Wednesday, 16 December 2009

WWE TLC on Sky Box Office - TV Review

It’s gimmick match overload again as World Wrestling Entertainment tests the waters with another new pay-per-view concept, TLC, shown live on Sky Box Office on the early hours of this past Sunday morning here in Britain, with Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker handling commentary duties.

The show began with Christian defending the ECW title against Shelton Benjamin in a ladder match. On paper this one looked like it was going to be a show stealer. It was a tremendous outing for both concerned, with two great performances, and some highly inventive use of the ladders, the best being when Christian frog splashed Benjamin through a ladder that was perched between the ring and the commentary table. It was that particular move that sealed the win for Christian, as it gave him the time he needed to retrieve the ECW title from above the ring.

The second title match of the evening saw John Morrison defend the Intercontinental title against Drew McIntyre. No gimmicks needed here, just plenty of great, solid wrestling action from two of WWE’s top young stars. Plenty of back and forth action and plenty of near falls before the Scot took advantage of the referee’s poor position to gouge Morrison’s eyes, before taking out the champion with his double under hook DDT for the title winning pin, ending a very good match.

The title action continued with Mickie James challenging Michelle McCool for the Women’s title. Kind of surprising that this wasn’t used as filler material. This proved to be an entertaining encounter, and it was nice to see the Divas get more than the usual five minutes to showcase their skills, with McCool retaining the title after a big boot. They’ll probably be back to filler material next month though.

Then it was on to the first main event, with Sheamus challenging John Cena for the WWE title in a tables match. The last time Cena was given a new pay-per-view opponent he made him look like a chump. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case with this match. Sheamus was made to look the equal of the champion in this entertaining brawl that saw some great action from both men, including a TNA-like brawl through the crowd. The end came from out of nowhere, as both men jockeyed for position on the top rope before Sheamus pushed Cena off and through a table in the middle of the ring. Let’s hope my fellow European isn’t more than a transitional champion though.

The second main event followed, with Batista challenging the Undertaker for the World title in a chair match. Now this one had a few rules to remember - chairs were legal, but count out and disqualification rules also applied, something that’s important to remember for later on. The slow, methodical approach was the order of the day for these two behemoths as they tore into each other with everything they had, and using a few chairs to good effect as well. It wasn’t overly spectacular, but it was strangely compelling, and it looked like Batista had won the title. After taking the dead man down with a low blow out of sight of the referee, he got the pin after a big chair shot. As the animal celebrated Smackdown GM Teddy Long came out and restarted the match. The Undertaker didn’t take long to regain his senses as he clobbered Batista with a chair before applying the finishing touch with the tombstone, ending a rather dramatic encounter.

Then it was on to the match that felt like the filler material of the show, Randy Orton versus Kofi Kingston. I must admit that I had my doubts about this one, especially as they’ve given away their last two matches for free. But the action here was very good, with Kingston, as always, looking great, and proving to be a perfect foil for the serpentine Orton. Plenty of back and forth action came to a head when Orton finally managed to take Kingston down with the RKO. This may have been Orton’s best match in ages.

The evening’s final encounter saw D-Generation X challenge Chris Jericho and the Big Show for the Unified Tag Team Championship in a TLC match. What a way to end the show, eh? These two teams put on a hell of a match, which was definitely worth it’s spot on the card. There were some truly great moments here, such as the sight of the Big Show tentatively climbing a ladder before he destroyed a couple of them so they couldn’t be used later. But the best moment came when Jericho climbed onto his partner’s shoulders so he could get the belts. The look on their faces when they realised how defenceless they were when Shawn Michaels and Triple H got back into the ring was priceless. DX soon took care of the champions, and with Triple H holding the broken ladder in place, Michaels climbed to the top and grabbed the belts, with DX winning the tag titles for the first time.

In conclusion - once again I had my doubts about the new concept of a WWE pay-per-view, mainly because I’ve never been a fan of TNA’s reliance on gimmick matches. But I have to admit that this was a very good show, enjoyable from start to finish, and with a few surprises through in for good measure, making this a good way for WWE to end their pay-per-view year.

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