By Jason Powell
Aired live on pay-per-view
Houston, Texas at Toyota Center
The show opened with a video that put over TLC as "the most dangerous pay-per-view of the year"... The show is presented by the WWE Smackdown vs. Raw video game... Fireworks went off on the stage as the theme song played. There were ladders set up on the entrance ramp.
Michael Cole introduced the show from ringside, where he was accompanied by Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker. Cole had two Slammy Awards with him. The announcers turned their attention to the Intercontinental Title match. Lawler asked Cole if he could contain himself and then advised him not to get involved...
Powell's POV: No C.M. Punk on commentary. That's a damn shame. Let me guess, they have to make sure Smackdown is represented by Striker. Ugh.
1. Dolph Ziggler (w/Vickie Guerrero) defeated Kofi Kingston and Jack Swagger in a ladder match to retain the Intercontinental Title in 9:00. Striker asked Lawler if Vickie looks a little like Bill Dundee. Funny. Ziggler made the first play for the title just over one minute in. Kofi and Swagger stopped him by tipping the ladder over.
Swagger headed to ringside at 2:00 after he had a ladder slammed on his wrist. A trainer applied tape to the wrist, and then Swagger sold an injury. At 4:15, Vickie entered the ring while the three participants were selling. She tried to climb the ladder and go for the belt. Kofi stood below and tilbted the ladder back.
Dolph entered the ring and pleaded on his hands and knees. Swagger saved the day by hitting Kofi with a smaller ladder. There was no way Vickie was taking that bump. Dolph made a play for the belt a short time later. Kofi went up to stop him, but Swagger grabbed him from behind. Kofi fought off Swagger to stop Dolph.
Kofi and Dolph battled at the top of the ladder at 8:00. Kofi won the battle about 30 seconds later by knocking Ziggler down, but Swagger prevented him from grabbing the belt. Both men unhooked the belt and were fighting over it, but the belt fell to the mat and Ziggler ran back in and grabbed it to get the win...
Powell's POV: The announcers foreshadowed the finish a bit by reminding viewers that the winner has to retrieve the belt and have possession. The crowd was left a little flat by the finish, but I like it. The announcers played it up as Ziggler was lucky. A quality ladder match that could have used a few more minutes to feel special.
Backstage, Wade Barrett told the rest of Nexus that he's going to put an end John Cena. He said he's going to send a message to the world that you're either Nexus or against us...
2. Beth Phoenix and Natalya beat Michelle McCool and Layla in a tag team tables match in 9:30. There was a special LayCool table with artwork that made them look like witches. It was typical Divas action until the 2:30 mark when Phoenix was thrown through the ropes by McCool. Both of Beth's legs caught on the top rope and she landed hard on her back and head at ringside.
LayCool worked over Natalya while a referee tended to Phoenix at ringside. McCool set up for a Styles Clash off the second rope, but Beth returned to break it up. Beth appeared to dodge a bullet there and didn't seem to show any ill effects as she pressed one of her opponents above her head.
Later, McCool hit a couple of great looking kicks on her opponents. At 6:45, Beth locked in a double Sharpshooter on both LayCool members. McCool tapped, but there are no submissions in a tables match. At 9:00, LayCool set up for a double suplex on Natalya in the corner, but she pushed them onto the LayCool table. The table didn't break, so Natalya dove onto them and broke the table to get the win...
Powell's POV: A scary match at times. I assume the splash at the end was a case of the women going into improv mode or they had a lot more faith in that table than I would have. Man, that Beth spot was frightening. It didn't appear to be anything McCool did. Rather, it looked like Beth just hit the top rope with both feet, which caused her to land awkwardly.
The announcers spoke at ringside briefly... Backstage, Kane stood in front of a Christmas tree with a present in his hand. He said Christmas reminds him of when he was alone in the darkness while other kids were playing in the snow. He said for the first time, he's getting Christmas presents in the form of tables, ladders, and chairs. He mentioned his opponents and then trashed the tree...
Powell's POV: The live crowd cheered when Kane said tables, ladders, and chairs. Probably not the reaction you want a brand's top heel to get.
Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov came to the ring in street clothes wearing the tag title belts. Santino delivered a comical promo and said TLC stands for Totally Lethal Cobra. Nexus all came to the ring and the graphic listed the names of the former tag champs, so apparently the match is on...
Powell's POV: Here's the extra match that I was hoping would involve Daniel Bryan. Unfortunately, he worked the dark match. The result is available on the main page courtesy of Dot Net Member GTS (a/k/a Master Dottie), who is at the show.
3. Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov defeated Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater (w/Husky Harris, Michael McGillicutty) by DQ to retain the WWE Tag Titles. Cole said the titles were being defended in a traditional match. Santino was setting up for The Cobra when Michael McGillicutty entered the ring and clipped Santino's leg from behind. The referee saw it and called for the bell.
Afterward, the four Nexus members roughed up Santino and Kozlov. Wade Barrett walked to the ring and joined the assault. Barrett struck both men with chairshots to the back. A "Nexus sucks" chant broke out at one point. Nexus left Santino and Kozlov lying and headed up the ramp...
Powell's POV: I guess they felt they needed to put some heat on Barrett heading into his match against Cena. It's probably too little too late for regular viewers, but the live crowd was receptive.
A video game ad featuring Rey Mysterio aired... The announcers recapped the previous match and Barrett attack...
4. John Morrison defeated Sheamus in a ladder match to become No. 1 contender to the WWE Championship in 19:10. Sheamus jumped out to the early advantage and set up a ladder over the ring apron and the announcers desk. He tried to run Morrison into the ladder, but he slid under it and motioned for Sheamus to follow. Sheamus must not be very bright, as he complied, and took a kick.
At 3:25, Morrison leapt off the top rope and corkscrewed over the top of a ladder and onto Sheamus in the ring. Morrison went for the contract that was hanging above the ring, but Sheamus cut him off. Morrison caught his leg in the ladder. Sheamus worked it over and then pushed the ladder over. Sheamus smirked. Good stuff.
Morrison continued to sell the knee injury throughout the match by hopping on one leg. At 13:15, he set up the ladder and had to hop his way up. He got his hand on the contract, but Sheamus recovered and knocked him down. Morrison landed on his feet before falling down to sell the knee injury.
Sheamus went for the contract, but the ladder was out of position and he couldn't reach the contract. Morrison recovered and stopped him. Sheamus was knocked down, but remained on his feet and prevented Morrison from grabbing the contract. Morrison cleared Sheamus from the ring and made another play for the contract, but Sheamus tipped the ladder over and Morrison took a safe bump into the ropes.
At 18:00, both men fought on the ladder. Morrison drove Sheamus off the ladder, over the ropes, and through the ladder that was positioned over the ring apron and announcers' desk. Sheamus took the bump on his back, and Morrison tumbled onto the floor. Huge spot.
A short time later, Morrison headed back into the ring and climbed the ladder. Sheamus returned and tried to tip the ladder over, but Morrison put his foot on the rope and pushed it back upright, and then kicked Sheamus. Morrison grabbed the contract to win the match...
Powell's POV: That was great. It's a potential breakthrough match for Morrison's character, and both men had to take a step up the ladder (no pun intended) with that performance. The key now is Morrison's mic work leading up to the Royal Rumble. The production crew can make that match look even more special than it was on Raw, but Morrison has to make a real connection with the fans.
An ad aired for Knucklehead and Legendary DVDs...
Backstage, Josh Matthews interviewed The Miz, who had Alex Riley bring him the WWE Championship inside a briefcase. Miz cut a promo about people saying he defeated a wounded Randy Orton, and how he would beat him again tonight...
In another part of the backstage area, Wade Barrett and Michael McGillicutty blew off Todd Grisham to discuss strategy in their locker room. They found the rest of Nexus laid out...
Powell's POV: The fact that Morrison won the No. 1 contenders match combined with the fact that Miz vs. Orton is taking place at this point in the show really seems to telegraph the finish of the WWE Championship match. By the way, Riley has ditched the MITB briefcase for a silver briefcase. Can't they buy him one that looks expensive rather than generic?
5. The Miz (w/Alex Riley) defeated Randy Orton in a tables match for the WWE Championship in 15:15. Justin Roberts handled the in-ring introductions. Cole explained the rules of the tables match. The crowd was still coming down from the previous match when this one started, as it took them some time to get back into it.
After standard action, Orton set up a table around 8:45. He suplexed Miz toward the table, but Riley snuck in from ringside and moved it out of the way to save The Miz. At 11:00, Orton set up the table again. Riley continuously interfered. The ref was bumped at 11:45. Riley ran in and took an RKO.
Orton picked up Riley and powerbombed him through the table. Miz reentered the ring and performed the Skull Crushing Finale on Orton. Miz rolled Riley out of the way and put Orton on the broken table. The Miz woke up the referee and pointed at Orton. The ref called for the bell at 13:00.
The referee watched the replay on the big screen and restarted the match. Orton roughed up The Miz at ringside. As Miz was climbing back inside the ring, Miz threw Riley into Orton, who was knocked off the ring apron and through a table on the floor to end the match...
Powell's POV: A decent match. I liked the restart. It didn't last long after the restart, but it brought the crowd back to life. Cole was fun on commentary, as he bitched about the restart. He had a point, as how many times has a referee overruled a tag because he didn't see it?
Backstage, Rosa Mendes was admiring Alberto Del Rio's car and they exchanged words in Spanish. Rosa split and Edge emerged from the car. He said he wasn't looking for trouble, and instead wanted to talk about Kane being a lunatic. Del Rio was all smiles as he blew off Edge, who responded by saying he'd walk out of Houston as the 10-time champion...
The announcers spoke at ringside about the World Hvt. Championship match...
Powell's POV: I'm really surprised to see this match going on now instead of in the main event spot. John Cena vs. Wade Barrett felt like an upper mid-card match coming into the show, yet it's going on last. Are they going to send the crowd home happy? A big angle planned?
Rey Mysterio came out wearing a mask inspired by Gene Simmons of KISS, complete with hair, which fortunately was removed before the match started. Del Rio came out next. Cole said he likes Del Rio, but he's not so sure about Rodriguez. Funny. Edge was out next. Kane came out last without the title belt, which was already hanging above the ring...
6. Edge defeated Kane, Rey Mysterio, and Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) in a four-way TLC match to win the World Hvt. Championship in 22:45. The first big spot of the match came at 9:30 when Edge jumped off the middle of a ladder and put Kane through a table at ringside. Mysterio and Del Rio worked in the ring while Kane and Edge sold the spot at ringside.
Edge recovered quickly and speared Mysterio and Del Rio around 10:30. Edge climbed the ladder and had the crowd behind him, but Kane recovered and tipped the ladder over. Edge appeared to be trying to brace himself or do the crotch landing, but he landed awkwardly with his foot on the top rope. A ref checked on him, but he appeared to be okay.
The action went to the stage, where Kane missed a chairshot on Edge, and ended up taking a spear. Mysterio climbed onto one of the hanging tables that made up the set. He jumped onto Kane and they botched whatever move Mysterio was going for. Mysterio ran to the ring, but was followed by Edge and Del Rio.
Mysterio hit the 619 on Del Rio at 13:50. He went for the same move on Edge, who everyone in the world wearing a KISS mask noticed was holding a chair. Edge blocked the 619 with the chair and then climbed the ladder. Del Rio followed. Mysterio set up a smaller ladder next to them at 15:00.
Edge and Mysterio punched Del Rio off the ladder. Rey took Del Rio's spot on the big ladder and fought with Edge. They did a big facebuster spot off the ladder onto the mat. With everyone down, Ricardo Rodriguez entered the ring and climbed the ladder, but Kane chokeslammed him.
At 17:00, Mysterio knocked the in-ring ladders down and went on the offensive on Kane. Mysterio got the better of Kane and set up a ladder. He went for the belt, but Del Rio pulled him down and applied the armbreaker. He released the hold briefly and then applied it again. Mysterio tapped out and Cole quickly pointed out that submissions are not in play.
Del Rio climbed the ladder and had a hand on the belt when Mysterio tipped the ladder over, and Del Rio took a huge bump off the ladder and through a table on the floor. Wow! Mysterio climbed the ladder, but Kane cut him off at 20:30. Rey performed a flip off the middle rope, but Kane caught him and hit the Tombstone Piledriver.
Kane, who had a trickle of blood on his head, laughed after performing the move. He climbed the ladder, but Edge returned and struck him with a chair to the back twice and then jabbed it into his chest at 21:50. With Kane on the ring apron, Edge ran the ropes and speared Kane off the apron and through a table at ringside.
Edge climbed the ladder and pulled down the title belt to win the match. Cole put over the fact that Edge is now a 10-time World Champion. He said it put him in with an elite class of superstars who had held World Titles ten times, but never bothered to mention a single name...
Powell's POV: Del Rio took the bump of the night with that table spot. However, it probably didn't help the finish, as Kane's bump from the spear felt like just another spot in comparison. Thus, the finish felt a little flat. The live crowd eventually responded, but only after Edge fired them up during his celebration. By the way, Striker did a nice job of hyping the live Smackdown a few times.
A video hyped WWE Week on USA Network...
Cody Rhodes walked onto the stage wearing a suit. He said Christmas has come early to Houston. He said he was going to stuff all of their stockings like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers once did. Okay, not really. He said he was going to stuff their stockings with his dashing grooming kits.
Cody said Houston is filled with IJS carriers. He said that stands for irritable jowl syndrome. He said a rule he lives by is that if it looks stupid on a rooster, it will probably look stupid on you too. He took jabs at Houston for being a city filled with fat people.
Christmas music played. The celebrity whore Bella Twins came out dressed as Santa's celebrity whore helpers, and a giant Santa Claus followed. They threw out "Knucklehead" DVDs to the fans. Cody pointed out that it was Big Show, who lowered his fake beard and said he's Santa Claus.
Cody said the most pathetic sight of the season is Big Show appearing in his underwear in "Knucklehead." The image appeared on the big screen. Show said Cody should try it because it's liberating. Cody complained that he should be in movies instead of Show.
Cody finally pissed off Show at one point, and Show responded with a spinebuster. Show stripped Cody to his underwear and then laughed. He was the only one laughing...
Powell's POV: Horrible. Cody can talk, but there's only so far he can go with this one dimensional gimmick. Roosters don't wear kneepads, Cody, so here's hoping you will start wearing kneepads. Gee, thanks for that buffer, WWE. Good lord.
Wade Barrett and Husky Harris were walking and talking backstage. Harris was about through a doorway when he was struck by a chair in the face. Actually, the chair hit the door, but it looked good and there was no chairshot to the head. A smiling John Cena emerged and said he'd see Barrett in the ring...
C.M. Punk made his entrance and replaced Matt Striker on commentary for the main event. They said the switch was made because the rivalry is exclusive to Raw...
Powell's POV: Sure, the excuse is corny, but I don't think anyone is complaining. Punk at ringside is also an interesting dynamic, as I suppose it's possible that the mystery person he cut that promo on could be Cena. Coming out of Survivor Series, this would have been a main event worthy main event, but they dropped the ball so much that it doesn't feel as significant as the title matches.
7. John Cena defeated Wade Barrett in a chairs match in 19:10. There were dueling "Let's Go Cena" and "Let's Go Barrett" chants to start the match. The wrestlers fought at ringside with Cena dodging Barrett's chair swings. Barrett took control of the match as they fought onto the stage at 7:00.
Barrett went for a powerbomb on the stage, but Cena came back with a backdrop. Cena headed backstage and grabbed an office chair, which he used to wheel Barrett into the ring steps that had been set up earlier. Barrett wrapped a chair around Cena's neck and ran him into the ring post. Cena sold a throat injury.
Once both wrestlers were back inside the ring, Cena made a brief comeback. However, as he was running the ropes, Barrett held up a chair that Cena ran into. Barrett tied up Cena in the ropes at 12:20. Barrett scored a near fall around 14:00, and Punk condescendingly said it was close. Funny.
Cena was back in charge at 18:00, as he hit a leg drop off the ropes on the back of Barrett's head. Cena set up six chairs in the ring and then performed the Attitude Adjustment onto the chairs. Cena covered Barrett and scored the clean pin.
Barrett crawled out of the ring and made it halfway up the aisle before Cena caught up to him. Cena blasted him over the back with a chair, as Punk complained about his attack on commentary. Barrett went to the area near the side of the stage where a bunch of chairs were hanging.
Cena struck Barrett with another chair to the back. Cena grabbed a wooden stand over Barrett. Cena reached up and pulled a group of chairs from the set down. It looked cool to see them fall. Barrett took no punishment since the crate was covering him, and the camera crew even showed a shot underneath the crate, which showed that it was still intact. Cool visual, though.
After heading backstage briefly, Cena returned and played to the crowd. He sat down on a chair on the stage and was standing up again when the show went off the air...
Powell's POV: The burial of the once strong Nexus act continues. I was hoping that we were going to get a big angle with Punk attacking Cena or something to justify that match going on last, but apparently WWE just wanted to send the crowd home happy. The Edge title win was a little flat, so perhaps it was for the best. Nevertheless, it made for an anticlimactic finish to the show to have Cena go over in dominating fashion.
While I question the match order to some extent, this show was filled with better matches than we've been getting on WWE pay-per-views. I'm anxious to see how Morrison is showcased on Monday and whether he delivers a strong promo on the mic. I can't say they left me looking forward to much else. Fortunately, the Royal Rumble is up next, so the Road to WrestleMania is about to begin.
Thanks for watching along with me tonight. I'll be back later with a lot more to say on the show in audio form exclusively for Dot Net Members. See the link at the top of the page if you'd like to join us.