Tables, Ladders and Chairs is here, and the talent not on the card is almost as big as the talent that will actually be performing. We all know about CM Punk’s leg surgery, but over the last week Randy Orton separated his shoulder. So now two of the company’s top stars are out due to injury. The Miz and Alberto Del Rio are left off the card entirely. It’s possible that if Orton were healthy it would be him and Miz joining Ryback against the Shield. That’s all irrelevant at this point. Let’s get to the people who can actually wrestle now.
Before the show starts of course there is a tribute to the victims of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut. It is always an incredibly awkward and difficult situation for any live programming to acknowledge something like this while still going on with the show. Saturday Night Live had to deal with the same thing last night.
The first match of the show is the tag team table match between the Rhodes Scholars and Mysterio and Sin Cara to determine the number one contender for the tag team championship. Sin Cara had the pyrotechnics removed from his entrance. He might as well just walk behind Mysterio during his entrance. Sandow and Rhodes made fun of Brooklyn for being full of hipsters with ridiculous facial hair. Well done. Mysterio and Sin Cara start it off by doing all their flipping moves for a minute before breaking out the tables from under the ring. Instead of driving their opponents into a table, instead they each hold an end of the table and run into Sandow. Rhodes throws Mysterio out of the ring like a bowling ball and the Rhodes Scholars start double teaming Sin Cara. Everything is as it should be. Eventually Sandow ends up on the outside and Rhodes hits a disaster kick on Sin Cara. Remember when that was essentially a finisher? Sandow throws Mysterio around while Rhodes wedges Sin Cara’s leg between the ring post and the steel steps. They then run into the steps with a table. All Rhodes Scholars at the moment. They set up a pair of tables next to each other and lay Mysterio and Sin Cara on them. Rey jumps up before anything could happen though and starts taken out Sandow and Rhodes by himself. Rey hits a 619 on Rhodes to get him on a table but Sandow stops Mysterio from jumping off the top rope. It’s then Sin Cara hitting his kick from the ropes on both Rhodes and Sandow. Wit Sin Cara now on the outside of the ropes, he went for a springboard move but Cody jumped in to push him down onto the tables outside the ring and win the match for Team Rhodes Scholars. They now get a title shot against Kane and Daniel Bryan at Royal Rumble. They are really trying to reestablish Rhodes. He’s now gotten the win in each of their last couple of matches. Okay match. I was hoping for more from everyone involved. Only a couple of actual attempts to put someone through a table. Everything just seemed very safe (aside from the finish of course).
Cut to a handheld video of the Shield. They are mad at Ryback for injuring Punk so that he can’t defend his WWE Championship. They say he is reckless and they are going to “feed him more than he can handle.” (Get it?) They are also mad at Kane and Daniel Bryan because they don’t get along, when a team should work together. Really. That’s the reason they don’t like them. They are a disgrace to the tag team division because they fight each other. That’s pretty damn weak. Once again Ambrose takes the lead while Rollins and Reigns are relegated to one liners.
United States Championship now on the line as Antonio Cesaro defends against R-Truth. The best part about this match so far is that Kofi Kingston and Wade Barrett aren’t ringside. It would have been very easy to put Cesaro and Barrett together as foreigners. Considering how linked this match has been to the Intercontinental title match, I’m actually very surprised that they didn’t create a foreign power staple. Truth yells “USA” early and no one reacts. This has been the whole back story of the match. They want it to be USA versus the World. The problem is it’s 2012 and that stuff just doesn’t work as much anymore. WWE is a global product and they should act as such. I’m proud to say that JBL isn’t for it either. When he isn’t pandering to the crowd, Truth turns to a handful of sneaky rollups early to try to steal the win. Cesaro then starts powering down Truth and that finally gets the coveted “USA” chants going. I wonder what viewers outside the 50 states think when they go all pro USA. I imagine they do t care for the propaganda very much either. Truth levels the field with a series of kicks as a “Lil Jimmy” chant starts. That is immediately followed by Cesaro throwing Truth into the ref causing Truth to slow down and giving Antonio the opening to hit the Neutralizer for the win. Short match. Truth looks to just be a placeholder until a more worthy challenger arises. Why he got two US title shots though is anyone’s guess. Both men looked good while they were out there at least. Hopefully a better opponent takes on Cesaro next time. He’ll get moved up the card sooner rather than later.
Dolph Ziggler continues to get mic time as he does an interview with Josh Matthews. He’s bitching about how Cena already had his MITB shot and Ziggler has nothing to win and everything to lose. If it was up to him, Cena would have to put his job on the line like Jericho did earlier in the year. Dolph promises that everything changes tonight. Pretty good promo. Let’s hope he’s right.
Meanwhile it looks like they found something for the Miz to do. Sadly that something is hosting Miz TV. Not only that, but his guests are 3MB. Jerry Lawler said he “used to be in a band called T-mobile, but they kept breaking up.” JBL responded by saying “Billy Gibbons is rolling over in his grave and he’s not even dead (look it up!).” Easily the line of the night so far. Drew McIntyer says they are better than Jay-Z. That’s the quickest way to get on Brooklyn’s bad side. They promise to perform live at the Slammys during Raw tomorrow. They then pick a fight with the Spanish announcers because they can’t understand what they are saying. For whatever reason Jinder Mahal is in on that as well. They start attacking the announcers when Ricardo Rodriguez comes out to defend them. Here comes that Del Rio face turn we’ve been hearing about. Alberto comes to help Ricardo and takes out 3MB and got a decent pop in the process. The numbers catch up to Del Rio until Miz finally steps in to assist. So now Miz and Del Rio are faces and they are working together? Remember when they got into a real fight backstage? Anyway Heath Slater is too happy about how things turned out, so they challenged Miz and Alberto to find a partner and challenge them tonight. Looks like they made it on the card after all. The crowd gets a “We want Ryder” chant going. If fan opinion means anything, and the shown being in Brooklyn, Ryder seems like the obvious choice.
After a Rock Royal Rumble commercial (I’m surprised we didn’t start seeing those sooner) Kane and Bryan are in the locker room talking about their match. Bryan is annoyed that Ryback keeps saying the same thing over and over. Kane tries to mention the irony in that but Bryan doesn’t see it. They then cut a promo about how they’ll beat the Shield. They are totally on the same page. Does that mean the Shield is okay with them now?
Kofi Kingston defends his Intercontinental Championship next against Wade Barrett. Barrett cut a short promo backstage before coming out and the crowd digs him. He’s already beaten Kofi twice recently so he has all the reasons in the world to be confident. Kofi doesn’t get much of a reaction from the crowd, but at the same time the crowd has seemed a little soft the entire night. Just as I write that sentence Cole proclaims that it is a very vocal crowd. They are chanting things, but it’s not exactly a raucous crowd. Barrett establishes his power game early outside the ring. Wade tries thawing Kofi into the side of the ring but Kingston jumps up over the bottom rope and then dives back through the ropes outside the ring into Barrett. Back in the ring Barrett slows down the match once again. Barrett delivers a second rope elbow for a two count and a “Let’s go Barrett” chant gets going. Kofi almost immediately gets going with his signature moves, hits the Boom Drop but Barrett ducks under Trouble in Paradise and kicks out of the SOS after a two count. After a swinging side slam, Barrett sets Kofi up for a Bull Hammer elbow but Kingston pulls a Trouble in Paradise kick out of nowhere to retain his title. Very good match. Barrett looked better in defeat than Kofi in victory, and Wade is nicely established to continue his push.
CM Punk now makes his appearance of the night from a luxury box in the arena. He has a pretty sweet “Knees 2 Faces” shirt taken after the Rock’s “Boots 2 Asses” shirt last year. He says the status of his knee is none of the fans business, and that he’d rather be in Chicago than in the slums of Staten Island (burn!). He then says Ryback is lucky he hurt Punk because otherwise he’d beat Ryback again. He says the Shield (who he likes but is not affiliated with) with do the same. He winds things up by saying that he will start and end 2013 as WWE Champion and that he’s just getting started.
Now that Punk has promoted it, on to the Shield versus Team Hell No and Ryback match. They are making a big deal out of this being a TLC match where you don’t have to climb a ladder to win. Doesn’t that just make it an extreme rules match? Bryan easily got the biggest reaction out of all the faces. Shield makes their entrance through the crowd to a pretty good pop (still wearing their combat gear). They get attacked the moment then step over the ramp. First in the ring is Ryback and Ambrose. They exchange chops, which obviously doesn’t go well for Ambrose. Rollins and Reigns gang up on him however and they take control and move on to Bryan, attacking him with a ladder. Ryback then grabs the ladder and swings it like a chair at Shield. He’s only slowed down when Reigns goes at him with a chair. Kane and Bryan then get involved again, double teaming Reigns featured by a throwing him into a chair in the corner and then having Kane throw Bryan into him. The match has a very good pace and the crowd is into it. They definitely woke up. Ambrose hit Kane with a wicked DDT on a chair. He’s the least imposing looking person in the ring but he also might be the best wrestler not named Daniel Bryan in the match. Ryback got back in the ring and suplexed Ambrose and Rollins onto a ladder. That brought the house down. Meanwhile the crowd has been asking for tables the whole time. Shield gangs up on Ryback again and land the triple power bomb through the announce table. Kane and Bryan then get involved again but get beaten back down. Ambrose body slams Bryan while holding a chair against his back. With a table now in the ring, Rollins and Ambrose prop it up on the top turnbuckle in the corner of the ring, stand on it with Bryan and hit a double superplex. Second huge move of the match. Kane broke up the pin count and now he’s the one getting beat down. Crowd is loving it. They try the same trick on Kane but he fights back and jumps off the table onto Ambrose and chokeslams him through a standing chair. With Kane outside the ring Reigns speared him through the outside wall (that’s three now). Kane would not get up again. In the ring Bryan had Ambrose in the NO lock, broke it to apply it to Rollins, then again to put it on Reigns. Bryan then gets his head stomped into a chair as Ryback gets back up and cleans house. They try to gang up on him but Ryback spears, meathook clotheslines, and hits Shellshock on Ambrose. The pin is broken up by the rest of Shield however and the fight goes up the ramp. Ryback is again teamed up on and beaten down. They put him on a chair and Seth Rollins climbs a very tall ladder. Ryback gets up however, chases him to the top of the ladder and throws him down into a table (four). Back in the ring, Reigns power bombs Daniel Bryan off the top rope into a table and got the victory before Ryback could make it back there. Absolutely fantastic match. Ambrose was the star for me, but everyone was outstanding. They took a bad situation and made quite possibly an instant classic. Great in ring debut for the Shield, Ryback still looks unbeatable as he wasn’t near the finish, and team Hell No looked strong as well. Excellent job.
Killing the crowd for the next big match is Eve defending her championship against Naomi. Who’s Naomi? She’s one of Brodus Clay’s dancers. She won the Divas battle royal in the YouTube pre show after Eve interfered with Kaitlyn. She’s now won more than he has lately. Naomi actually looks pretty good. A hell of a lot better than she did in the pre show anyway. Lots of acrobatic moves and flips and a big leg drop as well. She makes one misstep however and Eve wins anyway on the swinging neck breaker. Once again Even poses with her fallen opponent for the ringside photographer. One of the more entertaining Divas matches I’ve seen in a while. Very surprising.
With the crowd now cooled it’s time for the World Heavyweight Championship chairs match between Big Show and Sheamus. It was announced before the match that chairs are legal. I guess everything else really is off limits. Since this means Ziggler/Cena closes, it’s highly unlikely Dolph cashes in here. Although, that could make the ladder match for the title, adding some last minute juice to the match. They start fast with Sheamus gaining the edge by taking out Show’s leg. About a minute in we get the first appearance of a chair. Sheamus runs at Show with a chair outside the ring and Show sidekicks Sheamus’ face into the chair for his trouble. It’s a flat out brawl. It’s a lot like their previous matches only kicked up a notch. Great flow. Show runs away from Sheamus with a chair in the ring but Sheamus catches him and delivers some chair shots before body slamming him for a two count. Sheamus then hits the flying shoulder with a chair in his hands. He goes for it again but this time Show spears him through the chair in mid air. Say what you want about his other moves, but Big Show’s spear is outrageous. Show grabs a chair and takes control, slowing the pace and adding the occasional chair shot. While Show went over the rope to leave the ring Sheamus jumped on the rope and somehow that caused damage. Worst move of the night. A flurry from Sheamus is countered with a chokeslam for a two count. Show then goes outside and throws four chairs into the ring. He puts one on Sheamus’ chest and lands a second rope splash for a two count. Show then takes another two chairs and goes for the chokeslam, but Sheamus counters with White Noise through the chairs for a near fall. Sheamus then misses the Brougue Kick, and gets hit with the KO punch bit kicks out of it. Remember the ladder match at MITB when they had the special ladder for Show? Well here they happened to have a giant chair for him to use. One shot in the back from that chair and Sheamus was knocked out. Big Show gets the win, and once again to cashing in from Dolph Ziggler. Let’s see if he still has to ability to do so after the main event. Good match, horrible ending. Sheamus got hit with much worse in the middle of the match and a shot from a giant chairs does him in? Weak sauce.
Backstage, AJ (in full Cena garb) apologizes to Cena for all the trouble she caused him and thanks him for the help. John says to thank him after he wins the match. AJ says she can’t wait and hops away. It’s awkward. It’s bad. It’s not necessary.
Before we get to the main event we must get through the 3MB versus team former heels match. No, Zack Ryder is not the third man. Instead they went really local and got the Brooklyn Brawler. He’s still wearing the same ratty jeans but switched his Yankees shirt out for a Nets jersey. He gets into the match and looks about as good as you can expect the Brooklyn Brawler to look in 2012. A “Brooklyn” chant starts but Cole thinks they are saying “Brawler” instead. Miz hits the skull crushing finale on Mahal and tags in the Brawler who applies one of the worst looking Boston Crabs (they called it a Brooklyn crab but I refuse) to get the win by submission. Del Rio had very little to do aside from a dive to the outside. Very curious how this face turn goes for Del Rio.
On to John Cena versus Dolph Ziggler for the Money in the Bank briefcase. I’m happy to report that my boy Dolph got a pretty nice pop. This could be his coming out party. A clean win over Cena to main event a PPV is not something that happens often. Of course he could also just get put back down a peg if he loses. After a short sequence running the ropes Ziggler grabs the ropes, jumps up, struts and the roof almost came off the building. The are pumped up for this. “Lets go Ziggler” chants started and both Cena and Dolph did not totally expect it. They are VERY anti Cena. Cena butchered a monkey flip where Dolph looked like he was supposed to do a full flip. Instead he just kind of landed on the side of his leg. Cena grabs a ladder but Ziggler baseball slides it into Cena and again the crowd goes nuts. Forget everything bad I said about this crowd. They were just holding back for the main events. Cena now has a cut over his eye as he grabs the steel steps and rams it into Dolph’s face. Big impact. With a table and a ladder set up in the ring, Ziggler locks a sleeper hold on Cena. Cena however starts climbing up the ladder with Ziggler on his back, and when John passes out they both go through the table. Ziggler gets up first and tries to climb the ladder, but Cena collapses the ladder and lifts it over his head with Dolph still on the ladder! I have to give it to him, that’s pretty awesome. Cena looks to throw Ziggler and the ladder out of the ring but Dolph rolls out (would have been crazy if he didn’t) and Cena goes into the five moves of doom. Ziggler kicks Cena when he leans in to inform Dolph that he is unable to view him and lands a fameasser. Ziggler brings a ladder and Cena rolls up Dolph and then applies the STF. Ziggler reaches the ropes and taps out but you can’t win by submission so it doesn’t matter. Cena then tries to throw the ladder at Dolph but he ducks, attempts to leap over the top rope for a cross body but Cena catches him and sets him up for an Attitude Adjustment. Ziggler wiggled out of it through and hits the Zig Zag, causing the crowd to go nuts. Ziggler leans a table in the corner but Cena hits him with the five knuckle shuffle. Ziggler again gets out of the AA and this time lands a jumping DDT. Dolph then grabs the bigger ladder from the ramp (that Rollins fell off) and brings it to the ring. Dolph climbs the ladder and has a hand on the case, and although it looked like he got there a little late Cena does meet him up there and they exchange blows. Ziggler gets knocked off but Cena can’t seem to reach the case in time and Ziggler gets back up to pull Cena down. Out of nowhere Cena pulls a hurricarana out of his ass and hurls Ziggler through the table in the corner. Didn’t know he had that in him. Ziggler then dropkicks Cena to take the ladder out of the ring. After two more attempts Cena finally lands the AA and Ziggler rolls out of the ring. Vickie Guerrero comes out however and looks to hit him with a chair. AJ then comes out to stop her and does her rendition of the five moves of doom. Vickie rolls out of the ring, Cena brings in a ladder and climbs up. All of a sudden AJ pushes the ladder down and takes Cena down to be met by a Ziggler super kick. Cray-J is back in full force! Crowd is going nuts for AJ as she smiles and skips away. Dolph Ziggler climbs up and grabs the briefcase. Ziggler wins! Ziggler wins! Great match, solid ending. In the biggest match of his career Dolph Ziggler also has the best match of his career. He was damn near perfect. He was okay when he faced Punk for the WWE Championship a while back but it never looked like he really had a chance to win. He just held his own against the face of the company. Cena was very good too, pulling put a couple of new wrinkles as he tends to do from time to time. The show closes with Cena making that Cena losing face where he half smiles like he knows he’s doing people a favor by losing.
It was a very interesting and entertaining pay per view to be sure. You had two absolutely fantastic matches, another good one, and the rest of the card one okay. About all you can ask for from a PPV these days. Even more interesting is that the heels won only every match. Rhodes Scholars, Cesarp. Eve, Shield, Ziggler. Miz and Del Rio were faces but they’re both reformed heels so that’s almost as good. This type of thing doesn’t happen very often so I suggest you appreciate it. For at least one night, Dolph Ziggler is on top of the world.