by Scott Saffran
Here we are: the second-to-last PPV of 2016, aka the craziest year of pro wrestling in the history of space and time. After an incredible streak of PPV successes since the brand split, the pressure has been on the Blue Brand to continue to excel. Was TLC 2016 a success? Let’s have a look!
A crowd is an incredibly important part of any wrestling event. The fans in Toronto made Survivor Series absolutely unforgettable, and the fans in Dallas on Sunday night crushed any and all spark of hope produced within the ring.
It was sad, frankly. Crowds can run hot and cold for a myriad of reasons, almost all up to chance, but we cannot excuse Dallas from completely deflating a very promising PPV.
Carmella vs. Nikki Bella
It was probably the best performance we’ve seen out of Carmella yet, still it was definitely the lowlight of the evening. The finish was pretty strange and, in hindsight, made absolutely no sense.
Is the foam not the least dangerous part of the fire extinguisher? Beyond the odd ending, the bizarre post-match revelation was terribly confounding and absolutely pointless. It was the only truly bad match of the night, and I can’t say that was absolutely unexpected.
The absolute last thing I wanted to see during the Main Event was an appearance of the Chinless Wonder. I take no issue with the man; I’m actually quite happy to see him get a shot in the Big Leagues. That aside, I wanted the battle between Ambrose and Styles to be just that: between those two alone.
While Styles is the heel and a dirty win is perfectly within character, I was quite put off that this fantastic match will forever have Mr. Ellsworth associated with it. I’m anxious to see what becomes of this turn, despite my disappointment in the intervention.
Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss
My feelings on this match are…complicated. I genuinely enjoy these two as wrestlers and characters, but I felt this tremendous win for Alexa was ‘meh’ when it could have been an explosion of amazingness. I can easily blame the Tables stipulation as trapping the creativity of Bliss and Lynch, but that is a bit of a copout. It was not a bad match, not by any means. It was, though, a bit of dud.
AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose
I don’t know what to say besides that it was damn good. I kinda feel bad for Dean Ambrose, he’s a great talent who puts on terrific matches day in and day out. But AJ Styles, man, he has to be the best wrestler in the world today. Surely the best in North America, and when he is on (he usually is) no one can compare.
Some of the spots were out-of-this-world and the pace was perfect. After the Ladder match, I was a bit afraid we would get some tired spots as both men attempted for the belts, but that was a bit foolish of me, huh? I won’t soon doubt these two talents again. Another win for AJ Styles and another win for SmackDown.
The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler
These two gents have been on a hot streak unlike any other. After their incredibly amazing match of pure awesomeness at No Mercy, would this classic IC Title ladder match be able to top it? The short answer: not quite. It was fantastic, there’s no doubt about that, but I wasn’t as blown away. But we’re at #2 on the Best Things list, so why focus on the negatives?
Miz continues to improve and excel at mat wrestling and psychology, and Dolph was as excellent as always. I was glad to see Miz win clean, and I hope Ziggler can move on and a new challenger can take his place. How about that Figure 4 ladder spot? I was squealing just sitting on my couch.
The last thing I expected from a gimmick PPV in 2017 was to be blown away with the amount of truly innovative spots. I was thrilled to see such creativity on display throughout the evening: it was clearly a bright spot of the show.
Kalisto vs. Baron Corbin
Well this was quite the pleasant surprise, wasn’t it? The match was nothing spectacular, but it did make effective use of the stipulation which was…constraining. I was quite impressed by how aggressive Kalisto was throughout the confrontation. He had seemed to be pushing the envelope in the past few weeks and I was very happy to see him continue on with that attitude.
Corbin is decent enough between the ropes, but he really shines when he pushes his heel mercenary character. I was sad to see Kalisto lose after growing substantially as a character, though Corbin would have lost any semblance of momentum had that come to pass.
So, was it a success? I certainly wouldn’t say otherwise. I don’t think it measures up to the excellence at No Mercy, but it was, generally speaking, a victory capped off by a tremendous main event match.
Photo Credit: WWE.com