Powell’s WWE TLC 2016 live review: AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose in a TLC match for the WWE Championship, The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler in a ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship

tlc2016By Jason Powell

WWE TLC 2016
Aired live on WWE Network and pay-per-view
Dallas, Texas at American Airlines Center

A video package opened the show and focussed on the TLC match, the ladder match, and the Smackdown Women’s Championship match… Mauro Ranallo, JBL, David Otunga, and Tom Phillips were on commentary. Greg Hamilton was the ring announcer… Ranallo said this was the one night that WWE becomes a human demolition derby…

1. Heath Slater and Rhyno vs. Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt (w/Luke Harper) for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship. Orton’s theme started to cheers, then the Wyatt Family theme played for the intros. JBL compared Orton being with the Wyatt Family to Undertaker and Kane teaming up. The broadcast team started talking about the Dallas Cowboys running back too. They introduced the Spanish and German broadcast teams, who were also at ringside.

Rhyno started the match while still rocking his muscular Meatloaf look. Slater checked in and was worked over by the heels. Orton performed a power slam and got a two count at 4:10. A short time later, Rhyno tagged in and then speared Harper on the floor. Rhyno returned to the ring and watched Wyatt do the crab walk. As he was distracted, Orton hit the RKO and pinned him. After the match, Wyatt put his belt over the shoulder of Harper. Orton shot Harper a long look and then placed his title over Harper’s shoulder as well…

Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt defeated Heath Slater and Rhyno in 5:55 to win the Smackdown Tag Team Championship.

Powell’s POV: The run of the comedy duo is over, and I don’t see them working with Orton and Wyatt in a prolonged feud simply because of the serious dynamic they are going for with the Wyatts. It’s nice to see Bray win a title in WWE after a long wait. Only time will tell how long Orton’s run with the Wyatt Family lasts. They continued to play up tension between Orton and Harper after the match even though Orton gave in and put the belt over Harper’s shoulder.

A WWE Network commercial aired…

Dean Ambrose was interviewed on the backstage set. Ambrose said his temper is his game plan and he plans to just go with it. Ambrose closed by saying a good friend of his once said there’s gonna be hard times…

AJ Styles was interviewed in another part of the backstage area. He said that after some tables and chair shots, Ambrose will get up just in time to see him holding the WWE Championship…

2. Nikki Bella vs. Carmella in a No DQ match. The broadcast team set up highlights showing that the feud started three months ago when Carmella attacked Nikki from behind. They didn’t mention play up the mystery attacker at Survivor Series. JBL mentioned Carmella’s black eye and said it came from a Nikki forearm. Early in the match, Carmella performed a head scissors takedown from the apron that sent Nikki into the ring steps. She followed up by running Nikki into the barricade. Nikki sold a knee injury, which Carmella targeted.

Carmella tied up Nikki in the tree of woe and then pulled out a kendo stick from underneath the ring. Carmella struck Nikki’s bad leg with the stick. Carmella applied the Code of Silence submission hold, but Nikki grabbed the stick and struck her with it to break the hold. At 5:40, Nikki threw a kick off the barricade, then grabbed the stick and worked over Carmella inside the ring.

At 7:00, Nikki pulled a fire extinguisher out from underneath the ring and sprayed Carmella with it. This had to be the longest fire extinguisher spray job in pro wrestling history. Nikki followed up with her finisher and scored the pin. After the match, Carmella took the mic and said Nikki didn’t even the odds for what happened at Survivor Series. “It was your little friend from Total Divas Natalya.,” she said…

Nikki Bella beat Carmella in 8:00 in a No DQ match.

Powell’s POV: I was really enjoying the match before the silly fire extinguisher spot. JBL tried to explain that the substance gets in the eyes of the person being sprayed and they become disoriented, but it’s just a silly finish. It’s a shame because the match was very physical and lived up to the No DQ stipulation before the campiness of the fire extinguisher. I hope the Natalya announcement is a swerve. It’s not that they won’t have good matches if they stick with her as Nikki’s mystery attacker, but it’s very anticlimactic. For that matter, it’s hard to take Natalya seriously when she has the cornball gimmick of reciting music lyrics.

Footage aired of Natalya helping a guy buy an engagement ring for a jeweler sponsor… JBL said he had a hard time believing that Natalya would do that to Nikki… A video package set up the IC Title match…

Powell’s POV: Yes, they really did reveal Natalya as the mystery attacker only to follow up immediately with her acting very nice in a jeweler advertisement. On a positive note, the Miz vs. Ziggler video package was very good.

Daniel Bryan was interviewed backstage and confirmed that he was rooting against The Miz in the IC Title match. He praised Ziggler’s good qualities. Miz and Maryse showed up. Miz said Bryan finally admitted he doesn’t like him. Bryan said he’s never liked him. Miz said he wishes Bryan would get in the ring so he could shove him off a ten foot ladder. Miz told Bryan to enjoy his match… Ring entrances for the IC Title match took place. They also introduced various foreign broadcast teams. They presumably swore at English speaking viewers who didn’t know better…

3. The Miz (w/Maryse) vs. Dolph Ziggler in a ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship. The match is advertised as the end of their rivalry. They fought to the floor in the first couple minutes. Miz tried to run Ziggler into one of the ladders in the aisle, but Ziggler reversed it. Miz recovered and struck Ziggler from behind as he was trying to slide a ladder inside the ring. Miz picked up the chair and ran it into Ziggler. Miz tried again, but Ziggler moved and the ladder crashed into the ring steps as if it were Roman Reigns in any given match.

Miz performed a drop toehold that drove Ziggler face first into a ladder that was lying on the floor. They fought over a ladder that was hanging over the bottom rope. Ziggler shoved it at Miz, who responded by kicking it into Ziggler. At 7:10, Ziggler performed a tornado DDT onto a ladder on the floor. Ziggler sold a shoulder injury but was first to his feet.

Miz regrouped and set up a table over the second rope in one corner of the ring. Miz went for a superplex, but Ziggler punched him off and Miz hit the ladder face first on the way down. Ziggler leapt off the ladder and dropped an elbow on Miz at 10:00. Ziggler once again sold his injury. Ziggler made a play for the title, but Miz stopped him once and then knocked the ladder over the second time.

At 14:40, Ziggler set up a large ladder and made a play for the belt. Miz miraculously recovered and met him at the top where they traded punches. Ziggler punched Miz and then hit the hand that he was using to hold on. Miz popped up from the mat and targeted Ziggler’s knee by striking it and then tying it in the ladder before dumping it over. Miz was talking with Maryse when Zigler tried to superkick him through the ladder, but Miz caught it and then close the ladder. Ziggler continued to sell the knee injury.

Miz applied the figure four while wrapping Ziggler’s leg in the rungs of the ladder. Ziggler cried out in agony and slammed his hand on the the ladder, essentially tapping out, but it’s not a ladder match finish. Ziggler fired back with elbows and went for a superkick, but stopped short in pain. Miz performed a Skull Crushing Finale onto the ladder, but it came up short enough that the broadcast team had to say he didn’t get it all.

Miz climbed the ladder and Ziggler pushed it out from under him. Miz held on to the cable. Ziggler used a ladder to knock him down. Miz clutched his right knee in pain and rolled to ringside. Ziggler set up the tall ladder again and slowly started to climb it, using his good leg. Miz returned to the ring and hopped on his good leg. Miz performed a slingshot powerbomb onto a ladder that was still wedged in the corner.

At 22:45, Miz set up two tall ladders next to one another under the title belt. Miz climbed the ladder and grabbed the belt, but Ziggler climbed the other ladder and punched him repeatedly. Miz fired back and knocked him down a few rungs. Ziggler recovered and threw several punches before headbutting Miz three times and knocking him off the ladder.

Ziggler used both ladders to climb. Miz recovered and kicked Ziggler in the balls between the two ladders and then knocked him down. Miz pulled the IC Title down to win the match…

The Miz defeated Dolph Ziggler in a ladder match in 25:00 to retain the Intercontinental Championship.

After the match, Miz took the mic and dedicated his win to Daniel Bryan. Miz said that Bryan giving Ziggler chance after chance after chance motivated him to become the greatest IC Champion of all-time. Miz said someone should give Ziggler a participation award. He said that’s what they do in Dallas. He said participation means loser. He pointed to the fans and then Ziggler while saying loser. Miz proclaimed himself the winner and kissed Maryse, who helped him as he limped out of the ring…

Powell’s POV: A really good match with good drama in that I don’t think it was a gimme that Miz would retain the title. The finish was true to Miz’s character and the ongoing storyline of him taking shortcuts and failing to earn respect from Bryan. Otunga acted bothered by the way Miz won, while JBL was there to take the side of the heel by pointing out that it was legal in a ladder match. Who knows if this really was the end of the feud, but it’s been so much better than I ever imagined it would be when they brought it back on Smackdown. It’s not that I had doubts about their ability, it’s that we’d seen them work together so many times that it felt stale at the start. Miz being drafted to Smackdown and developing an edge is one of the best things that’s happened to the brand.

A Baron Corbin and Kalisto video package aired…

4. Baron Corbin vs. Kalisto in a chairs match. Kalisto wore trunks rather than long tights. He came out first and threw a bunch of chairs inside the ring, and then Corbin made his entrance. Kalisto went right after Corbin with a chair, but Corbin blocked his offense and set up a chair in mid-ring. Kalisto went for a powerbomb, but Kalisto avoided it and then knocked Corbin into a seated position on the chair before dropkicking him. Kalisto knocked Corbin to ringside and then performed a dive onto him.

At 3:05, Corbin wedged a chair in the corner. Corbin caught Kalisto with a powerbomb for a two count. Corbin tossed more chairs inside the ring and then set up six of them in the middle of the ring. Corbin charged at Kalisto, who performed a drop toe hold that sent Corbin face first into the chair wedged in the corner. Kalisto went up top and performed a senton that drove Corbin onto the six chairs, which resulted in a two count.

At 6:35, Kalisto went for a big dive between the ropes, but Corbin caught him and performed a spinning slam. At 8:30, Corbin chased Kalisto with a chair and swung it several times, but Kalisto dodged it. Kalisto performed a huracanrana off the barricade and then threw a chair at Corbin and dropkicked him into the barricade. Back inside the ring, Kalisto placed a chair over Corbin and moonsaulted onto him, which led to a good near fall at 10:45.

Kalisto picked up a chair and slammed it hard onto the back of Corbin several times. Corbin tossed a bunch of folded chairs into the middle of the ring. Kalisto went up top and leapt only to have Corbin slam a chair into him on the way down. Corbin picked up Kalisto and performed End of Days onto the pile of chairs for the win. Afterward, Corbin took the top off of Ranallo’s broadcast table and said that will happen to everyone and it will be the end of days…

Baron Corbin beat Kalisto in 13:00.

Powell’s POV: A really good chairs match. I never thought I’d actually type those words. This wasn’t just the lazy chair jabs into the gut with the very safe and predictable chair shots over the back. Kalisto really put some mustard on those shots to Corbin’s back, and they worked a very physical match overall. The crowd was not as invested in the personalities in terms of openly cheering for Kalisto or booing Corbin, but the match held their interest based on their gasps and reactions to some of the bigger moves.

Backstage, Natalya was asked if she cared to comment on Carmella accusing her of attacking Nikki Bella at Survivor Series. “Yeah, right,” she started. She spoke about the women’s championship match and then called the accusations absurd. She was asked why Carmella would lie. “I don’t know, because she’s a liar,” she said…

The broadcast team hyped the WWE Roadblock event and the Royal Rumble. They hyped Goldberg and Brock Lesnar for the Rumble match… A video package set up the women’s championship match…

5. Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss in a tables match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Hamilton delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Ranallo labeled Lynch “five feet of fury” early on. At 2:25, Lynch pulled a table out from underneath the ring and set it up on the floor. Lynch tried to suplex Bliss from the ring and onto the table, but Bliss cut her off. Ranallo brought up Bliss’s “diminutive size” again. Bliss teased falling off the apron while near the table, but she regrouped and bit Lynch’s hand and went back on the offensive.

Bliss pulled out another table at ringside. Lynch dove at her, but Bliss avoided her and ran her into the ring post. What sounded like three guys chanted “Becky sucks.” Unfortunately, they were the loudest people in the building at this point. At 7;30, Bliss put Lynch on a table in the ring. Bliss went up top, but Lynch recovered and knocked her down so that she was seated on the top rope. Lynch went for a superplex, but Bliss blocked it. Lynch knocked the table over. Otunga praised her by saying it was strategy.

Lynch fired up with uppercuts, clotheslines, and a kick, which got a rise out of the crowd. Lynch charged at Bliss, who was in front of the table. Bliss moved, but Lynch stopped herself in front of the table. Lynch set up for an exploder suplex, but Bliss blocked it. Bliss performed her double knee acrobatic spot. At 11:00, Bliss set up the table in the middle of the ring. Lynch powered her up and wanted to put her through the table, but Bliss knocked it over. Bliss performed a DDT on the bottom of the table and could be heard telling the ref that she was okay.

Bliss tried to set the table legs down. Lynch caught her arm and applied a Disarmer. She released the hold and performed a uranage. Lynch set up the table over the bottom rope in the corner and set Bliss on top of it. Lynch went to the ropes, but Bliss pulled her down and caught her with a dropkick. Late in the match, Bliss was on the floor and tried to sweep the legs of Lynch, who stumbled, and then Bliss powerbombed her through the table on the floor for the win…

Alexa Bliss defeated Becky Lynch in a tables match to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship in 15:10.

After the match, Lynch was interviewed at ringside and said she didn’t appreciate having a mic stuck in her face at the time. She said she wasn’t upset with the interviewer (one of the many brunettes), but she was upset with herself…

Powell’s POV: A solid match with a semi surprising finish. I picked Lynch to win, but I think we all felt like the odds of Bliss winning increased significantly when they added the tables stipulation. The live crowd was just sort of there. It was similar to the last match in that they were watching, but it just didn’t seem like they were invested in either character.

In the conclusion to the jewelry commercial, the guy proposed to a woman inside a WWE ring in an empty arena while Natalya watched. For some reason, the woman actually said yes… The broadcast team gave a quick plug to 205 Live, then shifted into big hype for John Cena as the host of Saturday Night Live… A video package set up the main event and included lots of James Ellsworth…

Talking Smack was announced for after the show with Baron Corbin, Alexa Bliss, The Miz, and Maryse. That explains why the show was slotted for an extra 30 minutes…

6. AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose in a TLC match for the WWE Championship. The crowd popped big for Ambrose during the entrances, and then a mixed reaction when he was introduced by Hamilton. Styles also received a mixed reaction, though he seemed to have more cheers than boos. A loud AJ Styles chant started before the bell. Ambrose jumped out to the early advantage and tried to slide a ladder in the ring, but Styles struck the ladder with a chair and Ambrose sold finger pain.

Styles went for the ladder, but Ambrose stopped him from climbing and eventually shoved the ladder into his face. Ambrose took the fight to ringside. “Don’t forget, this is personal between these two,” Otunga added for lord knows what reason. Anyway, Ambrose slid Styles onto a table and he knocked over several chairs as his slid. Ambrose dominated the floor brawl for a couple minutes, then Styles caught him with a dropkick as he jumped off the barricade.

Ambrose regrouped and dominated the action inside the ring. At 9:20, Ambrose threw a ladder onto Styles on the floor. Ambrose started to set up a table in the ring when Styles returned and slammed a chair over his back. Styles set up four chairs in the ring and wetn for a suplex, but Ambrose blocked it and instead picked up Styles in suplex position and spun him over so that Styles crashed onto the chairs. A loud “holy shit” chant broke out and rightfully so.

At 13:20, Ambrose leapt off the middle rope and slammed a chair onto Styles in Mick Foley fashion. Ambrose threw Styles onto a table and he bent the table leg over in the process. Ambrose set the table up in the corner. Styles threw a series of strikes and ended up suplexing Ambrose through the table in the corner at 14:30.

Styles, who had a hole in the ass of his tights, caught Ambrose with a dropkick. Ambrose came right back with the teetering clothesline that turned Styles inside out. Styles came back and went for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Ambrose blocked it. Ambrose went for his finisher, but Styles avoided it. Ambrose dumped Styles to the floor and then played to the crowd and received more cheers than boos. Ambrose performed a suicide dive and then slammed Styles into one broadcast table and then tossed him onto another.

Ambrose tore apart two tables and positioned Styles on the middle table. Ambrose set up a smaller ladder on one of the end tables. After throwing several punches at Styles, Ambrose climbed up the ladder on top of the end broadcast table and then dropped an elbow onto Styles that put him through the middle table. The fans chanted “holy shit” and then “this is awesome.”

Ambrose set up a ladder in the ring and then made a play for the title. Styles recovered and performed a Phenomenal Forearm off that knocked Ambrose off the ladder. Both men scaled opposite sides of the ladder that was under the title belt. They traded punches at the top. They ended up back on the mat and Styles went for a Styles Clash, but Ambrose blocked it and swung Styles on his shoulders and into the ladder.

Ambrose climbed the ladder again at 23:10. Styles stopped him and went for a powerbomb, but Ambrose performed a huracanrana over the top rope. Styles got to the ring apron and performed a backflip into a reverse DDT on the floor. Styles placed Ambrose onto a table that was set up on the floor. Styles performed a springboard 450 splash that drove Ambrose through the table. Whether it was Styles overshooting or just the way the table broke, Styles landed on his face and shoulder, but he popped up and returned to the ring with the plan of scaling the ladder.

James Ellsworth walked out wearing a neckbrace. There were loud boos. Styles went after Ellsworth on the floor and roughed him up. Styles set up for another Styles Clash off the steps, but Ambrose recovered and clotheslined Styles. Ambrose set up a ladder in the ring and climbed it, but Styles returned to the ring and climbed the other side of the ladder. Ambrose punched Styles and knocked him off the ladder, causing Styles to tumble out of the ring.

With Ambrose alone on the ladder and about to grab the title, Ellsworth shoved the ladder over, causing Ambrose to crash through two tables on the floor. There were a lot of “Yes!” chants from the crowd. Styles crawled back into the ring and Ellsworth cheered him on. Styles climbed the ladder and pulled down the title belt to win the match. Ellsworth applauded Styles from a distance and backed his way up the ramp while AJ celebrated in the ring to close the show…

AJ Styles defeated Dean Ambrose in a TLC match in 30:50 to retain the WWE Championship.

Powell’s POV: An amazing TLC match. Styles and Ambrose delivered one hell of a performance and blew away the strong ladder match from earlier in the show. The Ellsworth turn is the right move. WWE could have sent him home and let people miss him until the Royal Rumble and hoped that fans would be happy to see him again. Instead, they pulled the trigger on the heel turn and the timing is right given how overexposed he’d become and with many in the live crowd booing his appearance. I suspect the same fans were chanting “Yes!” when he knocked Ambrose off the ladder. Overall, a really good show with a hot main event. With this show and ROH Final Battle, it’s been a really good weekend for major pay-per-views. I’ll be back later tonight with Jake Barnett for our member exclusive audio review, and my WWE TLC Hit List will be available on Tuesday. Thanks for watching along with me.

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