TLC. Are there any three letters more synonymous with wrestling? Well, maybe WWE. Or WCW. Or ECW. HBK? MVP? Anyway, the point is, since its creation in 2000, Tables, Ladders and Chairs matches have become a staple of WWE programming. They’ve occurred at some of its biggest events, given birth to some of its biggest stars and even got its own Pay-Per-View, truly cementing itself as one of the most defining match stipulations of all time. With this year’s TLC PPV (ooh, there’s another three letters) just around the corner ready to smack us over the head with an unprotected chair shot, we here at The Sportster thought it would be a grand old idea to let you fans know which of the 18 TLC matches in history was the best, then the second best, then the third, then the fourth, then the fifth... you get the idea with that.
Yes, we’ve catalogued the matches that have involved 32 different men, taken place on eight different WWE programmes and have taken up nearly six hours of our lives (damn, that was some hard maths to do) and decided for you which ones are the best and which ones well, aren’t. We’re great, right? So, put your feet up, grab a cuppa tea and read about some wrestling instead of watching it, because here comes every TLC match ever ranked lowest to highest.
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18 The Miz vs Jerry Lawler on Raw (29/11/2010)
Wow. What a match to begin with.
This one takes a little explaining. For some ungodly reason, Jerry Lawler thought it would be a great idea to celebrate his sixty-first birthday by challenging The Miz for his WWE Championship (most people usually have a nice meal out or a cake, but who am I to judge?) Lawler was involved in a feud with his broadcast colleague, Michael Cole, at the time and part of Cole’s then-heel gimmick was that he loved The Miz. Like, really loved him. It was a bit weird.
Anyway, the two had a match for the WWE Championship that night on Raw and it was a TLC match (for some reason) and Lawler actually looked like he was going to win. That was, until, Cole ran into the ring and held Lawler’s legs, preventing him from climbing the ladder and winning the match. The Miz capitalised and retained, leading to an escalation of the feud between Lawler and Cole that would eventually end in a match at WrestleMania XXVII. For the stupid feud it was a part of, for the fact that it only went for 12 minutes and the fact that the WWE Champion was out-wrestled by a sixty-one year old man make this the worst TLC match that is, was and ever will be. I don’t know why I quoted Bret Hart there. Maybe I just needed to mention a good wrestler to cheer me up after re-watching this awful match.
17 El Torito vs Hornswoggle at Extreme Rules 2014
Says a lot when a match featuring a small person dressed as a bull doesn’t come in at last on your countdown, doesn’t it?
In a tradition that, much like the birthday bumps or seeing your family at Christmas, people just want to end but, for some reason, the powers that be just won’t let die, Hornswoggle and El Toritio met in a match dubbed “WeeLC” (d’ya get it? Because they’re small? D’ya get it? Laugh, dammit!) on the Extreme Rules 2014 kick-off show. Why did this happen? Because we are all terrible people who deserve to see terrible things.
The match itself wasn’t too bad (asides from the fact that it lasted 10:55, the shortest TLC match ever, if you’ll pardon the awful pun) but the who premise was just stupid and the name. The name! How did this happen just two years ago? You can just tell Vince McMahon thought it was the best thing he’d ever come up with. I hate wrestling sometimes.
16 Sheamus vs Roman Reigns at TLC 2015
I was very tempted to rank this one beneath the WeeLC, to be honest.
This match, on paper, sounds just fine. Sheamus and Reigns are both good workers and their strength and brutality does suit them to this sort of match. However, in reality, let’s just say that things went a bit... tater tots. The story going into this one was that Reigns had won his first WWE Championship at Survivor Series, but refused to shake the hand of Triple H, the evil leader of The Authority. When Roman wouldn’t do business, business was done for him (another semi-Bret Hart quote, there) and Sheamus, then-Mr. Money in the Bank, cashed in to end Reigns’ title reign at 5:15. And if you have trouble remembering that, then don’t worry, because they made it into a nice little t-shirt, just for you.
This series of events led to this match for the Championship at TLC, which was, for want of a better word, sloppy. Reigns tried a Samoan Drop through a bunch of tables that went very, very slowly, neither man really pulled off any massive spots well and the finish saw Roman Reigns clawing his way at the bottom of the ladder as Sheamus just reached up and pulled the belt down really easily. Talk about anti-climactic. The story just wasn’t there, no one cared about either man and even the beatdown on Triple H at the end couldn’t save this one. And normally I love to see middle-aged dads have their asses whipped.
15 CM Punk vs Ryback on Raw (07/01/13)
Not been a good run for TLC matches in the last five years so far, has it? Good luck, AJ and Dean.
The most recent TLC match to take place on Raw and it didn’t happen that long ago, which made it all the more easy to write horrible things about. Hooray. The feud going into this revolved around Punk’s WWE Championship. Punk had held the belt for over a year at this point, but had only done so through some cunning trickery. At Survivor Series, just when it looked like Ryback was going to win the big one, who should interfere on Punk’s behalf but a debuting Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. After being cost the match at Survivor Series and denied a rematch after a kayfabe injury to Punk took him out of the TLC Pay-Per-View, Ryback was granted his shot at the gold on the first Raw of 2013 in, rather appropriately, a TLC match.
The match was fine and that’s really all there is to say; some people fell off ladders, there was a kinda cool moment where Punk pulled a table in front of a charging Ryback, there were chairs. It all felt a bit lacklustre, I’m afraid. The ending ground my gears too with yet another Shield interference leading to Punk just poncing up the ladder to pluck his title down. There was a complete lack of selling from Punk’s supposedly injured knee and the whole thing fell flatter than Ryback’s push, in my opinion. And, as we all know, my opinion is gospel. So there.
14 Bray Wyatt vs Dean Ambrose at TLC 2014
Would you believe that this was the first ever TLC match that I saw? And I’m repaying it in kind by ranking it very low on my list. Circle of life.
This match, and indeed the whole show, felt a bit weird. It took place during the time where Brock Lesnar was WWE Champion, so the title actually being defended was a rare occasion. This led to a number of odd matches being shoved into the main event spot and this one was perhaps the weirdest. Bray Wyatt had returned at Hell in a Cell to cost Dean Ambrose his (again, main event) Hell in a Cell match against Seth Rollins. Why? I genuinely don’t remember. Probably best not to think too much into it.
After Ambrose got DQed in their battle at Survivor Series, the two would settle their score in the main event of TLC in, you guessed it, a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match. Although, they definitely used more objects than that. And the match ended by pinfall. After a TV monitor exploded in Dean’s face. So, neither a table, nor a ladder, nor a chair played into the finish of this Tables, Ladders and Chairs match. Right. A prime example of WWE moulding a feud to fit a themed Pay-Per-View, this match as a TLC bout did not make sense. Why the main event spot wasn’t given to Seth Rollins vs John Cena, who were fighting over Cena’s number one contendership for the WWE title (which could have, oh, I don’t know hung above the ring!), I’ll never know and I’m afraid this pretty decent match suffered for it. Or maybe it was utterly awful and I’m just being sentimental. Who knows?
13 Edge vs Kane vs Rey Mysterio vs Alberto Del Rio at TLC 2010
A multi-man TLC match with Edge in it this far down the list? The world’s gone mad.
Going into TLC 2010, Kane was World Heavyweight Champion and had been for several months. He’d almost lost the belt to Edge the month previously at Survivor Series, but a weird double pinfall scenario ended their match in a draw, leading to Edge getting another shot ten months later. Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio were also feuding at the time and were set to face off in a chairs match. Then, they were added to this match, because, umm, umm, ummm... Teddy Long? That is legitimately the best answer I can give you
The match was fine; Mysterio botched a potentially awesome spot when he jumped off the tables that were suspended on wires as part of the set and sort of awkwardly fell onto Kane. It was a bit naff. Del Rio and Mysterio felt like add-ons (which they were) and the deeply personal feud between Edge and Kane (Edge kidnapped Kane’s dad in the build up to this, no, seriously) felt compromised as a result. Edge won, taking his world title tally (try saying that five times fast) to a whopping ten, which was a great moment. Shame it had to come in such a jumbled match. Was still good though.
12 CM Punk vs The Miz vs Alberto Del Rio at TLC 2011
Ok, most of the matches from now on (and indeed, from about point 15 onwards) are genuinely good to watch. I’m just going to nitpick.
Another multi-man world title match, this time from TLC 2011, pitting then-WWE Champion CM Punk against challengers Alberto Del Rio and The Miz. Punk had taken the title from Del Rio the month previously at Survivor Series and the Mexican wanted it back. The Miz was added because he beat Randy Orton by countout. Again, that is literally the best explanation I can give you. And this wasn’t even Teddy’s fault.
The match was good with all three men getting their stuff in well. Del Rio looked vicious; applying the Cross-Armbreaker to Punk and Miz using ladders and chairs to increase the impact. Miz was crafty, handcuffing Punk to the turnbuckle after Ricardo Rodrigeuz (remember him?) clamped cuffs on Punk earlier in the match. And as for Punk, well, he just did really good wrestling, which is sort of what he does. There were some fun spots and Rodriguez went off a ladder through a table (for the second year in a row) and ultimately Punk retained as everyone knew he would. The match wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t amazing. Sorry, everyone.
11 John Cena vs Randy Orton at TLC 2013
Titles never really stay unified for long in the WWE, do they?
TLC 2013 was an event that made history in the world of pro wrestling. Since 2002, WWE had had two world titles; the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships. Well, at this event, that would be no more as WWE Champion, Randy Orton, took on World Heavyweight Champion, John Cena, in a TLC match where the winner would become the first ever WWE World Heavyweight Champion, retiring one of the titles and leaving WWE with just one championship. Exciting stuff, eh?
The match was your classic bruiser of a TLC bout. Orton went through the announce desk and Cena took an RKO after coming off the ladder and there was a genuine feeling of not knowing who was going to win. The finish was fun too with Cena, who had been handcuffed to the bottom rope, was pulled down by Randy using said bottom rope, sending him crashing through a table. This was enough to lay Cena out and for Randy to win both belts, becoming the first ever WWE World Heavyweight Champion. So, this begs the question; if Cena doesn’t win, is it still lol? This match was fun and brutal and Cena not winning did come as a shock, but Randy Orton vs John Cena as a feud had been done to death and hyping up these two “great rivals” going at it for the belts failed to achieve the magnitude WWE wanted it to. Still, it was a good match and I would recommend you watch it back. Just try not to think about how, at this point, Daniel Bryan was nowhere near that title. Poor boy.
10 D-Generation X vs Jerishow at TLC 2009
Ooh, finally, a tag team match. This makes sense.
It takes a special kind of person (and by that, I mean Triple H) to book yourself and your best pal winning the tag team championships in the main event of the first ever edition of a Pay-Per-View, but that’s exactly what happened here. With both the WWE and World Heavyweight Championship being defended earlier on in the show (both matches taking up a grand total of less than half an hour between them, I might add), Triple H and Shawn Michaels, also known as D-X, The Reunion Tour, were battling Chris Jericho and Big Show, known as Jerishow (I legitimately love that name), for their unified WWE Tag Team Championships.
The match was fun and inventive and all four men knew the ring well. Big Show delivered a cool Chokeslam to HBK through a table, which also had Triple H on it, that was fun, and the ending saw Big Show take out all the ladders, leaving both teams to find a way to reach the belts without them. Jericho stood on Show’s shoulders to try and reach the titles, but Michaels hit Big Show with Sweet Chin Music, causing him to stagger backwards and send Jericho flying through a table outside of the ring. HBK and Triple H then used half a ladder, with The Game acting as a balance, to ascend to Tag Team glory, winning the match and the titles. A slow, but fun match between four admittedly old dudes, this bout might actually have deserved the main event spot. Just don’t tell Triple H that. His ego is big enough as it is.
9 John Cena vs Edge at Unforgiven 2006
8 Edge vs The Undertaker at One Night Stand 2008
Yes, believe or not, TLC used to happen on Pay-Per-View outside of the month of December. Weird, I know.
Edge and Undertaker’s lengthy feud between 2007 and 2008 divided a lot of people. I personally liked it, but I know a few people who didn’t. One thing that can’t be denied, however, was the quality of the matches these guys put on and this was no different. After Vickie Guerrero, Edge’s on-screen love interest, stripped Taker of his World Heavyweight Championship after he used a “banned hold” (Vickie had a habit of banning things for no good reason) at Backlash to retain against Edge. After a match at Judgement Day produced no clear winner, the match was set for One Night Stand and it was going to be TLC for the vacant world title.
The match was brutal; Edge took a Last Ride from the top of a ladder, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder (Edge’s then-cronies) both went through tables and even The Deadman himself had a nasty fall. Edge eventually picked up the win through a whole butt-tonne of interference from La Familia, bringing to a close the final One Night Stand Pay-Per-View ever. Edge and Taker are two men who can do wrong together in my opinion and this match was truly a spectacle. The interference was kind of annoying, but it fit Edge’s character at the time and the bumps they all took were crazy, so I’m willing to forgive it on this occasion. Still can’t quite forgive Curt Hawkins for his current WWE run, however. What is going on, Curt? Seriously.
7 Edge vs Ric Flair on Raw (16/01/06)
Yep, a match with a 56-year-old man in it is one of the best TLC matches ever. World really has gone mad.
In the first ever TLC match for the WWE Championship and only the fifth in history, The Rated-R Superstar and The Nature Boy clashed in a rare champion vs champion bout (Flair was Intercontinental Champion at the time) on this January edition of Raw. Edge had just won the world title after chasing in Money in the Bank and had celebrated by having live sex with his girlfriend Lita on Raw. Somehow, not the weirdest thing to have ever happened on Raw. Not by a long shot. Anyway, midway through the, umm, “act”, who should come out and interrupt the, umm, “act”, but Flair himself (and amazingly, it wasn’t to ask to join in). Flair mocked the two (can’t imagine why) and called Edge “dead in the bed”, leading to this confrontation for Edge’s WWE title. Again, somehow not the weirdest start to feud in WWE.
The match was absolutely brutal. And I mean brutal. Flair was bleeding like a stuck big (as per usual), Edge took some absolutely crazy bumps, Flair took a freaking superplex off the top of a ladder, Charlotte was there and the announce team called her by her real name, which was so much fun from my perspective. Hell, even Ric Flair putting Lita in the Figure Four wasn’t as awful as it sounds, because I was just so amazed at how good a match a man older than my dad was having. Oh, and did I mention this match took place in North Carolina; freaking Flair Country! Incredible. Ric didn’t win, obviously, but it was one hell of an effort and I thoroughly recommend you guys go and watch it. Also, the commentary team was Joey Styles, Jonathan Coachman and The King, which, somehow, isn’t.. actually, that is a pretty strange combination.
6 Kane vs Jeff Hardy and Rob Van Dam vs Chris Jericho and Christian vs Bubba Ray and Spike Dudley on Raw (7/10/2002)
Yes, there is a trend emerging – old TLC matches just seem to be better.
The first ever TLC match on Raw and the fourth ever took place in October of 2002 and saw some pretty interesting teams battle it out for World Tag Team Championships. Whilst old favourites of the TLC match like Bubba Ray Dudley, Jeff Hardy and Christian were all present, none of them teamed with their regular partners, adding a nice little dimension to this match. Also, Kane was defending his and The Hurricane’s (they were called Hurri-Kane, how great is that) tag titles alone, as WWE’s resident superhero had been taken out before the match, again adding a nice little dimension to this match.
An insane battle that saw Spike thrown around like a ragdoll, Jeff Hardy dropping a leg on Kane from the top of a ladder through a table, Jericho almost killing himself by coming off a ladder too close to the ring steps. It was absolute mayhem at its purest and I loved it. Ultimately, Kane won the day when he delivered a huge Chokeslam to Jericho off the top of a ladder and then rose up to claim the belts. A crazy match from the good old days of TLC and one the likes of which we’ll probably never see again on Monday nights. Shame, that.
5 CM Punk vs Jeff Hardy at SummerSlam 2009
Ok, so maybe not all modern TLC matches suck.
The highest ranked singles match on my list occurred in the main event of The Biggest Party of the Summer back in 2009. Jeff Hardy and CM Punk were having one of the feuds of the year over the World Heavyweight Championship. Beginning at Extreme Rules when Punk cashed in Money in the Bank to end Hardy’s first World Heavyweight title reign, the rivalry continued to The Bash and then Night of Champions, where Hardy won the belt back. The two men would do battle one final time in Hardy’s specialty bout, the TLC match, at SummerSlam to determine which man truly deserved to hold the gold. I won’t talk about all the drug stuff from this feud, cos that was kinda uncomfortable.
The match itself was a classic. Hardy was an old hand at this type of match (only Edge has been in more), whilst Punk was entering his first, but was such a good worker that it looked like he had been there in the Attitude Era battling Hardy in the first TLC matches. The match is perhaps most memorable for the huge Swanton Bomb Hardy delivered to Punk from the top of a ladder through the announce table, leaving both men more destroyed that Punk’s bridges with WWE. Even the end of the match was great with Undertaker returning out of nowhere to stake his claim at Punk’s newly won championship. A brilliant match full of too many amazing moments to mention. A trult incredible end to a fantastic SummerSlam. Actually, scratch that, that show has Kane vs The Great Khali. No show can recover from that.
4 Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit vs Edge and Christian vs The Dudley Boyz vs The Hardy Boyz on Smackdown (24/05/01)
Back to the good old days now. You can calm down now, old timers.
The first ever TLC match on free TV and the only one to take place on the blue show, then World Tag Team Champions Chrises Jericho and Benoit were forced to defend their belts as punishment for upsetting Vince McMahon. That might sound like a stupid thing to do, but remember, these guys were former WCW guys, so they were still getting used to Vince. Cut them some slack. Placed into a match against the only other three teams to compete in a TLC match before, Benoit and Jericho had the odds firmly stacked against and their resulting struggle made for some amazing wrestling.
Benoit was taken out early after missing a diving headbutt through a table, to the extent where Tazz got up off the commentary booth to go and check on him in a moment that blurred the lines between reality and storyline before it was cool. Edge delivered a monumental spear to Y2J from one ladder to another, Christian took a 3d from the top of a ladder through a table, Hardy did a leapfrog leg drop on Bubba Ray through the announce table atop a ladder, there was a Twist of Fate off the top of a ladder and the whole thing culminated in a seriously injured Benoit returning to ringside to secure the belts for his team. An incredible match that, for completely correct reasons, WWE will never show again, if you can put what happened in the future to one side, then I thoroughly recommend this match. Always hard writing about Benoit, especially when he was this good.
3 The Shield vs Ryback and Team Hell No at TLC 2012
No, do not adjust your screens! A match from the last five years and one at the actual TLC Pay-Per-View is the third best TLC match ever! I’m as shocked as you are.
When The Shield debuted in WWE at Survivor Series 2012, they made a huge impact straight away. Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns cost Ryback the WWE Championship in a triple threat match between champion CM Punk and John Cena. When the time came for the group’s in-ring debut, The Shield were booked to face Ryback and the team of Daniel Bryan and Kane, known as Team Hell No, in the first ever TLC match that would end with pinfall or submission. Wait, wait! That isn’t as bad as it sounds. I promise.
The match was carnage. The Shield worked brilliantly as a three man unit, perhaps the smoothest six man tag team in history (sorry, Freebirds), and their innovative use of weapons, combined with the fact that this was their first ever main roster match, made this match feel genuinely special. A superplex to Daniel Bryan from a table wedged between the ring ropes. Seth Rollins going off a ladder through a table on the entrance ramp. A triple powerbomb! I’d forgotten how much I liked that spot. A well-paced, back and forth affair that really put Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns on the map, especially with them picking up the win, this match was a true delight and is arguable the greatest TLC match, and maybe overall match, to happen at the TLC Pay-Per-View. As for the best of all time? Well, they had some pretty incredible competition.
2 Edge and Christian vs The Dudley Boyz vs The Hardy Boyz at SummerSlam 2000
Where it all began.
The first ever TLC match took place in the Summer of 2000 and it was a truly historic moment for wrestling. Following the success of their triangle ladder match at WrestleMania 2000 (you know, the best one ever), Edge and Christian, Jeff and Matt Hardy and Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley once again took the word “spotfest” to a whole new place with a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match at that year’s SummerSlam. The premise for the match was actually incredible well thought out; the Hardys were the kings of ladder matches, Edge and Christian made use of chairs in their offence and The Dudleys, well, no one had been so well associated with tables since the days of King Arthur. Putting all three elements together to see which team could use each other’s signature weapons to their advantage made for one hell of a concept and the finished product did not disappoint.
With the World Tag Team titles hanging above the ring, ready to be won, these three legendary teams went to town on one another. The Dudleys got their “3D through a table spot” in, Edge and Christian went mental on people with chairs, Jeff Hardy put himself through a table with a missed Swanton Bomb from the top of a ladder, the whole thing was a mess, a beautiful, brutal mess. The ending was spot on too; Jeff and D-Von were suspended above the ring, clinging onto the belts as they struggled to unhook them. Hardy managed to dislodge Dudley, only to then be smacked out of the air by Edge and Christian, who were wielding a ladder like they were attempting to violently remove a cobweb. Edge and Christian then ascended the ladder to retain their titles. Yes, the crowd booed them, but that’s only because they were heels, and no amount of heat from the audience could damage how incredible this match was. An incredibly tough act for all other TLC matches to follow, TLC 1 will go down in history as one of the greatest hardcore matches ever put on. However, there is one that I think just went that little bit further. You’ll never guess which one...
1 Edge and Christian vs The Dudley Boyz vs The Hardy Boyz at WrestleMania X-7
It sort of had to be, didn’t it?
The match that put TLC on the map, the rematch from SummerSlam took place just half a year later at arguably the greatest WrestleMania of all time. Following the monumental success of the first TLC match, WWE knew exactly what to do on this grander stage – by essentially having the same match, only with The Dudleys as champions, not Edge and Christian. What could possibly go wrong? Well, as it turns out, absolutely nothing.
The spots got turned up to 11 for this mega Mania match, with more chairs, more tables and more ladder. Also, more outside interference, as Rhyno, Lita and Spike Dudley all made run-ins for their respective teams, each contributing to the violence. Perhaps the moment that will forever stick with me is the moment that arguably defined this match. Jeff Hardy was seconds away from pulling down the titles when Bubba-Ray Dudley moved the ladder underneath him, leaving Jeff swinging wildly from the belts, suspended in the air. All the while, Edge had scaled an enormous ladder that was apparently 20ft, although WWE do lie more than a child that drew on the wall when it comes to measurements. With perfect timing, as Jeff swung backwards after his feet left the ladder, Edge leapt from his own ladder, landing a spectacular Spear on Hardy, taking both men down to the mat hard. The utter craziness of the spot, the way Edge bounced off the mat as he came down and one of my favourite pieces of commentary ever from J.R (“Jeff Hardy may be broken, smack-dab in half!”) all add to the overall insanity of TLC 2 and it will forever go down in history as one of the finest pieces of wrestling ever seen. It was wild, it was brutal and it was glorious; all of which make this TLC match the best to have ever taken place. Where will this Sunday’s match rank on the list? Who knows, but it’s going to take a lot to score high on a list of matches with one of the richest histories in WWE history.
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