The Raw roster presented their final solo pay-per-view of the year last night as TLC came to us live from the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. TLC this year was building up to be one of the most lacklustre events of the year until it seems that WWE's hand was forced when Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt were unable to make their scheduled appearances at the show due to illness.
Kurt Angle and AJ Styles were brought in to replace the two stars in one of the biggest shocks of the year since AJ is a SmackDown superstar but WWE preferred to put in the call to The Phenomenal One rather than count on a mid-card Raw superstar.
Of course, TLC was made up of a number of filler matches between the women and The Cruiserweight Division, which meant that the main event went on for much longer than it perhaps should have done, but the WWE Universe were aware that this was just a filler pay-per-view before Survivor Series next month, so they didn't expect very much.
The following list attempts to pick all of the bones out of a show that will definitely be one of the most memorable events of the year as The Shield's reunion was put on hold, Kurt Angle returned to a WWE ring for the first time in more than a decade and, the WWE Universe was given a fantasy match between two former leaders of NJPW's famous Bullet Club.
15 Wrong: One Gimmick Match On A Gimmick Pay-Per-View
TLC made its debut back in 2009 in an era when WWE was high on gimmick-oriented pay-per-views. In the years that have followed, there have been a number of matches at the event that fit in with the TLC gimmick, including tables matches, ladder matches, chairs matches and even at one point there was a stairs match.
Last year, the women of SmackDown Live were given a tables match and a No-Disqualification match, but this year the Raw women weren't given the same kind of opportunities as all three matches failed to be given a gimmick, despite the Women's Championship match being one of the biggest on the show. The same could be said for the match that was planned between The Demon and Sister Abigail, which was set to be their third meeting in a standard one-on-one match, but luckily it was changed at the last minute.
14 Wrong: The Cruiserweight Championship Has Turned Into A Hot Potato
The Women's Championship on the Raw roster was once seen as the title that changed hands a little bit too much as both Charlotte and Sasha Banks became four-time Women's Champions over a short period of time back in 2016.
It seems that since the WWE finally has the Women's Division on Raw under control, they have instead decided to turn the Cruiserweight Championship into the hot potato because the belt has now changed hands three times in less than a month. Enzo Amore managed to defeat Kalisto last night at TLC when he raked his eyes and then hit JawdonZo. Much like when Enzo defeated Neville last month at No Mercy, he had to cheat to win, even though he was quite obviously feeling under the weather. Kalisto only won the Championship for the first time a few weeks ago and it seems that his first reign as Champion was only a short one and he will obviously cash in his rematch clause in the coming weeks.
13 Right: Alicia Fox's Character Worked Well
Alicia Fox and Sasha Banks only really began a rivalry a week ago and their match was then added to the kickoff show when it was made apparent that WWE just really didn't have anyone else to use at that point.
Alicia and Sasha have feuded before and there wouldn't have been a lot of substance to this encounter if it wasn't for the fact that Alicia didn't decide to unveil her crazy character once again and it seemed to work so well throughout the match. Alicia's smack talk throughout the match worked perfectly but it seems that she will never be pushed into a place on the Raw card that she deserves, since once again Sasha managed to lock on the Bank Statement and Alicia had no choice but to tap to The Boss. This would have been just another match on the card if not for Alicia making it that little bit more interesting.
12 Wrong: The Tables Didn't Want To Break
You know luck isn't on your side when even the weapons didn't work the way they were supposed to last night. On two separate occasions, Dean Ambrose was thrown into a table but the table in question failed to break. Braun Strowman had decided that he had had enough at this point and threw Ambrose through a table with such force that there was no doubt he would be able to break it.
The TLC match saw a number of spots through tables, with Braun also hitting a running power slam through a table on Kurt Angle, whilst Seth Rollins and Dean climbed a ladder and decided to jump through the announce table to take out the biggest threats in the match, both Braun and Kane. Chairs were one of the major weapons used in the match as almost every person was hit with a chair a dozen times, since The Shield and Kurt knew that they were battling the odds.
11 Wrong: Should Have Given The Women A Gimmick Match
The women had three matches at TLC last night and despite the fact that it was a gimmick pay-per-view, WWE didn't decide to give the women any gimmick matches. Even though Alicia Fox's match with Sasha Banks was a normal one-on-one encounter, it seems that Alicia lost herself part way through the match and thought that she was in a Falls Count Anywhere match.
Since the build-up to their match was rushed, it wouldn't have made sense to give them a stipulation on their match unless they were to continue it over the next few weeks. So many of the WWE Universe were confused as to why Alicia decided to try and pin Sasha on the outside. Was it her playing up to her crazy persona? Or did Alicia just completely forget where she was and decide that she was going to pin her opponent despite the fact that they were on the floor outside the ring?
10 Right: Asuka Made An Impactful Debut
Asuka's long-awaited main roster debut finally happened last night when Asuka took on Emma. The former NXT star won a fatal five-way match a few weeks ago on Raw for the opportunity to take on The Empress of Tomorrow, with many of the WWE Universe convinced that this would be a squash match.
Emma actually held her own throughout their bout, which later only served to make Asuka look even more dominant when she finally made the Australian star tap to the Asuka Lock. It took Asuka almost 10 minutes to defeat Emma and it seems that Nia Jax took to social media following the match to point out the fact that she managed to defeat her in just six minutes a few weeks ago. Asuka may have got past her first hurdle on the main roster last night, but it seems that her next one could very well be a much harder obstacle to overcome.
9 Wrong: Enzo Amore Lost His Voice
Enzo Amore isn't one of the best wrestlers on the 205 Live roster by any stretch of the imagination; his entire gimmick is 95% about him being able to deliver some of the best promos on live TV, and 5% linked to his in-ring ability.
Last night, Enzo was unable to deliver his usual hard-hitting, well-thought-out promo because he explained that he had lost his voice and he wasn't feeling very well. In a week, we have seen three stars forced out of the TLC event because of illness. The last thing that the WWE Universe needed to see was Enzo showing that he was also ill but he was still forced to take part in the event and fight for the Championship. It seems that a number of WWE stars were feeling under the weather last night, but Enzo was one of the only ones who pointed this out and many fans have been feeling sorry for him.
8 Wrong: Kane Isn't The Same Without Pyro
Kane made his in-ring return to action after almost a year on the sidelines, after it seemed that Kane had decided to take a step into a life of politics when he walked away from WWE last year. This was the first time that Kane had appeared in WWE since the company had decided to stop using pyros, which meant that Kane's entrance was epically underwhelming.
This could have been one of the main reasons why Kurt was allowed to join The Shield and make his entrance through the crowd rather than WWE allowing him to get the returning pop he could have received from his own music, because Angle wouldn't have had any pyros. This decision was made a long time ago, since it was decided that they weren't something that WWE needed to keep in their budget, but now it seems that without them the company is running into all kinds of issues.
7 Right: Alexa Bliss Retained Her Women's Championship
The buildup to the Raw Women's Championship match between Alexa Bliss and Mickie James at TLC saw Alexa decide to focus on the fact that Mickie was more than a decade older than her and attempt to show the former Women's Champion that experience was actually a weakness.
Mickie stepped up to Alexa and it was one of the best matches on the night, as the WWE Universe genuinely began to believe that Mickie could become a seven-time Women's Champion and make history in her own right. Alexa somehow managed to find her way past Mickie and didn't have to cheat to win the match this time, as she hit her DDT and proved that she could beat one of the best female wrestlers of all time. Alexa proved a lot of doubters wrong last night, so it will be interesting now to see how steps up to challenge The Goddess heading into Survivor Series.
6 Wrong: Why Did Jason Jordan Have Celery?
Elias kicked off the show on the pre-show by trying to share a song he had written for the WWE Universe, before some celery was thrown at him mid-song and it actually looked as though it came from the audience. It was later revealed to be Jason Jordan who was throwing the celery from a shopping trolley before walking away.
This happened again later in the show with Jordan doing the exact same thing and the audience once again failing to understand what was going on. Elias and Jordan did have a match later in the night, though, and it was Jordan who came out on top, as it seems that the throwing of vegetables for the better part of the night seemed to get into the head of The Drifter, who was definitely off his game. Hopefully, the use of vegetables in this match will be explained tonight on Raw.
5 Wrong: Kurt Angle Ruined The Shield's Entrance
As already mentioned, the WWE opted to allow Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose to give Kurt Angle his own Shield gear so that he could fit in with his tag team partners, but no one expected Kurt to come out to the ring with The Hounds of Justice as they made their way through the crowd for their match.
Angle looked like a proud father who was taking his two sons out trick or treating on Halloween, as he so blatantly smiled all the way to the ring and ruined any kind of seriousness that The Shield once had about them. Obviously, there was a reason he came with them to the ring, since this later allowed the trio to set up in the style of The Shield to open the match, but it just felt as though Kurt was having too much fun coming to the ring for someone who was aware that the odds were stacked against him and he was about to go to war.
4 Right: Braun Strowman Could Have Been Seriously Hurt
Braun Strowman was without a doubt the biggest threat in the main event match last night. He went through most of his competition quite easily, until he managed to pick a fight with Kane. Technically, it was Kane who struck first when he accidentally hit Braun with a steel chair, but the Monster Among Men wasn't in a forgiving mood.
Braun turned face and began helping The Shield as the odds swung into their favour for a few minutes before Braun was ganged up on and then thrown into a garbage truck. Braun didn't appear for the rest of the show and it seems that he could actually have been murdered on live TV. The WWE Universe wasn't given any kind of update about The Monster, so now they eagerly await news tonight on Monday Night Raw to see what kind of shape Braun is currently in.
3 Wrong: Cruiserweight Match Was Just A Filler
There were several matches that were part of last night's show that could be considered fillers, but it was most obvious during the Cruiserweight tag team match that these were only on the show because WWE needed to fill time.
The match would have made sense if it was the heels who came out on top, since they are the ones who have been building momentum together over the past few weeks. It seems that WWE opted for their usual faces win at pay-per-views mantra and it was Cedric Alexander and Rich Swann who were getting their hands raised at the end of the match, following Cedric's Lumbar Check. It was great for the Crusierweights to have more than one match on a card, but if WWE made the storyline make sense then it could perhaps have meant so much more when it comes to moving forward on 205 Live.
2 Wrong: Did Anyone Want To Win The Main Event?
TLC will perhaps best be remembered for the lengthy main event match that only saw three pinfall attempts in the entire match and one of those was when Kurt won the match for his team.
The match saw all eight members just throwing everything at each other and at one point the heels could easily have pinned either Seth Rollins or Dean Ambrose as they all took it in turns to abuse them. No one decided to go for a pin and so the match was prolonged and it ended up costing the heels the match. Someone like The Miz would perhaps have wanted the match to be over with quite early so that he would not actually have to fight, but it seems that even he didn't try to come in and get a quick pin on any of his opponents at any point, which was slightly odd. Both sides just wanted to make the match as long as possible, and keep hitting the other team with everything they had.
1 Right: AJ Styles Vs. Finn Balor
AJ Styles was drafted in to replace Bray Wyatt when it was revealed that the former leader of The Wyatt Family was unable to appear at TLC because he was suffering from a viral infection that was rumoured to be mumps or meningitis.
AJ stated that he had flown for 18 hours to get to TLC so that he could face Finn Balor in his first ever match against The Demon in WWE. This match ended up being the stand out match of the night, as the WWE Universe expected. The two former leaders of The Bullet Club left it all in the ring, before Balor managed to pick up the win following the Coupe De Grace and the two friends then embraced in the ring afterwards to show one of the most unique signs of sportsmanship. An illness may have cost WWE the match that was planned last night, but it seems that their backup plan may have been better than the original.
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