WWE TLC 2020 marks the end of the PPV year for WWE. And thank heavens for that.
The PPV scene has been a bumpy ride for WWE this year. It’s flirted with greatness once or twice. But by-and-large, the big WWE shows have fallen on their face. With network executives furious over the state of Monday Night Raw, would this show finally break WWE out of its PPV funk? Just out of sheer necessity?
Let’s find out, as we dive into our review for WWE TLC 2020.
WWE Championship, TLC Match – Drew McIntyre (C) Vs. AJ Styles (W/ Omos)
Odd choice for an opener for WWE TLC 2020. Also, hey, I remember AJ Styles. He used to be a pretty big deal, and it wasn’t that long ago. Also, I don’t know what the deal is with Omos. And I don’t know why WWE is constantly convinced Styles needs back-up. He’s freakin’ AJ Styles. Anyway. McIntyre comes out with his trademark sword. Which, technically, he should be allowed to use in this match. How’s that for “adult content,” USA? McIntyre kicks his kilt off in Styles’s face. Oh no he didn’t!
Styles goes after McIntyre’s knee right off the jump. The challenger follows with some stomps in the corner. He tries to drag McIntyre out of the corner by his leg, but McIntyre fights him back. Styles pushes him back to the opposite corner only to eat a suplex. McIntyre makes with the chops before tossing Styles around like a rag doll. More chops from the champ. He picks Styles up by his hair and throws him into the corner. Styles fights back with a throat punch but takes a high back body drop. McIntyre teases the Claymore, but Styles gets a foot up in the corner. The challenger perches on the top turnbuckle, but McIntyre chops him down to the floor.
McIntyre drives Styles’s face into the announce desk before setting up a table. He bounces the challenger’s head off of it and goes for a suplex, but Styles blocks it. Styles goes after McIntyre, but McIntyre brushes him off before dropping him ribs-first onto the barricade. The champ throws Styles around ringside for a little bit, careful to steer clear of Omos. McIntyre slides a ladder into the ring. He sets it up under the title belt. The champ starts climbing, but Styles sneaks up from behind and swings a chair at McIntyre’s knees.
Now Styles sets up the ladder. He bashes McIntyre across the back with a chair before setting the chair up in the corner. Styles tries to put McIntyre face-first into the chair. McIntyre reverses and catapults Styles toward the ladder, but Styles lands feet-first on the rungs. Now McIntyre goes for a powerbomb, but Styles escapes only to get catapulted into the chair in the corner. Ouch. McIntyre gets about halfway up the ladder, so Styles just chucks the ladder at him and chop-blocks him to the mat. The challenger puts McIntyre face-first into the ladder before just dropping it on top of the champion.
Styles hits an enziguri to the back of McIntyre’s head. The challenger teases a Styles Clash on the ladder, but McIntyre escapes and hits the Future Shock DDT. McIntyre tweaks his knee on the landing, so he suplexes a ladder on top of Styles. Well, it grazes Styles. But the effort was cool. Styles hits another chop-block. Styles sandwiches McIntyre’s knee through the ladder and cinches in the calf crusher. The challenger puts the boots to McIntyre before picking up a chair. Styles whacks McIntyre a couple times across the back before swinging at the bad leg. He puts McIntyre’s leg in the Pillman position before locking in another calf crusher. Nice.
McIntyre is able to drag Styles just far enough across the ring toward the ladder. He slams Styles’s face onto the ladder to break the hold. Both guys are down now. I don’t see how they could, but if WWE TLC 2020 could maintain this pace and quality, we’d be looking at the PPV of the year. They fight over the ladder, and Styles ends up on the outside. He drags McIntyre’s leg over the apron before bashing it into the ring post. Styles picks up another ladder and clocks McIntyre in the face with it. Yeesh. The challenger lays McIntyre across a table before heading back inside.
Styles goes to the top rope, so McIntyre throws a chair in his face. McIntyre throws a table into the ring. Styles sneaks up from behind but eats an elbow to the face. But Styles manages a drop-toe-hold, sending McIntyre’s face into a ladder in the corner. Styles tries to whip McIntyre into the table, but McIntyre reverses it. Now Styles goes for a Phenomenal Phorearm off the table, but McIntyre hip tosses him into the ladder. This match is bananas. Styles sneaks out to the apron and hits the Phenomenal Phorearm for real now. Both guys are down again. Omos slides another ladder into the ring.
The challenger sets it up under the belt. Styles starts climbing, but Drew picks him up and throws him through a table on the outside. So AJ Styles is dead now, I guess. The champion ascends the ladder, but Miz runs out and chop-blocks him from behind. He puts McIntyre through a table, and Morrison gives the MITB briefcase to the ref. The match is now a triple threat. Miz starts climbing, but Omos grabs him from behind and chucks Miz through a table at ringside. Morrison tries to hit Omos with a chair, but Omos shrugs it off. Omos chases Morrison away from the ring.
Now all three competitors are down. McIntyre and Styles are first to get to their feet. Styles rolls into the ring, and McIntyre tries to get the feeling back in his knee. The champion and Styles race each other up the ladder. It’s pro wrestling, so the “race” takes a while. McIntyre gets a finger on the belt, but Styles shoos him away. Both guys get to the top of the ladder and slug it out while Miz sets up another ladder beside them. Miz and McIntyre both get a hand on the belt. McIntyre punches Styles off the ladder. Now McIntyre and Miz are slugging it out at the top of their ladders. Miz gets a hand on the belt, but McIntyre sends him to the mat. The champion gets both hands on the belt, but Styles rushes up out of nowhere.
He sends McIntyre to the mat, and now it’s Styles and Miz fighting over the title. McIntyre pushes the ladder over. Styles crashes to the floor, and McIntyre hits the Claymore. McIntyre hops to the top and retrieves the title. Overbooked nonsense with the Miz notwithstanding, that was pretty great. The rest of WWE TLC 2020 has some work to do if they wanna top that.
Winner (And STILL Champion): Drew McIntyre
Match Rating: **** 1/4
SmackDown Women’s Championship Match – Sasha Banks (C) Vs. Carmella (W/ Reginald)
WWE TLC 2020 rolls on with the SmackDown Women’s Championship. This is the way. Get it? Because Sasha was on that Star Wars television program.
Carmella ducks to the outside to stall, because she sucks at wrestling professionally. The challenger gets in a couple of cheap shots inside before the fight spills to the outside, where Sasha beats Carmella up for a bit. Back inside, Carmella scores a big slap across Sasha’s face. She whips Sasha into the ropes, but Sasha reverses and sends Carmella to the outside, where she’s caught by Reginald. Sasha chases to the outside and hits a standing rana on the floor. Back inside, Carmella takes over and stomps Ye Olde Mudhole in the corner. Carmella his a bronco buster before dragging Sasha to the center for a pin attempt. The champion kicks out at two.
Now the challenger puts on a rear chinlock. See aforementioned comments about Carmella not being good at this. Sasha escapes and hits a snapmare followed by a meteora for two. The champ gets a knee to Carmella’s head. Sasha goes for a backstabber, but Carmella drops her neck-first onto the apron. Carmella goes for a pin, but Sasha kicks out. The challenger does an awful-looing double reverse armbar, um, thing. Sasha acts her heart out, pretending it hurts. The champion escapes and hits a backbreaker. Sasha kicks Carmella in the face and follows with a bronco buster into three amigos.
The champ heads to the top rope and hits the frog splash for two. Sasha goes for a rear chinlock, but Carmella backs her into the corner and hits a succession of back elbows. She charges the champ, but Sasha hits a kick to the face. Sasha goes for another backbreaker, but Carmella counters with a tilt-a-whirl DDT. It only gets two, so Carmella tries two more pins and gets two more two-counts. The challenger uses a headscissor submission around Sasha’s neck, using the ropes as leverage. She breaks at five. Now Carmella just goes ninja crazy town on Sasha with forearms to Sasha’s back. With the champ draped over the apron, Carmella hits a superkick. Back inside, Carmella goes for a pin, but Sasha gets a foot on the rope to break.
Sasha rolls Carmella up for two before driving Carmella’s head into the middle turnbuckle. She pulls Carmella to the top, but the challenger fights back and hits a huricanrana, but Sasha rolls through for a two-count. Carmella rolls the champ up for two, and Sasha goes for a backslide. That also gets a two-count. Both women jockey for position to get a backslide, and Carmella locks in the cone of silence, but Sasha escapes. She tries to lock in the Bank Statement, but Carmella reverses into a modified chicken wing. Sasha bridges into pin and gets two, forcing Carmella to break the hold.
The challenger goes for another bronco buster, and Sasha rolls through into the Bank Statement. Reginald runs out to make the save, carrying Carmella to safety, which doesn’t draw a DQ for some reason. Sasha hits a meteora on Reginald on the outside, but Carmella hits a superkick. She throws the champ inside and goes for the pin, but Sasha kicks out. Carmella attacks Sasha, but the champ reverses into the Bank Statement for the submission. Another slightly overbooked WWE TLC 2020 match, but it definitely exceeded my expectations.
Carmella isn’t on Sasha’s level, but this was better than it had any right to be.
Winner (And STILL Champion): Sasha Banks
Match Rating: ***
Raw Tag Team Championship Match – New Day (C) Vs. Hurt Business (W/ MVP)
Fun fact for WWE TLC 2020. Well, not really, but a fact. I just googled the phrase “Xavier Woods’s trombone’s name.” Anyway, you folks at home remember Kofi Kingston? He was the WWE Champion for an hour and a half before a sentient slab of meat needed to score a big rating on Fox.
Cedric and Kofi start, and Kofi takes over early. He hits a Russian legsweep before tagging in Xavier. Xavier hits a top-rope legdrop for two. Now Kofi tags back in and hits a diving cross body for two. Cedric crawls for his corner, but Kofi cuts him off. Xavier tags in and they double-team Cedric. Now Xavier hits an inverted lifting DDT. He goes for a cover, but Shelton Benjamin runs in to break up the pin. Cedric finally makes the tag, and Benjamin clotheslines Xavier through the mat. He follows that up with a release suplex for two.
Benjamin hits a spinebuster for two. He whips Xavier into the corner, but Xavier counters with a forearm before propping Benjamin over the middle rope. He tags in Kofi, leapfrogs Benjamin through the ropes to dropkick Cedreic on the outside. Kofi splashes Benjamin and gets a two-count. Xavier tags back in and hits a tilt-a-whirl DDT for two. Now Xavier whips Benjamin into the corner. Benjamin backdrops him over the top rope onto the apron before bringing him back inside and driving him head-first into the turnbuckle. Cedric follows with a cheap shot kick between Xavier’s shoulder blades. He rolls him back inside after making the tag for a two-count.
Cedric cinches in a rear chinlock before stomping at Xavier’s shoulders. He tags Benjamin back in, and Benjamin puts the boots to Xavier. Benjamin hits an armbreaker before putting more pressure on the shoulder. Tom Phillips says the Hurt Business has defined 2020 for Raw. Well, that and ratings tanking through the floor, but sure. Benjamin still has the headlock on about six hours later, but Xavier escapes and tags in Kofi. Now Kofi-Mania runs wild until Cedric makes the tag. They go for a double-team move, but Kofi escapes and hits SOS on Cedric for two.
Kofi goes for Trouble In Paradise, but Cedric ducks. Cedric scores with a knee to Kofi’s face, followed by a brainbuster, but Xavier breaks up the pin. Benjamin and Xavier brawl in the ring. Cedric takes Xavier out, and Benjamin tags back in to go after the legal man, Kofi. Benjamin goes for the Angle Slam, but Kofi counters with an enziguri. He kicks Cedric off the apron before catching Benjamin between the eyes with a kick. Kofi climbs to the top, but Benjamin crotches him and climbs up top to join him. Benjamin goes for a superplex, but Kofi fights him off. Now Benjamin rushes up top and hits the superplex, but Cedric tags himself in and hits the lawnmower kick for the pin to win the tag titles.
Okay, so I’m eating a lot of crow for WWE TLC 2020. That wasn’t a great match by any means, but it was a lot better than I thought it’d be.
Winners (And NEW Champions): Hurt Business
Match Rating: ** 1/4
Women’s Tag Team Championship Match – Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler (C) Vs. Asuka & Mystery Partner
Asuka was supposed to team with Lana for this match, but Nia ended her career. In storyline. Or was it? Be honest: If I said, “Nia Jax ended Lana’s career,” you’d say, “Eh, sounds about right.” And Asuka’s partner is Charlotte Flair! Well, the dirt sheets were right, so good for them, I guess. I’m fine with it, as long as we don’t see the return of the Omni-Flair.
Asuka and Baszler lock up. Both women trade kicks, but Baszler catches Asuka’s only for Asuka to reverse into an armbar. Baszler escapes and goes after Asuka’s arm. Asuka rolls to her corner and tags in Charlotte. The Queen goes straight for the Figure Four, but Baszler evades it and tags in Nia Jax. Charlotte tries to grip Jax from behind, but Jax escapes. Jax goes for a reverse splash in the corner, but Charlotte escapes. Charlotte gets Jax in a headlock, and Asuka tags in and goes after Jax with all the strikes. But Jax whips Asuka into the ropes only for Asuka to hit a codebreker. Asuka follows with a leaping reverse elbow in the corner. She goes up top, but Jax pulls her down. Asuka goes for a sunset flip, but Jax picks her up and drives her into the ring post.
Baszler tags in and wrecks Asuka’s bad arm. She cinches in a reverse armbar and twists at Asuka’s wrist for extra torque. Asuka rolls her up but only gets one. Baszler stands up and puts Asuka down with a clothesline before tagging in Jax. Now Jax drags Asuka’s bad arm into the ring post before tossing her into the barricade. Jax throws Asuka back into the ring. Baszler tags back in, and they double team Asuka in their corner. Baszler goes back to work on the bad arm. Asuka tries to reverse into the shoulder lock, but Baszler shrugs her off. She tosses Asua to the outside and tags in Jax.
Nia Jax stalks Asuka and throws her around the ringside area. Asuka rushes back inside to make the tag, but Jax cuts her off. Now Asuka hits a superkick, and she makes the hot tag to Charlotte. Charlotte goes Chop City on Jax before hitting a running stomp. Baszler runs in for interference, but she eats an overhead suplex. Charlotte goes after Jax in the corner. Big boot by the Queen gets two. Asuka takes both women out on the outside, and Charlotte follows with a moonsault on the floor. She lifts Jax back into the ring. Charlotte goes for the Figure Four, but Jax kicks her into the top turnbuckle. Jax goes for a Samoan drop, but Asuka makes a blind tag and hits a missile dropkick.
Now Jax tags in Baszler. Baszler goes after Asuka’s and cinches in the clutch. Asuka bacs her into the corner, and Charlotte makes the tag. She takes out both heels, but Baszler sneaks up from behind with a roll-up. Charlotte kicks out and cinches in the Figure Four and bridges into the Figure Eight. But Jax drags her away only for Asuka to take Jax out. Now Baszler goes for the clutch, but Charlotte rolls through and gets a two-count. But Charlotte hits Natural Selection to win the match and the tag titles.
This WWE TLC 2020 match was about what I expected. It was fine, and at least Jax didn’t kill anybody. But seriously, how many people is Asuka gonna play second-fiddle to this year?
Winners (And NEW Champions): Asuka & Charlotte Flair
Match Rating: ** 3/4
Universal Championship, TLC Match – Roman Reigns (C, W/ Paul Heyman) Vs. Kevin Owens
Credit where it’s due, Roman is starting to come into his own as a heel. Now that they’ve built it up, I kinda sorta almost buy the whole “head of the table” thing. Of course, getting here was painful. Like, I don’t care how good this run ends up for Roman, I still had to sit through him wandering around a cage and talking to Jey Uso for nine hours at Hell In A Cell.
And Owens has done a killer job of playing the plucky good guy who just doesn’t know when to stay down.
Owens doesn’t get an entrance, as he just sneaks in and rushes the champion before the bell. The challenger hits the cannonball in the corner, and the champ rolls to the outside. KO bats Roman around ringside for a couple minutes, hitting another cannonball against the barricade. Now Owens throws Roman into the steel steps before hitting a frog splash off the ring apron. Jey Uso tries to distract Owens from setting up the ladder, so Owens superkicks his face in. KO dispatches with Jey and wails on him with a chair before turning the chair back to Roman. Jey gets a cheapshot in. He goes for a superkick, but Owens swats his foot with the chair before Pillman-izing him! Jeeze, KO is a man possessed tonight.
But he’s also an idiot, because he’s still worried about Jey Uso. He clears the announce table and keeps his attention on Jey Uso as referees tend to Jey. As KO climbs back into the ring, Roman hits the drive-by to knock him off the apron and onto the floor. Roman picks up the steels steps and bashes them into Owens’s shoulder a few times. Now this is the Evil Roman we’ve been waiting for since August. In the ring, Roman wails away on Owens with a ladder. Roman rolls to the outside and grabs a couple of chairs to bring back inside with him.
The champ swings at KO’s back, and it looks vicious as hell. Owens picks up a chair to block Roman’s shots with, but it doesn’t work. I love how Roman is playing this character at WWE TLC 2020. He got embarrassed at the start of the match, and now he’s overcompensating by just murdering KO. Owens finally gets to his feet and lays in a couple punches only to eat an uppercut. KO goes for the pop-up powerbomb, but Roman backdrops him through a couple of chairs. Ouch. Roman resolves to “torture this fool.” He chucks Owens through the ropes and to the outside before setting up a ladder in the center of the ring. So never mind with the whole torture thing?
Roman starts climbing, but Owens sneaks in with a chair and knocks the champ off the ladder before wailing on him with the chair. Owens starts climbing the ladder and gets a finger on the belt, but Jey Uso pulls Owens down. They slug it out. Owens gets the advantage, but Roman sneaks in and hits the Superman punch. Jey slides a couple of tables into the ring. Jey sets one up on its legs while Roman props another in the corner. The champ stands on Owens’s head for a minute. But Owens hits the Stunner (BAH GAWD!) on Roman.
KO sets up a ladder and starts climbing, but Jey pulls him down again. On the outside, Owens hits the pop-up powerbomb, sending Jey crashing through the table. KO buries Jey under the rubble of the announce desk and chucks an office chair on purpose. Too late, Kev, Vince buried the Usos years ago. Owens climbs the ladder again and gets a hand on the belt, but Roman scales up the other side. They slug it out on the ladder, but Roman rakes Owens’s eyes. Roman pulls him down. Owens goes for a superkick, but Roman powerbombs him onto a ladder, and Owens’s head just bounces off of it like a basketball. OUCH.
Roman drags the challenger to the outside and chokeslams him through a table, and a couple of chairs hit him in the face on the way down. This WWE TLC 2020 match is vicious. Roman drags KO up again and hits a Samoan drop through another table. The champ heads back into the ring and starts climbing the ladder. KO appears out of nowhere and grabs onto Roman’s ankle. Roman laughs as he climbs down. Owens gets one slap in only for Roman to immediately spear him through a table. KO rolls to the outside, because I’m reasonably sure he’s legally dead. Somehow, Owens pulls himself up by another ladder on the outside and shouts that Roman is gonna have to kill him.
Roman goes to spear KO through the barricade, but Owens dodges, and the champ goes through the barricade. Owens climbs into the ring and starts ascending the ladder. Just as he gets a finger on the title, Roman returns from the dead. He drags Owens down and slams him head-first into the ladder. KO gets a couple of superkicks out of nowhere. He goes for the pop-up powerbomb, but Roman counters with a Superman punch. Roman comes off the ropes for another one, but Owens catches him in mid-air and hits the pop-up powerbomb through the table.
Now Owens starts climbing the ladder for the 434th time in this match. He gets a hand on the belt again, but Jey Uso climbs to the top to run interference. Owens comes back down and hits the Stunner on Jey before climbing back up again. He gets another hand on the title, but Roman meets him at the top with a Greco Roman Nutshot. Roman locks in the guillotine at the top of the ladder. The champ puts Owens out and chucks him off the ladder before retrieving the title to retain.
Yeah, so this was awesome. I expected absolutely nothing out of this. And WWE TLC 2020 proved me wrong again.
Winner (And STILL Champion): Roman Reigns
Match Rating: **** 1/2
Firefly Inferno Match – The Fiend Vs. Randy Orton
Just a reminder of how stupid inferno matches are, the only way to win is to set your opponent on fire.
Orton rushes the Fiend and lays a big punch in on him, but the Fiend laughs it off. Now Randy goes for a kick to the head, eliciting more giggles from the Fiend. Another punch seems to make him angry. Orton goes for the RKO, and the Fiend just goes nuts on the Viper in the corner. An uppercut from the Fiend puts Orton on the mat. The Fiend hits a headbutt, and Orton retreats to the corner for a breather. But the Fiend follows. He sets Orton up for Sister Abigail, but Orton evades with a dropkick.
The Fiend whips Orton into the ropes and hits a diving crossbody. He sets up for Sister Abigail again, but Orton punches himself free and hits a backbreaker. But the Fiend kips up. Orton goes for the RKO again, but the Fiend blocks and finally hits Sister Abigail. Apparently the Fiend has Undertaker powers, because multiple poles around the ring catch fire. Orton tries desperately to stay in the ring, but the Fiend drags him out. He bashes Orton’s head into the steel ring steps before gouging Orton’s eyes. The Fiend tries to drag Orton toward the flames, but Orton fights him off.
Orton gets in a couple of punches but eats a clothesline. The Fiend pulls out a strap and starts whipping Orton with it. Now he gets a thicker strap from under the ring and dips it in the fire. He swings at Orton with the flaming strap, but Orton dodges. Orton tries to push the Fiend’s head into the flames, but he counters and bashes Orton’s head into the ring post. The Fiend gets a pick axe (WHAT?!) from under the ring and swings at Orton. It misses, so the Fiend rams his head into the post a couple more times. Seriously, don’t introduce literally deadly weapons into a pro wrestling match. You can’t use them, and if you could, someone would die. So yeah, don’t do that.
The Fiend chucks Orton into the barricade a couple of times. For some reason, Bray’s rocking chair is sitting at ringside. The Fiend douses it in gasoline and makes a trail behind it. He throws Orton shoulder-first into the steel steps before propping Orton in the chair. The Fiend drops a match into the stream, and Orton bails out of the chair at the last minute (because editing is a thing, the cut was pretty awkward). Orton attacks the Fiend with the steel steps and a literal ax handle. Now the Viper wraps a chain around his hand and punches at the Fiend. He holds the Fiend’s face close to the flames, but the Fiend breaks free.
Orton follows the Fiend into the ring, where the Fiend is waiting with a Rock Bottom. The Fiend hits the neck snap and throws him back out to the floor. Now the Fiend gets his hand on the ax handle. He dips it in the fire and turns it into a torch, but Orton scores with a kick to the gut. The Fiend drops the ax hndle. Now Orton his the draping DDT off of the ring apron, sending the Fiend’s head crashing to the floor. Orton signals for the RKO (has he ever hit it after telegraphing it like this)? He moves in, but the Fiend locks in the Mandible Claw. The Fiend edges Orton close to the flames, but Orton turns him around and sets the Fiend on fire.
But the Fiend, still on fire, chases Orton into the ring. Orton hits the RKO on the Fiend (WHO IS STILL ON FIRE). Nobody calls for a finish or declares a winner, but Orton set the Fiend on fire. So. He wins, right? Please explain. Need input. Anyway, Orton isn’t done. He heads to the outside and gets another gas can and douses the unconscious Fiend in gasoline. The Viper lights a match and sets the Fiend ablaze. Yeah, okay, that’s murder. To recap, you can immolate people, but don’t you dare cut your forehead and draw blood.
This was okay-ish. It was just over-the-top enough that there was no danger of taking it seriously. But it was honestly just a cinematic match only not shot in a studio or on location.
Winner: Randy Orton
Match Rating: Um. Well, Randy Orton killed a guy.
So WWE TLC 2020 wasn’t great, but it was a lot better than I thought it would be. When it comes to WWE PPVs, that’s one of two factors I look for. Did it exceed my expectations, and did it make me miserable? It’s a pretty low bar, but this show cleared it.
The two TLC matches alone make this show worth checking out. It’s not the best undercard in the world, and the Firefly Inferno Match was – well, it was certainly something that WWE put on television.
All images courtesy of WWE.
WWE TLC 2020
- Both TLC matches.
- Pretty much everything exceeded expectations.
- Roman Reigns finally coming into his own with this character.
- Nia Jax didn't hurt anybody.
- The women's tag title match was kinda weak.
- Randy Orton killed a guy with fire.