The TLC card went from being pretty good to downright unmissable when WWE was forced to make some last minute changes this past Friday. Fans witnessed AJ Styles versus Finn Balor plus the in-ring return of Kurt Angle, all on 48 hours notice. Vince McMahon certainly knows how to book on the fly. Ironically that meant fans were expecting a lot more from the card despite WWE having very little time to prepare. Could the show deliver though? A dream match, a dose of nostalgia, and the debut of an undefeated Empress.
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At No Mercy last month, Alexa Bliss claimed that she defeated the entire Raw women's division in order to defend her Women's Championship. Well, turns out she misspoke as six-time Women's Champion Mickie James was not one of those defeated on that particular night. Since then, animosity has naturally been building between James and Bliss, especially as the champ has taken shot after shot at her challenger's age. James tried to roll back the years at TLC, but she couldn't quite roll them back far enough. Despite her best efforts, it was Bliss who picked up the win and remains the Raw Women's Champion going forward.
Enzo Amore certainly didn't take long to win back the Cruiserweight Championship. Less than two weeks after Kalisto got his shot and took Amore's 'lady' from him, he was forced to hand it back after losing to Amore at TLC. Muscles Marinara did it in typical heel fashion though. Kalisto very much seemed to have the better of his opponent for the majority of the match and looked set to successfully defend the title until Amore resorted to underhanded tactics. While the referee was distracted with the ring apron that Amore messed with, Amore delivered a thumb to the eye of Kalisto and that proved enough to debilitate him long enough for Amore to take advantage and finish him off.
TLC marked the long-awaited main roster debut of Asuka. For two years, The Empress of Tomorrow ran rough shot in NXT, becoming the brand's Women's Champion and not losing a single match the entire time she was there. Well, she looks like she fully intends on keeping that incredible winning streak going for a little while yet. Her first challenge as a Raw Superstar came in the form of Emma. In all fairness, Emma gave Asuka a better and longer match than most were probably expecting, including The Empress herself. The Aussie was just prolonging the inevitable, however. Eventually, the Japanese Superstar managed to synch in her patented Asuka Lock and Emma had no choice but to tap out.
As soon as WWE announced that Bray Wyatt was out of his match with Finn Balor and that AJ Styles was being drafted in to take his place, fans knew that they were in for something special. Finn Balor and AJ Styles have never gone one on one before in a WWE ring, yet at TLC with barely any notice we were being treated to an unmitigated dream match, and it did not disappoint. Balor and Styles are widely regarded as two of the best pro wrestlers on the face of the earth right now, and they demonstrated exactly why they have that reputation. It was The Demon that captured a win once the epic was over and then the two of them threw up the Too Sweet gesture. A pretty great match and a pretty special moment.
Eight men in a TLC match was always going to be chaotic, but we didn't expect it to be this chaotic. First of all, it was a landmark match as it marked the return to a WWE ring of Kurt Angle. The Raw General Manager donned a Shield vest for the night, came to the ring through the crowd, and for the opening minutes of the match, utilized ladders and chairs along with his new Shield brothers to gain the upper hand. One power-slam via Braun Strowman through a table later and Angle was being carted to the back. That resulted in Rollins and Ambrose enduring a lot of punishment. Lucky for them, however, cracks began to show in Team Miz. Eventually, the cracks turned to chasms and after one thing led to another, The Monster Among Men wound up being dumped into a garbage truck by his teammates. Then Angle returned. He saved his Shield teammates, delivered some Angle Slams, then joined Ambrose and Rollins in a traditional Shield Triple Powerbomb to The Miz to pick up the win.
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