Liam Hoofe reviews WWE TLC 2017…
WWE TLC was given the quite the make-over over the weekend. The initial plans to have The Shield return in the main event were changed due to an outbreak of illness in the WWE and suddenly, fan excitement was through to the roof for this show. Not only did we now have the return of Kurt Angle to look forward to, but we also had the debut of Asuka and a dream-match between AJ Styles and Finn Balor!. So, did it deliver? Let’s go through each match, and find out.
Asuka Defeated Emma
It was a nice idea to open the show with the debut of Asuka and the Empress of Tomorrow delivered strongly on her WWE debut. The best decision here was to not play the match as a simple squash. Emma getting some solid offence in made for a much more entertaining match and there were some really nice spots, especially some of Emma’s work on Asuka. Asuka’s striking style is going to add so much to this division and the thought of her taking on the likes of Bliss and Banks in the WWE is really exciting.
Of course, Asuka picked up the victory and both superstars looked decent here. WWE needs to allow Emma to do this more often as she is one of the company’s most underrated talents right now.
Match Rating: ***
Cedric Alexander and Rich Swann Defeated Brian Kendrick and Jack Gallagher
The cruiserweight division has never been more relevant on Raw than it has been for the last month and it’s great to see four of the divisions most talented getting a chance on a pay-per-view. All four men put on a great performance here and the match really delivered. All four men have great styles and there was also really nice tag work too.
Jack Gallagher is a great talent, as she showed when he was on PPV against Neville earlier this year and his ring attire really adds something special to his character. The faces picked up the victory here, an indicator that Enzo is probably picking up the belt later in the show. This was a really solid effort from all involved and I’d happily see more of this on PPV.
Match Rating: *** 1/2
Alexa Bliss Defeated Mickie James
It’s been great to see Mickie feuding for the Woman’s title again, and she proved that she still hasn’t lost a step in the ring at TLC. Alexa is a great champion and her bullying of Mickie James has really helped her gain more heat over the last month or so. Bliss addressing that James has a child before the match was interesting, and perhaps the company should put more focus on this if they want to continue to build Mickie’s character.
The two put on some great work in the ring and Bliss retained with a clean fall. It was a well-worked match that continues to build Bliss towards her inevitable defeat at the hands of Asuka in the coming months.
Match Rating: ***
Enzo Amore Defeated Kalisto
Enzo Amore’s work on the mic has really helped elevate the Cruiserweight division this last month and his match with Kalisto was a massive step up in the ring from the Certified G. Amore’s match with Neville last month was an embarrassment but this duo was actually allowed to put on a match at TLC and it was fairly enjoyable.
Enzo picked up the victory after a thumb to Kalisto’s eyes. Good finish, nice character work and the right winner- no complaints from me here.
Match Rating: ***
Finn Balor Defeated AJ Styles
This match was too, too sweet. As last-minute changes to PPVs go, this one may go down as the best of all time. Finn and AJ delivered a match that lived up to its dream match billing, and also reminded us of how much both of their talents have been wasted in recent months.
Balor, especially, has been drastically underused in the last few months and he showed the big brass last night what he is capable of. From the get-go, this match was awesome, and the crowd let them know as well. The two exchanged moves back and forth and were given the time to show off their impressive repertoires. Their in-ring chemistry was incredible and I hope we get a rematch down the line.
The crowd were crazy about this one and one thing I loved, was that it was a wrestling exhibition, as opposed to just a series of false finishes. Hopefully, Finn can just move on to the Universal title now, because this showed he is so, so much better than his feud with Wyatt.
The too-sweet gesture after Finn had won the match sent the crowd, and the internet into melt-down and the WWE seriously need to book a Club reunion in the next 12 months. It makes so much sense and the company have such a rare opportunity. This match, though, could well be the match of the year, and the best thing? I still feel as though they could have taken it up one more notch.
Match Rating: **** 1/2
Jason Jordan Defeated Elias
Jason Jordan and Elias continued their trend of being chucked in random matches by taking the toilet break slot at TLC. The match had been built all night through some amusing segments that saw Jordan throw vegetables at Elias whenever he tried to perform one of his songs. The match itself was very, very average and the finish, which was deemed as screwy, seemed a little pointless.
Match Rating: * 1/2
Kurt Angle, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins Defeated Braun Strowman, The Miz, Kane, Sheamus, and Cesaro
Well, this was mental. WWE’s enforced changes to the card clearly meant that the company had to re-write this match at the last minute and the results were as chaotic as the last week in WWE. The opening to this match was awesome and to be honest, there was so much that went on in this match that a rewatch is likely going to have to be in order.
First, Angle was taken out to the back. Then Kane and Braun turned on each other and Kane buried Braun under a pile of chairs in a great spot. Then, Braun returned only to be dumped in a garbage truck by his opponents, because, why not? Then the heels beat down The Shield until Angle’s music hit to a massive pop and the trio beat down the heels one by one, before finishing The Miz off with a triple power-bomb.
This was absolutely nuts, and while the action sagged at times, and it was over-booked to hell, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was having an absolutely great time watching it. The Kane/Braun stuff was amusing as Braun continues to be a human highlight reel, while Angle was protected well enough to be able to get away with some cool nostalgic moments. The match utilised its gimmick well enough and the finish gives the whole night a feel-good finish too. Sure, it probably could have been a lot more polished, but damn, I enjoyed it.
Match Rating: ****
Final Thoughts: This time last week, TLC was one of the least attractive cards in recent memory and then, due to a crazy twist of events, it got super exciting, super quick, and boy, did it deliver on the night. Every match here was good and the two big matches really delivered. This was arguably the WWE’s most consistent PPV of the year and AJ/Finn was easily the best we have seen on a WWE PPV in 2017.
What did you think of TLC? Let us know in the comments below, and let Liam know on Twitter, here– @liamhoofe