Last week the two top matches for TLC were scheduled to be the return of The Shield (Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns) in a Tables Ladders and Chairs match against five other wrestlers and “The Demon” Finn Bálor facing “Sister Abigail” Bray Wyatt. Besides those two matches the rest of the show left quite a lot to be desired.
However, nobody could have predicted the drastic changes the TLC show would undergo. On Friday afternoon, it was announced that Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt were being taken off the show due to an illness.
WWE decided to do their best to save the TLC show and pulled out the big guns. They announced that Finn Bálor’s new opponent would be Smackdown star AJ Styles. While this first time match between two former Bullet Club leaders was huge it was the other addition that caught everyone’s attention.
After an 11 year absence from a WWE ring it was announced Kurt Angle would team with Ambrose and Rollins in a TLC match. Angle has been with WWE as the Raw general manager since this past April. The big question since Angle’s return was when he would wrestle again. While it would have been better to build up to his return there is no doubt Angle’s return raised the value of this show drastically.
With the addition of Styles and Angle TLC went from a somewhat missable show to a must see event. However, the rest of the show was still pretty weak.
The third most anticipated match was the debut of Asuka against Emma. Asuka had been undefeated for two years in NXT and many hoped her dominance would continue on the main roster. However, her debut was similar to Shinsuke Nakamura’s in that she went back and forth with Emma instead of just destroying her. Just like Nakamura, Asuka went from someone special to another person on the roster.
This disappointing debut was followed by a series of matches that were nothing special. Rich Swann and Cedric Alexander beat Brian Kendrick and Jack Gallagher in a decent match. Alexa Bliss defeated Mickie James in a better than expected match. Enzo Amore recaptured the Cruiserweight Championship from Kalisto, who only won the title a few weeks ago.
In between these matches were a few horrible segments that involved Elias Samson playing guitar and Jason Jordan throwing vegetables at him. They also had a match but it was more of a bathroom break.
Thankfully AJ Styles and Finn Bálor came out and saved the show. This was the first time these men wrestled each other and this dream match lived up to expectations. These two world traveled athletes went back and forth for 18 minutes and delivered one of the best matches in WWE this year. Bálor won with a vicious double stomp to Styles. After the match the two of them too sweeted which hopefully leads to more interactions between two of WWE’s best wrestlers.
In the main event, Kurt Angle finally made his return but thankfully there were seven other people in this Tables Ladders and Chairs match. Angle did not do anything to crazy like he would have in his younger years. He mainly hit suplexes and delivered chairs shots. During the course of this wild match Braun Strowman put Angle through a table which caused him to miss most of the match. This lead to a five on two beatdown that became somewhat tedious.
A strange part of this match was when partners Kane and Strowman starting fighting each other. Kane sent Strowman through the stage but he recovered and went for revenge. However, Strowman was beat up by his four other partners and put in a garbage truck. With Strowman lacking direction currently it seemed he was being presented in a sympathetic way to make him a good guy.
Eventually Kurt Angle returned and helped Rollins and Ambrose. After a series of moves from the three on The Miz they hit The Shield triple powerbomb for the win. While it was a long match with some weird twists it still allowed for Angle to have a fun triumphant return.
Many people complain about what the WWE does but after the TLC show there is no doubt that when under pressure WWE tends to deliver. It is terrible that Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt were sick but their absence greatly helped the show. The big question is where WWE goes from here?
It seems that Wyatt and Reigns will not be around for a while so WWE has to make even more drastic changes. If TLC is an example hopefully WWE will deliver even more exciting surprises.