WWE TLC 2016: Results and observations from the show
The bad guys ruled the day at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, as the vast majority of the so-called villains walked away with victories at WWE's Smackdown Live exclusive pay-per-view, TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs.
Including the kickoff show, seven matches were on the card Sunday night. Out of those seven, only two saw the babyface come out on top.
Despite being mostly devoid of happy endings, there were still a good amount of positives to take away from this event.
Before I dig into my analysis, here are the full match results:
- Kickoff match – American Alpha, The Hype Bros & Apollo Crews def. Curt Hawkins, The Vaudevillains & The Ascension
- WWE Smackdown Tag Team championship – Bray Wyatt & Randy Orton def. Heath Slater & Rhyno
- No disqualification match – Nikki Bella def. Carmella
- WWE Intercontinental championship (Ladder match) – The Miz def. Dolph Ziggler
- Chairs match – Baron Corbin def. Kalisto
- WWE Smackdown Women's championship (Tables match) – Alexa Bliss def. Becky Lynch
- WWE World championship (Tables, ladders and chairs match) – AJ Styles def. Dean Ambrose
James Ellsworth helps Styles to help himself
Fans have been predicting this for weeks and at first it seemed like it finally happened at TLC.
Just as it looked like Ambrose was about to climb the ladder and grab the WWE World title to become a two-time champion, Ellsworth, who had come to the ring only moments earlier sporting a neck brace, tipped over the ladder with Ambrose on it, which sent him crashing through a set of tables outside of the ring.
Ellsworth's unlikely assist gave Styles ample time to gather himself and climb the ladder to retrieve his title. As Styles celebrated a hard-fought victory, Ellsworth was downright jovial outside of the ring, as he pumped his fist in celebration of Styles' victory.
Ambrose had no idea what was going on and neither did Styles. All he knew was that he retained his championship. Fans seemed confused as well, as on the surface this looked like a classic heel turn from Ellsworth.
However, that would seem illogical given that a week hasn't even passed since Styles brutalized him on Smackdown Live.
On Talkin' Smack, however, Ellsworth cleared up all of the confusion. Well, most of it at least.
Ellsworth apparently did not make a full heel turn. In his mind, the only reason why he helped Styles defeat Ambrose was because he is owed a title shot and since he is 3-0 against Styles, he figured that he has a better chance of defeating Styles to become WWE World champion because he has the champion's number. He technically isn't lying.
Smackdown Live general manager Daniel Bryan tried to warn Ellsworth that Ambrose was going to be rather upset about pushing him off a ladder, but Ellsworth said that he and Ambrose go way back and that when he defeats Styles for the title, he'll give Ambrose the first title shot.
To summarize, Ellsworth has gone from plucky underdog to a man that has delusions of grandeur because he thinks he can beat Styles — for the championship no less.
Ellsworth will have a chance to prove himself on Smackdown Live Tuesday, as he will face Styles for the WWE World championship.
I know some people may not be all that fond of Ellsworth being in the title picture and effecting the outcomes of championship matches, and maybe the story WWE is trying to tell isn't the greatest, but I will applaud them for trying something different.
One of my biggest complaints to WWE is to be a little more creative. Shake up the formula just a little bit or use a formula that worked in the past and update it to fit modern times.
For once, WWE is doing something a little more on the unconventional side and I actually kind of dig it. I also dig the fact that WWE at least took a different route with this happening.
It would have been easy to have Ellsworth suddenly helping out Styles. It would also have made zero sense. Ellsworth's logic doesn't make sense, but that is the story WWE is telling. Everyone knows his logic and modus operandi is flawed, but him.
The story surrounding Ellsworth sort of overshadowed what was easily the best match of the night.
Ambrose climbed a ladder that set atop an announce table and leaped off it to drive an elbow through Styles' chest as he lied on another announce table. Ambrose also fell from a pretty high distance when Ellsworth tipped over his ladder at the end of the match.
Styles tore a hole in an unflattering area of his tights, but still managed to pull off a springboard 450 splash from inside the ring all the way to the outside that sent him crashing into Ambrose and through a table. It was an incredible sight to behold.
Bliss is the champ
The top male champion retained Sunday night, but the women's champion was unseated, as Bliss managed to put Lynch through a table to become the new Smackdown Women's champion.
The win is Bliss' first championship of any kind in WWE or NXT, but it couldn't have come at a better time, as she has done a great job on television lately.
The match Bliss had with Lynch Sunday night was good, but it wasn't something you would run and tell your friends about. I personally expected a lot more because I believe the women involved are extremely talented, but for what we got, it was good.
Since Lynch is due a rematch there will be at least one more championship match between these two. In my eyes, that could go either way. Yes, Bliss won the title Sunday in Dallas, but she did not do so by pinning Lynch.
Lynch could use that in the buildup to their eventual rematch.
The Miz silences his doubters
For the first time in I don't know how long, The Miz defeated Ziggler without one bit of help to retain his Intercontinental title in a ladder match.
The Miz thought the fans had doubted the merits of his ability and used Sunday night to prove all of them wrong … and to yell at Bryan some more.
The match itself was fantastic and was only bested by the main event, in my opinion.
The Miz and Ziggler took a different approach to the ladder match than most wrestlers would today. Instead of building the match around a bunch of high-risk moments, The Miz and Ziggler worked body parts with the ladder and they both did a masterful job of selling their respective injuries in the latter (no pun intended) stages of the match.
It isn't unique to work body parts in wrestling, but it is unique to see that approach taken with a ladder match in 2016, where everyone expects death-defying stunts.
Wyatt finally has a title
The Miz may have added another accolade to his collection, but Wyatt added his first Sunday night, as he and Orton defeated Slater and Rhyno to become the new Smackdown Tag Team champions.
The victory marks Wyatt's first championship and it came in a situation I never would have expected.
If you had told me a year ago that Wyatt's first championship would be the Smackdown Tag title with Orton, I would have looked at you funny for multiple reasons.
Firstly, I would have wondered why in the world is WWE doing a brand split again and I would have never guessed that Wyatt would be teaming with Orton.
But that is the case, as the trio of Wyatt, Orton and Luke Harper appear to be gelling on screen and it is making for a much more intriguing storyline between all three men.
Corbin, Kalisto exceeds expectations
I had zero expectations for this match because I have zero interest in chairs matches, but I have to give credit where credit is due. Corbin and Kalisto did a heck of a job making a silly stipulation match quite enjoyable.
It helps when you have a pair in Corbin and Kalisto that apparently fit each other very well. Kalisto is obviously the high-flyer, but in order to pull off a lot of those athletic moves, he needs a good base, and Corbin provides that in spades.
I liked the creative spots these two came up with as well, especially Corbin hitting the end of days on a pile of steel chairs, which looked painful for both men.
Carmella is a snitch?
The only heel to take a loss on the main card was summarily dispatched by Bella and then apparently snitched on Natalya for attacking Bella at Survivor Series.
Natalya denied the claim, but I'm not sure what this does for Carmella. Not only did she lose via fire extinguisher, she then turned around and threw someone else on the roster right under the bus for no apparent reason.
It made no sense to me because I'm not sure what is in it for Carmella. What does she get out of telling Bella who jumped her from behind at Survivor Series? Better yet, how would she even know?