WWE’s Tables, Ladders and Chairs Had Its Share of Highs and Lows

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For the second year in a row, the main event of the Tables, Ladders and Chairs pay-per-view ended with Asuka standing victoriously atop a ladder.

Asuka and Kairi Sane closed out the show with a TLC match against Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair. After a 26-minute affair, Asuka took hold of the tag team titles to win the match, and the attention suddenly shifted to the ongoing fight between Roman Reigns and Baron Corbin, which also included a large part of the locker room.

The match had a number of dangerous, rough bumps. Flair took a powerbomb onto a table near the end of the match that looked especially painful. Unless there was an injury (or, unfortunately, injuries), which is certainly a possibility, it is mindboggling that WWE would have a long build to the main event finish and then immediately shift to another storyline.

There were highlights to the show. The New Day and The Revival combined for a fantastic ladder match, both Aleister Black and Buddy Murphy shined, and the build to Bray Wyatt-Daniel Bryan intensified. There were also lowlights, including the continuation of Corbin-Reigns, as well as a weak Tables match pitting Bobby Lashley against Rusev.

Last year’s TLC featured Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose, ending with a surprise Dirty Deeds finish that saw Ambrose reclaim the Intercontinental title. The IC belt, currently worn by Shinsuke Nakamura, was not defended on the card this year. Rollins has returned to playing a heel, and Ambrose has exited the company and now stars as Jon Moxley for AEW.

This year’s edition of TLC offered a closer look into the WWE’s creative plans for the beginning of 2020. Overall, the show started off on a high note but fell apart during its latter stretches.

Here are the results:

– Humberto Carrillo defeated Andrade on the preshow

– The New Day successfully defended the SmackDown tag titles in a ladder match against The Revival

– Aleister Black defeated Buddy Murphy

– Raw tag team champions the Viking Raiders wrestled Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson to a double count-out

– King Corbin defeated Roman Reigns in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match

– Universal champion Bray Wyatt defeated The Miz

– Bobby Lashley defeated Rusev in a tables match

– Women’s tag team champions Asuka and Kairi Sane defeated Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match

And here are my takeaways from the WWE’s final pay-per-view of the decade:

• Asuka and Kairi Sane retained their titles against Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair in the main event, but the bout did not live up to expectations.

The high spots in this match were aggressive but did not resonate with the audience. Plus, the layout was peculiar. The majority of the action was spent on the floor, away from the ring, and was too dependent on big spots.

This was the right match to close the show, but it did not meet the admittedly high expectations.

• The New Day and The Revival combined for a spectacular ladder match to open the show.

Storytelling, athleticism and feats of strength were all on display, and all four members of the match–Big E, Kofi Kingston, Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson–played their roles to perfection.

The New Day retained the titles just past the 19-minute mark after Kingston exhibited some outrageous athleticism on the ladders, and the closing sequence was very entertaining. But the match served to reinforce two points: The Revival need a long, uninterrupted (and away from Corbin) run with the belts to cement the fact they are one of the few elite tag teams in wrestling, while Kingston and Big E should both be vying for the world title.

Kingston, who wore the belt from WrestleMania 35 until WWE’s premiere on Fox this past October, could deliver compelling title matches with “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. After all of his success and the following he has built in WWE, Big E could–and should–headline a pay-per-view against Wyatt.

There is no need to wait. WWE has two main-eventers in their tag team division, and it is time for that to change.

• John Cena’s streak of working at least one pay-per-view match for the past 17 years came to an end at Sunday’s TLC.

Although Cena appeared at WrestleMania 35 in April, it was an in-ring segment and not an official WWE match. He told Sports Illustrated that he intends to return for WrestleMania 36 in 2020.

• Roman Reigns and Baron Corbin was the first disappointment on the card.

Following a fun preshow match between Humberto Carrillo and Andrade, the show started off hot with the New Day-Revival ladder match, then stayed strong with Aleister Black defeating Buddy Murphy. The Viking Raiders and The O.C. wrestled to a double count-out, advancing their story, and then Corbin and all the king’s men teamed up on Reigns, giving Corbin the victory and prolonging a painful storyline.

WWE has to play too many different audiences. There is no doubt that the younger demographic–ie, children–will be thrilled when fan-favorite Reigns finally gets his revenge against Corbin, but the timeline for their feud (which isn’t even the first time the two have been put together in a lengthy program) is well past its expiration date.

Reigns needs to be separated, as soon as possible, from Corbin.

• Another disappointment on the card was Rusev-Bobby Lashley.

Lashley won the Tables match, which continues the story. The match was disjointed, too long and never found a flow. Adding to the frustration is that this storyline is just spinning, seemingly in circles. The longer it goes in this manner, the less people care.

I had hoped that, best-case scenario, this feud could propel Rusev into the world title picture. Unfortunately, it is having the opposite effect.

• Daniel Bryan returned to attack Bray Wyatt following his non-title match victory against The Miz.

Wyatt did not wrestle as “The Fiend,” instead entering the ring to his “Firefly Fun House” theme. The match was not good, but the post-match angle with Bryan was executed perfectly.

Bryan trimmed his hair and beard, and now looks a decade younger. This is a storyline that, if done correctly, could be played out until WrestleMania. Bryan got the better of Wyatt, but there will be consequences from “The Fiend.” It will also be worth watching to see how The Miz fits into the story.

• The show ended on a lackluster note, but TLC was still a worthwhile endeavor for wrestling fans.

The first two matches of the show, and the preshow affair featuring Andrade vs. Humberto Carrillo, were all outstanding. Buddy Murphy vs. Aleister Black offered a harder hitting style than we are accustomed to viewing in WWE, and New Day and The Revival shined in their ladder match.

Ultimately, the show served as a table-setter for next month’s Royal Rumble, which will have a far bigger feel–and considerably more stars–than TLC.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.