Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net, starting today. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Tables Ladders And Chairs 2018
Date: December 16, 2018
Location: SAP Center, San Jose, California
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young, David Otunga, Tom Phillips
This show is now all the more interesting with Vince McMahon coming back to Raw tomorrow for the next shake up. That means things very well may mean nothing tonight, but at least we might get some entertaining stuff here. TLC has a tendency to be fun in a big insanity kind of way and that can carry it a long way. Let’s get to it.
Kickoff Show: Cruiserweight Title: Buddy Murphy vs. Cedric Alexander
Murphy is defending and this is former champion Alexander’s rematch at the title. They hit the mat for some early near falls to start and that means a standoff. Alexander sends him outside but Buddy is right back in, only to get dropkicked down for two. The fans go with “2 SWEET” rather than the obvious “2 05” because they don’t think things through. A jumping knee sends Alexander to the floor and we take a break.
Back with Murphy laying in elbows to the face for two of his own before slapping on the chinlock. Buddy even takes him into the corner and climbs up with the hold still on in a nice touch. Alexander is right back with a superkick to the chest and sends him outside for a whip into the apron. It’s too early for the Lumbar Check but Murphy’s Law is reversed as well. At least they kept things even. A Michinoku Driver gives Alexander two and Alexander blasts him in the face for good measure.
Murphy catches him on top though and scores with a Cheeky Nandos kick, followed by a Batista Bomb for two. Cedric is fine enough to drop him hard onto the apron for two more and the Lumbar Check connects for two, with Murphy having to get his foot on the rope for the break. After being dragged back inside, Murphy sends him face first into the middle buckle and a knee to the face is enough to set up Murphy’s Law to retain at 10:26.
Rating: C+. This could have been better as I’ve seen them do various other times, but they didn’t have as much time and were moved to the Kickoff Show (again) so it’s kind of hard to stay as motivated. Something had to be moved here though and this was one of the most likely options. It was still good, though nothing they haven’t topped before.
Here’s Elias for a song but before he can get to Do You Know The Way To San Jose, Lio Rush and Lashley cut him off. That means Lashley’s favorite pose and it’s so stupid that we need to get to the match.
Kickoff Show: Bobby Lashley vs. Elias
This is a ladder match, with the rules changed from “whoever gets the guitar above the ring can use it” to “get the guitar and win”. You know, like a ladder match. Lashley wastes no time in getting the ladder but Elias baseball slides it into his face. Two ladders are brought in but Lio Rush breaks up Elias’ first climbing attempt. Elias scores with a jumping knee to the face but Lashley is right back up to turn the ladder over. Said ladder is dropped onto Elias and we take a break.
Back with Elias in control again until Lashley suplexes him into a ladder in the corner. Lashley puts him under the ladder in the corner but of course takes too long to climb. That means a weak powerbomb to put Lashley onto the ladder in the corner but Elias has to knock Rush off the top. Rush goes flying and….Elias just wins at 6:16.
Rating: D-. What in the world was that? The ladders were barely a detail here and Elias just climbed up and won at the end with almost no drama. I’m glad Elias won and everything but a six minute ladder match? Are we in TNA now or something? Completely nothing match that would have felt lame on Raw, let alone here.
Post match Lashley takes the guitar away and blasts Elias with it because this feud MUST CONTINUE.
The opening video features Becky Lynch talking about how the year is over but they still have unfinished business. We get some videos on Rollins vs. Ambrose, Rousey vs. Jax and Bryan vs. Styles.
Mixed Match Challenge Finals: R-Truth/Carmella vs. Jinder Mahal/Alicia Fox
The winners get the #30 spots in the Royal Rumble and a vacation anywhere in the world. Truth and Carmella’s entrance take so long that Fox’s music comes on a bit prematurely. The guys start with Truth shoving a headlock off and grabbing a rollup for two. Fox, who calls herself the captain, comes in and it’s a double hiptoss to send the villains outside. That means a DANCE BREAK but the Singh Brothers come in to dance as well.
They’re sent outside without much effort but Fox uses the distraction to grab a neckbreaker for two on Carmella. The chinlock goes on as Jinder shouts about the vacation. Carmella fights up and throws her down for the break and it’s back to Truth and Mahal. Truth takes him out without much effort but Fox tags herself in…and demands her captain’s hat. Truth steals it for himself, leaving Carmella to hit a superkick for two. Mahal gets sent outside again so Carmella has to superkick a Singh Brother and they botch a northern lights suplex. The Cone of Silence makes Fox tap at 6:47.
Rating: D-. They did this as well as they could have by getting done with it as fast as possible. This was a bad match with neither team looking good and the whole tournament coming off as a complete disaster. You would think they would have, you know, tried to get an interesting team in there but it was two comedy acts fighting for a prize that they’re not going to get anything from. At least it’s over though.
Post match Carmella talks about how fabulous that was, while saying they just won the #30 spots in this year’s Rumble. Truth got to pick where they go though and he picked….WWE Headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. Well, that was horrible and had a stupid ending, but at least they got to plug it on Facebook. Now let’s never talk about this thing again.
Smackdown Tag Team Titles: New Day vs. Usos vs. The Bar
The Bar is defending and it’s one fall to a finish. Big E. is the odd man out here and it’s Kofi vs. Sheamus to start things off. Sheamus slaps on a headlock as we hear about the Bar getting rid of Big Show to end a partnership that didn’t need to happen in the first place. Kofi takes him down and hands it off to Woods for two off a jumping elbow. Everything breaks down with the Usos coming in to clean house but Cesaro breaks up Jey’s big dive.
Back in and Sheamus hits the Irish Curse on Woods as Otunga thinks the Usos are in trouble for not tagging in yet. We’re not even three and a half minutes in yet so I think it’s a little early to be worried. Cesaro slaps on the chinlock for a good while until it’s back to Sheamus, who takes Woods all the way to the top. This goes as well as you would expect with Sheamus getting crotched, allowing the hot tag to Kofi. Trouble in Paradise is broken up but Jimmy tags himself in.
Kofi gets caught in a suplex from Cesaro with Jimmy coming in with a high crossbody for two on the illegal Kingston. The Usos clean house with the superkicks and the pop up Samoan drop gets two more. Cesaro sends the Usos outside and gets two of his own on Kingston before busting out the Swing. The Sharpshooter has Kofi in more trouble until Woods comes in with a springboard DDT for the save.
Sheamus’ Brogue Kick is countered and Kofi stomps on his chest. Trouble in Paradise sets up a crazy long rope walk elbow from Woods with Jey making the save. Cesaro hits Swiss Death on Jimmy and it’s time for a bunch of people to go outside, meaning the big trust fall from Kofi. Back in and Sheamus Brogue Kicks Woods for the pin to retain at 12:21.
Rating: B-. This was fun, though it would have made a lot more sense to have it as a ladder match. Instead of a guy who bends over in front of a camera, all we had was six guys who have had some of the best matches on Smackdown for the last year plus because that’s all they know how to do. Good stuff here, though this division is dying for some fresh blood.
The announcers talk about Vince coming to shake things up, which might include Baron Corbin. That means a look at Corbin’s various evil deeds over the last few months.
Baron Corbin vs. Braun Strowman
TLC match with Heath Slater as referee. If Corbin wins, he’s permanent GM but if Strowman wins, he gets a Universal Title shot at the Royal Rumble and Corbin is out of power. Actually hang on a second as Corbin has something to say first. He understands that there have been complaints about his job as GM but he really doesn’t care. After Slater counts to ten, Strowman loses by forfeit and Corbin is permanent GM.
The bell rings and Slater starts counting (rather slowly) but here’s Strowman with his arm in a big sling at seven. Strowman has a mic too and says Corbin has forgotten there are no disqualifications in a TLC match. So if someone were to say, want to help Strowman, like someone who is tired of dealing with a bad GM for example, it would be perfectly legal. Cue Apollo Crews of all people with a chair, followed by Bobby Roode and Chad Gable with chairs of their own. Finn Balor is here as well and they all get on the apron.
Slater takes his shirt off too and decks Corbin, ending that whole deal after less than six days. A bunch of chair shots send Corbin bailing…and here’s Kurt Angle. Some more chair shots knock Corbin back to the ring for a neckbreaker/moonsault combination from Gable and Roode (cool) and the big beatdown is on. Slater puts the shirt back on and Strowman puts a boot on Corbin’s chest for the pin at 7:29.
Rating: N/A. There was no match here but there wasn’t anything else they could do given Strowman’s injury. It’s a good way to end the Corbin reign of terror but this in no way validates all the time and effort put into the thing. Corbin being out of the job is a good move, but it only really matters if he’s back to being a midcarder instead of being the focal point of the show. They were backed into a corner here and this was about as good of a way out as they had.
We recap Ruby Riott vs. Natalya. Ruby broke Natalya’s father’s sunglasses and Natalya wants revenge, including for being put through a table. Therefore, it’s a tables match.
Natalya vs. Ruby Riott
Tables match with Ruby and the Riott Squad bringing out the Jim Neidhart table. Natalya swings away to start but has to fend off the rest of the Squad, allowing Ruby to jump her from behind. That doesn’t last long and it’s already time for the table but Liv Morgan takes the bullet for Ruby and gets knocked through it instead (great bump). As medics check on Ruby, Natalya throws Ruby with a release German suplex.
Another table is set up at ringside as Natalya shouts about not messing with her family. Ruby gets sent into the barricade and Natalya slams Sarah Logan through the other table. A whip into the steps has Natalya in trouble and Ruby says Natalya’s father is ashamed of her. The Neidhart table is set up in the corner but Natalya takes her down into the Sharpshooter.
Since that doesn’t mean anything, Natalya shouts some more and pulls out a Ruby Riott table. Natalya throws on the Neidhart jacket as Ruby has been down for way too long now. She’s back up with a superkick to drop Natalya but Ruby takes too long putting her on the table. Ruby goes up but Natalya makes the save and powerbombs her through the table for the win at 12:38.
Rating: D+. Well that was long, though at least Natalya won definitively to get the feel good moment and win the feud. It still wasn’t worthy of PPV time and the table stipulation was really wedged in but it could have been a lot worse. Natalya just isn’t good with the emotions and Riott should be in the title picture (even as a challenger of the month or two for Rousey) but instead she’s fighting over sunglasses.
Post match Natalya puts on her dad’s sunglasses, which are somehow back in one piece.
Lars Sullivan video.
Finn Balor vs. Drew McIntyre
McIntyre powers him around to start so Finn dropkicks the knee out. A trip to the top doesn’t go well for Drew as Finn pulls him down, only to get suplexed across the ring for his efforts. Finn’s kicks to the knee don’t work as McIntyre sends him hard into the corner. We hit the chinlock for a bit before another suplex has Balor in more trouble. That means another chinlock for a little longer until Balor fights up for a running chop.
Drew gets sent outside for the big flip dive and a Sling Blade inside keeps him in trouble. A tilt-a-whirl backbreaker gives Drew two more but Balor hits the enziguri out of the corner. It takes too long to get up top though and a super White Noise gives McIntyre two more. They head outside with Drew getting caught in the ring skirt so Balor can hammer away.
The running kick to the face is blocked though and McIntyre pulls him out to the floor. Balor gets sent back inside so here’s Dolph Ziggler with a superkick to McIntyre. A chair shot takes too long though and McIntyre kicks it into his face. Drew brings the chair in so Balor dropkicks it into him, setting up the Coup de Grace for the pin at 12:06.
Rating: C-. Kind of a plodding match here and the lack of a clean pin makes it a little better. At least they had something with McIntyre having Balor beaten but McIntyre costing him in the end to keep Drew strong. I’m not sure how to feel about the ending here as Balor winning is a good idea but McIntyre losing again makes my head hurt. Either of these two could be pushed rather hard (especially McIntyre) but the Ziggler stuff isn’t helping Drew at all. Just let it be over already so Drew can become a star and Ziggler can go somewhere else. Like complaining that he was held down in a race for dog catcher or something.
We recap Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton. Randy has been extra violent as of late and tore off Mysterio’s mask a few times. A few chair attacks left Rey laying so he did the same thing to Orton, setting up a chairs match.
Randy Orton vs. Rey Mysterio
Chairs are legal. Mysterio starts swinging the chair early on but has to knee his way out of a suplex on the apron. Orton gets knocked to the floor and Rey hits the sliding splash with a chair for some bonus pain. With Orton down, Rey loads him up in a chair but misses the running seated senton from the apron. In a unique spot, Orton puts a chair on the announcers’ table and drops Rey onto it before throwing a bunch of chairs inside.
Rey sends him head first into a chair wedged into the corner but walks into a powerslam. A springboard is broken up by a pelted chair for two and Orton wedges another chair between the bottom two ropes. You know, because it worked so well earlier. Rey gets in a quick 619 but gets crotched on top to slow him down again.
More chairs are brought in and Orton sends him face first into the wedged chair. Orton loads up a bunch of chairs in a row and tries the RKO, only to get sent into the chairs instead. Rey gets a running start and walks the chairs into a sloppy victory roll for the fast pin at 11:36.
Rating: C. They were doing some nice stuff with the chairs here, but it was a lot of “and then Orton does this with a chair and then Rey does this with a chair”. There was nothing with the mask and I never really felt the hatred. You could go with either of them winning here as either of them will be fine bouncing back from a loss. Rey winning gives him some momentum though and it should be time to go after the US Title soon.
Balor is happy with the win but doesn’t get what Ziggler was doing. Ziggler comes in and takes credit for the win, setting up a fight with Ziggler sending him into some anvil cases. So he’s a heel again. Good for him.
We recap Ronda Rousey vs. Nia Jax. Nia is #1 contender and a monster with the threat of breaking Rousey’s face. That’s about it for her positives so we’ll get to the match.
Raw Women’s Title: Ronda Rousey vs. Nia Jax
Rousey is defending and Jax has Tamina with her. Aren’t we so lucky. Nia throws her into the corner to start so Rousey comes back with some jabs. An early armbar attempt is countered into a sitout powerbomb to give Nia two and Rousey’s ribs are in trouble. Nia sends her shoulder first into the post and then crushes said shoulder into the post. The legdrop misses so Rousey tries a choke, only to get thrown outside and into the barricade.
Back in and Nia slaps on the worst cobra clutch ever before a powerbomb is countered into a hurricanrana. Rousey hits a good crossbody to the floor, followed by a running knee back inside. Something like a Superman Punch drops Nia again but another high crossbody is rolled through into the Samoan drop for a close two.
The super Samoan drop is countered into a sunset bomb (not bad) for two more and neither knows what they can do next. Tamina offers a distraction to break up the armbar but can’t do that right either, allowing Rousey to duck the big right hand. The armbar, with a kiss on the hand, makes Nia tap at 10:48.
Rating: C+. You can’t really call this a David vs. Goliath match because David wasn’t a former MMA champion. It was entertaining enough, but how many times have we seen this exact same thing with Nia? She’s big, she’s strong, she can slam people hard, and then she loses in the end except for that one time she beat up Alexa Bliss and then lost the title back to her. Now find something new for her to do.
Post match Nia walks through the back and runs into Becky Lynch. Becky isn’t happy with Nia injuring her and then running her mouth about it so Nia gets sent into a wall. Tamina shows up and Nia kind of shrugs it off.
We recap Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles. Bryan talked about fighting for his dreams to come back to WWE but the people didn’t care enough about him. With that not working, Bryan cut out the middle man and got the title back through any means necessary, which he claimed was fulfilling his dreams. AJ isn’t happy and is out for revenge and the title.
Smackdown World Title: AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan
Bryan is defending and bails to the floor to start. He must have been studying his Kevin Owens tapes. Back in and AJ starts chopping away in the corner before sending Bryan outside. AJ’s slingshot forearm gets kicked out of the air and it’s time for Bryan to start in with the kicks and shots to the ribs. A comeback is cut off in a hurry with AJ being tied in the Tree of Woe for some pulling at the neck.
Back in and the kicks to the ribs keep Bryan in control so AJ fires off some right hands to get a breather. Bryan is right back with a running dropkick in the corner but Styles is right back with a running clothesline to turn the champ inside out. It’s too early for the Styles Clash so Bryan begs off like the villain that he is. Bryan knees his way out of the moonsault into the reverse DDT and gets two off a cravate suplex.
AJ kicks him down again though and Bryan gets knocked into the corner. There’s a dragon screw legwhip to take Bryan down and it’s time to wrap the leg around the post. The good leg is fine enough to hit an enziguri on Styles but a super hurricanrana is countered into a rollup for two. AJ keeps the leg and slaps on a half crab. Bryan rolls out and tries a triangle but AJ scores with a jumping enziguri for the double knockdown.
Back up and AJ hits a dropkick to cut off the running dropkick. The springboard 450 gets a delayed two and the Calf Crusher goes on in the middle of the ring. That’s finally rolled over into the ropes for the break and they head outside with AJ hitting Phenomenal Forearm off the barricade. Back in and another Phenomenal Forearm almost hits the referee so AJ goes with a small package, only to have Bryan reverse it into one of his own for the clean pin at 24:56.
Rating: A. Oh like this was going to be anything other than great. They beat each other up for a long time with the knee telling a good story throughout. The ending was a very nice twist as Bryan may have cheated to get here, but he’s still one of the best wrestlers in the world (with an incredible small package). Great match, but I think you knew that was coming the second it was announced.
Ronda says payback was a b****.
We recap Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose. Back in October, Roman Reigns announced that he had to step away from WWE due to his leukemia returning. Later that night, Ambrose and Rollins won the Tag Team Titles but Ambrose turned on him. Ambrose was tired of Rollins and Reigns treating him as the joke of the team and snapped. Rollins has sworn revenge while Ambrose has decided he hates how these cities smell. Yeah it’s changed a bit.
Intercontinental Title: Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins
Rollins is defending and Ambrose is wrestling in jeans, as he should have been a long time ago. He’s also rather annoyed at having to sit through the Big Match Intros. Rollins says the mind games are done and tries….a crossface chickenwing? Dean goes with a hammerlock so Rollins elbows him in the face to take him down. They head outside with Seth charging into a drop onto the announcers’ table, followed by some shots to the face back inside.
A middle rope elbow to the head gives Dean two as Graves keeps getting on Renee for not telling more about her home life with Dean. Rollins is still in trouble as a neckbreaker gets three straight near falls. Some right hands from Rollins just get him punched in the face again, followed by an exchange of rollups for two each. Ambrose punches him down again and slaps on a cloverleaf to work on the knees. The hold is broken up with Rollins rolling outside but coming back in for a Sling Blade. There’s the Blockbuster to put Ambrose down again, which leaves Seth holding the knee.
The knee is fine enough for a suicide dive but flares up as soon as he lands. Back in and Dean can’t hit a superplex, allowing Rollins to hit the suplex buckle bomb for another near fall. The crowd just isn’t reacting to this stuff and after the horrible build, can you blame them? They both hit crossbodies at the same time until it’s time for a slugout. Ambrose gets two off a double chickenwing faceplant before going up. He has to crotch Rollins on top though and that means a top rope clothesline for two more.
Rollins gets two of his own off the ripcord knee but the frog splash hits raised knees to give Ambrose yet another near fall. Dirty Deeds is countered with Rollins driving him into the corner so Dean goes up, allowing Rollins to hit the superplex into the Falcon Arrow for two more. Again: no reactions to these near falls. Seth loads up the low superkick but Dean sticks out his hand in the Shield pose.
Rollins thinks about it before superkicking Ambrose in the face. They fight outside and Dean gets tossed into the barricade with a powerbomb. Rollins throws him back inside at nine and talks a lot of trash, saying this is for Roman. The Stomp takes too long though and Dirty Deeds connects to give Dean the pin and the title at 22:54.
Rating: D+. The wrestling was good but a big time title match shouldn’t be a chore to sit through. That’s what happened here as the story leading up to the match was so bad that it sucked the life out of the whole thing. Ambrose winning the title doesn’t mean anything for anyone and the clean fall slows Rollins down a bit, but it’s pretty clear that he’s going to be in for a big Wrestlemania match no matter what. This feud was a wreck though and the match’s horrible crowd reactions shows you how bad it was.
We recap the women’s TLC match. Becky Lynch is defending against Charlotte, who she took the title from in the first place and now wants revenge, and Asuka, who won a battle royal to earn a shot. All three have been extra aggressive as of late and this could be very good stuff.
Smackdown Women’s Title: Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch vs. Asuka
TLC match with Becky defending. The trash talk starts things off until Asuka dropkicks Becky down. Back to back hip attacks have Becky and Charlotte down but Becky is right back up with some headbutts. Becky and Charlotte both hit suplexes and it’s time for some ladders to be brought in. A table comes in as well but Charlotte uses it to shove Becky back to the floor.
Becky is right back in and picks up a ladder, which Charlotte boots right into into her face. Asuka cuts Charlotte down and hammers on Becky in the corner, allowing Lynch to loudly call a spot to her. A slam brings Becky down onto the ladder and it’s Asuka making the first climb until Charlotte makes a save. Not to be outdone, Asuka powerbombs her through a table in the corner.
Becky comes back in with a dropkick to knock Asuka off the ladder this time but she’s right back up with a running hip attack to knock Becky to the floor. That means it’s time for Charlotte to moonsault off the top, right into their clasped hands for the double knockdown. Charlotte takes her time setting up a table on the floor so Becky is right there with more chair shots. A big boot knocks the ladder out of Becky’s hands and Charlotte loads up the announcers’ table. Becky grabs a ladder and knocks Charlotte down, setting her on the table next to Asuka.
The legdrop from the ladder lands SQUARE on Becky’s ribs like a seated senton with Asuka rolling away and the table not breaking at first. Asuka and Becky slowly climb up and slug it out on the ladder until Charlotte, who somehow can still walk, blasts them both with the kendo stick. With both of them out on the floor, Charlotte follows them out and gets in more stick shots. A Bexploder into the table next to the barricade has Charlotte in trouble and it’s Asuka grabbing the stick and hammering away.
Charlotte is right back up with a spear that knocks the barricade most of the way down. Back in and Charlotte pulls Becky off the ladder for the big showdown. The slugout is on with Charlotte being sent into the ladder but coming back with a bunch of right hands. They go outside again with Charlotte putting her on a table and adding a slap to the face. That means a Swanton to drive Lynch through the table and they’re both dead again.
Charlotte goes up but Asuka returns from the dead to meet her on top. They slug it out on top until Becky brings in another ladder to climb next to the two of them. Charlotte knocks Asuka down…and goes over to Becky’s ladder, which isn’t underneath the belt. Cue Ronda Rousey to shove the ladder over, earning a lot of booing. Rousey leaves and Asuka climbs up to win the title at 25:44.
Rating: B+. Well that was a heck of a match until the Wrestlemania preview, though it wasn’t the worst ending to the match. Asuka winning the title this way is absolutely fine and the right call here. It makes her a bigger star and gets the main roster monkey off her back while also allowing Becky to lose the title, giving her a big road back to the title at Wrestlemania. It’s the right call with a very good match on the way there, including some awesome spots and Charlotte somehow not dying along the way.
Asuka poses with the title to end the show.
Overall Rating: B. This was actually a rather strong show, which tends to be the case when they have lousy TV building up towards it. If you cut out some of the really bad stuff in there, this is getting up towards the classic range. Cut out stuff like the tables match and the Mixed Match Challenge finals plus trim off a few minutes of some of the longer matches and you have a great show as opposed to a very good one. Good show here, but I’m worried about what tomorrow is going to bring. At least we had a nice (albeit too long) night beforehand.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. His latest book is KB’s Complete 2004 Monday Night Raw Reviews.
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