Every event features victors and those they vanquished, arms raised, and names announced. But beyond the results, which often don’t tell the whole story, who really won and lost at this year’s edition of Tables, Ladders and Chairs?
At the end of the day, fans who decided to give the show a chance following some dreadful weeks of television were the biggest winners. Elias vs Bobby Lashley, a matchup we’ve seen on Raw a few times without the guitar above the ring, was put on the preshow. Not a win for either of those guys, but arguably a win for viewers tired of seeing the same pairings constantly. Instead of this match on the main card, we got the finals of the Mixed Match Challenge between R-Truth and Carmella and Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox. Something different, and judging by the MMC numbers, something fans haven’t seen.
Buddy Murphy retained his Cruiserweight title, but it was also relegated to the pre-show. This was a loss for the home and live audience, most of whom hadn’t found their seats when the bell rang. Murphy and Cedric Alexander put on a fast-paced, action-packed match that deserved more eyeballs. This is becoming a common comment for the top 205 Live performers. With the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania on the horizon, here’s hoping they get more exposure sooner rather than later.
R-Truth is still one of their best performers. Before he’s all done, he deserves a real run. Don’t expect him to have an impact at the Royal Rumble, despite coming in at #30, but we should see a dance break. It’s doubtful Carmella will ascend back to SmackDown Women’s Championship contender, but she should add some colour to the final group in the ring. The biggest losers out of their all-expenses paid trip to Stamford, Conn., will undoubtedly be the SmackDown viewers, forced to watch all the ‘highlights’.
The SmackDown Tag Team Championship match contenders probably all consider themselves winners, since they didn’t have to work the pre-show. Good match, though, and a good win for The Bar, who retain. Both The Uso’s and New Day looked fine in defeat, so no real losers here.
Baron Corbin lost his authority, but Braun Strowman won the crowd over even more (along with his title match against Brock Lesnar at Royal Rumble) with his win. The evil Corbin got the comeuppance he’s been due when several of the babyfaces he’s held down during his reign of terror grouped together to chair-shot him to death. It could be argued Corbin, with the heat he had and the noise from the crowd as he took finisher after finisher, actually got the most out of the segment. It will be interesting to see where they go with Corbin now he’s out of the suit, and further up the card.
The Riott Squad losing one-against-three to Natalya Neidhart hurt them more than Nattie’s win helps her. As long as it’s backstage items the Riott girls are tossing around, they’re fine. They’re in big trouble in the ring, apparently, no matter the odds. These girls probably don’t have anywhere to go from here besides splitting up the trio.
Drew McIntyre losing, when he’s seemed primed for the best roll of his WWE career so far, doesn’t make a ton of sense. Granted, it took two men, it makes his rivalry with Dolph Ziggler more important, and keeps revenge against Finn Balor on his side burner. But once again, in the bigger picture, it doesn’t feel like the win helps Balor, who appears destined to be stuck in the midcard forever, as much as the loss hurts McIntyre’s character. To cap it off, Balor was once again left in a pile backstage after a win, this time by Ziggler. Triple threat matches look to be in their future, so maybe this one needs to have final judgement withheld for now.
Ronda Rousey and Nia Jax put on a great match for the Raw Women’s Championship. Rousey played David to Jax’s Goliath, with her bouts of offense sparkling between Jax’s turns at playing to her power strengths. Rousey kept her title, but it could be argued both women won. Rousey kept her star rising, and Jax did what four weeks of booking on Raw couldn’t do – she made herself look like a credible challenger.
Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles had a fantastic rematch for the WWE Championship. The match was action-packed, high-intensity, featuring Bryan targeting the ribs of Styles, while the challenger worked over the champ’s left leg. The offense was back-and-forth and told a great story. An example of a good booking decision executed very well. Styles didn’t need to reclaim the title he just lost, and he looked great in defeat. Bryan retains, and can move on to the next challenger having officially knocked off the ex champ.
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose have spent most of their time in WWE in the ring together, be it with or against each other. Their chemistry is unquestioned, both have proven to be strong in-ring workers, and neither has reached their full potential. This match for the Intercontinental title has been one of the focal points of Raw since Roman Reigns announced his diagnosis and leave of absence. Everyone knows Rollins is capable of drawing a match-of-the-night contender out of anyone, and despite expectations here, it didn’t happen. The match was good, but felt somewhat drawn out. Perhaps having it follow the Bryan vs Styles match, with a similar but slower pace, hurt the crowd too. Regardless, Ambrose winning the belt gives him a new lease on life, and Rollins losing it opens him up to begin a run towards the Universal title. Wins for both men.
Arguably just securing the main event spot means a win for the whole women’s division, not just Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Asuka. Despite a couple of uncooperative tables, the girls made the most of the TLC toys at their disposal. Flair and Lynch worked snug and tight, and it looked stiff. That’s part of what great matches are made of. Everything looked like it really, really hurt. And Rousey surprising everyone who thought she wouldn’t pull a heel move like interfering, was a great twist. Neither Lynch nor Flair girls look weak in the loss, because they were both screwed. Asuka finally gets her title run. Lynch gets to enter and win the Women’s Royal Rumble, setting up the WrestleMania main event between her and Rousey. And Flair just looked amazing, her ruthless attacks, her pinpoint selling. All three ladies won with a show-stealing main event performance, and all three see their stock and momentum rise.