We have arrived at the final pay per view of 2013, TLC 2013. This show boasts, what is being promoted by WWE, one of the most important matches in the history of WWE and/or professional wrestling, the unification match between the WWE Champion Randy Orton and the World Heavyweight Champion John Cena.
A quick FYI, because I didn’t personally witness the pre-show, but Fandango was victorious over Dolph Ziggler in the kick-off match, after interference from Summer Rae. The show begins proper with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon coming onto the stage and putting over the importance of the main event and the history of the belts that will be hanging over the ring in the TLC match. The first match of the night begins…
CM Punk vs. The Shield (Handicap Match)
The first of two handicap matches that we will see tonight opens the TLC show, with CM Punk facing off with all three members of The Shield, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. The Shield must tag one another as they face the former WWE Champion, CM Punk, who gets a solid reaction throughout the match. The match is very good, and the babyface versus heels dynamic is done well. Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns all have a nice chemistry in the ring with Punk, so none of the exchanges look bad. The back and forth action comes to a head when Reigns misses a spear at ringside and flies across the announce desk. He must have hit his eye here, and by the end of the match his eye is black and there is swelling to be seen, that looked painful. The match ends when Reigns accidentally nails his team-mate, Dean Ambrose, and Punk pins Dean for the three count and the luck-sprinkled victory over the hounds of justice. Reigns looks like his eye is greatly bothering him after the match, so appears to find it hard to sell the moment of accidentally hitting his team-mate. The Shield implosion begins.
Winner – CM Punk
Renee Young talks with AJ Lee backstage. AJ heels it up and confidently states how she is going to win tonight. Which brings us to our next match.
AJ Lee (C) vs. Natalya – Divas Championship Match
Natalya hasn’t had a chance at the Divas title on a PPV in three years, according to Michael Cole. Nattie gets a decent reaction but the fans are mostly quiet with this match, like most divas matches nowadays. The match itself is well done and is the best women’s wrestling match that WWE has produced since Kaitlyn vs. AJ earlier in the year. The solid action features a great sharpshooter by Nattie, but AJ breaks free and scores a lucky roll-up on Nattie using her hair for leverage. AJ retains, but I think we might see a rematch soon.
Winner – AJ Lee (retained)
Damien Sandow cuts a heel promo on the way to the ring for the next match.
Big E Langston (c) vs. Damien Sandow – Intercontinental Championship Match
Sandow is over as a heel, but Langston doesn’t seem to get much of a reaction as a babyface as he makes his way to the ring. Still, he’s young and still green, so there’s a big chance he will get more popular as he continues to improve. The match is fairly mediocre for a PPV match, it feels like a contest we would get on any old RAW or Smackdown, for free. The match predictably ends, with Big E Langston hitting his finisher on Sandow for the victory, retaining his title.
Winner – Big E Langston (retained)
We see Vince McMahon shake hands with Randy Orton and wish him luck backstage.
The Real Americans vs. Big Show & Mysterio vs. Ryback & Axel vs. Cody & Goldust (c) – Fatal Four Way Tag Team Championship Match
The tag titles are on the line here, in a four way elimination match. Cody and Ryback begin the action with Goldust soon tagging in to a big reaction from the fans. It isn’t too long before Axel and Ryback are eliminated from the match, with Ryback being pinned by the golden one. The following 90% of the match is all Real Americans and Cody-dust, with Big Show and Rey merely standing on the apron. Rey seems to be in pain here, even though he has hardly been involved in the match. His knees are obviously hurting him, and its sad to see how distracted he seems because of the amount of pain he finds himself in at this point of his career. The interactions between Cesaro and Cody are awesome, and The Real Americans get a babyface-like reaction from the fans because of their hard work throughout the last few months. I want to see these guys get a run as champions before they dissolve. The Real Americans, sadly, are eliminated by Big Show, who is blown up after doing hardly anything. The final moments of the match are okay, with Rey pulling out some energy for a nice exchange with Cody. Cody finally hits the Cross-Rhodes for the final pinfall, and the victory. The two teams hug and shake hands after the match, and Rey seems to be in a lot of pain, though it might be that he is selling partly, I feel like much of this is real agony.
Winners – Cody and Goldust (retained)
An impromptu addition to the card is up next.
Brodus Clay vs. R Truth
This match doesn’t belong on a PPV, it is a RAW match, at best, and makes the whole presentation of the show look lacklustre. JBL is annoying here, as usual, with his screams of “what’s up” as R Truth makes his entrance. Ugh. The match is uninteresting, and is merely here to further the Brodus heel turn. Tensai walks away from Clay, as do The Funkadactyls, leaving Brodus along in the ring. Clay, whilst having a tantrum because his team-mates have left him, suffers a rollup defeat at the hand of K-Kwik, erm… Ron Killings, erm… R Truth. Nothing match.
Winner – R Truth
Another impromptu addition to the card is up next.
The Miz vs. Kofi Kingston – No-disqualification Match
Another match that belongs on RAW. I don’t know why WWE insist on adding these last minute matches nowadays, it makes the PPV’s seem really slack. The Miz, who I think is now a fully fledged heel again, faces Kofi here, in a match that gets chants of “boring” from the fans. I agree with them, there’s little of interest here, and as capable as these two guys are, this unplanned and boring match doesn’t help either of them and the no-disqualification stipulation was pointless too. This tedious and pointless match ends when The Miz eats a face full of exposed turnbuckle and is pinned by Kofi, who gets a silent response from the crowd. It’s a shame, but what do they expect?
Winner – Kofi Kingston
We see a hype video for the main event, followed by a video package highlighting the storyline that leads us to our next match-up.
Daniel Bryan vs. The Wyatt Family – Handicap Match
Our second of two handicap matches is here, with the most popular WWE Superstar today, Daniel Bryan, taking on all three members of The Wyatt Family, Bray Wyatt, Erik Rowan and Luke Harper. The match is, like the other handicap match, laid out well and allows all the wrestlers to show their worth in the ring. The spots are fun and the crowd eat up Bryans’ offence and chant for him throughout the match. Bray Wyatt shines with his eerie and bizarre offence and moments, like his crab walk, which gets a humorous chant of “that was creepy” from the fans. This, the match of the night so far, features plenty to keep fans happy, and though I think a handicap match is a match that would seem more at home on TV and not on PPV, the guys here do all they can to make it interesting. Bryan hits his signature spots and almost wins the match on a number of occasions, but the pure volume and velocity of his opponents is too much, and Bryan eventually falls, after Bray hits the Sister Abigail finish and pins the former WWE and World Champion. A good match that made everyone look good.
Winners – The Wyatt Family
We see a final hype video package for the main event, the unification match between the WWE and World Champions. They show clips of the past champions, as well as the roads that both Cena and Orton have been down leading to this match.
WWE Champion, Randy Orton vs. World Champion, John Cena – Title Unification Match
This match, in the views of many, including myself, deserved more build and should probably, in a non-gimmick match I might add, should have occurred at WrestleMania 30 this coming April. Regardless, we get it here, at TLC 2013, in a tables, ladders and chairs match, after less than a month of television build, between two men who have feuded on numerous occasions and have failed to elicit much of a reaction in this current one. The match itself is very tame, very slow and doesn’t really ever reach a second gear. Orton does his best, but Cena so loudly and frequently calls spots without hiding his mouth that it becomes hard to watch. Orton goes through three tables and takes the big bumps, Cena no-sells. It’s what we’ve become accustomed to with these two men. Still, I need to point out that Randy Orton looks and performs like a star much more than John Cena does, and that isn’t just a bias and hate-riddled observation, it’s just the observation of a wrestling fan who has been watching the business for over twenty years. Orton handcuffs Cena to the bottom rope at one point, which Cena unhooks, and with the ring-rope hanging from his arm, climbs the ladder to chase Orton. I thought Cena was going to win here, but Orton pulls Cena off the ladder and into a table that was set up in the corner of the ring. However, Cena messes up the spot, and instead of going through the table fully, he falls awkwardly and bangs his head on the table. He sells it anyway, as silly as it looked, and Orton proceeds to climb the ladder and capture the WWE and World titles, becoming, cleanly, the unified and undisputed WWE World Heavyweight Champion. The right man won, in my view, here, and perhaps we will actually see a fair ending to the messy Daniel Bryan storyline, if Bryan wins the Royal Rumble and goes on to get revenge on Orton and lift the undisputed title at WrestleMania XXX. We can only hope.
Winner, and unified, undisputed WWE World Champion – Randy Orton
The show, overall, felt like an episode of RAW, and it’s a shame because WWE should have done their best to make this night utterly memorable and filled with interesting and big-deal happenings, considering they had it host, what they have called, the biggest match of all time. The handicap matches were fun and entertaining, but no one expected they wouldn’t be, they just lacked the big-time feel that they should have had, and might have, if they had been one-on-one matches, or held in a cage or something. I mean, come on, make it seem bigger. The last minute addition matches were terrible and made the event feel all the more unexceptional. The tag match was good until The Real Americans were eliminated. The main event, billed as the biggest and most important match in history, failed in so many levels. The content was slow, boring and very gimmicky, Cena no-sold too often, as usual and called spots openly and loudly, which is such a revealing thing in wrestling, I find it hard to see. The commentary wasn’t big enough, and added no drama to the match, and the end, the most important spot, was botched. Very disappointing show over-all, though there are a couple of saving graces.
Match of the Night – Daniel Bryan vs. The Wyatt Family
Worst Match – The Miz vs. Kofi/Cena vs. Orton
Spot of the Night – Reigns spears the announce desk
Crowd Chant of the Night – “That was creepy” re: Bray Wyatt’s crab-walk
Honourable Mentions – CM Punk, The Shield, Cody-dust, Real Americans