Wednesday, 21 December 2011

WWE TLC on Sky Box Office - TV Review

It was the final wrestling pay per view of the year as World Wrestling Entertainment presented TLC, shown live on Sky Box Office in the early hours of this past Monday morning here in Britain.

The show began with the first title match of the evening as internet favourite Zack Ryder challenged Dolph Ziggler, accompanied by Vickie Guerrero, for the United States title.

Ziggler is becoming one of those dependable guys, the sort who can have a good match with anyone.

This was the case with this opener. Both guys put in great performances in this intriguing back and forth encounter.

Mrs. Guerrero played her part as well, putting Ziggler’s foot on the rope after Ryder took him out with his big boot in the corner. Needless to say that the referee was none too pleased and sent her away from ringside.

The action was turned up a notch afterwards with a ton of fast paced action and plenty of false finishes until Ryder took Ziggler down with the rough ryder leg lariat for the winning pin.

The title action continued with Air Boom, Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston, defending the Tag Team titles against Primo and Epico, accompanied by Rosa Mendes.

This was the first time I’d seen Primo and Epico as a team, and along with the champions they continued the trend for good action.

Bourne, looking good after his recent…ahem…absence, was used as the punching bag for the champions as they doubled up on him to good effect.

But when he finally managed to get the hot tag to Kingston the Ghanaian again showed how good he is, putting in his usual solid performance before taking out Primo with his trouble in paradise for the title retaining pin.

The first gimmick match of the show was Randy Orton taking on Wade Barrett in a tables match.

If you were expecting a technical classic with this match then you may have been disappointed. This was a fight, pure and simple.

Barrett is really starting to come into his own again, putting in performances we haven’t seen since the hey day of the Nexus, and he was, once again, the perfect opponent for the Viper.

The third good match in a row saw both mean tear strips off each other as they almost put each other away a few times, in between beating the snot out of each other.

So after a ton of brawling the table finally snapped. Having placed Orton on a table near the corner Barrett went to the middle rope with the intention of putting his man away with an elbow drop.

Orton was having none of it though. He soon recovered to take Barrett out with an RKO through the table as he came flying down, taking the win in the process.

It was back to title action for the next match as Divas Champion Beth Phoenix defended the title against Kelly Kelly…again!

As good as this match was I couldn’t help but think we’ve seen it all before, mainly because they’ve faced each other so many times recently.

It was a well executed encounter, with Kelly starting the match quickly before the Glamazon came back with her power moves.

Kelly made a brief comeback, almost getting the pin when she countered Phoenix’s glam slam attempt with a roll up. But moments later the champion took the pin with an electric chair slam.

Then Booker T, leaving the comfort of his commentary position behind him, challenged Cody Rhodes for the Intercontinental title.

Well, that’s what we thought we were going to get. Earlier in the evening Rhodes had attacked Booker backstage, and it was touch and go for a while about whether he’d be able to compete.

But as Booker was making his entrance Rhodes attacked again, and after Rhodes was sent packing by security the trainers took him to the back.

So with that match put on the back burner it was on to the sledgehammer ladder match between Kevin Nash and Triple H.

Yep, you read that right. Kevin Nash took part in a ladder match. Who would have thunk it?

It was kind of obvious what sort of match we were going to get from these two, another big fight.

While Nash came out with his usual six or seven moves the Game made good use of the ladder, using one of them in a very inventive way.

After delivering several ladder shots to Nash’s right knee Triple H then wrapped Nash’s leg through it and applied a figure four leg lock.

Nash came back strongly though as the Clique members knocked seven sorts of you know what out of each other.

Then came the big surprise. As Triple H climbed the ladder and grabbed the sledgehammer Nash climbed up the opposite side.

They began to fight over the hammer, until Triple H rammed it into Big Sexy’s head, and the big guy fell off the ladder and through a table that he’d brought into the match.

Triple H then took Nash down with the pedigree, but it wasn’t over. As the Game grabbed the sledgehammer again Nash gave him the Clique sign. Triple H responded with a crotch chop before clobbering his man in the head with the hammer for the winning pin.

Normal action resumed as Jack Swagger, accompanied by Vickie Guerrero, went up against Sheamus.

What may have come across as filler material at first proved to be a very enjoyable encounter.

These two big guys were well suited to each other, and with Miss Vickie screaming her guts out at ringside Swagger did a good job of taking it to the Irishman, chop blocking him a couple of times before going for the ankle lock.

But all of this came to nothing as the Great White recovered to take Swagger out with the brogue kick for the winning pin.

The Smackdown main event saw the Big Show challenging Mark Henry for the World title in a chairs match.

This one was pretty short, and began in quite a unique way, with Show walking around the ring and tossing several chairs into it.

Henry was none too happy as he left the ring and grabbed his title, unwilling to do battle. But it wasn’t long Show stopped him in his tracks with a well placed chair shot.

After several well placed combinations from Show to Henry’s body the champ recovered and slammed Show’s hand into the ring steps.

Then, for the next few minutes the two big guys exchanged numerous chair shots, with Henry causing more damage to Show’s right hand until, from out of nowhere, the challenger connected with his weapon of mass destruction to send Henry down like a sack of spuds. A three count later and we had a new champion.

As the new champion celebrated the former champion attacked him from behind with another chair shot, adding more insult to injury with a DDT onto a chair.

It was then that Daniel Bryan, referee in tow, raced down to the ring and cashed in his Money in the Bank title shot. With Show lying in the ring Bryan went for the cover. A three count later and we had another new champion. Who would have thunk it?

Then, finally, Booker T challenged Cody Rhodes for the Intercontinental title.

For someone who was meant to be past it Booker put on a pretty good showing here, dominating the early part of the contest before the younger champion managed to take control.

Rhodes continued to show why he’s one of the best heels at the moment, really taking it to the veteran before Booker came back and treated us to a spinneroonie.

That was the beginning of the end for him as he appeared to be dazed by his exertions. Rhodes then stepped his game up, taking Booker down with a second kick off the ropes to get the title retaining pin.

The Raw main event saw Alberto Del Rio and the Miz challenging C.M. Punk for the WWE title in a TLC match.

While this may not have been the best TLC match I’ve ever seen it was still pretty entertaining.

All three combatants gave a good account of themselves, with each man willing to take the big bumps in order to entertain the fans.

Early on Miz and Del Rio, despite what they said earlier, doubled up to good effect on the champion, but it wasn’t long before the toys came into play.

The most unique moment came when Punk went to climb the ladder, only to be stopped by Del Rio’s ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez, who proceeded to handcuff the champion to the ladder.

However, Punk managed to free himself moments later  by kicking the ladder supports as Del Rio was climbing.

The first big bump came when Punk was trying to superplex Miz from the top rope, only for Del Rio to come into the ring to deliver a kick to Punk that sent him falling from the top rope and into a table at ringside.

More good use of the toys followed before we saw the bump of the night, and this one didn’t come from any of the main protagonists.

With all three men down Rodriguez gingerly climbed the ladder so he could get the belt for his boss. Punk and Miz soon put a stop to this, tipping the ladder over, causing Rodriguez to crash into another ringside table.

A brief exchange between Miz and Punk followed, and when Punk missed a corner charge Miz took the handcuffs that Punk still had on and cuffed him to the turnbuckle.

It looked as if there was going to be a new champion as Miz and Del Rio climbed the ladders in the ring until Punk managed to unscrew the turnbuckle, releasing the middle rope. He then fought his way back, and after taking Miz out with the GTS he climbed the ladder to grab the belt and claim the win.

In conclusion - the WWE certainly ended their pay per view year in style, didn’t they?

Apart from the “we’ve seen it all before” Divas title match the third annual TLC show delivered, with the majority of the matches ranging from the good to the entertaining to the great, with the main event the best of the bunch for me.

But what was perhaps the most surprising thing of all is that they accomplished all of this without their poster boy, their biggest star, the one and only John Cena.

So in all TLC gets the thumbs up from this particular writer as a great way to end wrestling’s pay per view year.