The New Day vs. The Usos vs. Lucha Dragons – Ladder Match (WWE Tag Team Championship)
Predicted Winners: The New Day
Actual Winners: The New Day
This was a perfect way to kick off TLC! The action was constant, and the high spots were plentiful. For a gimmick match, these men definitely took the most out of it and capitalized. Kalisto seemed to be the star of the show with the high spots. The Salida Del Sol off the top of the ladder to Jimmy onto another ladder was one of those moments many fans will remember for a long time, similar to Jeff Hardy’s Swanton off the top of the ladder. He also crushed Kofi’s head into a ladder with a head scissor. Woods on commentary added another layer of fun to this match, and was reminiscent of the days that announce teams would have special guests commentating matches. Overall, one of the best ladder matches in years.
Going Forward: Lucha Dragons and Usos to mini-feud for #1 contender to face the New Day at the Rumble.
Ryback vs. Rusev
Predicted Winner: N/A
Actual Winner: Rusev
This match was thrown together in a last ditch effort to pad the card and include the two heavy hitters. Both men are talented in their own ways, and Ryback is trying his best to attempt new moves and reinvent himself. That being said, this match fell flat. WWE was much better off if this match was on the pre-show, and Sasha and Becky were on the main card. Luckily, it ended just short of eight minutes. Nothing much to say here, aside from Lana faked an injury. Both of these men need to look like monsters and credible threats in the future, and this was not the way to do it.
Going forward: A blow-off during Raw, followed by both men focusing on the Rumble.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger – Chairs Match (US Championship)
Did anyone think Alberto had even the slightest chance of losing? Did anyone think we were going to see some innovative chair moves? Aside from Swagger getting a surprising amount of offense (although the patriot lock via chair was guaranteed), and a few thrown chairs, this was a very predictable match. It felt like a match on Raw, with some chairs added in.
Going Forward: Del Rio to defend his title once more (possibly against Ryback), followed by a focus on the Rumble. Swagger to fade away after the Rumble is over.
ECW Originals (Bubba Ray, D-Von, Tommy Dreamer, Rhyno) vs. Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Strowman, Harper, Rowan) – Elimination Tables Match
Predicted Winners: Wyatt Family
Actual Winners: Wyatt Family
Although this match seemed a little disjointed at times, it told a great and nostalgic story. It almost seemed like the passing of the torch between the ECW originals and the Wyatts. The tornado rules definitely kept it fresh, and made Strowman look much better. Eliminating Rowan early and burying Strowman under tables gave a little glimmer of the Originals winning. Bubba’s tease of lighting a table on fire had the crowd pop as well (who was into this match quite a bit). One big critique on these multi-man matches with the Wyatts is that the other men should be protecting Bray much more. If he is their cult leader, they should be throwing themselves in front of opponents for him, pulling him out of the ring, and shielding him throughout the match (especially a big guy like Strowman). This was a fun match that made the Wyatts look great.
Going Forward: Raw in Philly will likely indicate some sort of ECW win. Expect to see at least 3 of the 4 Wyatts in the Royal Rumble. Bray will not win the Rumble, but expect to start seeing more wins than usual coming from him, because it makes sense that he may win the MITB post-WrestleMania.
Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose (Intercontinental Championship)
Predicted Winner: Kevin Owens
Actual Winner: Dean Ambrose
In the land of gimmick matches, this singles match was somewhat refreshing. Good showing between both men. Both are superior strikers, with hard-hitting styles. Owens is one of the greatest in-ring heels today, just with the subtle things he does. Using just 1-2 fingers to barely grab the ropes to save himself, and yelling at Ambrose and Cole throughout the match were just some of the things he did that made the match just a little more special. Both men were comfortable hitting many seamless counters, including the finish where Dean reversed the Pop-up Powerbomb into a pinfall. The booking was a bit odd, as they probably could have had Dean go over later down the line (after the feud progressed), unless they plan on doing a switch back soon.
Going Forward: Rematch at the Royal Rumble, as well as both men entering the Rumble match.
Charlotte vs. Paige (Divas Championship)
Predicted Winner: Charlotte
Actual Winner: Charlotte
This match went ten minutes and 39 seconds, and even that seemed long. The pre-show women’s match was more fun to watch than this one. It did serve a purpose though, as Charlotte is clearly transitioning into the female Ric Flair (using many of Flair’s old moves, including the fall, as well as the exposed turnbuckle). Charlotte using the exposed turnbuckle to win (and another cheat-to-win victory) and the backstage segment points to her and former PCB member Becky feuding soon.
Going Forward: Charlotte vs. Becky during the WrestleMania build-up, and then Charlotte vs. Sasha at WrestleMania.
Sheamus vs. Roman Reigns – TLC Match (WWE World Heavyweight Championship)
Predicted Winner: Sheamus
Actual Winner: Sheamus
The only reason this match received a higher rating was because of the post-match antics. Reigns and Sheamus went almost 25 minutes, which just seemed way too long for guys who normally do not fit the bill for “match of the year.” Both men did go through tables, take multiple falls, and have an overall decent match, but it just stretched too long. The crowd started “We want Cena, Cena sucks,” “NXT,” and “we miss Rollins,” chants, which showed how much they were into this match. They did keep the excitement going a bit, by popping for the big moves. The League of Nations getting involved was fitting (although Barrett was missing for some reason), even though Roman was able to fight through them. Sheamus retaining was the right move, because playing hot potato with the title is the last thing they need to do.