WWE TLC 2010
WWE TLC 2010 marked the final nail in the coffin of the original Nexus, as Wade Barrett was slayed by John “Super” Cena. That’s an observation, by the way, and not a criticism. Well, maybe there will be some shade thrown, but we’ll come to that after we look back on the second TLC PPV.
WWE Intercontinental Championship Triple Threat Ladder Match
Dolph Ziggler (C) vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Jack Swagger
This was the period when WWE would hold matches featuring every element of Tables, Ladders and Chairs, whether a storyline required it or not. The upshot was that the stipulations began to lose their appeal, even when the bouts ended up being pretty good. That applied with this contest: as a match, it isn’t bad at all, but if you asked a WWE fan to name 25 memorable Ladder matches, there’s a high chance they would forget this even occurred. There were some fun moments, though, and the finish was a bit innovative: Kingston and Swagger both pulled the IC Title off the karabiner above the ring, with the belt dropping straight into the hands of an opportunistic Ziggler below, allowing Dolph to retain. The finish was cool, then, but the match itself will be recalled by only the biggest diehards (which isn’t a bad thing, by the way).
Natalya & Beth Phoenix vs. LayCool
Years before The Four Horsewomen played a massive role in WWE having a Women’s Revolution/Evolution, the company’s females were given a chance to make some history by having a Tables match. Natalya was the Divas Champion at the time, and The Glamazon had formed an alliance with her real-life bestie to tackle the villainous LayCool. Michelle McCool and Layla brought with them a pink table that featured a cartoonish drawing of Natalya on the, erm, wood, and this could only mean one thing. Sure enough, it was the heels who ended up being driven through the very object they had personally provided. Natalya pushed both off the ropes onto the table, which didn’t immediately break, so Nattie hit a splash to drive both women through the table for the win. It’s debatable as to whether this half-break was planned or not, but it looked good enough, as did Natalya debuting a double Sharpshooter on both LayCool members during the match.
WWE Tag Team Championship Match
Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov (C) vs. Justin Gabriel & Heath Slater
Santino and Vladimir had scored the bronze belts in an upset a few weeks earlier, so this was the rematch for Gabriel and Slater. To demonstrate where the Nexus were at by December 2010, the two members of the most-pushed WWE faction in at least five years did not capture the titles; instead, the admittedly-over comedy babyfaces were attacked by Wade Barrett and other Nexus members to cause a disqualification. Justin and Heath did later regain their belts, but as members of The Corre (a SmackDown group), two months later at Elimination Chamber.
#1 Contender’s Ladder Match
John Morrison vs. Sheamus
John Morrison and Sheamus are two wrestlers who, by rights, shouldn’t have major charisma, and they definitely shouldn’t have done so in the cookie-cutter era of WWE 2010, and especially with a Ladder stipulation. But they did, which made this a surprisingly excellent Ladder match. Sheamus was starting to silence those who believed his massive push meant that he didn’t deserve his headline spot, while Morrison was starting to once again demonstrate his talent after a barren spell in the spring and summer. This match saw both men take tremendous risks, with the most hair-raising coming when Sheamus was sent spilling through a ringside ladder bridge in a reckless manner. This allowed Morrison to capture the contract and earn himself a WWE Title match which everyone assumed would happen at Royal Rumble, but which instead took place on the first Raw of 2011, as he fell to The Miz in a Falls Count Anywhere bout.
WWE Championship Tables Match
The Miz (C) vs. Randy Orton
Speaking of Miz, he had successfully cashed in Money In The Bank the night after Survivor Series at Randy Orton’s expense, and this marked Randy’s big rematch. Despite a slow and steady push throughout 2010, Miz still seemed a bit out of his depth as WWE Champion, but with John Cena occupying Wade Barrett’s attention and CM Punk enjoying a brief commentary stint as he was nearly ready to return from injury, there were no other alternatives. Orton did his best to make Miz look good here, or at least as good as a cowardly heel titleholder can look. Alex Riley attempted to interfere on Miz’s behalf several times (which Michael Cole continuously supported at the announce desk, much to the chagrin of Jerry Lawler, whom Cole had denied the WWE Title himself in a previous Raw TLC bout with Miz), and A-Ry proved crucial: Orton RKO’d Riley through a table while the referee was down, and after Miz gave Randy a Skull-Crushing Finale, he dragged Orton to the splintered wood to give the impression he had put Orton through the table, and the ref agreed, giving Miz the win. That was, until the official saw a replay and restarted the match. At that point, Miz shoved Riley from inside the ring into Orton, who was on the apron, knocking him back-first through a table on the floor, giving Miz the win for real. Creative stuff here, as Miz retained by using his brain rather than his own abilities. Cole was ecstatic, of course, though Orton would get another title shot at Royal Rumble.
World Heavyweight Championship TLC Match
Kane (C) vs. Edge vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Alberto Del Rio
Days prior to TLC 2010, this was set to be Kane vs. Edge for the WHC under TLC rules, and Rey vs. ADR in a Chairs match. The two matches were merged for reasons that were never properly explained, but it was the right decision because this was a thrilling four-way car wreck. It also helped to masquerade the weaknesses of both the slower, aging Kane, as well as the still-adjusting-to-WWE Del Rio. Mysterio looked good as ever, and in the familiar TLC environment, Edge looked the best that he had all year after struggling throughout 2010. Del Rio took the biggest plunge of the match, being sent off a ladder through several stacked ringside tables. Edge then Speared Kane from the inside of the ring through a table on the floor, allowing the Rated R Superstar to scale the rungs and capture his tenth heavyweight title to the pop of the evening. This victory marked a revitalisation for Edge, who had an awesome first few months in 2011 before having to abruptly retire after WrestleMania XXVII.
John Cena vs. Wade Barrett
After a random segment which saw Cody Rhodes denigrate Big Show to such an extent that the giant stripped Rhodes to his underwear while promoting his movie Knucklehead, we had our TLC 2010 main event. Nexus had invaded WWE out of the blue in June following the culmination of NXT Season 1, and had specifically targeted Cena. It took a long time, which included Cena temporarily joining Nexus due to a match stipulation, and even Johnny boy being fired (though he didn’t miss one episode of Raw), but here we finally had the big feud-deciding brawl. Cena had taken out Nexus members during the evening, ensuring that he and Wade would be left all alone, albeit with loads of chairs at their disposal. Barrett did have Cena reeling numerous times, which included a painful chair-assisted submission hold. But Cena wasn’t going to let his fans down after all of his struggles, and he rebounded as only he could do, before finishing off Barrett with an Attitude Adjustment onto a row of chairs. After the match, Cena pulled down a huge load of chairs from the aisleway onto a fallen Barrett, both theoretically and literally burying him to end the show.
Many say that WWE badly bungled the Nexus storyline, and certainly the faction were waylaid after losing their big seven-on-seven showdown at SummerSlam, yet they remained at the forefront of WWE television for months. The main problems to me were that Barrett simply wasn’t ready for such a massive push, meaning his matches underwhelmed, plus the Nexus’ collective lack of charisma and star power meant they were seen as boring by those who weren’t particularly interested in the behind-the-scenes mechanisms of WWE. With more experience and a little more confidence, I think Nexus would have been given until at least WrestleMania to finish off their rivalries and to leave more of a lasting impact in the manner of The Shield in later years. Instead, this effectively finished off the Nexus, even if we did get the New Nexus and the Corre for a few months in 2011.
WWE TLC 2010 is a very underrated show. The four-way TLC match is awesome, Morrison vs. Sheamus is excellent, and there are several strong efforts dotted throughout the rest of the card. This is seen as a low-quality era in WWE, occurring as the company was low on big names, and coming before The Rock and CM Punk contributed to shaking things up massively the following year, but it’s a show that is well worth checking out if you get the chance; the odds are that you will be pleasantly surprised.