Bray Wyatt is actually a lovely, cuddly babyface… until he tries to bash your head in with some kind of mallet! 2010 Daniel Bryan returns! And the main event is an absolute disaster.
I’m Oli Davis, and this is WWE TLC 2019… in about 10 minutes.
The pre-show action kicked off continuing an angle started on Monday’s episode of Raw – that WWE are seemingly trying to break up the brilliant act of Andrade and his business manager Zelina Vega. Vega accidentally cost Andrade Monday’s match against Carillo, but they had a rematch here to make amends. Which somehow ended up even worse – a clean victory for Humberto.
Despite the match only being announced just a few hours before TLC began, the two managed an excellent bout, going through two adbreaks – yep, adbreaks on a preshow on the WWE Network is a thing – with Andrade getting busted open hardway early on, covering his face in red streaks.
They smartly replayed the spot with Vega that cost Andrade the match on Monday, which set up a really exciting final sequence – ending in a reverse hurricanrana from the second rope from Carillo, and then a beautiful moonsault for the Humberto win.
Andrade then stormed out on Vega in the post-match angle, hinting that the two are really going to be broken up.
The main show opened with a special TLC-edition of the Firefly Fun House, where Bray was putting Christmas decorations on a ladder, talking creepily about the importance of family… and then running down various video packages on the card for the pay-per-views other feuds.
Why in a kayfabe world would Wyatt collaborate with WWE’s production staff to make this promo package?
Thankfully WWE quickly distracted by brain with an excellent opening ladder match between New Day and The Revival – which involved spots like Kofi diving over the top rope onto the Revival holding a ladder. Big E splashing a ladder on the apron which is the hardest part of the ring. In fact, the early parts of this match where just the New Day throwing themselves onto ladders. Not the best strategy.
What was an ingenious move, though, was how the Revival structured their offence around the stipulation. Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder are all about throwback tag team wrestling. They’re technicians and tough guys. Ladder matches don’t really fit into their style. It’s in the catchphrase. No flips, just fists. Fists.
So rather than doing flippy s-word, they grounded the ladder as a weapon, and used it to methodically dismantle Kofi, Big E, and Little E, which is what I’m calling Big E’s penis. Because it had a ladder shoved into it. A lot.
Thankfully he recovered to play about three minutes of ladder Lego, awkwardly setting up a three-ladder climbing frame in the middle of the ring, allowing for a thrilling final third of suplexes through ladders, a Big Ending off a ladder, and Kofi hitting an amazing tightrope springboard Tornado DDT that earned a standing ovation from the crowd.
It’s a testament to the Revival that, even though they’re reportedly leaving for AEW when their contracts are up in April, they threw themselves around here and took some very nasty bumps – showing that they’re true professionals and will focus on the job at hand.
Kofi would unhook the tag titles for the New Day in what was a very, very good match.
Perhaps too good, as it seemingly burnt out the crowd for the rest of the night – or they were just never into any of the storylines or characters presented to them afterwards.
The first victim of this was the excellent encounter between Buddy Murphy and Aleister Black – who had a TakeOver-worthy clash, with the only thing missing being an emotionally invested crowd.
Both guys were excellent from the start, moving around incredibly slickly, having subtle staredown spots, and a bloodied nose for Black. But it was the finish that was the true masterstroke. After staring at each other from across the ring, Black and Murphy built one final strike exchange, having a crazy flurry before Aleister hit the Black Mass for the win from outta nowhere.
Caruso alert! Rusev cut a promo on Bobby Lashley, and then The Viking Raiders came out to lay out an open challenge – which could have been answered by these definitely for sure actual fans at ringside eating fried chicken. I hope that’s real chicken and not PLANT based alternatives. Also it’s going to be great when someone gets put through the table of chicken, mashed potato and gravy.
The Raider’s challenge wasn’t answered by AOP or the returning Usos, but rather The OC. Which made sense as they said on Raw they would answer the challenge, and Dave Meltzer has been reporting for weeks that this match was booked for the show. Sadly it was a bland affair that you would expect in the third hour of Raw, and the crowd treated it as such. It certainly wasn’t helped when the ref counted out both teams for a lame finish.
Then after the match, Viking Raiders set up to do what everyone had been waiting for since Checkov’s Chicken was introduced, seeing Karl Anderson get put through the table of fried chicken. But for some reason, the “fans” took their chicken away, and the Raiders cleared off all the potato and condiments – meaning Anderson was put through just a regular table. Why set all that stuff up if you’re not going to fully pay it off? I think I’ve been cluckholded. And with all these chicken wings at ringside I was expecting the debut of Marty Scurll.
Braxton Alert! She interviewed The Miz, who said he’d moved his family to an undisclosed location. Presumably to save them from the boredom of watching Roman Reigns have a TLC match against Baron Corbin. King Corbz cut a standard heel promo, and his boys decided to attack The Big Dog before the match officially got started. But not all at the same time, these smart lads attacked one by one like terrible goons in the 60s Batman show. Look at you, you don’t even have a nametag – you stand no chance. This was standard Roman stuff, with the heel working him over for a long time while the crowd waited for the OOOH-AHH superstar comeback. Dolph Ziggler attacked Roman during the match, and the midcard vortex sucked in The Revival to also help out because they’re all heels. At one point it felt like Roman was seemingly outnumbered by 20 people, and Corbin won when Roman couldn’t overcome those odds. Where are Roman’s friends? This was boring, with no reason whatsoever to be a TLC match, and there wasn’t enough made of all the dog food which has been the central part of the build. Plus, I’m quite done with midcard vortex groups involving Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler.
Thankfully the night was picked back up by Bray Wyatt, who wrestled The Miz next in his Mr. Rogers get up. This was one of those things that you don’t think is going to work, but it totally does. Wyatt was smiling all the way down to the ring, taking selfies with fans, and telling Miz to stop attacking him during the ensuing match. But like a masochist, Bray was also constantly laughing during all the beatdowns, no-selling The King of Soft Style’s unconvincing offence. Bray eventually hit Sister Abigail for the win, and when The Fiend appeared on the big screen went to go get what Michael Cole described as, ‘some kind of giant mallet’. That’s exactly what it is, Cole. It’s exactly a giant mallet. The lights started to go out to signal The Fiend’s arrival, but instead Bray was attacked by a man in a hoodie – revealing himself to by Daniel Bryan with a shaved head and trimmed beard – looking a lot like The American Dragon of old. The crowd were super into Bryan’s return, and chanted YES along with him as he stood tall. The match wasn’t much, but it was more about the character work and the angle so this gets a thumbs up from me.
It’s Divorce Daaaay!
Despite the crowd’s issues throughout the night, the audience were really into Rusev at the start. Because cuckolding is such good s-word. Even Lana being billed as the Ravishing Russian and yelling in a Russian accent despite clearly not being Russian for the last several months wasn’t enough to deter them.
Bobby Lashley’s working over Rusev for a while, however, was.
The match structure slowed down for Bobby to get the necessary heat, taking the crowd out of it, with them only being into the various hardcore spots – like Rusev impressively being chokeslammed through a guard rail, and then coming back with a flurry of kendo stick strikes as Vic Joseph screamed: “remember all the restraining orders, remember the fake pregnancy.” Just in case you’d forgotten how ridiculous this storyline was.
But as this is one of Vince McMahon’s favourite things going right now, you better believe it’s going to continue. Lana jumped on Rusev’s back, allowing Lashley to kind of spear him through a table, which didn’t break, so he belly-to-bellyied him through another for the win.
The Street Profits then did their usual ‘jokes’ about the night so far backstage, when Roman Reigns and Baron Corbin brawled into shot. And not just them, but also Chad Gable, The Revival, and weirdly also Raw star Buddy Murphy. So the Street Profits joined in. This was weird. Unfortunately the main event wasn’t only weird, it was a downright disaster.
I was initially pleased Becky Lynch & Charlotte vs the Kabuki Warriors was getting the main event spot – with the context of last year’s TLC being headlined by three of these four women, with Asuka winning the SmackDown women’s title. Sadly this match was nowhere near that one’s league, and was seemingly thrown off track by an injury early on.
It appears Kairi Sane suffered a concussion somewhere in the opening third, perhaps when Becky threw a monitor that accidentally struck her in the back of the head, and it caused a sequence of botches that the match could never recover from. Firstly Sane weirdly collapsed on trying to deliver a flying elbow to both Charlotte and Becky on a table, didn’t react when Charlotte speared her, and then struggled to get herself up to take a powerbomb through another table.
What made that last spot even more uncomfortable was how frustrated Charlotte appeared in delivering it, shouting several swearwords that the Network had to cut out, leaving Sane looking visibly upset on the floor, and Asuka – who’s meant to be the heel, mind you – carefully seeing if she’s ok. I don’t know why Sane wasn’t taken out of this match when she was so clearly not right.
By this point everyone had lost their way, and Charlotte also seemingly got injured when she screamed and grabbed her head off a powerbomb from Asuka through another table outside.
The finish came when Becky was climbing the ladder – damn 2K mechanics – but Asuka grabbed hold of ‘some kind of rope’ the Kabuki Warriors had tied round the ladder earlier, pulling Lynch to the floor, allowing the Kabuki Warriors to retain.
But for the second year running, don’t look at Asuka holding up a title, look at this more important thing that’s happening over here! Weirdly Roman and Baron and half the locker room brawled out into the crowd, presumably still fighting from earlier, implying they’ve been in a kayfabe ruckus for about half an hour. Roman speared Corbin off some stairs into 30 dudes to close the show.
That’s WWE TLC 2019 in about ten minutes. Vote in the poll above my head to give your rating, where you can choose from: Best of Both Worlds, Great Per View, Thumbs in the Middle, Meh Per View and Worst of Both Worlds. And comment with your thoughts on the show in the comments because I’ll be replying to people FROM OUTTA NOWHERE!
The first three matches were absolutely brilliant, and the Bray Wyatt angle was genuinely intriguing. Unfortunately the rest of the night was tedious to downright uncomfortable, extending the streak of horrible main events on main roster pay-per-views to four. TLC 2019 is a high Meh Per View.
Is Goldberg going to get an Undertaker rematch? Click the video on the right to find out! And have the Royal Rumble winners been leaked?! Click the video below that to learn more. I’ve been Oli Davis, and that was wrestling.