WWE TLC 2019
WWE TLC 2019 felt a bit thrown-together, with no matches announced until nine days beforehand and with several notable absentees, even in a non-wrestling capacity. As it turned out, the show was a mixed bag, as we had some very good battles and compelling storyline progression mixed with some underwhelming contests, some odd booking, and an unusual amount of botches.
Andrade vs. Humberto Carrillo
This was a Raw rematch, and it was ideal for the situation as both men slowly built to a big crescendo of jaw-dropping spots, which thoroughly impressed the crowd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Highlights included Andrade hitting Carrillo with the Alberto Del Rio double-foot stomp on the apron via the ropes, as well as a turning moonsault to the floor and two dropkicks onto a rope-straddled Andrade by Humberto. Andrade suffered a badly cut eye during the match, but worse was to come from a storyline standpoint when Zelina teased getting involved, and she almost took another bump when her man stopped short after charging at Humberto. Not too long afterwards, Carrillo finished off Andrade with a reverse rana off the ropes (which is almost normal these days, despite the huge risk involved) and a top rope moonsault, which not only earned Humberto the win, but a bigger pop than he has received, which is a good sign for him. Although Vega wasn’t directly involved in the finishing sequence, Andrade still blamed Zelina for his defeat, which continues what appears to be a slow-burning split.
WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship Ladder Match
The New Day (C) vs. The Revival
Opening the show proper was a SmackDown Tag Team Title Ladder match as The New Day and The Revival continued their on-off feud with the stakes raised higher than ever. And both teams delivered by putting on a highly compelling contest. The Revival wisely used the ladders for spots that didn’t require major bumps in the early stages, focusing on using said objects as weapons to the detriment of their opponents, though Big E inflicted himself with pain when he attempted a splash onto Dash Wilder who was laying on a ladder, only for Scott Dawson to pull him to safety. Big E also took a nasty spill off a ladder when he was knocked off by both Revival members. But New Day rebounded, as Big E hit Dash with a huge Big Ending off a ladder to the canvas, and Kofi batted Dawson away so that he fell onto a ladder bridge, allowing Kingston to seal the win. It received plenty of time, maybe a bit too much, but this was a frenetic opener that fans were fully invested into, making this a successful start to TLC.
Aleister Black vs. Buddy Murphy
Another very enjoyable match followed as Aleister and Buddy concluded their storyline based on Murphy being ballsy enough to knock on Black’s door, thus looking for a fight. And the word “fight” accurately describes this highly physical exchange of knees, elbows, kicks and punches, with both men unleashing all sorts of imaginative manoeuvres and amazingly quick sequences of offence. Black’s matches stand out more than most in WWE because of the emphasis on brutal-looking blows, and this applied to this contest right up to the bell, as Aleister (whose nose may have been broken early on) struck with a devastating-looking Black Mass for the pinfall. I am wondering if Aleister is a low-key dark horse contender to challenge Brock Lesnar for the WWE Title at WrestleMania 36; it will probably be too soon for him, but he has been gradually pushed very well throughout 2019, and he is as believable a threat as anyone right now. Besides, with the exception of Randy Orton and Kevin Owens, there are no other options on Raw at present (unless a guy with the name “CM” resurfaces).
WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match
The Viking Raiders (C) vs. The O.C.
We had another open challenge from The Viking Raiders following their similar match and win over The Street Profits on Raw. The call was answered by The O.C., who finally got the title shot they should have received immediately after pinning The Vikings at Crown Jewel. The Raiders were really over in Minneapolis, with announcer Vic Joseph describing it as “Viking Country”. That didn’t necessarily mean this was a well-received match, though, because we had a double countout ending that left the fans nonplussed. Post-match, the scrap continued, until Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson commandeered a KFC table assigned to competition winners at ringside (which resulted in a “KFC!” chant), only for The Vikings to hit Anderson with a powerbomb-style move through both the table and the remaining side dishes on said desk.
Roman Reigns vs. King Corbin
I thought this might have headlined TLC 2019, but instead the Roman-Corbin conflict was assigned as the mid-point main event. This was based on Corbin being such a coward that he was only willing to fight Roman if his security goons were in place (Reigns dispatched of them easily at the beginning) and by using every weapon possible to his advantage. Chairshots were exchanged, and the ladder was used only as a weapon rather than as a prop for high-risk moves. Reigns brought a table into the ring only to take a chokeslam through it, though later on, Reigns hit Corbin with a Samoan Drop off one announcer’s table through another. Roman looked set to Spear the King through a barricade, only to taste a superkick from the interfering Dolph Ziggler. Further interference from security bods and the banged-up Revival led to Reigns being greatly outnumbered, culminating in an End Of Days to Reigns on a chair to give Corbin a surprise pin. Reigns will no doubt exact full revenge on Corbin at a later date, but I was still surprised to see Roman take the pin here. Corey Graves standing up to applaud Corbin, despite the camera not focusing primarily on him, was hilarious.
Bray Wyatt vs. The Miz
We then had our most fascinating and unusual WWE PPV match in a long time. Miz was not facing The Fiend here at TLC 2019, but the Firefly Fun House version of Wyatt, who was as friendly and cheery as you could imagine. Almost not even attempting to execute offence, Wyatt found himself at Miz’s mercy, taking all sorts of punishment within the rules, and Wyatt was even smiling as Miz essentially attempted to break his arm. After surviving a Skull-Crushing Finale, Wyatt eventually rebounded with a Sister Abigail into a barricade and a Sister Abigail in the ring for the pin in this non-title match. The story seemed to be that, as FFH Bray, the Universal Champion didn’t want to fight at all, but when The Fiend’s spirit entered his body, he was transformed into the evil psychopath that he really is. Post-match, Fiend appeared on the giant screen, and Wyatt responded by happily retrieving Fiend’s, erm, mallet from under the ring to pulverise Miz with. That was, until the lights went out Fiend-style (as Bray shouted “He’s here!”), only for a returning Daniel Bryan (with a short haircut and a trimmed beard, since Fiend supposedly removed much of his hair weeks ago) to show up and attack Wyatt, hitting two Running Knees, though Wyatt escaped before Bryan could whack him with the mallet. Still, Bryan was back, and so was the Yes! Movement as he embraced fans’ chants and responded accordingly. This whole situation is unlike anything that WWE has done before, and it is hugely interesting to watch. Wyatt has undoubtedly had both the character and career revival of the year, and there is still so much to explore with his persona, which will probably include a rematch with Bryan at Royal Rumble; unusually, though, the storyline seems to be more intriguing than the eventual match itself.
Rusev vs. Bobby Lashley
Speaking of storylines, this TLC 2019 clash was the culmination of nearly three months of sordid angles involving Bobby Lashley stealing Rusev’s wife Lana, which has pushed the PG rating to its limit based on the repeated references to the affairing duo having sex (which saw Jerry Lawler state this line on commentary: “My first wife used to like Olympic sex … every four years”). The match itself was a fun brawl, though nothing particularly memorable, even if fans were involved by chanting “Rusev Day!” Lana interfered, because why not, and her distraction was enough to help her man Bobby drive Rusev through a table on a second attempt, as the first try didn’t break the wood. Lashley was victorious, but I suspect that this story is far from over.
WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship TLC Match
The Kabuki Warriors (C) vs. Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair
Remember when fans were complaining at the mistreatment of the Women’s Tag Team Titles? Those jibes should now be a thing of the past, as Asuka and Kairi Sane have played a major role on Raw lately, and here they headlined a PPV, TLC 2019, opposite Becky and Charlotte (Kairi aside, you need only to switch the match pairing and you have your TLC 2018 main event). This was a mix of some very creative spots, some brutal bumps, and some unfortunate mistimed moments on a night full of them; in particular, it seemed that Sane may have been knocked loopy because the match fell apart continuously in the final third during some of her spots. Even so, this was still an enjoyable match, though it didn’t have the feel-good outcome that fans may have wanted, as the heels triumphed for the fourth straight bout with Asuka retrieving the gold for The Kabukis to retain. There was almost no celebration, though: an earlier Street Profits backstage promo was interrupted by Reigns, Corbin, The Revival and others engaging in a mass brawl, and it continued through the back of the arena as soon as the main event ended (what a coincidence); it was still going on as the show went off the air, though we did see Roman Spearing Corbin off a small ledge onto a pile of wrestlers and security guards.
So, WWE TLC 2019 was an average show on the whole. It started off great, then booking veered it off-course, followed by Bray Wyatt’s shenanigans capturing everybody’s attention, before two okay matches rounded off the night. It felt like an unnecessary PPV in advance, and that’s what it proved to be, though there were some gems amongst the more forgettable contests. The decade could have ended better, but at least there are some intriguing plotlines and some major questions to be answered in terms of championship contender personnel as we head into 2020 and the incoming Road To WrestleMania.