The Rope Break #22: WWE TLC 2017 Review!!

By Curtis Suthard – 10/23/2017

 

Credit: WWE.com

I initially expected very little from this show. I was fully prepared to be forced to endure 3 hours (or so) of mediocrity due to the wonkiness and weakness of the first version of the lineup for this show. But, thanks to a disease that I was only vaguely familiar with and the always helpful Bo Dallas playing the role of Patient Zero, everything changed as a few of the matches got a shakeup due to a few competitors being forced to sit things out. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, both Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns were quarantined from the rest of the RAW roster (along with the aforementioned Bo Dallas, Bray’s real life brother, and ring announcer and possible beard fetishist, Jojo) and two stand-ins were found to replace them in both of their matches. Instead of the questionable confrontation between The Demon, Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt channeling Sister Abigail, we instead got the very exciting news that A.J. Styles would take Bray’s place and face Balor. As if that wasn’t big enough news, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose would be joined by RAW General Manager and Olympic Freakin’ Gold Medalist, Kurt Angle to face The Miz, The Bar, Braun Strowman, Kane and a partridge and a pear tree in the TLC Main Event. Oh, It’s True! It’s damn True.

So this one, at least on paper, went from a “Meh” to a “Holy S#!&” instantly. Did it deliver? Well, let’s take a look at each match and just see.

Credit: WWE.com

Alicia Fox VS. Sasha Banks (Kickoff Show Match): A lot of times, I poo-poo all over the “Kickoff Show” matches, because most of them, not all, are usually filler and often times simply background noise for everyone trying to get squared away and comfortable before the show really begins. Most of those matches resemble this one, as they are often rematches from the most recent RAW or Smackdown and feature a feud or storyline that lacks any depth or excitement. And, though this match did fit that category at the start, what we ended up getting was a really solid match and possibly one of the best Alicia Fox matches that I have seen in a long time.

Credit: WWE.com

Both women were hitting hard and taking some fairly stiff-looking shots. Alicia seems to still be doing the “Crazy Chick”-gimmick and, at least this once, it worked extremely well. She threw fits and screamed at both fans and the ref. She demanded everyone count along with the ref as Sasha lay at ringside. She was on fire. And, then there was Sasha. Now, for anyone who has ever read any of my other Rope Breaks, first I’d like to apologize and secondly I don’t necessarily need to point out the I’m a bit biased when it comes to The Boss. With that said, Sasha looked really good both on the offensive and selling everything that Alicia was throwing at her. In the end, Sasha got the win, possibly ending this feud. But, if these two women can one-up this match or even just continue to work together at this level, I’m down for a few more confrontations.

Credit: WWE.com

Winner: Sasha Banks

 

Credit: WWE.com

Emma VS. Asuka: Two big Women’s Division matches back-to-back and this one was just as good as the first. Now there was simply no doubt in my mind that Asuka would win this, her debut match on WWE’s main roster. The real question here was, just how quickly and easily she would win it. Surprisingly, the answer was: Not as easy as I thought. Emma got the upper hand quite a bit and even had Asuka on the ropes (both literally and figuratively) for a good chunk of this battle. I was honestly a bit surprised at this, as Asuka has been built up as this unstoppable juggernaut and Emma made her look almost beatable at times. Of course, when everything was said and done, Asuka won, with the Asuka Lock submitting Emma cleanly in the center of the ring. This is only the first step on Asuka’s new path to yet another WWE title. The clock is ticking on just how long it will take her to attain it and then we can all go back to speculating on just who will be the one to beat her for it.

Credit: WWE.com

Winner: Asuka

 

Credit: WWE.com

The Brian Kendrick & Gentleman Jack Gallagher VS. Rich Swann & Cedric Alexander: I really only have two things to say about this match: 1) I was almost perfect in my predictions as to the winners for all of the matches on the card and this was the only one that I got wrong. Usually I don’t mention my predictions and for good reason: Because I usually get more wrong than I get right. So, sue me. I’m gloating a bit. & 2) This was just a so-so, standard kinda’ match. I’m not trying to run it down, I’ve seen much worse wrestling matches than this one and this wasn’t bad. It was just…okay. Hey! They can’t all be great.

Credit: WWE.com

Anyway, I really like Gallagher in his current heel role and a lot of the stuff between he and Kendrick leading up to this was fun. I am also a HUGE mark when it comes to Cedric Alexander (I don’t know why I always feel the need to state this? Maybe I’ll stop) and really hope to see him rise to the top of 205 Live and the Cruiserweight Division sooner rather than later. But, this match just felt like a bit of fluff. Plenty of near falls and close calls, as well as high flying goodness. All four men did really well, this match just didn’t grab me. After a really nice, fast-paced sequence at the end match, Alexander and Swann got the win and left Kendrick and Gallagher to plot and scheme some new dastardly plans.

Credit: WWE.com

Winners: Cedric Alexander & Rich Swann

 

Credit: WWE.com

Mickie James VS. Alexa Bliss (RAW Women’s Championship): So…Alexa has overlooked Mickie James as a potential challenger to her Championship. Mickie took exception to this and kinda’ earned a title shot against Bliss. Alexa pointed out that Mickie was “old”. Mickie called Alexa “Biscuit Butt” or something because….catchphrase equals chants and/or possible t-shirt? Alexa mocked Mickie’s age a bit more, doubting her chances of winning and here we are. Got it?

Credit: WWE.com

Not the most compelling storyline, but it is better than just someone getting upset over a spilled cup of coffee. (Cough*Kane VS. Jericho*cough) Anyway, I’m a fan of Mickie James and have been for a while. Mickie was always a highlight in the WWE Women’s Division and is easily the winner of “the Most Holy Crap, Did She Just Do That!” moment at Wrestlemania. (If you don’t know what it is I am referring to, go look it up. It involves a fairly lewd hand and tongue gesture, which WWE has only been too happy to wipe from their copies of said event. Children: Get your parents’ permission to view this. That way when they say “No” you’ll realize just how awesome it may potentially be and cement the fact that you must now see it.) I am also, admittedly, a big fan of the rise of Alexa Bliss. She has only gotten better with each and every match.

Credit: WWE.com

With all of that being said, this was actually a really solid match. There were a lot of good spots throughout and Alexa even spent some time working over Mickie’s shoulder in a good methodical way. Mickie looked great. She really took it to Bliss and gave it her all. I think that if there are really any doubters out there of Alexa’s improvement and/or abilities, I’d suggest giving this match another watch. This may just be one of her stand out battles in the ring. Bliss managed to score the win with just a little bit of heelish distraction and a sharp, little DDT. Mickie then gave an in-ring little speech that felt like a “goodbye”, but seemed like a “see ya’ later”. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Credit: WWE.com

Winner: Alexa Bliss

 

Credit: WWE.com

Enzo Amore VS. Kalisto (WWE Cruiserweight Championship): I have rundown both Enzo and Kalisto quite a bit recently. Maybe, I’m just lashing out at the possibility of losing Neville? Maybe I’m angry that my father never told me he loved me? Maybe, I’m just not a big fan of either one of these guys? I don’t know? But, I’ve got to warn you: I am about to say something kind of positive about Enzo Amore. So prepare thine self….This was maybe the best solo match that I have seen Enzo have. Now, by that, I don’t mean that Enzo is completely off of my S#!@ List. I still think he pretty much stinks when it comes to in-ring ability, but he did a decent job in this match.

Credit: WWE.com

Now, I, of course, have some complaints about this match. It was sloppy. There were so many moments where these guys just didn’t seem to be on the same page. This led to a few moments of obvious hesitations and delays by both Enzo and Kalisto where you’d have to be blind to not see that they were waiting for the other guy to set up for the next spot. My other major gripe was the ending. Now, I’m not shocked or annoyed that Enzo won by poking Kalisto in the eye, behind the ref’s back, I fully expected Enzo to win with some heelish trickery. I was just hoping for Enzo to do something different. He’s already done the whole poking Kalisto in the eye thing. Same thing happened in the match with Neville. In the week leading up to No Mercy, Enzo had kicked Neville square in the dangly bits on RAW or 205 Live, I don’t remember, and then he turned around and did the same thing to win the title match a few nights later. C’mon! Let’s mix the cheap shots up a bit. Raking the eyes, bonking with a foreign object, pulling the tights, using the ropes for leverage. Heck, twist Kalisto’s mask around or something. Just don’t do the same thing that you just did days before to get the win.

Credit: WWE.com

So, Enzo won and took back his Cruiserweight Championship. Which isn’t a bad thing. I think if Enzo is going to work in 205 Live, or even just as a solo act, he needs to hold a title and be able to taunt and lord it over the rest of the division. Hopefully, this leads to more title changes coming down the line, with different opponents within the division. One other note: Enzo did a little impromptu post-match interview with Charley Caruso. He acted as if he was about to thank someone for the win. Possibly the fans? Possibly his family? As he looked skyward, I figured it would be the Almighty? But, nope, he thanked himself! That was a nice touch. But, then, if you look closely, it looks like he inadvertently (at least I hope it was) spat on young Ms. Caruso. What a jerk! (And, before anyone out there begins to think that I really believe Enzo intentionally spit on Charley, I’m joking, I know he didn’t. If you don’t get the joke and want to tell me what a jerk I am, do so by sending your complaints to Jack@nerdnationradio.com).

Credit: WWE.com

Winner: Enzo Amore

 

Credit: WWE.com

A.J. Styles VS. The Demon, Finn Balor:  So this was the match that I was honestly the most excited about. I didn’t need any real build up or storyline going into it to get me hyped. Being a fan of both of these men over the years and following their careers, I didn’t need some lame excuse to want to see them butt heads. I just wanted to see a good match. Let the story be told through their athleticism and creativity inside (and outside) of the ring. And, I am happy to say, that is just what we got.

Credit: WWE.com

This is one of those wrestling matches that really just needs to be seen. Maybe even viewed more than once, to truly appreciate it. Styles is undoubtedly one of the greatest current professional wrestlers in the world. Balor is right there with him and, had a shoulder injury not taken him out of competition for the majority of a year, Finn may be an even bigger star right now, especially in WWE. Both guys worked their respective asses off in this one, pulled out all of the stops and put on an incredible show. Neither one of them really came out of this one looking any weaker than the other, but with Finn getting the win, it should really help propel him to bigger and better things on the RAW roster. Of course, on RAW that would inevitably mean facing Brock Lesnar and I really cannot see WWE willing to pull the trigger on Balor going over The Beast. Chances are, though, that once Bray is all healed up, we may get to finally see the resolution of this feud between he and Balor.

Credit: WWE.com

Styles, on the other hand, will head back over to Smackdown and possibly continue his climb back to the top with an eventual future title shot against Jinder Mahal. That is, after Jinder gets murdered by Lesnar at Survivor Series. I hope to see Styles take the WWE Championship back and start a nice slow build toward a feud with Nakamura that will be great, if done right.

Credit: WWE.com

Winner: The Demon, Finn Balor

 

Credit: WWE.com

Elias VS. Jason Jordan: So during the Kickoff Show, Elias interrupted Jason Jordan and his “father” Kurt Angle. Jordan seemed to take some umbrage with this and, so, when Elias came out to sing one of his ditties to the crowd, Jordan interrupted him by throwing produce at him until he stopped. Fast forward a match or two and Elias was at it again. So was Jordan, pelting Elias with celery and carrots and whatever else was in his shopping cart that he, or someone backstage, had clearly stolen from some local supermarket. Jump forward a bit more and Elias was in the ring this time, tuning up and suddenly Jordan heads to the ring and a match gets going. Everyone got it?

Credit: WWE.com

So, this was a decent little match, but not much better than what we could (and will) see on any given Monday Night RAW. Elias has definitely improved from his time in NXT and Jordan is doing well as a singles wrestler. Not much else to say about this one. Jordan managed to get the win, in a questionable way, as Elias clearly had gotten his shoulder up and started kicking out at just the last moment. The ref was just positioned poorly and didn’t see it, which will probably lead to a rematch tomorrow night.

Credit: WWE.com

One other thing that bugged me about this one, is the fact that Booker T seems to really not like Jason Jordan. To quote one of my favorite superheroes, “What’s Up With That?” The only thing that I can figure is that there is a forced role-reversal that must happen and it isn’t Jason Jordan that sets it off, it’s Elias. See, Corey Graves is seemingly the heel announcer, for most of the time, except he really doesn’t like Elias, who is a heel/bad guy. Because Corey is now rooting for the babyface/good guy/whoever is facing Elias to win, Booker T, who seems to be the good guy announcer, must turn heel and dislike Elias’ opponent. Though, to be honest, there are other times where Booker comes off a bit heelish, as well as other times where he clearly seems to dislike Jordan, no matter who he is facing. Hmmmm…anyway, maybe I’m speculating too much. But, I assure you that once we here at Nerd Nation Radio figure this one out, we’ll report our findings here first.

Credit: WWE.com

Winner: Jason Jordan (much to Booker T’s displeasure)

Credit: WWE.com

The Miz & The Bar & Braun Strowman & Kane VS. The Shield (Rollins & Ambrose) & Kurt Angle (5-on-3 Handicap TLC Match): Chaos, that’s the only way to describe this one. And, not that kind of classic ECW brand chaos, that eventually evened out and got down to business. This was pure, grade-A chaos that led to more than a few head scratchers. Why did Kane wait so long to attack Strowman, after Strowman took a shot at him? Why did we really need this many guys all in one match? Why did we really need a garbage truck? This was one of the most disjointed, haphazard match that I’ve seen recently from WWE. But, it wasn’t bad. It was actually kind of fun.

Credit: WWE.com

The Shield with Angle did a decent job early on, separating the members of the opposing team and doing the ol’ “Divide & Conquer”. They laid out both Kane and Braun on the tow announce tables at ringside and Rollins and Ambrose leapt from said ladders to put the two monsters down for the moment. Angle would be the next victim, as Braun, who had recovered from the announce table spot, would go on to put Angle through a folding table at ringside. This was after The Bar had already taken a few shots of their own on the Olympic Gold Medalist. Medical team members and refs would come out and lead Kurt to the back, where he would sit out a for a majority of the rest of the match.

Credit: WWE.com

That left Rollins and Ambrose out there against all five men on the other team, but Dean & Seth gave almost as good as they got, here and there. A nice chunk of the match came off like a mauling, as Braun, Kane & The Bar dealt out punishment to the remaining two Shield members as Miz directed traffic. An accidental missed chair shot, led to Kane hitting Braun in the back with a steel chair. Braun, the pinnacle of self-control, immediately lashed out and shoved Kane onto his keister. Before everything could break down, Rollins & Ambrose tried to retaliate, which led to Dean taking his first nasty bump, while trying to be put through a table. This led to The Miz calling out a garbage truck up near the stage, where he ordered his team to deposit The Shield into the back of it. Rollins & Ambrose once again fought back, for a moment.

Credit: WWE.com

This all led to a major “Huh”-moment, as Braun and Kane were working over the Shield fellas, Kane suddenly lashed out against Braun and chokeslammed him through the stage next to the announce table, that was clearly flimsy, as if this was all planned. Kane then grabbed hold of the dangling row of chairs which hung from the rafters, which is part of the set, and yanked them down upon Braun, burying him beneath them. Kane and company would then return to beating on Dean & Seth, right up to the moment that Braun Strowman crawled out of his hole and went after his own teammates. Miz, The Bar & Kane would beat Strowman down and then chuck him into the back of the garbage truck and close it up, trapping Braun and leading to the babyface turn that Strowman really didn’t need to have handed to him and the subsequent feud with Kane that is sure to come from all of this (yawn).

Credit: WWE.com

Anyway, Rollins & Ambrose would get taken back to the ring for more punishment, only to have Angle’s music hit and see him return to the match. Angle would Olympic slam Sheamus near the entrance ramp and put Cesaro through a table. Rollins & Ambrose would go on to spear Kane through the Time Keeper’s barrier wall. Finally things would wrap up in a fairly satisfying way as The Miz would get surrounded by Angle, Rollins & Ambrose and get hit by Rollins’ Knee-Trigger thingie, Ambrose’s Dirt Deeds, Angle’s Olympic Slam and, finally, the Shield Powerbomb with Kurt doing the honors and giving a Roman-esque “OH-WA!” before going for it.

Credit: WWE.com

Now, normally I avoid doing a play-by-play kind of thing, cause I don’t like typing that much. But, I felt the need to do it for this match, because to just say it was chaotic is a bit of an understatement and I was merely attempting to convey just how crazy this match was. And, it was all over the place, but in a good way and with a fun ending. The nostalgia of seeing Angle in a WWE ring again, after eleven years away and this time wearing Shield gear, was enjoyable and his return at the end of the match to help clinch the win was well done.

Credit: WWE.com

Winners: The Shield & Kurt Angle

 

So, for a show that was really disappointing at the beginning of last week, we ended up getting a really fun and exciting event. The last minute changes that were made only helped to draw my interest in the show and it pretty much delivered. Which is saying a lot for a show that featured three Women’s Division matches and two Cruiserweight matches and only three matches with men from the main RAW roster. Almost each match was decent and a few were great to outstanding. For all of those reasons and more we here at Nerd Nation Radio give WWE TLC 2017 a 4 out of 5 on the Official Nerd Nation Radio Pocket Protector Scale!

 

Be sure to check out all of our features here on nerdnationradio.com. You can check out any of my previous Rope Breaks BY CLICKING RIGHT HERE! There you will also find a few other things I have done like my Rope Break RETROs and my Crappy Movie Reviews. Be sure to check out our podcast at blogtalkradio.com/nerdnation where I will hopefully be starting a weekly Rope Break Podcast in the very near future. Also be sure to check out our Facebook pages, both Nerd Nation and Nerd Nation Radio and consider giving them a LIKE and possibly FOLLOW.

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And, because I do what I can to help corrupt the youth: Here you go, folks. Mickie James at her finest!