If ever there was a WWE DVD that should be purchased on the basis of just one match, it’s Tables, Ladders and Chairs 2012.
Available to buy on DVD and Blu-Ray from tomorrow at WWEDVD.co.uk, the WWE’s final pay-per-view of what was a turbulant, and at times creatively-trying, 2012 ended the year in style for the promotion – largely thanks to the show-stealing six-man match between The Shield, Kane, Daniel Bryan and yes, even Ryback.
The WWE debut for the trio of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns should be held up for years to come as an example of how quickly stars can be made, if given the opportunity to shine and the right opponents. But what of the rest of the card – three months on, does the pay-per-view still stand the test of time? Let’s find out…
Team Rhodes Scholars vs Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio
Watching this show back now just a few months on, it seems almost criminal that Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes have been parted just as they were beginning to gather momentum as a tandem. In this fast-paced opener, Team Rhodes Scholars received an enthusiastic response from the Brooklyn crowd, with ‘Cody’s moustache’ perhaps being the most over element of the entire match. With a shot at the Tag Team Championships on the line, Sandow and Rhodes got the win on the masked high flyers, thanks to Rhodes sending Sin Cara through a table in a big shot on the outside. It could have been bigger, mind, as Cara overshot the second table that he was also supposed to fall through, which would have cushioned the blow somewhat. A big win for the Scholars who celebrated with a celebratory somersault; just a shame that the title shot that they earned in this match would not lead to gold for the duo. Still, the partnership was a lot of fun while it lasted.
United States Champion Antonio Cesaro vs R-Truth
Talking of overlooked talent, the supremely competent Antonio Cesaro outclassed the outdated R-Truth in this short US Title match. While the commentators played up Cesaro’s “traditional” approach to life and training and repeatedly referred to the champion as a “throwback”, the viewer was presumably supposed to be into this rivalry thanks to the juxtaposition with super-hip R-Truth, he of the ‘What’s Up’ and graffiti-covered jeans? Cesaro hit the Neutraliser for the uninspiring win in front of a flat crowd, who only really came alive for his post-match interview.
An episode of Miz TV … on a pay-per-view
Two matches in, and viewers of TLC 2012 were ‘treated’ to an episode of Miz TV , in the continuing experiment to make The Miz popular in the eyes of fans. It just isn’t going to work: there is nothing likeable about the smarmy, arrogant Miz character – that’s why it worked so well as a heel. Moments into his opening dialogue, The Miz is interrupted by 3MB, who decide to verbally berate the talk-show host/grappler and then lay into the Spanish announce team, prompting an explosive attack from Alberto Del Rio and the announcement of a six-man match with a mystery partner later in the evening. So the segment did, eventually, have a purpose – but surely the previous week’s Smackdown episode would have been a more appropriate home for antics such as this?
Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston vs Wade Barrett
While Wade Barrett would become the Intercontinental Champion with a win over title-holder Kingston shortly after this pay-per-view, TLC would not be the night for the Englishman’s big moment. Instead, a very vocal Brooklyn crowd would chant vehemently for the Brit, who proceeded to dominate the champion with hard-hitting offence before falling victim to Trouble In Paradise out of nowhere. One has to wonder why this pay-per-view match wasn’t Barrett’s night to win the gold.
CM Punk drops a ‘pipebomb’
TLC 2012 should have been headlined by a grudge match between then-WWE Champion CM Punk and Ryback, until an injury suffered by Punk forced the champion to the sidelines and a swift re-juggle of the card. But while Punk’s presence was sorely missed in the ring, WWE still wisely gave the champion ten minutes on a microphone – while standing in a skybox with manager Paul Heyman - to deliver yet another excellent promo. It was a shrewd move from WWE, judging by the amount of ‘GTS’ t-shirts on display among the Brooklyn crowd. It’s just amazing that Punk’s historic reign as WWE Champion, and the momentum that he carried with it, already seems like a lifetime ago.
The Shield vs Daniel Bryan, Kane and Ryback
In this remarkable spot-filled six man clash, the debuting Shield members took the surprising win over the popular trio of ‘superstars’ – and looked like genuine stars at the end.
Despite being a hastily-booked clash in light of Punk’s aforementioned injury, the crowd was hooked into the action from the early going, hurling pesky ‘Goldberg’ chants at Ryback with gusto as the chairs and ladders came into play early on. Surprisingly, however, it was The Shield that were allowed to look really dominant, although not at the expenses of the faces, particularly Ryback who delivered an impressive double suplex onto twin ladders.
As the action intensified between the six, the crowd appreciately chanted “This is awesome” which, for once, wasn’t hyperbole. In the closing moments, Seth Rollins took an insane bump through two tables from high up on a ladder courtesy of Ryback, while a Roman Reigns powerbomb to Bryan through a table finished the job. Michael Colesummed up the brutal match with the words “you’re looking at the future, folks”. Let’s hope that he’s right.
Divas Champion Eve Torres vs Naomi
Back to reality after that incredible action, then-Divas Champion Eve Torres comfortably rolled over Naomi (one of Brodus Clay‘s dancers) in a one-sided and pointless title affair. With the charismatic Torres parting aways with the promtion shortly after this show, WWE’s Divas scene continues to be a world-removed from TNA’s Knockouts Division currently.
World Heavyweight Champion The Big Show vs Sheamus
Few would have predicted that the pairing of The Big Show and Sheamus would have produced such a strong big-man feud, but TLC saw the pair once again enter into a spirited battle. While not on a par with their Hell In A Cellencounter, this chairs match got off to a firy start with Sheamus looking surprisingly agile. Sheamus impressed with a series of big chair shots and the delivery of ‘White Noise’ to the 441-pound giant, but ultimately fell to the champion courtesy of a big shot to the back from a super-sized chair. Ouch.
Alberto Del Rio, The Miz and The Brooklyn Brawler vs 3MB
Yes, that Miz TV spot earlier in the night was to set up the triumphant return of … The Brooklyn Brawler. The return of ’80s jobber Steve Lombardi drew a strong reaction from the local crowd, who cheered wildly when he picked up the win on Jinder Mahal with a Boston crab. This short, fun filler match served as a nice buffer between the two main events, but isn’t the kind of clash that will be fondly recalled in decades to come – by anyone other than Lombardi, that is.
John Cena vs Dolph Ziggler
Hard to believe, but less than four months ago, Dolph Ziggler was in the main event of a WWE pay-per-view. Even harder to believe, he beat John Cena.
Although on paper a historic victory, the reality is that Ziggler’s big win came as a result of interference from AJ Lee, who turned on her romantic interest Cena to cost him the Money In The Bank briefcase. While the action in this main event was of a solid standard, and saw Cena in particular attempt to widen his in-ring arsenal (even, at one point, hitting a clumsy hurricanrana), the psychology of the bout was completely off thanks in large part to the Brooklyn crowd, who booed Cena throughout and cheered passionately when the ‘dastardly’ Lee aligned herself with Ziggler at the end of the match.
Ziggler looked great in his first main event outing, displaying great athleticism and ring presence, and the match itself is certainly worth watching, as the two offered up a number of innovative TLC spots – although it could only pale in comparison to the six-man match earlier in the evening, which should have taken main event honours. Then again, it’s hard to get a look in on the main event when SuperCena is in town.
Summary: Is TLC worth remembering?
Based on in-ring action alone, WWE TLC 2012 more than delivers: the exceptional six-man clash aside, both the main event and World Heavyweight Championship matches went the extra mile, and the majority of the undercard is of an entertaining standard.
But what struck this reviewer is the frequency that the WWE landscape now changes, and how few of the ‘big’ wins, results and even turns on this event now have any bearing on the promotion heading into WrestleMania 29.
The Big Show looked dominant against Sheamus, only to lose the World Heavyweight Title in an unadvertised match against Alberto Del Rio just three weeks later on Smackdown. Team Rhodes Scholars won a Tag Team Championship opportunity – and were then split up as a tag team one month later. And John Cena, who suffered a big loss in the main event, quickly rebounded to get another ‘Once In A Lifetime’ match against The Rock with the WWE Title on the line – while Dolph Ziggler, victorious in the biggest match of the night over WWE’s number one star, is now mired in a Tag Team title feud just three months on. That disparity speaks volumes, but as a piece of wrestling history, WWE TLC is well worth a purchase.