By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Aired December 20, 2020 live on WWE Network and pay-per-view
Aired live from Tampa, Florida at Tropicana Field
WWE TLC Kickoff Show result: Big E, Daniel Bryan, Otis, and Chad Gable defeated Sami Zayn, King Corbin, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Cesaro in 8:35.
A video package opened the show… Pyro shot off on the stage and then Tom Phillips welcomed viewers to the show while CGI tables, ladders, and chairs swarmed above the ring… Entrances for the opening match took place with a long video package in between…
1. Drew McIntyre vs. AJ Styles (w/Omos) in a TLC match for the WWE Championship. The Raw broadcast team of Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, and Samoa Joe called the match. Justin Roberts delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. The bell rang to start the match and Styles immediately dropkicked the left knee of McIntyre.
McIntyre came right back and dominated Styles for the next few minutes. Styles avoided being put through one of the tables at ringside, but McIntyre whipped him into some chairs that were set up. McIntyre looked at Omos repeatedly to make sure he wasn’t going to get involved. McIntyre picked up Styles and dropped him face first onto the ringside barricade.
McIntyre slid a ladder inside the ring. McIntyre made a play for the belt, but Styles returned and hit his left leg with a chair to knock him down. Styles hit the bad leg with a chair, then wedged it between the ropes in a corner of the ring. McIntyre limped as he got to his feet.
Styles tried to run McIntyre into the chair in the corner, but McIntyre cut him off. McIntyre tried to catapult Styles into the ladder in the ring, but Styles landed on the ladder. McIntyre pulled him down and ended up catapulting him into the chair wedged in the corner.
Styles bounced right back and slammed McIntyre’s head into the ladder. Styles folded the ladder and battered McIntyre with it. McIntyre came back with a Future Shock DDT, then sold his bad knee. McIntyre picked up a ladder and threw it at Styles, who avoided it. Styles clipped McIntyre’s bad knee. Styles wedged the bad leg in between ladder rungs and then applied a Calf Crusher briefly.
Styles went to work on the bad leg with repeated chair shots. Styles rapped the leg in the chair and applied another Calf Crusher. McIntyre positioned himself so that he was able to reach the head of Styles, then slammed his head onto the ladder to break the hold.
The match spilled to ringside where Styles ran a ladder at the head of McIntyre. Styles set up McIntyre on a table at ringside and went to the ropes, but McIntyre recovered and threw a chair at him to knock him off the ropes. Back inside the ring, Styles came back briefly, but McIntyre suplexed him onto a ladder that was propped up in the corner.
Styles hit a Phenomenal Forearm. Moments later, Styles tried to climb the ladder, but McIntyre caught him, pressed him, and tossed him over the top rope and through a table at ringside. McIntyre climbed the ladder, but The Miz ran out and stopped him. John Morrison ran behind Miz with the Money in the Bank contract. Miz slammed McIntyre through a table.
Morrison handed over the briefcase for Miz, and it was announced that Miz was cashing in the MITB contract and the match would be a Triple Threat going forward. Miz climbed the ladder, but Omos entered the ring, pulled him off the ladder, and then dropped him through a table at ringside.
Morrison hit Omos from behind with a chair, but Omos no-sold it. Omos slowly left the ring and walked after Morrison, who fled to the back. Styles made it back to the ring and tried to pull himself up the ladder. McIntyre grabbed the other side and both men climbed on opposite sides.
As McIntyre and Styles fought on top of the ladder, Miz showed up with another ladder. Miz climbed his ladder and tried to grab the belt, but McIntyre stopped him. McIntyre knocked Styles off their ladder, then knocked Miz off his. McIntyre reached for the belt, but Styles springboarded back onto the ladder and cut him off.
Styles punched McIntyre off the ladder and reached for the belt, but Miz stopped him. McIntyre used the other ladder to push Miz and Styles off the ladder. Styles landed at ringside. McIntyre took out Miz with a Claymore Kick. McIntyre climbed the ladder and pulled down the belt to win the match…
Drew McIntyre defeated AJ Styles and The Miz in a Triple Threat TLC match in 27:05 to retain the WWE Championship.
Powell’s POV: A very good TLC match. McIntyre and Styles did a terrific job, and the addition of Miz at the end enhanced the match. Better yet, it wiped out the Money in the Bank contract, which just didn’t mean anything because Miz has been booked so weak. I’d still love to see a straight up match between McIntyre and Styles. This match easily could have closed the show. Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens have their work cut out for them in the “top this” department.
Paul Heyman was interviewed by Kayla Braxton in the backstage area. Heyman said his favorite sport outside of WWE is NASCAR because he likes the crashes. Heyman said Kevin Owens is going to get hurt badly “at the purposeful hands” of Roman Reigns. Heyman said that’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler…
A video package set up the Smackdown Women’s Championship match…
2. Sasha Banks vs. Carmella for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Michael Cole and Corey Graves were on commentary. Ring announcer The Sommelier did not accompany Carmella to ringside. Greg Hamilton delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Banks charged when the bell rang, but Carmella slipped out to stall at ringside.
Banks eventually got to Carmella and was dominant early on. Banks performed a meteora. They went to the apron where Carmella avoided a Backstabber, then slid under Banks and drove her into the apron. Carmella rolled Banks back inside the ring and covered her for a two count.
Banks came back and performed the Three Amigos suplexes. Banks followed up with a top rope frogsplash and covered Carmella, who kicked out at two. Carmella slipped out of a tilt-a-whirl move and then performed a facebuster that led to her covering Banks three times for three different two counts.
With Banks’ head hanging over the apron, Carmella superkicked her. Back inside the ring, Carmella picked up another two count. Both women fought for position on the ropes. Carmella performed a huracanrana, but Banks rolled through for a near fall. Reginald The Sommelier was at ringside (not sure when he arrived).
Carmella applied the Code of Silence, but Banks broke it by reaching the ropes. Banks applied the Bank Statement. Reginald reached in and pulled Carmella to ringside. Banks performed a meteora onto Reginald, but then turned into a kick from Carmella, who rolled her back inside the ring and covered her for a near fall. Banks rallied with a Bank Statement. Carmella tapped out…
Sasha Banks defeated Carmella in 12:10 to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
Powell’s POV: A good match. Hopefully that performance was enough to make some of Carmella’s critics think differently about her. She’s come a long way in the ring from her early days on the main roster when she was rushed into a title reign. She was a good personality back then, but she wasn’t ready to hold up her end in the ring. Of course, working with Banks helps, but there’s no denying that Carmella has really improved.
Backstage, Billie Kay made her pitch to be Asuka’s tag team partner. She claimed she was proficient in Japanese. She also had a corny mask on a stick. Asuka told her that she’s not ready for Asuka…
3. Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods vs. Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander (w/MVP) for the Raw Tag Titles. There was a brief New Day promo on the Gorilla Position set in between the entrances. Phillips, Saxton, and Joe were on commentary. The bell rang and Kingston immediately superkicked Alexander and covered him for a two count.
Woods tagged in and performed a top rope legdrop for a near fall. Kingston tagged in and performed a cross body block for another near fall. Woods went for another pin, but this time Benjamin ran in and broke it up. Benjamin tagged in and was hit with a top rope double stomp by Kingston, who covered him for yet another two count.
Woods tagged in again and performed a tornado DDT on Benjamin for another two count. Benjamin finally caught Woods with a knee to put the Hurt Business duo on the offensive. Alexander tagged in and went to work on Woods.
Later, Kingston hit Alexander with SOS for a good near fall. Alexander came back and performed a brainbuster on Kingston and had the pin, but Woods broke it up. Benjamin took out Woods with Paydirt. Benjamin tagged in, but Kingston caught him and then Alexander with kicks.
Kingston went up top, but Benjamin cut him off with a punch. Benjamin eventually superplexed Kingston. Benjamin stood in his corner while waiting for Kingston to get up, but Alexander tagged himself in and performed the Lumbar Check on Kingston, then pinned him to win the titles.
Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin defeated Kofi Kingston and Xavier woods in 10:00 to win the Raw Tag Titles.
Bobby Lashley came out afterward and celebrated with the rest of the Hurt Business members…
Powell’s POV: This was the right finish in terms of Alexander and Benjamin going over. They’d already lost two title matches to New Day on television, and yet they are still the least damaged heel tag team on the Raw brand. I’m not sure where they are going with Alexander repeatedly going into business for himself, but I get a kick out of it and it’s helping him stand out.
A video package set up the Raw Women’s Championship match…
4. Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax vs. Asuka and Charlotte Flair for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles. The Raw broadcast team acted shocked when Flair made her entrance. Asuka went for an early armbar, but Baszler escaped. Asuka dodged a stomp attempt, then tagged in Flair, who clotheslined Baszler and then knocked Jax off the apron. Flair went for a figure four, but Baszler kicked her away.
Jax tagged in, but she and Flair weren’t in the ring together long, as Asuka checked back in. Jax got the better of Asuka, then the champions isolated her. Asuka caught Jax with a spinning back fist at ringside. Asuka returned to the ring and fought off Jax to get to her corner, but Baszler pulled Flair from the apron. Flair fought off Baszler and then tagged in.
Ric Flair was shown watching his daughter on a backstage monitor. Flair put Jax down with a big boot and covered her for a two count. Baszler pulled Jax to ringside. Asuka drilled Baszler with a kick from the apron. Charlotte performed a moonsault from the top rope onto both opponents. Flair rolled Jax back inside the ring and went for a figure four, but Jax kicked her into the corner.
Asuka made a bling tag. Jax performed a Samoan Drop on Flair, then got up and ate a missile dropkick from Asuka. Baszler tagged in and put Asuka in the Kirifuda Clutch, but Asuka backed into her corner so that Flair could tag in. Charlotte worked over both opponents briefly. Baszler caught Flair in an inside cradle for a two count. Flair quickly put Baszler in the Figure Eight, but Jax pulled her partner to the ropes to break it.
Baszler put Flair in the Kirifuda Clutch, but Flair rolled into a pin to break the hold. Moments later, Flair performed the Natural Selection and then pinned Baszler. Ric was shown smiling and applauding backstage…
Charlotte Flair and Asuka defeated Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler in 10:05 to win the Raw Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: A decent match, but I continue to wish they would give up on the Natural Selection as a finisher. It always looks like Charlotte is bending her opponents into a gentle yoga position rather than hitting them with a devastating move. In this case, I think she was trying to make it look like she drove the head of Baszler into the mat, but it didn’t look good. Still, it’s nice to see Charlotte back following a longer than expected layoff.
The heel 2020 video aired…
Backstage, Big E and R-Truth were sharing a laugh over something on Big E’s phone. Sami Zayn showed up and said he knew Big E was the person who sent the audio clip to Braxton. Zayn said Big E isn’t as smart as he is. He said Big E is a joke who has been treading water since he went solo. R-Truth felt the tension and backed out of the picture. Big E got serious and told Zayn that he would see him real soon…
A video package spotlighted the WWE Universal Championship match…
Powell’s POV: So they are closing with Inferno match? Strange.
5. Roman Reigns (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Kevin Owens in a TLC match for the WWE Universal Championship. Cole and Graves were on commentary. Reigns made his entrance. Once belt was placed on the hook and started to be raised, Owens showed up out of nowhere and attacked Reigns to start the match.
Owens dominated Reigns and had him down at ringside. Jey Uso ran out and entered the ring and was immediately hit with a superkick. Owens worked over Reigns and Uso with a chair at ringside. Uso hit Owens (kinda) with an uppercut, then went for a superkick, but Owens hit his foot with a chair.
Owens wrapped Uso’s leg in a chair and then stomped it. Owens tore the broadcast table apart. Trainers helped Uso away from ringside. Meanwhile, Reigns drilled Owens with a Drive By kick. Reigns hit Owens with the top half of the ring steps several times. Heyman sold the brutality by flashing a look of shock.
Reigns brought a couple of chairs into the ring with him, then slammed one of them over Owens’ back. Owens grabbed the other chair, but Reigns slammed his chair into Owens’ chair, then beat Owens repeatedly with his chair. Reigns set up two chairs in the ring. Owens went for a powerbomb, but Reigns backdropped Owens on to the chairs.
Reigns spoke to himself in the corner and said he was going to torture Owens. Reigns set up a ladder and started to climb it, but Owens hit him with a chair to knock him down, then hit him with the chair again. Owens set up a chair, then performed a fisherman’s suplex onto it. Heyman showed concern. “You’re making me do this,” Owens told Reigns.
Reigns climbed the ladder and got his hand on the title, but Jey Uso returned and pulled him down. Owens got the better of Uso with punches, but Reigns cut him off with a Superman Punch. Uso sold his bad leg as he went to ringside and grabbed a table, which he slid inside the ring.
Reigns and Uso were going to team up on Owens with a table spot, but Owens fought back. Owens superkicked Uso, then performed a Stunner that sent Reigns to ringside. Owens set up a ladder. Uso pulled him to ringside where Owens performed a Popup Powerbomb that drove Uso through the broadcast table. Owens placed the table and an office chair on top of Uso.
Owens returned to the ring and climbed the ladder, but Reigns climbed up the other side and they traded punches. Reigns raked the eyes of Owens. Both men returned to the ring. Reigns stuffed a superkick, the powerbombed Owens onto a ladder that was leaning in a corner of the ring.
Production inexplicably cut to a split screen shot as Reigns picked up Reigns and slammed him back-first onto the side of a ladder. Damn. They replayed the spot. The wrestlers went to ringside where Reigns slammed Owens through a table. Reigns pulled the debris off of Uso, then threw an office chair at Owens.
Reigns hoisted up Owens and performed a Samoan Drop that drove him through another table. Reigns spoke to Owens, then slowly returned to the ring. Reigns climbed the ladder, then stopped and laughed when he noticed that Owens was on his knees below the ladder trying to reach up.
Reigns climbed down and told Owens that he was embarrassing his family. Reigns delivered a couple of soft slaps to Owens, who fired back with a hard shot. Reigns speared Owens through a table that was set up in a corner of the ring. Reigns held his shoulder. Owens rolled to ringside and held onto a ladder while telling Reigns that he would have to kill him.
Reigns went to ringside and charged at Owens for a spear, but Owens moved and Reigns crashed through the barricade. Reigns sold shoulder pain again. Owens returned to the ring and climbed the ladder. Owens got his hand on the championship, but Reigns pulled him down and slammed his head on the ladder.
Owens fired back with a pair of superkicks. Owens went for a Popup Powerbomb, but Reigns hit him with a Superman Punch. Reigns ran the ropes, but Owens performed a Popup Powerbomb and put him through a table. Reigns rolled to ringside. Owens set up a ladder while Cole spoke about what a miracle it would be if Owens won.
Owens got both hands on the belt, but Uso returned to stop him. Owens headbutted Uso repeatedly. Both men ended up back in the ring where Owens performed a Stunner. Owens climbed the ladder again and got his hand on the belt, but Reigns climbed up the other side and hit him with a low blow. Reigns applied his guillotine submission on top of the ladder, then let the limp body of Owens fall into the ring. Reigns pulled down the title belt to win the match.
Roman Reigns defeated Kevin Owens in 24:45 in a TLC match to retain the WWE Universal Championship.
Reigns, Heyman, and Uso celebrated in the ring while a dejected Owens sat on the floor at ringside…
Powell’s POV: Excellent effort from Reigns, Owens, and Uso. WWE continuing to book matches that makes outside interference legal is ridiculously overdone, but it plays into what they are doing with Reigns, and also made Owens look strong for coming as close as he did to winning the championship. I didn’t think Owens would come out of this match looking stronger than he did going in, but he definitely did. I wonder if they idea is to go back to Reigns vs. Owens at the Royal Rumble, perhaps with a stipulation that prevents outside interference.
An ad aired for Steve Austin’s “Broken Skull Sessions” featuring Drew McIntyre, which airs immediately following TLC on WWE Network… A WWE merchandise ad aired… A Royal Rumble ad aired…
A video package set up the Firefly Inferno match. It started with a Christmas theme and was narrated by Bray Wyatt…
Orton came out wearing a hooded sweatshirt and pants(!). The Fiend had his usual entrance.
Powell’s POV: It’s smart to have Orton dressed in this attire, as no one would think he could lose an inferno match if he wrestled in his usual gear. By the way, my WWE Network went to hell for a few minutes on Roku. It’s back for now. I’m not sure if anyone else had an issue, but it’s streaming fine on my laptop if you happen to be having issues.
6. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton in a Firefly Inferno Match. Phillips, Saxton, and Joe called the match. Orton was leery as he entered the ring following The Fiend’s entrance. Fiend laughed at Orton’s early punches and kicks, then pushed him off when he went for an RKO. The Fiend worked over Orton in a corner of the ring.
The Fiend raised his arms early on and the fire shot up in between the barricade and the ThunderDome screens. THere’s also a one flaming piece near the ropes. A short time later, Fiend pulled a rocking chair out of the timekeepers’ area and set Orton in it, then poured a line of gasoline leading to the chair. Fiend set the gas on fire, but Orton was able to escape the chair.
Orton used a chain as a weapon and held Fiend’s head near a flame. Fiend came back and lit an ax handle on fire, but Orton knocked it away from him. Orton performed a Draping DDT from the apron. Orton struck the Viper’s Pose at ringside. Orton went for the RKO, but The Fiend blocked it and applied the Mandible Claw.
Fiend tried to shove Orton into the fire while he had the hold applied, but Orton ended up spinning him around and starting The Fiend on fire to win the match.
Randy Orton defeated The Fiend in 12:00 in a Firefly Inferno match.
Afterward, a burning Fiend rushed into the ring and was dropped with an RKO. Fiend was no longer on fire as Orton nudged him with his foot a couple times to check on him. Orton rolled Fiend onto his back, then rolled out of the ring. Orton grabbed a can of gasoline from ringside and returned to the ring with it.
Orton poured gasoline onto The Fiend. Orton lit a match, then dropped it onto The Fiend, who burst into flames. The flames at ringside went off like crazy while Orton struck a Viper’s Pose to close the show…
Powell’s POV: Stupid sports entertainment nonsense. Let me guess, The Fiend magically returns tomorrow night on Raw? I enjoyed the show until the main event. If you’re going to imply that someone is murdered, I guess you have to close the show with that match, but it sure ended the night on a flat note, whereas either TLC match would have been a much better way to wrap things up. I know there’s an audience for this sort of thing, but I think there’s a much larger number of fans who are completely turned off by it.
Overall, a good night until the madness at the end. Let me know what you thought of the show by voting for the best match and the overall show letter grade in our post TLC polls available below or via the main page. Jake Barnett and I will get together shortly for the Dot Net Members’ exclusive audio review of WWE TLC.
Pro Wrestling Boom Live airs free on Monday at 3CT/4ET at PWAudio.net with Jason Powell and “Survivor” Hall of Famer Johnny Fairplay taking your WWE TLC and other pro wrestling related calls.