I fully expected Tables, Ladders, and Chairs to deliver, and it did not disappoint. The most impressive part of that is that they did it despite the potential for redundancy. Big Daddy Donnie once said that Frank Fronte is one dumb wop, but more importantly, he also said of TNA's Lockdown that the problem with gimmick based shows is that you eventually run out of ways to make the matches original. Consequently, what started off as a great idea gets boiled down into a 3 hour block of seeing the same things over and over again. That was not the case last night, as TLC found ways to make each match original and different from the others on the card.
The Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship set a good pace for the night. Being the nerd I am, whenever I watched a Ladder Match I always would wonder to myself what the "rules" were if the belt were to fall somehow. I guess WWE answered my question. With Swagger and Kingston struggling for the belt at the top of the ladder, the belt came loose and fell to the mat, where Ziggler scrambled to grab it, thereby winning the match. Sure, it's not flashy, but it's a.) original, b.) good for garnering chickenshit heat. Not a single fan at this week's "SmackDown!" is going to think he deserves to be the champion.
I'm not exactly sure where WWE goes from here with Dolph Ziggler's current title run, though. It really seemed like Kofi Kingston was going to ultimately win the Intercontinental Championship back. However, I've always looked at stipulation matches as being the "blow off" of a feud. Does this now present a case where Kofi winning would now be anti-climactic? Or, was this the blowoff and now Swagger and Kingston will feud while Ziggler defends his title against another challenger? I wouldn't mind the latter situation; Kingston and Swagger had a damn entertaining match a few weeks back and I think they could put on an entertaining feud.
In essence, one of the biggest traits of a babyface is to keep fighting in the face of overwhelming adversity. In the divas match, this was done to perfection. Beth Phoenix took some nasty looking bumps throughout the course of the match. The announcers put over that she took some nasty looking bumps, and that those hits could impede her ability to continue in the match. And every time, she kept getting back in the match. Plain and simple booking. Sometimes the best route to go is the simplest.
Not to take anything away from Natalya, who wrestled a great match as always, and who earned a huge O for putting both Michelle McCool and Layla in the Sharpshooter at the same time. When Natalya positioned the two members of "LayCool", I really expected her to slingshot them through the table brandishing ugly caricatures of McCool and Layla. Needless to say, I was surprised and impressed when she instead locked both of them in the Sharpshooter at once. Poor Layla though. It looked like McCool was frequently driving her arm into the back of her head. That had to hurt.
Santino Marella is gold. It's been a long time since he was quoted on an O Show article, so here goes - "Tonight, after we beat the Lexus, TLC will stand for Totally Lethal Cobra!" Even though the cynic in me thinks that Marella and Kozlov holding the Tag Team Championship is a sign that WWE still doesn't care about the division, I am glad that it means that the most entertaining superstar and the most underused superstar are both getting TV time.
Three years ago, at the now defunct Armageddon pay-per-view, from now defunct Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, PA, I was present and watched Jeff Hardy defeat Triple H in a match to become number one contender for the WWE Championship. Hardy would go on to lose to Randy Orton the following month at Royal Rumble (at Madison Square Garden in New York City, since I mentioned the venue and city for the other matches), but even so, that was the victory that propelled him into the main event, leading to him ultimately winning the WWE Championship at Armageddon the following year from HSBC Arena in Buffalo, NY, a match which I was also present for.
Why did I just tell that rambling story, aside from reminiscing about two pay-per-views which I attended? Because last night, John Morrison faced Sheamus in a ladder match to determine the number one contender for the WWE Championship. Following a very entertaining match with some very good high spots, Morrison landed a stiff kick to the face of Sheamus, then climbed the ladder to retrieve the contract and earn a WWE Championship match. Whether he wins or not, I liken this victory to Hardy's, because I feel this is the win that will propel Morrison into the main event.
Do I expect him to win the WWE Championship next month at Royal Rumble, where his title shot is likely occurring? Not really. I seldom ever expect the WWE or World Heavyweight Championship to change hands at Royal Rumble, simply because the main attraction of the show is the Rumble match itself. More often than not, I think of title matches at Royal Rumble to be one-offs. But even if this is the case with Morrison, it still gives him legitimacy in the eyes of fans, and to me, shows that they're seriously thinking about making him WWE Champion sooner or later.
Wow. Just wow. The Miz vs. Randy Orton was even worse than I thought. They gave us not one lame ass finish, but two lame ass finishes. You know, just in case you weren't already convinced that The Miz is completely undeserving of wearing the WWE Championship at this point in time.
Edge is now the World Heavyweight Champion. As I said in my preview, I firmly believe that Alberto Del Rio is going to be a future champion. However, I also believed that if any Del Rio was going to earn the title of champion today, it was going to be Jack Del Rio leading the Jacksonville Jaguars to becoming the AFC South Champions. That didn't happen either. Tonight simply would have been too soon to put the title on him. However, I wouldn't be surprised if we see him pulling down a certain briefcase come WrestleMania...
I was thoroughly surprised that this match was not the main event of the evening, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Plenty of great spots, including the often criticized Rey Mysterio performing a senton on Kane off of a table dangling from the set, and then later having a high flying maneuver reversed into a Tombstone Piledriver by Kane. Damn, did that look sick. It looked sick when he did it at Money In The Bank, and it looked equally sick tonight.
I'm going to take a second to talk about the commentary. O to the commentary team for ripping on Tony Chimmel when he said "gain custody of the belt". Come on, Chims. You've announced multiple ladder and TLC matches and never used that line, why did you do it then? No to having CM Punk come out and replace Matt Striker for the main event of the evening. Punk really is terrible. I can't believe someone who cut such good promos during his heel run is so horrific with a headset on.
Before the main event, we were treated to some grooming tips from Dashing Cody Rhodes. Simple but effective heeling, crack on the crowd for being fat and ugly. Big Show then came out dressed as Santa Claus and tossed copies of "Knucklehead" out to the crowd. By my count, about 75 copies were tossed out to the audience, meaning that there are now 76 households across the country who own a copy of the movie. Also, after checking on eBay, there are now 54 copies for sale.
Ultimately, Rhodes pissed Big Show off enough to where Show gave him a massive spinebuster. Seems a little unusual that he was giving out free copies of Knucklehead, yet he opted to use a wrestling move as opposed to just dimming Rhodes lights with a right hook. Even though I feel like it was done to buy time while cleaning up from the previous match and setting up for the main event, I didn't mind the segment, since I like Rhodes gimmick and I like when Big Show is allowed to be a goofball.
The main event of the evening was John Cena vs. Wade Barrett. I can't believe I'm saying this, but John Cena made me pop on multiple occasions last night. Throughout the night, Nexus members were laid out, presumably by Cena. Right before the match, as Barrett and Husky Harris were walking down a hallway, a chair was swung from behind a door, knocking Harris out cold. As Barrett checks on Harris, out walks Cena with a smile on his face. He looks at Harris, then at Barrett and says "That's everybody! See you out there." Memo to Cena - THAT'S how you be funny! Forget about toilet humor and name calling, just go with that irreverent sense of humor. You can be irreverent and still be family friendly (see: M*A*S*H), so stick with that from now on, Cena.
The match itself wasn't a five star classic, but I think it would have made less sense if it was. These are two men who hate each other, and who have a score to settle. It made a lot more sense for this to be an "all hell breaks loose" brawl. The spot in which Cena brought out a rolling desk chair and used it to propel Barrett into the steel stairs was unique, and the finish definitely elicited an "O" out of me. For those of you who did not see the show, Cena set up six chairs, seats down, facing each other in two rows of three. He then proceeded to hoist Wade Barrett up, and deliver an Attitude Adjustment onto the seats of the six chairs. Donnie and Dan have often made the point that part of what can make a move look legit and make you buy into it is if you think it would hurt in real life. Well, yeah. I think that would hurt like a son of a bitch.
After the match, Cena continued to follow Barrett towards the TitanTron, bashing his with a chair along the way. He then ended the show by trapping Barrett under a pallet, then pulling down a string of chairs hanging from the set, causing them to crash down atop the pallet. Another "O" elicited. Damn. I just admitted to three O's caused by John Cena. Is it possible that The Miz has replaced John Cena as the favorite target of O Show hatred and bile? Maybe. It's also possible that this feud was so well constructed that it ultimately made Cena look good. Good heels make for good faces, and Barrett has been a great heel since arriving on "Raw" back in June.
So there you have it. The final WWE pay-per-view of 2010 didn't disappoint. The matches that were expected to deliver came through, and the match that was expected to stink did so to a truly unforeseeable amount.
*Dolph Ziggler def. Kofi Kingston and Jack Swagger in a Ladder Match to retain Intercontinental Championship
*Natalya & Beth Phoenix def. LayCool in a Table Match
*Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov def. Nexus (Heath Slater & Justin Gabriel) by DQ to retain WWE Tag Team Championship
*John Morrison def. Sheamus in a Ladder Match to become Number One Contender for WWE Championship
*The Miz def. Randy Orton in a Table Match to retain WWE Championship
*Edge def. Kane, Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio in a TLC Match to win World Heavyweight Championship
*John Cena def. Wade Barrett in a Chair Match