev and Del Rio, before Triple H and backstage officials came out to calm the situation. This did not exactly work, as Reigns delivered an elbow drop to Hunter through the announce table.
Star rating: 4
4. CM Punk (c) def. Alberto Del Rio and The Miz – TLC Triple Threat Match – WWE Title (2011)
Ah, the good ol’ Summer of Punk. Which started in November.
Punk defeated Alberto Del Rio for the WWE Title at Survivor Series 2011, and then retained the title in Alberto’s rematch the next night on Raw. A set of qualifying matches then saw Del Rio and Miz qualify as the next number one contenders, and it was announced the match would be a TLC Triple Threat bout.
At one point in this match, Del Rio’s personal ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez took it upon himself to climb the ladder, but ended up being pushed off by both Punk and Miz, crashing through a table in the process.
After Punk had been handcuffed to the turnbuckle by Miz and it looking like it would come down to Miz and Del Rio, Punk set himself free and all three men climbed a ladder, and after a GTS to Miz, it was the ‘Straight Edge Savior’ who retained in a great match.
Star rating: 4.25
3. Dean Ambrose, Kurt Angle & Seth Rollins def. The Miz, Sheamus, Cesaro, Kane & Braun Strowman – TLC Handicap Match (2017)
Basically, the Shield weren’t exactly everyone’s best pals in the build to this one. Even germs, who riddled Roman Reigns unable to compete due to illness (as well as Bray Wyatt on the same night), clearly had something against them, and who else would step in and become an honorary third Shield member but Raw GM Kurt Angle?
What resulted from a rather convoluted build was what I like to describe as beautiful chaos. There was all sorts going on. Kane buried his partner Braun Strowman in a pile of chairs that he pulled from the ceiling, Braun was thrown in a garbage truck and murdered (he got better though), an Angle Slam to Cesaro through a table. And that’s not even the half of it.
It was of course Angle & the Shield who picked up the victory, following a triplet of finishers to Miz and a Triple Powerbomb for good measure.
Star rating: 4.25
2. AJ Styles (c) def. Dean Ambrose – TLC Match – WWE World Championship (2016)
And here we are. The joint highest rated TLC ppv main event of all time goes to the AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose WWE Championship TLC match from 2016. And for good reason.
This match and feud had a lot going for it. Two men who heavily disliked each other, the top prize in the company, and a little bit of James Ellsworth thrown in there for good measure. What more could you ask for?
Following the beautiful 450 to the outside through a table that you see in the above image, Styles looked prime to win the gold. He climbed a ladder, but who else would turn up but James Ellsworth, wearing a neck brace after he was put on a stretcher the previous week.
James distracted Styles, which allowed Dean to capitalize with a Dirty Deeds and climb the ladder himself. But then… Ellsworth pushed the ladder, meaning the ‘Lunatic’ fell down, and AJ took advantage and retrieved the title himself.
This all led to a Styles vs. Ellsworth clash (get it?) on SmackDown, which AJ won easily, but it was a really fun ride to get there, and this TLC match played a big part in that.
Star rating: 4.5
1. Asuka def. Becky Lynch (c) and Charlotte Flair – TLC Triple Threat Match – SmackDown Women’s Title (2019)
Last year’s main event is the joint best of all time according to Meltzer’s ratings, and it’s hard to disagree.
There was carnage aplenty, and as the first ever women’s triple threat TLC match, and the first time the SmackDown Women’s Title had main evented a pay-per-view, it certainly set the bar high.
The ending was fun too, with Ronda Rousey storming out and pushing both Lynch and Flair off the ladder allowing Asuka. who initially wasn’t even in the match, to pull the strap down and become champion.
Star rating: 4.5