Well, TLC has come and gone. It will be almost another year before my wife looks over at my computer screen and make a jokes about the acronym, as is tradition in my household. So did Tender Loving Care do a good job setting up the new year? Or did The Learning Channel crash and burn?
New Day v Revival: The Last Crusade started off with a tag match we have seen way too many times. The two teams put on amazing matches but at this point there is no plot or heat between these two teams. They fight simply because that is what they have been destined to do. It is their Sisyphus’ rock.
This being said, there is a reason for these two teams to fight until the end of the universe. They put on pretty entertaining matches, and with the added excitement of a bunch of ladders, it was thoroughly entertaining to watch. From Kofi hanging on to the ladder with his feet to Big E spearing Wilder through the ropes. I loved the match itself. But due to them having to fight matches until the end of eternity, it was hard to really be invested in who would actually win.
Aleister Black v Buddy Murphy: How can you not love Aleister Black matches? He’s fast, each strike is hard hitting and has an impact. He ducks, dodges, and then hits hard. Buddy Murphy too put on an excellent display. The entire match was well paced, starting with a quick ‘evenly matched’ segment before it settled down, slowly building until the last final whirl of elbows and kicks. I really want to at some point dissect this match a bit more, as it’s a simple yet perfect example of how to pace a match laid bare, no frills.
As for the plot with this match, I really enjoy the angle of Black just waiting for anyone to come knock on his door. It’s simple, and there are always new match ups. There doesn’t have to be convoluted, asinine plots leading up to it. Obviously this can’t be done for all feuds, otherwise it would be boring, but I do appreciate the simple plot of ‘two dudes want to fight’ sprinkled in among the more intricate plots. This was match of the night for me.
Viking Raiders v The OC: We then followed with this match which… there wasn’t too much to say about it. Honestly the most exciting part was just wondering when they would get thrown onto the KFC table and even then, they cleared off half the dishes before doing it!
In reality, the issue here is it was supposed to be a surprise opponent, but the surprise was just people we see every week. The obvious pick was AOP, but as The OC came out I realized they don’t want to make AOP or Vikings look too weak, so they will feed the The OC to the champs. However, obviously I was wrong since they just had a double count out anyway. Why not at least do this with AOP, create some narrative tension and have this start a feud? Why have a double count out with The OC of all people? It was a frustrating plot and it was a slow match.
Corbin v Reigns: And so TLC moved onto another match that… was certainly… a match that night. The match itself was easily forgettable. The plot leading up to this was terrible. It seems like they wanted to make it about who is the unofficial locker room leader? But that was only BARELY hinted at during the PPV itself. The weeks leading up to it were centered around Corbin just wanting to joke around and embarrass Roman with a guy in a dog suit and dog food? The stakes were extremely low going in.
Then came the question of since when did Corbin garner so much respect from the fellow heels? Why are so many people willing to come out and fight on behalf of Corbin? Why did no one help Roman, especially The New Day, who just got thrown into the plot line on Friday? Why were the faces willing to help Roman AFTER he had been ganged up on and lost the match? These are all questions I didn’t ask myself when first watching because I had lost interest before they even came up.
Bray Wyatt v The Miz: This is apparently a controversial match from what I’ve seen around online for the strangest of reasons. It was a gimmick match. Plain and simple. The purpose of it wasn’t to show a wrestling match; it was purely plot and character development. And yet people are complaining the match was boring.
I thought it was amazing, from Bray’s ‘human’ intro, to him begging Miz to stop only to suddenly get a flash of evil on his face and display some offense of his own. I loved everything about the performance here, especially The Miz seeming to do what creative was trying to do with Rollins ‘going to a dark place’ in HIAC. Hopefully this has real ramifications for The Miz, unlike Rollins whose big ‘transformation’ was he’s just kinda a jerk now.
I am a bit reluctant on The American Dragon, purely because I was hoping for a more insane Daniel Bryan. When Bryan first turned heel last year, he spoke of hearing voices, spoke in the third person, and had almost a Lovecraftian element to it. He even did a Gollum-like four-legged walk to the ring. I think the best way to write an answer to Bray’s insanity is simply to match it. But I’m still very open to where they go from here though, and I loved this match.
Rusev v Lashley: After the two TLC matches and one extremely supernatural one we get to this. A tables match. This should have started out TLC as it really is a downgrade from a normal TLC match in terms of intensity. The match itself seemed to have little pacing and no throughline. I did enjoy moments of it, but in the end it fell extremely flat. The plot leading up to it did this match no favors either. I really didn’t need this match on the PPV and I didn’t need this plot the last couple months.
Kabuki Warriors v Flair/Lynch: Kairi Sane sustained an injury early on and it seems to have greatly impacted the match. Trying to judge what it could have been without that injury and the subsequent botches is hard. Obviously the match suffered because of this but I think even with that injury the pacing of the match seemed off. For instance, Charlotte fighting off both of the Warriors while Becky was tied up didn’t feel desperate (especially since she had just lasted in the ring with them for 20 minutes two weeks ago). When Becky finally got untied it didn’t feel like a huge turn, nor was there any suspense leading up to it.
But again, that may have been due to the injury, so it’s hard to say for certain due to the unfortunate start of things. I definitely saw the potential of the match and what could have been, but we won’t be able to know if that would have been actualized had things gone smoothly. We hope Kairi the best and a speedy recovery. Also, can Becky get back to singles competition finally?
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