Written by: Scrooge McSuck
– Presented LIVE on the WWE Network on October 22nd, 2017, from the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN. TLC will be known as the show where Kurt Angle returned as a last-minute substitution for Roman Reigns and likely very little else, with a weak undercard and another highly pushed match featuring a late substitution, rendering weeks of (poor) storytelling meaningless.
– Michael Cole, Booker T, and Corey Graves are calling the action for the people that matter, while Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness are calling the Cruiserweight action. Sasha Banks defeated Alicia Fox on the Kickoff Show. Only thing notable is Fox has gone back to her “Crazy like a Fox” character that will likely be forgotten in two weeks.
Asuka vs. Emma:
I’m more than willing to bet this won’t get as much time as their match at Takeover: London in December 2015. Emma pointed out this is her first 1-on-1 match on a WWE PPV, ever, while Asuka makes her WWE debut, period. Emma “earned” the right to job to Asuka by surviving a 5-Way Elimination Match. Asuka schools Emma early with a takedown into a cross arm-breaker. They go through a sequence of chain wrestling and counters until Emma slaps Asuka, only for Asuka to come back with a running hip attack. Emma rolls through an ankle-lock, sending Asuka to the floor. Back inside, the short-form curb stomp gets two. Asuka fights out of a chin-lock, but gets yanked down with a handful of hair. Emma traps her in the tree of woe and unloads with kicks to the back. Emma-mite Sandwich gets two. Asuka no-sells some slaps, cradles Emma for two, and bounces off the ropes with a sliding kick. Asuka with a flurry of kicks, followed by a missile dropkick. Emma survives a series of boots to the back of the head and comes off the ropes with a running boot for two. Asuka counters the stomp to the back of the head and slaps on the Ankle Lock. Leg-trap German Suplex, sending Emma to the floor. Emma lures her out, slamming her off the apron. Back inside, Asuka connects with a roundhouse kick out of nowhere and the Asuka-Lock finishes for the tap-out at 9:28. Good match and the crowd was surprisingly more into it than I expected. ***
– The Miz gives a big speech to Sheamus and Cesaro about Kurt Angle having to hog the spotlight by inserting himself in the match as Roman Reign’s replacement. Strowman and Kane come in and introduce the element that they aren’t exactly the best teammates to have when you need someone to count on.
– Elias (no longer Sampson) joins us and encourages us to “Walk with Elias” as he gives us a special performance. Elias demands for complete silence, getting the obvious response of loud jeering. At least the crowd responds to him. I figured this gimmick was DOA after NXT. Before he can start singing, Jason Jordan throws a bunch of vegetables at him, getting the only babyface pop he’s had for most of 2017.
Rich Swann & Cedric Alexander vs. The Brian Kendrick & Jack Gallagher:
Sometime since I last kept track of Raw, Gallagher turned heel after being told he was a clown week after week by Kendrick. Swann and Alexander are at least color coordinated. Swann and Kendrick start. Kendrick survives some strikes, throwing Swann into the middle turnbuckle. Gallagher works the leg, but Swann counters with a side headlock. Crisscross and Swann with a dropkick. Alexander with a back flip into a head scissors, followed by a dropkick, sending Kendrick out of the ring. Swann with a somersault dive onto Gallagher, and Alexander hits a somersault senton that mostly overshot his opponents. Back inside, Cedric with a tilt-o-whirl back breaker for two. Gallagher with the distraction to allow Kendrick to sweep Swann off the ropes. Kendrick with a butterfly suplex for two. Gallagher with headbutts to the midsection. Swann dumps a charging Kendrick to the floor and slides through the legs of Gallagher to hot tag Alexander. He connects with a spinning back elbow and a handspring roundhouse kick for two. Kendrick pulls Alexander out of the ring, then takes Swann over with a northern lights suplex. Back inside, Kendrick with a boot to the face, followed by a Super-Kick. Alexander rolls through the Captain’s Hook for two. Swann from the top with a Phoenix Splash. Swann and Gallagher take each other out, and Alexander finishes Kendrick with the Lumbar Check at 7:56. Another good match that didn’t have the time to lose the crowd. ***1/4
WWE Women’s Championship Match:
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Mickie James:
We’re getting the “Mickie James is old” storyline, which I guess is a lot better than “Piggy James.” Yes, I’m still knocking that storyline, and I wasn’t even a fan at the time! This seemed like the logical program, earlier in the year, when both were on Smackdown Live. Mickie has mostly been a non-factor on Raw since the “Shake-Up” that ruined a lot of people. Lockup and Mickie works the arm. Leg sweep and a jackknife cover for two. Bliss hides in the ropes, so Mickie smacks her on her “biscuit butt.” Bliss with hair pulls, but Mickie nips up each time and returns the favor. Sliding boot to the face for two. Bliss counters the spinning head scissors and hangs the arm up across the top rope. Bliss works the arm, trapping it between the legs and dropping down to the canvas. Mickie comes back with kicks and the spinning head scissors. They trade slaps and land roundhouse kicks at the same time. Mickie with a flurry of strikes to the back of the head, followed by a pair of clotheslines. Spinning roundhouse kick to the midsection and a diving headbutt for two. Series of counters leads to an O’Conner Roll from James for two. Bliss with a Code Red for two. Mickie with a flapjack. She goes to the top, but Bliss sweeps the leg, causing her to fall on her arm. Bliss to the top, and Twisted Bliss misses. Mickie to the top rope, connecting with a missile dropkick for two. Super-kick for two. The crowd chants “we want tables”, make that out any way you want. Bliss suckers James into the corner, dropping her on a turnbuckle, and finishes with the DDT at 11:29 to retain. Post-match, Mickie cuts a “thank you” promo as if this would be her last time in the spotlight. Good match, but the crowd lost interest towards the end. **3/4
– Kurt Angle and the Remaining Shield have a team meeting in the locker room. Angle promises to give it his all. Rollins gives him a vest as an honorary member of The Shield.
– Elias comes out for Take Two. Can somebody say “Filler”? This time he gets to sing, but the crowd drowns him out with boos, and Jason Jordan again throws vegetables at him. “I’ve never been more happy to see Jason Jordan in my life!”
WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match:
Kalisto (c) vs. Enzo Amore:
Ugh. Just kill the Cruiserweight Division. Neville’s only presence in the highlight video is being kicked in the junk by Enzo. Speaking of Enzo, he sounds like he has a sore throat, so maybe we’ll get lucky and he’ll be quarantined, too. Kalisto has some nice Shredder spikes on his shoulder pads. Enzo is wearing one of the most ridiculous outfits I’d seen in recent memory. Crisscross and Enzo hangs back, leading Kalisto on a chase around the ring. He misses an elbow and Kalisto comes off the ropes with a spinning head scissors. He connects with an enzuigiri, and doing the “I’ve got a concussion” face seems to be the only thing Enzo is good at once the bell rings. Kalisto with a tope suicida. In a tired spot tonight, Enzo sweeps the leg of Kalisto, dropping him across the turnbuckle. Enzo with a sweep into a spine-buster for two. Enzo with a field-goal kick to the midsection. The Giants should sign him. Kalisto with a roll-up into a short roundhouse kick. Enzo blocks a charge and jackknife covers for two. Enzo with the wind-up right hand for two. Kalisto escapes a chin-lock and springboards off the top with a seated senton. Short-rana connects for two. Enzo with the roll-up into the bottom turnbuckle, followed by a flying DDT (called a “DDG”) for two. OK, that should’ve been the finish. Enzo escapes the Salida del Sol, pokes Kalisto in the eyes, and Eat-Defeat finishes at 8:53, making Enzo a 2-time Cruiserweight Champion. That result seemed obvious. Enzo with a post-match promo because the show needs padding. This wasn’t an embarrassment, but Enzo is so limited other than being a good punching bag. **
A.J. Styles vs. Finn Balor:
This was supposed to be “The Demon King vs. Sister Abigail”, but God finally had enough of WWE’s terrible booking, so we get a Raw vs. Smackdown “Dream Match” that instantly made this a much more interesting show for the right reason. Lockup to the ropes and a clean break. Balor with a side headlock takeover. Whip to the ropes and a shoulder tackle ends in a stalemate. They tease a knuckle lock and jockey for position. Styles with a snap mare, and Balor with a head scissors. They repeat, roles reversed, and stand in a neutral position. Balor with a series of strikes. Crisscross and Styles connects with a dropkick. Balor avoids a charge and hits a jumping kick to the face. He grounds Styles, applying a surfboard. He wraps the legs up, but Styles makes it to the ropes. Styles catches Balor with a jaw breaker and comes off the ropes with a sunset flip, but Balor rolls through and connects with a basement dropkick. Styles bails, but rushes in to counter a dive attempt with an elbow. Styles with a snap suplex and jumping knee drop across the forehead for two.
Balor with a series of rights, backing Styles into the corner. Whip across the ring, Styles meets him charging with a boot to the face, and hits a modified Phenomenal Forearm for two (slingshot, not springboard style). Styles with a running back breaker. They trade forearms until Styles takes him down with a jumping enzuigiri for two. Styles shrugs off more forearms and unloads with strikes. Balor avoids a charge and retaliates with chops of his own. He sends Styles across the ring and charges in with the running chop. Short whip, Styles hops the ropes, and Balor telegraphs it with a jumping heel kick. Styles crashes to the floor, and Balor quickly follows with a somersault senton. Back inside, Balor with the sling-blade. He settles into the corner and charges again, but this time Styles catches and counters with the Ushigoroshi (and called as such by Graves).
Balor escapes a Styles clash, but Styles audibles with a sit-out face-buster for two. Balor sweeps the legs and hits a double stomp high on the chest, possibly the face. Balor stomps away on the chest with little regard and runs into the corner with a basement dropkick. Styles plays possum for a moment, surprising Balor with a roll-up into the Calf Crusher. Balor rolls through, but Styles readjusts in the center of the ring. Balor goes for plan B, wrapping his arm around Styles’ neck and slamming his head back against the canvas, forcing a break. Styles sets up on the apron again, but Balor pushes him to the floor to counter the Forearm. Balor rolls to the apron and follows with a running kick to the face, then sends Styles crashing into the barricade with a running dropkick. Balor rolls into the ring, preventing the referee’s count reaching 10. He picks Styles up, but Styles desperately tackles him into the table, causing both men to crash over top, to the floor.
Both men make it back to the feet and in the ring before the count of 10, only to hit each other with a double body press, and then a double clothesline. They exchange forearms in the middle of the ring. Styles with the Phenomenal Blitz, but before the back-hand punch can finish the sequence, Balor counters with his own version of the Pele Kick. They trade counters until Balor hits a reverse falling slam, followed by the 1916 for a near fall. Balor with another running dropkick, sending Styles crashing hard into the turnbuckles. He climbs the ropes for the Coup de Grace, but Styles interrupts his ascent with the Pele Kick. Styles with a springboard, taking Balor off the top turnbuckle with a hurricanrana for two. Styles misses a 450 Splash, and Balor quickly follows up with a Lariat. Balor with his third Shotgun Dropkick, and this time he connects with the Coup de Grace for the three-count at 18:17. Honestly, I think that might’ve been too anti-climactic of an ending, based on the quality of work and the pacing. This won’t go down as an all-time classic, but for a match literally booked at the last minute, with zero storyline excuse, and Styles having to travel over-night from South America to make it to the show, you have to be impressed with the level of performance. Post-match, they do the mutual respect handshake, and Too-Sweet gesture. No, that doesn’t get bonus points. ****1/2
Jason Jordan vs. Elias:
We need to pad the show a little more, so we’re getting these two for a third segment. At least they’re smart enough to cool off the crowd. Why is babyface announcer Cole defending Elias? Sometimes this company makes no sense. Lockup and Jordan goes for a takedown, but Elias forces a rope break. Jordan with a waist-lock takedown. Booker T calls Elias “money.” Elias with clubbering and a side headlock, followed by a shoulder tackle. Booker T continues to bury Jason Jordan, so Cole has to mid-match change direction to defend him. Jordan with a twisting power-slam for two. Dropkick to the face for two. Elias escapes a belly-to-belly suplex and drives a knee to the back, sending Jordan into the turnbuckle. Why should I bother watching the match when the three-headed monster of Vince is ruining it with terrible direction for the PBP? Jordan escapes an abdominal stretch, sending Elias out of the ring. Back inside, Jordan with a series of right hands and tackles into the corner. He throws Elias with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex, charges the corner with a shoulder tackle, and hits a drifting back suplex for two. Elias fights off a super-plex, catches Jordan with a knee to the face, and slams him into the corner. Jordan counters a suplex with a small package for three at 8:48, despite what looked like Elias getting the shoulder up. The wrestling was OK, but the commentary was a mess of double-personalities, dropping the quality. *1/2
TLC Match: Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Kurt Angle vs. The Miz, Sheamus, Cesaro, Braun Strowman, and Kane:
If you need to know “why THAT team of heels”, the simple answer is “Shield Reunion”, but then viral meningitis hit and Roman is out, so Kurt Angle makes his in-ring return after an 11-year absence, and you question who greenlit someone with his history of medical problems when Daniel Bryan is rejected time after time. Pre-match video and entrances eat up almost 10-minutes. Is Strowman wearing Lugz boots? Shield 2.0 make their wear through the crowd, with Angle dressed in team colors. They arm themselves with chairs, with Miz and Co. having the higher ground. Chairs are swung, clearing everyone but Kane and Strowman. Rollins comes in to help out as the pi�ata party continues, with all three “Shield” members triple teaming them individually. Ambrose and Rollins with a synchronized tope suicida on Miz, Sheamus, and Cesaro, followed by a triple team clothesline with a ladder. Angle repeatedly drops a ladder across Strowman. Rollins with a flying high knee to Kane, and Ambrose follows with a running dropkick. They follow him to the floor with Rollins hitting a flying clothesline. They strip off the Spanish announcer’s table, but reinforcements arrive. Rollins and Ambrose fight off Cesaro and Sheamus’ attack, but Kane recovers, throwing haymakers. Strowman returns from his nap to save Kane, too, clearing off the German table in the process. Rollin and Ambrose save Angle from a Powerbomb with more chair shots and send him into the giant ring post. They rest Strowman and Kane across the two tables and set a pair of ladders in place. Rollins and Ambrose each climb one and come crashing through with a splash (Rollins on Strowman) and elbow (Ambrose on Kane).
Miz tries sneaking up on Angle, but quickly backs up from him. Angle plays whack-a-Miz with a chair and tosses him in the ring where he’s met by a double team from Sheamus and Cesaro, getting worked over with chairs. Whip and they connect with a double clothesline. Angle gets trapped in the corner and gets a ladder smashed into his abdomen. They set up for a Triple Powerbomb, but Ambrose and Rollins return from the wreckage to clear the ring of all but the Miz. Angle with the rolling Germans to Miz, and a German Suplex apiece for Sheamus and Cesaro. Kane sits up and we get Kane vs. Angle in 2017. Angle counters the Chokeslam with a leg pick and Ankle-Lock, but Strowman saves, tackling Angle out of the ring and throwing him into the barricade. He sets up a table at ringside and puts Angle through it with a running power-slam. Medical personnel come out to check on Angle while Rollins and Ambrose get ganged up on. Back inside, Kane with his signature side slam on Rollins. The action plays second fiddle to Angle being helped backstage. If there isn’t a major babyface save, I don’t know how this is supposed to sustain crowd interest. Did Booker T just try and say Angle hasn’t worked, AT ALL, for 11 years? Ambrose and Rollins try to rally, and we even get heel miscommunication with Kane blasting Strowman with a chair. Rollins and Ambrose get stomped down again. How long until Angle’s music hits and he comes back? Double team Razor’s Edge to Ambrose and it DOESN’T break the table. Ouch. Strowman steps up and throws Ambrose through it in the corner.
Miz leads the team up the aisle and calls out for a garbage truck. He did say he’s going to treat The Shield like trash. Rollins and Ambrose fight out from the back of the truck and dive off the top of it with a pescado onto the entire team, sans Miz. Kane saves Miz from a 2-on-1 attack, but winds up getting pounded down. Strowman saves him from a double suplex, but Kane sucker punches him from behind and Chokeslams him off the stage. That made… no sense. Strowman returns from the depths of hell, only for Kane to rip an entire set of chairs down into the pit. Strowman briefly survives that, too, as Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah continues. Kane decides he’s heel again and puts Rollins and Ambrose through tables with a double choke-slam. Strowman finally returns, with Kane looking on in stunned confusion. Miz begs him for order, but he’s not having any of it and fights off his own partners to get to Kane. Now it turns into a 4-on-1 with everyone on Strowman, and they dump him into the garbage truck. The compactor activates, which is only the 7th or 8th time WWE simulated a murder on television and casually brushed it off. Rollins gets hit with a sequence of signature moves, but Ambrose makes the save. Angles familiar music finally plays, returning in all his Shield Glory… to turn heel. OK, I made that up, but this is such an overbooked mess. Angle side-steps a Brogue Kick and gives Sheamus an Angle Slam on the ramp. Angle-Slam to Cesaro through a table. Ambrose saves Angle from a Tombstone as we play whack-a-Kane with the chairs. Double spear to put Kane through the barricade. Miz with the Skull Crushing Finale on Angle for 2.9999. Angle counters a second attempt with the Ankle Lock, but Miz kicks off, with Angle falling on his head. Rollins with the rainmaker, Ambrose with Dirty Deeds, and Angle with an Angle Slam. Triple Powerbomb (finally) finishes at 35:29. What the hell did I just watch? I had this match pegged at a higher rating before the over-booking kicked in and needlessly pushed this match beyond a half-hour run time, and oh look, Kane turned again… or maybe not, who knows anymore. **1/2
Final Thoughts: A.J. Styles vs. Finn Balor delivered despite high expectations, and the undercard was decent, if mostly unremarkable. The TLC Match fell off a cliff midway through with ridiculous overbooking and Kane turning heel and face every 30-seconds for about 5-minutes. The biggest offender of the night was the commentary. Vince must’ve went on a coffee break for the Balor/Styles match, because the commentary was noticeably bad otherwise, and I mean more than usual, with inconsistent behavior from everyone and just sounding ridiculous. With a stronger Main Event, this would’ve been a solid Thumbs Up, but it failed to deliver a second, high quality match. Treat Styles/Balor as the Main Event and stop the show after that, unless you want to see some ECW meets WCW levels of “what the hell is this?”
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.