As we approach this year’s TLC, we look back at one from the past!
As we get closer to closing the book on 2018, we’re approaching WWE’s December pay-per-view TLC, so today we’re looking back at one from the past with TLC 2016! The SmackDown Live brand finishes out the year with the annual TLC event, pitting Dean Ambrose against WWE Champion AJ Styles in a match of the show’s namesake, Becky Lynch defending the SmackDown Women’s Title in a Tables Match, plus SmackDown Tag Champs Heath Slater and Rhyno with the unenviable task of putting their titles on the line against the new look Wyatt Family! Let’s get into the action…
Kickoff Match: American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable), The Hype Bros (Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley) & Apollo Crews vs. The Vaudevillains (Aiden English & Simon Gotch), The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) & Curt Hawkins
Hawkins & Crews to kickoff the action, Hawkins avoids a lock-up and goes to the midsection with a kick, takes him down with a side headlock, Apollo counters into a headscissors, but The Prince of Queens kips up to his feet. Apollo does the same behind him, hits the ropes for a shoulder knockdown, front-flips over Hawkins, then scores with a dropkick for a count of 1. Zack tags in and Hawkins instantly tags out, Viktor steps in, ducks under a tie-up and buries a knee to the breadbasket.
He scores with a big chop in the corner and shoots Ryder across, Viktor charges in and meets double knees to the jaw, Long Island Iced Z to the 2nd rope and he jumps over the top of him. He goes into the ropes and ducks a clothesline, Viktor catches him with a back elbow, mocks The Broski and hooks him for a vertical suplex, Ryder reversing into a hangman’s neckbreaker for 2. Mojo gets a tag and he whips Zack into a forearm in the corner, Rawley delivers a body slam, then hits Viktor with Hammer Time. Viktor squirms away to his corner and brings in Konnor, Mojo ducks a clothesline, goes into the 3 point stance and takes him out at the knee.
Konnor quickly drives him into his corner and Aiden tags in, targets the left arm and wrenches away at the shoulder, gets a little too confident and Rawley clocks him with a big fist. Jordan gets a tag and brings English down with a fireman’s carry, slaps on an armbar, Gable makes the tag and American Alpha with double team offense. They knock their opponents off the apron, hit a double hip toss to Aiden, Gotch steps in and takes a double dropkick for his troubles, Gable then sending Aiden to the outside with a headscissors takedown. One-by-one every starts filing in the ring and throwing each other to the outside, Apollo is the last man standing, everyone else slides back in and we have a melee on our hands, Crews’ squad clearing the ring as we go to break…
We return and order has been restored, Hawkins delivers a vertical suplex to Gable for a count of 2, then grounds him with a rear chinlock. Gable fights to his feet and hits the ropes, Hawkins follows him in, slides outside and sweeps the leg, rolls back in and tags out. Viktor comes in and stomps away, drops a fist to the face for a 2 count, sends Chad into the corner and tags in Konnor. He shoots Konnor into a corner clothesline, Konnor sends Gable into a high knee from Viktor, cover and another count of 2. He applies a rear chinlock to grind Gable down, Chad works to his feet, gets pushed into the ropes with a back body drop, counters with a sunset flip, but Viktor makes a blind tag and ambushes him.
The Drama King re-enters the match for a big right hand, quickly brings in Simon for Dukes Up, Gotch hooks the leg for a near fall, then tags out. Viktor buries a kick to the ribs and still can’t put it away, goes right back to the rear chinlock, Gable works to a standing position, gets sent to the ropes for a back body drop, but prevents it with a kick. He leaps towards his corner to make a tag, Viktor catches him on his shoulder, Chad gets close, but his partners get ripped off the apron at the last second. Viktor shoves Gable to the ropes, connects with a pop-up superkick, lateral press and Jordan slides in to make the save.
Viktor tags out and English hooks on a front facelock, Gable finds his way to a vertical base, rolls Aiden up for a near fall, but still doesn’t reach his corner. Aiden takes him down with a double leg, catapults him into the corner, Gable smashes Hawkins off the apron in the process. Gotch tags in and Viktor holds Chad in place, The Gentleman Brawler charges, Gable breaking free and Viktor gets knocked to the floor. Both guys crawl to tags, Jordan scores with multiple forearms to Konnor, follows with a dropkick, Gotch stepping and he walks right into a capture suplex. Aiden rolls back in to help out and gets tossed into a flapjack, Jordan’s feeling it now, plants Konnor with an olympic slap and makes the cover.
Konnor comes in to break it up at 2, The Hype Bros hit the ring now and batter him from behind, they connect with the Hype Ryder to English, but Mojo gets caught by The Fall Of Man. American Alpha’s back in to dispose of The Ascension, Hawkins hits the ring and misses an attempt to hit Jordan from behind, Crews surprises him on the apron and suplexes him to the outside on everyone. Back inside, Gotch tags himself in, Jordan tags Gable, American Alpha catch Simon with Grand Amplitude and put it away.
Winners: American Alpha, The Hype Bros & Apollo Crews (Gable/Grand Amplitude)
- EA’s Take: Decent Kickoff match tonight, nothing that really intrigued me much, however I liked that all these guys at least got a chance to perform. It’s funny, I had been wondering what happened to Apollo Crews and Curt Hawkins. There was so much build with Hawkins’ return promos and now…what? A big, fat nothing essentially. Apollo still has the same issues he’s always had and that’s finding a character, some way for fans to connect. Until that happens, he is destined to be on the sidelines no matter how talented in the ring he is.
Open: “Tables, ladders, chairs. Simple devices we weave into our lives, but sometimes the simple things are not what they seem because here, these are the obstacles that must be faced. They will test integrity, they will push limits. They can force one to thrive or they can lead them to defeat. Tonight, opportunity will present itself to those strong enough to withstand it and those wise enough to receive it. Tonight, these ordinary objects will make a select few…extraordinary. This is WWE TLC.”
Match #1 for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships: The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt & Randy Orton) w/Luke Harper vs. SmackDown Tag Team Champions Heath Slater & Rhyno
Wyatt & Rhyno will begin, collar & elbow tie-up sees The Man Beast go to a side headlock, switches to a wristlock, Bray fights it off, shoots him to the ropes and gets leveled by a flying clothesline. The Eater Of Worlds quickly recovers and goes to the eyes, tags out, Orton steps in and scores with heavy shots, but Rhyno turns the tables and fires back. Irish whip to the ropes is reversed, The Man Beast avoids a clothesline, scores with a shoulder block, tag to Slater and he comes off the top with a double axe to the arm.
The Apex Predator absorbs some shots and goes to the knee with a kick, The One Man Band ducks a shot, floors him with a heel kick, Orton staggers to the corner and Heath charges in with a forearm. He builds a head of steam for another, Randy elevates him over the top, Slater lands on his feet, Harper climbs onto the apron to distract the ref and Bray takes Heath out at the legs. The One Man Band pulls himself back into the ring, The Viper drops him gut-first across the top rope, stomps away at every limb, then tags out. The New Face of Fear hammers Heath with heavy right hand covers for a 2 count, measures him in the corner and rushes in with a splash for another 2.
Wyatt dumps Slater to the outside and makes a tag, The One Man Band staggers back to the ring, The Apex Predator dragging him up to the apron and setting for the elevated DDT. Heath fights it off, delivers a shot to Bray, tries to slingshot back inside, but Orton catches him for a powerslam and a near fall. The Eater Of Worlds tags back in and grinds Slater down with a chinlock, The One Man Band battles to his feet, gets thrown to the ropes and counters a back body drop with a kick. He catches Wyatt with double boots to the chin, drops Orton to the floor, jumps toward his corner and makes a tag, Bray making him pay with a uranage.
Rhyno comes in with clotheslines for Bray, irish whip to the corner is reversed, Wyatt rushes into a back elbow and The Man Beast comes off the 2nd rope with a shoulder tackle. He measures The New Face of Fear in the corner and charges in, The Viper climbs back on the apron and pushes him out of harm’s way, the ref counts it as a tag and he gets knocked to the floor. Rhyno goes out after him, lines up for a Gore, Harper sacrifices himself for The Viper and gets nearly split on the floor. The Man Beast heads back into the ring and Wyatt pops up into the Spider Crawl, it stops Rhyno dead in his tracks, Orton slides in and hits him with an RKO for the 1-2-3.
Winners and NEW SmackDown Tag Team Champions: The Wyatt Family (Orton/RKO)
- After The Bell: Bray takes his title and drapes it over Harper’s shoulder. Orton looks at him perplexed, turns to Harper and then does the same.
- EA’s Take: This felt pretty standard to me, but I think that was kind of the point. Bray & Orton made pretty easy work out of Slater & Rhyno and that makes total sense to me. I never thought Bray’s first WWE title would be a tag title, but I’m really intrigued by what’s going on with Orton/Bray a lot more than I am Rhyno/Slater. They did a good job with the titles and it was a fun little story, but Heath & Rhyno have really run their course at this point. The biggest question now is, did Orton & Wyatt just gift Harper the titles? Perhaps we see more of a New Day/Freebird scenario where you could face and 2/3 of them at any time.
Backstage: Dasha Fuentes welcomes in Dean Ambrose, The Lunatic Fringe says James Ellsworth is hanging out at home recovering tonight, but he’ll be okay. He says that his temper is his gameplan tonight and every other night, claiming in a different world and different circumstances it would be an honor to be in the ring with AJ Styles, but not tonight. Ambrose talks about Styles always taking the easy way out, but with tables, ladders and chairs, there are no easy ways. Tonight, there’s only one way and that’s horrible pain equaling glory.
Backstage: Renee Young is joined by WWE World Champion AJ Styles, The Phenomenal One stating he’s been in these kinds of matches before and is fully aware of what he’s getting into. He believes Dean Ambrose’s biggest problem is that he doesn’t stay down, but tonight he’ll be getting up just in time to see him reach up and grab the championship.
Match #2 – No Disqualification: Nikki Bella vs. Carmella
The bell rings and Carmella immediately ducks to the outside to get away, she catches Nikki coming out with forearms, sends her back inside, steps in and gets tackled to the ground. They tussle out to the apron on the other side of the ring, Carmella gets her legs wrapped around Nikki, hits a headscissors and Nikki is sent knees-first into the steel steps. The Princess of Staten Island rams her legs into the barricade and rolls inside, Nikki finds her way back in at a count of 6, Carmella meeting her with a snap suplex for a count of 2.
She hooks her for another and Nikki counters into a small package for a quick 2, Carmella levels her with a clothesline, covers for a 2 count of her own, then suplexes Nikki legs-first into the ropes for another 2. She ties Nikki up in the tree of woe and goes to the outside, reaches under the ring for a kendo stick, then taunts her with it. The Princess of Staten Island cracks her with the cane to the bad knee, wails away with shots to the back, hooks the leg and gains 2. She quickly slaps on the Code Of Silence, Nikki gets ahold of the kendo stick, scores with a couple of shots and breaks free. She rolls to the apron and Carmella goes outside, picks up the kendo stick, Nikki kicks her from behind, grabs the cane, but gets driven backwards into the barricade.
She absorbs it and returns the favor, sends Carmella spine-first into the ring post, climbs on top of the barricade and comes off with a roundhouse kick. She throws The Princess of Staten Island back inside, smacks her in the back of the legs with the kendo stick, Carmella sneaking in a shot to the bad knee to stop the onslaught. She pulls Nikki out through the ropes with a handful of tights, staggers to her feet, reaches out to grab her and Nikki sprays her in the face with a fire extinguisher. She heads inside and torments Carmella by unloading the whole thing, powers her up with the Rack Attack 2.0 and gets the win.
Winner: Nikki Bella (Rack Attack 2.0)
- After The Bell: Nikki heads to the back after the win and Carmella grabs a mic, yelling for the music to be cut. She hopes Nikki is real proud of herself and feels like she got her revenge from Survivor Series, but she isn’t the one who attacked her, claiming that it was Natalya.
- EA’s Take: Boy, is it just me or was this a little underwhelming? I mean, I predicted Nikki to take this one and at long last get her revenge for everything. I was expecting more from the match, but maybe we’re saving some bigger spots for the Women’s Title Match later on. I do like how they seem to be spinning it off into Nikki’s next rivalry, but I don’t know that I’d call it a “revelation” that Nattie was the one who took her out at Survivor Series. Something tells me Nikki hasn’t seen the last of Carmella however, looks like she will continue to play a part.