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No Punches Pulled: WWE Tables Ladders and Chairs 2015 Review

December 15, 2015 | Posted by Eric Presti
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No Punches Pulled: WWE Tables Ladders and Chairs 2015 Review  

No Punches Pulled is a hard-hitting, no B.S., call-it-right-down-the-middle, review column dedicated to delivering unbiased thoughts and criticisms from the world of WWE to readers everywhere. Just because professional wrestlers pull their punches, doesn’t mean we have to pull ours.

WWE Tables Ladders and Chairs takes place from TD Bank North Garden in our hometown of Boston, MA, in front of a crowd of 14,903, one of which was NPP original P.J. Presti. Sorry for the late post, Eric was finishing up final exams on Monday, so he got a late start on writing.

Pre-Show: Sasha Banks vs Becky Lynch

Background: Not much background here other than some indirect battles with each other’s respective teammates and a quick match up on the November 23rd edition of Raw.

Pacing: The pace starts off relatively quick with headlocks and good grappling sequences, but slows down as Becky hits multiple arm-drags/holds to work over the arm. The crowd wasn’t into the match very much at the start, but as the women start to hit bigger moves, the crowd starts to come alive. Becky controlled most of the fight, but Sasha battled back on top and hit her signature knees with person lying on ropes in the corner. Some more good sequences later on as Becky fights out of the Bank Statement. Becky attempts to lock in the Disarmher, but the numbers game come alive to distract Becky as Sasha gains the advantage to finish out.

Finish: After a distraction from Naomi and Tamina, coming off a series of Disarmher counters, Sasha hit the Bank Statement for the win.

PJ: Boston was chanting, “We want Sasha” the second they sat down, and we got Sasha. This match was definitely the best pre-show match we’ve seen since we started doing these reviews I would say. It had solid heel and face dynamics. Sasha and Becky both proved that they should probably be fighting over the title and not in the curtain jerker. I like how the entire match revolved around Becky softening up the arm for the Disarmher. Tamina and Naomi both ran interference nicely. There were slightly too many flipping, rolling, pinning sequences for my taste, but there wasn’t much to complain about overall. It didn’t have the time, the story, or the dynamics to be great, but it didn’t stop it from being good.

Eric: Overall, I felt the match was solid. Good pace, fun sequences even got in some hard-hitting signatures. My problem with the match came before it even started. That opening segment with Team BAD signing was an atrocity. Even worse, they were clearly trying to get over with the crowd by mimicking a New Day Segment. WWE should realize this is a terrible idea and not go through with it, for multiple reasons. For starters, none of Team BAD is actually funny. Their segment was horrible (it was booty) and the gimmick only works with New Day because Kofi, Big E, and Woods are ACTUALLY hilarious. Also, I feel this could potentially take away from New Day’s awesome gimmick if WWE keeps Team BAD on this track and no one wants that. OHHHHHH NOOOOOOO.

Most Entertaining: This was a good quality Diva’s match. Even with the new Diva’s reaching the main roster, these are still hard to come by. We also enjoyed the pre show being a one on one match, as that is something we don’t get on the pre show very often.

Something we would Change: It seems as if WWE is trying to turn Team BAD into a female New Day and we at NPP are HIGHLY against it. They should be booked as a monster female stable, with someone as big and tough as Tamina and a former NXT Women’s Champion in Sasha Banks.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

The New Day (c) vs The Usos vs The Lucha Dragons in a Triple-Threat Tag-Team Ladder Match for the WWE Tag Team Championships

Background: The Usos came back to action just prior to Survivor Series and have been mixing it up with the New Day ever since. The main kickoff to this match started back in Tennessee where The New Day issued a tag team open challenge, which was answered by both the Lucha Dragons and The Usos. The New Day then cancelled their open challenge and after a brawl, retreated up the ramp. After more run-ins, including the Gobbledy Gooker incident on the Thanksgiving edition of Smackdown, it was decided The Usos would face the Lucha Dragons in a #1 Contenders match. The New Day interfered in this match, causing a no-finish, claiming now they would have no opponents at TLC. After a backstage segment with Stephanie, it was announced that a triple threat would occur.

Pacing: Crowd is very into it early on with “New Day Sucks” chants. The overall pace throughout this match was pretty quick with a lot of BRUTAL offense. The Lucha Dragons hit a lot of innovative moves using the ladder including Kalisto jumping through it and Sin Cara Swanton Bombing over the ropes to take out the Usos under it. There were a lot of big spots in this match and the crowd loved every second of it. There was not a lot of wasted time and the filler time also had some good action going on. Finally, we cannot conclude this section without mentioning what will probably go down as one of the greatest ladder match moments of all time, Kalisto’s Salida Del Sol from the top of the ladder to but Jey Uso through another ladder. Overall, a very good, fast paced, action-packed match the crowd was emotionally invested in.

Finish: After interference from Xavier Woods, where he threw his trombone at Kalisto, Kofi Kingston climbed the ladder and grabbed the titles to secure the victory. Winners and STILL WWE Tag Team Champions, The New Day.

PJ: The New Day is the act the crowd was probably most hyped up for overall. A testament to how thin WWE is right now, but also how good the New Day have become. Their promo with X saying he doesn’t waste good hair days on Boston and posing for the Wheaties cover were gold. As for the match itself, WOW! I expected a spot fest which is more or less what we got, but we also got some pretty damn impressive innovation in a format that has been performed to death over the past couple of decades. The guys didn’t reinvent the match or anything, but there were a few spots I was particularly impressed with. The Lucha Dragons, to me, looked great here. A few of their double team spots were impressive. Sin Cara didn’t do his usual big match botch, and that ridiculous Salida del Sol off of the ladder was easily the moment of the night. Add that one to the highlight reel. Every team got great moves in and sold appropriately. The Usos finally look like they’re back to the form they were in when they were on top of the division. Even the psychology of the match was passable, especially for a multi man schmozz. The only time it was glaring is when the Usos had a good two-minute window to climb early in the match and instead opted to do the Uso Crazy suicide dives. Which JBL stupidly points out on commentary. He’s barely better than Michael Cole, I swear. Xavier throwing the trombone was icing on the cake, and this match set the bar high for the rest of the night. Color me impressed. This wasn’t Hardys, E&C, and The Dudleyz by any means but it was great fun.

Eric: This was one of the best ladder matches I’ve seen in a long time. Usually, they are full of big spots with not much in between. Usually, some brawling between two guys for a bit until they are taken out, then the next to brawl for a bit, and so on. This was definitely not that at all. Sure there were quite a few big spots (Salida Del Sol, Sin Cara over the ropes, Big E and Kofi getting crushed with the ladder, etc), but it was in between these spots that allowed the match to really shine. There was actual action taking place. We got to see some real innovation with the ladder that made the action interesting. These days its hard to have great ladder matches, since we see them so often, but these guys did an amazing job at keeping it interesting and restoring my faith for future ones. This match showed that the tag team division is certainly in good hands. Not to mention that’s without The Dudley’s and the Wyatts involved in the division right now as well as PTP and a sure-to-be-repackaged Los Matadores (hopefully back to Primo and Epico) sitting at home.

Most Entertaining: The Lucha Dragons were amazing in this match. They hit great moves and were crisp, which is not something we can often say about Sin Cara. How can we not name Kalisto’s Salida Del Sol to Jey Uso off the ladder as the most entertaining?

Something we would Change: The commentary from Cole, JBL, and King is some of the worst in WWE history. They really detracted greatly from this match by calling out mistakes (which they should be trying to cover up), and even mixing up the Lucha Dragons multiple times. Just inexcusably bad.

Rating: 4.25 Stars

Ryback vs Rusev

Background: Two weeks ago on Raw, Ryback interrupted Lana’s homecoming to the WWE on MizTV where Rusev introduced her and they announced their engagement that everyone already knew about. They proceeded to get it on that night (Ryback and Rusev, people. Get your mind out of the gutter), and the match ended after Ryback inadvertently hurt Lana’s thigh and Rusev got counted out. In a post match promo Lana said she forgives him and knows he didn’t mean it. They had a rematch on the following week’s Raw that saw a similar ending, where Ryback ran into Lana. After the distraction, and beatdown by Rusev, Lana this time reveals she was feigning the injury. This sets the table for Ryback to try and get his revenge.

Pacing: Between the fact these two have wrestled two weeks straight, and that the storyline sucks, this wouldn’t have been the match we’d have chosen to follow that opener. The action was a little slow and prodding, and Ryback hit a few of his spots awkwardly (the press slam in particular.) The whole match is a power struggle, and they do what they can to make up for their lack of chemistry. Rusev is actually surprisingly good at selling, although we don’t really like him in that role. Ryback is slowly getting a little better in the ring, and he’s added some top rope offense into his game that he busts out before Rusev tries to bail. Ryback gets pushed into Lana and as he shows concern, he eats a Rusev superkick (should be his finisher) that started his demise. After a bit more back and forth, Rusev polishes off Ryback with his submission.

Finish: Rusev beats Ryback via submission with the Accolade.

PJ: Upon re-watching it on the Network, the crowd seemed ok, but in person, everyone in my section was taking a massive dump on this match. “Let’s Go Patriots”, “Boring”, and “End It” chants were all heard. I myself didn’t think it was THAT bad but it wasn’t great. It just wasn’t booked well. With Ryback, I feel like his timing is all off. And for a guy who is as big as he is, he doesn’t have the strength that Cena, Lesnar or even Cesaro has. That spot where they tried to suplex each other, I’m convinced Ryback just kept botching his attempts. No one would have done that spot for that long. He couldn’t even lift Heyman back when he feuded with Punk for Christ’s sake. Also, how is anyone going to take Ryback seriously when you book him to be the dumbest wrestler on the roster? After two straight weeks of being bamboozled by Lana, why would he even give her a second look when she’s claiming to be hurt? I also hate that Rusev is relying on her to get wins over mid-card level stars. It’s something different than just destroying the roster but it’s not getting the desired reaction from the crowd. I’m also not a fan of the lame “pass out” finish. Just make Ryback tap out to Rusev. He doesn’t need to be protected. It takes away from the scenarios where the pass out finish actually means something. To sum it up, this was better than some people are saying it was. It was a basic hoss match. The problem lies less in the skill of the two workers and more in the booking.

Eric: There is really nothing I can say that PJ hasn’t said about this match. It was what it was. My biggest issue comes with the finish (we all knew the match was going to be bad, so I’m just going to fast forward). Why have Ryback pass out? What is the point? Think back to the notable moments of guys passing out. A beaten, bloodied Stone Cold against Brett Hart after a brutal match, Cena to Rusev to solidify Rusev as a monster, and Brock Lesnar as he was flipping off Undertaker, refusing to give him the satisfactory of a tap out after the low blow in their long awaited rematch after Lesnar broke the streak. All of those scenarios make sense. Having Ryback pass out in this situation doesn’t make any sense and it takes away from the times when a pass out spot could be good. What does Ryback need protecting from? He’s not winning a title anytime soon. Hell, this feud didn’t even have a story behind it, so its not like they were planning a push, especially after his terrible IC title run.

Most Entertaining: Nothing stood out as super entertaining to us, but we’re glad to see Rusev back on a winning track of some kind so we’re going with that. He was picking up some decent steam before running into The Great Wall of Cena, and with the roster as depleted as it is, it’s nice to see him back in the “W” column consistently. He’s a better worker, and character than most give him credit for.

Something We Would Change: This isn’t necessarily a part of the match but it needs to be said. We would change Rusev’s finisher from that lame-ass camel clutch, to one of his brutal kicks. At least make it an alternate finish. It’s EASILY his best move and if he used it to beat guys, you wouldn’t run into this awkward “tap out or pass out” scenarios.

Rating: 2 stars

Alberto Del Rio (c) vs Jack Swagger in a Chairs Match for the WWE United States Championship

Background: Previous to Zeb Colter’s departure, he was the manager of Jack Swagger as well as the tag team The Real Americans (Swagger and Cesaro). He was very anti-foreigner and always talked about deporting superstars who were not born in America. So managing Alberto Del Rio on his return and talking about how everyone in the world is a “hater” as well as starting his new nation Mex-America, was sure to strike a cord with Jack Swagger. It started with Swagger approaching Zeb privately in backstage segment to ask him what was going on, but after multiple cold shoulders from Zeb, progressed to Swagger coming out to the ring during Del Rio’s matches to get involved with both of them. They had a few back and forth brawls culminating to chair shots on last Monday’s Raw.

Pacing: To open, this match had a very personal feel to it. With Swagger’s connection to Zeb Colter, this feud was building into something interesting. The match kicked off with both guys immediately grabbing chairs and swinging at each other like they were in the batter’s box at Fenway Park. There were some good counters with the chairs including Del Rio’s reversal of the Swagger Bomb by hitting him in the throat and later when Swagger threw the chair and hit Del Rio in the face. The match didn’t consist of much technical offense, as these guys are both obviously very capable of, opting to stick to the chairs to sell the personal nature of the feud.

Finish: After some vicious chair shots to the back on a Jack Swagger seated on the ropes, Alberto Del Rio hit his top rope stomp onto chairs to retain the title. Winner and STILL WWE United States Champion, Alberto Del Rio.

PJ: The crowd wanted to be into this but I took two major things away from the collective reaction: 1. No one thought Jack Swagger had any chance of winning so it was hard to be invested in it, and 2. No one thinks a chairs match is a good idea. Despite liking Jack Swagger, I found myself in agreement with my comrades. The fact that he was dug out of the bottom of the roster just because Zeb Colter sided with Del Rio, only for Del Rio to bail on Colter, makes this entire feud weird. Also, wouldn’t it have made sense to have Ambrose fight Del Rio, since they are on opposing factions? Shows you how thrown together The League of Nations is. There were some good spots in this match, highlighted by Swagger doing the Sabu chair throw, and Del Rio reversing the Vader Bomb with the chair. There were some awkward scenarios where the Ref didn’t seem entirely sure whether there was rope breaks in Chairs matches. Hey, if you don’t know, neither do we pal. A dumb gimmick, and a challenger who wasn’t nearly built up enough hamstrung this, but this was far from bad.

Eric: This was just an average match for me when it really had the potential to be so much more. Basing the feud around Zeb Colter was interesting because the last time we saw him, he was Swagger’s manager. What happened? What changed? Why is Zeb all of a sudden OK with foreign people now and talking about unifying Mexico and America? All interesting question Swagger wanted to know the answer to. Swagger and Colter had some good dialogue as well as some good brawls with Del Rio to really make this feud into something the common fan could get into. Then they rip it all away by having Colter and Del Rio split up. So why are we even having the match now? Isn’t this whole thing about Zeb aligning with Del Rio? Why are we still doing this if Zeb isn’t with him anymore? The match itself was also frustrating to watch at times, because these guys’ ability is so much better than just chairs. That’s unfortunately all the match really was and neither guy got to showcase their true talent. A missed opportunity in my opinion.

Most Entertaining: The use of the chairs in this match was interesting, with the Patriot Lock from Swagger and the top rope stomp from Del Rio.

Something we would Change: The rope break rule seems to change each time these types of matches come around. Watching older matches with no DQ had the refs calling rope breaks, but now a days some no DQ matches they call them, others they don’t. This ref seemed to start off calling them and then just stopped after the Patriot Lock. Also, having Colter and Del Rio break off prior to this match made the dynamic a little weird since that’s what this whole feud was based on.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

The ECW Originals vs The Wyatt Family in an 8-Man Elimination Tables Match

Background: On the Raw following Survivor Series, Bray announced that the Dudley’s would pay for the Wyatt’s loss to Undertaker and Kane. Sure enough, the Wyatts won and beat down the Dudleys after the match. The following Monday, the Dudley’s come out and cut a great promo on the Wyatt’s with their names on respective tables. The Wyatts enter to respond, but the Dudley’s debut Tommy Dreamer and clean house. On the final Raw before TLC, League of Nations sparked trouble with multiple 4-man teams including the Wyatts. The Dudleys and Tommy Dreamer come out, to which Bray responds that they are outnumbered and to stay out of the way. The Dudley’s then debut Rhyno as the fourth member of their team and progress to the ring for a brawl.

Order of Eliminations:
Erick Rowan eliminated by the Dudley Boyz via 3D through a table
Rhyno eliminated by Luke Harper via Big Boot through a table
Devon eliminated by Bray Wyatt via Uranage through a table
Tommy Dreamer eliminated by Luke Harper via dive through ropes into a table
Bubba Ray eliminated by Braun Strowman via Uranage through a table

Finish: The Wyatt Family eliminated all members of the ECW originals to pick up the victory. Final members: Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Braun Strowman

PJ: One thing I need to comment on is that the network adaptation didn’t do this match justice in a sense. One thing I LOVED about it, was that almost at all times, there was brawling going on outside of the ring, out of camera view. It just added a touch of realism to the match. Most multi-man matches you have people taking naps under the ring apron in between sequences. This match had basic brawling, nothing special, but it kept it far more interesting to the live viewer. That’s about where my love affair with this match ended though. Don’t get me wrong; there was some good stuff. Love seeing the Dudleys hit the Doomsday Device. Bubba was stiff as all hell with Braun Strowman, both on the outside out of camera view and with the Kendo Sticks later. I also like the Wyatt family got a clean, decisive win. But the spot where the table broke under D-Von accidentally definitely was a mark against this gimmick. I could have used a more brutal elimination as opposed to just regular moves through tables. I hated the ending. I had no delusions of seeing a flaming table in PG WWE and you shouldn’t have either, but they could have let Bubba mount some form of comeback before being unceremoniously dumped. Stop. Protecting. Strowman. He’s never going to be worth anything to the company because he can’t work! They should’ve let Bubba eliminate him, and then let the match climax to a more apropos conclusion.

Eric: I’m totally all for the Wyatts getting the decisive win here, especially going into WrestleMania season. Bray Wyatt needs to keep the momentum going to start up his Mania angle. The big issue for me is Strowman. He’s bad. And I mean real bad. He couldn’t wrestle his way out of a paper bag. It seems the WWE really wants him to play a vital role in the Wyatt’s victories, but I’m really not sure why. His long-term presence in a match actually ruins it. Everyone used to say Erick Rowan was awful. Well Rowan has more talent in his left testicle than Strowman has in his entire body. There really is no need to protect Strowman at this point (especially since he got put down by Taker and Kane at Survivor Series, so he’s not exactly that big and bad anymore), so why not eliminate him early to give this match a chance. They should have eliminated him on that big boot he wiffed on and put his leg through the table in the corner. That way you can protect him by saying, “oh he never actually got put though”, but he’s eliminated anyway because he technically went through the table. Then the match can continue smoothly and you can salvage some quality out of it.

Most Entertaining: Off camera, Devon and Bubba Ray were being pretty stiff with Strowman and were just beating him senseless with crowd signs and whatever they could find. It was hilarious. Welcome to the big leagues pal.

Something we would Change: For an elimination tables match, there were no big spots at all. Every elimination was pretty basic and didn’t stand out as exciting. The closest to exciting it got was when Harper hit the diving move on Dreamer to eliminate him and even that was just a move Harper does every match. WHERE IS SPIKE!?!?!?!?

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Kevin Owens (c) vs Dean Ambrose for the WWE Intercontinental Championship

Background: These two squared off in the semi-finals of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship tournament with Ambrose coming out victorious at Survivor Series. After he lost to Roman in the finals, he apparently earned himself an IC title shot in the process. These two have boiled up some bad blood in the time that followed including the popcorn and soda to the face of Owens and highlighted by a nice brawl during the contract signing for this match.

Pacing: Nothing wrong with the pace these two cut. Some fluid sequences and very fun counters. Both men have great offense and unorthodox styles that don’t clash. There is a lot of confusion as to why Ambrose isn’t fighting someone from the League of Nations, and as a result this match lacks the heat and sense of urgency it had at survivor series. However as a testament to how good a heel Owens has been, and how over Dean Ambrose is, the crowd pops appropriately for all the big spots. Kevin Owens had a few tricks up his sleeve we haven’t seen with the flipping firemans carry off the second rope and hitting a welcome German Suplex in the Beast Incarnates absence. The Dirty Deeds for the rope break was a great spot, and eventually Dean Ambrose reversed the Pop Up Powerbomb, not one, but two times on his way to victory!

Finish: Dean Ambrose hooks the legs of Owens after a hurricanrana to pick up the victory! WINNER and NEW Intercontinental Champion, Dean Ambrose.

PJ: This was solid if unspectacular. These two clearly have chemistry, and are two of the best character actors the WWE has. Their facial expressions tell a story that their actions in the ring don’t need to. A lot of the criticism I’ve seen of this feud has stemmed from the fact that people believe Dean Ambrose deserves better than the I.C. Title. While that may be true, people also want the mid-card title restored. You can’t have it both ways. It just stings, due to the fact that the people fighting over the big belt are arguably less over than both guys in this match. But if you think back to the glory days of the I.C. strap, it always competed in popularity to the WWE Title. This match wasn’t quite as good as their bout at Survivor Series. The ending sequence at that version of this match took this match to another level. This finish, while logical, was certainly abrupt. The crowd popped huge for the victory and Ambrose’s celebration lends credibility to the title. I understand people (myself included) want to see Dean in main events. But this slow burn approach as opposed to the rocket push Reigns has received is going to serve him better in the long run.

Eric: I liked this match a lot. I am a big Kevin Owens fan as well as Dean Ambrose and to see these two mix it up over the past couple months has been great. This is probably the most pure heel vs face feuds you could get in the WWE today. Dean Ambrose might be the biggest baby face on the roster right now, not even a thought of a heel turn, and Kevin Owens is a classic heel with the way he cuts promos and talks during the match. This match, in particular, lived up to its expectations. As PJ said, not quite as good as their Survivor Series match, but it certainly was not far off. Owens broke out some new moves for this match including the rolling senton off the top rope as well as the snap belly to belly suplex. Very solid match and I’m happy with the Ambrose win. Owens did a great job elevating the title, now its time for Ambrose to make his mark. I only hope that Owens goes up from here and they don’t toss him aside now that the title is off him. Who knows what the next few months have in store, but it certainly leaves a few doors open for Owen’s future, such as the Royal Rumble or maybe some truth to those Owens vs Lesnar Mania rumors. Either one leaves me salivating.

Most Entertaining: Dean’s celebration. In sport, or in life, it’s normal to celebrate when you accomplish something of note. It makes the title look less like a prop and much more like a title when the person to hold it is excited to have won it. Good stuff.

Something We Would Change: We’d have probably built this feud a little more personally. Granted they only had 3 weeks in between Survivor Series and TLC but Kevin Owens pre-match promo is proof they didn’t have to go in the goofy popcorn and soda route with this match. We mark for both of these guys and would like to see them get a bit more rope with their promos. That an extra couple of minutes would have at least gotten this match to the level their previous match was. That being said, I wouldn’t mind another installment.

Rating: 3 Stars

Charlotte (c) vs Paige for the WWE Diva’s Championship

Background: Weird stuff here, readers. So after Paige insults Charlotte’s dead brother and they stink out the ring at Survivor Series, the WWE decides to do a double turn with these ladies. (of sorts. We still can’t tell if Paige is supposed to be a heel or face.) Paige accused Charlotte of cheating at Survivor Series by having her arm under the ropes, and Charlotte has taken on her father Ric Flair as her manager. Charlotte has been using underhanded tactics to win, including against her own friend Becky Lynch when she played opossum. Miz TV was the sight of a pull apart brawl, after Paige slaps the two-time hall of fame Flair (see what we mean about heel and face dynamics?) Let’s see if the turn, or the inclusion of The Nature Boy boosts this match from the abysmal 1.5 we gave it last month.

Pacing: The match certainly has a different feel than the last. At the onset of the last match, both of us expected a donnybrook so to speak and left disappointed. This go around, I don’t know that we expect all that much. Maybe that’s a good thing. Charlotte certainly acts like the heel in the match, mocking Paige, and spending the majority of the match dominating. She’s not half bad at it. Paige does some mocking of her own. The heel face dynamic can be blurred with shades of gray when both are getting baby face reactions. But when both are getting heel reactions you run the risk of the crowd not caring which definitely happens. Despite the psychology being bland, the action is solid. Charlotte borrows heavily from her father with the Flair Flop, the chop block, and the knees to the face. After trading figure four leg-locks we see some good back and forth action before Paige hit’s Rampaige too close to the ropes and Ric Flair helps out his daughter. With the distraction of Ric, baby Flair unties the middle turnbuckle that proves to be the challenger’s downfall.

Finish: Charlotte defeats Paige with the help of an exposed turnbuckle to retain her Diva’s title. Winner and STILL WWE Diva’s Champion, Charlotte.

PJ: This was certainly better than their last encounter on Pay Per View, by virtue of its simplicity maybe. I wasn’t a fan of Charlotte abandoning her own persona in favor of adopting several of her father’s mannerisms, but I was a fan of her heelwork here. Something about her main roster matches has been off, but she finally looked like she belonged for the most part. If only they could get an actual over baby face Diva to flank her and they might have something. Ric Flair didn’t annoy me as much as I thought he would as her manager. The action was honestly undeniably solid. Some pretty crisp offense by both women, and no kiss-of-death spot that we here at No Punches Pulled have ragged on in past diva’s matches. The only thing that really killed this was the fact that the crowd live, and everyone at home had no idea who to care about. The weird reset button they hit after the abomination match they had at Survivor Series, killed any momentum this feud had. I do think it was necessary to reset for Charlotte to have any long-term success as champion, but it really left Paige dead in the water. They were better off ending this feud on Raw and letting Becky be the baby face challenger.

Eric: It really bothers me that we don’t know who the face or the heel is in this feud. If you revisit Survivor Series, you can clearly see that Charlotte and Becky are best friends and Paige screwed them over to force a title shot from Charlotte. Fast forward and after Charlotte’s match with Becky last Monday, there really is no face or heel. Charlotte has resorted to cheating to gain victories, just like her dad and it has driven a wedge between her and Becky, who is clearly a face, while Paige, who has been an obvious heel, is starting to move back towards face a she is close to convincing Becky to turn on Charlotte. All a very confusing dynamic that makes for interesting backstage segments, but really screws up the actual match dynamic because you don’t know who to route for.

Most Entertaining: Charlotte as a heel. It’s definitely the correct direction for her character to be heading and that was evident here. A heel is only as good as it’s counterpart however, and Paige had no baby face momentum going in.

Something We Would Change: We’ve touched enough on the dynamics of this match, so we won’t pick that, although, yes that for sure. We weren’t fans of the backstage segment of Team BAD in wigs, trying to be funny. They’re not funny. Focus the attention on the goddamn match that hasn’t even gotten the proper TV time to get over before divvying out attention to more Diva’s who don’t deserve it (Sasha aside). Plus they already got their shot at being funny and doing something meaningful tonight.

Rating: 2 Stars

Sheamus (c) vs Roman Reigns in a TLC match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Background: This match had its seeds planted at the conclusion of last month’s Survivor Series. After Roman Reigns beat his buddy Dean Ambrose in the tournament final. Triple H came out for a handshake and instead was speared. This brought out Sheamus who cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase, and unceremoniously ended Roman Reigns title reign after 5 minutes, and 15 seconds. Tater Tot promo aside, the build to this has been good. Reigns interrupting Sheamus’ celebration similar to how Sheamus ended Roman’s was a nice touch, and The League of Nations and Roman’s Family factions warring has been good television harkening back to the Shield days. Let’s see if it translates to a good match.

Pacing: The stage is set for these two to have a brutal, physical match that silences the naysayers. The crowd live in Boston did not give a rat’s ass about this match at the beginning. Cena and Punk chants were heard pretty audibly. The action is a bit slow. The Ladder is the first of the three pieces of hardware introduced as Sheamus throws the ladder at Reigns. The chair is introduced next in a very similar fashion. Reigns eating it, courtesy of the Celtic Warrior. And the table is the last piece introduced, as Roman gets back body dropped through the lumber after a failed powerbomb attempt. The match is prodding with some really high impact spots (the Samoan drop through the ladder), and some well timed spots, (the superman punch off the ladder and through the table.) The match was physical as advertised. Sheamus has marks and bruises all over him. The action hits a fever pitch before The League of Nations eventually interferes. (Barrett curious by his absence) Reigns was never able to overcome the numbers game.

Finish: Sheamus retrieves the title to retain! Winner and STILL WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Sheamus.

PJ: I liked this match. Listen, no one’s ideal scenario is Sheamus vs Reigns for the title. But partly due to WWE creative stupidity, and partly due to injuries ravaging the roster, this is the card we were dealt. And for what it was, it wasn’t half bad. It was over reliant on the gimmick, and the sequences between spots were certainly on the boring side. The crowd taking a massive dump on the beginning portion of the match always factors into the NPP rating. I actually liked the fact that neither man went for the belt for the beginning of the match. Both men made it clear that they wanted to inflict pain, and plus, those hokey climbing the ladder spots can kill a good match. Some of the spots were dangerous, and innovative, and some of the action was physical and brutal. Fact is though; neither of these two men are motivated nor talented enough on this night TOGETHER, to produce a true classic. They each could be a part of one with another worker perhaps, but together, I do not think so. To me though, for a 3 week build, to an on the fly storyline due to injury, this was a solid main event.

Eric: Ultimately, the match itself was solid. Much more solid than I though it would be or it had any right to be. These two used the same tactic Reigns vs Lesnar used at Mania and that was to just beat the crap out of each other until it becomes good. In the opening sequence, I’m fairly certain Reigns actually punched Sheamus in the face and it looked pretty stiff when Sheamus threw those weapons, especially the Ladder one. That element of the match certainly gave it points in our book. After the match, the beat down of HHH is something I think has probably saved Reigns as the top face in the company. Many people were on the fence about him, and he even still got some boos in select cities, but attacking HHH I think was what will finally push Reigns over the top into getting the reactions the WWE has wanted him to get since he won the Royal Rumble.

Most Entertaining: We concurred that the beat down of Triple H at the end was the most entertaining part of this match/segment. While the match was good, the beat down of the boss is finally what got somewhat of the desired reaction from the crowd and is what finally made Roman look like a star. He’s not going to reach the next level fighting Sheamus.

Something We Would Change: Barrett not coming down to help his stable mates. PJ SAW HIM AT THE AIRPORT THE NIGHT BEFORE. What good is a stable if you’re not at full strength? For that matter, where was Dean Ambrose to help Roman? If Eric was getting his ass kicked by a bunch of ugly brutes, you bet your ass I’d run down to get me some. I get the Uso’s not coming down. They’re selling a near death experience in that opening match. But Dean was good enough to jump around in the crowd. Go help your boy. Unless that all leads to something, it was dumb.

Rating: 3 Stars

The final score: review Average
The 411
This was better than Survivor Series. It was a definite bounce back from the WWE. That being said, it still wasn’t great. The Opening tag team ladder match was amazing and has replay value as a true classic. The Diva’s bounced back a bit and provided a match that at the very least, didn’t hinder the card that it was on. The main event, and closing segment was sufficiently brutal and was a fitting ending to a pay per view. The mid-card is where these injuries are killing the WWE. The absence of Rollins, Orton, Bryan, Cesaro, and not to mention Cena and Lesnar, is leaving the depth very thin and forcing guys like Swagger to be inserted into storylines. It’s evident on Raw, where New Day, Reigns, Sheamus and company are inserted into multiple segments. Rollins and Orton (possibly DBry too) are washes for WrestleMania I think. They better hope to get some guys back, or the road to WrestleMania, may be a tumultuous one.