The SmarK Rant for WWE TLC 2020 – 12.20.20
Live from THUNDERDOME 2.0
Your hosts are Michael Cole and the usual crew.
TLC match, WWE title: Drew McIntyre v. AJ Styles
Man there’s a lot of Brock Lesnar in that Drew video package. That’s worrisome. Also is there some reason in particular why AJ is getting a title shot in a TLC match in their first match? AJ goes after the knee right away, but Drew hurks him into a suplex and tosses him across the ring. Drew slugs away in the corner and they head to the floor, where Drew sets up a table and they slug it out before Drew drops him on the railing. Back in, Drew makes the first climb, but AJ saves with a chair to the back of the leg, which is a pretty smart way to deal with it. Stop the climb and make it harder to climb later. AJ goes for the ladder, but Drew brings him down and catapults him into a chair just set up by AJ moments before. But then AJ goes back to the knee again and drops a ladder on him for good measure. He tries a Styles Clash on the ladder, but Drew reverses to a Future Shock and tries to suplex a ladder onto him. But AJ goes back to the knee again and works on that with an awkward looking calf crusher in the ladder. Well points for effort. And then he wraps up Drew’s knee in a chair and does another calf crusher, which looks equally awkward. They fight to the apron and AJ takes him down and wraps his leg around the post and follows with a ladder to the face. But AJ tries to put him through a table and Drew tosses a chair at him to block that. Back in, AJ goes for the knee again, but Drew suplexes him onto a ladder. AJ comes back with the Phenomenal Forearm and makes another climb, but Drew slams him off and through the table at ringside. And then just what we needed, Miz and Morrison run in and Miz cashes in, powerbombing Drew through another table and joining the match. But then Edward James Olmos pulls him off the ladder and puts Miz through yet another table before no-selling a chairshot from JoMo and then chasing him back to the dressing room by moving glacially slow. So then AJ and Drew recover and they both climb and slug it out, and Miz sets up his own ladder and he climbs, but Drew fights them both off, but then AJ recovers and knocks Drew off, and then Miz recovers, and then Drew pushes them both of and climbs to retain the title at 26:00. This was too long and pretty dull most of the way, and Miz was NOT needed here. AJ had some good bumps and the finish was good, though. It wan’t BAD as such but I had a really hard time getting into it, and it took a good 15:00 to go anywhere. *** But could they make Miz and the briefcase look like ANY more of a waste?
Meanwhile, Paul Heyman discusses his love of car crashes and how that’s going to bode poorly for the chances of Kevin Owens.
Smackdown Women’s title: Sasha Banks v. Carmella
So Carmella’s fresh new gimmick is that she’s a stuck-up blonde bitch? Never seen THAT before. They head to the apron right away and Sasha takes her to the floor with an armdrag. Back in, Carmella takes over with a chinlock and some mean talk. She can put that on a t-shirt: CHINLOCKIN’ AND MEAN-TALKIN’! Sasha comes back with the double knees and they head to the apron again, but Carmella drops her on there, which I might remind you is the HARDEST PART OF THE RING. Carmella grabs another hold and Sasha fights out for another double knees and the rolling suplexes, and a frog splash gets two. So of course Sasha has to sit there for a minute with SHOCKED TWO COUNT FACE, but Carm comes back with elbows in the corner and hits an X-Factor for two that looked like it knocked Sasha silly. Carmella with a Tarantula in the corner and that gets two. They fight to the top and Sasha gets a sunset flip for two and a backslide for two. Sasha rolls her up for two, but Carmella rolls into the Code of Silence and then turns it into a Rings of Saturn, which Sasha reverses for two. Sasha rolls her into the Bank Statement, but Carmella’s valet pulls them out to break it up. Sasha takes him out and Carmella boots her down and gets two, and now it’s her turn to give SHOCKED TWO COUNT FACE. She goes for the finisher, but Sasha reverses to the Bank Statement and Carmella taps at 12:47. Better than I was anticipating, I’ll say. ***
Meanwhile, Billie Kay makes her pitch to Asuka, but sadly her resume is not ready for Asuka.
RAW tag team titles: The New Day v. Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin
Cedric charges in and gets kicked down by Kofi for two, and Xavier comes in with a flying legdrop for two. Kofi with a crossbody for two and they double-team him with splashes before Woods hits a Final Curtain for two. Finally he tags out to Shelton and Benjamin runs wild on Woods for a bit while MVP offers Cedric some water to recover. Well that’s nice. Kofi comes in with a flying stomp on Shelton for two while Cedric and Woods fight on the floor, and Xavier comes in with a flying DDT onto Shelton for two. Shelton runs Xavier’s neck into the corner, however, and Cedric punts him on the floor for two and then goes to a chinlock. The Hurt Business trade off on Woods’ neck, but he fights out and makes the hot tag to Kofi. Kofi with the Boom Drop, but Shelton counters into a powerbomb, which Kofi turns into a rollup. Cedric comes in and Kofi gets the SOS for two, but misses Trouble in Paradise. Cedric hits a knee and a brainbuster for two and everyone slugs it out in the ring before Shelton hits Paydirt on Xavier to get rid of him. Kofi escapes an Angle Slam and fights back with kicks out of the corner, but he goes up and gets caught with a superplex to bring him down. Shelton wants to finish, but Cedric tags himself in and hits the Lumbar Check to win the titles at 9:59. They were working this one HARD and fast and it was really good and it didn’t have a chance to wear out its welcome. ***1/2
Meanwhile, Sami Zayn yells at Kayla Braxton about leaking his rant to Instagram.
Women’s tag team title: Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler v. Asuka & Charlotte Flair
So they spent three months building up Lana for this title shot, including a lengthy video package before the match, only to take her out on the show before the PPV and replace her with Charlotte. Yeah that sounds about right. Charlotte seems to have had her face and boobs done again. I mean, whatever, it’s her life, but she literally doesn’t even look like the same person anymore. She takes Shayna down and tries for the figure-four, so Nia comes in and Charlotte grabs a headlock on her. Asuka gets some kicks on Nia, but the heels trap her in the corner and go to work on the arm. Asuka fights out and Shayna trips her up for two and sends her to the floor, but Nia can’t send her into the post and Charlotte gets the hot tag. She runs wild on the champs and puts Nia down with a big boot for two, but can’t get the figure-four. Asuka comes in with a missile dropkick on Nia but Shayna gets the choke, but Charlotte tags herself in to save. Shayna rolls her up for two, but Charlotte gets the figure-eight and Jax saves that. Shayna with the Kirafuda clutch, but Charlotte reverses to the neckbreaker to win the titles at 9:50. A very inspirational ending to the Lana storyline! It goes to show that if you’re an underdog and you work hard, then a bigger star can come in and win the titles for no reason! Match was fine, I’m sure they’ll turn on each other and Charlotte will get to go over Asuka at Wrestlemania. Again. **1/2
Meanwhile, WWE stars beat the shit out of a 2020 come to life as we prepare to kick this terrible year to the curb. That was pretty funny. Because seriously, FUCK 2020.
Meanwhile, R-Truth is busy blowing Big E’s mind, but Sami Zayn harshes everyone’s buzz.
Universal title, TLC match: Roman Reigns v. Kevin Owens
KO storms in before the introductions and attacks and I mean ATTACKS, hitting a cannonball and then splashing Roman off the apron and then beating on both Roman and Jey Uso with a chair for good measure. But then Roman hits KO with a baseball slide because he’s EMBARASSED by this disrespect, and smashes the stairs into Kevin’s face a bunch of times to emphasize the point. Seems fair. Paul Heyman, subtly shocked at how violent Roman can be, is of course awesome. Back in, Roman just pulverizes him with a ladder and then beats on him with some chairs, but KO pathetically swings from his back with a chair and hits nothing. So Roman teaches him a valuable lesson in getting the job done by beating him into grape jelly with the chair instead. Hey, KO wanted to be a tough guy and attack before the bell. Roman sets up a pair of chairs and backdrops Owens onto them before throwing him to the floor. Roman climbs, but KO comes back in and takes him off the ladder with a fisherman’s suplex in a GROSS show of disrespect to the Big Dog and makes his own climb. Thankfully Jey is there to stop him and takes the bullet while KO beats on him, but Roman saves Uso with a superman punch and sends him out to get some tables as Corey Graves makes a valid point for once: Maybe KO should have actually gotten some backup of his own before running his big mouth. But he still fights back on both guys and hits Reigns with a stunner before powerbombing Uso through the table, but Uso’s not the champion, DUMMY. Kevin climbs after heroically beating up the sidekick, but Roman catches him and keeps his greasy fingers from messing up his belt and then powerbombs him onto a ladder in the corner and then does it again for good measure because KO has a lot of mass and you want to make sure the damage was properly inflicted, ya know? Outside for a chokeslam through a table and he even has time to check on Jey, because he’s the hero we need but don’t deserve. And he adds a samoan drop through another table before slow-climbing the ladder to make a point. That point being that he’s awesome. KO sadly paws at him to try and stop him, so Roman laughs at the irritation and rightly points out that KO is just embarrassing himself at this point and then spears him through another table to reinforce his valuable life lesson. Owens is of course too stupid to stay down and manages to fall out of the way of a Roman spear on the floor. So Kevin makes one last attempt to climb for the title but the poutine gravy on his fingers leaves him unable to grip the belt and Roman pulls him down and beats on him some more. KO sadly tries his pop up powerbomb, but Roman hits him with a superman punch to counter, but then Owens somehow manages to hit a second one and puts Roman through a table with it. So Kevin climbs again, but Jey Uso earns his pay and sacrifices himself again to haul Owens down. Kevin goes up again, but Reigns recovers again, follows him up for the guillotine on top of the ladder to finally put him away, and he retains the title at 24:50. Michael Cole spouts some bullshit about Roman needing a low blow to win but he wouldn’t say that with Roman standing there next to him. God I hope they come up with something epic for Roman to do at Wrestlemania and not just Goldberg un-retiring yet again. This was a great and violent trainwreck and justified the whole show. Also Owens was pretty good I guess. ****3/4
INFERNO MATCH: Randy Orton v. The Fiend
So yeah, I thought this would be CINEMATIC WRESTLING but in fact it’s just a plain old match where the ring is on fire. Eventually, I guess, but not to start. Fiend no-sells some shots from Orton and beats him down in the corner, but Orton escapes Sister Abigail. Bray hits a second attempt and uses his magic powers to light some burners at ringside and then beats on Orton with a strap. But then he lights the strap ON FIRE, but is unable to use it on Orton. Next up, he finds a pickaxe under the ring, but that misses as well. Sure, but where’s the FLAMING pickaxe? Then I’d be impressed. Next up, he douses a rocking chair in kerosene and sits Randy in it, but Orton manages to outrun fire and escapes. Come on, at least TRY to keep the illusion that this isn’t pre-taped and edited like hell. There was clearly about four takes edited together for that one spot. They fight to the other side of the ring and Fiend sets an axehandle on fire now, but Orton gets the draping DDT off the apron, complete with a dramatic burst of flames. Wait, so does Orton have the magic fire powers as well? So Fiend goes for the claw, but Orton pushes him into the fire and Fiend’s jacket gets lit on fire before they head in for an RKO from Orton. So is the match over? Does the fireproof stunt jacket count as part of the Fiend’s body? So the Fiend lies there selling, since I guess he’s a babyface now and he does that. The announcers clarify that in fact Orton did win the match at 12:35, but then Orton pours kerosene all over the prone body of the Fiend and lights him on fire. This was terrible but it was a laughably bad kind of terrible, complete with obvious dummy at the end and a million sloppy edits. I’m sure Maffew is compiling the footage as we speak, but I can’t hate on something that made me laugh so hard unintentionally. It’s a DUD but at least they tried.
Anyway, the Reigns match wins the day here, and the tag title match was really good as well, and it’s all good enough for a solid thumbs up show overall. Plus, you know, an attempted murder in the main event if you’re into that sort of thing. Hopefully immolation on live TV helps the ratings because god knows nothing else is at the moment.