Tables and ladders and chairs—oh my! It’s that time of year for the WWE again. A time of season’s beatings, if you will. Also a time for payback, if the RAW Women’s Champion has anything to say about it.
Buddy Murphy (c) def. Cedric Alexander, for the Cruiserweight Championship on the TLC Kickoff Show (205 Live)
Elias def. Bobby Lashley, in a Ladder match on the TLC Kickoff Show (RAW)
You can watch the entirety of the TLC Kickoff show on WWE’s official YouTube, as well as the WWE Network.
Fabulous Truth def. Mahalicia (Jinder Mahal & Alicia Fox), in the Mixed Match Challenge Finals* (SmackDown vs. RAW)
*The winning team of this match gets the #30 spot in their respective Royal Rumble matches and an all expenses-paid trip of their choosing.
TLC in San Jose, CA officially gets started with the finals of the Mixed Match Challenge. Both of these teams were pretty much losers the entire tournament, only getting their wins at the very end, once it actually mattered. (It definitely was an interesting system this season’s Mixed Match Challenge had.) The match kicks off with a quick “WHAT’S UP?!?” vs. “SHANTI!”-off. Naturally, “WHAT’S UP?!?” wins, while “SHANTI!” wins boos.
But Fabulous Truth get the momentum, which of course leads to a seven-second DANCE BREAK. A dance break that the Singh brothers get involved in… only to end up getting got by R-Truth as a result. Again, Fabulous Truth gains some momentum—with Truth showing off his athleticism—but then Alicia Fox tags in, asserting her Captain-based dominance against Truth. She tries to take him out but ends up getting superkicked by Carmella.
A little more back and forth—as Truth focuses on the Singh brothers and Jinder Mahal—and Carmella is able to tap Alicia out with the Code of Silence. So now R-Truth and Carmella are #30 in their respective Royal Rumble matches as well as the recipients of that paid vacation. Unfortunately, Truth already “took care” of the vacation location before the show, without telling Carmella: It’s the “cultural epic center” known as WWE Headquarters in Stamford, CT!
Poor Carmella. But “The Stamford mall is lovely,” according to Renee Young.
The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro) (c) def. The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) & The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso), in a Triple Threat match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship (SmackDown)
We’ve got Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods repping The New Day for the in-ring action with this match. (But this is a Triple Threat match, so Big E technically could do something. The damn numbers game and all.) And it’s a match that gets out of control pretty early on. All three of these teams know each other very well, and The Bar’s tactic is to make this as close to a standard tag team match as possible, constantly trying to keep The Usos out of the equation. Also, oh no—Tom Phillips is officially calling Sheamus “Sheamy” now.
But The Usos get some momentum, inviting all of their opponents to a superkick party until Sheamy (sorry) turns it back around for a bit. His dominance is unmatched, but the same can be said for The New Day’s teamwork. Xavier hits Sheamus with the elbow drop from all the way across the ring, but Jey Uso and Cesaro break up the pin. Then it’s more chaos among the teams, with Xavier ending up battling The Bar, only for Sheamus to get him down with a Brogue Kick to win and retain the tag titles.
Braun Strowman def. Baron Corbin, in a TLC match** (RAW)
**The stipulations for this match are as follows: If Braun Strowman wins, he gets to finally have his Universal Championship match against Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble. If Baron Corbin wins, he becomes the permanent General Manager of Monday Night RAW. And if he loses, he’s no longer GM-Elect or even Acting GM—he’s completely out of the position.
Corbin is, of course, out first, fully expecting “The Monster Among Men” to forfeit, and cutting a promo about how it’s “too bad” that everyone in the WWE Universe hates him and blames him for how bad RAW has been lately.
Heath Slater is the referee for this match, and Baron Corbin makes him count to 10 to officially count Strowman out. But nope: Strowman’s here. “He’s got one arm, but he is present,” says Renee Young, and it’s true—Strowman strolls out to the ring in a sling. Strowman says Corbin forgot to mention something important, like the fact that there is no disqualification in a TLC match. So if someone wanted to help Strowman—
And Corbin is about to bail (meaning he would actually be the one to forfeit), stopped only by the arrival of Kurt Angle, who grabs a—you guessed it—chair. And with that chair, he brings Corbin back to the ring, where Roode/Gable hit Corbin with their neckbreaker/moonsault combo, Apollo Crews gets him with a frog splash, Angle hits an Angle Slam, and Balor gets him with a Coup de Grace. And with that, Heath Slater puts his referee shirt back on to count the three for Braun Strowman.
Natalya def. Ruby Riott, in a Tables match (RAW)
As expected, Ruby Riott has the other two members of The Riott Squad in her corner. They also bring their custom-made Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart table with them, because of mind games, baby! The numbers game is a factor from the very beginning, as Liv Morgan quickly grabs Natalya’s leg to give Ruby the advantage, and she and Sarah Logan also set tables up specifically for Ruby’s benefit. They even sacrifice themselves for Ruby, as Liv ends up going through a table to save Ruby from going through it herself. And when Sarah Logan tries to introduce a table into the ring, Natalya baseball slides it right back into her.
“You want to mess with my family, bitch,” Natalya asks Ruby, before slapping her in the face. Natalya is not playing around here. And she has no problem fighting what is essentially a handicap match, as she sidesteps a charging Sarah at one point, then puts her through a table too. (“And stay out!”) But while the numbers become even with that, that minor distraction allows Ruby to get the advantage again. She then tells Natalya that her father is “ashamed” of her before throwing her into the steel steps.
At this point, Ruby is determined to embarrass Natalya and put her through the Anvil table. But instead, Natalya gets Ruby into a sharpshooter… which Ruby breaks by knocking the Anvil table over and onto Natalya. The WWE Universe is still behind Natalya, cheering her on as Ruby just sets up the Anvil table again. But Natalya finally gets up and takes Ruby down with an electric chair. Now, Natalya needs a plan… and she has one, in the form of a custom-made Ruby Riott table. (I wonder if you can get that on WWE Shop…)
She also finds her late father’s jacket under the ring and puts that on—so business is clearly about to pick up. However, Ruby is able to get up, fight back, and put Natalya on the Ruby table. But Natalya plays possum long enough to get Ruby back on the table, and—nope, Ruby’s back up. Who’s going through the table? Ruby tries for a hurricanrana, but Natalya deflects and instead turns it into a powerbomb for the win. And for her family.
Finn Balor def. Drew McIntyre (RAW)
While Finn Balor helped get rid of Baron Corbin as the RAW GM, that was only the beginning of his night. Hopefully, his head’s still in the game for his actual match against Drew McIntyre after getting that big moral victory earlier in the night.
McIntyre’s got a power and size advantage over Balor, easily. And, yes, Balor’s got the speed, but McIntyre is surprisingly quick as well. So Balor goes for the knees. But McIntyre continues on with the power advantage, trash-talking as he inflicts punishment on his opponent. Balor tries to fight back—and just look at how bruised his chest is from McIntyre’s chops—but McIntyre is just too much.
“You and Dolph Ziggler are absolutely nothing to me,” McIntyre yells in Balor’s face, and that fires Balor back up. Even when McIntyre hits more big moves—like a Celtic Cross from the middle rope—it’s not enough to put Balor down. (And Balor uses his wrestling IQ to keep himself alive, even pulling out a clever use of the ring apron, Fit Finlay-style.) Until McIntyre hits him with a Glasgow Kiss on the outside, then tosses him into the ring. But when the referee is checking on Balor in the ring, Dolph Ziggler shows up with a superkick for McIntyre. Ziggler’s about to hit him with a chair too, but McIntyre deflects that, then tosses Ziggler into the ring. Now with the chair himself, McIntyre is about to use it, but instead gets hit by a shotgun dropkick from Balor and a follow-up Coup de Grace for the three-count.
Drew McIntyre definitely isn’t going to handle this loss well.
Rey Mysterio def. Randy Orton, in a Chairs match (SmackDown)
Rey Mysterio wants to prove to Randy Orton that he is “not a victim.” He comes in hot with chairs to start off the match against Orton, but all it takes is one mistake and then “The Viper” is in charge. But Mysterio’s speed is 100% an advantage in this match. As is his innovation, as he does his patented slide under the bottom rope with a chair as a surfboard of sorts, landing on Orton with it. But his attempt to hit the seated senton on a seated Orton only leads to him crashing and burning onto chair, as Orton moves at the last second. Orton then decides chairs aren’t enough, as he goes for the announce table plus a chair combination. He smashes Mysterio into that chair—with the announce table not giving even a single bit—and then moves on to bringing more chairs into the ring.
Things are more back and forth once they get into the ring, but Orton is still hellbent on just inflicting punishment on his opponent. Like when he just tosses a chair at a mid-air Mysterio’s knees. Eventually, Mysterio hits Orton with the 6-1-9 (after his second attempt), but Orton stops Mysterio before he can go for a follow-up from the top rope. Then he smashes Mysterio’s face into a chair Orton had previously set up in between the bottom and middle rope. He does this twice and then arranges four chairs in the center of the ring for nefarious purposes. Unfortunately for Orton, Mysterio is actually able to use those chairs to his advantage and get a quick pinning combination for the win.
Backstage, Charly Caruso interviews Finn Balor,
Ronda Rousey (c) def. Nia Jax, for the RAW Women’s Championship (RAW)
You can read about the RAW Women’s Championship match here.
Daniel Bryan (c) def. AJ Styles, for the WWE Championship (SmackDown)
“The New” Daniel Bryan decides to play mind games in this match, ducking AJ Styles to begin, not wanting to start the match on anything but his own terms. Once the match actually gets going though, it’s brutal, as there’s no love lost between either man. There’s no more respect, just hard hitting and… more
In fact, Styles’ refusal to back down leads to Bryan attempting to beg for mercy from him. But he gets none of that (and Styles is smart enough to know it’s all an act).
Styles works Bryan’s leg the whole match, and at a certain point, it looks like he’ll get him to tap to the Calf Crusher. But Bryan is able to reverse it into the LeBell Lock (no longer the “YES Lock”), until they both go for pins attempts (that they both reverse) and then just kick each other to the mat. Cue: “THIS IS AWESOME”
Now, it’s Styles’ ribs vs. Bryan’s leg. Also, “vs. their desire to keep things to the outside,” because Styles definitely can’t win the championship via countout, as much as it looks like he kind of wants to. After eating a Phenomenal Forearm on the outside, Bryan is able to deflect another one on the inside, and then Styles deflects the knee, getting Bryan into a small package… but Bryan reverses that small package for one of his own and the three-count. “Mr. Small Package” is back and still the champ!
Dean Ambrose def. Seth Rollins (c), for the Intercontinental Championship (RAW)
The WWE Universe wants Seth Rollins to “BURN IT DOWN,” and Rollins tells Dean Ambrose no more mind games. But in all the talk about Ambrose being a “lunatic,” in this match, you’ve never seen a more measured, calculating version of this man. As he knows what he’s doing for, he naturally goes for Rollins’ surgically-repaired knee all throughout this match. Rollins keeps fighting back, but the moves he hits—like his suicide dive or the buckle bomb—only make matters worse. But he still plans to “BURN IT DOWN” for the WWE Universe… something Ambrose just simply can’t allow—as whenever Rollins gets in a bit of offense, it doesn’t take long for Ambrose to come up with another game plan. Especially when it’s high-risk offense.
(Also, on commentary during this match, Renee Young finally snaps at Corey Graves for his continued probing into her personal life. She admits that she has spoken to Ambrose and that he says—which isn’t necessarily her opinion—he’s not the one who’s changed in this situation. She also says Rollins won’t even talk to her now, so that’s one bridge that’s been burned down because of this feud. But Graves still won’t let up, and even Michael Cole has to tell him to focus on the match.)
Ambrose then decides to mock Rollins with a “BURN IT DOWN” of his own, but he eats a ripcord knee and only survives the match by putting his knees up when Rollins hits a huge frog splash. Rollins is then able to get the superplex into the Falcon Arrow, but that’s not enough to put Ambrose away, and it might be all his leg has left.
So what next? Rollins is finally about to put Ambrose away for good, to give him the fight he “wanted,” but instead Ambrose puts out his fist in an act of Shield solidarity and desperation. Rollins gives it a moment, but he refuses and then he’s just on Ambrose. He beats him on the inside of the ring then destroys him on the outside, hitting him with a “bucklebomb” into the barricade. But Rollins isn’t going to end this on countout—so he brings Ambrose back, telling him “it didn’t have to be this way” but the Curb Stomp that’s coming to him is for Roman Reigns and all of them… but Rollins is instead hit with a Dirty Deeds. And just like that: new champion.
Asuka def. Becky Lynch (c) & Charlotte Flair, in a Triple Threat TLC match for the SmackDown Women’s Championship (SmackDown)
You can read about the main event—the SmackDown Women’s Championship match—and Ronda Rousey’s involvement in it here.
You can watch the entirety of WWE TLC 2018 on the WWE Network.