Tables! Ladders! Chairs! OH, MY!
That phrase is a very familiar one to long-term fans across the world and, whenever it was used to signify that at the next big show, a championship (it was always for a championship) was going to be decided in a TLC Match, the fans knew they were in for something special.
Unofficially, this match began with the Three-Way Tag-Team Ladder Match at WrestleMania XVI. The Dudleys, The Hardys and Edge & Christian stole the show with a blistering display of stunt-wrestling that the fans ate up. The word “innovation” is thrown around too easily at times, but those three teams genuinely were innovating what could be done with the ladders. Summerslam 2000 saw the first actual TLC Match, which was a tailor-made gimmick as each team were known for using one aspect of the TLC in their matches/beatdowns (chairs for E&C, ladders for Matt & Jeff and tables for “those damn Dudleys”). At WrestleMania X-Seven, they topped themselves with TLC II and since then, on PPV and RAW, we’ve had numerous Tables, Ladders and Chairs Matches over the years and they have yet to provide a disappointing contest.
In recent years, the stipulation has moved away from the team dynamic and been the domain of the singles wrestler, although Edge has remained the person most associated with the bout. In 2009, WWE made the decision to rebrand most of their PPV events and name them after particular gimmicks; a decision derided by most people, although the TLC Match itself actually suits the structure of a themed PPV and, in 2010, WWE did it all over again.
Running Time: 173mins (including extras)
- Triple Threat Ladder Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship: Dolph Ziggler v Kofi Kingston v Jack Swagger
- Wade Barrett and The Nexus in the locker room
- Divas Tag Team Tables Match: Natalya & Beth Phoenix v Lay-Cool
- TLC is Kane’s Christmas
- WWE Tag Team Championship Match: Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov v Heath Slater & Justin Gabriel
- Ladder Match: John Morrison v Sheamus
- Josh Mathews interviews The Miz
- Todd Grisham tries to interview Wade Barrett
- Tables Match for the WWE Championship: The Miz v Randy Orton
- Rosa Mendes admires Alberto Del Rio’s car
- Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Kane v Edge v Rey Mysterio v Alberto Del Rio
- “Dashing” Cody Rhodes addresses the WWE Universe
- Wade Barrett and Husky Harris get a surprise
- Chairs Match: John Cena v Wade Barrett
- Home Video Exclusive: Josh Mathews interviews John Cena after his match
After having an awesome match at the previous month’s Survivor Series, Daniel Bryan, Ted DiBiase and the United States Championship were relegated to dark-match status for the last event of the year. However, with that in mind, WWE still had the good sense to open the show with a fantastically high-octane opener featuring Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston in a three-way for the IC belt in a Ladder Match. The only danger with this is that the match in question was the first of three ladder matches on the card, with the possibility of the fans being burned out in regards to watching wrestlers slowly climb rungs being a real threat come the World Heavyweight Championship TLC Match.
Swagger, Kingston and Ziggler had been on fire on Smackdown in the weeks leading up to this, with all three men working their tails off against each other, so the anticipation that this would be a good match was high… and it didn’t disappoint. The action is frantic, some of the spots are unique and all three leave it all inside the ring. The only issue is that they should’ve had 3-5mins more and the finish (unique as it was) just didn’t work as well as it probably sounded on paper. On a side note, Vickie Guerrero is priceless at ringside.
Following on from the three-way, history was made in match #2 as the first ever Diva’s Table Match (replete with pink table, natch) took place between Lay-Cool (who have grown to be an amazingly effective heel duo) taking on the powerful pairing of Natalya and Beth Phoenix. A total mismatch, at least physically, this was a fun match, but the fact it went longer than the previous ladder match means it does drag at times. Also, Jerry Lawler saying he can’t remember a time when a woman has gone through a table straight after Matt Striker mentions Beulah and Francine from ECW AND the fact Lawler was commentating when The Dudley Boys were putting women through tables on RAW, really makes him look stupid.
Some interesting offence, including the always stunning double-Sharpshooter, lifts this above what it could’ve been, while the finish is superb and, for a Divas Match (no offence, ladies), the fans are mega-excited as they can tell what’s coming next. A job well done by all concerned.
The same can’t be said for the next match, which is a shame because I genuinely love the team of Santino and Koslov and the pre-match promo by Marella is funny for what it is. Nexus, to get the group over, should be steamrolling everyone in their path, so the fact that this match wastes just under seven-minutes of your time before coming to a very unsatisfactory end is a shame. Not something you really need to watch again, unfortunately. The post-match, however, does a decent job of redeeming Nexus and sets up the Chair Match for later in the evening.
I mentioned earlier, that I was concerned that the opener would burn the fans out for more Ladder Match action. In the end, there was no need for concern as John Morrison and King Sheamus put on what was easily the Match of the Night. Both men had been feuding for a wee while by this point and had traded meaningful victories (Morrison pinned Sheamus in a hard-hitting brawl at Survivor Series and Sheamus defeated his rival in the final of the 2010 King of the Ring tournament), so this was the rubber match and a shot at the WWE Championship was at stake.
The match was given almost twenty minutes, so both wrestlers had the time to tell a compelling story and put out some truly unique offence (Jo-Mo’s stunning acrobatics were put to good use) that also included a fantastically executed finish that the fans lapped up completely. This is the perfect example of how to put over both wrestlers in a match despite there being a clearly defined winner and loser. It’s just a pity WWE decided not to follow through on the potential and both men are in a worse position today than they were only four months ago.
Match #5 was another wasted opportunity and a match that ran too long. I’m a huge fan of Miz and want to see him pushed to the moon, but the was he’s been treated as champion (with a couple of exceptions) has been deplorable. A fantastic and “real”-sounding promo, not to mention a PR dream, The Miz has worked his ass off to reach the level he’s at, coming from a green Tough Enough runner-up, through a period of being thought of as garbage backstage, Miz has earned his spot at the top table, no pun intended.
Unfortunately, Orton and he just don’t seem to click and this Tables Match drags for the most part, with the champion booked to be totally inferior to his challenger. The finish was the right side of “dickish heel” though and that put Miz over awesomely (pun totally intended) as a chicken-shit heel who wins through dastardly deeds. Ric Flair made a career out of it, so for Miz to follow in those footsteps can only be a good thing. I was also impressed that, for once, the referee can actually see the Titantron.
Up next is the third Ladder Match of the evening and it’s another great encounter. TLC always has an inherent excitement going back to the tag-team efforts from ten years ago. Four wrestlers with four different styles in Rey, Edge, Kane and Del Rio could’ve been a clusterfunk, but they meshed amazingly well and the early highlights are Chimel’s botched introduction and Mysterio’s KISS attire.
In-ring, the action is hard, heavy and brutal for all concerned, with each man getting a chance to shine and moments where they all had a legit chance of walking out with the title. Del Rio’s first big PPV outing could also have seen the newcomer swallowed up by the reputations of his three opponents, but the Mexican more than held his own, while Rey’s flying offence and Kane just uppercutting people to Hell will never get old. Kane also deserves credit for improvising after he accidentally ripped one set of legs off a table he was setting up at ringside.
Other stunning spots include Edge diving from a ladder, over the top rope, to splash Kane through a table, Rey’s missed 619 attempt on Alberto being turned into a Spear by Edge, Rey using the (extremely wobbly) set for a leap on Kane, chokeslam to Ricardo leading to a chokeslam frenzy, Kane catching Mysterio mid-moonsault then hitting a Tombstone and Del Rio’s brutal splat through a table to take him out of the contest.
Cena v Barrett had been a rivalry ever since Nexus debuted as a group in June of 2010. Going through various battles, including a period where Cena had to join his hated rivals, this match was designed to bring an end to the feud and allow both parties to move on to other things. The stipulation is much more limiting than the use of tables or chairs, so both men had their work cut out. Having CM Punk on guest commentary is a good addition though.
Every single Chair Match that had come before this one had, to be frank, sucked a big one. That this match didn’t is probably the most surprising aspect. I’ve used the word innovative and its derivatives throughout this review (and with good reason), but I’m going to use it again here as the chair was used in a variety of ways, with both the finish and the post-match closing image of the PPV being top-notch examples of innovation in WWE. Cena’s chair-assisted top-rope legdrop-bulldog was also perfectly executed and, as a feud-ending match, this did its job very, very well.
As per the norm, a single extra is all you get and this one is the usual post-show 1min+ interview with a winner from earlier in the night. On this occasion, John Cena tells us what his victory meant to him and, as sincere as it sounds, it’s also rather dull.
Logically, the last four matches should’ve been the Tables Match, the Ladder Match, the Chairs Match and then, to close the show, the TLC Match itself. Of course, that didn’t happen and a non-title match closed the show, which is stupid on WWE’s behalf. The pay-per-view is called TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, so the eponymous gimmick should naturally be the event closing bout. That aspect annoyed me at the time and still annoys me today, but, to be fair, it isn’t a major thing.
The non-match segments are decent enough, with the interruption by Cody Rhodes being the pick of the bunch. From awkward beginnings, the “Dashing” persona grew to become a revelation, with Cody showing a talent on the mic obviously inherited from his celebrated father. It’s interest to look back at this character when watching the current-day incarnation and how well Rhodes play that as well. The Bella Twins dressed in Santa outfits was the Christmas gift that kept on giving. Big Show’s pretty funny as well.
Cena taking out Nexus backstage with chairs is well done also, particularly the amazingly worked chair shot to the head of Husky Harris. It looks and sounds like he gets smashed in the skull, but watching it back a couple of times, you can see that the weapon never comes into contact with Harris at all. Live, however, it comes across as Husky taking it right between the eyes. Full credit to WWE (and Cena/Harris) for getting the effect of a chairshot to the head over without any chance of harm to the receiving wrestler.
Match-wise, you get seven bouts and only one of them is below par, so that’s got to be great value in anyone’s book. Three of the matches are great and the Morrison/Sheamus Ladder Match is fantastic from start to finish.
TLC was easily one of the better shows from 2010 and a great way for WWE to close out the year and indeed the decade. Of all the named-after-gimmicks PPV events, this (along with Elimination Chamber and, obviously, the Royal Rumble) is the one with the most legs.
If you haven’t seen it, you really should be heading to your local stockist to buy it and, if you have seen it, you should be heading to local stockist to buy it anyway.