The Way Too Long Review of TLC 2009

It’s finally time to close out the year 2009’s run of pay-per-views.  TLC was the latest in the cynical “let’s just make a gimmick pay per view” idea that caused all sorts of booking problems for the WWE.  As I said in a previous podcast, I’m sure the idea sounded good on paper, but in reality the WWE never stopped to consider if they would have the type of feuds that lent themselves to gimmick matches.  Thus you get stuff like CM Punk facing the Undertaker in a submission match, which is normally the type of match that is used to blow off a feud, not begin one.  The same could be said about every type of gimmick match of course.  On this show, you get Sheamus vs. John Cena in a Table match, which again, isn’t exactly the ideal way to kick off a feud.

That said, my streak of skipping live pay-per-views, which began at Judgment Day, ended here.  If memory serves me correctly, this was not a great show.  But then again, my memory often fails.

Before I get to the review, I simply have to comment on the cover art for this DVD.  It fucking blows.  I suck at putting up pictures so I’m hoping one of the good people at Pulse who adds this stuff after I submit it for publication can insert a picture of the cover right now.


Look at that shit.  It looks like the cover of a bootleg DVD you would find at a Mexican flea market.  I’ve only felt the need to comment on bad cover-art once, during my review of the Randy Savage set, but World Wrestling Entertainment really did sink to a new low here.  The pictures look like they were taken using one of those really cheap Spongebob Squarepants themed digital cameras that you find at Target on clearance for $3.99.  Not shown is the back cover, which actually features slightly better pictures (albeit still low resolution) but which only lists four of the seven matches.  I know slamming the show’s DVD case is incredibly nit-picky but damnit, someone had to comment on it.

December 13, 2009 from San Antonio, TX, where they always remember the Alamo yet forget to bathe.

Match #1: ECW Championship, Ladder Match
(c) Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin

Shelton gets no heat on his entrance, and thus this match proves that his only reason for continued employment is because he’s handy to have around when you want to book a ladder match.  Of course, Christian doesn’t get a much bigger pop.  This is San Antonio after all, the most polite crowd in wrestling.  If you need a reference for that, just look at the 1997 Royal Rumble, where the fans in San Antonio sat in dead silence for over ten minutes for the most god-awful Lucha match in history.  No hate-hooing, no heat, nothing.  Just polite silence.  Then again, they don’t really pop for the good stuff either.  If the 1997 Royal Rumble takes place in Madison Square Garden or in Toronto, the fans would have marked out for the Steve Austin stuff so much that the collective ejaculations would have stained the wrestlers’ skins and left them all looking as pasty-white as Sheamus.  Yikes, there’s a visual image I won’t soon forget.  Anyway, you can’t really blame San Antonio, who has had to deal with the most boring basketball of the decade.  The upside is they’re able to watch their team win championships without burning their own city to the ground in celebration.

To the match.  Lockup to start, which goes nowhere.  Another lockup and Shelton grabs a headlock.  Shoot-off and Christian barely has the hops to get up for a leapfrog, then hits a dropkick.  Man, white men can’t jump.  Christian does his bitch chops to Shelton and shoots him to the corner, but Benjamin springs off the ropes with a forearm and does some mild brawling.  Shelton misses a spinkick and Christian goes for the Unprettier, but Benjamin turns it into a backbreaker and bails for a ladder.  He walks past the closest ladder and goes for a smaller one, allowing Christian to punch him.  Christian goes for the larger ladder but gets smacked down and whipped into the rail.  Shelton preps a ladder and slowly drags it towards the ring.  That allows Christian to hit his springboard plancha.  Christian drags the ladder into the ring and preps it under the belt.  He gets a finger on it but Shelton saves by yanking Christian down.  Fans go dead.  Christian goes for a monkey flip in the corner, which was supposed to end with Shelton sticking the landing on the ladder and running up it.  Of course, Christian has the muscle tone of a rubber band and thus Shelton comes up about three feet short of the ladder and the spot loses all its coolness.  He still regains his footing and starts to run up the ladder, but Christian yanks him down and then casually dumps him between the ropes.  Christian folds the ladder and goes to throw it at Benjamin on the floor, but gets tripped up and the ladder falls on his face.

On the outside, Benjamin grabs another prepped ladder, but Christian is bleeding and thus we have to pause the match and sew him up.  God bless the PG era.  Matt Striker is smart enough to cover for this crap by saying the Texas State Athletic Commission requires this.  Of course, the same commission allows high school football players to have lidocaine injected into them in the middle of the game so that their parents don’t have to miss out on living vicariously through them and thus I’m thinking sewing up a little cut isn’t high on their priority list, but hey, nice save anyway.

Christian is clotting well enough that the match can resume with Shelton getting yanked off the ladder and dumped into the seats by Christian, who grabs a ladder.  Shelton is quickly back over the rail and climbs the outside ladder, then wipes out himself and Christian with a suicide flip.  Shelton walks around aimlessly, then preps a ladder between the announce table and the ring apron.  Christian tries to whip Shelton into it but Shelton slides underneath it and snatches a catapult attempt.  Christian kicks off it and sends Shelton into a standing ladder.  Back in the ring, a ladder gets prepped in the corner, which Shelton then whips Christian into.  He sandwiches him into the corner and goes for the Blinger splash, but Christian tosses the ladder at him.  Christian preps the ladder and starts to climb, gets a hand on the belt, but Shelton pushes the ladder over.  Christian sticks the landing but eats a spinkick.  Nothing happens for what seems like forever, and then Shelton preps the large ladder under the belt and climbs.  Christian climbs and hits the reverse DDT from the middle of it.  This match sucks.

Christian climbs and is fucking level with the belt while Shelton is nowhere close to being in a position to stop him.  He grabs the belt, and could easily yank it down, but then he sees Shelton display his amazing agility by stumbling on the top rope.  So Christian panics when he could in theory have won the match and waited thirty minutes for Dominos to deliver one of it’s ‘improved’ pizzas (in reality the same crappy pizza with breadsticks for a crust; big thumbs down for it).  He climbs down and tries to spear Shelton off the ropes with the ladder.  Benjamin blocks it and swings himself while riding the ladder to reach for the belt.  It fails and he only gets a couple fingers on it.  Christian pushes him back to the corner, where Shelton kicks Christian away and rides the ladder down with a clothesline.  Sequence didn’t really work for me.  Shelton preps the ladder and climbs, getting his hand on the belt and then having to push it away because Christian wasn’t in a position to make the save.  I’m so embarrassed for these guys.  This is really pathetic.  Christian finally does save and gets powerslammed off the ladder.  I’m sure that’s enough for the average smark to give this match praise.  Hey, guys falling off a ladder!  Four Stars!  Even if every other aspect of this match is backyard wrestling quality.

Shelton hits the Blinger splash on Christian in the corner and climbs.  He ends up hanging from the harness while Christian begins to build the overly elaborate and exotic death scene.  In this case, he folds up a ladder, and then instead of spearing Benjamin in the balls with it and presumably saving his title, he preps it against one of the corners.  Ohhhkaayyy.  He then grabs a different ladder and uses that to politely poke at Shelton, as if he’s trying to say “bro, come on, let go.”  I’ve used less caution when trying to capture ladybugs in my house so that I can release them outside.  “There you go, little bug.  Sorry about knocking your leg off.”  Christian then remembers the taller ladder he prepped in the corner and grabs it.  He then does the logical thing anyone would do in a similar situation: unfolds it and places it under Shelton’s leg to give him the footing he would need to presumably unhook the belt and win the match.  Shelton then has to sell this stupidity by leaning far back on the belt like Christian didn’t just give him a helping hand.  I’m cracking up here, for real.  This is just so bad on so many levels.

It gets better.  Christian then runs up the ladder and pushes Shelton off.  He then tries to pull the belt off, but does so in a way that makes no goddamn sense.  The harness swivels, so Christian could just turn it around and unbutton the belt.  Instead, he reaches his hand through the hole in the harness and tries to unhook the belt that way.  A handy close-up of this shows that Christian is not even trying to unhook it.  Shelton then yanks Christian down and powerbombs him into a ladder in the corner.  Shelton preps the ladder, but naturally it’s not even under the fucking belt.  He starts to climb the side that IS close to the belt but then gets down to punch Christian down.  He then starts to climb the side that is nowhere close to the belt.  Christian climbs too, and you can practically see the sunset flip coming.  What you can’t see coming is Shelton, the agile god that he is, botching the flip, then nearly killing Christian when he doesn’t quite stick the landing.  Christian then turns this into a pitiful rana that was supposed to drive Shelton into the corner, but he comes up short and has to throw himself into the turnbuckle.  Christian staggers to the apron and now we remember the ladder prepped between the table and the apron.  Shelton goes for a German suplex off the apron and into the ladder.  Christian fights him off and Shelton ends up laying on the ladder.  Christian splashes him through the ladder and climbs to get the belt.

DUD It truly saddens me that wrestling fans and even ‘smart’ reviewers are still impressed by the presence of gravity so much that falling off a ladder is good enough to give a match high marks.  These guys went out, blew spots, mistimed everything, and used logic in ways that would be disappointing from someone recovering from a lobotomy.  Just because there’s a ladder involved shouldn’t be an excuse to lower your standards.  Many guys are able to wrestle using this cartoonish device without treating the fans like they’re imbeciles who will swallow anything.  Fans should expect better.  And enough of this crap about Shelton being so agile and the best pure athlete in the WWE.  When was the last time he actually hit a spot without almost falling on his face?  Can’t someone get this guy drunk and in a taxi with Matt Hardy so that he can get fired already and we can all be spared from his agility and athleticism?

Match #2: Intercontinental Championship
(c) John Morrison vs. Drew McIntyre

Drew gets absolutely no heat on his entrance, while Morrison gets polite “This guy must be the good guy” applause.  Lockup numero uno goes nowhere.  A second and Morrison wiggles out of a headlock and grabs a wristlock.  McIntyre stiffly elbows out of it and covers for one.  Armbar by McIntyre and he proves his heel chops by pushing at Morrison’s face.  Morrison is shot off but slides under Drew’s feet and fires off an armdrag and a running elbow.  Uppercut, then Morrison gets reversed on a whip and sent to the corner.  He ends up on the apron where he fights off McIntyre and hits a sloppy looking rana and a kick to the head for two, then Drew bails.  Morrison gives chase and ends up getting launched into the ring post by McIntyre.  He tosses Morrison in the ring and covers for two.  Short-arm clothesline gets two.  McIntyre takes Morrison to the corner and punches him down.  He places Morrison on the apron and clubs his exposed chest, then returns to the ring and hits a short-arm clothesline for two.  Now back to the armbar/chinlock combination.  Morrison fights out fast enough to keep it from getting boring and tries to fight back, but McIntyre kicks him and takes him to the corner for more brawling.  Vertical suplex by Drew gets two.  Shoot-off and Drew lowers his head into a kick, but he returns fire with a boot to the face that was cringe-worthy and then hits some clubbing blows for two and two.  And back to the armbar/chinlock but this time from a different angle.  Morrison tries to fight back with some punches, so McIntyre shoots him off and ends up eating a DDT for a double knockout.

Morrison is up and hits some punches, a clothesline, a really sloppy back-elbow thingy, and a kick to the face for two.  He climbs and hits a missile dropkick for two.  Kick to the knee by McIntyre, and then he ties up Morrison on his back and fires off a reverse Alabama slam for two.  Neat-o move that made Jerry Lawler laugh at its craziness.  Dropkick by Morrison sends McIntyre out of the ring and to the floor.  I don’t buy Morrison recovering from that last move so fast, but he’s practically a TNA caliber wrestler anyway and I’ve started setting my expectations for him low.  On the outside, Drew pushes Morrison off and charges, but John gets a drop toe-hold and sends McIntyre into the guardrail.  Morrison springs off the apron with the flying chop, and then it’s back to the ring.  McIntyre charges and tries for a shoulderblock, but Morrison moves out of the way and Drew posts himself.  Starship Pain by Morrison ‘hits’ in the same sense that hitting your dart on the board but outside of the targets still technically means you hit the dartboard.  Okay, that was my worst analogy ever.  Anyway, it totally whiffs except maybe the very top of Morrison’s head but McIntyre sells it and it gets only two because his foot was under the rope.  Stompery by Morrison and he takes his belt off, which causes the referee to get distracted.  McIntyre is evil so he thumbs Morrison in the eye and hits the double-arm DDT for the pin and the title.

**1/2 An enjoyable match that I ultimately can’t give a passing grade to because it was just too damn sloppy.  Plus the crowd offered practically no feedback (typical for a Morrison match) and thus there were some minor pacing issues.

And, for me at least, the John Morrison love-in is over.  The guy is now officially overrated.  He bats about .750 in terms of crisp, clean-looking spots vs. sloppy or completely botched stuff.  That doesn’t sound too bad, and truth be told he’s not even the worst guy on the roster in that aspect.  But for the hype smart fans give him and the expectations on where he will stand in the company someday, I just don’t see a star in him.  I see a marginally charismatic guy, Hollywood good looks, certainly knows how to pop a crowd, and bigger then your average flyer.  At the same time, he’s a guy who the fans are still not fully behind, who doesn’t hold their interest from bell-to-bell, and is pretty damn botch heavy even for simple transitional moves.  He comes across as an overzealous indy wrestler who’s out to doll up every move in an attempt to be flashy and unique.  As with most things in life, it’s not what you do but how you do it.  Many of Shawn Michaels’ fans and peers regard him as the best professional wrestler ever, and it’s not because he has a unique and complicated moveset.  He certainly doesn’t.  Rather it’s that 99.9% of the moves he does look perfect.  And John Morrison would be well served to think about whether fans are more likely to remember the neat corkscrew back-elbows that he hits or the neat corkscrew back-elbows that he completely botches and looks like a fool doing.

This is not to say I’ve given up on him or that the WWE should.  Just that at the present time, I don’t think his standing in the WWE or among the smart community is justified by his actual talent.  He’s green, sloppy, and really has no clue how to put a match together and keep the fans into it from start to finish.  He’s got potential for sure, but I can’t score his matches based on future potential.  What he’s given me over the last year on pay-per-view has not been stellar.  He’s had a lot of good stuff on Smackdown, including what I’m pretty sure will be a five-star match with Rey Mysterio that I get to review in his upcoming DVD.  But given the fact that his PPV matches are so botch heavy, I wonder if Morrison’s TV goodness is the product of talent or clever editing.  For now, I’m not impressed. I remember laughing at the Miz’s assertion that he would go down as the Shawn Michaels to Morrison’s lowly Marty Jannetty.  It doesn’t seem so funny or delusional anymore.  At one point Morrison himself was billed as the next coming of Shawn Michaels.  From my viewpoint, he comes across more like the second coming of Rob Van Dam, and that’s certainly not a good thing.

-We get a commercial featuring a bunch of TNA guys talking about TNA star Hulk Hogan’s DVD that I soooooo need to finish reviewing.

-Meanwhile, Drew McIntyre gets caught getting his hand shaken by Vince McMahon.  He then meets up with Josh Matthews to brag about how quickly he won the IC title after jumping to Smackdown.  BUT WAIT~!! because Sheamus is here to brag about how McIntyre isn’t the only newcomer walking out of TLC with gold, because he’s going to beat Spike Dudley for the European title and go on to dominate the lower midcard of Ra… wait, what?  He’s facing the WWE Champion?  In a title match?  Like, for the belt?

Jesus.

Match #3: Women’s Championship
(c) Michelle McCool vs. Mickie James

So Mickie James isn’t your average WWE diva.  In other words, she isn’t built like a whippet with two balloons stapled to its chest.  So naturally the WWE, being the sensitive chaps that they are, decide to make an angle where she’s made fun of for being fat.  Truthfully, this could be the most realistic angle the WWE has ever done.  Mainstream media dictates that any girl who weighs over 110lbs is morbidly obese.  At roughly 125lbs or so, Mickie James qualifies as a cow.  Or “healthy” if you don’t spend your life trying to qualify as “Hollywood Pretty.”  Watching American Idol this last week, I repeatedly cringed while the show kept reminding us how beautiful the former Spice Girl and current He-Man nemesis Victoria Beckham is.  Seriously, that is one nasty looking bitch.  I personally don’t get the stick-figure look.  I’m pretty thin myself, but not to the point where you can’t tell if I’m Caucasian or if my skin is transparent.   But apparently at what I would guess is barely 100lbs, she is the defacto sex goddess of all of music or something, despite the fact that she has more bones protruding through her skin then Doomsday.  At this rate, Christian Children’s Fund commercials won’t be advertisements to donate money for starving children, but rather vacation packages to visit Ethiopia and become Victoria Beckham style sexy.

To the match, but not before Jerry Lawler talks about how stupid this angle is.  For real.  McCool bails as James tries to lockup.  Lockup and James takes her down to the canvas.  McCool holds the lockup and they fall out of the ring, running into the rail and the apron.  Neat sequence actually.  They stare down each other while sliding into the ring, and it’s very cat fight-like.  Mickie takes McCool to the corner and chokes away.  The ref pulls her off, then McCool charges into a double-leg takedown and a jackknife cover for two.  Leg sweep for one.  Rollup for two.  McCool kicks Mickie in the gut but gets caught in a crucifix.  She blocks it and rams Mickie into the corner.  Kicks and a cover for two.  Snapmare and a knee to the back, then another for two.  Now a rear-chinlock.  She works the hold by gawd, twisting Mickie’s head around and slamming it into the canvas, then reapplying it.  Nice.  Mickie tries to wiggle out of it, so McCool drops her weight on it.  Arrogant stomps by McCool, who actually WORKS LIKE A HEEL~! and then some knees to the back.  Mickie again tries to fight back with some elbows, but she charges into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker with a cocky cover for two.  Small package out of nowhere by Mickie gets two, so McCool dumps her out of the ring.  Michelle follows her out and tosses her into the rail.  McCool charges but Mickie moves out of the way and Michelle crashes on the rail.  Snap-rana by Mickie and a Thesz press.  Layla runs a distraction to let Michelle get into the ring.  Back in, another Thesz press and a dropkick gets two.  Stiff elbows, then Mickie ducks a clothesline and hits a trio of her own.  Pretty solid ones too.  Mickie gets reversed to the corner, and the match loses its seamless feeling when she kind of struggles to get up on the ropes.  McCool catches her and tries to dump her, but Mickie lands on the apron.  Mickie climbs the ropes but Layla comes up and pushes her off.  Mickie lands on her feet and kicks Layla in the gut, then ducks out of the way of McCool’s running boot, which then PLASTERS Layla in the face.  Mickie school-girls her for two, then gets up and eats a downright nasty straight kick to the face.  Yipes.  It scores the pin for McCool.

***1/4 With the simple storyline of “McCool is a mean, catty bitch and James wants to fuck her shit up” as the angle, these two completely had me sold on not liking each other and they had a well paced, very well wrestled match with some nice spots and lots of good, stiff brawling.

Fellow Pulse reviewers were not so kind to this match.  Paul Marshall gave this match a D+, while Pulse Glazer gave Mickie James a D for effort and Michelle McCool and F.  For real.  Mind you, he gave the spot blowing savant Shelton Benjamin an A- and Christian a B- for doing basically doing nothing.  Marshall gave the ladder match a B+ on the grounds of gravity not failing to work for twenty minutes.  Of course, that match didn’t have any of those icky big-chested creatures who use the funny bathrooms without the urinals.  Seriously, I know that your average IWC writer wouldn’t know female genitalia if it sat on their face and wiggled, but that doesn’t mean the guys have to be so open about that fact and act like you’re going to catch cooties if you enjoy the ladies in a match.

Glazer on James: “She brought fire sure, but in the worst match of the night, she needed so much more. With no structure and poor selling, she barely avoided a failing grade.”

Glazer on McCool: “McCool looked incredibly poor. She didn’t sell well, didn’t structure the match, didn’t draw heat, and, finally, her finisher kick looked entirely generic and unconvincing for a finish.”

Glazer on Shelton Benjamin: “Shelton got the spots of the night in the opener and showed he could hang with (at worst) upper mid-carder Christian and can carry ECW in the short term should Christian be needed on a different show. The WWE trusts him in the ring, letting him work with and get ready the next generation, so with a bit more personality, he’s still young enough to be a star.”

So let’s recap: Shelton blows spots left and right and takes part in one of the most poorly structured, completely convoluted ladder matches ever barfed out by the WWE and Glazer gives him an A- and talks about what a budding star Benjamin is.  Of course, he’s been a budding star for going on six years now, but hey, he can trip all over himself during a ladder match so whoopee!

McCool and James botch nothing, wrestle in a way that’s realistic to the feud they have, with a properly timed comeback and some really good and stiff action, and the match gets bad marks presumably because they pee sitting down.  If one didn’t know better, they would think that ole’ Ace types his crap up in the tree house with Spanky and Stymie.  Then again, as Aaron is always quick to remind me, someone out there is actually dumb enough to pay him for his opinion on wrestling and where as I should consider myself lucky to have been picked up by Pulse and given an outlet for my views.  Maybe I should hike up my britches, swear off sex, and tow the generic IWC line of “girls bad, falling off ladders good” so I can reach an Pulse Glazer level of stardom.

Nah.

Match #4: WWE Championship, Table Match
(c) John Cena vs. Sheamus

Well I can’t really complain about the WWE pushing Sheamus this fast since his spot in this match is what prompted me to break my pay-per-view ordering boycott.  Putting the title on the red-hot ‘rookie’ straight out of the gate sometimes proves to be a winning formula in wrestling.  Look at the success guys like Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg had.  Of course, for every Goldberg there’s a Yokozuna or Bobby Lashley.  As for Sheamus, I’ll cover my thoughts on his reign to this point after the match.

Before I get to the match, I have to do a quick rant on Matt Striker.  Look, I like the guy as much as anyone else does, and as far as commentators in this decade go he’ll likely go down as the best newcomer.  That said, when it comes to cringe-worthy quips on commentary, he’s already passed Michael Cole.  Take this gem for instance.

“John Cena is the most controversial pop-culture superstar the WWE has ever known.”

Oy, that sucker brought on a tension headache for me.  I’m happy that the WWE finally got a wrestling guy to fill the commentary spot.  They got him under long-term contract now and it’s clear that he’s the heir to the throne.  But when it comes to puking out the WWE’s “We’re not wrestling, we’re an action-adventure episodic dramedy” hogwash, Striker has already eclipsed Michael Cole.  I’m far removed from one of those jaded “I hate that they made wrestling a bad word” smarks that bitch every time the phrase “sports entertainment” is spoken, but at some point one has to draw the line.  And I don’t get why they can’t just say “John Cena is the most controversial WWE Champion of all time.”  It all screams of a company that’s embarrassed by the product it sells.  If a wrestling company is embarrassed that it’s a wrestling company, why would its fans be proud to watch it?  I don’t think the WWE understands that.

To the match, and the fans in San Antonio seem hot for it, which is a rarity.  Cena slugs it out to start, then rams Sheamus from corner to corner and finishes with a bulldog.  Mounted sissy punches by Cena, then a whip to the corner.  Sheamus catches Cena charging and hits an elbow, then a clothesline.  Vertical suplex and mounted punches.  Knee drop by Sheamus while Jerry Lawler gets a cringe-worthy line on commentary.  “He looks like a corpse.  In fact I think I would like him more if he was one…” then he sort of catches himself.  You can almost picture the voice in his head saying “Oh right, wrestling.  Huge pile of bodies.  My bad.”  Sheamus bails for a table, but Cena is fully recovered and slams Sheamus’ face into the table a few times.  To the side of the ring where he rams Casper into the guardrail.  Sheamus shrugs this off and tosses Cena into the post.  Sheamus has a nasty whelp on his arm.  Cena reverses a whip and sends him into the stairs.

Cena grabs a table, which shockingly gets no reaction from the crowd.  Weird.  He preps Sheamus’ face on the table on the floor, and then climbs the ropes.  Sheamus bails out of the way.  Sheamus rolls out of the ring, so Cena gives chase and ends up getting pounded down in the ring.  Powerslam and Cena slowly rolls to the apron.  Sheamus punches Cena on the apron, teasing a table crash.  Cena fights back and hoists Sheamus up for the FU through the table.  Sheamus wiggles out and slams Cena into the post.  Ram into the apron by Sheamus, a punch, and a slam into the stairs.  Cena fights back and slams Sheamus into the stairs.  Cena is slow to recover and takes a bit trying to set up Sheamus for an FU through the table.  Sheamus wiggles out and goes for the Celtic Cross through the table, but Cena flips out of that.  Cena brawls him up the ramp and fires off a suplex there.  He goes to fetch the table but his back is messed up and he has trouble getting it up.  Erectable Dysfunction: tragic when it hits men Cena’s age.

He does pick up the table and tries to hit Sheamus with it as if he was wielding a chair, but Sheamus moves out of the way.  Ugh, that’s one of those moves that could have really put this match over if he had done it.  Cena gives chase and the brawl spills over into the seating aisle way, and the San Antonio crowd proves their politeness by now closing in around them.  Awww, you really can’t pick on them.  They’re nice people.  Cena smacks him around for a bit there, and then tosses him over the rail and back to the ring.  Sheamus preps a table on the outside, but then returns to the ring and gets plastered by the bicycle kick of Sheamus.  Michael Cole calls it the “Irish Curse Kick.”  Good lord.  Last I checked, “Irish Curse” is a slang term for “small penis.”  So I suddenly picture Sheamus going “God I hate having such a pathetically small dick!  Take this, Cena!  Revenge of the pint-sized pecker coming right at you!”

Sheamus’ arm seems to be legitimately tweaked, but the match goes on.  He bails for a table and preps it up against the corner, then hoists Cena up to slam him on it.  Cena wiggles out and tries for the STFU, but Sheamus kicks away from that.  It’s still time for Cena to WIGGER UP~!  Shoulderblocks, protoplex, and the five knuckle shuffle.  Cena does his stupid ‘Word Life’ gesture to the fans while Sheamus pops up and displays pretty good psychology by dumping the table he prepped out of the ring.  The announcers do a good thing by putting that over.  Cena does hit the FU, and then preps the table in the ring.  The fans start to hate-hoo his potential finish.  He preps Sheamus on the ropes and then takes his sweet time setting up for an FU off the ropes.  Sheamus pushes off, but he’s still woozy from the previous FU.  Cena climbs back up and preps for a superplex off the ropes and I swear I thought the ending was going to be BOTH guys crashing through a table and thus causing a draw.  Instead, Sheamus pushes Cena off and through the table to win the WWE Championship in what has to be one of the five worst methods used to switch a title in WWE history.  Meanwhile, Jerry Lawler tries to sell the possibility that it wasn’t a true offensive move through the table and that Cena simply slipped off the ropes.  Nothing ever came of this.

**3/4 Honestly not as bad as I remembered it on first viewing.  They had more assistance from the crowd then previous matches and thus were able to cut a pretty decent pace.  The problem is this was a table match and they didn’t have enough dramatic near-crash spots to make things exciting, and for that reason alone I can’t give it a passing grade.  Cena was injured going into this match and Sheamus’ arm was somewhat disabled in the middle of the action, and that might have limited their ability to do some really high impact stuff.  But I have to score based on what’s presented, and I really felt that this was a very free-TVish, no frills gimmick match that didn’t deliver the standards John Cena has set for himself over the years.  The ending was terrible too.  Wrestling matches should always have a seamless ending.  Here, it looked like they had something that might have sounded good when they were planning it out, but in execution it came off as tacked on.  It almost felt like everything up to the finish was a different match and then they edited in the ending of an entirely different show.  Very strange and poorly conceived affair here.

As for Sheamus, what can I say?  He wins the title here and what should be the beginning of a monster run on top completely fizzles right out of the starting gate, to the point now where the WWE Championship feels very low on the totem pole.  The next night on Raw, he only popped in for what felt like a cameo, cut a very generic promo, and then showed up briefly following the main event of Randy Orton vs. John Cena.  This was NOT the way to establish Sheamus as a tippy-top guy.  I know the internet wrestling community likes to bitch about Triple H, and now that Sheamus has the belt they have more ammo.  “Man, it sure pays to be Triple H’s workout buddy!”  Does it?  Since winning the belt Sheamus has been a total undercard World Champion and has yet to look really good.  He’s not even in one of the top three angles on the show he’s the champion of.  If Triple H had so much influence and was ‘just putting the belt on him to get his Wrestlemania moment’ then surely he would want Sheamus to look strong going into their match-up.  That’s the average IWC twatwaffle for you: never one to turn down a chance to act smug and bitch about Triple H.  I mean obviously a guy who’s done everything in his career including thirteen World Title runs and basically is set to take over the company in a few years is such an egomaniac that he plotted to put the title on his workout buddy instead of some IWC favorite like CM Punk or Chris Jericho.  Then he does the logical thing anyone would do once his plan is set in motion: cripple the momentum of the guy he wants to use to put himself over so that when he does get his big egomaniacal title win at Wrestlemania it will be as meaningless and empty as possible.  You anti-Triple Hers who make this shit up should find another outlet for your illogical, mentally ill ravings.  May I suggest the 9-11 Truth Movement?

Having seen his work before he came to the WWE, I assure you that Sheamus CAN WORK!  He’s got this great power wrestler mixed with European catch style that he hasn’t really had a chance to display properly in the WWE.  The problem is they’re not booking him in a way to display that, nor are they putting him in any positions to heat up the crowd.  He wins the title here in the most unconvincing way possible and then goes on to barely brush past John Cena on Raw a couple weeks later.  He gets a couple squashes against Evan Bourne, who the fans don’t perceive at all as a wrestler who should be fighting the World Champion, which just hammers home the point that maybe Sheamus shouldn’t have the belt.  Then he goes on to face Randy Orton at the Royal Rumble in a heel vs. heel match, which is NOT going to help his cause, nor is needing interference to win the match by DQ.  Trying to mix the whole monster heel shtick with the Honky Tonk Man fluke title reign is just about the worst idea since Sony launched the Playstation 3 at $600.  I feel bad for him, because he really does have a LOT going for him in terms of look and talent but he’s been so damaged by this poor excuse for a WWE Championship reign that I’m not sure he’ll recover.  There are a lot of guys in the past that might have benefited from the rub you get having a brief run with the World Title.  This isn’t one of those cases.  This reign will have long term negative effects on his career.

The feeling among my inner circle is that the WWE wanted a Big Van Vader style monster with Sheamus, and they couldn’t have missed the mark anymore if they had placed the target on the dark side of the moon and then instead shot themselves in the face.  If they were truly aiming for a Vader-style beast, they should have ditched their current ‘contemporary’ writing staff and just been as straight forward as wrestling gets.

See Monster.

Monster unbeatable.

Monster destroy people.

Who kill monster?

The fans can get behind that.  Even with his fluke win here, Sheamus was fairly over for a couple weeks following his win.  Now the fans have lost interest and the buzz on him is all but gone.  He’s not looked at like a top guy, but just one of those colorless (no pun intended) midcarders who fills the time in-between DX comedy sketches and the latest on the Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon saga.  The WWE wanted Vader and they got another John Bradshaw Layfield, which is NOT going to earn them a single cent.  I hope they enjoyed the money Sheamus/Cena drew for TLC because it’s likely the last time he will ever net them a dollar anytime soon.  And it’s their fault, not his.

-Meanwhile, we’re reminded not to try this stuff at home.  What, set up a gimmick match pay-per-view months before they would even establish whether they would have feuds that lend themselves to the gimmicks?  Great advice, WWE.  Will do.

-Meanwhile, we get replays of Cena crashing through the title, and Jerry Lawler again saying that Sheamus didn’t actually push him off.  Considering the amount of time they spent on this, I’m guessing this was supposed to lead to an angle for a rematch but by the next night’s Raw this whole thing was completely forgotten, much like Sheamus himself was a month later.

Match #5: World Heavyweight Championship, Chair Match
(c) The Undertaker vs. Batista
Special Note:
This is NOT a No-DQ Match and the ONLY THING you can use that’s normally illegal is the chair, as Michael Cole reminds us.  Golly, I wonder if that’s going to come into play?

What a lame idea for a match, for real.  And despite the fact that these guys had a proven track record of great matches and lots of chemistry, I had low expectations going in.  Batista slides out of the ring to start and tries to get a chair, and then Undertaker cuts him off.  He tries to swing a chair but Batista kicks him in the gut and tosses him in the ring.  In the ring, Taker hits a clothesline, then brawls Batista in the corner with various punches and kicks.  Stomps by Taker while Batista reaches for a chair.  Whip to the corner but Taker charges into an elbow.  Running forearm by Batista gets one.  Taker flips Batista out of the ring, then slams him into the stairs.  Matt Striker gets just a little too nerdy on commentary as he notes that Batista’s bones are more dense then the Undertaker’s because he has a high protein intake.  Really?  Undertaker is a zombie and I heard brains were a very good source of nutrition.  Anyway, then Michael Cole then notes that Undertaker might drink more milk then Batista, leaving Jerry Lawler to sigh “What are you guys talking about?” in disgust.  Well that was about the most embarrassing exchange on commentary I’ve heard in years.

Meanwhile, Undertaker gets brawled around yet manages to causally toss a chair into the ring.  Well that was weird.  He also had this “What are you doing Batista?” look on his face which tells me that something went wrong.  Batista gets reversed on a whip and takes a phony looking bump over the guardrail and into the time keeper’s box.  Taker tosses a few chairs into the ring and then tries a running boot on the rail.  It misses and he crotches himself.  Batista chairs him around and the fans are dead because they’re in the box and nobody can see what’s going on.  Batista tries to chair Taker against the post but Taker ducks and Batista’s arm gets pinged.  Taker brawls him to the apron and drops the ‘Vintage Undertaker’, which is apparently the official name for his leg drop on the apron.  In the ring, Batista sits up but Taker kind of grabs him by the neck and slowly takes him down the canvas for two.  Ugh, this match sucks.

Taker goes for the ropewalk but Batista crotches him and slowly loads up a superplex, which hits for two.  He preps a chair and loads up for the Powerbomb, but Taker backdrops out of it and Batista lands on it.  Time for the dramatic slug-off.  Taker wins out and bounces off the ropes but eats a spinebuster for two.  Batista preps a chair in the ropes and fires some elbows off, but Taker hits a flying clothesline and the zombie sit-up.  Taker winds up Batista’s arm and fires off the rope walk, then hits the snake-eyes.  He goes for the running boot but Batista catches it with a spear for two.  Spinebuster on the chair by Batista, with Taker’s head legitimately landing on the chair.  Thumbs up, thumbs down, but then Taker catches Batista in the Hell’s Gate.  People bitch about the STFU looking dumb.  The Hell’s Gate looks every bit as stupid 80% of the time.  Batista gets to the ropes and we have a virtual double knockout.  Batista grabs a chair and stumbles around the ring, then Taker pops his head through the ropes and Batista jabs him with it.  Lame.  In the ring, Batista charges but misses and hits the chair he prepped in the ropes earlier.  Clothesline by Taker gets two.  Chokeslam gets two.  Taker calls for the Tombstone but Batista pushes off and nearly wipes out the referee in the corner.  Taker puts the breaks on but the referee’s view is obstructed so Batista punches him in the balls, and then hits him with a steel chair for the pin and the title.

BUT WAIT~!! because here comes Teddy Long to say that low blows are not legal and thus the match is restarted.  That is the single most stupid excuse I’ve ever heard for anything ever in wrestling.  The bell rings and Taker instantly does a zombie sit-up.  He hits Batista with a chair and uses the Tombstone Piledriver to score the pin.  I have to give the WWE credit for consistency: when they book the Undertaker in crappy matches, they go for the gusto and make sure the ending always sucks as well.

DUD Horrible match with one of the very worst endings I’ve ever seen.  It’s satisfying in the sense that it’s nice the Undertaker gets to look like a pussy for once, but come on, the WWE has a team of writers and some of the best wrestling minds ever working as agents and that’s the best cop-out finish they could have come up with?  Give me five seconds and I can come up with a better one.

Let’s see…

I got it.  Batista is about to score the pinfall when a spontaneous game of Monopoly breaks out in the middle of the ring.  Batista goes for a cover, but the referee is busy trying to pass Go so that he can start buying properties.  Batista is annoyed by both the fact that the ref isn’t counting his pinfall and that the players of the game are observing the classic ‘west coast’ house rules of the game.  Having grown up in Washington DC, he finds the idea of having to go around the board before the action really starts to be lame and complains about it.  Then Matt Striker lands on Free Parking and collects $500, causing Batista to snap and knock the board over in classic yankee titty-bitch fashion.  Annoyed that they have to restart their game, the referee disqualifies Batista on the grounds of party foul and awards the match to Undertaker.

There, now that’s a screw job ending that would have bumped the match up at least 1/4*, plus the potential for a rematch would be much higher.  They could have had a cage match at the Royal Rumble with Undertaker wearing a Top Hat, Batista rolling a canon to the ring, and the guest referee being a Scottish Terrier.  Oh, and the ringside area has “Just Visiting” painted on the floor for added effect.

Suddenly I picture Vince Russo surfing Inside Pulse, reading this, and running to Dixie Carter screaming “HAVE I GOT AN IDEA FOR YOU GUYS FOR NEXT MONTH’S PAY-PER-VIEW!”  Think of how smug Bischoff would sound in the promos.  “Vince McMahon, you like to think you have a Monopoly?  Well so much for that, because at Destination X…”

Anyway, the ending was crap, but it’s not like anything before it was watchable.  Very slow paced and boring, and both guys had major timing issues.  During certain moments, you could clearly see that both guys were lost and had no idea what direction to take the match.  It’s a crying shame that these guys who once shocked the hell out of damn near everyone by pulling off a match-of-the-year candidate and upstaging Shawn Michaels on the biggest stage of them all have now been reduced to this.  Thankfully, Undertaker’s string of unbearable singles matches ended at the Royal Rumble and he looked close to being back to form.  Hopefully it stays that way.

-Meanwhiler, Legacy has a message for Kofi Kingston, but he doesn’t want to hear it.  Ted DiBiase tries to sound all menacing and forceful, and as usual, he sounds like a ten year old doing a school play.  God I loved it at the Royal Rumble when he got dumped after ten minutes without any pomp and circumstance.  The announcers didn’t even mention him by name when he was tossed, and the fans barely reacted either.  Some idiots actually thought he was going to win it and go on to be the next big thing.  He can’t wrestle, he can’t cut a promo, he sure as hell can’t act, and he’s just basically the most useless newbie the WWE has had in years.  The truth about him is if his name was Ted Johnson and his father wasn’t a famous 80s wrestler, he wouldn’t even be allowed in the building.  He’s crap.  And just think, a couple Pulse writers actually picked him to win the Rumble, I presume based on all the invisible potential some smarks gush about with him.

Match #6
Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton

Well storytelling doesn’t get any more straight forward then this: two guys just plain don’t like each other.  I find it highly amusing that the WWE spends so much time and energy trying to get guys over with elaborate storylines involving mental illness, home invasion, arson, dog murder, love triangles, and rehashed Montreal finishes, but the tired and true “they just want to fight” ends up being the only angle that truly got anyone newly over as a babyface all year.  Kofi went from completely flavorless to a legitimate contender, and now having this match doesn’t seem like a step down for Orton.  Major kudos to the WWE for keeping it simple, stupid.  Now let’s see if the build can pay off with a good match.

Lockup and Orton grabs a headlock and takes it over.  Kofi turns this into a headscissors and they break to their feet and trade hammerlocks.  Kofi flips out of that and we have a stand-off to the typical San Antonio non-reaction.  It’s such a strange crowd.  Lockup and Orton takes Kofi to the corner, misses a roundhouse but still manages to brawl Kofi to the canvas and stomp the crap out of it.  Whip to the corner and Kofi gets a foot up, but then charges into a powerslam for two.  Now to a chinlock, which Orton tightens up on.  Kofi punches free then punches away, then mounts a ten-punch.  Orton tries to turn it into a powerbomb but Kofi gets a sunset flip for two.  Russian leg-sweep for two and Kofi goes for the Boom drop but Orton rolls out of the ring.  Kofi climbs and goes for a sledge off the top but Orton hits him with a dropkick coming down in what was an awesome spot.  Very nice.

Orton tells the fans to move out of the way, then hotshots Kofi on the rail.  He dumps Kofi off the rail and onto the floor, and then rolls him in the ring for two.  Stomps between the legs by Orton to Kofi’s face.  Kofi tries to fight back but gets raked in the face by Orton’s boot.  Orton fires off another hotshot, this time a nasty one onto the ropes.  He follows this with a knee drop for two, and then goes into his psycho mode.  He stalks Kofi around and fires off an uppercut and stalls for a bit, leading to Kofi getting his SOS, that he’s going to kill himself doing one of these days, for two.  The replay misses the cover, prompting Michael Cole to have to scream “TOP OF YOUR SCREEN!” for those who don’t bother using squint-o-vision.  You know what, production fuckwits?  When Michael Cole is basically pointing out how retarded you are, that should clue you in how much you suck.  Having watched the Royal Rumble, I’m guessing my $1,000 dying children vs. replays challenge won’t last past Wrestlemania.

Pace is dead now as Orton slowly gets up, only to get dumped over the top by Kofi, who follows this up with a tope.  He tosses Orton into the ring and hits a crossbody for two.  Kofi fires off some double chops and a clothesline.  A somewhat bored sounding Matt Striker notes that this is not the speed we’re used to seeing from Kofi Kingston, which is a nice way of saying this match is quite dull now.  A slow Irish whip reversal to the corner leads to Kofi springing off the ropes with a chop for two.  Even the instant replays are slow as we get a replay of that crossbody and thus only catch the end of Orton reversing Kofi with the wrap-around backbreaker.  This match alone would have knocked $100 out of the challenge fund.  Orton slowly stalks Kofi around, giving Kingston enough time to fire off a dropkick.  Boom drop by Kofi, and then he cleanly hits the Tornado kick.  It only gets two because Orton grabs the ropes, then rolls out of the ring.  Kofi slowly rolls him back into the ring, then gets caught with his head between the ropes and planted with a DDT.  Orton slllloooowwwwllllyyy gets up and goes for the punt, which Kofi blocks with his arm, injuring it.  Neat-o concept, in theory, that doesn’t work in execution because it looked like crap and still really should have carried through to his head.  But Kofi is going nuts selling the arm injury, so Orton hits an armbar-takedown, and then coils for the RKO.  Kingston whiffs one last time on the Tornado kick and Randy hits the RKO for the pin.

** It likely would have been a good match if they had worked with a faster tempo.  But they didn’t and thus it wasn’t.  They started out strong and then somewhere in the middle it degenerated into the same lethargic mess that every Randy Orton match these days seems to end up being.  This also lacked a pay-per-view quality feel to it, and rather felt like a Raw match that was slightly padded out.  Considering that these guys had a great angle going into it, this should have been a launch platform for Kofi to really strut his stuff.  He didn’t necessarily have to go over, but being forced to follow Randy’s crippling pace was not going to help make him a star.  And as far as Randy Orton’s gimmick goes, they need to change it up because he hasn’t had a decent match since Breaking Point and it’s mostly because as high concept as his character might be, it translates horribly in the ring.  I won’t go as far as to say Orton sucks as a wrestler.  As a human being, maybe.  But in the ring he’s ruled by his gimmick and that gimmick can’t result in good matches.

-Meanwhile, Teddy Long gets threatened by Batista.  He swings a chair at Teddy and tells him he better fix his match from earlier tonight.  Right.  In terms of impossible tasks, that ranks right below building a perpetual motion machine.  Teddy does a fine job cowering in fear.  Perhaps he was afraid Batista would make him re-watch this match.

Match #7: Tag Team Championship, TLC Match
(c) The Big Show & Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels & Triple H

Funny enough, despite spending a good chunk of 2006 making the Squad their bitches, I’m pretty sure this is the first tag title shot for DX.  Cue the haters.  Stare down to start.  Show pushes Trips off, so Michaels pushes Jericho and it’s on.  Slug-off and Show punches Trips out of the ring.  This shit will be hard to follow for the most part I’m guessing.  Show gives Trips a hard whip into the rail, while in the ring Jericho reverses a whip but lowers his head into a neckbreaker.  Back on the outside, where Show misses a charge and tumbles over the guardrail and into the crowd.  Trips searches under the ring for something, but comes up empty-handed.  He goes to the other side and finds a table, prepping it on the aisle.  Meanwhile Shawn and Jericho have their brawl in the ring.  We’re having the same production issues we had at Breaking Point, with the camera unable to follow the action.

Show and Trips brawl up by the production area while Michaels and Jericho spill out of the ring and tease a suplex through a table.  Shawn avoids it and tosses Jericho into the ring.  Flying forearm and a nip-up, but Jericho goes for the Walls of Jericho.  Shawn swings away from it and hits the atomic drop, the scoopslam, and the flying elbow.  Sadly for Michaels, the only thing his flying elbow hits is Jericho’s knees, thus swinging advantage the other way.  Meanwhile, Show and Trips brawl up by the entrance.  Jericho tries to move a ladder but then we see Show in trouble and he tries to chair Trips.  Triple H counters and goes for the Pedigree on the ramp, but gets backdropped.  Shawn tries to save and fails, giving the heels momentum.  Show holds Trips for a chairshot, but Shawn comes out of nowhere and they have a sword fight with chairs.  Shawn wins out and knocks Jericho down with a shot to the back, but Show comes in with a headbutt.  Jericho actually beats Big Slow to the ring despite eating a few chair shots and attempts to retrieve the big ladder.  DX saves and we revert back to a brawl.

Trips jabs Jericho in the stomach with a ladder, then drags him across the ring for a slam into the turnbuckle.  Scoopslam by Shawn, then DX suplexes the ladder onto Jericho.  Huge pop for that.  I have to say that Triple H doesn’t seem like he’s very comfortable in this ladder match environment, which is odd because a ladder match was kind of his coming out party in 1998.  DX sets up the ladder under the belts and Shawn starts to climb.  Big Show goes in to save, fights off Trips, and yanks Shawn off the ladder.  Big Show with piston punches in the corner, while Jericho sandwiches Shawn between the post and a ladder.  Baseball slide into the ladder squashes Shawn against the post.  Bulldog into the ladder by Jericho and the heels laugh about how easy this is.  Meanwhile, Matt Striker goes on a rant supporting Jerishow’s stance that DX are phonies and sellouts with all their T-Shirts and glow sticks.

Lawler: “What’s wrong with that?  It’s merch!”

Michael Cole: “Well maybe if Jericho and Show were nicer (they would have sales)…”

Striker: “Nicer?”

I have to say, throwing Striker into the mix with these guys has paid off in spades.  Even if the commentary boarders on Comic Con Nerd Convention at times, these three have some pretty entertaining exchanges with each other, and sometimes you can feel a slight tinge of legitimate disgust.  Which is good.  I always liked that about the Vince McMahon/Jim Ross/Jerry Lawler trio.

Anyway, Jericho preps the ladder in the corner, then Show powerslams Trips into it.  They lock his leg into the ladder to put him out of the match for a bit.  Shawn is up and gets whipped into corner that Triple H is.  He does his “up and over” corner bump, only he does it on Triple H, which is so bad ass.  That’s what a ladder match should be at its core; just new ways of doing the same bumps you’ve made a career out of doing.  Show splashes Trips on the ladder, knocking him off it.  Jericho goes to whip Trips into the ladder but gets reversed and sent up and over the ladder and to the floor.  Show misses another splash and hits the turnbuckle.  Trips slugs it out and Show lowers his head into a facebuster.  Trips picks up the ladder and hits Show in the back of the head with it, then tosses it down at Jericho on the floor.  Show goes for the chokeslam but Trips turns it into a DDT.  Michaels is on the ropes and drops the flying elbow on Show’s heart.  Shawn tunes up the band but Jericho is in the ring.  Chris ducks the Superkick and hits the Code Breaker on Michaels, then turns around and eats a spinebuster from Trips.  Big Show spears Trips, causing a four-way knockout.  I usually hate KO spots in multi-man matches, but this one was well done.

Show is alone in the ring and preps a ladder.  Jerry Lawler has been hyping the fact that the ladders have a 400lb weight limit all night and is seriously marking out about that now.  Show preps the ladder perfectly and starts to climb.  Michael Cole says “Big Show does nothing quickly” and thus earning himself the “Brutally Honest Statement of the Year.”  Trips comes in and PLASTERS Show in the back with a chair, drawing huge ooohs from the crowd.  Show no-sells it and does his KO Punch to the chair and into Trips.  This match needs blood.  Maybe when Linda McMahon loses this vanity campaign she’s doing and blood gets brought back, the WWE can hire Industrial Light & Magic to go back and edit in blood in matches that really should have had it, like this one or the DX/Legacy Hell in a Cell match.  Not that it matters, as Shawn comes back in as Show starts to climb.  Show pushes Michaels off, but Trips is already recovered from what had been a pretty sweet spot.  They push Show off the ladder.  In reality he’s barely up higher then the second rope is and has to jump into the ropes to make it look better.  Lame.

Pedigree to Show and Michaels starts to climb.  Jericho comes in and pushes the ladder over as Shawn is reaching for the belts.  Shawn flies out of the ring and into Big Show with a crossbody.  Nice spot that the fans weren’t as impressed with as they should have been.  Jericho gets a couple close calls with the belt but gets powerbombed off the ladder by Trips.  He starts to climb but Show comes in and chokeslams him off the ladder.  He then gets pissed and breaks the ladder apart.  Interesting strategy.  In theory the match can’t last forever and thus if he breaks all the ladders, they would have to scrub it.  Show tosses Trips into the second rope, then punches him in the corner.  I’m fairly sure they drew a blank there.  Show brawls DX around while Jericho gets a ladder in the ring.  The heels sandwich DX in the ladder, and then Jericho chairs it repeatedly.  Show rips the ladder in half, tosses the broken part out of the ring, nearly taking out a referee, then dumps DX to the floor.  Jericho grabs the half ladder and is like, “Um, wha?”  On the outside, Show chokeslams Michaels into Triple H and through a table.

In the ring, Jericho is trying to climb up the half ladder, but physics prevents that.  So Jericho gets on Show’s shoulders and nearly gets to the belts, but he can’t get his balance.  DX is in the ring and Show pulls a Sid in his pants.  Watching live, I was thinking “This could end badly.”  And indeed it does.  Shawn hits Sweet Chin Music on Show, causing him to dump Jericho to the floor.   Jericho was supposed to crash through a table, but he actually lands feet first on the top rope and nearly slips off.  He does fall to the floor but comes up well short of crashing through the table, and ends up smashes his face on the corner of it.  Yeeeeouch.  DX dumps Show over the top rope with the half-ladder.  Trips holds the half-ladder and Shawn climbs to grab them the tag belts for the first time.

***1/4 Better then I expected it to be and at times pretty entertaining, but the same problems that plague many ladder matches were present here.  At times the match had that “Red Light, Green Light” feel of the action ending abruptly while the guys had to think about what to do next, and it hurt the score greatly.  There were some neat spots and it was structured in a more logical way then, say, the Shelton/Christian crapfest that opened the card.  And there were times that had me smiling and nodding because, hey, watching someone suplex a ladder is fun.  That said, the atmosphere was all wrong and this lacked that big-match feel that a pay-per-view main event should have.  And some nit-picky stuff like DX and Jericho making quick recoveries on spots that should have had them down for the count more then anything else spells out what’s wrong with ladder matches, in that they don’t lend themselves to fast pacing.  All the spots have to revolve around the ladder, and thus you have to throw selling out of the door.  That can work if you go all-in with the crazy spots, like the Hardys/Canadians/Dudleys series did.  Here it was toned down and realistically the mid three-star range was the best they could hope for.

Special Feature: You get three minutes of DX high-fiving the fans after the match.  Seriously, that’s all it is.  Man, that’s fucking lame.

BOTTOM LINE: If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then the WWE can go to hell for TLC 2009.  Two of the matches were candidates for worst Match of the Year.  Three matches were designed to put over the new generation of stars and completely failed to entertain or elevate.  This leaves two matches that were just passable.  The match that had the least flaws was the Women’s Championship and that really says it all, so big thumbs down for TLC.  So where does it fall in the grand scheme of things?  Stay tuned to Inside Pulse tomorrow for the 2009 Way Too Long Awards!

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