Ready to see someone set on fire?
Less dew eet!!!
(0:04) In a bit of a surprise move, tonight’s show is getting started with the WWE Title match, with Drew McIntyre defending against AJ Styles. This is a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match at the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs event. You decide if this match being the opener increases or decreases the possibility that The Miz gets involved. On one hand, Miz cashing his Money In The Bank briefcase in to win the title would be big news, so you might want to close the show with it. On the other hand… it’s The Miz, so maybe you should just get it over with and move on.
(0:07) Gotta love when Network events start with a lengthy video package, to then go to the introduction for the opening match… which features a lengthy video package between entrances.
(0:11) Just a ridiculous amount of pyro and fire for Drew McIntyre’s entrance.
(0:13) We finally get the opening bell, and we’re underway.
(0:14) Big Omos is comically tall. He’s standing at ringside, and his head appears to be at, or maybe above, the middle rope. He is EVERY BIT of the 7’3″ tall that he’s listed. We’re not talking wrestling height, where a 6’9″ Undertaker can be listed at 6’11” or more.
(0:18) Early domination by the champion so far. As you would expect from a McIntyre match, it has been physical, and we haven’t even really gotten to the usage of weapons yet.
(0:19) They read my thoughts. AJ brings a steel chair into the ring and stops McIntyre’s climb to the top of the ladder.
(0:23) Whenever I see AJ brush his hair out of his face, I always think about my wife and I sitting in the front row at Raw and Smackdown a couple years back. During a commercial break before his match, AJ was at the ringside barricade, talking about how difficult it is to keep his hair the way it is. He said that his hair is always annoying him and getting in his mouth. Think about that the next time you assume being glamorous is easy.
(0:25) A ladder-assisted Calf Crusher by AJ! That looks pretty painful. Good creativity there.
(0:26) Now, a chair-assisted Calf Crusher by AJ! This one, while still painful, isn’t quite locked in the way it could/should be. Again, though, I dig the creativity. AJ is trying to keep the bigger, stronger champion grounded. Styles is one of the smarter workers around, always working with an actual strategy.
(0:30) I’m a fan of the pace we’ve seen so far. AJ, of course, is faster and works quicker, but Drew Mac’s physicality is more than just punch, lumber around, kick, lumber around, punch, and lumber around again.
(0:33) Omos finally gets involved in the match, sliding a ladder into the ring for Styles to use. With there not being disqualifications in this match, why not just have Omos see if he can help his guy win the match quickly? I know… we’re not supposed to think about that kind of thing.
(0:35) McIntyre sends Styles through a table on the outside, and is ready to climb a ladder, only to be interrupted by The Miz. Miz cashes in, and now… we have a Triple Threat Match. What a fucking dummy. Miz goes to climb the ladder, only to have Omos pick him up, carry him like a baby, and throw Miz through a table. In a funny moment, John Morrison hits Omos across the back with a steel chair, literally breaking the chair to pieces, but it only angers Omos. We reset things with Omos stalking Morrison backstage, while all three competitors in the match try to make their way back to their feet.
(0:39) Styles and McIntyre battle atop a ladder, so Miz sets his own ladder up, only to be shoved off of it.
(0:40) After being dumped from his ladder, McIntyre dumps both Miz and Styles down, sending AJ crashing to the outside in a scary spot. After hitting a Claymore on The Miz, the WWE Champion climbs a ladder and grabs the belt. That was the best possible scenario, if you ask me, and since you’re reading my words, you kind of did. Not only does the champion get to keep his momentum, but we don’t have to deal with Miz and his lame duck Money In The Bank reign anymore. That was a good match. Not an instant classic or anything, but entertaining from bell-to-bell. I’ll say 3.75 stars, but it’s also the type of match that I think I might adjust the rating for in a positive way upon a second viewing, when I’m not typing a column at the same time as watching.
(0:46) The Smackdown Women’s Title is on the line next, as Sasha Banks defends against Carmella. After all that hubbub about Sasha never being able to retain a singles title on the main roster, she was finally able to do so, but will she still end up with a short title reign? If she loses tonight, her reign will end at 56 days.
(0:51) It must be weird for someone like Corey Graves to watch Carmella, his real-life girlfriend, do her “look at me, I’m so sexy” ring entrance. He’s seen it all before, of course, but he has to find that fine line of drooling over her, in character, while not making it too obvious that it’s his girlfriend. I dunno. These are just the things I think about from time-to-time.
(0:55) Reginald, Carmella’s personal sommelier, gets involved in the match, catching Carmella as she is sent to the outside. What a random way for someone to become a member of WWE’s main roster.
(0:57) I know it’s pretty much the point, but damn, Carmella’s voice is really screechy.
(0:59) Sasha hits the Three Amigos suplexeseseseses, followed by hitting a Frog Splash, but it only gets a two-count. Even after all these years, I still enjoy a good Eddie Guerrero tribute done every now and then.
(1:02) Every few seconds, Carmella has to stop what she’s doing so that she can adjust her arm sleeves and the trunks she’s wearing. That’s always something that makes me laugh. You’re supposed to know, long before you ever start a match, if any part of your ring gear isn’t up to par.
(1:04) Nice series of reversals and mat work by both women, with a bunch of near falls. Well done.
(1:05) Reginald gets involved again, pulling Carmella out of the ring to break up a submission. He gets a Meteora from the ring apron for his troubles. Poor Reggie. Poor Sasha’s knees.
(1:06) Banks Statement gets the submission victory for the champion. That was fun. Off the top of my head, that was probably the best match of Carmella’s career, and Sasha continues her streak of top notch in-ring work. Let’s say 3.25 stars.
(1:11) Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin, representing The Hurt Business, are out for their 29th consecutive Raw Tag Team Title shot. Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods cut a random pre-match promo from the Gorilla Position. This one is probably going to be a ton of fun, but my goodness, either have the titles change hands or move on already.
(1:16) The champions have started things off with a very aggressive style. It’s a nice change-of-pace.
(1:17) You forget how long Shelton Benjamin has been around until you hear, on commentary, that it has been 17 years since he has been a Tag Team Champion in WWE.
(1:21) A random question, but does anyone think Xavier Woods can be the WWE or Universal Champion in the future? Obviously, Kofi had his turn, and a ton of people are calling for Big E to get his chance in 2021, but what about Woods?
(1:22) As expected, this has been a lot of fun so far. Rapid fire action from both sides.
(1:25) A Lumbar Check gets the pin for Cedric Alexander, and we have new champions. The big news is going to be that Cedric tagged himself in to finish the match when Shelton was looking to get the win himself. I dig it. Cedric is getting more and more comfortable as a heel as the weeks go on. Another good match to keep tonight’s streak going. I’m definitely comfortable going with 3.5 stars there. I wish the match would’ve been longer, though.
(1:31) Next up, the Women’s Tag Team Titles are on the line. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler defend the titles against Asuka and a mystery partner. By now, most of us have seen the rumors of who the mystery partner is going to be, and if it is her, all I can say is… meh. No, that’s actually not fair. She would help to improve the match quality here, but it still isn’t really something I want to see.
(1:35) If they really decide to remove Lana from this match… man…
(1:36) Well… the rumors were true. Asuka’s mystery partner is none other than Charlotte Flair. That means, as of now, Lana really did get sent through a table every week for the last nine years… for nothing. Odd writing, without a doubt.
(1:39) I don’t want to start rumors, but uh, Charlotte’s face looks a little… different… than the last time we saw her. Hey, sometimes you need a change, you know?
(1:43) I’ve said it before, but Nia Jax wrestles as if she were moving around in a vat of molasses. Sooooo… slowwwww…
(1:45) Charlotte certainly doesn’t look like she’s missed a step in her time away.
(1:46) To prove that she hasn’t missed a step, Charlotte performs a Moonsault from the top rope to the outside, and she completely misses both Jax and Baszler. She missed just like she used to! It really is like she never left.
(1:48) Natural Selection… and we have new champions! Well, that probably shouldn’t be a surprise, I guess. The match wasn’t terrible. I simply can’t get excited about watching Nia Jax wrestle. Whenever Nia wasn’t in the ring, it worked for me. This was more about telling the story of Charlotte’s return than it was being a fantastic bout, and that’s fine sometimes. I’ll say 2.5 stars.
(1:53) Well slap me in the face and call me Susan… we’re not closing the show with the Universal Title match. Next up, Roman Reigns defends the Universal Championship against Kevin Owens in a TLC Match. The build to this one has been incredible, just like everything else Reigns has been involved in since his return. His work is making everyone else around him step their games up, and it shows.
(1:55) Please don’t actually slap me in the face or call me Susan if you happen to see me in person.
(2:01) Kevin Owens FUCKING TELEPORTS out of nowhere during the entrance of Roman Reigns, and he is on a roll to get this match underway.
(2:03) It didn’t take long for Jey Uso to interfere. He is equalized right away, though, by Owens, who ends up Pillmanizing Jey’s ankle in a chair. The challenger means business tonight.
(2:07) Reigns is finally back on track, and his offense is just brutal. Every move he does has an added layer of sinister thoughts behind it. As I type this, he is using a steel chair to destroy Owens’ midsection.
(2:09) You know what doesn’t look like fun? Taking a Back Body Drop across two steel chairs that are set up. You know what Kevin Owens just dealt with? He took a Back Body Drop across two steel chairs that were set up.
(2:11) After being taken to the back by WWE officials, Jey Uso is back to pull Owens down from the ladder. That’s quite the miraculous recovery from having his ankle smashed.
(2:14) Owens fights Jey Uso off AGAIN. The Tribal Chief isn’t going to be very happy with the performance of his “top soldier” tonight.
(2:15) As soon as I finished typing that, Owens puts Uso through a table at ringside with a Pop-Up Powerbomb, and then “buries” Uso underneath the table and random ringside plunder.
(2:18) Not to use the overused phrase for this type of match, but this has been like a car crash. Bodies everywhere, violence, people crashing through things, and so on. Owens was just put through a table with a Samoan Drop, and I swear that it was the 23rd table he’s gone through in the last two minutes.
(2:21) Guess what just happened? Reigns hits Owens with a Spear and… sends him crashing through a table. Even after all that, Owens is still fighting his way to his feet. He’s like a horror movie monster at this point.
(2:23) Reigns goes to hit a Spear on Owens through the ringside barricade, but Owens steps to the side and the champion goes crashing through. Reigns is a horror movie monster, too, though, because he is back to his feet in time to prevent Owens from climbing the ladder.
(2:24) Owens with a Pop-Up Powerbomb to put Reigns through a table! SO MANY TABLES BEING DESTROYED!
(2:25) Owens gets his fingertips on the title, but… yeah… Jey Uso interferes again. Take a wild guess about what happens next. Owens is able to fight off the interference.
(2:26) Well, he was sort of able to fight off the interference. Uso did just enough to allow Reigns back into the mix, and Roman locks the Guillotine Choke at the top of the ladder. Owens passes out and falls to the mat. Reigns grabs the belt and retains his title. That was another very good match. Not quite a Match Of The Year contender, but a very fun, 4-star train wreck. This has been quite the night of action. Easily one of WWE’s best Network events of 2020.
(2:32) Tonight’s main event is the first-ever Firefly Inferno Match between Randy Orton and The Fiend. Someone is going to be MURDERED in this match. At least I think so. I don’t know the fucking rules of this match.
(2:36) Sure enough, someone has to be SET ON MOTHERFUCKING FIRE for this match to come to an end.
(2:37) In what has to be the weirdest time of his life, Randy Orton makes his way to the ring wearing an actual pair of pants. Since he’s considerably more covered up than usual, does that mean he’s going to be SET ON MOTHERFUCKING FIRE before the night is over?
(2:43) A slow-moving entrance followed by another slow-moving entrance. Fun.
(2:46) All that talk about horror movie monsters I said earlier? I guess we need to apply it to The Fiend here, without a doubt. He eats some strikes from Orton and simply laughs it all off.
(2:48) The Fiend has the capability to control fire, and he sets the Thunderdome ablaze in a very, very cool visual.
(2:50) There is an insane amount of fire at ringside, and the fire shoots up every now and then. If you saw any of the recent interviews with The Undertaker on the WWE Network, you’d remember him mentioning his Inferno Match against Kane, saying that it was nearly impossible to breathe when the fire shot up, as it sucked all of the oxygen from everything nearby. These two must be miserable out there.
(2:52) Not only has The Fiend tried to hit Orton in the face with a pickaxe, but… well… he tried to hit Orton in the face with a fucking pickaxe. What more do you need?
(2:56) Orton goes to hit The Fiend with an RKO at ringside, but it is reversed into the Mandible Claw, only for Orton to reverse THAT and push The Fiend into the fire. Fiend’s entire jacket catches fire, and he charges after Orton in the ring, only to eat an RKO. There was no bell to signal the end of the match, even though Wyatt was on fire.
(2:58) After looking like he was sorry for what he had done, Orton goes to ringside and grabs a can of gasoline. He gets back in the ring and completely douses a fallen Fiend with the gasoline. Orton goes back to ringside and grabs a box of matches. He gets back in the ring and sets fire to what is CLEARLY a mannequin, or at least The Fiend’s ring gear stuffed with things to make it look like Bray Wyatt is actually there. That looked really bad. Like, REALLY bad. High school production bad. WWE is a gazillion dollar company, and they couldn’t find a way to make it look more believable that The Fiend was actually on fire?!? Unbelievable. That was basically a Cinematic Match, and I don’t want to rate those. It was also the type of match that is difficult to rate, anyway, with Fiend no-selling a lot of offense and there being a ton of stalling in between murder attempts. Orton wins… I think… and now the people who have complained about what WWE has done to Bray Wyatt have a bunch more ammunition to use.
Overall, that was a very good night of action. Even the “bad” wasn’t that bad, but this was an event largely featuring very good in-ring action and mostly logical booking decisions. Hit me up in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and let me know what you thought about TLC 2020. I’ll be right back here with my usual Wednesday work, so until then, be good to one another.