What a PPV! It was not at all what I expected, but so much better in so many ways. I have so much to say about this show, so instead of typing away here, let’s just jump in and get to it!
Kick Off Show
– I loved to see Elias get up in Angle and Jordan’s business. It was a great way to further push Elias, get Angle’s face on WWE TV early tonight, and show some emotion from Jordan. Actually, I’m shocked to see that much emotion from Jordan and I hope that was just the tip of the iceberg, because he needs to do something, and soon!
– Mickie James came off really strong in her #AskMickie segment. She, just like Charlotte when she was in the same segment at HIAC, Mickie is wearing a LOT of makeup, but unlike Charlotte, it was mostly on her eyes and her skin didn’t look strangely muddy with too much bronzer/blush/highlighter, the way Charlotte did. Further, since she’s going against Bliss who is all about the blingy makeup, Mickie kept it mostly matte, but that was still a lot of purple eyeshadow! Beyond that, Mickie was stronger here than she normally is in interview segments. I hadn’t thought she had gotten better at it, but I might be wrong.
– AJ looked like he’d just as soon sleep a week than face Balor! He looked so tired! And why did they drag him back from South America for this? There had to be someone on the Raw roster who could face Balor in a stellar match!
– Sasha and Foxy looked really solid. Foxy came off really strong in this match, as she has recently. I still think it was an odd choice for Sasha to face Foxy, and really a bad choice to put the match in the Kick Off, but there’s a lot of odd choices on this TLC card. To be honest, both Sasha and Foxy stepped into that ring and gave their all, as if they were working a Championship Match at one of the big four. The booking of the match also looked like it was for a much bigger match, and that’s something the WWE rarely gives us in this day and age of PPVs on the WWE Network. While I’m a huge Sasha fan and think she gets the short end of the stick, I think Foxy has what it takes to be Raw Women’s Champion at this point in her career. I’m really shocked to be able to say this, but she really has what it takes, all the way around.
– The Shield was great on mic discussing their match on TLC. Talking about not reigning in Ambrose was perfect. It’s true that they really don’t know what they will get from Angle, as none of us do, possibly even Angle. The best part about this segment was how pumped they were, how well spoken, and how they made me that much more excited about TLC as a whole, which I’ve not really been, at all. They finished the Kick Off really well, sending us into more questions than answers.
Asuka Defeated Emma
I’ve heard a lot about Evil Emma in NXT, but I’ve not made it that far through the series, so I’ve not seen for myself. Well, now I know exactly what people were talking about, and wonder why we haven’t seen this on Raw? This woman is fantastic. Not saying she’s better than Asuka, but she more than held her own against Asuka. Then there’s Asuka! She’s downright amazing, and about as fully rounded as a superstar can get. Her hair and ring gear are unusual and draw people in. She has such charisma, it just oozes, and she doesn’t have to say a word. It’s all in her face, her eyes, the way she bites the top of her mask when she takes it off and poses. Lastly, but not leastly, her ring work is jaw-dropping. I cannot get over how great she is in the ring, and I’m thrilled that she was called up to Raw without having lost a match in NXT. She’s going to be an unstoppable force, and I hope she doesn’t lose a match for at least a year, but only part of that time as Raw Women’s Champion – destroying the whole roster as Champion for over a year on Raw could feel a bit too Goldberg at this point.
5 Men One-Up Each Other
I loved watching these guys trying to be bigger and badder than each other! Miz is such a sleaze, and great at riling people up. Strowman is so amazing, but it was Kane who got the greatest pop. It was great to see Kane still getting that reaction after so many years. He’s still a favorite of mine, as long as we’re not talking his stance on politics!
I Walk With Elias
But not with veg! I truly thought that we had gone back two decades and the fans were throwing things at Elias. Interesting that it was Jordan, and Jordan handled it better than I thought he could. The banana was wonderful. That being said, it ended as nothing, and went from something that looked like it could really be something, but was actually nothing. Quickly cutting to commercial (during a PPV, which totally pisses me off!) and leaving us hanging.
205 & Their Announcers
I have to admit that I really liked having the 205 announcers announce this match. It’s a great change of pace and gives us a chance to hear someone other than Cole.
Dang, Alexander showed some solid personality in this match! I didn’t think he was anything but athletic, but he showed me here! Where was this guy from day one? He could have had an epic feud with Neville if he’d shown personality from day one in 205. Actually, all four of these guys looked strong in this match, and I don’t mean their ring skills, which we all know are great, but their charisma and personalities showed through.
Thrilled Alexander got the three. He needed a solid PPV showing, and this win just sealed the deal for him. Hopefully, he will be heading for the CW strap very soon. From what he showed here, he might be able to feud with Zo. Yes, Zo would still run personality rings around Alexander, but that doesn’t mean that Alexander would look like a limp dishrag in the ring, the way he would have at his debut.
Pure Emotion Touches Fans
I wasn’t sure what we would see from these two. I know they’re both fully rounded competitors, but that doesn’t always lead to great matches – look at Roode and Ziggler at HIAC! But they really left it all in the ring for the fans, and it was great!
That sunset bomb from Bliss on Mickie was downright beautiful! Mickie’s missile dropkick off the top barely touched Bliss, but it still looked really good and added a lot to the match. They both worked so hard in this match and really sold it. Not saying it was as great as the opening match, but the emotion involved made it great in a different way.
Mickie was great on mic after the match and made her that much more endearing. It felt like a swansong in some ways, but she was just lovely. After that, I might actually start liking her. Seems like since she got married and had Donovan she’s lost that air of skank she always carried around like a shell of protection. I’m sure that sounds horrible, but if you’ve seen her appearance on Jenny Jones, you’d know exactly what I’m talking about. And, if you don’t know what I’m talking about and go watch it on YouTube, I’m sorry, it’s something no one should ever have to see.
Angle Gets Armor!
Angle was great talking to Rollins and Ambrose, but Angle has always been great Holy smokes, Angle got armor to wear to the ring! That was very cool, and a great way to tie him into The Shield.
I Still Walk With Elias!
When I trashed how his first segment ended so abruptly, I had a feeling that he’d be back, and that they would be carrying this back and forth. I truly hoped they’d carry it through the night as that’s something I’ve been begging for in my articles for over years now. I love storylines that carry through an entire show. They tell a story that’s memorable! There are two that stick in my mind specifically. Stone Cold Steve Austin chasing down Booker T through whatever city they were in that week. Austin trashed Booker T everywhere, and the grocery store segment was epic. The other one that really stuck with me that ran through a whole show and told a huge story was when it looked like Batista and Trip got into it early in the show, teasing a break of Evolution. Things got nastier and uglier as the night went on, but in the end, the whole thing was a swerve on the fans and Batista was as strongly with Evo as ever. Those things stick in my head after decades because they filled an entire show and told a full story. There have not been enough of that in recent years, but the more of this I see, the more I believe in Jordan’s abilities. I’m actually starting to change my mind on this guy because of how he’s handling himself throwing veg!
Straight up, this Should Have Been A Ladder Match! I’m really not at all impressed that there were not more gimmick matches scheduled for this TLC PPV. The way the show was scheduled and ran, it was not a TLC PPV, but a PPV that had almost nothing to do with TLC at all! But if Zo and Kalisto had been in a Ladder Match here, and Zo hadn’t completely killed himself (because he really has no self-preservation in the ring), it could have been a 4+ Crown match. As it was, it really wasn’t. To be honest, the earlier 205 match was better.
Kalisto reminds me of a cross between Rey and a yellow Power Ranger. It’s not just his size or accent, but his voice is very young and soft-spoken, so similar to Rey’s. Too bad the WWE doesn’t push him as well as they pushed Rey, because Kalisto is really fantastic, and the WWE would make huge money off the merch. They pushed ADR as their savior without a mask or solid merch as a replacement for Rey, but now that they have someone who could be that guy, they’ve really dropped the ball.
Zo is sick and wins? If he has what the other guys have, not only did he work and hang backstage and possibly pass on whatever it is but now he’s CW Champion and who knows if he will be healthy enough to defend it? Bo and Bray have been out for a bit with whatever this virus that’s going around backstage, so the question is if Zo has it too, will 205 be running without their Champion for months at a time as well? (cough-Lesnar-cough)
16 Hours For 1 Match
During the Kick Off, AJ looked like he was ready to sleep for a week, not wrestle a grueling match with Balor. That being said, you’d never know AJ was so jet lagged. Yes, it’s part of their lives on the road, but AJ had to get back from South America to take Bray’s place. I’m guessing they though Bray would be healthy enough, or they had no clue what to do, but I think they had an opportunity they probably didn’t even look at. AJ vs Balor is a huge draw at any point, and who I’m going to suggest isn’t the big name AJ is, but I think it could have been great. At first, I couldn’t think of anyone on Raw’s roster who could have worked with Balor here, but what about Anderson? Two members of that notorious group that they refused to mention during this match. I know Anderson doesn’t have the name power AJ does, but I imagine they could have given us a heck of a match. That being said, walking into this PPV I was giddy for this match, and they gave us everything they had and more! This was the match we knew it would be and more. The huge moves by both of them, the selling, and the overall chemistry was amazing!
This was truly an epic moment in the WWE. I’m jealous of the people who were in attendance and got to see this live. I know this wasn’t its own segment, but it was so huge I thought it was owed its own grade.
Yes, I Still Walk With Elias!
Jordan looked really sloppy slamming Elias to the mat (numerous times), and Elias looked stiff slamming Jordan face first into the bottom buckle. This should have been the payoff, but it really wasn’t. Elias is so much more rounded as a superstar than Jordan, and it showed in this match – all the way through, and in the ending. It was just a mess. The ending was questionable, and even Jordan didn’t even look sure of the win. The ref screwed that up and everyone looked unsure of what happened. While needing a breather match is important between two huge matches, this one garnered ‘boring’ chants, and it deserved them. Actually, Jordan deserved them, Elias seems to be stuck on a ride he doesn’t want to be on, but cannot figure out how to get off from. I feel really bad for Elias here.
Sierra Hotel India Echo Lima Delta
This is a very divisive match, and I understand why but hear me out as to what I thought of the match and why I gave it five crowns.
To start with, Angle looked terribly nervous and uncomfortable coming down through the stands with Rollins and Ambrose, but I get that, it’s not his norm. I have to admit that seeing him dressed in the same gear as The Shield was really strange, but once he got to the ring and got into the groove, he was the Angle we all know and love. He looked better than I’d hoped, and everyone was so careful with him. I marked out when Angle hit the three Germans on Miz, then on Sheamus and Cesaro! That almost brought tears to my eyes, and I watched much of Angle’s tenure in TNA.
The way Strowman put Angle through the table was beautiful! One arm behind Angle’s back, the other craddling Angle’s neck, and Strowman put his own arms through that table instead of putting Angle through it. It was downright impressive! I also have to say that I’m so happy that the table Angle went through wasn’t like the tables Ambrose kind of went through and bounced off from. Actually, I hope the WWE looks into where they bought those tables and not get them again. That being said, Ambrose sold bouncing off that table in the ring really well. The only person who could have taken that and smiled that way was Foley, and we all know how crazy he was in the ring. Actually, I thought it was funny how all the guys in the ring broke kayfabe, looking around at each other as Ambrose smirked up from the mat. It’s one of those moments that they will show when Ambrose is inducted into the WWE HoF.
Speaking of facial expressions, the look on Kane’s face when Strowman climbed out of the hole in the stage Kane put him through was priceless. Certain promoters don’t like masks because they think they superstars cannot emote from behind them, but Kane proves that’s complete bunk. Further facial expression comment – Miz’s face when the trash truck compacted with Strowman inside. So impressive!
Miz stalking Angle from outside the ring, seeing just those eyes over the apron was creepy and great. Almost as great as Miz’s hissy fit when Angle kicked out after the skull crushing finale. In my predictions, I stated that Angle should get the pinfall over Miz setting up for a huge feud leading to them facing off at WrestleMania. I must say I’m rather impressed with my prediction as I’ve not been that on the mark in a long time. But honestly, I’m mostly glad that Angle made it through that match in one piece.
All that being said about that match, I know a lot of people were not as happy with it as I am, and I understand why, but for me, it brought back the grit and craziness I loved so much about the Attitude Era. While there was a lot bad in the AE, what I loved most was that they would leave us hanging, so many questions, so much craziness, grit, and reality. The WWE has become too polished and without the rough edges and without the creativity that brought the WWE to the top of the ratings and took out WCW. So, to the people who didn’t like the match because they didn’t understand it, or thought it was too over-the-top, please think back to what made you fall in love with the WWE in the first place and why you’ve been so unhappy with that you’ve been seeing lately. I’m not saying you need to see it my way, but I truly hope you know where I’m coming from.
After The Greatness
I truly wasn’t expecting much from TLC, and while I still have huge problems with how this PPV was booked without the gimmick matches that makes for a TLC PPV, and the substitutions made the show that much better, it was really a lot better than I even imagined it even could be. This is the second PPV in a row that was better that I’d even hoped. Fingers crossed that this is the start of a trend, but will only believe that when McMahon steps back and lets the kids run Creative.