WWE

WWE TLC: Daniel Bryan attacks Bray Wyatt, Corbin defeats Reigns, no title changes in pretty average night

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Roman Reigns and Baron Corbin go into the crowd

WWE TLC took place on Sunday evening in Minnesota and was the company’s final network special of 2019.

Here is a look at what happened on the main show and analysis of what to take from the matches on a night where the Kabuki Warriors stood tall and King Baron Corbin used the numbers game to beat Roman Reigns.

1. The New Day retained the men’s SmackDown Tag Team titles in a ladder match against The Revival

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How the match was won: After a hard-hitting clash, The Revival had looked to be set for victory as as Scott Dawson had his hands on the belts.

But Kofi Kingston grabbed the belts, swung them in to Dawson’s face and unhooked the titles as he stood on the top of the ladder on his own.

Talking point: A brutal match that demonstrated what a great worker Big E is. He took a lot of punishment from the Revival, including being splashed through a ladder by Dash Wilder, as he made his opponents look like the vicious pairing WWE wants them viewed as.

The big winner: Kofi Kingston’s WWE World title run earlier this year has felt a long time ago, and pretty much forgotten, since he was squashed by Brock Lesnar in October.

He shone here, along with the other three men in the match, and it was a nice visual, at the end of the biggest year of his WWE career, that he stood tall after a big win.

The down point: Another big loss for The Revival. Dash and Dawson are a great pairing but they have struggled for momentum on the main brands and this latest setback does not help them, although their later involvement in the Roman Reigns v Baron Corbin match hints they will have an involvement there in the coming weeks.

Verdict: A fun clash, with some innovative spots and all four men taking a lot of punishment. Good to see Kingston stand tall and a fine start to the show.

2. Aleister Black defeated Buddy Murphy in a singles match

How the match was won: After a very physical encounter Black caught Murphy with his Black Mass finisher after ducking underneath a kick.

Talking point: A good exhibition of just why WWE are high on Black. He won cleanly, took some big hits from Murphy, one knee leaving him with a suspected broken nose,

He demonstrated his own array of powerful kicks and elbows and he should be looking towards the United States title and a feud with Rey Mysterio going ahead.

The big winner: Both men have struggled for time to shine on Raw and this was a reminder of how good they are, and also their willingness to work a stiff style. The hope has to be that they both are better used in 2020.

The down point: The crowd was in to the match, but it is hard not to believe they would not have been even more invested had WWE spent more time on developing the characters of both Black and Murphy.

The pair have had little TV time and it was their excellent ring work, rather than the storyline, that held the attention here.

Verdict: Job done with all boxes ticked. An entertaining match as Murphy looks tough getting the win, while Murphy gets a lot of offence before taking the pin.

3. The Viking Raiders retain the men’s Raw Tag Team titles against The OC after both teams counted out

How the match was decided: The match ended in a double countout with all four men outside the ring after Ivar had hit a dive on Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson.

Talking point: More of an angle then a match. The OC answered the open challenge, but clearly the WWE did not want them beaten or for Viking Raiders to relinquish their belts, leading to the cop out ending.

The big winner: No one. This did nothing for either team.

The down point: A waste of five minutes on the show with the only intention, it appears, being to publicise and promote a sponsorship with KFC and have Anderson powerbombed through a table post-match.

Verdict: Disappointing. The Viking Raiders and The OC are both capable of great things and this was a wasted opportunity.

4. King Baron Corbin defeated Roman Reigns in a TLC match

How the match was won: Corbin picked up a shock win as he pinned Reigns with an End of Days on a chair. This had come after Reigns had been hit with the aforementioned chair by Dolph Ziggler and also been attacked by the Revival, who hit their Shatter Machine finisher on him.

Talking point: The WWE have learnt their lesson from past mistakes with Reigns in terms of booking.

Much of the hostility in the past came from Reigns being booked as the proverbial Superman.

Here he faced not just Corbin, but a former world champion in Ziggler, an established tag team in the Revival and a number of men posing as Corbin’s security staff.

Reigns winning in that situation would have done a lot of damage. It would have hurt the credibility of his opponent and the superstars who interfered.

The right result for Reigns, and Corbin, going on to 2020.

The big winner: This will not go down as a vintage match but it did what it needed to for the main protagonists.

Corbin needed a big win and got it. He also looks to be heading up a faction, at least in the short term, with Ziggler and the Revival, and for that to have any kind of credibility they need something to back that up and they got that with the success over Reigns.

Reigns will be in the main event scene at WrestleMania 36 and having him overcoming a legitimate threat from Corbin can help him and WWE avoid a negative backlash that has hurt previous attempts to push him at the top of the card at their biggest show.

He was well supported here and when he does get his revenge on Corbin, possibly eliminating him last to win the Royal Rumble next month, it should be well received.

Having him attack Corbin on the show later on, leading to a mass brawl, was not a great idea, however.

He did not need revenge on the night that he had just taken a huge physical beating and it took attention away from the main event.

The down point: Even with all the bells and whistles of a TLC match this was not great action.

Reigns can have good matches with big man opponents but he and Corbin were not able to get any momentum or coherence to the encounter.

Verdict: Not a great match, but the right result for the attempts to get over Reigns as a legitimate babyface in 2020.

5. Bray Wyatt beat The Miz in a singles match

How the match was won: The Miz was in the ascendancy before he charged at his opponent, missed him, and crashed over the barriers.

Two Sister Abigails, the first outside the ring, from the WWE Universal champion won the non-title match.

Talking point: The significant action here came post-match. Wyatt, who had wrestled as his Firefly Funhouse persona, rather then as The Fiend, was attacked by Daniel Bryan.

Bryan, with a much shorter haircut to sell The Fiend apparently ripping his hair out on an edition of SmackDown last month, hit him with two running knees before the lights went out to allow Wyatt to escape.

The big winner: The match was oddly paced but having Wyatt wrestle without a mask, and then interact with The Fiend on the big screen post-match, certainly adds intrigue to his character.

Wyatt’s facial expressions were a joy to watch and he made this a lot of fun.

Bryan got a huge pop on his return from his brief hiatus and is back to being a babyface.

The down point: The Miz’s stock has fallen considerably. This time last year he looked a legitimate world title contender.

He was badly hurt by losing his feud with Shane McMahon and the fact he lost quickly to Wyatt, and then was nowhere to be seen for the Bryan return, showed just how forgettable his role in proceedings was.

Good guy Miz does not cut it. A return to heel Miz in 2020 is urgently needed.

Verdict: The match itself will not live in the memory. But Bryan’s attack, setting up a rematch with The Fiend at the Royal Rumble, was well done.

6. Bobby Lashley defeated Rusev in a tables match

How the match was won: Lana distracted Rusev as she jumped on his back and Lashley took advantage of the opening to suplex his opponent through a table that ended the match under the stipulation.

Talking point: An underwhelming match. Both men tried hard to engage the fans but, despite Rusev’s popularity, this was a lukewarm encounter that always felt as if it was spinning its wheels until the Lana interference.

The big winner: There were some Rusev Day chants and the Bulgarian remains popular with fans, even in the midst of this interminable ‘divorce’ storyline.

The down point: The feud that has created some awful TV goes on. They may fight again at the Royal Rumble, or be in the 30-man match, but this unfortunately means more awful skits as the split between Rusev and Lana goes on.

Verdict: Frustrating as Rusev could be a big face on the Raw roster and Lashley has the talent to be a main event heel. But they did not click on this night.

The good news is they can have another go at a later date. The bad part is it means dealing with more of this dreadful storyline that would not have cut it even in the Attitude Era.

7. The Kabuki Warriors retained the women’s SmackDown Tag Team titles against Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair in a TLC match

How the match was won: Asuka retrieved the tag titles after both Flair and Lynch had been taken out. Flair was power bombed through a table outside the ring by Asuka, who then dragged Lynch off the top of a ladder using a rope that was attached to it before climbing up herself to win it for her and Kairi Sane.

Talking point: For the second successive network special, after Survivor Series, it was a women’s match that main evented, and sadly it again did not live up to expectations.

There were a number of disjointed moments, including Sane failing to throw a number of chairs into the ring that came off as unintentionally comical, and Lynch being tied up to a ladder, that just did not click.

It was not a bad match, but it was not a great one either.

The big winner: Asuka won the match for her team and once again came out on top against Lynch and Flair.

The WWE have rehabilitated her well after some horrendous booking (losing to Carmella twice in 2018 for instance) and a title shot at Lynch’s Raw Women’s Championship seems inevitable.

Lynch was Becky Two Belts in 2019, can we see Asuka Two Belts in 2020?

The down point: The match did not flow and the lack of tension between Lynch and Flair, apparently reluctant tag partners, was a mistake.

WWE’s lack of faith in Asuka and Sane winning being strong enough to close the show was demonstrated by proceedings ending with the pointless brawl that saw Reigns get a modicum of revenge on Corbin.

There was no need for it and it took away the spotlight from Asuka and Sane, which was a shame.

Verdict: Some bright spots and all four women gave it their all, but this did not flow. The right result though.

Final thoughts

The show peaked early with the SmackDown men’s tag match and the brutal Black v Murphy encounter.

This was all about building for the early months of 2020 and Reigns v Corbin, The Fiend v Bryan, Rusev v Lashley and Lynch v Asuka are all firmly on track.

It was a strong night for heels with the expectation that redemption will come, particularly for Reigns and Lynch, at the Royal Rumble on January 26.

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