The Big Takeaway:
The go-home show for the TLC PPV was strange, but still an improvement from last week. The most relevant long-term takeaway from the show was the instant breakup of the Alberto Del Rio-Zeb Coulter faction. There was a hot opening match and a good singles match between Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler. Then came some strange stuff involving Charlotte and Paige. Followed by even more strange stuff with Titus O'Neal and Stardust.
The League of Nations were in the ring with its own new music. Sheamus mentioned Rusev from Bulgaria, Alberto Del Rio from Mexico (I thought it was MexAmerica?), King Barrett from England and himself from Ireland. Sheamus said they couldn't find anyone from America to lace their boots. He talked about how they were the best of the best. Suddenly, the Wyatt Family appeared in the ring. This was the start of their long-awaited face turn, and it took the fans awhile to catch on, but they started chanting "yes." Bray Wyatt said he didn't care about nations, this was his world and he was allowing them to breathe in it. They came out to create chaos.
They teased a showdown when the Dudley Boyz and Tommy Dreamer came out. Bubba Ray Dudley and Wyatt jabbered back and forth. Devon Dudley said when you're extreme, you don't die, you multiply. Rhyno came out. Considering they used a Robin Harris quote and the word "Extreme," maybe their gimmick is "That 90s team."
Just as they were about to get in the ring, Reigns, Dean Ambrose and the Usos came out through the crowd. They're running 16 guys out there in one match when they have no depth. Fandango vs. Brooklyn Brawler anyone?
Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and the Usos defeated The League of Nations in a Fatal Four-Way Elimination Match that also included The Wyatt Family and the Dudley Boyz, Rhyno and Tommy Dreamer (21:26)
Fans got into Rhyno for the nostalgia pop Dreamer wore polka-dot pants, I guess as a tribute to Dusty Rhodes. That week on the road must have done a number on Dreamer because he looked like he aged 5 years in one week.
Dreamer pinned Eric Rowan with a DDT to eliminate the Wyatt Family in 4:45. Michael Cole called the DDT a "Dreamer Driver." Do what?
Sheamus pinned Bubba Ray at 11:06 with a Brogue Kick There was a 12-way brawl midway through this cycle that led to Rhyno and Reigns having a staredown. Man it was scary that someone from the dying days of ECW got a better reaction than the man groomed to be the next John Cena. Del Rio jumped Rhyno before they touched.
Reigns pinned Sheamus with a spear to win the match at 21:26. Really good final sequence where Del Rio tried to pin Reigns after Sheamus hit him with a Brogue Kick outside the ring, but Reigns kicked out. Del Rio then applied the cross armbreaker, but Jimmy Uso broke it up with a splash off the top. Amrbose and Jey Uso did topes on the heels at various points. Strong match overall.
Sheamus sold his ribs backstage when Renee Young walked up to ask him about the match he just lost. A deadly serious Sheamus said Reigns' victory over him was as close to the world championship as he will ever get. Young asked if there was anything he could learn about tonight's opening match. Sheamus vowed to make Reigns pay in front of the whole world tonight.
Stardust ranted to himself in his private liar about making the entire WWE Universe see the whole world is a dark place. Titus O'Neal made his weekly appearance and suggested Stardust should leave his dingy room and get some. He didn't mean that. O'Neal told Stardust to get a life, read a book. Stardust refused to listen. Stardust looked back to respond to O'Neal, who disappeared.
Tyler Breeze and Summer Rae watched from their VIP section.
Kevin Owens (C) defeated Dolph Ziggler in a nontitle match (19:12)
Another good match where Kevin Owens won with a Pop-Up Power Bomb. They worked spots around a side headlock. Dolph Ziggler ran his right shoulder into the post and sold his right shoulder extremely well the rest of the match. High spot included Owens doing a senton into the corner. Ziggler rolled out to the floor several times, but hit Owens with a jumping DDT. Breeze never got involved.
Right after the pin, Ambrose came out eating popcorn and drinking a soft drink. Owens was furious his music didn't play. Ambrose got in the ring, threw popcorn and drink in Owens' face and left. Sure made Ambrose look like a jerk.
Wyatt cut a promo on the Dudleys, Dreamer and Rhyno. Braun Strowman said he had a dream where he would become Tommy Dreamer's worst nightmare.
Miz met with Neville backstage. Miz wanted to teach Neville how to be a true superstar so he could be the next Daniel Bryan. If that happens, I guess we'll never see any crowd signs for Neville again. This led to Miz bringing in Donny Deutsch, who stars in a new USA Network show called "Donny." Deutsch used to have a CNBC talk show that had WWE personalities appear all the time. Miz and Deutsch chatted. Neville and Deutsch shook hands. Really was more of a promotional piece than anything.
Naomi and Sasha Banks defeated Brie Bella and Alicia Fox (6:12)
Clumsy match. Naomi pinned Brie Bella with the Rear View after Sasha Banks grabbed her foot from the outside. Not much to it. Team BAD's new gimmick is saying "Unity" in unison at the highest pitch possible.
Right afterwards, the New Day came out wearing unicorn horns. They gave the members of Team BAD the horns and did a group handshake.
The New Day claimed to submit thousands of baby names to Kanye West and Kim Kardshian. But they don't believe WWE Tag Team title shots should be handed out generously, saying they had to defend against Lucha Dragons and the Usos in a ladder match. They did a skit to prove they didn't need ladders, proving they could get a kitten out of a tree without a ladder. To prove it, Big E. played the role of a tree, Kofi Kingston played a kitten. Kingston jumped on top of Big E, while Xavier Woods told Kofi to climb down. Kofi mee-owed. Crowd didn't really follow it.
Lucha Dragons defeated Kofi Kingston and Big E. (C) in a nontitle match (7:10)
The Usos were at ringside on commentary. Woods blew the trombone into the Usos face, which led to Jey trashing the trombone and going after Woods. Kingston watched this unfold from the ring, which led to Sin Cara getting the pin with an O'Connor Roll.
Reigns did an interview. Note to self: never watch Mid-South episodes on Raw days. Watching Bill Watts, Jim Cornette and even Terry Taylor cut these promos that were short on polish and high on emotion and drawing money makes the current product look so colorless. Reigns said he would face Sheamus later tonight to see who would teach who a lesson.
On that note, it was time for MizTv. Charlotte and Ric Flair came out. Charlotte told Miz that he didn't introduce her father correctly, clearly teasing a heel turn. Charlotte and her father had matching Rolex watches. Flair said he would be in Charlotte's corner for her title match against Paige at TLC. Miz brought up Charlotte's win over Becky Lynch. Charlotte interrupted Miz saying she was going to do what it took to win.
Miz did a babyface speech saying that Charlotte has changed and wanted to know what she had to say to Paige. Charlotte said if she had anything to say, she would say it on Sunday. Miz said Piage interferred with her friendship with Lynch and wanted to know why Charlotte wouldn't answer the question. Flair got up and talked Miz down. Miz said Charlotte was hiding behind her father. Miz pressed on until Charlotte spoke up and called Paige a "two-faced gothic piece of trash." Charlotte said she would destroy Paige for everything she ever said about Charlotte.
Miz brought out Paige, who got a babyface pop. Did a miss Paige's babyface turn? Flair took Charlotte out of the ring instead of confronting Paige. Charlotte left, but Paige slapped Flair. That led Flair to tell Charlotte to get her. Then came a weird sequence. Charlotte jumped on Paige, who didn't get a comeback and rolled out of the ring. Isn't it usually the newly turned babyface who has to be pulled off the newly turned heel? And wasn't Miz the Flair in waiting two years ago?
Ryback and Rusev went to a double countout (10:13)
Ryback chased Rusev around the ring until Ryback appeared to run into Lana, who feigned an ankle injury. As Ryback checked on her, Rusev jumped him from behind and put him in the Accolade. Lana showed the ankle injury was a gimmick, then laughed as she and Rusev kissed. Lana did an inset promo saying she knew Ryback didn't mean to hurt her last week when he rammed the steps into her last week. Cole billed this as a weird interview and he was right. Ryback did a rolling tope to the floor, which wasn't flawless but damn impressive for someone his size.
They showed a teaser for Shawn Michaels podcast interview with Steve Austin. Of course, they broached the subjet of Montreal. Austin asked Michaels if the scenario where Bret Hart would be placed in the Sharpshooter was Michaels' idea, and they cut to the end before Michaels could answer. I'm going to create a bingo card for all the answers that Michaels has given about Montreal over the past 18 years. He went from saying it wasn't his idea, to telling RF Video that Bret had proof that Michaels wasn't involved in the screw job in the "Wrestling with Shadows" documentary footage but didn't show it, to admitting he did know about it, and then claiming it was his idea. Wonder which answer Shawn's God likes?
Jack Swagger defeated Stardust (3:36)
The match was in progress when Del Rio and Zeb Coulter came out. O'Neal was on commentary. He's basically doing Dave Meltzer's gimmick where he wants Cody Rhodes to drop the Stardust character. Swagger won with the Patriot Lock. Immediately afterwards, Del Rio popped Swagger with a hard chair shot. Stardust came up from behind Del Rio. O'Neal screamed "Del Rio, look out!" Wasn't he trying to help Stardust? Why did he need to warn Del Rio since he had a chair? Del Rio hit Stardust.
Then Swagger popped up from the chair shot after barely selling it. He and Del Rio each had a chair at this point. Swagger swung and knocked the chair out of Del Rio's hands. Del Rio stumbled over Coulter's motorized cart. Swagger then yelled at Coulter about how he had turned his back on the people and his country. Coutler rode off on his cart.
The Rose Bush atrocity saw a 2nd week. Adam Rose said the Miz was trying to use Neville for a remake of Dumbo, which Neville was a shoo-in for. They implied Neville had a big nose. Ungodly bad stuff.
In the back, Del Rio was mad at Coulter because he tripped over Coulter's cart. ADR told Coulter he didn't want him around anymore. Coulter tried to but in and remind ADR that he was the reason ADR held the U.S. Championship, but ADR wasn't hearing any of it. Coulter rode away. So this pairing is history, and not a moment too soon. This was an ill-advised act from the beginning and it was best to cut bait while they could.
Braun Strowman defeated Tommy Dreamer by submission (2:43)
It was what you would think. Strowman won with the head-and-arm choke. JBL compared Strowman to Bill Kazmaier, which could be prescient, but not in the way he meant.
Reigns showed up to the ring, which had tables, ladders and chairs in it. Reigns remembered that's how the Shield started, in a TLC match. He started climbing the ladder as a metaphor for his career. Crowd chanted "what" at him. Reigns said it was Sheamus who knocked him down this ladder. He said he wasn't leaving until Sheamus showed up.
Sheamus came out. He said Roman was out of touch. Fancy that line coming from this company. Sheamus vowed to beat Reigns again. They bickered back and forth until Reigns got off this line saying that he thought Sheamus had potatoes, but it turns out he has Tater Tots. That succeeded in getting the crowd to chant "Tater Tots." Sheamus started to run in the ring, but he stopped. Sheamus said he was going to build a castle of mangled ladders, broken chairs and tables on top of Reigns. Again, Roman challenged him.
Sheamus said if he got in the ring, Sheamus would hit him with a chair. So Reigns threw the chair away. Reigns said he didn't want Reigns to power bomb him through a table. So Reigns put the table away. Then Sheamus wanted the ladder put away, Reigns did that. This was going on forever. Crowd did respond with more Tater Tot chants.
Sheamus finally got in the ring put Reigns decked him quickly. Reigns started to clear the announcer's table when Sheamus made a comeback. They fought into the crowd, where Reigns dumped a trash can on him. They spilled out into the fans with more brawling and worked their way to the ramp. Reigns teased power bombing Sheamus off the ramp, but Sheamus stopped him and rammed Reigns into the tables and chairs on the set. Sheamus gave him a chair shot. Reigns popped up like Swagger earlier. At least they were consistent. Reigns hit Sheamus with a chair.
They fought back to where they started, where Sheamus tried to power bomb Reigns through the table, but Regins escaped. Reigns tried to spear Sheamus through the announcer's table, but Sheamus dodged him. Sheamus rose his arms, but Reigns got up and speared Sheamus through a set of tables set up at ringside. There were some "Roman" chants, but the crowd was pretty quiet for most of this segment and much of the hour overall.
SUMMARY: This was a show booked in reverse. We got a solid first hour and it just lost steam from there. Reigns and Sheamus feels like a cold program, which anyone who watched Sheamus win the title would have predicted. I might regret writing this, but Reigns doesn't have that special quality as a main eventer. He can't carry a 10-minute talking segment and the fans don't see him as a top of the card talent. Maybe an upper midcarder, but he isn't getting the reaction of a star. On the bright side, moving Del Rio away from Coulter was for the best. No one needs to steal Del Rio's spotlight because he can be a top heel if booked properly.