With Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt pulled from the show at the last minute due to illness, Kurt Angle returns to a WWE ring for the first time in over 10 years to partner with The Shield, whilst A.J. Styles steps in to face another former Bullet Club member, Finn Balor…
(Winner via submission: Asuka)
Brian Kendrick & Jack Gallagher
Cedric Alexander & Rich Swann
(Winners via pinfall: Alexander & Swann)
Alexa Bliss (C)
WWE RAW Women’s Championship
(Winner via pinfall: Alexa Bliss)
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
(Winner via pinfall, and new champion: Enzo Amore)
(Winner via pinfall: Finn Balor)
(Winner via pinfall: Jason Jordan)
Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose & Kurt Angle
The Miz, Sheamus, Cesaro, Braun Strowman & Kane
Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match
(Winners via pinfall: Rollins, Ambrose & Angle)
Given the amount of last minute changes made to the match card for WWE TLC 2017, it wouldn’t have been unfair to assume that this was going to be your typical bang average show, heatless, and full of non-sensicale booking. But WWE‘s alterations actually turned this into a more appealing show, particularly with the inclusion of Styles/Balor, which saved us from what would’ve been a a disastrous match between Balor and Bray Wyatt (as Sister Abigail – however that was going to work…).
Without question, the main event was already an overbooked mess even before the removal of Roman Reigns, and inclusion of Kurt Angle. A 3-on-5 TLC match, with nothing at stake, didn’t look too great on paper as it was, bht I’m sure that had Reigns been medically cleared, it would have been an entertaining spotfest irregardless. The addition of Angle, who didn’t do too much, but still took some good bumps, turned the match into more of a 2-on-5 affair, which sucked some of the fun out of it. Quite why this match was ever a handicap contest is unknown to me but, all that said, the main event gave some fun moments, and everyone did well given the chaos of the days leading up to it.
I will say, however, that the Kane turn on Strowman felt forced and out of the blue. Nothing seemed to force his sudden attack at that exact moment in time, to the point that even the announcers were scrambling to try and explain it. The chair spot was fun, although already done at this PPV seven years ago, and the camera angles were on point. But it didn’t fit, and slowed the entire match down. Given both men were added to the match after it was originally announced as a 3-on-3, I don’t get why they then had to go to such measures to try and remove a Strowman from the match just to make it look more credible when The Shield and Angle eventually won. Why not just never add Strowman or Kane to the match in the first place?
Asuka’s debut was enjoyable. She had a surprisingly competitive match with Emma, which whilst a good way to start the show, eventually had me wondering why it was competitive at all? I’m not an armchair booker, but given the way she’s been booked previously, and hyped ahead of this debut, shouldn’t Asuka have absolutely obliterated Emma? Given the latter performer was released from her contract a week after this match, having the two women fight as equals for so long is even more perplexing. Good match, though.
Bliss and James had a match that I’d hoped to see earlier this year, with a lot of emphasis put on how a title win would see James equal Trish Stratus’ record of seven championship wins. James can still go, which we saw in her NXT TakeOver: Toronto match against Asuka in 2016, but she’s not been allowed to show that on the main roster since her return, so as a longtime fan it was great to see her get that opportunity on this show. Alexa Bliss continues to put out good title matches when facing quality opposition, and in hindsight it’s a real shame that they broke up her title run with that brief Sasha Banks win in August 2017 (see WWE Summerslam 2017), as this title run would have been one of the better heel runs in that company in this calendar year.
The showstealer was AJ Styles versus Finn Balor. That there had to be a winner was a shame, as a no contest would have left more money on the table for a second match, but I think the crowd and audience at home probably wouldn’t have taken well to such an ended. A victor was probably the right call, with that in mind.
Many have called it the match of the year, but I genuinely believe there have been better matches within a WWE ring in 2017. Just off the top of my head, NXT TakeOver: Chicago had two better matches, for example. I feel that the people who make these claims genuinely don’t watch even enough WWE content to make such claims but, without question, this was a good contest that tried to merge some NJPW strong style with WWE‘s own style. I’d love to see them battle on a grander stage again, with the shackles completely let off. There’s money in this feud, and that should be exploited in 2018.
TLC 2017 was pleasant viewing, something not often said of WWE‘s main roster shows in 2017. Despite a similar overall rating for match quality to the previous PPV, WWE Hell in a Cell 2017, TLC 2017 was a far better show from top to bottom, and restored some of this viewers faith in WWE’s product.
Match of the Night
AJ Styles vs. Finn Balor