By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE TLC 2018 Kickoff Show
San Jose, California at SAP Center
Aired live on December 16, 2018 on WWE Network and social media
-Jonathan Coachman hosted the pre-show and was joined by the panel of Booker T, Sam Roberts, and David Otunga. After running through the main show lineup, the hosts discussed the Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose feud.
-Coachman shifted the focus to Daniel Bryan become the New Daniel Bryan and beating AJ Styles to win the WWE Championship.
-The hosts bounced around and recapped the Braun Strowman injury angle. Roberts predicted that Strowman would still appear even if he had to drag his injured arm to the ring. Coachman said the entire Raw locker room wants to see Corbin win (not even Drew McIntyre or Bobby Lashley?).
-The WWE Cruiserweight Championship will take place on the Kickoff Show.
-Backstage, Baron Corbin told JoJo to spice up the announcement of him winning by forfeit becoming the permanent general manager. Charly Caruso showed up. Corbin said he hand selected her to interview him afterward to ask how it felt to be the permanent GM. Caruso said there were rumors that Strowman would show up. Corbin said he’s no longer responding to rumors, then went back to coaching JoJo.
1. Buddy Murphy vs. Cedric Alexander for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson were on commentary. Alexander threw a nice dropkick around 1:30 and covered Murphy for a two count. After a commercial break, Alexander remained on the offensive and got another near fall while Murphy sold rib pain.
Murphy came back and got a two count of his own with a handful of trunks. Alexander responded with a Michinoku Driver for a good near fall at 6:35. A couple minutes later, Murphy picked up a nice near fall from a powerbomb. Alexander performed a Death Valley Driver on the apron and rolled Murphy back inside the ring for a two count.
Alexander followed up with his Lumbar Check finisher. Joseph told us there would be a new champion and so we knew there wouldn’t be. Sure enough, Alexander covered Murphy, who put his foot on the ropes at the last moment. Murphy pulled Alexander over him and into a turnbuckle. Murphy threw a high knee and followed up with Murphy’s Law for the win…
Buddy Murphy defeated Cedric Alexander in 10:35 to retain the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
Powell’s POV: Another good match from Murphy and Alexander. It would have been even more dramatic if Joseph didn’t go to WWE broadcasting school and feel the need to say that we were going to see a new champion when Alexander performed his finisher. I’m sure it works on new fans, but with so many hardcore fans watching the product it would be nice if WWE would scrap that approach. It’s not a slam on Joseph who does solid work, it’s a company wide play-by-play flaw that really should be addressed.
-The Kickoff Show panel discussed the Ronda Rousey vs. Nia Jax match for the Raw Women’s Championship.
-Becky Lynch was interviewed backstage by Kayla Braxton and was asked about being attacked by Asuka on Smackdown. She said she brought the fight and she’s okay with it. Becky said she would rip the heads off Asuka and Charlotte Flair. She said she knows the deck is stacked against her in the Triple Threat, but she’s changing the industry. Lynch questioned when was the last time a women’s championship match headlined a dual branded pay-per-view or even a Smackdown title match headlined a dual branded pay-per-view.
Lynch said there is a big match feel going around and it’s because of her. Lynch said Nia Jax is mentioning her name because she hopes it will keep her relevant. She also said Ronda Rousey hopes she forgets about her so she can go on pretending to be the baddest woman on the planet. Lynch said she might have to take a stroll around the building and deliver some receipts.
Powell’s POV: A terrific promo from Lynch. Based on her comments, it appears they will be closing the main show with the women’s TLC match. As I wrote in my preview, it’s the true main event of this show regardless of what goes on last.
-Coachman set up a Lars Sullivan video package. It was the same one that aired on last week’s television. Sullivan is still lurking.
-Elias played his guitar in the ring. He spoke about pulling down the guitar and playing a tune on Bobby Lashley that he’ll never forget. Elias played the song “Do You Know The Way To San Jose” and said he was putting his own little spin on it. Before Elias could get started, Bobby Lashley’s entrance music interrupted him. Lio Rush spoke as he and Lashley headed to the ring. Lashley did his “favorite pose” at ringside.
2. Elias vs. Bobby Lashley (w/Lio Rush) in a ladder match. The Raw broadcast team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Renee Young were on commentary. Elias made an early play for the guitar hanging above the ring, but Rush interfered and was able to rush back to ringside without getting roughed up. Lashley was in offensive control heading into a break.
Lashley made a play for the guitar, but Elias recovered and powerbombed him onto a ladder that Lashley had set up over the bottom rope. Rush raced up the ladder. Elias cut off Rush and pulled down the guitar and was named the winner.
Elias defeated Bobby Lashley in a ladder match in 6:20.
After the match, Lashley attacked Elias and broke the guitar over his back. “Elias won the match, but he’s singing the blues here tonight,” Cole said…
Powell’s POV: They told us on television that the first person to pull down the guitar would be able to use it as a weapon, so I mistakenly assumed the match would end until someone was struck with the ladder. Anyway, the crowd was into the match and Lashley and Rush got more heat than usual.
-The panel ran through the lineup and confirmed that the finals of the Mixed Match Challenge will open the show. They also confirmed that the women’s TLC match will headline the show.
Join me for full coverage of the actual WWE TLC event in a separate report on the main page.