WWE’s final PPV of the year, TLC, is on Sunday. It’s generally a fairly chaotic affair, so I think it’s safe to assume we’ll be getting a fairly chaotic build. AJ Styles has ‘The Nightmare before TLC’ planned for Drew McIntyre, and has a match against Sheamus. The Firefly Fun House crew are having a field trip to the ThunderDome. The New Day team up with Jeff Hardy to face The Hurt Business. And Lana will try to survive a one on one match against Nia Jax ahead of her tag title challenge with Asuka on Sunday.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
AJ Styles def. Sheamus
The Hurt Business def. Jeff Hardy & The New Day
Lana def. Nia Jax
The Miz & John Morrison def. Keith Lee
MACE def. Ricochet
Shayna Baszler def. Dana Brooke
Riddle def. MVP
♦ The Dirt Sheet opened the show with Miz reading the story of ‘The Nightmare before TLC’. It was the story of AJ Styles’ feud with Drew McIntyre. Styles was framed as the protagonist, and he was in the ring to play his part. John Morrison played the part of Drew McIntyre, badly. That part of the story ended with Styles stabbing fake McIntyre with his own sword and climbing the ladder.
Miz improvised his own ending, predicting his cash-in. Styles was arguing with him about it when Sheamus arrived. He was bored with the storytelling and wanted to fight. AJ Styles threw a Christmas tree at him so he could escape. Sheamus threw a large box out after him and knocked Styles over.
Sheamus vs AJ Styles was scheduled for later in the show, allegedly, but it started after the first break. A good match, obviously, and a longish one. Omos saved Styles from a powerbomb onto the announce desk heading into the adds and got involved in an uncomfortable standoff with Sheamus. By the time we came back, Styles was trying to rip Sheamus’ knee apart in the middle of the ring, with limited success.
Omos was a factor by his mere presence again later in the match when Sheamus was clearly wary of having his back to him while pounding on Styles. Styles almost got a submission by working on the leg, but Sheamus got to the ropes. It was a rough match for Styles, less than a week before a TLC match, but he scraped a win. Sheamus climbed the turnbuckle with Styles on his back. Styles wriggled down, chopped Sheamus leg out from under him so he fell to the mat, and pinned him.
Styles spent too long mouthing off and Sheamus post-match and got right up to the ring to do it. Sheamus grabbed him by the arm then the hair. Omos grabbed Sheamus and hung him upside down with his leg trapped in the ropes. Styles got bored of kicking him in the chest, so Omos got him a chair to batter Sheamus with instead. He was backed off by a ref but came back for another go before he finally left.
♦ The Hurt Business terrorised a crew member for wearing a Riddle hat and eating a donut. Bobby Lashley poured milk over his head. Sarah Schreiber spoke to MVP about his match against Riddle, but he just patronised her and answered the questions he wanted her to ask.
Riddle was still pitching ideas at people. This time he was pitching his services to be in Jeff Hardy and The New Day’s corner. Surprisingly, they accepted him, so he joined them for The New Day & Jeff Hardy vs The Hurt Business. There was a bit of tension for The Hurt Business when Cedric Alexander tagged himself in on Bobby Lashley. It probably didn’t help Alexander’s case that he got thrown around for his entire stint until he tagged Shelton Benjamin. It all fell apart going into the break and The Hurt Business were cleared from the ring for a Hardy, Riddle, and New Day celebration.
Lashley threw Kingston from the ring to the floor when Kinston looked close to finishing Benjamin. It would have been a DQ if the ref had seen it, but he didn’t and it left Kofi Kingston in a lot of trouble for an extended period. He was trapped in the Hurt Business corner and took vicious punishment from all three. Maybe enough to put The New Day at a disadvantage on Sunday.
Kingston eventually tagged Hardy in. It broke down again after an interrupted pin attempt on Alexander. The New Day went diving over the top rope, but Woods was caught by Lashley who then knocked down Kingston and got knocked down by Hardy. Another unseen match almost cost Hardy the match, but instead, it was interference from Alexander that led to Jeff Hardy tapping in the Hurt Lock.
♦ Asuka gave Lana a lovely pep-talk before Lana vs Nia Jax began. She said that Jax is scary but Lana is facing her anyway. That makes her the bravest person she knows and she’s proud to be her partner on Sunday. Shayna Baszler and Asuka did not accompany their partners to the ring. Asuka was shown watching a monitor and cheering Lana on. Maybe she heard her because Lana got Jax down and kicked her in the face. She went to the corner, but Jax headbutted her before she finished her climb. Somehow, Lana scrabbled down from Jax’ shoulders, kicked her feet out from under her and double-stomped her for the win.
Shayna Baszler attacked Asuka while she was celebrating Lana’s victory then came out to help Jax beat on Lana. Jax already had Lana down after attacking her from behind and bashing her face on the mat repeatedly. Lana took a leg drop from Jax and had her elbow stamped on by Baszler before they destroyed her ankle while Lana begged. Baszler stamped on it and twisted it and removed her boot. Jax kept doing leg drops on it until Asuka recovered enough to run down and save her. Sunday’s title match looks to be in jeopardy.
♦ Elias has a bodyguard, Jaxson Ryker. Apparently, that was revealed on Main Event, but WWE don’t feel the need to show that in the UK. The electric shock Elias took in the Symphony of Destruction match a couple of weeks ago would have ended a normal man, but it gave him visions of his purpose and of Ryker. It seems The Forgotten Sons are to be forgotten, which is fine. Ryker is now playing loyal and violent disciple. R-Truth interrupted the performance to apologise for interrupting him on Main Event last week. He refused to speak anymore and stood motionless until the 24/7 championship chasing pack arrived. Jaxson Ryker dealt with all of them in one way or another and R-Truth escaped. Elias didn’t get to play.
♦ The Miz thinks Styles is trying to get on his good side, but he’s still not happy about Styles encouraging him to cash in because he’d be easier to beat than McIntyre. Morrison said Styles had a point, but that Styles would also be easier to beat than McIntyre. Keith Lee arrived and, with a coin toss where they both called heads, gave them a two on one handicap match.
So we got Keith Lee vs The Miz & John Morrison. I like watching Miz and Morrison get bounced around, so it was fun. Morrison messed up Lee’s pounce, which is a shame. There was some suggestion that Miz and Morrison would have to tag in and out, but that turned out not to be the case and eventually, the numbers got Lee down. Even with coordinated attacks, Miz and Morrison struggled to keep Lee down though. They finally managed it when Miz delivered a chop block while Lee was holding Morrison. Lee collapsed down with Morrison on top of him and Miz piled on to make sure he stayed down.
♦ The Firefly Fun House Field trip was weird. The puppets were at the barricades as audience members. Wyatt apologised to Randy Orton for being replaced by The Fiend at the end of their match last week. He said he wishes they’d got to finish it because he’s not sure how much of Orton will be left after TLC. There will be no fun and games at TLC, just sadness and pain, so tonight will be a celebration with laughs. He’d written some jokes for Randy Orton, which he read out. They are not worth repeating, but the puppets liked them.
Orton appeared on the big screen and admitted he was outmanoeuvred by The Fiend last week, but that won’t happen on Sunday. He challenged Wyatt to a game of hide and seek and Wyatt accepted and went off to find him with the puppets still laughing.
♦ Ricochet vs MACE took place with Mustafa Ali joining commentary and the rest of RETRIBUTION standing beside him. Ali got a dig in about Samoa Joe sitting in MACE’s chair. SlapJack and T-BAR got involved but Ricochet wouldn’t stay down. Ali gave MACE the instruction, ‘Shut him down’, and MACE immediately swung Ricochet up and crashed him into the mat for the win. Ali told Ricochet this won’t end until he’s a member of RETRIBUTION.
♦ While he was looking for Orton, Bray Wyatt ran into Riddle, who pitched a Firefly Fun House segment to him. Ramblin’ Rabbit appeared and spoke to Riddle after Wyatt left. He gave Riddle an autograph on a carrot for Riddle’s rabbit, because he’s a huge fan.
♦ Before Shayna Baszler vs Dana Brooke got underway, it was announced that Lana had been taken to a local medical facility with bad injuries to her elbow and leg. She’s out of the tag title match and Asuka needs a new partner. Enter Dana Brooke putting on a serious performance against Shayna Baszler until Nia Jax caused the disqualification by pushing Brooke off the turnbuckle. Mandy Rose ran down with a kendo stick to help out, but it took Asuka coming to her rescue when she lost the stick to Baszler, to clear the tag champs from the ring.
♦ R-Truth was talking to Huskus in the corridor when Bray Wyatt found them. He still hadn’t found Randy Orton though.
Wyatt found a rocking chair rocking away in a spotlight on its own and sat in it. Randy Orton hit him from behind and got him on the floor to punch and kick him. It turned into a very dimply lit brawl around what looked like a loading bay until Orton put Wyatt in a big box, stamped on him a lot, then closed the lid. With an evil smile, he picked up something flammable that was conveniently there, poured it over the box, and set fire to it. He stood there and watched it burn until The Fiend popped out of the still burning box and locked in the mandible claw until Orton was unconscious.
♦ MVP vs Riddle was humiliatingly short for MVP. He got pinned with a knee to the face and Floating Bro in well under a minute. Riddle got out of the ring before the rest of The Hurt Business could get at him, and taunted them with a donut from the ramp.
♦ The WWE Championship Ascension Ceremony was overseen by Tom Phillips. Styles and Drew McIntyre were given the opportunity to address each other one last time before Sunday. Styles told McIntyre he should probably address the championship instead as it’s the last time he’s going to have it. Then he went on and on about McIntyre taking 19 years to get his title. Not only is it the first time they’ll have faced each other one on one, it’s McIntyre’s first TLC match. Styles thinks that, alongside knowing what it takes to be a champion better that McIntyre, gives him the advantage.
Drew McIntyre agreed with all Styles’ factual points but focused on himself for his speech. He’d always thought his goal was to become champion but it’s not, it’s to stay champion. He’s the champion who led WWE through 2020’s uncharted water, who thrives under pressure and it’s the long journey that made him that way. And he’s the champion who’s going to tear Styles apart on Sunday. He’s going to do whatever it takes to make sure he remains champion.
As the title was raised above the ring, Styles said it sounded like Drew was totally prepared to face him in a TLC match. But what if it wasn’t just him. That was when Miz and Morrison appeared from ringside and tipped a ladder onto McIntyre to start the beatdown.
It didn’t go well. Styles was tipped out of the ring. Miz took a Claymore. Morrison took a Claymore while holding a ladder. Styles came at McIntyre again and took a headbutt, but Omos threw some steps into the ring before McIntyre could deliver a Claymore. Styles caught McIntyre with a chop block while he was staring at Omos and delivered a Phenomenal Forearm. Omos gave Styles a ladder and he hit McIntyre with it twice and threw it at him, so Omos gave him a chair to hit him with instead. Styles propped the chair in the corner and rammed McIntyre’s head into it. Omos set up a table outside the ring, Styles set one up in the ring and laid McIntyre on it then jumped off a ladder to put him through it. To drive his point home, Styles climbed the ladder and unhooked the title.
That was a busy go-home show and a pretty enjoyable episode. TLC should be a great show, it’s generally decent. But if they try to outdo NXT TakeOver: WarGames, it will be a massacre. We’ll find out on Sunday.