Written By: Mark Armstrong
Running Time: 167 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 1
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: March 19 2012
Looking back at TLC 2011 is fascinating. Unusually, (a healthy) John Cena was not booked for the card, which allowed others to take the stage in what was, in hindsight, a dress rehearsal for the WWE that we know today, where those with indie cred, a strong hardcore following or a high work-rate are valued and accepted as key players by both the fans and WWE itself.
Case in point: the opening bout, which sees the then-red hot Zack Ryder dethrone Dolph Ziggler for the United States Championship in one of the more memorable U.S. Title bouts in the early part of the decade. Air Boom vs. Epico & Primo is standard fare, but it does provide PPV time for the then-fresh challengers (even if Primo had been around for years at that point). Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett is a fun Tables match that features a simple yet clever finish in favour of The Viper.
Beth Phoenix vs. Kelly Kelly is the fourth and most instantly forgettable entry of their feud from that year. Better is a match which feels surreal to watch on this show and in this year, a fun Sledgehammer Ladder match (hey, it is TLC) between Triple H and Kevin Nash, in what would be Big Kev’s final singles match for the company.
Sheamus vs. Jack Swagger is filler, announced in a backstage confrontation also starring Teddy Long, while Mark Henry vs. Big Show is a shorter-than-usual Chairs match due to Henry carrying an injury. Fans don’t react that much to Big Show unexpectedly winning the World Heavyweight Championship, but they do react like crazy to Daniel Bryan then cashing in his Money In The Bank briefcase on Show to win the WHC for himself. This title win would soon lead to the introduction of Bryan’s now-legendary “Yes!” chant.
Cody Rhodes vs. Booker T is a good Intercontinental Championship bout, with T only having a few more matches afterwards before hanging up his boots. And the main event is a hidden gem of a three-way TLC match, as CM Punk successfully defends his WWE Championship against The Miz and Alberto Del Rio in a bout that has several creative spots.
When you look at how Seth Rollins, Finn Bálor, AJ Styles and more are positioned strongly today due to their wrestling skills and in spite of the issues which would have potentially precluded their growth in the past (their size, their background etc), TLC 2011 feels like an important step towards that future. CM Punk has spoken months earlier about wanting to instigate that change, and by the end of this show, he and Daniel Bryan are in possession of the company’s two top titles. Add to that several enjoyable matches and a fair amount of unpredictability, and you have a card that is well worth reliving on DVD (unless you’re a John Cena fan).
Overall Rating: 8/10 – Very Good